Matt 24 and Faithful Slave – Online Discussion

This does not necessarily belong, but it appeared to be a useful discussion that relied heavily on the Watchtower’s recent discussion of Matthew 24 and therefore relates to the discussion of all issues related to Matthew 24.

 

Is the WT’s interpretation of the faithful slave…accurate?

Postby Rotherham » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:31 pm

First the opening comments will be posted by both myself and Mike Felker. Once those are established, we will each post a rebuttal to those opening comments before proceeding further.Regards,
Rotherham

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Rotherham’s Opening Comments

Postby Rotherham » Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:01 pm

The prophecy contained within the 24th and 25th chapters of Matthew is a response to the questions asked by the then present Apostles of Christ. They asked ‘What will be the sign of your “parousia” (presence) and of the conclusion of the “world” or age’, or as rendered by the NWT, system of things.What followed those questions is naturally the answer that Jesus gave, in much detail, involving parables and parallels and straight forward comments about both the parousia (presence), and about his “coming” or “arrival” and the conclusion of the system of things. It is very involved and requires much investigation to understand as best we can, what is meant by what he said.

It is believed that these answers not only primarily addressed first century events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem, but also a secondary fulfillment upon the last days of our current system of things, or this world as we know it. Secondary fulfillments are not unheard of within the pages of the Bible, and often, a telltale sign of a dual fulfillment is when the language of the prophecy has an obvious fulfillment initially, but then the language swells past any complete application to the first fulfillment, indicating and requiring a second fulfillment in order for the prophecy to have real relevance in history and for Christianity.

It is no secret what our views (JWs) are about when it comes to the day and age in which we live as they can be accessed readily at jw.org and elsewhere. In particular the July 15th, 2013 issue of the Watchtower, has spelled out in our views in some detail about the last days and the view that the FDS should be patterned after the first century arrangement where the MANY were FED by the few, such as when the Apostles and older men of Jerusalem made judiciary decisions to be observed by the worldwide congregation of Christians and that the early Christians were said to “adhere to the teachings of the Apostles”. (Acts 15-16) (Acts 2:42)

You can find the July15th, 2013 issue here if you desire to see a fuller explanation:
http://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/w20130715/

Succinctly put, we believe that the historical evidence supports the understanding that we are living in the last days or the conclusion of this system of things via the things stated within the prophecy of Matthew 24 and 25 and elsewhere (such as in the books of Revelation and Daniel). We believe that the historical and scriptural evidence support our teaching that the words of that prophecy directly relate to the events of that conclusion. We believe that the same kind of evidence will support that the last days and the “parousia” of Christ run concurrently over the course of many years leading to the great tribulation and the battle of Armageddon. During these last days or “parousia”, the natural conclusion from the scriptures is that there would be a governing body of men, just as in the first century, to teach and direct the greater household of Christians, known as the domestics.(see Matthew 24:45-47)

The goal of this particular discussion is to demonstrate that our (JW) views concerning the FDS mentioned in Matthew 24:45-47 and the context is as accurate as can be expected and they are reliable. There are always some elements of a prophecy or a parable that are subject to change if those elements are not specifically identified within the immediate or greater context of the scriptures. Many prophecies are not FULLY understood until they have been fulfilled. Prophecies are supplied not so much as to predict the future, but to demonstrate, once fulfilled, that God is indeed in control and actively involved in the outworking of the establishment of his kingdom by Christ on earth. Therefore, changing some applications involving ambiguous terms or context, is not a problem for Christians who understand the nature of how man comes to know truth.

As the scriptures make unmistakably clear that there was a governing element within the first century Christian congregation, it is to be expected that during the last days, when the good news of the kingdom would be being preached for a witness to all the nations, and the wheat would be separated from the weeds, that naturally, in keeping with Biblical pattern and precedent, a similar arrangement for Christians would be restored in order to successfully accomplish the preaching of the good news into all the nations and for the wheat to be decisively separated and maintained away from the weeds.

We would naturally expect Christianity in the last days to be patterned after the same structure of Christianity in the first century, after all, we are assured by Ephesians 4:11-17 that there would be gifts in men that would be “perfecting (correcting and readjusting) the holy ones clear up until the time that Christians have full understanding. I don’t think anyone would say we have achieved that yet, so it is to be expected that those gifts in men, once the separation of the wheat and weeds began to commence, would once again assume the same responsibility as exercised by the Apostles of the first century.

Since the separating of the wheat and weeds would involve the differentiation and removal of those THINGS and PERSONS causing stumbling, naturally, an authoritative element would need to be present to maintain and facilitate the separation. Just as in the first century where there was an organized group of men (the Apostles and older men at Jerusalem) who had the authority to adjust and protect the other holy ones when needed and to present “food” to the sheep, so likewise today, in the conclusion of this system of things, the same arrangement would be expected. We believe that the establishment of that arrangement took place in the early part of the parousia which we believe started around 1914.

We would also see, that to say this FDS was in existence DURING the growing period of the wheat and the weeds, prior to the harvest, would seem to be contrary to what is stated by the prophecy of the wheat and the weeds. In fact, during this growing period, the wheat could not be differentiated from the weeds, so it is not easy to say that these “undefined” and “unrefined” wheat could serve as a faithful slave providing food at the proper time when they could not even be identified with any clarity during this time.

We see that this is what is reflected in the words of Matthew 24:45-47 and its context. Once the parousia began, Jesus appointed a faithful and discreet slave over the domestics of his household (all true Christians). The highpoint of the parousia is the “coming” of Christ where every eye will see him. It is at this “coming” that Jesus will appoint that particular group of slaves over ALL of his belongings, which means he will take the anointed to heaven along with all the other holy ones already in heaven, to be kings, priests and judges during the 1000 year reign of Christ over the earth.

So there is basically two appointments for this FDS element. Once in the early part of his presence, sometime soon after the establishment of his kingdom circa 1914 and another time at the “end” of the “conclusion”. It is important to keep in mind that “end” and “conclusion” are two different words in the Greek and can refer to two different aspects of time. “End” is the end, like the final curtain drop of a play, whereas “conclusion” can refer to the entire final ACT of the play. One clearly involves more time than the other.

Whereas this FDS has authority over the domestics on earth during the “conclusion of the system of things”, providing food for them at the proper time, they will be granted fuller authority, ALONG WITH all the other faithful slaves collectively, over ALL of Christ’s belongings by means of their heavenly ruling and judging and acting as priests for all mankind that will be present during the millennium, primarily via the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous. We believe that our understanding of this prophecy is accurate in the sense that it agrees with the patterns and precedents of the use of Biblical words and phrases found within the Bible, and that it is logical and is in agreement, not only with scripture, but with known historical facts.

As I am unaware of the exact objections and arguments to be presented by Mike Felker in his opening comments concerning these prophecies, I will wait to read what he has to say before specifically answering those. However, he also wrote an article that he posted on his blogspot and I will take some time to address what I think are some key points that need sorted out.

From Mike Felker’s article: (http://carm.org/new-light-on-faithful-d … watchtower)

The Governing Body concludes that they alone are the “faithful slave” by a supposed inspection that took place between 1914 and 1919. During this inspection, Jesus and Jehovah inspected all Christians worldwide and found the “Bible Students” (now called “Jehovah’s Witnesses”) to be the only ones whose hearts were really with Jehovah and the Bible. Therefore, Jesus selected a small group of anointed (i.e. among the 144,000) JW’s to be the “faithful slave.” 

I believe with this point some clarification is in order. Mike seems to think that we do not regard the rest of the anointed as “faithful” slaves. Nothing is further from the truth. All of the anointed holy ones are considered faithful slaves, and discreet for that matter. However, are they ALL the particularly assigned “faithful and discreet slave” OVER the domestics, that is mentioned at Matthew 24:45-47 as a part of the composite sign of the “presence” of Christ?

We see the evidence as supporting the view that the FDS mentioned at Matthew 24:45-47 is a subset of all the rest of the anointed, all of the slaves, a subset that has had particularly authority and responsibility, during a special time (the conclusion) put upon them, much like what happened in the first century in regard to the Apostles and older men in Jerusalem. The Apostles and older men were indeed ALL holy ones along with the rest of the body of Christ, but only the Apostles and older men acted as a governing element. They had a particular authority and responsibility placed upon them that the other anointed ones did not have. A few were feeding the many.

Naturally, ALL of those anointed ones were slaves of Christ, and faithful ones at that, but the particular title of “faithful and discreet slave” that was given to a particular group of slaves and were assigned to be over the domestics in Matthew 24:45-47 during the CONCLUSION, is a subset of the much larger group of faithful slaves.

It sounded as though Mike was getting the impression that ONLY the FDS of Matthew 24 were to be considered to be faithful and discreet, when such is not the case. A slave of Christ can be both faithful and discreet without being a member of the subset designated during the parousia of Christ to be OVER the domestics.

Therefore, the proper idea that reflects our view, is that the FDS mentioned at Matthew 24 is simply a subset of all the other faithful and discreet individual slaves of Christ. That subset has been given a particular assignment during the last days of this system of things, during this time of the parousia of Christ. That assignment would naturally mirror as best as possible, the assignment given to the governing body of the first century.

With that achievement, the structure of the Christian congregation would parallel the first century in many ways, with a body of men who have authority and responsibility to teach and to direct the domestics, to act as “gifts in men” to readjust the holy ones until complete understanding is achieved. (Eph. 4:11-17)

Luke chapter 12 presents another parable about “being ready”, and about “having lamps burning”. This is clearly not the same prophetic scenario as mentioned in Matthew 25. It would be an error to think of these two parables are identical or that either of these parables are depicting literal events. Whereas Matthew 25 deals with virgin companions of the bride, this parable deals with men. There are some original language variations within that passage that could be considered which could also change the way some of the words are rendered which could present a slightly different picture than what is presented by the current rendition. The lesson is the same but the scenarios are different. I haven’t seen presented any reason to think there lies a contradiction between our understanding of the two parables. Maybe more will be revealed throughout the ensuing discussion.

Regards,
Rotherham

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Is the WT’s interpretation of the faithful slave…accurate?

Postby MikeFelker » Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:19 pm

Before I begin my opening statement, I’d like to thank Rotherham for all the dialogues we’ve shared in the past. In addition, few JW’s are willing to engage in a debate such as this, so I commend my opponent for doing so.The question before us is quite significant and its implications go beyond what a mere magazine has to say. Is the Watchtower’s interpretation of the faithful slave found in Matthew 24 and Luke 12, as articulated in the July 15, 2013 Watchtower, accurate? That is, do the Jehovah’s Witnesses have biblical justification in identifying their leaders (i.e. the Governing Body) as the exclusive “faithful and discreet” slave of Matthew 24 and Luke 12?

In answering this question for the purposes of this debate, there are two points that I will defend.

1) Luke 12 and Matthew 24 explicitly refutes the Watchtower’s position
2) 1919 holds no biblical significance whatsoever

Therefore, I will be denying the accuracy of the July 15, 2013 Watchtower as it pertains to these issues.

Luke 12

Beginning in Luke 12:35, Jesus tells a parable regarding slaves that will be found alert when He comes. The command to stay alert implies that the coming will be unexpected (12:40). Therefore, no one can know when the master will return until after He comes. Consequently, the slave will not be judged as faithful until this coming takes place (12:37, 43).

The logic is very straightforward.

I. The slave will be judged as “faithful and discreet” and receive the blessing when the master returns.
II. The master has not yet returned
III. Therefore, the slave has not yet been judged as faithful or received his reward.

Yet, the Watchtower has already determined which slave is “faithful.”

“Throughout the last days, the anointed brothers who make up the faithful slave have served together at headquarters. In recent decades, that slave has been closely identified with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Note, however, that the word “slave” in Jesus’ illustration is singular, indicating that this is a composite slave. The decisions of the Governing Body are thus made collectively.” (w13 7/15 p. 22 par. 10)

Unless my opponent is prepared to deny the identity of which slave is “faithful,” it is obvious that the Watchtower has identified these as the Governing Body. Yet, Jesus has not yet returned to determine the slave as faithful. Therefore, the Watchtower is being presumptuous in identifying the Governing Body “slave” as faithful and discreet. Moreover, the Watchtower incorrectly identifies the slave as a composite group. The following will explain why.

Luke 12 identifies four slaves:

1) One who is judged faithful and rewarded (12:43)
2) One who is judged as evil and punished with the most severity (12:45-46)
3) One who gets many lashes (12:47)
4) One who gets a few lashes (12:48)

Immediately, we see a contradiction between Luke 12 and the Watchtower. While the Watchtower identifies one composite slave, Luke 12 identifies four slaves with 4 different judgments. This creates a problem; if the “slave” happens to be one who receives “many lashes” (12:47), which slave will Christ judge as faithful? Apparently, there will be no slave left if the slave is a composite group or class (that is, unless they are judged faithful). However, if the slave consists of individuals, the context fits perfectly because some slaves will be judged as faithful and others not faithful.

The Watchtower recognizes the issue of the “unfaithful slave.” They write,

Was Jesus foretelling that there would be an evil slave class in the last days? No. Granted, some individuals have manifested a spirit similar to that of the evil slave described by Jesus. We would call them apostates, whether they were of the anointed or of the “great crowd.” (Rev. 7:9) But such ones do not make up an evil slave class. Jesus did not say that he would appoint an evil slave. His words here are actually a warning directed to the faithful and discreet slave. (w13 7/15 p. 24)

It is not my argument that Jesus appoints an “evil slave.” Instead, Luke 12 tells us that He will appoint a slave who will be judged faithful (12:43) or not faithful (12:45-48). As for the warning mentioned by the Watchtower, I would agree. But a distinction needs to be made: this is a warning to a slave not yet judged faithful or unfaithful. In other words, why would Jesus need to warn a slave who has already been judged after his Master’s return?

So who is the faithful slave of Luke 12? While more specifics will be discussed below as it relates to 1919 and the appointment of the Watchtower leadership, we will for now discuss Peter’s question to Jesus in 12:41, “Lord, are you addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?” Peter’s question to Jesus assumes one thing: the parable of the “faithful slave” is being addressed to Jesus’ immediate audience, whether the disciples (12:22) or the surrounding crowds (12:13). Therefore, unless Jesus’ answer corrects a misunderstanding regarding the audience scope of the parable, then it cannot be the case that the parable is applied to a group thousands of years later. As will be discussed below, the Watchtower contradicts the audience scope by applying the parable exclusively to the Governing Body of the 20th century and on.

Matthew 24 and 1919

It is surprising that the Watchtower has dealt with Luke 12 so little when it is a fuller account than Matthew 24. I hope my opponent will explain why this is the case. Similar to the account in Luke, Matthew portrays a slave who is “put in charge of his household” while the master is away. This raises a dilemma for the Watchtower: when did Jesus go away and how long has He been away? Biblically speaking, we only know of Jesus leaving in 33 C.E. after His resurrection (Acts 1:9-11). Therefore, it makes sense to assume that the “faithful slave” has been around since Jesus departed.

Yet, the Watchtower insists that Jesus has been present since 1914. So in what sense has Jesus been away in light of their teaching? Matthew 24:46 assumes Jesus is away because he must return to find him “doing so when he comes.” Therefore, not only is the 1914 unnecessary and unbiblical; it flatly contradicts Matthew 24:46.
Another problem comes when we consider the date in which the “Faithful Slave” is appointed. The Watchtower insists that this happened no earlier than 1919. To be frank, their explanation makes no sense to me. So I will leave it to my opponent to explain and defend this exegetically.

Nonetheless, the Scriptures refute the notion that there will be faithful slaves who will give out “food at the proper time.” As mentioned previously, Luke 12:41 displays Peter asking Jesus if He is addressing the disciples or the crowd. Jesus answers Peter directly by asking who the faithful slave will be? This is not an appointment, but a challenge to Peter and the disciples to be faithful slaves after the master has left.

As for the appointment, John 21:15-23 provides us with a very interesting account in which Jesus tells Peter to “feed my sheep.” This is a contradiction to the Watchtower’s contention that the faithful slave did not exist until 1919. If Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep,” then on what Scriptural grounds can the Watchtower contend that the sheep were not fed until 2,000 years later? If my opponent would like to distinguish the nature of the feeding (as if the feeding of the modern day Governing Body is different from that of the early church), then I’ll leave it to him to do so.

Next, my opponent will need to defend the notion that the “faithful slave” is limited to a small number of men when the Bible does not limit the number in such a way. While the Bible is not explicit, there is no reason to think that the “faithful slave” could not apply in some way to all Christians who are involved in faithfully teaching and caring for other believers. At the least, there is no reason why it couldn’t apply to all elders, since teaching is most certainly one of their duties.

While space will not allow for a full discussion of 1914, I will briefly address 1919 since this essential for the Watchtower’s teaching of the “faithful slave.” While a lengthy discussion is preferable on this topic, I must admit that the reasoning behind 1919 is difficult not only to defend, but to comprehend. Therefore, I trust that my opponent will provide an exegetically persuasive case for 1919.

For our purposes, I will only address 1919 and the problems within as portrayed in the July 2013 Watchtower Study Edition.

On p. 11, paragraph 6, it is said that an inspection and cleansing work took place between 1914 and 1919. Unfortunately, the timeline is not defended or explained, but assumed. I’ll then look forward to my opponent’s exegetical defense of 1914-1919.

But what about the “inspection” that is said to have taken place between 1914 and 1919? The Watchtower cites Malachi 3:1-4 to support this. Interestingly, the Watchtower admits the following:

Centuries before Jesus gave the illustration of the wheat and the weeds, Jehovah inspired his prophet Malachi to foretell events that are reflected in Jesus’ illustration. (Read Malachi 3:1-4.) John the Baptizer was the ‘messenger who cleared up the way.’ (Matt. 11:10, 11) When he came in 29 C.E., a time of judgment for the nation of Israel had drawn close. Jesus was the second messenger. He cleansed the temple in Jerusalem twice—first at the start of his ministry and second toward the end. (Matt. 21:12, 13; John 2:14-17) Hence, Jesus’ cleansing work involved a period of time. (w13 7/15 p. 11 par. 5)

While space will not permit a full discussion of Malachi 3, I will assume for the sake of argument that the Watchtower is correct in interpreting this prophecy as referring to the cleansing of the temple in Jesus’ day. Then, without providing any exegetical support, the Watchtower assumes a larger fulfillment of the prophecy as taking place between 1914 and 1919. I will leave it to my opponent to provide biblical justification for this larger fulfillment. Otherwise, a larger fulfillment is unnecessary.

We are now left with several gaps and unanswered questions regarding 1919. This involves the following:

1) The exegetical justification for 1914-1919.
2) The larger fulfillment of Malachi 3.
3) The epistemological problem as to how one knows Jesus chose the Watchtower, if he even made a choice at all.
4) The “faithful slave” not existing until 1919.

Much more can be argued on any of these points, but it is my intention to get the argument started and pursue the details depending on how my opponent responds.

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Initial Rebuttal to Mike Felker’s Opening.

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:02 am

(added word count= approximately 2100)Hello Mike,

I too appreciate your willingness to engage in these and hopefully other important issues down the road. Respectful dialogue can be very beneficial in understanding each other’s view and getting at the truth of many important matters. I will be highlighting the portions of your opening with my responses interspersed for the sake of the readers to follow along more easily.

You said:

]Luke 12Beginning in Luke 12:35, Jesus tells a parable regarding slaves that will be found alert when He comes. The command to stay alert implies that the coming will be unexpected (12:40). Therefore, no one can know when the master will return until after He comes. Consequently, the slave will not be judged as faithful until this coming takes place (12:37, 43).

The logic is very straightforward.

I. The slave will be judged as “faithful and discreet” and receive the blessing when the master returns.
II. The master has not yet returned
III. Therefore, the slave has not yet been judged as faithful or received his reward.

Yet, the Watchtower has already determined which slave is “faithful.”

“Throughout the last days, the anointed brothers who make up the faithful slave have served together at headquarters. In recent decades, that slave has been closely identified with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Note, however, that the word “slave” in Jesus’ illustration is singular, indicating that this is a composite slave. The decisions of the Governing Body are thus made collectively.” (w13 7/15 p. 22 par. 10)

 

Unless my opponent is prepared to deny the identity of which slave is “faithful,” it is obvious that the Watchtower has identified these as the Governing Body. Yet, Jesus has not yet returned to determine the slave as faithful. Therefore, the Watchtower is being presumptuous in identifying the Governing Body “slave” as faithful and discreet.

RESPONSE:
I think you are omitting some important words in those parables that shed a different light on what you have objected to. Plus, In Luke 12, it appears you are mixing two parables into one, ignoring that they are separated by Peter’s question. The slaves from the 1st parable are likely the “body of attendants” from the 2nd parable.

But note first, in both Matthew 24 and Luke 12, that before the Master RETURNS, he has already appointed “slaves” over his body of attendants, over his domestics. Notice that IF they are found to be DOING SO when the Master RETURNS, that is what brings about the FURTHER appointment which then includes ALL of his belongings. This is clearly a two-step appointment.

Step 1. The Master appoints a “faithful and discreet” slave over his “domestics” or “body of attendants” FIRST. Otherwise he could not then return to FIND THEM doing so. So at the outset of this parable, which is placed in the “parousiac” context, there are those who are appointed over “domestics” to “give them food at the proper time”, and then they CONTINUE to do so up until the time of the Master’s return, where he finds them DOING so.

Step 2. Once the Master returns and finds them DOING so, he will then appoint them in a greater capacity, which is over ALL his belongings.

To say that they are not regarded as “faithful and discreet” when they are first assigned to be over the domestics would be a misunderstanding of what has been stated in the text. The text, in regard to the FIRST appointment, again, in the “parousiac” context, refers to these ones as “faithful and discreet” and as FEEDING the domestics, BEFORE the Master returns. Not recognizing the difference between the first appointment and the second appointment is going to prevent someone from seeing the truth of what these parables are depicting.

The very fact that the Master returns to FIND THEM DOING SO, reveals unmistakably that they are DOING what they were EARLIER appointed to DO. Melding this first appointment and second appointment together, all happening at the RETURN of Christ, is a tragic contextual error which will lead to misunderstanding what is being stated.

Keep in mind that Jehovah’s Witnesses see a difference between the RETURN of Christ and the PAROUSIA of Christ. The RETURN is the climatic part of the ‘parousia’. The parousia is seen to last many decades leading to the climactic “arrival or return” of Christ.

Clearly, when we read Matthew 24:45-47, it is readily apparent that the Master FIRST appoints a “faithful and discreet” slave OVER (rendered as RULER in the KJV) the domestics to feed them UNTIL he returns. Therefore, they are ALREADY regarded as faithful and discreet at the time of this preliminary appointment, not AFTER he returns. What is stated about the return is that the Master will be happy to FIND the SLAVE doing what he was APPOINTED to do and he will then reward them in a greater capacity.

Therefore, your opening premise is faulty and does not demonstrate any weakness or inaccuracy in what we have stated about this two-fold appointment.

You further stated:

Moreover, the Watchtower incorrectly identifies the slave as a composite group. The following will explain why.Luke 12 identifies four slaves:

1) One who is judged faithful and rewarded (12:43)
2) One who is judged as evil and punished with the most severity (12:45-46)
3) One who gets many lashes (12:47)
4) One who gets a few lashes (12:48)

Immediately, we see a contradiction between Luke 12 and the Watchtower. While the Watchtower identifies one composite slave, Luke 12 identifies four slaves with 4 different judgments. This creates a problem; if the “slave” happens to be one who receives “many lashes” (12:47), which slave will Christ judge as faithful? Apparently, there will be no slave left if the slave is a composite group or class (that is, unless they are judged faithful). However, if the slave consists of individuals, the context fits perfectly because some slaves will be judged as faithful and others not faithful.

Response:

I’m not sure of what is being objected to at this point. It seems to me that you agree that the slave is made of many different individuals, judged in different ways based upon the performance of the duties they were given beforehand. Well then, doesn’t that mean that the slave is a composite? It would not be unusual to think that the slave is first represented as an appointed group of individuals. Much odder it would be to think that this first appointed slave was just a lone individual given authority over the entire congregation. The Biblical pattern is that FEW feed the MANY.

It would also not be odd that when it comes to the actual judgment of this group that they would not all necessarily have been faithful in their earlier appointment. In each case then, it seems that each slave is representative of a larger group, a group of individuals that are judged worthy of further appointment, or not.

If I missed the point of this portion, maybe you can revisit it when we offer our questions and rebuttals to one another.

You stated:

The Watchtower recognizes the issue of the “unfaithful slave.” They write, 

Was Jesus foretelling that there would be an evil slave class in the last days? No. Granted, some individuals have manifested a spirit similar to that of the evil slave described by Jesus. We would call them apostates, whether they were of the anointed or of the “great crowd.” (Rev. 7:9) But such ones do not make up an evil slave class. Jesus did not say that he would appoint an evil slave. His words here are actually a warning directed to the faithful and discreet slave. (w13 7/15 p. 24)

 

It is not my argument that Jesus appoints an “evil slave.” Instead, Luke 12 tells us that He will appoint a slave who will be judged faithful (12:43) or not faithful (12:45-48). As for the warning mentioned by the Watchtower, I would agree. But a distinction needs to be made: this is a warning to a slave not yet judged faithful or unfaithful. In other words, why would Jesus need to warn a slave who has already been judged after his Master’s return?

Response:
This plays back to the earlier error that you have made. Jesus could not come back and find the slave DOING what he TOLD them to do, if he had not at some point before his return, appointed them to do so. Not recognizing this earlier appointment is the downfall of your argument thus far. And WHEN they received this first appointment, according to the parable, they were already regarded as “faithful and discreet”. Clearly though, not all would remain faithful as is indicated again by the parables.

You stated:

]So who is the faithful slave of Luke 12? While more specifics will be discussed below as it relates to 1919 and the appointment of the Watchtower leadership, we will for now discuss Peter’s question to Jesus in 12:41, “Lord, are you addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?” Peter’s question to Jesus assumes one thing: the parable of the “faithful slave” is being addressed to Jesus’ immediate audience, whether the disciples (12:22) or the surrounding crowds (12:13). Therefore, unless Jesus’ answer corrects a misunderstanding regarding the audience scope of the parable, then it cannot be the case that the parable is applied to a group thousands of years later. As will be discussed below, the Watchtower contradicts the audience scope by applying the parable exclusively to the Governing Body of the 20th century and on.

Response:
You will note that Jesus did not answer Peter. The fact that it could have been intended for a future group could be the very reason he did not do so. Keep in mind as well that when Jesus said to his disciples, right before that, to keep on the watch and be ready, he could not have possibly meant the immediate group of disciples that was before him, because this future “ARRIVAL”, the return with the clouds where every eye will see him, did not occur in the first century. It is of no consequence then that Jesus could have been speaking of only a future group, appearing during the parousia of Christ preceding his ARRIVAL.

You said:

Matthew 24 and 1919It is surprising that the Watchtower has dealt with Luke 12 so little when it is a fuller account than Matthew 24. I hope my opponent will explain why this is the case. Similar to the account in Luke, Matthew portrays a slave who is “put in charge of his household” while the master is away. This raises a dilemma for the Watchtower: when did Jesus go away and how long has He been away? Biblically speaking, we only know of Jesus leaving in 33 C.E. after His resurrection (Acts 1:9-11). Therefore, it makes sense to assume that the “faithful slave” has been around since Jesus departed.

Response:
A couple of things here strike my interest along with a couple of assumptions made which I think cloud the picture.

Since it is abundantly clear that there are two appointments, it is good to address what the interim actually is between the initial appointment and the second one. What it does prove however is that the second appointment, received at Jesus’ arrival, does not happen until the great tribulation, for that is the timing that involves the ARRIVAL of Christ.

Clearly, prior to that ARRIVAL, there was an appointment of this slave over the domestics. However, you will note that it does not say that the Master was there physically and then left. The Master is never said to be there among the domestics at the time of the appointment. Via the scriptures and the holy spirit, Jesus appoints men “to take the lead” among Christians. Jesus was “away” even during this appointment, and the return does not refer to a departing that he made at the initial appointment of the faithful slave during the parousia, but refers to the departing that he made in the first century.

Also you said that, “Therefore, it makes sense to assume that the “faithful slave” has been around since Jesus departed.”

If you yourself believe this, then you have to therefore believe that this faithful slave is a COMPOSITE group, because surely, no one of that slave is alive today. But compositely, they would be. It appears you endorse your own COMPOSITE group but reject ours.

You said:

Yet, the Watchtower insists that Jesus has been present since 1914. So in what sense has Jesus been away in light of their teaching? Matthew 24:46 assumes Jesus is away because he must return to find him “doing so when he comes.” Therefore, not only is the 1914 unnecessary and unbiblical; it flatly contradicts Matthew 24:46.

Response:
See that response above. There is no contradiction when things are aligned correctly.

You said:

Another problem comes when we consider the date in which the “Faithful Slave” is appointed. The Watchtower insists that this happened no earlier than 1919. To be frank, their explanation makes no sense to me. So I will leave it to my opponent to explain and defend this exegetically.

Response:
The understanding of 1914 and 1919 is achieved through a tapestry of a number of prophecies and parallels in the Bible. Maybe we can entertain this in the questions section because I am afraid it will swell this portion of the debate upon the agreed number of words per section. However, you bring this back up a couple of other places below so more information is provided there.

You said:

Nonetheless, the Scriptures refute the notion that there will be faithful slaves who will give out “food at the proper time.” As mentioned previously, Luke 12:41 displays Peter asking Jesus if He is addressing the disciples or the crowd. Jesus answers Peter directly by asking who the faithful slave will be? This is not an appointment, but a challenge to Peter and the disciples to be faithful slaves after the master has left.

Response:
Answered above.

You said:

As for the appointment, John 21:15-23 provides us with a very interesting account in which Jesus tells Peter to “feed my sheep.” This is a contradiction to the Watchtower’s contention that the faithful slave did not exist until 1919. If Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep,” then on what Scriptural grounds can the Watchtower contend that the sheep were not fed until 2,000 years later? If my opponent would like to distinguish the nature of the feeding (as if the feeding of the modern day Governing Body is different from that of the early church), then I’ll leave it to him to do so.

Response:
This is not a contradiction but actually supports the view we are presenting. There is no difference between the food in the first century and the food in the conclusion of the age, except that the Apostles were directly inspired of God and we are not. This actually demonstrates why there was a need for the re-institution of a governing body in the conclusion of the age. You will recall, that according to the parable of the wheat and the weeds, during the growing season, which we see as beginning with the death of the Apostles, clear up until the harvest, there would be no governing body to speak of due to the fact that no one could tell the wheat from the weeds. Naturally, in the harvest, when the wheat and the weeds would be separated, the existence of a governing body would be necessary to maintain the purity of the sons of the kingdom, just like it was necessary in the first century. Naturally, during this harvest, we would well expect the existence of a governing body to facilitate and maintain such a separation.

You said:

Next, my opponent will need to defend the notion that the “faithful slave” is limited to a small number of men when the Bible does not limit the number in such a way. While the Bible is not explicit, there is no reason to think that the “faithful slave” could not apply in some way to all Christians who are involved in faithfully teaching and caring for other believers. At the least, there is no reason why it couldn’t apply to all elders, since teaching is most certainly one of their duties.

Response:
For now, suffice it to say that the Biblical pattern when it comes to leadership of the worldwide church, is that the few feed the many. This is what happened in the first century and this is exactly what we would expect to see in the harvest.

You said:

While space will not allow for a full discussion of 1914, I will briefly address 1919 since this essential for the Watchtower’s teaching of the “faithful slave.” While a lengthy discussion is preferable on this topic, I must admit that the reasoning behind 1919 is difficult not only to defend, but to comprehend. Therefore, I trust that my opponent will provide an exegetically persuasive case for 1919.

Response:
We simply see the reasonableness of a pattern between Christ’s interests in his physical appearance on earth and his invisible presence now. He was interesting in cleansing the house of God. Naturally he would hold the same interest during his parousia. A little more on this below.

You said:

For our purposes, I will only address 1919 and the problems within as portrayed in the July 2013 Watchtower Study Edition.On p. 11, paragraph 6, it is said that an inspection and cleansing work took place between 1914 and 1919. Unfortunately, the timeline is not defended or explained, but assumed. I’ll then look forward to my opponent’s exegetical defense of 1914-1919.

Response:
See above.

You said:

But what about the “inspection” that is said to have taken place between 1914 and 1919? The Watchtower cites Malachi 3:1-4 to support this. Interestingly, the Watchtower admits the following:

Centuries before Jesus gave the illustration of the wheat and the weeds, Jehovah inspired his prophet Malachi to foretell events that are reflected in Jesus’ illustration. (Read Malachi 3:1-4.) John the Baptizer was the ‘messenger who cleared up the way.’ (Matt. 11:10, 11) When he came in 29 C.E., a time of judgment for the nation of Israel had drawn close. Jesus was the second messenger. He cleansed the temple in Jerusalem twice—first at the start of his ministry and second toward the end. (Matt. 21:12, 13; John 2:14-17) Hence, Jesus’ cleansing work involved a period of time. (w13 7/15 p. 11 par. 5)

While space will not permit a full discussion of Malachi 3, I will assume for the sake of argument that the Watchtower is correct in interpreting this prophecy as referring to the cleansing of the temple in Jesus’ day. Then, without providing any exegetical support, the Watchtower assumes a larger fulfillment of the prophecy as taking place between 1914 and 1919. I will leave it to my opponent to provide biblical justification for this larger fulfillment. Otherwise, a larger fulfillment is unnecessary.

Response:

Again, Jesus would naturally hold the same interests in his Father’s household during his presence that he held when he made his appearance on earth. He cleansed the temple twice, both early on and toward the end of his ministry. We see that as a perfect parallel to the events of the modern day FDS. Naturally, before the initial appointment, there would have been an inspection and a cleansing. He would not appoint just ANYONE to be over the domestics. Another cleansing and inspection will come at the arrival of Christ where the slaves will receive their judgment and rewards depending on how they took care of their responsibilities that were assigned initially. We see Malachi as a perfect complement to what is portrayed in Matthew and Luke in regard to the FDS.

You said:

We are now left with several gaps and unanswered questions regarding 1919. This involves the following:

 

 

1) The exegetical justification for 1914-1919.

Response: (See above. Although not exhaustive by any means, the basic idea is presented)

2) The larger fulfillment of Malachi 3.

Response:(Since Malachi speaks of the Lord as coming to his temple, this happens twice, once in the first century and again at his arrival. It is of therefore no great concern that we see the words of Malachi apply to both situations as we are quite comfortable with the concept of prophecies and parables having more than one fulfillment. The 4th chapter clearly drifts into the events of the last days.)

3)

The epistemological problem as to how one knows Jesus chose the Watchtower, if he even made a choice at all.

Response:(Biblical truth, prophecy and history can be consulted to arrive at that conclusion. This should be handled in another debate topic or during one of the questions in this debate.)

4)

The “faithful slave” not existing until 1919.

Response:(Since there was no governing body to speak of during the growing season, and we see the harvest as being upon us now, the natural conclusion is that today, just as in the first century, there would be the necessity of a governing body. That would be in direct harmony with Eph. 4:11-17)

After these rebuttals, questions will be asked in order. The process will proceed as follows:
First question.
Answer.
Rebuttal.
Rebuttal to the rebuttal.

Then the next question is offered. Each opponent will offer five questions. Then we will present individual summaries to our observations of the debate.

Note: Not including your words that I quoted, my word is around 2100.

Regards,
Rotherham

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Initial Rebuttal to Rotherham’s Opening.

Postby MikeFelker » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:13 am

I’d like to thank Rotherham for his opening statement and look forward to the progression of this discussion. Unfortunately, a topic this broad can potentially distract us from our central focus: Are the Watchtower teachings regarding the “faithful slave” of Matthew 24 and Luke 12 accurate? While questions related to the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), it’s relevance today, eschatology, the so-called “two classes”, etc. are extremely important and will certainly be addressed to some extent, I will do my best to maintain our focus.While I’m surprised that Rotherham didn’t address issues like 1919 or spend more time in Luke 12, I won’t fault him for this here. In fact, I maintained some reservations myself in the opening statement as I couldn’t anticipate where Rotherham would go. With that said, I will regularly remind the audience of my primary arguments along with Rotherham’s rebuttals or lack thereof. But first, I’ll address Rotherham’s opening statement and then his rebuttal later in the discussion.

My opponent began his opening with a short discussion of prophecy; namely, that the nature of prophecy sometimes or often contains dual fulfillments. According to Rotherham, dual fulfillments occur when the initial fulfillment is “obvious” and the language also “requires” a second fulfillment. I’m willing to grant this, but I dispute the fact that Matthew 24 or Luke 12 requires a second fulfillment.

With that said, I’d still like to challenge Rotherham on this idea of “initial” fulfillments. If Matthew 24 and Luke 12 require an “initial fulfillment,” which verses are the exception? In particular, how was Matthew 24:36-51 fulfilled initially (who was the FDS in the first century fulfillment)? And on what basis would there be a second one? My opponent assumes this without providing sufficient evidence.

Another dilemma arises, which I also addressed in my opening. Rotherham maintains that the FDS exists during the parousia of Christ. To quote my opponent’s opening:

“During these last days or “parousia”, the natural conclusion from the scriptures is that there would be a governing body of men, just as in the first century, to teach and direct the greater household of Christians, known as the domestics. (see Matthew 24:45-47)”

In other words, during the “presence” of Christ, the FDS exists and functions. This is contrary to Matthew 24:45-47 for the following reasons:

1. In 24:45, the instructions are given to the slave while the master is present.
2. In 24:46, the master “comes.”
3. Since the master must be “present” in order to provide instructions to the slave, the master must go away in order to “come” in 24:46.
4. In other words, the FDS functions and is judged according to its actions while the master is away.

Next, Rotherham maintains that the FDS should be modeled after the first century, specifically with regards to the Jerusalem Counsel of Acts 15 and other functions in which the Apostles were involved. For this reason, the JW Governing Body is the “few” that leads and feeds the “many.” Otherwise, how could every Christian be “over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?” The problem with this objection is that it assumes the very thing that it is trying to prove; namely, that the JW Governing Body model is the only way the parable can be properly fulfilled.

But even then, the Governing Body itself is not consistent with the first century model. After all, did not the Jerusalem Council consist of Apostles of Christ and necessarily so? If so, then how can the JW Governing Body be said to “pattern” the first century Jerusalem Counsel when they admit the Apostolic office has ceased? Rotherham’s position is quite problematic on this point, for his position seems to indicate that the JW Governing Body is uninspired and fallible, yet speaks with the same kind of authority; that is, authority demanding absolute unquestionable obedience. If such authority is non-apostolic, uninspired, and fallible, then on what biblical basis can it be defended when the parallel is lost?

Rotherham suggests that in accordance with Acts 15-16, 2:42 and elsewhere that the modern day FDS follows the model whereby many are fed by a few. However, nowhere do we see this taught in Matthew 24 or Luke 12, even if we assume the Watchtower’s dual fulfillment model. It is Rotherham’s assumption which demands a modern day counterpart to the first century model as he interprets it (which is highly suspect).

Rotherham further states,

As the scriptures make unmistakably clear that there was a governing element within the first century Christian congregation, it is to be expected that during the last days, when the good news of the kingdom would be being preached for a witness to all the nations, and the wheat would be separated from the weeds, that naturally, in keeping with Biblical pattern and precedent, a similar arrangement for Christians would be restored in order to successfully accomplish the preaching of the good news into all the nations and for the wheat to be decisively separated and maintained away from the weeds.

On what biblical basis is it “to be expected?” Do the Scriptures explicitly identify a paralleled “governing element” to the first century in our modern day? They do not. And furthermore, as stated earlier, a true parallel would consist of true Apostles of Christ (i.e. those who have seen the risen Lord and been commissioned by Him). In addition, it would consist of individual writers (even non-Apostles) sending out authoritative letters to the congregations (and inspired writings at that). Yet, Rotherham would like to make an exception on these points (more could actually be mentioned, but I’ll hold off for now). But on what basis?

There is much more that can be said in response to Rotherham’s opening statement, but I hesitate to bring up too much at this point as I’d like to wait and see how he responded to my opening.

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Rotherham’s First Question to Mike Felker

Postby Rotherham » Fri Dec 20, 2013 9:02 am

I am glad that you acknowledge that some prophecies can carry dual fulfillments. However, you say that you disagree that Matthew 24 has a dual fulfillment. I would agree in part, so my question is, since both Matthew 24 and 25 are included in Jesus’ answer to the question in verse 24:3, at what point in history, if there is but one fulfillment, do you see the fulfillment of both chapters?Regards,
Rotherham

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Mike’s Answer to Rotherham’s First Question.

Postby MikeFelker » Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:54 pm

Thank you for the question and giving me the opportunity to clarify my eschatology as it relates to these chapters. I would argue that all of Matthew 24-25 was fulfilled following Christ’s ascension (Acts 1:9-11) and leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. However, there are particular elements which do carry a continued fulfillment, such as Matthew 25:31-34. While space would not allow for a full explanation of my position, I would primarily view texts like Matthew 16:28 and 24:34 as applying to Jesus’ immediate audience. Therefore, I would deny a dual fulfillment as taught by the Watchtower unless Scripture can explicitly support it.
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Rotherham’s Rebuttal to Mike’s Response

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:07 am

Hello Mike,It appears then that you hold to the preterist position in regard to Matthew 24 and 25 and other related “parousiac” prophecies. The preterist position, while acquiring some adherents along its way, is currently challenged by many scholars today and due to these powerful objections, can not be claimed to be scripturally explicit by any means. The reason I mention this is because it seems highly inordinate then to demand scriptural explictness in regard to the JW position. As I have mentioned, and I would think nearly anyone would admit, there are often ambiguous elements when it comes to prophecy. With that knowledge then, upon going in to a discussion like this, asking for explicitness is not the right thing to be asking for.

What one needs to ask for or demand from any interpretation is whether it is reasonable and accurate when it comes to history, logic and the rest of what the scriptures reveal. Does that mean that it would be possible to entertain more than one interpretation of a prophecy that contains ambiguous elements? Yes, it would. If any interpretation remains true to those things, it would be “accurate” to the eyes of the beholder. Unless one could prove that it is scirpturally, historically or logically unsound, there is no way to state that it is inaccurate.

I have found the preterist doctrine to be historically inaccurate when compared to the actual words of the prophecies that deal with the establishment of God’s Kingdom by Christ, least of which would be Daniel 2,7 and 8. We should really discuss this sometime. In fact, it seems it would have been the better one to start with.

For one to believe that the sign of the Son of Man appearing in heaven, after the great tribulation upon Jerusalem, is something that happened in the first century is completely illogical in relation to the accompanying language that surrounds it. So please tell me, do you believe that the appearing of the Son of Man, with the clouds, and every saw him, was something that happened in the first century?

If so, it would seem to me that the harder question to answer would be whether the preterist position is the one that is accurate.

Regards,
Rotherham

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Mike’s Response to Rotherham’s Rebuttal

Postby MikeFelker » Thu Dec 26, 2013 12:10 pm

Before I address Rotherham’s comments, I would like to clearly state what my position is regarding Matthew 24-25 and Preterism in general. While I would argue that Matthew 24-25 finds its fulfillment in the first century, I do not allege that all of the Christian Scriptures were fulfilled during this time. For example, I believe the resurrection mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15 is yet to take place, as well as the physical return of Christ in Acts 1:11, 3:21, etc. This would contrast me with so-called “hyper-preterism” which, as I understand it, holds that all of the events mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15, Acts 1:11, 3:21, have taken place (i.e. Christ’s final and physical return).I had no intentions in getting into this much detail with eschatology, but I realize that it is necessary in some cases. Therefore, I would be happy to address Rotherham’s objections and hopefully tie it back to our debate thesis.

I’m quite surprised that Rotherham would even think to bring up the fact that “many scholars” reject my position when most of these same scholars would reject nearly every tenant of the Watchtower understanding of 1914, 1919, the FDS, and much more. Nonetheless, I do agree that my position is a minority, but not without scholarly support. In fact, I’m sure I’d surprise some of our readers if I brought forth a list of scholars who are also preterist.

Rotherham also brought up the notion of “ambiguity” as it relates to prophecy, which is an echo to what he stated in his opening. I don’t care to say a lot on this issue so as to detract from our focus, but I will say a few things.

Isn’t it interesting that the Governing Body requires every true Christian worldwide to believe everything they put in print (until they abandon it, of course)? Yet, some of these beliefs happen to be ambiguous? My point is, I don’t see why it’s appropriate to hold to beliefs as “ambiguous,” yet insist that all true Christians must agree? It would seem to be much more wise and humble to allow each Christian the freedom to choose based on the best reasons, yet not be disfellowshipped, have privileges revoked, or considered less faithful.

With that said, I would like to make it clear that I will seek to be consistent in holding Rotherham to the same standard as I hold myself to; that is, holding to beliefs that are explicitly supported in Scripture. I would make no exception with Preterism, contrary to what my opponent has accused. However, if my opponent would like to stick to the standard of proving that it is scripturally, historically, or logically sound, then I will hold him to that. In other words, he will have to prove that his understanding of the FDS and 1919 is scripturally, historically, and logically sound.

Let me now address what Rotherham specifically brought up as “completely illogical” as it relates to a first century fulfillment of Matthew 24:

“And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the Clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)

First, notice how closely this ties with Matthew 16:27-28, which Jesus explicitly states will happen to “some of those who are standing here”:

“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27–28)

If that isn’t enough, Jesus confirms that, “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Matthew 24:34) Which “things” is Jesus referring to and to whom is He responding? He’s responding to the disciple’s questions in 24:1-3 as it relates to the coming destruction of the temple. Jesus gave no indication whatsoever that these things were to happen to a generation thousands of years later. In fact, he gave every indication to the contrary! Otherwise, the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. would have been quite an unexpected shock. Yet, Christians in the first century took Jesus’ advise and “fled to the mountains.” (Matthew 24:16) I’d also note that Matthew 16:27-28 could not have happened at the transfiguration, unless someone wants to prove that Jesus repaid “every man according to his deeds” at that event.

To answer Rotherham’s question directly; yes, I do believe Matthew 24:30 happened in the first century. Let me explain why. First, notice that 24:30 contains a direct quote from Daniel 7:13 whereby the Son of Man “comes with the clouds of heaven.” Many misunderstand this as a “coming to earth” of some kind. But Daniel 7:13 states the opposite: “He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.” This is intended to portray Jesus being enthroned as the sovereign one who establishes His kingdom.

There’s also another element that needs to be highlighted: the judgment language related to the, “riding with the clouds.” Every Jew hearing this should have understood Jesus as echoing common phrases from the Hebrew Scriptures, such as YHWH “riding on a swift cloud,” (Isaiah 19:1) which in this historical context was the judgment of Egypt. Did the Egyptians literally see YHWH riding on a cloud and executing destruction on them? There is no indication that this happened, as the context of Isaiah 19 shows. Instead, this shows that YHWH was in sovereign control as he used human agents (in this case, Egyptians against Egyptians) to accomplish his will in bringing judgment to Egypt.

What about everyone seeing this occurrence in Matthew 24:30? Apparently, Jesus Himself believed this because He said the following to the high priest at His trial: “Hereafter, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64) To summarize, Matthew 24:30 is simply using common Hebrew apocalyptic language that every Jew would have understood to be absolute, unmistakable judgment from YHWH.

To tie things back together, I believe that my position is not only scripturally, historically, and logically sound; I’d take it a step further and argue that it is unambiguous and explicitly supported by the Scriptures. More importantly, I believe it refutes the Watchtower understanding that there are “dual fulfillments” in Matthew 24, Micah 3, etc. Therefore, it is Rotherham’s burden to prove why texts like Matthew 24:45-51 and Malachi 3 should have a dual fulfillment when there is no reason to believe so. In fact, I believe it would refute my opponent’s position if he argues for a first century FDS fulfillment since this apparently unique “faithful slave” did not appear until 1919.

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Mike’s First Question to Rotherham

Postby MikeFelker » Thu Dec 26, 2013 12:23 pm

Rotherham, my first question to you will be to lay out a case for 1919 that is biblically, historically, and logically sound. While I understand that space is limited, please address in your defense what specifically happened in 1914-1919 and what relevance 1919 has to the FDS.
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Rotherham’s response to Mike’s first question

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:22 pm

Hello Mike,One cannot fully address our understanding of the events of 1914-1919 without first getting an idea of what we believed happened in 1914. The reason is because what we believe to have happened in 1914-1918, in relation to the FDS,is contingent upon our understanding of the “parousia” of Christ and when it also occurred.

Since you didn’t specifically ask about how we arrive at 1914, (and if that needs to be expounded upon, it can be) suffice it to say for now, that based upon many prophecies and prophetic dramas, including the book of Revelation, Daniel and elsewhere, we are convinced that Christ became king and the “parousia” began circa 1914.

With that as a backdrop, it would be a logical step to see that Christ, upon his enthronement and his parousia, would start by cleansing the “church” first, just as we read that “judgment starts first with the house of God”. This can be seen to be paralleled by what he did in the first century when he cleansed God’ temple. This cleansing, upon his enthronement in 1914, would be necessary in order for the separating of the wheat and the weeds to take place during the harvest, the conclusion of the age, which is semantically paralleled in the Greek with hisparousia.

It is enough to just say at this juncture, that the first century did indeed have a group of men, the Apostles and older men, that acted as a governing element in regard to teachings and organization. The few were feeding the many.

Suffice to also say that after the Apostles were no longer around, due to the weeds planted by the Devil, there would be no discernible governing body providing for the sheep during this time, since the wheat could not even be properly identified or distinguished from the weeds, and we know that the weeds were those who presented confusion and deviation from true scriptural teaching.

At the end of that growing season, the wheat and the weeds would be separated and the true Christians would be clarified. Naturally, upon the restoration of true Christianity, the same basic structure for Christianity would be restored. This is in complete harmony with Eph 4:11-17 where all Christians are told that they were given gifts in men, down through history, to “readjust” the holy ones so as to keep them in unity. This arrangement was to continue until FULL knowledge would be achieved, something I am sure both I and my opponent would agree this has not happened yet.

This restoration could not be accomplished without the existence of a governing element. So, logically and scripturally, at the near beginning of this separation work, Christ would once again appoint gifts in men to “readjust” his church, which naturally would involve digging out from the error of the weeds that had crept into Christianity. This is where we would expect the appointment of gifts in men to feed the sheep at the proper time, described in Matthew as the “faithful and discreet slave” appointed during the timing of this prophecy that asked for the SIGN of Christ’s PRESENCE, which again is semantically paralleled in the Greek with the “conclusion of the age”.

So a cleansing work, which means a refinement, which would also mean a restoration of a governing element within, would have to begin early on in the presence of Christ in order for the the wheat and the weeds prophecy to have fulfillment. A harmonization with Eph 4:11-17 with the prophecy of the wheat and the weeds amply demonstrates the need for a governing element within Christianity during the harvest period.

Our understanding of the parousia and the events of the conclusion of the age also has much to do with the book of Revelation. Because you no doubt see a major portion of this book being fulfilled before 70 CE, it is important to mention something at this time.

Since you state that you do not believe the resurrection to have occurred as of yet, you can’t at the same time state that the major portion of Revelation was fulfilled in the first century. The reason is because Revelation depicts the church as already in heaven, since the king/priests are shown to already be there in chapters 4 and 5. Revelation does not contain pre 70 fulfillment, as the setting of the prophecies are “paraousiac” in nature, futuristic, and evidently you do not yet believe that the “parousia” has started since you do not believe that the resurrection has occurred.

1 Cor. 15:20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. 21 For since death came through a man, resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each one in his own proper order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence.

Your Bible would likely say “at his coming”, which you evidently see as future in this verse.

Much more could be presented about the errors of the preterist view. Maybe we will get to more of that in the coming questions.

Regards,
Rotherham

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Mike’s Rebuttal to Rotherham’s Answer-1st question

Postby MikeFelker » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:35 am

I can appreciate that my opponent didn’t seek to establish a case for 1914 because such would go far beyond the scope of what we could reasonably cover in this exchange. So I will avoid challenging this unless it becomes relevant to do so.My first problem with Rotherham’s answer relates to what is considered “logical.” Apparently, it is only logical that Christ would “cleanse the church” first, which is “paralleled by what he did in the first century when he cleansed God’s temple.” Perhaps we disagree with what “logical” means, but would my opponent allege that my position is actually illogical since I obviously disagree? If so, then what law of logic am I breaking when I conclude that Malachi 3:1-3 has no fulfillment outside of Jesus’ earthly ministry?

My position on this is simple: Jesus fulfilled Malachi 3:1-3 during His earthly ministry. Then, during his parousia in 70 A.D., His judgment was actually not with the church, but with the Jews (having nothing to do with Mal. 3). After all, this is why the temple was destroyed per Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24. I find nothing illogical or unscriptural with this. Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing in Malachi 3 that requires my opponent’s position to be true.

Secondly, and more importantly, where do we get 1919? I realize that space wouldn’t allow for a full explanation of 1914, but I think for the sake of our debate, my opponent needs to substantiate 1919. So far in our discussion, it seems to be little more than an arbitrarily assigned date.

As far as the separating of the wheat and weeds, I don’t understand why a Governing Body is needed for this (I’d even deny that it was needed in the first century as I deny a Governing Body altogether). After all, did any of Paul’s letters highlight such a need when the churches were admonished to refute false teachings (2 Tim. 2:25, 2 Cor. 10:5)?

But let me cite a more specific example where weeds and wheat are truly separated: 1 Cor. 5-6 where grossly immoral ones are removed from the congregation. Did not Paul’s letters provide a sufficient basis for removing corrupt Christians from the congregation? If so, then why can’t they be sufficient for us today without a Governing Body? My position is that elders and even non-elders can sufficiently handle this task by adhering to the Scriptures.

Last, my opponent brings up a few arguments with regards to the parousia and fulfillments in the book of Revelation. I think this goes beyond our scope, but I’ll answer anyway if it will help clarify my position. First, I don’t believe everything in the book of Revelation has been fulfilled. Second, I don’t believe the elders in chapters 4-5 are resurrected men. I think it’s more likely that they are angelic beings of some kind. Third, I don’t hold to only one parousia. Christ can “come” or be “present” as much as he likes and there are no biblical limitations on this as far as I know (other than His final coming, of course). So there is nothing inconsistent in my position in holding that the parousia in 1 Cor. 15:23 is still future.

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Rotherham’s Response to Mike’s Rebuttal

Postby Rotherham » Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:57 am

2045 words.Hello Mike,

You stated:

My first problem with Rotherham’s answer relates to what is considered “logical.” Apparently, it is only logical that Christ would “cleanse the church” first, which is “paralleled by what he did in the first century when he cleansed God’s temple.” Perhaps we disagree with what “logical” means, but would my opponent allege that my position is actually illogical since I obviously disagree? If so, then what law of logic am I breaking when I conclude that Malachi 3:1-3 has no fulfillment outside of Jesus’ earthly ministry?

You will note that I did not appeal to Malachi in my answer about why we view the FDS as being established circa 1914-19. Why you would then go that direction when that is not the direction I went in order to answer your question seems a little odd. You will also note that Malachi was not appealed to in the articles to establish the existence of an FDS. It was appealed to to show that naturally, just as in the first century, Jesus would cleanse his temple (figuratively the church). Stating that he would cleanse the “sons of Levi” does not fit with what he actually did in the first century. The “sons of Levi” are the priestly class, and fits more with what Christ would do at the beginning of the harvest, so Malachi 3 can be seen to have direct application upon “spiritual Israel”, the “sons of Levi”, for they were the priestly tribe. The language is far too pregnant to limit it to him driving out the money changers from the temple. In fact, he didn’t actually cleanse the sons of Levi at that time, merely the temple itself, which was clearly a fore-gleam of what he would do in the future for spiritual Israel, his spiritual temple, his church.

You asked for an answer of why we believe the governing body would be appointed early in the parousia that we see as having started in 1914. You decide not to challenge the establishment of 1914 so I provide an answer based upon the parable of the wheat and the weeds and what is presented by Eph. 4:11-17. The proper understanding of the the parable of the wheat and the weeds and Eph. 4 alone is enough to see why there would be a need for a governing body during the harvest.

I presented those scriptural and logical reasons outside of Malachi, yet it is Malachi that you decide to address. We can present many reasons (a few were above) why we do not see Malachi 3 to be a solely first century application, but Malachi is not crucial to establish the point that there was a need for a governing element at the very beginning of the harvest. You must have thought that we must have Malachi’s words for this understanding. We do not.

We see that a thorough examination of the scriptures demands that Christianity be equipped with a central teaching authority, just as it was in the first century. If you deny that then we are once again likely starting this discussion in the wrong spot. A little bit like the cart before the horse.

Outside of the “growing season” Christianity should function with a governing element. In the first century God appointed Apostles and others to do so. In the harvest, he would appoint other gifts in men, teachers, evangelizers, etc. to have the same like function. Again, this can be demonstrated unmistakably in Eph 4:11-17 that calls for that governing element clear down to the time that Christians would basically have full understanding.

The wheat and the weeds prophecy shows that there would be a time where the church would be compromised and the wheat and the weeds would be indistinguishable from one another until the HARVEST, where the church would be cleansed and the false would be discarded. I find no possible way, historically, logically or scripturally, that this parable all occurred prior to 70 CE.

When exactly did the true church become indistinguishable from false Christianity prior to 70 CE? That idea is denied by the complete record of the Greek Scriptures. And why would the Apostles and other faithful Christians try to uproot these weeds during this time when God stated not to attempt it for fear the good would be uprooted with the false? This has to shoot past the first century to make any logical sense with the rest of scripture and the first century history (pre-70 CE) of the church.

Therefore, if one can see that the parable of the wheat and the weeds would shoot past a first century application, then the rest simply falls logically into place in the following manner.

1. Eph 4:11-17 shows that “gifts in men” would be responsible to readjust the church clear down until the time that full understanding would be achieved. The Apostles were primarily those gifts in men, to be followed by others who would sustain what the Apostles started. Obviously, Eph 4:11-17 still has to be in operation since we do not have full understanding as of yet.

2. The first century clearly had a governing element within it. Acts 2:42 states that first century Christians “adhered to the teachings of the Apostles”. This structure is found throughout the Greek Scriptures.

3. There would come a time when the wheat and the weeds would become indistinguishable, during the “growing” season. Once the growing season would finish and the harvest would start, the wheat would be clarified and glorified and the weeds would be removed.

It is therefore completely illogical to think that if the first century congregation needed a governing element in regard to teaching and organization, that the restoration of the church would not need one, especially in view of a worldwide preaching assignment. Without one, it would be in complete contradiction to Eph 4:11-17.

Logically, this separation work would begin at the beginning of the harvest and proceed forward. Since, as demonstrated above, a governing element would be needed to facilitate and maintain this separation, it is therefore also entirely logical and scriptural to see the appointment of this “faithful and discreet slave” taking place at the start of this time period, known as the “conclusion of the age” which is semantically paralleled with the coming PAROUSIA of Christ in Matthew 24:3, which we believed started circa 1914.

We are convinced that it took place between 1914 and 1919 because of historic events coupled with our understanding of 1914 and what transpired at that time, Christ taking his throne and the end of the Gentile Times. That time historically was a particularly noteworthy period of cleansing and refining in regard to those we believe to fit the criteria of being God’s congregation and we do not see that as a coincidence. In order to maintain that cleansing and refinement, gifts in men were necessary to be in place.

Therefore, we see prophecy, history and logic converging upon this time period to tell us that this is when the governing element would be restored.

It appears to me that any real progress in this discussion is dependent on a number of things that we are not discussing at this time and I see it as a discussion that is a little out synch with what we needs to be determined first. But be that as it may, we’ve already begun.

I would like to reiterate again some views about prophecy that should be kept in mind as we progress. You have brought up these concerns in an earlier response so I feel this establishes the right for me to address them here.

Again, prophecies and parables often contain ambiguous elements. You claim your view is explicit yet in view of all the scholars that disagree, I would think that the readers would see the weakness of that claim. You respond that these same scholars would disagree strongly with us as well and that is entirely true. But in responding that way you miss the point of what I was saying.

I am saying that there are always ambiguous elements to deal with in prophecy, and ambiguity denies explicitness. With this recognition, who then should we believe in regard to prophetic interpretations? Ourselves alone? Anyone who has a working model?

This question underscores the importance of the “teaching element” within Christianity. Why? Because the scriptures tell us that God is not interested in “private interpretation” of prophecies for his people. Therefore, the understanding of prophecy would be in the hands of those you believe to be that teaching authority within the church, that is called the pillar and the support of the truth”(1 Tim. 3:15) It must be a collective view, an objective view of prophecy that is held. A subjective or private interpretation is not what God wants for his people. (2 Peter 1:19-21)

That is why I say that as long as a prophetic interpretation can be shown to be logical, historical and scriptural, if that interpretation is taught by that teaching element, those whom you trust as those gifts in men, then for the sake of not presenting private interpretations, faithful and obedient Christians should submit and obey those ones who are taking the lead among them, as Hebrews 13:17 states, and then adhere unitedly to teach that particular view of prophecy. That is Gods will in the matter. Otherwise there is doctrinal chaos. When clarification is necessary, it is made, and then the congregation follows in step. That’s how it works within Christianity. It is the only means to preserve the unity which Eph. 4:11-17 shows to be necessary to protect the congregation from every wind of teaching.

And yes, 1914-1919 for the establishment of the FDS might involve some guesswork, but it is not an arbitrary decision. It is based upon the belief that the harvest began circa 1914 and the events that were to unfold were to require the establishment of a teaching element within Christianity. Just how long do you think it would take for Christ to decide who would comprise that “faithful and discreet” slave?

We give it approximately 4 or 5 years, based partly upon what historically transpired among those we regard to have been representing the congregation of God at that time in history and partially upon the fact that in the first century, from the time that Christ arrived (at his baptism) until the church was brought into existence (Pentecost), it was about 3 and a half years. There is no reason to think that it would take Christ much longer than that to set up the restored church once he began his rule in 1914. Besides, since we are dealing with “circa” events, the exact dates are not crucial to the understanding.

Claiming that Revelation 4 and 5 represents an angelic priesthood is an absurdity because that poses a secondary priesthood for Christians at the very same time that the superior priesthood of Christ is acting. I and others find that idea repulsive. Besides, the imagery of the 24 elders, thoroughly considered is unmistakably the church. Do you honestly believe that there are two Christian priesthoods, one angelic and one by the church and Christ? It is these sorts of inventions that deeply undermine the preterist view.

You appeal to a number of scriptures to support preterism which have no weight to them. You appeal to Matthew 16:27 and 28 and claim that this could not be the transfiguration because he did not at that time “repay” each one according to their deeds. A closer look at these two scriptures reveals that verse 27 was clearly talking about a future event and has no necessary connection to the “present” event that was to happen in verse 28, which was fulfilled by the transfiguration.

You also appeal to Matthew 26:64 which I find to be an odd attempt. All this is telling us is that his followers would now recognize HIM to be the fulfillment of Daniel’s vision. From that point forward Jesus would be recognized by his followers as that “Son of Man” who would come with those clouds in the Danielic vision. In your view, just how would they see him riding on the clouds from that TIME FORWARD?

The historic events of Daniel chapter 7 actually prove quite convincingly that Jesus could not have taken this kingship until far after the events of the first century. This should be discussed sometime as it is paramount to be able to accurately understand the parousia..

For these and many other reasons, the book of Revelation is seen to have great relevance for our day and age, the conclusion of the system of things (age). With Revelation as a futuristic book, as it should be recognized as such, it can be seen to confirm the view we espouse.

Regards,
Rotherham

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Rotherham’s Question #2 to Mike Felker

Postby Rotherham » Fri Jan 03, 2014 3:27 pm

This question requires a little setup in order to be understood.You stated that the parousia occurred in 70 CE and you also state that the parousia mentioned in 1 Cor 15 is yet future. The disciples asked about a “sign” for Jesus “parousia”. Since parousia only occurs in the singular and is seen as an ‘event’ to take place, what scriptural support is there for the idea that there are two different parousias (70 CE and the future) in relation to the return of Christ?

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Mike’s Answer to Rotherham’s Second Question

Postby MikeFelker » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:20 am

I’m confused by the logic in the question. I see no biblical or logical reason to think that if a word is used in the singular as an event, then it cannot be used in more than one context (especially since my opponent grants dual fulfillments! More on that below). If this is what my opponent thinks, then i’d like to see some good reasons for this. Otherwise, I allow thecontext to determine a word’s meaning, how many events it can refer to, etc.The answer to Rotherham’s question is simple: the context of Matthew 24 (or Matthew as a whole for that matter) shows that the culmination of events is in answer to the disciple’s question in 24:1-3 regarding when the destruction of the temple will take place at the parousia of Christ. Its very important to also analyze the parallels in Luke 21:5-7 and Mark 13:1-4, because these don’t mention a parousia at all; yet, they also mention many of the same events found in Matthew 24 as pointing to the destruction of the temple. But one of the most important contextual elements, and also most detrimental to my opponent’s position, is found in Matthew 24:34 where, “this generation (i.e. not “that” generation) will not pass away until all these things take place.” There is nothing in the context of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 which gives any indication that Jesus is referring to an audience thousands of years later. Instead, we are still in the context of the disciple’s questions regarding the parousia, destruction of the temple, etc. with Jesus’ answers to them.

When we come to 1 Corinthians 15, we are looking at a different context altogether; the resurrection. Here we will see Christ’s final parousia whereby the dead will be physically raised. This presents an obvious differentiation in context from Matthew 24 because we have left the central theme of the destruction of the temple, which doesn’t mention a resurrection at all. Therefore, we see two completely different events as it relates to a parousia of Christ. Unfortunately, it seems my opponent has read certain limitations into a word that simply isn’t there, rather than demonstrating its meaning from the context. There’s also another glaring problem for my opponent; the idea of dual fulfillments. Since my opponent obviously allows for these, i’m curious as to which parts of Matthew 24 have dual fulfillments and which ones don’t? More importantly, i’d like to see this demonstrated from the context, or why we should even see dual fulfillments at all in this passage? Even as it relates to my opponent’s question above, does he negate the possibility of a dual fulfillment of a parousia when he seems to find dual fulfillments elsewhere in the same context? It would seem that there is an inconsistency at play.

On a side note, there is much that my opponent has argued that I have not had the chance to respond to. I’ll do my best to answer them as relevant questions are asked, if not at my closing.

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Question 2-Rotherham’s Rebuttal to Mike’s Answer

Postby Rotherham » Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:46 am

Hello Mike,I don’t accept that you established any scriptural reason for believing in two different parousias. You affirm your position but that’s about it that I see.

Believing in two separate parousias, which appears to be nothing more than a purely theologically driven position, sets up a number of problems for the first century church and their ability to understand, and also for our own understanding of what is being taught. I suppose I am curious how you would defend against a full preterist interpretation that all the “parousias” mentioned, happened in 70 CE, along with the resurrection of the holy ones to heaven at that time?

It seems you wouldn’t have much of a leg to stand on if you accept that the parousia started in 70 CE, or at least ‘one’ of them did. Since the scriptures nowhere differentiate between an early and a late parousia, it would seem you could not overturn their position. It would come down to pure theology, not pure scripture.

As mentioned, the disciples ask for a SIGN, in the singular, for both the conclusion of the age and for his presence. The fact that Mark or Luke doesn’t specifically mention “parousia” is inconsequential, because we know that Matthew did. If Luke and Mark did not mention that Jesus used that term, we still know that he did unless we want to cancel out Matthew’s record. The different writers often were not synonymous with every detail but we still believe what they recorded happened or was said. Besides, the later writers often used that term, parousia, to describe the event of the return of Christ.

Since the disciples ask for a SIGN, not signs, in regard to both the conclusion of the age AND the parousia, it shows that they saw them as closely related events, one could say, singularly. They may have expected them at the same time. Otherwise, their question was not posited correctly. Since they were already living DURING the conclusion of the Jewish age and were already living DURING his “PRESENCE” in the first century, what would even be the need to ask for a SIGN to let them know he was there?

And later, when the writers spoke of that future parousia, how would any one reading even know that it referred to some distant parousia shooting past the one that you say they were asking about in regard to 70 CE? It makes no sense to create two different parousias because the believers would be clueless as to its identity because the writers, not even Jesus, ever differentiated between the two. In all contexts, the parousia was simply the parousia, with no indication otherwise that there was two of them.

And if you’re going to allude to dual fulfillment, you can hardly point a finger at us and criticize the very same thing that you left-handedly refer to as a defense.

The very use of the word parousia in all those different contexts, without any explanatory differentiation at all, even by Jesus himself who surely must have known that there was going to be TWO of them, the second being far more earth-shattering than the first, yet didn’t even hint at it in his answer to his Apostles. Yet you say that toward the end of that prophecy in chapter 25, we see events that shoot down to the second parousia, yet Jesus never differentiated. Seems highly inordinate that he would not clarify in the most relevant context to do so, for his disciples who specifically asked about the parousia.

All this is strong evidence in itself that Matthew 24 has a second fulfillment. Since we both accept that there was a far distant parousia to occur, and Jesus didn’t differentiate, and nor did his disciples, there is no good reason to think that there is more than one. And that recognition in itself sets up the understanding that we are dealing with a dual fulfillment in at least the early part of Matthew 24. We believe that the first 26 verses apply in a dual fashion. Clearly, verse 27 starts with the parousia that we see for good reasons as applying in the future only as there is no Biblical indication it happened in 70 CE, not even in a smaller fashion. Therefore, there was no FIRST fulfillment of the FDS passage, it was purely futuristic, to unfold in the future during the parousia of Christ.

Scripturally, it is more than apparent that there is a future parousia after the first century that involves the resurrection of the holy ones. To claim that there was also another parousiac event, by way of 70 CE, is purely driven by theology, not scripture, and could never qualify as EXPLICIT in nature. If we let the parousia of Christ mean the parousia of Christ, consistently without differentiation, which the Bible makes none, then this tells us that at least “portions” of Matthew 24 contain dual fulfillment.

Doesn’t one have to ask why the early church “fathers” did NOT understand the PAROUSIA of Christ as already having happened in 70 CE, or at least “one” of them? There is no indication anywhere that I have seen that they ever entertained this view. This is a later theological invention.

If, as we have seen, that there is no good reason to not see Revelation as pointing forward to future events, then there is much evidence from this book that supports the teaching that Matthew 24 contains dual fulfillment. So once again, it is imperative that the timing of fulfillment of the book of Revelation be discussed, otherwise, this will greatly delay any kind of conclusion on this topic under discussion. Also, a discussion of, at the very least, Daniel 2 and 7 is imperative to understand the answer to this topic. So I reiterate that this discussion is cart before the horse and without an inclusion of those topics being debated at some point, this will likely end up a “dangling” conversation.

However, devastating to your view is the idea that the wheat and the weeds is something that would have been fulfilled by 70 CE, unless you want to admit that there is a FUTURE harvest period where the wheat and the weeds are separated in a conclusion of an age. Up to 70 CE, where was this harvest where the sons of God were clarified and glorified like the sun? Where was the great apostasy that Paul foretold that would come before this day of Christ would arrive? He wrote this to the Thessalonians circa 51-2 CE and it was clear it had not yet happened. Clearly the confusion between the wheat and the weeds had not happened yet and God forbid any uprooting of the weeds until the harvest. When did the harvest happen? In your view, would this not be at the conclusion of the age, at 70 CE!? Would this not mean that the parable of the wheat and the weeds would have had to happen between circa 52 and 70?!! Where is the evidence for such a thing? Why would the early church “fathers” not even mention such a stupendous event as that?

This hadn’t happened by 52 CE. In fact, where do we read it EVER happening before 70 CE where there was no effort to uproot the weeds? Isn’t it rather true that clear up until the destruction of Jerusalem, were they not fighting against those false teachers and in fact, revealing them and removing them from the congregation? At what point prior to 70 CE were the sons of the kingdom made to shine like the sun AFTER their identity was confused with the weeds? When did this distinctive separation take place? And where do we find in the Greek Scriptures an effort to NOT uproot the weeds until the harvest??

In fact, the Apostle John, whom preterists claim wrote his books before 70 CE, speaks of the coming of the “antichrist”, claiming it was the “last hour” before his full blown appearance. This antichrist would clearly have been a “weed” or “weeds”? And if the separating and clarification of the wheat and weeds had taken place already, (due to the late date prior to 70) why was the appearance of the “antichrist” imminent? None of this fits logically with all this happening before 70 CE. Not only does it not fit logically, it is contradictory.

As far as what is dual fulfillment and what is not, since the first century was clearly living in a conclusion of an age, the Jewish one, and the wheat and the weeds clearly depict another conclusion of an age, the disciples were fully aware of what they were asking for in Matthew 24. They no doubt asked about a conclusion of an age that they heard Jesus mention in this very parable. They may have expected a first century fulfillment but history itself and Jesus explanation of the wheat and the weeds, proves it did not happen in the first century via all the above reasons.

This is another clear indicator that Matthew 24 was talking about both the first century and the future parousia, linking them together prophetically. Another indicator of this dual fulfillment is what Jesus spoke of from the book of Daniel. He spoke of the time when the disgusting thing causing desolation would stand in the holy place. When does Daniel indicate the fulfillment of this particular event? Well, in chapter 11 where it is mentioned this is seen to be something different from what happened at Jerusalem, yet Jesus applies it to Jerusalem. The other occurrence in the 12th chapter is clearly in the time of the end in connection with the resurrection according to verses 2 and 13.

Well, if Jesus clearly applies it to first century events and Daniel applies it to the end of the days in connection with the resurrection, once again, the need for a dual fulfillment is apparent. There are many other evidences both in Revelation and Daniel that support the view that this prophecy in Matthew 24 held a dual fulfillment, one for their conclusion of the age and one for the future conclusion of an age far past the first century, that transpires in connection with the future parousia of Christ. One for their great tribulation and then another great tribulation for a future age according to Revelation.

The reason I continue to hit at the preterist position is because I see it as a constant hindrance for you see this in another fashion. It should change your paradigm immensely if you were to see that the kingdom of the world by Christ, as mentioned in Daniel 7, could not happen until far after the first century.

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Rotherham

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Question 2 – Mike’s Response to Rotherham’s Rebuttal

Postby MikeFelker » Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:14 am

Rotherham responds in suggesting that I didn’t, “establish any scriptural reason for believing in two different parousias. You affirm your position but that’s about all I see.” (Italics mine) This is very surprising. It’s one thing to interact with what I said and disagree, but another altogether to deny that I did more than, “affirmed my position.”Let me explain my position one more time. When Rotherham has a chance to respond, I’d appreciate it if my points are actually dealt with rather than dismissed. In fact, let me just re-quote what I said:

“When we come to 1 Corinthians 15, we are looking at a different context altogether; the resurrection. Here we will see Christ’s final parousia whereby the dead will be physically raised. This presents an obvious differentiation in context from Matthew 24 because we have left the central theme of the destruction of the temple, which doesn’t mention a resurrection at all. Therefore, we see two completely different events as it relates to a parousia of Christ.”

Next, Rotherham asks how I can refute hyper-preterism with my position? The answer is simple: hyper-preterism denies the physical resurrection. This is why their position must affirm a non-physical resurrection, as they require it to have taken place in the first century. If it turns out that 1 Corinthians affirms a physical resurrection, then hyper-preterism is false. Therefore, my position presents no difficulties in affirming a parousia which is distinct from the first century. While Rotherham may suggest that, “the Scriptures nowhere differentiate between an early and a late parousia,” the context of Matthew 24 and 1 Corinthians 15 suggest otherwise per the reasons mentioned above.

Several points are then raised regarding the “sign” and “parousia.” If it turns out that Jesus is speaking about events that take place to the disciple’s generation (hence, “this generation” per Matthew 24:34), then there really is no problem. As far as why the disciples asked for a sign of His presence (since he was already there with them), apparently, they knew that Jesus was going away (Matt. 9:15, Mark 2:20, Luke 5:35, and more in John though the timing may be questionable) even before the prophecy was declared. Therefore, asking about a “presence” would be a rather obvious thing to ask given their prior instruction that Jesus would be taken away from them.

How would the disciples have known about another parousia which comes after 70 A.D.? First off, they wouldn’t know anything about the timing of the resurrection as they would the events in Matthew 24. This doesn’t mean the resurrection couldn’t have happened in their lifetime; just that it was going to happen and it would be physical. Therefore, when 70 A.D. passed, they would then have certainty on the timing of the resurrection parousia in that it hadn’t happened yet. I think the key here is that 1 Corinthians 15 has absolutely no time indicators for which a first century audience could know when it would occur. I think this is far more consistent than the position that holds the resurrection would happen at some point during or immediately after the events in Matthew 24. Surely, Jesus would have mentioned an event like the resurrection if it was to take place during the events of Matthew 24?

“And if you’re going to allude to dual fulfillment, you can hardly point a finger at us and criticize the very same thing that you left-handedly refer to as a defense.”

In response, I wasn’t advocating a dual fulfillment in any way for Matthew 24. Instead, I was positing a series of questions to conclude a particular point: My opponent allows for dual fulfillments, but not in relation to the parousia. Why not? By what standard in his reasoning can he assert dual fulfillments all over the place but yet the parousia becomes the exception? My opponent seeks to explain it as follows:

“The very use of the word parousia in all those different contexts, without any explanatory differentiation at all, even by Jesus himself who surely must have known that there was going to be TWO of them, the second being far more earth-shattering than the first, yet didn’t even hint at it in his answer to his Apostles. Yet you say that toward the end of that prophecy in chapter 25, we see events that shoot down to the second parousia, yet Jesus never differentiated. Seems highly inordinate that he would not clarify in the most relevant context to do so, for his disciples who specifically asked about the parousia.All this is strong evidence in itself that Matthew 24 has a second fulfillment.”

I’m not sure how any of this follows as “strong evidence,” even with what I will further quote below. And furthermore, Jesus didn’t have to mention a second parousia because that second parousia has a resurrection context (there is no resurrection context in Matthew 24). Otherwise, his audience could have mistakenly thought that the resurrection would happen before 70 A.D. as well. Therefore, why does Jesus have to mention and differentiate a second parousia when we have Paul to provide it for us? Rotherham correctly mentions the disciples asking about Christ’s parousia, yes, but a parousia in the context of the destruction of the temple. There is no such context in 1 Corinthians 15.

“Since we both accept that there was a far distant parousia to occur, and Jesus didn’t differentiate, and nor did his disciples, there is no good reason to think that there is more than one. And that recognition in itself sets up the understanding that we are dealing with a dual fulfillment in at least the early part of Matthew 24.”

Had Jesus mentioned the resurrection, he certainly would have differentiated them. But since he doesn’t, there’s no reason to differentiate. It is the context of the two parousia’s which differentiate them. I disagree that this sets us up for a dual fulfillment, as I will explain below.

“We believe that the first 26 verses apply in a dual fashion. Clearly, verse 27 starts with the parousia that we see for good reasons as applying in the future only as there is no Biblical indication it happened in 70 CE, not even in a smaller fashion. Therefore, there was no FIRST fulfillment of the FDS passage, it was purely futuristic, to unfold in the future during the parousia of Christ.”

First, Rotherham provides no evidence that verse 26 applies in a dual fashion. Next, Rotherham asserts that the parousia did not happen in 70 A.D. because…it didn’t happen? It would seem my opponent’s argument is circular here: it didn’t happen in 70 A.D. because it didn’t happen in 70 A.D. It would be one thing if I had absolutely no evidence for my position, but I would gladly prove that each and every verse in Matthew 24 happened in the events leading up to the destruction of the temple. But the best evidence is 24:34 where “all these things” will happen to “this generation,” which is the disciples (as there is no other generation in view).

“Doesn’t one have to ask why the early church “fathers” did NOT understand the PAROUSIA of Christ as already having happened in 70 CE, or at least “one” of them? There is no indication anywhere that I have seen that they ever entertained this view. This is a later theological invention.”

Is my opponent seriously suggesting that this is a good argument against my position? Would he hold the same standard for his own beliefs? While I understand why one might have an interest in what the church fathers believed (as I certainly do), I think we would really be getting off track if I went through a string of quotations.

Next, Rotherham asks a series of questions regarding the wheat and the weeds. My assumption is that he’s referring to the parable in Matthew 13:24-30. If not, I trust he will correct me. I don’t argue that this parable has its complete fulfillment in 70 A.D. Instead, it is a parable showing what the kingdom of God is like and what is to happen throughout history (including 70 A.D.). In other words, I would see this verse as having a continuous fulfillment since there is no biblical reason to find a former complete fulfillment or even a dual fulfillment.

“In fact, the Apostle John, whom preterists claim wrote his books before 70 CE, speaks of the coming of the “antichrist”, claiming it was the “last hour” before his full blown appearance. This antichrist would clearly have been a “weed” or “weeds”? And if the separating and clarification of the wheat and weeds had taken place already, (due to the late date prior to 70) why was the appearance of the “antichrist” imminent? None of this fits logically with all this happening before 70 CE. Not only does it not fit logically, it is contradictory.”

I think bringing this up gets us way off track, but yes I do believe the anti-Christ was Nero and was most certainly a weed. I really don’t understand what Rotherham is arguing here or why this presents any sort of difficulty. The wheat and weeds were clearly separated in 70 A.D. when the Christians fled and Jerusalem was destroyed.

“As far as what is dual fulfillment and what is not, since the first century was clearly living in a conclusion of an age, the Jewish one, and the wheat and the weeds clearly depict another conclusion of an age, the disciples were fully aware of what they were asking for in Matthew 24. They no doubt asked about a conclusion of an age that they heard Jesus mention in this very parable. They may have expected a first century fulfillment but history itself and Jesus explanation of the wheat and the weeds, proves it did not happen in the first century via all the above reasons.”

I don’t see how this is evidence at all for a dual fulfillment. If the disciples were asking a specific question about a specific age, then on what basis can we posit two ages? In Jesus’ answer, he could have easily explained this. Instead, we have to rely on utter speculation on the part of my opponent rather than providing explicit biblical support as I have provided. Unfortunately, space will not allow for a rebuttal on Rotherham’s interaction with my arguments along these lines.

Next, Rotherham raises a question about the “abomination of desolation” which is mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24:16. He correctly argues that this was fulfilled with Jerusalem, but is incorrect in positing a fulfillment of Daniel 12 in connection with the resurrection. Instead of demonstrating that the resurrection is in view here (that is, the one mentioned in 1 Cor. 15), he simply assumes it. While space will not allow for a full discussion here, I think it is beyond question that the chronologies of days (Daniel 9) and weeks (Daniel 12) mentioned in Daniel find their fulfillment in the first century. However, I believe we would be severely off topic if we pursued such a discussion.

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Mike’s Second Question to Rotherham

Postby MikeFelker » Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:46 am

You believe that an inspection took place from 1914-1919 by Jesus. Do you believe that all true Christians in the 1914-1919 (or even prior) period were anointed? If so, were they not already chosen by the way of being anointed? The implication is with what purpose an inspection would be needed if they were already chosen and others rejected.
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Mikes #2 question-Rotherham’s Answer

Postby Rotherham » Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:18 am

Hello Mike,You asked:

MikeFelker wrote:You believe that an inspection took place from 1914-1919 by Jesus. Do you believe that all true Christians in the 1914-1919 (or even prior) period were anointed? If so, were they not already chosen by the way of being anointed? The implication is with what purpose an inspection would be needed if they were already chosen and others rejected.

The question is a little fuzzy but I will try my best to address what I think you are asking.

The question demonstrates to me that maybe there is some misunderstanding as to what we believe in regard to the difference between the anointed as a whole group and the FDS as a subset to that overall group.

You see, just as in the first century, where the Apostles were a subset of the larger group of “holy ones” or anointed” ones, the disciples ADHERED to the teaching of the Apostles. (Acts 2:42) As I have mentioned, this is a clear case where the few were feeding the many, a pattern seen throughout the entire history of God’s people in the Bible, expect during the growing season of the wheat and the weeds.

I have demonstrated that Eph. 4:11-17 and the “parable of the wheat and the weeds” necessitate the existence of those “gifts in men” outside of the growing period of the “wheat and the weeds”. I will address your mystical view of the wheat and the weeds in a moment.

That having been said, I am not sure if you understand what transpired in this “cleansing of the sons of Levi”, which is a reference to the priestly class. Since this did not technically happen in the first century, we see this has a reference to what would happen as the result of the wheat and weeds being separated in the conclusion of the age. Clearly, this would be a “cleansing of the sons of Levi”, the Christian priestly class, the holy ones who will judge the world with Christ.

The “inspection” you mention wasn’t for the purpose of CHOOSING who was anointed. As you mention, such a thing would have already been done. The inspection would be for the purpose of seeing what needed be cleansed from the “sons of Levi” so that they could be purified, not chosen, but purified. Since the chosen ones, the anointed, were mixed in with the weeds until the harvest (circa 1914), they needed to be cleansed from the “people and things which cause stumbling” according to the wheat and weeds parable.

Then, from among those ones who were being cleansed, a governing element would need to be chosen, so that there would be the fulfillment of what Eph. 4:11-17 calls for outside of the growing period, that being “gifts in men” who “readjust” the “holy ones” for the sake of truth and unity clear down to the time that the “fullness” would be achieved, which no one believes is here yet.

Now, the only possible obstacle that preterists can offer to the wheat and the weeds is to “spiritualize” or “mysticize” the parable so that it has no real spot in history but is a theme that is repeated throughout Christian history, at least I think that is what I am hearing from you. If not, you are going to have to clarify.

But regardless, this view denies Biblical precedent and pattern, which I will now demonstrate.

Let us look at the phrase “conclusion of the age, or system/world”. What do we find as far as usage?

The word “aion” (rendered “world” or “age” in Matthew 13) can carry a few nuances as to its meaning. Three basic meanings are offered in the lexicons. 1.) eternity, unbroken time; 2.) the world/universe; or 3.) period of time or an age

It is easy to determine from the context of Matthew 13 what meaning we must choose. Since there is no “conclusion” or “end” to eternity or an unbroken age or to the universe/world, the meaning is the one that all translators I have encountered, have chosen, a “particular period of time or an age.” So, according to lexical definition, this is not some muddied “whenever”, but is a specific period in time, an age. In fact, the question asked by the disciples shows that they understood the “conclusion of the age” to be a specific period of time in history or they would not have asked for a sign as to when it would occur. And the answer Jesus gave shows that he too regarded this expression as a period in time. Once again, there is no Biblical evidence that this time period would represent some mysticized “whenever” down through all time. It is once again a purely theological invention.

No doubt the disciples were asking about the “conclusion of the age” that was in direct relationship to this parable of the wheat and the weeds spoken by Christ. What other “conclusion of the age” could they have been asking about since this is the only one Jesus had mentioned to date? So they CLEARLY thought of it as an actual period of time leading to an END because that is what “conclusion” is unmistakably indicative of, a coming end, like the last act of a play. And the answer Jesus gave lends no thinking to the idea that it was not an actual period of time in history because even you believe that the things mentioned specified a particular time in history, that being prior to 70 CE, according to your own belief, that LAST generation.

But the fact is, and this is even more evidence that Matthew 24 boils down to dual fulfillment, the events of the growing period where the wheat and the weeds were INDISCERNABLE from one another and there was to be NO separation of them until the harvest, this simply has no place for fulfillment prior to and up to 70 CE. True Christianity certainly maintained its identity in the world. THEY certainly knew who they were and could identify themselves, because they were adhering to the teachings of the Apostles which were not muddied waters of truth, but truly definitive. So there was no seeding of the weeds that caused the obscureness of true Christianity during this time. They clearly maintained their identity by constantly WEEDING OUT the false teachers, removing them from the congregation.

This very action of removing sect-promoters and false teachers from the congregation would be in direct contradiction to God’s orders to NOT uproot the weeds until the HARVEST. So there is no possible room in the first century for the fulfillment of a specific period of time where all this took place. It clearly refers to a LATER specific period of time or an age.

Now, Jesus knew that the “conclusion of the age” he mentioned in Matthew 13 and that subsequent “confusion between the wheat and the weeds, would have a far future fulfillment and this is exactly what was prophesied about the apostasy that would come first before the Day of the Lord. This is exactly what John was referring to when he wrote his late letter that it was the last hour before antichrist. Since there is absolutely no convincing evidence that John wrote his letters prior to 70 CE, but rather during the time of his imprisonment by Domitian, there is once again, no good reason to accept the preterist view that he was referring to someone like Nero. The antichrist wasn’t even a single person anyway, according to the definition supplied by John himself.

And I will once again reiterate that a thorough discussion of the “timing of the book of Revelation” and a thorough discussion of Daniel chapters 2 and 7 will decisively refute preterism, either full or partial. Obviously we will have to leave that to another time.

But, as demonstrated, if circa 1914 established the ‘parousia” of Christ, which you haven’t asked me to defend at this juncture, then the rest is simply elementary. Between the wheat and the weeds and Eph. 4:11-17, there is a definitive need for those “gifts in men”, just like the Apostles were in the first century, there is need now for such men to maintain unity until the “fullness” arrives.

In fact, even from YOUR preterist position, Eph. 4:11-17 refutes your notion that we do not need a governing element, similar to the Apostles in the first century. It calls for those gifts in men to readjust the holy ones to keep them unified until the fullness arrives. And we BOTH know we are not there yet. So we BOTH should realize that those “Apostle-like” gifts in men, should be around doing their job and we should be willing to obey and submit to their God-given authority (Heb. 13:17).

And the pattern throughout the Bible is that the few feed the many. There is a tremendous amount of good reason and scripture to establish that Christianity, God’s congregation, would indeed have a centralized teaching authority, as they have always had in history. You should see that for your own congregational paradigm.

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Question #2 – Mike’s rebuttal to Rotherham’s Answer

Postby MikeFelker » Sat Jan 11, 2014 5:59 pm

I appreciate my opponent’s attempt to interpret my question, but unfortunately I will not be addressing any of the other points related to preterism, as they were not directly relevant to the question that I asked. While we both have the liberty to say what we want, I will do my best to provide only information that is directly relevant to the questions being asked (whether by me or Rotherham).With that said, I would like to clarify the fact that I do understand the difference between the anointed as a whole group and the FDS as a subset. Let me also clarify my question. Rotherham is correct that the “inspection” wasn’t for the purpose of choosing who was anointed. I understand that. However, my intention was to explain that an inspection towards all who claim to be a Christian is not only unbiblical; it is wholly unnecessary.

I’ll provide a few quotations from the Watchtower to better articulate my points:

*** ip-2 chap. 27 p. 397 par. 14 Jehovah Blesses Pure Worship ***14 These words in Isaiah harmonize with two other prophetic utterances, the one recorded at Ezekiel 43:4, 6-9 and the other at Malachi 3:1-5. Both Ezekiel and Malachi foretell a time when Jehovah God comes to his temple. Malachi’s prophecy shows that Jehovah comes to inspect his house of pure worship and to act as a Refiner, rejecting those who misrepresent him. Ezekiel’s vision depicts Jehovah as entering the temple and demanding that all traces of immorality and idolatry be removed. In the modern-day fulfillment of these prophecies, there was an important spiritual development in 1918 in connection with Jehovah’s worship. Jehovah and Jesus evidently made an inspection of all of those claiming to represent pure worship. That inspection led to the final casting off of corrupt Christendom. For Christ’s anointed followers, the inspection meant a brief period of refinement followed by a swift spiritual restoration in 1919.—1 Peter 4:17. (Italics mine)

*** w84 9/15 p. 14 par. 16 “All Israel Will Be Saved” ***

16 Jesus’ “presence” started at the termination of the “seven times” of the Gentiles in the fall of 1914. (Daniel 4:23-36) At that time the glorified Jesus Christ turned his attention to the exercise of his power toward the war-stricken earth. The facts of history prove that in the postwar year of 1919 the reigning King Jesus Christ sent forth his heavenly angels to gather together “chosen ones” from all parts of the earth. Under the supervision of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, they were brought together into worldwide unity, to combine their efforts thenceforth in carrying out Jesus’ prophetic direction recorded at Matthew 24:14: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Italics mine)

Notice: there is an inspection among all who claim to represent pure worship. This obviously must have included much of so-called “Christendom” at that time. Furthermore, this inspection must have concluded that Christendom was unfaithful and the “Bible Students” or Jehovah’s Witnesses were faithful. Otherwise, it would make no sense to argue that Christendom was judged as a result of the inspection. I see this entire understanding as speculative and problematic; simply because God knew who His anointed were. Also, those who weren’t anointed were already under His wrath (John 3:18; 3:36) simply on the grounds that they are sinners and have not truly accepted Christ, repented, etc.

I’d like to address the “cleansing of the sons of Levi,” since this is related to the inspection and cleansing. First, I’d like to emphasize that God can and does cleanse and purify His people. This has been happening since the first century. But secondly, on what basis can my opponent claim that the “cleansing of the sons of Levi” could not have happened in the first century? I think there is far better reason to believe that it did rather than speculating on dual fulfillments.

I explained in my opening that, “that the Watchtower is correct in interpreting [Malachi 3] as referring to the cleansing of the temple in Jesus’ day.” However, I don’t think this culminates the extent to which Jesus cleansed the temple, the sons of Levi, etc. For example, in Acts 6:7 we see that a, “great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.” Could this not be the refining and purifying that Malachi 3:2-3 speaks of? As far as the judgment mentioned in 3:5, the destruction of Jerusalem fits perfectly with this. One simply has to read the works of Josephus to learn how horrible this event was.

The reason I’m bringing up 1919, the inspection, Malachi 3, etc. is because I believe the Watchtower’s understanding of the FDS depends on it. That is, if this inspection and refining never took place, then on what basis could the Governing Body claim their authority? Moreover, the Watchtower magazine under discussion spends a fair amount of time discussing 1919 and the appointment. Therefore, it seems appropriate to do here as well.

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Mike’s Question #2 – Rotherham’s Rebuttal to Mike

Postby Rotherham » Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:45 am

Hello MikeYou said:

I appreciate my opponent’s attempt to interpret my question, but unfortunately I will not be addressing any of the other points related to preterism, as they were not directly relevant to the question that I asked. While we both have the liberty to say what we want, I will do my best to provide only information that is directly relevant to the questions being asked (whether by me or Rotherham).With that said, I would like to clarify the fact that I do understand the difference between the anointed as a whole group and the FDS as a subset. Let me also clarify my question. Rotherham is correct that the “inspection” wasn’t for the purpose of choosing who was anointed. I understand that. However, my intention was to explain that an inspection towards all who claim to be a Christian is not only unbiblical; it is wholly unnecessary.

Let me help you appreciate the situation as we see it from Biblical prophecy and history itself. Some of this is a repeat from before.

We firmly believe that the parable of the wheat and the weeds shoots far past the first century down to the time known as the “conclusion of the system” which Jesus identifies as the harvest. This is supported also by both the manner in which the disciples posed the questions in Matthew 24 and the manner in which Jesus answered the questions posed. In fact, understanding the wheat and the weeds correctly and understanding the answer that Jesus gave to his disciples in Matthew 24 is key to understanding what would transpire in relation to the church.

Once the Apostles passed off the scene,which we see as a reference to when “men fell asleep” in the parable, the enemy, the Devil was able to plant the weeds in among the wheat and the two became indistinguishable during the growing season clear up until the harvest. During this growing season there as no organization nor clearly identifiable features that made the wheat stand out from the weeds. During this time the Master said to NOT try and sort this out until the harvest, which proves this could not have been a first century restriction as they were CONSTANTLY revealing and exposing false teachers and sect promoters. They were removing those who would cause division via sect-like teachings.

But during the growing season they were disorganized, somewhat confused as to true doctrine, severely in need of being cleansed and gathered together for the work that would transpire during the harvest, the preaching of the good news, feeding the flock with the food at the proper time and otherwise caring for God’s household, etc. They were disorganized and were likely dispersed throughout the world during the growing season. However, the wheat were consistently “lovers” of truth as they best understood it.

During the growing season, the wheat were still captive in spiritual Babylon, via the foremost part, Christendom. There really was no where else to be except captive by Babylon to one degree or another. Is it possible that the wheat collectively entertained some false doctrines up to that point? Sure, entirely possible and we believe that they did have false teachings which needed to be discarded. Could there have been individuals that were wheat yet needed to be cleansed from false doctrines? Sure. Both as a group and individually, the wheat needed to be separated from “things and people which cause stumbling” as the parable says.

Come the harvest, they needed to be separated from the pagan teachings of Babylon the Great.

So the Master arrives and makes an inspection of what needs to be cleansed and who would best serve as the governing element among the wheat. He no doubt saw that there were those who were wheat who were still trapped in Babylon and had not as of yet joined themselves to the efforts of those who were busy trying to separate the truth from the false.

Just like John the Baptist cleared up a way before the Messiah appeared, so likewise, we see the efforts of Russell and his companions performing a similar work before the parousia of Christ began circa 1914.

This harvest period, which started with the inspection, did indeed affect all who claim to be Christian as all of Christianity was in need of cleansing to one degree or another. Those who would refuse to be cleansed and be gathered “into the storehouse” and hold doggedly to false doctrines such as the Trinity and the immortal soul and others, would be rejected by God until such time that they would repent and accept the truth. It most certainly called into question the integrity of everyone who claimed to be Christian. The parable demands that understanding. No one was exempt from at least some corruption.

You presented these quotes although I’m not sure why since the information contained within has been revised to one degree or another.

*** ip-2 chap. 27 p. 397 par. 14 Jehovah Blesses Pure Worship ***14 These words in Isaiah harmonize with two other prophetic utterances, the one recorded at Ezekiel 43:4, 6-9 and the other at Malachi 3:1-5. Both Ezekiel and Malachi foretell a time when Jehovah God comes to his temple. Malachi’s prophecy shows that Jehovah comes to inspect his house of pure worship and to act as a Refiner, rejecting those who misrepresent him. Ezekiel’s vision depicts Jehovah as entering the temple and demanding that all traces of immorality and idolatry be removed. In the modern-day fulfillment of these prophecies, there was an important spiritual development in 1918 in connection with Jehovah’s worship. Jehovah and Jesus evidently made an inspection of all of those claiming to represent pure worship. That inspection led to the final casting off of corrupt Christendom. For Christ’s anointed followers, the inspection meant a brief period of refinement followed by a swift spiritual restoration in 1919.—1 Peter 4:17. (Italics mine)

Even though the period has been adjusted to 1914-1919, I don’t see an issue with what is stated here, for surely, the inspection and cleansing of God’s wheat and the appointment of the FDS would serve also as a decisive rejection to Christendom as unworthy to produce that governing body from within its ranks and as a line of demarcation between the wheat and the weeds and a symbolic release of “spiritual” Israel form the grasp of “spiritual” Babylon.

*** w84 9/15 p. 14 par. 16 “All Israel Will Be Saved” ***16 Jesus’ “presence” started at the termination of the “seven times” of the Gentiles in the fall of 1914. (Daniel 4:23-36) At that time the glorified Jesus Christ turned his attention to the exercise of his power toward the war-stricken earth. The facts of history prove that in the postwar year of 1919 the reigning King Jesus Christ sent forth his heavenly angels to gather together “chosen ones” from all parts of the earth. Under the supervision of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, they were brought together into worldwide unity, to combine their efforts thenceforth in carrying out Jesus’ prophetic direction recorded at Matthew 24:14: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Italics mine)

Again, I don’t see an issue here. I’m not sure what you think this does for you. True, the dates have been adjusted to 1914-1919, but other than that, what’s the issue? The overall picture is still the very same.

You stated:

Notice: there is an inspection among all who claim to represent pure worship. This obviously must have included much of so-called “Christendom” at that time. Furthermore, this inspection must have concluded that Christendom was unfaithful and the “Bible Students” or Jehovah’s Witnesses were faithful. Otherwise, it would make no sense to argue that Christendom was judged as a result of the inspection. I see this entire understanding as speculative and problematic; simply because God knew who His anointed were. Also, those who weren’t anointed were already under His wrath (John 3:18; 3:36) simply on the grounds that they are sinners and have not truly accepted Christ, repented, etc.

Yes, he knew who is anointed were but they were all in captivity to Babylon/Christendom to some degree, they were still all IN Babylon/Christendom to some degree and they needed to be separated and cleansed. From among those who were willing to be separated from the false, and in view if the valiant efforts made by the “Russellites” to clarify truth (although far from perfect), it would be an easy choice as to who, group-wise, was demonstrating a love for the truth, even if that truth was not as refined as it would come to be. And even from among their ranks, many proved to not be willing to progress with the truth and were separated. But by and large, those early Bible Students, had the right spirit, the willingness and humility to admit error and to change, come what may, something that the churches did not do and have not done to this very day. This is what the Master would look for. Who better to use as the producer of the FDS to give food at the proper time? This group was already trying to do what the Master would do on a grand scale during the harvest. One could think that the choice was readily apparent.

You said:

I explained in my opening that, “that the Watchtower is correct in interpreting [Malachi 3] as referring to the cleansing of the temple in Jesus’ day.” However, I don’t think this culminates the extent to which Jesus cleansed the temple, the sons of Levi, etc. For example, in Acts 6:7 we see that a, “great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.” Could this not be the refining and purifying that Malachi 3:2-3 speaks of? As far as the judgment mentioned in 3:5, the destruction of Jerusalem fits perfectly with this. One simply has to read the works of Josephus to learn how horrible this event was.

But you can’t isolate this from the wheat and the weeds parable and other related prophecies and statements which fit perfectly with the view that there would come a point in time when the church would be filled with false teachings and confusion, “things and people causing stumbling”. The details of the parable just can’t fit with what happened in the church during the first century as explained above and before. So since the church would become corrupt, via the introduction of false doctrines and other corruptive influences, manifested primarily through the Roman Catholic Church and later by her Protestant daughters, the parable demonstrates a CLEANSING that would occur and the Eph. 4:11-17 demands the existence of an Apostle-like leadership once outside the growing period. The fact that these gifts in men would then “adjust” the holy ones for the sake of truth and unity, this also bespeaks a natural cleansing process that would be ongoing until the fullness would be achieved,

So what is stated in Malachi really doesn’t fit well with what happened in the first century because the cleansing in the first century would have involved far more than the “sons of Levi”, the priests, it would have included other members of the nation of Israel and also eventually Gentiles, but Malachi just mentions the “sons of Levi”, which come the harvest, that is exactly what would need to be cleansed for the “church” as that priestly class, who were ALL “sons of Levi”. The cleansing would naturally take place for the purpose of gathering his chosen ones together and for the purpose of producing an FDS to give food at the proper time.

You said:

The reason I’m bringing up 1919, the inspection, Malachi 3, etc. is because I believe the Watchtower’s understanding of the FDS depends on it. That is, if this inspection and refining never took place, then on what basis could the Governing Body claim their authority? Moreover, the Watchtower magazine under discussion spends a fair amount of time discussing 1919 and the appointment. Therefore, it seems appropriate to do here as well.

Biblical pattern and precedent elsewhere can be shown to demonstrate the same scenario as we use Malachi 3 for, without ever appealing to it, and since you have such an issue with it, it is best to use other reasoning to demonstrate the same point, then, whether Malachi is really telling us the same thing, becomes moot if it can be demonstrated elsewhere. In effect, I have already demonstrated it.

The parable of the wheat and the weeds itself bespeaks an inspection, does it not? How would one go about separating the wheat from the weeds without an inspection? How would one remove “things and people that cause stumbling” without some sort of examination taking place? Such a scenario as presented in the wheat and the weeds would demand some kind of inspection in order for the cleansing and the separation to take place. That in itself spells “inspection” even without the use of Malachi. So if you reject Malachi, I don’t really see the problem because it is called for by the parable of the wheat and the weeds itself.

Do really think that Jesus would appoint an FDS for the purpose of feeding the household without some kind of qualifications? Where did this FDS get the PROPER FOOD at the PROPER TIME without some kind of refinement and inspection taking place? Doesn’t that appointment in itself imply inspection and even cleansing of that FDS before they would be allowed to do such? Surely it does, because when the Master returns later he checks to SEE if they DID as they were SUPPOSED to do.

Again I would like to reiterate. Prophecy was never intended for “private” interpretation. The understanding of prophecy would be in the hands of those “gifts in men”, otherwise, it would be interpretational chaos, which is what you have spread abroad the churches of Christendom. To a degree, your BELIEF in a prophetic interpretation can be a matter of trust. Once one has identified the true church via the unambiguous teachings in the Bible, then if that church provides meaning to a prophecy, it should be adhered to as long as it is historically, logically and scripturally harmonious.

In the end of the matter, knowledge is based upon acknowledgement.
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Rotherham’s question #3 to Mike Felfer

Postby Rotherham » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:07 am

This question again requires a little setup. The parable of the wheat and the weeds calls for the condition of the wheat and the weeds being indiscernible until the harvest. The wheat and the weeds are not to be separated likewise until the harvest, and then at the harvest the wheat and the weeds would be separated by removing things and people that cause stumbling. So this raises the following:When did we see in the first century a concerted effort to NOT separate truth from false or to remove things that cause stumbling and when did we see the wheat become indiscernible from the weeds?

Regards,
Rotherham

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Rotherham’s #3 Question – Mike’s Answer

Postby MikeFelker » Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:20 pm

I believe my opponent’s position presents a fundamental misunderstanding of the parable; namely, that this parable is presenting a local reality. In other words, it appears Rotherham views this as a parable that takes place within the church only. Otherwise, why would he even bring up the fact of a, “concerted effort to NOT separate truth from false or to remove things that cause stumbling?”I’ll leave it to Rotherham to clarify this, but this appears to be his position. Thankfully, the Lord Jesus interprets this parable for us in Matthew 13:36-43. First, we see that the field is the world (13:38). This fact alone renders Rotherham’s question irrelevant. After all, how could we remove the weeds from the earth even if we wanted to (other than murder, which is ridiculous to consider)? Furthermore, if this has a first century (and continuous) fulfillment that takes place in the world, then a removal of non-believers from the congregation would also render Rotherham’s point void. That is, removing wicked ones from the congregation is a far cry from removing them from the world.

Another point to consider is the aspect of discernibility. Can we know what are or aren’t weeds? Again, this question is pointless. Obviously, the Christian Scriptures provided plenty of criteria for judging the fruits of a professing Christian and how we should treat them (Matt. 7:15, 2 Tim. 2:18, 2 John 7, etc.). But this parable isn’t talking about professing Christians and whether we should keep them in the congregation or whether they are discernable. Instead, Jesus is speaking to the reapers, who are the angels in charge of separating the wheat and weeds (13:39). The charge is to them to not uproot until the harvest, which begins at the destruction of the temple (which the context of Matthew’s gospel). If a separation has ever occurred between true Christianity and the world, it would be here since the Christians fled and Jerusalem was destroyed.

Also keep in mind the fact that God knows who his true followers are and apparently so do the angels. After all, how could they “gather the elect” (Matt. 24:31)? Thus, I see a very strong connection here with the parable in Matthew 13. The point here is that the angels not make the separation until the harvest, which is when Christians are to “flee to the mountains (24:16).” This has more to do with warning against premature judgment than whether Christians are discernable. In other words, if the Christians remained in Jerusalem, of course they would get uprooted too!

Perhaps my opponent can spend some time elaborating on why his position is correct and mine wrong, but I really see no problem here.

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Re: Rotherham’s #3 Question -Rotherham’s Rebuttal

Postby Rotherham » Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:17 pm

Hello Mike,You said:

I believe my opponent’s position presents a fundamental misunderstanding of the parable; namely, that this parable is presenting a local reality. In other words, it appears Rotherham views this as a parable that takes place within the church only. Otherwise, why would he even bring up the fact of a, “concerted effort to NOT separate truth from false or to remove things that cause stumbling?”

It is a parable of the sons of the kingdom in the earth which goes from the time that they were planted in the first century to the time that they reap their heavenly reward by shining as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of God. The field is the world. The wheat are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, the Devil, which were devised to look like the wheat to the point of not being able to distinguish them apart for the growing season. The parable takes place in the world, for the church is in the world, both the real sons of the kingdom and the counterfeit ones planted by the Devil.

The separation is not the church separated from the world but the real sons of the kingdom separated from the counterfeits. Keep in mind, they are ALL removed from the field in the harvest, but it is a two-step process for both parties.

For the wheat, they are first gathered into God’s storehouse. Then, they are exalted to shine like the sun in the kingdom of God. This is a clear reference to heavenly glory that they receive. We know this by means of Biblical precedent. Anywhere in scripture where a person is spoken of as shining like the sun in the kingdom, heavenly glory is intended every time. If we let the scriptures interpret scriptures, rather than our own desires, precedent tells us that at the end of the parable of the wheat and the weeds, the wheat receives heavenly glory. This happens during the PAROUSIA with their resurrection to heaven as you know. To have this phrase not apply to heavenly glory is out of harmony with the rest of its uses in the Bible.

Math. 17:2, the transfiguration, where the phrase is a clear reference to his future heavenly glory.

Acts 26:13, Paul saw Jesus in his heavenly resurrected state.

Rev. 10:1, a description of an heavenly angel.

Rev. 1:16, a vision of the heavenly Jesus Christ.

The pattern is established. No exceptions. Therefore the wheat coming to shine like the sun in the kingdom of God, for those who respect Biblical precedent, means they receive their heavenly glory at the end of the parable.

As for the weeds, they are first placed into bundles. This was not their destruction but it certainly facilitated the separation from the wheat. They then would await their destruction to be completed by placing them into the fiery furnace.

Notice that the reapers did not ask to put them into the fire, they simply wanted them to be removed from the field of wheat so that the true sons would be recognized for what they were. They were not asking permission to destroy them, but to remove them from among the real sons of the kingdom. The destruction came at the harvest, just as the exaltation of the wheat did.

But this presents a problem for you, or at least it should. The use of the phrase, “shine as brightly as the sun” shows that the final part of this parable does NOT apply to the first century and surely not in regard to some separation between Christians and non-Christian Jews at the destruction of the temple in 70 CE!!??

Think about it. There was no confusion of identity between the Jews and the Christians. The Devil did not need to sow Jews into the world; they had been there for centuries and actually planted by God himself a very long time ago. The Christians knew the difference between themselves and non-Christian Jews, the Jews knew the difference as well and onlookers themselves knew the difference. Jews never resembled Christians to the degree that they could not be discerned and differentiated. The church leaders constantly fought to separate the influence of the Jews from Christianity. There was never a period of tolerance of evil ones in the congregation during the first century.

To make such an application is a monstrosity because it can’t even match what the words of the parable mean when read without an infused “affected” meaning nowhere paralleled in the Bible.

You said:

First, we see that the field is the world (13:38). This fact alone renders Rotherham’s question irrelevant. After all, how could we remove the weeds from the earth even if we wanted to (other than murder, which is ridiculous to consider)?

Follow carefully what happens to the weeds. First they are separated from the wheat and they are tied in bundles, awaiting their coming destruction. So don’t confuse the fire with the placing them in bundles as the result of separation. Just like the wheat is placed into the storehouse, a clear separation from the weeds, awaiting their glorious reward in heaven where they will shine as brightly as the sun. So I am not sure how any of this renders my question irrelevant.

It is not ridiculous to consider the death of wicked ones. The entire intent of uprooting the weeds is for the purpose of their coming destruction. However, they did not ask about destroying them, merely separation. The two acts are not the same, even if one is a prelude to the other.

You said:

Furthermore, if this has a first century (and continuous) fulfillment that takes place in the world, then a removal of non-believers from the congregation would also render Rotherham’s point void. That is, removing wicked ones from the congregation is a far cry from removing them from the world.

Again, you are not seeing the two phase operation both for the wheat and he weeds. You seem to think that it is necessary to take the bundling of the weeds and the throwing them into the fiery furnace as one action. Separating the wheat from the weeds in the congregation is not the same thing as removing them from the world. That comes AFTER the separation.

So, I don’t see where you directly addressed the question. It seems you wanted to disqualify it as pointless, but it most certainly isn’t pointless, but I can see why you would want to make it that way. A separation at the temple destruction cannot possibly be the separation of a portion of Christians from non-believing Jews, all in Jerusalem. First off, ALL Christians and ALL Jews were not in Jerusalem. I don’t see any significant separation in regard to the temple except Christian from Jew, so I am at a loss, as many are, as to how that could be the separation mentioned by Jesus Christ in the parable.

The Apostles constantly fought against the Jewish influence upon the Christian congregation, even highlighting that adherence to the circumcision as law could cost you your salvation. There was clearly never a time where the Christian congregation allowed “both to grow together” without attempting to religiously separate the Jewish believer from the Christian believer. There was clearly no interfaith allowed between the two. The Jews fit the description of anti-Christ. How, in any of that, can one say that the weeds would have been the non-believing Jews that were killed in Jerusalem? This puts new meaning to eisegesis, seriously. It is a theological invention that simply doesn’t fit the words of the parable, unless you claim that certain “points” are “pointless” and the words don’t really mean what they say. It seems as though preterism has a very convenient eraser.

So this HARVEST ends in RESURRECTION, yet you say that the resurrection has not occurred. I agree. But you can’t have it both ways in the parable. This parable fits far better to a future “conclusion of an age”, not the one in the first century, which recognition adds great weight to the view that portions of Matthew 24 have a dual fulfillment.

The only way to understand the wheat and the weeds is to understand it as referring to the great apostasy and darkness that befell the church. That was a true melding of the false with the true and for centuries, onlookers and others, could not fully discern who the sons of the kingdom were and who the sons of the evil one were. If you were a reaper, men or angel, discerning where to make the slice would have been extremely difficult. However, the separation of the church from those false pagan doctrines and practices has come to light remarkably within the last century or so.

Our view makes the parable flow very naturally without any inventions that distort the meanings of words and phrases within the parable. Everything matches perfectly with the wording provided. Nothing really matches with any force in regard to the preterist view, full or partial. Your objections are wrongheaded because they do not account for the fact that even the church is removed from the field to a favored position. They were gathered into the storehouse and awaited their heavenly reward. You did not differentiate between gathering for SEPARATION and destruction. One logically follows the other.

In presenting why I believe your views are wrong I have also presented, by the same action, as to why we believe that our views are accurate. Your view clearly falls outside of Biblical precedent. But there are numerous other reasons, as I have mentioned before, why we believe our view is the Biblical, historical and logical view to adhere to.

1. There is no reason to believe that Revelation was written prior to 70 CE. Numerous early testimonies establish this. NOTHING, contradicts it.

2. Revelation is a parousiac book, unless one wants to believe that there is another priesthood besides the priesthood of Christ and the church. Christ’s priesthood is taught to be all that is needed. Numerous phrases that describe the 24 elders are only seen as applying to men , not angels.

3. A thorough examination of Daniel 2, 7 and elsewhere within the book proves beyond any reasonable doubt, that Christ could not have received the kingdom of the world in the first century.

There are more, but those would likely suffice.

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Rotherham’s Question #3 – Mike’s Rebuttal to Rotherham

Postby MikeFelker » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:24 am

At this point, I believe Rotherham is vastly complicating the issue. I think this is very simple. The parable of the wheat and weeds is closely connected to Matthew 24, which has a local focus. While I’m happy to set out my case again, I believe I have provided several sufficient details as to why these texts are fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. If that is the context, then we should expect Matthew 13 to make sense in light of this, and it does. The problem is, Rotherham reads far more into Matthew 13 than is actually there.Let me reiterate a few points in this regard. First, the weeds are sowed among the wheat. This doesn’t necessitate only counterfeits, although it would likely include it. If it were only counterfeits, then why would the context of the parable be the world? This is why in my last response I sought to distinguish a local context (i.e. Christianity) from a universal one (i.e. the world). Rotherham seems to hold to the former without providing sufficient evidence.

As far as Matthew 13:43, I don’t think Rotherham’s interpretation is necessary at all. While there is similar language used in Matthew 17:2, Acts 26:13 and elsewhere to reference heavenly glory, there are other parallels not mentioned by my opponent. Consider the following:

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” (Philippians 2:14–16)“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14–16)

The point I’m making is not in denying that Daniel 12:3 has something to do with the believer’s resurrection, but that the “shining” is specifically connected to righteousness and being distinguished from the world. This is clearly what the verses above teach, as well as Daniel 12:1-3 and Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. Therefore, Rotherham’s suggestion that this can’t refer to the first century is unwarranted. Instead, in the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem, we have a clear divide between believers who took heed to Jesus’ warnings in Matthew 24 and those who remained in Jerusalem and suffered judgment.

Let me once again respond to a few points Rotherham made.

Notice that the reapers did not ask to put them into the fire, they simply wanted them to be removed from the field of wheat so that the true sons would be recognized for what they were. They were not asking permission to destroy them, but to remove them from among the real sons of the kingdom. The destruction came at the harvest, just as the exaltation of the wheat did.

Rotherham is reading more into the text than what is there. Where in Matthew 13 does it state that, “they simply wanted them to be removed from the field of wheat so that the true sons would be recognized for what they were?” Jesus stated what would happen very plainly: “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.” The gathering is to burn them up, which is also stated in Jesus’ interpretation of the parable: “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire.”

In summation, the “gathering” happens naturally as faithful Christians flee Jerusalem, and then judgment comes. As a result, Christians are separated from the weeds and “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Again, the historical first century application makes perfect sense. And for reasons that space will not allow, I believe the preterist interpretation of Daniel, as a whole, demands such a first century application. If Rotherham would like to ask me as one of his questions why I believe this, I’d be happy to answer (though once again it would be off topic).

“There was no confusion of identity between the Jews and the Christians. The Devil did not need to sow Jews into the world; they had been there for centuries and actually planted by God himself a very long time ago. The Christians knew the difference between themselves and non-Christian Jews, the Jews knew the difference as well and onlookers themselves knew the difference. Jews never resembled Christians to the degree that they could not be discerned and differentiated. The church leaders constantly fought to separate the influence of the Jews from Christianity. There was never a period of tolerance of evil ones in the congregation during the first century.”

This is another misunderstanding of the parable. Rotherham has yet to provide biblical support for the notion that the wheat and weeds were ever indistinguishable. The point of the parable is that the wheat and weeds were together, not that they were indistinguishable. And they were together up until the harvest when they fled Jerusalem.

A separation at the temple destruction cannot possibly be the separation of a portion of Christians from non-believing Jews, all in Jerusalem. First off, ALL Christians and ALL Jews were not in Jerusalem. I don’t see any significant separation in regard to the temple except Christian from Jew, so I am at a loss, as many are, as to how that could be the separation mentioned by Jesus Christ in the parable.

Rotherham is mistaken here because he is reading the text as a modern, rather than a first century Jew/Christian. Obviously, not every Christian was in Jerusalem or even the immediately surrounding area. That is not the point. The point is to see “world” as in reference to a people rather than merely geography. Jerusalem at that time was very much worldy, as I’m sure Rotherham would agree. Keep in mind that, biblically speaking; “kosmos” has a wider semantic range than “the world” as commonly understood today.

To summarize, the intention of the parable was to show that the field was not merely the church or even those who claimed to be the church. Instead, it was all people, Jew, Gentile, or Greek. This is similar to what Revelation 5:9 speaks of when Jesus purchased men from, “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” But this very point seems to go against my opponent’s position. Otherwise, why would he be asking me about a time when Christians were indistinguishable from counterfeit Christians? There is simply nothing in the parable that speaks of this as relevant, for surely God and the angels know who to uproot and not uproot.

1. There is no reason to believe that Revelation was written prior to 70 CE. Numerous early testimonies establish this. NOTHING, contradicts it.

Yet, what reasons has Rotherham established that I have not yet responded to? He mentions Revelation as speaking of the church already in heaven (Rev. 4-5). Let me deal with a few of these points.

Claiming that Revelation 4 and 5 represents an angelic priesthood is an absurdity because that poses a secondary priesthood for Christians at the very same time that the superior priesthood of Christ is acting.

Where did I claim an “angelic priesthood?” I simply called them “angelic beings.” I think we’d be getting way off track if I laid out my case for this.

Besides, the imagery of the 24 elders, thoroughly considered is unmistakably the church.

How so? Continuously, throughout this exchange, Rotherham has simply made statements like this without proving them with evidence. This is why I don’t respond to everythingRotherham has argued in our exchange (due to not wanting to exhaust the readers). I hope everyone can see this rather than thinking that Rotherham’s position is superior to mine. If I took the time to respond in detail to all of Rotherham’s baseless arguments, I don’t think our exchange would be very productive.

2. Revelation is a parousiac book, unless one wants to believe that there is another priesthood besides the priesthood of Christ and the church. Christ’s priesthood is taught to be all that is needed. Numerous phrases that describe the 24 elders are only seen as applying to men, not angels.

Again, this is another misrepresentation of my position in seeing the elders as a, ”priesthood.” If anything, they explicitly state that they are not a priesthood as they speak of, “them to be a kingdom and priests to our God.” (Rev. 5:10) Also, what are these “numerous phrases?” I hope the reader is beginning to see how vague Rotherham’s arguments are. It is simply not helpful for our exchange to bring up potentially unrelated arguments if they are left undefended and specified.

3. A thorough examination of Daniel 2, 7 and elsewhere within the book proves beyond any reasonable doubt, that Christ could not have received the kingdom of the world in the first century.

More baseless assertions, and I would be happy to argue the opposite if Rotherham decides to set forth a detailed case. Yet, I think we would be going far off topic in doing so. My ambition is to keep our discussion focused on Matthew 24, Luke 12, and the FDS.

To summarize my answer to Rotherham’s question (which he claims I didn’t answer), we did not see a “concerted effort to NOT separate truth from false or to remove things that cause stumbling and when did we see the wheat become indiscernible from the weeds,” because none of these points are indicated in the parable. Christians certainly were involved with disfellowshipping and clearly distinguishing themselves from professing Christians all the time, which is why they sometimes called them anti-Christ’s. The point of the parable was the separating the wheat and the weeds at the harvest, which is exactly what happened leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem when the Christians fled.

Last edited by MikeFelker on Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Mike’s #3 Question to Rotherham

Postby MikeFelker » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:36 am

Rotherham,You stated that Jesus did not answer Peter in Luke 12:41 and instead had an audience in view thousands of years later. How can this be the case when the only prospects in view are the “us” (i.e. the disciples per 12:22 and following) or the “everyone” (i.e. the crowd Jesus was interacting with in 12:13-21)?

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Re: Mike’s #3-Rotherham’s Answer

Postby Rotherham » Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:02 pm

Hello Mike,Sorry for the delay. Pneumonia is a mean motor scooter.

As far as Luke 12:41 goes, it is true that Jesus did not reveal to Peter directly who he was speaking to. However, the context and the nature of that quote seems to imply he was speaking to his “disciples”. However, in saying that we must discern what would be meant by the “us”. Would we think it meant ONLY those disciples who were physically with Jesus when the words were spoken? That doesn’t seem likely since the parable runs into the future for fullfillment. How far into the future is not stated. The actual ‘roster’ of who were disciples would change from day to day. So it would seem entirely feasible for the “us” to refer to the entire body of disciples, those present at the time and those that would come into the fold from that time forward.

I hope that answers what you were after.

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Rotherham

MikeFelker wrote:Rotherham,You stated that Jesus did not answer Peter in Luke 12:41 and instead had an audience in view thousands of years later. How can this be the case when the only prospects in view are the “us” (i.e. the disciples per 12:22 and following) or the “everyone” (i.e. the crowd Jesus was interacting with in 12:13-21)?

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Mike’s#3 Question – Mike’s Rebuttal

Postby MikeFelker » Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:34 pm

Rotherham,Glad to see you back, alive and well. Let’s back up to be beginning of our exchange so I can get clarification on your answer to question 3.

In my opening, I argued the following:

So who is the faithful slave of Luke 12? While more specifics will be discussed below as it relates to 1919 and the appointment of the Watchtower leadership, we will for now discuss Peter’s question to Jesus in 12:41, “Lord, are you addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?” Peter’s question to Jesus assumes one thing: the parable of the “faithful slave” is being addressed to Jesus’ immediate audience, whether the disciples (12:22) or the surrounding crowds (12:13). Therefore, unless Jesus’ answer corrects a misunderstanding regarding the audience scope of the parable, then it cannot be the case that the parable is applied to a group thousands of years later. As will be discussed below, the Watchtower contradicts the audience scope by applying the parable exclusively to the Governing Body of the 20th century and on.

I believe you understood the point I was trying to make because you responded as follows:

You will note that Jesus did not answer Peter. The fact that it could have been intended for a future group could be the very reason he did not do so. Keep in mind as well that when Jesus said to his disciples, right before that, to keep on the watch and be ready, he could not have possibly meant the immediate group of disciples that was before him, because this future “ARRIVAL”, the return with the clouds where every eye will see him, did not occur in the first century. It is of no consequence then that Jesus could have been speaking of only a future group, appearing during the parousia of Christ preceding his ARRIVAL.

Your reasoning here seems to assume the very thing that it’s trying to prove; namely, that Jesus did not answer Peter. Then, in your response to my question 3, you argue, “It is true that Jesus did not reveal to Peter directly who he was speaking to.” But then you go on to state several options as to whom the audience might be. Let me go through each of these.

However, the context and the nature of that quote seems to imply he was speaking to his “disciples.”

It certainly seems so and, in fact, it is so. As I implied in my question, Jesus is either speaking to the “us” or the “everyone else,” for those are the only ones in view with Peter’s question to Jesus. Language and context becomes meaningless if we suggest that Jesus completely ignored the context of the audience and went on to speak about some group completely unknown. Since Jesus didn’t qualify his statement beyond the “us” and the “everyone else,” there is absolutely no reason for Peter to have understood the audience scope differently.

Would we think it meant ONLY those disciples who were physically with Jesus when the words were spoken?

Whether it was only those disciples or those acquired into the fold, it’s not integral to my argument. But this does refute your position, for you have to insert a third audience; one not mentioned at all by Peter or Jesus.

That doesn’t seem likely since the parable runs into the future for fulfillment. How far into the future is not stated. The actual “roster” of who were disciples would change from day to day. So it would seem entirely feasible for the “us” to refer to the entire body of disciples, those present at the time and those that would come into the fold from that time forward.

The fulfillment would be when the master returns, which is to happen with “this generation” (Matt. 24:34). The time frame is obvious: within the generation of the disciples. The rest of what Rotherham states is irrelevant to the point; namely, that Jesus is speaking to the “us,” the disciples. Whether it’s only those disciples or those added to the fold, it doesn’t really matter in relation to the argument I’m making: the faithful slave did exist in the first century. Since Rotherham denies this point, it is his burden to demonstrate it.

Now, let’s back up to your original rebuttal points. You claim that,

Keep in mind as well that when Jesus said to his disciples, right before that, to keep on the watch and be ready, he could not have possibly meant the immediate group of disciples that was before him, because this future “ARRIVAL”, the return with the clouds where every eye will see him, did not occur in the first century. It is of no consequence then that Jesus could have been speaking of only a future group, appearing during the parousia of Christ preceding his ARRIVAL.

This view is extremely problematic because it destroys the context of the audience scope in Luke 12. If Jesus is answering Peter (or the “us), then these events did happen in the first century. Rotherham can’t simply state that it didn’t happen: he must demonstrate why, both in Luke 12 and Matthew 24.

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Re: Mike’s#3 Question -Rotherham’s Rebuttal

Postby Rotherham » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:43 pm

Hello Mike,My responses are between the ###################### marks.

You said:

I believe you understood the point I was trying to make because you responded as follows:

You will note that Jesus did not answer Peter. The fact that it could have been intended for a future group could be the very reason he did not do so. Keep in mind as well that when Jesus said to his disciples, right before that, to keep on the watch and be ready, he could not have possibly meant the immediate group of disciples that was before him, because this future “ARRIVAL”, the return with the clouds where every eye will see him, did not occur in the first century. It is of no consequence then that Jesus could have been speaking of only a future group, appearing during the parousia of Christ preceding his ARRIVAL.

Your reasoning here seems to assume the very thing that it’s trying to prove; namely, that Jesus did not answer Peter. Then, in your response to my question 3, you argue, “It is true that Jesus did not reveal to Peter directly who he was speaking to.” But then you go on to state several options as to whom the audience might be. Let me go through each of these.

#######################
When I stated that Jesus did not answer Peter, this is true. He did not answer the question that Peter asked, but the target of his words that followed strongly indicates that he spoke of his disciples. Also, since the context was clearly the “parousia” of Christ and is a repeat of what was said in Matthew 24, he was clearly in reference to the future, since Matthew 24 was entirely in reference to how they would know Jesus would be present. You would say that this future was 70 CE. We would say it that it was circa 1914.

At this point it would be appropriate to ask just how would the disciples be able to discern the difference between the “parousia” of 70 CE and the future “parousia” in the answer that he gave? Why would they differentiate between and early and late “parousia” when Jesus gave no indication in his answer that there was two of them? To create an early and late parousia is nowhere warranted and is a theologically driven viewpoint because the evidence for such is merely assumption that it is so. This seems to be a big point of contention between partial and full preterists and rightfully so. Two parousias is a theological invention.

You seem to think that Luke 12 must be a separate incident than Matthew 24 when there is no good reason to conclude that. Many scholars and commentators recognize that Luke often wrote “thematically” rather than “chronologically”. His theme was clearly the same theme as Matthew 24 and all that he mentioned in this section was along that theme. This in no way has to be seen as a separate chronological event. In fact it can be seen as the very same event as Matthew 24, Luke repeating and filling in with other details that transpired during that sermon. Luke does not establish something outside of the context of Matthew 24. We see it as the same event and well within proper interpretational limits to do so.
###############################

You said:

However, the context and the nature of that quote seem to imply he was speaking to his “disciples.”

It certainly seems so and, in fact, it is so. As I implied in my question, Jesus is either speaking to the “us” or the “everyone else,” for those are the only ones in view with Peter’s question to Jesus. Language and context becomes meaningless if we suggest that Jesus completely ignored the context of the audience and went on to speak about some group completely unknown. Since Jesus didn’t qualify his statement beyond the “us” and the “everyone else,” there is absolutely no reason for Peter to have understood the audience scope differently.

#########################################
Since Jesus did not qualify his statement at all, his ambiguity would have been because he was speaking of a future event that would involve disciples but not to the immediate ones in front of him. Note that he did not appoint those immediate disciples as the faithful and wise slave but presented it in question form. Who really is the faithful and wise slave? Those are not the words of appointment but indicate that the question had not yet been answered. This too is indicative of a future appointment rather than one that took place immediately because he did not answer who it was. Those are not the words of an appointment.
##########################################

You said:

Whether it was only those disciples or those acquired into the fold, it’s not integral to my argument. But this does refute your position, for you have to insert a third audience; one not mentioned at all by Peter or Jesus.

######################################

There is no insertion of a third audience when you realize that this was the same account as Matthew 24. His disciples were present during the sermon and he did not use the language of appointment but asked a question that indicated a yet future answer to the question. Since the theme of that Olivet sermon was the “conclusion of the age” and the “parousia”, Jesus answered in that context of the coming “parousia”, which was future. The future target was still his disciples, just not the ones that were presently before him because those ones were not experiencing the “parousia”. It is not a third group but is a subset of all the disciples, a subset which would be appointed during the “parousia” and the “conclusion of the age”.

For you to claim that Jesus only addressed one parousia and not the other is again, theological invention. How would his disciples ever be able to discern such a difference between these parousias that was never spelled out?
#####################################

You said:
The fulfillment would be when the master returns, which is to happen with “this generation” (Matt. 24:34). The time frame is obvious: within the generation of the disciples. The rest of what Rotherham states is irrelevant to the point; namely, that Jesus is speaking to the “us,” the disciples. Whether it’s only those disciples or those added to the fold, it doesn’t really matter in relation to the argument I’m making: the faithful slave did exist in the first century. Since Rotherham denies this point, it is his burden to demonstrate it.

###########################################

You are assuming that the early portion Matthew 24 cannot be a “dual” fulfillment. What happened during THAT “conclusion of the age” in the course of a generation would happen again in the “dual fulfillment” of the yet future “parousia”. Remember that their questions to Jesus encompassed events of the first century and events beyond the first century, the “parousia” which the Bible only names one. To say there are two different ones is an invention and to think that the disciples would discern which words would apply to which parousia is nowhere stated or explained.
############################################

You said:

Keep in mind as well that when Jesus said to his disciples, right before that, to keep on the watch and be ready, he could not have possibly meant the immediate group of disciples that was before him, because this future “ARRIVAL”, the return with the clouds where every eye will see him, did not occur in the first century. It is of no consequence then that Jesus could have been speaking of only a future group, appearing during the parousia of Christ preceding his ARRIVAL.

This view is extremely problematic because it destroys the context of the audience scope in Luke 12. If Jesus is answering Peter (or the “us), then these events did happen in the first century. Rotherham can’t simply state that it didn’t happen: he must demonstrate why, both in Luke 12 and Matthew 24.[/quote]

########################################
There is no context destroyed when you realize that Luke often wrote thematically rather than chronologically. This is widely recognized as his style. What Luke records can therefore be seen as the very same event of Matthew 24, and as stated, asking a question is NOT the language of appointment, but indicates that it had not yet been answered, to be answered during the “parousia” of Christ according to Matthew 24. You already admit that there is a future “parousia”. To claim there were two is nowhere scripturally expressed, a point that full preterists disagree with you on and from what I have read is nowhere near resolved between the two camps of thought.

This is a good place to highlight again why the parable of the wheat and the weeds must shoot forward to the “parousia” in connection with the resurrection and not 70CE. This has bearing because it has direct relation upon understanding the phrase “conclusion of the age” and what the disciples were asking about and what Jesus subsequently then answered.

I showed that the scriptures were consistent when it mentioned individuals “shining as the sun” or having the countenance of the “sun”. It was always in connection with heavenly beings, which for the disciples would necessitate resurrection. You countered with examples that did not match that wording at all, not even mentioning the “the sun” factor. Therefore the point remains, that according to Biblical precedent and pattern, the wheat and the weeds parable ends with the resurrection of the holy ones to heaven.

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Rotherham

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Rotherham’s 4rth question to Mike Felker

Postby Rotherham » Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:32 am

This question requires a little setup to pose it properly.The Apostles, at Matthew 24, were clearly asking about the “conclusion of the age” mentioned in the parable of the wheat and the weeds because that is the only mentioned “conclusion of an age” prior to this event.

Also, since you have not properly countered the point concerning “shining as the sun”, being a reference to their heavenly glory, (your counter examples did not compare in terminology) that parable of the wheat and the weeds, according to Biblical pattern and precedent, includes their resurrection.

Without a proper refutation of that point, does it not stand to reason that their question to Jesus in Matthew 24:3 was in reference to the “conclusion of the age” connected to what you would call the “final” parousia, which includes their resurrection to heavenly glory?

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Rotherham’s #4 Question: Mike’s Answer

Postby MikeFelker » Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:42 pm

Unfortunately, Rotherham is not dealing with what I said in relation to Daniel 12:3. It’s not enough to simply say that I didn’t “properly counter the point.” Instead, it needs to bedemonstrated why my points don’t follow. With that said, let me repeat what I argued previously and allow the readers decide the validity of my points:

As far as Matthew 13:43, I don’t think Rotherham’s interpretation is necessary at all. While there is similar language used in Matthew 17:2, Acts 26:13 and elsewhere to reference heavenly glory, there are other parallels not mentioned by my opponent. Consider the following:“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” (Philippians 2:14–16)

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14–16)

The point I’m making is not in denying that Daniel 12:3 has something to do with the believer’s resurrection, but that the “shining” is specifically connected to righteousness and being distinguished from the world. This is clearly what the verses above teach, as well as Daniel 12:1-3 and Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. Therefore, Rotherham’s suggestion that this can’t refer to the first century is unwarranted. Instead, in the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem, we have a clear divide between believers who took heed to Jesus’ warnings in Matthew 24 and those who remained in Jerusalem and suffered judgment.

Let me also add that “heavenly glory” doesn’t necessitate a location in heaven. In the transfiguration of Matthew 17:2, Christ revealed a heavenly glory while on earth. But I think we have something else in play here that I didn’t discuss: the “already but not yet” principle. We see this all throughout Scripture, and I don’t think Daniel 12:3 is an exception, especially when we look at parallel passages. Take Colossians 1:13, where “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Also, consider that we have been “raised up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:6) Many other verses can be cited, but I think the reader will see the point in that the believer can experience eschatological realities now, in some sense. I don’t see any good reason why Daniel 12:3 can’t as well.

In answer to Rotherham’s primary question, it does not stand to reason that Matthew 24:3 is in reference to the final return of Christ, for reasons I have already stated in this debate. The disciples were asking about the destruction of the temple, which signified both Christ’s presence and coming. If the disciples were thinking of some event thousands of years later, the context Jesus provided would have refuted this. But I’ve already been through this and see no need to belabor the point.

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Re: Rotherham’s #4 Question: Rotherham’s Rebutal

Postby Rotherham » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:15 am

Hello Mike,My responses are between the ###############s.

I will try again to spell this out as I think you are clearly missing the point. This time in greater detail. Frankly, if you cannot provide a single exception to this Biblical pattern and precedent, then your position has no support. It is opinion over scripture.

You stated in one of your own articles at the very end that “But it is important that we let Scripture determine the meaning of words rather than our assumptions.” However, this is exactly what you are not doing, against your own correct advice, as I will demonstrate below.

First, what we are looking for are references that DIRECTLY state that someone’s countenance or face are “as the SUN” or shining as the “SUN”. Your references consistently fall short of that criteria and I am sure that you and the readers are very well aware of that fact because if you could actually find one you would have surely included it.

EACH time that someone’s’ countenance or face is said to be as the SUN, or shining as the SUN, it is ALWAYS a reference to their “heavenly glory”. Of this there is no mistake or exception because the scriptures are consistent in this regard. Allow me to repeat the examples and note that the reference to the SUN is the key point, not just light or illumination, but the SUN itself. Your counter examples completely ignore that and are therefore not relevant to the point.
Math. 17:2, the transfiguration, where the phrase is a clear reference to his future heavenly glory.

Acts 26:13, Paul saw Jesus in his heavenly resurrected state.

Rev. 10:1, a description of an heavenly angel.

Rev. 1:16, a vision of the heavenly Jesus Christ.

You will note that in each one of these references, the operative word is SUN. And there is no doubt that in each case it is a reference to heavenly glory. THIS is what you need to find. Examples that references lights or luminaries or brightness are not examples that relate because they do not refer to the SUN specifically as the other do. Clearly, there are numerous examples of where lights or luminaries do NOT refer to heavenly glory, but there is no mistake that when it references shining as the SUN, it is indeed a reference to that glory.

Without Biblical precedent otherwise, you have no support for your conclusions and the point stands as valid whether you wish to accept it or not, and you would be doing exactly what you counsel against, you would be using your personal preference over the word of God. Surely, at the very least, Jehovah’s Witnesses could not be faulted for this interpretation, as it clearly has Biblical support and backing. Your position does not.

You said:

Unfortunately, Rotherham is not dealing with what I said in relation to Daniel 12:3. It’s not enough to simply say that I didn’t “properly counter the point.” Instead, it needs to be demonstrated why my points don’t follow. With that said, let me repeat what I argued previously and allow the readers decide the validity of my points:
As far as Matthew 13:43, I don’t think Rotherham’s interpretation is necessary at all. While there is similar language used in Matthew 17:2, Acts 26:13 and elsewhere to reference heavenly glory, there are other parallels not mentioned by my opponent. Consider the following:

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” (Philippians 2:14–16)

##############################################
This is not an example that demonstrates the point as pointed out above. Where exactly do we see someone’s countenance or face shining as the SUN in this verse?
##############################################

You said:

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

###############################################
Again, the example is a comparison of apples to oranges.
###############################################

You said:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14–16)

#################################################
Another irrelevant example.
##################################################

You said;

The point I’m making is not in denying that Daniel 12:3 has something to do with the believer’s resurrection, but that the “shining” is specifically connected to righteousness and being distinguished from the world. This is clearly what the verses above teach, as well as Daniel 12:1-3 and Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. Therefore, Rotherham’s suggestion that this can’t refer to the first century is unwarranted. Instead, in the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem, we have a clear divide between believers who took heed to Jesus’ warnings in Matthew 24 and those who remained in Jerusalem and suffered judgment.

################################################
I am sure that you and the readers know what I am going to say so I probably don’t need to say it. There is NO reference hear to someone’s face or countenance here shining as the SUN. The example is irrelevant.

What all these examples actually demonstrate is that you have no refutation to the point made, not from a Biblical standpoint, and therefore, our view stands as exonerated because it has the support and backing of Biblical precedent and pattern. I believe this stands as a valid point of refutation to the partial preterist view, a conclusion that full preterists would surely agree with. They are right in concluding that “shining as the sun” is a reference to the resurrection of the church, they are simply wring as to the timing for many other reasons not relevant to our discussion. At the very least, even if you want to hold on to such a flimsy, unsupported view, you could not possibly have any valid reason for rejecting the JW position, because if we are right about the parable of the wheat and the weeds, which we have every Biblical reason to believe we are, then the rest of our understanding falls neatly into place.
##############################################

You said:

Let me also add that “heavenly glory” doesn’t necessitate a location in heaven. In the transfiguration of Matthew 17:2, Christ revealed a heavenly glory while on earth. But I think we have something else in play here that I didn’t discuss: the “already but not yet” principle. We see this all throughout Scripture, and I don’t think Daniel 12:3 is an exception, especially when we look at parallel passages. Take Colossians 1:13, where “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Also, consider that we have been “raised up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:6) Many other verses can be cited, but I think the reader will see the point in that the believer can experience eschatological realities now, in some sense. I don’t see any good reason why Daniel 12:3 can’t as well.

########################################################
You are either being disingenuous or you are clearly missing the point. Matthew 17:2 directly references the SUN and you know that it is a reference to heavenly glory, regardless of where Jesus was at when it was depicted. Daniel 12:3, Colossians 1:13, Eph. 2:6 and all your other examples have absolutely no mention of the SUN or someone shining as the SUN and are therefore the wrong examples to have any support for your view. THAT’s the point, not just illuminators or references to heavenly glory, but a specific reference to their face or their countenance shining as the SUN.
#########################################################

You said:

In answer to Rotherham’s primary question, it does not stand to reason that Matthew 24:3 is in reference to the final return of Christ, for reasons I have already stated in this debate. The disciples were asking about the destruction of the temple, which signified both Christ’s presence and coming. If the disciples were thinking of some event thousands of years later, the context Jesus provided would have refuted this. But I’ve already been through this and see no need to belabor the point.

###################################################
What they asked about was OBVIOULY the “conclusion of the system of things” that was mentioned in the parable of the wheat and the weeds. Of this there can be no doubt. And as we have seen there is every Biblical reason to see that ending with the PAROUSIA in connection with the heavenly glory received by the church via resurrection. To claim it just has something to do with their flight to Pella or separation from Jerusalem is completely against the Biblical pattern.

You actually have the very same problem with what you think is a parallel verse in Matthew 24. 31 And he will send out his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.

Can one actually think that such all inclusive language as this is what happened in 70 CE when the group of Christians in Jerusalem separated and fled to Pella? Seriously? The language of what is stated doesn’t even match with history. The verse clearly references ALL the chosen ones, from the FOUR WINDS, “from one extremity of the heavens to the other”. That would have to include them ALL, not just the slice of Christianity involved at Jerusalem. Your interpretation doesn’t match historically or logically with the Biblical language used.

Notice how Mark puts and there can be no mistake about how far reaching this “gathering” is going to be.

He states:
“And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, FROM THE UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH to the uttermost part of heaven.”

This cannot in any way be effectively applied to what happened to that mere slice of Christianity in Jerusalem circa 70 CE. It involves ALL the elect, not just a slice, no matter how big or small that slice would have been. This will only actually happen when they are taken to heaven.

I am certain the readers will clearly see the point that I am making. Matthew 24, based on Biblical pattern and precedent, MUST be in reference to the PAROUSIA and the subsequent resurrection in connection with it. Nothing stands in the way of this understanding and it harmonizes with the Biblical pattern of words.

In your next response, I hope we just don’t see more of the same irrelevancies.

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Rotherham

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Re: Rotherham’s #4 Question: Mike’s Rebutal

Postby MikeFelker » Sun Mar 02, 2014 1:57 pm

It looks like both Rotherham and myself thinks each other is missing the point. But this is understandable, as this is a debate. In addition, I’m failing to see how Rotherham is actually defending the debate thesis in his responses. I assume the reader can see this as I’m regularly being put on the defensive in terms of my position on eschatology. While I can’t say eschatology is irrelevant, going after preterism certainly doesn’t help my opponent in establishing the debate thesis. This is why my cross-examination questions have been targeteddirectly at the debate thesis. If I were to take Rotherham’s approach, I would be making every effort to refute his eschatology. But in doing so, I would end up handing the debate thesis over to him. With that said, I have every intention of using every opportunity to get us back to the topic at hand.But for now, I must answer Rotherham’s arguments and questions even if they are irrelevant. I’m not saying all of them are; but I do think he could be doing a better job of keeping our topic focused.

I believe Rotherham’s hermeneutic is extremely flawed as he continues to demand explicit semantic parallels to the language of Daniel 12:3. From what I can gather, Rotherham’s standards are as follows:

1. Synonyms do not count as linguistic parallels
2. Unless the language is explicitly the same, it is not a parallel
3. Thematic parallels or illusions do not count as parallels

If Rotherham thinks that parallels must include the words “sun” and “face” in order to be a valid parallel, then perhaps we should be discussing the rules of biblical interpretation. Due to this flawed methodology, Rotherham couldn’t see my point in relation to Colossians 1:13 and Ephesians 2:6 where we have clear eschatological realities which are, in some sense, experience by the believer in this life. In doing so, these examples were completely dismissed simply because they had no mention of “faces shining like the sun,” as if that’s what I was trying to prove.

What they asked about was OBVIOULY the “conclusion of the system of things” that was mentioned in the parable of the wheat and the weeds. Of this there can be no doubt. And as we have seen there is every Biblical reason to see that ending with the PAROUSIA in connection with the heavenly glory received by the church via resurrection. To claim it just has something to do with their flight to Pella or separation from Jerusalem is completely against the Biblical pattern.

If it had nothing to do with the destruction of the temple, then why did the disciples ask the question in direct connection with Jesus’ recent words regarding the destruction? The entire context of Matthew 24 flows from Jesus words: “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (Matt. 24:2)This (and the events leading up to it), as the disciples understood it, would be the sign of his coming and the end of the age.

Next, Rotherham takes yet another shot at preterism, as if this supports the debate thesis. Let me quote the texts that he claims cannot have been fulfilled in the first century:

“And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (Matt. 24:31)

“And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.” (Mark 13:27)

Rotherham fails to display the clear illusions to the language used in the Hebrew Scriptures; something Jesus’ audience would have been familiar with. Consider:

“So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where YHWH your God has banished you, and you return to YHWH your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then YHWH your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where YHWH your God has scattered you. “If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there YHWH your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back.”
(Deuteronomy 30:1–4)“And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.”
(Isaiah 11:12)

“In that day YHWH will start His threshing from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt, and you will be gathered up one by one, O sons of Israel. It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.”
(Isaiah 27:12–13)

“Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
“Lift up your eyes round about and see; they all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in the arms.”
(Isaiah 60:3–4)

“Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares YHWH. “Many nations will join themselves to YHWH in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that YHWH of hosts has sent Me to you. “YHWH will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem. (Zechariah 2:10-13)

The point in posting all of these is for the readers and my opponent to see how closely related these texts are to Matthew 24:31. In addition, it is crucial to view these texts in their original historical context and ask how they were fulfilled. My opponent is incorrect to assume that preterists interpret all the events in Matthew 24 as applying solely to the destruction of the temple. This is not true. Jesus is displaying events that will happen in the lifetime of the disciple’s generation. In other words, these are events leading up to the destruction of the temple.

Remember, the prophecy says that, “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” Matthew 24:31 is simply referring to the gathering of the elect from a wide spectrum of nations, which most certainly happened. There is nothing here intended to be visually miraculous, as if we would literally expect angels to be gathering Christians and taking them up into heaven. Space will not allow me to cover the rest of the parallels where similar language is used of angels gathering and such in the Hebrew Scriptures. I just wanted to show that there are parallels to Hebrew illusions that took place during the Old Covenant times; events which were not supernatural in the way in which Rotherham thinks they would be. The same can be said for the sun being darkened, the stars falling from the sky, etc.

I hope the reader can see that it really is counter productive to be going into these issues. Surely, they would rather see interactions related to the points Rotherham and I raised in our openings rather than these very in depth arguments related to preterism?

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Mike’s #4 Question to Rotherham

Postby MikeFelker » Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:17 pm

Let me come back to a point I made in my opening, which you responded to in your rebuttal:

I’m not sure of what is being objected to at this point. It seems to me that you agree that the slave is made of many different individuals, judged in different ways based upon the performance of the duties they were given beforehand. Well then, doesn’t that mean that the slave is a composite? It would not be unusual to think that the slave is first represented as an appointed group of individuals. Much odder it would be to think that this first appointed slave was just a lone individual given authority over the entire congregation. The Biblical pattern is that FEW feed the MANY.It would also not be odd that when it comes to the actual judgment of this group that they would not all necessarily have been faithful in their earlier appointment. In each case then, it seems that each slave is representative of a larger group, a group of individuals that are judged worthy of further appointment, or not.

If I missed the point of this portion, maybe you can revisit it when we offer our questions and rebuttals to one another.

The point I want to focus on here is where you mentioned being “judged in different ways.” Luke’s account is clearly differentiating between individuals who are judged according to their individual performance as a slave. But if the FDS is a class, then how could that one class be judged “in different ways?” In other words, if the slave was faithful, then they receive the reward as the faithful would. But if they are unfaithful, then they would receive the punishment that the unfaithful would.

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Re: Mike’s #4 Rotherham’s Response

Postby Rotherham » Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:44 am

Hello Mike,For the CLASS that is considered faithful and wise, you are correct, they would not be judged adversely, obviously, but would be appointed to further responsibility at the return of Christ.

What I was attempting to describe was the fact that simply because an “individual” is in a class, whatever that class might be, it doesn’t mean that individually they can’t fail and effectively remove themselves from that class. But yes, as a class, not necessarily as individuals, but as a class, they would naturally be wise and discreet and be appointed to further responsibility.

However, if the actual CLASS became evil, they would be judged adversely.

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Re: Mike’s #4 Question: Mike’s Rebuttal to Rotherham

Postby MikeFelker » Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:46 pm

I appreciate Rotherham’s attempt to answer, but there are some key issues that are fatal to his position and, more importantly, to the debate thesis in establishing the Watchtower’s accuracy on the FDS.This is the key point: with Rotherham’s position, there are no individual “faithful and discreet slaves” in the Matthew 24/Luke 12 sense. Therefore, if judgment is to take place, it takes place against the class as opposed to individuals. Of course, individuals who aren’t faithful can be judge, but not as slaves. Again, the slave is a class.

Let me first address Matthew 24 and how it renders Rotherham’s position exegetically indefensible.

“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:45–51)

Who is “that slave?” An individual or a class? Let’s explore both options; first with the “composite/class” viewpoint. The Watchtower’s position is that there is only one slave class. If they are to deny this, then they must answer who the second slave class is? Yet, we have a problem. If this one slave class decides to be unfaithful, then this one slave class will be judged accordingly. The problem is, if the slave is unfaithful, then there is no slave class left to be faithful! Yet, this is a completely untenable option if Jesus’ words are to mean anything.

If the slaves are individuals, then there is no problem. Some slaves are faithful and others are unfaithful. Therefore, I must ask the readers to consider: which reading makes better sense of the passage?

When we come to Luke 12, I think Rotherham’s position becomes even more difficult to maintain. Allow me to repeat what I stated in my opening:

Luke 12 identifies four slaves:1) One who is judged faithful and rewarded (12:43)
2) One who is judged as evil and punished with the most severity (12:45-46)
3) One who gets many lashes (12:47)
4) One who gets a few lashes (12:48)

Immediately, we see a contradiction between Luke 12 and the Watchtower. While the Watchtower identifies one composite slave, Luke 12 identifies four slaves with 4 different judgments. This creates a problem; if the “slave” happens to be one who receives “many lashes” (12:47), which slave will Christ judge as faithful? Apparently, there will be no slave left if the slave is a composite group or class (that is, unless they are judged faithful). However, if the slave consists of individuals, the context fits perfectly because some slaves will be judged as faithful and others not faithful.

As in Matthew 24, we have the same issue of “that slave” and how to make sense of it in light of a composite understanding. To make matters more difficult, we have 4 different slaveswho are judged differently. Again, if the “slave” is a class, then we must have four slave classes. Yet, who are these other classes? The Watchtower identifies the current Governing Body as the class in Luke 12:43 who will be judged as faithful. Unfortunately, this leaves no room for Jesus’ warning to be a real possibility in light of such a theology.

At this point, I believe I’ve shown good reasons to believe Matthew 24 and Luke 12 present and understanding of the slaves to be individuals who are judged according to their faithfulness or lack thereof. If Rotherham would like to demonstrate how my understanding of individuals is exegetically indefensible, then I would like to see it.

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Re: Mike’s #4 Question: Mike’s Rebuttal to Rotherham

Postby Rotherham » Thu Mar 06, 2014 8:52 am

Hello Mike,My answers will be between the ##################s.

MikeFelker wrote:I appreciate Rotherham’s attempt to answer, but there are some key issues that are fatal to his position and, more importantly, to the debate thesis in establishing the Watchtower’s accuracy on the FDS.This is the key point: with Rotherham’s position, there are no individual “faithful and discreet slaves” in the Matthew 24/Luke 12 sense. Therefore, if judgment is to take place, it takes place against the class as opposed to individuals. Of course, individuals who aren’t faithful can be judge, but not as slaves. Again, the slave is a class.

Let me first address Matthew 24 and how it renders Rotherham’s position exegetically indefensible.

“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:45–51)

Who is “that slave?” An individual or a class? Let’s explore both options; first with the “composite/class” viewpoint. The Watchtower’s position is that there is only one slave class. If they are to deny this, then they must answer who the second slave class is? Yet, we have a problem. If this one slave class decides to be unfaithful, then this one slave class will be judged accordingly. The problem is, if the slave is unfaithful, then there is no slave class left to be faithful! Yet, this is a completely untenable option if Jesus’ words are to mean anything.

########################################
The problem with your understanding here is that you don’t clearly see the position that we take. You state first that we teach that there is but ONE slave class. This is inaccurate. There is but ONE slave class that is appointed over the domestics in relation to the “parousia” and the “conclusion of the age“. But that does not mean that there are not other faithful slaves that are not of that particular slave class, but are of the much larger class of slaves which would include all the anointed of Christ. As I mentioned before, the “faithful and discreet slave appointed over the domestics in relation to the parousia” would be a subset of the larger set. But both sets are a “class” of individuals It also does not mean that there are not unfaithful slaves who make up their own class.

The reason they have to be a class is because individual members of those classes can effectively remove themselves from that slave class by their actions. They are not individually locked into a class without recourse. This should not be a concept that is as hard to grasp as Mike seems to be making it. Christianity itself is a “class” of individuals. As long as the individuals of that class remain faithful then they remain in the class of Christianity. If they become unfaithful, then they effectively remove themselves from that class and become a member of another class of individuals, i.e. “those who went out from among us”, “apostates”, etc.

So, yes, there are many classes of slaves that are presented and the reason they should be treated as classes is because the individual members of those classes can change and effectively become the member of another class. This is really nothing but simple categorization.
########################################

You said:

If the slaves are individuals, then there is no problem. Some slaves are faithful and others are unfaithful. Therefore, I must ask the readers to consider: which reading makes better sense of the passage?

######################################
If slaves are classes there is no problem. Individual members who remain faithful effectively remain a part of the class of faithful slaves. Individual memberrs who are unfaithful effectively remove themselves from the class of faithful ones and put themselves into the class of unfaithful ones. It’s just that simple. There’s nothing hard to grasp about this nor contradictory.
####################################

You said:

When we come to Luke 12, I think Rotherham’s position becomes even more difficult to maintain. Allow me to repeat what I stated in my opening:

Luke 12 identifies four slaves:1) One who is judged faithful and rewarded (12:43)
2) One who is judged as evil and punished with the most severity (12:45-46)
3) One who gets many lashes (12:47)
4) One who gets a few lashes (12:48)

Immediately, we see a contradiction between Luke 12 and the Watchtower. While the Watchtower identifies one composite slave, Luke 12 identifies four slaves with 4 different judgments. This creates a problem; if the “slave” happens to be one who receives “many lashes” (12:47), which slave will Christ judge as faithful? Apparently, there will be no slave left if the slave is a composite group or class (that is, unless they are judged faithful). However, if the slave consists of individuals, the context fits perfectly because some slaves will be judged as faithful and others not faithful.

############################################
You are arguing a strawman. As I have mentioned, we do not teach there is just one composite slave to the exception of all other slave classes. This was explained above in detail. By positing that we teach there is but one composite slave to the exception of other classes, you are positing a strawman and then proceeding to knock it down, but unfortunatley it’s completely misdirected and does not address our true position, so this effort has been wasted by your not paying attention to what I have pointed out in other posts, even early on in this discussion.

If Luke posits four slave classes, then there are four slave classes. These “slaves” obviously include more than one individual throughout history. Surely you must believe that. If you do then you yourself see these “slaves” as classes of individuals who can effectively change their status and end up in another class by their actions. This is common, logical sense at play here.
###########################################################

You said:

As in Matthew 24, we have the same issue of “that slave” and how to make sense of it in light of a composite understanding. To make matters more difficult, we have 4 different slaveswho are judged differently. Again, if the “slave” is a class, then we must have four slave classes. Yet, who are these other classes? The Watchtower identifies the current Governing Body as the class in Luke 12:43 who will be judged as faithful. Unfortunately, this leaves no room for Jesus’ warning to be a real possibility in light of such a theology.

###########################################################
More strawman argumentation. Your entire premise here is based upon a false assumption. See above.
#########################################################

You said:

At this point, I believe I’ve shown good reasons to believe Matthew 24 and Luke 12 present and understanding of the slaves to be individuals who are judged according to their faithfulness or lack thereof. If Rotherham would like to demonstrate how my understanding of individuals is exegetically indefensible, then I would like to see it.[/quote]

###########################################################
Surely you have to see that the individuals that you mention are indeed the members of a class of slaves. Otherwise, it begins to sound as if you think there was just one individual in history who was identified as that particular slave and I would hope that you and the readers would see the absurdity of that. These slaves are necessarily classes of people who meet a certain criteria for being in that class. Sure, all classes are made up of individuals, but they are still a class. That should be more than obvious. All you have really demonstrated here is that you don’t understand the concept of a “class” of people as opposed to the individuals of that class who can change their status based on their actions.

Regards,
Rotherham

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Re: Rotherham’s 5th question to Mike Felker

Postby Rotherham » Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:10 am

This question requires some background to it before asking.Although you attempt to counter by ‘near misses’ in terminology, it has been established that the exact phrase “shining like the sun” or “countenance as the sun” are a reference to heavenly glory. That is a sound hermeneutical evaluation whether everyone would accept it or not. In other words, it is a valid interpretation of those words.

Since one can rightly evaluate that phrase as a reference to heavenly glory, interpreting that same phrase in the parable of the ‘wheat and the weeds’ in the same manner would also be a valid interpretation.

Here is the question with the above in mind. Since our view is at the very least, a valid interpretation of the phrase “shining like the sun”, would not our view of Matthew 24 and 5, which is directly related to what the parable of the wheat and weeds is portraying, would it not also be a valid interpretation?

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Rotherham

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Re:Mike’s answer to question #5

Postby MikeFelker » Sat Mar 08, 2014 10:37 am

I’m surprised we are going over this again, as if such a question is the nail in the coffin for my position and an affirmation of the Watchtower’s FDS doctrine. It’s not, but I have hopes that Rotherham will tie this together in his closing.Perhaps I wasn’t clear, but I never stated that Daniel 12:3 isn’t in reference to heavenly glory. My point was that heavenly glory does not necessitate a location in heaven to experience it. You attempted to counter my point in relation to Matthew 17:2 by stating it, “directly references the SUN and you know that is a reference to heavenly glory, regardless of where Jesus was at when it was depicted.” Well, it actually does matter where Jesus and the disciples were when this was experienced because Rotherham’s position requires that it be in heaven. Such a position must be demonstrated rather than assumed. Moreover, Rotherham would still need to explain why the “already but not yet” principle can’t apply here when we see it all throughout the Christian Scriptures.

I think the wrong question is being asked. What Rotherham needs to refute is the notion that Daniel 12:3 was fulfilled in the first century in some sense. Since I’ve clearly established my position on both Matthew 24 and 13 as it relates to the destruction of Jerusalem, I once again see no reason to belabor the point here. Otherwise, this will be a debate about whether preterism is true rather than the debate thesis.

To answer Rotherham’s question directly: No, I don’t think he has a valid interpretation because it fails to account for the clear and unquestionable first century fulfillment language outlined throughout Matthew’s gospel.

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Rotherham’s Rebutal

Postby Rotherham » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:43 am

Hello Mike,Since this is my last question to you in regard to this topic, I will attempt to tie all of this together and why I see our view as superior to yours. I do think your view is categorically false but it involves other considerations that are not within the scope of this discussion. As I have mentioned before, this discussion started in the wrong place. I believe the real crux of the issue lies within the book of Daniel and Revelation and I hope you will be willing to broach those areas with me at some point.

I will explain why I have relied upon the interpretation of the “wheat and weeds” prophecy as a focal point in this discussion and why I have demonstrated that the preterist view is anything but “explicit”, and why that is important to our position.

Early on in this discussion you have stated, and still do, that we must show that our view is that which is EXPLICITLY spelled out in the Bible. I have offered, and still do, that when it comes to ambiguous language, which is OFTEN found in prophecies and parables, there is much that is “interpetational”, IMPLICIT rather than EXPLICIT. I have also maintained that as long as an interpretation can be shown to be historically, logically and scriptural harmonious then one can decide if that is the interpretation that they will adhere to, based upon their trust of the one or ones who are promoting it. 

Early on you also proclaimed that the preterist position was EXPLICIT, and I believe this is where you immediately stepped into an immature and myopic view of the interpretation of prophecy and why I immediately set upon demonstrating that preterism was far from explicit. My examination and pressure on the preterist view has been to show you and the readers that there is nothing explicit about the preterist view and in the coarse of this response here, I will continue to show why that is the case, including the all important “generation” reference that preterism holds to, because that “generation” reference obviously has a great bearing on our own view.

It is easy for a person to rail against the views of others if they don’t have to present a working model of their own view, and after you claimed that your view was explicit, I guess I find it perplexing why you then wonder about me trying to demonstrate that it was not. If it truly was explicit and you could have demonstrated such, then discussion over, for that which is explicit is beyond doubt, but as we have seen, your view is based upon theological assumptions as are many views. But again, even if theological assumptions are harmonious with history, logic and scripture, one can not claim categorically that the view is INACCURATE. OTHER factors, OTHER prophecies that have direct bearing upon the topic would have to be considered before a “no doubt” status of any interpretation could be claimed. And since I believe that Revelation and Daniel will present a “no doubt” status for our view, major pieces of this puzzle that we are working continue to be missing, and any ABSOLUTE conclusions or claims and expectations of things being EXPLICIT are highly premature.

You said:

Perhaps I wasn’t clear, but I never stated that Daniel 12:3 isn’t in reference to heavenly glory. My point was that heavenly glory does not necessitate a location in heaven to experience it. You attempted to counter my point in relation to Matthew 17:2 by stating it, “directly references the SUN and you know that is a reference to heavenly glory, regardless of where Jesus was at when it was depicted.” Well, it actually does matter where Jesus and the disciples were when this was experienced because Rotherham’s position requires that it be in heaven. Such a position must be demonstrated rather than assumed. Moreover, Rotherham would still need to explain why the “already but not yet” principle can’t apply here when we see it all throughout the Christian Scriptures.

#######################################
Here is the problem with this response and the overall bearing that it has upon this discussion. IT’S AN OPINION. You should know as well as any reader that what you are saying is not PROOF of any kind that this reference and the other ones that I have shown are “proleptic” and not actual. WE say they are actual and NOT proleptic for many reasons not even covered in this discussion. YOU say they are propleptic and can be recognized on earth before they get to heaven. Both views are valid to a degree, like I said, contingent upon other conclusions that are not a part of this discussion.

We believe that they are highly indicative of ACTUAL heavenly glory. It can not be denied that some of the references are indeed speaking of ACTUAL heavenly glory, so any scripture, using the same terminology could legitamately be seen the same way. Sure, words can be massaged with ad hoc reasonings and “near miss” terminology so that they can mean something else, but really, so what? Is that proof of a position? Is the very fact that they MIGHT mean something else proof that another view can not be believed because it is not EXPLICIT? Really? Is that how you think it works?

You should be able to appreciate that belief in a prophetic interpretation, as I have mentioned, can end up being, TO A DEGREE, as long as there is historical, logical and scriptural harmony to the view, a matter of trust in those who are promoting that view, especially in the light of ambiguous terminology. This recognition seems to escape you.

You said:

I think the wrong question is being asked. What Rotherham needs to refute is the notion that Daniel 12:3 was fulfilled in the first century in some sense. Since I’ve clearly established my position on both Matthew 24 and 13 as it relates to the destruction of Jerusalem, I once again see no reason to belabor the point here. Otherwise, this will be a debate about whether preterism is true rather than the debate thesis.

##################################
Again, here is the problem with your approach, and I have seen this problem many times even reading your blogs. You seem to think that I must REFUTE a position OR it somehow remains true. What happened to you actually PROVING that YOUR position is the only CORRECT one, in harmony with your claim that it is explicit? People don’t always have to REFUTE a position. In the presence of ambiguous terminology, what should be expected is that they can, at the very least, present another VALID way to LOOK at the verse and what it says, which I have clearly done.

Either Daniel 12:3 is proleptic or it is actual. Either Matthew 13’s reference to “shining as the sun” is proleptic or it is not. I can state for you the reasons I believe they are not proleptic, but I know full well that preterists have used ad hoc reasonings and “near misses” to excuse their view from refutation, that is until everything on the topic is considered, which hasn’t happened nor will it happen within the scope of this discussion by a long shot.

You are often trying to overturn my position by stating preterist views of many verses and then you wonder why I attack the preterist view. Really? You don’t see that as a tad bit myopic? I certainly do.

Unfortunatley, this one sentence(below) is all that you actually offer in response to my question. I had hoped for more as I am sure some of the readers did too. But, nonetheless, I will address what I THINK you mean by your answer since you did not elaborate. I get the feeling that you are at times deliberately vague in your answers.

You said:

To answer Rotherham’s question directly: No, I don’t think he has a valid interpretation because it fails to account for the clear and unquestionable first century fulfillment language outlined throughout Matthew’s gospel.

##################################
That isn’t exactly what I asked about. Let me explain: Since it can clearly be seen that the references to “shining as the sun” IN THE KINGDOM OF THE FATHER, can be validly interpreted as an ACTUAL reference to HEAVENLY GLORY, and not a proleptic reference, this changes thing drastically for the view of Matthew 24 aqnd 25. Here is why:

IF that view is the correct view, and we have no reason to believe otherwise, by the disciples asking about the timing of the “conclusion of the age” when the holy ones would ACTUALLY be resurrected to heavenly glory, this means that the answer to that question would have to shoot far past 70 CE clear down to the time of the ACTUAL resurrection. This means that Jesus answer did NOT just deal with the events of the FIRST century, but included the events of the ACTUAL resurrection and obviously the PAROUSIA that would be in connection with that ACTUAL resurrection.

I know that is NOT your view, but there has certainly not been presented by you any reason why this interpretation just can’t be valid, EXCEPT, and this seems to be the “sanctum sanctorum” of the preterist postion, the reference to THIS GENERATION. You seem to believe that this prophecy can not be dual in nature. Once again you claim that we can’t believe that it is unless it is EXPLICITLY spelled out. You seem to forget that unless your view can be EXPLICITLY spelled out, which it can’t and hasn’t been, it is simply another way of looking at it.

But let me expound a bit upon the notion of a dual fulfillment and why we see that as an absolutely valid and contextual way to look at a portion of Matthew 24, including the “generation” reference.

Again, Biblical pattern and precedent is fully supportive of our view that “shinig as the sun” IN THE KINGDOM OF THE FATHER is in reference to their ACTUAL resurrected heavenly glory. The language itself really does not resemble something proleptic but actual, because it tells us WHERE this glory is recognized. In the other verses which prolepsis is obvious, such as the transfiguration and your “near miss” reference in Ephesians, they were clearly on earth and prolepsis was contextually necessary. Such is not the case in Matthew 13. In fact it says, as mhighlighted above, that they shine as the sun “IN THE KINGDOM OF THEIR FATHER”. There is every good reason to believe that such a statement is in reference to being IN heaven because that is surely where the Father’s kingdom IS.

Therefore, IF that is the true view, and notice I said IF, but IF that is the true view, then that necessitates Matthew 24 and 25 to be a prophecy that takes us all the way down to the time of the ACTUAL resurrection and the PAROUSIA connected WITH that resurrection. The answer that Jesus gave then , by that conclusion, would have to be dual in nature because when he answered he did not differentiate between the first century and the RESURRECTION PAROUSIA.

Three questions were actually asked and only one of them would have been in regard to first century events if our view of Matthew 13 is correct, the one that asked about “these things” in relation to Jerusalem’s destruction. The very fact that he spelled out a very long answer and never identified any division between the time periods that they had asked about would be clear indication that he was presenting a dual fulfillment. Now the disciples could have clearly NOT understood that the answer to those questions involved different time periods, but Jesus surely would have known, and his answer indicates he ran them altogether, which again, IF the “conclusion of the age” includes their ACTUAL RESURRECTION, would demand a dual fulfillment in order for it to be true.

Really, what you have to disprove is that the PHRASE “shing as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” can NOT be a reference to resurrection, but you simply can’t, because we know elsewhwere that EXACT phrase does indeed refer to ACTUAL heavenly glory. In other words, you have barked up a wrong tree to be able to find any nail in a supposed coffin.

We see confirmation of this view when he begins to speak about what would happen immediately after the tribulation of those days with the sign of the Son of Man appearing in heaven and all the tribes beating themselves because of it and they would all see the Son of Man coming on the couds of glory and all his angels with him. Preterim would have us believe that none of that actually happened but was just elevated prophetic language that didn’t really mean what it said. There is certainly every reason for us to believe that this explanation just doesn’t fit with what actually transpired. How any one could see such an explanation and other preterist “tight spots” as EXPLICIT is beyond belief for me, and I am sure for many readers as well.

We also see corroboration in the description of the gathering of the elect from “one extremity of HEAVEN to the OTHER, or as Mark puts it from one extremity of the earth to the extremity of heaven. Again, ad hoc reasoning and near miss references might present a different view, but there is every reason to believe that this TOO is a reference to their heavenly resurrection in connection with the PAROUSIA, because if we let the WORDS MEAN what they SAY, the only times that happens is at their ACTUAL resurrection. We certainly can not be faulted or refuted for believing that.

This is also based upon Revelation and Daniel which we have not discussed, but which we need to do. In fact, if we want anything useful to come out of this discussion, it is imperative that we do.

So all of this talk of EXPLICITNESS in the face of highly interpretative language is simply wrong headed, and frankly, probably impossible to accomplish without considering the fuller scope of this very broad and encompassing topic.

Our interpretation is valid based upon Biblical precedent and the straight forward reading of what words actually say. You have presented NOTHING to demonstrate that our view simply can not be valid, including all the questions and misunderstandings about slaves and classes, except to say that unless its EXPLICIT, no one can believe it. I really think you should know better.

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Rotherham

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Re: Rotherham’s #5 Question: Mike’s Rebutal

Postby MikeFelker » Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:46 am

Once again, Rotherham decides to defend his eschatology rather than the debate thesis. If it weren’t for the fact that we are able to ask direct questions of each other, I would be losing hope that this will end up as a productive exchange. To be honest, I am actually trying to help Rotherham by taking his focus off preterism so that he can defend the debate thesis. In fact, if I wanted to, I could actually continue to pursue preterism to my advantage and therefore distract the audience from the debate thesis. But how is this helpful to the readers? Sure, there are some elements of eschatology that are relevant here. However, preterism vs. futurism is not the debate thesis. I found this statement by Rotherham to be quite revealing:

“Since this is my last question to you in regard to this topic, I will attempt to tie all of this together and why I see our view as superior to yours. I do think your view is categorically false but it involves other considerations that are not within the scope of this discussion. As I have mentioned before, this discussion started in the wrong place. I believe the real crux of the issue lies within the book of Daniel and Revelation and I hope you will be willing to broach those areas with me at some point.”

What exactly is “your view?” Preterism? Let me repeat: even if Rotherham’s eschatology (i.e. futurism) were found to be superior to preterism, this would only prove that the Jehovah’s Witness “end times” views are very similar to most protestants (in the loose sense of the word). This would say absolutely nothing to validate the debate thesis. In fact, were Rotherham to debate a protestant other than myself, they are likely to be a futurist of some kind. My “view” in this debate is actually that the Watchtower’s understanding of the FDS is not accurate. Why wouldn’t Rotherham be describing this as “my view” rather than focusing on preterism?

But did this discussion really start in the wrong place? I don’t think so. As in most theological debates, there will always be underlying theological systems that are presumed by both sides. For example, a Catholic and a Protestant might debate on whether purgatory is taught in Scripture. However, in many cases, the Catholic ends up bringing in discussions related to the canon, Sola Scriptura, and church authority rather than defend the debate thesis. Are these issues relevant? Of course they are. But proving that Protestants have no grounds for Sola Scriptura does not validate purgatory as Biblically sound.

Similarly, I could have brought in my arguments related to 1914 to prove the debate thesis false. Unfortunately, it seemed that Rotherham would have been willing to go down this road. But how productive would this debate have been if we spent one fourth of the time discussing the 70 years prophecy? Instead of doing that, I gave Rotherham’s position the benefit of the doubt on 1914 unless it became absolutely necessary to address (which I still might have avoided). With that said, I hope the readers will see that the debate thesis has not been validated at this point.

Let me now touch on a few points Rotherham brought up, even though these points do not prove the debate thesis true.

“Early on in this discussion you have stated, and still do, that we must show that our view is that which is EXPLICITLY spelled out in the Bible. I have offered, and still do, that when it comes to ambiguous language, which is OFTEN found in prophecies and parables, there is much that is “interpetational”, IMPLICIT rather than EXPLICIT. I have also maintained that as long as an interpretation can be shown to be historically, logically and scriptural harmonious then one can decide if that is the interpretation that they will adhere to, based upon their trust of the one or ones who are promoting it.”

Let me just say this: if futurism were shown to be more historically, logically, and scripturally harmonious than preterism, I would be a futurist. If that were the case, never mind my distinctions on implicit vs. explicit. So why not just prove your case rather than arguing semantics? In other words, even if you only go so far as to prove something implicitly true, you have indeed shown my claims of explicitness to be false. Something cannot be both implicitly true and explicitly false.

“I will continue to show why that is the case, including the all important “generation” reference that preterism holds to, because that “generation” reference obviously has a great bearing on our own view.”

It certainly does have a bearing on Rotherham’s view, but we haven’t much in terms of a discussion on why “this generation” must refer to one thousands of years later. If I were Rotherham, I’d advise more humility on his position, as the Watchtower can’t seem to make up their minds on what exactly “this generation” means. Thus, whatever Rotherham defines “this generation” as, we must ask, “so, when does that argument expire?” For the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “truth” often has an expiration date.

“It is easy for a person to rail against the views of others if they don’t have to present a working model of their own view, and after you claimed that your view was explicit, I guess I find it perplexing why you then wonder about me trying to demonstrate that it was not. If it truly was explicit and you could have demonstrated such, then discussion over, for that which is explicit is beyond doubt, but as we have seen, your view is based upon theological assumptions as are many views.”

Basically, Rotherham is granting here that I could have argued for a theological system that is completely irrelevant to the debate thesis, but still proves the debate thesis as false. Really? Perhaps then, I should have spent the entire time arguing against the Watchtower’s “anointed class” theology. Though not directly relevant, it would have proven the debate thesis false. But this is not how you do debates.

As it relates to Daniel 12:3, we are really going in circles here. Rotherham is denying that it is proleptic and suggesting that I haven’t offered proof. I offered several other proleptic passages, which Rotherham barely dealt with, that clearly show heavenly realities that are, in some sense, experience by the believer now. What would Rotherham do with John 5:24? In what ways have believers already passed from death into life? Yet, everyone in Jesus’ audience at that time died. These are unmistakably heavenly realities that are experienced by the Christian.

Here’s why Daniel 12:3 also applies. It is spoken of in a historical context within Matthew 13, which is speaking of the first century. What Rotherham is doing is backwards. He finds verses here and there that he thinks could not apply to the first century, creates a context, and then decides which parts are first century and which ones aren’t.

As I demonstrated, we need to let Jesus and the disciples determine the context. Remember, Matthew 24 is all in answer to the disciples’ inquiry regarding the destruction of the temple which they tie in which Jesus’ coming/presence. Here’s how we lay this out:

1. The disciples ask about the temple
2. Jesus tells them the temple will be destroyed
3. The disciples ask in relation to this event what the sign of Jesus’ coming and end of the age?

Thus, we have “this event” related directly to the coming and end of the age. If Jesus is talking about “this event,” then why would the disciples be asking about something completely and totally irrelevant? Obviously, they saw the destruction of the temple as directly correlating to Jesus’ coming and the end of the age. This is how you determine the context of Matthew 24 and 13. Much, much more could be said to develop this. By why should we spend our time doing so when we could be discussing the many issues related to the FDS? There is still much that is left to discuss that we have both brought up in our openings. Unfortunately, I only have one more question left to ask.

To summarize, if the context I have described is correct, then Daniel 12:3 would also fall within this context. Therefore, if Daniel 12:3 is experienced in the first century, then it is obviously proleptic or figurative –in a way very similar to how John 5:24 is proleptic. Otherwise, if this is not a basis for determining John 5:24 as proleptic, then how else would you prove it other than context?

“You are often trying to overturn my position by stating preterist views of many verses and then you wonder why I attack the preterist view. Really? You don’t see that as a tad bit myopic? I certainly do.”

Examples? Preterism could have been easily avoided in this debate, even if I raised a few elements of it. If you wanted to avoid it, I would have been happy to do so.

That isn’t exactly what I asked about. Let me explain: Since it can clearly be seen that the references to “shining as the sun” IN THE KINGDOM OF THE FATHER, can be validly interpreted as an ACTUAL reference to HEAVENLY GLORY, and not a proleptic reference, this changes thing drastically for the view of Matthew 24 aqnd 25. Here is why:IF that view is the correct view, and we have no reason to believe otherwise, by the disciples asking about the timing of the “conclusion of the age” when the holy ones would ACTUALLY be resurrected to heavenly glory, this means that the answer to that question would have to shoot far past 70 CE clear down to the time of the ACTUAL resurrection. This means that Jesus answer did NOT just deal with the events of the FIRST century, but included the events of the ACTUAL resurrection and obviously the PAROUSIA that would be in connection with that ACTUAL resurrection.

Just a few points to make here: “In the kingdom of the Father” doesn’t necessitate this as locationally in heaven. Can you prove this? Once again, Jesus wasn’t in heaven during the transfiguration. This is an entirely different debate, but I believe I can persuasively demonstrate that the kingdom is a true heavenly reality on earth. But should we really go there? So yes, I do believe that Daniel 12:3 is an actual reference to heavenly glory. But what exactly does this mean? Does it mean that one has to be in heaven to experience it (by the way, I don’t deny that martyred Christians went to heaven. I’m a dualist)? Rotherham thinks that it must refer to a post-resurrection reality. But if this is the case, couldn’t we say the same for all proleptic passages? John 5:24 is certainly a post-resurrection reality, but it’s also one that is experienced in this life.

“Three questions were actually asked and only one of them would have been in regard to first century events if our view of Matthew 13 is correct, the one that asked about “these things” in relation to Jerusalem’s destruction. The very fact that he spelled out a very long answer and never identified any division between the time periods that they had asked about would be clear indication that he was presenting a dual fulfillment. Now the disciples could have clearly NOT understood that the answer to those questions involved different time periods, but Jesus surely would have known, and his answer indicates he ran them altogether, which again, IF the “conclusion of the age” includes their ACTUAL RESURRECTION, would demand a dual fulfillment in order for it to be true.”

This is false. First of all, when the disciples asked about the destruction of the temple, the sign of Jesus’ coming, and the end of the age, they had no idea on when this would occur other than it being synonymous. That’s where Jesus’ answer comes in. But what’s certain is that it is the disciples who tied together the destruction of the temple with the coming and end of the age. Why? Because they saw the destruction of the temple as the coming of Jesus and the end of the age. It simply doesn’t make sense to think that the disciples were just arbitrarily asking about events completely and totally irrelevant to the destruction of the temple. Wouldn’t it make more sense to think that disciples were asking questions that directly correlated to the destruction of the temple?

I really don’t like the fact that I am being forced to defend my position on preterism and make that the primary purpose of the debate. The choice would be to ignore it or address it. Unfortunately, I have to address it since I am being directly asked. Yet, Rotherham sees the need to constantly pursue it and ask the same things over and over again.

Just a few more points of response:

“We see confirmation of this view when he begins to speak about what would happen immediately after the tribulation of those days with the sign of the Son of Man appearing in heaven and all the tribes beating themselves because of it and they would all see the Son of Man coming on the couds of glory and all his angels with him. Preterim would have us believe that none of that actually happened but was just elevated prophetic language that didn’t really mean what it said.”

“Preterism would have us believe that none of that actually happened?” Really? This is such a poor caricature of my position. Obviously, I do believe that this actually happened. But I believe it actually happened in accordance with how the event is described in Scripture:

“And the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)

Let’s be reminded of what Jesus also said:

“Nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64)“For the Son of Man is going to come in his glory of His Father and with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27-28)

This is clear and unmistakable. Jesus believes that those to whom he was speaking would see these events. Rotherham makes a few attempts to address these points:

“You appeal to a number of scriptures to support preterism which have no weight to them. You appeal to Matthew 16:27 and 28 and claim that this could not be the transfiguration because he did not at that time “repay” each one according to their deeds. A closer look at these two scriptures reveals that verse 27 was clearly talking about a future event and has no necessary connection to the “present” event that was to happen in verse 28, which was fulfilled by the transfiguration.”

Obviously, verse 27 is talking about a future event. But on what basis do you separate it from verse 28? Jesus comes in glory in verse 27 and he comes in the kingdom on verse 28. Is there any basis at all for separating them other than simply stating it? Rotherham offers no actual argument to support this. Also, in what way was it fulfilled in the transfiguration?

The parallel passage in Luke shows this even more clearly:

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:26-27)

Would anyone reading this get the impression that such an event would be happening just 8 days later? Is that why Jesus would mention not tasting death? In addition, on what exegetical basis would Rotherham argue that the “seeing the kingdom of God” is not the reference to the “coming in glory” mentioned in verse 26? Again, there is absolutely every reason to believe this is referring to the same event.

“You also appeal to Matthew 26:64 which I find to be an odd attempt. All this is telling us is that his followers would now recognize HIM to be the fulfillment of Daniel’s vision. From that point forward Jesus would be recognized by his followers as that “Son of Man” who would come with those clouds in the Danielic vision. In your view, just how would they see him riding on the clouds from that TIME FORWARD?”

This is a completely eisegetical conclusion. If they see the fulfillment of the event, then surely they see the event. Isn’t this what Matthew 26:64 is saying? Otherwise, Jesus’ statement makes no sense. His enemies would never see Jesus as the Son of Man in Daniel 7 unless they had a fulfillment to base it on. Yet, in Rotherham’s view, they would have no basis because the fulfillment wouldn’t take place for thousands of years. Thus, Jesus’ enemies would have died in believing that Jesus never proved that he was the Son of Man in Daniel 7.

A detailed look at Daniel 7 as it correlates to Matthew 24 and the paralleled judgment language in the Hebrew Scriptures would undoubtedly display that Matthew 24:30 has a first century fulfillment. But I think that Matthew 16:27-28 and 26:64 provide a very sound context that wouldn’t require a full orbed Daniel 7 discussion. Therefore, I think the readers will see that Rotherham’s caricature above is without basis.

“We also see corroboration in the description of the gathering of the elect from “one extremity of HEAVEN to the OTHER, or as Mark puts it from one extremity of the earth to the extremity of heaven. Again, ad hoc reasoning and near miss references might present a different view, but there is every reason to believe that this TOO is a reference to their heavenly resurrection in connection with the PAROUSIA, because if we let the WORDS MEAN what they SAY, the only times that happens is at their ACTUAL resurrection. We certainly can not be faulted or refuted for believing that.”

Once again we see that parallel’s are not allowed in Rotherham’s hermeneutic unless they use the exact wording.

Using Rotherham’s standard above, let’s just consider Isaiah 11:12, which is one of the 5 examples (I could bring in more) I used to parallel Matthew 24:31.

“And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:12)

The four corners of the earth, right? Should we include America, China, Australia, and Alaska in that? Apparently, even the Watchtower doesn’t take this in such a way:

*** g 12/10 p. 28 A Book You Can Trust—Part 2 ***
Assyria’s destruction also contributed to the fulfillment of yet another Bible prophecy. Earlier, in 740 B.C.E., Assyria took the ten-tribe kingdom into exile. About the same time that Assyria did this, God’s prophet Isaiah foretold that Jehovah would “break the Assyrian,” “tread him down,” and bring Israel back to its homeland. Isaiah wrote: “The remnant of his people who will remain over from Assyria . . . , he [God] will collect together.” That is exactly what occurred—about two hundred years later!—Isaiah 11:11, 12; 14:25.

Even if a “dual fulfillment” is applied, we still have to view the gathering from the four corners as having some kind of fulfillment back then. If so, in what sense? And why can’t Jesus use the same kind of figurative language in Matthew 24:31 to describe the gathering of the elect from all over the known world, just as it began to take place in Acts 2, then throughout Paul’s outreach to the gentiles, and the continuance of the preaching of the gospel until the destruction of the temple?

I hope that my next question to Rotherham, as well as my closing statement, will bring us back to the debate thesis in hopes that he will try to defend it. Unfortunately, it seems Rotherham will continue to spend more time trying to refute preterism.

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Mike’s #5 Question to Rotherham

Postby MikeFelker » Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:55 am

In your opening, you state:

With that achievement, the structure of the Christian congregation would parallel the first century in many ways, with a body of men who have authority and responsibility to teach and to direct the domestics, to act as “gifts in men” to readjust the holy ones until complete understanding is achieved. (Eph. 4:11-17)

Throughout the debate, you sought to elaborate further in demonstrating how the JW structure today parallels the first century. Your statement above indicates that it parallels it in “many ways” rather than “all ways.” Please elaborate on this point, specifically as it relates to the Governing Body. In other words, in what ways does the Governing Body not parallel the first century, or are you just picking and choosing?

Since I can’t make arguments here, I will definitely bring out in my response why the Governing Body does not parallel the Jerusalem council as well as the apostolic functions.

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Re: Mike’s #5 Question to Rotherham

Postby Rotherham » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:21 am

Hello Mike,I am not sure what this has to do with proving or disproving the accuracy of the Watchtower article that is the focus of this debate but I truly appreciate the opportunity to expound upon this point as I believe it is a very important feature of the overall understanding of the concept of a governing body/element within Christianity.

You might think my complaint is a double standard since you think my attacking preterism was off topic, but as I explained in my prior post it was very much on topic as it relates directly to end times eschatology. And as I mentioned, if your view was actually EXPLICIT as you claimed, you would have won the debate hands down. The EXPLICITNESS of YOUR teaching on end time’s eschatology would have proven the INACCURACY of our OWN teaching.

However, I don’t see how this question actually addresses eschatology, but be that as it may, it makes no real difference to me, and as I said, I appreciate this opportunity. I actually wish this was more the topic of discussion than the one we chose, but maybe that can be a future endeavor.

I believe we have mentioned this before on your blog and had come to a few agreements in the discussion. I will mention those here as I formulate my response. This understanding, as mentioned, comes from a proper view of Ephesians 4:11-17 and a few other related verses which I will incorporate. For those who might be interested in the preliminary discussion that Mike and I had on his blogspot, you can find it here:

http://apologeticfront.com/2013/03/05/t … and-unity/

In answer to your question you wanted to know the difference between the governing body today and the governing body of the first century. Basically it is this as I mentioned on your blog:

The situation today is different than the first century, naturally, due to the fact that inspiration is not present and neither are the gifts of the spirit, one being the discernment of inspired utterances and another one being the gift of knowledge. Today, although it is quite possible that a new understanding could be achieved through the efforts and research of an individual, as Proverbs recommends, there is salvation in a multitude of counselors. That is why there should be a consensus of a new view before it is promoted to the congregation. In the event that inspiration is no longer with us, this is the workable approach to any new understanding and still maintains the unity as is demanded by Eph. 4:11-17.

In our discussion on your blog we had come to the following agreements:

1. An unrelenting heretic should be removed from the congregation.

2. We should surrender our views to those taking the lead over us as long as those views do not violate what the scriptures teach.

3. Ephesians 4:11-17 is an active and current process to be fully realized in the future.

Ephesians 4:11-17 clearly establishes that there would be gifts in/to men that would be responsible for readjusting the holy ones until that full stature arrives. That has not yet arrived so the process must remain for a reasonable unity to be sustained. It should be readily clear from the context that the purpose was for the unity to be maintained so that the congregation would not be torn by every wind of teaching. I’m not really sure what more there is to exegete than that. I think we actually agree that this is what it says. I think your disagreement is in relation to how strongly we should adhere to the teachings of those gifts in men and whether it should just be a “local” authority or a “worldwide one.

The way we have things arranged within our modern organization of Christianity is that we are trying to maintain the same stance toward unity as was maintained in the first century. As I stated before, without the very beneficial aid of direct inspiration, given that we are in the process of digging out from age-old errors and discovering more and more about the ancient languages used, I don’t see any other way to maintain earthwide unity except in the fashion that we do so. I am sure that there is some room for variation, but the basic principle is Biblically sound. If such a thing can be carried out on a local level, why in the world would we think that the same thing would not be necessary on a worldwide scale? Without it, Christianity would indeed be a perfect example of different congregations being carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching based on the cunning and contriving errors of men. If being carried about by every wind would be inappropriate on a local level, how could it then be OK to exist on a worldwide level? That makes no sense.

We believe that this reflects the spirit of what is stated in numerous places within the Bible. Ephesians 4:11-17 surely doesn’t stand alone. And any exegesis of that passage must be seen to harmonize with everything else that is stated on the topic. Below are some related scriptures and comments to help the readers see where we are coming from:

(From a discussion with IvanMonroy)
viewtopic.php?f=36&t=621#p4962

Hebrews 13:17 told the first century Christians to be obedient and to SUBMIT (Greek-“surrender, yield”) to those who were taking the lead among them. Hebrews tells us that those ones ‘will render an account for our souls’. Who would that have been in the 1st century? Would it not be those gifts in men, the Apostles, who were clearly acting as a governing element among the congregations of Christianity? Would it also not be true that these “gifts in men” would strive to be of the ‘same mind and the same line of thought with no divisions’, according 1 Cor. 1:10 and context?

Paul said that there were those who gave ORDERS in connection with ‘how to walk and be pleasing to God’;

1 Thessalonians 4:1,2-

Finally, brothers, we request YOU and exhort YOU by the Lord Jesus, just as YOU received [the instruction] from us on how YOU ought to walk and please God, just as YOU are in fact walking, that YOU would keep on doing it more fully.2For YOU know the orders we gave YOU through the Lord Jesus.

The first century Christians were said to adhere to the ‘teachings of the APOSTLES’. (Acts 2:42)

Acts 2:42

And they continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to sharing [with one another], to taking of meals and to prayers.

Was this different then the teachings of the SCRIPTURES? No, because the Apostles adhered TO the scriptures. It is abundantly clear that the Apostles had a special authority in the 1st century congregation.

In reality, the idea of a governing element, made up of men, is everywhere apparent in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Consider the following points and questions:

Romans 16:17
17 Now I exhort YOU, brothers, to keep your eye on those who cause divisions and occasions for stumbling contrary to the teaching that YOU have learned, and avoid them.

Divisions in ‘what?
What teachings are they in reference to? Would it not be the teachings of the Apostles? (Acts 2:42)

2 Thessalonians 3:6
6 Now we are giving YOU orders, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly and not according to the tradition YOU received from us.

Who is the WE giving the orders if there is no such thing as a Christian governing element?
What is it they received from the US that they needed to adhere to?

2 Thessalonians 3:13-15
13 For YOUR part, brothers, do not give up in doing right. 14 But if anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. 15 And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.

Where did this letter come from that they had to be obedient to?
Why was it spoken of as OUR WORD, and not God’s word? Who was the OUR?
Where was this obvious authority coming from?

Titus 3:10-11
10 As for a man that promotes a sect, reject him after a first and a second admonition; 11 knowing that such a man has been turned out of the way and is sinning, he being self-condemned.

How would you know if someone was promoting a sect if there was no governing element in regard to doctrine?
Who determined what the ‘promotion of a sect’ entailed?

Titus 2:15
15 Keep on speaking these things and exhorting and reproving with full authority to command. Let no man ever despise you.

Who had “full authority to command” and what did that mean for those under their authority?

Notice 1 Thessalonians 4:1,2-

Finally, brothers, we request YOU and exhort YOU by the Lord Jesus, just as YOU received [the instruction] from us on how YOU ought to walk and please God, just as YOU are in fact walking, that YOU would keep on doing it more fully.2For YOU know the orders we gave YOU through the Lord Jesus.

Throughout his letters to the different congregations we here Paul speaking of the ‘orders’ or ‘instructions’ that the congregations had been given by the WE. Who was the WE?
Did you notice Paul didn’t say to them “God instructed you”, but he said “WE” instructed you? Why did he not say ‘God instructed them’?
Why does it say that THEY INSTRUCTED them on HOW TO WALK AND BE PLEASING TO GOD?

It should be readily apparent that the Apostles were speaking with authority to the congregations scattered about.

Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might correct the things that were defective and might make appointments of older men in city after city, as I gave you orders.

Correction. Appointment. Again, clearly indicative of an element of authority.

And again, Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

If there was no governing element within the 1st century congregation, who were the leaders that they were to submit to and obey?
How were these ones responsible for the souls of the congregation to the extent that they would have to make an accounting for them?

As well, Acts 16:4 tells us that Paul and others in a ‘town to town’ fashion, delivered the DECREES reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to OBEY.”

Why were they called DECREES?

Why were the other congregations expected to OBEY those DECREES? Why did they have to obey the decisions reached by the Apostles and older men?

Is it not clear that the Apostles and older men in Jerusalem represented an authority in the 1st century church?

This idea of a governing element within Christianity is embedded within many passages of the Bible.

Consider:
Paul said at 1Cor. 13:11: “Finally, brothers, continue to rejoice, to be readjusted, to be comforted, to think in agreement, to live peaceably, and the God of love and of peace will be with you.”

“The apostles and older men… to those brothers in Antioch… Since we have heard that some from among us have caused you trouble with speeches, trying to subvert your souls, although we did not give them ANY INSTRUCTIONS” – Acts 15:23-24

Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might correct the things that were defective and might make appointments of older men in city after city, as I GAVE YOU ORDERS.

2 Thes. 2:1,2 However, brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of YOU 2 not to be quickly shaken from YOUR reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through a letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here.

Regards,
Rotherham

In the end of the matter, knowledge is based upon acknowledgement.
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Re: Mike’s #5 Question: Mike’s rebuttal to Rotherham

Postby MikeFelker » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:04 pm

Contrary to Rotherham’s assertion, this has everything to do with the debate thesis, for it deals with the very identity of the FDS. We both agree that there is/was an FDS. But we completely disagree on who they are. Therefore, if I can demonstrate that the FDS is not a governing body per the JW definition, then the debate thesis is denied.Next, Rotherham should discontinue the use of the phrase “governing element.” This is far too ambiguous and not even used by the Watchtower as far as I know. Why not just say “governing body” so we can all know what he’s referring to? We all agree that there was and still is a governing element.

As far as preterism is concerned, I already explained my position on its relevance to the topic. At best, its peripheral to the topic. So why is Rotherham making it central to our discussion? Just like I stated earlier, it would be like me arguing against the “anointed class” theology to deny the debate thesis. While its relevant, I should not make it central.

“The situation today is different than the first century, naturally, due to the fact that inspiration is not present and neither are the gifts of the spirit, one being the discernment of inspired utterances and another one being the gift of knowledge.”

In other words, Rotherham gets to pick and choose his parallels now due to a “different situation.” Where does Scripture spell this out? We are told that we should hold to a GB today because of “parallels.” Yet, when I point out parallels (or lack thereof), all Rotherham has to say is, “Oh, but the situation today is different.” Using this standard, you can prove almost anything.

“Today, although it is quite possible that a new understanding could be achieved through the efforts and research of an individual, as Proverbs recommends, there is salvation in a multitude of counselors.”

Really? Isn’t “independent thinking” discouraged amongst JW’s? In my experience with JW’s, new teachings are completely dismissed because they don’t agree with the GB. Thus, “new teachings” are wrong by definition. If there are JW’s reading this, I’d like for them to do some independent research, come up with a well founded belief that matches up with Scripture, present it before JW leaders, and see how that works out for them. If that seems far fetched, put yourself in the position of a JW 10 years ago who was able to conclude the current FDS doctrine before the GB. Would his research have been accepted or rejected? Or more importantly, would the JW himself have been accepted or rejected.

“The way we have things arranged within our modern organization of Christianity is that we are trying to maintain the same stance toward unity as was maintained in the first century.”

Rotherham may be surprised by this, but I actually desire the same thing. The difference is, what Scriptural boundaries do Christians have to accomplish this? It’s not about what works, because anyone can get “unity” through control. Instead, it’s about seeking unity within the parameters set forth in Scripture. The question is, where does the Bible prescribe these parameters through a governing body?

“If such a thing can be carried out on a local level, why in the world would we think that the same thing would not be necessary on a worldwide scale?”

As in creating an artificial ecclesiastical office which is nowhere prescribed in Scripture? One in which all Christians worldwide are to have absolute unquestionable obedience? This question is utterly irrelevant unless we have the same Scriptural basis for local authority as we would global authority. Yet, the latter is completely lacking in Scripture outside of the unique first century context of apostolic authority and inspired revelation. Why is that?

“Hebrews 13:17 told the first century Christians to be obedient and to SUBMIT (Greek-“surrender, yield”) to those who were taking the lead among them. Hebrews tells us that those ones ‘will render an account for our souls’. Who would that have been in the 1st century? Would it not be those gifts in men, the Apostles, who were clearly acting as a governing element among the congregations of Christianity? Would it also not be true that these “gifts in men” would strive to be of the ‘same mind and the same line of thought with no divisions’, according 1 Cor. 1:10 and context?”

The answer is the local elders. But let’s go with apostles just for the sake of argument. If the apostles were the ones in the first century that Hebrews 13:17 would have us submit to, then why doesn’t the GB implement apostles today? Once again, Rotherham’s attempt for parallels fails.

Next, Rotherham brings up several Scriptures and points that I have no issue with since they are related to apostolic authority.

This comment stands out:

“2 Thessalonians 3:6
6 Now we are giving YOU orders, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly and not according to the tradition YOU received from us.Who is the WE giving the orders if there is no such thing as a Christian governing element?
What is it they received from the US that they needed to adhere to?”

Again, who said there is no such thing as a Christian “governing element?” In the first century, it was the apostles and elders of the local church. Today, it’s just the elders. But regardless, what exactly is Rotherham trying to parallel here? This is inspired Scripture by an apostle that Christians are to obey.

“Titus 3:10-11
10 As for a man that promotes a sect, reject him after a first and a second admonition; 11 knowing that such a man has been turned out of the way and is sinning, he being self-condemned.How would you know if someone was promoting a sect if there was no governing element in regard to doctrine?
Who determined what the ‘promotion of a sect’ entailed?”

You would know because they were teaching both against Scripture and the teaching of the apostles. Who determined what the “promotion of a sect” entailed? Whether it disagreed with the Scriptures or the apostles. Anyone could determine this. If Rotherham has a problem with individuals determining things, then he has a problem with Rev. 2:2 and many other Scriptures.

“Titus 2:15
15 Keep on speaking these things and exhorting and reproving with full authority to command. Let no man ever despise you.Who had “full authority to command” and what did that mean for those under their authority?”

Titus did. Was Titus a GB member? Any Christian today has full authority to command when we proclaim God’s Word. Why? Because God’s Word has ultimate authority.

I’m going to disregard the rest of what Rotherham says because it mistakenly assumes that I deny a “governing element” or apostolic authority. But these don’t even work for Rotherham because the GB does not have apostolic authority or speak with inspiration.

Unfortunately, Rotherham didn’t speak of all the lack of parallels that I hoped he would. I’m surprised because he knows about these and discussed it with Ivan at length. Since Rotherham will get the last word on this, I’ll do my best to describe these so the reader can see how the JW GB completely fails in creating a parallel between themselves and what was going on in the first century ecclesiastical structure:

1. As far as we know, the Jerusalem counsel only gathered to discuss disputes that were causing major problems in the congregations (and how many times did they do this to our knowledge?). The JW GB meets regularly and decrees what the JW must practice and believe in virtually every area of life and thought.

2. The Jerusalem counsel had an open discussion on the dispute and confronted those who held to the circumcision (as well as the “entire multitude” that was there). The JW GB, on the other hand, meets privately and behind closed doors. The Jerusalem counsel seemed to operate on the level of full disclosure.

3. In Acts 15:36, Paul pursued missionary activities independently of any governing body or committee. JW’s could not and would not have the authority to do so today.

4. There is no indication in the early church that elders and leaders were always appointed by a governing body or committee outside of a local context (see Titus 1:5). The JW GB would not, as far as I know, implement such a process.

5. Christians were praised in Rev. 2:2 for putting apostles “to the test…and finding them liars.” The JW GB does not commend JW’s for putting them to the test. In fact, it’s discouraged. JW’s are to have absolute unquestionable obedience to the GB.

6. The first century church autonomously (for the most part) wrote letters and taught converts their beliefs apart from a governing Body. Such a practice would not be allowed by the JW GB. Also, what really hurts the claimed parallels is that even non-GB members (as claimed by the JW’s) wrote letters, and inspired letters at that. Not even the JW GB can write inspired letters. So is the JW GB really a parallel to the first century?

7. In the first century, beliefs could be formulated outside of a governing body. Peter, for instance, did exactly that when it was revealed that Gentiles could be a part of the Christian congregation. Peter did not seek approval from a governing body before making this decision. Also, the apostle Paul decided to be the apostle to the gentiles for about 14 years before going up to Jerusalem (per Gal. 1-2). The point here is that God worked through individuals and allowed them to make decisions apart from a governing Body. Such is far from the case in the JW GB today.

8. The first century Jerusalem counsel included those who worked miracles. This may be dismissed by Rotherham, but are we looking for parallels between the JW GB and the Jerusalem counsel or are we not? Why pick and choose? If Scripture requires a GB, then we’d expect it to command it. In that case, I would advocate for one regardless of whether it has miracle workers. But since we don’t have such a command, what can Rotherham do except pick and choose his parallels?

9. The first century Jerusalem contained apostles; those commissioned by Jesus. The JW GB does not advocate for apostles in this sense and therefore fails at this parallel.

10. Paul was not a GB member according to JW’s. Yet, his authority and actions were unprecedented. Would the JW GB allow for such a person (even a non-apostle) today? That is, a person operating mostly independently and outside of a governing body?

In summary, the Watchtower doctrine of the FDS fails in it’s identification with the first century because there was no first century governing body. Referring to both as a “governing element” also fails because it is too broad to distinguish from my own view. Therefore, the FDS is not the governing body and cannot be.

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Rotherham’s Rebuttal to Mike, Question#5

Postby Rotherham » Fri Mar 28, 2014 8:04 am

Hello Mike,My comments are between the #####s.

You said:

Contrary to Rotherham’s assertion, this has everything to do with the debate thesis, for it deals with the very identity of the FDS. We both agree that there is/was an FDS. But we completely disagree on who they are. Therefore, if I can demonstrate that the FDS is not a governing body per the JW definition, then the debate thesis is denied.

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Well, all this proves is you really had no cause then to complain about me talking about preterism. If this is relevant, which I find to be a stretch, then talking about an actual eschatologically alternate view would surely be relevant.
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Next, Rotherham should discontinue the use of the phrase “governing element.” This is far too ambiguous and not even used by the Watchtower as far as I know. Why not just say “governing body” so we can all know what he’s referring to? We all agree that there was and still is a governing element.

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The phrase governing “body” and governing “element” convey the exact same idea. There was an element within the first century congregation that acted as a governing agent. There is no difference in saying that there was a governing “body” that acted as that agent. Look up in the dictionary the definition of “element” and “body” and you will see the semantic overlap that they can contain. As I said, you agree that there was a governing element or body, you just disagree as to whether it was a local autonomous body or a worldwide body.

You want to say “element” but where is the significance difference that you seem to espouse? If you believe that within a congregation there should be those “who take the lead” to which one should obey and submit to, if that be more than one person, doesn’t that constitute the same thing as a “body” of men who have that authority? You are trying to make a distinction without a difference. The only real difference here is whether or not there is a body that has worldwide jurisdiction or just “local” jurisdiction. Whether or not there is indeed a governing body, in effect, has already been conceded by you by saying you do indeed believe that there is still a governing element. Doesn’t that ELEMENT consist of a BODY of men? How could you say it doesn’t?

What you really need to address is whether the first century governing element/body had worldwide jurisdiction or whether each and every congregation was autonomous as to authority and as to what they wanted to teach and preach. That’s where our real difference lies.
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As far as preterism is concerned, I already explained my position on its relevance to the topic. At best, its peripheral to the topic. So why is Rotherham making it central to our discussion? Just like I stated earlier, it would be like me arguing against the “anointed class” theology to deny the debate thesis. While its relevant, I should not make it central.

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Well, as I said above, if talking about the difference between a local and worldwide governing body is somehow going to prove our view of those prophecies wrong, then surely, talking about YOUR particular eschatological views, views that you yourself appealed to, would surely be relevant.
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“The situation today is different than the first century, naturally, due to the fact that inspiration is not present and neither are the gifts of the spirit, one being the discernment of inspired utterances and another one being the gift of knowledge.”

In other words, Rotherham gets to pick and choose his parallels now due to a “different situation.” Where does Scripture spell this out? We are told that we should hold to a GB today because of “parallels.” Yet, when I point out parallels (or lack thereof), all Rotherham has to say is, “Oh, but the situation today is different.” Using this standard, you can prove almost anything.

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It only takes a little bit of common sense and logic to see that what I am saying is exactly what one would derive from Eph. 4:11-17. I’ve explained this so many times its getting quite repetitive, but here goes again. Maybe the reader will be benefited by a set of questions and answers that should amply demonstrate the point.

1. Would there be men down through history who would be considered “gifts in men”, as were the Apostles, who would be responsible to readjust the holy ones for the sake of maintaining unity?

Answer: Yes. How else could the words presented be understood?

2. Would inspiration and the gifts of the spirit last beyond the first century?

Answer: No, they would not.

3. Would not those “gifts in men” have to maintain the unity of the congregation without the benefit of inspiration and the gifts of the spirit?

Answer: How else could they operate?

I don’t see any picking and choosing here, just plain and simple common sense applied to the passage.
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“Today, although it is quite possible that a new understanding could be achieved through the efforts and research of an individual, as Proverbs recommends, there is salvation in a multitude of counselors.”

Really? Isn’t “independent thinking” discouraged amongst JW’s? In my experience with JW’s, new teachings are completely dismissed because they don’t agree with the GB. Thus, “new teachings” are wrong by definition. If there are JW’s reading this, I’d like for them to do some independent research, come up with a well founded belief that matches up with Scripture, present it before JW leaders, and see how that works out for them. If that seems far fetched, put yourself in the position of a JW 10 years ago who was able to conclude the current FDS doctrine before the GB. Would his research have been accepted or rejected? Or more importantly, would the JW himself have been accepted or rejected?

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This little rant hardly has any relevance to what I said. It surely did nothing to undermine the process that I mentioned. If someone were to, through personal research, actually find what they might personally think is an irrefutable teaching that is contrary to what the governing body has accepted, it can be submitted to them for their perusal, contrary to popular opinion. However, for the sake of unity, the submitter should wait for their decision to be accepted or rejected by the governing body.

Also contrary to popular opinion by many like you, it is not wrong to have a different view of what the scriptures teach as long as it is not directly contrary to the Bible. There are a lot of things that can be either/or, especially when it comes to parables and prophecies. But for the sake of unity, the final decision belongs to the governing body. That should be obvious from what is written in the scriptures about not causing division and sects within the congregation. Causing division is listed along with other serious sins that can cause one to not enter the kingdom of God.
Gal. 5:20 Now the works of the flesh are plainly seen, and they are sexual immorality, uncleanness, brazen conduct, idolatry, spiritism, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, dissensions, divisions, sects, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and things like these. I am forewarning you about these things, the same way I already warned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s Kingdom.

Should we just ignore that?

It is not so much the different idea that one may have, the problem comes in when one tries to promote an aberrant idea rather than being patient and waiting upon the final decision by the governing body. This is the wise course and the one that would maintain the unity as mentioned in Eph. 4:11-17. This stance can be easily supported by what our literature itself says about this topic. This is a favorite rant by many of our opposers but it is completely wrong headed.
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“The way we have things arranged within our modern organization of Christianity is that we are trying to maintain the same stance toward unity as was maintained in the first century.”

Rotherham may be surprised by this, but I actually desire the same thing. The difference is, what Scriptural boundaries do Christians have to accomplish this? It’s not about what works, because anyone can get “unity” through control. Instead, it’s about seeking unity within the parameters set forth in Scripture. The question is, where does the Bible prescribe these parameters through a governing body?

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By simply looking at the first century pattern, one that we should strive to pattern ourselves after as close as we possibly can. Acts 2:42 proves that the governing body of that time had WORLDWIDE jurisdiction, along with what happened in Acts 15 and 16 in connection with the circumcision issue and the DECREES that were sent out by that body for ALL of the congregations to adhere to.

This all comes back again to Ephesians 4:11-17 and what it has to be able to boil down to make any sense of it in a world where there is no inspiration and/or gifts of the spirit. See the question and answer section above in relation to that passage.
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“If such a thing can be carried out on a local level, why in the world would we think that the same thing would not be necessary on a worldwide scale?”

As in creating an artificial ecclesiastical office which is nowhere prescribed in Scripture? One in which all Christians worldwide are to have absolute unquestionable obedience? This question is utterly irrelevant unless we have the same Scriptural basis for local authority as we would global authority. Yet, the latter is completely lacking in Scripture outside of the unique first century context of apostolic authority and inspired revelation. Why is that?

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So you admit that there was indeed a worldwide Apostolic authority. How in the world you are not able to see the logical follow through with Eph. 4 is a mystery to me. It specifically states what you seem to deny. Eph. 4:11-17 once again states that the “gifts in men” would perform a like work that the Apostles did for the sake of unity. Well, as you admit, the first century Apostles did indeed have a worldwide influence. That worldwide influence is seen throughout the Bible as I showed in my post prior to this. The real question is why in the world someone would think that a similar worldwide authority would not be necessary today? Without it, you would end up with a disjointed, disunited church; which is exactly what we see among those who deny a worldwide authority. This is the exact opposite of what should be happening in connection with Eph. 4:1-17 and elsewhere. It is in direct opposition to the revealed Biblical pattern.

Also, your answer did not address the problem raised for you. The question was WHY would it not be necessary on a worldwide level just like it is for a local level? What possible element would exist to negate this necessity?
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“Hebrews 13:17 told the first century Christians to be obedient and to SUBMIT (Greek-“surrender, yield”) to those who were taking the lead among them. Hebrews tells us that those ones ‘will render an account for our souls’. Who would that have been in the 1st century? Would it not be those gifts in men, the Apostles, who were clearly acting as a governing element among the congregations of Christianity? Would it also not be true that these “gifts in men” would strive to be of the ‘same mind and the same line of thought with no divisions’, according 1 Cor. 1:10 and context?”

The answer is the local elders. But let’s go with apostles just for the sake of argument. If the apostles were the ones in the first century that Hebrews 13:17 would have us submit to, then why doesn’t the GB implement apostles today? Once again, Rotherham’s attempt for parallels fails.

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This is silly. Ephesians 4:11-17 answers the question. There would not only be Apostles who would act as gifts in men, but there would be teachers, evangelizers, prophets. Ephesians doesn’t limit the parallel work of unity to actual Apostles and neither do we.
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Next, Rotherham brings up several Scriptures and points that I have no issue with since they are related to apostolic authority.

This comment stands out:

“2 Thessalonians 3:6
6 Now we are giving YOU orders, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly and not according to the tradition YOU received from us.Who is the WE giving the orders if there is no such thing as a Christian governing element?
What is it they received from the US that they needed to adhere to?”

Again, who said there is no such thing as a Christian “governing element?” In the first century, it was the apostles and elders of the local church. Today, it’s just the elders. But regardless, what exactly is Rotherham trying to parallel here? This is inspired Scripture by an apostle that Christians are to obey.

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I am surprised you don’t get the point. This was written by the Apostle Paul to a congregation he did NOT belong to. What’s he doing undermining the authority or usurping the authority of that local body then if that’s all there is supposed to be? Paul had been given the “right hand of sharing” with that body to where he was either a member of that body or a primary representative of that body. Where else would he derive the authority over other congregations that were NOT his own?
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“Titus 3:10-11
10 As for a man that promotes a sect, reject him after a first and a second admonition; 11 knowing that such a man has been turned out of the way and is sinning, he being self-condemned.How would you know if someone was promoting a sect if there was no governing element in regard to doctrine?
Who determined what the ‘promotion of a sect’ entailed?”

You would know because they were teaching both against Scripture and the teaching of the apostles. Who determined what the “promotion of a sect” entailed? Whether it disagreed with the Scriptures or the apostles. Anyone could determine this. If Rotherham has a problem with individuals determining things, then he has a problem with Rev. 2:2 and many other Scriptures.

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This answer is again very ineffective and actually goes to prove the point I am making. You are admitting that the Apostles, who were clearly a worldwide authority, had the right to set the criteria for determining a heretic. Why would we abandon such an arrangement today when Ephesians states that those “gifts in men” would continue clear down to the time that we have full understanding? Surely you have to see the chaos that could arise from one body of elders to the next between churches without someone to check their hand. That kind of religious chaos is evident all over the world today for the very same reasons that I am iterating.
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“Titus 2:15
15 Keep on speaking these things and exhorting and reproving with full authority to command. Let no man ever despise you.Who had “full authority to command” and what did that mean for those under their authority?”

Titus did. Was Titus a GB member? Any Christian today has full authority to command when we proclaim God’s Word. Why? Because God’s Word has ultimate authority.

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Titus was a representative of that body by his appointment as an elder. All elders are representatives of that body today, but they take their directions from them, just like all the elders in all the congregations in the first century did the very same way. Yes, God’s word has ultimate authority, but then why does the individual member of a church have to obey and submit to the teachings of their local governing body? The very same reason that they have to do so is the very same reason that the entire worldwide church has to do so. What on earth would make the WORLD, full of individual congregations, immune from what could be experience by the INDIVIDUAL person? You know as well as I that even though the Bible is the final authority, there are a ton of different ideas out there about what it actually teaches, and the many of them are wrong. The Christ should NOT exist divided, neither in the local congregation nor in the entire worldwide church. I would think that would sit as a no-brainer.
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I’m going to disregard the rest of what Rotherham says because it mistakenly assumes that I deny a “governing element” or apostolic authority. But these don’t even work for Rotherham because the GB does not have apostolic authority or speak with inspiration.

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Ephesians clearly states that the work of the “gifts in men” would continue from the Aposltes clear down until a time that is yet future. Please go and reconsider the questions and answers that I provided above. You continue to miss something quite obvious.
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Unfortunately, Rotherham didn’t speak of all the lack of parallels that I hoped he would. I’m surprised because he knows about these and discussed it with Ivan at length. Since Rotherham will get the last word on this, I’ll do my best to describe these so the reader can see how the JW GB completely fails in creating a parallel between themselves and what was going on in the first century ecclesiastical structure:

1. As far as we know, the Jerusalem counsel only gathered to discuss disputes that were causing major problems in the congregations (and how many times did they do this to our knowledge?). The JW GB meets regularly and decrees what the JW must practice and believe in virtually every area of life and thought.

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The precedent was clearly set in Acts 15 and 16. The fact that it happened establishes the precedent for how one could operate today under a similar arrangement and similar situation. Your “only once” argument is completely irrelevant as if once would not be enough within the inspired word of God. Again, Acts 2:42 shows that the entire worldwide church “adhered to the teachings of the Apostles”. They were clearly active in disseminating their teachings, otherwise, how could Acts 2:42 even be true?

Remember, it was Paul, who was a representative of that governing body, who said that he gave the Thessalonian congregation “orders” on how they should walk and be pleasing to God. Seems the governing body at that time was busy doing the same thing that we have done, although I am sure there is some exaggeration in just how much control you think there is.
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2. The Jerusalem counsel had an open discussion on the dispute and confronted those who held to the circumcision (as well as the “entire multitude” that was there). The JW GB, on the other hand, meets privately and behind closed doors. The Jerusalem counsel seemed to operate on the level of full disclosure.

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I believe you are misreading the account. There were numerous individuals at this meeting because of the scope that this issue had created within many churches of the first century but it nowhere states that the Jerusalem congregation as a whole was present at this council.

Even though the congregation was in on the decision as to who to SEND to Antioch, that has no necessary connection to who was at the actual meeting. We should note that in chapter 16:4,5 it was the DECREES decided upon by “who?”. By the Apostles and older men of Jerusalem. It ended up being unanimous among all at that meeting, and the final authority is spelled out to be the Apostles and older men.
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3. In Acts 15:36, Paul pursued missionary activities independently of any governing body or committee. JW’s could not and would not have the authority to do so today.

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Jehovah’s Witnesses can go anywhere they want in the world and perform their ministry with or without the permission or direction of the governing body. I have no idea why you would say such a thing.
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4. There is no indication in the early church that elders and leaders were always appointed by a governing body or committee outside of a local context (see Titus 1:5). The JW GB would not, as far as I know, implement such a process.

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What we actually see in this verse is that it was not just a LOCAL endeavour, but involved traveling representatives of that governing body in Jerusalem. Remember, Paul told Titus to go from CITY TO CITY and appoint these men according to HIS instructions. So this appointment was governed by others besides just the local congregation.
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Christians were praised in Rev. 2:2 for putting apostles “to the test…and finding them liars.” The JW GB does not commend JW’s for putting them to the test. In fact, it’s discouraged. JW’s are to have absolute unquestionable obedience to the GB.

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First off, no one has found us to be liars so the verse doesn’t apply. Lies have to be based upon absolute values in the scriptures being violated. Such has never been demonstrated. When we find something is wring, we fix it, a practice that other churches should follow.

Plus, as I mentioned before, questions are welcomed. The problem becomes “promotion” of a dissident view, not just having doubts or an alternative opinion about something. But just as in the first century, one would not embolden themselves to teach against or contrary to the leading of the governing body. That results in divisions and sectarianism, things which God condemns.
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6. The first century church autonomously (for the most part) wrote letters and taught converts their beliefs apart from a governing Body. Such a practice would not be allowed by the JW GB. Also, what really hurts the claimed parallels is that even non-GB members (as claimed by the JW’s) wrote letters, and inspired letters at that. Not even the JW GB can write inspired letters. So is the JW GB really a parallel to the first century?

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We write letters all the time to different congregations about different matters without supervision or direction from the governing body. Your claim is silly and inaccurate.

I’ve already acknowledged that there is no inspiration today but as I have pointed out, surely God knew when he penned Eph. 4:11-17 through Paul’s hand that there would not always be inspiration, yet the process of the “gifts in men” to maintain the unity would persist to the end. Also, Paul, as a representative of that governing body, would have the authority to write letters, especially if he was inspired of God. God would not be under some strange obligation to only choose governing body members to write inspired letters.
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7. In the first century, beliefs could be formulated outside of a governing body. Peter, for instance, did exactly that when it was revealed that Gentiles could be a part of the Christian congregation. Peter did not seek approval from a governing body before making this decision. Also, the apostle Paul decided to be the apostle to the gentiles for about 14 years before going up to Jerusalem (per Gal. 1-2). The point here is that God worked through individuals and allowed them to make decisions apart from a governing Body. Such is far from the case in the JW GB today.

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Peter himself, by being an Apostle, was a member of the governing body so nothing was being done OUTSIDE of the governing body. Besides, Peter’s revelation came directly from God and therefore was a part of the inspired Holy Scriptures, which the governing body at that time adhered to. So that which became scripture also became teaching by means of the act of inspiration. That came from GOD, an infallible and trusted source. It did not come from Peter’s mind. There would have be no reason nto question it or doubt it in connection withbthe spiritual gift of “discerning inspired utterances”.

Paul clearly recognized the authority of the Apostles as is evident from Galatians the 2cnd chapter. There he wanted to approach the Apostles and relate to them what he had been doing so that he could be assured that “HE WAS NOT RUNNING IN VAIN”. It was at this time that the Apostles extended to him the “right hand of sharing” with them. From that point forward we see that Paul demonstrated authority toward many congregations, speaking of orders and letters from WE or US. He was clearly acting with authority from a group, not autonomously.

You also contradict yourself when you acknowledge that the first century churches did indeed adhere to the teachings of the Apostles (Acts 2:42) but then here you indicate that individual Christians could make up their own. Odd reasoning.
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8. The first century Jerusalem counsel included those who worked miracles. This may be dismissed by Rotherham, but are we looking for parallels between the JW GB and the Jerusalem counsel or are we not? Why pick and choose? If Scripture requires a GB, then we’d expect it to command it. In that case, I would advocate for one regardless of whether it has miracle workers. But since we don’t have such a command, what can Rotherham do except pick and choose his parallels?

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You’re right, I dismiss it. Here’s why. Do you honestly think that Eph. 4:11-17 would require miracles down to the end of time to be performed by those different gifts in men? Now unless you want to promote the teaching that the “gifts of the spirit are still with us” then I fail to see the reason for even bringing this up.
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9. The first century Jerusalem contained apostles; those commissioned by Jesus. The JW GB does not advocate for apostles in this sense and therefore fails at this parallel.

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Again, read Eph. 4:11-17. The answer to this is right there. It clearly does not limit the gifts in men down through history to just Apostles. Neither do we.
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10. Paul was not a GB member according to JW’s. Yet, his authority and actions were unprecedented. Would the JW GB allow for such a person (even a non-apostle) today? That is, a person operating mostly independently and outside of a governing body?

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If that person had been given the “right hand of sharing” by that body, that either means he could have been a member himself or they gave him the authority to speak and act in their behalf. That is not a hard concept to grasp.
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In summary, the Watchtower doctrine of the FDS fails in it’s identification with the first century because there was no first century governing body. Referring to both as a “governing element” also fails because it is too broad to distinguish from my own view. Therefore, the FDS is not the governing body and cannot be.[/quote]

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You have failed in most obvious ways to establish anything close to what you here state. I believe you ignore scripture and Biblical precedent in the process of trying to undermine our views.

You clearly contradict yourself because earlier you acknowledged the Apostles had the authority to establish the criteria for what heresy would be, yet you turn around here and deny that they were a governing element/body in the first century. You acknowledge that the first century worldwide church adhered to the teachings of the Apostles and then you deny that they were a governing element/body to be able to do so. You contradict scripture and yourself.

In conclusion I believe that you switched to this topic because your analysis of the Watchtower article you wanted to disprove was falling quite flat and was as equally ineffective as this endeavor here was. I would really like to pursue this issue of a governing body in greater depth if you would be willing and also examine Daniel 2, 7 and the contents of Revelation in regard to when the kingdom of God by Christ was actually established. If we really want to accomplish something decisive, stopping now would accomplish nothing.

Thank you for all of your effort that you put into this. I have enjoyed it and I hope that the readers have to.

Regards,
Rotherham

In the end of the matter, knowledge is based upon acknowledgement.
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Rotherham
 
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Rotherham’s Concluding Remarks

Postby Rotherham » Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:23 am

I’m not big on concluding remarks as they rarely do justice to the extent and detail of the overall discussion, but I’ll give it a shot nonetheless.My opponent set out to demonstrate the JW understanding of the parables about the “faithful and discreet slave”, as found in Matthew 24:45-47 and the slaves mentioned in that context as well as in Luke 12, are inaccurate.

I believe from the outset that he made the mistake of claiming that these things have to be EXPLICIT or they are not accurate. He claimed that his own views about eschatology (end time matters) were EXPLICIT and, at times, used his preterist views to counter the arguments I would put forth.

This naturally led to me examining with scrutiny his eschatological views with the intent of showing him that they were not EXPLICIT by any means but often times, theologically driven. This was in hopes that he would see the wrongness of claiming something had to be explict or it was inaccurate. Just because something is not explicit does not mean that it is inaccurate. I also wanted to demonstrate that our eschatological views had the backing of Biblical precedent. I believe I demonstrated those two things beyond any reasonable doubt.

Much of this, for me, centered around the discussion of the parable of the wheat and the weeds, which I believe is a key factor in having a Biblically precedented eschatological view.

Via the questions that Mike asked about the identity of different slave classes and such, it came to be revealed that his understanding of what we teach was a bit inaccurate, from my take on what he said anyway. We do not believe that there is only ONE class of slaves to be dealt with. We believe, as explained, that ALL of the anointed brothers of Christ are a class, or lets say a SET of individuals, who depending upon their faithfulness, can individually remove themselves from that class if they do not remain faithful. The subset of the larger set, that being of the governing element, is what seems to cause some confusion.

Those which we think of in this “parousia” age as the “faithful and wise servant” are a subset of the larger set of all anointed ones, having a specific function in the last days during the presence of Christ. I hope, through all of the discussion and back and forth on that point, that my opponent and the readers can see what we are saying and what we are not saying.

As I mentioned in one of my responses to Mike, it is just as it was in the first century, where the Apostles were a subset of the larger group of “holy ones” or anointed” ones, and the disciples ADHERED to the teaching of the Apostles. The Apostles had a worldwide influence(Acts 2:42)

As I have mentioned, this is a clear case where the few were feeding the many, a pattern seen throughout the entire history of God’s people in the Bible, expect during the growing season of the wheat and the weeds, where confusion would reign.

Naturally though, again as I mentioned, once the wheat would be separated from the weeds and the sons of God would be clearly defined, the same type of structure for maintaining the unity of the Christain church worldwide would be reinstalled, which we see as the appointment of that “faithful and discreet slave” during the parousia of Christ. Reestablishing a governing body or element within Christianity would be in complete harmony with Eph 4:11-17. This was all brought out in detail within the debate and I saw nothing that came close to overturning that view.

To make a long story short (and it was indeed long), I did not see where my opponent in anyway made any serious inroads into our understanding of those parables and I believe that the Biblically precedented language of the wheat and weeds parable and elsewhere, notwithstanding Eph. 4:11-17, was shown to be a strong support for our view of it.

MY opponent then, in his last question, attempted a new approach, which was to undermine the idea that Christians would be under a worldwide governing body. I am not sure what the angle was but, evidently he felt that if he could destroy that view then our entire eschatology would crumble with it. As it was, all it boils down to, that I can see, is that Mike actually does believe in a LOCAL congregational governing body or element, but does not believe that there is any longer a WORLDWIDE governing body or element for Christians today.

I believe I demonstrated in my answers that the Apostles did indeed have worldwide influence in the church when it came to teachings and such. This is something that Mike would seem to acknowledge in one breath and then seem to deny in the other. I am still, at the moment, confused as to how he can admit that in the first century there was indeed a wordlwide governing element via the Apostles but yet today, such an arrangement is somehow inappropriate. I’ve never really received a clear answer to that.

I could go on to break down the debate in a blow-by -blow description but I really don’t see the need. The debate is formatted fairly well both here at Truetheology and on Mike’s blog found at apologeticfront.com

I do not believe that my opponent was successful in any way in his goal to show inaccuracy with our views expressed within the WT article under examination. In fact, after the debate, I feel even more convinced of the appropriateness of our views. I wont claim anything being EXPLICITLY proven from my side, but I will say that I believe I demonstrated that Biblical precedent surely supports our view. If my opponent actually feels that he was successful in showing our views are inaccurate, I would be shocked, and if any reader would be inclined to think him correct in that assessment, I would suggest taking another look at what was actually said in the course of the discussion.

As I have mentioned numerous times in the debate, I believe this was the wrong place to start and that for this debate to have any lasting value, we should continue the pursuit of truth in this area in the near future. I hope that my opponent will be able to concur with that and find the time to do so.

Regards,
Rotherham

Link to Mike Felker’s Concluding statement: viewtopic.php?f=38&t=678&p=5653#p5653

In the end of the matter, knowledge is based upon acknowledgement.
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Mike’s Closing Statement

Postby MikeFelker » Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:26 am

Before I begin my closing, I’d like to thank Rotherham for agreeing to this exchange and the respectful demeanor in which it was carried out. In addition, I’d like to thank everyone in the audience for making it this far. Discussions like this can seem endless (and often are), but I commend anyone who aspires to think these issues through to such an extent.To close this out, I’d like to review my original case and also some of Rotherham’s. This is an opportunity for the reader to determine which case has more credibility, in full submission to the Scriptures regardless of the consequences.

First, I argued from Luke 12 that the slave will be judged as faithful or unfaithful when the master returns. We both agree that the master has not returned, yet the Watchtower insists that the GB is currently the “faithful” slave. Consequently, they are not the “unfaithful” slave. Rotherham responds by asserting that they are “ALREADY regarded as faithful and discreet at the time of this preliminary appointment, not AFTER he returns.” This position is inherently contradictory because of what I mentioned in my opening: if a slave is found to be evil or unfaithful, then they were never the faithful slave. One can’t be a faithful and unfaithful slave. Therefore, these ones are appointed as slaves first, and then judged as faithful or unfaithful when the master returns. This is the only consistent way to view the FDS passages in Matthew and Luke.

I also argued the point that the number of slaves in Luke 12 contradicts the Watchtower position that there is only one composite slave. Rotherham’s responded with the notion that you can still have a composite faithful slave class, but yet individuals can still be judged as unfaithful. I countered this in stating that there are no individual “faithful slaves” within Rotherham’s position, at least not in the Matthew 24/Luke 12 sense. Therefore, if judgment is to take place, it would be against the class and not individuals.

I think many in the audience will agree that Rotherham’s position was shown some of its greatest weaknesses in attempting to address Peter’s question in Luke 12:41, where he asked, “Lord, are you addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?” If Jesus was addressing the disciples (and he was), then it is unmistakable that they were the slaves that He spoke of. Yet, for Rotherham’s position, this simply cannot be the case. First, Rotherham raised the point that Jesus did not answer Peter. Then, he argued that Jesus must be addressing a future audience because of the parousia, which wouldn’t take place for thousands of years. The problem with such a response is that it introduces an audience that neither Jesus nor Peter indicated. Rather than work from the context of the audience, Rotherham works backwards from his eschatological perspective and creates a context that simply isn’t there.

Next, I raised the dilemma whereby the slave is put in charge while the master is away. The implication shows that Jesus went away upon his ascension in Acts 1:9-11 and has yet to return. However, the Watchtower holds that Jesus has been present since 1914. Rotherham attempted to counter this point by suggesting that the Master is never said to be among the domestics at the time of the appointment. That is, Jesus is still “away” when making the appointment. While I would completely dispute this, it doesn’t address the argument. What Rotherham failed to explain was the text itself whereby Jesus appoints the slave and then goes away. Regardless of whether Jesus was physically there (which is still a major issue here), the parable absolutely implies the Master being present and then going away. Only artificial theological import (perhaps the 1914 doctrine) would lead to such a perspective.

Another point I raised was the very identity of the FDS, which Rotherham strangely found to be irrelevant to the thesis. I argued that it could apply to all Christians who are involved in faithfully teaching and caring for other believers. Yet, Rotherham argues that it applies exclusively to the Governing Body. For if the Governing Body never actually existed, then the debate thesis is sufficiently denied. I won’t go into all the details, but I believe most of what Rotherham argued was a strawmen. Almost all of Rotherham’s arguments had to do with apostolic authority, but yet insisted on a similar authority structure that was not apostolic. I argued that such a rendering is truly artificial and not found in Scripture.

Unfortunately, a lot of space was wasted on the Governing “element” vs. “body” debacle. Let me just say this to ease any confusion: whether “body” or “element”, Rotherham is referring to the JW Governing Body Structure. So if Rotherham wants me to admit that my ecclesiology of a local elder structure is a “governing body/element,” then fine. But the problem comes when he accused me of denying a governing body/element. Let me be clear: what I deny is a JW Governing Body/element. That is, a worldwide office of several error prone, fallible, uninspired men, who demand absolute unquestionable obedience from all Christians worldwide. This didn’t exist in the first century and it should not exist today. Keeping this in mind will answer the vast majority of Rotherham’s misunderstandings of my position.

Last, I addresed 1919 and the related issues because this is foundational to the FDS doctrine. While I made 4 points regarding gaps and unanswered questions, let me address 1919 specifically:

The exegetical justification for 1914-1919

My first point along these lines was related to Malachi 3 and the evidence for a dual fulfillment. I argued that there simply is no evidence for a dual fulfillment as the context completely lacks any indication of it. Rotherham responded in his first rebuttal by arguing that this is a “perfect parallel to the events of the modern FDS.” In addition, there would “naturally” be an inspection and cleansing. Yet, Rotherham cites absolutely no Scripture to support this conjecture. I believe my position to be far more consistent and defensible with only one fulfillment of Malachi 3 and Jesus appointing the FDS prior to His ascension. Thus, no speculative dual fulfillments are required.

Next, I asked Rotherham to provide a biblically sound case for the 1914-1919 events. I found his arguments to fall short for the following reasons:

1. If it is “logical” that Christ would cleanse his church during this 1914-1919 period, how am I contrarily being illogical when I dispute this and any dual fulfillment of Malachi 3?

2. Where do we get 1919? I found no Scriptural basis for asserting a 5 year event from 1914-1919.

Rotherham did respond with a few reasons as to why Malachi applies to the “priestly class,” but failed to address how it was fulfilled in the first century. And this is one of my many problems with artificially created dual-fulfillments. It is up to the interpreter to figure out which certain parts apply initially and which parts apply later. The problem is, this is complete guesswork and not exegesis. Unfortunately, since this is my closing, I cannot offer further rebuttals on Rotherham’s attempt to refute my argument on the complete fulfillment of Malachi 3 in the first century.

As to the exegetical justification for 1914-1919:

“We are convinced that it took place between 1914 and 1919 because of historic events coupled with our understanding of 1914 and what transpired at that time, Christ taking his throne and the end of the Gentile Times. That time historically was a particularly noteworthy period of cleansing and refining in regard to those we believe to fit the criteria of being God’s congregation and we do not see that as a coincidence. In order to maintain that cleansing and refinement, gifts in men were necessary to be in place.Therefore, we see prophecy, history and logic converging upon this time period to tell us that this is when the governing element would be restored.”

I hope the reader is just as unpersuaded as I am from Rotherham’s reasoning. This explanation can be summarized as simply, “We’re convinced this is true.” Stating that you are convinced by a doctrine is a far cry from an attempt to substantiate it. 1919 is not just “some date.” A search in the Watchtower library for the year 1919 displays a very prominent emphasis, both to Watchtower theology and this very topic. If the Watchtower’s take on these historical events did not actually take place (i.e. Jesus and Jehovah’s inspection, selection, etc.) in the years provided, then this would have detrimental effects on their FDS doctrine.

Furthermore, Rotherham states:

“And yes, 1914-1919 for the establishment of the FDS might involve some guesswork, but it is not an arbitrary decision. It is based upon the belief that the harvest began circa 1914 and the events that were to unfold were to require the establishment of a teaching element within Christianity. Just how long do you think it would take for Christ to decide who would comprise that “faithful and discreet” slave?We give it approximately 4 or 5 years, based partly upon what historically transpired among those we regard to have been representing the congregation of God at that time in history and partially upon the fact that in the first century, from the time that Christ arrived (at his baptism) until the church was brought into existence (Pentecost), it was about 3 and a half years. There is no reason to think that it would take Christ much longer than that to set up the restored church once he began his rule in 1914. Besides, since we are dealing with “circa” events, the exact dates are not crucial to the understanding.”

So which is it? 1917, 1918, or 1919? There is much I could say on this, but I only post this quote so the reader can compare the certainty for which the Watchtower argues for 1919 and the “guesswork” Rotherham espouses here. While I wouldn’t call this reasoning arbitrary, it is completely non-Scriptural.

Next, I would like to briefly summarize Rotherham’s opening case and my responses throughout the exchange.

Dual Fulfillments

Rotherham argues that dual fulfillments are found throughout the Bible and provides a justification for various applications in Watchtower theology. While I agreed that dual fulfillments are found throughout Scripture, I disagree with the basis for which the Watchtower argues them. The principle I raised is that dual fulfillments should not be created unless necessary to do so. One way of putting it is this: how am I wrong in not applying a dual fulfillment to Malachi 3? Sure, anyone can create situations that appear to be a dual fulfillment in some way. The problem is, there is very little in which this could be falsified or even turned into triple or quadruple fulfillments as long as the events match the description. I would suggest that we should look at the author’s intent and exegete the text itself to see if a dual fulfillment is required. If there is no contextual basis for one, then one should not be posited unless it is done so by an inspired source.

The Governing Body and the “last days”

Rotherham argued that there would a “governing body of men” just as in the first century, to teach and direct Christians. Ephesians 4:11-17 was regularly raised to substantiate this, but sufficient evidence was not provided in terms of this text requiring a “governing body” as defined by the Watchtower. But is the modern JW Governing Body “just as” the first century? In my last question to Rotherham, I provided numerous points to contradict the JW Governing Body as being “just as” the first century. My conclusion was this: if the Scriptures required a Governing Body in the manner in which JW’s see it, then surely it would have stated it just as the Scripture provided plentiful amounts of support for the office of the elder and deacon. Citing Scriptures which substantiate apostolic authority simply did not suffice since the JW Governing Body does not have apostolic authority or inspiration.

The wheat and the weeds

According to Rotherham, it is “to be expected” that a Governing Body would be there in the last days to separate the wheat and the weeds. I pointed out that it is neither expected nor required. If it were required, then surely the Scriptures would have provided clear and unmistakable support for a Governing Body (i.e. in the JW sense) just as it does for elders and deacons. Yet, it does not. Since we have completely sufficient support for the office of elders, Jesus and His angels, then we have no other grounds by which we can mandate a vehicle for this separation. Even if I were to accept Rotherham’s futurist eschatology, a Governing Body would not be required for the separation.

While there are several other points Rotherham raised in his opening, they seemed to be more geared towards introductory explanations rather than arguments. The real meat of what Rotherham argued was found in the rebuttals and the Q & A. It wasn’t my intention in my closing to review those sections due to space. But I will make a few points.

First, I believe we went overboard on the arguments related to Preterism. As I see it, this became the debate for Rotherham. I tried multiple times to deviate Rotherham from this approach. This was not to protect my eschatology, but to actually help Rotherham. What do I mean by this? Remember, it was Rotherham’s duty to defend the debate thesis. While it’s perfect fine to attack your opponent’s position, it needs to be kept in mind that doing so does not necessarily prove the thesis. Yet, Rotherham spent the vast majority of the Q & A attempting to disprove Preterism. If I didn’t care about our audience, I could have taken the bait and pursued this all the way to the end. This way, Rotherham would have completely failed to prove the debate thesis and instead, refute Preterism. Yet, I think Rotherham did anything but that.

I hope the readers will notice the stark contrast between each other’s focus. My questions in the Q & A dealt directly with the debate thesis. I asked questions related to 1919, Luke 12, the identify of the FDS, etc. Rotherham primarily asked questions related to Preterism, which were indirectly related to the debate at best.

With that, let me close by thanking everyone who made it this far into the exchange. Perhaps some of you thought this was too lengthy, and others thought too many points were left unanswered. Maybe both of these observations are correct. That’s simply the nature of debates. They don’t actually solve the dispute. Rarely, will this ever happen in a debate. Instead, the intention is to present both sides and dissect them with scrutiny. This should serve as an appetizer for the researcher to look further into these issues and decide for him or herself.

It is my hope that everyone here will prayerfully and carefully consider everything that was said in this exchange and be willing to follow the truth wherever it may lead. Perhaps most JW’s ignored what I said and simply read Rotherham’s responses. And perhaps those on “my side” did the same thing. I would encourage both sides to reconsider if this is what they have done. These issues are too important to treat with such disrespect. If Rotherham is right, then we must stop what we are doing and worship Jehovah in association with his approved organization. If I am right, then every JW needs to stop what they are doing and worship Jehovah outside of the Watchtower society and within the Scriptural parameters of the local church.

Thank you all for your time and I pray that you find Jesus as your perfect Savior, just as I have.

Link to Rotherham’s Concluding remarks: viewtopic.php?f=38&p=5653#p5652

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