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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Second Coming

This was intended to have been the next in the "Questions for Christians" series, but my discussion with Patti has led me to phrase it in this manner instead, as Patti has already admitted that, should it be established that Jesus predicted that he would return within his disciples' lifetimes, which did not come to pass, that would call scripture into question. This, then, is a direct response to that.


Matthew 24 states that, as Jesus and the disciples were leaving the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus predicted its destruction (v:2). Later, on the Mount of Olives, his disciples asked him two questions: first, when these things would happen, and second, what would be the signs of the end of the world (“age” in some translations) and of the second coming (v:3). In response, Jesus spoke at length about wars, uprisings, famines, earthquakes, pestilences, false prophets, et cetera; all of which would be accompanied by great tribulation, “such as not been seen since the beginning of the world until this time, no nor ever shall be” (v:21).

Then Jesus got truly apocalyptic: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (vv: 29-31).

And when would all this happen? “Assuredly,” Jesus said to the men with him that day, “this generation will not pass away till all these things take place.” (v:34) This phrase is repeated in Luke (21:32).

He also tells his disciples that some of them “would not taste death” before they see the kingdom of God come with power (Mark 9:1) and the Son of Man comes in his kingdom (Matthew 16:28).

From these passages it is quite obvious that the Jesus depicted in the gospels predicted that he would return within his disciples’ lifetimes. That obviously did not happen. The Jesus depicted in the gospels is therefore a false prophet.


POSSIBLE OBJECTION: Perhaps Jesus meant that his disciples would not die spiritually before his return, so this isn’t false prophecy because they’re alive and well in spirit right now.

RESPONSE: The words that refer to death in the original Greek do mean literal, physical death. There is no contextual reason to interpret the passages as meaning otherwise, save one: to “explain away” a false prophecy.


POSSIBLE OBJECTION: Perhaps Jesus wasn’t talking about his second coming, but about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. That did happen around the year 70.

RESPONSE: Jesus’ disciples specifically asked him what signs would foretell the end of the world. Jesus listed a series of events – mundane events first, then a series of what can only be supernatural events (darkened sun, falling stars, angels to the sounds of trumpets, etc.), which are clearly apocalyptic in nature. So Jesus directly answered the disciples’ question about the end of the world. They weren’t merely talking about the temple.


POSSIBLE OBJECTION: Perhaps Jesus was talking about the establishment of his spiritual kingdom on Earth, not his literal second coming. That happened with the establishment of the church on Pentecost.

RESPONSE: Again, his disciples directly asked him about the end of the world, and Jesus directly answered them. Moreover, it is clear by the imagery they used in their own writings that the early Christians understood Jesus to be talking about the literal end of the world. Compare Matthew 24 with verses such as 2 Peter 3:10, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and 5:1-3, and Revelation 1:7.


POSSIBLE OBJECTION: Perhaps Jesus was speaking metaphorically. He did like to do that.

RESPONSE: He did, but only in the context of parables. This was clearly not a parable. This was Jesus making a prophecy which did not come to pass. Pure and simple.

32 comments:

  1. Some christers argue that because Matthew 24:32-36 starts with reference to a fig tree, then the fig tree is symbolic of the nation Israel, founded in 1948. So the "this generation" is people who have lived to see 1948.

    It's a bit tenuous, I know.

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  2. Your point cannot be true because that would make the bible not-true and we know that the bible is not not-true because the bible says that it is true. If it wasn't true then it wouldn't say the things that it says that make us think that it is true, even the bits that make you think it's not true actually show how true it is because the other true bits say how people will say that it's not true....even when it is.

    So you see Jesus was right when he said that "this generation" would not die before the second coming because Jesus said it and the bible says that Jesus is perfect and never lies so it must be true.

    And even if it wasn't true it would still be true because you can't show how a croc evolved from a rock. DQE!

    *grbu4=3oas;83da - sound of head hitting keyboard following attempt at fundie ad hoc-ing. Seriously; how do you reconcile this shit??*

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  3. In my copy of The Student Bible that I had as a teen, the footnote for the word "generation" said that the original Greek word could also mean "race", ie, the Jews. Since the Jews are still around (and controlling our media and causing 9/11s), these things need not have happened already. But I really have no idea how accurate that is, and it doesn't effect my view of the Bible.

    As for the part about the disciples not tasting death, well, deth duzn't haz a flavor lol!

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  4. I think jebus predicting the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem is kinda weak, didn't that happen a number of times before jesus? That's like me "predicting" that some important building in Iraq will see destruction. Even Silvia Brown wouldn't get away with that shit.

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  5. @ The SS:

    AFAIK, most serious Biblical scholars take that as evidence that these Gospels were written after the destruction of the temple.

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  6. That's cheating! So jesus was lying for....jesus?

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  7. Actually, Jesus as lying for Kent Hovind. That's the real prophecy here.

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  8. You forgot John 21:22-23

    Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?"

    It is clear that the book of John was written even later and they were already making excuses for what jebus said.

    PS jason,

    David Chilton (1996)
    "Some have sought to get around the force of this text by saying that the word generation here really means race, and that Jesus was simply saying that the Jewish race would not die out until all these things took place. Is that true? I challenge you: Get out your concordance and look up every New Testament occurrence of the word generation (in Greek, genea) and see if it ever means 'race' in any other context. Here are all the references for the Gospels: Matthew 1:17; 11:16; 12:39, 41, 42, 45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12, 38; 9:19; 13:30; Luke 1:48, 50; 7:31; 9:41; 11:29, 30, 31, 32, 50, 51; 18:8; 17:25; 21:32. Not one of these references is speaking of the entire Jewish race over thousands of years; all use the word in its normal sense of the sum total of those living at the same time. It always refers to contemporaries.

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  9. Well, unless new evidence comes in, there goes that.

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  10. If human civilization continues to exist for another one thousand or five thousand, years, there will still be Christians, and they will still be waiting for Jesus to return, and they will still be coming up with spin to try to explain all this away. And of course, there will still be the wandering Jew.

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  11. My suspicion is that the early church was convinced they were in the last days. Why would they believe otherwise with verses like that?

    Jesus made it clear that the people he was speaking to had better get their shit ready, because he was coming PDQ. It looks like Jesus was wrong.

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  12. I think that Revelation was written because those early Christians were getting old and dying off and Jesus hadn't returned. They had to spin it someway.

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  13. Okay, I see the post. I will reply after some study. It seems that it is a verse with lots of controversy. I agree it isn't "race" - though the NIV version says it could be - but the NIV changes lots of verse meanings - not to mention leaving some out.

    I am sure I can't give you "THE" definitive answer. If so many folks are still writing books and dissecting that one verse - little ole' me isn't going to solve the mystery of the ages. Just put in a google search for "meaning of Matt. 24:34" and you get pages of widely varying interpretations - that alone should tell you I won't be able to answer it definitively.

    But, I don't see that as the real issue - I think the real issue is can Jesus be trusted?

    And don't get too suspicious if I am off-line a bit - Fay is working her way around the state and you never know how that will play out.

    Blessings,
    Patti

    Blessings,
    Patti

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  14. Well actually, Patti, the real issue is whether the Jesus depicted in the gospels actually existed. But we can also look at whether the Jesus depicted in the gospels is trustworthy. So yes, take some time and see if you can come up with some way to salvage the trustworthiness of the gospel Jesus.

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  15. {{Would you be willing to abandon that thesis [i.e. the imminent return of Jesus] if we could demonstrate that Jesus's prediction was that he would return within his disciples' lifetimes, a prediction which obviously did not come to pass? }}}

    First, two comments to Dave.
    1. Thank you for the prodding to look into this portion of Scripture. I have always just cruised through these chapters of Scripture with an attitude of “future times” – so I stopped and sat on this topic for several (many!) hours and was so blessed.

    2. I’m on this thread because I was challenged to be here – so I feel free to pass on a Word to you – But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither permit them that are entering to go in … For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. (Matt. 23; 13&15b)

    Now, as to the question at hand - I spent much time in prayer and some time researching on the web (but I found that pretty useless.) Most of those web sites were only trying to make the verse fit their denominational leaning. So I gave that up pretty quickly – and went to the Scripture itself. I spent a few hours reading all relevant chapters and cross references. I looked at the Greek words and the verb tenses. We had several family discussions. I am very satisfied with the direction my study took me. I have 3 pages of notes that I could share – but that isn’t really the question you asked.

    What I found as I was reading the chapters all around this verse – the Pharisees and Sadducees were always asking questions to trip up Jesus – but they were always asking the wrong question. Jesus still had mercy on them and gave the right answer – but they never could seem to figure out that they were the problem – not the responses that Jesus gave. I realize in this portion it is the disciples, not Pharisees, that are asking the questions – but it is you that asked a public question about it. You are asking the wrong question. Jesus did not predict that He would return in the disciple’s lifetime. It could have been in the disciple’s lifetimes – and they did look with real expectation, as should we all be doing even today - but Verse 15 is a pivotal verse that delineates the timing. I believe we have not yet seen that event happen (the abomination of desolation from the book of Daniel) therefore that “generation” in which these events will take place is, as yet, unknown. I realize there are denominations that would disagree with me – but you asked me, and this is what I am reading as to what it actually says.

    Conclusion – you have failed to demonstrate that Jesus predicted his return during the literal life span of the first Disciples.

    Still looking for Him at any time,
    Patti

    (btw, the other verses you cite do not refer to this same question. - I didn't want to go too far afield, so left them out of this posting.)

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  16. Patti,

    I don't see anything in Matthew 24:34 to suggest that, when he said that this (outos) generation would not pass away until all these things (including the abomination of desolation) come about, he meant anything other than this generation -- i.e. the one to which the people to whom he spoke there on the Mount of Olives belonged to.

    Perhaps you could spell it out for me.

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. It occurs to me that that last comment, which I wrote before my proverbial morning coffee, could have been phrased more clearly and with more elaboration.

    What Jesus said was that this generation would not pass away until these things came to pass. A plain reading of that verse would suggest that he meant the generation of the people to whom he was speaking.

    You seem to think, Patti, that Jesus actually meant the generation who lived during the "abomination of desolation," which would not (necessarily) be concurrent with the generation of the people to whom he was speaking. But there are at least three reasons to conclude that this is not the case.

    First, the Greek word for "this" in Matthew 24:34, outos, is a pronoun with a sense of immediacy. Had he been referring to the generation living during an event referred to 19 verses previously, he would probably have used ekeinos.

    Second, not only did the disciples expect the end within their lifetimes -- and, being nearest in time to when Jesus lived, they would probably know best what he meant to say, wouldn't they? -- but according to the Gospels, Jesus himself believed it. Beside the Olivet Discourse, we have Mark 9:1 and Matthew 16:28, which I referred to in my opening post (and yes, Patti, Jesus was talking about his return in those verses, despite whatever else you've been told), as well as Matthew 10:23, in which Jesus tells his disciples that, when they're persecuted in one city, they should just flee to another, because he'll return before they manage to visit all the cities in Israel anyway.

    Third and finally, your own beliefs notwithstanding, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a non-dispensationalist Bible scholar who believes that the "abomination of desolation" refers to something other than the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem around the year 70.

    Conclusion: You agreed that, if I could demonstrate that the Jesus depicted in the gospels falsely prophecized that he would return within his disciples' lifetimes, you would in turn abandon your thesis regarding the second coming of Jesus. I have done this. The only conclusion to be drawn from the fact that you say otherwise is that you don't want to acknowledge such, because you would then have to fulfill your end of the bargain. Having fulfilled mine, however, I am content in letting the matter rest there; the reader can draw his or her own conclusions, both historical and moral.

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  19. Silent Dave said...
    (snip)
    First, the Greek word for "this" in Matthew 24:34, outos, is a pronoun with a sense of immediacy. Had he been referring to the generation living during an event referred to 19 verses previously, he would probably have used ekeinos.

    [REPLY]
    My Strong's clearly says it can mean "that" as well as "this".

    I also think that verse 15 is the antecedent verse that gives the time reference needed to correctly understand verse 34.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Beside the Olivet Discourse,we have Mark 9:1 and Matthew 16:28,

    [REPLY]
    This was fulfilled right after that with the Transfiguration. Different prophecy.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Third and finally, your own beliefs notwithstanding, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a non-dispensationalist Bible scholar who believes that the "abomination of desolation" refers to something other than the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem around the year 70.

    [REPLY]
    You did ask what I believe. The tribulation will be heralded by the signs mentioned in Matt. 24 - I do not believe they have happened, and I do believe Christians will go through the time of trouble and Jesus will come at the end of that time. The generation that is alive at the time of the beginning of the tribulation is the one that will be present when Jesus returns.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Conclusion: You agreed that, if I could demonstrate that the Jesus depicted in the gospels falsely prophecized that he would return within his disciples' lifetimes, you would in turn abandon your thesis regarding the second coming of Jesus. I have done this. The only conclusion to be drawn from the fact that you say otherwise is that you don't want to acknowledge such, because you would then have to fulfill your end of the bargain. Having fulfilled mine, however, I am content in letting the matter rest there; the reader can draw his or her own conclusions, both historical and moral.

    [REPLY]
    It is a very difficult verse - and as I said before scholars, to whose levels I could never hope to even come close, much less equal, cannot agree on this verse.

    I don't think it is quite fair to say I am just not willing to change my mind - I don't see that there is a problem with saying that the generation that is alive for the new shoots on the fig tree is the generation to which Jesus is referring that will see His return. Right now that fig tree is still in its winter nap.

    It would probably be fair to say that I never expected there to be a problem. I have never found a supposed "contradiction" that stood up to the test of some study. If I entered in to the challenge with some bias - you did too. It has been personally worthwhile for me to do thhis. Again I thank you for the challenge.

    Blessings,
    Patti

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  20. Patti said,

    My Strong's clearly says it can mean "that" as well as "this".

    Outos (houtos in Strong's) occurs 356 times in the KJV -- and not a single one of those 356 occurrences is translated as "that."


    This was fulfilled right after that with the Transfiguration. Different prophecy.

    The Transfiguration occurs prior to the Olivet Discourse, at which time the "kingdom of God" had not yet come. See Luke 21:28-31.



    You did ask what I believe. The tribulation will be heralded by the signs mentioned in Matt. 24 - I do not believe they have happened, and I do believe Christians will go through the time of trouble and Jesus will come at the end of that time. The generation that is alive at the time of the beginning of the tribulation is the one that will be present when Jesus returns.

    I have not been inquiring into what you believe, Patti. I have been inquiring into whether your beliefs are justifiable on rational grounds. I have demonstrated that they are not.


    I don't think it is quite fair to say I am just not willing to change my mind - I don't see that there is a problem with saying that the generation that is alive for the new shoots on the fig tree is the generation to which Jesus is referring that will see His return.

    I can only advise you to look harder, then, because the problems are right there.


    I have never found a supposed "contradiction" that stood up to the test of some study.

    What year was Jesus born?

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  21. By the way, you neglected to respond to, or acknowledge, my point with regard to Matthew 10:23. I assume this was an oversight on your part.

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  22. 23 hours and no response from you, Patti -- how dare you go off and have a life on us! ;-)

    Incidentally, my new "Questions for Christians" post is up, and it deals with the very topic of Biblical contradictions (and other errors).

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  23. LOL, Sorry, I'm not running and hiding - you are timing me! (bg) but I have been dealing with "Fay" issues and sewing in between times - I will get back here.......
    Blessings,
    Patti

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  24. Four and a half days and counting. I don't mean to be pushy, Patti, but . . .

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  25. Okay, I'm back.
    I brought in a friend to help me and here is a more organized and succint reply than I could do.

    Go to the Amazing Facts website (http://www.amazingfacts.org/)and listening to the broadcast
    for Bible Answers Live August 24. Scroll forward in the time to 36:50 and you can hear pastor Doug's answer. (I am not the questioner here.)

    I think after reading the post you put up today about killing Ray, I should back off from here. I know someone has now taken it down - but I think that revealed much to me and I need to do less posting here - but I will finish the Finding Darwin's God book, and continue my study of slavery (though it has been on the back burner - but I will keep at it for a while until I feel it is settled in my mind.)

    I will pray for you to be set free.
    Blessings,
    Patti

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  26. Hey fourkid,

    I haven't been following this second coming argument and I didn't read the post you were referring to (the one about killing ray) but I hope you wouldn't be leaving here because of one bad experience by one of the raytractors. I don't know if you know Ray himself has written some truly horrific posts he has shortly afterwards taken down. Anyways judging from the conversations I've read that you have contributed to before you seem like a really cool and thoughtful lady and it would be a shame if you left.

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  27. Thank you SS,
    I don't plan to never come back - and I do read here fairly often - but I need to back off from some direct involvement for a number of reasons. I did find Dave's post (and a few others) disturbing.
    You can always find me at Ray's blog!

    For the most part I find you all intelligent and clever - and you challenge me to dig deeper as to why I believe what I believe - but we are after very far apart in world views.
    Blessings,
    Patti

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  28. But Patti, I find your justifications, and those of others, for the genocide that the ancient Hebrews committed disturbing.

    Those things happened because that's the way tribes treated one another then, and to some extent, still do. They slaughtered one another for resources, wealth, land, women, or simply because of "us and them".

    You believe in a kind, loving God who ordered those actions. But you know that those aren't kind, loving actions. They're human actions, but not kind and loving.

    So you come up with things like "This group of people were given at least 400 years to repent. They did not.

    They were very evil, even to their children. Do not put modern day niceties to them - they committed atrocious acts - and with the children."

    And what's your evidence that they were very evil, that they committed atrocious acts with the children? The Bible. The Bible says it, so it must be true.

    Rebecca in Texas says the same things, except she goes even further. The children were so corrupted by their parents (and they must have been corrupt, the Bible says so), that the children were beyond saving. Not even the children could be allowed to corrupt the pure Hebrews. Well, apparently, unless it was the virgin females. They were okay.

    I find all of that disturbing. If you can justify those kinds of things because of your loving God, you can justify anything.

    Patti, if I could take you back in time to when the Midianites were being slaughtered, and there were just a few little boys left, 7,8,9 years old, could you look at them and tell them it was being done because a kind, loving God said it was right, that it was for the best? That their parents and grandparents and siblings were so evil that they were better off dead, that they would be better off when they were dead, and then watch as one of God's Holy Warriors crushed their skulls or ran swords through their bodies? Would you come back to the present and continue to tell us that they were better off and talk about your Loving God?

    Would you?

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  29. Hi Rufus,
    You have a wrong definition of "kind and loving". You have a warm fuzzy god that condones evil because it isn't "nice" to play rough.

    It is no secret that God is holy and just and righteous. He is a God of wrath. His judgements are perfect. Jesus was not a goody-two-shoes that was everyone's pal - He very plainly said that He would bring division and many would turn from Him.

    If I were back in time, I could well have been one of the Midianites. I am not Hebrew. Christians are grafted into God's chosen people, but today most are gentiles as were the Midianites.

    When I was 16 and unsaved, I did deserve such a death. When I was 17 and had accepted Jesus, I still deserved such a death - but Jesus took that punishment for me and died that death for me.

    Here is a great link to a video, it is fairly short.

    Voddie Baucham
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD1yv4J6ohE

    Blessings,
    Patti

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  30. Patti said,


    Go to the Amazing Facts website (http://www.amazingfacts.org/)and listening to the broadcast
    for Bible Answers Live August 24. Scroll forward in the time to 36:50 and you can hear pastor Doug's answer. (I am not the questioner here.)


    I tried to download the audio file from the website, but was not successful. Since I'm not willing to take it on faith that Pastor Doug's answer was "correct," you'll have to tell me what it was so that I can evaluate it.


    I think after reading the post you put up today about killing Ray, I should back off from here. I know someone has now taken it down - but I think that revealed much to me and I need to do less posting here

    I agree that that joke was in poor taste, something I realized in retrospect, which is why I took it down myself. My apologies if you were offended.

    But in spite of your words, you don't seem exactly reluctant to leave this thread, so I will indeed take any disappearance on your part as a concession on your part that Christianity cannot defend itself against reason.


    It is no secret that God is holy and just and righteous.

    I don't think "holy" has any real meaning, but your god certainly is not "just" or "righteous" in any human sense of the word. But if he is "just" or "righteous" in some other sense, a sense which isn't the same as a human sense, then you cannot use those particular words to describe God. Thus, God is, by definition, unjust and unrighteous.

    This is obviously quite a problem for you, as worship of an unjust and unrighteous God is a reflection upon your personal character. Luckily for me, I think your god is also nonexistent. (Or do you, like Ray, think I'm "just pretending" about that?)

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  31. Silent Dave has left a new comment on the post "The Second Coming":

    {{{I tried to download the audio file from the website, but was not successful. Since I'm not willing to take it on faith that Pastor Doug's answer was "correct," you'll have to tell me what it was so that I can evaluate it.}}}

    Since I have barely adequate computer skills and you seem to really find your way around the internet, I am surprised you couldn't listen to it - my summary will be very poor.

    Briefly - that it is both a literal fulfillment in AD 70 of the destruction of the Temple and a future fulfillment that is yet to come. At the time that the Time of Trouble (Tribulation) begins, then that generation will not pass away until Christ returns.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    {{{I agree that that joke was in poor taste, something I realized in retrospect, which is why I took it down myself. My apologies if you were offended. }}}

    Thank you for owning up to that - offended isn't the right word - more like it is scary the level of violence I sometimes see.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    {{{But in spite of your words, you don't seem exactly reluctant to leave this thread, so I will indeed take any disappearance on your part as a concession on your part that Christianity cannot defend itself against reason.}}}

    Whatever.
    It mostly seems pointless.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    {{{I don't think "holy" has any real meaning, but your god certainly is not "just" or "righteous" in any human sense of the word. But if he is "just" or "righteous" in some other sense, a sense which isn't the same as a human sense, then you cannot use those particular words to describe God. Thus, God is, by definition, unjust and unrighteous.

    This is obviously quite a problem for you, as worship of an unjust and unrighteous God is a reflection upon your personal character. Luckily for me, I think your god is also nonexistent. }}}

    Your words, not mine.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    {{{(Or do you, like Ray, think I'm "just pretending" about that?) }}}

    I don't know what you think in your heart (mind) - I suppose that there might be some individuals that have so given themselves over to satan that they can't sense God - but I also think that as the demoniac recognized Christ when he saw him, that even those totally given over to the enemy will recognize the Savior when they see him.

    I just don't think I have anything else left to say on the subject - and I don't like to argue just to argue.

    Blessings,
    Patti

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