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Scrambled Skeptic X with Sausage, Part 3

More Breakfast in Bed

James Patrick Holding

We pick up now in the midst of Part 7 of Skeptic X's response to us on preterism, picking up with Demar's comments I quoted:

The people whom the Lord left in these parables are the same people he comes back to. Far from indicating a lengthy delay, these indicates a time that IS short, but that will be long enough, nevertheless, to encourage some to get complacent. (Note that the first "time texts" speak of "this generation," while the "soon" texts appear in Revelation, written perhaps 30 years later when indeed only 10 years remained on the generational measure, thus making it indeed "soon" by that time.)

Skeptic X professes confusion and an inability to follow this, but he does "get" that we posit a pre-70 date for Revelation, and after bubbling that he could find people who date it later than 70 (he can, but he has no mental ability to critically compare arguments, so let him bang his head against this and we'll call the ambulance later), manages also to ignore the main point, which is that the "people whom the Lord left in these parables are the same people he comes back to. Far from indicating a lengthy delay, these indicates a time that IS short, but that will be long enough, nevertheless, to encourage some to get complacent."

Now on 2 Peter 3:8, where we asked, if we take this verse as dispensationalists do (1000 years = one day for God), and followed with the question, "Does this mean Jesus' three days in the tomb lasted 3000 years? Of course not," Skeptic X whinnies that he thinks I don't "know how to adapt a cut-and-pasted statement to the situation where he is quoting it," (but never explains how this is so), professes that he'd "say the same thing to dispensationalists who try to explain the delay in Jesus's return by saying that one day is as a thousand years to God" -- uh, yes, Skeptic X, and who were we talking to here? Yes, dispensationalists. Yes, we are saying the same thing you are and it had nothing to do with paying for 90% of this website. So what of that whine that we "don't know how to adapt" when Skeptic X admits he'd answer the same way? He mumbles and asks why we are "wasting our time with irrelevant drivel like this" and then blutters that he will "turn the tables on [me], and dump [my] line of reasoning right back into [my] lap." And when Skeptic X gets through turning the table and sticking the silverware in his ear, he asks:

Did references to the darkening of the sun and moon in Old Testament passages mean that the "age of the law" ended at the times designated in those prophecies. When prophecies referred to stars falling as figs fall from a tree (Is. 34:5), did this mean that the "age of the law" ended at that time?

Duh ah, no, Skeptic X, the SMS passages meant that the government of Judaea would fall, as we have now said for only the 674th time, including the first one Skeptic X missed. It does happen that the age of the law would end at the same time, but the SMS imagery isn't pointing particularly to that. From this Stupid Skeptic Question, which he assumes in ignorance I'll answer, "Duhhhh, yeah" to, Skeptic X embarks on a skein of hoo-ha in which he wants to know, "why can't I ask if the astronomical signs in Old Testament prophecies meant that the age of the law would end when Babylon or Egypt or whatever fell?" As he bangs his cranium against this misplaced question for the next few sentences, we'll skip down past all of that, past where Skeptic X demands that Matthew/God should have kissed his rear end and written the passage in clear English the way he would have liked it, not the way the people of that time would have well understood it (yes, this relates to his "pathological literalism," bigotry, and laziness, which we address at the end of this), and get to where we noted the actual point of 2 Pete 3:8, which was that "for God, time is meaningless (note: not a day 'is' a thousand years, but 'is AS')..." Skeptic X manages to admit, hard though it had to have been, that "[y]es, it was a simile, so I don't at all disagree that this was the intended meaning of the statement," but, he sidesteps, "that is beside the point." It is? If Skeptic X agrees, then 2 Peter 3:8 is off limits for him to use against preterism. Case closed. But that monster ego won't leave the room quite so easily, for he remains insistent that the "time is meaningless" warning was "obviously intended to explain the delay in the fulfillment of Jesus's promise to return soon." Obvious? It isn't "obvious" at all, and is just as well intended to explain why the parousia just wasn't as lickety-split as the mockers thought it should have been -- in say AD 55 rather than AD 70. That idea Skeptic X uses starts with the assumption of a VERY delayed parousia, and ends with it in turn. Skeptic X has no answer for this, so he harps back to his previous canard that "longsuffering" means a long, long delay. When Skeptic X rings up all the old arguments as an answer to a new one, you know he's been licked.

Skeptic X gives us another example of his reading comprehension disorder; I say, "Peter is saying, God doesn't care about your mockeries, because as far as He is concerned, time is meaningless and the parousia is set in stone and has already happened." Somehow Skeptic X gets this as me saying that "Peter was saying that the parousia had already happened" and then whines for a few sentences about that, concluding with the dazed request, "Does this guy ever pay any attention to what he is writing?" Heck, Skeptic X, do you ever pay any attention to what you are reading? You can pay for 90% of my website now, then hack and cough your way out the door. Try reading that phrase in bold above to get the point.

I next noted that "Ps. 90:4 is alluded to here, and says, 'For a thousand years in thy sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night.'" Skeptic X allows for the allusion, but -- isn't this cute? -- thinks he has a widdle twump card:

Yes, it probably was an allusion to Psalm 90:4. So what? Whatever Psalm 90:4 said, [Holding] can't base on it any kind of argument about what 2 Peter 3:8 meant, or has he forgotten the position he took when I pointed out that Romans 10:18 was a quotation of Psalm 19:4, which said that the heavens had declared the glory of God through all the earth and to the ends of the world? I pointed out that Paul had quoted from the Septuagint version, which had used the word oikoumene for world, so he could not have intended for oikoumene to mean just the Roman empire.

And after summarizing my point about Paul in Romans, Skeptic X burps and lets the Pringles fly:

How, then, can [Holding] know that "Peter" wasn't doing this when he alluded to Psalm 90:4 in his thousand-year simile and that "Peter's" hidden meaning was entirely different from what the psalmist had intended. One thing about [Holding] is that he will never let consistency get in the way of fabricating some kind of quibble to try to make the Bible not mean what it says.

Ha ha, isn't Skeptic X a cutie when he tries to do scholarly stuff? He wouldn't know midrash from diaper rash, but he wants us to toe the line on "consistency" based on his third-grade understanding of Jewish exegetical procedures. As if. Hey, Skeptic X -- we'll give you two brownie points if you go to Miller's article here and tell us exactly which of the exegetical procedures 2 Pete 3:8 was using when it made use of Ps. 90:4 to allegedly support YOUR position. This ought to be worth a few dozen laughs. (Actually, we do say that there is some "midrash" going on here, as even Skeptic X figures out: Pete did isolate 90:4 from it's larger context, where it does indeed have to do with the brevity of life. Pete re-applied it to argue that time was meaningless for God, whereas the temporal mockers are going to get their tuckuses kicked. Now let's see what kind of "diaper midrash" Skeptic X gets from scooting his own rear end across the thorns.)

As a side funny note, Skeptic X calls from his corner and beneath the dunce cap and refers to "this thing that Longenecker called 'Jewish exegetical procedure...'" Skeptic X, you denying that this was an actual Jewish exegetical procedure? I really wish you would. The lesson you'd get would be funnier than Curly splatting Moe with a cream pie.

Skeptic X now proposes to show that our view of 2 Pete 3:8 isn't possible, but first he wants to play a bit about apocalyptic imagery beyond 3:8. After whining the usual whine about taking things literally because he is a pedantic fundaliteralist, and again insulting scholars like Caird who have done their homework about Hebrew language and idiom (see previous section), we get to where I said:

He tries to make his usual silk purse out of the sow's ear of 2 Peter 3:4 and 11, which says, "And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation," and, "...Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness..." I suppose Mr. Pedantic Literalist also thinks that when Mark says Jesus explained "all things" (Mark 4:34) to his disciples that included the mating habits of sea slugs. I suppose he also thinks that when Paul speaks of people who eat "all things" (Rom. 14:2) he means to include rocks and dirt.

Skeptic X finds this analysis "Absolutely amazing!" and whines, "If [Holding] had read the contexts of the biblical examples he used above, he should have noticed that the 'all things' were identified in the contexts of the respective texts." Uh huh, that's right. By golly, he figured it out faster than I expected. And it was also identified in the context of 2 Peter 3:11, Skeptic X. Peter used the same danged imagery as the OT prophecies -- no literal elements, just figures of speech for political and social realities. Hence, we are back at the base of Skeptic X's tail again, which he still hasn't stopped chasing. He wagged in 2 Peter to divert from Olivet, and is using his own argument to prop up his own argument.

But now here's a real funny, because I laid a trap for Skeptic X on this one, and he fell headfirst into it. I wanted him to exegete (pfft, hack) 3:10 and tell us what he thought the passage meant was passing away. Our stance on what the "heavens" and "earth" are in this context are well-known; we of course match that with the same imagery we have found elsewhere. But what of the middle phrase, "and the elements shall melt with fervent heat..."? Skeptic X opens his mouth wide and sticks his foot in:

What elements would these be.... Could it possibly be the elements in the "earth" [ge] that he said in verse 7 had been reserved for fire? Sure, it could. After all, he said just three verses later that the "elements" would melt with fervent heat, and if there was any doubt what "elements" these were, he immediately said that "both the earth and the works that are in it would be burned up.

The elements in the earth? Boy, that's funny. So Skeptic X thinks these are "elements" like as in, the Periodic Table? Oh, boy, I was waiting for this. Lexicons will indeed tell you that it's a possible meaning, but that's not all she wrote. Hey, Skeptic X, ever done a word study on "elements"? It might surprise you:

Gal. 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Heb. 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

Get that? Preterism is quite comfortable here: Pete is referring to intangible principles "melting" in the fervent heat. It's all the same wild language again, with the special double meaning: What Pete speaks of here is symbolic for the world order -- the political order, the principles, the social order. Skeptic X can try hard and strain to literalize these things -- against the grain of seven arguments we detailed previously about such language in Isaiah -- but all he has in his corner is his own fundaliteralism.

Skeptic X wastes some time dazzling his Skeptical gullibles with an analysis of my other "all things" passages, but the point was made, and he missed it, so it's all wasted space. The context tells us what is passing away in 2 Pete 3:10; the social and literary context tells us what those things stood for, and for Skeptic X, the argument goes right back to the same old same old: It's gotta be literal, because that's the way he reads it in English from the La-Z-Boy.

As we wind down this section we will see that Skeptic X, apparently a bit stung by being caught for his inadequate coverage in the Skeptical Refuse paper-rag edition (caused in much part by his "wag the dog" treatment of 2 Peter), will start all over again with our original article; for now, here's yet another point of amusement. Citing part of Luke's version of the Discourse:

21:25-8 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

Skeptic X burbles (insert laugh track): "[Luke] told his readers that when they saw 'these things,' i. e., signs in the sun, moon, and stars and distress of the nations on earth, the roaring of the sea (as if there were a sea around Jerusalem where this could happen), they should look up and lift up their heads, because their redemption was drawing near. Now why should they look up to see their redemption drawing near, unless the writer intended for the signs in the heavens and the son of man coming in the clouds to be understood literally?" Duh ah, let's look at that in order, shall we? Skeptic X has one problem already, whistling over that sea reference; that alone shows this to be a passage laden with figures of speech, in that case, the sea representing people, and people don't look up to see the sea. Second, the verse before says, "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." So, what's this? How long is this "times of the Gentiles"? If we have cosmic destruction, how can there be a time of the Gentiles to be fulfilled? But item 3 is the real laugher from Skeptic X, as he gets it in the wrong order. Look, Skeptic X, at the order: It doesn't say to look up to see the signs, or the Son of Man coming. All that happens; THEN you "look up". Hello? Skeptic X thinks the instructions are to look up and see the signs; apparently he's got so much fundaliteralism in his ears that he's forgotten a certain Semitic idiom:

Job 10:15 If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction;
Ps. 24:7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Ps. 110:7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.
Zech. 1:21 Then said I, What come these to do? And he spake, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it.

Are these guys talking about people looking into the sky for stars? No, they're saying, "Chin up! Good stuff is on the way." What Skeptic X takes for a goggle-eyed gaze is actually a signal of relief from having one's face to the ground in despair. Note that the one other place Luke uses the word for "look up" it refers to a woman bent over who is unable to stand up in a normal pose (Luke 13:11), and John uses it likewise of Jesus getting up from stooping on the ground (John 8). Believers are being encouraged to get up from their downcast state, not look into the sky for Superman! That's what being a fundaliteralist will do to impair your reading vision.

Ironically enough, Skeptic X asks a Stupid Skeptic Question that, if he had any sense, would show him one of his problems. He wants to know why, with all this cosmic crunch happening literally (as he sees it), Luke didn't tell them to "run like hell to try to escape the battle raging around them...." Duh, Skeptic X, if you have the sense to see that, what makes you think Median soldiers are going to keep running swords through people while the stars are falling on their heads? Skeptic X of course will opt for the "they wuz stupid" option before admitting that the issue is resolved simply with the realization that these were symbols. No, like dispensationalists, Skeptic X prefers fundaliteralism and is just one brick short of thinking Revelation predicts black helicopters with Stinger missiles. If Skeptic X were still a preacher he'd be finding the mark of the beast in your Visa card.

Luke 21:34 "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth."

Skeptic X next casts his limp gaze upon this passage, but his arguments are ones we have seen before: 1) the day would be unexpected, hence it couldn't be that folks could look for signs; 2) "earth" is ge and because it lacks a qualifier, must mean the whole danged planet. Note in addition to what we have said that on 1) the verse Skeptic X just quoted above tells people to look for the signs and lift their head because their redemption is on the way. The level of surprise is hardly seen here as comparable to Jesus hiding behind a couch and jumping out when you open a door. On 2) Skeptic X continues to whine about Luke not helping his contextual ignorance or doing his thinking for him by inserting a "clear" qualifier like "of Judah". Skeptic X has little but this silent treatment to offer as a way of forcing "whole ge" to mean "whole danged planet"; we see why in his next effort:

And why did Luke make the statement so emphatic by saying that this snare would come upon all those who dwell upon the face of the whole earth? That's a rather peculiar way to refer to a relatively small population occupying the tiny parcel of ground called Judah.

Gosh, it is? Did anyone tell these guys?

Gen. 2:13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
Is. 13:5 They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.
Jer. 4:20 Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.

There's issues here about how the OT word erets is translated land or world in different places, but it is enough to say, to paraphrase Godzilla, "Size doesn't matter." "Whole X" isn't a "rather peculiar" phrase to use with reference to a "tiny parcel of ground" any more that it is weird to refer to something affecting a "whole state" whether it be Alaska or Rhode Island.

Skeptic X spends some more time popping out his previous thesis (rebutted in part 1) about how the NT doesn't see the end of the "age of the law" as future. We'll skip over that, since we already shopped at that Winn Dixie and already smelled the dead fish from the seafood department, and move to the next new point, where Skeptic X yaps on about items like the parable of the tares and judgment. A few words are in order since some of Skeptic X's next few ravings after this relate to the meaning of aion (age). Obviously, when we speak of an "age" we refer to a period of time within which certain conditions are existent. Thus the "Industrial Age" refers to a nebulously-defined period within which certain events and advances occurred; these events are tied up with the identity of the "age" itself. This needs to be kept in mind, for of course any passage speaking of the end of an "age" will naturally imply that certain historical events will occur, not merely that a time period will elapse.

I noted generally of such passages about judgment:

Dispensational commentators see here a reference perhaps to the "Rapture" and/or final judgment. But neither a harvest nor a fishing expedition is such a quick event. Harvests took days to process in the age before tractors. Fishermen stayed out fishing for extended periods (as Peter and co. stayed out all night, until Jesus leant a hand). No commentator would disagree that upon death the wicked, and the justified in Christ, are encountering their final judgment (Heb. 9:27) -- and the "field" here is the "world" (kosmos), the entire world. The seed sown by Jesus is sown over the entire kosmos. We'll note the significance of this when we get to verse 12. What it comes down to is this: With the "end of the age" in 70, the "angels" -- there is a special issue with this word as well -- were sent out to harvest, based on reaction to the Gospel. The harvest (and the fishing expedition) is still going, and people are still being separated based on their reaction to the good news.

Matthew 13:39-40 reads, "The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world." Again, a harvest was an extended affair; this is no "instant act" but a process over time. Skeptic X is confused on this point and wanders around for a while somehow thinking we connect the destruction of Jerusalem with punishment in eternal fire! Skeptic X has a confused idea of what we are offering, and doesn't get a clue until he actually quotes us again:

But surely this has not happened? Actually it has, and still does. All agree that the Bible teaches that judgment is entered upon death (Heb. 9:27). We cannot assume that what we are being offered here is a literal picture of events--no more so than people are actually sheep or goats, or that the millions of blessed and wicked will respond with exactly the same words at once as though they were some sort of Greek tragedy chorus. As DeMar rightly says, this depicts a "judgment over time" [DeM.LDM, 200]. Jesus is now exalted to his throne and is passing this sort of judgment as more and more pass on. His remarks to the sheep and goats, and their responses, are typified and stereotyped; this should also be obvious since they cannot be a complete catalog of virtuous and wicked acts. Matthew 25:31-46 is taking place even now--it is not a future judgment (exclusively), but it is a final one.

Skeptic X begins by tripping himself on Heb. 9:27, which he claims does not say what I argue it does. It doesn't say judgment is entered upon death, he mumbles; it says "that judgment will come after death." There is hilarious irony here, for Skeptic X is repeating the same argument that Mormons use on Heb. 9:27 to argue that some people experience postmortem evangelization. I have the same news for Skeptic X: The word "come" is not in the original text; the saying literally is, "after this, judgment" and it is reading matters into the text to see a case of a period of time between death and decisive (not final) judgment. Skeptic X is right that all persons will await a time of final judgment; he doesn't answer thereby the point that at death, one will experience the results of that judgment. Indeed if death is not the crux point, there is no point in citing it here as Hebrews 9:27 does. Skeptic X never really explains in return and in depth what he supposes a person experiences upon death, within this paradigm, so we cannot go any further until he does. However, before looking at more cites he rings up, it's worth looking at one of Mr. Perfecto's amusing typos that show he is a slave to the spell checker and not quite the Biblical genius he claims to be:

As the apostle Paul said in his speech on Mar's Hill, God has "appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained" (Acts 17:31).

Get that, folks? The hill that belongs to the guy named Mar. Maybe Skeptic X has DeMar on the mind. So much for that reign of perfection. Say it all at once: "If Skeptic X can't even get something this simple in his own language right, why should we trust him, blah blah blah blah."

But when it comes to the sheep and the goats, Skeptic X wastes an extraordinary amount of verbiage whining that "[n]o reasonable person can claim that the entire text must be interpreted figuratively just because one simile was used." Just ONE simile? The passage is laden with simile and other figurative devices. My point, at any rate, was that this hardly should be assumed to be taken to be a scene at one particular period of time -- not that the other similes, etc. prove it, as Skeptic X seems to think I say -- and the responses of the people, that could hardly be all the same, at the same time, show that this is a typical example of a response. Beyond this Skeptic X with his "it's literal unless I say it is" game (which he covers with the rule of modern, Western literature, that things should be taken as literal unless there is a compelling reason not to do so!) tries to foist the reasoning that his explication of Matthew 25:31 is consistent with all New Testament passages that describe this 'day of judgment,'" but as we'll see, that's the old fundaliteralist/dispensationalist game of mashing texts together on the basis of mere word associations, the same process that gets the dispensationalists finding the modern antichrist listed in Thessalonians. At this point let's take a closer look at the reasons Skeptic X offers for thinking that what we have here is an all-at-a-time party rather than a snapshot of judgment over time:

Matthew 13:47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

We have already noted that harvests and fishing expeditions were extended affairs in the ancient world; the two Matthew 13 illustrations therefore match the principle of "judgment over time." Skeptic X tries to weasel around this by noting that the field owner told his workers to wait a bit until both wheat and tares grew sufficiently, and tries to suggest that this points to a "one big fat judgment time" scenario, but sorry, Skeptic X, that doesn't change that harvests took days and weeks to perform. The wait of the owner actually fits just fine with the principle of God waiting until just the right time to inaugurate the reign and judgment of the Messiah: note particularly that the tares were likely of a sort of weed that in its early stages was indistinguishable from wheat at the same stage, so that the established principle would seem to be that God waits until such time as the maximum number can be "identified" to be saved. Whatever it is, it remains that Skeptic X is confusing pre-harvest with harvest, and thus is far from finding something consistent with an all-at-once picture of final judgment versus judgment experienced on a periodic basis. (The funny thing as well is that Skeptic X barks, "[Holding]'s view would have the tares being plucked up on a day-to-day basis..." Analogically, that is exactly how both the wheat AND the tares would be plucked come harvest time - a few at a time!)

2 Thessalonians 1:6 (I)t is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

Skeptic X posits the alleged problem here that, "What about those who were 'troubling' the church in Thessalonica referred to above (1 Thess. 1:6)? They were all the way across the Mediterranean Sea from Judah, so did Jesus take vengeance on them in flaming fire when he was 'revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,' which language, of course, was just an 'apocalyptic' way of describing the destruction of Jerusalem and the 'end of the law'? So in what sense did those Thessalonian troublemakers suffer 'eternal destruction from the face of the Lord'?" You can see how Skeptic X leaps around like a dispensationalist connecting dots on this one! First of all, Paul doesn't say at all that the specific persons troubling the Thessies were the ones Jesus would take vengeance on, though ultimately, those are included. The party in question is "those who do not know God" -- and them folks are still around now. Paul does allude to the vindicating coming of the Son of Man in verse 7, but what he depicts is the same scene as Matthew 25: Christ runs the judgment show and punishes those who do not know God with everlasting destruction (Indeed, if this part were on Jerusalem in 70, how would say, a death in battle, amount to "everlasting destruction"???) and is glorified in His saints who in contrast receive salvation. Thus it runs as follows: "(I)t is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you (who are examples of those who will receive "everlasting destruction") and to give you who are troubled rest (relief or liberty, as obtained via vindication; the same as Luke's "redemption") with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels (the coming parousia of the Son of Man, comparable to Matthew 25:31), in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God ("Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire..."), and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord ("Depart from me...") and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints (the sheep) and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed." Skeptic X was given a dot picture of a gnat and ended up with a camel.

Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the LORD. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Skeptic X does not explain the "problem" here, and I don't see one. This says nothing about judgment being group-later or individual-as needed. Maybe Skeptic X put it in just to put you to sleep.

Jude 14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."

Skeptic X does explain this one, but he is just banging on his own head with raw sausage: "...if this "judgment" was simply the destruction of Jerusalem, then what about all of those 'ungodly men' who had crept secretly into churches outside Jerusalem (Jude 4)?" What does this have to do with the price of tea in Beijing? (Racist comment against the Chinese.) This says zip about judgment being group-later or individual-as needed.

2 Peter 3:7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

Yes, and what? As before Skeptic X doesn't see the difference between a DAY of judgment and the EXPERIENCE of judgment. When he gets his head out of the oatmeal, maybe he can explain why these are allegedly problems.

I had noted previously that Skeptic X had obviously not known the difference between full and partial preterism, as evidenced by his earliest statement that preterism posited that "Jesus returned rather inconspicuously in 70 AD." There is no way around this description. It is a match for the full preterist idea that the resurrection of all men was invisible and undetected, just as JWs often try to say of alleged past "comings" of Jesus. Skeptic X of course can't admit to the error, insists, "I am familiar with the divisions in the preterist camp" (note that he hasn't the guts to say was -- of course he is now, since I told him), uses the division to claim that the issue is "not quite as cut and dried as [Holding] thinks it is" (gee, does division between him and the smugly-arguing McKinsey show that errancy is not as "cut and dried" as Skeptic X thinks it is?); whines that the word "advent" is not found in the Bible (which does not stop it from being the meaning of the word parousia, which, as we noted in our first article, was used "for the arrival of a ruler, king or emperor," for example, of a special visit by Nero to Corinth, when coins were cast in honor of his visit; and in Hellenistic contexts a theophany, or a manifestation of deity), spends some time gumming his corncob pipe and lecturing on different views of end times, re-re-repeats his point about the age of the law ending in 30 (see part 1) and finally gets to something that isn't just worthless jaw (JUST) in saying, "There are just as many passages that speak of Jesus's reigning on his throne well before AD 70." Uh, yeah, Skeptic X -- and a parousia IS "the arrival of a ruler, king or emperor" by definition 1. In other words, when Jesus "visits" in 70, he is already king and sitting on a throne. Skeptic X cites several passages that say Jesus is already enthroned, but it's yet more waste of breath. He is confusing the preterist position yet again by thinking we equate the end of the "age of the law" with the beginning of the "kingdom of God" under the rule of Jesus. The kingdom of God was in effect; the parousia or visit of the king took place in 70. When Skeptic X wakes up from the aion-long nap, and starts actually understanding the preterist position he presumes to lecture authoritatively on in order to fool his gullible Skeptical thralls, he can let us know.

As a last whine, Skeptic X barks to my note that the advent of the kingdom of God "was visibly and with painful obviousness shown with the destruction of the religious and political framework of the Jewish nation," that he thinks I have missed some history because "Judaism has existed ever since, and there is even now a Jewish nation." Oh, there is, is there? Well, the Jewish nation "now" is hardly anything against the destruction THEN, 2000 years past (and moreover hardly as meaningful, one may note, since it is peopled by persons mainly descended from European stock, not by ethnic Jews of the ancient world), and in case Skeptic X forgot his own history, 70 AD was a turning point for Jewish religion within which, in light of the ceasing of the temple cultus, new measures were taken to preserve Judaism which resulted in a substantially different orientation. The Sadducees, the vanguard of the religion, disappeared. The Pharisees "mutated" into the rabbinic movement. Jerusalem became a pagan city and there was no place to return to for the four yearly festivals. Skeptic X might want to think about the reason for the Council at Jamnia. The religious framework of Judaism was destroyed in 70, and the movement had to be re-invented basically from the ground up. So much for Skeptic X's McSimple McHistory.

And now back to 2 Pete. I noted that "Skeptic X thinks he has a quick-draw card from 2 Peter because Peter draws an analogy to the Flood, which, he blubbers, he supposes we think was a literal event, so how can we say the melting mountains aren't?" After interrupting to restate his case, deliver spin-accusations, and bore the reader to death, we get to where I noted, "This is actually just another case of Skeptic X being analogically impaired. Peter's analogy draws solely upon the human reaction to the Flood; it says zip about how they compare in terms of expression." Skeptic X swerves in a few circles here, as he is apparently unable to get what I mean, calling what I say "unexplained abstractions" and asking, "What do they mean?" It's in plain English, so let Skeptic X figure it out himself the way he figured we wanted him to pay for 90% of this website. I added, "Keep in mind that the Flood was not the 'end of an age'" -- Skeptic X burps with this gem of CoC makeshifting:

The destruction of all the world in a catastrophe in which only eight people survived was not the end of an age? What was it then? Just a big flood, after which the world continued as it had been? The flood didn't end the age of the giants caused by the intermarriage of human women with the "sons of God"?

Isn't that cute? For his reply, Skeptic X arbitrarily designates an "age," otherwise undesignated as such by anyone, and slaps the era before the Flood into it. Just like inventing your own national holiday. Great! Now his thralls can speak of us as living in the "C. Farris Skeptic X Age" and ask why we're not in it. I also added that the Flood was "not ever described using apocalyptic imagery as the destruction of Babylon, etc. was," and naturally Skeptic X wings back to his previous stance that all that stuff really was literal which has already been trampled. I noted as well that fire was used as imagery in the Bible (i.e., Matt. 3:10-12) even when used in illustrations that could reflect literal happenings, and after professing that he is "not so sure that [Holding]'s example is a case where it was so used" (in other words, he really is such a pathological literalist that he thinks hell has real fire -- I guess he never asked the question while in CoC, "How can hell have both flames AND darkness?" -- maybe he thinks the flames are black), and does offer a few examples of places where he agrees "fire" is referred to figuratively, and then harps back to his same canard that "it has to be literal unless I am satisfied that it is figurative." No new blood in this one at all. (And if he wants to play on Daniel, he can go here where we are still waiting for him to rebut things against him after years.)

Before leaving, Skeptic X decides to put his foot in what he thinks is my mouth by noting that water was used figuratively in the Bible, too, and therefore he thinks that this is some sort of guff against a literal Flood being recognized in 2 Peter. That's the old analogy impairment at work again, since we have no parallel narrative to confirm literal fire as we do literal Flood. Skeptic X still hasn't learned to think beyond one dimension, which is why he keeps harping back to the "primary literary principle [of modern, Western literature] that says the language of a text should be understood literally unless there are compelling reasons to assign figurative meaning..." This isn't modern, Western literature, and the "principle" he has had stenciled on his forehead is anachronistic when applied to another time and another culture. If Skeptic X wants to use this line of reasoning, he needs to do a complete study (as scholars like Caird have) of the language and culture that was behind the literature and then explain to us why and how his guide-dog principle holds true. He won't do it, so don't expect it.

And on it goes. Skeptic X rings up his misapprehension of the CCBE quote for the 758,329th time, whines some more about how he couldn't find what he missed in our original article, once again analogically-impairedly compares quoting a certified and trained scholar to merely quoting some duffhead like McKinsey with his ear in his soup, and finally gets to discussing the meaning of aion. In our original article we noted:

The word for "world" is not a reference to the physical world, but is the Greek aion, or "age." The question is about the end of the age a time period, not the end of the world. Had that been the intent, the Greek word kosmos would have been used.

We added more to this, including observations of Jewish belief in two ages (law versus Messiah), but Skeptic X drizzles in on the meaning of aion and proposes to "show that aion in Greek was sometimes used to mean the world so that 'the end of the age [aion]' could convey the sense of 'the end of the world.'" Skeptic X is being careful here and knows he ought to be. "Could" of course is one thing, and even if Skeptic X is right, contextually he is defeated in light of the context of the two Jewish ages, to say nothing of that the vast majority of uses of aion clearly are referrals to a period of time. (Our word eon, after all, comes from this.) He also doesn't ask himself, as he should, whether aion is translated as "world" precisely because the translator has a dispensational scenario in mind; or else, are making the sort of connection between and "age" and the events in it that we have noted above. In other words, this is at best for Skeptic X a toss-up, but it doesn't even come that close. Here are some uses of aion in the NT (WARNING: Expertise in Greek being professed!):

Matt. 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

This is a clear time example. Other examples one might see as "age" or as "world":

Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Skeptic X however proposes to drag out cites that he thinks can ONLY mean "world," not "age," and so give his position some limp support. He starts by pulling out the dinosaur-imprinted 1960 AG lexicon, and offering this cite:

Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds [aionas].

Skeptic X tells us that AG goes with "worlds" and he's right. But, while I can't say what Skeptic X's ancient AG says, the 2000 BAGD is rather fascinating. It has four entries for the meaning of aionos; one of these, referring to a mythical figure called Aeon, I think we can safely ignore. Two entries refer to time periods, and offer huge numbers of cites. The third entry is the one that says "world" - and it offers a puny number of cites relative to the other two "time" entries. It also has a Surgeon General's Warning at the end: "But many of these pass[ages] may belong under 2 [one of the two "time" meanings BAGD assigns]." If this was also in Skeptic X's 1960 AG, we'd better contact the Better Business Bureau and complain about Skeptic X's selective reportage. But on the above verse, Skeptic X adds the guff that:

The latter would indicate that the writer was saying that God created the "ages" through his son, but it is rather difficult to conceive of why the writer would claim that the son of God had created the ages.

It is? Why? Ages are designated by events; God is the sovereign behind the events; what is Skeptic X's problem in conception here? One may as well speak of, i.e., a person as the "Father of the Industrial Age" -- it doesn't mean they "created" a nebulous period of time. Not that it matters. The word "created" here by the way is (NOTE to gullible Skeptics: This is a cite from Strong's concordance):

160. poieo, poy-eh'-o; appar. a prol. from of an obsol. prim.; to make or do (in a very wide application, more or less direct):--abide, + agree, appoint, X avenge, + band together, be, bear, + bewray, bring (forth), cast out, cause, commit, + content, continue, deal, + without any delay, (would) do (-ing), execute, exercise, fulfil, gain, give, have, hold, X journeying, keep, + lay wait, + lighten the ship, make, X mean, + none of these things move me, observe, ordain, perform, provide, + have purged, purpose, put, + raising up, X secure, shew, X shoot out, spend, take, tarry, + transgress the law, work, yield. Comp. G4238.

Can we speak of God appointing, bringing forth, executing, ordaining the ages? Here's where my buggy software says this word is also used:

Matthew 1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
Matt. 3:3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Jude 1:15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard

This word has some darned broad connotations, and Skeptic X is fighting a tiger when he tries to put it in a box as he has. In contrast, the word used for God "creating" things is:

2936. ktizo, ktid'-zo; prob. akin to G2932 (through the idea of the proprietorship of the manufacturer); to fabricate, i.e. found (form originally):--create, Creator, make.

As in:

Col. 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

So much for Skeptic X's lack of conceiving ability. And he doubles the fun by comparing Heb. 1:2 to John 1:3, "all things were made through him [the word, i. e., Jesus] and without him was not anything made that has been made." John 1:3 uses this word:

1096. ginomai, ghin'-om-ahee; a prol. and mid. form of a prim. verb; to cause to be ("gen"-erate), i.e. (reflex.) to become (come into being), used with great latitude (lit. fig., intens., etc.):--arise be assembled, be (come, -fall, -have self), be brought (to pass), (be) come (to pass), continue, be divided, be done, draw, be ended, fall, be finished, follow, be found, be fulfilled, + God forbid, grow, happen, have, be kept, be made, be married, be ordained to be, partake, pass, be performed, be published, require, seem, be showed, X soon as it was, sound, be taken, be turned, use, wax, will, would, be wrought.

Next up Skeptic X pulls some like these out of his hat:

2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, [aiona] and is departed unto Thessalonica....

Skeptic X piles on the Stupid Skeptic Questions: "If the apostle Paul meant here that Demas loved the present 'age,' then exactly what was he saying? Was he saying that Demas loved the Jewish age, which according to [Holding] had not yet ended, or was he saying that Demas loved the new covenant age, which, as various scriptures already quoted show, Paul believed Demas and he were living in at that time?" Duh ah, aside from that we answered that little carp at the end in Part 1, Skeptic X is a little dense to suppose that Gentiles like Demas would know or care or be referred to in the context of a Jewish age of the law. The hillbilly in the hills sure doesn't know about the "Industrial Age" or the "Information Age" and Paul refers here to an "age" that refers to the social order of the world Demas lives in. As noted, an age is composed of events; one may of course arbitrarily declare an "age" (as Skeptic X did above, and as Paul does, in all likelihood, here) based on any set of events. Skeptic X needs to unlock that one-dimensional box he's in: You don't designate a reference to an "age" as the "age of the law" unless the context demands it (as in 1 Cor. 10:11) -- or did he forget that rule of his for this occasion?

Skeptic X pulls the same shebang with 1 Tim. 6:17 ("them that are rich in this world [aioni]") and tries to throttle aion into being a synonym by noting Paul's use of kosmos in the same book to speak of us "bringing nothing into the world [kosmon]" (note that the latter verse refers clearly to physical objects, making kosmon clearly physical, while 6:17 must obviously be a time-frame, since Timothy is speaking to his own contemporaries); with 2 Cor. 4:4 ("the god of this world [aionos]"), and 1 Cor. 8:13 ("Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world [aiona] standeth, lest I make my brother to offend") and it is all the same guff where he thinks any "age" referred to is and only can be the "age of the law/Messiah". His last example is to compare:

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world [kosmou], that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will...
Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world [aionon] hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11According to the eternal [aionon] purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

Skeptic X drivels from this, "At the beginning of this epistle, 'Paul' (does Skeptic X want to argue authorship here? he can go here) used kosmou, which [Holding] claims meant the whole world, in reference to the mystery of the gospel that had been revealed. He said that God had preordained 'before the foundation of the world [kosmou]' those who would be chosen as adopted children... but later in this epistle he said that this selection had been hidden before the beginning of the world [aionon]. Clearly this writer was using the words kosmos and aion interchangeably to convey the same meaning, i. e., world." Clearly Skeptic X is grabbing any CoC undershirt he can slap on to hide himself under. Ages are composed of events, so a parallel usage like this is far from proving anything like what Skeptic X wants it to. Skeptic X likes to play this game of collapsing any words he can down into "homographs" or "homophones" or whatever the heck he wants to call them this week, but it's nothing but a manipulative CoC undershirt grab. He also needs to look further: the phrases are not a parallel at all. 1:4 uses this word for "foundation":

2602. katabole, kat-ab-ol-ay'; from G2598; a deposition, i.e. founding; fig. conception:--conceive, foundation.

...whereas 3:9 literally speaks of "having been hidden from the eternity" with no actual parallel word for "beginning" in the original language. In other words, 3:9 speaks of a time even before the creation of the world. No parallel. Same for Romans 16:25 (literally, the "mystery in times eternal").

Skeptic X closes part 8 with a cite of Matt. 28:20, where Jesus says he is with us until the "end of the aion" in which he thinks this means Jesus would only be around the disciples until 70. That's Skeptic X playing games as usual, and still failing to comprehend that the "age of the law" and the "age of the Messiah" under preterism were contemporaneous for a period of 40 years between 30 and 70 AD. Thus Matt. 28:20, from the mouth of the Risen Messiah, refers to the age of the Messiah. Skeptic X whines about context? He doesn't have a clue about context, no clue about Jewish belief in two ages, and prefers the security blanket of "quote the English versions to prove your point" rather than depth analysis that blows his parcels sky-high. Will he ever get to dealing with the data honestly? If you think so, I have a package of flying sausage links to sell you.

Moving right along, now, to part 9. Skeptic X begins this section with his "detailed explication of 2 Peter 3:1ff" and an overall refusal to address Miller's article on the authorship of 2 Peter, saying he will "leave it to readers to decide for themselves whether [Holding] and Miller, whose expertise seems to be limited to cutting and pasting quotations from books and authors who agree with their inerrancy view of the Bible, should be accepted as better authorities in this matter than esteemed scholars like Bruce Metzger." Translated loosely: Skeptic X is too chicken to address Miller's detailed arguments directly, and even below in one case where he acknowledges a different argument exists (without so much as mentioning it or addressing it) doesn't even touch Miller's counter at all. Skeptic X uncritically copies Meztger to begin here, with respect to 2 Peter 3:4:

Scholars like Metzger refer to the "fathers" who the scoffers said had fallen asleep as evidence of late authorship for this epistle, because the reference indicates that previous generations of Christians, i. e., "the fathers," had died. In Peter's lifetime, of course, this could not have happened. Some early Christians would have died but not an entire generation or more, who could have been referred to collectively as "the fathers."

Skeptic X notes Miller's answer -- briefly -- that the "fathers" refers not to Christians but to OT "fathers," but barks back with his usual shebang that he pulls when he has no better answer, that "readers should keep in mind that the meanings of words must be determined by the context in which they appear..." That's correct, and it means Skeptic X loses in spades. The NT context in which this passages appears DOES support the "OT fathers" usage. Let's remind the reader of what Miller said exactly, which Skeptic X utterly ignores:

Your friend has decided that "the fathers" must mean all the apostles and all the Elders and perhaps even all the 1st generation of Christians, but this is not only arbitrary (and unsupported) but also contrary to normal NT usage:
"The false teachers ask, "Where is this `coming' he promised?" Mocking the faith of Christians, they support their own position by claiming, "Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." Who are the persons Peter calls "our fathers"? Kelly (p. 355) and Schelkle (p. 224) argue that they were first-generation Christians. But Bigg (p. 291) and Green (Peter and Jude, p. 128-29) consider this unlikely. "Fathers" are much more likely to be OT fathers as in John 6:31, Acts 3:13, Romans 9:5, and Hebrews 1:1. This is the normal NT usage, and the other view requires a clumsy forger to have missed so obvious a blunder. "Our fathers died" (lit., "fell asleep") is a lovely metaphor for the death of believers (cf. Acts 7:60; 1Thess 4:13-14). [Blum, EBCOT]
The relevant NT passages include:
"Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, `HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'" (John 6.31)
"The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, (Acts 3.13)
whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (Rom 9.5)
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1.1)
And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, (Acts 13.32)
Bauckham admits that the weight of the evidence is for this interpretation (WBC:290):
"Those who wish to maintain that 'the fathers' are the OT patriarchs or prophets have the weight of usage on their side. In early Christian literature, continuing Jewish usage, hoi pateres ('the fathers') means the OT 'fathers,' i.e. the patriarchs or, more generally, the righteous men of OT times (John 7:22; Acts 13:32; Rom 9:5; Heb 1:1; Barn. 5:7; 14:1; Apoc. Pet. E 16; Ep. Apost. [Coptic] 28); apart from our passage, the only possible exception is 2 Clem 19:4, which could refer to dead Christians but most probably refers to the OT saints..."

Skeptic X mentions not a word of this: not a word about the overwhelming weight of the citations that show that "the fathers" was used of the OT patriarchs and righteous men. Instead he distracts his gullible readers by saying that he will address the matter of "the fathers" later, and then launches into a skein of commentary on 2 Peter that has nothing to do with the issue at hand. Skeptic X no doubt hopes that once he has amazed his gullible readers with this skein, they will think better of whatever cockeyed explanations he comes up with later, but we'll cut the skein off at the pass and get right to the answer. Skeptic X rambles around for several paragraphs, and eventually gets to this confused contusion:

Two points speak against this interpretation: (1) The concern in this text is the second coming of Jesus. (2) The prophets of old did not speak of a second coming of the Messiah. That the Messiah would come into the world but then have to come again is a New Testament idea. Old Testament writers, especially the minor prophets, referred to a "day of the Lord [Yahweh]," but I know of no text where this term was used in reference to a second coming of a Messiah. To the Old Testament writers, "the day of the Lord [Yahweh]" would be a day of massive devastation and destruction.

This confused mass of verbiage and what follows it can be dispensed with almost immediately. Skeptic X is confusing a dispensational concept -- the "second coming" -- with the preterist idea of a parousia or advent, which is nothing at all like the dispensational "second coming". Get it straight: the day of the Lord was a phrase used to describe acts of judgment upon nations. It was not a "second coming" as dispensationalists read it and it did not require God to literally appear in the sky and descend to earth (unless you again happen to be a fundaliteralist like Skeptic X who also thinks Yahweh literally blew the Red Sea aside with His nostrils). The NT does not speak of a "second coming" -- it speaks of a parousia, an advent, and we have already shown exactly what that amounts to from the NT texts. "Parousia" is not a technical, special term: it can refer to any advent, and would thus be usable to refer to the "day of the Lord" in 70 AD, or to the day of final resurrection and judgment (which IS found in the OT), or any time where God acts in decisive judgment. Skeptic X is right to say that the NT writers had OT "day of the Lord" passages in mind. He is wrong in applying the term "second coming". AD 70 was a "day of judgment and punishment" and this followed the pattern of other predicted "days of the Lord". (Skeptic X also commits the standard dispensational mistake reading 1 Thessalonians; in other words, he has a lot of homework to do, as usual! -- and then has the nerve to say I have been "very quiet about" this issue! If Skeptic X is too much of an ignoramus to check this site to SEE whether I have said anything about this subjects, that is his own problem -- and it is his own problem as well that he continually wags in diversions from the original topic -- the Olivet Discourse -- and then eats his own foot when we show that the diversions have already been addressed elsewhere.) But in fact Skeptic X will never learn that lesson as he now reiterates a willingness to stump for the pose that "no Old Testament prophecies actually told of the coming of Jesus of Nazareth" and that "New Testament writers simply twisted certain prophecies to give them that spin..." We've already challenged Skeptic X to debate that issue, and we referred to Miller's article here which we offered a selected portion of in another debate, and which we are still waiting for Skeptic X to get to. Skeptic X keeps posting these debate challenges for no other reason than that it keeps the gullible Skeppies thinking he is some sort of Braveheart, when in fact he is more along the lines of Jed Clampett.

At any rate, the idea that no NT writer "claimed that the 'prophets of old' had actually prophesied that Jesus would come once and then come again" is taken as a signal that the fathers of 2 Pete 3:4 "were the fathers who had lived in the time of the apostles and had heard them promise that Jesus would return soon." How this works out logically is not explained. It's just another CoC undershirt grab from the pulpit in which Skeptic X foists a long-winded explanation about texts from the OT, then rushes his conclusion by as quickly as possible in the hopes that no one will notice that he actually proved his conclusion in the foregoing material. Skeptic X does not explain why in the world this makes the "fathers" out to be Christian fathers rather than Jewish ones; if anything it would seem that when the scoffers say, "since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation," it would be far more effective if the time period they hearken back to as an example were greater than the 50-70 years Skeptic X thinks it ought to be. Indeed, the temporal marker back to "the beginning of creation" in the second part of the verse suggests that the "fathers" are NOT recent personages at all, but persons who are all along the temporal vista that ranges from creation to the reader's own day. This at any rate is Skeptic X's one reason given this round for saying that the "fathers" are recent personages. Miller's detailed linguistic parallels are completely ignored.

We now get back to the Flood analogy of 2 Pete 3:5-7, the one which Skeptic X fantasizes "gave [me] so much trouble" but which actually, as noted previously, gave him trouble via his inability to grasp my point. After referring back to his previous impaired response, and throwing it in the hands of the readers to judge (a wise move, since Skeptic X's gullible readers would congratulate him if the question were posed, "Name three types of rabbinic exegesis," and he answered, "Peanuts, popcorn, and soda pop"), and making the stale and unsubstantiated claim that if this passage meant figurative fire, "the analogy would become meaningless" -- how this is so isn't in the least explained, since my view does see obvious meaning in the passage -- Skeptic X asks the Stupid Skeptic Question, "If Peter meant for his readers to understand that the 'world' reserved for destruction by fire [figurative fire, of course] was only a city, then why did he choose the destruction of the entire world as a basis for his analogy when there were examples of cities and limited regions that had been destroyed by fire that he could have used in his comparison." Note Skeptic X's little slip-in: What is reserved for destruction by fire is the "heavens and earth" not the "world" -- there goes Skeptic X slipping in his own geographic definitions again. We have already related this back to the apocalyptic imagery of the Olivet Discourse, in which the SMS signify political entities. Here the figure of speech in broader and covers not just the SMS (the heavens) but also the more common elements of the land. In short, "heavens and earth" covers the political bodies of Judaea as well as the common people who live on the land. Skeptic X is still foisting his fundaliteralist disease in previous selections, and our answer is the same.

Skeptic X whines that if he were the writer, he would have used a better analogy than the Flood, like "Sodom and Gomorrah...because they were so often used in the Bible in warnings about the impending destruction of cities and limited regions." Yeah, uh, excuse me, Skeptic X, but that breaks the analogy which Pete is trying to draw, which is that people were scoffing at a promise of judgment, as they did against Noah. Sodom and G didn't do that, and that's why Peter didn't use this (or Babylon, or Jerusalem) as an analogy. In short, Skeptic X is analogically impaired, yet again, and can get back to his corner and stop dispensing expert advice to people years in the past whose shoes he has never filled, nor even tried on for size. He has a load of nerve describing his own analogy with Jerusalem as "perfect" (even as he misses the connection with scoffers!) and clearly suffers from a massive and deluded egotism to think he can do better than someone living much closer to the time and place and writing to a particular audience he knows well, whereas Skeptic X sits 2000 years later burping in his undershirt and spilling Pringles on himself and wouldn't know Peter's readers from Adam.

Skeptic X next wastes a little more space re-re-repeating earlier points, which we already addressed above, adding a few points about how dumb he thinks God was to inspire writers to say that the end was at hand when it wasn't. Then he pulls in a whine worthy of a Mormon apologist on LSD. After admitting that, yes, dispensationalism and the idea of a rapture are "recent concepts", Skeptic X claims that if preterism is right, we should "be able to quote early church writers like Clement I, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Irenaeus, and others who made it clear in their writings that they understood the conflagration described by 'Peter' and the astronomical signs described by Jesus in the Olivet discourse to be just figurative, apocalyptic descriptions of the end of 'the age of law' through the destruction of Jerusalem. Why hasn't [Holding] produced such early testimony as this?" Skeptic X will go on to produce what he thinks are opposing quotes from folks like these, but I'll poke a hole in that presumptive balloon to start with. If Skeptic X wants to play that game, of assuming that these writers should have perfectly understood all that was written as much as 200 years before their time and in a different cultural milieu, fine -- then we expect him to bow the knee to these same writers when they attribute the Gospels to the traditional authors, for example. I know Skeptic X won't do that, so it's obvious that he would have to agree that the views of such writers should be sifted critically and viewed in light of all other evidence, not merely accepted at face value.

With that in mind, Skeptic X finally got off his lazy duff and did some research -- apparently stung by all those "you would do it toos" I sent spinning back into his face -- and dug into some material, of which he says, "early writers clearly depicted in their writings that there would be an imminent destruction of the world by fire, which would be accompanied by the second coming of Jesus and a final judgment." By this he presumably means early Christian writers; in the very next stence he tells us that "destruction of the world by fire was deeply embedded in Persian, Grecian, Roman, and even Hebrew philosophy," but presumably none of these tied any such destruction in with Jesus. When it gets to specifics, however, Skeptic X loses his marbles yet again, since when it comes to reading such texts, he is doing no more than the same thing that he is doing with the Biblical texts -- reading the texts "fundaliterally" and assuming that they refer to literal events. His first specific cite (after a brief reference to, but no quote from, Zeno) is from the Sibylline Oracles. Skeptic X quotes an extended passage from Book 2 which speaks of "a great river of blazing fire [that] will flow from heaven, and will consume every place" and of "the heavenly luminaries" crashing together, of stars falling, of birds and fish disappearing, and so on. All quite nice, and all quite irrelevant. To begin, as noted, this is no more than the same begged question that the material is to be taken literally. For another, Skeptic X is treading thin ground when he even uses the Sibyls in the first place. As this item from the online Catholic Encyclopedia notes, the Oracles are a varied mix of material from a variety of pagan, Jewish, and Christian sources; even Skeptic X admits that the Oracles can date as late as the 7th century AD, which is more than long enough for a cockeyed eschatology to develop in which such comments would perhaps be read literally. Book 2 in particular is regarded as "a Christian revision of a Jewish original" and the Encyclo concludes that 2 is among books of which it may be said, "The peculiar Christian circle in which these compositions originated cannot be determined, neither can it be asserted what motive prompted their composition except as a means of Christian propaganda." In other words, Skeptic X has a long way to go before this is useful to him: He needs to show that the language was meant to be understood literally; he needs to show that it was from an early enough date to be relevant; he needs to show that it came from a group that represented (or sufficiently represented) mainstream views or views in the same stream as the NT. Of course Skeptic X will never do this. For him, just plopping down the reference and saying "Here it is!" constitutes an argument.

Skeptic X is not through prostituting the Oracles just yet; he also pulls in a piece of Book 3, which is actually even more wildly figurative in appearance. It writes of "when a widow reigns over the whole world, and throws gold and silver into the wondrous brine and casts the bronze and iron of ephemeral men into the sea," and following this, "then all the elements of the universe will be bereft, when God who dwells in the sky rolls up the heaven as a scroll is rolled, and the whole variegated vault of heaven falls on the wondrous earth and ocean. An undying cataract of raging fire will flow, and burn earth, burn sea, and melt the heavenly vault and days and creation itself into one and separate them into clear air." And so on, with stars going out and seasons ending, but the same question applies: Beyond the begged question of Skeptic X's fundaliteralism, where is the sign that this is literal? (Does Skeptic X take the part about the metals literally??) There isn't one, and Skeptic X provides none. Instead he chases himself around in a circle, propping up one falling wall with another, always begging the questions he never answers. Skeptic X next cites a passage from Oracle 8; as before, the question of literal intent assumed rather than proved applies; there's also plenty of question over date, as the Encyclopedia article dates the lines Skeptic X quotes to the third century, and the same question of origin is also in the air. Book 7, also quoted by Skeptic X, same exact questions. Skeptic X just threw these quotes from the Oracles in the air hoping to prove something, but they come down like cement on his head until he gets past the begged-question phases and actually critically analyzes the literature in its context. Being that the exact provenance of the Oracles is lost to us -- with not even much in the way of specific suggestions as to who wrote them and why -- that's going to be a hard road for Skeptic X to hoe. For all we know the Oracles were composed by the third-century equivalent to a fundaliteralist like Skeptic X.

Stretching his thin thread thinner, Skeptic X next appeals to the Apocalypse of Peter. Skeptic X tries to foist some authority on this document by saying it "was considered 'canonical' by some of the early church fathers," though he does not say which ones (who does Skeptic X think the "fathers" are here?), and adding that it was "listed in both the second-century Muratorian and the fourth-century Claramontan canons." Skeptic X forgot a few points there; the Muratorian Canon also says that "some of us are not willing that (it) should be read in church," and Hahneman in The Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon has made a darned convincing case that it actually comes from the fourth century, not the second. Skeptic X also notes that "Clement of Alexandria quoted the Apocalypse of Peter, which would necessarily imply an early date of authorship." That's fine -- 125-150 AD would work for us. But when it gets down to the nitty gritty of the document, we have the same danged begged question from Skeptic X: propping up one weak reed with another, one assumption of a fundaliteralist interpretation with another. It's not even clear from Clement's comments that he takes the passages literally, or whether he uses the material from the AP for merely didactic purposes. The work Skeptic X quotes, Prophetical Extracts, is not a systematic work but is composed of "notes at random on texts or Scriptural topics" (see here). In short, as usual, Skeptic X has a long way to go to make this material relevant or useful. Merely throwing it in the air isn't worth the effort.

Skeptic X fumbles his way further through the AP, noting a translation by Duensing with an introduction that "clearly associated the second coming of Jesus with the resurrection from the dead." That's nice. And how did the author of this introduction come to this conclusion? By the same faulty exegesis that dispensationalists use? Skeptic X doesn't say, and neither does the material he quotes. This is yet again Skeptic X not knowing how to use material critically; of thinking that to answer a B proposed against his A, all he needs to do is quote back people who re-assert A while still providing no answer to B. It is not news that many commentators tie the second coming with the resurrection and judgment. Dispensationalists do this as well. What we're waiting for is the actual argument, against our own, that this was a misunderstanding shared by the NT and by these documents Skeptic X keeps throwing in the air like confetti. The quotes Skeptic X provides from AP don't tell us dip:

And we besought and entreated him severally and prayed him, saying unto him: Declare unto us what are the signs of thy coming and of the end of the world, that we may perceive and mark the time of thy coming and instruct them that come after us, unto whom we preach the word of thy gospel, and whom we set over (in) thy church, that they when they hear it may take heed to themselves and mark the time of thy coming.

Questions to ask: What is the word for "world" here? If it is aion then Skeptic X is still lost with this one. If it is not aion, then what is it? What is the word for "coming"? These are the least of the questions Skeptic X needs to answer before AP deserves more than a passing glance, but Skeptic X is too insensate to ask questions like this when he can find such ready agreement reading the texts in English.

And our Lord answered us, saying: Take heed that no man deceive you, and that ye be not doubters and serve other gods. Many shall come in my name, saying: I am the Christ. Believe them not, neither draw near unto them. For the coming of the Son of God shall not be plain (i.,e., foreseen); but as the lightning that shineth from the east unto the west, so will I come upon the clouds of heaven with a great host in my majesty; with my cross going before my face will I come in my majesty, shining sevenfold more than the sun will I come in my majesty with all my saints, mine angels (mine holy angels). And my Father shall set a crown upon mine head, that I may judge the quick and the dead and recompense every man according to his works.

As it stands, this is a montage of cites from the discourse with greater explication added, but nothing that tells us that these were literal events. It's just Matthew 25 yet again in the latter part, nothing preterism finds distasteful. Skeptic X meanwhile still plays that same fundaliteralist harp; he rightly anticipates the response that preterists would argue that this languages is just as symbolic as in the Discourse and elsewhere, but asks readers to ignore all else to the expense of "the last statement in the quotation" of which he says:

This is more specific than the synoptic accounts, which said only that the angels accompanying Jesus would "gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." [Holding] et al claim that this simply meant that the "elect" would be gathered by the preaching of the gospel, but the Apocalypse stated that Jesus at this time would judge the quick and the dead. This more clearly describes the biblical concept of a final judgment that would accompany the second coming and the destruction of the world.

As usual it's Skeptic X confusing concepts and riding his goat into a brick wall. Skeptic X is trying to tie together the gathering of the elect by messengers (not "angels" -- and he has yet to address our point about the messengers there being human ones proclaiming the Gospel) with the passage above, apparently merely on the connection of the "angels", but the parallel here is to Matthew 25 which we have already noted above. In the meantime Skeptic X needs to answer the questions above; as it stands he is lost in the woods and going nowhere near what we are arguing, as shown in this further statement:

How would preterists say that the judging of the dead occurred when Jerusalem was destroyed to end the "age of the law"? Perhaps they would just engage in a bit of special pleading and say that they don't need to explain it because the Apocalypse of Peter wasn't inspired.

Geez Louise! For the 73,387th time, we have already explained Matthew 25:31-46 and how the judging of the dead occurred, and the end of the "age of the law" though it occurred at the same time has no direct, cause and effect connection to this. Skeptic X is mangling together concepts and ideas from the preterist arsenal, whether out of his own confusion (very likely!) or in an effort to cause it and make his gullible Skeptical readers think he is actually arguing something substantive.

But Skeptic X still hasn't finished his session with the AP prostitute; he has one more passage of which he says, "The important thing to notice in this passage is the explicit description of the destruction of the world by fire in language too graphic to be just figurative." What the Hades was that?!? "Too graphic to be figurative"??? Since when is level of "graphic-ness" an indicator of literal intent?!? It isn't. Skeptic X made up this line of reasoning on the spot; graphic images are just as capable of being figurative as literal, and level of "graphicity" isn't a plumb line to decide which is which. Skeptic X at any rate quotes several lines from AP that speak of "floods of fire" and waters changing to coals of fire, stars flying apart, lightning all over the place, spirits catching fire, men running from fire, etc etc etc -- all a masterpiece of fire that would give Smokey the Bear a heart attack, but not a lick of flame in proof to show that this was intended to be read as a literal conflagration (beyond the same question of whether, even if literal, if offers an authoritative understanding in the first place rather than being the product of a 125 AD version of Fundaliteralist Skeptic X). Skeptic X might consider that if men and their spirits are literally "fired" then there isn't much for God to judge later in the passages; moreover, a later passage says, "But the unrighteous, the sinners, and the hypocrites shall stand in the depths of darkness that shall not pass away, and their chastisement is the fire, and angels bring forward their sins and prepare for them a place wherein they shall be punished forever (every one according to his transgression)." Okey dokey, so how can there be "darkness" and "fire" at the same time? Are the flames black? This is a darned good signal that the author had no conception of literal fire, but was using fire metaphorically to refer to the spread of the Gospel and the effects of judgment on men. Skeptic X speaks derisively of "pet beliefs" and he has two: a smelly little dog named Fundaliteralism and a cat named Begged Question that uses his word processor as a litterbox.

Skeptic X closes his section on the AP with the Stupid Skeptic Question, "we have to wonder why the writer of this work didn't know that the son of man had already come in AD 70 and that the world had already been destroyed by figurative fire." Skeptic X thinks I might argue that the AP isn't inspired, and while I would say that, I would not say it as making a difference in this context. It's enough to say that in the panorama of views available in the second century, there were obviously people who took wrong paths, inspiration or no inspiration. Skeptic X can't argue against this, since he regards every party from the church as essentially wrong; but clearly, for example, either Marcion was right about the canon, or other people were, or both were wrong. By the same token, even if AP is making what it reads as a literal report; even if it is predicting what it still thinks are future events (which is far from clear) as opposed to adding more colorful verbiage to describe events already past; even if one writer (Clement of Alexandria) referred to the AP as "Scripture" not one word of this has any effect on the exegetical work we have already done on the NT text. If Skeptic X wants to play the game of, "these guys would know," he has host of other claims (authorship of the Gospels, for example) he would need to explain why we should not accept, while we should accept this one. In other words, it's the same old Skeptic X game of throwing things in the air uncritically and hoping one of them will land somewhere near the target.

Skeptic X continues on this same line of "why didn't they know," however, with a couple of points from other later writers who he thinks should have known that the parousia had already happened. One of these is plain old Clement, author of two epistles to the Corinthians. On this one Skeptic X goes with a late date of 95-96 AD. I do not follow this line; Clement's letters are just as well dated pre-70. This will no doubt turn into a "dating game" so we may as well address Skeptic X's borrowed reasons for a late date:

In the first sentence of the letter, the author explains that the Roman church has been delayed in turning its attention to the dispute at Corinth by 'sudden and repeated misfortunes and hindrances which have befallen us' (1:1). This statement is usually interpreted as an allusion to a persecution through which the church at Rome has just been passing. Since chap. 5 speaks of the Neronian persecution as something long past, the sporadic assaults of Domitian must be meant."

Nice try. Where does Skeptic X see this in 1 Clement 5? From the description he gives you would think that Clement speaks specifically of Nero and of "long past" but here is what the full chapter actually says:

But, to pass from the examples of ancient days, let us come to those champions who lived very near to our time. Let us set before us the noble examples which belong to our generation. By reason of jealousy and envy the greatest and most righteous pillars of the Church were persecuted, and contended even unto death. Let us set before our eyes the good Apostles. There was Peter who by reason of unrighteous jealousy endured not one nor two but many labours, and thus having borne his testimony went to his appointed place of glory. By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance.

Do you see a "long past" here? I don't. I see references to Pete and Paul in past tense, which sounds fine anytime after their probable deaths in 64 AD, and that includes 64-70. I'll wait for Skeptic X to explain how this makes for a "long past" and it probably does under the same rubric that "longsuffering" requires 1000 years to come to pass. Skeptic X also doesn't note what else the Anchor commentary says: "But the language of 1:1 is so vague that one may doubt whether it refers to persecution at all (Merrill 1924: 160); and the evidence for a persecution under Domitian is tenuous (Merrill 1924: 148-73). In letters and speeches on concord, one often finds an apologetic formula like that which introduces 1 Clement; it was customary for one who gave advice on concord to excuse his delay by reference to personal or domestic hindrances (e.g., Dio Chrys. Or. 40.2; Aelius Aristides Or. 24.1; Socratic Ep. 31)." Other reasons may be cited for a late date, of course, but they are all flawed and I'll wait for Skeptic X to stick his foot in his mouth and cite them uncritically.

Skeptic X next rings up the Epistle of Barnabas, which has been dated as late as 135, as referring to the "coming" as an event that was yet to happen:

Barnabas 15:10-13 For the day is at hand in which all things shall be destroyed together with the wicked one. The Lord is near, and his reward is with him.

Oh, really? Did you see the word "coming" here? Or parousia? No, all we have is a "day" at hand when "all things will be destroyed." It's also a bit off on the cite, or else Skeptic X has some other cite method; the version here places the cite at 21:3, not 15:10-13, which is non-existent. Either way all it speaks of is a "day" and that just as well amounts to the final resurrection and judgment. As an added note on this, Skeptic X barks:

The reference to the destruction of "all things" being "at hand" echoed "Peter's" warning in 1 Peter 4:7, and the warning that the "Lord is near, and his reward is with him," is almost identical to Revelation 22:12, which [Holding] and his preterist cohorts claim was fulfilled in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem.

Hmmm! Almost identical, huh? 22:12 says, "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Actually the Barney cite is more a mix of Phil. 4:5 (which means "near" in the sense of close in time or space) and Rev. 22:12, the latter of which alludes, actually, to Is. 40:10//62:11. Not quite what Skeptic X thinks it is. But anyway, Skeptic X bawls out the politically correct comment that, "Whoever wrote the Epistle of Barnabas was surely a Christian of some conviction, so it is a bit strange that this person did not know that the Lord had already come and brought his reward with him." As if conviction made diddly-squit difference in this context. Skeptic X has been taking beatings from Roger Hutchinson for years and will surely say he too is a man of conviction, yet is he going to now say this makes all he says right? What a load of baloney from the Baloney King!

So now after this diversion into other texts, Skeptic X continues his snow job on 2 Peter. After making the fallacious comparison to the preceding lit, yet again, we get to 2 Pete 3:13, which says:

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Skeptic X follows the line that this comes after a final cataclysm; we of course maintain that the reference here, and in Matthew 19:17 which Skeptic X also quotes, refers to the new world order in the age of the Messiah. Then we get to verses 14-16:

Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation-as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

Skeptic X hauls this in on the standard line that it proves a post-70 date for 2 Pete, because Paul's letters are called "scripture," and Skeptic X barks that "competent scholars see no evidence that the writings of Paul had been so esteemed within the lifetime of Peter." "Competent" here means, "those who agree with Skeptic X and make him happy"; in contrast, quite competent scholars have answered this remarkably stupid objection, as Miller notes, and as Skeptic X will not touch being too chicken-hearted to do so:

Now, your friend sees in this passage (specifically the words in bold), the following statements:
  1. Paul's writings were already "long in existence"
  2. That Paul's writings have "all been distributed"
  3. That they have been "put into a collection"
  4. That they have "already been assembled"
  5. That the above steps 1-4 could only have occurred after Paul's death(!)
When I compare that list to the passage above, I am at a loss to find any way to match those up. The passage has no reference to any of the above elements--your friend is eise-geting again, and creating a problem from assumptions being read into the text.
There is no indication of a final, 'official' collection in the text--only a knowledge of Pauline letters;
"But 2 Peter says nothing about a collection, authoritative or otherwise; 'all his letters' need mean no more than all his letters known to Peter." [CMMM:435:]
"There is no suggestion that even these ['all his epistles'] were known to the readers...On the other hand, the epistles in question have had sufficient circulation for the false teachers to twist them from their true interpretation." [NTI:825]
"The reference in 2 Peter 3:15-16 to Paul's letters need not refer to the complete corpus of his letters but only to those known to the writer of these verses. The collecting of Paul's letters would have begun as soon as a church or some influential person recognized their value. Paul's instruction about exchanging letters (cf. Col 4:16) and their public reading (1Thess 5:27) would have facilitated the collection of his letters. That Luke or Timothy were traveling companions of Paul makes them likely collectors of his writings. [Blum, EBCOT, Intro]
The text refers to a previous Pauline epistle written to the readers (v.15), and by the time of the writing of 2 Peter, most of Paul's letters would have been informally circulated anyway. Again, this argument is a case of over-assumption...

In this light, why Paul's letters can't have been regarded as "Scripture" within 10-20 years of their writing (Galatians can be dated as early as 45) is a mystery. If his calling was recognized, then it is patently obvious that his works could be regarded as prophetic the same as Jeremiah's or Ezekiel's. One might obviously argue that the designation is wrong, but it is absurd and baseless to claim that at least some of the letters of Paul could not be regarded as Scripture by the time of 2 Peter in the early 60s.

On Skeptic X goes, however, despite the above, claiming his point was not to "present further proof of late authorship" ("though I did that too anyway") but to "make a point about the writer's reference to the 'twisting' of scriptures." This is a fine line coming from a CoC fundaliteralist who could pass as founder of the Pretzel Exegetical Foundation, but it isn't for preterism's sake that he calls on this, but to deliver an accusation that we here follow the premises of twisting Scripture, which is a little like Jed Clampett saying that an experienced pilot twists the laws of gravity and common sense when he says a heavy plane can fly. Skeptic X pulled some cites from a list of Scripture-twisting symptoms off some website somewhere; he didn't give a link to it, but it appears to be the item found here (this is what competent use of search engines will do for you), and the author actually points to cults like the Moonies as examples and of course has nothing to say about me in particular. As it is, let's look at these cites Skeptic X prostitutes and thinks to apply to me:

  • "If you require the verse to have a 'deeper meaning' that goes contrary to the plain meaning everyone would understand that the author intended. If this was tolerated, then every verse that commands or says something a person does not like, just might have an alleged 'real meaning' contrary to what God plainly is saying." I don't think the person at this site is a KJV Onlyist, but this comment would sound just as good in Peter Ruckman's mouth as anyone else's. The "deeper meaning" here however seems to refer in context to esoteric meanings non-derivable from the relevant contexts. Skeptic X as a hayseed thinks this is what I do; what I do rather is, "Require the verse to have a meaning that may be contrary to the 'plain meaning' everyone has derived from popular perceptions, that do not understand what the author intended." Skeptic X's braying refrains to "plain meanings" is the asinine retort of an uneducated hayseed who thinks the Apostle Paul used the KJV.
  • "You are required to say that the Greek or Hebrew has a particular meaning that no native speaker of Greek or Hebrew would not recognize." Contrarily: "I say that the Greek or Hebrew has a contextual and historical meaning that a native speaker of Greek or Hebrew in that time and place would readily recognoize." Skeptic X is still trying to find someone who says that oikoumene means the whole globe, and has been elsewhere (with "tribes" and "fathers" and "age") been arguing for exceptional meanings that are contrary to the vast majority of uses in the text, so if anyone needs to wear this one on a T-shirt, it is Skeptic X himself.
  • "If the meaning you want to give a scripture goes against other scriptures and the general tone of the rest of the Bible." That's a load of vague blase-squase; Skeptic X can offer no example of this from me, and never will, beyond the same old hayseed game.
  • "If you are more concerned with explaining away a scripture than explaining a scripture. In contrast, it is better if your theology not only explains [away] a scripture, but requires the truth of that scripture." The smell of begged question in the morning is quite odiferous. As it stands Skeptic X has done as good a job explaining Scripture as any yahoo on the street has done, which is what we'd expect from someone who thinks the ancients were no different than we are, including on things like guilt for example. Hum, that long list of quotes Skeptic X produced where he read guilt into the passages sounds a lot like this one...
  • "In the extreme, your interpretation means that God kept hidden from every believer for almost 2,000 years a special, secret meaning that he has now revealed to you." Revealed to me, by who? By scholarship. Skeptic X has learned the hard way that the insights of social anthropology in the Biblical period have been "hidden" from us by the distance of cultural separation, but keep in mind this is a guy who thinks that no new linguistic research is possible on dead languages. Tell that to people who still study Latin and write articles about it.

    So after a few of these chocolate-coated sound bites from Hayseed Central, Skeptic X then quotes extensively from Ebon, which amounts to Jed Clampett using Snuffy Smith as a source. Our answers to the material Skeptic X notes are at the link. Despite Skeptic X's accusations, we have addressed these claims and the same sort he has made (see latest example here); Skeptic X is just too behind the times to know this, because he is 500 miles behind the train and has a face full of railroad gravel. Too bad for Turtle Skeptic X. I realize he has some health problems, but if he's going to make anachronistic accusations he'd better have his ducks in a row before mouthing off.

    The depth of Skeptic X's ignorance shows well in closing paragraphs of part 9. He notes the simple answer to the Philippian jailor, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved," and comments that:

    If someone asked [Holding] that question, his answer, if it reflected everything he has written in his website articles, would have to be something like this: "Begin an intensive study of ancient Near Eastern cultures, languages, Hebrew nuances and idioms, Grecian and Roman socio-economic customs and then come ask me about anything you don't understand." As the article above aptly demonstrated, [Holding]'s apologetics makes his so-called "word of God" inaccessible except to the intellectually elite, of whom, of course, he absurdly considers himself to be one.

    That's a crock of shiitake mushroom, actually, as we have already explained in responses to Skeptic X (and Ebon) that he with his turtle-like pace has yet to get to. Beyond this Skeptic X is oblivious to the point that in the day of the Philippian jailor, all of these things were not in the least unknown but were part of the known contexts. It is we in the modern world who have dropped the ball; as for "elite" I ask Skeptic X the same question I recently asked a Mormon apologist, who refused to answer: Where does he get off setting the goalposts that makes me "elite" and himself (implicitly) average? How does he know that where I put myself is not in the grand scheme "average" whereas he is actually behind the end zone at "too dumb to make a difference"? In the grand scheme, that is where I say Skeptic X is, and his hayseed non-answers as if indeed these customs and factors were irrelevant!) is as much a white flag of surrender as it is anything else.

    In closing, Skeptic X plays one of the usual CoC Undershirt Grab Exegesis games to claim that my "elitist position about what it takes to understand the Bible runs completely contrary to what the Bible itself says about this subject." Ignoring again that such knowledge as I offer was NOT "elitist" in the time it was written, Skeptic X's two cites for proof are, not surprisingly, woefully removed from relevant contexts:

    Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight."

    Does this say a word about not being familiar with relevant customs and language and so on? Not one bit. It couldn't, again, because those present had such knowledge already as a matter of course. Beyond that not a word of this discourages growth from babes into mature adults. Skeptic X's second cite is no more contextually useful:

    1 Corinthians 1:26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29that no flesh should glory in His presence.

    Once again, for the same reasons, this could say nothing about not being familiar today with the background data. Paul wrote this letter in a specific form of Greco-Roman rhetoric his own readers and hearers would have recognized. We do not, because of ribald ignorance. Hence the goalposts for what is "elite" and what is "dumb" has moved. We've gone downhill, and Skeptic X is at the bottom scraping lichen off of rocks and whining about taking even one step back up the hill. This is the whining canard of a loser in life who refuses to as much as soil a pinky doing homework.

    Next part here. And it's time to have more fun.

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