In Uncategorized on January 4, 2006 at 4:41 am

how is it going to end?

it was supposed to happen on september 12, 1988. after dreading his return throughout the school day, i figured that he would appear in the evening sky. as i pumped my huffy over to my girlfriend’s house (she’s since become a lesbian. she wasn’t the last woman i had this effect on, but the first) i remember thinking, “so this is how it feels to live in the end of days.” in all honesty, the feeling wasn’t that bad. the hormones provided a nice counterbalance to the apocalyptic angst and the evening went off without either a hitch or, unfortunately, any action.

although my apocalyptic angst subsided a bit after the fury surrounding 88 reasons why the rapture is in 1988 died down, i was still haunted with thoughts and assaulted with talks about the end of the world. i can distinctly remember skipping youth group trips to jim petty’s house, lest i be terrified by his tales of plagues and pestilence. i also remember being scared senseless of christ’s return while i slept in, and occasionally with, my sin. although i look back on my rapture ready childhood with a bit of a wry smile, i don’t think all of its effects upon me were all bad. after all, the visceral sense of christ’s return encouraged me to let go of the key light and, eventually, my incredible self-loathing so that i could follow this provocative palestinian jew who has shaken up history and shaken the hell out of my life. i think that’s a pretty good thing.

however, as the years have gone by, my expectation of, and perhaps even my belief in, christ’s literal, physical return has become a bit more abstract. though i still chant the piece of the roman liturgy that states “christ has died, christ has risen, christ will come again,” on regular occasion, i tend to follow n.t. wright and others who see most of the apocalyptic imagery in matthew 24 and mark 13 as referring to the destruction of jerusalem in a.d. 70 instead of a more traditional rider on the storm type of scene. moreover, although i embrace an amillenial perspective on the end times – which has nothing to say about the “when” of christ’s return but still holds tenaciously to the “what,” in practice i act more like a post-millenial, who believes that by incarnating christ’s compassion and proclaiming his subversive gospel in the world the consummation of the kingdom will slowly come into being.

then, occasionally, i stumble across a passage like luke 12:39 – 40, which speaks of the lord jesus arriving like a thief who comes when we will least expect him. i know that this text could be referring to his arrival upon the advent of my death or, more likely, speaking of his “arrival” in judgment in a.d. 70 (when jerusalem was soundly sacked by rome). however, there seems to be something more to this passage. i know that some folks will think this is a stretch, but i think that jesus was quite conscious of his eventual terminus and he truly expected to return in a royal, red carpet scene like none other. jesus repeatedly alludes to the latter scene by designating himself as “the son of man” and by turns subtly and not so subtly referring back to daniel 7:13-14.

i know wright would chide me for “not knowing a rich metaphor when i see one” for saying this, but i still think that christ told us to prepare for, and carefully await, his literal, final return. and i don’t know quite what to do with that.

it relieves me a little to realize that few of my colleagues and bible college/seminary professors know what to do with it either, for the gradual recession of pre-millenial and rapture-ready type thought among serious christian thinkers has, from my perspective anyway, led to a certain amount of apocalyptic agnosticism in the mainstream eh-vangelical and ee-vangelical church. although we confess christ’s return and keep the doctrine in our systematic theologies, it does not get much popular – outside of really bad pulp novels anyway – or intellectual play. i can’t remember the last time i heard a sermon on the second coming and i know that i’ve never given one.

so yeah, the second coming…i know what i confess, but have serious questions about what i believe.


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