Comments Regarding Charges of Heresy
Warner – Updated
Copyright © The Last Trumpet —
The debate is now concluded. Our goal for engaging in this debate has been reached. However, Sam Frost, in his last submission, leveled several serious charges against me that are utterly false. It is therefore necessary that I post this statement to set the record straight. If I remain silent, it will no doubt be seen by some that I accept his caricature of my theology. I most certainly do not!
Originally, I wrote in this article that Mr. Frost might have misrepresented my theology simply because he was angry with my response to his rebuttal, and consequently did not read my paper carefully. (I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was not intentionally misrepresenting me). Since then he has denied being angry. And, it has become quite apparent, through further exchanges with him and his continuing to grossly misrepresent my position on his website, that his lies are intentional. He is purposely misrepresenting my position, as well as orthodox Christianity, in order to pin the “heretic” label on me. His reason for doing this is simply to deflect the charges I have made against him, that several points of his theology regarding the person of Christ and the Gospel are “heretical” when compared to what has always been considered “orthodox” by the Church since Apostolic times. Rather than explaining how my charges are not true, Frost chose to counter charge by making up false accusations against me and misrepresenting orthodox theology. This paper will explain in detail why his charges are not true, and why his own theology is fundamentally contrary to orthodox Christianity.
I also think it is necessary to offer a summary of the differences between preterism and futurism where crucial fundamentals of the Faith are affected. This was the main reason I entered this debate in the first place. The preterism question does not merely affect eschatology. It goes to the heart of the person of Christ, what it means to be human, the incarnation, resurrection, and the Gospel itself. My goal for the debate was to bring to the fore the implications of preterism on these fundamental issues, and show the reader that preterism is not “Christian” at all in the traditional sense of the term. It has more in common, in its underlying philosophy, with Gnosticism – the early enemy of “the Faith once for all delivered to the saints.”
The Nature of the Incarnation
Frost wrote, “The
first thing I wish to point out is Warner’s explicit heresy. Yes, I use heresy. Warner flatly contradicts the Chalcedonian
Creed of 451 A.D. Since Mr. Warner is so
fond, in an almost Roman Catholic way, of the creeds and fathers, he should
have known better. I wrote, “He was not
a human person.
Frost has grossly misrepresented my position and also orthodox Christian doctrine. I have never stated or implied that Jesus was a dual person. He was and is one person, with one personality. He was a “human” person while at the same time still possessing His divine nature. The Biblical data indicates that the “Word,” a member of the Trinity, who was “in the beginning” with God and who was God (John 1:1), became “man” (1 Tim. ). This is the incarnation, God’s partaking in humanity, “being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7 NKJ). As John stated, “the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us” (John ). The Bible refers to Jesus Christ as a “man” (Gr. – anthropos) several times (eg. 1 Tim. 2:5). When Paul writes, “being found in fashion as a man…,” he did NOT mean Jesus only appeared to be human, or played the part of a human. Rather, Paul meant Jesus was fully human. The Word did not merely take on a “flesh suit,” as Frost apparently thinks, only to discard it later. Nor did He play the role of a man. These would imply God living in a disposable flesh body. Nor did the Word come to indwell a living man. That would imply Jesus Christ was a dual person, a man with God living inside him. Rather, God (the Word) actually became man. The Word set aside His divine glory in order to fully partake of the human experience, to provide salvation through the atonement, and to become, through His resurrection, the prototype for what we will become in the resurrection. “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming,” (1 Cor -23 NKJ).
In his treatise “On the Flesh of Christ,” Tertullian (AD145-220) wrote, “But how will all this be true in Him, if He was not Himself true — if He really had not in Himself that which might be crucified, might die, might be buried, and might rise again? I mean this flesh suffused with blood, built up with bones, interwoven with nerves, entwined with veins, a flesh which knew how to be born, and how to die, human without doubt, as born of a human being. It will therefore be mortal in Christ, because Christ is man and the Son of man.” (Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ, V). Irenaeus (AD120-202) also, referring to the four living creatures in Daniel with four faces, wrote that the face of the “man” symbolized Christ as “an evident description of His advent as a human being,” (Irenaeus, Bk. III, 11).
Leo the Great (AD450), bishop of
This was the universal (catholic) Christian doctrine on Christ’s humanity when Chalcedonian Council was convened (AD451). The orthodox position is more fully articulated by Vincent of Lerins (AD435), as follows. “BUT when we use the word “Person,” and say that God became man by means of a Person, there is reason to fear that our meaning may be taken to be, that God the Word assumed our nature merely in imitation, and performed the actions of man, being man not in reality, but only in semblance, just as in a theater, one man within a brief space represents several persons, not one of whom himself is. For when one undertakes to sustain the part of another, he performs the offices, or does the acts, of the person whose part he sustains, but he is not himself that person. So, to take an illustration from secular life and one in high favor with the Manichees, when a tragedian represents a priest or a king, he is not really a priest or a king. For, as soon as the play is over, the person or character whom he represented ceases to be. God forbid that we should have anything to do with such nefarious and wicked mockery. Be it the infatuation of the Manichees, those preachers of hallucination, who say that the Son of God, God, was not a human person really and truly, but that He counterfeited the person of a man in reigned conversation and manner of life.”
“But the Catholic Faith teaches that the Word of God became man in such wise, that He took upon Him our nature, not feignedly and in semblance, but in reality and truth, and performed human actions, not as though He were imitating the actions of another, but as performing His own, and as being in reality the person whose part He sustained. Just as we ourselves also, when we speak, reason, live, subsist, do not imitate men, but are men. Peter and John, for instance, were men, not by imitation, but by being men in reality. Paul did not counterfeit an apostle, or feign himself to be Paul, but was an apostle, was Paul. So, also, that which God the Word did, in His condescension, in assuming and having flesh, in speaking, acting, and suffering, through the instrumentality Of flesh, yet without any marring of His own divine nature, came in one word to this: — He did not imitate or feign Himself to be perfect man, but He shewed Himself to be very man in reality and truth. Therefore, as the soul united to the flesh, but yet not changed into flesh, does not imitate man, but is man, and man not feignedly but substantially, so also God the Word, without any conversion of Himself, in uniting Himself to man, became man, not by confusion, not by imitation, but by actually being and subsisting. Away then, once and for all, with the notion of His Person as of an assumed fictitious character, where always what is one thing, what is counterfeited another, where the man who acts never is the man whose part he acts. God forbid that we should believe God the Word to have taken upon Himself the person of a man in this illusory way. Rather let us acknowledge that while His own unchangeable substance remained, and while He took upon Himself the nature of perfect man, Himself actually was flesh, Himself actually was man, Himself actually was personally man; not feignedly, but in truth, not in imitation, but in substance; not, finally, so as to cease to be when the performance was over, but so as to be, and continue to be substantially and permanently.” (Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory, XIV-XV).
As you can see, the ancient orthodox Christians believed that Jesus Christ was a “human being” or “human person.” These terms were used to counter the heretical Gnostic claims that the Word did not become fully “human,” but only appeared to be human or played the part of a human temporarily (as Frost also apparently believes). In no sense do these terms imply a “dual person,” as Frost has repeatedly (falsely) charged. Exactly the opposite is the case. They express a single person, who is in every sense “human” and at the same time accepting His full divinity. This is in perfect agreement with the Chalcedonian Creed which states Jesus is “truly man” and “consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us.” Such cannot be the case if the Word did not truly become a human being. Mr. Frost is apparently attempting to divert attention away from his own false notions of Christ’s person (that he only temporarily appeared in human form) by falsely accusing me, and misrepresenting the Chalcedonian Creed.
There are only two phrases in the Chalcedonian Creed with which I would take issue, because they can
be misleading. The phrase, “Mother of
God,” is misleading, because it may imply that Mary had a part in Jesus’
deity. Originally the term was coined to affirm Christ’s deity. We have no problem with its original intent,
Mr. Frost, unfortunately, has misrepresented the universal Christian Faith regarding the humanity of Christ in his attempt to justify his preterism (which requires either a temporary “humanity” for Christ or only an “apparent humanity” instead of an “actual humanity”). Notice the last sentence in the above quote. “Rather let us acknowledge that while His own unchangeable substance remained, and while He took upon Himself the nature of perfect man, Himself actually was flesh, Himself actually was man, Himself actually was personally man; not feignedly, but in truth, not in imitation, but in substance; not, finally, so as to cease to be when the performance was over, but so as to be, and continue to be substantially and permanently.” The permanence of Christ’s humanity (albeit now resurrected and glorified) is an orthodox point of doctrine and has been the universally accepted Christian Faith from Apostolic times. But, Frost flatly denies this and attempts to spin the Chalcedonian Creed in such a way as to support his aberrant views while condemning me as a heretic (after also misrepresenting what I believe), the one who actually agrees with the substance of the creed!
Frost wrote, “Speaking
of Christology, Warner makes another incredible mistake. He wrote, “there was
no Jesus, is no Jesus, and will be no Jesus without his physical flesh.” Maybe Warner might want to explain what CHRISTophanies were in the Old Testament. The Logos is the Divine Person, the Son of
My point by saying, “there was no Jesus, is no Jesus, and will be no Jesus without his physical flesh,” was to show Frost’s misapplication of the name “Jesus” to the Logos prior to the incarnation (the Word becoming flesh). Remember, all this talk of the person of Christ is because of Frost’s attempt to dodge the promise, “this same Jesus” will come again “in like manner.” He is attempting to shift the promise away from the PERSON of the man Jesus (“this same Jesus”). My point was that the name “Jesus” was His post-incarnation human name. It is the name Mary gave to the child she bore. Of course He existed as “The Word” before, and appeared many times in the Old Testament to various people. But, what Frost calls “Christophanies” are not “Jesusophanies.” The appearance of “The Word” to various people in Old Testament times is not the same thing as Jesus Christ, the “incarnate Word.” Those appearances were not “incarnations.” That is, the Word did not actually “become flesh” in those appearances. He merely took on the temporary appearance of a man in order to communicate with men. What Mr. Frost is attempting to do is remove the clear distinction between these Old Testament “appearances” of “The Word” and the “incarnation” of “The Word.” Why? Because the “second coming” in Frost’s theology is not of the “Son of Man,” “Jesus the Christ.” Rather, it is some kind of mystical “coming” of “The “Word” in and through the Roman armies. Frost seems unwilling to admit this distinction between mere apparitions and the incarnation, which John clearly states is the difference between “the spirit of Antichrist” and the “Spirit of Christ” (1 John 4:1-3).
There was a dramatic change in the person “The Word” when He became man. The second person of the Trinity lowered Himself, gave up His glory, in order to become a human being, through the womb and genetics of Mary. This child, the God-man, was named “Jesus” by Mary. All references in Scripture to “Jesus” refer to the person of flesh birthed by Mary – the God-man. Never is the pre-incarnate “Word” called “Jesus.” Therefore, while the “Word” existed prior to the incarnation, He was not “Jesus” before the incarnation because prior to the incarnation the Word was not human. He was wholly divine. He was “Jesus” only after His incarnation. Therefore, the promise in Acts 1, which references “this same Jesus,” cannot refer to “The Word” as wholly divine and not human in any sense prior to His birth through Mary.
Also, please keep in mind that several prophecies of the second coming of Christ specifically state that it is the “Son of Man” who will come in power and great glory. This expression, “Son of Man,” also has specific reference to His human person, born of Mary. “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” … “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:27,30 NKJ). One cannot see the “Son of Man” without seeing a human person!
Frost continued to falsify my position. “The Son was not ‘a whole person’ before the incarnation? This is heresy, too! The Son needs ‘flesh’ in order to be a ‘whole person’? Heresy!”
Again, Frost is putting words in my mouth I did not say or imply in order to call me a heretic. My position is completely orthodox. Of course the Word was a “whole person” before the incarnation since He was fully divine. And to be divine one need not possess a flesh form. The essence of God is not flesh and blood. But, since God became “man,” He had to “become flesh” just as every man is composed of “flesh.” The underlying problem here is apparently that Frost does not think being “flesh” is a necessary part of being human. Therefore, the “incarnation” of Christ apparently does not demand that the Word actually “became” flesh in Frost’s theology, but merely borrowed flesh. I think it is apparent that when Frost says “the Word became flesh” he means something entirely different than what John meant, and the Church has taught its whole history.
Frost continued, “Now, make no mistake, the Logos “became flesh.” No one denies this. The question is, did the DNA of that flesh define Jesus’ personality? He took on flesh so that he might suffer as a man, and that through his blood, might bring healing to man, since he was sinless. Jesus’ ascension brought God and Man together and reconciled them. But, to define “part” of Jesus as “his flesh” is simply ridiculous. He took upon himself a human nature, Tim. It’s that nature that remains with the One Person, the Logos. In order to get human nature, he had to become human.”
Here Frost has flatly contradicted himself, and proven my point in the previous paragraph. He uses the biblical phrase, “the Word became flesh,” but in the next breath changes the meaning to imply “the Word borrowed flesh.”
Frost’s statement here is completely unorthodox. His claim, “Jesus’ ascension brought God and Man together and reconciled them” is utter nonsense and is nowhere taught in Scripture. Paul wrote, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, …” (Rom 5:10 NKJ), and again, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, …” (Col 1:21-22 NKJ). Notice that our reconciliation to God is necessitated by Christ’s flesh. Yet here Frost claims that our reconciliation is accomplished by the ascension. And he denies that the flesh of Christ ascended to heaven!
It seems Frost is arguing for a disposable generic “flesh” of Jesus Christ as opposed to an individual Jesus Christ, of the seed of Abraham, of the seed of David. Frost is essentially denying that “genetics” are important in his theology. He doubts that the “DNA” of His body of flesh defined who He was. He apparently thinks Jesus borrowed some generic “flesh” (any flesh) so that He could make some use of it temporarily, only to dispose of it afterwards. But, the genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke refute this heretical notion! Both of these writers made a big deal about Jesus’ human descent. The New Testament opens with these critical words, “the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” The whole point was to show that Jesus was the specific physical “seed” promised in both the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants. The former promised Abraham that through one of his seed all nations would be blessed (Gal. 3:8,16). The latter promised David that one of his descendents would sit upon the Throne of Israel, and reign forever. Peter even viewed Jesus as being in the loins of David when he prophesied “you will not leave my soul in hell, neither suffer your holy One to see corruption” (Acts -31). The physical offspring of David is the only person who can be the “Christ.” The title “Christ” means “Anointed One,” and refers specifically to the person from the seed of David who will one day sit upon the throne of David. Peter said of David, “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,” (Acts 2:30 NKJ). Unless God lied to David, and Peter was mistaken, the very genetic flesh of Jesus Christ, the genetic offspring of David, must sit upon the Throne of David and rule. Contrary to Frost’s generic, disposable “flesh” of Jesus, the Bible makes Jesus’ genetics a major component of who He is! Paul concurs with these words, “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,” (Rom 1:1-3 NKJ). Paul even viewed Jesus’ genetics as a critical part of the Gospel after His resurrection, writing, “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel,” (2 Tim 2:8 NKJ). Therefore, merely taking on a generic flesh suit is incompatible with the Gospel. In order to fulfill the roll of Savior, He had to be descended from Abraham. In order to be the King of Israel, He had to actually be the seed of David. Frost would have you believe that merely the “Logos” ascended to heaven, and sits upon the “Throne of David,” having no tangible link to either Abraham or David. Yet, the Bible is plain that it was the broken body and blood of the promised son of Abraham that cleanses us from all sin (Heb. -17). And it will be the literal son of David who sits upon the Throne of David and reigns forever (Psalm 132:11, Acts ).
What it Means to be Human
Referring to my claim that man is only “whole” while alive
in the flesh, Frost writes, “But, this
leads to other absurdities. When ‘part’
of Jesus was in the tomb for three days, where was the other ‘part’? Since Warner asserts that ‘flesh’ makes up
‘part’ of being a Man, and his spirit and soul make up the rest, then for man
to be a ‘whole person’ (Warner’s term), all of these ‘parts’ have to be
together to make a ‘whole.’ This is
simply math. Well, let’s run with this
dichotomizing of Jesus. ‘Part’ of Jesus
was in the tomb for three days, whereas the other ‘parts’ were in
The absurdity is on Frost’s part. To be a living “human” necessitates a living body. When God made Adam, he did not create a “man” ghost, and then insert it into a body. Nor did the soul exist before the body. God created the material flesh body first from the dust of the earth. Then breathed into that body the “breath of life,” and “man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). Notice that man was created as a whole person, a body and soul that together became alive by the breath of God. “Life” exists when the soul and body function seamlessly as a unit. Just what is “death” in Frost’s theology? The proper definition is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body (James ). This is why the Bible sometimes refers to death as “giving up the ghost.” That is what happens to all men, and what happened to Jesus on the cross. So long as the soul is separated from the body the person is “dead.” The soul is still conscious without the body in death. But, the person is “dead.” To be “alive” in Scripture necessitates the person being whole, as God created Him. A “living person” consists of both soul and body. Paul aptly describes the human condition of death and resurrection in colorful metaphor. “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Cor 5:2-5 NKJ). Paul used the metaphor of a garment of flesh. In death, we are “naked,” a condition not at all appealing or meant to be permanent. That is why “resurrection” is necessary. Paul’s hope was to be “clothed” again with glorified flesh, not to remain in this “naked” condition. As to the nature of this glorified flesh, Paul indicates in Phil. 3:21 that Jesus will “transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body.” That “body” was shown to the disciples as described in detail in Luke 24. Jesus consisted of flesh and bone, was capable of eating material food, and was capable of being handled and recognized. Yet He still bore the marks of His crucifixion. Jesus’ resurrected body also included other properties beyond what we have now. Mainly, it is an incorruptible body that will never decay or die (1 Cor. , 51-57). The biblical doctrine is that the resurrection of Christ is the prototype for our resurrection.
Preterists interpret the “resurrection” mystically. It does not involve the body, but the soul and spirit. But, the Bible plainly states that the wicked will be resurrected as well as the righteous. “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15). Jesus affirmed that the righteous “shall come forth … unto the resurrection of life” and the wicked shall come forth “unto the resurrection of damnation” (John ). Eternal punishment is of both the soul and body according to Jesus. “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matt. 5:29). And again, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt NKJ).
It is obvious that the death of the body is not the end of the body. Man’s flesh is an essential part of who he is. He will live in the body forever, coming forth either in the “resurrection of life” or the “resurrection of damnation.”
Jesus certainly was conscious after His death, as all men are after death. But, He was still “dead” those three days because His soul was separated from His body. As long as His body lay in the tomb, Jesus was “dead.” To be “alive” again, Jesus had to be resurrected from the dead. As Jesus said, “I am He that lives, and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore” (Rev. 1:18). The reason Frost rejects this concept, is because he rejects the resurrection of the dead. Since Frost thinks the body of man is a disposable accessory, and not essential to who he is, he can simply discard it and go on “living” in Frost’s theology. His concept of what it means to be “human” is in error. So, when he thinks the same of Jesus’ incarnation, he supposes the same temporary usage of flesh. In Frost’s theology, Jesus’ genetic makeup, of the seed of Adam, of the seed of Abraham, and of the seed of David, is unimportant and unnecessary. This is not a critical part of who “Jesus Christ” is. Frost therefore is not bothered in the slightest by his doctrine of the “excarnation” of Jesus Christ at some point between His resurrection and ascension.
This concept is not compatible with the biblical doctrine of the atonement of Christ. Clearly, it was the body of Christ that died on the cross. Yet Jesus said in the above verse, “I … was dead….” Jesus actually referred to His flesh body with the personal pronoun, “I.” How then can Frost claim that the physical flesh is not an essential part of who Christ is? Ditto for mankind in general. Is not Frost’s own DNA a critical part of who he is? If so, and if the Word really became “human,” the same is true of Jesus Christ! To deny this is to deny that the Word really “became flesh.”
The Bible commonly refers to the “death” of individual people or groups. For example, the “death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15). Yet, “death” is strictly of the body, not the soul. The only possible explanation for this use of language is that the body (which is subject to death) is an essential part of who man is! Otherwise, people that the Bible calls “dead” should never be called such. Rather, they have merely “shed their skins.” In fact, the gospel message that Frost seems to be proclaiming is that “Christ shed his skin” so that you can “shed you skin” too. But the Biblical message is that “Christ died for our sins.” And that, as He lives (again), so will we also. The idea that man exists independent of the body of flesh, and merely uses or inhabits a body, comes from the Greek poets, Gnostics, and other pagan mystics, not from the Word of God or Apostolic tradition. This whole concept is pagan to the core!
The Effect on the Gospel
Frost’s preterism absolutely demolishes the Gospel! The Bible teaches plainly that Christ’s physical sufferings and death provide the atonement. Yet, according to Frost, the actual flesh of Christ is not a part of who He is. That leaves us to conclude that Christ Himself did not die for our sins. Rather, the human “flesh suit” Christ borrowed died. The only way to reconcile Frost’s statements, that the flesh of Christ is not an essential part of who He is, and the plain teaching of Scripture that Christ Himself died for our sins, would be to claim that the “death of Christ” is something other than His physical death on the cross. That is, to interpret His death mystically. But, unfortunately, that kind of “death” does not atone for sins! Peter wrote that “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Pet. NKJ). Jesus told His disciples, “this is my body which is broken for you” (1 Cor. NKJ). And again, “the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (John NKJ). As Leo the Great wrote, “What hope then do they, who deny the reality of the human person in our Savior’s body, leave for themselves in the efficacy of this mystery? Let them say by what sacrifice they have been reconciled, by what blood-shedding brought back.” (Leo the Great, Letter CXXIV, iv). To deny that the flesh of Christ was an essential part of His “person” leaves no atonement for the sinner, since the physical “death of Christ” (the sufferings and death of the body) is the only atonement for sins! Those who receive this counterfeit “Christ” and counterfeit “gospel” cannot possibly partake of the atonement! They have been sold a false “Christianity” through a very crafty counterfeit process! This counterfeit Christianity uses the jargon of orthodox Christianity, but changes the meanings of significant words and concepts. Remember, Satan doesn’t care if people use Christian jargon. What he attempts to do is keep them from accepting the TRUTH by offering them a counterfeit that appears to be genuine.
Frost continues, “Therefore, it is shown, by orthodoxy, that Jesus became fully Man, took on flesh and a human nature, that his human nature is not called a “person” and that Jesus remains fully human to this day without requiring him to have hairy arms and fingernails. Warner dismisses my argument, falls into heresy while doing it, then calls me the heretic. I am laughing out loud here.”
Frost’s statement here is self contradictory. He attempts to affirm the human “nature” of Jesus Christ without including His human body in that “nature.” Notice, he wrote that Jesus “took on flesh AND human nature.” He is subtly distinguishing “human flesh” from “human nature.” That is, Jesus’ body of flesh is not part of His “human nature” but was an inconsequential temporary addition to His “human nature.” Yet, when the creeds speak of Christ’s human “nature,” they always include His flesh in the term “nature.” Frost is attempting to portray his theology as conforming to the Christian creeds, while at the same time defining the critical term “nature” in a way the creeds absolutely oppose! This gives the illusion of “orthodoxy” while in reality being in opposition to what the creeds affirm! This is a good example of one of Satan’s clever devices to promote deception.
Frost continued, “Image is not ‘flesh’, Tim. How can God make flesh part of the image of himself when he has no such image? Again, this is standard theology. But, Tim states that without a body, Jesus is just some ‘mystical fog.’ Is that our option, Tim? Or is this another example of an unguarded statement on your part? God has no body according to every creed and confession I have read. He has no brain. He, too, must be a mere ‘mystical fog.’”
This statement further demonstrates Frost’s basic error regarding the nature of man. I agree that the essence of God is not flesh. God is the creator, and flesh is part of His creation. “Flesh” however, is a necessary part of humanity. The “image of God” at creation obviously does not mean that God is composed of flesh. Moses did not mean to imply that man was created to be a little “god,” composed of the same substance as God. Moses meant that man was given certain of the attributes of God. But, man, according to the creation account, is composed of living flesh. The point of the incarnation is that the Word became what we are, human – living flesh. When the Word took on humanity, he did not borrow flesh. He “became flesh.” In fact, the whole “incarnation,” which the creeds define as His “human nature,” is better stated in Scripture, “the Word became flesh” (John ). This simple statement cannot permit Frost’s view.
Frost wrote, “This Logos is eternally God’s Son. He is one Person. Therefore, to be a Person, and a Son, does not require a human body.”
This statement is not true, not logical, and not orthodox. It makes the incarnation of Christ completely unnecessary. In fact, the Bible clearly refutes Frost’s statement. Gabriel said to Mary, “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God’.” (Luke 1:35 NASB). The term, “Son of God,” refers exclusively to Jesus’ being the divine offspring of God through Mary’s womb. That is, Joseph was not the father of the child, Jesus. God was His Father. “For that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God.” The part God directly played in the conception of Mary is the direct and sole reason Jesus was to be called “the Son of God.” The role Mary played in providing His humanity, and her descent from David, Abraham, and Adam, is the reason He was called a “son of David,” the “son of Abraham,” and the “son of Man” (Adam). It is clear, then, that the term “Son of God,” has exclusive reference to deity within the context of the incarnation of Christ, not to His eternal deity prior to the incarnation. That is, “Son of God” refers exclusively to the divine nature of the man Jesus, the only-begotton Son of the Father (John 1:14b). The title, “Son of God,” does NOT refer to a preincarnate relationship between the Word and God.
In concluding this part, I think it is wise to review the terminology of Scripture regarding the person of Christ, and the orthodox meaning of each term.
1. “Word” (Logos) is the title John used of the preincarnate person of the Trinity who later became human. This term “Word” was used because He is the one who communicated the message of God to man, both before and after His incarnation, (John 1:18).
2. “Christ” means “the anointed one.” It is a title referring solely to the Davidic King promised to come from David’s seed and sit upon the Throne of David.
3. “Jesus” is the human name that Mary gave to her child.
4. “Son of God” is a term which emphasizes that Jesus did not have a human father. His Father was God.
5. “Son of Man” is a term which emphasizes His humanity – through birth from the virgin, Mary.
Peter’s confession, upon which Christ’s Church is built, encompasses the proper meanings of these names and titles. To change the meanings of these terms is to strike at the core of Christianity.
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"
14 So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
16 Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
The Nature of Salvation
Frost wrote, “In point 3 I wrote, as Warner quoted, that ‘therefore, we are born again spiritually, die physically, and are born again-again physically. How can this nonsense be?’ Warner answers: ‘It is not nonsense.’ Therefore, one is left to conclude (and I have never had one do this, so this is a first!) that Warner believes in two ‘born again’ events for the believer! It is not nonsense for him! I am born again, die, and am born again AGAIN! Please, for the love of all that is holy, where does the Bible say, ‘ye must be born again-again’? But, this is where absurdity takes you when you refuse to listen to the words of Jesus and take him at his word.”
The problem here is Frost does not acknowledge the fact, clearly taught in Scripture, that salvation is of the whole person, including the body. But the salvation of the body is not immediate. When we are saved, our “inner man” is saved, but we are still saddled with the “outer man” that includes a body of flesh (2 Cor. ). This flesh body has certain cravings, and is prone to sin. The body is the part of us that acts out our sin. When we are saved, Paul says that we begin a struggle between the “flesh and spirit.” He wrote that the “flesh wars against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh” (Gal. -17). The reason for this struggle is because the whole person is not yet saved. Yet, Paul also wrote that our flesh will be saved in the future, “because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Rom -23 NKJ). Notice that Paul referred to their present salvation as being “the firstfruits of the Spirit.” Elsewhere he called our possessing the Holy Spirit the “deposit” on our inheritance (Eph. ). This implies something more to come regarding our salvation. For the believer with the “deposit” of the Holy Spirit, there still awaits “the redemption of our body.” Jesus “will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Phil. NKJ).
The early Church held the same opinion. For example, Irenaeus wrote, “And inasmuch as the apostle has not pronounced against the very substance of flesh and blood, that it cannot inherit the kingdom of God, the same apostle has everywhere adopted the term ‘flesh and blood’ with regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, partly indeed to establish His human nature (for He did Himself speak of Himself as the Son of man), and partly that He might confirm the salvation of our flesh. For if the flesh were not in a position to be saved, the Word of God would in no wise have become flesh. And if the blood of the righteous were not to be inquired after, the Lord would certainly not have had blood [in His composition]. … For the Lord, taking dust from the earth, molded man; and it was upon his behalf that all the dispensation of the Lord’s advent took place. He had Himself, therefore, flesh and blood, recapitulating in Himself not a certain other, but that original handiwork of the Father, seeking out that thing which had perished. And for this cause the apostle, in the Epistle to the Colossians, says, ‘And though ye were formerly alienated, and enemies to His knowledge by evil works, yet now ye have been reconciled in the body of His flesh, through His death, to present yourselves holy and chaste, and without fault in His sight.’ He says, ‘Ye have been reconciled in the body of His flesh,’ because the righteous flesh has reconciled that flesh which was being kept under bondage in sin, and brought it into friendship with God.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Bk. V, 14).
Frost wrote, (quoting me) “‘What Frost is actually telling you is that you already have all Scripture promises right now.’ Well, Paul said it better: ‘ALL (can you read that, Tim?)…ALL the PROMISES are YES and AMEN in Christ Jesus.’ ‘You have EVERYTHING pertaining unto life and godliness.’ ‘You have been blessed with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ.’ Warner says ‘no, we have not.’ Preterists say, ‘yes, you have.’”
The illogical nature of this paragraph should be obvious to all. Frost’s theology says that the completion of the promises occurred in AD70. From that date on, believers have all the promises of God fulfilled. Yet, he quotes passages in support of this that were written before AD70 to Christians living before AD70! That is, before salvation was even fully completed according to Frost. He is taking these passages out of context and trying to apply them to people they were not written to, and to a time to which his original audience did not belong (according to his theology)! How then could Paul, before AD70, write, “all the promises are yes and amen” (present tense) when they were NOT yet prior to AD70? Ditto for their having “everything pertaining to life and godliness.” Ditto for having “every spiritual blessing in Christ.” These were all written to Christians living prior to AD70. Therefore, if these things were already realized by Christians before AD70, they did not need the events of AD70 to complete their salvation! These passages are not saying that believers had or have everything promised in Scripture. That all the promises of God are “yes” and “amen” simply means God’s promises are trustworthy. They will come to pass. The other verses he cited simply mean that we currently have everything we need to live godly lives in this present world. They do not imply that we have already received everything God has promised us. Many other promises, written to the same audience, indicate future promises yet to be realized – the second coming and resurrection, for one.
Frost wrote, “Warner belittles the Christian life by saying ‘what you have now is all you get’. He means that by saying that Preterists say that what you have now is all you get. Well, let’s see. I have reconciliation and peace with God. I have the forgiveness of sins. I have Christ in me. I am in Christ. I am known of God. I am a son. A co-heir. The list is endless. I know that this is not enough for Warner, but it sure sounds like good news to this sinner. Warner’s view depreciates what Christ has accomplished because for him, salvation is always in the ‘yonder over there’ life. This life, this world, is ‘evil.’ It is going to hell in a handbasket. As one Dispy said, ‘You don’t polish brass on a sinking ship.’ The world is a sinking ship. The world that Jesus came to redeem is going to hell in a handbasket. Good news? I guess for Warner, it’s about as good as it gets until God blows the whole thing up (which he has delayed now in doing, in allowing the evil to continue). To me, this was the sad way I used to look at life, until I came to see that the Bible gave me a worldview that told me that Jesus rules the world and is working ALL THINGS to the good for those who love Christ Jesus.”
Orthodox Christianity has always asserted a future hope for the believer as a fundamental part of Christianity. I am not belittling the Christian life. I am denying Frost’s mystical interpretation of the promises, and his claim that we have everything already. But, he ignores the fact that despite having all that is promised to him, including his “sanctification,” Frost still displays character flaws himself! I can also assure the reader that Mr. Frost still commits sin. His purposely misrepresenting my theology in order to divert attention from his own heresy is a perfect example. He still struggles with his old Adamic nature, just as Paul did in Romans 7. He may claim to be “perfected,” but he is far from perfect, as also are the rest of us. So, despite his claiming that his present condition is one of “perfection,” everyone else knows that “perfection” is hardly the right word.
The same applies to you the reader. Your own struggle with sin and your own failings argue against Frost’s claim that you already have everything promised you in Scripture! Faced with this obvious truth, you must either admit that you have not yet received all that the Scriptures promise, or else you must water down those promises until they mean almost nothing at all! And in doing so, you eliminate any hope of real “perfection” and “sanctification.”
In my last paper in this debate, I included a graphic that contained four simple tests. One of those referenced the following passage in Revelation.
3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
If Frost is correct, that he already has all the promises of God now, then why is it that he has “pain” from time to time? How is it that Sam Frost will one day die, if there is now “no more death?” How come Christians suffer and cry, if God promised to do away with all these things? Notice that Frost did not address these points. His only option would be to deny that the promises are literal. Yet, in this very passage God says, “these words are true and faithful.” Either God or Frost is lying to you. Do not be deceived. God is not the liar here.
The Bottom Line
As the reader can clearly observe, Frost and I each present an entirely different “Christianity.” Our views are so different, they cannot be considered to proclaim the same basic message. My view takes the promises of Scripture at face value. Frost’s view makes them “mystical” realities now. Yet, his fulfilled “reality” for the Christian is hard if not impossible to distinguish from the reality of unbelievers! Just what, that is tangible or discernable, makes Frost’s life any better than say, Bill Gates life? My view was the one staunchly defended by the early Christians, and was claimed by them to be the universal teaching of all the independent local Christian communities. Frost’s view has its essential components in common with the opponents of the early Church (Gnostics), whom the early Christians called “heretics.” My view has been the “orthodox” view since the beginning. Frost’s views on several crucial issues have been called “heresy” (and worse) by the earliest Christians who inherited the Apostolic tradition.
The Nature of Man: Frost’s message is that man is a spiritual being, who temporarily possesses and uses a body of flesh. The orthodox view is that God created man from the dust of the ground, breathed into that flesh, and he became alive – a living soul. The physical human body is a part of the creation of God, and is in fact part of the essence of who man is. Man is a part of the physical creation of God. And to be “human” demands a physical body of flesh. Man will spend eternity in his body, having been raised either in “the resurrection of life” or “the resurrection of damnation.”
Incarnation: Frost’s view of the incarnation of Christ is that he merely used a generic body in order to do certain things. The orthodox view is that the incarnation of the Word means that God literally became flesh. That is, he “became man,” the seed of Adam. He became a specific “man,” the promised seed of Abraham and promised seed of David. It was not sufficient for Him merely to take on the image of Adam as a temporary “role.”
Resurrection: Frost thinks that Jesus’ resurrected body is of little importance. In orthodox Christianity, the resurrected body of Jesus Christ is of primary importance on two counts: First, it is necessary that the same “seed of David according to the flesh” sit upon the Throne of David. Without the resurrected Jesus Christ’s genetic connection to David, the “Word” cannot fulfill this promise. The Davidic King MUST be a “human” person. Second, Phil. 3:21 and other passages clearly indicate that Jesus’ resurrected flesh displays the nature of “resurrection.” That is, it provides the model for our future resurrection. Jesus came out of the tomb, the same person of flesh and bone, yet changed incorruptible, and possessing physical properties far beyond what He possessed before His death. So will we at the resurrection, when we also are raised “incorruptible.” Paul went so far as to say that denial of this truth calls the entire Gospel into question, (1 Cor. 15).
Salvation: Frost’s view of salvation is entirely mystical. There is nothing tangible about it. Allegedly, Frost already has everything promised. Yet, the evidence indicates otherwise. He still sins in mind and body. He suffers pain, sorrow, crying, and eventually, death, exactly as the unbeliever. Yet, his “salvation” is allegedly complete in this fallen condition, and he is already “perfected.” To say that all the promises of God are now fulfilled, is to say that God’s promises are really rather exaggerated. The fulfillment of all God has promised seems a bit underwhelming. There is little in this “gospel” that is “good news” to the millions of sinners living now under the curse. The orthodox view is that Jesus Christ saves the whole person. That includes his body. The salvation of the “inner man” is evidenced in many ways now. But the salvation of the body follows later, and will be realized at the resurrection. This is when the promises of no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain will be realized. These are all things that afflict our present state while our bodies remain corruptible.
Hope: Frost’s preterism completely eliminates “hope.” All over the world there are Christians living in desperate circumstances. What is Frost’s message to them? They have everything they need! They have all “mystical” (perhaps “mythical” would be a better term) promises right now. Their life is as good as it gets! And what do they have to look forward to? More of the same, then death! What after that? Who knows! The Bible does not say. But what does the orthodox view offer the suffering saint? I’ll let Paul reply.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;
21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?
25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
Preterism = no hope. And no hope = no perseverance.
But, “hope” is our motivation to Holiness! The Bible states plainly that it is the hope of Christ’s second coming that motivates us to live holy lives. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3 NKJ).
“Hope” also enables our perseverance. “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,” (Heb -19 NKJ).
Preterism presents a different “Jesus” and different Gospel. Preterism’s “Jesus” is not human at all. He did not atone for our sins “in His own body” because His body of flesh was not an essential part of His person. Preterism eliminates “hope.” In doing so, it removes the comfort that hope in the promises of God provides for those living through hard times. It also eliminates the incentive for holy living and the means of our perseverance. I can think of few doctrines that are as destructive to Christianity as is preterism.
I stated earlier that Sam Frost and I have each presented to you the reader a completely different “Christianity.” That means one of us is necessarily presenting a false Christ, and teaching a false Gospel. One of us is teaching the same message the early Church taught, as evidenced in its fight against all the Gnostic heretics. The other is actually teaching the basic philosophy held by the Gnostics dressed in Christian jargon. You must choose. If you choose unwisely, it means your eternal destiny. Please choose wisely!
Finally, I would like to recommend that all preterists reading this debate take the time to read what the earliest Christians believed regarding the nature of the flesh and the resurrection of the dead. Several of the earliest Fathers, including Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin, and Irenaeus, made a strong defense of this doctrine against the Gnostics. But, the most exhaustive treatment was written by Tertullian, “On the Resurrection of the Flesh.” While his opinion is not itself inspired Scripture, it is indicative of the universal belief of the early Church during and after the Apostolic period. Tertullian argues from many passages of Scripture as well as common sense. It was the heretical sects (Gnostics) who denied the fundamentals of the Christian Faith who also denied the resurrection of the flesh. Tertullian explained how their heresies on the person of Christ grew out of their basic error — denial of the resurrection of the flesh and salvation of the whole man. (Chapter 22 deals specifically with the question of whether the resurrection was already past).