If Genesis is not literally true (for example Adam and Eve made in our image as we are now), then can Christians at least accept it calls into question the fall of man and a need for redemption by God via human sacrifice of Jesus? Simple question 1.

If you accept the Bible as God’s word then can you accept all of it?  Christians have a habit of just accepting the good stuff and ignore the other.  I will mention just two:  slavery and stoning to death of children and homosexuals? Remember the Jews even today think the Torah that includes the 600 odd mosaic laws were indeed given by God to them. So it cannot be said it was just the tribal nature at the time as said by some Christians today. That is question 2.

If we take the words of Jesus as literally true when he said on more than one occasion that some of his disciples would not taste death or THAT generation would not pass away until all these things were fulfilled–basically the end of days and judgement of all mankind–how can you explain this?   Even CS Lewis said this was the most embarrassing text in all the NT?. Paul preached that same message the whole time if you read his letters and so it was not just imaginary. I have read all the possibilities that Christians have come up with to TRY and get around this question but none work. That is question 3.


1. I do not know how to answer this question as it makes a presupposition with which I do not agree. I believe it is “literally true” that Adam and Eve were created “in God’s image.” I believe that mankind fell in the garden, although the exact meaning of this is not entirely clear. After Adam and Eve, all human beings have a sinful nature which is such that all of us do eventually sin. Therefore, although we are in God’s image, we all sin and therefore we need redemption by God through the sacrifice of Jesus.

2. You snuck in more than one question here. There are a number of requirements of the Old Covenant which will seem harsh compared to our modern sensibilities. The ancient world was a very different one from today. Times were much more brutal and measures which would work today probably would not have worked in ancient times. People who blatantly and publicly rejected God were required to be stoned to death. There is no law about stoning small children to death. There is a law about stoning rebellious “children” but this almost certainly would only have applied to “children” who were at least of adolescent age–who were of an accountable age. Only repeated, blatant, in-your-face kinds of rebellion of adults or near-adults would have led to such an extreme measure. There is no evidence that I know of the Jewish community actually doing this. If so, it was surely extremely rare, as the community elders would presumably take whatever measures were necessary to mitigate the situation. Is the stoning to death of adults who reject all authority shocking by modern standards? I would say yes, but if taken in the context of the Old Testament it makes more sense.

Regarding slavery, the following points are appropriate:

1. First, let us acknowledge that, on some level, God legislating slavery is troubling.
2. God accommodated rather than approved slavery.
3. All of God’s regulations with regard to slavery were to limit it. (Eph 6:9)
a. Slaves could not be bought and sold.
b. Humane treatment. Deuteronomy 23:15, Leviticus 25:14
c. All slaves were eventually given their freedom at the Jubilee year. There was no permanent or hereditary slavery.
4. God is not concerned with physical slavery nearly so much as spiritual slavery.
5. Nevertheless, Paul asked Philemon to free his slave Onesimus in an inspired passage.
6. William Wilberforce. It was Christian influence which ended the slave trade world

About homosexuality, all kinds of sexual activity outside of that between a married man and woman was treated more or less the same. Sexual sin was very strongly condemned in the Mosaic Covenant. Adultery was dealt with as strongly as homosexual sin. Again, I would not vote for capital punishment for adultery today, but in the Jewish Covenant, this was the punishment (although I doubt that it was applied except only extremely rarely)

These strong laws were not “just” because of the times, but they were affected by the times.

3. What Jesus said in Matthew 16:28 was fulfilled quite literally. This prophecy of the coming of the Kingdom of God was fulfilled in Acts chapter 2 when the kingdom of God came in power, as flames and wind came down and as the apostles spoke in various tongues. By this time, Judas was dead, but the other apostles were very much alive, consistent with Jesus’ statement. Jesus’ prophecy of the coming of the Kingdom was understood in this sense by the apostles. That they saw it this way is clear from the book of Acts, which has Jesus teaching about the coming of the Kingdom in Acts chapter one, and has Jesus telling them to wait in Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. To give context to this, Jesus said in John 16:7-8 that he had to go to the Father, after which he would send the Holy Spirit. Why CS Lewis was “embarrassed” about this passage I cannot say, because in my view this is a rather obvious interpretation of Matthew 16:28. I am not sure what “same message” Paul preached that you are talking about. Paul did teach about the second coming of Jesus, especially in 1 Thessalonians, but I am sure he would agree that the Kingdom of God came at the Day of Pentecost. If you look in Acts 2:17 Peter tells the people that with the events at Pentecost, the “Last Days” had begun. The Writer of Hebrews agrees with this teaching as he says that “in these last days” he has spoken to us by his Son. The time since Pentecost is the “last days” of scripture and Jesus announced the coming of the last days in Matthew 16:28.

John Oakes

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