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

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Wed Oct 01 2008 - 21:55:01 EDT

You think the sinking ship analogy is perfect? Well, therein lies the problem, Bernie.

Frankly, it's YOUR theological position that's dualistic and NOT Martin Luther's.

Indeed, his entire "plant a tree" quip was INTENDED to make the point that one shouldn't predicate one's activities on a radical disjunction between the present age and the world to come. By contrast, your argument is predicated on the assumption that NOTHING in the present age matters because it's ONLY value is determined in relation to the age to come. So EVERY judgment you've made about how we ought to act is fundamentally determined by a "heavenly/earthly" dualism and thus the assumption that one ought to act on the basis of a consequentialist ethic.

Really, it's just the flip side of "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die" - except that your assuming that anybody who REALLY believed in an imminent second coming would be to scared to DARE do anything naughty. It's merely a rendition of "You'd better not pout, You'd better not cry, You'd better not shout, I'm tellin' you why, Santa Claus is coming to town." gussied up in Biblical language.

Which leads me to suggest that apart from being dualist your position seems to me essentially legalistic - it implies that one's motive for being good ought primarily to lie in whether or not it allows one to come out on the "right" side on the day of judgment RATHER than whether one's actions are motivated by love - and remember love NOT JUDGMENT is THE Christian imperative to action, Bernie.

So far from the early disciples sharing their goods as an act of self-denying Christian love, you're reduced it to an exercise in pragmatic self-preservation: "this stuff won't be worth ANYTHING next week, but I can buy my way into heaven with it if I give it away BEFORE Jesus comes back!"

This doesn't work for me, Bernie. And it explains why your Titanic analogy is irredeemably flawed: because even for the crew and passengers of the Titanic the sinking of the ship doesn't have to be the sole consideration that dictates their actions. If it were, the crew would keep the lifeboats for themselves in order to save their own necks.

So it's not just that I don't agree with your logic. It's that I disagree with what I see as your fundamental assumptions with respects to what was motivating the disciples AND with respects to what ought to motivate us.

My advice? Just forget eschatology and work on loving your neighbor.

I have no opinion on whether 2 Peter 3:11-13 is metaphorical or not - nor do I see how it would matter. There is NO argument against the suggestion that the NT expectation was for a radical change in the nature of things. How the passing of the old order come about seems to me to be monumental in it's insignificance (there's a nice oxymoron for you!).

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

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

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Received on Tue Oct 21 21:56:29 2008

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