RE: [asa] A theology question (imminent return of Christ)

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Wed Oct 15 2008 - 15:01:58 EDT

Does the following verse have any significance in your discussion? 1
Thessalonians 5:2 "For you yourselves know full well that the day of the
Lord will come just like a thief in the night."


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Murray Hogg
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 2:50 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] A theology question (imminent return of Christ)

Hi Bernie,

If I may say, I think the supposition you describe in the below is quite
unjustified and possibly one of your major problems!

One simply CAN'T work backward from "the disciples believed X" to
"therefore Jesus taught X".

This is particularly so given there seems to be three major reasons for
thinking the logic is flawed in the specific case;

First, it seems to me that your position is that the disciples were
motivated primarily by a huge emphasis on Christ returning in their
lifetime. But we simply don't find that sort of emphasis in their
theology - the NT discusses a great many other issues besides. It seems
to me inconsistent to claim that their overriding ethical category would
be a return of Jesus in their lifetime (i.e. "Jesus is coming soon so we
should do such-and-such") whilst it only seems to sneak in as a minor
theological theme.

Second, in Acts 1:6 the disciples, clearly thinking in terms of Jesus
establishing the Kingdom of God on earth NOW, put the question of
chronology to Christ whose response is simply to tell them it's none of
their business. That the only recorded comment by Christ after his
resurrection should AVOID specific reference to a return within the
disciples lifetime ought to temper claims that his unrecorded teaching
specifically affirmed the point.

Third, even in the apocryphal gospels there is NO record of Christ
having taught "secretly" of a return within the disciples lifetime.
Given such gospels often pick up on minor themes in Christian thought
and recklessly expand them out of all recognition, I personally think it
pretty significant that no early Christian "fringe groups" were engaged
in eschatological speculation based on a supposed unrecorded teaching of

To this I'd probably add the observation that, even prior to his death,
Christ often spoke of eschatology without giving any definite time
reference. Here, I have to say, it is simply to overstate the case in
regards to early Christian eschatology if one takes remarks about a
return which is "sudden and without warning" as being the same thing as
a return which is "in the next few years."

My view is that their near as certain wasn't, in the teaching of Jesus,
a specific claim about the date of the eschaton even if claims of a
"sudden" return were quite naturally interpreted in this way (by us, as
well as by them). And, even in the disciple's own eschatological
musings, I consider the emphasis to be on "sudden" with the idea of "in
our lifetime" to be a marginal theme at best.

Murray Hogg
Pastor, East Camberwell Baptist Church, Victoria, Australia
Post-Grad Student (MTh), Australian College of Theology

Dehler, Bernie wrote:
> Hi Schwarzwald-
> I think one of the disagreements I have with you is that you are only
> considering Christ's words from the Bible. I'm considering the 10x to

> 1000x more He taught them verbally. We can't get in the same mindset
> the early disciples by simply reading some tidbits of Christ's
> as recorded in Scripture. They would have been saturated in Christ's
> verbal teaching; so if they expected Christ's return in their day, I'm

> supposing Christ taught.
> ,,,BernieTheology

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Received on Wed Oct 15 15:02:04 2008

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