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Did Jesus promise to return in the 1st cent.?

Discussion in 'Controversial Christian Theology' started by judge, Dec 3, 2002.

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  1. judge

    judge Regular Member

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     Did ou Lord promise to return in power and glory, in His kingdom in the first century? C.S. Lewis thought so, and if we read the plain meaning of the text it certainly appears so.

    C.S. Lewis said, "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. This is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible." (Essay "The World's Last Night" (1960), found in The Essential C.S. Lewis, p. 385)
     
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  2. Evangelion

    Evangelion <b><font size="2">δυνατός</b></font>

    +0
    I'm no friend of Lewis, but I think it's worth restoring the context:

    • "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."
    That's the first part. Here, Lewis describes what atheists, skeptics, and other unbelievers are likely to say to Christians who believe in the Second Advent. (Notice his use of inverted commas.) He does not claim that Jesus was wrong. He says that this is what unbelievers will claim. (And he's right! They do!)

    He goes on:

    • It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. Yet how teasing, also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance grow side by side....

      The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so. To believe in the Incarnation, to believe that he is God, makes it hard to understand how he could be ignorant; but also makes it certain that, if he said he could be ignorant, then ignorant he could really be. For a God who can be ignorant is less baffling than a God who falsely professes ignorance. The answer of theologians is that the God-Man was omniscient as God, and ignorant as Man. This, no doubt, is true, though it cannot be imagined.


      Essay, The World's Last Night (1960), found in The Essential C.S. Lewis, p. 385.
    Lewis' dilemma lies in the alleged "dual nature" of Christ; he finds Jesus' comment problematic because he believes that Jesus is God. He does not argue that Jesus had made a false prophecy.

    You will see this quote (butchered beyond all recognition) all over Preterist Websites. It is one of their more obvious forms of deceit.

    None of them ever place it in its proper context. They just blindly copy/paste it without stopping to ask themselves if their use is legitimate. :cool:
     
  3. Jedi

    Jedi Knight

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    Just a minor observation here (correct me if I'm wrong), but it seems this was written by Lewis before he came to his senses and became Christian, since, as everyone knows, he was once an atheist.

    As far as Christ talking about this generation, it seems that there are two senses that the Kingdom will come: The first is the Kingdom in a spiritual way. That was obviously accomplished through the establishment of the church, the forgiveness of man, etc.

    The second part of the Kingdom coming is the physical sense - the actual end of days.
     
  4. parousia70

    parousia70 Livin' in yesterday's tomorrow Supporter

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    Are there any particular scriptures you'd like to cite in support of this "Double sense" theory?
     
  5. judge

    judge Regular Member

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    &nbsp;

    Hi there evangelon!

    I'm not sure I fully agree with you. A couple of questions. Why would C.S. Lewis call it the most embarrasing? Surely it could only be embarrassing if it were saying that Jesus predicted His own return?

    Why would he call it "an exhibition of error"?

    &nbsp;

    The plain meaning seems to be that He thought He was coimg in His kingdom some time soon, although perhaps He did not know the day.

    &nbsp;

    How would you read it?

    &nbsp;

    thanks
     
  6. Evangelion

    Evangelion <b><font size="2">δυνατός</b></font>

    +0
    judge -

    Hi. :)

    No, really? ;)

    He tells us.

    No, he says that it is embarrassing from a Trinitarian perspective, because it presents us with an apparently unsovable dichotomy between the omniscient "God the Son" and the restricted knowledge of Jesus the man.

    That is the confusing part, and unfortunately he does not explain.

    That is the apparent meaning, yes. But Lewis himself guards against such an interpretation by the use of certain qualifiers.

    Thus, from the essay in question:

    • No one would reject Christ’s apocalyptic on the ground that apocalyptic was common in first-century Palestine unless he had already decided that the thought of first-century Palestine was in that respect mistaken. But to have so decided is surely to have begged the question; for the question is whether the expectation of a catastrophic and Divinely ordered end of the present uni_verse is true or false.

      If we have an open mind on that point, the whole problem is altered. If such an end is really going to occur, and if (as is the case) the Jews had been trained by their religion to expect it, then it is very natural that they should produce apocalyptic literature. On that view, our Lord’s production of something like the other apocalyptic documents would not necessarily result from his supposed bondage to the errors of his period, but would be the Divine exploitation of a sound element in contemporary Judaism: nay, the time and place in which it pleased him to be incarnate would, presumably, have been chosen because, there and then, that element existed, and had, by his eternal providence, been developed for that very purpose.

      For if we once accept the doctrine of the Incarnation, we must surely be very cautious in suggesting that any circumstance in the culture of first-century Palestine was a hampering or distorting influence upon his teaching. Do we suppose that the scene of God’s earthly life was selected at random?—that some other scene would have served better?

      But there is worse to come. “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.”

      It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. Yet how teasing, also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance grow side by side. That they stood thus in the mouth of Jesus himself, and were not merely placed thus by the reporter, we surely need not doubt. Unless the reporter were perfectly honest he would never have recorded the confession of ignorance at all; he could have had no motive for doing so except a desire to tell the whole truth.

      And unless later copyists were equally honest they would never have preserved the (apparently) mistaken prediction about “this generation” after the passage of time had shown the (appar_ent) mistake. This passage (Mark 13:30-32) and the cry “Why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) together make up the strongest proof that the New Testament is historically reliable. The evangelists have the first great characteristic of honest witnesses: they mention facts which are, at first sight, damaging to their main contention.

      The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so. To believe in the Incarnation, to believe that he is God, makes it hard to understand how he could be ignorant; but also makes it certain that, if he said he could be ignorant, then ignorant he could really be. For a God who can be ignorant is less baffling than a God who falsely professes ignorance. The answer of theologians is that the God-Man was omniscient as God, and ignorant as Man. This, no doubt, is true, though it cannot be imagined. Nor indeed can the unconsciousness of Christ in sleep be imagined, nor the twilight of reason in his infancy; still less his merely organic life in his mother's womb. But the physical sciences, no less than theology, propose for our belief much that cannot be imagined.

      A generation which has accepted the curvature of space need not boggle at the impossibility of imagining the consciousness of incarnate God. In that consciousness the temporal and the timeless were united. I think we can acquiesce in mystery at that point, provided we do not aggravate it by our tendency to picture the timeless life of God as, simply, another sort of time. We are committing that blunder whenever we ask how Christ could be at the same moment ignorant and omniscient, or how he could be the God who neither slumbers nor sleeps while he slept. The italicized words conceal an attempt to establish a temporal relation between his timeless life as God and the days, months, and years of his life as Man. And of course there is no such relation.

      The Incarnation is not an episode in the life of God: the Lamb is slain—and therefore presumably born, grown to maturity, and risen—from all eternity. The taking up into God's nature of humanity, with all its ignorances and limitations, is not itself a temporal event, though the humanity which is so taken up was, like our own, a thing living and dying in time. And if limitation, and therefore ignorance, was thus taken up, we ought to expect that the ignorance should at some time be actually displayed. It would be difficult, and, to me, repellent, to suppose that Jesus never asked a genuine question, that is, a question to which he did not know the answer. That would make of his humanity something so unlike ours as scarcely to deserve the name. I find it easier to believe that when be said “Who touched me?” (Luke 7:45) he really wanted to know.
    In summary:
    • Lewis argues that in one sense, Jesus was not truly omniscient - but that in another sense, he was.
    • Lewis insists that the alleged "mistake" about the Second Advent (as we might easily conclude from a superficial reading of Christ's statements) is not a mistake at all.
    • Lewis argues that the apparent mistake, and the (unresolved) issue of Christ's (alleged) omniscience as opposed to his human ignorance, is embarrassing for mainstream Christians.
    He makes no attempt to present an eschatological argument on the basis of Christ's prophecy, but still takes care to emphasise the fact that Christ's apparent "error" was no error at all. IOW, the problem lies with the reader, and not with the speaker.

    See above. :cool:
     
  7. Evangelion

    Evangelion <b><font size="2">δυνατός</b></font>

    +0
    Jedi -

    If you read his essay, you will see that it is the work of a devout Christian. There is no denying this.

    Lewis was converted to theism in 1929, and to Christianity in 1931. The World's Last Night was written in 1960. :cool:
     
  8. ZiSunka

    ZiSunka It means 'yellow dog'

    +276
    Christian
    The World's Last Night is a whole book, and you've taken one little part out of context. This part that you have quoted is part of the introduction to the theme, the premise of the rest of the book. Lewis is saying that a lot of people were confused and disappointed that Christ didn't come back in their lifetimes. This is an hisotric fact. People were confused by the lack of Christ's immediate return. The fact that not all the events that were supposed to precede His return had happened wasn't an issue to them, the issue was that they focused on a single phrase of the whole Gospels and believed that He had promised to come right back.

    In fact, history records that some people were so convinced that He was coming right back that they stood there after the Pentacost looking up into the sky, watching for Him to come right back and establish His kingdom on the spot.

    The rest of Lewis's book is about that last night, the unexpectedness of His return, the unpreparedness of His people and the world at large. It's about watching and waiting.

    Lewis believed, like we all do, that the time is now, that the return is soon, that we are living in the last days.

    Please finish the book and then come back to discuss it. And stop taking small sections out of context.
     
  9. Evangelion

    Evangelion <b><font size="2">δυνατός</b></font>

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    Thankyou for your support, Lamb's Love.

    It is greatly appreciated. :cool:
     
  10. drmmjr

    drmmjr Regular Member

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    It wasn't the current generation at Jesus' time that he was speaking about. It was the generation that would see all of the events in the first portion of the chapter.

    After these things are seen, and the gospel of the kingdom is preached in all of the world, would the end come. Not during that current generation.
     
  11. GW

    GW Veteran

    +59
    Christian
    Evangelion:

    Lewis' reasoning is that Christ could, because of his humanity, prophesy an error. Lewis grants that Jesus FULLY BELIEVED he would return in that generation. Lewis just believes Christ got it wrong because he was capable in his humanity of getting it wrong--and did.

    That is what Lewis clearly says.
     
  12. Evangelion

    Evangelion <b><font size="2">δυνατός</b></font>

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    GW -

    I do not see this anywhere in his essay.

    I do not see this anywhere in his essay.

    I do not see this anywhere in his essay.

    If Jesus had been wrong about this, he would have been a false prophet. Since you believe that Jesus is God, I would be fascinated to know how your god can be a false prophet.

    You might also want to address the fact that, under the Law of Moses, false prophets were executed for blasphemy. This would present the Trinitarian Christ with three substantial problems:
    • He has blasphemed.
    • He has broken the Law of Moses (sinning.)
    • He is no longer a perfect sacrifice for sin, and must therefore die as a convicted criminal, having failed the great work for which he was originally prepared and sent.
    :cool:
     
  13. Evangelion

    Evangelion <b><font size="2">δυνατός</b></font>

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    drmmjr -

    Well said that man. :cool:
     
  14. GW

    GW Veteran

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    EV WRITES:
    If Jesus had been wrong about this, he would have been a false prophet. Since you believe that Jesus is God, I would be fascinated to know how your god can be a false prophet.

    GW:
    This is not MY dilemma! This is CS Lewis' dilemma! I believe Christ prophesied he would return in their lifetimes and DID return. Lewis believes Christ prophesied he would return in their lifetimes and DIDN'T return.

    So it is not MY view that makes Christ a false prophet, it is Lewis' view that makes Christ a false prophet.

    Ya Dig?
     
  15. Evangelion

    Evangelion <b><font size="2">δυνατός</b></font>

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    Ah, now I see your argument clearly. I apologise for the error.

    Perhaps we should ask "judge" what he thinks. :cool:


    PS. Your critique of Lewis is untenable. If you wish to press it, I suggest you begin by quoting those portions of his essay in which he makes the claims that you ascribe to him.
     
  16. GW

    GW Veteran

    +59
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    No problem.


    No problem. Lewis reasons:


    "The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so."

    --AND--

    "To believe in the Incarnation, to believe that he is God, makes it hard to understand how he could be ignorant; but also makes it certain that, if he said he could be ignorant, then ignorant he could really be."

    --AND--

    "a God who can be ignorant is less baffling than a God who falsely professes ignorance. The answer of theologians is that the God-Man was omniscient as God, and ignorant as Man."



    Ev, Lewis's entire reasoning is that Christ, because of his humanity, could and did display ignorance and error. According to Lewis, Jesus claimed he could be ignorant-- but not only this!--Lewis then states that Jesus displayed such ignorance by professing an obvious error (namely, that he said he would return in their lifetimes but was mistaken).

    Understand?
     
  17. Evangelion

    Evangelion <b><font size="2">δυνατός</b></font>

    +0
    GW -

    Yep.

    Nope. His argument is that Christ, because of his humanity, could and did display both ignorance and apparent error.

    Lewis makes this abundantly clear. He actually uses the word "apparent." He does so at least twice. :cool:
     
  18. GW

    GW Veteran

    +59
    Christian
    Lewis does NOT conclude "apparent" error. Read again:

    Lewis reasons:

    "The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so."

    [this in not a statement concerning "apparent" error, but true error on the part of Jesus]


    --AND--

    "To believe in the Incarnation, to believe that he is God, makes it hard to understand how he could be ignorant; but also makes it certain that, if he said he could be ignorant, then ignorant he could really be."

    [this in not a statement concerning "apparent" error, but true error on the part of Jesus]


    --AND--

    "a God who can be ignorant is less baffling than a God who falsely professes ignorance. The answer of theologians is that the God-Man was omniscient as God, and ignorant as Man."


    [this in not a statement concerning "apparent" error, but true error on the part of Jesus]
     
  19. Evangelion

    Evangelion <b><font size="2">δυνατός</b></font>

    +0
    Here, read this:

    • And unless later copyists were equally honest they would never have preserved the (apparently) mistaken prediction about “this generation” after the passage of time had shown the (apparent) mistake. This passage (Mark 13:30-32) and the cry “Why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) together make up the strongest proof that the New Testament is historically reliable. The evangelists have the first great characteristic of honest witnesses: they mention facts which are, at first sight, damaging to their main contention.
    :cool:
     
  20. GW

    GW Veteran

    +59
    Christian
    Ev,

    "The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so." (C.S. Lewis)

    And, it is obvious that Christ passed this "error" on to his apostles. Watch it travel from Jesus to all his followers...



    Jesus' View of the Timing of Last Days:

    Matthew 24:34
    Truly I say to you, THIS GENERATION SHALL NOT PASS UNTIL ALL BE FULFILLED.




    John's View of the Timing of Last Days:

    1 John 1:18
    Little children, IT IS THE LAST HOUR!; and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even so now there are many antichrists BY WHICH WE KNOW IT IS THE LAST HOUR! For they went out from us...

    Revelation 1:1,3
    The Revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave to him to show his servants things WHICH MUST SHORTLY COME TO PASS; ...THE TIME IS AT HAND."

    Revelation 22:10
    seal not the words of the prophecy of this book; for the time is AT HAND

    Revelation 22:6
    these words are faithful and true; the God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants what MUST SHORTLY BE DONE.



    Paul's View of the Timing of Last Days:

    Hebrews 10:37
    In a very short while, he that shall come will come, and will not tarry...and we are not of them that shall draw back unto perdition, but unto the saving of the soul."

    Hebrews 1:1-2
    God...who spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, HAS IN THESE LAST DAYS spoken to us by his son."

    Hebrews 9:26
    ...(Christ) must have suffered since the foundation of the world. But NOW, AT THE END OF THE AGES he has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."

    1 Cor. 10:11
    these things happened to them for examples, written for OUR admonition, upon whom THE ENDS OF THE AGES HAVE COME.

    1 Thess. 4:15
    WE who are alive and remain at the coming of the Lord..."




    James' View of the Timing of Last Days

    James 5:8-9
    ...establish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord IS NEAR ... BEHOLD THE JUDGE STANDS AT THE DOOR!

    James 5:1-3
    Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming on you. Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be for a testimony against you, and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up your treasure in the last days!



    Peter's View of the Timing of Last Days:

    1 Peter 4:7
    the end of all things is at hand

    Acts 3:24-26
    Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel and those who follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of THESE DAYS....UNTO YOU (jews) FIRST, God raised up his Son and sent him to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

    Acts 2:16-17
    This (outpouring of the Holy Spirit) IS THAT which was spoken through the prophet Joel: 'IN THE LAST DAYS I will pour out my spirit on all flesh...

    1 Peter 1:20
    Christ...who was foreordained before the foundation of the world, was manifested in these last days for you.

    Peter 4:17
    For the time is now come for judgment to begin at the house of God.



    How can any man suggest they were wrong, misguided, or even off by a few thousand years? As Evangelion said before, this would make Jesus and the aposltes all false prophets! But, glory to God, it is futurists (like C.S. Lewis) that erred. Jesus understood plainly that the day of the Lord was to be when the Romans came to surround the city of Jerusalem:

    Luke 21:20
    when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that its desolation is near...FOR THESE ARE THE DAYS OF VENGEANCE, THAT ALL THINGS WRITTEN WILL BE FULFILLED.

    Jeremiah 46:10
    For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance
    , that he may avenge him of his adversaries

    Isaiah 61:2
    To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God
     
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