38The Utility of an apocalyptic Jesus
- Apr 1, 2003Professor Allison:
Thank you so much for the opportunity to converse with you about your work.
While studying for my M.T.S. I first read Schweitzer�s _Quest_ and then
your _Millenarian Prophet_. I enjoyed both works immensely. I did leave
your book with some questions that were further stimulated by reading the
chapters of your new book. I am seeking some clarification on some of the
points you made.
These are some points I think you are trying to make.
1. Jesus is meaningful today in the Christian faith. You never actually
stated this, but I feel it is a fair assumption to make.
2. Jesus is an apocalyptic prophet.
3. Jesus was wrong about when the end of the world was going to come.
4. Jesus was wrong about eternal punishment.
5. Jesus� value as a religious leader is simply that he was able to see
beyond this world to another world where �our wounds� do heal, and where
�the outrageous spectacle of a history filled with cataclysmic sadness� IS
undone, and where there is SOMETHING more �for those who were slaughtered in
the death camps or for six-year olds devoured by cancer.� (Millenarian
If Jesus was mistaken about hell, then isn�t it logical that he was mistaken
about his idea of heaven also? I realize that it is hard here to separate
the theological question from the historical question, but there IS a
historical question here: did Jesus the Millenarian prophets� heaven mean
anything without his polemical hell?
My underlying question here is: What is it that you would like your
students (and all of those who read your works) to leave with? I fully
endorse Schweitzer�s notion that we cannot give more than fragments of what
we personally believe, however, I am curious to know how you think
Christianity can benefit from an apocalyptic Jesus. Is it only that
Christians should realize the humanity of Jesus? I realize that I am asking
more of a theological question, but I feel that your chapter on �Liking and
Disliking the Apocalyptic Jesus� and the Epilogue to your _ Millenarian
Prophet_ warrants it.
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