And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sounds of silence*
What is the greatest detriment to a right understanding of the doctrine of eschatology? It could be said that it is the same that exists with every doctrine. John closed his first epistle with a warning to beware of its desire to be a part of every facet of our lives. He simply said, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
Our greatest idol, of course, is our own self. It takes little effort for me to uncover areas of my life where I find myself worshipping me. Hopefully, you’re honest enough to see this reality in your own life also. Here’s a simple test… what’s the first thing that goes through your mind when your spouse takes one of your french fries? “That’s mine!”
The study of the Bible is no different… especially when looking at the obscure passages relating to the end things. Somehow all that I am reading must be all about me! There must be a message here about me! How vain I am!
So… a little about me. I was teethed and reared on dispensationalism. Where I grew up, if you didn’t study from the Scofield Kings James Version (still one in my library) of the Bible, you were considered an anathema. Yesterday I couldn’t spell anathema… today, I are one. I now believe this branch of the many streams claiming a correct interpretation of the end times is ridiculous at best… but maybe closer to heresy. Honestly, I’m not sure I fit into any category anymore. But, borrowing a line from a friend at Meeting in the Clouds, “I know what I believe about those disputed verses, and while I remain open to sensible, God-honoring alternative thoughts, I am satisfied.”
Why spend the time looking at this? Isn’t there enough stuff clearly taught in Scripture to allow me to avoid ever approaching this one? There is… but did Jesus tell us to make disciples by sharing with them some of what He taught?
Back to my vanity issue. Even though we don’t like to admit it, we all read the Bible with presuppositions. Usually, we are either directed by what others have taught us, or we seek to dispute that teaching for one reason or another. We too often read into Scripture what we want to be there. Instead, we should allow Scripture to move us to its truths. This is true, even when they may be painful. This is paramount in every rendering, not only eschatology…
I have no doubt that some, if not many, of my words will be met with antagonism. I’ll be frank. What I believe is not the most popular eschatological fad on the block. I will share it… and will be open-minded to responses. When you disagree with me, I will try to respond, but will always say, “Praise the Lord, brother (or sister)! Let’s love one another anyway!”
Keeping it readable… Lord willing, more follows.
*Simon and Garfunkel ~ The Sound of Silence