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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Apocalypse again

A while ago I sort reviewed the book of Revelation, which tells an apocalyptic story. I reflected on the book and just could not find much in it for me. It seemed to me that the story belonged to an oppressed people celebrating their eventual victory over their oppressors. Not only am I not oppressed, the theme of vengeance was too distracting for me to get past it.

For the last three weeks we've read apocalyptic scriptures attributed to Jesus in the book of Matthew. Now, folks at the Jesus Seminar generally do not attribute these words to Jesus. See Robert Miller, Jesus Seminar & Its Critics at footnote 14. In Jesus, Marcus Borg challenges passages that put words of the Second Coming in Jesus' mouth by noting that the disciples seemed to have trouble understanding the present mission of Jesus, even if there was to be a Second Coming, it seems strange that Jesus would think his disciples could understand it.

All that said, I do find something valuable in the stories from Matthew 25, and I'm going to examine them this week.

A final note, the Matthew 25 network is a group of progressive Christians "inspired by the Gospel mandate to put our faith into action to care for our neighbor, especially the most vulnerable." As I've mentioned before, this group and lots of other progressive Christians who read Matthew 25, focus on Christ's call to help those in need, I'm going to be focusing on what the passage says happens to you if you don't.

3 comments:

Matt Dick said...

If Jesus was speaking of his second coming, and that day is not yet come... and I think we can agree it has not... then you are forced to conclude that Jesus chose to give detailed instructions to people more than 2000 years in the future by preaching to illiterate shepherds. I think that stretches credulity, does it not?

JimII said...

Yes it does. It seems much more likely that First Century Christians were disappointed not to have seen the Messiah's return would have put these words in Jesus' mouth to "help" those who might have felt a weakening faith.

Paul, who in many ways was the founder of the church, definitely believed in a very literal Second Coming, even counseled folks not to get married since it was so near. If you had remained celibate & single based on Paul's admonition many years earlier, I can see how you might be a little bitter.

Matt Dick said...

If you had remained celibate & single based on Paul's admonition many years earlier, I can see how you might be a little bitter.

No doubt.