Matthew 24: Let’s Hear All the Theories

In the comment section of my last post, several points were made about Matthew 24. It’s not the easiest passage to come to terms with. When I was a believer, I had trouble nailing down exactly what was being talked about in this chapter, because much of the language is figurative, and… well… a straight reading of the chapter can be a bit problematic for Christians. To illustrate, let’s jump in and take the entire chapter piece by piece:

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 end of the age?”

So Jesus tells the disciples that the temple will be torn down, so they ask him 2 or 3 questions, depending on how you read this: 1) When will the temple be destroyed? 2) What will be the sign of your coming? 3) What will be the sign of the end of the age?

“Your coming” and “end of the age” could be tricky. They’re vague enough that people could get into some heavy speculation about what they might mean. Most of us, if we’re just allowing the passage to speak for itself, probably assume these terms are talking about the “Day of Judgment,” the “end of the world,” the “final reckoning.” And there’s good reason for thinking that. The book of Matthew talks about the Day of Judgment a fair amount (Matt 10:15, 11:22, 24, 12:36, 42). In fact, there are two passages that are worth looking at in more detail. We’ll look at one now, but we’ll save the other for the end of the post.

The first is the “Parable of the Weeds,” which can be found in Matt 13:24-30. The explanation of that parable is given in verses 36-43:

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Verses 47-50 say the same basic thing. This is what I think the disciples are asking about here in Matt 24. I’m sure some of you feel differently, and I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comment section. But for now, I’m going to assume they’re asking about the Day of Judgment.

Let’s continue:

4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

So the disciples seem to be asking about the destruction of the temple, as well as the Day of Judgment. It could be that they were wrong to assume that these 2 or 3 questions they asked had anything to do with one another, but Jesus doesn’t correct them — he simply starts answering. He says there will be false Christs and political unrest, as well as natural disasters. But the end won’t happen yet.

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

So after the false Christs, political upheaval, and natural disasters, Christians will become persecuted by everyone. Many Christians will fall away because of it, but the gospel will still be preached and it will go throughout the entire world. Then the end will come.

Of course, much of this is still pretty vague. When are there not wars and rumors of wars? When are there not natural disasters? And what degree of religious persecution is Jesus referring to here?

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

This seems to be speaking more about the destruction of Jerusalem, since it focuses on Judea. Referencing the “abomination of desolation” could refer to almost anything. In the Book of Daniel, it seems to reference Antiochus Epiphanes, but he had died long before Jesus’ time. It’s hard to say what Jesus may have interpreted it to mean.

Since this section seems to deal with the fall of Jerusalem, it would have been a great time for Jesus to tell the disciples that Judgment Day would come many centuries later. But he doesn’t do that. Instead, he seems to roll right into a description of the end times:

23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

He warns them to not be led away by false Christs. And I think verse 27 is saying that when the “Son of Man” comes, everyone will know it. There will be no need to “spread the word” — it will be evident.

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, 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. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

This passage says that after the preceding events, the Son of Man will come with great power and glory. His angels will gather the elect from the entire earth. What could this be, but the Judgment? It matches up very well with Jesus’ explanation of the “Parable of the Weeds” that we read earlier. Matthew 24 then follows up with this section:

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.

So when you see these things happen, you’ll know that the time is near. Verse 34 then says that these events would occur within their lifetime. Which events? All of them. Of course, that didn’t happen. And that’s why so many Christians wrangle with this passage and try to find another meaning for it. It’s also important to notice an earlier passage in Matthew that says the same thing (Matt 16:26-28):

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Jesus apparently expected the end of the world to occur within a few decades at the most. 2000 years and a lot of other failed “end of the world” prophecies later, and we’re still here.

But what about the rest of the chapter? Does it say anything to make us rethink the notion that Jesus’ prediction of the end of the world was so wrong?

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

So Jesus goes on to say that no one, only God, knows the day and hour that the end will come. Jesus himself didn’t even know. Does that change things? Does that mean that his earlier decree can be ignored? I don’t think so. Jesus (more than once) said that the end would come within a generation. The passage we just read simply says that the exact day and time was unknown. Jesus gave them a time range of decades, but could be no more specific than that.

This chapter, both in the way the disciples asked their questions and in the way Jesus answered them, gives the impression that Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem would herald the coming end of the world. If you think about it, that’s not all that surprising. Jerusalem fell in 70 AD, and most scholars believe the gospel of Matthew was written 10-20 years after that event. We don’t know who the author of Matthew was, but he was obviously very focused on the Mosaic Law — it’s likely that he was Jewish, or at least a proselyte. Imagine the shock he would have felt when Jerusalem fell! How could God allow that to happen, especially so soon after the “Messiah” had come? I don’t find it surprising that such a Christian would assume that signs like these must mean the end of the world was coming. And if Jesus was a real person, it’s possible he preached that the end was near as well. Every generation, a handful of people make doomsday prophecies. Some of the Old Testament prophets did too. But regardless of the author’s motivation, the end result still seems rather evident: Jesus (or at least the gospel writer) believed the end of the world was a few short years away, and he was dead wrong.

Like I said, when I was a Christian, I struggled to “make sense” of Matthew 24, because I just knew it couldn’t mean what it “seemed” to say. Now that I no longer have to make passages fit the end result I’m looking for, passages like this seem much clearer to me. But what do you think? Am I totally off in my analysis?

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186 thoughts on “Matthew 24: Let’s Hear All the Theories”

  1. But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

    OK, now I’m really confused – what happened to the Trinity, that was confirmed by the Council of Nicea, in 325 CE? How can anyone but a schizophrenic have such a distinctly divided personality partition, that one part can know something of which the other is ignorant?

    I keep envisioning this schizophrenic peering into the bathroom mirror at his image, and singing, tauntingly, ♬ “I know something YOU don’t!”♪

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  2. I had trouble nailing down….

    Now there’s a phrase you want to here from an ex-Christian, right? 😉

    Okay…let me go back and continue reading…

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  3. I find archy’s comment above very poignant. Is Jesus god or is he not? And how many gods are they anyway?
    In the meantime I will wait and read comments of others more knowledgeable on this matter than myself.

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  4. If you choose to believe in prophecy, then it is simple to cry, “‘Aha!…you see, it’s all true

    But if the dating is wrong and the gospels were penned considerably later than what so called experts claim ( and lets’ be honest, it is largely thumb suck as they don’t really know, now do they) then we can regard these texts as fulfilling a political agenda.
    And in light of how fallacious the rest of the gospels are the latter makes more sense.
    Or, as one of the audience members in Life of Brian, called out:
    “He’s making it up as he goes along.”

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  5. From my comment on your last post you know that I agree with you that the plain reading is that whoever wrote this (and maybe Jesus said it too) meant that the end of world and Jesus’ return was going to happen within their generation. I don’t know Greek so it’s possible it really says something different in that language but scholars who know Greek don’t seem to think that the translation solves the problem.

    And again if we allow for re-interpretation which seems to me to really take away the plain reading of the text or if we allow for “that part of the bible is just wrong but the rest of it is right” then we can save any other sacred text using the same techniques. For example the Quran could be wrong in certain parts but in the other parts – in the parts that matter (who decides what matters?) – it is correct.

    And that is where my reference to Universalism comes in. I have a lot of respect for Universalists, and even though I don’t agree with them about there being a God, they seem to at least see the point that I’ve made in the previous paragraph. Universalists basically solve that by saying that there is partial truth in all sacred texts and in all religions and that God has simply created many different paths to get to Him – each religion being a different path. This is the kind of conclusion that allowing for interpretations that change the plain reading or declaring passages wrong leads me to (if I were to believe in God).

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  6. Absolutely Arch – believing that Jesus and God are the same God but yet Jesus doesn’t know things that God knows was always hard for me to rationalize. There are a lot of passages in the bible where it seems to state simply that Jesus is God, but then there are a lot of others which indicate otherwise. I think in the end the Jewish and Muslim point of view that Christianity is polytheistic rings true for me. It even sounds like the pantheon of Gods in polytheism where there is usually a concept of a god who had children.

    Every time a Christian says that they know that Jesus is the son of God I can’t help but be reminded of this difficulty. When I was a Christian I would always just say that Jesus was God, because the whole “he is the son of God” thing didn’t make sense to me. Is he the child or is he God? I could say he is both but this just goes against the very definition of father and son that everyone agrees to – father and son are always meant to describe 2 different people.

    Hank Hanegraaff’s solution to this is that “we can apprehend the trinity but not comprehend it”. Huh? Once again difficult beliefs in anybody’s religion can be saved from being declared wrong with this kind of logic.

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  7. Since this section seems to deal with the fall of Jerusalem, it would have been a great time for Jesus to tell the disciples that Judgment Day would come many centuries later. But he doesn’t do that. Instead, he seems to roll right into a description of the end times.

    Ah, that’s where we dispensationalists put the parenthesis in. 🙂

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  8. OK Nate, the above two blank spaces with my name on them represent two heroic efforts to follow your directions to the letter and upload an image – please delete them, as well as this comment, and any other signs of my obvious incompetence.

    I staged the image is here, if you can do anything with it:

    And as I said, please delete this comment and return your thread to normalcy.

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  9. I don’t have time to post right now, but I just wanted to say Arch…. Ha ha ha ha! Even if he does erase your boo-boo, we all saw that! 😉

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  10. Fixed it. Sorry you’re having trouble. I’m not sure what the problem is… This is what I typed in your comment:

    <img src="http://api.ning.com/files/WltTFfACAjcWOZurMMhNabpy8GH4WEs6fsCUBzEb9tujk-Or3f4*-kU8TInrT4Nb2X76hw1qkrhssyLUhnP*XUda2679HmaT/Yeshua.jpg" />

    Important note: if you’re reading my comment through email, what I just typed may not be showing up correctly. Look at how it displays here in the comment thread to see what you should type to insert an image.

    And if you’d already done all that, and it didn’t work, I have no idea what’s going on!

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  11. SO glad, Laurie, that you could afford to take time out of your undoubtedly busy schedule, to pop in and leave that little bundle of cheer – reciprocity is the cornerstone of Human social behavior/our – I’ll see if I can’t someday return the favor —
    Hugs!

    (Hey, unk, how was THAT for smarmy?! That was my “Higgins” imitation, from “Magnum, PI”!)

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  12. First of all, Nate, I would swear that was exactly what I input. The spaces couldn’t have been incorrect, because instead of typing my own, I copied and pasted your entire piece of code, then highlighted your URL, and pasted my own in its place – I don’t know how I could possibly have gone wrong (shut up, Laurie!).

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  13. Ok, maybe this goes against my whole be respectful thing, but the truth is that I couldn’t stop the laughter when I saw your pic of “It’s me, you”. If it’s any consolation to believers, I believed in the trinity for 5 years, so no offense meant. Maybe it’s just a little comic relief for me after trying to resolve what was so confusing for me back then.

    And your pop culture references are cracking me up too – Gomer Pyle the other day and today Vinnie Barbarino – we must be about the same age.

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  14. “We must be about the same age.”

    I don’t THINK so!

    Archaeopteryx lived in the Late Jurassic period around 150 million years ago, in what is now southern Germany during a time when Europe was an archipelago of islands in a shallow warm tropical sea, much closer to the equator than it is now.

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  15. Very old, quoting from anything that’s happened since I was hatched – of course, some of the prehistoric stuff goes over their heads – you had to have been there —

    I mean, who gets, “Why did the stegosaurus cross the road?” Cracked ’em up before the asteroid, haven’t been able to get a titter out of it since.

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  16. Sorry about the problems posting images, Arch. Maybe it’s only allowing me to do it since it’s my blog. I haven’t really looked up WordPress’s rules on this stuff, so I just don’t know.

    If nothing else, maybe a good work around for a while would be for you to just post an image’s link in your comment, and when I see the comment, I’ll edit it to show the actual picture. I know there will sometimes be a delay, but maybe that will work till we can think of something better?

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  17. That would be great – what I did with the Jesus jpeg, was email it to a dead account, which stages it somewhere that I can access by double-clicking, which takes me to the staging page, which has a URL, which I can bring to you.

    The CSS you mentioned earlier, was from me starting a message on the Think Atheist website, then without posting it, going into the HTML and getting the code, a good idea, but which apparently doesn’t work on a WordPress site.

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  18. Ah, okay. Yeah, that makes sense. Most sites limit the kinds of characters that can be used to guard against scripting attacks. Blogspot, for instance, doesn’t allow the blockquote tag. Sometimes this stuff is frustrating.

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  19. Well, it really is a bit too much spin in my opinion and it seems most scholars agree, but apparently it is gaining some traction with some evangelicals.

    He doesn’t put the 2000+ year pause in like others do. He instead says that everything that was written about actually occurred when the temple was destroyed. So “end time” really just means end of Israel’s period of mourning and the beginning of her freedom when the temple was destroyed (in some metaphorical way). And then the whole “coming of the Son of Man” is interpreted as just a metaphor for him being proven to be a true prophet because the temple destruction showed his prediction to be correct.

    I’m sure I am bastardizing his interpretation because it’s been a while since I’ve read about it and also because I had a hard time seeing how it really worked out given the wording of the passage. Perhaps a Christian on here might be able to describe it better.

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  20. Yeah, if anyone can expound on it, that would be great.

    Initially, my objection would be that the disciples started this line of inquiry — it wasn’t like Jesus approached them with these terms. So where did they come up with phrases like “your coming” and “end of the age”? Just looking at gMatthew, I can only see references to Judgment Day, as I referenced above. But if anyone can give some scriptural reasons for thinking Wright’s explanation has merit, I’d like to hear them.

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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  21. Ah, I forgot, only the WordPress blog author themselves can put an IMG in comments.
    Silly me. I just learned about it myself. That is WordPress. But some other blog templates allow non-authors to post img HTML too. It is probably better to NOT allow it because you could imagine how cluttery a thread could get. Anyway, my image is at the link I supplied.
    Good day!

    EDIT: Here it is:

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  22. Actually, Sabio, it’s frustrating NOT to be able to illustrate a point with a picture. Only the most anal of us can’t live with a little clutter, in exchange for the freedom of expression.

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  23. I liked your post Nate. Brought back memories of Gary Demar’s “Last Days Madness”, in which he delves into cosmological metaphor for political events, contrasts end of the “age” with end of the world, etc. I recall very clearly the struggle I had maybe 10 years ago with eschatology. I picked up one of those “four views” books on the millennium, which led me to decide that the Bible was – oddly – very ambiguous on a seemingly important question.

    At some point, its just not possible to blame the reader for confusion in the communication lines. At some point, its the speaker/writer who is at fault, when banks of ardent and scrupulous readers cannot come to a consensus as to what was meant.

    At this point, I find the explanation of the liberal wing makes much more sense. As you said, Jesus thought the end was coming, and he was dead wrong. A failed apocalyptic prophet.

    And I find the analogue holds 100% on Genesis. Christianity offers a balanced chiastic despair: both the eschatology of the end and the protology of the beginning prevent the believer from ever being sure what they were or were not saying. Side effect of explaining away disconfirmed revelations…

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  24. @ Nate
    Ooops, the image was just the key:
    Here is the post with the diagram.
    http://triangulations.wordpress.com/2009/11/22/eschatology/

    I hope that helps explains NT Wrights position that you asked about.

    Concerning: “If God’s supposed to be perfect. …”
    I think the rhetoric goes:
    “God is obscure so as to test our faith. Faith is important to God.” or a Calvinist would thing that he is not obscure to the elected. Both are hogwash, of course.

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  25. @Sabio

    Fixed the images — thanks for pointing that out! And thanks for providing the extra info. When I was a Christian, I believed that the bulk of Revelation talked about the rule and eventual fall of the Roman Empire. I forget which view that fit with — a-millennial, perhaps…

    And couldn’t agree more on your hogwash comment. 🙂

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  26. @ Nate
    I floated between various Christianities when I was a Christian. I was never into the doctrines much — and their contradictions soon made me see through the nonsense. Instead, I was more about the inner, mystical prayer life. Lots of folks gave up Christianity when they woke up to science or realized the Bible contradicted itself, but for me, it was more of watching what I was doing with my own mind. Then, as they say, “the rest came tumbling down.”

    It is funny to watch how the ways ex-believers left, or the flavor of their former Christianity, colors their approaches to theists now. Ex-smokers can show similar variance.

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  27. Yeah, I think you’re right. My outlook is still very much colored by my upbringing. Several believers have assumed that because of that, I’ve rejected the entirety of Christianity unfairly. If I had only been introduced to the “right” version, I wouldn’t feel the way I do now.

    I understand that point, and it’s possible that if I had been raised in a more moderate version of Christianity that I never would have worked my way out of it. But I don’t think that means there’s a problem with my current outlook.

    If a kid had a math class where homework was never checked and tests were never graded, he could go the entire semester thinking 2+2=5. That wouldn’t make him right.

    The version of Christianity I grew up with was strict enough that it forced me to consider the gravity of what it claimed, and eventually, I could no longer believe it. A more moderate version might have allowed me to never look that deeply at the doctrines; therefore, I may have stayed in. But I still would have been wrong.

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  28. If God’s supposed to be perfect, why is his message so confusing?

    Exactly…just what I’ve been trying to express to some who want to dance around it. He is God right?

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  29. Yep. 🙂 Whenever I’m told “God wants to have a relationship with you!” I think, well, he knows where to find me… Not to be flippant, but it shouldn’t be so hard if he’s really there and he’s really interested.

    Thanks for the comment!

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  30. “Yep. Whenever I’m told “God wants to have a relationship with you!” I think, well, he knows where to find me… Not to be flippant, but it shouldn’t be so hard if he’s really there and he’s really interested.”

    I think that a lot, myself, Nate. In fact, I often scream (quietly) it out to God :). My journey continues to be filled with many more instances of desperately searching out God than feeling like I have Him solidly by my side. I empathize with your point, and wish I had some brilliant answers for you! Sometimes I think it would be “better” to give it all up. The hope promised and the convincing description of our world and humanity are at the top of the list of things that keep me “hoping beyond hope” in Jesus. Keep the discussion going, brother.

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  31. Thanks for the comment, Josh. And it’s good to hear from you!

    A lot of believers wouldn’t admit to such doubts on a blog like mine — I really appreciate your honesty. Regardless of our current positions, we’re all on the same path of trying to find answers. I guess it’s a byproduct of our innate curiosity. I hope that whatever conclusions you ultimately come to give you peace of mind.

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  32. Hi Nate. Just checking out your blog after our brief encounter on Sabio’s blog. There are a few observations that came to me when I tried to sort out all the different understandings on Matthew 24. The disciples asked two questions and the answers given are specific. The Roman legions did arrive at the walls of Jerusalem as the tail end of the persecutions of Christians in Rome under Nero. The holy site is not the Temple, but the site of the Lord’s Crucifixion and Resurrection located in an old quarry located outside the walls of Jerusalem. When the Roman’s who manifested the “abomination of desolation” arrived at the wall of Jerusalem, the Christians in the city remembered the Lord’s warning. When the Legions withdrew after the death of Nero, most of the Christians headed for safer ground East of the Jordan. When Titus returned to finish the job, most of the Christians had left Jerusalem. That this period of time is called the beginning of a Great Tribulation is supported by history. The term “great tribulation” is only used once in Matthew and twice in Revelation, yet the term tribulation is used over twenty time to reflect the condition of the Christians in the Church. The fact the more Christians have been martyred for their Faith in the last 100 years confirms that the Great Tribulation continues until the Day of the Lord begins. Regarding the use of the term “this generation,” clearly the destruction of Jerusalem and it’s Temple took place during the lifetimes of those who heard the prophecy. Concerning the Lord’s Second Coming and the end of this age, we still mark time as the year of our Lord. The Christian generation continues.

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  33. @Marc

    The Roman legions did arrive at the walls of Jerusalem as the tail end of the persecutions of Christians in Rome under Nero.

    Interesting. I would also be interested in reading your reference for these supposed ”Christian Persecutions” by Emperor Nero?

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  34. Tacitus (AD 55-117), and most history written about Nero. Also Christian tradition is that the Apostles Peter and Paul were martyred by order of Nero in Rome between AD 64-67.

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  35. From the Unforgiven: The Kid says, “I am not a killer like you Will.” Will says, “well you sure shot the hell out of that guy in the outhouse.” The Kid says, “well he had it coming.” Will says, “we all have it coming Kid.”

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  36. @Ark Marc says, “Tacitus (AD 55-117), and most history written about Nero. Also Christian tradition is that the Apostles Peter and Paul were martyred by order of Nero in Rome between AD 64-67.”

    There goes that “Christian Tradition” again ! I think I posted on your blog this morning Ark my concerns about that phrase.

    The Tradition of Santa Claus says he used flying reindeer to pull his sleigh. Are we to believe “Traditions” or evidence ? 🙂

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  37. Thanks, Nate. As an Orthodox Christian, I am probably starting out in a point deficit on your blog so I appreciate the 2 points.

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  38. Haha! Not at all. 🙂 In all seriousness, I don’t begrudge people their beliefs. I was a devout Christian for 20 years and worked hard to convert my friends. It was quite a shock for me to discover that the Bible wasn’t all I had built it up to be… Anyway, I still identify with believers — I remember what it was like.

    In fact, if anything, you get additional props for your willingness to put yourself “behind enemy lines.” It’s not easy to be the voice of dissent. I hope you’ll feel free to peruse my posts and comment wherever you like. We may not agree with one another, but those usually make for the best and most interesting discussions. 🙂

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  39. @kcChief – notice the similarity between the behavior control implied in the two thinly-veiled threats:

    “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

    “Better watch out, better not pout, better not cry, I’m tellin’ you why – Santa Claus is coming to town!”

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  40. Thanks, Nate. I am attracted to your blog because I have experienced many of the challenges that you and your readers have. I must also commend you on your civil tone and well articulated points of view. I would much rather exchange ideas and perspectives with someone with whom I can disagree without personal attacks, than someone that claims to be a Christian and is a complete asshole.

    William, Thanks for you points about a very good film. “I have killed everything that walks or crawls little Billy, and now I am here to kill you.”

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  41. William, Please know that I was not equating you to “Little Bill.” I am Marc William, and my Grandson is Andrew William. Regarding the Bible, it did not fall out of heaven like the Koran no matter what the evangelical nut jobs believe.

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  42. KCChief1, Tradition only means that which has been handed down. Tradition effects us on a family level, an educational level, and a cultural level. Although I am a Colts fan, the Chiefs are off to a good start.

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  43. @KC – just thought you might like to know that I don’t watch football anymore. Did you ever see a perfect rose? If you have, you may look at other roses, but they will all be a comparative let-down.

    I once watched Montana, down by 13 points in the last two minutes of the game, turn it around and led the Chiefs to two touchdowns in those last two minutes, winning the game by a single point. What other game since could possibly compare with that?

    Now people say, “Did you watch the game last night?” To which I say, “No, why should I? I watched Montana.” I get funny looks, but that’s nothing unusual.

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  44. Josh, not to worry. We all die and either no longer exist, or find ourselves in a completely different reality. If we are still alive in the spiritual realm then we need to regroup and consider our alternatives. I believe that it is at this point where most folks encounter Jesus Christ and are so moved by His love that they become His disciples.

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  45. Why not Odin, or Mithra, or Ra? Jesus just happens to be the religion d’jour.

    “No one has ever disproved, so far as I am aware, the non-existence of Zeus or Thor – but they have few followers now.”
    — Sir Arthur C. Clarke —

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  46. @arch, yes thank you. I did notice the similarities .

    @marc & arch , I lived in Kansas City for 24 yrs and was a season ticket holder for 18. I enjoyed a lot of great games in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s. I suffered through the 2000’s and moved back to Springfield, IL to be near my family and back to being a Bears fan. Needless to say, I never stopped being a Chiefs Fan too and this year it has payed off …..so far. 🙂

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  47. Oh yes, I think I do. Weren’t they playing the Broncos at Denver where they never win on Monday night football and he scored twice to win it in the final seconds of the game ?

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  48. That’d be it. And I was in Denver at the time, but greatness is greatness, no matter whose team he’s playing for. The most incredible two minutes I can recall, except for a girl I used to know.

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  49. Arch and Kc, It remains conjecture regarding any spiritual reality. We cannot use any empirical means because there is nothing to measure or observe. We can empirically determine that death awaits us all and it would appear that it mean annihilation for everyone. Like the vast majority of human beings alive today, I do not believe that this is a reasonable outcome to life. The most ancient Christian concepts of a spiritual realm seem to be a reasonably model to me, but it is all a matter of faith.

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  50. @Marc,

    I appreciate what you’ve written about your reasons for believing in Christianity. As you know, I come to different conclusions, but I like that you acknowledge it’s a faith thing. And I agree with you that it would be nice for our consciousness to somehow survive death. Currently, I don’t believe that it does, but I would like for it to be so. And I admit that there are things in this universe that we don’t completely understand. So who knows? Maybe death isn’t the end?

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  51. Nate,

    Having entered into a mainstream Protestant church in my early 20’s, I remained in the Sola Scriptura mindset until my late 40’s. Seeking to know the truth about creation and our place in it, I began to discard concepts that were clearly not true about 15 years ago. The inerrancy of the Bible was the first to go. The young earth creation model and eternal torment in hell followed. Being dismayed at all of the denominations and sects that claimed to be the church of Jesus Christ, I set upon a historical quest to understand what had happened over the last two thousand years. When I got back to the first century, I found that the Church existed for many decades without a written testament. Oral tradition that included worship practices based on Jewish traditions gave the early Church its foundations. The writings of the Jewish scriptures were read when and where available, with the focus always on Jesus Christ. Although the Church had a great struggle to preserve the good news of the Gospel with the State involvement after the fourth century, it still exists beneath the considerable baggage that has been added during the imperial period. Although Orthodox Christians differ in opinion about many issues, As an Orthodox Christian I can believe in science and common sense as well as the good news of the Gospel revealed in the Divine Liturgy and Holy Tradition.

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  52. Thanks for sharing that, Marc. Out of curiosity (and I mean that — I’m not trying to argue any points with you), now that you no longer believe in an eternal Hell, what good news does the gospel bring?

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  53. Hi Nate,
    The good news is that there is life after death. That we can exist in the spiritual realm and again in the physical realm after the general Resurrection. We can accept this gift of eternal life or reject it, the choice is ours. The most ancient Christian understanding of the Harrowing of Hades when Jesus entered the spiritual realm after his death on the Cross, is that He preached the Gospel to all humanity back to Adam and Eve and all or most believed, were forgiven, healed, and entered into the first and spiritual resurrection. This means that most people will not encounter the true Gospel in this life, and when they enter into the spiritual realm after the death of their bodies they will understand the good news and change their minds and hearts (repent) and experience the first resurrection as well. The possibility remains that there are a few people that are so wicked that they refused to be healed and reconciled. Their choice is annihilation with Satan and the demons in the Lake of Fire.

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  54. An addition aspect of Orthodox Christian understanding of the Gospel that I found attractive was that our current human condition is more in need of a medical rather than a juridical solution. Judgement is a diagnosis, not condemnation. Punishment, is a therapy for healing not retribution. Jesus Christ is seen as the great physician of our souls and bodies.

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  55. Marc, It certainly sounds like you retain an open mind, and I applaud you for that. I don’t have a problem with all theists, only the ones who try to cram their beliefs down my throat, and you don’t strike me as that kind of person.

    I may or may not rib you occasionally, it’s what I do, but with your attitude, rest assured that I will be doing it good-naturedly.

    arch

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  56. As much as you’ve studied religion, Marc, doubtless you’re aware of the Canaanite pantheon of gods, and the story of El, the chief god, the name of whom carries over into Judaism, and is seen in many Hebrew names, DaniEL, EzekiEL, ELijah (“My god is Yahweh”), etc. Well, old El had a son, named Yam – no relation, I’m sure, to the sweet potato – who was killed by another demi-god and went into the underworld, from which he was rescued by yet another demi-god, who returned him to the surface.

    I can see how that oral tradition might easily have found it’s way into the Christian one, with a few modifications to fit the era, of course.

    This is not unexpected, as the entire Jewish religion, from which Christianity sprang, was heavily influenced by the religions of the cultures with whom those nomads associated. The flood story, the Tower of Bable fable, even the Garden of Edin (Mesopotamian spelling) came from Mesopotamia. The god they followed, “El Shaddai,” came from the Amurrite (biblical, Amorite) culture of northern Mesopotamia, until he was merged with the desert-god, Yahwist culture of the Midianites/Kennites, of the Southern Levant, as established in Exodus 6:3 – “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob by the name of El Shaddai, but by my name, JEHOVA (Yahweh) was I not known to them,” after which, old Amurru faded into obscurity and Yahweh became their final answer.

    It’s quite a goulash of legends from all over the region – a veritable “stone soup,” as it were —

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  57. Judgement is a diagnosis, not condemnation.

    Yeah, but see, if I’m going to be diagnosed, I’d like to know the doctor doing the diagnosis didn’t get his shingle off the Internet, and any god who wastes three of his ten commandments ordering us to consider him important, and a fourth telling us when we can rest and when we can’t, doesn’t sound like much of a diagnostician to me. True leaders lead, not through orders, but by example.

    From the reputation he garnered in such books as Joshua, I’d have to recommend that he follow his own advice and extract the beam from his own eye, before he concerns himself with the mote in mine.

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  58. Hi Arch,

    You raise a lot of very important issues. First of all, I think the issue of judging and condemning others regarding spiritual belief or non belief is a tremendous evil. I was well on the way to rejecting all organized religion myself due to this evil. Please feel free to rib me for humor’s sake, or if you sense that I am being judgmental or just stupid. I believe that we are all a work in progress with potential beyond our wildest dreams.

    In regards to the history of the Canaanite people and their take on spiritual reality, this is a confirmation that like most cultures spiritual concepts had developed in an oral tradition. I view the process of Divine revelation as one that is always subject to the distortions of fallen and defective human understanding. This is why I reject the inerrancy of the Bible. What I see is a process over time that culminates with the Incarnation. When God becomes a human being His revelations become much clearer, yet still subject to distortion by folks with a self serving agenda.

    Regarding the qualification of the Physician, I would compress the 10 Commandments into two: Love of God, and our fellow human beings. Because God gives us life, and because life is meant to be shared, we are in this together. We live in communion and dependency on each other, or we perish alone.

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  59. Hi, Marc, let me begin with saying that I definitely do not think you are stupid, by any means.

    I believe that we are all a work in progress with potential beyond our wildest dreams.

    As do I – I have great faith in Humankind, once we grow up, but it has nothing to do with anything magical or supernatural.

    like most cultures spiritual concepts had developed in an oral tradition

    Yup, a multi-millennia game of “Telephone,” aka, “Chinese Whispers,” in which the end message bears little resemblance to the original, which was lost in the sands of time.

    I would compress the 10 Commandments into two

    I would further compress them into one, with acknowledgement to Jerry Springer:

    “Be good to yourself, and each other.”

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  60. Arch,

    I suspect that you are one heck of a lot smarter guy than me, so I am blessed to have the opportunity to connect with you. Every day of our lives we are blessed to be the beneficiaries of the creative and productive energies of thousand of other human beings. It remains a mystery as to why we do not treat each other with much more respect and love. My hope and belief is that it will come to pass, but not without Divine intervention and help.

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  61. Arch, I had to laugh when you said, “Marc, Marc, Marc, you sound like a hair lip dog. You and Nan take issue with what I said about “Divine intervention and help.” All that I can say, is given our understanding of the human condition and our history, can we get it done without Divine intervention and help?

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  62. Well, I’m truly sorry if you feel your mother named you after the bark of a hare-lipped dog, I can just imagine having to live with that.

    As for,

    can we get it done without Divine intervention and help?

    Since, in my opinion, there is no such thing, we either do it or we don’t. Time will tell

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  63. Well my dad wanted to name me Marc instead of Mark because he thought Mark was too Hebrew Arch. But if we come to a day were the seismic and cosmic situation begins to change in ways that we have never experienced before, it might be wise to look up and let go.

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  64. Marc, why “look up”? Isn’t God omnipresent? Or do you picture him sitting in that throne in the sky with his long white beard and flowing robes?

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  65. Cardio vascular health requires healthy pulmonary function, so I agree with your observation about not holding ones breath.

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  66. Nan, I think that when the omnipresent God manifests Himself in our material reality in a fashion that is not expected, situational awareness will be very valuable.
    .

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  67. Don’t let these boys razz you to much Marc, as long as you believe in a higher power and not spontaneous generation, you will never be right in their eyes. 😉

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  68. Nan, Luke 21:28. Arch, my dad was probably an agnostic or atheist. He died at 58 when I was 20 and serving in the military overseas. He never talked to me about any beliefs he had, but he did talk about the history of the Greeks. Laurie, I enjoy the give and take.

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  69. But Laurie, without spontaneous generation, where did Seth’s and Cain’s wives come from, and all of those other names you listed on the other thread? Inquiring minds want to know —

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  70. Marc, don’t let Laurie mislead you, though she DOES have a bit of a temper, she enjoys the give and take too.

    Plus she’s crazy about me – likes me almost as much as a goat!

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  71. RE, Luke 21:28: Yeah, well, see, that was when people believed gods lived in the sky, which was a time before we went to the moon without having a near-angel collision, a fact of which Yeshua, “son of god,” seems as ignorant as everyone else of the time (as well as at least one of the present, Laurie). But since we’re in the neighborhood of Luke 21:28, that places us right next door to Luke 21:32, “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not be fulfilled til all pass away.” Which in turn, brings us back to Matthew 24! See how well that worked out?!

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  72. Here is what CS Lewis had to say about the 2nd Coming and the End.

    “Say what you like,” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”

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  73. Arch, my take on the the creation story of Genesis is Christ centric. Adam and Eve are the ancestors of Jesus of Nazareth and the first human beings to be given a spirit. The genealogies of Genesis are meant to establish this, however they are often misread. Instead of assuming a direct father son relationship, I believe that they are generations of patriarchs were the begetting of the next patriarch is mentioned to establish blood relationship, but the actual birth of the next patriarch took place in the same year as the death of the previous patriarch. There are some exception were the begetting and the naming are combined. This approach creates a timeline beginning about 14,000 years ago, a time that corresponds to the beginning of the Neolithic age and the development of agriculture. On this time line the time of Noah would have been about 8,000 years ago and corresponded to massive ice melts and sea level changes that could have caused serious local flooding in what is now called the Persian Gulf. This also brings us back to what is meant by a generation. I believe that we are currently living in the generation of Jesus Christ, A.D. 2013.

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  74. “the actual birth of the next patriarch took place in the same year as the death of the previous patriarch.”

    I’m not sure if I’m understanding this correctly. In genesis, it says at what age a given father “begat” his son, and then also at what age that father died, and so on.

    If I’m missing an obvious point, please forgive me, but i’m not understanding where the bible points to a timeline beginning 14,000 years ago.

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  75. But Marc, isn’t that a bit like finding pictures in the clouds? We can all find shapes there if we try hard enough. Genesis 5 and 11 both give the ages people were when they had the next link in the genealogy, so saying each name picks up at the death of the one before it isn’t really borne out by the text. In fact, a straight reading of the text (letting it speak for itself) lays out the genealogy in the way that everyone has always understood — there’s no way to get to 14,000 years.

    Instead, because we know more about science and history now, we have to turn passages on their head and redefine terms to get anywhere close to making Genesis literal. But these same kinds of gymnastics could be employed to justify any culture’s creation myths.

    If you realize that the Bible is not inerrant, why try so hard to rationalize these passages that can’t literally be true?

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  76. William, It is illustrative that Jesus is referred to as the Son of David even though they did not share a father son relationship.

    Nate, Just because the Bible is not inerrant does not mean it has no basis in truth. The reading does allow for different understandings. The understanding of the word “day” is illustrative. It can mean 24 hours, the hours of daylight, or a period of time associated with specific events. The days of Creation and the Day of the Lord are periods of time associated with specific actions by God. Evaluating possibilities and probabilities is not the same as asserting certainties.

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  77. Marc, well right… Like in Matthew 1:1 where it says “jesus the son of David, the son of Abraham…” We all get that because the other parts of the bible gives detailed accounts of David and Abraham – who they were, who their parents were, who their children were, when they lived, etc. That’s not where I’m confused. Matthew 1 even goes on to clarify that point in the verses immediately following 1.

    I thought you were saying that in genesis, where Adam begat seth, seth begat… could be counted back to 14,000 years. I dont get that because it says at what age Adam begat Seth, and what age Adam died. It says what Age Seth was when he had his son, and at what age Seth died. And it continues in that fashion. It is written in a much more specific and literal detail than matthew 1:1.

    It looked like you were saying that even though the bible says that, that is in fact incorrect. Seth was born in the year that Adam died, and so on? That’s what I dont get. Did I misunderstand?

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  78. Interesting outlook, Marc, with some of which I can actually agree. There was indeed an actual flood that took place during the Jemdet Nasr period in 2900 BCE, in Shuruppak, a Sumarian city-state located on the Euphrates River in what to day is central Iraq. The Euphrates River overflowed its banks to a depth of 15 cubits, or 22.5 feet, covering what today we might envision as three counties. The king of Shuruppak, Ziusudra, escaped the flood by hastily boarding a trading barge, loaded with cotton, cattle and beer (oh my!) and floated on down to the gulf. The same 15 cubits are used in the plagiarized biblical story.

    The true story became legendary when it was used as a side-story in the first recorded literary work of fiction, “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” the story of a young warrior’s quest for eternal life, and in his search, he seeks out “Utinapishtum,” a fictional king intended to represent King Ziusudra. Ut related that when the tempest ended, which lasted one week, he sent out a dove, and later, a raven, to test for dry land – the raven didn’t return. Ut disemb-arked and made an offering, about which he said, “The gods smelled the savor, the gods smelled the sweet savor and collected like flies over a sacrifice.” Does that remind you of anything? Say, for example, Gen 8:21, that tells us that after Noah sacrificed, “the Lord smelled the sweet savor.”

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  79. It is illustrative that Jesus is referred to as the Son of David even though they did not share a father son relationship.

    That has always been a bone of contention to you theists – the so-called “prophecies” maintain that the “Messiah” will come from the lineage of David, yet if Joseph is NOT his father, and since women were property, thus Mary’s lineage, even if we knew it, is discounted, Yeshua couldn’t possibly have fulfilled that prophecy. Further, if we’re going to establish the date by virtue of the alleged birth of Yeshua, the year would be 2009, rather than 2013, as the NT clearly states that he was born in the time of Herod, who died in 4 BCE.

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  80. William and Arch, thanks for the questions. I have to take a break to earn a few bucks, but I will return with some answers late this afternoon or early this evening.

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  81. Marc, I would like to expand on Arch’s comment (related to looking up to find God).

    The people who wrote the bible lived in a time when there was a division between the earth, the sky, and Heaven. The following, from my book, illustrates how the people of the first century envisioned the earth …

    To them, it was circular and more or less flat, much like a dinner plate. Around the edge, there were columns of mountains that held up a rigid firmament (the sky). This firmament was believed to be relatively close to the earth — a few thousand feet or so in the air. Along the underside of the firmament were angels, who were responsible for pushing the sun, moon, planets and stars along during the day and night. Above the firmament was Heaven — and this is where they believed God lived.

    I find it somewhat incredible that Christians today, who have known for years that earth is a planet located in a galaxy within a vast universe, still believe in a God that is somewhere up there … above the sky,

    Further, do you really believe the “Son of Man” is one day going to appear (return) in a cloud (from the upper firmament)? (Luke 21:32)

    Actually,I suppose my question is moot considering that Jesus said “this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.”

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  82. I really wish that WordPress had the kind of format that allowed for the uploading of images, as I have one, Nan, that perfectly illustrates what you’re describing. It can be found here, in a section of the book, “God, Reason, and the Evangelicals,” by N. F. Gier (not you, by any chance, is it?), from a section entitled, “The Three-Story Universe.”

    Yes, it would appear that this young man, in his 30’s, who was also the god who created the entire universe, is going to return to us in a lower-atmosphere, cumulonimbus cloud, though the reason for that choice of vehicle is not entirely clear. A man, who could levitate, shouldn’t need to hitch a ride on a passing cloud, which would be a lot like riding in an elevator that had no floor, and one would imagine that an omniscient god would know even then, of VTO aircraft. Clouds are SO passé.

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  83. Ah, Marc, Yes! I’ve seen that image before and I agree, it appears to be pretty consistent with the ancient thought. Read Genesis 1 and this is the picture it paints.

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  84. HA! No, Arch. N.F. Gier is not me. But i do like some of his/her thinking.

    Look on Nate’s “Books I’ve Read” page and you’ll find my book.

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  85. Arch, I told my self I wasn’t going to answer any of your ridiculous questions, but since you won’t let this one go, I am going to assume your mensa brain is starting to fail and let you in on a little secret. The scriptures are not supposed to tell you everything. What they do tell you, is about the line that Ya choose to fulfill his promises. We don’t know if Adam and Eve were in the garden for a year or a thousand years. We don’t know that YHWY didn’t create other people. There are a million explanations, but none of them would suffice, to you. So there is no point in discussing it.

    And I do not like you almost as much as my goats.

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  86. William, Regarding the Genesis accounts, if the the word day can be understood figuratively, so can the terms evening and morning to define a beginning and an end. It is interesting that in ancient times the beginning of one day and ending of the next was determined by the setting of the Sun. However we know that the atmospheric conditions of the early earth precluded the view of the Sun, Moon, and stars from the Earth’s surface until the fourth day when the atmosphere had been cleared by the production of oxygen. Genesis 2:4 also confirms that the use of term day should be understood as figurative. Regarding the genealogies, it is interesting that the New Testament genealogies do not include the life spans of the patriarchs, but the Old Testament does. I believe that is so to develop a time line. As I said in my previous post the exceptions would be where the begotten is also given their name, which indicates a direct father son relationship.

    Nate, Is it more than coincidence that the sequence of creation presented in Genesis agrees completely with what our scientific observations confirm?

    Arch, An adopted son in the ancient world had the same standing in law as one who was blood relative of his father. That the Virgin Mary was a daughter of Israel is not in dispute. This gives Jesus legal connection to King David, and physical connection to Israel, Abraham, and Adam.

    Nan, The spiritual realm is in another dimension from time/space. The interface may be understood like a wormhole. The perspective regarding the Lord’s return will be geocentric, so the point of interface may be elevated to a point to facilitate the revelation.

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  87. Why Laurie, how nice you came back, I’ve missed you!

    “The scriptures are not supposed to tell you everything.


    Why not? Doesn’t my “immortal soul” rely on what the scriptures tell me? If so, shouldn’t YOUR god be more explicit?

    If I may liberally translate your statement, it would have to be, “no matter how illogical the scriptures may be, you HAVE to believe every word of them – only the gullible shall enter the kingdom of heaven!”

    As for, “And I do not like you almost as much as my goats.” much like, “Pepé la Pew,” I like a lady who plays hard to get —

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  88. I am married Arch, besides that, you are old enough to be my father. I do get a kick out of you (in the most irritating way) though.

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  89. Arch, The Scriptures are only one facet of the revelation God has provided us with. As I have pointed out before, the Scriptures are not inerrant, yet they are reliable as a component of the total revelation of God in the context of Holy Tradition and scientific observation.

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  90. Arch, Regarding the concept of the “immortal soul,” it is a completely pagan idea. Unfortunately many of the folks in the Greco-Roman world tried to understand the revelation of the New Covenant with this baggage. This is what led to the false concept of eternal torment. If a soul was immortal by nature, it could not die. The Gospels are very clear on the reality that the soul/spirit can perish and die (see John 3:16 and Matthew 10:28). The choice has always been between eternal life and eternal death.

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  91. Wow, you open your email, click on a link, and you get a whole basketful of crazy!

    However we know that the atmospheric conditions of the early earth precluded the view of the Sun, Moon, and stars from the Earth’s surface until the fourth day when the atmosphere had been cleared by the production of oxygen.

    Marc, early Earth’s atmosphere consisted primarily of Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Amonia. As the corpses of the single-celled creatures, that began through abiogenesis, decayed, their decomposition released oxygen, a chemical, at the time, in short supply. After several million years, this process changed the atmosphere of Earth, LONG after the “fourth day,” to the point that those organisms that couldn’t adapt to an oxygenated atmosphere, died, and those which, through evolution, could so adapt, lived, and here we are! Taa-Daaa!

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  92. Arch, I think you overlooked the CO2 released by the considerable vulcanism and the heavy bombardment period.

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  93. RE: “you are old enough to be my father”

    Actually, I’m far older than that: “Archaeopteryx (/ˌɑrkiːˈɒptərɨks/ AR-kee-OP-tər-iks), sometimes referred to by its German name Urvogel (“original bird” or “first bird”), is a genus of early bird that is transitional between feathered dinosaurs and modern birds. The name derives from the ancient Greek ἀρχαῖος (archaīos) meaning “ancient”, and πτέρυξ (ptéryx), meaning “feather” or “wing”. Since the late nineteenth century, it had been generally accepted by palaeontologists, and celebrated in lay reference works, as being the oldest known bird (member of the group Avialae).”

    As far as your being married is concerned, clearly that hasn’t stopped you from flirting with me!

    “I do get a kick out of you (in the most irritating way) though.” – of course you do, because you’re crazy about me!

    That DOESN’T mean, however, that there is any validity to anything you’ve said about the scriptures.

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  94. It was the presence of the stromatolites beginning 3.8 billion years ago that cleared the primordial atmosphere of CO2 with oxygen and changed the atmosphere from opaque to clear.

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  95. Actually, Alexander did far more, without ever intentionally realizing it, to promote the Judeo/Christian religion than anyone of his time. By conquering the area bordering the Mediterranean, he inadvertentely spread Greek thought, which included, in addition to the language, in which the entire NT is written, all of Greek thought and philosophy, including the fact that the Greeks believed that their gods were perfect and could do no wrong – this philosophy, applied to a desert god who had advocated the murder, in fact, the annihilation of entire races of peoples, became the merciful god of the New Testament, who only kills you if you don’t kiss his ass.

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  96. RE: “Arch, If you are delusional about Laurie, why should we take you seriously on any other matter?”

    Marc, I wouldn’t expect you to take me seriously, regardless of the conditions, because cognitive dissonance can break your brain!

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  97. Arch, The God of the Old and the New Testament is the God of the resurrection. In what ever manner one dies, they still have the capacity to live through the grace of God. The ancient Church’s understanding of the Harrowing of Hades and the precepts of the Gospel confirm this reality.

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  98. Arch, I believe that the conquests of Alexander and the Roman Empire created the infrastructure necessary for the spread of the Gospel.

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  99. “It was the presence of the stromatolites beginning 3.8 billion years ago that cleared the primordial atmosphere of CO2 with oxygen and changed the atmosphere from opaque to clear.”

    Which brings me back to my point, Marc, stromatolites = “a calcareous mound built up of layers of lime-secreting cyanobacteria and trapped sediment, found in Precambrian rocks as the earliest known fossils,” meaning, in English – Like I said!

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  100. obviously my interpretation of scriptures seems way out there to most people, but here is what I think about Matt 24. The apostles never understood what Yeshua said. He spoke to the people in parables. Why? Seeing they would not see, and hearing they would not hear. It wasn’t until after the resurrection that He revealed the scriptures to them.

    Yeshua says that this generation will not pass, heaven and earth will pass away, but MY WORDS will never pass. It is His testimony that never passes, His words. Everyday when millions of people open their bibles, the prophecy comes true.

    This isn’t any different than when he asked Peter “do you love me?” “feed my sheep”. This was a prophecy about Peter being deceived, and not protecting the testimony as it was delivered to him. Did the apostles understand this? No, they thought he was saying that John was going to live forever.

    There are many reasons that we can know He did not believe this was going to happen in their lifetime. He actually told them they would be killed, so it could not have meant in their lifetime. It was not meant to be easily understood, YHWH was and is testing us, just like He said He would.

    And Arch, the New Testament was written in Aramaic not Greek. Sorry Mensa, wrong again!

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  101. Though it may be once in a row, I’m inclined to agree. Prior to the Alexandrian conquest, the Jews were confined to their homeland. After the conquest, all residents were allowed to move freely throughout the area of the conquest – this allowed Jewish thought to spread to Alexandria, rather than die the death it deserved in the Levant, along with all of the other baseless religions of the area.

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  102. Laurie, you’re right that Jesus says (in verse 35) that his words will last forever. But that does not change what he says in verse 34, where he tells them that “all these things” will take place within their current generation. In Luke 9:26-27, he seems to say the same thing:

    For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

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  103. Arch, lucky for you I have a computer for the night, cause I would hate for you to have to look things up your self!

    http://www.scribd.com/collections/3769399/d-Evidence-of-an-original-Aramaic-Re-Newed-Covenant

    First off,the apostles and Yeshua spoke Aramaic. Secondly, there are over 600 errors in the Greek that do not exist in the Aramaic. You don’t have to be a mensa geek to figure out what that means. Aramaic is a poetic language, so the poor translation into Greek leaves much to be desired! Didn’t we go through this already! I am sure we did, when His genealogy came up.

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  104. “Yeshua spoke Aramaic” – I absolutely agree, after the Jews returned, having been released by Darius from captivity in Babylon, they spoke Aramaic, Hebrew, much as (years later) Latin, ceased to be commonly used, so did Hebrew. Nevertheless, though they may have spoken Aramaic, the NT was written entirely in Greek.

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  105. It’s not about the errors, Laurie. However, most textual scholars will tell you that it’s normal for errors to be corrected as time goes on — believers don’t like their religious texts to be at fault. So if there are fewer errors in the Aramaic version, that doesn’t necessarily meant it was the original.

    The vast majority of New Testament scholars believe the NT was written in Greek, because of the way it’s composed. I’m not an NT scholar, so I can’t weigh in on this too much, but if you’d like to consult the sources, many are listed here.

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  106. No, Laurie, someone named John, and for all we know, it could have been Swartz, SAID that he saw the Son coming in all His glory. I said I saw the Easter Bunny! Which is more true, if either?

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  107. I have read the so called “scholars” ideas on the matter. This is something I put quite a bit of research into. Look at it from both sides and it will become clear who is right. I am sure none of you really care enough to look into it, but I argued the other side once, and I was wrong. It happens 😉

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  108. No, I just have this inexplicable tendency to “cling” to the truth – since the NT was written in Greek, it would serve no one for me to lie and say it was written in Aramaic.

    But if YOU choose to do so, far be it from me —

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  109. Lying to your self only hurts you arch. But that’s okay. I do know…that nobody is going to agree with me here, either because I believe Paul is the False Apostle Yeshua warned about, or because I don’t we came from monkeys. And that’s okay

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  110. Nate, I realize that you try, whenever possible, to be kind, but without confessing it publicly, you and I both know that Laurie is highly unlikely, much as we might like her to do so, to check out any link that could result in cognitive dissonance, which in turn, could cause her head to explode. It’s OK, I know you can’t be a congenial host and at the same time, respond – I get it, I do.

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  111. I am not trying to be rude here, but there probably isn’t any info on Greek primacy that you could link to that I haven’t already read. Do you speak Aramaic? That is a serious question.

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  112. I am not going to say that I am a master at Aramaic, but I did teach the class before my free trip to the beach.

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  113. I’ve agreed with you, Laurie, that I believe Paul hi-jacked the Christian religion, though I see ego, rather than Messianic prophecy, as being the reason. And NO one, from Darwin to Dawkins, ever said we came from monkeys, but you continue to cling to that, if it gives you comfort.

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  114. Honestly, Aramaic primacy is just something I’ve never spent time researching. I’ve started looking into it since our conversations began, but haven’t gotten far enough to say anything of value yet. I do know that the majority of NT scholars are very convinced that Greek was the language all the gospels were written in, and that carries a lot of weight with me. Just as 4 out of 5 dentists recommending something carries weight with me.

    I do know enough to say that even if the gospels were originally written in Aramaic, I don’t see how it would affect my belief that the gospels are simply the writings of humans — no divine link whatsoever.

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  115. “Do you speak Aramaic? That is a serious question.”

    Why would that be important? There are many who do, and to the best of my knowledge, none disagree with the Greek authorship of the NT.

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  116. So you use fluoridated toothpaste huh? That’s where we differ! I believe that most people just regurgitate what they have been taught in college, and don’t seem to be right a lot of the time. Fluoride is really bad by the way. I make an amazing, healthy toothpaste. I could send you some!:)

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  117. Hey, I applaud you! Everyone should learn a language other than the one they were born into – I lived a number of years in Mexico, and learned Spanish, but in the process, I didn’t learn anything supernatural, did you?

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  118. Sorry Laurie, I must have pissed them off so much they ganged up on you. You handled it well however. May God bless you.

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  119. GANGED UP on her? Does anybody know what he’s talking about? Does HE know what he’s talking about?

    We’re all crazy about Laurie on this board – we may not always agree with her, but I can’t imagine any of us wanting to see her leave – ganged up on her, my Aunt Fannie —

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  120. Marc, sorry I wasn’t able to respond to your last comment until now. As I said before, you do have a way with words but for me, much of what you say is gobbledygook.

    You say the “spiritual realm” is in another dimension from time/space, but of course, you can offer no proof of this any more than scientists can prove we live in a multi-universe cosmos. Or that wormholes exist.

    Nevertheless, if you truly feel “the Lord” will return via your masterfully articulated vignette, then by all means, look skyward. Just don’t complain if you run into something and bump your nose.

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  121. Hi Nan. A lot of conjecture about what may exist outside of time/space. Belief in any of these concepts are all based upon faith.

    Regarding my understanding of the Resurrection, it is likened to a harvest over a period of time. Although it will be initiated with seismic and cosmic event to gain the attention of all the earths inhabitants, it will likely last 1,335 days (see Daniel 12:12). After the initial chaos, there we likely be a lot of earthly remains to dispose of because the resurrection bodies are all new, nose included. One can only imagine the spin of those left behind.

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  122. I think MY favorite fairy tale is “Jack and the Beanstalk”! But then again, “Beauty and the Beast” is SO reminiscent of my dating career – it’s a tossup —

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