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

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Fri Oct 17 2008 - 16:27:16 EDT

Hi Bernie,

This particular discussion could go (and seems to be going!) in a number of different directions! I, however, would want make the point that question at hand isn't whether Jesus could have been in error on the date of the parousia, the question is whether he was. And that in turn puts the question of whether we have sufficient data to make that assessment.

To which I think the answer is "probably not" - I simply don't see any compelling reason to put on the lips of Christ a date (nor even a date range) for the eschaton. As I've repeatedly stated "suddenly and without warning" is what he taught and "in our lifetime" was an inference the disciples drew from it.

But to scotch suggestions that the data is being misrepresented to avoid thorny theological problems, let me just make the following few observations;

1) The idea that Jesus was wrong/ignorant would be a theological problem only in as much as it illustrates the difficulty which ALREADY exists in trying to reconcile the idea of Jesus' human limitation vs divine fullness. It's clearly very difficult to find any solution to this difficulty but in theory at least the entire concept is simply (ha!) a restatement of the theme of Phillipians 2:6-8.

2) The issue (to my mind) isn't the question of whether Christ could possibly have been wrong. That possibility is already inherent in the concept of the incarnation as I've just outlined above. The issue, rather, is whether Christ was _actually_ wrong. And to discuss that we have to first determine that he made some sort of definitive claim about the date of his return. Frankly, I think HE (as opposed to his disciples) makes no such claim. I may be wrong, of course, but it has nothing to do with attempting to evade the possibility of Christ being in error. In short, it's an issue of exegesis not one of what I consider to be a priori possible.

So one might then want to open a discussion on what follows on the assumption that I'm wrong with respect to the exegetical question. And having reflected on that for a few days the answer would most likely be "not much." Indeed, I've already urged taking Matthew 24:36 as indicating the Jesus WAS ignorant of the date of the parousia - so I've already factored in some level of "limitation" in respects of Christ's knowledge. To my mind, Christ being wrong/uncertain about the date of the parousia would merely add one more thing to the list of things involved in the Word emptied himself in being made flesh. In terms of theological consequence, I don't find the thought "scary" in the least.

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

Dehler, Bernie wrote:
> Hereís my idea. Pastor Murray (someone you likely agree with) and I
> agree that the disciples thought Christ would return in their lifetime,
> and these disciples were wrong. My hypothesis for consideration: Isnít
> it a possibility that Jesus was wrong? Can that be possible, and still
> not detract from the nature of the trinity, which no one understands
> fully anyway? Jesus did not know everything. I think we can all agree
> to that. He had to learn how to walk, speak, and get potty-trained just
> like every other human, right? When he was learning math, he probably
> got some questions wrong (oops, 2+2=4, not 3, when in grade school, if
> there was such a thing). And somehow that doesnít detract from His
> Godhood. In the same way, could he have simply taught his imminent
> return and had been wrong? I know the consequences of that may feel
> scary, but that hasnít stopped before as some of us ignored the
> consequences to our Biblical understanding when we studied and rejected YEC.--

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Received on Fri Oct 17 16:28:43 2008

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