Atheists Mock "Second Comers"

Some Christians ask us:

"What do you mean, 'Jesus isn't coming soon?' Doesn't the Bible say Jesus is coming soon?"

Yes, the Bible clearly says Jesus was coming soon, and either He came when the Bible said He would come, or the Bible is mistaken and untrustworthy.

There isn't a single verse in the Bible that can be reasonably translated "Jesus is not coming soon, but He will come in about one thousand nine hundred and seventy-five years."

There are at least 101 verses in the New Testament that claim that “Jesus is Coming Soon” –– not exactly those words, but clearly teaching that Christ’s Second Coming is “at hand,” “near,” or ready to happen. These verses are tied with the bold declaration that the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and consummation of the Old Covenant is just around the corner. This is one of the most important themes in the entire New Testament. It is part of the thinking of all New Testament authors. It must be dealt with. Here’s what happens when we don’t:

Atheist Bertrand Russell, in his book Why I Am Not A Christian, discredits the inspiration of the New Testament based on the failed prediction of Christ and the Apostles:

I am concerned with Christ as He appears in the Gospels . . . and there one does find some things that do not seem to be very wise. For one thing, He certainly thought that His second coming would occur in clouds of glory before the death of all the people who were living at the time. There are a great many texts that prove that. He says, for instance, “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come.” Then He says, “There are some standing here which shall not taste death till the Son of Man comes into His kingdom”; and there are a lot of places where it is quite clear that He believed that His second coming would happen during the lifetime of many then living. That was the belief of his earlier followers, and it was the basis of a good deal of his moral teaching.
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not A Christian (New York: A Touchtone Book by Simon & Schuster, 1957), 16.

Russell is mistaken when he starts with the premise that Christ and the Apostles were predicting the end of the physical world. We’ll see that in a minute.

Russell is correct when he says that much of the New Testament was based on this belief: that the “coming of the Son of Man in His Kingdom” and the “end of the world” were “at hand.”

But if Christ and the Apostles were teaching the imminent destruction of planet earth and the inauguration of the “eternal state” or some kind of "millennial kingdom" like the Jehovah's Witnesses talk about, then the authors of the Bible were clearly mistaken.

The interpretation offered on this website avoids this objection by agreeing that Christ “came” in some sense, and the end of the “world” was really the end of the “age” of the temple and the Old Covenant.

There are two issues in this debate: (1) the timing of the Second Coming and (2) the nature of the Second Coming. The timing verses are clear; conclusions about the nature of the Second Coming come from verses which are not as clear. Preterists interpret the nature verses in light of the timing verses, and not the other way around. The overwhelming testimony of the New Testament is that the Second Coming would occur in the first century A.D., that is, before the death of the generation in which Christ lived.

Let’s look at some of the timing verses.

Ideally, you could read these verses in their context and see how the idea of the imminent first-century return of Christ and great Day of Judgment thoroughly dominates the pages of the New Testament.

No comments:

Post a Comment