The End of the World, Part III

Subsequent to my posting titled “The End of the World” we had, as you all know, an earthquake and tsunami which did incomprehensible damage to the people and nation of Japan. That touches us all differently, but for some like the young man in my church who grew up in Japan, the impact was deeply felt.

But the earthquake led inevitably to people determining that this was another harbinger of the end of the world, because Jesus mentioned earthquakes in some of his prophetic teaching. I understand the longing for Jesus’ return. But there have been earthquakes in abundance since Jesus spoke, and wars, and rumors of wars. It may be that we are misreading those texts.

Which leads me to encourage your listening to the last couple of Christian education classes at the church I pastor. Ra McLaughlin, a superb teacher, has been teaching a class on basic biblical interpretation which we have only recently begun to record. But the two classes we recorded, posted here and here, have both been on the subject of the interpretation of prophecy. I think that all should find these very helpful.

Finally, though, as people in these matters wrestle with and debate the questions which swirl around the issues of life and death, present and future (in theological parlance, ‘eschatology’), Richard Lovelace has the best word:

“We must also insist that there is one factor of belief which almost always tends to disturb the practical usefulness of any eschatology: the notion that we can be certain now where we are on the eschatological time line. This is especially true if we assume we are near the end of the line, as so many have in past history….” (Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, page 413)