Covenant Creation as Taught by Rev. David Curtis
  by Tim Martin
 
May 30, 2009
 
What is remarkable about this sermon titled "The Perishing of Heaven and Earth" by Rev. David Curtis is that it was delivered more than 9 years ago, in 2000. Do you think Rev. Curtis is preaching Covenant Creation in this sermon? I'll simply let readers judge for themselves:
 "We looked at the first five quotes last time; let's move on to the last two.
Hebrews 1:10-12 (NKJV) And: "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 11 They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; 12 Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail."

This quote is from:

Psalms 102:25-27 (NKJV) Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26 They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed. 27 But You are the same, And Your years will have no end.

This quotation speaks of the permanence and unchangeableness of the Messiah. Remember, this section is dealing with Jesus' superiority over angels. How does this text show Christ's superiority over angels? What do angels have to do with the creation of the world? Nothing! The creation of the world is accredited to Jesus Christ; angels were simply part of what he created. So, why talk about creation here? The simple answer is: "He's NOT!" This text is not speaking of the creation or the end of the world. That is easy to say, but can I prove it? I believe I can.

Hebrews 1:10 (NKJV) And: "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

That could be talking about the Genesis account. God did create the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1 (NKJV) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The Greek words used in Hebrews 1:10 don't really help us in understanding the meaning of "heaven and earth" -they are very general words. The word for "beginning" is arche, which simply means: "a commencement." It does not have to mean the beginning of time, but simply means the beginning of the thing under discussion, in this case the heaven and earth.

Now, you are probably thinking: "Well that was at the beginning of time." Maybe, maybe not! Could this possibly be referring to a different "heaven and earth" than the physical creation of the world? Is that even a possibility? I think it is a strong possibility; let's look at the use of "heaven and earth" in Scripture and see if they have some other meaning besides the literal physical heavens and earth....

...Look back with me at verse 2:

Hebrews 1:2 (NKJV) has 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;

Do you remember what we said about the word "worlds" when we studied this verse? When the writer of Hebrews says, "through whom also He made the worlds", he is not talking about the creation of the universe. The word "worlds" is not kosmos, but aion, which means: "the ages." His discussion here involves the Old and New Covenant ages. It is these two ages that are contrasted throughout this book. He consistently shows how the New Covenant is superior to the Old..."

click here to read full sermon titled "The Perishing of Heaven and Earth"

 
Let me summarize the main points discussed in this section:
  • The writer of Hebrews does not refer to the physical universe in Hebrews 1:2 or 1:10-11.
  • The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 102 (which speaks of God's people).
  • God created the Heavens and Earth according to Genesis 1:1.
  • This Heavens and Earth perished in A.D. 70.
Conclusion: Genesis 1:1 speaks about the creation of the Old Covenant Creation, not the creation of the physical universe.
 
Could it be that the Rev. David Curtis was the very first modern advocate of Covenant Creation?
 

Tim Martin

Covenant Creation as Taught by Dr. John H. Sailhamer


 

06-04-09

Editor's Note: We have received feedback claiming this article, regarding Rev. David Curtis' teaching on Heb. 1:10-11, is in error. Here is the relevant statement:

"All Curtis said was that Heb 1 'COULD' be talking about Genesis 1. It is a hypothetical. Basically what i understand Curtis to be doing at this point is throwing out "possibilities" and then going from there. 'This MIGHT be that....it might not be'. And when Curtis asked, 'Could this possibly be referring to a different "heaven and earth" than the physical creation of the world?', the 'this' is referring to Heb 1, NOT Ge 1.

Nowhere did Curtis go on to say that Genesis 1 is in fact what Heb 1 has in mind..." (source )

It does appear that Rev. Curtis avoided any dogmatic statement with his observations. However, Rev. Curtis does very clearly present the "heavens and earth" mentioned in Heb. 1:10-11 as the old covenant world, and not the physical universe:

"With all this is mind, the writer of Hebrews in this section (Hebrews 1:10-12) is showing how the Old Covenant, which was mediated by angels, is temporary, but the New Covenant, which Christ brings, is permanent...

He is saying that "heaven and earth" will perish, but Christ will remain. Now, does he mean that the physical "heaven and earth" will perish? Peter talked about this same idea in [2 Peter 3:10-12]" (source)

Note how the critic mentioned  above claims that Rev. Curtis never taught that Heb. 1:10-11 had Gen. 1:1 in mind. Also note how Rev. Curtis promotes a covenantal rather than physical "passing away" of the heavens and earth. (This is a clear "either/or" choice rather than a "both/and" view according to Rev. Curtis' teaching.)

Now take a look at what another critic of Covenant Creation contributes. He claims that Heb. 1:10-11 is clearly sourced in Gen. 1:1!:

"I think Hebrews is refering to Gen. 1.1 as well as the Psalm, which basically means, 'everything changes, but God never changes.' Heaven and earth, from a purely physical, topographical standpoint is constantly going through 'change' like a garment. It is a state of flux. There is no flux with God. That's the only point of the psalm and in Hebrews... - Sam Frost (source )

Do you see the problem? Rev. Curtis argues for a covenantal rather than physical universe view of Heb. 1:10-11. The critic above argues there is no need for a connection between Heb. 1:10-11. and Gen. 1:1. And, simultaneously, Sam Frost argues that Heb. 1:10-11 is written explicitly with Gen. 1:1 in mind, and so refers to the physical universe!

Have preterist critics of Covenant Creation confused you yet? Why can't the critics of Covenant Creation all get on the same page and offer coherent exegesis of Heb. 1:10-11?

One strategy used by preterists for years is simply showing how different partial-preterists accept fulfillment of various eschatological texts, yet can't agree with each other about which ones are fulfilled within a covenant context and which texts refer to the supposed end of the physical universe. Some partial-preterists claim that the judgment of Matt. 25 was fulfilled by A.D. 70. Others disagree. Some partial-preterists claim that all of Matt. 24 was fulfilled by A.D. 70. Others disagree. Some partial-preterists recognize a covenant context to 2 Peter 3 and consign that passage to A.D. 70, yet other partial-preterist vehemently insist the subject the "heavens and earth" in 2 Peter 3 must refer to the end of the material creation. Apparently partial-preterists have no common foundation or interpretive principle to clearly delineate the eschatological texts that referred to the end of the covenant world and those that refer to the end of the physical world.

Full preterists merely point out the obvious. The reason for the problem is that eschatology does not deal with the physical universe. The "end" is entirely covenantal. It is not "both/and," both covenantal and physical universe eschatology which is precisely what partial-preterism hinges upon.

Advocates of Covenant Creation should see the same sort of problem among preterist critics of Covenant Creation. Some of those critics affirm, in agreement with the Covenant Creation view, that the "heavens and earth" in Heb. 1:10-11 is entirely covenantal and passed away in finality by A.D. 70. Other critics, who recognize the connection between Heb. 1:10-11 and Gen. 1:1, affirm that these texts are directly related and insist that both must refer to the physical universe! But did the physical universe "perish" in A.D. 70?

Apparently, preterist critics of Covenant Creation have no common foundation or interpretive principle by which to parse the physical universe "heaven and earth" from the covenantal "heaven and earth"! Some argue that Heb. 1:10-11 is entirely covenantal and passed away in A.D. 70. Other critics argue that Heb. 1:10-11 is talking about the physical universe and an "ongoing" physical change in the physical universe in an idealistic type of interpreting Heb. 1:10-11. It is truly remarkable that some full-preterists argue against a fully covenantal interpretation of Heb. 1:10-11!

Those who understand the explicit biblical connections between creation and consummation simply point out what various partial-covenant creation advocates already affirm:

  • Heb. 1:10-11 refers entirely to the passing away of the old covenant, the old "heaven and earth" according to  Rev. Curtis' teaching. Heb. 1:10-11 has nothing to do with the physical universe.
  • Heb. 1:10-11 reaches back to Gen. 1:1 and refers to the same "heaven and earth" created "In the beginning" according to Rev. Frost.

Put those two statements together and what do you get? The passing away of the covenant world in A.D. 70 is the "end" of the same covenant world God created "In the beginning."

That is Covenant Creation... as taught by the critics of Covenant Creation!

Thanks, guys.

 

 

     

 

 

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