The End Times

May 11, 2006

Original Post Date:  5/11/2006

I think that so much of what divides us between the "Christian Right" and the "Christian Left" (or whatever terms you like) has to do with how we view eschatology, or the "end times."

The conservatives seem to take the Bible literally, and believe that God is a God of judgement.  They believe that the world is getting worse, and that it will continue to get worse until at some point in time God will destroy the world and Jesus will judge us all to bring in the reign of God.  They believe either in 1) working hard to "earn" grace to get to heaven; or 2) obtaining a personal relationship with Jesus to get to heaven.  As a side note, one thing I have never understood is the concept of a "rapture" – where the selected few "disappear" before the ultimate destruction of the world to escape the wrath of God.  There is no Biblical foundation for this, and the conservative tradition says they root everything in the literal authority of the Bible.

I believe, on the other hand, that God is a God of love.  I believe that God would never destroy the world.  I believe he loves us ALL too much.  I believe instead that the work before us is to bring heaven to earth, and that is the reign of God.  As a result, the spirit is always moving among us over time to make things better, not worse.  We are saved by Grace alone, and we do good works because we are the arms of God working to bring about this reign.  Is there a Biblical foundation for this, rooted in literal interpretation?  I dunno.  That isn't my requirement for my theology.  Ask me after seminary and I might have a better answer.  But since I don't proclaim it as my requirement for theology now it doesn't bother me that I can't quote scripture to back it up (as compared to the rapture, above, which I still think is quite interesting…).

I think we find this all over the place in society.  I remember very clearly when Bob Dole was running against Bill Clinton in 1996.  Bob Dole said, "I offer you a bridge to the past."  In other words, things are getting worse.  Bill Clinton's response:  "I offer you a bridge to the future."  Things are getting better.

Two different world views.  Two different theologies.  One based, I believe, in fear of the unknown, fear of what is to come, fear of what is around the corner, and a yearning for what has already been.  The other based on excitement for the possibilities, the potential, the yet to be, and the birth and rebirth of life eternal.

It is easy to be nostalgic.  The "I remember when it used to be this way…", or "things were so much better before…".  We must remember, though, that God has a plan.  Trust is essential.  Hope springs eternal.  Putting trust and hope into action in our life can be a real thing.  Let's build a bridge into the future.  That doesn't mean we have to tear down the bridge into the past.

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