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12 years ago @ AnAtheist.Net - Jesus DoubleThink? · 0 replies · +1 points

“expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great”

The root of the confusion here stems from taking two phrases, divided by a period, and putting them together as if they were of the same sentence. However, the phrase “expecting nothing in return” does not apply to the sentence after it. Naturally, it belongs to the sentence in which it is a part of, “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.” That is to say: love your enemies, expecting no love in return; do good to those who hate you, expecting no good in return; lend to those in need, expecting they may be unable to repay.

It is easy to love those who show us love, to be kind to those who show us kindness, and to lend to those who can pay us right back. The principle being taught here is that we should even be loving, good and charitable to those from whom we can expect no manner of advantage from. And, even though we may get nothing from *them* in return (love, kindness, restitution, etc.) we will still receive recompense from *Him.* It is similar to His teaching of storing our treasures in Heaven a few chapters later (Luke 12:33).

This is not so much “selflessness” as it is *altruism.* The subtle difference between the two being that, while selflessness is a lack of concern for oneself, altruism is having a concern for others.

12 years ago @ AnAtheist.Net - Jesus DoubleThink? · 0 replies · +1 points

"Look, religious folks think about things in an uncritical way. They do not examine their beliefs..."

Here I would caution against stereotyping. It is true there are a great many Christians who do not examine their beliefs, but this is also true for a great many atheists. What’s more the reverse is also true; there are a great many believers who have at one time, and still continue to “examine their beliefs.” This is a big part of how faith grows and strengthens.

13 years ago @ AnAtheist.Net - Monday School: Where's... · 0 replies · +1 points

“It’s easier to understand both Jesus’s odd admonition to take no thought for the morrow (Matt. 6:34)...when one remembers that they seem to have believed that there weren’t going to be any future generations.”

Here, another text is taken severely out of context. The verse involved here has to do with stress in life. The advice is to focus on today and do not worry about what will happen tomorrow because it will come with it’s own set of worries and stresses, but it in no way deals with or even mildly suggests that there would be no tomorrow. And again, this teaching was nothing new or exclusive to Jesus’ words...

"Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth" (Proverbs 27:1)

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away" (James 4:14)

"Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow" (Psalm 144:4)

13 years ago @ AnAtheist.Net - Monday School: Where's... · 0 replies · +1 points

“...Christians have repeatedly reinterpreted the Bible and redefined Jesus and themselves in the wake of his utter failure to do what he so clearly and repeatedly said he was going to do: reappear soon.”

Here again, both sets of verses have been misunderstood and misapplied, which would obviously lead anyone to conclude contradiction where there actually is none. And, as we have already cleared up this quotes' suggestions about how Matthew 10:23 is talking about the coming Kingdom (as opposed to the second coming) and the dual application prophecy regarding "this generation" contained in Matthew 24:34 (Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32), we will move on...

13 years ago @ AnAtheist.Net - Monday School: Where's... · 0 replies · +1 points

“It is possible to point out dozens of Jesus’ statements with apocalyptic overtones in the synoptic Gospels..."

With apologies for the repetition: It is only by way of confusing and misapplying passages involving the coming of the Kingdom with the second coming that anyone would be able to draw this conclusion. But it does serve well to show how greatly things can become distorted when context is not properly understood.

13 years ago @ AnAtheist.Net - Monday School: Where's... · 0 replies · +1 points

“Paul counseled his readers to forgo marriage...because so little time remained...”

Here I must also respectfully disagree. Paul did not advise to “forgo” marriage because “so little time remained.” He said it was wise because of the “present distress” (1 Corinthians 7:26). While under persecution things were uncertain for those early church members. He was simply saying that attempting to start and care for a family could prove very difficult under the current circumstances and it was better for everyone to remain at their current state (married/single, with/without children, etc.). “Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him” (1 Corinthians 7:20).

13 years ago @ AnAtheist.Net - Monday School: Where's... · 0 replies · +1 points

“Furthermore, he advised Christians not to seek vengeance against their enemies...(Rom. 12:14-21).”

Again, Paul’s teachings were nothing new here either. In fact, he was even quoting from the scriptures.

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written. “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK;” (Romans 12:19-20) [emphasis added]

“It is mine to avenge; I will repay” (Deuteronomy 32:35)
“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink” (Proverbs 25:21)

13 years ago @ AnAtheist.Net - Monday School: Where's... · 0 replies · +1 points

“...he advised Christians to remain slaves if they were enslaved and to obey the political authorities that ruled over them, because events were unfolding that would put an end to all of the old power relations that organized the social order (Rom. 13:1-7).”

First, I see no talk of enslavement in these verses. Second, Paul’s notion of respecting the law of the land was not a "new" teaching. “...Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's” (Matthew 22:21).

13 years ago @ AnAtheist.Net - Monday School: Where's... · 0 replies · +1 points

“Jesus tells his disciples that he will return before they can ‘go over the cities of Israel.’”

This is another text that can be confused, yet is easily cleared up when a distinction between the coming of the kingdom and the second coming is realized. But first, as should always be the case, let us look at the context of this verse. The twelve disciples have all been “called” and Christ is about to send them out, giving them instructions for service and enabling them with power to work miracles (Matthew 10:1-15). Then He begins to tell them of the hardships they will endure (v.16-22). And in verse 23 He tells them to keep moving; when they come up against a wall in one city just move on to the next because they won’t have enough time to “finish going through the cities of Israel” before the Son of Man comes.

Here, just as in the first example (Matthew 16:28), Jesus was foretelling His transfiguration, resurrection and ascension. You see, the epoch of the Messiah is considered to be from the resurrection of Christ. “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:” (Romans 1:4). That is why the wording in both passages is so strikingly similar. “...before the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 10:23). “...before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matthew 16:28). The context here makes it pretty clear Jesus was talking about the coming Kingdom, not the second coming. And just as foretold, they were unable to “finish.”

13 years ago @ AnAtheist.Net - Monday School: Where's... · 0 replies · +1 points

The “prophecy within His prophecy” is perhaps the best reason we can tell Jesus was not talking about an immediate return. His teaching was in perfect harmony with the prophecy in Daniel. There were two more “abomination of desolations” to come. He predicted the “immediate” one would take place within the disciples’ generation (as a result of the people rejecting “Messiah the Prince”). Well that leaves one more, the image of the Antichrist being set up in the last days (Also mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 13:14). And, as both “abominations” are different events that take place at different times, it not only makes it clear that He was not teaching the “end” was about to come, but fits the dual prophecy aspect as well. 

The second reason we know Jesus was not claiming an immediate return is the fact that all the signs He listed have not occurred yet. Jesus warned the disciples twice throughout this discourse that “the end is not yet” and “the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:6, 13). So when will the “end” come? Verse 14 says AFTER the “gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations...THEN shall the end come.” Well there are still places the gospel has not reached and we do not see “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place” (that is, the final desolation), so clearly all of the signs have not happened and the end is not yet to come. What some people attempt to do here is assign a time for the “end” that takes place before the signs listed have even taken place, but that is obviously counter to the prophecy. 

Thirdly, it would have been setting a date for the “end” and Jesus clearly teaches that no time will be given. A literal generation in the Bible is 40 years. Well Jesus made His prediction of the destruction of the temple in about 30 A.D., and the temple was destroyed 40 years later in 70 A.D. Now, aside from how amazingly accurate that prophecy was (not to mention the one made by Daniel nearly 500 years earlier!), it would have meant that Jesus was setting a date for the “end.” But in this very same discourse He also twice mentions that no date will be set. “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man,” and “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh,” (Mark 13:32, 35). The date Jesus set for the “second desolation” was in the current generation, but no time was given for the time of the final generation or the “final desolation.” So here again, a distinction is made between the time of the contemporary generation and the generation of the end.