Matthew 24:35 "the most embarrassing verse in the Bible" (CS Lewis)

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Mar 31, 2010.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    Someone on my blog had pointed out to me, after my soonness article, that "generation" just meant a type of people, with no time element implied. I answered the following, including an astounding quote by CS Lewis. Lewis's quote shows that he, at least, recognized what Christ was actually saying. But then he - rather than check his futurist theology against Christ's words - he denigrated Christ Himself! Bad move.

    My answer:

    Yes, I am aware of that line of thought. In fact I wrote a detailed article supporting that view about twelve years ago, even (in revised form) uploading it here on Xanga:

    http://asterisktom.xanga.com/712244451/this-generation-a-type-of-people-not-length-of-time/

    But - and here I am criticizing my own research! - I did not take into account the time element. Not at all. While, there is something to the point you raise (and I raised) it does not account for those "generation" passages that are clearly time-related. In short, "this generation" seems to denote both quality and duration. It is not a case of either/or but both/and.

    Quality: It is the generation upon which all the murderous godlessness of previous generations shall be called to account. Luke 11:50
    Duration: It is the generation that will not come to an end until the Son will come into His Kingdom. Matt. 24:34

    A clinching indication, to me at least, is the corroboration of several other verses that press the issue of soonness and time-limitation, like Matt.16:28; Luke 9:27; Rev. 1:1, 4, etc.

    I didn't used to feel this way, but now I view my old view as detrimental to the integrity of Christ's Word (to His disciples, to us). Now comments from people like CS Lewis show themselves for what they are - a startlingly low view of Christ, the Prophet:

    ----------from Lewis's "The World's Last Night (bold emphasis mine)------------------

    But there is worse to come.

    “Say what you like,” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first
    Christians have been proved to be false.
    It is clear from the New Testament
    that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse
    still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their
    Master had told them so
    . He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He
    said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things
    be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world
    than anyone else.”

    It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. Yet how teasing,
    also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement “But of that
    day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven,
    neither the Son, but the Father.” The one exhibition of error and the one
    confession of ignorance grow side by side.
    That they stood thus in the mouth
    of Jesus himself, and were not merely placed thus by the reporter, we surely
    need not doubt. Unless the reporter were perfectly honest he would never have
    recorded the confession of ignorance at all; he could have had no motive for
    doing so except a desire to tell the whole truth. And unless later copyists
    were equally honest they would never have preserved the (apparently) mistaken
    pre*diction about “this generation” after the passage of time had shown the
    (appar*ent) mistake. This passage (Mark

    13:30-32) and the cry “Why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) together make
    up the strongest proof that the New Testament is historically reliable. The
    evangelists have the first great character*istic of honest witnesses: they
    mention facts which are, at first sight, damaging to their main contention.

    The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense)
    ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so
    .

    ----------------------end of quote---------------------------

    I now see the misunderstanding of these "soon" verses (of John, Paul, and Christ) have greater consequence than I first thought. Lewis allows his misunderstanding - his, not our Lord's - to seep gangrenously into his theology and Christology. Our Christ, Prophet, Priest, and King, is much better than Lewis's caricature.
     

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