Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dennis Muses on:

The Great Dilemma

What words don't we understand...

Matthew 24 was never written for us today.  It was written for them about the times in which they lived.  Nothing in the context indicates it would apply 2000 years later.  No serious theologian today believes "this generation" means and meant anything but "their generation" just prior to the fall of Jerusalem and the Roman destruction of the Temple then. 

Ok .... this is how it works for sure, for sure

Matthew 24 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.

 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me........ 

26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."

Gospel Jesus, as presented in the story, fully expected his generation to see the routing of the Romans from Jerusalem and the "Son of Man" coming in the clouds of heaven.  "This generation" meant that generation he was speaking to and not "the generation that all these things will happen to somewhere down the road."  The audience and the events he was predicting were one and the same time in history. Any projection 2000 years into their future is merely a construct and done because none of what Jesus said would happen in their time happened as predicted. The Romans won and while predicted by the author of Revelation to be routed in 42 months, the Romans just took 8 months to defeat Jerusalem.  Revelation was also a sincere but failed prophecy of the day.  The author of Revelation who said he was speaking of "things that must shortly come to pass," was not kidding.  When Jesus of Revelation said, "Behold I come quickly," he was not kidding either.  "This generation" used in Matthew 24,  is used more than 20 times in the New Testament and every time means that generation of those days. 

Matthew 10:23

New International Version (NIV)
23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Revelation 1:3

New International Version (NIV)
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

The Key to the Book of Revelation is found in the first three verses not anything come up with 2000 years later by Evangelists who cannot admit the book is not for them today.  These books were included in th canon to keep what clearly failed to looking like it actually did and to keep the hope alive.

Revelation 22

New International Version (NIV

The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”

Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

What word don't we understand?

Hebrews 1:1-2

New International Version (NIV)

God’s Final Word: His Son

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, (Which is why we no longer have to consider anything the Gerald Flurrys, Ron Weinlands, Dave Packs and Bob Thiels of the world have to say) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

What word don't we understand?

1 John 2:18

New International Version (NIV)

Warnings Against Denying the Son

18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

Hebrews 9:26

New International Version (NIV)
26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

1 Peter 4:7

New International Version (NIV)
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you (Not us today ) may pray.

1 Corinthians 7:29

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29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not;  (This no doubt caused some domestic problems back then)

1 Corinthians 7:25-28

New International Version (NIV)

Concerning the Unmarried

25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis,  (Time being short)I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. (Again, end time advice that impacted real people then)

Clearly things were not going well...

2 Peter 3:3-10

New International Version (NIV)
Above all, you must understand that in the last days  (Which are soon but not as soon as we thought)scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: (First we have heard this) With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (Now we have more time to reach people...sounds familiar)
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. (Not obviously as we first thought) The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.[a]

What words don't we understand about this progression of being disappointed and having to realize they were very wrong about their own times.  Their leaders were wrong, not because it was yet in the future and they didn't now it but because the concept of the end is wrong.  Gospel Jesus no doubt thought he was correct yet he was wrong.  I suspect based on "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me!" Jesus was surprised at his non deliverance and impending death.  The "God had to turn his back on Jesus" is the apologetic for failure of Jesus words in the Gospels to come to pass as stated for those people.  No one predicts to people then things that have nothing to do with them. There would be NO motivation to care what Jesus said if that were so.

2 Peter is a later written apologetic by someone not Peter actually but claiming to be Peter  (forgery) to explain why Jesus had not returned and is used to this day.  Written in perfect Greek, this is no Peter the fisherman writing.  It, typical of today even, blames "scoffers" rather than the failure of Jesus words to come to pass along with Peter and Paul's.  Scoffers are nothing less than "noticers of that which is true."   

Romans 13:11-13

New International Version (NIV)

The Day Is Near

11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

What words don't we understand?

The answer to "we know now it was not for them which proves it is for us" is not the correct conclusion to draw from this.  These men in the early church and Jesus himself were simply wrong about their perceptions about how the times they were living in were going to work out.  This is what the text reveals.  It is a mental habit, a gift of the church, to read and hear these words in print as if they were written yesterday to us.  They were not.  

"We" is not all of you but it still is me

1 Corinthians 15:51-52

New International Version (NIV)
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

New International Version (NIV)

Believers Who Have Died

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Finally the truth of his times dawned on Paul.  One can't see the day approaching if it is not possibly approaching in one's lifetime. But alas...

2 Timothy 4

New International Version (NIV)

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

No wait...this is it

It is natural to read the Bible in any one's lifetime since it was written long ago and get the impression it is for whoever reads it and whenever they do.  This has been true for 2000 years.  The Bible is like that.  The problem is having it read to you in this manner and then saying that since time is short, no more marriages, send in your retirement, send in what you'd leave in your will, pull big triggers, you don't need it and such foolishness as that.  Misunderstanding scripture can lead to personally terrible decisions that do not have to be made and losses one does not have to incur for the reasons given by a minister who doesn't get it either. At lleast we hope he is just as ignorant of scripture and not doing it knowing he speaks with forked tongue.

The reasons the Church of God don't seem to get the spiritual message of the New Testament and the stated purpose for Jesus is because they are consumed with prophecy, soons and shortlys that don't concern them.  They build religious empires, or try to, on the Book of Revelation, Daniel which was used by the author of Revelation as a template and Matthew 24ish texts to give an immediacy to something that will prove to not be as immediate as thought.  In short, they are reinventing the mistaken notions of the early church described in the New Testament.  It will end the same way.

It seems impossible for COG leaders to say "hide me in the grave until thy wrath be passed."  Screw that...I want to be changed and skip the dying stage.  Well everyone from the Apostles on wanted that. 

Gerald Waterhouse would only believe HWA would be dead after three days and three nights as he told me.  He believes it now.  Ron Weinland just knew 2012 was "it".  Well it was it but not as he thought.  Gerald Flurry will soon learn he won't survive until Christ comes and he was not as special as he thought.  Dave Pack will learn all the lessons again that Herbert Armstrong learned and those that followed him felt wasn't' quite right but refused to bring to his attention.  Dave is paticularly odious because he is reinventing and recreating the same mistakes of the past and ridiculous title taking started by HWA.  Joe Tkach Sr evidently learned that "if I am wrong, may God strike me dead" may not have been a wise challenge to throw out there.  And no I don't think God killed him.  I have to wonder what he thought towards the end.  All the current COG leaders and all of us will pass and also not see our soons and shortlys come to pass.  They weren't written about us or for us.  They weren't types and duality is not at play here.  

It is a mistake to live one's life "just around the corner," "just over the next hill,"  or in the mode of "3-5 years brethren, no more than 10, 15 at the outside and 20 max." mentality.  You'll find your real life passing you by and making decisions that others think you should make when in time you find out that none of it was necessary or even wise.

Think about it....


Black Ops Mikey said...

Thanks for the nod to Dr. Who.

Corky said...

Yeah, but you see, Dennis...people don't want to believe what Jesus and the apostles said about the end of the age and judgment day being shortly and in their generation, 2,000 years ago. Oh no, because that would mean that Jesus and the apostles were WRONG! Can't have that 'cause, then what? Quit believing in the TRUTH of the Bible? Quit believing that those men were writing under the influence of the holy spirit and may have been wrong about everything? Ewwwww, might as well be atheist.

DennisCDiehl said...

Well, it would be nice if folk could see the Bible as a document of its times instead of deeply prophetic for just us today which of course it is not. This is why the Gospels are written in the third person. That gives them a bit of immortality and use as needed whenever needed.

If it said, "Then Jesus said to me, time is short..." etc, that would be obiously not about us.

The chronological disorder of the NT also gives an impression of time and such that is not real either not to mention Paul's ideas preceeding the Gospels by along shot.

At any rate, everyone needs the book to be talking about time for them NOW not then. While that is not true, it can be divined out of the book in such a way as to give that impression when needed.

Corky said...

I don't know if that 3rd person style was intentional in the gospels because the writers were not eyewitnesses or even claimed to be. So, the writers wouldn't have had any choice but to write them in third person.

The epistles are the clinchers, they are written in first person so, when they say "a short time" it has to mean for the persons then present.

Anonymous said...

Dennis -

There are serious scholars (who you would even agree are scholars) who would disagree with about every word you just wrote about the Bible with a "which of course it is not" bias.

It grieves me to see your confusion and "throw the baby out with the Waterhouse bathwater" approach to the Bible and God. "Descended from stardust" and discussions about astrology...please Dennis, you're better than this.

You made more sense a long time ago when you discussed Allan Eckert's books and history.

Byker Bob said...

The single stickiest wicket in which Armstrongism always becomes entrapped is prophecy. It would be bad enough to get the events and time line wrong. But, they utilize their error to highly leverage followers' fear factor, behavior, and financial picture.

All would be much more favorable had they simply stuck to teaching biblical behavioral standards for families and individuals as do other Christian churches. The leaders may or may not have become rich and noble, but, isn't that the way itmis supposed to be?


UT, The Reigning Being of Being Banned by Banned by HWA said...

Truly Dennis, the time IS short! And, I certainly don’t mean that in the thieving Armstrongite sense.

Herbutt never understood Holy Scripture yet, he still holds you within a wobbly orbit.

Armstrongism can only ascertain from the Bible that the Kingdom of God is portrayed as a very near, but future event. As do you.

However, Christianity lives the Kingdom of God as a past, present, and future concept. The King has always been, the King has always had a Kingdom, and the King is yet coming fully into His Kingdom.

Because Armstrongism is really only about using eternity as a carrot and a stick for their wish to get all of your money in the now, Armstrongites foretell time to be short solely for this generation. In reality, time is short for all of us, in every generation. Some have/had one hundred short years and some may have/had decades less of shortness of breath – while for all, the time of Jesus’ knocking is short, for each as an individual.

"Come, Lord Jesus, come" is a mantra for present and future that we longingly see before us for the right now (with no thought of the future) – and – a deepening desire for the future.

I typically feel far from Jesus and careless about the future. Yet, there are those epiphany moments, which you may very aptly hold to merely be pithy delusion, in which I only care for Jesus to fill the present, and that is all there is. Then with the next gasp of breath, from the now as the only reality, a desire for Jesus to fulfill the future unexpectedly blossoms.

One thing I clearly remember from reluctantly keeping one foot planted within Catholicism while simultaneously being forcibly dragged toward Armstrongism (talk about confusion) is: Christ has come, Christ is come, Christ will come again – aka, Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Christians see no contradiction in Jesus’ so-called last words, “It is finished” as the accomplishment of ALL things and still say ’Lord Jesus come” as a desire for something that has not yet been realized.

I don’t fault you for your take on all the Scripture you cited – you’re calling it like you see it. While I think you’re seeing it all through Herbie-colored glass, I know we all have our filters.

To the immortal words of Guy Lombardo (my great-grandparents generation?), “Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think”, I’d like to add: Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, this subject is much deeper than Dennis thinks!

Head Usher said...

For reasons that are hard for me to understand, I somehow never noticed until I began to deconvert how it was that every serious xian has lived their entire life in THE gunlap. it's been 2,000 years of nonstop gunlap. For 2,000 years the finish line, like a mirage or the end of the rainbow, has always appeared to be "just up ahead." and yet when everyone in history has ever gotten there, it was never there, it was always still "just up ahead." How is it that the MIRAGE of "Jebus' "sooncoming" return never dawned upon my believing brain as being what it is, a MIRAGE? Why couldn't I see it for what it was? The lord is not slack concerning his promises? Of course not. Slack doesn't even begin to cover it.

Anonymous said...

If you question the holohoax or global warming you are also called a scoffer or denier. Over 65 academics are in jail in Europe for questioning the holohoax. So much for free speech in the West. The silence of the media is deafening.

DennisCDiehl said...

" Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, this subject is much deeper than Dennis thinks!"

Of course it is. However the NT text also speaks of the missing the point of the "simplicity that is in Christ" WCG and many others hardly make it simple. Simple won't keep anyone in their seats. Simple won't motivate with fear, guilt or shame people to spread the "soon" and "shortly" meme as a present truth. Simple doesn't badger and bully people into sending it in to build yet another copy of a failed approach to "simple."

Truth can be both deep and simple. The fact is that those scriptures about the Second Coming were written for their anticipation not ours 2000 years later.

When the mother of all churches arose, in order to keep it going, one has to develope an apologetic system to explain the failure but project it ahead. You know..."the prophecy is very much "on", as Dave says, but we were off in the timing." It is what people do when there was value in something said but locked in a then failed setting.

Anon says;

"It grieves me to see your confusion and "throw the baby out with the Waterhouse bathwater" approach to the Bible and God. "Descended from stardust" and discussions about astrology...please Dennis, you're better than this."

Several has said that I write because of my disillusionment or skepticism as presented by WCG etc. This is not so. Many of these observations were part of my Presbyterian experience when young. It's just how I think. I am not skeptical because of an experience with WCG. I am skeptical as are many others because the Book itself has problems which I have studied and wondered about.

Good science well explained interests me. Human origins interest me. Cosmology interests me. Palontology interests me. I am a spiritual person but not religious as they say and had I gone to the Methodist Seminary I was also accepted to, I would be where I am still. Maybe just sooner with a good theological education which I did not have.

It's astro-theology, not astrology. "As above, so below" It's an old way of telling an even older story.

DennisCDiehl said...

PS We're not descended from stardust. We are made of it and as noted, we exist because some old star had the courtesey to explode and puke it's rich guts into the universe. Every iron atom in our body comes from the core of an exploded star.

Mud sculpted into a human by a god is still stardust as is the rib that we "know" all women were created from

DennisCDiehl said...

" UT, The Reigning Being of Being Banned by Banned by HWA said...

"Armstrongism can only ascertain from the Bible that the Kingdom of God is portrayed as a very near, but future event. As do you."

We're not all that far apart UT in some of our perspectives or at least hopes. and I have never been locked into the Jesus is coming soon mantra which is why sometimes I marvel at ever getting hooked by WCG. However, as a young man it seemed more correct or at least included far more of the Bible in it's teaching than did the Westminister Confession of Faith. Besides, my Presbyterian Minister and others I have known have all the very same questions based on all the very same observations.

The laity can enjoy the Sunday School version. The ministry, unless the kind that spring from the laity, cannot afford such a luxury.

Every Baptist church in the south teaches exactly as WCG did on this topic. Jesus is coming soon. It could be before I finish this sermon. Are you ready? Where would you be if you died tonight?

Hear it all the time on the radio.

The more educated the ministry, the less you hear this great motivator of the people preached and the deeper or at least more practical to today are the teachings and sermons.

Those who wrote the Bible, and there are thousands of books that never made the cut, are simply seeking answers to all the same questions every thinking and consciously aware human being has.

My observations are not filtered through Armstrong. WCG provided me the environment to keep questioning as I did as a younger man, because of what I saw, such as building a god like quality campus for millions of given monies, while saying Christ will come "soon" , no..very soon and the silly speculations of the Waterhouse types kept the inborn skepticism alive.

Anonymous said...

Malm says, “generations always refers to the passage of time in which one or more persons live and never refers to race." Therefore, Malm and Diehl must not be too far apart on their biblical understanding.

UT, The Reigning Being of Being Banned by Banned by HWA said...

Dennis - Armstrongism sees the Kingdom of God only as one future event. You bought into that and more.

You eventually dropped a lot of that “and more” but, held unto reading Scripture as exclusively describing the coming of Jesus as one future event. You then were drawn to theologians, independent of Armstrongism, who read these Scriptures in much the same way Herbie did.

When you hear the drawling Baptists, you focus solely on their account of Jesus coming in a single event. On this blog, I crudely attempt to say Jesus is coming every day, not just in the future, and my point fails.

You believe your views are not filtered through Armstrongism but, Armstrongism is where your ideas were hatched, and while you have grown and left Old Herbie’s farm, you remain imprinted with some narrow literalism from your hatchling days.

When you write your Christianity is shit shtick, as in pointing out how the Bible is whack because Jesus did not do what you think the Bible said Jesus would do, perhaps you could just acknowledge an awareness of how others see a diverse array of shades away from your literal interpretations. If your points hold any merit, they could only be strengthened by rubbing against outside thoughts.

My favorite line from that hedonistically secular “Enjoy Yourself” Lombardo song is: “Enjoy yourself while you’re still in the pink!” Besides the double meaning, I like it because it brings me to my point that regardless of when the important event of Jesus’ “second coming” occurs, in one way, it’s far more important to every generation that Jesus comes every day. So, although time is short, you don’t have to wait for Him.

Although it is later than we think, on our own personal clocks, the King and the Kingdom are to be enjoyed today. “Enjoy yourself; enjoy yourself!”

DennisCDiehl said...

Anonymous said...
Malm says, “generations always refers to the passage of time in which one or more persons live and never refers to race." Therefore, Malm and Diehl must not be too far apart on their biblical understanding.

Why don't you ask me about what I believe instead of whatever you are trying to say that I can't figure out?