The Ascension: Did Jesus Pass Saturn on His Way Up?

by John Stackhouse

A new friend writes:

George Stroumboulopoulos had Bill Maher on his program talking about his film ‘Religulous’.  Bill asked a question, not unlike the questions you were asking Friday ie) ‘what really happened’,  when Jesus ascended bodily into heaven.  Bill was of course happily irreverent, wondering if Jesus was concerned about the disciples seeing up his robe as he arose, further wondering what happened once Jesus reached the zone where there is no oxygen, and then queried whether Jesus just carried on up past the moon and planets to…where?

Oh, those stupid religious people! They can’t see the fatal problems right in their own texts! Ho, ho, now we have Jesus freezing and gasping as he ascends through the stratosphere, only to have to dodge asteroids between Mars and Jupiter and–well, gosh, how boneheaded can you get?

Boneheaded enough, I suppose, to keep yakking in public about how moronic religious people are without doing the basic journalistic research anyone would do on any other subject.

Example A:

Journalist: Isn’t it crazy to think that that pile of wood and metal and fabric could possibly get off the ground?

Wilbur and Orville Wright: Well, we just flew it, so I guess it’s not crazy to think that.

Example B:

Journalist: Dr. Physicsguy, it seems obviously stupid to believe that light is somehow both a wave and a particle. How could anyone believe something so flatly contradictory? Are all you physicists nutty professors or what?

Physicist: Well, Mr. Journalist, it turns out that for decades we have had scientific evidence that light sometimes behaves like a wave and sometimes behaves like a particle. Let me explain…

What about Jesus’ ascension? Well, Jesus does not in fact go up all that far. If one reads the actual account with a modicum of attention (Acts of the Apostles chapter one), one finds that “a cloud received him out of their sight.” Jesus does not, in fact, rise up through the atmosphere. Once he gets to the height of “the sky” or “the heavens” (same thing in Hebrew and in Greek), the dramatic point is made: this crucified “failure” is being vindicated by God and on his way to the majesty he deserves. The point made, Jesus disappears into a cloud and transfers (we know not how) to his current situation at the right hand of God…


The Ascension: Did Jesus Pass Saturn on His Way Up? « Prof. John Stackhouse’s Weblog

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