The Hole in Paul Manata's
Donut (why his Transcendental Argument is dead)
By H.L. James
on November 29, 2003, Paul Manata published what he claimed
would be the argument that would devastate Preterism. A very
bold statement indeed. In fact, Paul Manata was so sure it
would destroy Preterism, that he unwisely ended his argument
with this quote: "what heresy is next, since this one
is done!" Paul Manata called his new monster, "The
Transcendental Argument Against Hyper Preterism" and
even gave it a neat little acronym: "TAAHP." Sharp,
witty, clever. But would his argument hold logical water?
That was what the theological world wanted to know. This writer,
for one, wanted to see someone FINALLY deal with the time
statements of Jesus and His Apostles once and for all, since
it is these time statements that are the foundation of the
Preterist View and upon which the entire Preterist view is
built. So, as any good investigator would, I, and others,
began to poke, and prod, and jostle, and Jolt, and apply the
scrutiny necessary anytime someone steps up to a theological
debate with what they call a "devastating critique."
say before continuing, that the Preterist Archive, and the
format that Todd Dennis has adopted there, has made it possible
to really go over the TAAHP (and other articles) with a fine-tooth
comb. This is because readers can post their own comments
and critiques just below the articles that are posted on the
Preterist Archive. Kudos to Todd Dennis and Glory to God for
this feature. Because of this feature, the flaws in Paul Manata's
reasoning can be slowly studied by simply reading the arguments
of others in contrast to Paul Manata's argument. The arguments
that are presented there to show the weaknesses in Paul Manata's
reasoning are tight and succinct, and were of great help to
this writer, mainly because they allowed me to observe how
Paul Manata answered critiques of his reasoning. Each time
Paul Manata "answered" a critique, it exposed deeper
cracks in his reasoning and allowed me to better understand
how he could arrive at his conclusions, and ultimately, how
those conclusions could be undone.
observed Paul Manata's responses to individuals such as Michael
Bennett and Mike Krall, I started to notice that there seemed
to be some glaring assumptions that Paul Manata was making
(underneath it all). I decided at that time to jump into the
discussion with my own set of questions. I first devised a
strategy that I hoped would, over time, cause Paul Manata
to make certain admissions that would, in-turn, be the death
of his great intellectual masterpiece. What I saw over the
next few rounds of answers from Paul Manata would remove all
doubt that his argument was far less than the "devastating
critique" that he so immodestly claimed it to be. I would
also gain a telling glimpse into the mind of the "futurist."
I would again see, that even in the face of the mathematical
exactness of the logical syllogism, a "futurist"
will not abandon the emotional death-grip they have on their
dying view. Like "The Precious" in Tolkien's trilogy,
they become mesmerized by the power of the ring in their own
hands. And like the poor creature from the caves, they protect
their notions as if oblivious to the fact that God has placed
His Word above His Own Name.
article, I will show, based on two statements Paul Manata
made during our discussions published on the Preterist Archive,
that Paul Manata himself has made his Transcendental Argument
an impossibility and has thus killed his own argument (as
I imagined he eventually would). All Paul Manata needed was
enough time and enough rope. In a nutshell, here is how I
structured my strategy (again, I have drawn extensively on
the work of Michael Bennett, Mike Krall, K. Perkins, Scott
Vento and others in the formation of my strategy):
that Paul Manata was making certain "assumptions"
in his argument. The first assumption I noticed was in his
TAAHP itself. Paul Manata made the statement .: "HPs
(hyper Preterists) believe that we are in the New Heavens
and Earth (hereafter, NH and E) right now." This statement
of Paul Manata hides the true argument of the Preterist regarding
the New Heavens and New Earth, which is: "Jesus says
that we are in the New Heavens and New Earth right now."
Paul Manata thus creates a side argument which essentially
says: "The Preterist believes" without showing WHY
the Preterist believes these things (i.e. the words of Christ
in his time statements), or reasons why the Preterist "shouldn't"
believe these things (i.e. "why the Preterist is mistaken
in his belief"). Manata is essentially arguing "The
Preterist says," and not "the Preterist says that
really at this point that I started to smell a rat. Paul Manata
had structured his argument to focus on the fallibility of
the Preterist, and not on the infallibility of Christ and
His Apostles. Once Manata had done this, he could then call
the "interpretation" of Jesus' statements into question
without having to deal with the ACTUAL statements themselves
(which he has no answer for). Manata was then free (so he
thought) to make statements like "H.L., I do not assume
that Jesus was wrong. I said your INTERPRETATION was."
And: "if you were correct we would not be debating."
The weakness in Paul Manata's argument began to crystallize
in my mind. It had the same weakness that every argument against
Preterism will ultimately exhibit, it didn't deal with the
time statements of Jesus. Paul Manata had structured his argument
so as not to go near the time statements and the infallibility
of Christ. I knew at that moment that the TAAHP would fall
if pressure was applied in this area. In fact, I knew, by
all the answers that Paul Manata had given to all the other
objections, that he was not going to go quietly. I knew that
it would have to be HIS OWN WORDS that snared him ultimately.
He had to come face to face with the irrefutable words of
Christ and how he was butchering them. It was time to close
already well-established in the discussion between Manata,
myself and others, that Paul Manata agreed and had openly
admitted that Jesus said there would be no liars in the New
Jerusalem. In fact, this was the crux of Manata's "proof"
that the New Heavens and New Earth were not yet a present
reality. Once he had sheltered himself inside this "proof,"
he was able to safely say that "if the Preterist is arguing
theology, we must not be in the New Heavens and New Earth,
because if we were, we wouldn't be discussing theology."
This very statement however, would eventually be the undoing
of Paul Manata's argument itself. In other words, by "agreeing"
that Jesus said there would be no liars in the city, only
then was Manata able to make his argument. What Paul Manata
didn't know, is that by using the verse in Revelation 22:15
as his premise, he was implicitly agreeing to verse 12, a
verse who's "pastness" would ultimately make his
argument a logical impossibility and thereby cause it to fail.
is the verse under discussion:
22:12-15) "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My
reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his
work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and
the End, the First and the Last." 14 Blessed are
those who do His commandments, that they may have the
right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates
into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and
sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever
loves and practices a lie."
Paul Manata based his entire argument on the notion that "if
we were in the New Heavens and New Earth, there would not
be 'whoever loves and practices a lie.'" He then concludes:
"since there ARE those who 'love and practice a lie,'
we must not be in the New Heavens and New Earth." Although
the actual meaning of the phrase "whosoever loves and
practices a lie" can be debated (since "loves"
is in the text), the words of Christ, and His time statements
cannot. They are emphatic.
the above statements do, is create on the part of Paul Manata,
an implicit "agreement" to the things being stated
in those passages of Scripture. In other words, Paul Manata
is saying implicitly, "What Jesus says here is true."
I recognized that the implications would broaden. I realized
that if Paul Manata was agreeing that the words of Christ
were true, that I could press him on other words of Christ
in the same passage and see what type of response I would
get. It would be his responses to the next group of questions
that would ultimately uncover the deadly logical flaws in
the TAAHP and eventually bring the monster down.
it to Paul Manata's attention that the verse he was using
as the basis for his most important premise, was preceded
by a verse where Jesus states: "I am coming quickly."
I wanted to see if Paul Manata would take Jesus at His word
with regard to the time statement, since I already had agreement
that Paul Manata held the "liars outside the city"
passage to be true. When I mentioned to him that he could
not accept the "liars in the city" verse and at
the same time reject the timing of the "I am coming quickly"
verse, Paul Manata must have known he was in a very sticky
situation. That's because, if he said "quickly"
didn't mean quickly, he knew he would be opening up a can
of worms that has brought down better men than he. So, in
a move I had been anticipating, Paul Manata conceded to the
fact that Jesus did indeed "come quickly" and fulfill
that prediction. Paul Manata made the following two statements
in writing in two consecutive posts on a page below his own
Jesus did come in JUDGEMENT when He said he would,"
the BIGGEST CRACK in my argument, i.e., 'Jesus said he would
come quickly' has been answered by pointing out that he did,
two separate admissions by Paul Manata, that "Jesus did
come in judgment when he said he would," means that Paul
Manata would have to accept all the elements of the judgment
that he has admitted is a past event. In other words, if the
judgment Paul Manata agrees is past, contained in it Green
Elephants, then Paul Manata would be implicitly agreeing to
Green Elephants being a past event. He may not be openly agreeing
to it, but that is irrelevant since it is implied. The admission
is still there "implicitly." If Paul Manata agrees
to having the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon Album, then
Paul Manata is also "implicitly" agreeing to having
the song entitled "money." They are together as
a package. If Paul Manata were to say "I have the album
but I don't have the song," we would know that Manata
didn't have the album, since the album CONTAINS the song.
If Paul Manata agrees that the judgment in Revelation 22:12
is past, then Paul Manata has implicitly admitted to everything
that occurred in that judgment. In other words, if that judgment
included handing out cotton candy, then Paul Manata has admitted
that the cotton candy has already been handed out.
what exactly is Paul Manata admitting to by making the admission
that the judgment in Revelation 22:12 is a past event? Well,
if the New Heavens and New Earth was part of that judgment,
Paul Manata has implicitly admitted to the New Heavens and
New Earth being a past event, which destroys his argument
that "we cannot be in the New Heavens and New Earth."
It would not matter that he has not openly admitted it. He
has admitted it by implication and has therefore admitted
do we determine if Paul Manata has actually made an admission
that destroys his argument that "We're not in the New
Heavens and New Earth" and claims the New Heavens and
New Earth are a present reality? In other words, how do we
show that Paul Manata is actually stating: "We ARE in
the New Heavens and New Earth, but WE CANNOT be in the New
Heavens and New Earth." We have to determine if the "judgment"
he has admitted to being a past event, is the judgment spoken
of elsewhere in the same text as being that which would usher
in the New Heavens and New Earth. If it is identical, Manata
has destroyed his own argument by making implicitly contradictory
statements in his own testimony. In fact, anyone who agrees
with the Transcendental Argument has also made the same implicit
we can get to the bottom of this problem, we must first understand
the nature of identity. I'd like at this point to use my own
adaptation a quote from J.P. Moreland's excellent book, "Scaling
the Secular City." Suppose you know that someone named
H.L. James exists and that the author of this article exists.
Assume further that you do not know that H.L. James wrote
this article. If someone asked you whether H.L. James is identical
to the author of this article, how would you decide? How would
you determine that the "two" individuals are identical
instead of being two different people? If you could find something
true of H.L. James which is not true of the author of this
article or vice versa, then they would be different people.
They could not be identical. For example, if H.L. James lives
in California but the author of this article does not, they
would be different people. On the other hand, if everything
true of one is true of the other, "they" would be
if "two" things are identical, then whatever is
true of the one is true of the other, since in reality only
one thing is being discussed. However, if something is true
of the one which is not true of the other, then they are two
things and not one.
term for this is sometimes know as the "indescernibility
of identicals." The mathematical equation to express
this notion is as follows:
(y) [(x=y) ---> (P) (Px
equation simply states that for any entities x and
y, if x and y are really the same
thing, then for any property P, P is true of x if
and only if P is true of y. If x is the
judgment in Revelation 22:12-14 and y is the judgment
in Revelation 20:11-15, then to prove that Manata's admissions
destroy his argument, x must be identical to y.
On the other hand, if something is true of the judgment in
Revelation 22:12-14 which is not true of the judgment spoken
of in Revelation 20:11-15, then the "two" judgments
are not identical. In order to see if these judgments indeed
speak of one judgment thereby trapping Manata with his own
words of admission, let's look closely at the properties of
"both" and see if they are indeed "one event."
we look at Revelation 22:12, we see that Jesus is saying:
"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with
Me, to give to every one according to his work." So we
see from this passage that Jesus was "coming quickly"
and that His "reward" would be with him to "give
to every one according to his work." So, here we have
three "properties" of this judgment that will help
us in our investigation. We have the "timing" of
it (i.e. quickly), we have the fact that there will be rewards,
and we have the fact that they will be given "to every
one according to his work."
Manata has already admitted in his own words that the judgment
I've just mentioned from Revelation 22:12 is a past event.
Even if Paul Manata "didn't mean" to say that the
"rewards" part and the "give to each one according
to his works" part are both also past, he has done so
"implicitly" since they are both contained in the
judgment he has admitted to being a past event. This in and
of itself is devastating to Paul Manata's argument (and his
futurist view, I might add).
Manata has admitted to the "rewards" and the "every
one according to his works" as past, implicitly in his
admission. The obvious question is, "Did Jesus come quickly,"
"Did He come with His reward with Him?" And, "Did
Jesus reward everyone according to their works?" Remember,
Paul Manata has already agreed that this judgment (which contains
the rewards given to every one according to their works),
is a past event. This means that the "rewards" and
the "give to every one according to his works" are
also past events, since they are obviously contained in the
judgment Paul Manata says is past.
said, it still doesn't prove whether the judgment Paul Manata
has admitted as being past, is the same judgment spoken of
in Revelation 20:11-15, so let's take a look at "that"
judgment and see if we find "identicalness" with
the judgment Manata says is past.
Revelation, chapter 20, verse 11-15 we read:
20:11-15) "Then I saw a great white throne and Him
who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven
fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And
I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God,
and books were opened. And another book was opened, which
is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according
to their works, by the things which were written in the
books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and
Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them.
And they were judged, each one according to his works.
14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.
This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written
in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire."
at the above passage, we immediately see what appear to be
similarities between "this" judgment, and the one
mentioned in Revelation 22:12. What is probably most interesting
are the phrases:
the dead were judged according to their works,"
they were judged, each one according to his works"
phrases are identical to the phrases from chapter 22, verse
12. Now, we know from elsewhere that this judgment, where
"every one" is judged "according to his works"
results in the giving out of rewards. Probably the most compelling
proof is that given by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the
2:5-9) "But in accordance with your hardness and
your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself
wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous
judgment of God, 6 who "will render to each one according
to his deeds": 7 eternal life to those who by patient
continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;
8 but to those who are self seeking and do not obey the
truth, but obey unrighteousness -- indignation and wrath,
9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does
evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;"
we see here that the Apostle Paul calls this day "the
day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."
We see two things going on in this phrase. Notice how the
Apostle Paul calls it a "day of wrath" AND "revelation
of the righteous judgment of God." Paul also points out
that Eternal Life and Eternal Damnation would be handed out
on this day, and he said that on that day, God would "render
to each one according to his deeds."
clear from these passages, that the judgment spoken of in
Revelation 22:12 is identical to that in Revelation 20:11-15.
To make the point even more firm, we look at chapter 22, just
a few verses before verse 12, and we find the following:
22:6-7) "Then he said to me,"These words are
faithful and true." And the Lord God of the holy
prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things
which must shortly take place. "Behold, I am coming
quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy
of this book."
here we see John saying that the things contained in this
book were to "shortly take place." This is just
a few verses before the verse that Paul Manata has publicly
admitted to being a past event. Notice how verse 7 above says
the same thing that the verse Paul Manata claims is past states.
Verse 7 quotes Jesus saying: "Behold, I am coming quickly."
Then He says "blessed is he who keeps the words of the
prophecy of this book." Why did Jesus say that? The Apostle
John tells us right at the beginning of the letter:
1:3) "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear
the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which
are written in it; for the time is near."
blessing to those who read, hear and keep those things which
are written in it, was because the time was near? What time
was near? The same time that Jesus said was near in chapter
22, verse 6-7? What time was near? The time of Jesus' "coming
quickly?" Paul Manata has already answered this question
for us before the entire world. Paul Manata has admitted that
this judgment, that would bring Eternal Life and eternal damnation,
this same judgment where Jesus would "reward" "each
one according to his works," this same judgment that
was "at hand" and that Jesus was "coming quickly"
to execute, happened back then over 1900 years ago as Jesus
said it would. Notice how I didn't say "as the Preterist
says it would."
Manata has admitted that this same judgment, that would end
in the destruction of Satan, Death and Hades, and the dead
who's names were not written in the Lamb's book of life, that
would "shake the heavens" and remove the old covenant
so that the heavenly and its New Jerusalem might remain, the
same judgment that would usher in the New Heavens and New
Earth, that would be the inheritance in which God would be
their God and they would be His people, the same judgment
that would bring about destruction on Jerusalem and its temple,
the same judgment that would bring the throne of God and of
the Lamb into the center of the city so that the spring of
the water of life could flow out to the world, the same judgment
where the controversy over who were the true sons of God would
be once and for all settled, Paul Manata has openly, and publicly
admitted that THIS judgment is a past event, and why shouldn't
he? To say that the judgment in Revelation 22:12 is a past
event simply agrees with God's Word.
Manata's TAAHP (Transcendental Argument against HyperPreterism)
has many problems structurally in terms of logic. However,
I think the real problem is that Paul Manata doesn't seem
to yet be clear on what he believes regarding these issues.
On the one hand, Paul Manata believes we are in the New Heavens
and New Earth, but says its a "different one" than
that of Revelation 21 and then only "in a sense."
Paul Manata admits that Jesus came in judgment "quickly"
as He predicted, but doesn't see the implications of this
time of this writing, Paul Manata has chosen not to add further
comment to the page
where his argument is published, citing the accusation
that Preterists refuse to answer his questions. The record
clearly shows that not only have Preterists taken considerable
time to answer his questions, we have taken considerable time
to answer his entire argument, including the breaks in his
logic. Paul Manata may have indeed found proof that we cannot
be in the New Heavens and New Earth. I don't agree that he
has, but I do say that IF he has found proof that we cannot
be in the New Heavens and New Earth, it does not prove Preterism
a heresy, it proves Christianity a fraud and it's Author,
Finisher, and High Priest a liar, since it is Christianity's
Author, Finisher, and High Priest who says we are..., no,
that we MUST BE in the New Heavens and New Earth.
His beautiful Wife.