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Follow up thoughts on C. S. Lewis’ failed Jesus prophecies

September 11, 2014

smiling-lewisI have received quite bit of off-the-blog feedback regarding my post C. S. Lewis on Jesus’ False Prophecies. Some Christians/Messianics have accused me of taking Lewis’ words of out context. Invariably, those who make this charge themselves have not read the material in its context, but simply refuse to believe that Lewis would actually feel this way as it doesn’t seem to jive with whatever else he may have said or felt about Jesus. And so they dismiss, blindly, without checking the facts for themselves. However, if one reads the book in context it becomes clear that C.S. Lewis uses the failed predictions of Jesus not to malign Jesus, but only to suggest that such embarrassing words were in fact proofs of New Testament’s authenticity, since the authors would have doubtless left out (according to Lewis) anything so embarrassing to their cause had they really had a devious agenda to dupe their audience. C.S. Lewis applauded such embarrassment because it, by a roundabout way, bolstered his own faith in New Testament being delivered to us truthful and unaltered! What is ironic is that in the name of New Testament’s authenticity C. S. Lewis compromised the character of his god-man (as Lewis called him) Jesus, by questioning his master’s prophetic abilities and exposing his ignorance!

How could the NT authors leave such false prophecies in the New Testament? Were they not obvious to them as they are to the modern readers? These questions, however, presuppose that the New Testament’s authors possessed an usual ability to think outside of their immediate space and time. They were products of their own time. They may have very well believed the false prophetic statements made by Jesus, Paul, John and others, that Jesus was coming back as he and they had promised, in their own lifetimes! Modern Jesus-worshipers who refuse to acknowledge this possibility should ask themselves this question – is this really so unusual to see in the annals of Christian history many prophecies regarding the return to Jesus to be issued by various prominent and widely respected Christians leaders and for them to fail, publicly? Not at all! As a matter of fact, we know of countless examples of failed predictions by leaders of various Christian movements, denominations and cults in the last two thousand years, enough to recognize that false prophets and presumptuous wishful thinkers do not think that far ahead. They usually use their words for immediate effects and maximum impact upon their followers and would-be followers, and then explain away their failures (or, more often leave it to their followers to explain and defused the fallout) to correctly prognosticate  when their “prophecies” fail to materialize. As with the New Testament, their works are still with us, and also as embarrassing as ever. They too are filled with false prophecies and predictions of Jesus’ swift return in triumph and fearful judgement on unbelievers along other fearful events, usually in their own lifetimes.

“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. – C. S. Lewis, in The World’s Last Night, pages 98-99″

True, prophetic failures are quite embarrassing and such false prophets may lose some of their following in their immediate aftermath of their failures, but the majority of the devoted and emotionally vested followers will obediently stick around, overcoming their cognitive dissonance by faith and often sheer fear of eternal punishment reserved for the unbelievers.

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