When Your Theology Stops Making Sense

"Coming Soon" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Coming Soon” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

I remember when I first got saved. I was so excited about Jesus coming back that I wouldn’t wear a seatbelt. That’s right! Can you believe it? What courage!

But then I started to do the math. If Jesus said he was coming back soon 2,000 years ago, what’s up with that?!

So I asked.

Oh, the answers I got. The biggest one was that to the Lord a thousand years is like a day and a day is like a thousand years.

So I asked, “Okay, so… if soon to him meant next week, does that mean he meant 7,000 years? Or if he meant next month, does that mean 30,000 years? Or if he meant next year, does that mean 365,000 years?”

They were not happy!

And neither was I. Wait 365,000 years? I don’t have time for that.

So I asked more questions. Like, “Did he mean it? Was he just saying that to comfort his distraught disciples because he was leaving them? Or did he mean metaphorically, meaning the coming of the Spirit was actually his return?”

They were not happy.

And neither was I.

There are many questions we can fairly ask. Here are just a few:

Was Jesus caught up in the apocalyptic expectations of his day and spoke accordingly?
Did Jesus even say these words, or were they put in his mouth by later writers to comfort and manage the people of the church?
Or, was there even a Jesus who said those words?

These are not stupid, but legitimate questions that serious biblical and theological scholars have asked and written about extensively.

I know I know I know. It’s scary to let go of the way we’ve believed things for so many years. It’s actually traumatizing for many. But I’m confident that when we ask the questions, press through and wait, clarity will come, and with it a peace of mind that we’ve never, ever experienced before.

If you’re struggling with this alone, DON’T! Join the rest of us in the courageous collective, The Lasting Supper… a safe place to ask your questions. We’ll help you feel at home!


11 Replies to “When Your Theology Stops Making Sense”

  1. Wonderful and beautiful questions!

    I had a conversation with a fellow believer, and she often has an ‘all or nothing’ perspective coupled with avoidance (or diving ‘all in’). I mentioned just some questions on the canon of scripture.

    I was then accused of trying to dismantle her faith… lol!

    I am a believer. I have great peace with many questions. By analogy, my house is strong enough, and I live in it with trust, though I question the sturdiness of some foundational blocks. [Indeed, in our almost 200 year old home, we need to replace 2 of 20 or so beams.] I laugh, and have peace.

    However, for others to entertain even the presence of ‘questions’ is to sense all parts of the foundation crumbling and being removed by a bull-dozer. All or nothing. No wonder they live in fear. 🙁 .

  2. My wfie’s grandmother lived into her 90’s. In the last month of her life she blurted out, “well, I guess I’m going to miss the rapture.”

    How sad to live all that long thinking you could escape death when you could have lived more fully knowing death was reality.

  3. For me the thing is that whether Jesus said it or not, it’s not of any help whatsoever. It did stress me out in childhood because Jesus could come at *any* time and if I was caught in sin when He came (like attending a move at a theater, known as a place where your guardian angel wouldn’t go), then I was lost.

    It was a terrifying way to live. A nebulous assurance that at some random unknown point Jesus would show up and surprise me only aggravated that stress.

    The statement of Jesus “coming soon” is fairly free of hard information. There is really nothing to be done with the statement. I’ve never understood how this is supposed to be helpful to believers. It’s misleading, if I’m honest. If “soon” is that different to God, and according to the Bible it is, then the statement is rendered essentially meaningless for purposes of human understanding.

    I’m not bitter or anything. :p

  4. Well – got some news on the situation I am facing – let’s just say it’s not dissimilar to the recent cartoon with the woman in front of the make panel with it not being enough to be believed but there being a need to care and act. Except in my case, I am not believed. I did however get a response with “regret” for “distress” and “discomfort” that I had experienced. I seem to remember someone once saying that you would be beaten in the synagogues. Well, thankfully we don’t have any of that any more, but a psychological public flogging is perhaps the contemporary equivalent.

    Thankfully this isn’t my first rodeo and I can recognise the signs deal with the emotions and push back. Knowing that when I did previously, and it was ignored, I ended up leaving a church, and within two years funding had dried up, the congregation had dwindled and the pastor ended up leaving the country.

    So who knows what will happen now – but even in present emotional difficulty what I have this overwhelming sense of is being free and it being the best thing that could have happened to me with being accused of a “conduct issue”. It’s resulted in me distancing myself from the institution and as a result I am more at peace and able to have respect and compassion for myself and others. Therefore have gained more than I have lost.

    So different circumstances but similar outcome to yours David. Last time I had a meeting they were not happy and neither was I.

    Asking the “wrong” questions can get you into trouble.

    Still, no one has tried to throw any of us off a cliff or crucify us yet ;).

  5. You are welcome David.

    Yeah I hear ya. Metaphorically it seems that way for my experience now.

    But hey what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well that’s what Neizche said anyway. Mind you he did go insane for the last 10 years of his life.

    On the positive side, there are some good meditations and therapies around these days 😉

  6. Truth be told, Christ has already returned and the vast number of Christians missed Him, because they looked for a supernatural event that never was to be the method of His return. He told His followers that He would return as He came, through a natural birth, not floating down in clouds.

  7. Terri:

    Now imagine that during the heyday of Hal Lindsay, “Christians for Nuclear War”, and near-continuous Rapture Scares…


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