This scenario often occurs – something is said or written, and it seems obvious, but then another person does a careful analysis on it and what was first thought to be reasonable became seriously questioned.
The classic case is in the annals of the Reformation where Eck and Luther went head to head and Eck, being the quicker on his feet seemingly trounced Luther in the verbal debate. The problem was, scribes were in attendance and wrote it all down. Luther's later written rebuttal made Eck look quite a non-starter in theological thought.
Recently I discovered two articles, one saying one thing and the other article another, the second writer pulls the first apart, piece and piece. The first article at first reading made a great deal of sense, the second challenges the first as there were numerous pre-suppositions that could not be substantiated.
The second speaker (as it were)
The second speaker as it were has the great advantage of being able to comment on what has already been written without a following rebuttal (so to speak).
The law courts are not unlike this, final summations can be lengthy and very detailed, and may take one or two days. Then the other side has their final summation, and I know which position in the queue I'd prefer.
It was consistently said of Adolf Hitler during WWII that the last person who spoke to him had by far the greater advantage of seeing their point pursued.
But there are many situations in life where this applies. It can be in the work place, the sporting field, the social arena, the music we select, where we worship and a host of such matters.
Many a one day cricket match or a Two/Twenty has seen a situation where it appears to be easier to chase a target than to be first at the crease, and when it rains, under the Duckworth-Lewis system, many consider its better to be batting second. Many may recall that memorable Cricket World Cup semi-final with New Zealand the South African target played in Auckland. The Kiwis (Black Caps) reached the run chase with one ball to spare.
The writer of The Revelation knew all about this too as at the very end of the Scripture something very important is made clear. Self serving it may be, but nonetheless it is critical to the Gospel message:
Verses 18 and 19 of chapter 22 spell it out – that adding or taking away from the words of the book of this prophecy – the outcome is not a pretty one, it's devastating.
Presented is life and future and hope in all things eternal and it is squarely based on the blood of Christ shed on the Cross of Calvary for the sin of the world. Moreover the only one who could offer such an outcome was God himself – the incarnate - the core teaching of the Christian message.
Quite recently someone who I know from many years ago when I was a young lad rang me, a senior member of the Jehovah Witnesses. At the time he rang, I had other things on and I could not talk but he insisted and played those conversational tricks to keep you engaged. In the end I had to cut him off.
But one of the interesting tricks he played was to introduce the new translation / version of the bible that the Jehovah Witnesses are now using. It was one of those moments of realisation where at once I saw through this ploy, as it comes down to Jehovah Witnesses interpretation.
The tried and tested and orthodox understanding of the incarnation that Jesus is God Himself, the triune God, regardless of new translations / version, this remains the critical issue – and the two – Orthodox Christianity and Jehovah Witnesses on this single and central point stand at opposite ends of the spectrum.
This is the focus at the end of The Revelation. The central and un-moveable Christian doctrine that why Salvation occurs as a gift – as the giver is the only one who can gift Salvation.
The theology - only God can give life, then eternal life – both come from God himself, Christ. Not Christ as a son, not Christ as some mystical pseudonym figure. Only God, Christ. It's quite beautiful isn't it!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html