Faith, Doubt, Time: Seeking a Better Country

This is simply not the case and shows that your research is limited to those who agree with you.

Again, we’re spinning our wheels here as you do not respect the level or mindset of the research I’ve done in this regard and the conversation is pointless.

Actually, Jeremy, if you look at Dr. Gerhard’s comment, and mine below (#22), you will see that we share the opinion that the the text in Revelation has not been properly translated. Rather than something happening in the near term, the term ‘quickly’ as properly translated from the Greek means, ‘when it starts to happen, it will happen fast’…which makes more sense when you think about it.

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@NY_G_PA2, if you’re saying the historiographic scholarly main is composed of people who hold the only useful ancient biographical materials are autobiographical ones, I would humbly ask you to certify the same: Show a statement from one mainstream historiographical society dealing in biographical materials that verifies this methodological viewpoint. You absolutely cannot do it.

You can’t talk meaningfully about my “respect.” Only I am credible on my cognition.

Also, to the contrary, I’ve responded to your claims seriously, and taken them this way, as well. Nor have I cut off conversation with you for spurious reasons, like, for example, you don’t agree with me, or we’re “spinning our wheels.”

Incredulity is not an argument. If you’ve done the research you claim, please show me a single statement by a single mainstream historical organization, with scholars placed in significant research institutions, which holds, for ancient persons, autobiographical materials are the only credible life sources; i.e., if the person didn’t say it about himself, we have no reason to believe it. I’m talking about one which would agree with my hypothetical statement about Nero.

You simply cannot do this. You just cannot. Unless you are carrying water for Richard Carrier, the Jesus Project, or their ilk, your well is going to be bone-dry.

HA

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interesting…this may be one thing that’s been understood incorrectly, for as long as i can recall…i just looked up the greek, “tachy”, as Gerhard notes…this may not mean “soon”, at all, as so many of the newer translations have it…the KJV translates “tachy” as “quickly”, which could simply refer to the speed of Christ’s return when he does return, which is what i’m thinking you’re saying…in which case we really could be looking at centuries more before christ returns…

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Okay.

Nobody agrees with me.

:cry:

However, this does nothing to prove me wrong nor can anyone establish the validity of his claim to know and understand Jesus after only having read the NT or any of the other stories about him.

Similarly, the fact that some have chosen to die for their faith in the Jesus story proves nothing.

Hopefully you agree with this, just as you would reasonably concur with my assertion that the fact that many people were willing to die for their faith in The Third Reich does not mean that we should spend more time studying Mein Kampf.

Okay.

All I know is that I don’t spend two seconds of my day looking for a cloud in the east about the size of a man’s hand…unless it looks like it might be a rain cloud.

Agreed…I find that I really like the idea other protestant denominations embrace called, “the time in-between”, meaning the time in-between Jesus’ ascension to heaven and His 2nd coming. If we just looked at our circumstances that way, wouldn’t we be more focused on the reality we presently live in and more interested in social justice, environmental conservation, addressing poverty, etc. etc., rather than trying to make time charts!

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undoubtedly, but my understanding is that many adventists do support ADRA, the Sierra Club, and vote for candidates who care about social issues…i know i always budget for hand-outs to street people when i’m on vacation - Vancouver now, which leads the country in street people, and Fort Lauderdale next week - and i know for a fact i’m not the only one…

but i do get what you mean about people who are always seeing prophecy fulfillment in the headlines…i don’t know if you recall from awhile back that Spectrum covered a prophet from Puerto Rico who was saying that the pope’s visit to the u.s. in 2015 coincided with when IJ moved to the cases of the living…

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Of course you, I and others do those things and try to help where we can. I guess I morphed into thinking of the institutional church when I made that comment.

And no, I never heard about the pope’s visit coinciding with anything…good grief! It’s like trying to multiply Roman numerals…what is the point?!

But I am old enough to remember where the phrase ‘drink the Kool-Aid’ comes from and there are a lot of people with crazy ideas out there.

Thanks for the dialogue!

L

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That’s absolutely correct: What I am claiming about scholarly convictions and conclusions — if true — does not prove you wrong.

In fact, the scholars may be wrong, and you may be correct.

What I’m saying, though, is, given how knowledge is built in this world, then accepted within mainstream courses of thought, what I’ve just proposed is so unlikely as to almost certainly not be the case.

This is analogous, for example, to current controversies around knowledge of all kinds: There are people who believe the U.S. never landed on the Moon, that the 2020 election was stolen, and that Anthony Fauci is an undercover mole for satanic, Kremlinesque, baby-eating in-breeds.

However, these are subaltern opinions. They have high weight — mass — because so many people believe them.

They do not have equal value, with other forms of, say, peer-reviewed knowledge, though; this being a high standard for how knowledge is authenticated.

It depends on what you mean.

As one who wants to be a Christian, I establish — or don’t — the validity of my claim to know Christ by Christian effects; by thought, speech, and action which make a purported Christian influence authentic to others; e.g., your earlier statement about my failure to demonstrate “Christian Love.”

Christians do not merely read the New Testament, even though we consider these credible, compelling testimonies of Christ.

We also read the Old Testament, which fills out and sets a context for Christ’s appearance and the focus on Him.

Finally, we do this all by faith, that being an adverbial expression for a relationship with God that contains His inputs.

Like any relationship, it is bounded by its intimacies. Everyone, mostly, has deep, emotional thoughts of, or, if she is no longer alive, memories of, their mother. But almost no one else shares those emotions, except, maybe one’s siblings.

That 7 1/2 billion people could not care less about your mother in no way invalidates your relationship with her, or the reality of it.

The validity of the claim to know and understand Jesus, after only having read the NT, or any of the other stories about Him, is like your love for your mother. It is real to you, because you have a real relationship with her.

How long would it take someone to establish the validity of a claim you didn’t love your mother…to you?

I agree, not objectively, but subjectively.

In other words, obviously, many people are still persuaded by the claims of Nazi Germany. Those so persuaded should, naturally, pursue those claims; e.g., they should study Hitler’s struggle. The proof of their persuasion is the degree to which they pursue those claims. Obviously, a willingness to die for those claims can be seen as proof of their convictions.

However, this proof is subjective. That someone professes Hitler, or Christ, doesn’t itself, validate either. Objective proof Nazism is better than Christianity, or vice versa, only comes by ascertaining:

a) What do these two systems, objectively, produce?
b) Is what either one produces, objectively, more desirable than the other?

HA

Okay.

If Jesus comes and tells me which peer-reviewed Christian scholar I should take more seriously than my own experience, I’ll take his recommendation under advisement and consider listening to that expert instead of you or myself.

Or maybe not…

BTW, having quit Adventism decades ago, I no longer believe that Jesus is coming back and would be extremely skeptical of anyone who shows up claiming to be him, no matter how dramatic his entrance might be.

Instead, I take at least one memory verse literally.

The one that said Jesus would always be present in spirit.

That is, Jesus can’t return because he never left.

I’m not going to submit a peer-reviewed paper on it though.

As you say, the premise is like one’s love for his mother; i.e., impossible to prove.

Thanks, @NY_G_PA2.

Again, respectfully, you’re not arguing in a straight line. You’re doing so, more, along an oblong, wandering spiral.

• If you were feeling a sharp pain in your right side, under your rib cage, you should trust this knowledge more than that of a peer-reviewed scholar who says you are not feeling such a pain.

But, if that pain continued, or, worse, increased, you would want the help of someone whose knowledge in this area was peer-reviewed. You would want this, more than you’d want the help of an ordinary, high school friend with the same pain, or even a purported expert with the same pain, but whose knowledge of it had not been challenged by her peers.

The point is that certain kinds of knowledge, by the way they are acquired, are appropriate for some matters, but not for others.

• If your strategy for ascertaining valid biographical content re: ancient historical figures is to wait for spiritual manifestations of those persons to advise you, do carry on. But don’t expect to be taken seriously by thinking people when you voice your opinions on these issues. :thinking:

Thanks.

The bottom of the essay you forwarded says this:

Thomas P. Sheahen holds B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is Director of the Institute for Theological Encounter with Science & Technology, based in St. Louis.

• The terminal degree Dr. Sheahan presents, in validating his authority to speak on peer review, was granted as the outcome of a peer-reviewed process.

• The Institute he directs produces peer-reviewed work, if it is to have any currency in scientific or technological matters.

As a person who, after many decades, hasn’t left Adventism, but who respects your decision to part company with it for any reason, I’d say the following:

a) Please cite and reproduce, from a standard version of the Bible, the verse where Christ says He “would always be present in spirit.”

b) If, by any chance, you are reaching back to Matthew 28:20 (NIV), where He promises “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” this statement is clarified and contextualized by numerous statements He and others made about His departure, at the end of His ministry.

These, and other, statements also nullify any argument Christ is not coming back; a fact which is affirmed many times in the Bible. Again, one may believe what they wish, but the Bible does not support such an idea.

c) If “the premise” you describe as “impossible to prove” is the statement “Christ will return,” I’d agree it is impossible for any human to prove this.

However, again:

  1. this is the validating role faith serves, and

  2. it is not necessary for any human to prove it, either, because this will be accomplished by God. ("‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord." — Romans 12:19 NIV)

d) Finally, you say you “would be extremely skeptical of anyone who shows up claiming to be [Christ], no matter how dramatic his entrance might be.”

The Bible says your statement is false.

The Bible states people who are not prepared to meet Him, when He returns, will call out for destruction by the elements, because His arrival will not only be so overwhelming and obliterative, but morally exposing and oppressive, as well.

I don’t know if you were in New York City on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. However, I was, because New York City is my home town; I lived in Harlem. The only reason I wasn’t near the Twin Towers that morning — at the radio station, where I volunteered, seven blocks up and two blocks over from the World Trade Center — was I’d gone to bed very late the night before and decided to sleep in.

When the Towers were hit, and especially when the second, South Tower was hit, no one turned to the person standing on their right and said, “I thought the first one was better.”

No one turned to the person standing on their left and said, “Do you wanna go out for lunch this afternoon?”

No one turned to anyone near them and said, “I was thinking of heading to Saks, today. I heard they have an incredible sale.”

Instead, all witnessed the destruction in full-throated horror. Of course, when the Towers collapsed, one at a time, the reactions were just as wild, only worse. Every response was unrestrained, utterly terrified, unplanned, and involuntary. These are the qualities one most observes when they see and hear the video footage of that day:

The Bible says, in so many words, that when Christ returns, it will be a September 11th, everywhere, at once. It says that people who are not saved will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming (2 Thess. 2:8 KJV). In other words, the light of His arrival, alone, will be so intense as to have this annihilating effect.

You may expect you will be able to plan a calm response to such devastation, or maintain a composed demeanor as the planet is taken apart from the inside.

I certainly hope, for your sake, you are correct on at least two points: 1) He cannot come back, and/or 2) were someone to do so, the ice water in your veins would maintain a brisk 32ºF.

HA

…Lots of stuff, much of it contradictory, and all of it 2,000 years out of a contextual setting that all of the king’s men could not reassemble, to the point where “proof texting” proves nothing.

Nice try with choosing your, high pressure salesman, “fear factor” memory verses though…

BTW, I noticed that no one else seems to care about this conversation and Spectrum says I’ve replied enough times, so I’m out.

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Here, unless I misread you.

You use hillbillies as a metaphor for simpletons, but at the same time give them a degree of respect since “they frequently accept the Bible by faith”.

And it is largely true. In the Appalachian region, there are churches of various flavors every 100 yards. And yes, they accept the Bible by faith. It is just true. It is a rare hillbilly who questions the claim that the anthology called the Bible is the very word of God. Faith in this sense is the acceptance of the extraordinary claim that the Bible is God’s word and hence at least reliable and perhaps without error in the autographs. This is the classic example of epistemic faith as belief in the absence of evidence or in spite of evidence to the contrary. In your statement above, you seemed to me to be considering this to be a virtue, a redeeming factor for hillbillies.

Many on this thread are trying to relativize the Greek term translated as soon or quickly, either through variant meanings in the Greek, and/or trying to relativize soon to deep time. I think there are problems with both of the approaches.

The bottom line is that the Bible is a collection of documents meant to communicate ideas of and from God through human writers, first to its original audiences and then secondarily to us who are peering in all these years later. What they thought just can’t be tossed aside so that we can pour our own meaning into the text.

The first question is what did this all mean to the original authors and audiences? In this case the NT is pretty clear in multiple places: they expected Jesus to return not only suddenly, but soon. In their lifetimes. That’s not even debatable. What can also be seen in the gospels themselves is Jesus’s own teachings that cautioned against trying to determine the timing of his return. Always be ready, because you do not know the time. It will be like a thief in the night. No one knows the day nor the hour. Parables that told his disciples and that were used to communicate by the gospel writers to the early church that his appearing could be sooner or later than they thought.

But, none of this seems to indicate that any of them thought that this would stretch 2,000 years into the future. Too much of the NT language mitigates against such an understanding. John telling his audiences, “Little children, now it is the last hour.” Paul saying, " We who are alive and remain…" will be caught up with dead who are risen, etc. Sooner or later was within the framework of a time period that was still within their lifetimes and if after a time beyond that, certainly not 2,000 years later and counting. To thus quibble over the meaning of soon in Revelation as something determinative of this issue’s meaning is to miss the forest for the trees as to what the NT is generally saying.

The second question is what does soon mean to people today, to whom we communicate the gospel and the hope we have? This is also pretty clear. We can’t start playing around with relative meanings of soon in terms of comparisons to deep time as if that’s what it really means to and in light of God. Throw out the Bible and throw out communicating with language that is meaningful and relevant to people today, as well. Soon means soon in the way it is generally understood today, and in the way it was commonly meant in the NT. To try to pour in different meaning based on the advances of science is to render language to be practically meaningless to people. It is also poor communication, something that I don’t think we can say of the biblical authors in their day, or something that we should traffic in now.

The early SDA church grew out of the apocalyptic fervor of the second great awakening. They took the eschatological and apocalyptic portions of the Bible and read them as if they were written directly to themselves. Soon now meant soon in light of Miller’s predictions and how they interpreted the prophecies of Jesus’s return, especially in light of the doctrine of the IJ. This helped cover the bases for them of why there was a gap from the first century until the 19th, and gave new urgency to the proclamation that Jesus was indeed coming soon…again. But, here we are 178 years after 1844, and 2,000 years after the apostles, and we’re still here. Jesus is coming soon just cannot continue being said. To keep saying it ends up sounding to the average person like Chicken Little, the sky is falling. Except it still hasn’t.

To the sign watchers of his day who were looking for the signs of the coming kingdom Jesus himself said, “The kingdom is already in your midst.” IOW, what he was doing in terms of bringing healing, hope, inclusion, restored life, and wellness to those in need was the sign that God’s rule and way of being was already afoot and at work in the world. Jesus discouraged their searching for signs and pointed them to this instead. I think that SDAism and much of evangelical Christianity with its eschatological mania needs the same corrective.

At the risk of sounding foolish to some, I do believe that Jesus will appear. That he will consummate what he inaugurated. When that will happen, I don’t know. None of us do. Nor are there tell tale signs telling us the end is near. it’s institutional hubris to keep on insisting there are. We need to be occupied with making the world better here and now, in the way that Jesus himself did. Where this is happening, this is the kingdom already in our midst. To be about this business is our calling and vocation as human beings created in God’s image, and as the church, no matter what time it is. Unlike trying to predict the circumstances, signs, or timing of the end, we can’t go wrong if we’re about doing this and being this way in the world.

Understanding the prophetic future, which seems more and more like a fool’s errand, takes a back seat to outgoing and caring love in the here and now. The future and its timing can be left to God.

Frank

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I’ll do you one better: In 1 Corinthians 1:18, Paul says, in so many words, “From a certain perspective, all of this is foolishness”; his word. And that was when it was 0 years “out of date.” So, what you’re saying is 2,000 years out of date; it’s not new, and you’re not the first to say it. As implied by the totality of what I’ve said, the Bible may be just a waste of paper; i.e., it may all be false.

However, nowhere, here, in this forum, have I said the Bible is true, or argued for its veracity. What I’m arguing is an analysis, given the existence of the Bible. I’m doing this as a person with, I think you may agree, some familiarity with its contents.

What I’ve focused on is pointing out the incoherence of your ideas and procedural logic, particularly in the context of its ideas; i.e., that, and not the truth of the Bible.

In other words, you may strongly believe the Bible is…

If you are correct, you have nothing about which to worry or be concerned.

However, I’d argue: If you are correct, respectfully, it had better be on the basis of better reasoning than you’ve applied, in many of your arguments, here, on Spectrum.

It’s odd to me you say this, because, when I first read your words, I didn’t know what you were talking about, and I’m still not sure I do.

Put another way, from my perspective, none of what I wrote is “high pressure salesman, ‘fear factor,’” whatever this means.

I’m a journalist, by passion and trade. So, when I write, I’m simply working to spell out an assemblage of facts and ideas as they are impressed upon me, in a way I hope is interesting and compelling.

When writing or speaking, I’m always my first audience. So, speaking about the end of the world in the context of 9/11 — if it is this to which you refer — is not any kind of “high-pressure tactic.” To me, it’s an obvious analogy, based on my understanding and experience.

If you see it as “high-pressure,” I’d humbly submit it may have more to do with your psychology than mine. Perhaps you should get that looked at.

Well, you can’t be credible on that about which other people “care,” since caring is invisible, and inaccessible to second parties.

However, enjoy your time away.

HA

Thanks for this thoughtful essay, @frank_merendino. I always am moved by your sober and well-rendered thoughts.

I absolutely agree with most of what you’ve written. Your “general letter” is nine paragraphs in length. I agree with everything you say from the beginning, until the statement you emphasize, at the end of your sixth paragraph, via italics and bold:

I disagree, strongly, for reasons I’ve already given in this forum, above, and won’t restate, and for ones I’ve not already mentioned.

The chief reason from the latter set is simple: Jesus said His coming would be soon. If this statement is no longer true, then Christ was either a liar, or a fraud.

What, to you, apparently prompts incredulity, to me evokes wonder. I find it awesome and amazing that Christ was able to come up with this single, timeless word — soon — to describe His return: One which would encapsulate so many temporal and cognitive realities.

I also agree with much of the rest of your text. But I disagree with this statement:

Part of the reason Christ’s disciples thought His coming would be in their lifetimes was, when he described the time of the end in Matthew 24, His description seemed contemporaneous; “wars, and rumors of wars,” etc.

If your point is that these conditions are ever present, that was Christ’s point, also. He wasn’t giving a date for His return. He was saying the world was never going to get any better. It hasn’t.

Christ knew his return would take thousands of years, at least, much as His arrival had. He also knew that, from His perspective, this was soon. (Peter emphasized this, in his second letter, chapter 3.)

However, Christ also knew human lifespans would halt at 120 years, and most would last, at most, 2/3rds as long. From this perspective, the arrival of any cataclysmic event is soon.

A 60-meter meteor, which would leave an impact akin to the Barringer Crater in Winslow, AZ, above, happens one or twice every 1,000 years on Earth, say scientists. Yet this is frequent and devastating enough for them to commit considerable resources to developing means which would avoid such a collision, or, God forbid, larger ones.

To these scientists, 500-1,000 years is soon. It is, because it compels present activity. That is what any soon thing does. So does Christ’s Second Coming, that being the most significant reason why it is soon.

HA

P.S. By the way: The sky is falling. It is continuously doing so, which is why there is a sky.

However, the sky is, also, always rising as well. That the forces which cause it to do so are in some balanced tension may be why people find either of these two statements, when mentioned in isolation, incredible.

P.P.S. Perhaps, akin to the sky, Christ’s soon coming also bears like tensions, in some similar, or dissimilar, regard.

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Thanks for this response, @bartwillruth.

I must add: I appreciate the straightforward, matter-of-fact, almost dry way you have assembled my replies and formed your new one. This makes it a pleasure to address your question.

I mostly agree with your response. I do, except where you define faith as:

I do not define faith this way.

I define faith as seeing reality from God’s perspective.

a) Built into such a definition is the conclusion God exists.

An ancillary to it, of course, is, if God exists — specifically, if the God described in the Judeo-Christian tradition exists — then the claim He has “a Word,” or that the Bible is this Word, is not extraordinary in any way.

b) I often fail to do so. But the longer I live, the easier, more precisely, and more readily I can see reality from my wife’s perspective.

Why?

Because I have a relationship with her. I know her, and know many subtleties about her; ones that even her close female friends, or siblings, do not know.

I do, because, for nearly 30 years, I have exercised an interest in observing her, and getting to know her ideas, feelings, and concepts, especially her self-concepts. Also, I am a better person, having had this privilege and opportunity.

However, if, this afternoon, or even five years from now, I said, “Bart, please look at this issue from my wife’s perspective,” you would be at a tremendous loss, because you don’t know her. Even were you to spend an entire day with her, you might not be able to do so.

(I don’t know if you are married, or, should you be, if you have been married a long time. If you are married, and have been married a long time, then, obviously, the same conditions would apply to me, were you to make the identical request of me concerning your wife.)

Here’s my point:

Because I am developing a relationship with God, I am developing faith. I am developing faith, because, as I get to know His ideas, feelings, and concepts, especially His self-concepts, it is easier for me to see reality from His perspective, and I am, additionally, compelled to do so. Seeing reality from God’s perspective is the true definition of faith.

HA

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Yes.

Peter’s thought, “A day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day,” is a not too swift attempted rebuttal of the scoffers who are saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?” They were obviously seeing the continuance of the world and time as we know it as being at variance with the early Christian preaching, Jesus hadn’t returned. Peter’s counter is basically saying that time is irrelevant to God, and he is also saying that to his audience. One can’t tell when the parousia will occur when essentially one can’t measure time according to God’s transcendent perspective. Sooner or later thus becomes irrelevant. It will happen when it happens.

This is why I maintain that we need to leave off the word soon. I also maintain that’s it’s just not good communication with contemporary people and bending language out of shape. People can’t seriously continue to listen to pronouncements that Jesus is coming soon who can see that the NT writers were saying this 2,000 years ago, and attached immanent expectations to it then, and when Adventism and other apocalyptic Christian groups have been saying so for close to two centuries, and still no parousia. It becomes incredulous to people hearing a soon pronouncement being continually made when history simply tells them otherwise.

I also think that we must listen to what Jesus said about this in broader context. How did Paul understand this? He thought that the end was so near that he counseled people to stay as they were, slaves as slave, single as single, etc., because time was short, Jesus’s appearing was immanent. Did he totally get Jesus wrong? John told his communities that it was the last hour; we assume he wrote this near the end of the first century. Did he get Jesus wrong and misunderstand what he meant by soon? Jesus himself said that of that time no one knows including the son of man or the angels, but only the father himself knows. Could the human Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, have had limitations concerning his own long view of these things? That wouldn’t mean that Jesus was a fraud, it would mean that he was maybe more human than we often are comfortable with acknowledging.

My wife had friends whose parents didn’t send them to high school, who didn’t embark on careers, who missed out on many things in life. Why? Jesus was coming soon. It led them to radical action, like Paul’s counsel, like the early Adventists who sold their farms and homes and goods, and like many who still are hung up with a disproportionate apocalyptic immanence, see the world through distorted lenses, and make unhealthy life decisions because of such.

Now and not yet is the operative view for me. We don’t know the not yet…that’s God’s business. Ours is the now, and being involved in the world for good as much as possible. That is the greatest sign of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, now and to come.

Thanks for engaging, Harry…

Frank

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Thanks, @frank_merendino.

I feel much of your response fails to engage with what I wrote, :slightly_smiling_face:, especially its key summary idea:

Christ’s Second Coming is soon, because it compels present activity. That is what any soon thing does.

As opposed to re-repeating myself, however, I’ll respond to three (3) matters you raise, and to which I feel I can add something I’ve not already said:

• Paul and John both spoke within their imperfect knowledge of the future. This is what humans always do. Christ said His coming was soon, so they repeated it. That was correct, faithful, their best bet…and it’s true!

Subjectively, they were correct: Paul had his head cut off. Essentially, assuming he is saved, his experience of death will be something akin to seeing the lights go out, followed by an immediate flash of glory; soon.

Objectively, they will be correct: From God’s perspective — He who possesses the only objective viewpoint — 2 Peter 3.

Said another way: If the saved live with God for eternity, then any interim period, in comparison, makes the arrival of this unlimited temporal expanse soon; a miniscule sliver of the whole. If Christ takes 1 quadrillion years to return — one thousand trillion years — by mathematical definition, that is soon.

It is only when subjective human beings attempt to talk about this elusive matter of time, objectively, that we find ourselves in conundrums.

If I were to ask you: “Frank, how much time would, actually, be ‘soon’?”, you could not both a) answer the question and b) prove your answer. All you could do was voice an opinion.

• In Luke 19’s rendition of the talents prophecy, the master tells his servants, “Occupy till I come.”

In Jeremiah 29, God tells Israel, “You are going to be captives in Babylon for 70 years.” Given what I said, before, about the length of human lifespans, this meant most of Israel — except its children, perhaps — would possibly die in captivity.

So, what does God tell them to do?

5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

In other words, as Snoop Dogg would say on “Gin & Juice,” get “Laaaaid baaaack….”

With all due and appropriate respect, your wife’s friend’s parents did not read Jeremiah 29 or Luke 19, and take their counsel to heart as it pertains to end-time matters.

When one reads Revelation, it doesn’t say, anywhere, “SELL YOUR FARM IMMEDIATELY!”

It says, in 3:18:

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

This is the trade in which God counsels us to engage, however long — or short — it takes him to return. I’ve never met a single faithful person who said, “I’ve got all the gold, white raiment, and eye salve I need. Where the heck is He?

• You suggest we leave off the word “soon.” I say to do so forfeits Christ’s literal Word — which God says will not return unto Him void. (Also, taking “words away” from His prophecies is literally what God commands us not to do in many places; e.g., Revelation 22:18, 19 NIV).

To do so also withholds a host of lessons from us; ones we acquire not only by following what God says, but by meditating on the ideas inside His commands. These are ideas we miss when we ignore His directives.

My thanks, in kind, Frank!

HA