Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The End of the World

To listen to many modern christian evangelists, one might think christian thought focused on the idea of the world ending soon through the ages.  That's simply not true.  There have been only two periods where Christians focused, in the beginning and fairly recently.

The modern focus on the Apocalypse began in the 19th century with the Dispensationalism movement.

They took bits and pieces from all over the bible and put together an elaborate mosaic describing what they believed were imminent events, culminating in the destruction of the modern world, replacing it with what they called "the Kingdom of God".

While their version of the Apocalypse doesn't match what we see in the bible itself, they believe their concept is blessed and biblical because it's made up of pieces from the bible.

This focus on the end of the world proved very popular with evangelists and still is today.  Its popularity lead to the development of several doomsday and suicide cults, including The Great Disappointment in 1844 when thousands of followers of William Miller gave away all their belongings and sat on a mountain top awaiting the return of Jesus, only to realize they were duped when the day came and the world didn't end.

A lot of people would take this as proof that Christianity and the bible aren't very valid models of thought, and indeed you don't hear believers discuss these things very often.

I think it's important for believers to know these things though to warn them away from the many logical pitfalls faith can lead you into.  If the prophesies on the end of the world were literal, they would have happened by now, which means logical Christians must assume these parts of the bible mean something other than the obvious, including the possibility that they were never valid predictions of the future at all.

The book we call Revelations is a beautiful, remarkable piece, written by someone who is obviously very devote, that it doesn't actually foretell the future is no shame on it.  The shame is ours for not applying our beautiful minds and remembering that no man can tell the future.

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