Thursday, November 30, 2006

Steve Davis replies to Exapologist

Steve Davis responds to the argument from the delay of the Parousia. Assuming that Christ invested the Church with an immanent expectation of the Parousia, was that impression just plain false. Think about it. Everyone who dies experiences a personal "Parousia" in which they meet God face to face. Most of us presuppose, wrongly, that we will go on and on for a long time, especially if we are young. Are we guaranteed a 70+ year life span, or can we be taken at any time? Jesus explicitly says, right in the same paragraph as the infamous "this generaation statement," not only that WE don't know the day or they hour, but also that He doesn't, only the Father does. So how could Christ be deceiving us when he himself said he didn't know? Christ gave us an immanent expectation, not a statute of limitations.

SD: Hi Victor, I could not read all of it--just the initial brief essay. I am basically with Tom Wright. There is no doubt that the earliest Christians thought that Jesus' return was imminent, indeed, that itwould occur in their lifetimes. And there are things that Jesus says in the Gospels that can be interpreted along those lines. But I think even in Jesus own teachings that idea is muted somewhat. For example, I think the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins is a cautionary tale that is all about the delay of the parousia. Keep in mind that we know from Scripture that Jesus was not omniscient. When asked about the date ofthe end time, he said "I do not know, the angels do not know, only the Father knows." But I think Wright is correct that much of what Jesus wastalking about when he spoke of the coming kingdom did indeed occur atthe crucifixion/resurrection/Pentecost event. By the way, I think the church must always hold that Jesus' return is imminent. We must hold to that even if he waits another twenty centuries.



Edwardtbabinski said...

ED: The idea of a near end of the world was around among the Dead Sea Scroll sect prior to the day of John the Baptist and Jesus. One such scroll mentions a great battle that was going to take place between the sons of light and darkness, and that first the scattered Jews would return from round the world and train for battle in Jerusalem and then take on all the armies of the whole world and win with God's help, and all within a forty years period, a generation. One Dead Sea scroll mentions Melchizadek being chosen by God to judge the world in a final fashion. Other Dead Sea Scrolls include a pesher on Habakkuk's "last generation" prophecy.

By the way what exactly was John the Baptist about anyway, living out in the desert, preaching the day of the Lord was at hand, and warning people to repent?

As for the message of the NEAR final judgment of the world being "muted" in the Gospels, one must remember that the Gospels were not written by Jesus but by later followers and interpreters and members of an ongoing church, something that the historical Jesus might not even have envisaged arising (as pointed out by Hans Kung, and many other theologians).

As for the verse that Steve says "mutes" the message of a near final judgment (i.e., "no one knows the day or the hour") theologians point out that days and hours lay within a "generation's" span of time. So there is no inherent contradiction between the use of such a phrase and belief in the near final judgment of the world.

For answers to other such questions, and for a list of verses in Paul and Hebrews and Revelation and Johnnine letters and the Gospels concerning the nearness of the world's final judgment please see here [mirrored here as well]; and see Professor Tabor's articles here.

exapologist said...

Hi Victor,

I just saw this post -- thanks for posting this response. I take it that the reply is from the Steve Davis who teaches Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College?



Victor Reppert said...

You have the right Steve Davis.

Jason Pratt said...

It's kind of scary when I can read a post from Ed, and have nothing specifically to disagree about in it. {lol!} (Oh, well, I expect that'll change immanently... {g})