A lot of Christians today believe in a literal rapture before the judgment of the world. However, these beliefs come from literal interpretations of several scripture passages. In this sermon, Greg takes a look at these passages and offers a different take on how to interpret them.
Rapture theology has a lot of interesting things to consider. This theology says that Christians will be suctioned into the air one day. This leaving of the Christians will come right before God judges creation. This theology is especially attractive during times of apocalyptic fever, because it reflects a way for people to escape the way the world. But, this theology doesn’t hold up when we understand the languages that it was originally written.
Idioms are sayings in a language that are not to be taken literally. For instance, we say it rains “cats and dogs” outside. This means that it’s raining a lot, but there are no dogs and cats falling from the sky. The biblical text works the same way. There are some sayings in the original Hebrew and Greek that are idioms and are not to be taken literally. And rapture theology takes them literally. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
1 Thessalonians 4 says that there will be a loud trumpet blast, Jesus will come riding on the clouds, and that Christians will be caught up in the clouds with Jesus. In rapture thinking, this means that there will be a literal trumpet blast and then we’ll all fly up into the sky with Jesus to be taken from this Earth. In the book of Revelation, a trumpet calls always precedes a divine judgment, but it also meant a call for people to come to the presence of God. Riding on the clouds was used to express God coming in glory and power, especially to bring judgment. But, we don’t see God ever riding on literal clouds when these judgments happened in the OT (see Isaiah 19:1, Jeremiah 4:13, and Psalm 18:9-11). In these, God’s judgments came against the people, but it wasn’t a literal cloud riding phenomenon. The idea conveyed is that God will return with divine power to reclaim this Earth, and not that we’ll be literally taken into the sky.
Luke 17:34-35 says that on that night, two people will be in bed and one will be taken and the other one will be left. In rapture thinking, this means that people will be taken away and some will be left behind, which is where the book series got its name. But, if one looks closely at the next verse, Jesus is saying that the one taken away will be killed, not saved. This was probably referring to the Roman occupation in 66-70 AD when Rome attacked suddenly. And the same holds true for Matthew 24:36-41.
Mark 13 is another passage that has been interpreted to be about the end of the world. It says there will be wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes. In rapture theology, it is used to describe the time before the Rapture. So, people are always seeing signs of the impending rapture with every new rumor of war. In addition, Jesus says during this time that the sun will be darkened and the stars will fall from the sky. But, as we see, this is another idiom signifying that something catastrophic would happen but not a literal falling of the stars or blotting out of the sun. Rather, it signified the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, and this was a celestial catastrophe to the Jewish people and their faith.
In the end, the evidence for the rapture is a little thin. People have translated the idioms of the ancient languages literally and have created a theology out of that translation. It’s possible that a literal rapture may happen. However, it’s also possible that no rapture will happen and all of the things written about the end of the world have been misinterpreted for some time. However, throughout it all, Jesus makes very clear that we’re to live a self-sacrificial life of love and not worry about the future date of his return.
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20 thoughts on “The End of the World As You Know It”
Thank you again for your clear teachings and passion in preaching them. Another incredible person,
Corrie ten Boom said she rejected the doctrine of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture and wrote that it was without Biblical foundation. She was an amazing women and a living example of forgiveness and loving your enemies. Your message of “truth” is badly needed in a world filled with deception.
For those of you who believe in a literal rapture, I would encourage you to listen in. You will gain insight into some puzzling (end time?) verses. And you can still believe if you prefer, that the verses Greg refers to have a dual fulfillment which does not exclude the rapture, not that Greg would support that view.
Greg makes a strong argument that many of these verses have already been fulfilled, which does not necessarily exclude another fulfillment.
Not trying to support rapture theory here…don’t want to start any arguments. But those who have a different view than Greg’s will, I think, learn from Greg anyway, if you allow the Lord to fuse Greg’s teachings with your own beliefs. Again, just trying to help people with different beliefs acclimate to Greg’s teachings.
From a Gregorian chanter.
Matt 24-24, Matt 13, Luke 17 are not used by anyone serious about the teaching of the catching away. I know that many have used them as such, but they do a disservice to the doctrine, You did give an alternative understanding of 1 Thess, but everything else you talked about are straw men in regards to the rapture/catching away.
The concept is mostly based upon Daniel’s seventieth week, Rev 4:1 in conjunction to chapter 1 and all the scriptures which talk about the wrath of God coming and salvation from it. Yes always be ready, no timing signs available and your interpretation of most of what you talked about I agree with; but the fact that the church will be found in heaven (about cloud level) during the seven years of tribulation and than will come back with the Lord Jesus is still a valid interpretation and in my view true. I agree that there are a lot of silly things put forth,and these are not things I spend a lot of time teaching on basically because I agree that arguing over them brings no positive outcome, but those of us who see a clear teaching of a catching away should not be painted with such a broad and unfair brush.
Love to correspond more with you about this.
I like the way Greg tackles this controversial topic, i’ve seen so much damage done by false/mistaken end times teaching.
I thought this sermon was fantastic! Probably one of my favorites of all time from Dr. Boyd. This series has really opened my mind to the whole “Non-Violent View” of Revelation, and also passages like this that refer to a “rapture” of some sort. I used to listen to a lot of Mark Driscoll, and the view of Jesus from this series presents, definitely brings glory to His name, instead of the “Prize Fighter” version.
Thank you Dr. Boyd!
Too Right Big M!
I just finished watching John Hagee’s “Four Blood Moons” presentations via You Tube and I have to say how exegetically ludicrous the whole presentation came across! Now, I’m a 1000% certain there are hundreds & hundreds of sincere Born Again Believers there in his congregation who love The Lord with all their hearts but like the followers of Harold Camping, some have unfortunately swallowed this latest sensationalistic “Apocalyptic Bug” that infects their Biblical logic and drives their attention away from the more spiritually relevant Kingdom building activities.
The fact that their church was involved in financially supporting the relocation of hundreds of Jewish families from Russia to Israel, is a beautiful and wonderful thing but their version of what it means to “Build the Kingdom” is radically and systematically different than what’s being purposed through Christ-like & Cross-Like Love.
I’ll even go as far to say, that through the misapplication and sensationalization of specific apocalyptic scenarios – like “Blood Moons” for example, helps to create a fever pitch that serves “The Enemy” quite well, it that it riles people up into a paranoid and self-defensive mode of thinking that results in a sanctimonious attempt to influence geopolitical decisions through aggressive foreign policies that in effect are designed to set up a delusional context for the “forced return of Christ”. I think that some of these people actually hunger for an “Armageddon” where all those who don’t ascribe to their brand theology will be sadistically punished militarily & then spiritually, so that they then can set up and rule and reign with Christ in their Glorious Millennial Kingdom! Sound familiar? This is Medieval thinking with a Post-modern Neocon twist.
If people really fear the effects of “Blood Moons”in their life, then they should know that they can come at any moment – train wrecks, car crashes, heart attacks, cancers, meteorites out of the blue sky, etc…One should be ready for the “Rapture” if it does in fact occur, everyday, at any given moment! If your in Christ, then your covered and should continue to live for The Lord without a context of fear to motivate you! Trying to determine the exact date of “the Rapture” is like trying to “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” in the middle of the Sahara Desert – it’s truly assinine!
While there are many commentaries on Revelation taken from a number of different approaches, there are few that I have encountered that adopt the cruciform Christ approach similar to what Greg has presented.
For those who are seeking a more thorough chapter and verse approach that time does not permit for Greg, I would recommend (for those who have not seen it), Professor Robert Mulholland’s lectures (Asbury Theological Seminary) as a somewhat similar approach. Keep in mind that there are 22 lectures running for slightly over an hour each…..but well worth the commitment.
For those looking for some further treatment of the history behind the rapture and “last signs” that Greg discussed in his message, may wish to view the beginning of lecture 12 where a previous student provides a video presentation of these matters.
The lectures, both audio podcast and video are on “iTunes U” and are free at the following address:-
Now the Book of Revelation is finally beginning to make sense to me for the first time in decades! It makes so much sense that this was written for first century believers, with a possible future fulfilment as well. No more confusion in my mind, at least! Thank you Pastor Greg! Anointed teaching!
Perhaps this is one for the Q&A Session coming up –
Based on this recent series of messages on Revelation and Greg’s description last week of the use of “idioms and hyperbole” in describing John’s vision, how does he or how does Woodlands Hills interpret the concept of the “New Jerusalem”? Many Christians view the New Jerusalem as a current reality, in that the “New Jerusalem” is the consummation of the Body of Christ, the Church and that Christians already take part in membership of both the heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly Church in a kind of dual citizenship. In this way, the “New Jerusalem” represents to Christians the final and everlasting reconciliation of God and His chosen people – the end of the Christian pilgrimage. As such, the New Jerusalem is a conception of Heaven where essentially there is no temple building. God and the Lamb are the city’s temple, since they are worshiped everywhere on the New Earth (?)
Firstly, let me thank you for your book (with Paul Eddy), The Jesus Legend. It’s a breastplate and buckler against the influence of “critical biblical studies” on the mis-education of Christians that has been going on for many decades.
Your thesis is interesting, but, I think, problematical. When I returned to Christ, after having been away all my adult life, I read the New Testament in its entirety for the first time. It’s full of surprises. One of the strongest impressions that I gained was the expectation of the imminent return of Christ. It comes through strongly in the letters of Paul and John, and that impression reinforces the more traditional interpretation of the Gospel passages you discussed.
What makes this impression more poignant is that another note is present in the letters, and, I believe in St John’s Gospel: the realisation that the return is not, as previously believed, imminent. You find this note in St Paul and St Peter. If you accept that the last part of St John’s Gospel is a addendum to an earlier piece, a plausible explanation is that the assage was, in fact, written by an aging St John, after he had heard of the execution of St Peter. He notes a tradition concerning John’s living until the return, only to diminish it. If he had begun to realise, with the passing of so many of the disciples, that the return would not be soon, and that the Church must modify its teaching in this respect, his codicil would be a contribution to that process.
My point is that part of the context of the Gospel passages is this expectation in the early Church, which lends weight to the parousia interpretations of the “tribulation” passages. Another aspect of context is the complete discussion of the parallel passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Matthew’s placement of the reference to vultures (or eagles) is not so readily amenable to your explanation, and in Matthew the implication that the array of signs will signal the coming of the Son of Man is much more clearly spelled out.
Your reading of the “left” and the “taken” corresponds with what might be called the “natural” reading of these passages; it certainly corresponds with what I, in my initial näive reading, took it to mean. However, these passages remain deeply troubling for Christians. Yes, they seem very strongly to refer to the destruction of the Temple, but He has not returned, despite the expectations of great saints and apostles, so they also refer, in their most obvious reading, to a time thousands of years into the future.
Neither can I agree with your “metaphorical” interpretation of the references to the clouds of heaven. What is St Stephen talking about when he says, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God?”
It seems to me that we are intimidated by the materialism of the times. If Christianity is true, as we believe, then Man is, indeed, the measure of all (physical) things. The Copernican revolution initiated a process of relegating Man to an incidental and ultimately irrelevant position in the order of things. As the scale of the heavens grew more and more vast, so, paradoxically, did our conception of God shrink and shrink, because we inevitably measure God, impossible as that is, against Jesus of Nazareth.
However, no matter how vast and complex the universe, it is still a creature of the Trinity’s, and that means that it is a creature of Jesus’. Even as Jesus came to confirm the status of each of us in the eyes of God, introjecting the Godhead fully into the human person of Jesus, so He still introjects himself into the vastness of nature to remind us of our value. At such times, the veil of the physical world is torn aside to show some of us the truth. It was so for St Stephen, it was so on Mt Tabor, and at the baptism of the Lord, and it was true on the road to Damascus. The most telling of these incidents, of course, is the Ascension itself. It is an event as necessary to Christianity as the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.
I have a particular interest in the story of Fatima, in part because it has been scoffed at by Richard Dawkins in “Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder.” I don’t offer this as any incentive for anti-Marian Protestants to change their views, but as a well-documented instance of a supernatural event. Whether you attribute the event to the action of Christ, or to demonic posession, the lessons are similar. Read Dawkins dismissal in the book, extracts from which can be seen on Google Books by searching for the phrase “It is the 70,000 witnesses that impress.”
Dawkins asserts that the events of Fatima could not have occurred because the sun would have been abliged to appear in a different form for the witnesses (up to 25km away) and those in Lisbon, Paris and London to whom no changes were obvious. Let us suppose, though, that the events had taken place not 100, but 10 years ago, and that a multitude of witnesses had recorded them on video on their mobile phones. How would one then attempt to explain the discrepancy between Fatima and London?
We are moving towads such event now. Indeed, we can see the precursors. Search YouTube for “virgin mary warraq” for a plethora of such mobile phone videos of apparition at a Coptic Church in Cairo in 2009. They hark back to appearances between 1968 and 1971 at a Coptic Church in Zeitoun in Cairo.
Search also for videos of phenomena at Medjugorje, formerly in Croatia, but since the Dayton Accords excised into Bosnia. I have my own story to tell about Medjugorje, which I will not regale you with here, but it does involve a trip to Medjugorje by a couple of Australian backpackers, undertaken because of a video taken by the aunt of one of them.
No-one who does not wish to believe will change his mind because of such evidence. But those whose lives are changed by such occurrences will never again take the physical world to be absolute. It will always be seen as being in the hands of God, to do with according to His will.
Medjugorje and Fatima are inventions/immaginary at best and occultic at worst: the cult of the Virgin Mary isn’t biblical!
Medjugorje, Fatima, Guadalupe all have substance if you research them in depth. It’s the human interpretations of it that makes it seem unbiblical. You have the Catholic’s that live and die by them and that’s not good and you have the skeptics that cut them down terribly without more then probably 15 minutes of research. If you’ve read any of the messages that have been going on in Medjugorje in the past thirty plus years you would know how pure they are. In a nutshell it’s to love the Lord Jesus with all your heart sole mind and strength and to turn to Him. If that is demonic the devil has a funny way of working. You have to use wisdom in all these things as with every teaching. I always love the beautiful consistancy of the word of God.
Most scholars believe that Peter was probably executed sometime between (64-67A.D.) during the “dies imperii” shortly after the “Great Fire of Rome” – of which Nero wanted to conveniently blame the Christian for. John 21:18 potentially corroborates this event. However, since the destruction of The Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD is pretty much historically solid and irrefutable, one would think that “John” – if we are talking about the same guy (some believe that John the Apostle, John the Evangelist, and John of Patmos were three separate individuals) would have definitely recorded such a significant prophecy fulfilling event in his Gospel – No? So backdating his work with an “addendum” as you’ve stated (or as Paul E suggested) seems spurious at best. Such an “ad hoc” approach by John (who was clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit) wouldn’t necessarily follow the principles of “theopneustos” in that, if we were personally uncomfortable with something, we’d have the artistic license and liberty to go back “tweak” what the Holy Spirit was inspiring us to write. So it would seem that the Gospel was written earlier, rather than later and that the “appendage argument” is very “Bart Ehrman’esque”. I think we should live every day as if He were to return at any moment, but yet not be fixated on that specific event. If you’re constantly watching the clock at work, you’re not doing your job!
I really find interesting what you’ve said about the Copernican revolution relegating mans position. However, for me as a believer, the ever-expanding scale and knowledge of the Universe wonderfully reinforces God’s omniscience and omnipotence by demonstrating His amazing creativity and imagination. God’s presence/importance in the minds of some – like Dawkins for example, might have shrunk with the advent of the “Scientific Method” and the implication of theories such as “Evolution”, but it often depends on your angle of perception and personal application of those ideas. Evolution doesn’t threaten my faith in the least, but rather reinforces it by demonstrating the amazing perpetuity that is inbuilt into organic life itself.
I wouldn’t necessarily attempt to measure God against Jesus but rather simply experience God’s amazing love as it is revealed on Calvary. The depth and breath of that amazing love is beyond the boundaries of the human mind to fully grasp or even quantify. I like this idea of “introjection” but I wonder if the term itself does justice to the triune nature of God where you have three distinct but yet completely harmonious persons coexisting eternally as one in a loving relationship. The “incarnation” is distinctly different from “impregnation” as is “introjection”- where behaviors and traits are simply mimicked or replicated by another “entity” who is essentially separate, which this term seems to imply.
I’ve known people who have hiked and done the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, as well as some who have gone to Assisi and Rome to be inspired by God. Their prayers have been answered and they have received beautiful visions and inspiration for their lives! But that’s a far cry form the crazy circus that has followed the events of Medjugorje and Fatima. I think Big M’s use of the word “Cult” is key here. Whenever one of these supposedly legitimate personal epiphanies turns into a “marketable institution” that clearly leads away from The Cross, I think we’re interring into dodgy and suspect theologically territory. To question the validity of the extended, marketed and commodified experiences at Fatima, is not to be “Antimarian”. If I can’t look at those with a critical eye, then in fairness, either should I question “The Clearwater Virgin” and or Diana Duyser’s “Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich” which recently sold at auction for $28,000 on eBay – the money raised apparently went to charity Ha!
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Another example of this is the supposed manifestations of a stigmated “Padre Pio” who appeared in the sky around Gargano Italy when allied bombers during WWII were making their runs. Was Padre Pio an inspirational man, a dedicated follower of Jesus and defender of the faith who lived an exemplary life? – From what I’ve read, I’d have to say, “YES”! But like so many before him, he has now been disproportionally elevated to “sainthood” and canonized by the RCC. As time has past, these manifestations have now exponentially increased in frequency and in location; often in seemingly ludicrous spots – like during football/soccer matches & hovering above the “Palio di Siena” horse race in Tuscany. You’ll now see his face plastered nearly everywhere there – in shops, cafés, tabacchi, etc.. especially in the south of Italy as well. I really do like the guy, but it’s seriously starting to smack of weird idolatry. I have a picture of C.S. Lewis on my wall – I’ve definitely been inspired by the man and his writings, but I certainly don’t worship the brother or believe that he had an exclusive b-line to God or divine truth! But then again, his writings have been milked beyond belief for entertainment royalties!
Back to Dawkins though. I would agree with you that hyper-natural, supernatural or miraculous examples of God’s love and omniscience need not ever be qualified or quantified natural evidences or laboratory experimentation. If God is in fact God, he is more than capable of operating in, through, alongside and above and beyond all mental, spiritual or physical constraints that the known (and as yet unknown) universe can demonstrate. After all, it is He, not us that sets forth the boundaries and deploys the laws of Physics at his pleasure – (Job 38:4-6) Dawkins though is a pure “sensory man” – and a hell of a mean spirited one at that! Anything experienced through the senses and or in the cerebellum, that cannot be either, measured, weighed or scientifically deconstructed, simply doesn’t exist in his world-view. Applying the “scientific method” to the unfathomable dimensions of God’s Love, Forgiveness and Redemption is asinine, as well as imprudent.
When you say we are moving towards an “event” what do you exactly have in mind? Would that event bring us closer to The Cross – to the heart of Jesus/God himself where we are empowered to love others with Christ-like sacrificial love or is it just another one of these layered bedazzlements that only brings attention to itself and turns into a kind of experiential commodity?
First, my apologies for not noticing your posting earlier. I don’t see how to get notification when a reply is posted.
You raise a number of issues, so please indulge me if I jump about a bit in response.
I don’t think it is necessary to suppose that the inspiration of the Gospels or the letters be an instantaneous thing. As not even Paul actually penned his letters, it is probable that this was also the case with John. The writing of these documents was a work over some period of time, during which the inspiration of the Holy Ghost was the active principle. Is it necessary that this inspiration have occurred over a single, though extended, “session”? If not, an addendum does not preclude divine inspiration.
Jesus’ prophecy, in this case, was obscure. Is it really so strange that John, on receiving the news of Peter’s death, would be confronted by the Holy Ghost saying, “You did not then have eyes to see what I meant. I have opened them for you. Now do you understand?” Incidentally, if this were the case, and John completed his Gospel in about AD 70 after an hiatus, what happens to the “scholarly opinion” that John’s Gospel is a very late work of “theological reflection,” with little value as historical witness? I would mean, as you indicate, that St John was written within little more than 30 years of Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, with the possible exception of the addendum.
I think it is difficult to overestimate the anaesthetising effect of modern cosmology on religious sensibility. For, say, Aristotle or Plato that would not be a problem. It would reinforce the view of God as the remote First Mover who (or which) could not conceivably have a person, let alone a personal interest in the doings of mere human beings. Confronted with the sheer scale of the universe, many of my contemporaries react with a sense of futility. It is not simply maggot Israel, but maggot Earth, maggot galaxy. With that comes a pitying contempt for those who “imagine” that all of the incomprehensibly vast cosmos was created by a Being who is a person (or three, in fact) motivated to a cosmos-shrinking love of each of us, his creatures.
To this, I reply that Christ is the measure of all things, for Jesus of Nazareth _is_ God. I am overwhelmed by the scale of the cosmos; I cannot comprehend infinity; I cannot hope to understand the “mathematical fictions” of modern physics, nor grasp more than some tiny fragment of one specialty of one branch of physical sciences or life sciences or mathematics. But I can comprehend the Maker of all these things, because the Maker has come to me to offer Himself for my seeing and knowing and believing. And in this meeting, I live and breathe and have my being.
I used the term “introjection” to emphasise the distinction between secondary causation and the direct supernatural action of God. Secondary causation we see in action all about us, day to day, in the workings of the natural universe, and in those actions that are caused by human (and animal) will. It should not be taken to mean mimicry. However, Jesus was conceived in the flesh, but not of the flesh. The act of His conception was a divine intervention, a primary cause. From that moment, the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth lived according to natural secondary causation, up to the moment of Resurrection, which was another divine intervention. I use “introjection” in the sense of these divine interventions.
I subscribe to the view that, as the Trinity is three persons in one nature, so the Word is one person with two natures, one divine, and one human. Fully divine, fully human. I have no idea, though, whether the human nature of the Word is from all eternity, or whether, as we understand our human natures, it came into existence at the moment of the divine conception in the womb of Mary.
Even as you know people who have experienced the divine in association with Santiago de Compostela, Rome or Assisi, so there are those who have been drawn closer to God at Fatima and Lourdes, and, speaking for myself, from Medjugorje. I find it strange that anyone for the US can fail to appreciate the power of commercial motives. Where there are people there are markets. These are to be found in Santiago, Rome and Assisi, as well as Fatima and Medjugorje. The merchandise is adapted to the tastes of the buyers. Did the people you have met buy no kitsch souvenirs of their visits?
Those of us from other cultures feel uneasy with what we see as the excesses of US Evangelical and Pentecostal megachurches, and will essay similar criticisms of them. We also, given the opportunity, will meet many whose lives have been transformed by their encounter with Christ in these churches. The good co-exists with the less good and the downright evil, as it always has. It is impossible to say what “clearly leads away from The Cross.” The trashiest trinket, made and sold by the most unrepentant and exploitative sinner, will transform lives if the Lord wills it, for the buyer is expressing, however inadequately, the love of the Lord. “… in everything, God works for good with those who love him…”
The same considerations apply to Padre Pio. Pio is the centre of a great number of well-attested stories, including the healing of his sigmata as he neared death, leaving his corpse unscarred where the marks had been, and the many reports of bi-location. The brouhaha around him and possibly spurious and opportunistic “sightings” and occurences is independent of the events of his earthly life, now ended and unchangeable.
In the early years of the Church, saints were so named by a consensus within the church communities they influenced. The Roman Catholic processes for canonisation have, in more recent times, been used to hose down over-enthusiastic devotees of particular candidates. The canonisation of Padre Pio is a case in point. In spite of overwhelming testimony, his cause languished for decades before being accepted by John Paul II.
I believe that the greatest problem Protestants have with the whole panoply of the saints in RC belief, is the notion of praying to saints for their intercession. I would urge that, in considering events like Fatima and the life of Pio, Protestants put aside particular theological differences, and examine for themselves the facts of the events. That’s why I originally suggested that, concerning Fatima, it does not even matter whether the events were divine or demonic. It is the events themselves that are of great importance for the modern world.
In the post-Christian West, Satan’s modus operandi is materialism. A critical part of that is a refusal to believe in Satan, which must be galling to him. Such denial is important, though, because to believe in his existence is to open the door to belief in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. All who believe in nothing immaterial are his already, and the time will come for them to pay him homage, so he can wait.
It is in this vein that I expect another event or events on the scale of Fatima, and why I drew attention to the cell phones of Warraq. Even when I came back to the faith, I had an understanding of the supernatural that was, if you like, not incarnate. That is, with Dawkins, I took the physical world and the cosmos to be a kind of background constant, always operating by a set of rules that was universally applied and universally consistent. The witness of Fatima could, in this setting, only be a perceptual intervention. The sun could _appear_ in this locality, and to these localised witness, to dance, spin and plunge toward earth, but in actuality, the sun’s behaviour was the perceived behaviour in the rest of the world at that moment.
That modern and comfortable assumption was shattered for me when I realised that some people were able to capture the “misbehaviour” of the sun on video. I no longer had a comfortable model—a metaphysical model, if you like—of how supernatural influences might work. As soon as I say that, I realise how silly it was to imagine that I ever had a useful understanding of it. I still have trouble grasping the power of the supernatural over the natural; not in places remote in distance and time, but in the here and now, in a Western world that has been swindled out of its faith.
Imagine that another Fatima were to occur today. Divine or demonic, it makes no difference to the paticular point I am trying to make. If (or, as I believe, when) this event occurs, thousands of video images will be uploaded virtually simultaneously to servers all over the internet. The sheer volume will rule out collusive doctoring of the images, and millions of people whose imaginations have ceased to be able to encompass the spiritual will be swept away in the flood of a fearful new possibility. Rafts of brightly-coloured naturalistic explanations will be dropped to the floundering survivors, and most will no doubt clamber aboard, but the internet-connected world will never be the same.
What is going on? I am unable to watch the entire message. It stop abruptly almost midway through and brings me back to the beginning? I’ve tried watching on Chrome and then IE and on different computers, my own and one where I work. The same thing happens!
I asked this question on the Discussion Forum on the Table and it was deleted. I don’t understand?
Sorry about the technical difficulties – we were having some problems on our end! It took a while to sort out, but everything should be working now. Let me know if you have any more issues.
Thanks for your patience!
“First, my apologies for not noticing your posting earlier. I don’t see how to get notification when a reply is posted.”
I as well! I didn’t realize that you had written such a lengthy response!
“You raise a number of issues, so please indulge me if I jump about a bit in response.
I don’t think it is necessary to suppose that the inspiration of the Gospels or the letters be an instantaneous thing. As not even Paul actually penned his letters, it is probable that this was also the case with John.”
Possible, but both he and John sure were more than capable of doing it! In 2 Thessalonians 3:17 we have – “I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.”
Now for sure, subsequent reiterations were penned by friends, scribes, followers, etc… But the evidence for their physical hand in the originals is compelling with both “Internal” and “External” referencing, as well as language and style markers. So much so, that the vocabulary, sentence structure, employment of idioms and common phrases, etc. have been analyzed by scholars for consistency with the author’s other known works. A similar style implies common authorship, while a radically divergent vocabulary would imply different authors.
In John’s case an “amanuensis” may have been used which might explain the stylistic difference between his Gospel and Revelation but John bar-Zebedee was much more than your average fisherman! As it states in John 18:16 – John was “known to the high priest” At that time it was Caiaphas, who was partly responsible for planning Jesus’ death. Of course none of this proves anything but some people have used Mark 10:38-39 to claim that both he and James were martyred, whereas tradition holds that this wasn’t the case for John on Patmos.
“The writing of these documents was a work over some period of time, during which the inspiration of the Holy Ghost was the active principle. Is it necessary that this inspiration have occurred over a single, though extended, “session”? If not, an addendum does not preclude divine inspiration.”
Very true, however, how long does one allow for extended addendums to be added – 5, 10, 25, 50 years? I suppose as long as God feels he needs to complete the specific work – Ha! However, I have always been somewhat skeptical of things like “Q Document Theory” where there just doesn’t seem to be enough of a “Prima facie” case to support the evidence alluded to.
“Confronted with the sheer scale of the universe, many of my contemporaries react with a sense of futility. It is not simply maggot Israel, but maggot Earth, maggot galaxy. With that comes a pitying contempt for those who “imagine” that all of the incomprehensibly vast cosmos was created by a Being who is a person (or three, in fact) motivated to a cosmos-shrinking love of each of us, his creatures.”
Hugh Ross has addressed this very issue in his work and if you haven’t read or listened to his material from “Reasons to Believe” you might give him an opportunity. However, I wouldn’t dismiss him as a run-of-the-mill Creationist, he’s anything but!
“To this, I reply that Christ is the measure of all things, for Jesus of Nazareth _is_ God. I am overwhelmed by the scale of the cosmos; I cannot comprehend infinity; I cannot hope to understand the “mathematical fictions” of modern physics, nor grasp more than some tiny fragment of one specialty of one branch of physical sciences or life sciences or mathematics. But I can comprehend the Maker of all these things, because the Maker has come to me to offer Himself for my seeing and knowing and believing. And in this meeting, I live and breathe and have my being.”
This is really beautiful stuff Peter and very elegantly stated!!! For me its important to remember that in the fullness of time, not only is a “New Earth” coming, but a “New Heavens” as well. Potentially one where “Heat Death” is defeated and reversed or better yet a whole new physics yet to be revealed by God. The palingenesia and the anakainosis are harmoniously nit together and for this God is building his eternal family and preparing that place for us! We may be “Maggots” in scale, relatively speaking when looking outward from our “tiny blue dot”, but when considering the subatomic, we are gargantuanly complex and “fearfully and wonderfully made” – Psalm 139:14
“I used the term “introjection” to emphasise the distinction between secondary causation and the direct supernatural action of God. Secondary causation we see in action all about us, day to day, in the workings of the natural universe, and in those actions that are caused by human (and animal) will. It should not be taken to mean mimicry. However, Jesus was conceived in the flesh, but not of the flesh. The act of His conception was a divine intervention, a primary cause. From that moment, the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth lived according to natural secondary causation, up to the moment of Resurrection, which was another divine intervention. I use “introjection” in the sense of these divine interventions.”
Makes much more sense what you’re saying now! Not that you need my silly qualification in any way, but initially it kind of sounded almost like some quasi New Age mumbo-jumbo.
“I have no idea, though, whether the human nature of the Word is from all eternity, or whether, as we understand our human natures, it came into existence at the moment of the divine conception in the womb of Mary.”
This is a fascinating topic and has been the thesis/theory of many books and movements as you probably well know! Everything from “Adoptionist theology”, Sabellianism and the argument over the meanings of “hypostasis” fuels this ongoing debate.
Looking at it from a biological frame of reference [if one is a believer], the physical template that we are, has its schematic origins in the mind and image of our living God. So in that sense, I would say, Jesus being the lamb slain before the foundation of the world could very well have the verisimilitude of “human nature” from all eternity.
Currently, I would consider myself to be more of a “Theistic Creationist” – but only in part. If one can adequately explain the presence of hominid morphologies within the fossil record, in light of scripture, I could be persuaded in either direction. But find the supposed “Evolution vs. Creation” debate on the whole, to be one giant Red Herring designed as a distraction from sharing “Cross-like love” with people. The debate can be healthy but so often I’ve seen it degrade into churlish name calling and purile innuendo.
“Where there are people there are markets. These are to be found in Santiago, Rome and Assisi, as well as Fatima and Medjugorje. The merchandise is adapted to the tastes of the buyers. Did the people you have met buy no kitsch souvenirs of their visits?”
A couple things here. I am an Expat and have lived more of my life outside of the US than in, spent time growing up in Italy and Denmark and the UK (where I’ve been for the last 15 years) so I am not so readily persuaded or enticed by the feculent commercial and geopolitical interests of “Uncle Sam”. I have to admit however, I do have my fair share of resin casted miniatures from my travels to the Continent.
Most of these are for Art / Historical referencing, rather than religious tableau’s or sentimental keepsakes.
“The trashiest trinket, made and sold by the most unrepentant and exploitative sinner, will transform lives if the Lord wills it, for the buyer is expressing, however inadequately, the love of the Lord. “… in everything, God works for good with those who love him…”
I love this part! HA!!!! This is probably more often the case than what anyone realizes! The question is –“Should we support the propagation of these endless kitsch knock-offs in the sweatshops of the developing world?” If not, then I’ll have to throw out half my fridge magnet collection – Ha!
“I believe that the greatest problem Protestants have with the whole panoply of the saints in RC belief, is the notion of praying to saints for their intercession. I would urge that, in considering events like Fatima and the life of Pio, Protestants put aside particular theological differences, and examine for themselves the facts of the events. That’s why I originally suggested that, concerning Fatima, it does not even matter whether the events were divine or demonic. It is the events themselves that are of great importance for the modern world.”
I can certainly agree with you in part here! Putting aside those differences is critical for building real trust and true friendship- (even online!). As I stated earlier, I am tremendously inspired by those who have come before in the faith and the exemplary lives that they lived – and not just C of E or quasi-Protestant standouts like Lewis. “Brother Lawrence” for example is someone whom I greatly admire –
“We ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity, speak to Him frankly and plainly, and implore His assistance in our affairs.”
Where I do disagree, is when you say –
“ it does not even matter whether the events were divine or demonic. It is the events themselves that are of great importance for the modern world.”
You’re joking right? I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to be an adherent of a “Demonic event”. – “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign…” – Matt 16:4
That sounds like a recipe for “zombieism” or “sheepledum”. Now, if you’re saying that we [as believers] are standing back and observing this kind herd mentality and recognizing it as such, that’s one thing but I certainty don’t want to encourage others to swim into that net.
So in response to your second post, for me the drawing a distinction between “private and public revelation”, is what really the crux of the issue is. For you, events like “Fatima”, encourages and intensifies your faith – right?. For me, they distract and move it away from the core of my belief – Jesus! If the Virgin were to appear to me during my next session of prayer behind closed doors and say to me audibly, – “Dave, honor my beloved Son Jesus, in whom your Salvation lies”. I would be totally knocked out and blown away. But……. at the same time, I’d have ask her intently, “Why, why do You need to tell me this, when He already clearly has shown me at The Cross!”
One more layer on the parfait of faith doesn’t make it any tastier!!!!
So, “Quo vadis” my friend!
Listened to the Rapture sermon and concerned about a couple points.
1st was the statement that it was first introduced in the 1800 and is a new view. “All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins” Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373 a.d.). I don’t use this quote to prove the rapture but to show an example of the belief of the rapture much earlier then he attributes. This sermon of Ephraem was translated into 6 languages and we have many manuscripts up to the 800’s.
2nd is a small miss guidance in the statement the word rapture isn’t in the bible, which is because it comes from the latin translation which translates Harpazo to rapiemur from the latin verb rapio which tranlated to english is rapt and the past particle shown in the Latin Vulgate would be rapture. Also the Latin Vulgate was commisioned to St Jerome to translate in 382.
Deinde nos qui vivimus qui relinquimur simul
rapiemur cum illis in nubibus obviam Domino in
aera et sic semper cum Domino erimus.
1 Thessalonians 4:17
3rd is the Greek translation mention of to siege which is only a partial definition which it means carried off by force, to snatch out or away, or claim for one’s self eagerly ie to pull, snatch out, take (by force), pull. — oldest biblical translation Latin Vulgate translation “to take away by force”
4th was the other week passages used to support / disprove it. Don’t want to take time with this weakness of the sermon, but will point to the other times in the bible when someone was Harpazo(d). Enoch was the first in Genesis, Elijah in 2 Kings, Jesus in Acts 1. Again Enoch and Elijah were documented in the Dead sea scrolls manuscripts before Christ walked the earth.
What are some acedemic books to learn more about the use of ancient Jewish hyperbole?
On Jesus’ use of overstatement and hyperbole, I’ve benefitted from Robert Stein’s The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings, pp. 8-12. Regarding Paul’s use of polemical hyperbole, the best study is Carol Schlueter’s Filling Up the Measure. Beyond these, you may find additional material on ancient Jewish hyperbole in such texts as Ben Witherington’s New Testament Rhetoric, though I’m not sure. Hope this helps!