Second Coming 3a
Israel

Was Jesus wrong about the timing of his Second Coming?

 

The imminence of the long-prophesied kingdom of God and the end of time has occupied Christians and Jews more than any other subject of theological conjecture. Certainly, at the time of Jesus, the Pharisees were not above examining mathematical formulae or observing the signs of the times in the hope of gaining insight into the when, where or how (Lk 17:20f). The fascination has endured over the past two thousand years, notably with looming ‘end of the world’ prophecies from groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, fired up by the re-emergence of Israel as a nation state in 1948 (seen to be the eschatological fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies and a dispensational interpretation of Romans 9-11); and the preponderance of alarmist Armageddon-fixation paperbacks which have flooded Evangelical bookshops on both sides of the Atlantic.

Were Jesus and the Early Church mistaken about the timing of the Second Coming? Was St Paul in particular misguided in his belief that the Parousia would occur within his own lifetime? Did that view change as the likelihood diminished?

The apocalyptic kingdom was coming “soon”. The whole thrust of Jesus’ preaching would have given his mainly Jewish audience the distinct impression that the end was nigh. The calls to ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand‘ (Mt 4:17) would have meant nothing else. There were also persistent warnings to be ready at all times (Lk 12:40; Mk 10:33). As NT Wright observes in Jesus and the Victory of God: “Like the eager followers of the many other prophets and messianic figures who flit through the pages of first-century Jewish history, Jesus’ hearers would have understood their leader to be promising them the final victory for which the nation as a whole was longing.”

It didn’t come. In fact, we’re still waiting.

But for Jesus to be mistaken about the imminence of the Parousia presupposes that he suggested a timing. Yet he plainly states that he did not know the time (Mt 24:36-44). There is, however, an indication that he envisaged an imminent return (Mk 13:33f) – why else would he tell those listening to ‘be alert’ if he had known that thousands of years would pass before the event?

The Early Church would have viewed things rather differently if Jesus had given just a hint that his return was at least a couple of millennia away. So why did he go on about imminence, nearness, soon and at hand?

Consider: ‘Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done(Mk 13:30). What is the meaning of ‘generation’ in this context? Is it ‘age’, ‘time’, ‘race’ or something else? Isn’t Jesus being – to say the least – annoyingly obfuscational? And on purpose? Or are we so wrapped up in our own hermeneutic of the immediate that we view aeons of eschatology through the impatient prism of instant coffee, fast food and exigent email? Wherever is the time to meditate, reflect and ponder deeper truths?

Surely the purpose of Jesus uttering words of imminence was not to give an exact date for his return, but rather to indicate the certainty of that return?

If every word in the Bible means what it says in the 21st century and says what it meant in the first centuries AD – as certain biblicists, literalists and fundamentalists would have us believe – then Mark 13 presents us with an insurmountable problem: a Jesus who was wrong. The discourse begins with the events which led to the destruction of the Temple, and then climaxes with the Second Coming and the end of the age. Since Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed around 30 years later ( a “generation”), these events were not succeeded by the culmination of history and the end of the age, as Jesus indicated they would be, and so it could be construed that he was undoubtedly mistaken.

Shock, horror.

Jesus was a man of his time, fully conversant with apocalyptic expectations, who envisaged a very brief timescale for the fulfilment of the kingdom. If this were so, then he was fundamentally mistaken.

More shock, horror.

But consider that verses 24-27 could be excised from their place in this chapter, so that the warning to be on guard (v23) is succeeded by the lesson of the fig tree (v28), and the talk of the sun and moon darkening and the Son of Man coming in the clouds becomes an apocalyptic digression – a purely evocative device. The removal of these verses from a strictly chronological constraint permits this chapter to be the herald of the fall of Jerusalem in AD70. As NT Wright affirms: “It is far more plausible to regard the details of this passage as extrapolations from ancient biblical prophecy than to read them as lame and inaccurate attempts to turn history, after the event, into pseudo-prophecy.”

The ‘signs’ are highly generalised. When Jesus is speaking about times and seasons, he could easily have been talking about the impending judgment upon Israel. The link becomes a thematic one – the woes leading to the destruction of the Temple are a foretaste of the end-time judgment – a literary device which is not without precedent. Jeremiah talks of an enemy invasion (chapter 4) and lists the consequences of judgment, but includes a Genesis-like account of primordial chaos (vv23-26). His point is not to prophesy chronologically that the invasion will induce such chaos, but that the invasion will make it feel like it. Similarly, Joel’s prophecy of a locust invasion (chapter 2) merges into the sun and moon darkening and ‘the great and terrible day of the Lord‘ appearing (v31). The Messiah didn’t follow the plague of locusts: it just felt like he should have done.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that the Gospels lean on the same literary device: Jesus has a prophetic announcement with a historical judgment, but also employs apocalyptic hyperbole to make his point. Like the Old Testament prophets, Jesus shifts from a day of imminent (and literal) judgment to the day of final (and hyperbolic) consummation.

The literalism which some apply to the Parousia prophecies is inappropriate (to put it politely) when viewed in the context of apocalyptic style. While some prophecies contain an appreciable amount of detail ( eg 1Kgs 21:19) with a literal fulfilment (22:38), the vast majority foretell an event (eg 1Kgs 20:42), but the details are not made known. There are many prophecies foretelling a future judgement on Israel for her disobedience (eg Amos 8), but the ‘specifics’ are nothing of the sort. The land didn’t have to tremble literally (v8), nor the sun set at noon (v9). This sort of stuff drives Richard Dawkins up the wall.

Amos is evoking a notion – creating a feeling – of impending judgment, which actually fell 50 years later in the form of military defeat by the Assyrians. The imagery and symbolism are inherently apocalyptic, within which specific numerical references can, in fact, represent fuzzy multitudes and enigmatic chronologies. To assert that Amos’ prophecies were not literally fulfilled is not to deny the general sense that God’s judgment clearly came. Similarly, prophecies of the Second Coming are not undermined if it is suggested that the wording may be generalised or stylised: they are concerned with the awesomeness of eschatological events, not the minutiae of detail or the order of those events.

Jesus did, however, make more specific references to the timing of his return which could certainly be construed as delimiting the end. He stated that the disciples fleeing persecution ‘shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come(Mt 10:23). Knowing the relatively small size of their nation, it would have been easy for the Early Church to have somehow linked the presence of believers in every city in Israel to the Parousia. Moreover, Jesus went on to proclaim: ‘That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power(Mk 9:1). You really couldn’t blame Thaddeus and Bartholomew for thinking they’d live to see their Lord’s return.

But if Jesus did delimit the end, anticipating his own return within a generation, and pointed to the destruction of the Temple as the ultimate sign of the imminent kingdom of God, then it must be conceded that Jesus’ expectation was not fulfilled.

Shock, horror.

Indeed, Jesus himself alluded to God’s ultimate sovereignty and his ability to ‘shorten those days‘ of the ‘great tribulation‘ (Mk 13:20; Mt 24:21f), and therefore prolong the age of repentance. The argument is compelling, and not without scriptural precedent. God responds to human repentance and can alter the outcome of prophecies (eg Jonah 4). His compassion is evident when judgment is due (Lk 13:6-9) and his will is clearly not unalterable. He is a God who heeds our prayers, and it may just be possible that Jesus’ final prayer – ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do‘ (Lk 23:34) – drew on the mercy of God to rescind His holy will, and thereby extend the period of grace far beyond that envisaged by Jesus.

With 2,000 years of hindsight, scholars may now be in no doubt that Jesus had broken decisively with ‘ordinary’ apocalyptic in claiming that the powers of the kingdom of God had already been made manifest in human history. But the Early Church would have had no immediate appreciation of this, even though Jesus substantiated the claim time and again with signs and wonders. So whereas Mark 9:1 could be construed as a delimited ‘end’ around 60 years thence, it is more likely that Jesus was referring to his own entrance into human history as the irruption of the power of God’s kingdom. Similarly, it must be observed that other references in Mark borrow from the Book of Daniel (eg Mk 13:30; 14:62 cf Dan 7:13) – that is to say that the coming of the Son of Man in judgment for the destruction of Jerusalem, not for the end of the age. So there is not necessarily a clear indication that Matthew 10:23 is delimiting the end, but, rather, employing apocalyptic language in a metaphorical manner referring once again to the judgment on Jerusalem.

In light of Jesus’ reluctance to inform the disciples of the precise timing of the end, it is far more likely that he was urging them to get on with their mission to the lost sheep of Israel, and warning them that judgment would befall Jerusalem before their task was completed. It also needs to be observed that Jesus made numerous references to history continuing after the urgent advice to flee Jerusalem (Mk 13:14ff; Lk 17:31ff; 21:20ff), supported by the warning that the vineyard is to be given to others (Mk 12:9) – the Gentiles. Such blatant references to a ‘future’ lend force to the argument that Jesus anticipated an imminent destruction of Jerusalem only, and was not mistaken about the timing of the Parousia, which was to come like a thief, utterly without warning.

The Early Church, however, certainly had an expectation that the end, the final consummation, would follow “soon”. The Resurrection was itself the “first fruits” of an apocalyptic event (1Cor 15:20), and there was constant speculation of the imminent restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). Peter’s speech at Pentecost (Acts 2:17ff), as a fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel (2:28), further exacerbated the sense of imminence, as this gift was to be given for the last days: it would have been incomprehensible to the disciples that the last days would go on and on and on for another 20 centuries (or more). There was a constant yearning for Jesus to return and to do so soon (‘Maranatha!‘ – 1Cor 16:22), which suggests quite clearly that the Early Church had an imminent hope and expectation of the Second Coming.

The question then becomes one of expectation manifestly dwindling with the passing of time, and whether ‘adjustments’ were made in theology to deal with the problem of the delay and Jesus’ ‘failure’ to reappear. Do ‘adjustments’ imply scriptural errancy? Does ‘failure’ suggest fallibility?

Perhaps St Paul can shed some light on the matter – hopefully tomorrow..

  • Eddie Arthur

    Absolutely excellent, Your Grace. I may knick some of this (sorry, I mean re-blog).

  • Ivan M

    Jesus was talking to His fellowmen about the imminent destruction of His nation, which panned out, thanks to the Romans. But for us, it is also Apocalypse Now as we ourselves do not know the hour of our world’s end. The entire Earth does not have to end with us for His words to ring true. The disappearance of a relatively small part that consists of our village, friends and relations is sufficient for us to have an Aplocalyptic experience:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1366339/Japanese-earthquake-tsunami-Amid-wreckage-hope-turns-despair.html

  • Darter Noster

    Thanks YG – very interesting read :o)

    • IanCad

      Same here Darter. What a lot of effort must have gone into it.
      Best blog around.

  • Jon Sorensen

    Interesting view that when
    “The Lord has sworn by himself… Will not the land tremble for this” (Amos 8:7-8)
    It didn’t actually mean that earthquakes happen.

    Anyways if Mark was written late first century any prophecy legend could have circulated for a while and become a part of Christian founding story. You can combine NT Wright’s view that:
    “details of this passage as extrapolations from ancient biblical prophecy”
    and
    “attempts to turn history, after the event, into …prophecy.”

    • Ivan M

      Mark is dated to around AD 50. No case of 20/20 prophecy here.

      • Jon Sorensen

        Surely not 50AD. Mark was written early second century. No church father or Paul seem know about it before 120AD. It would have been easy to write any prophecy in…

        • Ivan M

          The work of the late Carsten Thiede dates some papyrii fragments from Mark to AD 60. One Dr Evans has dated papyrii fragments from the funerary masks of certain Egyptians to AD90. As usual there is always controversies about C-14 dating and so on. In fact it has been claimed that the account in Josephus of the destruction of the Temple was a later redaction by interested parties to make it hang together with the Gospels. And IIRC correctly the letters of St Paul are dated to around AD50. Which comports very well with the internal consistency of the letters and the prevailing political environment .

          • Jon Sorensen

            Even main stream Christian scholars reject Thiede. The earliest fragment of NT we have (P52?) is probably from the second half of second century.

            And if the Mark we written 50AD why don’t Paul and early church fathers know about it?

          • Ivan M

            Every scholar who built his career around the preacher man Jesus, elevated subsequently to God like status with the help of Greek resurrection myths, would of necessity reject it. Nothing new here. Motor mouth Paul was a contemporary of, or an immediate predecessor of the Fathers. Many of whom were inheritors of Greek learning and Roman experience. They were not stupid ignorant men . They had their own context to understand the Resurrection. They were not going to impressed by the Jew, Paul, How many among Churchill’s own contemporaries regard him as a great man? From Curzon to Bevin?

          • Jon Sorensen

            Sorry my writing was not clear.

            Lot’s of Gnostics got(/put?) their ideas from Matthew, which was probably written early second century and the chapters 1&2 added late second century as a counter argument.

            I get that Christ fulfills all the mythic yearning of men, but I’m more interested in truth.

  • Orwell Ian

    God the Father is the only one who knows the day or hour of Christ’s return:-
    ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come’. (Mark 13:32-33)
    The call to be alert is intended to echo down the centuries until the Day of the Lord but all speculation about time and date is pointless.

    What we do know, is that the Second Coming is not overdue. For it cannot precede certain events that are yet to be fulfilled. St Paul has shed some light on the matter:
    Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12)

  • IanCad

    A day is as a thousand years (or night) according to The Lord.
    Let’s not worry if He tarries a few days.

    Psalm 90:4. 2 Peter 3:8

  • preacher

    Excellent !. For generations many have attempted to solve the mystery of the end times. But all have failed. These attempts IMO divert the focus of the message of the gospel, – the Cross !.
    In an effort to find the end of the current creation, we can lose sight of the need of personal salvation, which is the whole purpose of Christ’s incarnation, death & resurrection.
    The truth is that today & every day as it has been for the intervening 2000+ years the end of this World will come for thousands of people, in a global but a personal & individual way.
    The question is, are they ready, or are we ?.

    Recent events whether natural disasters, accidents or planned murder by evil men have shown how suddenly & unexpectedly our own time can end.
    Look at old photographs from the early part of last century, people were relaxing, working going on holidays, rich & poor, good & evil, saints & sinners. Where are they now ? Except for a very few they are gone.
    The devil blinds the eyes of the many to their ultimate meeting with the Almighty, & he will even use scripture to distract us when he can.
    But Christ came to set us free, to “Release the captives & set them free”. Free to enjoy life to the full, here & in the world to come. Free from the fear of death & judgement for ever.

    The End of the World will come when God directs it, not before. Only He knows the hour. Speculation is a pointless exercise until one is assured of one’s own safety.

    Blessings. P.

    • CliveM

      Preacher

      Indeed and why should it matter even if we could work it out? Should we not be living our lives under Gods direction anyway? Should we not all be ready to answer to him at any time?

      For each of us, today or any day, could be our end time.

      • preacher

        Absolutely Clive, Gnats & Camels. anything to distract people from the facts of their own mortality. But for the life of me I can’t see why it should be preferable to go in a wholesale crowd than individually, unless of course it’s that misery loves company !!!. LOL.

        • CliveM

          Or possibly hope you might not be noticed!!

          • preacher

            Illegal Immigrants ?? Would make Calais look like a birthday party eh?.

          • CliveM

            In addition to pointless speculation about timing, there has been to much speculation about the technical details as to how.

            We will all find out in due time. It’s enough to know it will happen.

    • dannybhoy

      I agree but that doesn’t answer the problem of the many verses and passages of Scripture relating to the End Times. It’s important because it has to affect our view of Scripture in terms of whether its every word is the word of God or contains the Word of God.

      When for example Paul says to Timothy,
      “16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
      2 Timothy 3: (ESVUK)
      he wasn’t referring to the letters sent out by the Apostles but to the Old Testament/Tenach.

      The Gospels were written to record the life and especially the ministry of Christ Jesus. Perhaps because the Apostles and the Church began to realise that Jesus wasn’t coming back in their lifetime, so they needed written histories for future generations.
      The letters that make up the rest of the New Testament are in part “responses to events as they unfolded.”

      It’s a Christian history and manual in the making similar to, but not exactly like the Old Testament.
      So the question is, did the Holy Spirit dictate those accounts and letters that make up the New Testament; or were they simply written by men who loved God and were anointed by the Holy Spirit, concerned with the growth of the Church, correcting erroneous teaching and building a theology consistent with the Jewish Scriptures and their own experiences?
      Did the apostles emphasise certain things that Jesus said because they really believed the end of all things was at hand, or was it something else.

  • len

    Jesus was surely talking of two events in time but of a similar nature.
    The first was the destruction of the Temple in AD70 when Titus sacked the city of Jerusalem (apparently appearing and then withdrawing for further troops during which time those who Jesus had warned of the impending threat fled the city those who ignored or were ignorant of Jesus`s warning died in the City)

    There will be a similar attack on Israel during the last days when a co-coalition of forces will attack Israel this is led by the ‘ Kings of the East’.I believe the Temple in Jerusalem is going to be built indeed many of the sacred vessels have already been made and are ready to be installed in the Temple

    Jesus does not’ get things wrong’…….. that is our job.

    • Ivan M

      So the Jews are the fall guys again huh? Second time unlucky. Sad.

    • dannybhoy

      12 But when Christ[b] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet…
      Hebrews 10>

    • IanCad

      Len, I have to respectfully disagree with you about the Temple being rebuilt.
      For, to embrace that view it would be required to subscribe to the erratic and dodgy theology of the likes of Hal Lindsey. He has made quite an industry of this creative and profitable fiction.
      I’ve got to give it to him though – He’s still plugging away at it.

      • Shucks …. and all that money invested in developing suitable Red Heifers.

      • dannybhoy

        I agree I can’t see another temple being built. Zechariah 14 says His feet will stand in the Mount of Olives, not the Temple Mount. THe Mount of Olives is across the Kidron valley from the Temple Mount.

      • Ivan M

        Hal Lindsey first identified Gog and Magog with the Soviets. But they did not oblige. I have no idea who Satan’s spear-carriers are now. The Iranians are too puny. Perhaps it is the Chinese.

        • Jon Sorensen

          Shows how dangerous it is to believe someone’s ancient myths. ISIS also is strong in their apocalyptic beliefs

          • Ivan M

            I have to agree with that. Millenarianism, excuses all crimes.

    • The attack will indeed be on Israel; the New Israel i.e. the Christian Church.

      • dannybhoy

        The Church is NOT the new Israel. There is no new Israel. The Church is grafted into the stock or stem of Jesse,
        “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” Isaiah 11:1
        Who is Christ Jesus.

        Paul refers to this in Romans 15..

        Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles
        8 “For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

        “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
        and sing to your name.”

        10 And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

        11 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.”

        12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”
        13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

        So the nation of Israel lost her way. rejected Christ as the Messiah, and has been in the wilderness these 2000 years or so.

        But now we see her still in unbelief restored to the land that was Israel. and is now Israel again.
        So now salvation is proclaimed through the Church, and one day as part of God’s end time programme He the Messiah will reveal Himself to them and the world.. Zechariah 14..
        And the Bride of Christ will comprise both Gentile and Jewish believers.

        • “The Church is NOT the new Israel. There is no new Israel. The Church is grafted into the stock or stem of Jesse …”

          Hmmm …. well Jack disagrees most vigorously. Any and all outstanding promises made by God to His first Chosen People, the Jews, have passed over to the Body of Christ with the fulfilment of the Old Covenants with the nation of Israel.

          Gentiles were grafted into the spiritual roots of Judaism, of course, and Christianity depends on those living roots to survive and flourish. Jack believes one of the reasons for the decline of Christianity is the separation taking place between the First Testament and the New Testament.

          However, it is a new, integrated plant. The original root and the grafted in branches are not discreet and separate entities. In the People of God, the Jew is the Christian; and the Christian is a Jew. For those who believe in Jesus Christ and are One with Him, the terms “Jew” and “Gentile” have no meaning except as references to the past.

          • dannybhoy

            “Hmmm …. well Jack disagrees most vigorously. Any and all outstanding
            promises made by God to His first Chosen People, the Jews, have passed
            over to the Body of Christ with the fulfilment of the Old Covenants with
            the nation of Israel.”
            What on earth does this mean?
            The promises God made to the Jews were tangible and practical, rooted in a land, a holy and civic body of laws which if that Covenant people remained true to, would result in blessing or cursing, and protection from their enemies.
            Even though Israel failed and was cast out of the land, God did not say the Covenant was null and void.
            Salvation is of the Jews, the Apostles were Jews, the Church was established by Jews.
            The Jewish people refused Christ as Messiah and were consequently set aside -but not rejected..
            It seems to me that people are forgetting that Jesus is King of the Jews, and when His earthly reign begins it will be based in Israel. Zechariah 14..

          • Cressida de Nova

            Hmm…don’t think you are theologically correct on this one. The New Testament although being an off shoot of the Old Testament is a separate entity. Jews and Gentiles are not one.

            How could this be the case? Jews do not believe in the New Testament.Not all of the Old Testament accords with the ideology of the New Testament. Jews do not accept Jesus as the Messiah. Reference and influence does not equal integration.Like it or not Jews and Christians are related but are very much separate entities.

            The decline in Christianity has taken place because of the corruption of the New Testament by Christian sects and its political advisors. The powerful force of atheism via the global secular all powerful propaganda machine called the media has infiltrated every social system in the west and there is no turning back.

          • Hi Cressie, hope is well with you.

            Yes, those present day Jews who still follow the Mosaic Law are certainly not Christians. Jack was looking to the day when Judaism accepts Jesus as the Messiah and the Jewish people become one with Christ. The the division between the First and New Testament will become meaningless. As for the Old Testament, we’ve had this discussion before. Jack would say its moral principles and its revelation of God do hold true today but not the Mosaic Law which was put in place for a specific people, at a specific time, to prepare them for the Messiah. The blew it and the promises passed over to all peoples who accepted Christ.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Things are fine in Cressida world. Hope you are enjoying your retirement.I know we have had this discussion more than once before. Why do you think that Jews will accept Jesus as the Messiah?They have spent thousands of years not doing so . Although at one stage of my life I would have thought that gay marriage was something that only mad Caligula could dream up and just recently I actually heard of someone meeting his birth sperm donor for lunch so I suppose anything is possible
            in this mad sad world !

          • Good all is well in Cressida World. Yes, Jack’s retirement is very busy and fulfilling.

            The world is mad – always has been. Individual Jews have converted and scripture suggests the Jews as a people and nation will do too at the appointed time. Saint Paul says as much and God would not have caused him to write what he did if it were not true. Who knows? You know Jack, he doesn’t speculate about such matters.

          • grutchyngfysch

            Hey Cressida – hope you’re doing well.

          • Cressida de Nova

            I’m fine thanks…I see you have a new name but I recognise your avatar.There are very few of the old crowd left . I visit occasionally to keep an eye on battle worn Jack to ensure he is not getting too much of a savaging from the foe 🙂

          • grutchyngfysch

            To be fair, I think this name predates “AnonymousInBelfast” – but old Cranmer didn’t have disqus, and I just went with the first thing that came to mind 🙂

            Glad to hear you’re well , though.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Hope you are well too…Now that I know you are grutch…I will pay attention to your enlightening comments and debate with you if necessary. I know you are capable of civilised dicourse which sadly cannot be said for a few of the regular irks/misogynists who resort to abusive responses.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Your foolish conjecture that “he [Jesus] envisaged an imminent return (Mk 13:33f)” is simply rebutted by Peter’s words in the Bible: “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” So imminent could well be the year 30,000AD.

    • “Your foolish conjecture that..” How characteristically gracious of you. Bless you for your kindness and patience (Rom 14:1).

      • Dominic Stockford

        Disputable/ Nothing to dispute – we don’t know when it is going to happen. We need to be ready for it at all times. End of.

  • len

    ‘I am coming soon’ can be translated ‘I am coming suddenly.’Hence immanency….and the warning about the oil in the lamps and the unwise virgins’

    Translations can be deceptive look what the Roman church did with’ Petros and Petra?.

    • Jon Sorensen

      Classic eisegesis to interpreting a text in such a way that the process introduces one’s own agenda

  • Inspector General

    Interesting how people see things differently. The Inspector’s own take on the second coming from what he understands is that it be part of the winding up order regarding the human race. In other words, we cease trading. The administrators are called in and the ‘assets’, to wit, us, if we’ve survived, are duly distributed to stake holders with an interest, or to creditors, like Satan. There’s a couple of billion at least virtually owned by him, are there not? So, like turkeys who’ve heard rumours about a wonderful time called Christmas, let’s be careful what we wish for…

    Look, it’s not too bad down here is it? We don’t wake daily with sadness in our hearts, and if we do, then we can do something about it. It lies within us all.

    • CliveM

      “Interesting how people see things differently”

      Agreed Inspector.

    • Inspector, as you must surely know, Catholics pray at each Mass for the return of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

      If you are at all anxious about this, then prepare yourself and meditate frequently on “The Four Last Things”.

      • Inspector General

        Again. Let’s be careful what we wish for…

        • Let’s be ever ready, Inspector. Any of us could meet Christ tomorrow.

          • Inspector General

            You can pray until you’re blue in the face, Jack. We are as ants to our creator, and what we want carries nothing, as if…

          • Depends what you mean by prayer, Inspector. And such a dim view of God, Inspector. He is Our Father for Heaven’s sake. As Jesus said:

            “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

          • Inspector General

            Oh yes, the earth is as it is for God’s amusement and delectation, and that includes us. So you can see how Christ is not about to call time gentlemen please by reappearing in the immediate.

          • dannybhoy

            Not that chewed old bone again.,.!

          • Inspector General

            How dare you sir!

          • He has a pagan view of God. Very Roman but at all Catholic.

          • dannybhoy

            He seems not to have grasped the Christian concept that God loves us…

          • He’s failing to grasp that “God is Love”.

          • Inspector, regardless of Christ’s Second Coming, we are all going to meet Him soon enough. You need to rend yourself and accept in your heart the teaching of the Church on why God made you.

            Q. “Why did God make you?”
            A. “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.”
            Ponder the profoundly simple Baltimore Catechism answer.

          • Inspector General

            The Inspector is not a 7 year old Jack. The meaning of life would one expects to be a little more intense than your one sentence answer there. The Inspector feels greatly insulted that you offered him fare such as that, but then, if that is your level of philosophy…

          • So explain that simple, unsophisticated answer Inspector. What does it mean? Sometimes seven year old know more than you, a cranky chap in his mid-50’s, can now imagine.

          • Inspector General

            Goodnight Jack.

          • Keep the answer in mind, Inspector.

            “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.”

  • Anton

    Jesus Christ is going to return bodily to this earth on a given day in clock time. Acts 1:11 literally could not be clearer. The “spiritualisers” of his Second coming should be ignored. The question is: When?

    Well there are a lot of unfulfilled prophecies about Israel in the OT – and that means the Jews, not “the church as the New Israel” – that is more spiritualising nonsense. So the Jews have to be a nation again in their land – and they are! 1948 was a BIG step forward on Christ’s clock. But no verse states, contrary to frequent assertion, that He will return within a lifetime of the refounding of the Israeli State.

    The other key indicator is globalisation. Today we have a globalised economy and politics is moving discernibly, if on the scale of lifetimes, in that direction. Neither of those was the case 300 years ago and it is all due to the Industrial Revolution. Daniel said that “the end would come like a flood” and even secular people sense the acceleration of globalisation today.

    Given Daniels’ comment about acceleration and the fact that globalisation is less than 300 years old, I suggest that the timescale is not “centuries”. Equally the inception of a world political system under a single dictator, as Daniel and Revelation prophesy, is going to take more than a few years. What is an intermediate timescale between centuries and years? The answer is decades. That is my answer, although I cannot and would not at this stage be any more specific.

    • Well, Jack believes that prophecy does refer to the “New Israel” i.e. the Christian Church. Before Christ’s second coming, the Church – not the secular nation state of Israel – will pass through a final trial. There will be persecution that will eventually unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity.’ The Church will enter the glory of the Kingdom through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and resurrection. The Kingdom will be fulfilled by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil.

      “We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.

      “We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it. . . .How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time.”
      (Cardinal Karol Wotyla, 1976)

      • Sam

        Dude

        Is that like the nick cage film when people start disappearing?

      • Anton

        Romans 9-11 speaks very clearly of the Jews (meaning ethnic) as a nation, and the church, side by side.

        Wojtyla aka JP2’s viewpoint here is a very European-Civ one, for while the church is stagnating and facing persecution some years ahead in America/Europe, it is growing explosively in China. It is yet but a small percentage of the Chinese population but that’s a small percentage of 1.5 billion people making it perhaps the largest movement of the Holy Spirit in history.

        Ultimately in discussing endtimes we must cut to the Book of Revelation. Its style is different from John’s gospel simply because it is the jotted-down record of an unfolding vision, and God’s words at the end forbade editing. John has only the language of 2000 years ago to describe events such as
        meteorite strikes and nuclear war. That is the real explanation of its ‘apocalyptic’ style. The Book of Revelation speaks of the final triumph of Christ over evil, but states that evil must first grow to a horrendous climax. We are told of the breaking of seven seals in heaven on a prophetic scroll of woe, the blowing of seven trumpets by angels announcing woes on earth, and the pouring out of seven bowls of God’s wrath. These events in heaven – meaning the spiritual realms – have counterparts on
        earth, which are specified. The action in the book switches between the spiritual realms (heaven) and earth. The earthly events do not match events in history, so they are yet to happen.
        Making sense of the passage is that simple, although disputes among four schools of thought (called preterist, historicist, futurist, idealism) have led to confusion and division, and a book
        written from one school is unlikely to acknowledge the others. You would do well to ponder, or be armed with, these questions:

        * If the book of Revelation depicts only spiritual battle between good and evil in the heavenly places (the idealist view), then why does the action in its midpart alternate between heaven and earth? What does each detail mean?

        * If the book looks ahead prophetically but is entirely spiritual, how could you know when these prophecies have been fulfilled?

        * If the book is prophetic mainly about the early church era in which John lived (the preterist view), then to what in the history books does each detail of those prophecies correspond?

        * If God came bodily to this earth as Jesus once within human history, why not again? Do those who doubt his bodily Second Coming differ from someone who, before Christ, scoffed at Isaiah’s prophecy (9:6) of the Incarnation?

        • None of that undermines the position Jack put forward. Maybe the Jewish nation will accept Christ as their Messiah. Spiritually, they will be Christian. And who’s expressing any doubts about Jesus’ bodily return? And Jack has made no comments on Revelations.

          • Anton

            Your denomination is confused about Jesus’ bodily return, as I understand it. I would be glad to be corrected (although I am concerned at its tendency to say one thing in one place and another in another and then quote the one it wishes to critics). Spiritualisation of the Second Coming grew, historically, out of studies of the Book of Revelation, which is why I brought it in. I am writing in response to you but not solely to you.

            Do you believe, please, that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land in a nation State is an accident of history or a (partial) fulfilment of biblical prophecy?

          • The Catholic Church has always believed Jesus will physically return at the end of time.

            As for Israel, Jack doesn’t see it as a “miracle” signalling the Second Coming or Christ. He looks upon Dispensationalism in all its forms as a product of human imagination. If one looks at the history of Zionism, especially in the late 19th Century, the reestablishment of Israel was very much a man made initiative. How God uses this is another matter.

            God works in His own ways and the Shoah, 1948 and 1967 are not just random events, nor is the rise of militant Islam. Are any significant historical events ever “random”?

            In other words, Jack doesn’t know and he avoids looking at current events in this way.

          • Anton

            Why does everybody assume that Christians who assert the prophetic significance of the return of the Jews to the Holy Land are dispensationalists? The English Puritans took this view from whom it flowed into the wider British evangelical movement centuries before the dispensationalist heresy caught on in the USA.

            It would be an extraordinary coincidence that the only people to retain their cultural identity in a 1000+ year exile from their land are the people with whom God forged an everlasting covenant?

          • God clearly wants the Jewish people and their Judaic faith to survive. The hope of returning to Jerusalem stayed with this nation for two millennia and following the old covenant as best they could kept them intact. That is significant. What its significance is, Jack does not know. However, we do know He wants the Jews accept His Son.

            What “everlasting covenant” remains in place?

          • Anton

            That with Abraham.

          • This expresses the Roman Catholic view as presented by Cardinal Ratzinger:

            “For Paul, “the promise of Abraham guarantees from the beginning the inner continuity of salvation history, from the patriarchs of Israel to the coming of Christ and the Church of Jews and Gentiles.” Scripture presents salvation history not as a dichotomy between the new covenant and those of the Old Testament but rather as a “dynamic unity of the entire history.” Indeed, from the perspective of eternity, there is only “one covenant,” the “eternally valid” covenant of Abraham now perfectly fulfilled in Christ.

            “The Abrahamic covenant was structured from the beginning to be fulfilled by Christ. In the very ritual establishing the Abrahamic covenant (cf. Gen. 15:12-21), God enacted “symbolically a conditional curse” upon himself, offering his own life as a surety. This ritual was a “sign of the Cross of Christ, in which God vouches for the indestructibility of the covenant with the death of his Son.” Thus, the full meaning of the Abrahamic covenant is revealed only when “God binds his own existence to the creature, man, by taking human nature upon himself.”

            For Paul, the children of Abraham are those in covenant with God by faith (cf. Gal. 3:6-7). God’s promise to Abraham of blessing for the Gentiles (cf. Gen. 12:3) is the foundation of the gospel (cf. Gal. 3:8-9). In fact, the gospel can be described as the proclamation that the blessing for the Gentiles is now coming to pass through Christ (cf. Eph. 3:6). Within covenantal historyn, the promise of blessing was given to Abraham and fulfilled by Jesus, who “opens up and fulfills the wholeness of the Law and gives it thus to the pagans, who can now accept it . . ., thereby becoming children of Abraham.”

            “The Catechism, Ratzinger notes, presents the same teaching. The “‘full number of the nations’ now takes its ‘place in the family of the patriarchs.'” Jesus is “the promised shoot of Judah, who unites Israel and the nations in the kingdom of God.” Therefore, members of all nations enter the “People of God with Israel through adherence to the will of God and through acceptance of the Davidic Kingdom,” understood not merely as a temporal political entity, but as God’s rule on earth extended from heaven (cf. Isa. 52:7). In consequence, there is only one People of God, the Body of Christ, in which both Jews and Gentiles are welcome. “The mission of Jesus is to unite Jews and pagans into a single People of God.”

            Paul’s understanding of the Body of Christ as an organic “grafting” of the Gentiles into Israel was confirmed by the Second Vatican Council in Nostra Aetate 4; the Church “draws nourishment from that good olive tree onto which the wild olive branches of the Gentiles have been grafted (cf. Rom. 11:1724).” God prunes from this tree only those branches that refuse belief in Christ (cf. Rom. 11:20). Therefore, the Old Testament remains central to faith in Christ. “There is no access to Jesus and thereby can be no entrance of the nations into the People of God without acceptance in faith of . . . the Old Testament.”

            (Quotes from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, “Many Religions — One Covenant: Israel, the Church, and the World, 1999)

            https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=7878

          • Anton

            There is not one covenant. There are several. The first was with Noah and is why we can be sure there won’t be another great flood. Then there is one with Abraham. Any sophistry in re-interpreting who this applies to and we can no longer be sure that there won’t be another flood, either.

            God to Abraham: The whole land of Canaan
            where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your seed
            (Genesis 17:8). Your wife Sarah will bear you a son and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you, and I will surely bless him… and make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac (Genesis 17:19-21; as god affirmed to Isaac in Genesis 26:3-4). God to Jacob (Israel), in Canaan: I will give you and your seed the land on which you are lying. Your seed will be like the dust of the earth (Genesis 28:13-14. All summed up in Psalm 105:8-11: He remembers his covenant forever… the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac; he confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: “To you I will give the land of Canaan, as the portion you will inherit.”

            Romans 11:28-29 speaks to Christians about the Jews, saying that as far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account, but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Paul is speaking here about Jews who reject the gospel, so the definition of Jewishness that he is using in this context is not a faith-based one. The ‘patriarchs’ are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so the call refers to the Abrahamic covenant, and the gifts refer to the land of Canaan in that covenant. Paul affirms that these things are irrevocable. Let the church therefore do the same.

          • Jack is not about to enter into a long discussion. The article states the position Jack agrees with. Jack doesn’t go in for personal speculation about the future and how God’s plan will be realised. Of course God loves the Jewish people.

          • Anton

            I don’t go in for speculation either, Jack. I have shown from scripture that the covenant with Abraham applying to Israel is still in force today and refers to the Jews, the latter demonstration being from theNew Testament. I’m pleased that you evidently agree.

          • No, Jack does not agree as demonstrated by his earlier post which presents the theological ideas of Cardinal Ratzinger. Besides, you not have not “shown” anything. All this really “demonstrates” is that scripture lends itself to different interpretations.

          • Anton

            The notion of “interpretation” only enters when scripture is not clear to the modern mind. Can you say what is wrong with my reasoning from those scriptures?

          • No, not really. It hangs together after a fashion if one does not accept that Christ fulfilled and perfected the earlier Covenants. And it’s not just the “modern mind” that has difficulty understanding and interpreting scripture. That’s why Jack has faith in the teaching office of the Catholic Church. She was appointed by Christ to lead and shepherd the People of God.

          • Anton

            I quoted Genesis 17:8) and 17:19-21 to Abraham, 26:3-4 to Isaac and 28:13-14 to Jacob/Israel about the inheritance of the Holy Land to that line in perpetuity. I then noted that St Paul (in Romans 11:28-29) explains to Christians that, as far as the gospel is concerned, the Jews are enemies on your account, but “as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Paul is speaking here about Jews who reject the gospel, so the definition of Jewishness that he is using in this context is *not* a faith-based one. The ‘patriarchs’ are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so the call refers to the Abrahamic covenant, and the gifts refer to the land of Canaan in that covenant. Paul affirms to Christians that these things are irrevocable. This is unambiguous inference from Christian scripture and any theology of OT covenants in the light of Christ cannot contradict it. (I’d agree with what you say in regard specfically to the Mosaic covenant, but that is not the point I am making.)

          • Well. there are different ways to understand Genesis 17:1-10.
            “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you, and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
            Spot that: a multitude of nations. Christians are Abraham’s descendants in faith.

          • Anton

            But the church is not a nation. It is a set of people called out from their nations.

            “As for Ishmael, I have heard you, and I will surely bless him… and make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac” (Genesis 17:19-21) – and, as the other verses make clear, his descendants through Jacob/Israel.

          • Jack added a second paragraph, Anton.

          • Anton

            Far be if from me to disagree with scripture, but the question we were discussing was whether the return of the Jews as a nation to the Holy Land is the (partial) fulfilment of scriptural prophecy. I have shown that it is so – regardless of their state of faith in view of Paul’s quote – and if you disagree then you would need to include a knockdown of my argument as well as quoting your own.

            As a general point, it is overly simplistic to say that the OT is, covenantally speaking, subsumed in the New. Regarding the covenant with Moses, I agree. But that is not the only covenant in the OT, which therefore has to be looked at covenant by covenant. For example, either the covenant with Noah is still in force and we can we certain of no second Flood, or it is not and we cannot. The covenant with Abraham is like that with Noah, not like that with Moses. Why? Because the NT is specific that it is the Mosaic covenant which is to be reinterpreted and specific (as I have shown) that the Abrahamic covenant is not.

          • But Jack disagrees with your argument for the reasons given and so no “knockdown”</i. is needed.
            The Jews returning to Israel may be significant – Jack thinks it probably is. However, this does not have to be on account of the Abrahamic Covenant and them having been promised the land of Canaan. The desire to return to Jerusalem to continue the Mosaic Law is what has kept the Jews alive as a distinct people for nigh on 2000 years. Stiff-necked or what? God's love of His first people is never ending and He wants them to accept Jesus as their Messiah. To do so they have to abandon the Mosaic Law. So who's to say whether 1948 and 1967 is in fulfilment of the promise made to Abraham or not? Jack thinks not for the reasons given.

          • Anton

            You are actually disagreeing with yourself, for I asked above: Can you say what is wrong with my reasoning from those scriptures? and you responded: “No, not really. It hangs together after a fashion if one does not accept that Christ fulfilled and perfected the earlier Covenants.” I then pointed out that any argument about the status of the covenants must be consistent with my reasoning, which is based on Paul in Romans 11, and you have not engaged with that fact.

          • Because, as Jack said, he does not accept it as a ‘fact’. He’s presented an alternative view.

          • Anton

            Please see my recent comment on the next thread.

  • bockerglory

    Jesus is speaking to you as individuals. We will all die soon enough, Christians will be with Christ then the resurrection and end times will happen. Therefore all of us will see Jesus soon. We each have our own timelines and all timelines end with the end of times. So the disciples will see the end times soon and so will we.

    Jesus, God and Saviour knows the laws of physics and the meaning of time better than we do. By the way some won’t see the Glory of Jesus – they are those that have rejected Christ.

    Jesus is right. Cranmer is full of doubt ….

  • grutchyngfysch

    “Please Aslan,” said Lucy, “what do you call soon?”
    “I call all times soon.”

    • Interesting that Lewis wrote that and yet he was one who thought Jesus may have made a “mistake”. The mistake is ours and there is some dispute about how the early Church received and understood His words. Still, we’ll all meet Jesus son enough whether it be at the end of time itself or at the end of our individual time.

      • grutchyngfysch

        I did originally think about posting something along those lines myself – since Cranmer very much follows Lewis’ argument in his post. I still think there’s much to recommend itself to that particular essay – particularly with regard to refuting Christians who obsess over predicting dates.

        I agree: I’m not entirely sold on the argument that the apostles themselves believed firmly that it was imminent in a temporal sense – I certainly think much of the church did, since many of the epistles deal with the subject – and I certainly think that the apostles believed firmly in the second coming and its logical implications for Christian mission. But when I read about multiple antichrists in the Johannine epistles, or Paul’s warning regarding the man of lawlessness still to come, or even Peter’s commentary on the timeless existence of God, I think it’s clear that, though buoyed (as all believers should be) by the possibility of Christ returning imminently, they nevertheless worked with the long-term (in an earthly sense) in mind. Likewise though, I don’t think they *didn’t* believe He could be coming imminently in a temporal sense. If that makes sense.

        I tend to read Jesus’ own teachings on it as something of a response to that familiar and over-eager interest in all things apocalyptic in his disciples. His rebuke that “it is not for you to know the times” seems – and I’m reading between the lines here – rather like he had to put them in their place over this. Understandable – if you are in the physical presence of the Messiah, see Jerusalem occupied by apostate and pagan forces, it’s not going to be long before you start asking about when exactly this will all end.

  • chiefofsinners

    If two Christians ever agree on the end times, it’s because they haven’t discussed it for very long.

    This is a decent effort by Cranmer, very scholarly, but unlikely to winkle people out of their entrenched positions.

    Anyone wanting to differ can look to Cranmer’s premise that Mark 13 “begins with the events which led to the destruction of the Temple”. Does it?
    In verse 2 Jesus says: “Do you see all these great buildings? Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” A quick look at the Western Wall suggests that a number of those stones are still standing.

    But keep up to date at Kotel Cam: http://english.thekotel.org/cameras.asp

  • In Perfect Ignorance

    Christians refuse to take Jesus’s words at face value because to do so would be to admit that he made a mistake. So they cast around for alternative meanings that strain credibility to its absolute limit.

    I take the words “this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened” as a literal statement. Christ was mistaken. Therefore he wasn’t infallible. Therefore he can’t have been the son of God. Or maybe the Bible is fallible and Christ’s words were incorrectly reported. Either way, whether the messiah or the holy book is wrong, the religion founded on them must be deeply suspect.

    • chiefofsinners

      I take your words “I take the words” literally. So when and where did you take the words, and when will you return them?
      The point being, context gives meaning.
      On another tack, people who want Christianity to be deeply suspect usually accuse Christians of doctoring the gospels or writing them with hindsight. The presence of difficult passages such as this displays the reliability of the texts.

      • In Perfect Ignorance

        The words I referred to are lifted from a passage that gives all the context necessary. Christ believed that his apocalyptic vision would be fulfilled before the generation then alive had died. It was not. So he was wrong.

        Christians don’t want their messiah to be wrong, so they try to spin their way out of the clear error he made, in much the same way that gay Christians try to spin their way out of clear biblical prohibitions on same-sex relations. But why should we search for hidden meaning in Christ’s words about the coming apocalypse when we refuse to do so when it comes to his statement that men shall leave their parents and become one flesh with their wives? Why does one statement need interpreting and the other not?

        • chiefofsinners

          You need context. Mark 13 verse 10: “the gospel must first be preached to all nations.”
          And a grasp that meaning can be lost in translation. As Cranmer’s article makes clear, the Greek word genea can mean race or family, meaning the nation of Israel.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            So the English Bible is unreliable, is it? What other translation problems are there? Is the only true version of the Bible the Greek and Hebrew original texts? So you can’t really be a Christian unless you speak ancient Greek and Hebrew with native fluency, because otherwise half the meaning will be lost in translation.

            How inefficient of God not to inspire Bible translators with perfect accuracy. It’s almost as if He doesn’t want us to understand His word. And if the translators got it wrong, what about the original authors? How much human fallibility does the Bible contain?

            It seems to me that entrusting His word to fallible humans was a tactical error on God’s part. He could have “done a Moses” and sent tablets of stone down from heaven, or “done an Allah” and wafted a nicely bound book into the Apostles’ hands, or even put a quill and a few sheafs of paper at Christ’s disposal. But all we have is a series of writings by humans claiming divine inspiration. It’s almost as if He wanted us to doubt them and disagree over what they mean.

            Do you call a God who sets traps for His children and intentionally leads them up the garden path benevolent? Or does He mean well and it’s His omnipotence we need to question rather than His intentions?

            It seems to me that if He is who the Bible says He is then He must have the power to give us a consistent revelation. The fact that He has not means we have to view the Bible as a human rather than a divine document. The only other alternative is that He doesn’t care enough to let us know with precision what He wants from us. Which is frightening when you think about it…

          • Ivan M

            God speaks to all men within the limits of their understanding. You have to consider that many of the languages that exist today, were codified and their written script established, by missionaries precisely so that the believers do not need to be masters of Hebrew or Greek, to understand the road to salvation. This obsession with the precise nuance of words is more suited to the Muslims than to Christians.

            Essentially the men and women who brought Christianity to the nations believed in the message – the person of Jesus Christ – that they were preaching. Which is why they went to all that trouble and sacrificed their lives in the service of Christ.

          • chiefofsinners

            God’s word in the original is infallible and completely internally consistent, despite being given through around 40 authors on three continents over a period of 2000 years.
            Any translation from the original languages will inevitably be a partial paraphrase. The Bible has been translated into English many times, because translation is difficult and because English changes its own meaning as the years pass.
            There are many aids to bible study available which explain the original languages and help greatly in clarifying texts that initially appear confusing, giving the precision you seek.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            God’s word in the original says that this “genea” will not pass away until these things have happened. The Apostles themselves believed that it meant the generation then alive. If even they could not understand God’s word, what chance do the rest of us have?

            Being that the foundation of the Church and the subsequent organisation of the Christian religion is largely based on the Apostles’ interpretation of God’s word, how reliable do we think it is? If they were wrong about the word “generation”, what else were they wrong about? And what’s to stop us from reinterpreting the Bible according to our changing understanding of what we think God means?

            These hippy trippy God-as-Father-and-Mother macramé and vegetarian types may be on to something. Female priests, gay marriage and any number of other innovations can all be justified from the Bible by interpretation. All it takes is for a majority to get together and agree on that interpretation and we’ll have ourselves a new Nicene creed. Consensus made early Christian doctrine. What’s to stop it from happening again?

          • chiefofsinners

            Did the apostles believe it meant their generation? They seem to have thought exactly what I think. i.e. that it could be today so best to live as if it will be, but it could be far off. Read all the bible references and see if that view is inconsistent.
            Macramé is a surprisingly skilful and creative activity, and a vegetarian diet is a healthy one.

          • It seems to me that entrusting His word to fallible humans was a tactical error on God’s part
            Wow! It must be great to be wiser than God!

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            Clearly if God is who the Bible claims then I can’t be wiser than Him. But if my inferior intellectI can spot a flaw in His plan, then it’s pretty convincing proof that the plan was devised not by a divine being, but rather by fallible humans.

          • Or it’s a proof that your intellect really is inferior.
            ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil’ (Proverbs 3:5-7).

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            So where’s the Biblical commandment that requires you to denigrate the intelligence of anyone who disputes your beliefs? “Thou shalt scoff at unbelievers and call them stupid, so saith the Lord”, eh? Where does that appear? Right next to “judge not lest ye be judged”?

      • sarky

        “The presence of difficult passages such as this displays the reliability of the texts”

        What absolute nonsense. It does exactly the opposite. The reason passages like this are included are because the bible is just a man made construct. Like all man made constructs its full of mistakes and inconsistencies. Instead of worrying about the future, why not concentrate on today?

        • chiefofsinners

          My point is simply that the bible cannot be both:
          a) written retrospectively and sneakily altered over the years so that it seems to predict events with amazing accuracy and
          b) written at the time and preserved accurately but full of mistakes and therefore a manmade construct.
          Either one is a possible criticism. My complaint is against those who try to have it both ways.
          To those, like you, who select option (b) I would say that:
          There has been ample opportunity to rewrite ‘difficult’ passages, but no one is trying to do that. The bible is not easy to understand in all its detail but Christians approach this honestly, even though it gives people like you an easy target.
          And that:
          If God is who we claim He is, you would not expect to easily understand everything He says, does and plans to do.
          Your final sentence is one I wholeheartedly agree with. I am not remotely worried about the future and try to focus on preaching the good news to this generation.

    • len

      IPI, Just as those who do not wish to believe the bible cast around for reasons not to do so?.

      ‘This generation’…(Which generation would that be then taken in context of course of the statement Jesus was making?)

      28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it[d] is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.(Mark 13)

      ‘The Fig Tree ‘is reborn Israel (1948)’ this generation ‘is the generation proceeding from 1948

      I am somewhat surprised that Your Grace has cast doubt upon the Words and reliability of Jesus |Christ?.

      We Christians already have secularists, Islam and evolutionists, casting doubts but I remain totally confidant and place total trust in the integrity of the Word of God the Written and the Living Word Jesus Christ Himself.

    • preacher

      If one looks at the context of Christ’s words, which were given in reply to one of His disciples query about the end times, I would propose that the answer is prophetic, i.e, looking to a future time & generation.
      Just as the prophecies of Isaiah & many of the O.T prophets are not specific about time, but focus instead on actual events. So Christ prophesies about the signs that will happen to a future (last) generation before He returns.
      Indeed in verse 32 of Mark 13 Jesus makes this perfectly clear, by stating that neither He, nor the Angels, but Only the Father know the date that this will happen.

      • In Perfect Ignorance

        Well that’s an inventive interpretation. But it’s just your opinion, and one that you have been forced to scrabble around for in order to plaster over a gaping crack in the Christian narrative.

        The words were “THIS generation”, which no matter how you try to massage the original Greek, does not mean “some random future generation”.

        Quite honestly you seem to be grasping at straws.

        • dannybhoy

          You’ve got this out of context my friend.

          Matthew 24 key contextual verses..

          Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
          3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives*, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”

          Jesus goes on to give the ‘sign posts’ (and there is an awful lot of them), and then in verse 32 we see…

          32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
          36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[b] but the Father only.”

          So in the context, He is talking about that generation which sees all or the last of those ‘signposts’ happening…
          Does that help?

          *There’s that pesky Mount of Olives again Jack!

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            He says “this generation”, not “that generation”. “This” means the generation nearest to him in time. “That” would indicate a generation further away.

            If it’s a translation issue then the English Bible is unreliable, so whatever you quote from it is suspect and must be verified against the Greek and Hebrew originals.

            As I speak neither Greek nor Hebrew, I can never know whether what I read in the Bible is God’s word or not. The Church can tell me it is, but can I rely on their translations?

            There’s too much doubt and too many grey areas in the Bible for God’s will to be clear. If this is the best He could do, he doesn’t seem to have tried very hard.

          • dannybhoy

            Well, neither you nor I were there at the time He said it! If it’s any comfort lots of theologians have discussed the meaning and come up with different answers.
            You know, I’ve been a born again Christian a long time, and my basic position is that like in the film Alfie,
            “What’s it all about?” was the starting point.
            I didn’t come to Christ through reading the Bible. The journey started by trying to make sense of the world and how it came about, the sheer complexity of life, people, cruelty, and why I wasn’t happy with who I was..
            It was the Christian people I knew who witnessed to me, badgered me, sometimes really annoyed me, but affected and prayed for me enough so that God’s Holy Spirit began to get through to me.
            I came to faith not out of fear of judgement, of going to Hell or anything like that. I came to faith because God showed me that I really was a sinner. One who couldn’t even live his life consistently with his own morality, never mind God’s.

            Once I was saved then I began to read the Bible regularly. Then I began to pray and attend church regularly.
            Apart from a most wonderful sense of inner peace, the first thing I can remember is God taking away the desire to smoke (I’d been trying for ages), then being convicted of my skills in sarcasm…
            Nothing yet about doctrine. Nothing yet about finding Biblical inconsistencies or different interpretations like Catholicism and Anglicanism.
            All that came later. The reconciliation with God and the new life came first.

    • dannybhoy

      I think part of the issue is whether the New Testament gospels were ‘dictated’ or written by godly men recounting what they witnessed firsthand, and at the same time -as Jews- trying to make sense of it.
      The prophetic references to the end times are from the Old Testament, and Jesus saw Himself as the fulfilment of all the Messianic prophecies, and He does not say that His generation was the last generation. In fact the time of Lord’s return is known to the Father only. There are sign posts but no timetable.
      It’s not a problem, because the focus of Scripture is on man’s relationship to God, salvation, sanctification and service.
      Each generation.
      For as long as He tarries..

      I love these lines from the film “Fiddler on the Roof”….
      (Motel the tailor) “Rabbi, we’ve been waiting for the Messiah all our lives.
      Wouldn’t this be a good time for him to come?

      (Rabbi) “We’ll have to wait for him someplace else. Meanwhile, let’s start packing.”

    • Jesus is clear. He doesn’t know when the end of the world will happen. If there was ever a saying the apostles would not possibly invent, it’s that one. Our Lord and Our God not knowings things.

      Jesus was referring to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. He mixes this with imagery of the end of the world because it is the end of a world: the end of the world of the Old Covenant. The temple is a microcosm of the cosmos, as well as the image of the Body of Jesus (“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”). With its destruction, we see an image of the death of Christ and the end of the world.

      • In Perfect Ignorance

        So say you. But with the greatest of respect, who are you to say anything? Your interpretation concerns you only and cannot be universal, unless you’re claiming prophetic status, in which case some proof will be necessary that what you predict routinely comes to pass. A prophet without a proven track record is a sorry creature: he has lots to say, but little to back it up with.

        • dannybhoy

          IPI,
          “But with the greatest of respect, who are you to say anything?”

          With the greatest of respect, follow that reasoning and no one should say anything -including you.
          Jack offered a reasonable interpretation. It might not be a comprehensive interpretation, but it is valid and shared by many Christians.

          • Thank you Danny. Funny how “with the greatest of respect” actually means the opposite. Some people are so rude.

          • dannybhoy

            Grrrrrr!

          • CliveM

            With the greatest of respect, you might be right :0)

          • Anton

            Jack, you wrote that Jesus was referring to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. He mixes this with imagery of the end of the world because it is the end of a world: the end of the world of the Old Covenant.

            Certainly He was mixing references to the destruction of the Temple with the end of something else. That this something else is the world of the “Old Covenant” (an unhelpful phrase when there were already four, – Noahide, Abrahamic, Mosaic and Davidic) is untenable. Why? Because the other “end” of which Jesus spoke would not take place until the gospel had been preached to to all nations (Matt 24:14). That has still not (quite) happened yet.

            Furthermore you (Jack) recently stated that you accept that Jesus Christ will one day (ie, a day in chronos-time, a day on our calendar) return bodily to this world. That is a belief we share. Would it not be odd, though, if that is not the other “end” to which he is referring, in view of the question he was asked on the Mt of Olives?

          • The “end” to which Jesus was referring Anton, was actually inaugurated by His death and resurrection. The end of the Mosaic Covenant, preceded by the others, all brought to end when Christ became man and died for us. The New and Everlasting Covenant brought an end to the old world of dominion to sin. The Kingdom arrived and Jesus will return to bring His own into that Kingdom.

            So, yes, Jesus was talking about the end of the old world and the end of all earlier Covenants. Or, as Churchill might say, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

          • Anton

            “The “end” to which Jesus was referring Anton, was actually inaugurated by His death and resurrection. The end of the Mosaic Covenant, preceded by the others, all brought to end when Christ became man and died for us.”

            So you believe that the covenant with Noah promising no repeat of the great Flood also came to an end that weekend some 1980 years ago? In that case you had better worry when the weather forecast looks bad.

            Your view is moreover in contradiction to Matt 24:14, is it not?

          • God keeps His word – it’s man who defaults. What He promised Abraham has passed to the People of God who are his heirs in faith.
            And how is what Jack said in contradiction to Matt 23:14? Did you miss the Churchill quote? Jesus was talking about two things woven together because of their connection. The end of the Mosaic Law and the Temple and the end of the old world and its old covenants – all fulfilled in Jesus the Christ by His death and resurrection. Satan had been defeated. Jesus didn’t say when the world would come to an end.

          • Anton

            “What [God] promised Abraham has passed to the People of God who are his heirs in faith.”

            Allow me to clarify what I meant. Whether the promises to Abraham are inherited spiritually by the church is your subject, not mine; because I believe that spiritualisation of the notion of inheritance is often not well defined, I’m not very interested in it. The promises in the NT are enough for me. My question to you – with apologies for not making this clear – has always been whether the Jews in their unbelief have been DISinherited of the promises to Abraham. Paul is very clear that they have not, because in Romans 11:28-9 he speaks of unbelieving Jews (“enemies” of the gospel) and says that, nevertheless, “as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Do you therefore agree that they have not been disinherited of the promise to Abraham, and consequently that they still have divine right to run the Holy Land? NB I accept that Paul uses faith-dependent definitions of “Jew” elsewhere, but in the context of the promise to the patriarchs he is unequivocal here that the promise is not conditional. I have asked you a specific Yes/No question and, whatever else you add, please include a clear answer to it. There is, of course, a lot of churchly antisemitism tied up in this issue.

            You also stated that “The “end” to which Jesus was referring… was… The end of the Mosaic Covenant, preceded by the others, all brought to end when Christ became man and died for us.” Now, we agree that Jesus concatenated two ends in his replies on the Mt of Olives, and we agree that one of those ends was the end of the Temple. We disagree what the other “end” is. You assert that it was the end of the Mosaic covenant at the weekend of the crucifixion and resurrection, whereas I say it is the end of this age, when Jesus returns to this world in power and glory to reign. To break the deadlock between us, look at Matt 24:14, which states that “the end” will come after the gospel has been preached to all nations. Such an “end” cannot refer either to the end of the Temple of the events of Holy Week, so your position must be incorrect. But it is consistent with my position. Moreover it would be odd if Jesus, in response to a question about the end, made no mention of his return in glory to put an end to this present evil age. Here, then, is a further specific question to which I beg the favour of a reply: Do you agree that the End spoken of in Matt 24:14, after the worldwide preaching of the gospel, cannot refer either to the end of the Temple in AD70 or the end of the Mosaic covenant in AD33?

            I agree, of course, that Jesus didn’t say when the world would come to an end. His Father hadn’t told him that by the time Jesus spoke on the Mt of Olives (Matt 24:36). But the year is not the point. The event is.

          • >i>”My question to you – with apologies for not making this clear – has always been whether the Jews in their unbelief have been DISinherited of the promises to Abraham.”

            No need to apologise as Jack understood the question and has replied. The Jews have not been disinherited as a nation from the promise made by God to Abraham. We both agree the Jews will exist as a people and faith until the Second Coming approaches. As Jack reads the prophecy from Paul, the Jews will convert when the Gospel has gone world-wide and all the elect have been called from amongst the gentiles.

            Where we disagree is over whether the promise to Abraham was specific and personal to the Jews (i.e. as a nation Canaan is theirs in perpetuity) or whether it covers all of Abrahams descendants in faith and is talking about all the world, with Jerusalem no longer the earthly City of God. In Christ, there is no distinction between gentile and Jew so whether a piece of land in the Middle East is being referred to or the world, it doesn’t really matter. In that sense, Jack would say the bible should not be used to justify Israeli ownership of the lands constituting the State of Israel.

            As for the “end” Jesus was referring to, you are missing Jack’s point. In addition to the Temple being destroyed, now the Mosaic Law has served its purpose, Jesus was referring to the end of the “old” and the beginning of the “new” world. The Kingdom had arrived but His message had to spread to mankind before He would return as King.
            It’s not either/or about His Second Coming, is it? He’s here right now as His Kingdom is in the hearts of His faithful and in the Saints in Heaven. He is here mystically with His Church and with every member of her. One day, at a time unknown, He will return physically to bring man’s pilgrimage to an end, to hold the Last Judgement and send us to Heaven or Hell (or Purgatory).

            It’s all in the interpretation and Jack thinks Cardinal Ratzinger grasped the correct understanding.

          • Anton

            “The Jews have not been disinherited as a nation from the promise made by God to Abraham.”

            I agree with that statement; thank you for your reply. As this promise gives the land of Canaan to the descendants of the patriarchs, regardless of faith moreover (Romans 11:28-9), do you therefore agree that they have divine right to political hegemony in the Holy Land? I am aware that this conclusion does not wholly match your second paragraph but it does follow unambiguously from your first, does it not?

            To understand the notion of kingdom it helps to see it in the Middle Eastern way: if you are an Arab from (say) Jeddah then you are of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia even if you are travelling in London. The NT is clear that the kingdom (of God/Christ) is therefore here and yet it is still breaking into the world; it is here for those who have joined it, yet it is still breaking into and invading a world that has been given over to the Evil One until the end of this present evil age. We seem to agree about that, which is good. Yet I do not see that this alters the fact that we agree Jesus is speaking of two ends at once; and agree that one is the end of the Temple. Now, the other is an end that Matt 24:14 states comes after the preaching of the gospel worldwide. To what does that refer, please?

          • “… do you therefore agree that they have divine right to political hegemony in the Holy Land?”

            No, Jack does not as he stated plainly. And it does not follow from Jack’s acknowledgement that God has not disinherited the Jews. Those who convert will inherit the Heavenly Kingdom along with all others who are one with Jesus Christ. There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile in the People of God. God no longer resides on the Temple Mount in the Land of Canaan.

            And Jack has answered the question you posed about Mathew 24:14. Did you miss it?

          • Anton

            Please temporarily ignore the context of our dialogue about differing “ends” in the Olivet discourse and simply answer this question: Matt 24:14 states that an “end” comes after the preaching of the gospel worldwide; to what event does that refer, please?

            Re the Holy Land, I consider that Jack has said one thing from which it follows that the Jews have divine right to political hegemony in the Holy Land, but then also said that he does not accept that. To help you see that you are contradicting yourself then if, as you rightly say, the “Jews have not been disinherited as a nation from the promise made by God to Abraham” it follows that, because that promise includes the land of Canaan, and because that promise is not conditional on faith (Romans 11:28-9), they must still have divine right – must they not? If you disagree with this conclusion, what part of this argument do you disagree with, and why?

          • You keep repeating the same questions that Jack has answered. Do you want him to keep repeating these too?

            The Church is an unbroken continuation of Israel under the promised King and Messiah of Israel, and His Church is His Kingdom of Israel, expanded to include all the Gentile peoples of the earth.

            “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
            (Romans 2:28, 29)

            The true Israel is not Israel “in the flesh” i.e., ethnic Judaism but Israel in the spirit. After the crucifixion, the curtain of the Jewish sanctuary was torn in two (Mk 15:37-39, Lk 23:44-46, Mt 27:51). At that point a transfer of authority happened and the Church became the New Israel. However, there remains a distinction between “Israel” and the “New Israel”. The Catholic Catechism, Article 63, explains:

            “Israel is the priestly people of God, “called by the name of the LORD”, and “the first to hear the word of God”, the people of “elder brethren” in the faith of Abraham. “

            The Catholic Church says that Israel includes both Christianity (New Israel), and it’s older brother in the faith of Abraham (Jewish people yet to accept Christ). That is why she recognises there is still something special and relevant about Judaism. Scripture predicts a full conversion of the Jewish people to Christ in the end times.

            The Messiah’s coming is suspended until his recognition by “all Israel”, for a “hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus. (Rom. 11:20-26; Mt. 23:39) St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.” (Acts 3:19-21) St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11:15) The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles,” (Rom. 11:12, 25; Lk. 21:24) will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” in which “God may be all in all.” (Eph. 4:13; 1 Cor. 15:28).

            There is something particularly special about the Jewish people. The Jews have not been not abandoned and St. Paul makes it clear that the Grace and election they had received from God was irrevocable (Rom 11:29). Does this include possession and political control of the land? Jack does not know and scripture can be used for and against the proposition. The nature of God’s relationship with the Jews and His plan is a profound mystery.

          • Anton

            Jack, I ask only questions that you have not answered before – variations in wording are significant, either in clarification or content – or that you have answered after which you have gone on to contradict your answer in further comments.

            I find this “new Israel” stuff ill-defined because it is not a phrase that appears in scripture and because if you spiritualise something then the operational meaning of that process varies according to what you spiritualise. That applies to spiritualisation of the promises in the covenant with Abraham. I am uninterested in whether the church inherits those promises in a spiritual sense, whatever that means. I accept, of course, that through Abraham all the nations of the world will be blessed (Genesis 18:18), and all of the promises in the New Testament. I am going to leave spiritualisation to you and to the catechism you follow, although I’d add that the notion of the “new Israel” has lain behind a lot of churchly antisemitism.

            The question that is still not clear between us is whether the Jews have been DISinherited of the promise to Abraham. You say: The Jews have not been not abandoned and St. Paul makes it clear that the Grace and election they had received from God was irrevocable (Rom 11:29). Does this include possession and political control of the land? Jack does not know and scripture can be used for and against the proposition. You have changed the wording of St Paul in this summary. Paul said that God’s election, gifts and calling were irrevocable, whereas you have replaced the latter two by “Grace”. Christians must navigate by scripture and the land of Canaan was a gift to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob/Israel. QED. You say, however, that scripture can also be used to argue against that proposition. Please say what scriptures. You would also do well to discuss this with some ethnic Jewish Christians (of whom there are more than you probably think today).

            Please also answer this question: Matt 24:14 states that an “end” comes after the preaching of the gospel worldwide; to what event does that refer, please?

          • Jack has answered, Anton. It’s the prophecy of Saint Paul concerning the fullness of Gentiles and then the conversion of the Jews.
            Why has what Jack has said affirm your belief about “political hegemony”? Who or what is a “Jew”? Read what Jack has written. Why is it not possible that God loves the Jewish nation and awaits their conversion and yet His promises still passed to the New Israel?

          • Anton

            Paul uses various context-dependent definitions of Jewishness in Romans, but the definition relevant to the promise to the patriarchs, involving “election, “gift” and “calling”, is not dependent on faith, for Paul says in the same breath that they are “enemies” of the gospel (all quotes are from Romans 11:28-9). The gift is of the Holy Land and it therefore continues to be reserved for them; that is, they have the right to inhabit it and to political control over it.

            Other parts of that middle section of Romans speaks of the Jews coming to faith in Christ after the fullness of the gentiles. We agree about that, but it is not relevant to the issue of the land. I also am not denying that the promises to Abraham might be inherited in a spiritual sense by the church; to address that question a lot of work needs to be done to sharpen up the notion of spiritual inheritance, and I have little interest in it. I am, however, deeply interested in whether today’s Jews have been disinherited of the Holy Land, and I have set out in my first paragraph an argument from scripture that they continue to have rights to live in it and run it. I think (I am not certain) that your denomination does not take that view, but that is not an issue for me. If you disagree with my reasoning from the scriptures, please say specifically where it is wrong.

            Regarding Ends, it is established from your words, from my assent to them, and from our assent by faith to holy scripture, that we agree on the following statement: That on the Mt of Olives Jesus concatenates two “ends”; that one of them is the end of the Temple which occurred in AD70; that the other is an end which happens after the gospel has been preached to all nations (Matt 24:14). I’m happy to leave it there.

          • So, if you believe the Jews have a Divine right to politically control the Holy Land, the question arises how they reassume that right and whether 1948 was the fulfilment of prophecy. Do you really believe all the deception behind the Balfour Declaration in the early 20th Century and the subsequent illegal and terrorist activities of some Jews prior to 1948, is God’s way? Lies, deceit and the use of military force were not the methods used by God when the Jews previously returned to Zion, were they?

            The Catholic Church has no settled position on Zionism – some theologians believe the Holy Land belongs to the Jews by Divine right, others reject this. Who knows? The fate of the Jewish people remains a deep mystery and one doubts you’ll be able to fathom it out from Scripture. God loves His first chosen people – as a people -and has a plan involving them. Nevertheless, they blew the Mosaic Covenant and, as a result, salvation is available to all Gentile nations and those who join the People of God.
            The bible isn’t an almanac and the prophecies concerning the Messiah’s arrival, His death and resurrection, only became clear after these events. The Apostles didn’t even comprehend them until Pentecost and Saint Paul’s conversion and teaching – and who’s to say the Church fully understands these things yet? Where this idea it is dangerous, and Jack would say ungodly, is when it leads to unconditional political support for the State of Israel and feeds the idea that no other peoples have any legitimate claim on any of the land. There’s a lot of weird and strange ideas about amongst Christians of various persuasions about rebuilding the Temple, reinstituting the Temple rituals and re-establishing Mosaic Law. Again, Jack doubts this is God’s way. These matters even divide Jewish religious leaders.
            As Jack sees it, no matter how it came about, Israel is a secular nation state with a legitimate right to survive and defend itself within agreements and commitments made to the Palestinians and the international community. It is not a religious Jewish state dedicated to following the Torah. The creation of Israel in 1948 was a human act and no doubt it figures somewhere in God’s plan for the Jewish people.

          • Anton

            Yes, and I’m using scripture to point out where. You have not taken issue with the logic in my immediately preceding first paragraph, which showed from scripture that the Jews have the right to inhabit and run the Holy Land.

            God regularly uses people who don’t even know he exists as tools to accomplish his purposes. He referred to “my servant Nebuchadnezzar” at a time when Nebuchadnezzar was an outright pagan (eg Jeremiah 27:6). And the first time the Israelites entered Canaan, it was a matter of outright genocide. I do not agree with your view of the Balfour Declaration (NB in the 1915 McMahon-Husayn correspondence Palestine was kept out of the land offered for postwar Arab independence in return for Arab uprising vs Ottomans) or with your one-sided comments about Jewish violence in Mandatory Palestine (what about the 3-year Arab uprising in 1936-9?) but we can discuss those on a later day.

            It is irrelevant that Israel is not dedicated to following Torah (I recommend “the written law of Moses” when discussing this with Jews, for “Torah” has various meanings). This is about the Abrahamic covenant, not the Mosaic.

            No Christian should support the rebuilding of the Temple for sacrificial purposes in view of Christ’s sacrifice and the Book of Hebrews on the subject. We agree about that, anyway.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            Everyone is free to state their opinion. But presenting it as incontrovertible truth when it is in fact at best unsubstantiated and highly contested theory is when problems start to arise.

          • dannybhoy

            Well neither Jack nor preacher were doing that, were they?
            You see, Christians aren’t Christians because they totally agree with each other. They’re Christians because they believe that Jesus really walked the earth, really performed miracles, really and deliberately went to the Cross, died and rose from the dead.
            They are sufficiently convinced from the Biblical record that this is true, and they take that step of faith in surrendering their lives to Him.
            I can understand someone who is struggling with what they see as difficulties, and I can see how for someone who is considering the claims of Christianity this thread may have been quite baffling!
            But hopefully you will also see that no one is particularly fazed by it either…. :0)

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            If you look at all of Jack’s comments on this thread, there’s an awful lot of what looks very much like prophesying going on. Lots of statements about what “was” and “is” and “shall be”, all stated with a level of confidence that I find surprising, to say the least, given the penury of verifiable supporting evidence.

            When theoretical propositions are being presented, I’m used to seeing qualifying statements like “according to the theory” or “sources maintain” or “allegedly”. The blind confidence of religious belief stated as fact I find rather shocking because of what it reveals about the nature of religions and those who believe in them. While I’m as sure as I can be that nobody on this site would advocate suicide bombings or the execution of heretics, the mindset that accepts unsubstantiated belief as incontrovertible fact is the first step along the road to religious dictatorship.

          • dannybhoy

            “..the mindset that accepts unsubstantiated belief as incontrovertible fact is the first step along the road to religious dictatorship.”
            You made Oi larf..!

            Historically we’ve already been there, have we not?
            Happy Jack is an intelligent, educated and devout Catholic. I have respect for him, not least because he always tries to explain the things I for one find difficult to understand, and does so with Christian humility.

            Jack believes in the authority of the Catholic Church, which might explain why he speaks with a degree of certainty.

            So he’s not ‘prophesying’ – that is ridiculous. He is stating what he believes about doctrinal issues.
            The great thing about this blog is that people are able to state their opinions on all kinds of things, according to their most deeply held convictions.
            For example, I personally believe that Christians hold dual citizenship. Our first and greatest loyalty is to God as we understand Him, and the Bible is our ‘citizen’s handbook’. Secondly we are citizens of the United Kingdom, and we have responsibilities towards our society which often reflect our Christian citizenship, and sometimes don’t. We have a responsibility to be good and upright citizens and to be thoughtfully involved in politics and social issues. All with a view to ensuring a fair and free, just and compassionate society.
            So based on my non conformist, ‘born again’ version of Christianity, I seek to live my faith, share my faith and explain why I believe what I believe.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            So in other words there is no differentiation on this site between verifiable fact and unsubstantiated belief, and each is presented as being of equal worth and value.

            Interesting. Not really unexpected, of course. It’s one of the reasons my attempts to talk about faith with believers never go anywhere useful.

            I will have to bear this in mind for future discussions. When you talk about God as if He were a real being whom you had actually met and conversed with, the onus will be on me to understand that imagination and wishful thinking are bleeding into reality in your mind, and that you may not be capable of (or willing to) untangle the two.

          • dannybhoy

            “So in other words there is no differentiation on this site between verifiable fact and unsubstantiated belief, and each is presented as being of equal worth and value.”

            That’s not what I said.

            “Interesting. Not really unexpected, of course. It’s one of the reasons my attempts to talk about faith with believers never go anywhere useful.”

            Or it could be that your pomposity and sense of superiority combine to ensure you will remain ‘right’ and those of faith will remain ‘wrong’?

            I don’t know everything about God and haven’t claimed to have met Him yet.

            Although I expect to, one day soon.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            Ah, I see. When you can’t give a meaningful response to an observation, you resort to ad hominem attack as the best form of defence.

            Where are all these fruits of the spirit we should be seeing if your faith is genuine?

            How convincing is a God who can’t even help you to master your anger and irritation with those who challenge your beliefs? Not only is He invisible, but He also has no power to calm the raging beast, and in doing so, provide some kind of proof that Christianity really does what it says on the tin.

            Christians are one of the main reasons I find Christianity so unconvincing. They’re just as unpleasant and angry as anyone else. A faith that doesn’t perfect its followers isn’t going to win many converts if it can’t live up to its own claims of being the ultimate panacea for the human condition.

          • dannybhoy

            IPI,
            ” …you resort to ad hominem attack as the best form of defence.”

            You already said in your last post (where you slightly twisted my words),
            “Interesting. Not really unexpected, of course. It’s one of the reasons
            my attempts to talk about faith with believers never go anywhere useful.

            So you have obviously had these kind of discussions with Christians before. So when I said to you earlier,
            “I can understand someone who is struggling with what they see as
            difficulties, and I can see how for someone who is considering the
            claims of Christianity this thread may have been quite baffling!”
            it’s possible that Christians have said this or similar things to you before?

            “How convincing is a God who can’t even help you to master your anger and irritation with those who challenge your beliefs?”
            “…He also has no power to calm the raging beast, ”
            (lol!)

            Angry and irritated? Raging beast!
            That’s an assumption on your part. I certainly wasn’t angry, a touch irritated perhaps. A Christian can explain the intellectual process by which they came to faith. They can explain the morality of their faith and they can provide reasoned arguments why they might reject, evolution or abiogenesis. What they can’t do is prove that their faith is scientifically verifiable!

            “Christians are one of the main reasons I find Christianity so unconvincing. They’re just as unpleasant and angry as anyone else.”
            If you are disappointed in Christians as imperfect representatives of their faith, that is regrettable, but probably true.

            I’ve never met any perfect people, but I have met lots of people who love God and want to be more like Jesus, despite their imperfections.

            Fortunately for all of us, we have faith in a God who forgives, who encourages and who knows the intent of our hearts..

            “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind,[a]
            to give every man according to his ways,according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10 (ESVUK)

            There is all the difference in the world between a man or woman of faith who wants to become more like Jesus, and one who believes they need change nothing.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            Ah, I see once again. Your “touch of irritation” justifies calling me pompous, but I’m to understand that this is in no way an ad hominem attack!

            So am I to assume that your faith somehow gives you the right to be downright rude, and that nobody has the right to object because all tactics in defence of the Faith are acceptable? Are Christians allowed to indulge in ad hominem attack without ever being called out for resorting to intellectually small behaviour?

            I judge philosophies by the behaviour of those who espouse them. Is it any wonder therefore that Christianity has always seemed to be among the least credible of all the religions? It just doesn’t do what it says on the tin. True believers are supposed to be full of the Holy Spirit, and this is supposed to make them calm, measured, honourable, peace-loving individuals. But they’re not.

            When a religion fails to live up to its own claims, how can you expect non-believers to take them seriously?

          • dannybhoy

            Sir,
            I was not attacking you, I was responding to the tone of your comments in the light of your statement..
            “Interesting. Not really unexpected, of course. It’s one of the reasons
            my attempts to talk about faith with believers never go anywhere useful.”

            So if they never go anywhere useful , and I assume at least some of these talks were with Christians you know(?) would the point of coming here be to reinforce your expectations?

            There are no perfect people. You need only read the Gospels to see that. The Apostles all had different personalities, and some of God’s servants were quite fiery!
            What you say is partly true, and many young Christians experience disillusionment when they realise that the older Christian people they initially looked up to as all wise and ‘calm and measured’ sometimes aren’t.
            That’s why we’re told to forgive and be reconciled to each other.
            Not only are there no perfect Christians (but there are some very saintly ones!), we don’t have all the answers either. If we had all the answers there would be no need for faith.
            May I tell you that I have spent five years of as a member of a Christian community, and it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. But no perfect people there. Only people who wanted to be more like Jesus and were aware of how far short they fell.
            I have fallen out with Christians, gotten really angry on occasion -to the extent of threatening physical violence- confronted Christians, been told off and corrected by Christians etc. etc.
            It’s all part of life, and growth and loving and caring and changing. The essential thing is that we live in truth and integrity and when we are convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit or a fellow Christian, we ask forgiveness and we change..
            So if you were really offended by what I said, I apologise and I hope you will continue to post here.

        • With the greatest of respect too, Jack is not claiming prophetic authority. The position Jack stated is one that is prevalent among scriptural scholars of his Church. It answers the points you raised. It is based on an understanding of first century speaking styles and culture, as well as knowledge of the audience Jesus was addressing.

    • preacher

      Brother, you are entitled to interpret scripture as you wish. You can decide to believe whatever you like, if you really believe the things you say & that the words in question are literal & the deductions you make are true, then there is no point in further debate.
      To venture further would be a diversion from the main thrust of the gospel as it pertains to you personally. All I would advise though, is if there is even a scrap of doubt in your heart or mind as to the mission of Jesus Christ & His relevance to you as an individual, have faith & keep searching.
      If not I wish you good fortune & all will be revealed in the fullness of time.

      Blessings. P.

      • dannybhoy

        Amen.

  • michaelkx

    I remember at my baptismal class oh so many years ago my old pastor saying ” do not worry about that (the second coming) you might walk out of here (the vestry) and under the number nine bus, so live every day as it is your last, and leave the rest to Jesus,” I could not put it better my self.

  • Shame on you, Archbishop, for casting doubt on our Lord’s words!
    People who come onto this blog are entitled to come with all sorts of doubts and concerns about the veracity of Scripture. It is (or should be) the work of the Bishop to dispel such doubts and to encourage belief in its inerrancy and reliability.

    ‘Will you then faithfully exercise yourself in the same holy Scriptures, and call upon God by prayer, for the true understanding of the same; so as ye may be able by them to teach and exhort with wholesome doctrine, and to withstand and convince the gainsayers?
    ‘Be you ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s word; and both privately and openly to call upon others to do the same?

    To which the Bishop shall answer, “I will do so, by the help of God” (1662 Prayer Book).
    The matter is not so very difficult. Our Lord was asked three questions in Matt. 24:3: When would Jerusalem be destroyed (as He had just predicted); what would be the signs, and when would the age end? From v.5 to v.14, He is speaking of what will happen in the coming age. From v.15 to v.22, He is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem. Then He is speaking of the end of the age and His return, until v.31.
    Vs. 32-35 refer to signs pointing to the destruction of Jerusalem, but from v.38 He is talking about His coming again and the fact that there will be no signs for that (cf. 1 Thes. 5:2-3).
    .
    Christians are to be eagerly awaiting the return of Christ (Philippians 3:20 etc.). It is our blessed hope. We are strangers and pilgrims in this world (1 Peter 2:11 etc.), making our way to a better, that is, a heavenly country (Hebrews 11:13-16). No doubt many of the early Christians were expecting an early Return of Christ, but they would have recalled the words of the Lord Jesus immediately before His ascension: “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7; cf. also 2 Peter 3:8-9).

  • len

    I have the suspicion that it is not us waiting for Jesus but it is He waiting for us…

    Meanwhile the Church slumbers……….