Re: [asa] Ecological and Environmental Ethics Conference CFP

From: John Burgeson (ASA member) <>
Date: Fri Jan 23 2009 - 10:10:02 EST

On 1/22/09, Dehler, Bernie <> wrote:
> It seems to me that if "imminent" means "at any time," then it is worthless
> to use as a word to mean anything. For example- if I go to your house party
> and say "Is Mary going to attend" and you say "She'll be here imminently,"
> am I supposed to think she may arrive in 20 years? I can't think of any
> example where "imminent" would be used to explain something happening a long
> time from now- it fact- the word means just the opposite. If someone
> disagrees- can they give an example from everyday life? A sample sentence?
> I think the dictionary is clear on what it means- and it means "soon"- which
> is at odds with a possible human existence on Earth for over 1 million more
> years.

1. A dictionary definition is usually not authority when dealing with
a theological term, necessarily translated from an ancient language.
We have to use words to communicate, of course; in this case
"imminent" simply means "it could happen at any time." No time frame
is implied. Many folks have inferred a time frame, and all (to date)
have egg on their faces. Inferring a "very soon" or "within a few
years" is not limited to yahoos such as Hal Lindsey, of course; many
over the centuries have preceded him in his folly.

2. Your "Mary" example does not compute. Even if I were to say that
(I'd more likely use "soon") all words are to be taken in context, and
since you and I both know my parties do not extend more than a few
hours, 20 years is clearly not an option.

3. My own view is that the word is very precise (as much as a
translation can be) to convey the idea that the Date of the Return is
not known but the Fact of the Return is certain.

Being greatly influenced by J.B. Phillips "Your God is Too Small," I
none the less share your degree of skepticism on the "millions of
years" scenario. But that does not mean I rule it out, else I'd be
doing (to a lessor degree) what Hal Lindsey does. I'm not going there.

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Received on Fri Jan 23 10:10:20 2009

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