20 October, 2011

U.S. Christian group says rapture, end of world is Friday - CTV News

Just in case you missed it last spring, evidently the rapture with its concomitant horrors for non-believers is supposed to arrive (again) tomorrow. Hope you have your 'Rapture Rucksack' all packed and ready to go!

U.S. Christian group says rapture, end of world is Friday - CTV News

35 comments:

  1. I'm kind of busy tomorrow. Could they put it off until next week?

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  2. Its kind of annoying that the press gives stories like this the press coverage they do. I mean really, I never even heard of the man until the media jumped all over his "the end is coming Friday" claims. The vast majority of Christians think Camping is out to lunch and in fact, the vast majority of Christians think the whole rapture concept is out to lunch. I can see no other purpose for major media airing a story like this than to have another laugh at those stupid Christians. This is something for the supermarket tabloids, not CTV.
    That said I'm wearing my Sunday best just in case. Don't want to meet the Lord wearing my dirty T-shirt.

    Cheers
    Paul

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  3. Hi Paul,

    While it is true that the majority of Christians do not believe in the the "rapture", a very significant portion actually do. According to the Pew Forum, 41% of Americans believe Jesus will return by 2050. Get that Paul? 41% actually believe that the world will end within their own lifetime. I find it somewhat amusing that you are so willing to play down the lunacy of a significant number of your co-religionists.

    In fact, the Christian belief in the afterlife, and the second coming of Christ, are among two of the most destructive ideas to afflict our civilization. Regardless of quibbles about timing, almost 100% of Christians believe in these two corrosive ideas.

    Cheers...Martin

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  4. Hi Martin

    You do realize there is a difference in believing in the "rapture theory" and the second coming? Its a basic tenant of Christianity that Christ will return but the rapture theory is a recent phenomena of certain protestant sects that has Christ returning twice really. I'm sure you knew this.
    I'm not critical of any Christian that believes an end will come or even that it could be soon, but I do cry foul when people start predicting dates. Scripture is clear that nobody knows the day nor the hour though it also says there will be signs when the end is near.
    I'd be interested in hearing why you'd consider someone believing in the second coming of Jesus and the afterlife from a Christian perspective as being the two most destructive ideas to afflict our civilization. I'd agree with you that some other religions have been extremely destructive to civilization. I'll grant you there has been bad things come from the Christian religion but I think the good clearly outweighs it.

    Cheers
    Paul

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  5. Hi Paul,

    The Rapture is believed by 41% of Americans! That is a very significant number of your co-religionists - your obfuscation notwithstanding.

    As usual, scripture contradicts itself on many, many, many supposed "truths". Try looking up Luke 21:32 for instance: Jesus clearly tells his audience that the world will end in their own lifetimes. Not only was Jesus wrong, but his words contradict your citation. No matter how you try to square that circle, the world cannot be both ended in the lifetime of the apostles and still in existence and facing an immanent destruction in 2011.

    Why is it wicked for anyone to believe in an afterlife and an end time or rapture?

    Consider:

    How have soldiers and terrorists convinced to sacrifice their lives without the promise of an afterlife? Heaven and the afterlife have long provided humanity with a rationale for war.

    Why bother saving the planet from environmental degradation and collapse if we are all going to be reborn in a New Jerusalem after the apocolypse? And with 41% of Americans believing that the apocolypse is literally just around the corner, only a fool would bother lifting a finger to clean up the planet, or to undertake any difficult project with long timelines and big expenses. Time is better spent (wasted) getting one's soul in good shape.

    Your contention that the good of Christianity far outweighs the bad is a bit laughable. How would you measure that exactly?

    Your god contradicts himself throughout scripture - so he is either incompetent, a fool, or a liar. Cornerstone ideas of Christianity (and in fairness many other religions as well) have contributed, and continue to contribute, to untold human suffering and misery (war, famine, envionrmental collapse etc..).

    But I am sure you already knew that...

    Cheers...Martin

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  6. Speaking of obfuscation Martin, 41% of Americans believe that Jesus will return by 2050 is not the same as 41% of Americans believe in the apocalypse, or the rapture.

    You are smart enough to be able to know that there is a difference between lifetime as we know it and "generation" as Jesus is reported to have said it.

    Since you are so far off on these two, trying to make sense out of your other comments is somewhat futile.

    These comments are not up to your usual standard.

    Cheers

    Michael

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  7. The rapture is NOT believed by 41% of Americans no matter how you or your evangelical atheist brethren try to spin it. Read the Pew survey. The question asked was if people believe in the return of Christ.
    Just about every Christian faith professes he will come again. The rapture is a late invention in protestant theology where they believe the saved will be taken from the face of the earth before the crap hits the fan. I believe Christ will return but I don't believe in a rapture.

    As for Luke 21:32, Christ was not being literal here and was not applying the term generation to the physically present before him but to the new generations of Christians that they represent. Christ used this kind of language often in scripture and it was often misinterpreted.

    Speaking of laughable, your wickedness logic is full of holes.
    Soldiers give their lives all the time without a thought of an afterlife. Look at all the soldiers that have died under atheistic communist regimes or people that just gave all in a attempt to protect their families and country. I'll agree Islam is certainly playing up the afterlife to recruit suicide bombers with all them promised virgins. But I don't see to many Christians lining up to bomb buses in Jesus name.

    As for the environmental angle, thats just bad logic and makes some pretty spectacular assumptions of people. Again one only needs to look at the environmental nightmare that was the former Soviet Union and present day China to sink that theory. The governments of these countries were atheistic regimes and they're environmental record is among the worst in the world. It wouldn't be all sunshine and lollypops for the environment in the absence of religion.
    Also my neighbour expects the rapture any day and she still has the nicest property on the street and her recycling bin is always out on Fridays. She still goes to work everyday and invests in her RRSP. I think she still shaves her armpits and baths daily too.

    As far as me concluding that the good outweighing the bad, how did you do your measurements to conclude that belief in Heaven and the second coming were the most destructive ideas to afflict our civilization?

    Sadly your hatred of Christianity is affecting your abilities to reason. If you can say with a straight face that Christianity is the cause of all the worlds problems then its no point discussing anything with you. It would be equally idiotic of me to blame all the worlds problems or the bulk of them on non believers.

    Cheers
    Paul

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  8. Hi Michael and Paul,

    So...are we in agreement that the rapture is a nutty religious belief? Your comments seem to imply this since you disparage and distance yourselves from rapturists.

    And if the rapture is nutty, then why is that so? The only difference between rapturists, and more mainstream Christians, appears to be the belief that good Christians will be spared the end time tribulations. In all other material respects, I see no differences. While I concede your point about the Pew Forum Research study, the distinction between rapturists and those who believe in a garden variety second coming are inconsequential. Mere details of pre and post tribulation events seaprate the two camps, but the insanity of an end times narrative remains intact. You don't really say why the rapturist narrative is nutty, while your version of the second coming is not.

    Paul - your aplogetics on Luke 21:32 is unconvincing and not supported by scriptural analysis. There is no basis upon which to say that Jesus was being "less literal" in Luke 21:32 when compared to other contradicting passages. How does one make this interpreation of non-literal intent for this passage versus another? Remember Paul - your scripture was supposed to be divinely inspired - all of it. Why can't your omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and benevolent god communicate clearly through his sacred scriptures? Strikes me as a bit lame.

    Lastly, my indictment of Christianity's beliefs about the afterlife and the end times in no way claim that they are the only causes of war and environmental decay and apathy. Of course there are other causes of these great evils - I simply make the point that these 2 religious ideas are enabling philosphies. In that sense they "are two of the most destructive ideas to afflict our civiliazation". They are destructive precisly becasue they enable and excuse.

    Try to refrain from a "strawman argument" gents.

    Cheers...Martin

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  9. Try to refrain from a "strawman argument" gents.  Should the pot be calling the kettle black?
    Now that's the Martin I remember from your comment history!!!
    Your entire thesis is straw men.
    But back to generation (genea - in Greek).
    Genea can refer to what we would mean as a generation - those of a particular time, or can refer to a race, such as the Jewish race.
    As Catholic Christians, we are not bound by sola scriptura and require the scriptures to contain all that is to be contained, and self explanatory.  We can see in recent history how following that principle has produced more than enough new denominations.
    We rely on Tradition as well, and the traditions of the Catholic Church interpret this to have a meaning broader than one generation.  We can do so by looking at this particular verse in context in its own chapter, and in context with the life of Jesus.
    Now, as to enabling philosophies!!
    You, of course, missed that "religion is the opiate of the people" specifically.  However, Christianity has produced most of health care, art, literature and many other things.  And, as well, Christians, and other religionists, misguided by their own myopia, have also participated in much evil.
    A half empty critical view of the life of others, is at best a sham, since you have never travelled in the feet of others.  A glass half full view is only marginally better, if at all.
    But, life is full, and Martin, God loves you, no matter how you feel about Him.
    Father Tim probably understands how you have become so embittered towards a Church I believe you embraced at other points in your life.
    I doubt that your problem with our "omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and benevolent god" is really about how clearly He communicates through scripture.
    God Bless You, Martin
    Michael

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  10. Hi Michael,

    LOL! If I were you, I would stick to arguing the points I raise, rather than diagnose "why I am the way I am". I will extend you the same courtesy to you.

    As for your scriptural analysis - I find it laugable. If "generation" now refers to a race, it would render Jesus' words nonsensical. Jesus never said the Jewsih race would have to cease to exist before the coming of the kingdom, but in fact, the second coming of the kingdom would be witnessed by the Jews. It cannot be both.

    You are so busy focussing on "why you think I am the way I am" you fail to address when Jesus' words are to be taken literally and when they are to be taken "metaphorically". What hermaneitics do you apply? The following passages clearly indicate that Jesus thought he knew the "date and the hour"...it was just that he was wrong about it. To wit:

    "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." -- Matthew 16:28

    "But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God." -- Luke 9:27

    "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." -- Matthew 23:36

    "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." -- Matthew 24:34

    "Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." -- Matthew 26:64

    "Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." -- Mark 9:1

    "Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done." -- Mark 13:30

    "And ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." -- Mark 14:62

    "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled." -- Luke 21:32

    "Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" -- John 21:22

    No context in any of the above citations suggests that Jesus meant "end of a race" instead of "end of a generation". What about the other passages that do not refer to "generation".

    I await your reconcillation of the above biblical contradictions, and your response to why the rapturists are nutty and your beliefs are not.

    Cheers...Martin

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  11. Martin:

    Frankly Martin, you flatter yourself. I have not wasted time analysing the way you are, nor have I seen you raise any points that warrant serious reflection.

    Life is quite simple really. It boils down to a few things. We are either interested in finding the truth, or we are interested in being right.

    We approach our lives as adults either by being childish or by being childlike. Childish is invested in being right, and comes off as petulant. Childlike approaches things with wonder and awe.

    You don't give a rat's behind what my opinions are on certain scriptures. You are committed to your own opinion. Does it serve you well?

    It is you that called the rapture a "nutty religious belief." I have not seen a rapture before, so do not know what one would look like if it were to happen. I do not find it particularly scripturally sound, nor does it fit with the traditions of the Catholic Church as such.

    The rapture is part of the tribulation theory of many Christians, and some fall into the realm of pre-tribulationists. Other are post-tribulationists. One man wrote that he is a pan-tribulationist, and meant that he did not know how or when or what would happen, but rested assured that it would all pan out in the end.

    Sister Judith Zoebelein, a Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist, and foundress of the Vatican's web site,met recently with Robert Moynihan, who is the Editor of Inside the Vatican Magazine.

    This exchange took place between them:

    She said: "You are in your 60s now, aren't you?

    "No, my 50s," I said.

    "Close enough," she said. "Your life is going to pass through a great change. A great transition. It happens to all of us.

    "You have proved everything you have to prove with your mind. Now go deeper. Find wisdom. Live from your heart, not your mind.

    "As we get closer to death, and this is true for me as well, you realize what really matters. The superficial things start to drop away. It is God's way of calling us toward him."

    I was a bit taken aback by her words.

    "Well," I said. "What do you think is the first step. The first thing to do?"

    And she said: "Get rid of all the lies. Tell the truth, and first of all, to yourself. It's hard. But you must do it. We all have to.

    "And that's the greatest contribution you can make. And it's the only way that you will be able to make the contribution you were meant to make."

    So, you want me, a dumb hick from the sticks to reconcile scripture for you. To what end?

    God Bless You
    Michael

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  12. Hi Michael,

    You write: "We are either interested in finding the truth, or we are interested in being right."

    This is a false dichotomy. Truth and being right are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the best way to be "right" is to find the truth. If one possesses the truth, then one must be right? Or am I failing in my common sense understanding of the plain words that you have just used?

    As for the rapture - your statement that you have never witnessed one is rather bizarre. My guess is you have also not seen a "Second Coming" either - yet you still seem to think it is a reasonable thing to believe?

    Interestingly (but not surprisingly) you fail to address the shortcomings of your own scriptural analysis/apologetics. You fail to explain why your god was utterly wrong about when the end times would happen. If there is one thing your god should be competent at (absolutely crystal clear about, in fact) - it should be when He is coming back. According to the passages I have cited, Jesus thought it would happen in the lifetime of his listeners - and yet this is clearly not the case.

    I have only asked you to defend your own position. Instead, we get lots of hand waving and distraction - but no rational defence. Why? I can only conclude because you cannot provide one. And that my friend - is significant - especially if one is interested in the Truth.

    Cheers...Martin

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  13. Hi Michael and Paul,

    I still have not seen your explanation of why Jesus was dead wrong about the timing of his own Second Coming. Since you both took the time to correct me on the subtleties between a rapturist, and a garden variety end times prophet of doom - I was rather hoping you would also fully unveil your apologetics around Luke 21:32.

    Notwithstanding Michael's contention that he sees nothing to warrant serious reflection about my points, you both must admit that other readers may want a fuller explanation. After all, if scripture is wrong about the Second Coming of Christ, then perhaps it is wrong about other important points as well? Seems to me this is a point worthy of discussion.

    I eagerly await your response.

    Cheers...Martin

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  14. Hi Martin

    I'll agree with you, the Bible sure could have been written using language that's a lot easier to understand. Thats why we have 20,000 Christian denominations. The snippets of scripture you've sited have perplexed far greater minds than my own as to there meaning and a number of plausible explanations and understandings are out there. Was Christ referring to Christianity in general when he used the term "generation" or was he referring specifically to the people standing before him? When he referred to seeing the coming of his Kingdom, was he referring to the establishment of his church on earth or the end of days? Was he referring to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem which did happen around 70 AD. Frankly I don't loose sleep or faith based on this paradox.
    I guess at the end of the day it really doesn't matter to me. Other events in my life and in the life of the Church have provided more than enough evidence for me to come to the conclusion the Jesus is who he claims to be. Thousands of recorded miracles, reports of near death experiences, testimonies of hardened atheists that came to faith, inexplicable events and the wonder of creation itself testify to Gods existence. Frankly I think it requires far greater faith for me to believe that time + chance = everything than to believe in a higher power.
    I guess your "gotcha" scripture quotes really don't amount to anything for me in light of compelling evidence that supports my belief in God. I'm not convinced your understanding of them is any better than the theologians that present a plausible explanation to the perceived inconsistency.

    Cheers
    Paul

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  15. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for your answer. I would like to respond to a few points you make, as well as make a couple of observations:

    You write: “…the Bible sure could have been written using language that's a lot easier to understand.” Perhaps – but I am not objecting to the style of the language, but rather, I am pointing out where the Bible is 100% wrong. Jesus said the Second Coming would occur in the lifetime of his listeners. He was wrong and the Bible recorded the fact that he was wrong.

    You write: “The snippets of scripture you've sited (sic) have perplexed far greater minds than my own as to there (sic) meaning and a number of plausible explanations and understandings are out there.” I did not cite “snippets” of scripture, rather, I provided you with exact scriptural references to support my point that Jesus was wrong - that is what one does when they are advancing a cogent argument. Your reference to “snippets” makes me sound like I am taking something out of context. I am not.

    Your write: “When he referred to seeing the coming of his Kingdom, was he referring to the establishment of his church on earth or the end of days? Was he referring to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem which did happen around 70 AD.” No, he was referring to the Second Coming of his kingdom – or the “end times” - if you prefer. He was not referring to establishing his church on earth, or to the destruction of the temple. Go back to my references and read the full context for yourself. That is why I took the time to look each reference up and to painstakingly reference it in my post. I wanted to be clear and correct in advancing my argument that Jesus was 100% wrong. Why do you feel the need to introduce irrelevant facts?

    You write: “I guess your "gotcha" scripture quotes really don't amount to anything for me in light of compelling evidence that supports my belief in God.” Wow! I give you exact scriptural references, which clearly show your god to be 100% wrong, and you have the audacity to characterize my argument as a “gotcha scripture quote”? I have to give you an A+ for chutzpa. Paul, I have no doubt that my scriptural references, which show your god to be 100% wrong, do not trouble you in the least. Frankly, it is a common reaction among believers – they believe no matter what contrary evidence is put before them. Just like a fundamentalist Xian believes the world is 6,000 years old – even though the overwhelming evidence of science puts the age of the world at 4 billion years.

    You are a True Believer. I get it. And in a certain way, I respect that. The amount of cognitive dissonance that you must endure for your faith must be truly amazing. From Genesis to Revelations the corpus of your Bible is littered with errors, fallacies, contradictions, and nonsense. Yet despite all of this, you choose to still believe. I kinda respect that.

    What I don’t respect about you Paul (and about other triumphalist Christians) is your arrogance. I have seen you denigrate women, and gays, and transgendered persons on this blog, and I have seen you advocate violence against those who do not share in your beliefs (I refer to your earlier comments about Jesus’ cleansing of the temple). I would expect that anyone who bases their religious views on a scripture that shows their god to be 100% wrong, and who belongs to a Church that has made innumerable errors in its core teachings over the centuries, would be a bit more humble. When your scripture and your Church have been proven to be so wrong, I would expect you to understand that many people will legitimately disagree with you. How you can adopt a posture other than abject humility in front of your critics defies understanding.

    It is you Paul who is on shaky intellectual ground. It is you who has a religion based on the error ridden scriptures.

    How can you claim to know the will or mind of god about anything, when your god cannot correctly foretell his own return to earth?

    Simply. Amazing.

    Cheers…Martin

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  16. Hi Martin

    Pretty much every critical comment you made of me could easily be applied to you and you're atheistic zeal. You've also proven yourself a gifted master of the straw man argument as you've done many times before. You forgot to mention that besides loathing women, gays and having a habit of beat the living daylights out of everyone peaceful dove that disagrees with me and my faith, I eat kittens as well.
    You think its crazy to not abandon my faith based on your claim Jesus was in error predicting the second coming (maybe your 100% correct and he truly didn't know himself Matt:24:36} yet you and most atheists simply blow off the overwhelming evidence of the supernatural, physical healing, testimonials of near death experiences, inexplicable events like those that happened at Fatima in the early 1900s witnessed by 70,000 people, the clock work precision of creation itself, and the interdependence and complexity of living creatures and systems. I think the evidence for Gods existence could literally fill a volume of encyclopedias but the atheist simply covers his eyes and ears and repeats the mantra "there is no God" and then pats himself on the back for his superior intellect.
    You are a true disbeliever, I get it. The amount of cognitive dissonance that you must endure for your disbelief is truly amazing. I can't think of anything requiring greater faith than belief in the atheist creation story. Space dust + Time and Chance = Everything. It requires a faith far greater than any mustard seed to digest that story. I have to admire faith like that.

    http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/science/sc0120.htm

    Cheers
    Paul

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  17. Hi Paul,

    Re-read my posts. I am not asking you to abandon your faith, nor is this thread about evidence for god's existence outside scripture. I would happily explore any evidence you may present for your god's existence outside of scripture. Unlike you, I am open to changing my mind based on the strength of the evidence.

    I guess the irony of you and Michael sniggering at the foolishness of rapturists because they believed that they could know "the hour and the day" of your Christ's return is lost on you. You laugh at them, yet your own god was just as wrong in his own prophecy. Funny that eh?

    Jesus' failure on this point is in fact a very big deal. The Second Coming was widely expected by early Christians and when it did not occur it threw many early communities into crisis. Jerome was actually the first person to advance apologetics around the Greek meaning of "generation" as a way to deal with this crisis. As I have pointed out, his apologetics is not airtight and does not bear close scrutiny. Your Church's response in the intervening time has been to emphasize passages that refer to "not knowing the time or day" and simply ignoring Jesus' glaring prophetic failures.

    Your huffy flounce about my atheistic zeal is quite funny. I simply point out that if your scripture shows your god to be wrong on many, many important aspects of your faith, then I can hardly be condemned for rejecting that scripture because it lacks authority.

    Perhaps Tim can introduce a new thread topic around non-scriptural evidence for your god. I am happy to comment on it, but I warn you that once you discard scripture as a source for information about your god, there is very little you can even assert about your god. As always, I pledge to keep an open mind and to be guided by the weight of the evidence. Will you do the same, or will you believe no matter what the evidence shows?

    Cheers...Martin

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  18. "Perhaps Tim can introduce a new thread topic around non-scriptural evidence for your god. I am happy to comment on it, but I warn you that once you discard scripture as a source for information about your god, there is very little you can even assert about your god. As always, I pledge to keep an open mind and to be guided by the weight of the evidence. Will you do the same, or will you believe no matter what the evidence shows?"

    Hi Martin

    I'm not interested. I've been down this road with other atheists and I've heard all the dismissals and alternative theories before. I highly doubt you'd approach this with an open mind, its already made up. No evidence I'd present would change that and likely nothing you could present would change my mind either because I've read pretty much all the atheist talking points against God at one point or another. It would be a futile exercise for both of us and I have better things to do as I'm sure you do as well.

    Cheers
    Paul

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  19. Martin:

    I have not bothered to communicate for the last while, because you did not get my last comment, and so I realize that it is largely a waste of time attempting to carry on a dialogue with you.

    It is kind of the Robert Heinlein quote “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”

    It is possible to be right and to know the truth, and it is possible to be right and have no idea of the truth.

    Being right comes from knowledge. The truth comes from wisdom. You possess some knowledge about scripture, but are devoid of wisdom about the scriptures.

    You have invented this straw man theory of yours based on YOUR personal knowledge and interpretation of a couple of scriptures that somehow prove to your satisfaction something about Jesus.

    But Jesus is the Living Word of God, not a bumch of words on a page. The scriptures are basically useless without a personal relationship with the one who is the Word.

    Jesus wants to have a personal relationship with each of us, a concept that you seem not to be able to grasp, probably because you have not experienced it, and are too stubborn to invest yout time and energy in it.

    Instead you blather on about your interpretation of scripture like you are some erudite scholar.

    What is the point? I fail to see it.

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  20. Hi Paul,

    One final point: you accuse me of advancing straw men arguments. A straw man argument is one where an opposing view is misrepresented and then refuted. A straw man argument does not deal with your opponents real arguments, but rather, it seeks to dismantle a charicature of those arguments.

    It is a dishonest form of rhetorical argument and it is one that personally I eschew. If you truly believe that I have misrepresented your arguments, then I ask you in charity to point it out to me.

    Cheers...Martin

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  21. Hi Michael,

    You write: "Jesus wants to have a personal relationship with each of us, a concept that you seem not to be able to grasp, probably because you have not experienced it, and are too stubborn to invest yout time and energy in it.

    Instead you blather on about your interpretation of scripture like you are some erudite scholar.

    What is the point? I fail to see it."

    I often hear the charge that atheists are not interested in understanding spiritual truths. Your comment seems to lump me into that category.

    In my experience many atheists come from faith backgrounds. Many atheists have personally struggled mightily to really see the truth and wisdom of religion's claims. After much careful examination, reflection, and discernment such atheists find religious claims to be sorely wanting. I include myself among this latter group of atheists.

    While you may find my questions and observations irritating and impertinent, I typically attempt to engage your arguments directly. I even acknowledge my errors when I make them (see the earlier part of this thread where I acknowledged my over-broad definition of a rapturist). I try to refrain from personal attacks. I will acknowledge that I sometimes fail in this regard, but even when I fail, you will note that I usually limit my comments to the other poster’s online behaviour. I do not advance baseless speculations about his or her motives, nor do I assign ill will beyond what their own writings clearly demonstrate.

    I do not regard myself as an erudite scholar of anything. I do, however, see myself as a lifelong student who is keenly interested in the intersection of religious belief and the secular world.

    If you think that I “blather” too much, well you can always skip over my comments and choose not to respond to me. I do it with many others I encounter here and elsewhere. The option is open to you as well.

    Cheers…Martin

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  22. Hi Michael,

    You write: "You have invented this straw man theory of yours based on YOUR personal knowledge and interpretation of a couple of scriptures that somehow prove to your satisfaction something about Jesus. "

    It is not a straw man argument. You keep using this reference to the straw man fallacy incorrectly. It is my argument that Jesus failed in his prophecy of the Second Coming. It is not your argument. I have provided straightforward scriptural references to support my very simple assertion that Jesus was wrong. I am either right, or I am wrong.

    If you think I am wrong, then refute my argument. Quit whining and moaning that it is some kind of evil "straw man argument". You only make yourself look silly and intellectually impotent when you try to label and dismiss MY argument. Deal with the content of my argument Michael.

    Cheers...Martin

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  23. Martin

    You seem to lack basic understanding of a straw man argument. Your entire premise is a straw man, in that you have based it entirely on a false assumption that you dreamed up.

    Apparently, by your assumption mankind was too dense for about 2,000 years to see that Luke 21:32 proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was just some rube who wandered in off the street and lied His way into the hearts of mankind.

    And your premise is that when Jesus used the words "this generation" in this particular sentence, he was obviously wrong.

    Except that you missed the context.

    It is you that says that "this generation" refers to the then current generation. That is out of context of the passages that precede 21:32.

    Read with an open heart and mind chapters 20 and 21 and ponder the words slowly and carefully, and see if you can see the context and the generation that Jesus refers to.

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  24. Try as I might Michael, I do not understand your points.

    Let me restate my position:

    FACT 1: The prophetic power of scripture is supposed to be evidence for its divine inspiration. Scripture claims that it makes accurate prophecies in order to convince unbelievers that it is truly the word of god. The bible claims this in many places.

    FACT 2: The Second Coming of Christ was, and is, a key tenet of Christianity. Refer to the Nicene Creed which summarizes the key tenets of Christianity.

    FACT 3: Jesus states in numerous places in Luke, Mark and Matthew that the Second Coming will occur within the lifetime of Christ’s audience. Luke 21:32 “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” Alternatively, refer to Luke 9:27 “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.”

    FACT 4: All that were standing in front of Jesus in Luke 21:32 and 9:27 are now dead. All of them.

    FACT 5: When I look out my window, I see that the world still exists. The Second Coming of Christ has not occurred.

    CONCLUSIONS: Either one or both of the following must be true:

    a) Jesus was wrong in his prophecy, AND/OR
    b) Scripture incorrectly recorded His prophecy

    Take your pick. It is either one of these or both.

    IMPLICATIONS: If Jesus was wrong, then he is:

    a) Not the Son of God, AND/OR
    b) Mistaken, AND/OR
    c) Deceiving his audience

    If Scripture is wrong:

    a) Then scripture cannot be trusted to accurately relay the word of your god. It does not support one of the key tenets of Christianity (i.e. the Second Coming of Christ).

    When you say that I must have a personal relationship with Jesus in order to interpret scripture, you are contradicting scripture itself. Prophecies contained within scripture are supposed to be evidence of its divine origin. In other words, I should be able to rely on scripture’s demonstrable ability to ACCURATELY prophesize. I have given you one very important instance where it does not.

    To compound matters, it is a prophecy from someone who you claim is god. I reasonably expect god’s prophecies to be the most accurate prophecies of all. In this instance it is not, therefore, the implications I noted above apply.

    When you call my argument a “straw man theory” you are simply attaching a negative label to my premises and conclusions. You are trying to dismiss my argument without doing the heavy lifting of actually challenging the facts I have stated, or clearly demonstrating to me that my conclusions are wrong.

    So…which one of the 5 Facts do you dispute?

    If you dispute none, then show me which conclusion is incorrect and why.

    If my conclusions are correct, then point out why the Implications I associate with those conclusions are false.

    This is all pretty straightforward, and I apologize to other readers that already understand this.

    I await your reasoned response.

    Cheers…Martin

    ReplyDelete
  25. Martin: You know that FACT #1 is incorrect. We were taught the answer to this is scripture classes. Most prophecy in the bible comes from the looking back over events to see the hand of God working. Implicit in these prophecies are the materials that we can draw future predictions from. By limiting prophecy in the manner that you are doing is keeping you from understanding the true power and nature of these promises.

    One other point: THANK YOU! This conversation demonstrates the best of what I intended and hoped this blog could become: a place where these issues can be discussed and debated. I always admired your mind and heart when we lived together in the Seminary. I do so even more now. I wish there were more people in the world like yourself. It would be a much better place to live in.

    Tim

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  26. Martin

    You are either intentionally obtuse or dumb as a post. I opt for number 1.

    For a man that displays a lot of knowledge of the WORDS in scripture, you have a very weak grasp of it's meaning.

    I explained to you Luke 21:32. Luke 9:27 is not problematic. "some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."

    Two things to ponder. Stephen saw the gates of heaven open before he died. Was he the only one? Probably not. Jesus told us the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. If it is at hand, I might just be able to see it.

    I do not share Fr. Tim's enthusiasm for your words. If you seriously wanted to know answers to these questions, why don't you send a note to Father Prieur? He would give you meaningful answers to your questions. But, instead you want to take on Paul and me, two hicks without the training that you have. We just love the Lord, but lack the training to give you detailed answers. it seems curious to me.

    But Father Tim, that said, this discussion, which is completely off topic of the original post has value. Why don't you cut and paste the guts of the comments and make a posting or two that all can join in to if they wish.

    Michael

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  27. Hi folks - I am travelling, so I am not always able to respond quickly. Time zones, airports and all of that.

    Hi Tim - I am aware that the RCC does not like to use prophecies in the manner that I have suggested. Why would they? The bible is littered with failed prophecies and it is a cottage industry among atheists to point them all out. What I said was that the bible itself repeatedly claims that prophecies are a sign post to it's divine origin. There are many places this said, but I will point to Isaiah 41:22-24. Verse 23 is particularly relevant: "yes, tell us what will occur in the days ahead, then we will know you are god's."

    Hi Michael - I am overjoyed you think me only obtuse and not stupid. I seem to have fallen a lot in your estimation since you last called me an erudite scholar. I guess you were not sincere about the "scholar" thing. Oh well, nice try on Stephen. Context is everything my friend, and in all of the passages I have cited, your god was referring to his Second Coming - not to the fact someone might glimpse the pearly gates before they achieved permanent worm food status.

    I know you keep calling yourself a "hick", but you do have a religious blog and you do try to publicly evangelize - so you need to know how to handle simple objections from idiots like me.

    Please try again Michael. You may think me obtuse or stupid, but I still have hope for you yet.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Martin:

    I called you erudite, meaning "having or showing great knowledge". That is no less the case, IMHO. However, I also find you intentionally obtuse, not stupid, though I had to ponder which I thought you were acting out.

    I particularly said on at least one occasion that you seem to, or in fact do, not sure which I said, possess a lot of knowledge, but seem to be missing the wisdom component that can be sought.

    Many things have happened in my life that have drawn me towards a life in Christ.

    About 25 years ago, I was at a rereat that was partially being led by Father Michael Prieur, and while there I had a very personal experience of the presence of Jesus Christ. In that encounter, I came to know that he loved me more than I deserved, even though I was and remain a sinner.

    About 20 years ago, I was crippled with arthritis rather suddenly, and severely. One day, I heard the Lord speak to me and tell me to call a particular friend who was actually at that same retreat I mentioned above. I met with him, and he prayed over me, and instantly I was healed of the arthritis.

    More recently, I was in an automobile accident and sustained a significant concussion, the symptoms of which are still with me daily. In the 8 years since that accident, I have not been healed physically, but have been healed a great deal in my mind and spirit, and emotions.

    So, for me Jesus Christ is very real, and very personal. He is the God of the Bible for me, but my relationship with Him goes far beyond words on a page.

    Consequently, I have not a great deal of patience for those who want to play word games over scripture, and particularly when they wish to re-interpret that which has been interpreted by Catholic tradition for about 2,000 years.

    I used to be able to engage in verbal jousting for the purpose of winning and proving that I was all that and a bag of chips. For one, I can no longer do that mentally, and for another I don't really care to.

    I am more interested in the truth, and for that I turn to prayer to enlighten my reading and seek wisdom over knowledge.

    I have read what you have written, but frankly become confused by it, too many words in too many individual comments that criss cross and move about with reckless abandon. That is why I asked Father Tim to synthesize them if he wanted and start a couple of new posts with them.

    What I have written on my blog is I hope faithful to Catholic Church teaching, because I believe in my faith that it is divinely inspired.

    Can I prove it to you? Nope. Do I need to? Nope again. If I could somehow string the right words together would you care? I don't really think so.

    So, my frustration that I present from time to time is not about you, but about my inability to follow this ever bouncing ball, and wondering why I am bothering. What is the value?

    Faith in Jesus Christ is not a game for me, so I don't like feeling like it is being treated as such.

    You may have hope for me, but hope for what.

    Michael

    ReplyDelete
  29. Michael: Your testimony is inspiring and helps to buttress your and my faith. Thank you.

    I apologize for not responding to your suggestion. I'm up to my eye balls trying to settle the estates of two friends who recently died and left me as executor of their estates. That has eaten up a great deal of my free time and energy, and as a result I have not paid enough attention to the blog. I simply have been screening out the filth and automatically posting comments from both of you without reading them. Please consider it a measure of my trust in your logic, faith and intelligence and not as any disinterest in your comments.

    I'd be happy to synthesize the comments if you wish, but I suspect neither you nor Martin are in a spot right now to carry it on any way. You as you shared above; Martin as he is traveling at this time. But the offer is open if you would like.

    Fr. Tim

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  30. Hi Michael,

    Thank you for sharing a little bit of who you are and where you have been on your life's journey.

    While I understand how you see your scriptures, I obviously do not agree with you. I believe we can respect each other as people and still respectfully disagree about ideas.

    What you describe as reasons for your belief are what I would call "highly subjective". They are very similar to the kinds of reasons that my 75 year old mother gives for her Catholic beliefs. As a rule, I don't argue with her, or with others about these things. These are personal experiences which are not open to objective analysis. They are deeply personal and I have no interest in upsetting anyone's apple cart. It is disrespectful of the person.

    Having said that, I will examine ideas with an objective basis for discussion. If you feel that we have exhausted this line of discussion we can leave it here.

    Bottom line - I think I have adequately made my case that Jesus was mistaken about His Second Coming. Of all the conclusions that I have outlined, this is probably the least damaging conclusion to the cause of the believer. As I pointed out to Paul, since you have a god who can be wrong, you are not a position of intellectual strength. You may have many subjective and personal reasons for your religious convictions, but not strong objective ones.

    To my mind, this suggests that Christians ought to be a lot more humble in the public square, a little less cocksure that they have the absolute Truth, and a lot more tolerant of other points of view. Christians may not like this loss of presumptive superiority that they have enjoyed for centuries, but it is inevitable and it is right.

    ReplyDelete
  31. One more thing: Tim, thanks for your hospitality in allowing me to post here. I really do appreciate the opportunity to debate folks that come by here. While I obviously disagree with many, and I can sometimes be a snarky b@St@rd, I really am interested in testing ideas.

    Cheers...Martin

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  32. Martin: You have always been a sincere seeker of the truth. I set up this blog in the hope of it becoming a place where folks like you, Michael and I can meet to do exactly that. You may sometimes come off as you say, but you are always civil and cogent. I would not ever question your motives.

    You are most welcome here.

    Tim

    ReplyDelete
  33. Martin

    You do make interesting points, and I do not want to diminish that.

    You correctly stated that individual faith appears to be very subjective, of course, since my faith is about me and God, and not particularly about you.

    Faith tends to be that way, since it is experiential.

    However, your lack of faith is equally subjective and experiential. It warrants respect as such.

    Your ideas about the return of Jesus are also subjective, based on your own experience and interpretation. It is not the interpretation of the body of Christians, who are the subjects and objects of the book you are writing about.

    You think you have presented cogent arguments against Jesus perfection that if they were true, and I do not personally know, then prove to you that He is a God who can make mistakes. That is a giant leap that ignores that Jesus was fully human while He was here on earth, and subject to all human frailties except sin, or so we have been taught.

    Yet, your apparently objective arguments fly in the face of over 2,000 years of Christian scholarship, which objectively has performed exhaustive examination of Scripture.

    You are satisfied with your conclusion. I am not. There is now so much data on the table that I cannot find a handle to pull it together where I can look at it cogently, which is where my frustration emanates from.

    I do think you have an interesting thesis, and one that would make a good article for WTRMTR, and which could generate debate on it's one merits without the mud of the Rapture.

    Michael

    ReplyDelete
  34. Martin

    I wanted to deal with your last paragraph separately, because it is actually a new topic.

    We actually have room for agreement on the actions of Christians in the world.

    We agree that Christians should be more humble than they appear in the public square.

    But, what is humble? Ignoring what we believe because someone tells us it is not logical. How did logical get to be objective? Ignoring what we believe because someone is offended by it? Although our Canadian HRC's have tried to make being offended a cause for litigation, at least in their kangaroo courts, being offended is also very subjective.

    As to the cocksure position of many Christians that they individually have the "whole truth", on that we are in accord as well. Christians, of course do not have a lock on this tendency, and those who administer the same tactic believe that they have the whole truth as well.

    As there are enough flavors of Christianity to more than go around, all but one at most, must have some of it wrong, and that should be humbling.

    There is an interesting topic here.

    Michael

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi Michael,

    There is at least one interesting topic offshoot from our discussion here. I always remember my time at the seminary...the most "orthodox" seminarians seemed the most enraptured with simple, black and white answers to some of life's most perplexing questions. To a man, they were very uncomfortable with tentative answers, or ambiguous conclusions.

    As I reflect back upon those days, I cannot help but be reminded of the words of Bertrand Russel:

    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

    Cheers...Martin

    ReplyDelete

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