come thou long expected Jesus

This hymn was published in 1745 by Charles Wesley expressing the centuries old Christian desire for the return of Jesus. I often wonder how, say, Peter, would have responded if someone asked, in response to his assertion that those who give up on the Lord’s return have lost faith, “But what if it is more than another 2,000 years?

That’s what this cartoon portrays.

Even after the flesh is gone
the ancient hymn is still being sung.

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23 Responses

  1. Andrew says:

    Love it…

  2. sam scoville says:

    You can run away from your literal fundamentalism but you can’t seem to hide from it. Or disentangle.

    Return? How do I return?
    Let me count the ways.

    You might do a cartoon on the rapture–what it would look like, half way between heaven and earth: saint above, sinners below. The ludicrous-ness of literalization.

    Or maybe portray the medieval theologians getting together over beers at NakedPub to play with the idea of spirit and matter. How shall we represent this, they might ask? Let’s say angels and the head of a pin and play with the paradoxes involved.

    I feel, as always, my tone is offensive. It carries the same passion you do, with your graffiti. Makes good sense. Passion.

  3. Gary says:

    I am always intrigued by those who make assertions that they KNOW we are now living in the last days before Christ’s return. I mean with nearly 2000 years of history since He told us He would return…they still believe they have some special knowledge that makes them right and 20 centuries of believers before them wrong. Frankly the irony of it all really kind of cracks me up.

    I believe people will always interpret biblical prophecy in the light of current world events. I mean I can’t tell you how many times I have heard it said “Well we absolutely know it has to be soon because Israel became a nation in 1948 and this generation cannot pass away before Jesus returns”…as if there is no possible OTHER interpretation of the reference to the budding of the fig tree (or even of a generation for that matter).

    I figure if the Apostle Paul was able to be so wrong about it (he told people not to even get married because the time was so short…lol) then it’s a pretty good bet we don’t have it all figured out either.

  4. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ David Hayward
    Brilliant! Speaks more that than a 10 page essay – and allows all sorts of people with different beliefs, to make it say what they want it to say:

    @ Gary
    Don’t be so rough on poor Apostle Paul — heck, even Jesus got it similarly wrong about the Son of Man. That might have been why Mark portrayed Jesus as so surprised when he was executed.

  5. Connie says:

    What a funny cartoon! I had a wonderful laugh this morning. Thank you,David, for another great poke at christianity’s sometimes silly cluelessness! 🙂

  6. sam scoville says:

    Hate the ignorance.
    Love the ignorant

    Fortunatly there’s plenty to love: silly and clueless galore. Silly & clueless abound. An embarrassment of riches, Connie. Renewable resource. Just look around.

  7. Gary says:

    @Sabio – “Even Jesus got it similarly wrong about the Son of Man.”

    Of course you know I think this is utter nonsense. Your belief system requires you to think this. I of course believe Jesus was/is God Himself.

    Oh and I am not rough on the Apostle Paul at all. In fact it is very liberating to realize he could be wrong. I like him a whole lot more knowing it is ok to disagree with him.

  8. Dawn says:

    “I believe people will always interpret biblical prophecy in the light of current world events.”
    @gary- I find it sad how they only interpret prophecy and wont interpret teaching in the light of current events. Seemed kinda schizo to me

  9. sam scoville says:

    Schizo for sure. Aren’t we all? I interpret always in terms of my cherished common sense and what reinforce my outlook and mind-set. Internal affairs on the one hand: external affairs on the other hand. A house divided. It’s the denial and cover up that raises the bozone level.

  10. Gary says:

    ” I find it sad how they only interpret prophecy and wont interpret teaching in the light of current events.”

    @Dawn – What a great point.

  11. Jonathan says:

    What I find interesting about this song is that it’s used almost exclusively during Christmas. I’m not sure if it was intended to be that way or not, but it seems to me that singing it as a Christmas carol removes the emphasis from Christ’s return and makes it more of a reflection of what those in the days immediately preceding Christ’s birth were feeling. To those seeming to indicate that singing it implies knowledge of when and how Christ’s return will happen, I don’t even think that’s a thought most people have when singing it at Christmas time. To be fair, I’m not a dispensationalist, so it might be different in those circles.

  12. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ Gary
    My “belief system” actually ‘requires’ no beliefs of me. I am always ready to throw out beliefs which contradict reality.
    But you are right, we fundamentally disagree. You found the truth and damn the evidence. I invite evidence and am willing to throw out “today’s truth” as needed.

  13. Tana says:

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:12-14

    We need not wait, we need only to ask?

  14. Gary says:

    @Sabio,

    LMAO – No Sabio, “Damn the evidence” is not part of my belief system.

    Atheists do not have a corner on the market of logic and reason. Many of the greatest thinkers of all time believe in the existence of God. This includes a great number currently within the scientific community, even many Nobel Laureates.

    But hey if believing that people of faith are ignorant fools is what you need to feel secure in your beliefs…then more power to ya.

  15. sam scoville says:

    To Sabio and Fishon, Godless Monster and Pat Pope
    Gary, Nathan, Steve Martin, Brigitte, Jesus Hugs,
    Hugh and Kevin, Christine, Connie, Hitch, David
    and all my naked-pastor naked brothers and sisters.

    Beyond The Literal & The Metaphorical
    Beyond the Rational & the Irrational
    Beyond the Logical & Illogical,
    Beyond the Goodies & the Weasels

    Were you there when they crucified our Lord?”
    the old hymn goes and of course none of us
    were: bygone days if you have to be temporal
    about it: secular and sequential Historical if not
    hysterical. .

    But—oh how I hammer!
    Nail it to keep it from wiggling.

    I hammer in the morning
    I hammer in the evening
    All over this spam.

    I hammer out danger.
    I hammer out warning.

    I’d hammer out the shit between
    my brothers and my sisters all
    over this land

    As it were and in manners of speaking,
    so to speak. It’s always the spirit and
    not the letter of the law and lawsy-ME
    that counts, true?

    It’s excruciating.

    xxxooo, Naked Bastard (dirty worker, no one wants)

  16. fishon says:

    sam scoville
    December 21, 2011 | 3:04 pm

    Were you there when they crucified our Lord?”
    —-No, wasn’t there, but was there when He changed my life.

  17. Steve Martin says:

    He does still change people’s lives.

    He has changed mine, also.

    And He will change it even more when He pulls me out of that grave and gives me new life again when I really need it.

    From the lips of one dying man, to the ears of others.

  18. sam scoville says:

    1.True Believers–fundamental and liberal
    2.Recent Escapees: Smarting & Licking their Wounds.
    3.Long-time Freedom Riders Nevertheless Hostile to Past Habits.
    4.Rationalists, logically positive & scholar-appreciating, making mince-meat out of the unreasonable and illogical.
    5. Irrationalists nevertheless insisting on dressing their appropriate irrationality in rational clothing; mixing meta force unknowingly, as it were.
    Trying to characterize US. Reductive, of course. Mythologizing for the sake of argument. No one in this blog is indifferent–nonchalant. Jocular. Serious and risky business. We’re LIKE blind myn around the elephant. Be true to what part you hold on to. Consider the possibility that all points of view contribute to a shared sense of the elephant. Edification. Not either/or, but and and and. Meta-inclusivity may be impossible for many. And the beat goes on. But it hurts. Excruciating.
    (I know somebody whose total blog is written under a pseudonym–for fear of reaper cushions.)

  19. Gary says:

    Sam…are you ever going to just…I don’t know…talk?

  20. PamBG says:

    Charles Wesley would certainly not have believed in “Rapture” which is a 19th century invention, along with Fundamentalism.

    Yes, I admit I’m a Methodist and maybe being a bit too sensitive here, but I’m quite surprised to see Charlie sent up like a stupid, naive fundamentalist. Someone who was not only a mature and sincere believer in God but also had more theological background than anyone who has come out of seminary with an M.Div.

    Yeah, the Christian faith looks forward to some kind of telos. We can also deal with metaphor. Normally, anyway.

    To kick against the goads of fundamentalism is ultimately to believe it. Too bad Charlie had to be sacrificed as a strawman.

  21. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ PamBG
    I am not too up on theologians. So let me ask:
    (a) Are you saying “Charlie” did not believe that Jesus would be coming back sometime and he was looking forward to that?
    (b) Though “Rapture” may be a fundie invention, the second coming wasn’t, was it?

    I made this diagram of the various Christian eschatologies. Which do you hold?

    Unfortunately, I think I must disagree with your last point: I wish more Christians (and Muslims) would kick against the goads of their fundamentalists — it would give them both better images. Thus, David Hayward is serving us all well.

  22. Gary says:

    “I wish more Christians (and Muslims) would kick against the goads of their fundamentalists — it would give them both better images.”

    @Sabio – Now here is a point at which we totally agree. In fact I believe it would not only give us a better “image”, but be much more true to the teachings of Christ.

  23. sam scoville says:

    Gary: common sense, nonsense, and no-sense-at-all are, for me all three (in play): mothers of invention.

    And the greatest of these is actually, fundamentally: no-sense-at-all. Our most ongoing resource.

    Think of the realm of no-sense-at-all that is occluded by our common sense (and nonsense, which for many is a delight and serves to loosen up, if not undercut, all the hard core common sense that we hammer and are hammered with daily)

    Better images? Information theorists talk about systems with the capability to continually access NOISE as an ongoing resource for NEWS. It’s called “stochastic process” and recognizes the necessity for literally “shooting arrows out into the vast noisy unknown with the expectation of hitting a target from time to time.” (So to speak: its a mathematical process) Otherwise: aren’t we sealed in the box, bubble, cave, culture, custom, convention. This is good news, Gary. But you might talk about it in other ways.