Sunday, June 05, 2016

When the Son of Man Didn't Come

“So Christians must choose. Either the NT isn't even somewhat reliable, or Jesus was a failed apocalyptic prophet. In either case this falsifies Christianity ”. So says John Loftus in his conclusion to his essay “At Best Jesus Was a Failed Apocalyptic Prophet”, in The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. 

Got your attention?

June 1st, Fortress released When the Son of Man Didn't Come: A Constructive Proposal on the Delay of the Parousia, by Christopher M. Hays, in collaboration with Brandon Gallaher, Julia S. Konstantinovsky, Richard J. Ounsworth OP, and Casey A. Strine.

Picture from the Fortress webpage
Unsatisfied by Wright's take on "the coming of the Son of Man", perhaps because of Dale Allison's well-known criticisms? Not sure Eddie Adams' work solves all the issues? Wary of Dunn, Allison and others who are quick to say "Jesus got it wrong"? Even more suspicious of those with an ideological chip on their shoulder who want to prohibit any further consideration as mere apologetics? Well, here is a different way forward worth your time and analysis. The argument is one I've summarised for undergraduates for years, so I'm delighted it is finally hitting the printing press.

Chris Hays explains the gist of the volume as follows:
"Jesus did prophesy his return in the first century, and that didn't happen. And that is okay because prophecy is, by its nature, conditional, contingent upon the responses of humans. We argue that is how prophecy works in the OT, that multiple NT authors understood the eschatological consummation in the same way, and that many church fathers thought the same thing. Then we run the argument out in theological terms, showing that this fits with accounts of eschatology in Catholicism, Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy. As a consequence, we argue that the timing of the eschaton should be thought of as tied up with Christian mission and ethics. We also include some very nice footnotes"
When I first heard the argument at King's, the brilliant duo, Casey and Chris, made a very thought-provoking case. I am very much looking forward to exploring the details more closely.


At 6/06/2016 7:17 AM, Blogger Deane said...

“Es gibt keine Lage so verzweifelt, dass die Theologie keine Ausweg wüsste.”

At 6/10/2016 10:31 PM, Anonymous Peter said...

I agree with Andrew Perriman that deferred fulfillment looks like "dogmatic special pleading."

Maybe I'll read the book, but it sounds like forced apologetics.

At 6/28/2016 11:04 AM, Blogger Edwardtbabinski said...

So if more people did as Paul and Jesus commanded (and even laying aside the differences of opinion as to the Roman road to salvation and the Synoptic road to salvation), then the Lord, or the Son of Man, could have come down from heaven riding in his clouds in the first century and heralded the final judgment of the entire cosmos way back then?

Gee, who knew it would take so long, and who knew that Christianity in the meantime would schism more than an amoeba after Thanksgiving dinner--and continue schisming for nearly any reason a religion CAN schism. So what's the "condition" God is hoping for before the Lord or Son of Man returns? How high or low a percentage of people have to become Christians before the Lord or Son of Man can show up and yank down the cosmic curtain on this divine comedy?

You've got to be pulling my leg on this one.

At 6/28/2016 11:09 AM, Blogger Edwardtbabinski said...

Do the authors include a handy list of all the passages in Paul's letters and In the .gospels and rest of the NT that predict he Son of Man or Lord would arrive soon? I hope so, might be nice to first review how extensive such a case is as evidenced throughout the entire NT, and also see how attempts were made by the NT authors themselves in latter NT writings to try and explain away the plainer firmer falsified predictions in the earlier NT sections.

Again, the authors of this book have got to be pulling my leg.

At 8/02/2016 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a former Christian who has wrestled with these questions yourself, I wonder why you appear to have a problem with Christians who choose to place their trust in God, while seeking answers to the enigmas they perceive? Yesterday, it dawned on me that I have been trying for years to create and sustain faith in God as creator and Jesus as Lord through a mental exercise of fitting all of the pieces together in my private eschatological puzzle - only then would I be fully ready to place my trust in God and the message that he has seen fit for humans to write down in what eventually became our bible to facilitate our getting to know him. But my approach to knowing God was doomed to faliure from the outset. There is no living relationship in a purely intellectual pursuit. A Living faith must be created by God and depends on responding to his message by placing trust and hope in him and in his chosen ways of reaching out to and guiding his human children - which are, I believe, most often though other fallible human beings.
I take 1 cor 13,8-13 to indicate that Paul was also aware of the contextual and interpretative nature of human perception - even in receiving and communicating revelation from the spirit of God, and I trust that God knows this full well.

Christian Michael

At 11/03/2018 3:17 AM, Anonymous Peter said...

I know this is an old post, but I felt a need to re-comment since my views have changed with further study. I now think Christopher Hays's proposal is the best explanation for why Jesus didn't return like he said he would.

At 11/12/2018 3:47 AM, Blogger Truth Seeker said...

Thanks for sharing Peter.

At 11/12/2018 11:38 AM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Yeah, what Mike said. Thanks.

At 3/03/2024 11:49 PM, Blogger Levon Hair said...

Chris, I really liked the book and was convinced. However, I came across a review that raised some points.
What exactly did Israel or the church do or not do that delayed the paurosia? Because Mark 13 and parallels seem to presuppose that Israel would not repent and texts like Romans 10:18 and Colossians 1:23 seem to say that the gospel was being preached to the whole world.
Responding, I'm grateful.

At 3/05/2024 11:16 AM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Hi Levon, it would be worth reaching out to Chris Hays, or one of the other editors, I reckon. They will be able to speak to this issue directly as they will have probably read the review. My hunch is that they will say that it will revolve around those *not* in the church needing to repent. But what do you think?


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