What did atheistic author Mike Davis allege was the “smoking gun” that proved to him once and for all that “Christianity could not possibly be true”? What “sealed the issue” and led him to believe “Jesus was wrong...and no more deserving of our belief than any other guy”? When did the case against the Bible and Christianity become “closed”? In chapter one of his book, The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament: How the Bible Undermines the Basic Teachings of Christianity, Davis explained that Matthew 24:34 was the deciding factor.
In Matthew 24:34, Jesus stated: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” According to Davis, since “Jesus tells his listeners that the judgment day will come before the generation he’s speaking to passes away,” and since that generation passed away 1,900 years ago, Jesus “could not have been divine” and the Bible is “untrustworthy” (2008, pp. 1-2). In actuality, what Davis confesses ultimately “proved” to him that the Bible and Jesus are unreliable is nothing more than a misinterpretation of Scripture. Jesus was not mistaken in His comments in Matthew 24:34—Jesus’ generation did not pass away prior to witnessing the things Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:4-34. But, Jesus did not foretell in those verses what Davis assumes He foretold. Davis and many others believe that, prior to verse 34, Jesus was describing events that would take place shortly before Judgment Day at the end of time. The fact of the matter is, however, Jesus was prophesying about the coming destruction upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and not the final Judgment.
When the disciples went to show Jesus the temple buildings (Matthew 24:1), Jesus said, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (24:2). Later, when Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked Him three questions, beginning with “when will these things be?” (24:3). In verses 4-34, Jesus revealed several signs that would indicate Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem, including the temple, was near. [NOTE: “The fall of the Hebrew system is set forth in the sort of apocalyptic nomenclature that is characteristic of Old Testament literature, e.g., when the prophets pictorially portray the overthrow of Jehovah’s enemies (cf. Isaiah 13:10-11; 34:2ff; Ezekiel 32:7-8)” (Jackson, n.d.); cf. Matthew 24:29-31; see Miller, 2003.] In verses 35-51 (and all of chapter 25), Jesus answered the disciples’ last two questions: “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). To summarize, in Matthew 24:4-34 Jesus foretold of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, while in 24:35-25:46 He commented on His future return and final Judgment of the world.
How sad it is that so many atheists and skeptics believe they have disproven the Bible and Christianity, when, in reality, they have simply twisted the biblical text to mean something God never intended (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). The fact that Mike Davis highlights Matthew 24:34 as the verse that once and for all proved to him the Bible is unreliable should tell us something about the extreme weakness of the skeptic’s case against Christianity.
Davis, Mike (2008), The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament (Outskirts Press: Denver, CO).
Jackson, Wayne (no date), “A Study of Matthew 24,” http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/19-a-study-of-matthew-24.
Miller, Dave (2003), “There Will Be No Signs!” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1838.
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