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  1. This is well done—but only if you take the Bible literally. I am particularly referring to Dr. Black’s 6th point: “We can endure suffering and persecution because we have placed our hope in Jesus and in His coming back to earth.” Interestingly, Paul could say this because he believed Jesus was to return in his (general) lifetime. But he didn’t. Apocalyptic theology which permeates Paul and most of the New Testament mislead many, including those today who knowingly or unknowingly incorporate the ancient (and now discredited) cosmology of a three-tiered universe where Jesus is located “up there” and will come “down here” sometime. Exegesis that lives only in the ancient world and not in ours where there is nothing outside the cosmos including God, led Paul and continues to lead many others to a false conclusion.

    It’s revealing that only Luke’s Gospel has a literal ascension with a projected literal return. In the others, Jesus just fades away. (I know, I know—one is enough.) And Matthew just declares that Jesus never goes away and will be with the church to the end of the age. Seems he need not return because he never left. All this is to say that we have reason to doubt a literal Second Coming based on faulty cosmology.

    To move from the first century or from 1000 BCE to our day is no easy thing. Especially if you don’t clarify biblical misconceptions (and they abound) along the way. Imagine the difficulty Abraham would have negotiating our world. Well, we have the same difficulty negotiating his. Yet the move from the text to sermon seems too often to ignore this.

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