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

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Thu Oct 23 2008 - 13:27:46 EDT

Although parts of II Peter and Jude are so similar that either one
quotes the other or both quote a common source, there are differences.
 In II Peter, the scoffers are seen as future. In Jude they are
already present (though this does not prove that it has to be the end
in Jude's view-cf. I John on the antichrist coming in the future but
plenty of prototypes are already present).

"Adam was not made by evolution, and was made by fiat."

Perhaps he was made by Fiat, but he was driven out in a Fury (cf.
carpooling in the NT-"The apostles were all in one Accord.")

"the Bible clearly teaches the imminent return of Christ in the
lifetime of the disciples"

As the relevant passages are some of the most disputed in
interpretation throughout church history, it seems highly dubious that
"clearly" is the right word. That's not to say that you can't argue
that it is the right interpretation, but I'm highly skeptical of any
claim to have figured out eschatology. More fundamentally, the points
of Biblical eschatology are "Be prepared-don't slack off" and "God
will set things right and vindicate His people", not "Here's how to
calculate what will happen."

(Incidentally, the churches I've been in have all been fairly quietly
amillenial-no directional change over time-though individual members
or studies used are not necessarily amillenial.)

The Tyndale NT commentary series from IVP tends to take the two-part
interpretation of the apocalyptic passages in the Synoptics (i.e.,
Jesus distinguishes between two events-the imminent destruction of
Jerusalem, and a final judgement.) and could be consulted for more
details on that approach.

Although the idea that some sort of cosmic upheaval is envisioned as a
part of the end times in the NT is quite plausible, it's important to
realize that such imagery is a stock part of apocalyptic writing and
not necessarily to be taken literally in detail in its original
intent. For instance, Jeremiah described the Bablylonian destruction
of Jerusalem as a return to primordial chaos (formless and void), an
obvious bit of hyperbole. Similarly, a couple of passages in
Revelation explicitly identify "stars" as angels, raising cautions
about interpreting other references to stars. Thus, a precise
interpretation of what will happen to the earth is problematic.
Apocalyptic imagery often uses statements that are mutally
contradictory if taken as precise prophecy of future historic events,
but are coherent if merely taken as providing imagery evocative of
security, peace, well-being, defeat of the wicked, etc. This has been
described as making pictures with words.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Thu Oct 23 13:28:55 2008

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