Thanks for your message. As per my stated policy, I will respond
"For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Rev 6:17 KJV)]
to your questions about topics posted on my CED blog to that blog, minus your personally identifying information. Because of its length, I have split my response into three parts. Your words are bold to distinguish them from mine.
----- Original Message -----
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2008 12:48 AM
Subject: From AN - remarks
1.Wow, your predictions about Jesus coming back before 2037 are bold one...
As I said in that post, it is not my "prediction" but my interpretation:
Although I have used your word "prediction" in the title of this post, I do not claim or agree that it is my prediction that Jesus will return before 2037, but rather it is my "interpretation" of Jesus' prediction in Lk 21:24b-31 ...
And I don't regard it as "bold," but a logical deduction from the Biblical data. Specifically, if the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 is a type of the Second Coming of Jesus:
"In the Olivet Discourse, therefore, Jesus is proclaiming events in the distant future in close connection with events in the near future'. The destruction of Jerusalem which lies in the near future is a type of the end of the world; hence the intermingling. The passage, therefore, deals neither exclusively with the destruction of Jerusalem nor exclusively with the end of the world; it deals with both-sometimes with the latter in terms of the former." (Hoekema, 1978, "The Bible and the Future," pp.148-149).
"`How much of the Olivet Discourse was fulfilled by the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 ... How many of these events will be fulfilled in the future ...? ... double fulfillments may be in view here, with the events of A.D. 70 as shadows of a universal and final cataclysm at the end of the age... We must allow for a double reference, for a mingling of historical and eschatological.' .... In fact, the historical fulfillments may be types of future fulfillment." (Riddlebarger, 2003, "A Case for Amillennialism," pp.159-160).
"It must be said for this view that it is not easy in this great eschatological discourse to tell clearly when Jesus is discussing the destruction of Jerusalem and when the second coming. Plummer offers this solution: `The reference, therefore, is to the destruction of Jerusalem regarded as the type of the end of the world.'" (Robertson, 1930, "Word Pictures in the New Testament: Volume II: The Gospel According to Luke,"pp.261-262).
"The question of the disciples in verse 7 clearly refers to the date of the fall of Jerusalem, but it also seems to involve the date of the end of this age. The fall of Jerusalem becomes a type of the end times." (Shreiner, 1989, "Luke," in Elwell, "Evangelical Commentary on the Bible," pp.834-835).
then Jesus' warning that "this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened" (Mt 24:34; Mk 13:30; Lk 21:32); has a double-fulfillment to the generation that saw "all these things," i.e. the generation that saw all the signs leading up to: 1) the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, which was the end of the "old covenant" (Old Testament) age; and 2) the generation that saw the all the signs leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus, the end of this New Testament age (which is "the end of time"):
"... the catastrophe in Jerusalem (A.D. 70) in a microcosmic view... a harbinger of the crisis which Jesus ... coming ... will bring to 'all who dwell upon the entire face of the earth' ... the first is the inevitable forerunner and prefiguration of the second. The destruction of Jerusalem marks the end of the old covenant ... Such a decisive intervention in the history of salvation will not occur again until the end of time when God will judge the whole human race ..." (Bloesch, 2004, "The Last Things," pp.81-82).
And one sign, found only in Luke 21:24:
"They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."
was fulfilled in 1967 when Jerusalem came under Jewish control, for the first time since AD 70. This is the only sign pointing to "the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Lk 21:27) that now has a date.
Therefore, if my interpretation is correct, the generation that saw the sign of Jerusalem no longer "trampled on by the Gentiles," i.e. that was alive in 1967, will not pass away until Jesus comes again. And assuming that a generation is 70 years (see supporting quotes in my Re: about your prediction of Jesus' return by 2037), then I expect Jesus will return before 2037.
>Well, if Bertrand Russell ,"bleak atheist" managed to live up to the age of 98, so surely can you,"cheerful christian".
Sorry, but I fail to follow your reasoning. Even if "cheerful Christians," on average, tended to outlive "bleak atheists," and there is some evidence that they do:
"Here are some interesting data from a study by Hummer et al. (Demography, May 1999). They examined data from 21,000 individuals over an eight year period and observed death rates as a function of various personal characteristics, one of which was religious attendance. From that they estimated life expectancies for sample members, and they found a surprisingly big difference. So, a twenty year old who goes to church more than once a week can be expected to live 8 years longer than a twenty year old who doesn't go to church. (I.e., live to be 72.9 years old) What does this mean? Well, the data don't have measures of types of religion, so we can't disentangle Christian vs. Jew vs. Muslim, but we can assume that he great majority of church goers in the sample are Christians. Why does this occur? There's a big literature on "why" religion is associated with longer lives, which I may blog about some time, but for now it suffices to say that church going Christians live longer than people who don't go to church." (Wright, B., "Do Christians live longer?," Bradley Wright's Weblog, September 28, 2007).
presumably there still would be individual "bleak atheists" who outlive individual "cheerful Christians." I consider it unlikely that I will live till I am 98 (or 91 - see below), even though at 62, I am in excellent health. Nevertheless, one of my goals is to be in that unique group of Christians in all of history, "who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord":
1Th 4:15-17 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 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. 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.
>I wish you that. But what would happen if you live up to that date and Jesus ... has not come?Would that be the great source of your disappointment? Would you then reconsider your attitude to Christianity? If by 2037 Jesus will NOT come, should I wish you NOT to live up till then, for not to be disappointed? Sorry, I cannot wish you that...
Thanks for your concern. But I would be infinitely less disappointed if Jesus did not return by 2037, than you, an "agnostic-deist" (see part #3) would be if Jesus did return by 2037!
And since I am firmly convinced that Jesus will return before 2037, i.e. within the next 29 years, I see no reason to consider what will my response will be if He does not. Except to say, it is just my interpretation and I could be wrong. And as I would then be 91 in 2037, it is more likely than not that I will not be alive (at least not down here on Earth) to know that I was wrong.
Moreover, I could be wrong about the "by 2037" but right about Jesus returning before the generation that was alive in 1967 passes away. That is, if "generation" means more than 70 years and/or "passes away" means not most of that generation but the entire generation, as I pointed out in my post:
However, note that 70 is just the traditional "normal span of life" ballpark figure. It may be that the actual normal average lifespan of those born in 1967 is more like 80. And since the text says, "this generation will certainly not pass away," strictly literally it would mean that the entire generation that was alive in 1967 could almost pass away before Jesus returned:
"Commenting on Luke's rendition of Jesus' eschatological discourse ... Joseph Fitzmyer contends that the `Lucan discourse looks back at the catastrophe in Jerusalem (A.D. 70) in a microcosmic view; it sees the crisis that the earthly coming of Jesus brought into the lives of his own generation, but sees it now as a harbinger of the crisis which Jesus and his message, and above all his coming as the Son of Man, will bring to 'all who dwell upon the entire face of the earth' ([Lk] 21:35).' [Fitzmyer, J.A., "The Gospel According to Luke, X-XXIV," Anchor Bible, Doubleday: New York, 1985, p.1329] The notes on Matthew in The New Jerusalem Bible reflect a similar stance: `This eschatological discourse of Matthew combines the announcement of the destruction of Jerusalem with that of the end of the world.... Though separated in time, these two [events] are inseparable in the sense that the first is the inevitable forerunner and prefiguration of the second. The destruction of Jerusalem marks the end of the old covenant-Christ has thus manifestly returned to inaugurate his kingly rule. Such a decisive intervention in the history of salvation will not occur again until the end of time when God will judge the whole human race, now chosen in Christ, with the same judgment he pronounced (in A.D. 70) upon the first chosen people.' ["New Jerusalem Bible," Doubleday: New York, 1985, p.1649]" (Bloesch, D.G., 2004, "The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgment, Glory," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, pp.81-82).
"When we ask what the New Testament teaches about the sign of tribulation, we must, look first of all at the so-called `Olivet Discourse' - Jesus' eschatological discourse found in Matthew 24:3-51, Mark 13:3-37, and Luke 21:5-36. This is, however, a very difficult passage to interpret. What makes it so difficult is that some parts of the discourse obviously refer to the destruction of Jerusalem which lies in the near future, whereas other parts of it refer to the events which will accompany the Parousia at the end of the age. The setting for the discourse is as follows: when the disciples pointed out to Jesus the buildings of the temple, Jesus replied, `I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down' (Matt. 24:2). When Jesus had seated himself on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him and said, `Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?' (v. 3). Note that ... the question of the disciples concerns two topics: (1) when will this be? (literally, these things; Greek, tauta)-an obvious reference to the destruction of the temple Jesus had just predicted; and (2) what will be the sign of your coming (Greek, parousia) and of the close of the age?-a reference to Christ's Second Coming. We may properly conclude, therefore, that the discourse will deal with both of these topics. As we read the discourse, however, we find that aspects of these two topics are intermingled; matters concerning the destruction of Jerusalem (epitomized by the destruction of the temple) are mingled together with matters which concern the end of the world-so much so that it is sometimes hard to determine whether Jesus is referring to the one or the other or perhaps to both. Obviously the method of teaching used here by Jesus is that of prophetic foreshortening, in which events far removed in time and events in the near future are spoken of as if they were very close together. The phenomenon has been compared to what happens when one looks at distant mountains; peaks which are many miles apart may be seen as if they are close together. ... In the Olivet Discourse, therefore, Jesus is proclaiming events in the distant future in close connection with events in the near future'. The destruction of Jerusalem which lies in the near future is a type of the end of the world; hence the intermingling. The passage, therefore, deals neither exclusively with the destruction of Jerusalem nor exclusively with the end of the world; it deals with both-sometimes with the latter in terms of the former. ... Though the, tribulation, persecution, suffering, and trials here predicted are described in terms which concern Palestine and the Jews, they must not be interpreted as having to do only with the Jews. Jesus was describing future events in terms which would be understandable to his hearers, in terms which had local ethnic and geographic color. We are not warranted, however, in applying these predictions only to the Jews, or in restricting their occurrence only to Palestine." (Hoekema, A.A., 1978, "The Bible and the Future," Paternoster Press: Exeter, Devon UK, Reprinted, 1979, pp.148-149).
"It is this immanent-future tension within the text itself which forces us to deal with the critical questions: `How much of the Olivet Discourse was fulfilled by the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (the preterist view)? How many of these events will be fulfilled in the future (the futurist view)? The way one answers these questions is the source of the preterist-futurist debate. In another approach, some argue that this prophecy has both historical and future elements. Portions of the Olivet Discourse were fulfilled by the events of A.D. 70, while others remain to be fulfilled at the end of the age. Even double fulfillments may be in view here, with the events of A.D. 70 as shadows of a universal and final cataclysm at the end of the age. This is why C. E. B. Cranfield cautions that `neither an exclusively historical nor an exclusively eschatological interpretation is satisfactory ...We must allow for a double reference, for a mingling of historical and eschatological.' [Cranfield, C.E.B., "The Gospel According to St. Mark," Cambridge University Press: New York, 1983, pp.401-402] If Cranfield is correct, we should avoid reducing the Olivet Discourse to a prophecy of the events of A.D. 70 and a local judgment upon Israel, typical of preterism. We must also avoid treating the historical sections as though they are exclusively future, as is the case with many dispensational writers. In fact, the historical fulfillments may be types of future fulfillment. The difficulty in interpreting this text is to know which is which." (Riddlebarger, K., 2003, "A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, pp.159-160).
"[Lk 21:]32 This generation (he genea haute). Naturally people then living. Shall not pass away (ou me parelthei). Second aorist active subjunctive of parerchomai. Strongest possible negative with ou me. Till all things be accomplished (heos an panta genetai). Second aorist middle subjunctive of ginomai with heos, common idiom. The words give a great deal of trouble to critics. Some apply them to the whole discourse including the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, the second coming and the end of the world. Some of these argue that Jesus was simply mistaken in his eschatology, some that he has not been properly reported in the Gospels. Others apply them only to the destruction of Jerusalem which did take place in A.D. 70 before that generation passed away. It must be said for this view that it is not easy in this great eschatological discourse to tell clearly when Jesus is discussing the destruction of Jerusalem and when the second coming. Plummer offers this solution: `The reference, therefore, is to the destruction of Jerusalem regarded as the type of the end of the world.'" (Robertson, A.T., 1930, "Word Pictures in the New Testament: Volume II: The Gospel According to Luke," Broadman Press, Nashville TN, pp.261-262).
"Apocalyptic discourse ([Lk ]21:5-38). The temple that elicited the admiration of his disciples was beautiful indeed. ... Jesus, however, predicts that the temple will be completely demolished (21:5-6). The Romans fulfilled this prophecy in A.D. 70. ... Jesus now warns his disciples against eschatological enthusiasm and braces them for future persecution (21:7-19). The question of the disciples in verse 7 clearly refers to the date of the fall of Jerusalem, but it also seems to involve the date of the end of this age. The fall of Jerusalem becomes a type of the end times. .... Jesus specifically answers the question about the destruction of Jerusalem (21:20-24). One will know that Jerusalem's time of destruction has arrived when foreign armies surround it. This encirclement is a signal, not of the need for heroism, but the need to flee. God's avenging wrath will be poured out on the city, bringing distress to the entire populace. `The times of the Gentiles' (v. 24) refers not to the Gentile mission but to Gentile authority over Jerusalem. Josephus's Jewish War contains a graphic commentary on the Roman conquest of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. From the destruction of Jerusalem Luke moves to the coming of the Son of man (21:25-28). Luke does not specify the temporal relationship between these events, but the former clearly functions as a correspondence of the latter. ... The signs picture in dramatic terms the breakup of the natural world order, and the resulting terror and fear which seize the human race. The Son of man will return during these troubled times. The message for believers is: When the world begins to convulse, take hope! Your redemption is imminent." (Shreiner, T.R., 1989, "Luke," in Elwell, W.A., ed., "Evangelical Commentary on the Bible," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, Second printing, 1990, pp.834-835).