The Same Old Song

Ascension2

How was it for you? The End of the World, I mean. The one last Saturday – 23rd September?

What do you mean it never happened? Christian numerologist David Meade promised it would. He worked it all out from the bible and stuff, and had numbers – numbers I tell you – to prove it.

When it didn’t happen, what did Meade do next? He explained that Saturday was only the beginning of the End. Terrible stuff was going to start happening on 23rd, that would lead up to the actual end End, which is not far off.

Same old, same old. How many times has this happened before? A predicted end-of-everything that doesn’t come to pass, followed by post-hoc ‘explanations’ from those who invented the nonsense? Invariably this entails some version of ‘it was really only the beginning of the end’, even though this is not what the ‘prophecy’ claimed before it failed. It’s easy to scoff, which is what Christians themselves do when one of their number fails spectacularly to predict the End. ‘They should know,’ they say, ‘that the Lord warned that no-one knows the precise time of the End.’ (And indeed he does in Mark 13:32.)

What they fail to see is that Christianity itself is built on a failed prediction that the End was nigh, and the resulting catalogue of excuses when it turned out not to be. Jesus (or those who put words into his mouth) was clear that the End of the World was scheduled while his pals and fans were still alive. When it didn’t happen, those who came after him invented all sorts of reasons why not: ‘he meant it would be a gradual process (Luke 17:20-21),’ ‘God doesn’t see time the way we do’ (2 Peter 3.8), ‘he’s delaying so more people can be saved (2 Peter 3.9). The writer of John’s gospel, written about 70 years after Jesus lived, solves the problem by ignoring the issue entirely.

Christians today leap on these excuses to explain why the world still hasn’t ended; yet there is an unassailable incongruity between this kind of fudging and what Jesus says. He thought and taught that the world was coming to a spectacular end soon, when God would remodel it in favour of the poor, the oppressed and the righteous (Matthew 16. 27-28 & 24.27, 30-34; Luke 21.27-28, 33-34 etc). He was wrong. Paul too thought God was going to rescue his ‘remnant’ while he still lived (1 Corinthians 15.51) and he was wrong too.

When it dawned on early Christians that the world was not going to end when Jesus and Paul had said it would, they started inventing their excuses. 2 Peter 3.3 warns that there would be scoffers in the last days, an undoubted jibe at those in the early second century who pointed out how mistaken Christians and their Christ were about the End. Those scoffers had a point and, two thousand years down the line, have even more of one.

Jesus is the archetypal failed prophet of End Times. Cranks like David Meade are merely modern day equivalents, purveyors of the exact same fatuous nonsense about the end of the world. Meanwhile, nothing changes; we are still here, the world is still here and God, as is the way with a non-existent being, remains characteristically unconcerned.

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4 thoughts on “The Same Old Song

  1. Peter knew Jesus and got the info directly from Him — and clearly, Peter did not interpret Jesus’ words in the way you and other unbelievers interpret them. Read some scripture on this point, why don’t you:

    2 Peter 3:3-9

    “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

    “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

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    • You might have a case if Peter had written the letters that bear his name. However, he didn’t. They were written long after he died; 2 Peter that you cut and paste at length here, wasn’t written until well into the 2nd century (we know this for a whole host of reasons; I suggest you do some reading on the subject).

      And while we’re talking about quotations, can I let you in on a little secret? There’s absolutely no point in quoting chunks of the bible at those who don’t recognise its authority. It’s about as meaningful as my quoting lengthy sections of the Quran at you.

      I’ll get to your other comments later when I’ve time to work out what it is you’re actually saying.

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      • Unbelievers dispute just about every aspect of the Bible, including the authorship of its books. That’s definitional: unbelievers disbelieve. If you don’t believe in God, then you will goal-seek explanations that exclude God.

        I admit to goal-seeking God, by the way: I very much seek His presence, and He draws near to me.

        I posit that you goal-seek as well: You seek separation from God, and He remains hidden from you.

        The truth of neo-Darwinian macroevolution is disputed by those who don’t believe it. The materialistic worldview is disputed by those who disagree. There’s much scholarship on these points. Shall I suggest you do some reading on these subjects (check out David Berlinski), or will it suffice to admit that these points of dispute are obvious, and tautological for that matter?

        Can I let you in on a little secret about quoting things?

        If you have a point to make about the Quran, it would be helpful for you to quote it to me, even at length. I’ve quoted the Quran at length in various discussions about Islam. Even though I don’t believe the Quran is inspired scripture, and I dispute its authority, it’s certainly meaningful to quote it in discussions about it.

        So, you go ahead and continue quoting the Bible, like you did in this blogpost, and I’ll do the same. Deal?

        The passage I quoted provides an internal refutation of the point you made in this blogpost. You cited 2 Peter 3:3, which is good, but you didn’t quote it. You just said it was “an undoubted jibe at those in the early second century who pointed out how mistaken Christians and their Christ were about the End.” You need to let the Bible speak for itself — otherwise, you’re just misrepresenting it and silencing its response to scoffers like you.

        Denial of prophecy drives much of higher criticism, including that of Bart Ehrman. That is, their theories are explicitly framed around how scripture could have been constructed without prophecy, without divine inspiration, without God Himself. Like the evolutionist explanation of everything, the conclusion determines the mode of investigation. In other words, unbelieving scholars of the higher criticism school harmonize the evidence to fit their presupposition.

        And let me be clear: as a presuppositionalist, not only do I admit to investigating the Bible from the perspective of belief, but I use my belief as a driving force.

        I’m biased for God. No doubt about it. Also of no doubt is the fact that you’re biased against God.

        The way prophecy is working out in history fulfills it in the only way possible: both a messianic priest and a messianic king are prophesied in the Old Testament, both a suffering savior and a triumphing savior are prophesied, His coming is prophesied before the destruction of the second temple and also after its rebuilding, His messianic identity will be both disputed by the Jews and acknowledged by the whole restored nation of Israel. These dual prophecies map to the first and second comings of Christ, respectively.

        At the heart of the whole Bible is the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. Believing begins by admitting that you’re a sinner and you deserve the righteous wrath of your loving God who is grieved by your hatred of Him. Only by faith through grace will you be blessed with such an understanding, because the natural man rebels against it with all his being.

        Some people have falsely believed, often because they were swept into the tradition through their upbringing. These people never knew their sin, because if they did, it could never be washed away by retroactively denying God’s existence. The Holy Spirit gives conviction in the heart that cannot be denied.

        It’s easy for people to fall away from false belief and embrace worldly wisdom, and a certain few like yourself will appoint themselves as preachers for rejecting Jesus. Perhaps you thought believing meant blindly trusting. Perhaps you thought believing meant selfishly avoiding punishment or getting rewards in heaven. What was always missing was love for God, and without love you will not endure.

        As for you working out what I’m saying in my other comments, let me know if I can help. I know I can be terribly unclear.

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      • You do know these are meant to be comments, don’t you? Not overwrought theses? You’ve your own blog for that. It could be why you’re flagged up as spam on Rational Doubt.

        Anyway, yes, as there’s no God it is going to be the case those who are aware of the fact interpret the bible in terms of the very human book it actually is.

        It remains the case that as an illiterate fisherman (Acts 4.13) Peter didn’t write the letters that bear his name. They’re in stylish Greek and address matters that were pertinent to the church long after Peter’s death. (Nor, incidentally, did Paul write the pastoral letters that bear his name). As for the scoffers fake-Peter rails against, you have to concede they had a point – Jesus’ return was only a century late at the time; two thousand years on and he’s still a no show.

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