Robert Turkel, who hops, skips, and jumps over rebuttals that he can't answer in a debate, has complained that I didn't reply to 90% of the material in his article "Come Again?" which put his spin on the so-called "Olivet Discourse" in Matthew 24. I have explained that my first reply to him, which was published in the September/October 2002 issue of The Skeptical Review, had to skip several of his points and touch others just briefly because his rehashing of Gary DeMar's article on the Olivet discourse took up 10 pages and left me only five pages to reply to a hodgepodge of unsupported assertions that he had pieced together from the works of Gary DeMar and other preterists. I have just completed a 9-part, 120,000-word reply to Turkel's so-call answer to my five-page reply. In this series, I answered him point by point in detail. I skipped nothing, and now I intend to go through his original article in the same format so that he cannot say that I have evaded anything.
He will not be able to say the same, because he is not about to take my replies and answer them point by point. For one thing, he doesn't have the patience. It takes patience to go through a debating opponent's articles as I have done to his, and he isn't going to do that. He wants to keep the crank turning so that he can produce quantity with no concern for quality. The fact is that I have seen indications that he is looking for a way to get out of the debates with me. I will have more to say about this later in an article entitled "Where Are the Links?", but here I will say only that this is no surprise to me. I predicted early in the land-promise debate that he would drop out.
I will now go through his "Olivet Discourse" article and reply to any sections in it that I didn't specifically address in any of the rebuttal articles I have written so far. Any sections that were previously answered will be deleted to avoid unnecessary repetition, but it may be that I will go over some points again if I should think of anything that should have been said about them in the other articles.
Turkel [in his original
A skeptic with an inflated view of his own knowledge recently commented concerning my plan to write this article, "It's not clear how an article of any size can equate the destruction of Jerusalem with seeing the Son of Man in clouds coming in his kingdom." So it might not be clear, as we have been taught time and time again by popular works, ranging from The Late Great Planet Earth to the Left Behind series, and now also in books like John MacArthur's The Second Coming, that the quotes from Matthew and parallels concern a Temple yet built, a coming yet made, and a tribulation yet suffered. Repetition tends to become fixed in such a way that any alternative is automatically viewed with suspicion or dismissed as an "excuse" (as one person wrote me) to try and preserve the inerrancy of Scripture.
I think I know who the skeptic was that Turkel referred to, and those who have read my other articles undoubtedly know that I agree with the skeptic. The preterist attempt to make all of the astronomical signs of the "coming" and the fiery destruction of the earth just figurative language is without merit, or at least neither Turkel nor any other preterist I have read has ever shown any sound literary reasons why the language should be so interpreted. On the other hand, I have presented very detailed reasons why the language should be interpreted literally. As for the views of MacArthur and the other authors mentioned, I have made it clear in my other articles that I am not a dispensationalist, so I don't really care what they may have said in their books. I will say the same thing about them as I have said about preterists. Until they can produce sound literary support for their views on biblical passages related to the second coming, I will consider them just another group of biblicists frantically looking for some way to explain the obvious failure of New Testament prophecies that the return of Jesus was imminent.
But is it? The charge implies that the interpretation is somehow "new," a construction invented by modern believers who are resisting the past. Actually, dispensationalism and it's [sic] own idea of a Rapture are the new kids on the block; preterism, and the idea that the Olivet Discourse and other passages refer to 70 AD events, has a much longer pedigree.
I have already commented on this line of reasoning in Turkel's articles, but I will go over it again to show how Turkel debates out of both sides of his mouth. In our debate on the Jehu/Hosea issue, he based his position on the meaning of Hosea 1:4 on "new research" on the Hebrew word paqad that had just been done within the last decade or so, and in his inimitable way made sarcastic comments about my not being up to date on the issue. The new research, of course, had been done by conservative commentators like McComiskey, Stuart, Coogan, Provan, and such like, and, needless to say, the new research had uncovered information on the meaning of paqad that removed a biblical discrepancy. At that time, Turkel's theme song was new is better, but now in this debate, we see him doing an about face and arguing that preterism is an "old position," which somehow makes it the right position. I dare say that he will not be able to present any evidence that preterism is as old as the writings of the earliest church fathers. My explication of 2 Peter 3:1ff quoted early sources written after AD 70 that showed no awareness that the "coming of the Lord" had already happened, so if there were any early church writings that took the preterist position on Matthew 24 and its parallels, he should quote them for us.
Commentators such as Lightfoot (1859), Newton (1754), and Gill (1809) predated dispensationlism [sic] and agreed that 70 AD was in view in these passages [Dem.LDM, 59]. To be sure, some in the early church held a view that what was recounted in places like the Olivet Discourse was a reference to a far-flung future event (though their views didn't match exactly with dispensationlism [sic]); but others held views akin to preterism as well, so the preterist view is not a new view, but an old one revived.
Notice that Turkel presented no real evidence here. Putting [Dem.LDM, 59] after an assertion that "others held views akin to preterism" does not constitute any real proof that some in the early church held views "akin to preterism." In the first place, we have to wonder what these views "akin to preterism" were. If preterism is the true position on the meaning of the things that Jesus allegedly said in Matthew 24, then why wouldn't "early church leaders," who had been so close to the apostles who had heard this discourse, have taught preterism period. What is this "akin to preterism" stuff? Why didn't they teach exactly what Turkel is telling us if what he is telling us is the truth? Furthermore, why didn't Turkel quote to use what these "early church fathers" had said on this subject? The bracketed reference above is Gary DeMar's book Last Days Madness. Did DeMar present any kind of quotations from these "early church fathers" that would show that they understood Jesus's Olivet discourse to mean that the astronomical signs he referred to were just figurative expressions that meant no more than that the "age of the law" would end with the destruction of Jerusalem? If so, let Turkel present them. Otherwise, we can assume that this is just another Turkelism, which consists of making an assertion and then trying to give credibility to it by putting a reference to DeMar or Caird or Wright or some such in brackets.
Like most, I was taught the dispensational view, but never paid much heed to it and never had much invested in it. As a very young believer and a teenager, my sole concession to Edgar Whisenant's 88 Reasons the Rapture will be in 1988 (does anyone still have a copy?), while others were selling houses and quitting jobs, was to turn off my VCR. (To this day, the episode of the program I did not record, I jokingly refer to as the "Rapture episode.") Thus I had no great intellectual investment, and can hardly be said to have been looking for an "excuse" to disprove the dispensational view (though I expect skeptics to claim I did anyway, since they don't have answers to the arguments below).
All I need to say here is what I said several times in my nine-part series. I am not a dispensationalist. I consider dispensationalism to be just another attempt to explain away the obvious failure of the New Testament prophecies of an imminent return of Jesus. I consider the correct position toward these prophecies to be that those who made them sincerely believed that the end of the world was near, and so they predicted an early return of Jesus, who would usher in the destruction of the world and the final judgment to follow. It didn't happen, so the failure of the prophecy gave rise to movements like preterism and dispensationalism, which look for ways to make the prophecies not mean what they were clearly saying.
That Turkel was taught the dispensationalist view is irrelevant to this debate, because that would mean that he is just one of millions who were taught an incorrect position. If he was trying to imply that his change from a dispensationalist to a preterist constitutes some kind of evidence that preterism is true, then he needs to think about the logical axiom that says what proves too much proves nothing at all. There are dispensationalists who were once preterists, so does that prove that dispensationalism is true and preterism wrong? I, for example, was once a fundamentalist biblical inerrantist, but I am now an atheist. Would my change in positions constitute any proof that inerrancy is wrong and atheism is truth?
Further research has confirmed to me that the preterist standpoint of eschatology--the idea that much of the prophecy of the Bible was fulfilled in 70 AD--is the correct one, although I am still looking into finer details.
If Turkel is indeed still looking into the "finer details," then he should seriously reexamine his preterist position. My nine-part rebuttal buried his preterist position so deep that not even a backhoe could dig it up. Whether he was sincere in saying that he is still looking into the "finer details" on this subject should soon become evident, because if he does not reply to my rebuttals point by point, we will have sufficient reason to conclude that he can't reply to them and is just engaging in more evasive tactics.
(I am distinguishing this view from a view Seraiah calls pantelism the idea that all Bible prophecy is now fulfilled, including prophecies of the resurrection; this in particular I do not agree with, for example.)
If Turkel believes that the promise of Jesus's return was fulfilled in AD 70, then he should believe that the prophecies concerning the resurrection were also fulfilled at that time, because there were scriptures that clearly taught that the resurrection would accompany the return of Jesus. I have quoted several of them, so I will confine myself to just one this time around.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18Therefore comfort one another with these words.
That's clear enough that anyone who can see through cellophane should be able to see it. Paul said that those of his readers who were still alive at the "coming of the Lord" would not precede or go before those who had fallen asleep (died), because when the Lord descended, the dead in Christ would be resurrected and then those who were still living would be caught up in the air to meet the Lord. The New Testament clearly taught that the general resurrection would accompany the return of Jesus, so if Turkel believes that the Lord came in AD 70, why doesn't he believe that the resurrection happened then? I'm sure he will tell us that we would understand this if we just knew biblical idioms and the culture of the times as well as he does. No doubt, he will claim that being "caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" was just "apocalyptic" language that wasn't intended to be taken literally.
So to our self-important skeptic's question: How can these prophecies equate with the destruction of Jerusalem? It is very simple--and all it takes is the sort of social and background knowledge that I have admonished skeptics and encouraged believers to acquire for years.
What did I tell you? If those of us who aren't preterists were just as smart as Turkel is, everything would be crystal clear to us.
We'll use Matthew 24 as our basis, providing parallels in Mark and Luke where they differ significantly; if the differences are minimal, we will simply note them after the cite [sic].
Matthew 24:1-2 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Our first verses of Matthew 24 set the stage and establish context. There is no controversy of interpretation here; most agree, regardless of stance, that Jesus predicts here a destruction of the Jerusalem temple standing in his own time, and will agree that this was literally fulfilled, to the point that critics use this as evidence that the Gospels were written after 70 AD. This merely sets the stage for the question of the disciples:
Yes, the fact that Matthew 24 and its parallel texts clearly made references to the destruction of the temple should be sufficient evidence to any reasonable person that these texts were written after the time the temple was destroyed. To argue otherwise is to assume that the destruction of the temple was known prophetically before it actually happened. In a letter to The Skeptical Review in reply to Everette Hatcher's claim that Daniel, a 6th-century BC character, knew prophetically about second-century BC events, Bruce Wildish showed how unlikely this explanation is for the apparent uncanniness of some of Daniel's prophecies. I am going to quote this letter because I thought it was a particularly good rebuttal of prophetic claims, but in doing so, I am not claiming that it is definitive proof that prophecy is impossible.
I think you [the person Wildish was replying to] misunderstand what is meant by the term "simplest" in contexts such as Occam's Razor. What Occam's Razor actually says is one should not needlessly multiply assumptions or engage in special pleading in order to resolve a question or explain a phenomenon. Put more simply, the best and "simplest" solution to a problem or explanation of a phenomenon is the one that does not require the investigator to assume the truth of certain hypotheses or conditions in order to make the explanation work. If some working assumptions are unavoidable, then the best and simplest explanation becomes the one that minimizes this to the greatest extent possible. In other words, the goal here should be to assume as little as possible and to explain as much as possible according to what we know from experience or can demonstrate through purely empirical means. An explanation that does not require the respondent to assume anything special in advance in order for the explanation to be effective is much better than one that does. The reason is obvious: every assumption introduces the possibility of error, i. e., mistaken assumptions, and each assumption just multiplies the possibility and degree of error. If you assume nothing but what you know to be true and reasonable from experience and observation, then you are far less likely to go wrong. Hence the simplest explanation in this sense is usually the right one.
How does this apply to Daniel and prophecy? We have here a text that shows very clear knowledge, at least in part of it, of events from the second century BCE. (We are speaking here mainly of chapters 7-12.) Right away then the simplest explanation for this is that the text postdates the events that it knows. It requires no special pleading or assumptions to argue that knowledge of events comes after the occurrence of the events. This is consistent with the daily experience of us all. None of us knows about events that have not yet happened. (We can exclude from consideration the claims of self-professed psychics to the contrary, for their claims have never stood up to critical scrutiny and their track record of success is abysmal and never rises above the level expected by chance guessing alone.)
On the other hand, claims of prophetic knowledge, i.e., knowing the future before it happens, are, by any reasonable definition, remarkable and immediately provoke one to skepticism. Why? Because such claims challenge our common sense experiences of the way in which the world works. This is why prophecy is considered miraculous. It challenges and even seems to openly violate our understanding of the way the world normally works. (I have no patience with people who insist that prophecy and other miraculous phenomenon are consistent with "their" perception of everyday reality.)
To accept, then, that the information about the second century BCE in Daniel is the result of prophecy, one has to buy into the assumption that prophecy as a phenomenon is real. The prophecy argument cannot work unless one accepts in advance the reality of prophecy as a phenomenon, but this is precisely the problem because this constitutes a dramatic example of special pleading and assumption-begging, the very thing that good arguments, according to Occam's Razor, must not do. By making this demand of us, this argument requires that we accept as a condition the reality of prophecy solely because the prophetic explanation of the content of Daniel just won't work unless we do! The circular nature of this kind of reasoning should be obvious.
Now some will argue that the assumption of the skeptic and rationalist that the world operates according to natural law is itself a presupposition that automatically excludes from consideration the miraculous. True. But--and this is huge--the assumptions of the skeptic and naturalist are empirically derived and common to the normal everyday experience of the vast majority of people. As I said above, it requires no special pleading or appeals to expect others to accept that the world behaves according to natural law in a logical, rational manner. We see and experience this fact every day of our lives. No one has to prove that the world is rational, follows laws, and behaves according to scientifically demonstrated principles. Only someone out of touch with reality would demand that one prove that the world behaves according to naturalistic principles. So the empirical basis of naturalistic assumptions needs no special defense. They are the obvious starting point of any rational inquiry.
Not so the presuppositions of the person of faith, who is assuming things that are not consistent with our empirically derived picture of the world and who appeal to that which is not seen or provable in order to make his case. The difference between the two sides here, and the reason why naturalistic assumptions are defensible while ones based on faith are not, should be readily obvious ("From the Mailbag, The Skeptical Review, July/August 2001, p. 12, emphasis added).
Wildish stated a critical principle that I'm sure Turkel would apply to any other book except the Bible. In the Book of Mormon, for example, reference is made in 1 Nephi 13:19ff to a "book" containing prophecies. To Mormons, this book was the Book of Mormon, and in 2 Nephi 27 is a lengthy prophecy about the "discovery" of this book through "a man" whose description obviously identified him with Joseph Smith.
And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book, and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered. And behold the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof. Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore the book shall be kept from them. But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another; but the words which are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof.
And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth. Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein. And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.
Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and wo[e] be unto him that rejecteth the word of God! But behold, it shall come to pass the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say Bring hither the book, and I will read them.
And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God. And the man shall say I cannot bring the book for it is sealed. Then shall the learned say I cannot read it. Wherefore it shall come to pass that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words therefore to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say I am not learned. Then shall the Lord God say unto him The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee. Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work.
Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou has not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men (vs6-22, emphasis added).
I doubt that Turkel's mouth gaped in awe when he read this, despite the striking allusions to events that allegedly accompanied the "discovery" of the Book of Mormon, because he has no emotional attachment to Mormonism. In fact, he has written and published a short book in opposition to Mormonism, so he will have no difficulty applying Wildish's critical principle to this prophecy and recognizing that it is far, far more likely that this is an after-the-fact prophecy than that someone thousands of years ago had divine prophetic insights into the future and wrote this "prophecy" in "ancient Egyptian" script. However, his emotional attachment to the Bible will not permit him to apply the same common-sense principle to "prophecies" like the obvious references to the destruction of Jerusalem in Matthew 24 and its parallel texts. These references make it far more likely that these texts were written after AD 70 than that they were written prior to that date by prophetic insight. Therefore, the principle of Occam's razor makes it unlikely that the prophetic references to the destruction of the temple were written before AD 70.
Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Mark 13:4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
Luke 21:7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?
All of what is recorded here is inarguably related to the statement of Jesus in the previous verse concerning the Temple's destruction--with the exception of one argument. Mark and Luke provide no distraction, but Matthew, so it seems from the KJV, records Jesus as referring to the "thy coming" and to the "end of the world." Isn't this clear evidence of the dispensational view? No, it isn't. These considerations, first, about "the end of the world":
My nine-part series of replies to Turkel show that "the end of the world" could well have meant the end of the physical world, even though the text used the word aion, whose primary meaning was "age." I showed at the end of Part Eight that aion was sometimes used to convey the sense of the world and cited Arndt and Gingrich in support of that view. Then in Part Nine, I explicated 2 Peter 3:1ff to show that this text was clearly presenting a current belief of that time that the world would be destroyed in a conflagration that would melt the elements and cause the heavens to collapse with a great noise. Hence, Turkel must do more than just assert that the disciples of Jesus were not asking him about the end of the world. He must present textual evidence that aion in this passage meant only "age," because--as I have said umpteen times now--the meanings of words must be determined from the contexts in which they are used. Turkel, however, has made no effort to present contextual evidence that tes sunteleias tou aionos in Matthew 24:3 meant only the end of an age and not the end of the world. He has merely asserted it.
The coming and the close of the age are grammatically linked [Keener, commentary on Matthew 563n].
Here is an example of why, after having nailed Turkel's "shimmying hiney" in my nine-part series, I am taking the time to go through his first article point by point. I want to remind readers that Turkel's apologetic methods consist primarily of making an unsupported assertion and then putting a bracketed reference after it, as if the name, in this case, of Keener is supposed to settle the matter. Did he give us any of Keener's reasons for saying that "(t)he coming and the close of the age are grammatically linked"? No, he didn't; he just presented it as an unsupported assertion.
I won't say anything else about this, because I agree that the two were linked, but I don't agree that they were linked in the way that Turkel claims. As I showed in my nine-part series, especially Parts (8) and (9), the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world were integrally linked in the minds of his disciples, who before they became followers of Jesus were part of a generation that had grown up believing that the end of the world was near. Hence, they believed that the two events, i. e., the second coming and the end of the world, would happen simultaneously. (That is how the two were linked.) When the disciples heard Jesus saying that the temple would be destroyed, they quite naturally assumed that he was talking about his coming and the end of the world. Hence, they asked, "What will be the signs of your coming and the end of the world?"
These are meant to be taken as simultaneous events.
Right. Turkel and I agree on this point, except that I do not believe that "the end of the age" [tes sunteleias tou aionos] meant just the end of the Jewish age. In Part Eight, I discussed this Greek expression and showed that it was identical to the one used in Matthew's version of the "Great Commission," when he told his disciples that he would be with them till "the end of the world" [tes sunteleias tou aionos]. If it meant just the end of an age in the "Olivet discourse," then why did it mean till the end of time or the end of the world in the Great Commission? The more likely meaning of the disciples' question was that they were asking Jesus what would be the signs of his coming, which would occur at the end of the world.
The word for "world" is not a reference to the physical world, but is the Greek aion, or "age." The question is about the end of the age a time period, not the end of the world. Had that been the intent, the Greek word kosmos would have been used.
I discussed this quibble all through my nine-part series, so I won't take the time to rehash my rebuttals here.
That leads to point 2: What "age" is referred to here? The answer is found in knowing that the Jews divided time into two great ages: the age of law, and the age of the Messiah. This belief is commonly reflected in the Jewish apocalyptic era [Harrington, Matthew commentary, 352].
Here is another example of apologetics à la Turkel. Notice that he made an assertion and supported it with only a bracketed reference to Harrington's commentary on Matthew. He gave no examples of literature from "the Jewish apocalyptic era" that would illustrate this division of time that he alleged. He didn't even quote what Harrington said. I don't disagree with the division of time, but if he is going to base an argument on it, he should realize the need to support the assertion with examples.
As Wright puts it [New Testament and the People of God, 299-300]:
The present age was a time when the creator god seemed to be hiding his face; the age to come would see the renewal of the created world. The present age was the time of Israel's misery; in the age to come she would be restored. In the present age wicked men seemed to be flourishing; in the age to come they would receive their just reward. In the present age even Israel was not really keeping the Torah perfectly, was not really being YHWH's true humanity; in the age to come all Israel would keep Torah from the heart.
I have to wonder about the relevance of this quotation, because this text is merely commenting on Jewish views about the division of time into two ages, but the foundation premise of preterism is that the destruction of Jerusalem ended the age of Jewish law. Do preterist believe that "the age to come," presumably the one that followed the end of the Jewish age in AD 70, brought a "renewal of the created world." If so, in what way? If the creator was "hiding his face" in the Jewish age, when he was routinely chatting with Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, and various prophets, then it is hard to imagine how the "age to come" would have been any great improvement. Furthermore, if the Jews rejected the Messiah during the age of the law, how likely is it that Yahweh would have rewarded them with a "renewal of the created world"? At any rate, Turkel et al believe that the "age to come" was the end of the Jewish age, so why is he quoting a passage like this that claims Jewish beliefs that were contrary to reality as perceived by preterists? If the Jews were so right about "ages," why did they fail to understand that the new age had come with the advent of Jesus? In a word, what does the quotation from Wright do to show that when the disciples asked Jesus what would be the signs of his coming and the end of the "world," they were asking what would be the signs of the end of the "age of law"? It does exactly nothing to prove the preterist position on the point, but, of course, it looks good to the gullible ones who read Turkel's article, doesn't it? "My God," they no doubt exclaimed, "just look at the number of commentaries Turkel is quoting." It never occurs to them to look to see if the quotations from the commentaries do anything to prove Turkel's position.
There were various views about what this age would constitute; not all views involved a Messianic figure, and the disciples themselves show some confusion when they ask if the kingdom will be restored to Israel (Acts 1:6).
This amounts to an admission that what I said above is correct. What Jews of that time may have thought about "the age to come" can have no relevance to this debate, because the preterists obviously think that the Jews were mistaken all the way around. They didn't recognize that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, and they didn't recognize that the "age of the law" was coming to an end. No, they knew none of this. It took the preterists centuries to figure out what it all meant, so as I pointed out in Part Nine of my nine-part series, we have to be suspicious of a biblical interpretation that was apparently "hidden" for centuries but then just recently figured out by a select few.
They are in line with certain Messianic expectations when they ask this; they are expcecting [sic] that now that the Age of the Messiah has dawned, Israel will be restored properly again. It boils down to this: the "end of the age" refers back to the destruction of the Temple and the end of the covenant, and the beginning of the new covenant.
In Part One, I analyzed various passages to show that New Testament writers obviously taught that the age of the law of Moses ended with the death of Jesus on the cross. As I said there, it is a silly doctrine, of course, but it is what was clearly taught by the apostles and New Testament writers. I don't know of a single passage that says that the law of Moses ended with the destruction of Jerusalem. Perhaps Turkel can quote for us some that do.
Perhaps pigs will fly someday too.
"The age to come, the end of Israel's exile, [was seen] as thge [sic] inaugration [sic] of a new covenant between Israel and her god" [NTPG, 301].
Statements like this one are the primary reason why I am taking the time to go through Turkel's first article point by point after I have already nailed his "shimmying hiney" to the wall in my nine-part series. Notice that he just quoted someone and then put a bracketed reference after it, as if that is supposed to settle everything. The reference is from the book New Testament and the People of God by N. T. Wright, who is another preterist, of course. Those who care to see how far Wright will lean over backwards to give preterist spins to some rather clear references to the second coming of Jesus, the destruction of the world, the final resurrection, and the judgment should check out his section at the Preterist Archives. While reading through Wright's verbal contortions, keep in mind that Turkel said in his article that I replied to in nine parts that my biased views could not be considered evidence. If biased views cannot be considered reliable evidence--and I agree that they can't--then Wright's views should not be considered reliable, since he had an opinion to promote. I'll quote again the standard that Turkel set in this matter when he replied to a statement from Philo Judaeus that I had quoted in an internet debate.
That's nice, but Philo is simply reading into the text what is not there. So if I find a Jewish commentator of equal worth that says the opposite, is it a draw? If I find two, do I win? Remember that Philo is trying to promote Moses and Aaron here and would maximize their feat to the greatest extent possible.
Ever since Turkel set this standard, he has polluted the internet with quotations from authors who both read into the biblical text what was not there and tried to promote doctrinal views that they believe in. By Turkel's own standards, then, they are not reliable.
As for Wright's statement about the "inaugration [sic] of a new covenant" with Israel, I showed in Part One of my nine-part reply to Turkel that the New Testament clearly teaches that the new covenant was inaugurated with the death of Jesus on the cross.
(Cf. Matt. 12:32, "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." "World" in both cases is aion.)
Yes, the word for "world" in this verse was aion, but I have shown in Part Eight that aion was sometimes used to convey the sense of the world. The meaning of the statement was more likely that the one who blasphemed the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven in this world or life or in the one to come.
There are no parallel accounts of this text in the synoptics, but the probable meaning of the expression "the world [aion] to come" can be determine by looking at how it was used elsewhere.
Mark 10:28 Then Peter began to say to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You." 29So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, 30who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age [to aioni] to come, eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
Notice that the passage says that the ones who forsook all to follow Jesus would receive a hundredfold now in this time, i. e., this life, and in the age to come would receive eternal life. This clearly shows that aion was being used in reference to a world to come and not an age to come. Otherwise, Turkel would have to argue that Jesus promised that those who left all to follow him would receive eternal life in the age that followed the end of the law in AD 70, but that obviously was not the intended meaning. Eternal life could not have been given in an "age" that transpired in this world. It would be given in the world to come.
The same Greek expression was used in Luke's parallel account.
Luke 18:28 Then Peter said, "See, we have left all and followed You." 29So He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age [to aioni] to come eternal life."
This statement was made in a broader context where the rich ruler had asked Jesus (v:18), "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Surely, then, Jesus was telling his disciples that those who left all to follow him would be rewarded with what the ruler wanted, i., e., eternal life, and the Bible did not promise eternal life in this world but in the one to come. Here again is clear evidence that aion was often used in the New Testament to convey the sense of world.
Is Turkel still not convinced? Then he should take a look at Luke 20:34, where Jesus answered the Sadducees who had asked him whose wife the woman who had survived seven husbands would be "in the resurrection." Clearly, they were asking Jesus whose wife this woman would be in the next world. Look at Jesus's answer.
Luke 20:34 Jesus answered and said to them, "The sons of this age [tou aionos toutou] marry and are given in marriage. 35But those who are counted worthy to attain that age [tou aionos ekeinou], and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
Unless Turkel wants to argue that Jesus was saying that it was possible to attain a state in an earthly age to come in which one could die no more, here is another clear case of aion having been used to denote world. In this case, it meant the world that will follow this one, when the righteous will be resurrected to eternal life. Turkel is flat out wrong in his assertion that aion meant age, and so Jesus was referring only to the end of the "age of the law" in Matthew 24:3.
As for Turkel's claim above that aion was used in "both cases" for world in Matthew 12:32, he is wrong again. Actually, the world aion was not used twice in Matthew 12:32 but only once, because the verse literally says that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either "in this world [aion] or in the coming [one] (to mellonti)." The word one was implied, but aion was not used a second time as Turkel said. I point this out just to remind readers that they need to be cautious about taking what Turkel says about Greek. He has certainly shown us that he is no expert in Greek.
One counter to this idea has been that in other places Matthew uses the phrase "end of the world/age" to indicate a time of final judgment (Matt. 13:39, 49). The latter example reads:
Before I reply to Turkel's quotation of Matthew 13:39ff, I will remind readers that in Part (8) cited above, I also showed that sunteleias tou aionos, translated "end of the world" in Matthew 24:3, was the identical three-word phrase that Matthew used in 28:20 to record Jesus's promise that he would be with his disciples who preached the gospel until "the end of the world." This was just one of the texts that I analyzed in Part (8) to show that aion was sometimes used in the sense of "the world." The additional texts quoted and discussed immediately above should convince all who aren't married to an emotional belief that "end of the world" was an accurate translation of sunteleias tou aionos.
Now we can look at Turkel's Matthew 13:39 "proof text."
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The verse 39 example has the same theme, only it uses the analogy of a harvest. (One other use, Matt. 28:20, offers no contextual clues.)
Why wouldn't Matthew 28:20 offer any "contextual clues"? This is where Jesus promised that he would be with his disciples until the end of the world in their preaching of the gospel. To show that this text does offer "contextual clues" about the meaning of "the end of the world," I'll quote what I said about this text in Part (8).
If I juxtapose two passages in which "Matthew" used aion, those who don't have a pet doctrine to defend should have no trouble seeing that "Matthew" at times did use aion to mean the world.
Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world [sunteleias tou aionos]?
Matthew 28:16 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world [sunteleias tou aionos].
Even those who have not studied Greek should be able to look at the transliteration of the final three words in each passage to see that they are the same. Now Turkel claims that sunteleias tou aionos in the question the disciples asked Jesus in the first passage above meant not the end of the world but just the end of the "age of law." If that is so, then does Turkel think that the same three words in "Matthew's" version of the so-called "Great Commission" meant that Jesus would be with his disciples, who were to go to all nations to preach the gospel, only until AD 70 when the "age of the law" ended? If so, does that mean that after AD 70, the disciples who went about preaching the gospel to all nations were on their own? If sunteleias tou aionos in Matthew 28:20 meant the end of the world, the end of time, the end of an age in which the gospel would be preached to all nations, then why did it mean just till the end of the "age of the law" in Matthew 24:3? What is there in the context--c-o-n-t-e-x-t--of Matthew 24:3 that enables Turkel to know that it had this meaning that the same expression obviously didn't have four chapters later in a document written by the same person?
We need an explanation, and Turkel should remember that his biases are not justifiable reasons for saying that these three words had a different meaning in 24:3.
Lexicographers say that aion sometimes conveyed the sense of "the world," and translation committees have rendered aion as world in various New Testament texts. I don't know about others reading this, but I would prefer to put my trust in what the translators have said rather than in the opinion of a biblical inerrantist trying frantically to make the Bible not contradict itself. If there is scholarly consensus that aion did at times convey the sense of "the world," Turkel must offer more than his mere biased opinion that the disciples did not mean world when they asked Jesus what would be the signs of his coming and of the end of the world (Matt. 24:3).
These questions were asked in response to Jesus's prediction that not one stone in the temple would be left upon another that would not be thrown down. In the minds of the disciples, such destruction would be associated with the cataclysmic end that was expected at that time.
If "the end of the world" [tes sunteleias tou aionos] meant just the end of the Jewish age in Matthew 24:3, did it mean this too in Matthew 28:20 when Jesus promised that he would be with disciples preaching the gospel until "the end of the world" [tes sunteleias tou aionos]? Turkel needs to explain why there are no "contextual clues" in Matthew 28:20.
This would sensibly fit in with Matt. 24:31, a later part of the discourse ("And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.") How could this refer to the "end of the age" in 70 AD? I think rather easily.
Of course, Turkel would think that it fits in "rather easily" with the "end of the age" in AD 70, because he has a preterist view to promote. Readers should keep this in mind, because his own standard quoted above will make what he thinks about this to be unreliable, because he has a belief to "promote"?
Dispensational commentators see here a reference perhaps to the "Rapture" and/or final judgment.
Dispensationalists also have a belief to promote, so what they think is equally unreliable, since they too lean over backwards to try to make the Bible inerrant. As I will show--and in fact have already shown--the people of that time believed that the "end of all things" was at hand, an "end" that would destroy the world and bring about final judgment, so New Testament writers predicted that this end would come with the imminent return of Jesus. Their prediction didn't come true, so both dispensationalists and preterists twist and distort those predictions to try to make them not mean what they obviously said.
But neither a harvest nor a fishing expedition is such a quick event. Harvests took days to process in the age before tractors.
Well, I have news for Turkel. I grew up on a cotton farm, and I now live in the Illinois corn belt where corn fields are all around me, so I know that harvests still take "days." So what? Is he trying to suggest that because all elements of the parables in Matthew 13:39ff aren't exactly parallel to the end of the world/judgment passages elsewhere in the New Testament, the parables of the tares and the fishing net could therefore not have been referring to the end of the world? His comments immediately below seem to indicate that this is his point, so I will dismantle this quibble when I come to it.
Fishermen stayed out fishing for extended periods (as Peter and co. stayed out all night, until Jesus leant a hand).
Yes, sometimes, but fishing nets have been known to gather fish immediately.
John 21:Simon Peter said to them [the other disciples], "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 4But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No." 6And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
So here is a case where a net was cast into the sea and was immediately filled with fish. That aside, the parable that Turkel quoted did not say that the kingdom is like a ship that went to sea on a fishing expedition and after an extended period returned to shore with a load of fish. It said that the kingdom of heaven is "like a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind" (Matt. 13:47). Hence, the comparison in the parable was not to a fishing expedition but to a single act of casting a net into the sea, which a fishing crew would do several times on a trip. Each casting of the net would gather fish of every kind, which would then be separated, so the point of comparison in the parable was to a single act of casting a net into the sea and not to the time that a ship would spend at sea on a fishing trip.
The context--there is that word again--makes it clear that this parable was speaking about the final judgment, because verses 49-50 said that the casting away of the bad fish would be like the end of the world when the angels--there are those angels again--would separate the wicked from the righteous and "cast them into the furnace of fire," where there would be "weeping and gnashing of teeth." Those two expressions were used elsewhere in the New Testament in obvious reference to the eternal punishment awaiting the wicked.
Matthew 8:10 When Jesus heard it [the centurion's expression of faith], He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
The reference to sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven was surely a reference to a gathering of the righteous in the next world and not to the "end of the age of law" with the destruction of Jerusalem. The outsiders [gentiles] who had been righteous, like the centurion, would be gathered together with the patriarchs, but the "sons of the kingdom" [Jews], who had been unfaithful, would be cast into outer darkness where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. If Turkel doubts that this referred to a final judgment, he should consider the following texts.
Matthew 22:11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14"For many are called, but few are chosen."
Matthew 24:46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' 49and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Luke 13:23 And He said to them, 24"Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,' 26then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.' 27But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.' 28There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. 29They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last."
Verse 29 clearly shows that the intention of this passage was to describe a final judgment, which would include people from all nations [from the east and the west, from the north and the south] who would be taken into the kingdom of God while the "chosen ones" would be thrust out. Immediately below, Turkel makes the claim that "no commentator" would disagree that the wicked meet their final judgment "upon death," but I have already shown that his proof text (Heb. 9:27) does not teach that the wicked encounter final judgment upon death, so I won't have to rehash my rebuttal of that incorrect claim. At this point, I will just say that if Turkel wants to talk about what "commentators" think, I am willing to make a substantial wager with him that most commentators see the passages that I referred to above--and even the parables in Matthew 13 that he is trying to quibble his way around--as references to a final judgment that will come at the end of the world. I'll say more about that when I come to his quibble, but I just want to notice here that if Turkel is going to argue that what "commentators" say should be sufficient to settle disputes over the meanings of biblical texts, he will have to abandon his preterist position, because he will find himself way outnumbered on this issue.
No commentator would disagree that upon death the wicked, and the justfied [sic] in Christ, are encountering their final judgment (Heb. 9:27)--and the "field" here is the "world" (kosmos), the entire world.
Well, Turkel is half right, because most commentators I have read do agree that the "field" in the parable of tares was the whole world, but it isn't true that "no commentator" would disagree that the wicked encounter final judgment upon their death. Readers may refer to Part Eight of my nine-part series to read my rebuttal of this claim, so I won't quote it here. Instead, I will show that there are commentators who disagree with his spin on Hebrews 9:27. If "no commentators" disagree that the wicked encounter final judgment upon their death, how does Turkel explain the following comments on this text?
These vss. offer another analogy. Men die once and then come before God's judgment. Christ also has been offered once--note the stress on his death as the act of God--and also appears a second time, not, however, to be judged but to be savior of his people. It is often noted that this is the only explicit reference in the NT to a 2nd coming of Christ. Elsewhere the writers speak of his parousia--his "coming" or "presence, i. e., manifestation. But it would be a misplaced emphasis to stress a second time in this text. The words appear in the completion of the analogy and the accent falls, not on the word "second," but on the fact that both the death and the reappearance of Christ are distinctively different from those of others. Christ died, but not as a hapless victim. He offered up his life in freedom, and his death has a sacrificial and redemptive character. When he appears at the judgment he does not join the long line awaiting assessment but is Lord of the judgment and savior and deliverer of those who are waiting for him (Warren A. Quanbeck, "The Letter to the Hebrews," The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible, pp. 910-911, italicized emphasis added).
So here is a commentator who apparently believes, as I showed in Part (8) referenced above that the New Testament teaches that judgment of the righteous and the "wicked" will begin when Jesus returns. Until then, like the angels "Peter" referred to in 2 Peter 2:4, the unrighteous are "reserved for judgment," which will occur on a "day of judgment" that accompanies the destruction of the earth (3:7ff).
Here is John Wesley's comments on Hebrews 9:27-28, with emphasis added.
9:27 After this, the judgment--Of the great day. At the moment of death every man's final state is determined. But there is not a word in scripture of a particular judgment immediately after death.
9:28 Christ having once died to bear the sins--The punishment due to them. Of many-- Even as many as are born into the world. Will appear the second time--When he comes to judgment. Without sin--Not as he did before, bearing on himself the sins of many, but to bestow everlasting salvation.
Here is the explication of this verse in Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament with emphasis added.
It is appointed (apokeitai). Present middle (or passive) of apokeimai, "is laid away" for men. Cf. same verb in Luke 19:20; Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 4:8 (Paul's crown). Once to die (apax apoqanein). Once for all to die, as once for all to live here. No reincarnation here. After this cometh judgement (meta touto krisiß). Death is not all. Man has to meet Christ as Judge as Jesus himself graphically pictures (Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:25-29).
Here is the interpretation of Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown in Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible with emphasis added.
27. as--inasmuch as. it is appointed--Greek, "it is laid up (as our appointed lot)," Colossians 1:5. The word "appointed" (so Hebrew "seth" means) in the case of man, answers to "anointed" in the case of Jesus; therefore "the Christ," that is, the anointed, is the title here given designedly. He is the representative man; and there is a strict correspondence between the history of man and that of the Son of man. The two most solemn facts of our being are here connected with the two most gracious truths of our dispensation, our death and judgment answering in parallelism to Christ's first coming to die for us, and His second coming to consummate our salvation. once--and no more. after this the judgment--namely, at Christ's appearing, to which, in Hebrews 9:28, "judgment" in this verse is parallel. Not, "after this comes the heavenly glory." The intermediate state is a state of joyous, or else agonizing and fearful, expectation of "judgment"; after the judgment comes the full and final state of joy, or else woe.
The following interpretation is from John Gill's Exposition of the Bible with emphasis added.
but after this the judgment;
the last and general judgment, which will reach to all men, quick and dead, righteous and wicked, and in which Christ will be Judge. There is a particular judgment which is immediately after death; by virtue of which, the souls of men are condemned to their proper state of happiness or woe; and there is an [sic] universal judgment, which will be after the resurrection of the dead, and is called eternal judgment, and to come; this is appointed by God, though the time when is unknown to men; yet nothing is more certain, and it will be a righteous one.
I have not quoted these sources with any intention of even suggesting that they prove that Turkel's position on Hebrews 9:27 is wrong but to show that he is wrong in saying that "no commentator" would disagree with his position. He has a habit of quoting or citing a source and then hastening on to something else as if the opinion of a Bible commentary is sufficient to settle the issue, but as I have said before, just about any religious belief can be supported by quoting books, because it isn't at all difficult to find books and commentaries that agree with one's religious position. My primary purpose in taking the time to go through Turkel's article paragraph by paragraph is to show that he suffers from commentatoritis. He thinks that if he cites a commentary that agrees with his belief, then he has proven his position. By the time I have finished replying to this article, everyone is going to see that Turkel almost always just cites commentaries, but he makes little or no effort to show that the opinions of his commentators are sound. Thus, he repeatedly argues by assertion and question begging.
The seed sown by Jesus is sown over the entire kosmos.
Correction! It wasn't Jesus who sowed the seed.
Matthew 13:24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.
In this parable, a man sowed good seed in his field. The sower was not identified, so the obvious intention of the parable was to teach a lesson based on what happened when a sower--just any sower--went out to sow good seed in his field.
We'll note the significance of this when we get to verse 12. What it comes down to is this: With the "end of the age" in 70, the "angels"--there is a special issue with this word as well--were sent out to harvest, based on reaction to the Gospel.
Notice how Turkel begs the question he is obligated to prove. Instead of presenting evidence that "the end of the age" in this parable had reference to AD 70, he simply asserted that it did. I can hardly blame him for that, because he has no evidence to offer in support of this position, so he has no other alternative except to assert that this is what it meant.
The harvest (and the fishing expedition) is still going, and people are still being separated based on their reaction to the good news. We'll discuss this more when we get to a later part of the discourse.
No, that isn't at all what the parable meant. The "separation" did not take place until the "end of the age [world]," but Turkel's spin on the passage would have the separation taking place all through the "age." The way the parable was told, however, the tares and the wheat were to grow together until the reapers went out at harvest time to pull up the tares, bundle them, and burn them. Contrary to Turkel's quibble that the harvest is an ongoing affair, the harvest was actually a one-time event that came at the end of the growing season. As I will show later, there is no reason to think that the New Testament's view of final judgment is that it will be an instantaneous matter that will begin and end quickly. There are reasons to think that it would necessarily have to happen over an extended period that would take even longer than the harvesting of a field of wheat. Turkel's spin on this parable is that the harvesting is a day-by-day separation that has been going on now for over 1900 years, but that isn't what the parable was saying. It was actually depicting a growing period that ended with a harvest. The growing period, as any person with farming experience could tell Turkel, is much longer than harvest time. Hence, the man who owned the field told his servants to let the tares grow with the wheat--with no separation taking place--until harvest time. Then, at that time, the reapers would go out, pull up the tares, bundle them, and burn them. In the parable, there was a sowing time, a growing time, and a harvest time, which coincides with New Testament passages that teach a period of "longsuffering" [growing time] on God's part, after which there will be a harvest [final judgment and punishment] at the end of the world. Turkel's spin on the parable makes the growing time and the judgment [separation] time the same. That obviously is not what the parable was intended to teach.
Turkel is trying to quibble on the grounds that a harvest period and the casting of a fishing net aren't exact parallels to his perception of final judgment as an event that happens expeditiously, but there are two things wrong with his quibble. First, there is no reason to think that the final judgment as presented in the New Testament will happen in the twinkling of an eye. The New Testament teaches that in the judgment every person will have to give a personal account of himself before God.
Romans 14:12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
Romans 2:5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6who "will render to each one according to his deeds..."
1 Peter 4:4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
Such an individualized judgment would not be something that could be done instantaneously, so there is no reason for Turkel to try to make the "harvest" in the parable of the tares an ongoing "separation" on the grounds that harvest time for a farmer takes place over an extended period. As for the casting of the net into the sea, I discussed that above and showed that the parable did not say that the kingdom of God was like a fishing trip. It said that the kingdom was like a net that was cast into the sea and gathered every kind. The comparison was to a single casting of a net.
Second, Turkel's quibble fails to consider that there is no such thing as an analogy or comparison that is alike in all details. No metaphor or simile can be perfect; some points of difference will always be present. Let's take the parable of the mustard seed as an example.
Matthew 13:31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
The obvious intention of this parable was to teach that the kingdom of heaven would have a small beginning but would grow to cover the whole world, but a mustard plant--or any plant for that matter--is always in a fixed location. It cannot move about, so if we applied Turkel's quibble to this parable, it would have to mean that the kingdom of heaven would begin at one particular place on earth, grow to enormous size in that place, but would never spread beyond the specific location where the seed or gospel was planted.
In the parable after this one, the kingdom of heaven was compared to leaven, which a woman took and hid in "three measures of meal." The leaven spread and "leavened" all the meal. According to the New Testament, however, the kingdom of heaven began with the preaching of the gospel in one location. It did not simultaneously begin in three separate locations, say, Rome, Egypt, and India and then spread until the whole world was "leavened." To try to find support for some controversial doctrine in points of differences in the parables of Jesus is a resort to a "hyperliteralism" that Turkel claims to deplore in me, but when it suits his purpose he is not above resorting to extreme "hyperliteralist" interpretations.
continue my point-by-point reply in Part
Two, where Turkel tries to
find proof for his preterist position in the meaning of the Greek