Stephen Whitsett M.Div. Th.M.
ABSTRACT: I asked the question to Michael Miano? Why did the Early Church Fathers all teach a physical, bodily, Resurrection? His response, “I generally agree with Mr. Whitsett” – that the early church father all taught a physical, bodily resurrection. “I would agree that the church fathers were smarter and closer to the original context” – but he also believes they were prone to error. What Mr. Miano forgets about these ECF, they included the Apostles John (died 96-98 AD), Barnabas, then Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Papias as the men who lived through the events of AD 70 in different Roman city states. If the Resurrection took place, along with the Millennium, the Great White Throne Judgment, and the arrival of the New Heaven and Earth we would expect to hear of some declaration that these were fulfilled. Unfortunately for the FP we have the opposite declaration being made, not silence. In this they were all united that the second coming was still future, they lived through these events and not one person ever declared anything close to the claims of FP fulfillment. So how do these men of great faith become prone to error as Miano claims? Can we not simply read their works to verify such claims made by FP?
When the Full Preterist attempts to explain their views, historical facts have to be reconstructed to fit the fulfilled narrative. Instead of examining ever prophecy of the OT to understand how it was all fulfilled they simply declare it was fulfilled base on Math 5:17, 18.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. “
… for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. (Luke 21:22)
Sadly, they hold to their interpretation that every prophecy found in the Law, Psalm, and Prophets, must be filled. It has been explained to them countless times their misinterpretation. As they have professed many times over, we are to use scriptures to help interpret scriptures. FP boldly claim this principle but ignores it when it leads to a rejection of their suppositions. When we examine Luke, who wrote to Greeks and avoided Hebrew idioms says it plainly,
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)
Since these passages are what we call “linked” meaning the same passage found in both accounts of the same context, the one provided clarity as Miano likes to claim that he does with scriptures. Jesus came to fulfill every OT passage that concerned him and to fulfill the terms of the Old Covenant through obedience by those under the law. Jesus kept the law perfectly and so when he died, he died without the stain of sin, an innocent man. The terms of the OC required men to keep the terms perfectly., and thus he did and so fulfilled the terms when no one else was able. Another verse they use to press their agenda,
But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. (Luke 16:17)
The FP insists that the “heaven and earth” had to pass away which is secret code for “the old Covenant” so it had to pass away in order for the Law of Moses to pass away, if the “heaven and earth” did not pass away in AD 70 then we are still under the law today. The futurist insists the “heaven and earth” being spoken about is literal. The promises made by God in the OC cannot be voided, abrogated, or simply left unfulfilled. Luke states that it would be easier for all of creation to come to an end than for God not to fulfill his promises. God fulfilled his promises with the death of Christ on the cross for all men. Physical death was required for all men who failed to keep the law perfectly. Jesus kept the law perfectly but was condemned to death for the sins of the whole world. Thus, fulfilling the terms of the law in which all men died in Christ, who bore their punishment for them. He was killed instead of them.
Futurists understand fully that the writer of Hebrews teaches that the OC passed away on the cross. Christ is the last sacrifice. According to the law a high Priest is chosen among the Levites. Jesus replaced the Levitical system as he becomes our High Priest after the order of Melchizidek. Because Christ is the last sacrifice, the law concerning sacrifices came to an end as in God no longer requires sacrifices of bulls and goats. Therefore, the laws of Moses requiring these things came to an end on the cross when Jesus died.
Getting back to topic, all of John’s books have to be written before AD 70, according to them, even though the overwhelming evidence points to a post AD 70 composition. Barnabas, whose epistle was almost canonized, wrote soon after AD 70 and wrote of the fulfillment of the Olivet and made the claim for the future return of Christ. This becomes the greatest evidence against FP. A general reading of his epistle demonstrates faithfulness to the gospel message. Yet the charge from the FP is that it is a fake epistle, written by someone else and probably in the second century, with no counter scholarship to prove such a position. Based on the contents of the Epistle it has to be a lie according to the FP because it claims that the second coming is still future. Instead of accepting these “eyewitness” accounts (from two or three witnesses,) they rather choose to discredit the work without substantial evidence or any evidence in order to support the erroneous views of FP.
Miano then demonstrates the fundamental mistake of FP in thinking “futurists” develop their eschatology from the ECF instead of scriptures when in fact it is the opposite. We glean from scriptures our Eschatology and not the ECF. When we both come to the same biblical views on eschatology, we use the ECF to prove continuity through the ages. This is something the FP can never believe or accept.
Our doctrine on the “Resurrection of the Dead “comes from the technical Greek terms used to describe the dead body coming to life, “Anastasis Nekron” literally meaning “the standing again of a corpse.” This is exactly what Christ did, therefore we have no reason to believe the promise of resurrection for the believer after he has “fallen asleep” is any different from that of Christ who was raised bodily. Which is exactly what the Old Testament teaches.
In Isa 26:19, “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake, and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.” This verse is repeated in part in Dan 12. “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
John again quotes this in his (John 5:28,29) “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment..” What sleeps in the tomb is the body that has turned to dust. What comes out of the tomb is the body now made alive.
The example is set in Mathew 27:52-53, “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Based on this simple exegesis the church has taught bodily resurrection for 2000 years. FP has provided no consistent or logical counter argument to these verses.
Miano’s charge against ECF and of any “futurist” is based on as he put it, they are guilty of “redefining the Biblical hope.” It seems to me the most practical understanding that if the church has taught a physical bodily resurrection for two thousand years based on the Jewish understanding gleaned from the OT. To claim these ECF were all wrong from the beginning seems to be a less than credible stance to take and most people when hearing such claims are correct to reject such a proposition without needing to hear one argument. Just as one does when hearing about the “Flat Earth Society” no one should take such claims seriously, but men still do.
Satan is described in scriptures as the deceiver of the nations. In the fall of Adam and Eve he used truth and lies to deceive Eve. Deception works because enough truth is mixed in with the lie to make the lie sound convincing. FP is a mixture of lies and truth. Pride forces people to overlook the natural inclination to reject it all outright and they begin to entertain the lies as truth. Deception is born and when it becomes full grown it has led the person to accept the lie in exchange for the truth. No, the Earth is not flat. But in so claiming the earth is flat, the evidence is altered, manipulated, and then eyewitnesses castigated as liars, it is the same pattern for every satanic lie. The same tactic satan has been using ever since man was created.
Paul warned that even if an angel dressed in white appeared and gave a “different gospel” we are to reject it. Joseph Smith, in his pride, failed to heed that warning and commenced to be deceived and so deceived people for his own gain.
Now Miano claims that with certain doctrines like the Resurrection of the dead, the church did not have a “clear foundation throughout church history” and confusion is “throughout the church” and that certain subjects were “subject to reformation” which is to say that they were changed over the years and the church was never right in the first place. Miano claims to have studied the ECF but such a statement demonstrates a certain ignorance. We simply can compare the written works of men from the first century with works produced during and after the reformation. The doctrines of the Trinity, Incarnation, and Resurrection of the Dead have remained unchanged for 2000 years no matter what new “information” has been revealed. The claim by Miano that there has not been a “clear foundation throughout church history” is a false statement.
Miano’s challenge to people is the claim that he teaches, “what the scriptures actually teach” and so when he presents his teaching it clearly engages in redefining words and terms as we will further demonstrate. Miano claimed that we have so many people “captivated by the individual hope of resurrection that is not promised in the Bible” but provides no shred of evidence to argue otherwise. Miano goes to great lengths in his comments to even say the first century church was confused. He claims the “Apostle Paul had to correct his audiences and reiterate the promise time after time because they could never get it right – That’s pretty much your entire New Testament.” This unfortunately is also another mischaracterization of the truth.
The Jewish (Hebrew) Audience understood the nature of the Resurrection hope as expressed in the story invented by the Sadducees who asked Jesus about seven brothers who had died while married to one woman. The Sadducees asked, in the resurrection, when they come back to life after being dead, which brother would she be married to? Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection of the dead, but the Pharisees did as the story reveals all seven men were claimed to be raised back to life in the resurrection after being dead. Martha expressed a belief in a physical body resurrection when she talked of her brother’s resurrection in the last day, of coming back to life, after he had physically died. The FP “Corporate Resurrection” is about those who are alive and ignores the context of those individuals who had “fallen asleep” in Christ.
The CB view of Full Preterist argues the resurrection does not concern dead people coming to life but those who are alive are taken out of the Old Covenant body into the “New Covenant” body of Christ in AD 70, and so in the process trash the doctrine of regeneration.
Regeneration is when the believer upon his confession of faith is “made into a new Creation”, they have been transferred from out of the “kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light” as Paul taught and he himself experienced long before AD 70. In fact, this is where inconsistencies rear their ugly head for FP. Paul and many of the other Apostles died long before AD 70, and experienced regeneration and was in the NC realities before they died. Paul said that he hoped to “attain to” the resurrection, in Philippians 3:11 If he had already been made a new Creation in Christ and was now alive in Christ, then there is no future “transforming from out of the Old Covenant into the New” that he missed in AD 70 because he had died about AD 64. What was he hoping to attain to? Especially since he died before AD 70. According to the FP he missed the “resurrection of the dead” in AD 70.
The FP also errantly claims the Old Covenant existed side by side with the NC for forty years, which was also the Millennium? This is a demonstration of severe confusion to say the least. In the book or Revelation which was a prophecy of things to come, places the Millennium future. How can a prophecy be written about some event to happen in the future that they were to look forward to but comes to end at the second coming and no one new they were in it, and secondly, the OT passages that teach the Millennium describe a time of peace for Israel.
The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord. (Isa 65:25)
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isa 2:2-4)
No OT passages that concern the “millennium” can fit the state of national affairs of Israel from AD 33 to AD 70.
As we move on, the Corinthian and Thessaloniki churches were both predominantly made up of Gentile Greeks who did not have that Jewish/Hebrew background. I Cor 15 and I Thess 4 both are directed towards Greek members of the church in answering the questions concerning those who had “fallen asleep” in Christ., how are they raised and with what kind of body do they come?
The church fled Jerusalem in AD 66 to escape the coming events, to Pella and Miano claims the church was left in the hands of “Gentiles”. Again, this is unfortunately a claim based in ignorance. Eusebius tells us that Clopus, the brother of Joseph (the father of Jesus) took over the church in Jerusalem while nothing changed in the churches of Asia-Minor.
Miano then states that because the church was left in the hands of gentiles it became “confused” but he fails to register the idea the Jerusalem church did not rule or guide the churches in Asia-Minor after AD 70. The churches in Asia -Minor were predominantly started by Paul and pastored by men who Paul chose. To say these men were confused borders on the dishonest.
Miano then asks the question, “Can we read our bible. Study the context and arrive at a proper doctrine? – or do we need to check anything and everything we understand with the church fathers.” Miano, like many other uneducated FP, fails to understand a simple principle, “why should we have to reinvent the wheel?’ Meaning the ECF battled against the Gnostics, Arianism, Pelagianism, and many other heresies. They established the standard upon which the entire church is built. We learn from the ECF and build upon the foundation which they built. We do not accept everything they said hook line and sinker, apart from scriptures so where they affirm the truth of scriptures, we in each generation do the same building on that foundation.
Scholarship is the road to learning based on information gathered and gleaned, sifted, examined, questioned, and codified. Clement (a Jew) would not have missed the significance if he was living in the fulfilled “resurrection Hope”. Clement, a Pastor appointed by Paul, taught by Paul would hardly be confused about the Hope of Israel. “Audience Relevance” has no bearing as Clement lived through these events and into the second century and still claimed a future second coming.
When it came to the first century and Eschatology there was no confusion as they had the same Hope as Israel, expressed by Paul in Romans 8,
…As we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved.
Three things then are twisted, redefined, and manipulated by the FP in this verse.
- “Body” is defined as the “Body of Christ.”
- Denying the “soma” (body) is not being used literally.
- “Body” is singular in the Greek; therefore, it is talking about one body. (CBV)
- “Our” body refers to each individual person who makes up the corporate church. In the Greek it is σώματος ἡμῶν, somatos hēmōn translated “body of us.” making it in English “our bodies” and not someone else’s body.
- The “body of Christ” does not need redemption since the “church” is made up of “the redeemed” and no further redemption is needed of the “body of Christ.”
- “Body” is being used literally since the metaphorical use of “body of Christ” does not make it coherent with the Greek grammar. “Body” is a possessive noun so the “body” belongs to the person, “My” body would be singular so when I speak of all of our bodies, I use the plural possessive, “our bodies.” In the Greek it uses the singular “body of us” to indicate each one of us has our own “singular” body.
In simple logic the church is not waiting for the “body” of Christ to be redeemed, since the church is made up of the redeemed by the blood of the lamb and needs no further redemption. Redemption means to be “bought back” as in the idea of redeeming a coupon, we exchange the coupon for a lower price, something given, and something received. Who “owns” the church that it had to be “bought back” in AD 70? The church is born out of the terms of the NC, therefore is not in or part of the OC. The church cannot be redeemed from out of the OC, since its birth is in the NC.
The FP interpretation creates absolute incoherence with scripture since the body of every person is sold under sin – death until its redeemed from its fallen condition in the resurrection where the body is raised “immortal” and “imperishable”, two terms used for the flesh/sarx body/soma and never concerning the “spirit/pneuma” of man.
Addressing his next comment, there was no need for any early church council concerning Eschatology because the concept has its birth in the Apostles Creed, (which included the redemption of the body – bodily resurrection) then the statement made in the Nicene Creed was never under any question or dispute. Every person/pastor/leader affirmed a future coming based on the fact that he had not come. No council was needed in arguing for a clearer position. Yet the Gnostics did reject bodily resurrection of the flesh as the ECF argued against:
Irenaeus – that His words concerning its [future] resurrection may also be believed; so also at the end, when the Lord utters His voice by the last trumpet, 1 Corinthians 15:52 the dead shall be raised, as He Himself declares: The hour shall come, in which all the dead which are in the tombs shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and shall come forth; those that have done good to the resurrection of life, and those that have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. John 5:28 (Against Heresies, Book 5)
Athenagores – They who maintain the wrong opinion say that there is no resurrection of the flesh; giving as their reason that it is impossible that what is corrupted and dissolved should be restored to the same as it had been.
Rufinus – The Apostle Paul makes use of such arguments as the following in asserting that mortal flesh will rise again. But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is not Christ risen. And if Christ be not risen, our preaching is vain and your faith is vain. And presently afterwards, but now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Of the ECF in the second and third centuries, many rejected the Jews and spoke severely of them, and even regarded them as being “cast out” but in the last days they would be regathered and brought in (Rom 11) for many of those early years there were no such thing as “replacement” theology.
Miano uses the term “allegorizing” as a form of interpretation used by the ECF following after Origin who introduced it, as being equal to the idea of a “non-literal” interpretation. The FP accepts on many levels a non-literal interpretation of scriptures in places where it contradicts their theology. For them many passages of scriptures are not to be understood literally, hence when applying a “non-literal” interpretation allows for the FP to make the passage sound any way they wish. In Rev 20 the Jerusalem being called the “camp of the saints” is code word for “New Jerusalem” We call that “manipulating scriptures.” The church was in good hands prior to AD 70 and after as Jesus said he would build his church and not watch it fall into apostasy in a few short years as Miano wants us to believe it did.
Miano then stated,
I found this statement by Timothy A. James in his writing to be pretty interesting, “The silence of the period after the destruction was a direct result of the downfall and captivity of the Jewish Nation. Along with its end the Jewish Christians were scattered and became almost lost to history. If any literature was written by them after the fall of Jerusalem that taught the return of Christ in that event, there is good reason to believe that it was suppressed or beyond the understanding of the dominant gentile church”.
It is a false claim to state there was silence among writers after AD 70. It would seem that Mr. James never read Eusebius “History of the Church” (Book Three) that covers this time period and what was happening among the churches, and in no sense were they lost to history. It may be that James is a FP writer but by any account he betrays his lack of education in these matters and Miano should have noted these failings. Jerusalem’s Jewish Christians were not scattered among the nations but returned and rebuilt Jerusalem. There was nothing “suppressed” or beyond understanding of the “dominant Gentile Church” The issue is that the churches that continued to exist in Asia were still being held in the Jewish synagogues and in homes with the attendance of many Jews and being led by Jews.
A few paragraphs down in his paper Miano makes a second claim. He first claim and said that after AD 70 there was silence but later, he mentions the seven letters of Ignatius. Ignatius died between 98- 117 AD. Which affirms that these seven letters were written to the churches of Asia between 68 – 98 AD. This is a direct contradiction of thought created by Miano from a lack of study.
Miano stated that Ignatius used many passages from I Corinthians and “took Pauline expressions from their context and used them in his own situations.” which is what we call “application.” He was not creating a new interpretation, he identified with Paul’s statements as being apropos to his own as he faced death in martyrdom. Miano intended for this to be a pejorative but Ignatius was sound in his doctrine.
In those first centuries little thought was given to eschatology, but it is noted that the early church held to a premillennial return of Christ that followed the coming of the beast or antichrist as Irenaeus work, “Against Heresies” talked extensively about. Irenaeus lived between AD 115- and into the early third century. Irenaeus wrote five books in a collection called “Against Heresies”, in the fifth book he writes on the subject of Eschatology, and the resurrection of the dead, which became the standard view and as said before was not questioned until the arrival of Origin. Yet still all affirmed without question the future return of Christ. These men, Clement, Ignatius, Papias, John, Barnabas having all lived through the events of AD 70 brings solid evidence through affirmation in their belief in a future coming of Christ which establishes the idea he did not come in AD 70. The idea that some would have taught he came in AD 70, would have been dealt with like any other heresy.
Now Miano claims that “because of the insistence on what the “(early) Church Fathers” (taught), rather than what the bible teaches we are seeing exactly that from the ‘futurist” camp. Implying we appropriate the mistakes of the teachings of the ECF into our own “Eschatology”, becomes another false claim. The ECF did not fail to keep the Pauline hope of Resurrection teaching alive in the early church, which is the hope of Israel and the gentile church that were made one “body.” through the “grafting in of the saints” into the New Covenant. There was no rampant confusion as the ante-Nicene believers were unified through the Nicene Creed that was agreed and attested by all as the basics of the Gospel message.
What then follows in his paper, he begins to argue against what the ECF believed and stated, with the essence of a future coming and bodily resurrection at the core of the doctrine and they find no diversion from these two points in any ECF. Miano claims that “focus on the Hebraic hope found in scriptures changed with the church fathers,” Since they were “arguing” against Gnosticism, and Gnosticism was defined as a “secret knowledge” that denied the flesh and spiritualized truth. Refutation of the Gnostic views never “run against ” the context of Scriptures as even first John argues for the true believer must believe that Christ came in the flesh. A point denied by the Gnostics. The early church had a very defined view of the resurrection as taught by the single most important writer, Irenaeus.
It is manifest that the souls of His disciples also, upon whose account the Lord underwent these things, shall go away into the invisible place allotted to them by God, and there remain until the resurrection, awaiting that event; then receiving their bodies, and rising in their entirety, that is bodily, just as the Lord arose, they shall come thus into the presence of God. Irenaeus, “Against Heresies” Book 5, chp 31. vs 2.
Miano failed to understand they did have a refined understanding from scriptures of what Resurrection of the dead was, and that it was to happen at his coming. Miano quotes writers who were explaining the false notions of the Heretics and yet claims this is what some teachers of the church believed and fails to grasp Methodius and others cited what was wrong from these “heretics” and what was the correct view. Heretics were not “fathers of the church”. The ECF fought extremely hard against people who claimed to be in the church but taught heresies, hence when the Nicene council was convened the intent was to establish what the church was already professing and teaching from the beginning as Irenaeus did in “Against Heresies.”
Miano’s greatest detriment is because he does not know what the prevailing argument made for the “resurrection of the flesh” is and associating orthodox historical background for the theology, he is easily confused and led astray by the FP position. There was simply no confusion for what the church believed concerning the bodily resurrection of the saints.
Miano likes to falsely claim that “90% percent of Christians disagree with the church fathers” but fails to note that 100% of the “church” has held to the Nicene creed as a unifying foundation for the Christian faith for 2000 years. Kurt Simmons, Gentry, DeMar all being partial preterists, their voices remain on the fringe of scholarship and are rejected by many on numerous levels. They are simply not respected for their “many mistakes and failures” in logic, coherence, and consistency and you will not find schoalrs citing them as authorities in Eschatology.
While many disciples (Apostles) were killed by Nero there were many who continued on after including John himself. Miano’s characterization falls short of real scholarship or supported by real historical facts. Ryrie and King both stray from true orthodox Christianity in their “invented views.” While scripture is the basis of authority, the ability to interpret scriptures is of the greatest importance in learning and scholarship. Miano has failed on both counts in his paper, “Replacing Resurrection.”
“Confused church fathers?” NO, it is simply a false claim made by FP like Michael Miano who is more interested in a position than being right. FP brings no glory to God but savagely destroys the hope of the gospel message.
One should note Miano never answered the question?
Why did the ECF all teach a bodily resurrection of the saints?
Meaning he never showed how they arrived at their conclusion he simply told us they were confused, ignorant, and unlearned gentiles.
 It is funny to think the fulfillment of the Millennium kingdom happened before the book of Revelation was even written.
 “Anastasis Nekron” becomes “standing again of the dead ones (nekron) in heaven, which is not what Jesus did.
 Yet Martha’s discussion with Jesus about Lazarus who had died, centered on the idea that in the last day he would “come back to life.” Lazarus was a single individual, and even Paul hoped to attain to the resurrection, as a personal hope.
 This becomes code words for “Jew and Gentile” grazing together.
 Michael Miano has no training in Greek or Hebrew, especially of the grammar or syntax which is reflective of every FP. Two FP claim D.Div. Don Preston and William Bell but both are honorary degrees.
 Max King is considered the father of the modern day Full Preterist movement.