Faith And Facts Quarterly, January 1993

The Padfield-Weiner Debate

by John Welch

This was an unusual debate. It was unusual in that the debate was split into two halves; one in southwestern Indiana and the other 700 miles and 4 states away in Baltimore, Maryland. It was unusual in that it was a debate on premillennialism, a subject seldom debated in this half of the century. The Premillennialists involved held an unusual position.

David Padfield preaches in Evansville, Indiana. Regular readers of this journal know him. Capable and studious as debater, he is fair and even-handed in his presentation. I feel good about the job he has done in previous debates and I feel that he did a good job in this discussion.

Todd Weiner is a member of the church of Christ meeting in York, Pennsylvania. Mr. Weiner is not the preacher for this group (His moderator Mark Talbert is the preacher), but he seems to be a major spokesman for the group of about 80 Christians and has written most of their literature. Their portion of the debate was held in Baltimore rather than south Pennsylvania because they felt they could attract a larger audience here.

The group is very modest in their dress, demeanor and behavior. Some 15 to 20 of their members made the trip to Evansville for that portion of the discussion and were polite and interested.

They do not seem to have much fellowship with other members of the church of Christ, but they do appear to be informing themselves through the pages of the journals. They admit to little fellowship with other premillennial Christians including those associated with Word and Work. They regard them as much too "liberal" doctrinally, especially denouncing their willingness to accept many denominational people without baptizing them. They also were quick to distinguish themselves from the Max King disciples.

Brother Weiner has had two or three previous debates with denominationalists and which were somewhat informal. My understanding is that by the time you are reading this he will have had a similar discussion to this one in Northern Alabama with brother Tommy Thrasher. Both He and brother Talbert are very aggressively seeking such discussions.

Perhaps, because of his "eastern" accent and lack of experience with public speaking, I found Mr. Weiner considerably difficult to follow. His emphasis of points, or lack of it, made it very hard to follow his thoughts. I do not mean this to be a severe criticism. It is something that will pass as he gains more experience, and I will have to get better ears. It was, however, a difficulty and many assisting and in the audience made the same statements. Perhaps, this is because it is an unfamiliar subject to many in the audience and they are not familiar with the terminology.

The debate was attended by about 80 to 100 people in Evansville, with a few brethren of premillennial persuasion coming from the Louisville area and locally. Brother Padfield had very little support in Baltimore. There are two faithful churches there locally. One congregation choose to have a meeting that week, though the debate was advertised well in advance. The preacher from the other group came, as well as some brethren from the Philadelphia area. There were about 20 members of a Disciples of Christ group that came one night.

Let us move on to the arguments.

The debate in Evansville argued that "Jesus will reign on this earth with his saints after the advent of His second coming." The unusual nature of Mr. Weiner's position was that he holds that there will not be a rapture or tribulation. This is normally a part of premillennial doctrine. He also does not believe in the Postponement theory which most premillennialists have concocted to explain Daniel nine and the "kingdom is at hand" passages of the gospels. He argues that the kingdom was in existence in Acts 2 and is practically synonymous with the church. He believes that Christ will return to the earth and set up a new phase of the kingdom here on earth in the future. He was very reluctant to broaden any explanation of this throughout the debate. So that it was very difficult to get a broad explanation of the position.

Much of the discussion centered around Revelation 19 and 20. Brother Padfield effectively explained that this entire section constitutes a series of visions rather than a single prophetic chronology as Mr. Weiner insisted. Brother Padfield showed they were not necessarily chronological events, nor were they all necessarily on earth and the visionary nature of them must be figuratively understood. Mr. Weiner had a hard time responding to this.

"Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man {that} shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah." (Jeremiah 22:30) (KJV). This verse constituted an interesting exchange. David argued that this verse proved that Jesus could not be king on earth because no descendent of Jeconiah, the last king of Judah, would reign in Judah or on David's throne.

David showed from the genealogy in Matthew that Jesus was clearly a descendent of Jeconiah (Matthew 1:12). Weiner countered that the genealogy in Matthew was Joseph's lineage and should not therefore be considered, whereas the genealogy in Luke was Mary's lineage and Jeconiah is not mentioned there. Weiner was visibly shaken when David showed him that Jeconiah's son, Salathiel and grandson, Zorobabel are mentioned in the genealogy in Luke.

Jeconiah is probably not mentioned because the prophecy stated he was to be "written childless" though he obviously was not physically childless. Otherwise, why was his child here? On the other hand the genealogical line may have been carried through Jeconiah's wife which would be Salathiel's mother. Women are not named in any of the genealogies as Weiner himself had acknowledged by saying Luke's gospel carried Mary's genealogy, though she is not named anywhere in the genealogy. Jesus could not be king on earth because of his genealogy and the prophecy concerning it. For a moment in time Mr. Weiner knew it was true and showed it in his pale expression. The glory in his face passed away.

In Baltimore the debate concerned the interpretation of the second chapter of Daniel. David admitted that he would not sign this proposition again, because it was too limited in scope. There is only so much hashing and rehashing that one can do for four hours of debate on a single passage.

David brought out that Mr. Weiner's position required a complete resurrection and revitalization of not only the Roman Empire but also the previous three empires. For it was in the days of these kings that this kingdom or "Phase thereof" was to be set up. Mr. Weiner actually agreed that the Roman empire had flourished and perished and would have to be resurrected completely for this prophecy to be fulfilled. It was an incredible moment to hear such foolishness acknowledged.

David also pointed out that in verse 44 brother Weiner had simply moved his postponement theory from chapter nine to a comma in chapter 2 verse 44.

"And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people [this is the point where brother Weiner argues that Jesus has waited now nearly 2000 years to finish this verse. Everything up to here has been fulfilled -- not the latter portion of the verse -- incredible!] {but} it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." (Daniel 2:44) (KJV)

It is hard to find a more powerful comma in all the Scripture. This is one that can pause a single verse of scripture for 2000 years and can bring about the complete resurrection of 4 successive and completely demolished world empires.

Mr. Talbert and Weiner are polite and interested men who wish to continue these discussions. If you are interested, I believe that their address can be found in our letters section. As always it was an interesting week.

Debate On Premillennialism

View other articles on this debate or download Charts from the Padfield-Weiner Debate. Over 100 overhead charts used by Padfield in this debate. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to view the charts. You are free to print the charts and use them in sermons and Bible classes (PDF file size: 341k).