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

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Tue Oct 21 2008 - 21:15:35 EDT

I think the sinking ship analogy is perfect because like the sinking Titanic, this Earth is going to get fried when Christ returns- according to the passage I quoted (2 Peter 3:1-13). If that is true- it would be folly to plant trees. May as well sell all you have and live in a commune waiting for the last days... oops, "we" tried that and it didn't work out (Acts). Since the passage of time, these verses have been diminished, so now we (but not me) play lip-service to them and re-interpret them.

Pastor Murray- do you also think verse 2 Peter 3:11-13 was metaphorical, like David O.? David said it was apocalyptic literature, which doesn't look right to me. (He said: " it's because these are common literary themes in apocalyptic literature of the period.")

I have no problem being agnostic on this imminent issue, but I have a problem with the idea of trying to teach somehow that it is not a problem. That looks like denial, to me. I think we should be honest with real issues and simply answer "I don't know" instead of bending and twisting.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Murray Hogg
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 5:34 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] A theology question (imminent return of Christ)

Hi All,

George (and Christine): Hear, hear! :)

Bernie: Sorry to say but it seems to me that you've drawn exactly the WRONG conclusion on the basis of biblical eschatology. The fundamental point of the Gospel sayings is (matching Georges terminology) "stay your station BECAUSE the master may return an any time" NOT "hit the lifeboats as the end is nigh."

In this case the proper analogy to the Titanic is not found in the infamously pointless rearrangement of deck-chairs BUT in the fact that the crew members continued to act as crew members guiding the passengers into life-boats.

You'll rightly point out that this involves a change of priorities - well, that's because the idea of a sinking ship is simply a bad metaphor.

Better would be the idea of a ship sitting at anchor in harbour awaiting the return of the Captain prior to setting sail. Here the crew would have to be about their regular duties at all times DESPITE the fact that the ship is not underway. Indeed, they would have to act "as if" the Captain were on board even if they knew he were days away. Here whether the Captain is present or absent the crew ought to be about their business - and the timing of his return (whether known or not) makes precious little difference to what the crew OUGHT to be doing.

In this respect, it's critical to note that Christ's eschatological teachings don't imply the need for a radical new ethic but for a radical commitment to the ethic which already exists. In that respect, eschatology merely draws attention to the importance of doing one's duty. It has no implications for how the content of that duty is to be understood.

Here, I'd defend the view that individuals have the right to determine how THEIR OWN understanding of Christian ethics informs their priorities - whether the resultant priorities make sense to anybody else or not. This is clearly not a matter of logical deduction from first premises so to use terms like "dualistic", "mutually exclusive" and/or "stupid" seems to me to misunderstand how people make such determinations. In reality, we all process the question at hand in quite different ways; Ask a hundred different people what they would do if the world was going to end tomorrow and my guess is you'd get a very wide range of responses. Some might even take the entire time trying to answer the question! The urgency would only serve to highlight the sort of priorities a person actually has. But it won't tell us what those priorities ought to be.

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

George Murphy wrote:
> Christine is right about this. It isn't "dualistic thinking" to believe
> that the parousia might be tomorrow, or even that it _will_ be, & also
> thinking that we're supposed to stay at our station till Christ does
> indeed return. That's hardly unique to Luther - it's essentially the
> same point that Lewis made in his essay "The World's Last Night." On
> the world's last night the ER nurse should not be out on a hill looking
> for a rift in the heavens but in the ER because there are going to be
> hurt & scared people on the world's last night & her calling is to be
> there for them.
> Shalom
> George

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Received on Tue Oct 21 21:15:58 2008

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