By Paul Gates
During the question and answer portion of the Joel McDurmon Don Preston debate the question was asked if hyperpreterism, aka “full” preterism is a damnable heresy. In follow-up to this question Mr. Preston seemed to imply that belief in Jesus Christ is what unites McDurmon and Preston. Although Preston affirmed belief in the deity of Christ, due to the format of the debate McDurmon was not able to inquiry as to Preston’s definition of Jesus Christ.
The question remains, who is the Jesus Christ Preston avows. Based on what he has written Mr. Preston, while affirming the deity of Christ seems to deny the humanity of Christ Jesus. This is a huge issue and goes to the very heart of Christianity.
Thomas Torrance explains in, “When Christ Comes and Comes Again”, “This same Jesus is also the Jesus of the Resurrection. It belongs to the very essence of the Christian faith that Jesus rose again from the dead in body, in the fullness of His humanity. If the resurrection of Jesus is not a literal and actual fact, then the powers of death remain unbroken and sin an guilt have triumphed after all, even over Jesus-then we are yet in our sins and without any hope whatsoever. Everything depends upon the actual physical resurrection of Jesus. Jesus is not dead. He is not a ghost. He did not disappear into the thin air of spirit. He rose again as Man, and opened up a way of salvation for us men and women of flesh and blood. Far from being held captive by the bonds of sin and death, far from being made a prisoner forever by entering into a guilty past that cannot be undone, Jesus Christ did the impossible: He snapped the bonds of sin and guilt; He broke open the prison-house of the past and shattered the power of death by His resurrection from the grave. And now He is alive for evermore on the other side of corruption and death and judgment, in the life of the new creation. It is this resurrected and triumphant Jesus, this same Jesus, who will come again.”[i] (emphasis added)
Germane to the subject at hand as it relates to the Jesus Christ of Mr. Preston is the statement by Dr. Torrance that Christ Jesus “did not disappear into the thin air of spirit”. Mr. Preston while affirming the deity of Christ deferred on affirming the permanency of the incarnation. Mr. Preston seems to hold the same position as articulated by his colleague David Green who explained that the Jesus he avows is “something that is Spirit”. However, Scripture conveys an entirely different Jesus Christ. The Jesus Christ of Christianity has permanently taken on human nature. Commenting on 1 John 4:2 Martyn Lloyd Jones explains,
“The ultimate of all who profess or teach Christianity is their attitude towards the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God’; whatever their gifts may be and however wonderful they may be, they are not of God; ‘and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.’[ii] If one does not confess Christ Jesus in the flesh they are not of God according to the text of 1 John 4:2. Dr. Lloyd-Jones goes on to explain, “What is the teaching of the antichrist? It is not a denial of Christ; it is a misrepresentation of Christ; it is a teaching that either does something to Him or detracts something from Him”[iii]
The point, a denial of who Christ Jesus is, whether it focuses on denying His humanity as it appears Mr. Preston and his colleagues do or His deity is damnable. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out regarding the errors brought against the doctrine of the incarnation, “There is no modern heresy. All the clever people who propound their apparently new ideas about Christ are simply repeating what has already been said; there have literally been no new heresies since the first century. But, you see, men have constantly fallen into that error; some have seen God only, and others have seen man only, and others have tried to see the two. That is why we must never say Jesus is God, Jesus is man; no, Jesus Christ is the God-man. In the incarnation, the eternal Son of God took our nature unto Himself deliberately; He is the God-man, Jesus Christ”[iv]
It is disingenuous for Mr. Preston to claim he shares a common belief with Joel McDurmon regarding Jesus Christ when he only affirms the deity of the Son of God and not the humanity of Christ. Mr. Preston needs to come clean, as his colleagues have, does he affirm the permanency of the incarnation, or does he avow the Jesus of his colleague Mr. Green, a Jesus who is “something that is Spirit”, a Jesus which, needless to say, is foreign to Scripture.
Of course, if Mr. Preston affirms the permanency of the incarnation which would require that Christ Jesus still possesses His body of the resurrection albeit glorified then he will have a real conundrum on his hands. That is, how is it Jesus as the first-fruits of the resurrection of the dead has His body, but the redeemed in Him don’t get theirs, so much for the term “first-fruits”. Mr. Preston would need to explain, why the only aspect of the believer that dies never gets raised to life in the resurrection of the dead? The fact is Mr. Preston’s entire heretical world-view comes tumbling down. But then, that is to be expected, the Man of God’s own choosing is not on Mr. Preston’s side.