Friday, November 24, 2006

Pretty Clearly, Christianity is True

Exapologist has blogged about Jesus' failed predictions. He gave it the title: "I'm SOrry, But Christianity is Pretty Clearly false."

I responded in his combox.

Though I take a partial-preterist position, I likewise think that my fellow bloggers on T-blog who do not share my interpretive schema could also easily answer Exapologist.

At any rate, here's the informal discussion (Exapologist's post is in red):

Ex-Apologist,

It appears that if the partial-preterist is correct, then your case crumbles.

I note that you didn't even address this.

Jesus' coming inaugurated the "last days" as well as "the kingdom of heaven."

Your number one flaw is your *assumption* that "the last days" refers to the "end of the world as we know it, in a physical/cosmic sense."

But that was nowhere defended.

Jesus did "come on the clouds" as he promised.

The Bible uses the language of "coming on the clouds" to refer to God's judgment. Look at Isa.19:1; Ps. 68:4; Ps. 97:2,3; for example.

So, you may choose to read the Bible with your 21st century goggles on - thinking that Jesus really intends to convey that he's really surfing some clouds toward earth - but how would the Israelite hearers have understood Jesus? After all, they were very familiar with the "coming on clouds" language.

And Jesus did judge Jerusalem, just like he promised in Matt. 24.

The end of the old covenant era did happen in their lifetime.

Given my partial-preterist reading, I find *zero* problems with your post. Doesn't shake my belief in Christianity at all.

The only problem is that you're reading the Bible while importing your understanding of terms like "last days" and "coming on the clouds" into the text.

John "drops" the kingdom or eschaton verses because Revelation is John's extended "kingdom/eschaton" talk. It's his extended Olivet Discourse.

So, Jesus came back exactly when he promised he would. The fact that you read your interpretation into the text doesn't cause us problems.

Hence you should re-name your post: "If I misrepresent the Bible, Christianity is Pretty Clearly False."


Hello Paul,

Actually, I *did* mention the partial preterist position in connection with N.T. Wright's version of it. I didn't develop it because I agree with William Lane Craig that it's a transparently absurd position. It's worth quoting Craig's critique of Wright's partial preterism (which occurred in his review of Wright's tome on the resurrection of Jesus) at some length in this connection (sorry, but I can't resist using a greater apologist to refute a lesser apologist):

"...Wright defends in his earlier books [i.e. his books prior to his tome on the resurrection of Jesus]...the view that Jesus' prophecies of the coming of the Son of Man in judgment were fulfilled in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem. Wright repeatedly asserts that Jews did not anticipate "the end of the space-time universe" at the coming of the Kingdom of God, but a shift within history. I wondered in reading those earlier works how Wright would interpret Paul's teaching that the general resurrection of the dead would take place at Christ's return (I Thess. 4:13; 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 51-54), teaching which was given prior to AD 70. Surely Wright did not believe tht the predicted resurrection took place in AD 70? Certainly not; Wright maintains that the second stage of the resurrection remains future. But if that is the case, in what principled way can we discriminate prophecies concerning Christ's return in AD 70 from those concerning his final return? Are we really to think that Paul, writing in the AD 50s, took the return of Christ and the attendant resurrection to be something different than the return predicted by Jesus and anticipated by the early church (Mk. 13)?" Craig, William Lane. "Review of N.T. Wright's "Christian Origins and the Question of God Vol. 3: The Resurrection of the Son of God"", Faith and Philosophy, Vol. 22, No. 2 (April 2005), pp. 241-242.

Or perhaps you want to say that William Lane Craig is misrepresenting the Bible as well?

Also, you mentioned the Book of Revelation as John's place where he has his full say about the eschaton. If you want to identify the Book of Revelation with John's predictions of the eschaton (leaving to the side the fact that few NT scholars will side with you about Johannine authorship of the Book of Revelation), then, as I said in my post, the
author identifies the beast with Nero, provides an independent deadline for the eschaton -- including the general resurrection and the final judgment -- to within the lifetime of Nero.

Again, this view about Jesus isn't idiosyncratic with me. I'm just summarizing mainstream, middle-of-the-road scholarship on this matter.

Regards,

exapologist


Hi EA,

I know you *did* "mention" the partial preterist position. But "addressing" whether or not the position is "correct" is not the same thing as "mentioning" the partial preterist position.

At any rate, much more capable partial preterists should be consulted, but for now we'll have to deal with your borrowing Craig to refute Wright to refute me.

"Wright repeatedly asserts that Jews did not anticipate "the end of the space-time universe" at the coming of the Kingdom of God, but a shift within history."

That's right, though the Jews did interpret the Messianic kingdom as a political kingdom, rather than spiritual.

One thing is clear, even as you quoted, the kingdom was "near" and "immanent."

Indeed, your citing of Craig, and calling the partial preterist position "absurd," serves as an argument against you. You argue that the Bible means to imply that these things (i.e., the last days, the kingdom of heaven, etc) are "near." And so how is citing someone who does not think those things are "near" help you, at all? Indeed, why is my position "absurd," when it claims that many of those things you mentioned did occur in that generation? My position affirms much of what you wrote, yet you call my position "absurd." I can only infer from this that you must think your post is absurd! If you don't think your "immanent" interpretation is "absurd" then why think mine is? Thus it turns out that your position is the absurd one!

So, I agree that many of those things were fulfilled, I just disagree with your understanding of "last days" to mean "the destruction of the physical earth."

The old covenant days were called "the former days" (mal. 3:4), while the advent of Jesus ushered in "the last days" (Heb. 1:1-2), the new covenant days.

"I wondered in reading those earlier works how Wright would interpret Paul's teaching that the general resurrection of the dead would take place at Christ's return (I Thess. 4:13; 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 51-54), teaching which was given prior to AD 70."

Easy:

1. I argued that Christ did return in judgment against apostate Israel. But, that is not "the second advent." The two are not the same.

2. The partial preterist position says that some eschatological prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD, not all.

3. Craig is equivocation of Christ's "return." His bodily return? His spiritual return in judgment? Craig doesn't tell us. Indeed, that Craig would even say what he did indicates that he's actually quite ignorant of the preterist position. For you to quote him indicates the same about you.

4. Therefore, my position makes clarifications and specifications which avoid all these "problems" you pose. Now, I guess you can continue to call it "absurd," but I'm not really bothered by your opinion on the matter.

"Surely Wright did not believe that the predicted resurrection took place in AD 70? "

That’s right.

"But if that is the case, in what principled way can we discriminate prophecies concerning Christ's return in AD 70 from those concerning his final return?"

Well, one way would be to take the passages with time texts associated with them seriously.

There is no time text in, say, I Corinthians 15, there are in Matt. 24, etc.

Of course, this was all noted by Ex-apologist himself. Ex-apologist doesn't agree with Craig, yet he uses Craig to refute me. Strange.

So, when the text says that something is going to happen soon, we assume it will happen soon. if it does not, why assume what it talks about will happen soon?

If Craig does not use this interpretive tool, then how does he get around all the time texts that Ex-apologist points out?

"Are we really to think that Paul, writing in the AD 50s, took the return of Christ and the attendant resurrection to be something different than the return predicted by Jesus and anticipated by the early church (Mk. 13)?"

Well, yeah.

Since when do questions substitute for arguments, anyway?

In Mark 13 1-30 Jesus does predict His return, doesn't he? He says,

"30 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."

See, Jesus "predicted" his return, and he said that the generation he was speaking to would witness this return.

How would the Jewish hearers have understood this passage:

"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory."

Would those Jews, who knew the Old Testament very well mind you, think they meant that Jesus would be surfing clouds to earth? Or would they remember passages like this:

Isaiah 19

1 An oracle concerning Egypt: See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him,
and the hearts of the Egyptian melt within them.

Psalm 68:4

4 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds his name is the LORD— and rejoice before him.

Psalm 97:2

2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

How about when they heard things like this:

Mark 13: 24"But in those days, following that distress, "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

Would they remember other passages in the Old Testament where stars and heavenly bodies were used to represent authorities and the judgment of authorities?

Chilton comments (Paradise Restored, ch. 11):

...[T]hese heavenly lights are used to speak of earthly authorities and governors; and when God threatens to come against them in judgment, the same collapsing-universe terminology is used to describe it. Prophesying the fall of Babylon to the Medes in 539 B.C., Isaiah wrote:


Behold, the Day of the LORD is coming,

Cruel, with fury and burning anger,

To make the land a desolation;

And He will exterminate its sinners from it.

For the stars of heaven and their constellations

Will not flash forth with their light;

The sun will be dark when it rises,

And the moon will not shed its light. (Isa. 13:9-10)


Significantly, Isaiah later prophesied the fall of Edom in terms of de-creation:


And all the host of heaven will wear away,

And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll;

All their hosts will also wither away

As a leaf withers from the vine,

Or as one withers from the fig tree. (Isa. 34:4)


Isaiah's contemporary, the prophet Amos, foretold the doom of Samaria (722 B.C.) in much the same way:


"And it will come about in that day,"

Declares the Lord GOD,

"That I shall make the sun go down at noon

And make the earth dark in broad daylight." (Amos 8:9)


Another example is from the prophet Ezekiel, who predicted the destruction of Egypt. God said this through Ezekiel:


"And when I extinguish you,

I will cover the heavens, and darken their stars;

I will cover the sun with a cloud,

And the moon shall not give its light.

All the shining lights in the heavens

I will darken over you

And will set darkness on your land,"

Declares the Lord GOD. (Ezek. 32:7-8)


It must be stressed that none of these events literally took place. God did not intend anyone to place a literalist construction on these statements. Poetically, however, all these things did happen: as far as these wicked nations were concerned, "the lights went out." This is simply figurative language, which would not surprise us at all if we were more familiar with the Bible and appreciative of its literary character."


So, we note the Jesus tells us when he's coming by the purposeful use of time texts:

But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. (Mat 26:63-64)

You see, the Old Testament Jews knew what Jesus was getting at. They understood, though Ex-apologist does not. They read the words as they were intended to be understood by them. Jesus wasn't using 21st century terminology, Ex-apologist.

And so this is why we see this reaction from the High Priest. He spoke very familiar words to the High Priest, and the High Priest knew exactly what Jesus was insinuating. And for that reason, the Priest cried, "Blasphemy!"

"Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy." (Mat 26:64-65)

Now why would that be, Ex-apologist? Could it be that a Jew, familiar with the Old Testament, would have remembered these passages:

Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. (Psalm 97:2)

Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled. O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness , that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee? (Jer 4:13-14)

The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nah 1:3)

That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. (Zep 1:15-17)

Let's also note that Jesus said he would come "sitting at the right hand of power." If the "coming on clouds" is taken literaly, why not this? Maybe Jesus will surf clouds next to a big hand? How about this prophecy?

'The Lord said to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet." (Matt. 22:44)

or this,

"God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel." (Acts 5:31)


Back to Jesus' claim that the High Priest would see him coming on the clouds. Why did the high Priest shout "Blasphemy!"?? He, and everyone else, knew precisely what Jesus was getting at. In the Old Testament it is The Lord who comes upon the clouds.

Why those Jews, at that time? Why where they judged?

As Jesus tells the Jews in Matthew 23 (interestingly right before he talks about the destruction of the temple in Matt 24),

"35 that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar."

And so we see that all the blood of the prophets, whom the Jews had constantly put to death, was going to come on them Who's "them?" Maybe "this generation?" What do I know, my views absurd. I mean, my view is that Jesus is using judgment language (i.e., riding on the clouds) to indict the Jews for killing the prophets, for being an unfaithful covenant bride, and for murdering the Lord of Glory himself. I've neatly tied everything together, showing the Bible to be consistent on this matter. But my view is "absurd" and Ex-apologist's view, where Jesus surfs clouds to earth throwing lightning bolts (or something), is not absurd.

Lastly, you conclude,

"Also, you mentioned the Book of Revelation as John's place where he has his full say about the eschaton. If you want to identify the Book of Revelation with John's predictions of the eschaton (leaving to the side the fact that few NT scholars will side with you about Johannine authorship of the Book of Revelation), then, as I said in my post, the author identifies the beast with Nero, which lands the orthodox Christian with yet another failed apocalyptic prediction in the 70s AD."

Well,

1. Who's the "majority" here? The majority of orthodox scholars see it that John did indeed author Revelation.

2. At any rate, at the end of the day, your argument from authority doesn't mean squat, so let's drop it.

3. Yeah, I think the beast (which comes from the sea) was Nero. And? Where's your argument? Looks like a fulfilled prophecy from my angle.

Your post didn't prove anything. You wrote:

"thus clearly indicating that the end was immanent"

And that's my position. But you must mean "end" as in "destruction of the physical heavens and earth" but where was that assumption argued for? Anyway, where does it say that the "beast" comes at "the end" of earth's history? In fact, the words "the end" are not mentioned in Revelation 13. So who knows where you're getting this stuff from.


regards,

Paul

34 comments:

  1. Hi Paul,

    Although I feel somewhat bad about doing it -- it goes against what ordinary charity demands under normal conditions -- I think it's important that I leave your post up at my blog as an instructive example for others to gain insight into the alarmingly poor reasoning, the vindictiveness of spirit, and general absence of truth-conducive intellectual virtues that sustains the views within the breast of your typical amateur apologist.

    Folks, *this* sort of thinking is what leads many amateur apologists to continue to believe what they do.

    Paul, it is my sincere hope that you re-read what you posted and reflect on it carefully, so that you might see how cartoonishly ridiculous you sound to others, and come to your senses.

    Sincerely,

    exapologist

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  2. Exapologist,

    Although I feel somewhat bad about doing it -- it goes against what ordinary charity demands under normal conditions -- I think it's important that I leave your post up at my blog as an instructive example for others to gain insight into the alarmingly non-existent reasoning, the absence of counter-argumentation, and general absence of truth-conducive intellectual virtues that sustains the views within the breast of your typical amateur atheologian.

    Folks, *this* sort of non-resonse, conflict avoidence, and refuting irrelevant conclusions is what leads many amateur atheologians to continue to believe what they do.

    Exapologist, it is my sincere hope that you re-think what you haven't posted and reflect on it carefully, so that you might see how cartoonishly ridiculous you sound to others, and come to your senses.

    Sincerely,

    Paul

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  3. EA I would ask (even though this is slightly off topic). How you can even judge something such as the words of some one for contradiction. How do you account for the laws of logic within your world view, such that you can use them to judge other people.

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  4. what's "cartoonishly ridiculous" is exapologists failure to mention any specifics. Maybe he gets away with this kind of behavior in his Ph.D. classes?

    No wonder the guy wants to remain anonymous.

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  5. Yay!!! Paul is back...EN FORCE!!!!

    :::SNIZZZZ!!!!:::

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  6. There are a lot of problems with exapologist's argument. He claims to be representing the views of mainstream scholarship, yet he repeatedly misrepresents the people and issues he's addressing, and he accepts the minority view that Revelation was written in the sixties. He claims:

    "It needs to be emphasized that this line of reasoning isn't controversial among mainstream, middle-of-the-road NT critics"

    No, there are many non-conservative scholars who would reject exapologist's conclusions about Matthew 16:28, the dating of Revelation, etc. His late dating of the gospels doesn't make sense either, if he thinks that the prophecies were already known to be false when the gospels were written.

    He makes the common mistake of thinking that 2 Peter supports his argument, even though it does the opposite. As David Aune notes, "The very paucity of references to a supposed delay of the eschaton is indicative of the fact that the delay of the Parousia was largely a nonproblem within early Christianity" (cited in Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids, editors, Dictionary Of The Later New Testament & Its Developments [Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1997], p. 873). The idea that the church would undergo something as significant as a failure of God's final kingdom to come when promised, showing that Jesus was a false prophet, yet would only respond to something so significant with a passage like 2 Peter 3, is absurd. Not only is 2 Peter 3 inadequate as a supposed response to something so significant, but the text of that passage says nothing of a failed promise. We know from 2 Peter 3:9 that Peter was responding to a charge of slowness of fulfillment, not failure of fulfillment. It's the same sort of objection we see in the Old Testament (Isaiah 5:19, Jeremiah 17:15, Ezekiel 12:22). Similarly, there are references in ancient extra-Biblical Jewish literature to people objecting to the lack of fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, regardless of whether the prophecies had any time limit on them (Michael Green, 2 Peter & Jude [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1987], pp. 139, 148). Jews had believed for centuries that the day of the Lord was at hand without setting generational or other dates (Joel 2:1, Obadiah 15, Habakkuk 2:3), and Psalm 90:4 had been cited in this context by Jews before Peter cited it (Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability Of The Gospels [Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1987], p. 34). No generational time limit is mentioned in 2 Peter 3, and a promise without a generational limit makes more sense of 2 Peter 3:9. Similarly, Clement of Rome responds to the objection of slow fulfillment (First Clement, 23), but doesn't need to explain any failed fulfillment. Not only do the earliest Christians make no attempt to explain a supposed failed fulfillment of a promise that Jesus would return within His generation, but the earliest enemies of Christianity seem unaware of it also. Exapologist is making an issue of something that both the earliest Christians and their earliest enemies seemed to know nothing about.

    Ignatius of Antioch refers to Christ's coming, more than a century earlier, as occurring "in the end" (Letter To The Magnesians, 6). Such language was commonly used without any one-generation time limit in view. Christian sources of the second century (Ignatius of Antioch, Letter To The Ephesians, 11; The Epistle Of Barnabas, 4; Second Clement, 12; etc.) make the same sort of references to living in the end times, the imminence of Christ's return, etc. that we find in first century sources.

    The phrase "we who are alive" in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 doesn't reflect an assurance that Paul and all of the living people he was writing to would live until Jesus' return. People in the churches of the first century were dying on a regular basis, just like people outside the church. Paul would have known that some of the people living when he wrote could die, just as he knew that his own death was a possibility once he finished the work he was called to do (Acts 21:13, Philippians 1:22-23, 2 Timothy 4:6). Thus, in 2 Corinthians 5:1-9, Paul can refer to how "we" might be in the body or out of the body through death. The same Paul who refers to "we" who are alive at the time of Jesus' second coming in 1 Thessalonians 4 goes on in the next chapter to refer to how "we" might be alive or dead (1 Thessalonians 5:10). Similarly, Paul refers elsewhere to how "we" will be raised (1 Corinthians 6:14, 2 Corinthians 4:14), which assumes that "we" would first die, in contrast to other passages where "we" are transformed without having died (1 Corinthians 15:51). Apparently, Paul thought it was possible that he and his contemporary Christians would be alive or dead at the time of Jesus' second coming, so he assumes one possibility in some places and the other in other places.

    Paul also repeats, in a passage addressing children, the Old Testament concept that children will tend to live lengthy lives on earth if they obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3), suggesting that Paul thought it was possible for people who were only in childhood at that time to live to an old age. Those children wouldn't reach an old age until after Jesus' generation had passed. When Paul wrote Ephesians, it had been more than 50 years since Jesus' birth. Clement of Rome, who was at least a contemporary of the apostles and probably was one of their disciples, refers to how the apostles themselves had made preparation for future generations of church leadership (First Clement, 44 - see the translation and notes in Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2005], pp. 77, 79). The apostles did think that it was possible, and in some cases apparently probable, that Jesus would return in their lifetime. But they also seem to have thought that it was possible that there would be future generations.

    I'm a futurist, so I take a different position on this issue than Paul Manata does, but there's some significant overlap between our positions. What I've said about an unawareness of any failed promise of Jesus in 2 Peter 3 and other early Christian literature, for example, is applicable to both of our views. So are my comments on the early Christians' recognition that there might be future generations, for example. Anybody interested in reading more of what I've written on this subject can find a lot of posts in the archives of this blog, such as:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/08/did-jesus-and-earliest-christians.html

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  7. Paul said:

    "If I misrepresent the Bible, Christianity is Pretty Clearly False."

    Its interesting how if a person uses the Bible to support a position you don't agree with, they are "misrepresenting the Bible." But if they agree with you, they're getting it right.

    How does one gain this proper understanding of the Bible? It doesn't seem to be possible via a plain text reading. It seems that one must bury their noses in books, commentaries (the right ones, of course!) and church history. All of which are steeped in "man's" interpretive analysis.

    Since the Holy Spirit doesn't speak clearly to believers here, should we just assume that Paul's view of the Bible is the proper way to 'represent' it?

    Why?

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  8. I believe Preterism, or even partial preterism, is a frank concession of the fact that Jesus did not return as was expected from the earliest days of Christianity until recently. It’s one thing for skeptics to scoff, it's quite another to see Christians re-invent their eschatology to accommodate this glaring problem.

    I had already mentioned on the Unchained Radio program and in a Blog entry how believers read the Bible through the lenses of their present experiences when it comes to the creation accounts in Genesis, women's roles in leadership, and slavery. Both Paul Manata and Gene Cook disputed that they do this. But here is a case where Manata has done just that.

    Now here's the question for Manata. Why can he do this with the return of Jesus and I cannot do this with the present day lack of miracles occurring today? He reinterprets the historical church understanding of eschatology in light of 2000 plus years of experiences, including several recent failed predictions of the return of Jesus in 1974, 1988, and 2000. So why is it illegitimate for me the see the creation accounts in Genesis as myth because of present day modern science? All I did as a former believer was to attempt to reconcile modern science with Genesis, just as he does with the failed bodily return of Jesus?

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  9. John W. Loftus said...

    "Now here's the question for Manata. Why can he do this with the return of Jesus and I cannot do this with the present day lack of miracles occurring today?"

    Well, John, maybe because many of us would deny your operating premise, i.e. the present day lack of miracles.

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  10. In response to expuritan...

    One can't understand Scripture except by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. By definition, an unbeliever does not have the Holy Spirit. Ergo...

    Obviously this doesn't address differences of opinion between different branches of believers. But, if someone's entry premise is that the Christian faith is false, then their view on eschatology is largely irrelevant, other than as a possible instructional tool for believers to make use of as deemed fit.

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  11. A quick observation:

    Exapologist said:
    Paul, it is my sincere hope that you re-read what you posted and reflect on it carefully, so that you might see how cartoonishly ridiculous you sound to others, and come to your senses.

    To which Paul Manata retorted:
    Exapologist, it is my sincere hope that you re-think what you haven't posted and reflect on it carefully, so that you might see how cartoonishly ridiculous you sound to others, and come to your senses.

    This is the (barely) adult version of the playground kids answer: NO, YOU ARE! Accompanied by the satisfied smile that kids obtain in "throwing it right back".

    I think the most d@mning thing in Paul's response is the pyshology he betrays with this little tit-for-tat reply. All the work to type up a long response, and do a word-search on "clouds", etc. then gets voided by anyone who continues reading and sees Paul's psychology at work with the "I know you are but what am I?" cuteness.

    I believe it's worth pointing out, as, having read back a ways on this blog, it appears to be a modus operandus for several bloggers here. If there is a lower form of apology, I do not know it. I don't agree with Exapologist's readings here, but Paul, you sure do make people reading the exchange sympathetic with Exapologist. You're more destructive to your own ideas than EA is. That can't be the first time you've heard this, so I assume it's simply more important for you to "scratch the psychological itch" -- to give in to your flesh, than to stand on high ground.

    In case you *aren't* aware, the kind of responses you offer like above do nothing but make you look childish. I have 6 kids, and this kind of response pattern is something I have to deal with regularly. They do grow out of it, though.

    -Touchstone

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  12. Touchstone,

    No, all ad hominem and arbitrary arguments are reversable.

    I illustrated that.

    Sorry you didn't get the point behind my response to exapologist.

    I would have *loved* to have him actually respond to my points. but he needed to see that his response was cheap, and I illustrated that for him.

    Anyway, it was *meant* to be playground, since that was the level of exapologists response.

    You want to step in the ring, we can do that. You want to throw sand in the playground we can do that also. Christianity comes out on top in both cases.

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  13. And yes, I would agree with Jason regarding both 1 Thess. 4 and 2 Peter 3. I think *both* are still future.

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  14. Expuritan,

    "How does one gain this proper understanding of the Bible?"

    Easy:

    Study.

    C'mon, this is what you do in all other fields.

    I mean, given your response, let's remain agnostic about logic, math, science, philosophy, etc. Afterall, they all disagree with eachother and it seems like just studyiung the subject doesn't help. Unless you have comentaries, but then its subjective (as you said).

    Why do apostates think you're suposed to understand the entire Bible by some mystical means, or something? I mean, no wonder they're apostates. They probably thought that just *reading* the Bible would somehow make them more spiritual, knowledgeable, etc. They didn't bother to study, they just let their eyes glaze over the words.

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  15. So, Paul Manata, you have a proper understanding of Scripture?

    In all areas?

    You can dismiss the other well learned men and theologians who disagree with you with a wave of your hand?

    What I've read about you is correct...you are a proud, vain, self-righteous braggart.

    Be gone.

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  16. No, all ad hominem and arbitrary arguments are reversable.

    I illustrated that.

    Sorry you didn't get the point behind my response to exapologist.

    So, is this how you would teach your kids to respond in discussion? I've had my 12year old son, who's just learning apologetics and debate, read some of the messages here, and I end up having to warn him away from the tone and attitude of the... Christians here more than anybody else.

    I've been emphasize that the Christian ethic specifically eschews the "give as good as got" ethic, the bravado display that you can be just as nasty as the next guy. That's the logic of the world, and your are making a compelling apology for it.

    It hardly matters if you are *right* in your exegetical arguments, does it? If this is the "fruit" of your arguments, they aren't worth much at all. The most debased unbeliever can play turnabout, and respond in the flesh.


    I would have *loved* to have him actually respond to my points. but he needed to see that his response was cheap, and I illustrated that for him.

    It may have been cheap, but it was cheap as a polemic. Your response was "meta-cheap", as you admit; simply returning in kind. You argue for Christ, even as you return evil for evil.

    Anyway, it was *meant* to be playground, since that was the level of exapologists response.

    You want to step in the ring, we can do that. You want to throw sand in the playground we can do that also. Christianity comes out on top in both cases.

    I don't wanna call you names. I'd just like you stop arguing against the teaching of Christ by your tone and language, even as you profess to proclaim it with your arguments.

    As I said, I don't agree with Exapologist's arguments, but his demeanor and presentation certainly come off as way more thoughtful and generous than you do. Are you happy to be at such a deficit in your debate with him?

    -Touchstone

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  17. Touchtone to Paul Manata:

    You're more destructive to your own ideas than EA is. That can't be the first time you've heard this,. so I assume it's simply more important for you to "scratch the psychological itch" -- to give in to your flesh, than to stand on high ground.

    In case you *aren't* aware, the kind of responses you offer like above do nothing but make you look childish. I have 6 kids, and this kind of response pattern is something I have to deal with regularly. They do grow out of it, though.


    expuritan:

    What I've read about you is correct...you are a proud, vain, self-righteous braggart..

    Loftus: *smile* Could this really be true? *Ahem*

    Check the snippet posted here where John Debbyshire wrote:

    Can Christianity make you a worse person? I’m sure it can. If you’re a person with, for example, a self-righteous conviction of your own moral superiority, well, getting religion is just going to inflame that conviction. Again, I know cases, and I’m sure you do too.

    Loftus: I think this also is true for people who come to Christianity having previously been an angry and a hateful person, which you have said you were.

    Paul, I seriously hope you at least listen to the overwhelming majority of people here and there and join the ranks of those who disagree with each other on the web civilly and maturely. [I can anticipate your response, that I am as bad as you are, but I just don't hear that accusation against me except when I'm dealing with the antics of someone like you.].

    Go ahead and ignore me once again. While you won't listen to me, listen to others. It'll make people listen more closely to what you have to say, and isn't that what you want?

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  18. Expuritan,

    I never said that I'm right about everythinga nd everyone else is wrong.

    Touchstone, do you also warn your son about reading the Bible?

    John,

    I know you'd like to focus on the emotional aspect of all this. This is the only area where you can fight. You've been beat down intellectually so many times, you need to change your tactic. I understand.

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  19. Btw,

    I'm here to debate arguments, facts, interpreations of the Bible, etc.

    I'm not going to respond to the side-tracking of atheists who have lost the intelelctual war and so need to grab ahold of something to make them feel better - i.e., Paul's hurt my feelings.

    So, if that's all you have left, don't bother commenting.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Jason E.

    I hold to a view closer to a Bauckham, Bock, Blombert etc. I am not sure if you have looked at Bauckham's article in the Tyndale Bulletin concerning 2nd Peter. It undercuts much of exapologist's arguments. Bauckham argues that even though he thinks that 2nd Peter was not written by Peter it was still early. He goes onto argue that the proper context to view this passage in is the Rabbinic interpretations of the "slowness of the fulfillment" as you pointed out.
    In later Church history Tertullian makes the interesting comment to Caesar that Christians pray for the slowness of the Lord's return so that Caesar maybe saved. (Quote can be found in first or second chapter of Pelikan's book "Jesus Through the Centuries" I do not have it with me so I am not able to look up the reference.)
    If there was a general panic in the early church documents about a "delay of the parousia" then I would have more trouble with arguments from Schweitzer, Allison, and others but there is nothing of the sort unless one argues that 2nd Peter is evidence for this, but that is of course in dispute.

    Love's Work

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  21. Paul,

    You asked:

    Touchstone, do you also warn your son about reading the Bible?


    Well, I encourage it. And your words he's reading with me become a Bible teaching moment; this is not how Christ would have us carry ourselves.

    The whole point of my comments was the contradiction between the ideas you offer on exegesis, the insight you are offering into the Bible, in view of the disposition towards those you debate which seems to go against the most central and uncontroversial teaching in the Bible.

    That whole line of response from me was based on my understanding of Jesus' words, and my desire for me son to study, honor and follow them.

    Even and especially when he engages in debate.

    -Touchstone

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  22. Touchstone,

    "Well, I encourage it. And your words he's reading with me become a Bible teaching moment; this is not how Christ would have us carry ourselves."

    You're right. I now resolve to only call apostates:

    Fools.

    Whitewashed tombs.

    Broods of vipers.

    Children of the devil.

    Thick-headed.

    etc.

    You know, where were you when Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal. You know, when he laughed at them and asked if their god was taking a dump. The world could have used you to condemn Elijah as well.

    Really, all of this over my chosen tactic to answer exapologist's arbitrary and ad hominem post? Seems like you have an agenda.

    If you're too sensitive, i suggest not reading the comments sections or the Bible anymore.

    ~Paul

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  23. Paul is 'thinking God's thoughts' after Him, so I can only assume that God is also self righteous, annoying, and infantile in his responses and attitudes.

    Oh wait...that is how the God of the Bible portrays Himself.

    Paul is simply being as immature and petty as the OT God of the Hebrews.

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  24. wow, not one person engaging the substance of Paul's post.

    Paul, I have to give it to you, you bring out the best in these turkeys.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I wonder why this often happens....Christians and non-Christians being disgusted by the antics of the young pop-apologist, Paul Manata?

    I'm sure they're all wrong, and Paul is right.

    I'm sure that there has never been anything sinful in Paul's dealings with unbelievers.

    Paul is as clean as the driven snow...and everyone else is wrong.

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  26. Manata:

    You're right. I now resolve to only call apostates:

    Fools.

    Whitewashed tombs.

    Broods of vipers.

    Children of the devil.

    Thick-headed.

    etc.


    Well then, here's a dilemna. Either Paul Manata is acting like a Christian in following Jesus, or Jesus himself was an annoying, demeaning, arrogant, hot-headed and a spiteful type of a person.

    Thanks! That puts it into perspective for me. It's not an either or, it's a both/and. If Paul is acting like Jesus, then Jesus was an annoying, demeaning, arrogant, hot-headed and a spiteful type of a person.

    And about this, Paul claims he's correct. Other Christians who behave differently toward us by being patient and cordial are wrong and should repent, because that's what Jesus would do, says Paul.

    I claim that how believers think of Jesus depends upon their own personality types, so that's why Paul focuses on these angry aspects of Jesus while other Christians focus on other milder aspects of Jesus.

    Jesus fits all sizes, doesn't he? Both Touchstone and Paul see him differently..through their own personality types.

    Not only are our interpretations of the Bible historically conditioned, but they are also conditioned by what personality types we already have before coming to the Bible.

    That should make believers confident of their interpretations of the Bible, right? Not!

    ReplyDelete
  27. This comment is likewise irrelevant to the main topic, and equally irrelevant to the personal debates raging back and forth. I simply wanted to note that there's an extremely interesting radio program on tonight, where Gregory Lopez, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, is going to defend scientific anti-realism.

    I may be wrong, but it looks as if some of the posters here - e.g. Steve Hays, are pretty sympathetic to anti-realism, and so I figured that some of you might be interested to know that it's going on tonight. It may very well be the last Infidel Guy show. You can go here to listen: http://www.infidelguy.com , and it airs from 8-9 p.m. eastern time, as always.

    - Jim

    ReplyDelete
  28. Love's Work said:

    "I hold to a view closer to a Bauckham, Bock, Blombert etc. I am not sure if you have looked at Bauckham's article in the Tyndale Bulletin concerning 2nd Peter. It undercuts much of exapologist's arguments. Bauckham argues that even though he thinks that 2nd Peter was not written by Peter it was still early. He goes onto argue that the proper context to view this passage in is the Rabbinic interpretations of the 'slowness of the fulfillment' as you pointed out."

    I've read some of Bock's and Blomberg's comments on eschatology, but I don't recall reading Bauckham on the subject. 2 Peter 3 is largely a repetition of themes from the Old Testament and extra-Biblical Jewish literature. To read it as an attempt to explain a failed prophecy made by Jesus is speculative and isn't the best explanation of the text. I disagree with Bauckham about the authorship of 2 Peter, but it seems that he's reading 2 Peter 3 similar to the way I'm reading it.

    You said:

    "If there was a general panic in the early church documents about a 'delay of the parousia' then I would have more trouble with arguments from Schweitzer, Allison, and others but there is nothing of the sort unless one argues that 2nd Peter is evidence for this, but that is of course in dispute."

    Yes, and the earliest enemies of Christianity don't seem to be aware of any failed prediction either. 2 Peter and First Clement respond to objections about slowness of fulfillment, but they and the other earliest sources don't make any attempt to explain a failed generational time limit on the parousia.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Manata continues to claim that the Jews of one generation (men, women and children) should be punished for murders committed before they were born.

    And the latest thing is that if a prophecy never came to pass , why it was never meant to be taken as prophecy of real events.

    I will join the scoffers in 2 Peter who claimed that nothing had changed with the coming of Jesus.

    The author never claims that anything had changed, or that anything would change in the very near future.

    If only he had read Manata, he could have pointed out all the prophecies that were about to be fulfilled in just a very few years.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Manata cannot bring himself to quote the Bible accurately, preferring to take one sentence out of a passage, declare it to be fulfilled (without producing anything as tawdy as evidence), and then declaring the Bible perfect.

    Here is the passage Manata quoted from, but not in full :-
    'At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.'

    Manata quotes only the 'coming on the clouds' sentence and says this was fulfilled about AD 70.

    When did 'all the nations of the earth' mourn in AD 70?

    What happened in AD 70 that made people think, 'Yes, Jesus was using a great metaphor when he said that angels would be sent with a great trumpet call'.

    When were the elect gathered together from the ends of the earth? (which is how we would put the metaphor of the 4 winds today, with our 21st century idioms)

    They weren't, were they?

    Instead Manata declares that the invading Roman army was Jesus returning, and that keeps him happy in his beliefs.

    ReplyDelete
  31. 'Jews had believed for centuries that the day of the Lord was at hand without setting generational or other dates...'

    You have to love the way Christians say that Jesus was not a failed prophet, because Jews had been making failed prophecies for centuries.

    What does 'at hand' mean?

    Why it means the same as 'soon' in Revelation 22:20 - 'He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon."

    'Soon' means whatever is needed to avoid any implication of 'soon'

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  32. Notice how Steven Carr ignores much of what his opponents have written, even when what he's ignored is problematic for the argument he goes on to make. Notice that even those portions of his opponents' comments that he does respond to are often misrepresented. He quotes me, then summarizes my argument as follows:

    "You have to love the way Christians say that Jesus was not a failed prophet, because Jews had been making failed prophecies for centuries."

    Did I say that "Jesus was not a failed prophet, because Jews had been making failed prophecies for centuries"? No. Did I suggest it? No.

    What I said was that Jews for centuries had used the language of imminence. Steven goes on to ask "What does 'at hand' mean?" The fact that Steven would ask that question without providing any context indicates how poorly he understands the issue. He acts as if the phrase can have only one meaning, a meaning we know from the words themselves, regardless of context. Actually, though, a phrase like "at hand" can be used in more than one way, depending on the context. It can refer to temporal nearness, but it can also refer to spatial nearness or preparedness. And if you look at the context of Jewish and early Christian eschatology, it should be obvious that Steven's reading of the phrase in its early Christian setting is dubious.

    If such language of imminence had been used for centuries, and people knew from experience that there was no assurance that the events in question would occur within a generation or within some other such time limit, why are we supposed to believe that the early Christians interpreted the language as Steven does? Does he make any attempt to explain the evidence I cited for early Christian belief that there might be future generations? No. Does he make any attempt to explain the evidence I cited regarding the nature of early objections to Christian eschatology? No. Steven ignores the Jewish history of the language in question, ignores the comments of the early Christians that are inconsistent with his interpretation, and ignores the nature of the earliest objections to Christian eschatology. All three are contrary to Steven's reading of the phrases in question, yet he ignores all three contextual indicators and asserts that he knows that the phrases have the meaning he claims they have from the words alone, regardless of context. But even the words alone don't lead to his conclusion, since something can be "at hand" in more than one sense.

    I've given examples of the early Christians using this sort of language while allowing for the passing of a large amount of time. As I've documented, Paul will sometimes refer to how his generation may be alive when the parousia occurs and will sometimes refer to how they may be dead and how people who are currently children may live to an old age. Ignatius of Antioch will use the same sort of eschatological language that the New Testament uses, yet will refer to how it was already "the end of time" when Jesus was born more than a century earlier. The early Christians don't seem to have interpreted their language the way Steven Carr does.

    Commenting on Isaiah 13:6, J. Alec Motyer writes:

    "Near (qarob) is 'close by' rather than 'imminent'. It speaks not of necessary proximity in time or necessary tarrying but of the total preparedness of that day to dawn whenever the Lord declares that the time has come." (The Prophecy Of Isaiah [Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1993], pp. 137-138)

    That sort of belief in the preparedness of God's judgment, accompanied by recognition that a lot of time could pass, predates Christianity. For centuries, Old Testament prophets would use the language, even though they knew that previous generations had used it and even though they were predicting that other events would happen in the future as well. Similar material is found in post-Old-Testament Jewish literature leading up to and around the time of the New Testament. Ben Witherington writes:

    "It has often been ignored that in early Jewish literature, in particular some of the apocalyptic material in 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, Apocalypse of Baruch and elsewhere, wrestles with the concept of the 'flexible' imminence of God's day of vindicating justice. In many ways, the discussion of the so-called delay of the parousia is just a continuation of this early Jewish discussion. In texts like Apoc. Bar. 85:10 we already see the tension between already and not yet, between eschatological hope and the delay of final vindication. That other early Jews could continue to maintain a strong faith in the possible imminence of 'the day' coupled with a discussion of its delay and possible reasons for it should warn us against the assumption that when someone like Jesus or Paul used the language of imminence it precluded any idea of flexibility about the timing or an interval before it happened." (Jesus, Paul And The End Of The World [Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992], n. 29 on p. 263)

    As I've explained elsewhere (see, for example, the thread I linked to in my first post in this thread), I think that Jesus' comments in Mark 13:30 are referring to signs that precede the parousia, while Mark 13:32-33 is referring to the parousia and the events associated with it. One can be dated, and the other can't. Jesus' comments in Mark 13:32-33 are therefore a denial that anybody knew that the parousia would occur within that generation or any other time limit. In other words, Jesus and the early Christians denied the position that Steven Carr is attributing to them.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Jim Lazarus said...
    "This comment is likewise irrelevant to the main topic, and equally irrelevant to the personal debates raging back and forth. I simply wanted to note that there's an extremely interesting radio program on tonight, where Gregory Lopez, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, is going to defend scientific anti-realism."

    "I may be wrong, but it looks as if some of the posters here - e.g. Steve Hays, are pretty sympathetic to anti-realism, and so I figured that some of you might be interested to know that it's going on tonight. It may very well be the last Infidel Guy show. You can go here to listen: http://www.infidelguy.com , and it airs from 8-9 p.m. eastern time, as always."

    - Jim



    Oh, of course you have to get your 2 cents worth in!

    Also, don't even bother pluging that failure of an Internet show and website in general over at www.infidelguy.com. I heard the fake website baptistburka.com more than twice the amount of hits than the "debate hour" or whatever they are calling it now got.

    Jim,

    No need in kissing up over here, we are glad your Internet show sucks!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Anonymous,

    You wrote,
    "We're glad your Internet show sucks!"

    It's not my "internet" show. I don't work for The Debate Hour, though I did work for the prior show, Live with the Infidel Guy, which was a success in many respects -- in terms of the guests who appeared, the debates that occurred, the listener base that grew exponentially.

    The point of my advertising this particular show, however, was that Gregory Lopez is a friend of mine. I was advertising the show for him, not for Reggie. T-blog seemed to be a good place to advertise it, since some T-bloggers appear to be interested in phil. of sci.

    - Jim

    ReplyDelete