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Source: (consider it) Thread: Has God broken his promises?
Stejjie
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And (with apologies for the double post), saying "Jesus said he's coming again, but he hasn't and any attempt to interpret those passages differently is sophistry or trying to wriggle out of it" is, I'd argue, no different a method of interpretation from those who'd, for example, take a conservative line on DH issues based on biblical passages. It's the same assumption that the plain meaning is the only one that counts, just about a different subject.

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A not particularly-alt-worshippy, fairly mainstream, mildly evangelical, vaguely post-modern-ish Baptist

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
quote:
Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10.23)
quote:
Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. (Matthew 16.28)
quote:
Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Matthew 24.34)
Never happened, did they?

Oh, I'm perfectly aware of later generations' rationalisations and reinterpretations of the promises attributed to Jesus by the gospel writers. But I'm also pretty darned sure that the first generation of Christians took them at face value - and died disappointed.

Some on this thread have tried to say the verses you quoted above do not refer to Jesus' parousia. And they might have some ground to stand on. But if you add the quotes above to the myriad of other such quotes both in the gospels and the epistles (mostly referring to the day of the Lord in the epistles) there can be no doubt that Jesus was expected to return shortly.

Seriously. Any other interpretation is just not good enough.

This leaves the following options:

1) Jesus misunderstood the timing issue.
2) The evangelists misunderstood Jesus and the timing issue.
3) God changed her mind

But your question of "Has God broken his promises"? is altogether another question it seems. Is a promise broken if it is delayed?

If we assume the New Testament did indeed get it wrong, what then? What does this mean for faith?

You then have to go deeper into faith. What is faith? IMV it is essentially trust in God's good purposes for us in the triune God.

So here's where Lamb Chopped's analogy comes in - which I agree with to an extent. I would not say the fault lies with our misunderstanding or a problem on our end. I would say we have understood correctly, but that something has changed.

So. At this point, you can say "God didn't do what God said God would do so therefore is untrustworthy".

Or you can say. "God didn't do what God said God would do back then, but is still trustworthy and must have something else in mind in which I will continue to participate in as a disciple of Christ."

So the bottom line for us is: is it a dealbreaker? Or is our foundation of trust in God bigger than that as per the other evidence available to us?

The lack of the Second Coming used to bother me a great deal. It no longer does so much.

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Martin60
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Jesus was human. Of course He misunderstood. And so do we cubed.

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Ikkyu
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I am a lot more sympathetic to those expressing the view that the bible says things that are hard to deal with and reconcile. Over those that claim that if you squint hard enough it doesn't.
Back when I was catholic I was never confronted with issues like these in the bible. I left the church due do other issues which are not relevant to this thread.
Looking back and re-reading the bible was when I became aware of how clearly it all felt man made to me. Written by humans with human error all over it.
If I had learned about this early enough in my upbringing in some form of bible class, I wonder if that would have nurtured a faith that was more able to survive later challenges. As it was, if I had started discovering this on my own when I still believed It would probably have been a deal breaker.
Not dealing honestly with issues like these makes people want to reject the whole package.

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Martin60
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I find them easy to reconcile NOW without squinting at all. Lucky me.

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The Great Gumby

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quote:
Originally posted by South Coast Kevin:
quote:
Originally posted by The Great Gumby:
The only question is why you'd write down such a claim at the point when it was well on its way to being falsified. I suspect it's partly because Paul said something similar, in his own little fit of zealotry, and partly because it had become embedded in the oral stories by that point. Also, by the time anyone notices that it was a big fat lie, all the people who might have been feeling particularly angry about that will be dead (obviously), and Clever Theologians can get on with explaining why it doesn't really mean what it says, and why black is white, and so on.

Notwithstanding your dig at 'Clever Theologians', isn't it just as likely that these claims were included in the nascent Bible precisely because they 'don't really mean what they say'; i.e. the standard contemporary meaning is in fact not what was meant originally?
If you can offer any plausible mechanism for that, I'm all ears. What I see is a bundle of sayings which the people of the time took to mean one thing, and acted accordingly, rushing to spread the word. Then many generations later, a whole different set of people started to formalise an official canon, when the claims had already been falsified. I don't see much reason to suppose that the plain meaning to both us and the contemporary listeners was somehow mistaken.

But as I said, this only matters if you assume that these statements are the perfectly recorded utterances of an infallible living god. It's amazing how many Biblical literalists are revealing themselves by trying to invent convoluted rationalisations that would leave William of Ockham distinctly unimpressed.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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*cough*

quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Indeed. I feel far more disconnected from the supposed faithfulness of God than LC here; in what way has he always been faithful LC? What's he promised; what's he delivered? I'm not sure I know what you mean.

*cough*

Could those referring back to the trustworthiness of God in their experience please explain, concretely, what they mean. Otherwise one could just respond "oh no he isn't!"

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Fr Weber
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Not to dismiss any of the other theories posted here, but I will point out that genea (translated as "generation" in the verse quoted) is translated in other contexts as "time," "nation," and "age"--at least in the AV. And of course St Jerome, in his gloss of the passage, interprets it as "offspring".

For what it's worth.

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Evensong
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C'mon Adeodatus. Don't let this thread die. It's important. I want to hear your thoughts. How do you make sense of it?

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South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by Fr Weber:
Not to dismiss any of the other theories posted here, but I will point out that genea (translated as "generation" in the verse quoted) is translated in other contexts as "time," "nation," and "age"--at least in the AV. And of course St Jerome, in his gloss of the passage, interprets it as "offspring".

For what it's worth.

I hope I've remembered rightly but I think most scholars believe those alternative translations of genea to be a severe stretch. I think the point is that every other usage, maybe bar one, of genea in the New Testament clearly can only mean 'generation', so it's almost certainly meant to mean 'generation' in the passages we're talking about?

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Evensong
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People that rationalise the delay of the parousia use the "one generation" idea in such passages to refer to the overthrow of the Temple in AD 70.

I believe even NT Wright espouses this view.

Possible, but weak considering the other evidence. The "coming on the clouds of heaven" is definitely apocalyptic language and easily relates to the second coming ( as per Acts 1).

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South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by The Great Gumby:
What I see is a bundle of sayings which the people of the time took to mean one thing, and acted accordingly, rushing to spread the word. Then many generations later, a whole different set of people started to formalise an official canon, when the claims had already been falsified. I don't see much reason to suppose that the plain meaning to both us and the contemporary listeners was somehow mistaken.

I'm not sure I follow you - are you saying there were (or might have been) alternative books, e.g. letters and gospels, that could have been included in the canon and would have given us a truer picture of what really happened in the first few decades after Jesus' time on earth?

My argument is that these statements we're talking about present such an apparently false picture of what really happened that actually it is sensible to look for and look favourably on alternative explanations for the statements (i.e. that they aren't really about Jesus' return).

The fact that these passages make either the first Christians look very dim or Jesus look misled / deceitful makes it more likely for me that actually the early Christians (maybe in the immediate post-resurrection period and certainly after AD70) did understand them to be about the Temple and so on.
quote:
Originally posted by The Great Gumby:
But as I said, this only matters if you assume that these statements are the perfectly recorded utterances of an infallible living god.

Indeed, although I don't share your view regarding what William of Ockham would think of these ideas!

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by South Coast Kevin:


My argument is that these statements we're talking about present such an apparently false picture of what really happened that actually it is sensible to look for and look favourably on alternative explanations for the statements (i.e. that they aren't really about Jesus' return).

The fact that these passages make either the first Christians look very dim or Jesus look misled / deceitful makes it more likely for me that actually the early Christians (maybe in the immediate post-resurrection period and certainly after AD70) did understand them to be about the Temple and so on.

Seriously? You reject the plain meaning because it didn't happen? But they're freaking everywhere!!


quote:

Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the day approaching.

Hebrews 3:7 For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay.

James 5:7-9 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!


Revelation 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it.


Revelation 22:12 Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Revelation 22:20-21 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen, Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.



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Lamb Chopped
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
*cough*

quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Indeed. I feel far more disconnected from the supposed faithfulness of God than LC here; in what way has he always been faithful LC? What's he promised; what's he delivered? I'm not sure I know what you mean.

*cough*

Could those referring back to the trustworthiness of God in their experience please explain, concretely, what they mean. Otherwise one could just respond "oh no he isn't!"

The trouble here is that we don't know each other IRL, so I can't point to incidents in my life and let you evaluate them. (I'm not going to bring up things like the fulfillment of prophecy, etc. because I'm fairly sure you want eye witness testimony here.)

The second problem is that if you look hard enough, you can always find a different explanation. This fact IMHO is because God refuses to give us the kind of irrefutable proof that would forcibly drag us into faith, removing all choice or free will on our part.

Having said all that--

I'm going to be a fool and do it anyway.
[Biased]

First, I'm still here. By all rights I should have been dead of suicide by age 12. I'll not go into the why's and wherefores here.

Second, my family as a whole is still here, still standing, though sometimes badly badly injured. But by all human standards, we should have been totally destroyed in the swirling chaos of the last 25 years. Deaths, attacks on reputation, job loss, severe illness, finances gone to shit--yet we are still here. And I can say right now it's not because we have any particular strength or resilience--quite the opposite.

Third, my son exists, who ought not to exist by all the laws of medicine. A freak, a fluke--or the hand of God? There's always an alternate explanation. But here he is.

Fourth, I'm still sane. (shut up, you out there!) With all the shit that's happened to me IRL I'm rather surprised at this. I tend to be rather fragile emotionally, just by nature, and I'm not getting a helluva lot of support from anybody (okay, one friend). Desperately clinging to the Lord. But here I am.

Fifth, the people we care for are, by and large, STILL HERE. Screwed up maybe, but here. Twenty-five years of dealing with family abuse, rape, murder, assault, psych responses to torture etc, PTSD, racism, poverty, loneliness, grief, solitude, legal entanglements... Seriously, I would have expected much much MUCH worse outcomes than what we have had. By this point I would have expected several suicides and at least two multiple homicides (family, maybe work). Plus assorted random assaults and single murders.

You don't know these people, and there's no way for you to check what I'm saying--but the outcomes we've been seeing are, as a whole, skewed in a positive direction. They are statistically unlikely.

And I can't help putting all of the above down to the faithfulness of the Lord we've been clinging to, hanging on to his ankles, wailing into his skirts, behaving like frightened toddlers with. Because we don't have what it takes to make any of the above happen. It's got to be him.

That, or a highly unlikely decades-long chain of coincidences. [Razz]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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And people who have died, whose families have been lost around them, who have remained childless - who have seen decades not of favourable coincidences but of Shit Happening - are they examples of God not being faithful? Methinks you cannot cite the one without accepting the evidence posed by the the other.

[ 22. May 2014, 14:29: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Lamb Chopped
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[heavy sigh] OF COURSE you were going to say that. Which is why a) I called myself a fool for even trying, b) I indicated that lots of shit happened to us and ours in spite of God's faithfulness, and c) I refrained from drawing precisely the kind of conclusions you seem to think I AM drawing.

I'm not.

The problem of evil is not going to be solved by Lamb Chopped. I wasn't trying. I was simply answering your question.

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Martin60
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God is with us in time and chance. Respect!

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Love wins

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A.Pilgrim
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
quote:
Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10.23)
quote:
Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. (Matthew 16.28)
quote:
Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Matthew 24.34)
Never happened, did they?

Oh, I'm perfectly aware of later generations' rationalisations and reinterpretations of the promises attributed to Jesus by the gospel writers. But I'm also pretty darned sure that the first generation of Christians took them at face value - and died disappointed.

You see, if Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened," and it turns out that "generation" means "a couple of thousand years and counting", isn't that a bit like me saying, "I'll give you a hundred pounds next week" - and then next week saying, "Oh, did I say that? Sorry - cos where I come from, 'week' means a hundred years. And 'hundred pounds' means 'this piece of marzipan."

So. Has he broken his promises?

Jesus came into his kingdom when he ascended and was seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. That happened in the lifetime of the people to whom he was speaking.

In my view the most credible understanding of Matt 24:4-35 is that Jesus is talking about the period up to the destruction of the temple, in response to the disciples' first question in 24:3 '...when will these things be...?' which was provoked by Jesus's observation in 24:2 'there will not be left here one stone upon another'. And the destruction of the temple took place 40 years (a generation) after the time of Jesus speaking (ca.30AD)

Jesus talks about his second coming in Matt 24:36-25:46, (where he speaks of 'that day' in contrast to his referring to 'those days' in 24:4-35), and was in response to the disciples' second question in v.4 '..and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?. There is also a clear discourse marker of contrast and change of subject with the 'But' which starts v.36, indicating the change from answering the first question to answering the second.

No promises broken, but the events of history fulfilled the prophecy that Jesus made of the destruction of the temple, so I have no doubt of the fulfillment of the prophecy of his second coming, and the judgement that will follow.

It is quite possible that the original hearers of his words understood them better than many people today understand from reading the gospel text.

Angus

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
[heavy sigh] OF COURSE you were going to say that. Which is why a) I called myself a fool for even trying, b) I indicated that lots of shit happened to us and ours in spite of God's faithfulness, and c) I refrained from drawing precisely the kind of conclusions you seem to think I AM drawing.

I'm not.

The problem of evil is not going to be solved by Lamb Chopped. I wasn't trying. I was simply answering your question.

And I'm clearly failing to understand your answer.

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
And people who have died, whose families have been lost around them, who have remained childless - who have seen decades not of favourable coincidences but of Shit Happening - are they examples of God not being faithful? Methinks you cannot cite the one without accepting the evidence posed by the the other.

You can always argue one way or the other, since confirmation bias can ease one out of any problems. I don't see any way of resolving it - I see reality the way I want to. Although I suppose hearing that others see it entirely differently might be salutary.

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by A.Pilgrim:
Jesus came into his kingdom when he ascended and was seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. That happened in the lifetime of the people to whom he was speaking.

But that's a going away, not a "coming of the son of man". He goes away in clouds and he comes again in clouds (Acts 1:11). And while Jesus may be enthroned in the Ascension, it is not a coming of the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. The Kingdom is about a new heaven and a new earth (which he refers to in 24:35)

quote:
Originally posted by A.Pilgrim:

In my view the most credible understanding of Matt 24:4-35 is that Jesus is talking about the period up to the destruction of the temple, in response to the disciples' first question in 24:3 '...when will these things be...?' which was provoked by Jesus's observation in 24:2 'there will not be left here one stone upon another'. And the destruction of the temple took place 40 years (a generation) after the time of Jesus speaking (ca.30AD)

Jesus talks about his second coming in Matt 24:36-25:46, (where he speaks of 'that day' in contrast to his referring to 'those days' in 24:4-35), and was in response to the disciples' second question in v.4 '..and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?. There is also a clear discourse marker of contrast and change of subject with the 'But' which starts v.36, indicating the change from answering the first question to answering the second.

Not so. The one who endures to the end of the age of lawlessness (destruction of the temple) will be saved (24:13) by the coming of the Kingdom (24:14).

Then in 24:22 he's talking of his coming again but tells them it will be obvious (24:27).

Then he goes back to the times of suffering (destruction of the temple) in 24:29 after which (immediately - verse 29) the heavens and earth are shaken and the son of Man will come on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory. Definitely parousia language there.

The "but" you speak of in 24:36 is not the separation of questions because the two themes are closely intertwined (destruction, suffering and the coming). The "but' is no one knows when they will both happen - not just the parousia.

quote:
Originally posted by A.Pilgrim:
No promises broken, but the events of history fulfilled the prophecy that Jesus made of the destruction of the temple, so I have no doubt of the fulfillment of the prophecy of his second coming, and the judgement that will follow.

Even if you dismiss the Matthew 24 - 25 chapters are referring to the destruction of the temple, what of the myriad other references in the New Testament that refer to Jesus' imminent return? I've posted just a few of them above in respones to SCK but there are tons.

How do you dismiss them?

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Lamb Chopped
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
And I'm clearly failing to understand your answer.

We're at an impasse, then, because I can't think of any way to be clearer.

[has Lamb Chopped broken her code?]

[ 23. May 2014, 14:23: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Brenda Clough
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Coming at this from my own idiosyncratic angle:
It is not difficult to write or speak clearly. It is not all that difficult (although Lord knows we can all point to failures) to make your meaning known. This is not rocket science.

You are not telling me that Jesus could not convey his meaning at least as well as you, or I, can. (It is of course possible that there is a purely technical failure -- a failure of the hearers to transcribe properly, the translators into English dropping the ball, Mary Magdalen smashing a serving plate just as a key word fell from the Lord's tongue -- but let's ignore that.)

My idea is, this is no accident. There is a deliberate obfustication, a sleight-of-hand going on. Writers do this all the time (the unreliable narrator and so forth) and know that the words can be made to mean what you want them to mean.

So: What's he really saying?

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A.Pilgrim
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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
But that's a going away, not a "coming of the son of man". He goes away in clouds and he comes again in clouds (Acts 1:11).

In the prophecy in Daniel of the ascension (7:13-14) the phrase used is: '...there came one like a son of man and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him...' (italics added)
So it is possible that Jesus used 'coming' of the Son of Man to allude to this passage. Also, there might be a difference in usage of 'coming' between C21st English and C1st Greek or Aramaic to refer to movements of people.

quote:
Not so. The one who endures to the end of the age of lawlessness (destruction of the temple) will be saved (24:13) by the coming of the Kingdom (24:14).
I can see nothing in v14 that refers unmistakeably to the second coming, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God in a new heaven and earth. I think your understanding is imposed onto the text, not extracted from it.

quote:
Then he goes back to the times of suffering (destruction of the temple) in 24:29 after which (immediately - verse 29) the heavens and earth are shaken and the son of Man will come on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory. Definitely parousia language there.
Matt 24:29-30 certainly uses apocalyptic language, but this style of writing does not have to refer to the parousia - it can be used to refer to other events as well, and the destruction of the temple and the associated suffering of the Jewish people certainly deserves its use.

quote:
Even if you dismiss the Matthew 24 - 25 chapters are referring to the destruction of the temple, what of the myriad other references in the New Testament that refer to Jesus' imminent return? I've posted just a few of them above in respones to SCK but there are tons.

How do you dismiss them?

Please re-read my earlier post, as I did not dismiss Matthew 25 as referring to the destruction of the temple.

There are plenty of places in the NT where the disciples of Jesus are encouraged to live in constant expectation of - and preparedness for - his return. It is something that we should do now, for Jesus might return tomorrow - or in another 2000 years' time.

I'm not saying that my understanding of 24:4-35 as referring to the destruction of the temple is without any problems; rather this understanding minimises the exegetical difficulties in ch 24-25
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Arminian
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http://rightwordtruth.com/this-generation-shall-not-pass-till-all-these-things-be-fulfilled/

Does this hold any water ?

“The verb “genEtai = may be coming” and the mood here is the subjunctive mood of the verb, the tense is the second aorist = past imperfect. The subjective mood of the verb is the mood of the idea, in other words it has not happened yet but it will begin to happen and is spoken of as may be coming… The generational application is emphatic and doubly so NOT pass away until what? The indicative mood of the second aorist singular = egeneto and this means “became”… This is the most frequent use of the this verb used 149 times… The indicative mood is the mood of the literal verbal action i.e. it is literally became. If it is becoming it has not occurred yet and the English sense of something past but reference to future is difficult grasp however, the English reader can understand this “beginning to occur” i.e. Verily I say to you that this generation will absolutely not pass away before these things begin to occur”

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Adeodatus
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I've been away for a week and am probably going to have to catch up with this thread piecemeal, but I'll start with this:
quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
But your question of "Has God broken his promises"? is altogether another question it seems. Is a promise broken if it is delayed?

If I say, "I'll see you next week" and then vanish for a year, only to turn up with an excuse that "week" doesn't really mean "week" where I come from, I'd say yes, I broke my promise. And rather badly betrayed you, too.

quote:
If we assume the New Testament did indeed get it wrong, what then? What does this mean for faith?
Excellent question. I think for many people it's extremely scary to say "the New Testament got it wrong" (or "Luke got it wrong", or "Mark got it wrong", or of course, the worst of all, "Jesus got it wrong".) Personally, I don't think it's necessarily a dealbreaker. It leaves you with certain problems, like who decides where in the text Jesus gets it wrong and suchlike, but that's probably half a dozen other threads.

quote:
At this point, you can say "God didn't do what God said God would do so therefore is untrustworthy".

Or you can say. "God didn't do what God said God would do back then, but is still trustworthy and must have something else in mind in which I will continue to participate in as a disciple of Christ."

You could also quote him back at himself:
quote:
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Luke 16.10, NIV)


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Dave Marshall

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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet:
Unless you're a literalist, there's little problem.

Well, I don't think non-literalist means "if you don't like it, chuck it out". I think it means more something like "wrestle with it to see if it makes sense".
Going back to this, there's more to being non-literalist than mere selective reading.

For example, the idea that God is promising anything through a character in a biblical story reflects an overarchingly literalist perspective on the place of the bible. The OP sounds like an ostensibly reasonable enquiry, but only if we accept an enormously literalist imposition that traditional Christian orthodoxy makes on rational thought.

If we don't believe there are grounds for believing the Bible is the "word of God" in any literal sense, there really is no problem with broken promises.

[ 25. May 2014, 13:13: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
You could also quote him back at himself:
quote:
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Luke 16.10, NIV)

What do you mean quoting that?

quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet:
Unless you're a literalist, there's little problem.

Well, I don't think non-literalist means "if you don't like it, chuck it out". I think it means more something like "wrestle with it to see if it makes sense".
Going back to this, there's more to being non-literalist than mere selective reading.

For example, the idea that God is promising anything through a character in a biblical story reflects an overarchingly literalist perspective on the place of the bible. The OP sounds like an ostensibly reasonable enquiry, but only if we accept an enormously literalist imposition that traditional Christian orthodoxy makes on rational thought.

If we don't believe there are grounds for believing the Bible is the "word of God" in any literal sense, there really is no problem with broken promises.

Hello Dave. Long time no see. [Big Grin]

Literal interpretation or non-literal interpretation, you're still presented with the problem that the earliest Christians believed Jesus would return soon and the Kingdom of God would come in its fullness.

How do you interpret the fact that they were wrong?

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Martin60
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What's to interpret?

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Evensong
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Primarily: What now? Where does that leave us in relation to the coming Kingdom of God?

How do we understand what we say each week:

Christ has died
Christ has risen
Christ will come again


[ 26. May 2014, 12:56: Message edited by: Evensong ]

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Dave Marshall

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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
Hello Dave. Long time no see. [Big Grin]

Yeah. [Smile]

But we are still here. It was a shock to see ken had died.
quote:
Literal interpretation or non-literal interpretation, you're still presented with the problem that the earliest Christians believed Jesus would return soon and the Kingdom of God would come in its fullness. How do you interpret the fact that they were wrong?
I don't see what some of the earliest Christians believed about Jesus returning is of more than academic interest. If an essential feature of Christianity is commitment to believing what is true, and the stories of Christianity at best only tangentially reflect the history, this is just a story to be recalled and used if we find it useful. Why should we be surprised (or concerned) if they got this wrong?
quote:
Christ has died
Christ has risen
Christ will come again

This needs a line of introduction to make sense. Something like:
quote:
In the Church's story:
...

But that raises other questions. Like does this literary reference really capture the essence of a worthwhile Christian faith today.
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Martin60
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It's among us.

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GCabot
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Matthew 10:23
The problem with this verse is that the meaning of “the Son of Man comes” is extremely vague. Given the overall context in which this verse appears, however, it seems clear that this is not a reference to the Second Coming.

This verse relates to the immediate mission Jesus gave the Twelve Apostles to evangelize among the Jews. He states that the Apostles are not to spread the Word to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the Jews. He tells them that they will be persecuted, and when this occurs, they should move on to the next town in Israel. Given this verse’s appearance vis-à-vis such a temporary mission, it is nonsensical to interpret it as referring to the coming of the Son of Man at the End Times. Jesus obviously knows that this will not happen in the timeframe of the short immediate mission He is giving His disciples. Rather, Jesus is likely referring to either His resurrection, or their proximate reunion post-mission (Jesus often refers to Himself in the third-person as the “Son of Man” outside of reference to His Second Coming).


Matthew 16:28:
Personally, I believe this refers to the Revelation of John. This verse does not say, “Before the Son of Man comes in his kingdom.” Rather, it states that one will “see” the Son of Man “coming” in his kingdom. This implies that one of the apostles will have a vision of future events, i.e., the Second Coming. Under the traditional identification of John of Patmos as John the Apostle, he describes in his Revelation the coming of Jesus Christ into His kingdom in vivid detail. “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever’ (Revelation 11:15).” This would fulfill the prophecy.


Matthew 24:34:
I do not see a significant problem here. The key is that the meaning of “this generation” must be taken in context of Jesus’ overall message in the chapter. Technically, a “generation” can be merely a group of people that “experience the same significant events within a given period of time.” The original question posed by Jesus’ disciples is when and what will the signs be of “your coming and of the end of the age.” Therefore, “this generation” may be just all those living in this “age,” i.e., the age of the proclamation of the Good News throughout the world.

This also explains what would otherwise be seemingly contradictory verses in Matthew 24. For example, Matthew 24:14 states that “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” By the time of the death of the last living apostle, the Gospel had not yet been shared to significant portions of the world, which is a prerequisite for the end of the age. Thus, it does not make sense to think of “this generation” in its narrowest definition.

Furthermore, such a narrow interpretation would also contradict with Matthew 24:36, which says, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” If Jesus, the Son, does not know when He shall come again, how could He definitively say, “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place?” This statement only makes sense in this context if “this generation” is being used in a broader sense. Thus, Jesus is literally saying “this generation,” or the generation of people living in the age of the proclamation of the Gospel, will only end once the signs He has described have occurred.

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The child that is born unto us is more than a prophet; for this is he of whom the Savior saith: "Among them that are born of woman, there hath not risen one greater than John the Baptist."

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Martin60
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Or He's not literally saying anything at all.

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Jude
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I have grown up with the theory that in Jesus's prophecy in Matthew 24 he is speaking of the destruction of the temple and the massacre of the Jews - the end of the traditional Jewish way of life, with the temple, sacrifices, etc. It would indeed have been a catastrophe for them, the end of their world. And Jesus was a Jew.

In verse 7, the disciples ask when this will happen, and by following up with questions about the end of the age and Jesus's return have conflated the whole lot. Unfortunately, Christians down the ages have also done this.

I can see that the "end of the age" could mean the end of that particular age in which they were living, in which case it would come to the end with the destruction of the temple and the Jewish tradition of sacrifice and temple worship. This was a long age to come to an end, it had been going since the time of Solomon.

But to make all this equate to the time when Jesus returns ... In verse 8 Jesus warns them not to be deceived by false messiahs or rumours of war - "the end is still to come". Well, we are still waiting for the end, that is, not just the end of the age, but the end of all things.

In verse 9. He seems to be referring again to an event soon to come, speaking of the persecution of those who preach the Gospel. But "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (NIV)

After this, Jesus goes back to speaking of the destruction of the temple (verse 15). Because he keeps going back and forth, at one time speaking about the temple and another speaking about the End, Christians have received a confused prophecy. Perhaps he himself could not separate the two. As I have intimated before, being a Jew he might have equalled the destruction of the temple and the Jewish way of life with the end of the world. Although God, he was human and might not have been able to see beyond that. But he also said "No-one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (NIV) This implies that even Jesus himself did not know when "the coming of the Son of Man" would be.

I wonder what is meant by this "second coming" of which some Christians are so keen to speak.

To answer the OP, then, my belief is that God has indeed kept his promises, so we must look at them differently from what perhaps the OP is saying.

Some of these verses refer to the destruction of the temple and the Jewish way of life - check.

Some of these verses refer to the "Son of Man coming in his kingdom" = Ascension - check.

Some of these verses refer to a "second coming" - could this refer to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost?

Some of these verses refer to "The End" - well obviously our world is finite and whether to one at a time or all at once, the end is coming. But what did Jesus mean by The End? I have read a theory that End does not mean destruction, but Goal. What is that Goal? Surely the coming of the Kingdom of God. Now the Kingdom of God has come, sort of, but not in its fulness. That is what we are waiting, hoping, working for.

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“So as to do them?” asked her aunt.
“So as to choose,” said Isabel.
Henry James - The Portrait of A Lady

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Martin60
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Aye, He covered ALL the bases.

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Jude:

Some of these verses refer to "The End" - well obviously our world is finite and whether to one at a time or all at once, the end is coming. But what did Jesus mean by The End? I have read a theory that End does not mean destruction, but Goal. What is that Goal? Surely the coming of the Kingdom of God. Now the Kingdom of God has come, sort of, but not in its fulness. That is what we are waiting, hoping, working for.

Of course its about the coming of the Kingdom. The point is the Kingdom didn't come. Jesus' gospel was "repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand (near, approaching in the Greek)!"

Everybody seems quite happy to dismiss the Matthew references to refer to the temple, but what about all the others that I mentioned
above?

Nobody has the guts to approach those it seems.

C'mon folks.

I dare you

( and no, Pentecost doesn't cut it. Firstly because alot of these references occur to times after Pentecost in the epistles and Secondly because Pentecost was the beginning but obviously not the end - the Kingdom is not yet here)

[ 30. May 2014, 11:17: Message edited by: Evensong ]

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Martin60
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He IS the Kingdom. His presence is. He is present in the Spirit. The Kingdom is here. We're in it ever since.

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Evensong
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But this aint heaven Toto. God's will is not done on earth as it is in heaven. The grand visions of Isaiah and Revelation of a new earth and a new heaven have not been fulfilled.

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W Hyatt
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But they are being fulfilled. Do you think the human race hasn't seen any overall improvements in the last two millenia? It seems to me that things are vastly better with regard to how well we can expect people to treat each other.

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by W Hyatt:
But they are being fulfilled. Do you think the human race hasn't seen any overall improvements in the last two millenia? It seems to me that things are vastly better with regard to how well we can expect people to treat each other.

Arguable.

But that's not the point.

That's not the same as the New Testament expectation that the Kingdom was imminent and would come soon in its fullness. That's the whole point of all the urgency everywhere. Repent! The time is nigh! Don't even bother getting married! Time is too short!

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Martin60
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Then they grew up.

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Evensong
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Well when you grow up you expect broken promises from people. But God? No.

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Martin60
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Promises?

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Evensong
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You know. To come again soon. To set things right on earth as they are in heaven. Or have you completely forgotten orthodoxy?

[ 31. May 2014, 11:35: Message edited by: Evensong ]

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Martin60
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I embrace it fully.

YOU are the promise.

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Evensong
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No. I am most definitely not the messiah.

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Martin60
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You, me, we, ALL others are the chosen, in Him.

It's up to us.

Do we want Him to come or not?

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Evensong
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No it's most definitely not up to us. We participate in the current semi-realised eschatology. We do not bring it about in its fullness. That's God's job.

Jesus did not walk around saying "Repent! The Kingdom of God is up to you to bring about and it'll take thousands of years to do it!"

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Martin60
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We've been around for two hundred thousand years.

We're half way.

They are just WORDS Evensong.

It is ENTIRELY down to us. The sooner we take responsibility, the responsibility that was given to us, the sooner He comes.

If we keep waiting, He will NEVER come. Like waiting to be happy.

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