Our Christian Life and Ministry Review – May 14-20, 2018

Reviewing the May 2018 Our Christian Life and Ministry for May 14-20, 2018.

Topics of discussion: eschatology, the transfiguration, the intermediate state, and Christology


55 thoughts on “Our Christian Life and Ministry Review – May 14-20, 2018

  1. Hello Michael,
    There is a good deal of our reasoning in this presentation that is incorrect. I think by considering the following two articles, you should be able to see why. I f not, once again, I offer my time to discuss these things with you.

    first: https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1968641?q=immortal+soul&p=par
    second: https://rotherham2.wordpress.com/2015/11/06/did-christ-receive-the-kingdom-of-the-world-in-the-first-century-ce/.


  2. Rotherham,

    Thanks for the links, but can you be more specific on what you’re actually taking exception with in my review? Both links don’t seem to be overly relevant to what I was specifically arguing.

  3. Hello Mike,
    Most of your argument appeared to dealing dealt when Christ came into kingdom power and the nature of the transfiguration. Your understanding of the transfiguration necessitates the “non-dying” soul doctrine. Therefore, if the non-dying soul doctrine is wrong, so would be your view of the transfiguration. I would give more detail but I don’t think you would end up responding except to say that you will respond when you get time which just never seems to happen.

    1. Rotherham,

      Perhaps I need to re-listen to my presentation, but I don’t recall “when Christ came into kingdom power” to be a part of the discussion? As it related to the transfiguration, my points were twofold:

      1. The fulfillment of Mark 8:38 (transfiguration or 70 AD?)
      2. The transfiguration and how it demonstrates the intermediate state

      Point (2) doesn’t necessitate one way or another dualism. My primary conclusion actually had more to do with the two-class system.

      I actually prefer less detail. If it weren’t obvious enough to everyone, I just don’t have time for anything but more “conversational” dialogue. In other words, i’ve got to be able to read it on my phone and respond to it on my phone. If your comment doesn’t fit that description, i’m far less likely to respond. If you don’t like that, then i’m sorry.

      1. Hello Mike,

        The fact that you refer to 70 CE as possibly 70 CE speaks directly to preterism, which tells us Jesus began ruling in 70 CE. My afrticle addresses the error of that idea. Thats the relevance.
        Plus, the soul article speaks directly to the nature of the afterlife or intermediate state, If there is no “non-dying” soul, there is no intermediate state.


        PS. Maybe shorter, less involved posts will work better. We’ll see.

    1. Rotherham-

      Even if 1914 as the date of Christ’s kingship were true, you’d still have to deal with Mark 8:38 and what the prophecy is referring to. At best, your article would be a very indirect refutation of my interpretation. Your article doesn’t directly address this text and the transfiguration directly, at all. So if that’s all you’d like to say on the matter, i’ll leave it there.

      Regarding the soul/intermediate state, you do agree that Christians are in heaven right now, correct? And of course, you believe this to be the case while also denying dualism. So my interpretation of the transfiguration and the intermediate state doesn’t stand or fall on the truth of dualism. So either way, you’ve got to be able to explain your position in light of my specific arguments as it relates to the transfiguration.

      1. Since you didn’t supply any ideas as to how they exist in the intermediate state, I assumed it was the same idea as all the others who teach that. I can’t read minds so I went with what is normally the case. Please explain further and I will take another run at it.

        I’ll address Mark 8:38 after this one above winds down.

  4. Hi Mike,
    For the sake of being succinct perhaps you could just answer this question. If Moses and Elijah were in the intermediate state, where were they existing at that time?

    1. Rotherham, I appreciate the questions, but could you answer mine first? That is, you believe that there have been Christians in heaven for over 100 years, correct? But yet, you believe this while also denying dualism. This is why your article doesn’t necessarily refute my argument. That is, even if you successfully refute dualism, you still have to deal with the arguments I made.

  5. I am sure you know hat those we believe are in heaven are spirot beings via “resurrection” of their “person” whereas God gives them a body suitable for their new habitat, a spirit body. This is explained in my large article about the nature of the resurrection. here is the link: https://rotherham2.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/the-nature-of-the-resurrection-and-afterlife-considerations/ Nothing to do with dualism. Are you saying that you believe Moses and Elijah were spirit beings in heaven via resurrection?

    So again, I would like to ask. If Moses and Elijah were in the intermediate state, where were they existing at that time? And in what form?

    1. Right, it has nothing to do with dualism and that’s precisely my point. There are other theological systems (non-dualistic) that can account for Christians or old covenant believers being alive in heaven prior to Christ’s final coming. Whether you call this an intermediate state is not the point. And whether you affirm dualism is not the point. The point is, Jesus is actually talking to Moses and Elijah, just as Saul talked to Samuel (yes, I know you deny this). Sure, I interpret this within a dualistic framework. But I don’t use this as a dualistic proof text, for the reasons I just mentioned: there are other theological systems which can interpret this where Jesus is still having a conversation with Moses and Elijah.

      So to answer your two questions (within my dualistic framework, which is not the point here):
      1. Moses and Elijah are conscious and are at least temporarily able to embody some type of visible form to speak with Jesus.
      2. They are existing relationally with the Lord. In what form, I don’t know except to say it’s not physical.

  6. Thankyou for answering. Could you please tell me what theological system promotes your dualism? What is it called? I would like o look into it. Now could you remind of your argument that you say i need to address, I don’t recall.


    1. Rotherham, that question is irrelevant and I think you’re missing my point anyway. The dualism I hold to is pretty standard. So you could look to, for example, the writings of Alvin Plantinga or JP Moreland to get an idea of what I believe on that topic.

      But the primary argument/question is this: was Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration?

  7. It was a vision. The account specifically calls it a vision. The vision was for the purpose of foreshadowing Jesus and his kingdom. Moses was a representation of the Law ad Elijah was a representation of the Prophets. The conversation depicted the unity that is shared by Christ with the Law covenant and with the prophets and what they teach. But God spoke up to remind he present disciples that they should now listen to his Son, not just the law and the prophets. The conversation was depicting the unity between Christ and Moses and the prophets, as they all speak together but Christ is now the focus.

    You claimed you are not promoting dualism at the first but you clearly are. I listened to the video again and you are talking about classic dualism. You state at death the soul is raised to be with Christ and indicate that is where Moses and Elijah were before the transfiguration.. Therefore, once again, if there is no non-dying soul, there is nothing of what you state and your concept of the transfiguration is wrong. But that’s just the beginning of the problems which in time I will get to.

    You also plug preterism as to how hey would not die without seeing this kingdom come. Your answer was that they did see it in the events circa 70 CE. So if the kingdom was not established in 70 CE, then that view is wrong too.

    1. I don’t necessarily have a problem with calling it a vision, but it’s not *merely* a vision, such as when John in Revelation is seeing events that hadnt actually taken place. So I’ll ask again: was Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah or not at the transfiguration?

  8. He was speaking to the visionary representations of Moses and Elijah for the purpose of representing a point as I said: The conversation depicted the unity that is shared by Christ with the Law covenant and with the prophets and what they teach. But God spoke up to remind his present disciples that they should now listen to his Son, not just the law and the prophets. The conversation was depicting the unity between Christ and Moses and the prophets, as they all speak together but Christ is now the focus.
    Please don’t sidestep the other points I mentioned about the intermediate state and preterism.

  9. Is Jesus himself just a visionary representation too? Or is it actually Jesus who is speaking?

    And i’m not sidestepping anything. I’m trying to take one point at a time; and my point is actually the primary point I made in the video. Think about it this way: if Jesus is actually speaking to Moses and Elijah (same with Saul actually speaking with Samuel), what would that mean? Seems to me that it would strongly support the intermediate state. Or, at the very least, that the two class theology is false (since no old covenant believer can be alive until the final resurrection).

  10. The account doesn’t specifically say, but he was definitely a part of the vision they saw, and in thinking of the purpose of the vision, I would think yes. He was transfigured into a visionary character to be apart of the vision as he was a necessary character of what was being depicted.
    It was just a reminder not to forget the other points, it was not an accusation of doing so.

  11. if it was a vision it would not strongly support anything in regard to an intermediate state. No man had ascended into heaven before Christ did.

  12. Not literally, no, because Moses and Elijah were not literally there. It was a visionary depiction for a particular purpose as has been explained. Jesus himself called it a vision, therefore, that’s what it was.

    1. So Jesus was literally there, Moses and Elijah were not, and it was a vision. But yet Jesus spoke to Moses and Elijah, the disciples saw it. Seems pretty simple to me. The fact that it’s a vision doesn’t make Elijah and Moses less real, just as it doesn’t make Jesus less real.

  13. Mentioning the judgment that is in connection with Christ’s coming in kingdom power was simply a means of leading into, a segue, into introducing the coming transfiguration event. Nothing in the words of Christ necessitate Mark 8:38 to be the fulfillment of he transfiguration. The fulfillment was the FOREGLEAM of the kingdom power as represented by the vision itself. This has to be the case because the kingdom of Christ was NOT established in 70 CE. It was far future from the first century. This can be proven by an in-depth discussion of Daniel 7 and related passages. That is why I linked the following article earlier in this discussion.
    Please read http://www.truetheology.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=284


    1. Rotherham-

      From what I can gather, you don’t see Mark 8:38 and 9:1 (And likewise Matthew 16:27 and 16:28) as referring to the same event. In the context, I don’t see any reason otherwise. The text in Matthew makes this even clearer since you see the “coming” in both verses. And just to be clear, I don’t think any of these verses were fulfilled in the transfiguration. The reason being, it just wouldn’t make sense to speak of “some of those standing here who will not taste death” and be referring to a quick event happening just a few days later. You see a similar thing happening in Matthew 26:64 where Jesus tells his accusers that “you will see” and then go on to use the “coming” language.

      I know you’ve got many arguments as to why you don’t think the kingdom was established in the first century, but I wanted to start here.

  14. The statement about not tasting death until seeing the kingdom come in power could have had twofold reference. First for the three disciples who were at the transfiguration and then also John, who later penned the visionary book of revelation that also depicts the kingdom power being established, so it would n’t all have o be in reference to “six days later”, but regardless, the statement would be true either way. Matthew 26.64 is different. Please tell me how you understand the statement ‘from now on”? There was no prediction of future events, but from NOW ON. What did that mean to you? How did that happen?

    1. Rotherham, i’m not sure I understand. So it may or may not be referring to the transfiguration? Or just partly at the transfiguration and then later which only John himself experienced? The latter makes very little sense. I don’t see how John’s vision represents in any way what Jesus is referring to. If anything, it would just be a replication and expansion of Jesus’ words, since John also reports in Revelation that these things “must soon take place.” But on top of all that, i’m struggling to see where Mark 8:38 and Matthew 16:27 fit in, which is clearly a description of what also takes place with the kingdom coming.

      As far as Matthew 26:64, don’t you agree that the same language is used?

      Matt. 26:64 – “the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
      Matt. 16:27-28 – “come in the glory of His Father with His angels…coming in His Kingdom”
      Mark 8:38-9:1 – “comes in the glory of His Father and the holy angels…kingdom of God after it has come in power.”

      Regardless of where you place all this in your timeline, how can you not agree that these are all referring to the same event? The “from now on” means exactly what it says. It’s a present fulfillment that has ongoing fulfillment’s as well: Jesus established as king through ascension to the Father (that’s what the “coming” language actually means per Dan. 7) and also exercising judgment, which very soon begins to take place. You also have to explain the “from now on” within your eschatology.

  15. Hello Mike,
    What I want to know is how did they see him coming on the clouds of heaven from that time forward? The words about not dying could apply to both the transfiguration observers and also alone to just John. Via the revelation visions, John would see Christ depicted in his kingdom power, just like the transfiguration depicted the same.

    YEs, Matt 26:64, Matthew 16:27-8 and Mark 8:38 refer to the same events, but that in itself does not necessitate that those events were to be the fulfillment of his statement about not dying. As I said, he used those statements as a segue to introducing the transfiguration event. I can explain the “from now on” but I want to hear your view first.

    1. Rotherham-

      Even if I couldn’t answer the “how,” it wouldn’t follow that they didn’t because we have to take Jesus at his word. But my answer is that it was first fulfilled in Jesus’ ascension and seated at God’s right hand, continuing on to be fulfilled in the events leading up to AD 70. And of course, Jesus would continue to reign as King at God’s right hand.

      As far as the transfiguration, I still don’t see how it makes sense in being the fulfillment, or John’s visions. The latter seems even more of a stretch. This is primarily because we have to find fulfillment in Mark 8:38 and Matt. 26:27 within the lifetime of Jesus’ observers. You seem to want to separate this from the Kingdom language, but I don’t see any basis for doing so. I think we’re hitting a dead end here?

  16. Hello Mike,
    So are you saying you can’t answer the question?. Regardless, there is more to say about Mark 8:38 and 9:1. I have found that numrous commentators do not see things your way, which again is in a perterist framework.
    I will be referring to a lot of their comments within this post as I think they will be relevant to our differences here. I do not present them dogmatically, but as food for thought.
    A big question of course is “HOW” was Mark 9:1 fulfilled about “nice seeing death”?
    I Thought that the following commentary comments would be good for you to consider:

    “ The efforts of some commentators to construe these verses as a reference in both cases to the final judgment, or any other event still in the future, has the effect of a charge of ignorance against the Saviour of the world. Interpreting Mark 9:1 as a reference to the final and glorious phase of the kingdom of God as ushered in by the second coming of Christ and the appearance of his holy angels leads to such conclusions as those of Grant who stated that “This expectation (the coming of Jesus in the glory of the Father) was universal in the early days of Christianity, and must go back to Jesus himself.”[2] Of course, such a view makes the Lord Jesus Christ to have been mistaken and incorrect in such a statement as Mark 9:1. This is ground enough for rejecting all such interpretations. There is no need whatever to construe Mark 9:1 as a reference to the second coming of Christ or the beginning of the glorious phase of the kingdom. The great preachers of the Restoration have long held Mark 9:1 to be a prophecy of the establishment of the church on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Dorris stated that argument as follows:
    The kingdom was to come with power, and the power was to come with the Spirit (Acts 1:8). The Spirit came on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:1-4). As the kingdom was to come with power and as the power was to come with the Spirit, and as the Spirit and the power came on Pentecost, therefore, the kingdom came on that day.[3]
    In order to deny the thesis so logically advocated by Dorris, one must hold the Lord of Life to have been in error in his alleged meaning in Mark 9:1. Therefore, it is mandatory to reject the application of Mark 9:1 to the subject matter of Mark 8:38. There is no connection between them, except in the matter of their lying alongside each other within the matrix of the sacred text. It is impossible to interpret certain paragraphs in Mark without regard to his occasionally grouping of disconnected saying of our Lord. See the final verses in this chapter.”

    Mark 9:1. Come with power.— This was in some degree verified in the transfiguration which follows; but see the last note of the preceding chapter

    Possibly no single event is intended, but only the solemn declaration that before long, by the power of God, the reign of God will be firmly established (Lagrange). In any case, it is not sound criticism to insist that Mt., who so often expands Christ’s words, alone in this case gives His words correctly, and that, in saying that some of those present would see the Second Advent, Christ said what has proved to be untrue. Moreover, we have to remember that Christ’s language, especially on this subject, reflects the pictorial symbolism of later Judaism. Much of it may be oriental imagery, setting forth the triumphant success of the Gospel, without any reference to Christ’s return in glory. In particular, ἐν δυνάμει does not refer to “glory” but to “power,” viz. the powerful energy which was manifested wherever the Gospel was preached.

    a. As this passage, recorded by Mark and Luke, reads in E.V., it has been the puzzle of millions. I know not why they give us the future tense, indicative mode, when the Greek has the present subjunctive. Within about one week from the time of this utterance, Peter, James, and John actually witnessed a prelude of His second coming on the Mount of Transfiguration.
    “For not having followed cunningly devised fables, having made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but having been eye-witnesses of His majesty. . . . And we heard this voice borne from heaven, being along with Him in the holy mount.” (2 Peter 1:16-18.)
    Here you see, Peter certifies that they witnessed His power and coming, while they were with Him in the holy mount. Now what was that holy mount? Why the Mount of Transfiguration, which they actually visited in a few days from that time, it being the preliminary coming of the Lord in His glory; i.e., an actual adumbration of His second coming. As Peter, James, and John were all present in His audience, and actually witnessed this prelude of His second and glorious coming, we, on the Mount of Transfiguration, have a preliminary fulfillment of this prophecy. Some of them that stand here (tine twn ode estwtwn). A crux interpretum in reality. Does Jesus refer to the Transfiguration, the Resurrection of Jesus, the great Day of Pentecost, the Destruction of Jerusalem, the Second Coming and Judgment? We do not know, only that Jesus was certain of his final victory which would be typified and symbolized in various ways. The apocalyptic eschatological symbolism employed by Jesus here does not dominate his teaching. He used it at times to picture the triumph of the kingdom, not to set forth the full teaching about it. The kingdom of God was already in the hearts of men. There would be climaxes and consummations.

    Certainly the second coming did not take place while some of those standing there still lived. Did Jesus mean that? The very next incident in the Synoptic Gospels is the Transfiguration on Mount Hermon. Does not Jesus have that in mind here? The language will apply also to the coming of the Holy Spirit on the great Day of Pentecost. Some see in it a reference to the destruction of the temple. It is at least open to question whether the Master is speaking of the same event in Mark 8:38; Mark 9:1.

    “Not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom”: The event Jesus had in mind has been variously interpreted as His resurrection and ascension, the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, the spread of Christianity, or the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

    The most accurate interpretation, however, is to connect Christ’s promise with the Transfiguration in the context (verses 2-8), which provided a foretaste of His second coming glory. That all 3 synoptic gospels place this promise immediately before the Transfiguration supports this view, as does the fact that “kingdom” can refer to royal splendor.
    Many believe that this statement just prior to the transfiguration was speaking of those (Peter, James, and John), who went with Jesus up the mountain and saw Jesus in all His glory. To many, this is a mystery.
    End of commentary comments.

    So what we can see in the mind of many commentators and scholars is that the comment about some not tasting death, till they see the kingdom of God. can refer to a number of events, i.e. his resurrection and ascension, the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, the spread of Christianity, or the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and of course, he transfiguration itself. It appearst they feel any of those events would qualify. So which one is it?
    As one commentator put it, which I agree with : We do not know, only that Jesus was certain of his final victory which would be typified and symbolized in various ways.
    I think anyone to speak dogmatically about which event it had to refer to would be speaking from a theologically driven conclusion rather than solid evidence.

    1. Rotherham,

      You know i’m not a fan of pasting long streams of commentators. I could paste a dozen more with probably a dozen additional opinions. Plus, it would be nice if you provided the reference, which the Watchtower likewise fails to do time and time again when quoting scholars (much worse for the WT since it’s an actual publication). Regardless, lets get down to the crux of the matter. I actually agree that all of this is included in the fulfillment of Jesus’ words:

      “Not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom”: The event Jesus had in mind has been variously interpreted as His resurrection and ascension, the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, the spread of Christianity, or the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.”

      I think it’s all of this. Jesus’ resurrection and all the events leading up to 70AD. And this is likewise what Jesus means when speaking to his accusers that “you will see from now on.” Jesus’ cloud riding language symbolizes his authority and exercising his judgment. So yes, they certainly “saw” all that.

      Next, I find this statement interesting: “I think anyone to speak dogmatically about which event it had to refer to would be speaking from a theologically driven conclusion rather than solid evidence.” Correct me if i’m wrong, but isn’t this what the WT is doing? That was my whole point in bringing it up. I was taking exception with WT’s position that the transfiguration is the fulfillment of Mark 9:1/Matt. 16:28. Here’s one example:

      “3 Six days before the transfiguration, Jesus told his followers: “The Son of man is destined to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will recompense each one according to his behavior.” These words would be fulfilled at “the conclusion of the system of things.” Jesus further stated: “Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27, 28; 24:3; 25:31-34, 41; Daniel 12:4) The transfiguration took place in fulfillment of these latter words.” (https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1997362#h=5)

      Does the WT ever espouse the multiple fulfillments that you seem to be suggesting are valid options? From what I can tell, the WT only provides one option for fulfillment: the transfiguration for Matt. 16:28 and then the second coming for Matt. 16:27. That seems pretty dogmatic to me. Am I missing something?

  17. I didnt say you couldn’t, its just that you didn’t. What I want to know is how did they see him coming on the clouds of heaven from that time forward at Matthew 26:64

  18. Hi,
    I asked a similar question about 70AD on the YouTube video. If Jesus was referring to his coming as the destruction in 70 AD, how then will He also be coming on the clouds in the future? Doesn’t it have to be one or the other?

  19. Mike, I also think all those things mentioned could be fulfillment of the not dying statement. The WT in speaking with conviction and/or boldness, is not the same things as being dogmatic. They have often denied being dogmatic about numerous subjects. They specifically deny infallibility in their writings and our history of updating our understandings should demonstrate to you that our feet are not set in concrete in many areas. My use of the commentaries was simply for demonstrating the various views that are out there and to show we are not alone in our view. I don’t understand your aversion to commentaries. We can learn alot from them. If you really want the references I can supply them, as could the WT in anyhing they have quoted.

  20. Rotherham-

    If the Watchtower says it, you’re supposed to believe it, right? And what should or shouldn’t I believe the Watchtower on?

    Also, i’m Not adverse to commentaries. And yes, we can learn a lot from them. I just don’t see why we need to post long strings of commentaries as I can do the same. Why not just posit your opinion and we can evaluate it? Either the idea is Scriptural or it isn’t, regardless of the source. But yes, please do cite your sources if you’re going to quote them here. I just can’t imagine quoting a commentary anywhere without naming the source.

  21. Well Mike,
    It w simply a matter of not enough time when I was preparing my post. Sometimes commentaries are a nice shortcut, and I admit, I take shortcuts now an then by quoting scholars and commentators whom I trust and can agree with on certain issues. is that really so bad.? First of all, if I were using their words to try and REFUTE your position, I can see why you woukdn’t like there being no citations. I will post another post with the citations not too long from now. As i mentioned, i was not using those quotes dogmatically against a position of yours, I was merely demonstrating the diversity of opinion on what we were talking about.

    Since I believe the governing body’s thoughts and teachings are based in the Bible, and I have come to trust them in regard to their interpretations, I have no reason to not believe what they say based on Matthew 24:45-47 and Hebrews 13:17. But believe me, if they were to try and sustain a teaching that was clearly against scripture, I would not accept it., and I am sure many like me would not either, because we know they are not infallible and I know how to hold my acceptance of an idea in abeyance without causing division in the flock. This is something I don’t think you understand when it comes to obedience to the slave. Its not about absolute obedience to men, it’s about UNITY because God is pleased with unity. Otherwise there is chaos much like we see in the churches today.

    1. Hello Rotherham,
      You seem to be an educated JW, I have a question for you: do you personally accept the Governing Body’s latest teaching about the “generation”? Do you think this teaching is in accord with Scripture and logic?

  22. Hello vassy,
    I would welcome a good discussion about the word “generation and the different flavors of meaning that it can have. We can do so here at Mike’s place at a place he,deems,acceptable or we can do it without interruption from others at truetheology.net if you wish to do it there llete know ad I caarrange a private for for us to talk.thanks.

  23. Let me take a other run at that. If you wish to talk at truetheology .net,let me know and I can set up a private forum for us to talk.

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