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

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Tue Oct 21 2008 - 21:50:44 EDT

Bernie, I don't think 'bending and twisting' it's what is going on here -
people are giving their views on how these texts can be or are reconciled
with given understandings or mindsets. And frankly, I think David, Murray,
and others are doing a good job of exactly that. If someone has a given
answer to the question at hand, and if they believe it addresses the
'problem', then that's that - they're not pretending there isn't a problem.
I'm sure all or most of us can see how certain understandings or passages
may be seem problematic, if looked at a certain way.

For myself, I at once admit that a person could have a problem with these
passages, while honestly thinking that the context of the NT as a whole, the
passages in questions, and otherwise (the Didache in particular) all point
to a fairly easy understanding and resolution with regards to what was going
on in the early christian communities. I really do not think that's
'ignoring' the issue, certainly not twisting it.

On Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 9:15 PM, Dehler, Bernie <>wrote:

> 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.
> ...Bernie
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Murray Hogg
> Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 5:34 PM
> To: ASA
> 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.
> Blessings,
> 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 21:50:59 2008

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