Responding to Michael Miano

Below is an exchange between myself and Michael Miano. Michael is a pastor and proponent of an eschatological view known as Full Preterism. In his view Jesus Christ fulfilled all prophecy, including that of His return to the world, in the year 70AD. My questions (in bold) challenge particular nuances of that view in contrast with Inaugurated Eschatology and an Amillennialist view. Michael’s response is given in italics,  then my answers follow. You can review his original response HERE:

1.) Why does the ascension not play any role in any of the imminent expectations of the Gospels?

Not quite sure I understand this question. The “end of the age” was imminent as demonstrated through time-statements all throughout the Gospels. Part and parcel of the “end of the age” is not only the ‘sign of Jonah’ to that generation (cf. Matthew 12:40) but also the fulfillment of all that was written (i.e., the hope of Israel) (cf. Luke 21:22). In order for the “hope of Israel” to be fulfilled, the Messiah would have to die, ascend, come in glory, and resurrect the dead ones – all of this is explained throughout the epistles, but unfortunately many “ignorant and unstable” people distorted and continue to distort those things (cf. 2 Peter 3:16).

Perhaps this question was a bit ambiguous, although I must say that Michael never asked me for clarification, but what I asked is this: why is it (assuming the FP view) that none of the expecting-statements … the “this is about to happen” statements … point to the ascension? Now Michael takes the most of this response by repeating the FP schema, but does not really address the question. In fact, he seems to substantiate my premise by not pointing to “time texts” that predict the imminent ascension and glorification of Christ. Now the fact that a “man born of woman” would ascend to the Right Hand of the Father and be glorified in His presence should have been a major event in itself (to understate the issue). Yet, as I believe Michael demonstrates here, in the FP schema this is utterly overshadowed by 70AD. In fact, FPs do not allow that any imminent statement in the Gospels refer to the ascension.

When we consider that the Apostles were born into a world governed by the Law of Moses, the Temple and the “invisible God” of the OT, but were about to be able to “behold His glory” and would soon enter into the Kingdom of God … but we have nothing from Christ to prepare them for this? His focus is all on one war 40 years in the future, but not the most important event in history that would happen within months to days?  (Not to mention telling us nothing to help us for the next 200 decades?) This is my question, why the silence? My point is to point out an imbalance and oversight of FPism. I do not believe Michael answered this, but I am hopeful that he will in the future.

2.) What would 70AD have added to the already glorified Son of Man that He did not already receive in His glorification?

In putting together the framework of fulfilled Bible prophecy it is vital to understand the “already but not yet” progression of events that happened in the first century. When Christ ascended in Acts 1:9-11 it was promised that He could come in the same manner He left (“hidden in the clouds” – which also correlates with what Christ said in Luke 17:20 about the Kingdom not coming with observation). The Parousia of Christ in AD 70 was the inauguration of the Kingdom.

It’s not what did AD 70 add to the Son of Man, but rather, in His coming in AD 70 what did the Son of Man supply to those who eagerly awaited Him? Faithfulness to His Word (cf. Matthew 16:27-28), complete salvation (Hebrews 9:28), and most notable, His demonstrated presence in and through His saints (His Temple) – which was the goal of prophecy (cf. Colossians 1:27). That also explains why the saints proclaimed “His death” until He would come (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:26 ), now we declare His life in and through us.

Here Michael seems to answer that 70AD did not add anything, because the Kingdom did not come until 70AD. Or perhaps he would prefer to say that it did not come fully until 70AD. But if the latter is the case, then the question still stands; I will demonstrate this shortly. Now there are numerous problems with the FP line here, but let me begin with Michael’s invocation of already but not yet. For those unfamiliar, the phrase already but not yet belongs originally to inaugurated eschatology. The idea, if I can oversimplify here, is that the Kingdom was inaugurated in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ.  G. E. Ladd, who coined the term[1] describes it as “God’s rule invading history before its eschatological consummation”.[2] In other words, it is the hermeneutical concept that the NT presents the Kingdom of God as something that is already present, but yet to come. Both of these aspects are seen in the NT and the realties of each aspect are foundational to Kingdom teaching in the NT. It seems that Michael agrees with this generally. But what Michael does it place the already as a reality before 70AD, and then the not yet comes to be realized in 70AD. But this only leads us back to my original question. If the already was realized before 70AD (we agree), then what did 70AD add to the glorified Son of Man and His Church that was not already given to them? Michael does not tell us.

Let me unpack this a bit: Christ was mystically (spiritually) present with the Church before 70AD. The Church “set with Christ in heavenly places” before 70AD. They had been “translated” into the Kingdom before 70AD. Salvation had been revealed before 70AD. The nations were coming in and “sitting with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” before 70AD. The Son of Man had been glorified and exalted before 70AD. The Gospel was being preached into all the world before 70AD. The nations were being taught the truth of God before 70AD. I could go on, but I think the point here is made … what in the FP 70AD realized not yet  was not already a reality for the Church? What changed? What was different?  
    

3.) Why was the Kingdom already preached as a reality before 70AD, if the point of 70AD is initiating the Kingdom?

As I mentioned in response to the last question, in putting together the framework of fulfilled Bible prophecy it is vital to understand the “already but not yet” progression of events that happened in the first century. Yes, Jesus Christ said the Kingdom was “at hand” and was in the midst of the people of God prior to AD 70 (cf. Matthew 3:2; Luke 17:21). However, even the Futurist, or especially the Futurist acknowledges that there is more to come (obviously to fulfill the details of the “end times”). Just like understanding the progressive effect of salvation and God’s presence, so it is the same with the Kingdom, and more and more was revealed as the “jots and the tittles” of the Old Covenant, or “all things that were written” were finding their fulfillment.

The real problem is that the Futurist has sought to stretch the progressive fulfillment of these prophecies, the “already but not yet” to be more than 2,000 years. The Preterist asserts that the things which were “not yet” would find their fulfilment within the generation of some of those who were alive at the time of Christ’s earthly existence (cf. Matthew 16:27-28; Matthew 24:34).

Here are two links by popular Full Preterist teachers, Ward Fenley, and Mike Sullivan, regarding “the already but not yet” and the “inauguration of the Kingdom” in AD 70.

https://www.preteristarchive.com/Hyper/1998_fenley_response-zaspel_01.html

http://fullpreterism.com/jesus-taught-the-soteriological-and-eschatological-already-and-not-yet-of-his-kingdom-and-second-coming-would-be-fulfilled-by-ad-70/

Now Michael’s answer here builds off a previous answer, and my answer to that will answer this as well. There are, however, a few inconsistencies I need to point out here. First of all, Michael misapplies already but not yet here. Remember in the previous post he allowed that the already was effective beginning (I would assume) at the ascension of Christ. He then asserts that the not yet is realized in 70AD. Yet here he moves the already to 70AD and the not yet moves beyond 70AD. For instance he describes “understanding the progressive effect of salvation and God’s presence”. But how can any progressive understanding of God take place after the consummation where we “know as we are known”? I assume that Michael believes in some sort of ongoing salvation and revelation of God, but that does not fit in his schema. Now this is an important point, and I want the reader to really let this sink in: futurism is not merely the idea that Jesus will come to earth again, it is the idea that God has anything left to do on earth through Christ. Now if Michael, or any FP teacher, has an ongoing “fulfillment” of the promises of the Gospel – i.e. people coming to Christ – then they are futurists. In other words, they themselves retain a not yet aspect to their eschatology and preaching. And here you can see why this principle is applied in very inconsistent ways by FPism.

4.) Why were Christians already “raised with Christ” spiritually before 70AD, if the resurrection itself was only being raised spiritually? (Also what did 70AD have to do with this?)

In Colossians 3:1, we read “you then being risen with Christ”, which demonstrates that the living saints could experience ‘resurrection power’ before AD 70 (not only did Jesus say this in John 11:25-26, the Apostle John writes in in 1 John 3:14, and said power as the church’s reality is explained by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter 1). Simply put, the living saints could experience the “synergio Christos” by living in faith. But…the “hope of Israel” made known through the Law and the Prophets highlight that generations before the first century would experience “resurrection” as well – this is what the writer of Hebrews is getting at in Hebrews 11:39-40. Neither the living saints of the 1st century or those who had “fallen asleep in Christ” would experience the fulness of salvation until the dead ones were raised.

The “resurrection of the dead” is different than “being raised with Christ”. The “anastasis nekroi” is the standing again of the dead ones, and demonstrated the promise of fulfillment being extended to the Old Covenant saints – those who could not put their faith in Christ in the 1st century. This “standing again” would take place at the coming of the Lord and the destruction of the Temple (cf. Daniel chapter 12 and 1 Corinthians chapter 15).

I had participated in a public discussion with Ed Stevens, a Full Preterist who disagrees with what has come to be known as the “Corporate Body View”. In that debate I explained and demonstrated the “change” spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:51. You can view that debate at the following link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7zaUtNfLC0&t=501s

I am glad that Michael agrees that “the living saints could experience ‘resurrection power’ before AD 70”. Now Michael does offer an interesting proposition here. He asserts that those before Christ were raised in 70AD. I am going to give a short answer here, but he raises several points and I think this deserves more attention than I can give in a short answer; honestly. Allow me to point out a few problems here:

If 70AD is the raising of pre-Christian saints in the OT, and NT saints were already raised with Christ, then does that not mean that the resurrection is ongoing? Especially in the FP schema, for those that allow an ongoing salvation through Christ. Thus, pre-70AD Christians are saved, die and go to heaven with Christ, post-70AD Christians die and go to heaven with Christ. No difference that I can detect. Also, does this not also mean that the resurrection took place for Christian’s before 70AD? (If so, then this would actually qualify FP for St. Paul’s rebuke of those who say the resurrection is past.) Further, limiting the proposed 70AD resurrection to OT saints, we would have a future resurrection promised to those who had already experienced the resurrection.

Again, this deserves more in way of an answer, but I believe I have pointed out several issues here.  

5.) Why did Christ promised to be mystically with the Church and never leave her, if he would not return mystically to her until 70AD? (Also what did 70AD have to do with that?)

This is a rather confusing question and reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the ‘telos’/ the goal of the Biblical narrative. God was “mystically” (to borrow the term Mr. Vincent used) present with Old Covenant Israel in the cloud and fire (and later the Ark of the Covenant) and that was based upon their obedience to the Law of Moses. The Old Testament reveals this is problematic, as innate wickedness continually led Israel into disobedience. But God promised….Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, comes to do to the work of fulfillment of the Law and thus rendering it obsolete as the standard of God’s presence (cf. Matthew 5:17-18; Hebrews 8:10). Thus removing “the death” that plagued the people of God by the work of Jesus Christ.

All of that said, Jesus Christ came in the flesh to fulfill necessary aspects of sacrifice, raised in glory to demonstrate His being the power of God (which is what is meant by “seated at the right hand of God”) and thus provided the Church with the Holy Spirit to discern the things of the Spirit, and then came in glory to have His life in His Body, the Church (much of this seems to be demonstrated in John chapter 14). The destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem in AD 70 demonstrated the truth and faithfulness of God through Jesus Christ (this is the very basics of Full Preterism). It demonstrated where God’s presence was to be found. Even the 1st century Jewish historian, Josephus, took note that the burning of the Temple and the signs that followed, were representative of God’s presence departing that Temple and system (“Heaven and Earth”).

A beautiful resource regarding the contemporary application of what God “mystically” did for the saints, the “change of mind” (Gr. Word alasso used in 1 Corinthians 15:51) that was provided, can be found at the following link titled, “Remember Pella”, https://www.preteristarchive.com/Idealism/2005_dubois_pella.html

Michael writes a good deal here that frankly does not answer my question. This is essentially a variation of my earlier question – what did 70AD change for Christians? Michael seems to concede that Christ was present with the Church before 70AD. Was he then even more present? How did He “return” to the Church if He never left the Church? Again, this is another layer to the question of what did 70AD change? Still waiting for an answer.

6.) Why is Christ shown as “in the midst” of the Seven Churches at the opening of the Revelation, if the Revelation is about 70AD and Christ was to only ever be present mystically; and this at 70AD?

Another confusing question which demonstrates Mr. Vincent’s presuppositional desire to impose a different presence of Christ upon the nature of fulfillment. In the beginning chapters of the Book of Revelation we read a vision given to the Apostle John regarding Christ’s declaration to the 7 Churches of Asia Minor (cf. Revelation 1:9 -11, 13, and so on…). The details of Revelation are about things which were, things which are, and things which will come, which again makes it necessary to understand the “already but not yet” of Christ’s presence with His people through the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Not even the Futurist denies this progressive demonstration of Christ’s presence with His people through the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

In AD 70, the “end of the age” (cf. Matthew 24:3), the details of Revelation chapters 21-22 were fulfilled in that the fullness of the New Covenant was revealed (the “New Jerusalem” of Revelation 21:2 and Galatians 4:23-26), God’s presence and tabernacling among His people was demonstrated (cf. Revelation 21:3), and the “burning up” of the Temple (or the “elements” as Peter mentioned in 2 Peter 3:10) gave evidence to the crying, mourning, and death revealed through the “old order of things” had passed away (cf. Revelation 21:4).

We have already demonstrated Michael’s misuse and inconsistency with the already but not yet hermeneutical principal. He seems to assume this absolves him of hermeneutical consistency. He also seems to be confused by these questions, but I believe that this is because his schema is myopic and has not really deeply considered these challenges, although he claims they have been answered. (It is difficult to know how you can have answered things that you do not understand).

Let me unpack this question (which goes again to what did 70AD change)? If Christ is already present in the midst of the Churches (at the opening of the Revelation), then what changes when the not yet is realized? What changed? How does it get better? Now Michael writes “God’s presence and tabernacling among His people was demonstrated” in 70AD.Which is odd because the Apostle John wrote “and the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.”[3] Then Paul writes “What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.’”[4] So here again, we have Michael applying something to 70AD that was already a reality before then.

I also want to point out what I call the bait-n-switch of FPism. Notice that my question was about the presence of Christ in the Church and how that was improved by 70AD. Michael then changes this about the prophetic significance of 70AD. We both agree that 70AD is important. We both agree that the fall of that Old Covenant house demonstrated that the “glory of the Lord had departed.” But his does not answer the question of how Christ became more present in the Church by this event? In fact, Christ would have to be glorified on His throne for this event to even take place or have any prophetic significance. If Michael wants to assert that the destruction of the Temple was a specific fulfillment of the prophetic word of Christ and witness to His Kingly authority (as prophesied in Ps 110) then I am all for it. But he still needs to tell us why this adds anything to the Church and Christ. Now this is important, because the FP schema has replaced a real and tangible transfiguration of the Cosmos, with an actual return of Christ to earth, with a spiritual and invisible event in heaven. (Which makes it more convenient to assert that it happened in 70AD). But if everything they point to as mystical, spiritual and invisible (by faith and not by sight) in the NT is a reality before 70AD, then what does their schema offer in 70AD?

7.) In other words, if every single aspect that FPs allow about the return of Christ and resurrection was a reality BEFORE 70AD, then how did 70AD add anything to that and why were the Apostles yet preaching that Christ would return from heaven at the restitution of all things?

Mr. Vincent’s use of “In other words” demonstrates that all of his other questions, which I believe I have sufficiently and Scripturally responded to, led up to the point of what does AD 70 add. As I explained through the various responses I gave that Mr. Vincent fails to grasp the progressive nature of fulfillment being demonstrated through the “already but not yet”. Author and Bible teacher Tony Denton mentions the concept of “prolepsis” as necessary to understand the fulfillment of Bible prophecy and the things of salvation, the Kingdom, and God’s presence. The book of Proverbs mentions the blessing of “a hope fulfilled”, which is what the Preterist asserts happened in AD 70 at the coming of the Lord Jesus, it says it is a “tree of life” (cf. Proverbs 13:12). It offers eternal life. That is demonstrated through a life that has moved from “hoping to having” as author Glenn Hill has mentioned. Point being? This question has been responded to again and again in the Full Preterist community.

Here Michael is astute in his understanding of my question, but deficient in the answering of it. He writes “Mr. Vincent fails to grasp the progressive nature of fulfillment being demonstrated through the ‘already but not yet’”. In reality I have shown that Michael himself either does not understand it, or knowingly applies it inconsistently. Further, this did not answer any of my questions, rather it only pointed to more problems with FPism. Now here Michael admits that he understands the question, but it is obvious that he did not answer the question.  Not even here.

So the question remains, and I will use Michael’s own words, “what does 70AD add”? I encourage the reader to review this exchange and look for any sort of actual answer to this question. Glory to Jesus Christ+

William L. Vincent, OblSB


[1] Thank to Sam Frost who elaborated on this in response to Michael Miano (personal communication).

[2] George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (1993) ISBN 0-8028-0680-5, page 70

[3] John 1:14 YLT

[4] 2 Cor 6:16

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