31st Mar 2017
The current series builds on comments made by Sam Frost, former preterist, and Howard Denham on a FaceBook page in which they claim that Covenant Eschatology is a false doctrine. They were actually responding to a YouTube series that I did on the Resurrection and Martyr Vindication. Frost and Denham posed the question that if the martyrs were vindicated in AD 70, that this raises the question of the fate of the martyrs since AD 70. Both men claimed that this is a severe problem for the true preterist view. This series of articles is revealing the major fallacy of the claims by these men.
A word here before I discuss Frost and Denham’s argument on martyr vindication. This was added after I posted the comments in the earlier article.
Mr. Frost attempts to make an argument about covenantal continuity and discontinuity. In other words, he is arguing that the Edenic promise of the savior continued (continuity) even when some elements of the Garden passed (Discontinuity). So, Frost tries to justify his idea that Torah passed, that is, the ceremonial mandates passed (Discontinuity) while the eschatological promises remain valid (Continuity). (Shades of Sabbatarianism! I will develop that briefly below. Frost has trapped himself into Sabbath observance!).
Before developing that, let me share with the reader the fact that the continuity of the covenant concept affirms Covenant Eschatology. It confirms the point that I have made repeatedly in both formal debates and informal discussion that there was but “one hope.” Take a look at what Kenneth Gentry wrote about the continuity of the covenant:
“Covenantal development is onion-like, layer upon layer: ‘Each successive covenant supplements is predecessors.’ We may easily see this in comparing structural and thematic continuity between the covenants.’ For instance when preparing to establish the Mosaic Covenant ‘God remembered his covenant with Abraham’ (Ex. 2:24). Those living under the Davidic covenant often refer to the Mosaic Covenant frequently, as well as the Abrahamic. And, of course, the formula of the New Covenant relationship to the earlier covenants appears in the very formula of the New Covenant…” (Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, Draper, VA.; Apologetics Group, 2009), 128.
So, per Gentry, each successive Covenant incorporates the prior covenant! This means that the Adamic hope = the Abrahamic hope which = the hope of Israel under Torah! It means that there was but One eschatological hope! Now, Frost wants us to believe that this is his view when he speaks of the continuity of the covenant. But, in reality, this view entraps him, as just suggested.
Mr. Frost helped tutor Joel McDurmon for our formal public debate, held in Ardmore, Ok. in 2012. In that debate, McDurmon claimed that the Edenic and Abrahamic resurrection hope- and particularly that of Job– was different from the resurrection hope of Israel! But, if Gentry is right, then Frost and McDurmon are wrong, in spite of Frost’s claim to believe in covenant continuity. The McDurmon debate is available in book form from me.
The point of the above is that where-ever Scripture posits the consummation of the Abrahamic resurrection hope- or the Mosaic- that is where the Edenic Covenant is fulfilled.
If Genesis posits a New Creation, and Abraham looked for a New Creation, and Moses promised a New Creation, then when the NT anticipates the New Creation, it is the Adamic-Abrahamic-Mosaic New Creation in view. Thus, when the NT posits fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise of the New Creation, it is the promise of the Adamic Creation- as Gentry notes. Likewise, where ever the NT posits fulfillment of the New Creation, that is where Adamic Eschatology is fulfilled!
The problem for Mr. Frost is that Scripture is clear that the Adamic, Abrahamic promise– the Continuity of the Covenant– was to be fulfilled, not at some proposed “end of time” or at the end of the Christian age (which has no end), but, at the end of the Law of Moses.
The New Creation would come when Israel was destroyed– Isaiah 24-25 / 65-66.
The resurrection– the Edenic and Abrahamic promise– would be fulfilled when the power of the holy people was completely shattered- Isaiah 25:1-8 / Daniel 12.
The “Inheritance” -The Abrahamic Inheritance– would be at the end of the law, when the sons of the kingdom would be cast out– Matthew 8:11 / Galatians 4.
I noted above that Frost’s position establishes the Sabbath. Remember that all of the Sabbaths of Israel’s calendar, all of them, were types and shadows of the better things to come. They were in fact, shadows of the final rest, resurrection rest. Those Sabbaths were a vital, foundational element of the Law (Exodus 20) being incorporated into the Decalogue itself (Leviticus 23)! You do not get more covenantal, more foundational, more “the law” than that.
The Sabbath was a shadow of the final resurrection and salvation and would only pass when what it foreshadowed came into a reality (Colossians 2:14-16). Those Old Covenant ordinances would remain valid until what they promised came to pass (Hebrews 9:6-10).
Jesus was clear that not one jot or one tittle of “the law” could pass until it was all fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18). For Mr. Frost to escape this conundrum, he would have to prove that the Sabbath was not part of “the law.” Yet, as noted, it was part of the Decalogue, and, it was part and parcel of the Pentateuch. It was part of the warp and woof of Torah! Nothing was more “the law” than the Sabbath. Yet, Mr. Frost has a major, critical element of “the law” passing without being fulfilled.
Thus, Frost’s contention that Torah, i.e. its “ceremonial mandates” could pass, while the promises remain valid until the so called end of time is another example of his specious and desperate argumentation. It is actually self-defeating. It establishes (re-establishes) Sabbath observance until the so-called end of time, when, and only when, what Sabbath anticipated, resurrection, occurs.
See my book, Torah To Telos, The End of the Law of Moses for a fuller discussion of the issue of the Sabbath.
In our next installment, we will turn to show, as promised, that the position taken by Frost and Denham in regards to martyr vindication turns on them and renders their own eschatology null and void. In fact, it demands that they are both full preterists!! Stay tuned!