Category Archives: Eschatology

Using the Apocalypse as a Shameless Plug

As you have probably heard by now, the world is going to be ending on Saturday. According to Harold Camping this Saturday is exactly 7,000 years from the day that God told Noah he would destroy the world in seven days. And we all know that to God a day is like a thousand years and all that.

This end of the world prediction is just so absurd that it isn’t even worth refuting, but, in an over-the-top kind of way it definitely demonstrates something I was talking about a couple months back: it is dangerous to try and interpret the Bible into current events. I specifically used eschatology as an example to demonstrate these dangers and never would have expected someone to come along and say “See me? I’m doing exactly what that guy warned you about!” but, as fate would have it, that guy has come along. Well I’ve got to admit he has given this a shot before, but I wasn’t blogging much at the age of ten so I didn’t have much of a venue to bring it up in at that time. He also predicted the end of the world in 1994.

When Camping’s ’94 prediction was proven wrong by, well, reality, he ended up making some changes. So here we are on the eve of the eve of the end of the world. While you are eagerly awaiting the Rapture or however it is that you understand Jesus coming back for his followers, might I recommend reading my Reactionary Eschatology series:

And, if you decide that this is really the End, and that maybe zombies will be part of the End then I would also recommend checking out Zombie Theology for Christian advice and encouragement in living through the zombie apocalypse.


Waiting for Him to Come Back

It seems that, for the most part, we, as Christians, have seriously ignored and minimized the importance of Christ’s return. Eschatology (or the study of the End Times) has become a sort of niche theological topic that most view as irrelevant. I can’t blame them for seeing it that way; the way eschatology is discussed IS largely irrelevant and pointless, but I don’t think this means that the truth of Christ’s return is at all unimportant.

Revelation is the last book in the Christian Scriptures. Beyond the canonical order, which may or may not matter at all, it was among the last New Testament books written. So what is the last thing that Christ wants his followers to know?

He is coming back:

John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him [be] glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. – Rev 1:4-7 NKJV

His return is what he tells his closest followers and friends about so they “may have peace” to prepare them for His death and their persecution:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” – Jhn 14:1-3 NKJV

and His return is closely tied with the importance of His resurrection, because in His return we will share in that same resurrection:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. – Col 3:1-4 NKJV

So where did we get it wrong? According to the Bible, the return of Christ seems like our hope and strength as we live this life. So why has it been largely kicked aside as merely an “interesting topic” ? It may have  a lot to do with the approach many take when they read and teach from the Book of Revelation, and other Biblical prophecy concerning the End. So often these prophecies are ripped apart to try to find timelines and blueprints for how and when it will all go down, but I think that largely misses the point. according to Revelation the point is that Jesus will be returning soon and that is a message that will bless those who hear it (according to Rev 1:3).

So, as we reflect over the next few days on His death and resurrection, maybe we should also consider the glorious hope of His final return:

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! – Rev 22:20 NKJV


Reactionary Eschatology: Amillennialism

St Michael Fighting the Dragon

"St Michael Fighting the Dragon," a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer, from the series "The Revelation of St. John"

In this series we are discussing this simple question:
Are current events or the Bible driving my theology?

Other posts in the Reactionary Eschatology series:
Intro
Premillennialism
Postmillennialism

I am calling it Reactionary Theology when we let current events drive our theology. I want to look specifically at the affect of current events on our Eschatology. We will glance over each view and discuss its potential danger for reactionary theology and the reactionary theology contained within its history. In this post I want to talk about Amillennialism and a slightly more hidden danger it possesses toward Reactionary Theology.

Amillennialism had been, by far, the most popular view of the End Times throughout history, that is until the 19th and 20th century and the popularization of Postmillennialism(19th) and Premillennialism(20th). It essentially states that there is no (A-) literal 1,000 year reign of Christ and that we are living in the “millennium” right now. The Millennium is an unspecific amount of time between Christ’s ascension and return in which Christ reigns through the Spirit in His followers, but at the same time Satan continues to maintain His role until, at the end of the Millennium, Christ returns and condemns Satan and the Demons once and for all.

This is the view I hold, and I know first hand that this view can hold the most hidden and dangerous tenancy toward  Reactionary Theology. The apparent advantage of this view is that it does not need to lean on history or current events in any way. Good things will happen, bad things will happen and one day Jesus will come back. There are no “signs of the times” from this perspective. This is a good thing, but to believe Amillennialism simply because it will help you avoid Reactionary Theology may be the most dangerous form of Reactionary Theology yet! Holding this view for that reason is pragmatism. It has nothing to do with the validity of the claim, it simply is accepted because it works well. That is a bad idea!

As i mentioned earlier in this post, Amillennialism has another advantage in that it has been held for a long time by the majority of Christians, but again we must be careful here. Believing this view because it has been popular through history is also quite dangerous. That is not a good reason to believe something, just like a view’s current popularity is not a good reason to believe it. Popular opinion and beliefs should have very little to do with each other.

Tomorrow we will wrap up this series by listing some of the pitfalls we should try to avoid based on what we learned from the history and interpretation style of these views.


Reactionary Eschatology: Postmillennialism

The Angel with the Key to the Bottomless Pit

"The Angel with the Key to the Bottomless Pit," a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer, from the series "The Revelation of St. John"

In this series we are discussing this simple question:
Are current events or the Bible driving my theology?

Other posts in the Reactionary Eschatology series:
Intro
Premillennialism

I am calling it Reactionary Theology when we let current events drive our theology. I want to look specifically at the affect of current events on our Eschatology. We will glance over each view and discuss its potential danger for reactionary theology and the reactionary theology contained within its history. In this post we will talk about Postmillennialism. It is not very popular, but it was about 100 years ago. Why?

Postmillennialism is very unpopular today, but gained much popularity coming out of the 1800’s and into the early 1900’s. It basically says that Jesus will return after (post) the millennium. The Millennium will be a time that the world will get better and better until everyone follows God and has what they need. Once that happens Jesus will return.

Postmillennialism is a utopian understanding of the world and was very popular during the Industrial Revolution. Could this have been because people saw the potential allowed by new machinery and industry to provide everyone with basic necessities for a reasonable price? The Industrial Revolution also created opportunity to travel via cars, trains, or airplanes all over the world to share the Gospel with people who hadn’t heard it before. It seems that this view was heavily influenced by events of the time and if there is any doubt about it then we should ask why it suddenly faded away after the World Wars and Depression.

This view lends itself heavily to Reactionary Theology because it sees the world improving until Jesus returns. It generally holds that the Millennium is a literal 1,000 years so the big questions are whether or not that time has started and where within it we are right now. The only way to answer those questions is to impose current events into the prophecy of Scripture.


Reactionary Eschatology: Premillennialism

"The Woman Clothed with the Sun and the Seven-headed Dragon," a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer, from the series "The Revelation of St. John"

In this series we are discussing this simple question:
Are current events or the Bible driving my theology?

Other posts in the Reactionary Eschatology series:
Intro

I am calling it Reactionary Theology when we let current events drive our theology. I want to look specifically at the affect of current events on our Eschatology. We will glance over each view and discuss its potential danger for reactionary theology and the reactionary theology contained within its history. the first view we will discuss is Premillennialism. I chose it first because it is the most popular view right now so I thought it would be a good launching point.

Premillennialism is surely the most popular view held today.  It states that we are living and Jesus will return before (pre) his millennial (1,000 year) reign. If you are like me, you believe this and don’t even know that there are any other views, but actually this view has only become popular over the last century or so.

Some major things that happened in the early 1900’s were the two World Wars, and the Great Depression. Also the Theory of Evolution was becoming popular and Atheism along with it. Premillennialism says that the world will get worse and worse until Jesus returns. Atheism? World Wars? Depression? Could those have been major catalysts to a huge shift in understanding the End Times?

This view normally reads Revelation and other prophecies in Scripture very literally, some say “literalisticly” meaning that Premillennialists overly literalize things that are clearly figurative, so it is very possible and very common to read current events into the text. This has led many to create timelines leading to the end, and to try to understand how close we are based on how they believe the events in the world fit into the prophecies of Scripture. The Left Behind series is a perfect example of understanding the prophecies about the End Times through current events. The authors of those books maintain that they are purely fictional, but if someone were to base his theology on similar grounds it would certainly be considered Reactionary Theology.


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