Sunday, September 18, 2011

Things that Even a Bible Believer Can't Believe

I am always fascinated by the things that strain the credulity of conservative Bible believers.  For example, Christian apologists  insist that the reports of Jesus' postmortem appearances couldn't be the result of hallucinations because hallucinations are individual experiences and Jesus is reported to have appeared to groups of people.  Apparently the idea that more than one person would claim to have seen the same vision (or that one person would claim that others had seen the same vision he saw) is so far fetched that it is eminently more reasonable to believe in Jesus' body coming back to life with the ability to appear and disappear at will while passing through solid objects.

In the 13th Chapter of Mark, Jesus makes various predictions about the cataclysmic events that will surround the coming of the Son of Man and tells his listeners "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."  Mk 13:30.  This passage is troubling for many Christians since Jesus seems to have made a bad call.  That generation is long gone and Jesus hasn't returned yet.  Many apologists have argued that Jesus must have meant something other than that some of the people who were listening to him at the time would still be around.

Over at Grace and Miracles , one apologist seemed to think that Jesus couldn't have meant that some of his listeners would still be alive because he couldn't have been that foolish.
For under such an assumption Jesus would have had to have in mind such events as the Jews being disbursed to ALL the nations as well as ALL the nations being reached with the gospel. But this is hardly something one would expect of Christ—since it requires us to believe that One who was savvy enough to shame his aggressive and ambitious interrogators until they dared not ask him further questions before the people, would also imagine with the greatest naiveté that such a Dispersion and Spreading of the Gospel to ALL nations could take place within a single generation.

The Bible is filled with incredible and fantastic prophecies and Jesus himself predicts events that are unimaginable and unprecedented.  None of these these prophecies will the apologist deem too far fetched not to be fulfilled in exactly the way that the Bible describes.  Nonetheless, if a prophecy violates the apologist's common sense notion of how long it will take for a particular set of events to occur, Jesus must have meant something else. It is absurd to think that Jesus would have been so naïve as to think that these unprecedented events could have taken place within an unprecedentedly short time frame. Oh no!  Jesus was much too savvy to think that.


  1. The usual apologist response to Mark 13.30 is that Jesus didn't mean "generation" meaning the people in his generation but "race" as in the race of the Jews.

    Even if we grant them that remote possibility, the more obvious false prophecy of Jesus occurs at 14.62 when Jesus claims that the high priest and everyone else at the trial (the word used is opsesthe which is future plural tense) will see the son of man descending from the clouds.

    I wonder how apologists would twist that to have it mean something else, since Jesus couldn't have been wrong.

  2. Quinton,

    One of the believers in the discussion made that argument. The one I quoted argued that Jesus was referring to the generation that was going to be around when the bad times begin rather than the generation standing in front of him. I'm not sure what explanation he would give for Mk 14:62.