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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Response #3 to Caleb Graham

By: Lazarus Conley

Recently, Caleb Graham did two videos responding to Aaron Tyler and my video from a year ago linked here called Evening Musings #1: 

In these two videos, Caleb makes a lot of absurd claims about Aaron and I. He claims all we do is eisegesis and use presuppositions to make our claims which is untrue. He claims Aaron does eisegesis on Hebrews 7 which we discuss in the video which is a fabrication. In the video, Aaron and I both agree that Christ is the High Priest and High King in the order of Melchizedek. We both in the video are simply showing the viewer/listener that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God the Son, God Incarnate, IS both fully God and fully man. We show in the video that He is fully human being and always is and always will be. Caleb falsely accuses Aaron of going entirely off of presuppositions and this is entirely laughable, knowing that Caleb is doing nothing more than parroting off of Don K Preston and other CBV full preterists, as usual, going off of their eisegesis of Scripture and going off of THEIR PRESUPPOSITIONS as THEY claim that Christ has no body anymore, copying Don K Preston and Alan Bondar's nonsensical interpretations of Scripture that Preston copied from Bondar, which originated probably from Bondar pulling it out of his butt or during one of Bondar's probable weed sessions with Michael Miano. 

Caleb tries and fails to use 1 Corinthians 15 as some proof to his claim that the resurrection of the dead is only spiritual and that any idea that it is about a biological resurrection of the dead like Christ's should be rejected in favor of full preterism. He claims that it has to be spiritual death because Christ is the firstfruits of the dead. He claims that he can't be the firstfruits because other people in the Old and New Testament are resurrected in the Bible. When I heard this I was a bit baffled at how someone could misunderstand what "firstfruits of the dead" means. I'm not entirely sure what Caleb doesn't comprehend about this but let's clear it up for him.

Christ Jesus was the first person raised from the dead to not die again. Every single person in the Bible who was resurrected ended up dying again. Christ did not die. He remains alive forever, body and soul eternally together as one, God Incarnate forever and eternal.

There are a lot of assertions and assumptions made by Caleb. Facts are, we live in the already, not yet principle as Christians. As far as 1 Cor 15 goes, one has to note that not a single time in 1 Corinthians 15 does Paul ever change the meaning of “death” nor does he change the meaning of “the dead”. At no point does the Greek word apethanen (15:3) ever mean anything other than referring to Christ having died a biological death. 

To further that point, at 15:4 Paul uses the word etaphe to show us that Christ was given a burial. We put the deceased into graves and give them a burial. Then, to make matters worse for full preterists, Paul uses the word egegertai which means “risen” or “rose” to show us Christ rose from the grave, hence He rose from biological death. He uses this word in 15:4, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, and 20 to cement the point to the readers. 

Nekron, a word for “the dead” is also used the same way throughout 1 Corinthians 15 and in many of the same sentences, we just had egegertai in verses 12, 13, and 20 all in the same fashion. Nekron is also used in v. 21, 29, and 42 the same way. Not a single time is there any indication that Paul intends to shift focus to a “spiritual death” with this resurrection of the dead (anastasis nekron). The word “death” (thanatos) does not see a change either in v. 21, 26, nor verse 54. This is not rocket science.

Paul uses apothn─ôskousin once in 15:22 for the word “die” when referring to Adam but there is no shift anywhere indicated there either that this all does not refer to biological death. In 15:20, the word kekoimemenon is used in the same way that Matthew 27:52 uses it to refer to those who “had fallen asleep” (27:52) or those “who are asleep” (15:20), that is, those who had biologically died. Nowhere is there any spiritual death going on in 1 Corinthians 15.

Caleb mentions Adam and has no case with him or Eve either trying to claim that they died a spiritual death in the Fall of Genesis 3. It's absurd and based off of stuff he got from Don K Preston and other CBV Full Preterists like Michael Miano, presuppositions it and of itself, not found in Scripture. 

In Genesis 2:17, God tells Adam about the tree of knowledge of good and evil that “in the day you eat from it you shall surely become mortal.” Did Adam die physically the moment he ate from the tree? Is the bible in error since Adam it says died physically 930 years later? Should this be seen as spiritual death instead? No. It should probably be seen as both. 

Adam and Eve had eternal life being in full communion with God. They were in a state of theosis. Through the Fall, they both lost and broke off communion, so spiritually they did die, which led to their physical death becoming mortal. The moment they were sinning was the moment they both physically began the process of dying biologically - becoming mortal - and then, ultimately, did biologically die. The phrase “you shall surely die” if translated from Hebrew literally would read as “dying you shall die” or “you shall die dying” so “you shall become mortal” seems to fit the best in translation. Alternatively, it can be “you shall die the death”. Either way, it uses the imperfect form of the Hebrew verb for “you shall die” with the infinitive absolute form of the same verb “dying”. St. Paul also does not bring any other indication in Romans or 1 Corinthians that Adam’s death is anything more than biological death but there is a spiritual death we do know because they broke off communion and theosis with God in their sinful acts against Him. One can look at Numbers 26:65 where it is used in the same fashion as Genesis 2:17. Caleb's claim has and always will be quite simple to refute honestly. One notes that in Romans 5:12 it uses Thanatos in the same way 1 Corinthians 15 does.

Larchet notes: “In Paradise, as we have seen, Adam was united to God with his whole being. Transparent to God’s energies, he was radiant with grace in both soul and body… Ceasing to fulfill God’s will and turning aside from him, by his own fault he lost the grace he had been receiving and the good things associated with it. The Fathers call this ‘the ancestral sin’ – a sin that was to have a decisive influence on the history of humanity, and whose nature, significance, and consequences enable us to understand much of our present situation, in particular, the condition of the body as it is today… In this sin, the principal role was played by Adam’s spirit… [In the] personal sin of Adam all of his soul’s faculties played a part: his memory no longer remembered God, his imagination imagined that which was evil, his appetitive or desiring power coveted false goods, and his irascible power began to struggle to obtain and hold on to them, whilst opposing and resisting God’s will… Adam turned away from God, and as a result, of his own free will, he deprived himself of God’s grace, and so he found himself to be deprived also of the blessings he owed to that grace. Consequently (since evil results from the privation of good), he introduced into himself, into the world, and all his descendants ‘a like number of opposite evils’. In the first instance, these evils affected the soul, which became passible, experienced sorrow and suffering, became corrupt, and died a spiritual death through being separated from God and deprived of divine life. They then spread to the body where they manifested themselves most sensibly. From then on, the body became subject to suffering, sickness, corruption, and eventually death”.[1] As can be clearly shown, the traditional views stand up to the test and full preterism does not. 

To add to this, of the more modern translation scholars, we have Robert Alter, who translates Genesis 2:16-17 as “From every fruit of the garden you may surely eat. But from the tree of knowledge, good and evil, you shall not eat, for on the day you eat from it, you are doomed to die”. Altar says of vv. 16-17: ‘surely eat…doomed to die’. The form of the Hebrew in both instances is what grammarians call the infinitive absolute: the infinitive immediately followed by a conjugated form of the same verb. The general effect of this repetition is to add emphasis on the verb, but because in the case of the verb ‘to die’ it is the pattern regularly used in the Bible for the issuing of death sentences, ‘doomed to die’ is an appropriate equivalent”[1].

The sentence of death is immediate but the sentence is that Adam is “doomed to die” or “become mortal and die” which makes this all quite simple. One must ask… If it is all just unfortunate translations, does this apply to the plethora of rabbinical writers who have written commentaries on Genesis 2:16-17 in Hebrew before we even had modern English to translate Hebrew into? Countless Jewish rabbinical scholars oppose this spiritual only death interpretation, not just the Christians, but I will just quote four. History just never goes in favor of full preterists, unfortunately.

In the commentary of Sforno - Rabbi Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno (1475-1550) at 2:17, he states: “the tree in the middle of the garden, in close proximity to the tree of life, mentioned previously (v. 9). The meaning of ‘life’ is in connection with that tree is equivalent to the meaning of the words in Deuteronomy 30:19 ‘I have placed life and death (to choose) before you’ [we may understand this to mean that the tree of life if its fruit were eaten, would result in a life of infinite duration, whereas eating from the tree next to it would result in life being shortened (being made mortal)[2].

In Rabbi Jacob ben Asher (1269-1343)’s commentary the Tur Ha Aroch, he states: “’ For on the day you eat from it you will surely become mortal’: This is not a warning of immediate death (as it would have been equivalent to the dying out of the human species) but a warning not to forfeit eternal life on earth… The belief in the mortality (eventual metamorphosis [he means the belief that Adam would die even had he not eaten the fruit]) of all phenomena which consist of more than one raw material, is held only by people who lack in true faith and believe the existence of the universe is not due to God’s free will, but was the result of an immutable law of nature, long preceding the existence of any God. For true believers who know in their deepest heart, the universe is the result of the will of a totally free Creator, the continued existence of anything this Creator has initiated does not pose a problem. The only thing that would put an end to the absolute life expectancy of man was the fact that he violated the commandment and ignored the warning of what would follow”[3].

In Scholar and Rabbi Nachmanides’ Ramban Commentary (1194-1270) he states: “’ For on the day you eat from it you will certainly die’. That is, you will have incurred the death penalty, not that you will die immediately. A similar usage appears in 1 Melachim 2:42. According to the Sages… if Adam had not sinned he would have indeed been immortal, for the soul is capable of sustaining the body forever and this is what the Creator originally intended”[4].

Finally, Rabbi Hezekiah ben Manoah’s commentary (1210-1310) the Chizkuni states: “’ for on the day you would eat from it you would surely become mortal’. Man had not been created as a mortal body, but after having sinned he was punished by becoming mortal. God’s warning did not mean he would die immediately. He only had warned him he would his entitlement to infinite life. At some time in the future, he would not be able to escape the need to die. This is why he had to be separated from proximity to the tree of life so that he would not be able to regain the immortality he had now lost”[5].

That sure seems like a lot of Jewish rabbis all claiming the same thing that Early Christians also claim, does it not? We find this said by the Christian patristics as well. Why am I sharing this? To show you the Hebraic mindset, something that Preston and Company have consistently been blatantly dishonest to the core about and Caleb Graham, unfortunately, has bought into hook line and sinker. 

This is seriously not rocket science. At the Fall, Adam and Eve became mortal just as God promised them would happen if they disobeyed Him. This was the curse, mortality, and when they were confronted, they and the serpent were given the curses and God gave them tunics of skin (Gen 3:21). 

Augustine writes of this: [Adam and Eve], who were stripped of their first garment [of innocence], deserved by their mortality garments of skin. For the true honor of man is to be the image and the likeness of God that is preserved only in relation to him by whom it is impressed. Hence, he clings to God so much the more, the less he loves what is his own. But through the desire of proving his own power, man by his own will falls down into himself as into a sort of [substitute] center. Since he, therefore, wishes to be like God, hence under no one, then as a punishment he is also driven from the center, which he himself is, down into the depths, that is, into those things wherein the beasts delight. Thus, since the likeness to God is his honor, the likeness to the beasts is his disgrace".

I noticed in this video that Caleb talks about it for a second but then evades when he talks about the Tree of Life in Genesis 3:22-24. If they lost spiritual life in the Fall only and were already mortal, what would they have gained by eating from this tree that God wants them driven away from so they don't get it? Is it spiritual life they would receive if they ate that fruit from that tree? They had already sinned and were spiritually dead according to Caleb.... and were already mortal before that according to Caleb... so how would mortal beings who are spiritually dead because of their disobedience become immortal by eating this tree of life? Would they have become immortal there somehow or gained spiritual life? I never get clear answers from full preterists on this matter and have asked Holger Neubauer similar questions and gotten evasions over it. Maybe Caleb can explain that one since I've yet to see a full preterist do so. 

The fact is, God didn't want Adam and Eve to partake of the Tree of Life because if they took it they would not only become immortal but also stay in their sin and never be able to be redeemed, similar to what happens with the accuser (ha-Satan) or Samael (angel called Venom of God) in that this angel cannot be redeemed. 

One thing is clear. Caleb is the one making absurd presuppositions here, not Aaron nor myself with Scripture. He starts to make more absurd questions and statements in this video like his claim that futurists have something called an "interim age"? I honestly don't know what it is that he's talking about but I assume it is something he got from King and Preston's insistence that the Old Covenant ended in 70 AD instead of at the Cross through Christ's death and resurrection like all of Christianity has taught. I think some dispensationalists may teach something like Caleb mentioned but glory be to God, Aaron and I are not dispensationalists. If that is what Caleb is thinking with this video then he is sorely mistaken and confused about what Aaron and I believe but he is free to message and talk to us sometimes about it if he so chooses to. Fact is, and one can read this in my book Hope Resurrected (which I will give a free PDF if need be), that Christ installed the New Covenant through His death and resurrection. He has conquered Satan, sin, and death there at the Cross and we live in that promise TODAY that He has already defeated these forces of evil. He has already won the victory over them. We live in these promises TODAY and can be confident about this, knowing He has already won and will put an end to all these forces in full at the 2nd Coming, at His Parousia, when He invades all of Creation with His Presence (Jude; Rev 21; 2 Peter 3) when He finalizes the New Covenant and its promises. This is no interim period. We live in the New Covenant today. The Old was rendered obsolete (Heb 8:13) at the Cross as Paul says in Hebrews. 

Caleb asks a bizarre question: "Does forever end"? No. Does Christ remain High Priest after the 2nd Coming? Yes. Why wouldn't He? He quotes a lot of verses like Matthew 16:27-28 which isn't about the 2nd Coming. He gets all this from stuff he heard or read from Preston and other CBV Full Preterists and their unfortunate eisegesis of scripture. I've covered Matthew 16 and Matthew 24 in my blog posts and book already. Those answers to any objections he has will suffice as one can find them on this site and in my book. 

He talks about Scripture being a puzzle we have to put together and all I have to say is that there is no puzzle Caleb. God is not hiding the truth from us. If you are to claim yourself as a Christian you have to stop thinking like a Gnostic. Gnostics believe truth is hidden and that we must acquire a secret knowledge (like a puzzle piece you have to decipher or a Rubix Cube) and this is entirely false. 

Christ came into His Kingdom in the Ascension. This will sound harsh but unfortunately, Caleb doesn't know what he's talking about and speaks out of ignorance. 

He claims falsely that Aaron and I "force Jesus to have a physical body". We most assuredly do not. Jesus has a physical body because the Scriptures teach it. It is Caleb who is trying to force Scripture to mean what it doesn't mean and it is he who is trying to force Scripture to have Jesus not have a physical body. 

He tries to quote Hebrews 9's mention of the temple is made without hands to try and claim Christ is no longer human I guess? This is just pure silliness and poor comprehension at the end of the day. I can give a commentary on Hebrews if need be but I don't think I'll do it for brevity's sake here in this article. He mentions Hebrews 9:11's use of mello, trying desperately to make it out like Christ had to come in 70 AD or else Scripture is all wrong and the bible is fake like the atheist bible critics Schweitzer and Bultmann say it is (all people King and Preston seem to be enamored with instead of actual bible scholars who believe in God and believe Jesus was and is a historical person but I digress). Mello means certainly to happen there or will happen. It's not rocket science. 

I'd suggest Caleb go read a commentary by actual scholars vs pseudo-scholars... I'd recommend he get the commentary on Hebrews by Dmitri Royster perhaps. It greatly assisted me and would help Caleb. My best advice would be him quit trying to copy all your full preterist friends and check out some actual commentators, some actual scholars, and not a bunch of people trying to copy some people who pervert scripture all to profit off of book sales like Don Preston who capitalize on people's ignorance. 

He is ignorant about what Aaron and I believe if he believes that we claim some extra covenant or interim covenant... that part of his video made absolutely no sense to me and isn't at all what I think about eschatology at all. That would be as silly as full preterists believing 1000 years somehow equals 40 years because full preterists apparently can't math good. We have never claimed anything about some extra covenant nor have we done something with some 3rd age. We're not dispensationalists Caleb. If you are going to make videos, it is wise to know what we believe instead of making false claims and misrepresenting us. 

He claims we're ignoring 1 and 2 Timothy and this is just an absolute joke. The Last Day didn't happen in 70 AD. If it had, the biologically dead would have all resurrected in 70 AD-like Christ rose biologically from the grave. Christ would have judged all men in 70 AD (John 6) and His presence would have invaded Creation in a new exalted reality (2 Peter 3; Jude; Rev 21). This has not happened. 

Caleb keeps bringing up 1 Timothy 1:17 and Aaron's use of 1 Tim 2:5 as if this is going to help him prove full preterism to be true and Aaron and I false. It says Christ THE MAN because Christ is God the Son. God the Son is the God-Man. The challenge of the lay theologian is to convey the mystery of the Incarnation while also proclaiming the indivisibility of the Trinity. So, visible and invisible isn't nearly as significant as the terms Human (which contains visibility) and Divinity (which is unknowable, invisible if you please) with regards to God the Son. This makes visibility and knowability available to we creatures while also embracing the unknowability of the Deity in His essence. We must remember that in the Scriptures the times when Christ is present but unseen are when he is unrecognizable by others.

That said, I would have to say this: the Resurrection Body of Christ can be both visible and invisible though this needs to be made clear that the unity of the Trinity is in the principality of the Father, which extends to His essence, nature, and His will. Each person of the Trinity is God, but they are not in the same ways. 1 Timothy 1:17 is talking about the Father and the Son in it. Most scholarship will agree with that. We must remember that God the Son is both God and Man. This verse is speaking of the divine Godhead - Father, Son, and Spirit. It isn't referring to the human nature of Christ here but speaking from the Divine. This does not mean he ceases or ever ceased to still be the God-Man. He is both always at the same time. The hypostatic union is not to be broken. For arguments’ sake however, even if we would agree it to be entirely about the Son, it is still because of the Trinity going to be separate from the Father. The Father and Son are both equally part of the Godhead with the Holy Spirit but they are not the same. I’d be remiss though if I didn’t bring up however that Christ’s resurrection body on earth had him doing all sorts of supernatural things such as going through walls, eating fish with the Apostles, and having people not recognize him right away. Post-Ascension he was still doing things like showing up in Stephen's visions visibly, knocking Paul off his horse to convert him, and talking to him audibly in uncreated Light (something I’m not sure Caleb even knows about).

If Christ can also be the Eucharist and bread and wine can truly be the body and blood of Christ that we Christians partake in, then why should I limit what the Resurrection Body can do? In previous conversations I've had with Caleb and some of his companions of CBV full preterism, I did say and stress that Christ isn't invisible before and this was to stress and emphasize to them that Christ is a physical human being, still with a body, because I truly felt that if I did not stress this to them, their ignorance would overwhelm them and they would just go right on back to absurdities (they still might sadly regardless of me writing this or not) and spouting off more bulverisms like a secret invisible rapture as Ed Stevens claims or go the Don Preston route and say something dumb like "Jesus doesn't have a body because he's invisible". However, I don't see why I need to limit the Resurrection Body and its capabilities and the more I study the scriptures and couple it with the patristics and studies on the Divine Council and other topics, I am finding perhaps when I was more engaged with full preterists I was limiting the Resurrection Body of Christ and thus also limiting the promises that we are to receive as well when we become like Him through theosis. 

Lastly, I get Caleb has no idea what the already not yet principle is in eschatology. I can only suggest that he goes and studies it more and pray for him in the end. Hopefully, it ends up with him abandoning full preterism and moving on to bigger and better things than that road to nowhere. He is free to unblock me from Facebook and YouTube if he wishes to talk to me about Scripture if he wishes. I also would love to see him come visit churches I attend if he feels up to it since we both live in Texas and I am often around the Dallas area. Feel free to attend St. Savas in Allen Texas or St. Nicholas in McKinney, Texas once Covid levels have dwindled. 

Also, to Caleb and I say this sincerely: please quit making videos in your car while you drive places and pay attention to the road. Dallas traffic has always been a nightmare anytime I've driven there and I sincerely don't want to hear from my friends that Caleb Graham did a live video one day and got into a nasty car wreck. Park it and then make your videos. I hope and pray you will continue to keep searching the scriptures and grow in the Lord. I don't think you're a bad dude. I do think you're ignorant of some stuff like we all were as full preterists and are hanging around the wrong crowds online as those people are only holding you back from the one true God who is to come in the future. 

[1] Larchet. Theology of the Body. 34. 37.
[2] Robert Alter. The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary. W.W. Norton & Co. NY. London. 2004. (Kindle)
[3] Search: Genesis 2:17.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.

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