Are We Still Here?
by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
Perhaps some of you were aware that Jesus was to come back on May 21? There have been billboards and tracts all over to inform us of this fact. If he did so, the Christians will have all gone to heaven and the rest of us will have all been burnt up (but not so much as to avoid an eternity of the same). But what's worse, I will have written this post in vain. No, that's not true, for I enjoy writing these things in any case, and even if no one reads them either because of the apocalypse or disinterest, does not really matter all that much.
I'm having problems with tenses here because May 21 is still two weeks from the time of my writing, but you will most likely read it after that day — if you're still there.
Even when I was a Christian I had serious problems with the eschatology (which means the study of the last days, not the study of scat) of evangelicalism. This was because I was into a very political application of the principles of Christianity — a kind of liberation theology one might say. And this focus on the coming of Jesus and the end of the world, as a world view, has a radically negative effect on one's commitment to 'making things better'. Why bother, if Jesus is coming and the world is about to be burnt by fire?
One interesting thing about this current theological trend of prophetic interpretation is that a great deal of it has only recently evolved, within the last hundred years or so. From the point of view of two millennia of theological thinking, this is significant. It is not the only way to look at these obscure scriptures. And even within the Christian camp there are wide-ranging differences of opinion about how these are to be interpreted.
Are you a millennialist, post-millennialist, pre-millennialist, or a-millennialist? Do you believe in the pre-, mid-, or post-tribulation rapture of the Church? Come on, speak up, are you a true believer or not?
This is not to say that the second coming of Jesus is not a central and thoroughly biblical belief within Christianity, for it most certainly is. And I am sure that for the early Christians about to be fed to the lions it was a reassuring thought. It's nice to think, too, that those dastardly Romans are going to get burnt up when he does.
It is interesting that some early manuscripts of Revelation have 'the number of the beast' as 616, not 666. 616, when looked at numerologically, turns out to spell Nero. I mention this merely to make the point that these prophesies, whatever their future dimension may or may not be, were rooted in the current events of the time and were meant to reassure the people of that time.
So, if we are still here, what of all those who put their faith in the calculations and interpretations of this one man? Not to worry! Faith and hope are resilient beyond belief. And there will soon be a plan C — for this May 21 date was already plan B.
You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.