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Simmons-Frost Debate

Does King's Covenant Eschatology Lead to Universalism?

The Heart of The Matter: Defining The Death

By Sam Frost

 

This is not an official Response to the supposed "debate" between Simmons and me.  I stopped that.  But, I will not stop writing about what has come about recently.  I want to make some points that should clarify the issues involved even further.

1. Simmons first claimed that it was the corporate body view that "necessarily leads" to Universalism.  He wrote, "This debate is to decide whether Max King's "covenant eschatology," including his "corporate body view" of the resurrection, necessarily lead to Universalism. By "necessary" we mean only that Universalism is a logical consequence of King's views." Now, he wrote to Larry Siegle, "The corporate aspect of King's system is not the central issue. It is his spiritualization of the resurrection and his premise that the law had to be removed for man to be redeemed that is the source of so much error."  This was written after the first statement was.  I originally set out to show that the corporate view, in and of itself, does not lead to Universalism.  Simmons has now offended all Reformed Preterists in that he denies that Adam ever was a Federal Head of the human race, and that there was no corporate dimension in Paul's argument in Romans 5.  He has brought into the picture the "age of accountability", "freewill" and other aspects that would be entirely at odds with Reformed theology.  In Simmons' view, Jesus didn't die for anyone.  He merely makes it possible for anyone to be saved if and only if they exercise their "freewill."  Clearly, this issue is not about Max King and Kurt Simmons.  The reason why so many Reformed Preterists have borrowed from King is that a "corporate" theology was already at work within Reformed theology.

2.  The above statement also reflects another belief of Simmons.  The resurrection is not spiritual.  It is when you physically die.  Therefore, no one is entirely "saved" until then.  This has been a long time issue within Preterist theology.  It is something that must be considered when pondering Simmons' overall view.

3.  Simmons continues to "dodge" the points raised in my second article.  He stated that "not one" translation agreed with me.  We produced two.  His response is telling:

Your [Jason Bradfield] charges are frivolous and unworthy the dignity of response. You act as if because one or two translations can be found out of the thousands and thousand made over the centuries that Sam's whole position is wondrously validated.  let there be a hundred translations produced!  They would still be a tiny minority and still have no bearing upon the question at hand.  The issue here is not Sam's idea and the translation it causes him to produce is valid, but whether King's covenant eschatology leads to Universalism.  The whole question of translation has nothing to say about the issue in debate at all."

Let's see.  "Not one" and now, "Let there be a hundred."  Simmons' logic here is again deplorable.  Anyone ever hear of arguing from the majority?  Remember those anti-Preterist arguments that said, "over the last two thousand years no one has ever believed that Jesus returned in A.D 70?"  Remember your response?  Argumentum ad populum!  But, here, Simmons uses this argument.  And here I thought flip flops were shoes we wore in Florida.

4.  Simmons quotes from no Greek source, mind you.  I can quote from every Greek grammar I have on the subject.  This is "Greek according to Simmons" and "Greek according to known authorities quoted by Frost."  That's the argument.  But, aside from this.  Let's look at Romans 5 from a purely translational perspective.  Verse 15 has "the offence" in the KJV and virtually every other translation.  The Greek has the article, too.  In verse 16 "the judgment" is found.  In Greek the article is found.  In fact, to save space, go through your NIV, ESV, RSV or KJV and find how many times "the" occurs from 5.12-21.  Question: "the" occurs before "sin" and "death", too, so why is the article not translated in front of those nouns, but is in front of the others?  Even more telling, when Paul wrote, "for if by the offence of the one man..."  Notice that the article here is clearly, clearly addressing the single offence committed by the single man, Adam.  That's "the Sin" or "the offence" or "the transgression."  Simmons entirely misses the boat here and cannot bring himself to admit it. Basically, Simmons argument is based on English translations that are supposed to tell us the correct Greek!  Since English translations leave out "the", then "the" is not important in Greek.  Talk about having the rabbit ahead of the carrot!

5.  Simmons' logic has been questioned and here he fudges.  There is a bit of trickery on his part, too.  First, the most amazing thing is that Simmons admits that his "form" logically speaking is off.  But, he says, his substance is correct!  Let me quote to you a definition of a valid argument: "When an argument is valid, its premises are said to entail its conclusions" (Wilfred Hodges, Logic, Penguin, p. 55).  Simmons says that I am being "technical" here.  He admits that his "forms" are invalid.  But that is the very definition of a valid argument.  If an argument is invalid, it is not an argument.  It is nothing.

He tries to salvage this by using trickery:

Syllogism No. 1

Major Premise: The power of sin and death over mankind resided in the Mosaic law.

Minor Premise: The Mosaic law was done away for all men for all time in A.D. 70. Therefore,

Conclusion: All men are freed from the power of sin and death.

This is not the syllogism of Simmons I used in my example.  I used this one:

Major Premise: The reign of sin and death over man (A) was determined by the Mosaic law (B)

Minor Premise: The Mosaic law (B) was annulled at the eschaton, losing all men of its power (A); therefore

Conclusion: Men are universally reconciled (C) to God.

"Universally reconciled to God" is more than just one word!  It is an entire doctrine!  A doctrine not contained in the two premises at all.  It is an implication but not a necessary correlate of the premises.  Simmons can cry about this until he is blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is that his argument is illogical by any standard and he admits this but wants to get away with saying that the substance is true!  Can you imagine any student saying this to his logic professor?  Secondly, he used a different syllogism in his response other than the one I used!  Does this not tell you that he is not paying attention to the true issues?  He just rams home his points and hopes no one will "technically" analyze them.  It's not so amazing that people do this, but  that people listen to it and say, "wow!  Great argument, man!  It's false and invalid, but entirely right on the money!"  Simmons wrote, "he has faulted my ability to express King's position in perfect logic as taught at the University level."  And then, "If this [syllogism] is not in proper "form" it is nonetheless of perfect "substance" and represents the basis for King's Universalism."  Therefore, Simmons version of "perfect logic" as taught in the University allows for invalid forms to make valid arguments!  Mr. Simmons, Postmodernism is calling...it wants its shirt back.

6.  Aside from the Greek errors and the Logic errors, both of which are devastating, Simmons makes an exegetical blunder of such ramifications that I do not need to deal with hardly anything else.  It is the conclusion of what is really and always the issue for me: the definition of "the Death."  King and myself define "the death" in pretty much the same terms.  One can decide for themselves if that is an accurate definition.  But, I wrote in my second paper that Simmons must deal with Isaiah 25.8 and I listed 5 Exegetical considerations, none of which he really dealt with on any level.

However, he does attempt to define "death."  This is where his view necessarily leads.  After one reads this, it should be clear that Simmons' alternative to my approach is to be utterly abandoned.  First off, if one cannot see the clear allusion to which every commentary mentions between Revelation 21.4 and Isaiah 25.8, then one is blind.  Simmons never makes the comparison.  Both verses, including the use of the phrase, "the death" (in Hebrew and Greek), use the exact same words.  Therefore, what John pictured here is what Isaiah saw there.  Isaiah 25.8 is fulfilled in Revelation 21.4.

Simmons wrote  "Only Hadean death was destroyed in A.D. 70. This is confirmed by the very context of the passage (Rev. 20:11-15), which shows death and Hades cast into the lake of fire together. Paul is to the same effect: "The shall be brought to pass the saving that is written. Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting.  O Hades, where is thy victory?"  (I Cor 15:54, 55)  It was Hadean death that was destroyed at the eschaton, and none else. Anything else will produce Universalism."

This is the very crux of the issue as he has noted.  He cannot have "the death" mean anything else except the destruction of Hades.  "The Death" is the same thing as "the Hades."  Based upon his own view, then, Isaiah 25.8 is predicting the destruction of Hades.  Let's read Isaiah 25.6-10:

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.  7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever, adn the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, adn the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, "Behold, thi sis our God: we have waited for him, tha the might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.  (ESV)

Now, according to Simmons, this is only swallowing up of Hades.  Judicial death remains and the other three deaths he has defined (he has five overall).  However, one can see from the context that this swallowing up of "the death" means "His Salvation" has arrived.  Therefore, "salvation" is the "swallowing up" of Hades, in Simmons' view!  But, everyone  ("all peoples") are in Hades (Sheol, Hebrew).  And "all peoples" are set free from Sheol!  Therefore, all peoples are saved because the swallowing up of Hades means that His Salvation has come!  If it does not mean this, then Simmons himself must conclude that a universal event does not mean universal salvation!  This is what I have argued!

Let me state this again.  All peoples are in Hades.  Hades is swallowed up for "all peoples" so that "all peoples" are released from Hades.  The swallowing up of Hades is the coming of "His Salvation."  Conclusion: all peoples are saved.  But, we know that Simmons would not conclude this, nor would I.  Notice here that "Hades" is not even mentioned in Isaiah 25.8.  Notice that the connection between the swallowing up of "the death" and the "removal of the reproach" of Israel is in view here.  Notice, too, that the swallowing up of the death and His Salvation are simultaneous events.

Simmons has the Parousia occurring in A.D. 70 when the Death is swallowed up, yet wants no connection to the annulment of the Law of Moses to this event, even though this event was future to the cross.  This was "His Salvation" coming into its fullness for His People.  Simmons has a mess on his hands here.  Israel is saved at the parousia of her Messiah and Bridegroom to be.  The rich banquet is set for all peoples on Mount Zion, the New Jerusalem.  The reproach of the death is what is removed, and it is this same "the death" identified in Paul as having come through the "one man" and the "one transgression."  Simmons states that Jesus did not remove Adam's curse.  "No amount of magic can do this" he wrote.  Therefore, in his view, we are all still under the Reproach, the Sin and the Condemnation while alive here on earth.  However, we have good news: Hades is gone!

Folks, I am appealing to your senses here.  How can Simmons have Hades removed, but not "the reproach" and "the veil"?  By Hebrew parallelism (see any commentary here, for I am afraid Simmons will accuse me of not knowing Hebrew, either), "the covering", "the veil", "the death", and "the reproach" are all speaking of the same thing.  For Simmons, this is Hades!  Let's use some logic here: if the Hades contained "all men" and the Hades is "the reproach", then the swallowing up of the Hades means the swallowing up of "the reproach" for all peoples.  And, since the Hades, in Simmons view (and all Preterists agree here) is gone for everyone (since no wicked person goes to Hades when he dies), then the reproach is removed for all peoples!  It's ironic:  Simmons equation of "death" as "hades" means the removal of the reproach for all peoples since the Hades exists no more for no man!  Result: Simmons' exegesis leads to Universalism!

I am not done.  Simmons wrote, "When Revelation says there will be no more death, this should not be taken in an absolute sense.  This is clear from the fact that it also says there will be no more sorrow, crying, or pain.  Since these are still a very real and permanent part of human existence this side of eternity, it seems clear that the statement is intended to be understood in a relative sense. "  In Simmons' exegesis Revelation 21.4 is not in reference to Isaiah 25.8!  Folks, SEE THE CONFUSION HERE!  Revelation 21.4 cannot, for Simmons, be Isaiah 25.8, because in the above quote, Simmons quotes I Co 15.54 WHICH QUOTES ISAIAH 25.8!!!!!  But, THERE, he says Paul is talking about the removal of HADEAN DEATH.  But, in Revelation 21.4 WHICH IS A DIRECT ALLUSION TO ISAIAH 25.8, Simmons FLIP FLOPS AGAIN saying that "the death" that is no more is NOT HADEAN DEATH!!!!!  However, as the context shows, "the death" that is thrown into the Lake of Fire is the same "the death" that is no more AS A RESULT OF BEING CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE!!!!  How boneheaded does one have to be not to see the OBVIOUS run around we get here when we press the details of Simmons' exegesis!  What Simmons must do is this: Revelation 20.11-15 speaks of "the death" (Greek) as being thrown into the Lake of Fire.  For Simmons, this is ONLY hadean death.  Just four verses down, "the death" (Greek) is said to be "no more."  But, THIS IS NOT THE SAME "THE DEATH" MENTIONED JUST OVER 30 WORDS BEFORE IN THE CONTEXT for Simmons!!!!  This is a different "the death" than "the death" thrown into the Lake of Fire!!!!  Someone help me...I am going mad!!!! (lol).

Conclusion:  It should be quite apparent now that Simmons' alternative leads to Universalism if in fact "the death" is defined as merely "hades."  We have PROVEN that this is not the correct definiton, and Simmons has a hard mountain to climb to prove otherwise.  Our exegesis, following many, many commentaries and Greek and Hebrew grammars as described in the Grammars, is sound.  I am appealing to every reader to honestly look at what Simmons is doing in order to "make his point."  I do not dislike Mr. Simmons.  He's a brother.  I abhor his methodology and exegesis.  It's poor.  It clearly runs into massive problems.  This last example should show to any objective reader that Simmons has a serious, serious exegetical problems.  If a view cannot undergo rigorous exegetical scrutiny, then it cannot pass the test as being "the best in Preterism."

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