My Response to Sam Frost’s Analysis of our Debate – #4
I have been offering my response to Sam Frost’s analysis of our recent (May, 2020) formal three day debate on the Iron Sharpens Iron radio show hosted by Chris Arnzen. (My thanks to Arnzen for hosting the debate. I have urged him to sponsor another debate between myself and James White, but nothing has come of it so far). You can read the first three of my responses to Frost here:
And now, here is Frost’s fourth point / claim about the debate.
Frost – Day 3 was a set of questions from the audience. Most were directed at Don Preston – which meant that the listeners were asking Don to “explain” himself in light of other aspects. And, that’s precisely the point as I raised that issue several times, which can be found here. A person must first buy into the Hyper Preterist Framework in order to understand the Hyper Preterist definitions. This was, largely, James White’s response to the debate, found here. White totally understood the idea of “this complex framework” based on “time passages” which “takes over everything”. The very point I wanted to convey. I argued from a theological philosophy of drawing from the consensus of historical interpretations within the church, past and presently. This does not mean that every jot and tittle of particular passages cannot be reworked in light of different understandings (we see this done all the time in history, from Augustine to Acquinas, from Anselm to Luther, From Calvin to Wright). It does not mean that precisely because these kinds of reconstructions are still held and worked out within that larger consensus of the agreed upon fundamental and necessary elements of the Christian Faith, past and present.
Preston, for example, tried to attack the fact that I am theorizing another angle concerning the “man of sin” in II Thessalonians 2, and that since this reconstruction is at variance with, admittedly, the great majority of interpreters past and present, then he charges that I am doing the same thing he has done. But, surely, any one with an ounce of common logic can see that this is not the case at all. My theorizing on a particular interpretation is not at all a negation of any major, fundamental doctrine that has garnered a unity in terms of the Finality of All Things. That Christian understanding remains intact regardless of how I may interpret Paul and his use of “the man of sin” (which I am currently researching for a book during the last year and hope to have finished this year).
The first thing to be noted about Frost’s fourth “point” is the almost total absence of any scriptural argumentation, and most assuredly, not a single exegetical argument. He referred to his question about Satan, and his destruction in Revelation 20, but again,. He did not actually engage the text and most assuredly gave no close attention – only ridicule– to my answer. Reader, let that soak in! In what was supposed to be a debate about what the Bible teaches, Sam Frost refused – as noted in my previous article – to make even one exegetical argument. He talked “about” a verse or two, but gave us not a syllable of exegesis. He did assure us, of course, that “Preston stands against 2000 years of church history,” but as we have shown, that proves nothing at all.
It is interesting, perhaps even revealing, that Frost claims that since most of the call in questions on day three of our debate were directed at me, that this, had to mean, “that the listeners were asking Don to “explain” himself in light of other aspects.” Interesting.
Now, I have no doubt that some of the questioners wanted me to explain myself. No problem with that for sure! (It was clear from a couple of questions that the caller also wanted Frost to explain himself also, so there is that). Frost seems unwilling to even consider the fact that it is possible that some of the callers were also genuinely interested in knowing more about the full preterists paradigm!
Frost claims that to be a full preterist: “A person must first buy into the Hyper Preterist Framework in order to understand the Hyper Preterist definitions.” This was one of Frost’s key arguments, as he for instance, literally ridiculed the importance of the Biblical time statements of the imminent coming of the Lord in the NT. The reality is that Frost’s rejection of the time element of prophecy is neither lexical, contextual, historical or scholarly. To illustrate this, in followup discussions on Facebook, I have challenged Frost to openly state his hermeneutic- as I did in the debate.
In the debate, I noted that Frost’s view of time statements is that when time statements of imminence are used in non-prophetic, non-eschatological texts, that “at hand,” “shortly,” “quickly” etc. can most assuredly convey objective imminence of occurrence. However, in Frost’s framework, that he most assuredly imposes on all eschatological time statements, no time word of imminence can even be communicating anything about time! On FaceBook, I have asked him several times now to say, candidly, without obfuscation or evasion if this is his hermeneutical framework, but he has refused to hit a key in response.
Also on FB, I have asked Frost whether time statements in which it is said something was “not near,” but was “far off,” “for many days to come” indicated genuine protraction, or if in fact, one could claim that those “long time off” statements actually meant that the event was near, at hand and coming soon? No answer. Not a keystroke.
When Frost rejects, distorts and perverts the language of the Bible in order to maintain his futurism, he is patently imposing his framework onto Scripture – as I pointed out in the debate. And, when I offered careful exegetical arguments on the resurrection from Hosea 13, Frost was forced to literally change the wording of the text to avoid its meaning! (He likewise made a hugely anachronistic argument on Hosea 13:1-2, – imposing a situation in the book of Judges to Hosea 13– that was literally stunning in how bad it was)! Is that not imposing his framework onto the text? And let me offer here again the argument that I made on Isaiah 25-27, no less than three times:
The resurrection – the salvation of Israel – is posited as the time:
1. When he makes all the stones of the altar Like chalkstones that are beaten to dust. That is the text of Isaiah 27:9f).
2. Yet the fortified city will be desolate, The habitation forsaken and left like a wilderness. That is the text.
3. For it is a people of no understanding; Therefore He who made them will not have mercy on them, And He who formed them will show them no favor. That is the text.
As to point #3 I noted that this is a direct echo of the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32, which was a prophecy of Israel’s last days. It has NOTHING to do with Frost’s imaginary “end of time” or the end of the current age. That concept — the framework – has to be imposed onto the text.
Thus, I pointed out – again- no less than three times – that we have here the emphatic and explicit prophecy of the time of the destruction of Satan, the time of the resurrection – AS THE TIME OF THE JUDGMENT AND DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM AND THE TEMPLE.
Frost’s response? Silence! TOTAL SILENCE! Literally not a word of textual, logical, contextual response! To say that this is revealing is a huge understatement. Here is the prophetic context that Paul draws from in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56, stating that the resurrection would fulfill Isaiah, but, when confronted with the actual text, the actual context of Isaiah, Frost did not offer one word of rebuttal, not a syllable out of his mouth in any attempt to refute these facts. Instead, he imposes his own framework onto the text. Well, he would if he even commented on the text, but he refused to offer a word of response. And he says that I am the one that imposes my framework on the text!
Frost appealed to James White’s review of the debate, noting that White also rejects the time statements of scripture, claiming that it is wrong to build a case on them. I suppose one could call Frost’s appeal to White as an “argumentum ad verecundiam” and appeal to authority, since White is a well known polemicist. (For information sake, White has been challenged numerous times to debate me, and has persistently refused). But, does such an argument actually prove the point? Hardly. This is especially true since White has historically avoided discussions of eschatology! Thus, Frost was appealing for support by referencing a man that has admittedly not done extensive study on eschatology and has refused to debate the issue! That is a pretty weak appeal for support. (For those interested, I will be doing a YouTube review and response to James White in the very near future-7-10-20- so be watching for that).
Now, Frost knows that many of his eschatological views are truly aberrant. They are in fact, truly novel, unprecedented, unknown in the early church or in the creeds– totally absent. When he kept repeating that Preston stands against 2000 years of church history, I noted that if Frost’s aberrant, idiosyncratic views on 2 Thessalonians are true, that he himself stands against 2000 years of church history! So in his “analysis” Frost tries to justify that by admitting that his views are not found in church history: “I am theorizing another angle concerning the “man of sin” in II Thessalonians 2, and that since this reconstruction is at variance with, admittedly, the great majority of interpreters past and present, then he charges that I am doing the same thing he has done.” (Incidentally, we could add Frost’s views on the coming of the Son of Man, for instance in Matthew 16:27-28, to the growing list of his views that are at total odds with church history and the creeds).
The first thing to be noted is that Frost admits that his views are at odds with “the great majority of interpreters.” Well, this is more than slightly misleading. Frost’s views are not “somewhat” at odds with simply the “great majority” of interpreters, as if there were some who agreed with him. NO, his views on 2 Thessalonians 1 & 2 ARE TOTALLY UNKNOWN in the ancient sources and the creeds! And they are not only totally unknown, they stand in diametric opposition to, for instance as I cited in the debate, the Westminster Confession!
But, how does Frost respond to the fact that he stands alone in his views? Well, he says that minor differences are allowed within the framework of the overall view of the historical church! Notice his words:
“My theorizing on a particular interpretation is not at all a negation of any major, fundamental doctrine that has garnered a unity in terms of the Finality of All Things. That Christian understanding remains intact regardless of how I may interpret Paul and his use of “the man of sin.”
To say this is disingenuous is a huge understatement! For instance, the eschatology of the WCF stands on their interpretation of the Roman Catholic Church and the pope as the Man of Sin. Is that a “minor” issue? The framers sure did not think so! They considered 2 Thessalonians 2 to be fundamental to their eschatological framework! Yet, Frost says his rejection of that fundamental text of eschatology is really just a minor difference within the framework of futurism! (Catch that? He all but admits that the historical church has imposed a framework onto the text of scripture!)
Frost’s attempt to negate the importance of his rejection of church history on these key texts is specious. His claim that these are “minor” differences within the historical framework will not stand. These are major texts involved. But, we have the right to ask: Just how many “minor differences” and variations of interpretations can be considered minor and of no significance? I mean, after all, in the history of interpretation, the early church writers appealed repeatedly to passages that Frost denies refer to the time of the end. Those early writers applied those texts to the future “final coming.” (e.g. Matthew 16:27). (See the Nicean creed which says “he will come in glory” referencing Matthew 16:27). So, here is a major eschatological text that the early church writers and the early creeds applied to the future, but Frost says they were wrong! Is this a minor difference of no importance? How do you reject a key, foundational eschatological text- in fact, many key eschatological texts – and still claim that you remain within the bounds of “orthodoxy”?
Let me remind the reader that the Catholic authorities said that the Reformers stood against 1000+ years of church history and the creeds. They said that Luther and his followers stood alone against the united testimony of the creeds and church history! Frost, ostensibly a Reformed believer, admires and appreciates that! For him, it was admirable, courageous, and perfectly justified that men like Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, etc., had the courage to reject 1000 – 1200 years of church history and the creeds – the unbroken tradition of the church. But, when it comes to today, and preterists who challenge church history and the creeds, well, this just can’t be allowed! After all, the preterists are rejecting 2000 years of church history and the creeds!
Frost claims that when I show that he does what I do, “Any one with an ounce of common logic can see that this is not the case at all.” So, Frost can only offer us (me) an insult, or, for that matter, anyone that can actually see that Frost is in fact doing the very thing that I do. He says that if you think that he is in fact doing the same thing as me, in rejecting major eschatological positions, that you don’t have an ounce of logic in you!
But, as just shown, Frost does in fact do the very thing he condemns preterists for doing:
1. He stands with the Reformers in rejecting 1000+ years of church history and the creeds. And don’t be confused or deceived into thinking those are “minor issues” of difference that the Reformers posited!
2. He rejects, as seen, major, fundamental teaching and texts, of the key Reformed Creed, the Westminster Confession of Faith.
3. He rejects and alters, the historical and creedal view of passages that the early writers and creeds used for their futurist views of eschatology. How do you reject, alter and deny key eschatological texts and say: “Nothing to see here! This is just minor stuff!”?
What we see then, in Frost’s “analysis” of our debate are these glaring points:
1. He made not one substantive exegetical, textual argument. He even admitted as much!
2. His key arguments were ad hominem, useless in polemics.
3. His arguments were emotion based, useless in polemics.
4. His key argument was based on church history and an appeal to the majority (Argumentum ad populum) – which proves nothing in polemics. After all, the “majority” condemned the Reformers – right?
5. His comments were, as shown, in some instances, a misrepresentation of what actually believe.
Frost’s analysis of our debate– but most importantly our debate itself– has exposed the utter inability of Frost to in any way whatsoever, negate the truth of Covenant Eschatology. When the man who has repeatedly set himself up as the final answer to Full Preterism refuses to even engage in Biblical arguments, choosing instead to do as described, then you know that he knows, he has no case at all.
In an upcoming post, I will share with the reader the many Biblical arguments that I made, that Sam Frost literally did not offer a word of response to, or, at most scoffed at them. You will see for yourself the stark revealing contrast between Frost’s analysis and what I offered. Stay tuned.
Source: Don K. Preston