Friday, July 4, 2014

On the Resurrection, PART V

In this installment, I want to pursue the Preterist argument given by Kelly Birks. Birks believes that the resurrection is one that occurs in heaven with those who have died. Hence, the dead are resurrected in heaven by way of their being given a new body that God has reserved in heaven for them. Subsequently, every believer who dies now receives that resurrected body when they die; but there is no resurrection of this body. The body that one has upon the earth dies and perishes. It is not redeemed.

You can see his argument here and here.

What I want to do is deal specifically with his argument concerning the resurrection, which will center on two arguments Birks makes from 1 Corinthians 15 and 2 Corinthians 5, and also assumes from Matthew 24. I'll also look at what he says about John 5:25-29 briefly.

1 Corinthians 15

First, to get the exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15, one can look back at this series. What I want to do, however, is show that Birks's argument commits quite a few exegetical fallacies when interpreting this text, and therefore gets this vital text very wrong.

Much of the argument centers on the nature of Paul's analogy in 1 Corinthians of the "seed" that goes in the ground. He begins by making an argument from 1 Corinthians 15:38 that, since God gives the body to the believer, it means the believer does not have it already.

Birks tells us that what leads him to interpret that it is not this physical body is because the text says that God has to “give it/you a body.” (15:20-21).

Birks makes two mistakes here: (1) he simply ignores the antecedent of “it,” and (2) he seems to ignore that the believer not currently being in possession of the future, immortal body says nothing as to whether that future, immortal body is made from this present, mortal one, as Paul indicates by the seed analogy and elsewhere explicitly. 

But let's talk about the first thing he misses. To what is God giving a body? In the context, it’s the seed that is sown in the ground, which represents the mortal body that has gone into the ground. "It" refers back to the kokkon "kernel," not "believer," which does not even appear in the context. Birks has to make “it” refer to the believer, which is not the antecedent and nowhere in the context, and then, add his Gnostic view of what makes a human by understanding "the believer" to primarily be a spirit (i.e., his true self). The spirit of the believer, then, is given a body. Quite an exegetical magic trick.

By doing this, he has completely misunderstood the analogy and ignored the grammar simply because he must maintain a theological position that allows for him to continue to uphold the Bible as God’s Word. In other words, he’s painted himself into a corner and now must paint all Scripture into that same corner. But nowhere in the context can “it” refer to the believer as a spirit. That’s simply eisegetical to the point of making the text say the exact opposite of what it does say. So the body is not being given to a spirit, but to the kokkon gumnon "bare seed" that is sown.

Because of this, he ignores what Paul is actually saying in v. 36 as well: "that which is sown does not come to life unless it dies." Notice, what comes to life is what dies. Now, the spirit has already been raised and will never die, according to Pauline theology and Christ's words in John. The spirit, therefore, does not die and come to life. What dies and comes to life is the seed, which represents the body in the analogy. 

What Birks does is make the seed the entire believer, body and soul, and then argue that just the outer husk of the seed dies and the inner kernel does not. That inner kernel, then, is the spirit to which God gives a body. 

There are two problems with this, however: 

1. Paul says that which DIES is that which comes to life. The spirit never dies. The body does. It is the body that we put in the ground like a seed. The spirit doesn't go into the ground, so the whole believer is never put into the ground anyway. Only the body that dies, therefore, the actual subject Paul is talking about, can potentially be brought to life. The same that dies is the same that comes to life. If it were merely a husk that dies, then it must be the husk that comes to life (Paul's equation is essentially A does X in order to do Y. A, therefore, is the same that does both X and Y. The spirit does not do X and therefore cannot be that which does Y. Only the body qualifies, and hence, only the body can do Y, since it also does X (cf. Rom 8:11, 23).

2. Birks assumes agrarian knowledge that Paul wouldn't have believed. The ancients thought that the entire seed died, and from that, a plant was formed. Hence, the analogy is of whatever completely dies and is then brought to life and given a new body, not in the sense that the new body is not from the old one, but in the sense that the new body is of a different nature than the new one. Hence, God has given "it," that is, the old body, the dead seed, a new body. But it is clear that this new body is given to the dead seed, i.e., which represents the body.

He then proceeds on his assumed interpretation here to argue that what is given is not yet possessed. Since we do not have the spiritual body yet, it cannot be that the spiritual body is made from the mortal body. Of course, it seems to have escaped his notice that one with a mortal body does not yet have a spiritual body, nor is it the spirit to which is being referred as being given a body, but the bare seed that Paul links by way of analogy to the mortal body. The bare seed is given a body (whether turning it into wheat or something else). It is clear then that “giving” here is talking about the formation of one form from another, as a plant is formed from a seed (hence, it is another way of talking about what is raised out of the ground from the bare seed that has been buried in the ground). There is no spirit of the seed that is then given to a completely disconnected plant that God makes elsewhere. The wheat branch comes forth from the naked seed, naked until it receives what it will turn into. The final form of the seed is its divinely given clothing, it’s body. That is the analogy here that Birks simply ignores. Hence, he argues that the “seed” is a “disembodied, justified, saved spirit [that] gets a body” (SCS 9:136:07-09) when, in fact, the seed that dies in the text is the very thing that is raised. This cannot be speaking of the spirit that has already been resurrected by Christ and will never die.

This is further made clear by the comparisons made between the mortal and immortal bodies. The distinction is in their natures, not their identities as a singular body.

Hence, in vv. 42-44. "It" is sown in decay. "It" is raised in immortality. "It" is sown in dishonor. "It" is raised in glory. "It" is sown in weakness. "It" is  raised in power. "It" is sown a natural body. "It" is raised a spiritual body.

Not only does the "it" that exists in each verb grammatically linked by virtue of the logic of the contextual antecedent, but we know they are all linked by virtue of the analogy of the "sowing" that refers back to the seed/body analogy. As the dead seed is put into the ground, so the dead body is put into the ground. As the dead seed is brought to life and given a new form, the dead body is brought to life and given a new form. That is the logic of the grammar and the analogy that Paul is using. Birks has to create foreign referents that are not in the context and ignore the grammar and syntactical antecedents in order to make his eisegetical argument. 

2 Corinthians 5

In Heaven

He then uses this to interpret 2 Cor 5 to be saying that there is another eternal body, in distinction from this temporal body, that exists currently in the heavens. He identifies the phrase, "not made with human hands" as something that cannot refer to God making a body out of this body, since this body is natural (a rather odd argument to us, since Paul just argued in 1 Corinthians 15 that God makes the spiritual body from the natural one). He also interprets the phrase, "reserved in heaven" as the literal geographic location of this other body that cannot, therefore, be located on earth, and is therefore some other body than the one which believer's currently have.

One of the many problems with this interpretation is that it ignores the fact that God sets the eternal prize as something that is reserved for the believer in His mind in terms of what He is going to do for the believer in the future. It is a promise made by God of something future, not something literally stored in some closet in heaven.

Let's look at some verses that talk about God having things stored in heaven, or reserved in heaven for His people.

Deut 28:11-12 "The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open for you His good storehouse , the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

Job 38:22-23 "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of distress, For the day of war and battle?

Psalm 33:7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses .

Jer 10:13 // 51:16 When He utters His voice, [there is] a tumult of waters in the heavens, And He
causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, And brings out the wind from His storehouses .

Neh 10:38 The priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes, and the Levites shall bring up the tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse.

 Notice that the tabernacle is a replica of heaven, the presence of God, and it has storehouses that are filled with the blessings of God upon Israel that they now have given some back to Him in tithe. These storehouses of blessings correspondingly represent God’s storehouses of blessings in heaven, which are not literal, but a figurative expression of talking about the blessings that God has reserved for the future, not something that is literally located in some closet in heaven.

For instance, in Mal 3:10, it says: 10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse , so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

Notice that the tabernacle storehouses represent God’s storehouses in heaven that release blessings upon Israel, but these blessings aren’t literally in heaven, but rather things God brings about on earth.

Also, notice the types of things that are reserved are not things that God could even physically put somewhere, or are things that are produced on earth, not in heaven.

“and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as [it is] this day. “ (1 Kin 3:6)

1 Pet 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to [obtain] an inheritance [which is] imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

The inheritance as salvation itself is something that is reserved in heaven, but the person who is saved is actually upon the earth as Peter is speaking this to him. The idea of reservation in heaven is the idea that what God has for His people in terms of blessing is safe from what might destroy it on earth, not because it literally is kept in heaven, but because God has promised it and it is therefore a sure and secure future for the saints. This is in contrast to what believers in persecution may lose here on earth if they obey Christ.

1 Peter 3:7 “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

The word here is thēsaurizō, which means “to store up.” The language does not mean that God has the universe in a cosmic storehouse, but rather that He has declared its judgment and it therefore will come to pass. The same is said of darkness being reserved (here using the synonym tēreō “to keep/guard/reserve/store up”) for the wicked (2 Pet 2:17; Jude 13). How exactly does one store darkness?

This merely, therefore, refers to what God has declared to be given as a promise to either the righteous or the wicked. What God has promised is settled in heaven, and therefore, is spoken of figuratively as being something that is reserved/stored up in heaven (i.e., lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven- how do people literally go to heaven and lay anything there? Rather, they lay up a reward for themselves according to God’s promises).

Ps 119:89-90 Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven . Your faithfulness remains throughout all generations . . .

Hence, the idea that we have bodies literally stored up in heaven, where they are literally located in some closet somewhere is nowhere close to the intent of the idea that God has something in store for us. It merely refers to the fact that what is reserved in heaven is settled and cannot be corrupted, stolen, or taken away. It is a future body that cannot be torn down as the current temporal one can, but this text does not say much about whether the future body is resurrected from the present one. If it says anything at all, it merely points out that we will be raised as Christ was raised, and since 2 Corinthians is to be read in light of 1 Corinthians, we know that this, in fact, is the same body that has now been transformed, since it is the corruptible seed that must die and be raised and given a form that is incorruptible.

Therefore, God reserving something/storing something up for His people doesn’t mean that God literally has storehouses in heaven that are filled with food, riches, and bodies. This text isn’t communicating that there is a closet in heaven with racks of bodies waiting for believers. It isn't giving a literal geographic location of God's blessings. It merely makes reference to the same idea seen throughout Scripture, where God reserves something for believers that cannot be destroyed on earth. What He reserves here is the salvation of the body, whereby He supernaturally transforms a mortal body into an immortal one. But this text says nothing of it being a different body, only that the future body is of a different nature than the current mortal body. The difference, therefore, is between what characteristics make up the present body and the future body. There is no contrast between one body that is located here on earth and a completely different body that is located in heaven. Paul is not talking about the physical location of the body, but it indestructible nature as something that is reserved by the promise of God. In other words, he’s reading a very symbolic text incredibly literally at this point, and it ends up contradicting what Paul is actually saying here with his use of Mark 14:58.

Not Made with Human Hands 

In fact, Birks, as many people mistakenly believe, thinks that the word ἀχειροποίητον, “not made with human hands,” refers to this idea that the body is not the same body that we have here on earth. But what he fails to note is that this same word is used of another body, but that body is Jesus’ resurrected body (cf. Mark 14:58 with John 2:18–22), which Birks also notes must be the same mortal human body He had when He walked upon the earth. In fact, Mark 14:58 has His enemies record His words from John 2:18–22 in a manner that shows us that the term refers to the mortal body and the term refers to the immortal body in terms of its nature, not in terms of whether it is the same body that Jesus had upon the earth. All agree that it is the same body that is mortal and transformed into an immortal body. This is likely where the seemingly contradictory passages in 1 Corinthians 15 and 2 Corinthians 5 meet. Paul is familiar with the Gospel of Mark, likely, more than any other Gospel. He likely has this distinction in mind. Jesus had a body “not made with human hands,” but it was still raised from His body that was “made with human hands.” The two terms simply refer to what is naturally given through the biological process and what must be supernaturally given, since dead bodies cannot naturally come to life. 

Birks could always just counter by saying that His enemies made it up, since Mark says that their testimony was false and inconsistent against Him, but it seems clear that their testimony was false and inconsistent because Jesus never said that He was going to destroy the temple. For one, He was speaking of the temple of His body. Secondly, He said that they would destroy this temple, but that He would raise it up in three days (John 2:18–22). So the part that was false testimony was not the wording used concerning that which is made by human hands and that which is not made by human hands, but instead concerning whether Jesus was talking about the temple and whether He would be the one to destroy it (cf. Matt 27:39–40). Both of these are false claims. 

There is nothing, therefore, to think that the term here or in 2 Corinthians 5 means anything else but something that is built by God without human hands out of something that is made with human hands (i.e., supernaturally bringing something to life as opposed to what is naturally brought to life). In fact, Paul’s use of the building after destroying metaphor, along with the language of something ἀχειροποίητον indicates that Paul is using this very passage in Mark to talk about the resurrected body that is of the same nature as Christ’s resurrected body. Notice that the words are remarkably similar, especially since this word is only used a few times in the NT: In Mark, it refers to Christ's body as tearing down a building that is made with human hands (i.e., natural and mortal) and remade without human hands (not remade natural and mortal). In 2 Cor 5, Paul talks about our bodies being buildings that are torn down and that God has promised us a building not made with human hands (i.e., not remade natural and mortal).

Birks interpretation of the phrase “this house,” then, rather than following the theology of 2 Corinthians that contrasts the body that is experienced through sight with the future body experienced through faith, is that it refers to this present body in contrast to a different body located in heaven. What Paul is contrasting, however, is this “mortal body” that can be torn down and that we experience through sight, with the promise of God giving to this mortal body an immortal form that cannot be torn down because it is made by God and is reserved for us by His promise, as he also argues in 1 Cor 15 (2 Cor 4:18). The contrast is the mortal body, the body of death, that we experience now with the immortal body, the body supernaturally risen by God in the future and given the same qualities that Christ’s body is given ("knowing that the One who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us up [future aspect of expectation] and will present us with you" 4:14). 

John 5:28-29

This passage seems to be a rather difficult one for Preterists. I say that because the amount of interpretive gymnastics that are made to make this passage "fit" the Preterist concept of resurrection is quite extensive. It reads:

I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming – and is now here – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life in himself, and he has granted the Son authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.Do not be surprised at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out – the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation.

As I argued before, this passage clearly teaches the already-not yet nature of the resurrection. The Son gives life to the spirit in regeneration, but there is a future aspect to the resurrection that is only "not yet." Jesus tells us that this has to do with our bodies coming out of the tombs.

In Birks's analysis, however, the tomb is transformed into remembering someone who has died which is then transformed into a more ethereal concept of death through a linguistically fallacious etymological approach to lexicography and faulty reasoning (a non sequitur and ad hoc interpretation of death) that dead people can’t hear a voice so as to come forth (which is probably news to Jesus who calls forth Lazarus bodily from the tomb with His voice. So he changes the verse to read “all who have died” and then forces his foreign definition of “death” into the text. This is all supposedly proven when one “gets into the Greek.” Unfortunately, it’s simply the case that only when one abuses language, Greek or otherwise, that this argument can possibly be made. This is probably the worst argument yet, and that’s saying quite a bit in a mountain of bad arguments (32:58ff.).

In fact, Birks mocks the idea that a dead body can hear and therefore obey the command to be raised (missing the theology of John that has God the Father, through the Son, call dead men to life, not by their cooperation with God, but by His power and authority alone).     

Kelly Birks - “A lifeless body cannot hear. So it’s talking about someone who has died. Who hears? Well, it’s the person’s spirit apart from their body, the person’s spirit, which is cognizant, apart from the physical body. So verse 28 of John 5 is not talking about a carbon-based body coming out of the grave, is it? It’s not possible” (SCS 9:36:46-37:17).

What seems to escape Birks's notice is that this same language (Jesus shouting in a loud "voice" to a body in a "tomb" that then "comes out" of the tomb later in John).

John 11:43-44 - When He had said this, he shouted in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The one who had died came out, his feet and hands tied up with strips of cloth, and a cloth wrapped around his face. Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him go.”


All of this, of course, misses the analogy of sleep and waking, and what actually falls asleep and what actually wakes up. The spirit has already been raised, so it does not fall asleep. It never dies, as Christ proclaims to Mary and Martha when Lazarus dies. Instead, the body is described as falling asleep because what falls asleep wakes up. This is Jesus' analogy with Lazarus and Paul's analogy within all of his writings as well.

What is sown is the seed that goes into the ground. What is raised up is this body that is promised by God, a promise reserved in heaven, that God will redeem/restore all of us, not just part of us. 

A Gnostic Anthropology

Some of Birks's misunderstanding is garnered from his anthropology. Although he decries being thrown in with Gnostics, he seems to misunderstand in what way he is influenced by the Platonism of Gnosticism. When discussing the nature of the human, he states that the "real you" is your spirit, not your body and spirit.
“They receive their spirits, their saved spirits. You have a body, soul, and a spirit here. The body helps you, uh, causes you, to be able to interact here on the earth. Your soul is that which gives your body animation in life. But it’s your spirit that is the real you. It’s your spirit that is your personality . . . so then, since the resurrection took place in AD 70, that unclothed spirit, when you die, has to be clothed upon; and I’m going to show you in the text of Scripture, where Scripture teaches that your . . . spirit is clothed upon with a body that comes to you from out of heaven. It is located in heaven, and it comes to you and clothes you from outside of heaven. This idea of this body being raised has to be forced into the text of Scripture”  (Kelly Birks, SCS 9:17:21).

The Bible, of course, never presents humans this way. Humans are bodies brought up from the dust that come a living nephesh "being." They do not have a soul, but become a soul. Birk believes in a trichotomy, so he sees the spirit as the true you, and the rest as just something that helps you function in the physical world. Why we would need any body at all in heaven, however, becomes unclear if this is true. 

When humans, righteous or wicked, are resurrected, however, it is body and soul (the soul is actually interchangeable with spirit in Scripture, but we'll save that argument for another day). The redemption of a human is the redemption of the spirit and the body (Rom 8:22-23). Hence, our sanctification is directly linked to our bodies, not just our spirits. Hence, Christ became flesh because humans, those who He would redeem, are flesh. As He must become whatever He redeems, so what He redeems is redeemed by Him. That includes the body.

In any case, I might have a more exhaustive post on that later. For right now, it is interesting that this anthropology stems from a need to maintain a particular Preterist theology of resurrection, not from the Bible itself. In an Gnostic anthropology, the body is not needed at all, but Preterists adopt it in order to argue that there is no need for this body. What they seem to miss is that this understanding makes all bodies, even a different heavenly one, unnecessary.

The Olivet Discourse and Ancient Apocalyptic Language

What I found interesting is that Birk admits that passages like Philippians 3:21, seems to teach a resurrection of this earthly body that is transformed into a spiritual body; but then he backtracks to argue that such is impossible because we know that the resurrection is tied to the parousia, and based on the Olivet Discourse placing both at the time of the destruction of the temple, it must be that the resurrection is something different than this body, since we all know that the bodies of Christians have not, in fact, been resurrected yet. He states:

“You look at this text carefully, and what you’ve got here is a statement of fact. You’ve got a resurrection stated as fact. In this case, it has to do with transformation. He says that Jesus will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory. Metaschimatizo . . . It’s simple. It just means to transform the form of a thing. It doesn’t say how it’s going to happen. Does this say how it’s going to happen? He will transform the body. Doesn’t say how. How’s He going to do it? How does that take place? .  . . Now, if this is all the Bible had to say on this subject, if this is all we had, Philippians 3:21, if this is all we had on this subject, then I would have to say, “Yeah, this body, this physical body is going to go through its transformation, but we have more. We are required to compare Scripture with Scripture in order to elucidate the meaning of any doctrine in order to get the full picture of it. You can’t just cherry-pick here and there . . .”

“If the nature of the believer’s resurrection body is these carbon-based bodies that get raised, then the parousia never happened, the AD 70 parousia never happened” (Kelly Birks, SCS 9:104:37-50).

The driving force of this hermeneutic can be seen in the following quote:

“Now a bunch of you out there might be going, “Well, that’s right, that’s what I’ve been sayin’ all along.” Yeah, but see, here’s the problem with that: If that’s the case, then the Bible’s a lie. The Bible’s wrong. Jesus was wrong. The apostles were wrong. Because you not only cannot produce any Scripture that has the Second Coming happening anywhere else outside of the First Century. You can’t produce a Scripture that says anything but that the parousia would happen within the First Century because that’s all that’s being taught . . . so if you’re holding onto a point of view that says that the resurrection, the nature of the resurrection body, is this carbon-based earthly body, basically you’re tossing the Bible into the toilet” (Kelly Birks, SCS 9:104:51-105:20, 106:30-42).

Here is the entire assumption that has locked in the Preterist argument that he is making whereby he must reinterpret the nature of the resurrection and all other passages to meet a Preterist criteria. He has set up a false dichotomy that either Preterism is true or the Bible is false. Since he believes the Bible is true, Preterism must be true. Hence, even though these texts seem to teach a resurrection of the body, they must be understood in some other way. 

At this point, therefore, he has shown his hand. He is forcing interpretations onto the text in order to maintain what he thinks would otherwise be a cause to reject the Bible as God’s Word. Hence, we are not getting exegesis here, but eisegesis demanded by the false dichotomy that has been created by misinterpreting the Olivet Discourse in Matthew, as though Matthew 24 was attempting to place the parousia happening at the time of the destruction of the temple in AD 70, when, in fact, this is merely the way the ancients viewed the world and spoke of disasters (i.e., as a micro-event painting a picture of the macro-event, and thus, spoken of as a single event, even though the two do not necessarily happen at the same time—cf. the texts that speak of the exodus and return from the exile in the creation language of Genesis and ask the question, “Are these things [i.e., the macro-creation and the exodus/exile events] happening at the same time, or does the micro-event merely recall and picture the macro-event that occurs at another time?”). 

Most of Second Temple Jewish apocalyptic is rooted in Enochian traditions, and it is interesting to find the same thing within that tradition when the author mixes his speech about the flood with the end of the world by saying that he is actually talking about two different times, even though you would never know that when viewing the way he speaks about the two events as one single event  (we'll take this all up in a later post in this series). 

In any case, however, my charge against this hermeneutic is twofold: 

1. That Scripture interpreting Scripture does not mean you ignore the context of a bunch of Scripture and then replace context with other scriptures. It means you interpret everything in its context and then relate it to other passages to give a larger picture of the whole truth. That's not what Birk is doing when he ignores the context to argue that the Olivet Discourse tells us that a passage, word, etc. must mean X instead of Y, as the context indicates, simply because it would make my interpretation of the Olivet Discourse wrong if I consider the immediate context. 

2. The driving force of the hermeneutic is the premise that because the resurrection and parousia are spoken of as one event with the destruction of the temple in AD 70, that means they happened at that same time. This premise is completely false. The micro-event is seen as a smaller bubble from the larger bubble of the macro-event, and so spoken as they are one single event, not because they happen at the same time, but because the smaller is viewed as linked in some way to the larger.

In any case, it becomes a dishonest hermeneutic that ignores the grammar (e.g., ignores the objects of verbs, the contextual referents of words, relies upon the importing of foreign contexts in an illegitimate transference of contextual referents, uses false dichotomies, strawmen, credulity of the interpreter, and a Gnostic presupposition of what constitutes a human being (i.e., one’s true self is his spirit), etc. all to maintain a harmonious narrative between two conflicting elements of data that, if read in light of OT and Second Temple apocalyptic and prophetic literature, were never in conflict in the first place. Preterism seems merely to be a piece of bad exegesis that has snowballed into a massive conglomeration of texts that are now driven with further bad exegesis to support the original application of bad exegesis to Matthew 24. And these comments that Birks makes above prove that out. This isn’t an exegetically honest system, but one that must maintain a particular theology at all costs, lest the Bible be denied as God’s Word and Jesus be made a liar. Hence, this is the grid through which all of these resurrection texts must be pulled, even though they seem to be saying something very different, something that even Birks recognizes as different, but then back-peddles to his rationalization that it must mean something else though, since the parousia, per his non-sequitur drawn from Matthew 24 that the parousia and destruction of the temple must happen simultaneously since they are mentioned together, happened in AD 70. 


If I were to sum up all of the errors made in Birks's interpretation of Scripture, it would be that he commits logical fallacies (non sequitur, equivocation, etc.) and these lead into his linguistic fallacies (ignoring the antecedents, illegitimate referential transference, etymological and cognate lexical fallacies, etc.). Without these, he simply cannot make the case he needs to make if his Preterism is to survive. Unfortunately, it shows, in fact, that it hasn't survived responsible exegesis, and this is why Preterism should be rejected. If the resurrection has not yet taken place, the parousia has not yet taken place (on that, Birks and I agree), but this, according to a responsible reading of the text, therefore, suggests that Preterism is false.


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