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Re: [XTalk] Re: apocalyptic Jesus and the problem of evil

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  • Robert M Schacht
    On Tue, 02 May 2000 10:14:28 -0400 Mahlon H. Smith ... all ... Mahlon, Of course you re right. I was basing my thoughts on a realized eschatology according
    Message 1 of 13 , May 2, 2000
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      On Tue, 02 May 2000 10:14:28 -0400 "Mahlon H. Smith"
      <mahlonh.smith@...> writes (responding to Bob):
      >
      >
      > Sorry to be a nit-picker about terminology, but I fail to see how Q's
      > catalogue of events that allegedly *have occurred* (Matt 11:2-5//Luke
      > 7:18-23) can be called "apocalyptic" unless that word is emptied of
      all
      > its denoted meaning. ...

      Mahlon,
      Of course you're right. I was basing my thoughts on a "realized
      eschatology"according to which the Kingdom was already breaking into the
      world (in the view of those writers espousing a realized eschatology) by
      the work of Jesus, ushering in the eschaton (or so it seemed to them.)
      You know the usual references.

      In an odd and somewhat limited way, they were right: we recognize that
      Jesus ushered in a new era because we count our years, however
      inaccurately, from his life.

      Bob
    • Ron Price
      ... George, The latter makes the most sense for it helps to explain the historical fact of Jesus crucifixion. Ron Price Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK e-mail:
      Message 2 of 13 , May 3, 2000
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        George Brooks wrote:

        > Of late I have gravitated to an
        >"either / or"
        >scenario with the HJ's REAL personality .......
        >
        > One, his preaching and conversations
        >could have had the sound and gnostic quality of much of the Gospel of John
        >and the Gospel of Thomas .......
        >
        >Or, two, he could have been more in line with the Maccabean traditions ...
        >
        >I would be interested in any input that would help me make up my mind
        >about which of the two options makes the most sense.

        George,
        The latter makes the most sense for it helps to explain the historical
        fact of Jesus' crucifixion.

        Ron Price

        Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

        e-mail: ron.price@...

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
      • RSBrenchley@aol.com
        There are several posts I want to respond to, but I am recovering after being attacked on the way home from work the other night, and am not up to coping with
        Message 3 of 13 , May 4, 2000
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          There are several posts I want to respond to, but I am recovering after being
          attacked on the way home from work the other night, and am not up to coping
          with more than one right now. Please bear with me.

          Robert M. Schacht writes:

          << I think we need to distinguish here between a punitive apocalyptic, which
          embodies the violence of which you speak, and a restorative apocalyptic.
          That is, the basic note of apocalyptic is that in the end, God will put
          everything right. What is at issue is how She will do that. To borrow a
          phrase, He can either do that by comforting the afflicted, or by
          afflicting the comfortable (or, of course, some mix of the two). >>

          Do we have any examples of complete or reasonably so apocalypses which go
          for the one at the expense of the other? It's easy to find examples which
          encompass both; contrast for instance the vengefulness of Rev.19:17-20:3,
          etc., etc. with the scene at the end of the book. Surely this combination of
          blessings and curses is a familiar theme adapted from the prophets? I agree
          that parts of it are not comfortable reading, and we can be very selective in
          our readings; the old 2-year British Methodist lectionary consistently took
          passages of prophetic blessing and left out the judgmental bits. I don't
          think this is a very helpful approach though.
          Obviously, there is a lot of fantasy at work in apocalyptic; nobody has
          visited the last judgement, seen the lake of fire, etc., and come back to
          tell the tale! I think there is an underlying theological point, though,
          which is valid. How exactly to you deal with evil, whether we are talking
          about the individual mass murderer, monstrous regimes like the Nazis, rebel
          movements like UNITA and the RUF, or the even bigger evils like third world
          debt or institutional racism which seem to derive from the very way things
          are ordered in this world, without judgement and the destruction of the evil?
          The question is, I think, how far will the judgement go, and only God herself
          can answer that one.
          I can illustrate the point from the current situation in Sierra Leone.
          The Lome peace agreement was the result of a situation where both sides had
          fought each other to a standstill. It granted a blanket amnesty for all
          actions in the war up to that point. It has solved nothing; atrocities are
          still going on, and the rebels appear to be going through the motions of
          disarming with one hand, and preparing for renewed hostilities with the
          other. To live with evil without judging it will never free anyone from its
          influence.
          The UN, quite rightly, say that there can be no amnesty for crimes
          against humanity. I think many of us would probably agree that some crimes
          are just too terrible to be left unpunished. So Foday Sankoh, the rebel
          leader, is now a frightened man who dare not attend talks outside the
          country, because he can be arrested anywhere outside the borders of Sierra
          Leone. There are, essentially, three groups of rebels. there are the people
          directly responsible for the war; they are few - I have heard fifty quoted -
          and their names are well known. Then there are those who have been
          responsible for atrocities. Again, they are relatively few, and their names
          are known. I think most of us would agree that these two groups should pay
          the penalty for their crimes. Then there are the vast majority of rebels,
          many of them children who have been forced to commit atrocities, or used as
          slaves; many of them people who have been forced to join the RUF. I have a
          'direct line' to the victims via my wife's cousin, who is chair of the
          amputees' association; they are generally regarded as innocent victims, and
          when they come in and disarm, that is how they are treated.
          Today, this is pretty much how we would expect God to act; there is a
          sound theological basis to the reconciliation progress. In Jesus' day, you
          slaughtered your enemies when you got the chance, and expected God to act
          likewise. Much of the vision of judgement is culturally mediated, depending
          on how the writer would expect people to act on a defeated foe; this is then
          projected onto God. But I think the underlying point about the necessity of
          judgement remains valid.

          Regards,

          Robert Brenchley

          RSBrenchley@...
        • Robert M Schacht
          ... after being ... coping ... Gladly. I m sorry to hear of your trials, and hope that your recovery is swift and complete. ... which ... apocalyptic. ... put
          Message 4 of 13 , May 4, 2000
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            On Thu, 4 May 2000 16:55:31 EDT RSBrenchley@... writes:
            > There are several posts I want to respond to, but I am recovering
            after being
            > attacked on the way home from work the other night, and am not up to
            coping
            > with more than one right now. Please bear with me.

            Gladly. I'm sorry to hear of your trials, and hope that your recovery is
            swift and complete.

            >
            > Robert M. Schacht writes:
            >
            > << I think we need to distinguish here between a punitive apocalyptic,
            which
            > embodies the violence of which you speak, and a restorative
            apocalyptic.
            > That is, the basic note of apocalyptic is that in the end, God will
            put
            > everything right. What is at issue is how She will do that. To borrow
            a
            > phrase, He can either do that by comforting the afflicted, or by
            > afflicting the comfortable (or, of course, some mix of the two). >>
            >

            To which you responded:

            > Do we have any examples of complete or reasonably so apocalypses
            which go
            > for the one at the expense of the other? It's easy to find examples
            which
            > encompass both; contrast for instance the vengefulness of
            Rev.19:17-20:3,
            > etc., etc. with the scene at the end of the book. Surely this
            combination of
            > blessings and curses is a familiar theme adapted from the prophets?

            Indeed there is ample precedent in the Torah for this, although probably
            also in the Prophets. This is a good point. However, the classic
            blessings and curses in the Torah do not appear in an apocalyptic
            context. Can you give me a good example from the prophets of what you
            have in mind?

            But while we're speaking of OT precedents, don't forget also that the
            major meaning of "salvation" in the OT was corporate: God would save
            *Israel*. I think the soteriology here is critical. Only in the Prophets
            of the Exile, when there was no Jewish state to save, did soteriology
            begin to become personal.

            >... I think there is an underlying theological point, though,
            > which is valid. How exactly to you deal with evil, whether we are
            talking
            > about the individual mass murderer, monstrous regimes ..., or the even
            bigger evils ...
            > which seem to derive from the very way things
            > are ordered in this world, without judgement and the destruction of
            the evil?
            > The question is, I think, how far will the judgement go, and only God
            herself
            > can answer that one.

            You touch on the classic problem of Theodicy here. In a sense,
            apocalyptic provides an answer, of sorts, to theodicy.

            >
            > ... In Jesus' day, you
            > slaughtered your enemies when you got the chance, and expected God
            > to act likewise. Much of the vision of judgement is culturally
            mediated,
            > depending on how the writer would expect people to act on a defeated
            foe; this
            > is then projected onto God. ...

            This is common enough. But our task is to find out what *Jesus* thought
            or did about such matters. Was Jesus counter-cultural, in this case, or a
            man of the people? Jesus appears to reframe this debate in a number of
            ways.
            Passages like the Beelzebul controversy seem to suggest that Jesus
            thought in terms of a struggle between the forces of good and evil, and
            was understood in these terms by some.
            To him, corporate salvation may have referred to the total "good". Acts
            of individual salvation (e.g., healing) were skirmishes with a larger
            frame of reference.

            In any case, I think you have made an interesting connection between
            apocalyptic and theodicy that merits further examination.

            Bob
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