blood moons hagee For a long time I have avoided teaching from the book of Revelation mainly because I find it a hard book to read. I don’t resonate with the genre much at all. Beasts, dragons, angels, trumpets and seals all make for rather confusing reading.

While I recognise its epistolatory/apocalyptic genre within scripture, the closest I can get to it, is to think of the fantasy, sci fi stuff, another genre I rarely read if I can avoid it.

But the difference with Revelation is that this stuff is the inspired word of God and therefore a little more significant than Lord of The Rings or the like. So I thought it might be a challenge to overcome my aversion to this book and really dig into it so that we could get a handle on it as a church.

There’s no question it is a significant section of the entire biblical account, but one that either gets avoided or ends up being the domain of nutbags and crazies. My hunch is that most of us end up doing our first reading Revelation through the lens of whatever view we have grown up with. For me that was the world of Left Behind, a movie that scared the crap out of me as a 12 year old and then has come back more recently to haunt this generation of 12 year olds… and Larry Norman crooning ‘I wish we’d all been ready’… So my thinking on the issue was formed by popular (Christian) culture and by the odd sermon that was drawn from that perspective. Although to be honest once I scanned Hal Lindsay’s stuff as a teenager I discovered that even then I had enough discernment to regret wasting money on his book.

So a few days back I sat down to engage this subject again – as an adult – as someone wanting to start from scratch and wanting to make some sense of it. I recognised there were various takes on Revelation and I thought it would be good to begin with one of the ‘counterpoints’ series books entitled ‘Four Views on Revelation’. The introduction went well…

Then came the ‘preterist’ view – that Revelation was written for the people of the time. This is a fair argument. Surely a book that is part letter is addressed to people for whom it will have immediate significance? However I found myself zoning out as I was reading…

The whole interpretative process is laborious and needs careful analysis to do it justice. I went back to reading the book itself again, to try and make more connections. But once you get beyond the concrete first 3 chapters it begins to become obscure and ethereal, difficult to follow and quite bizarre. If we hadn’t been told that John had been sharing a vision and I’m sure it would qualify as some drug induced hallucination.

So I finished the book, went back to the overview and got bogged down yet again. I began to surf the net and observed that as well as four views of the book, there are several views on the millennial issue (depending on how you interpret them) and then within the dispensational view there are three divergent views on the location of the rapture… And having dug into some of those rapture forums for the last hour I can tell you that is feisty stuff. It seems the narrower you draw the lines of interpretation on this book the more fanatical people become and the more they detest each other and their heresies! I’m wondering if post-mill guys are even allowed to intermarry with pre-mill girls? My reading is that the cultural /theological jump might be a bit too big to navigate…

I find myself asking ‘do I really want to keep going with this?’ Will it be in any way helpful?…

What I would like to do is to be able to give people some tools for understanding this book – for reading it intelligently – as opposed to reading it thru the novels of Tim LaHaye. I actually haven’t decided which ‘millennial’ view I would subscribe to yet, but I fear for those who seem to swallow popular culture as facts when there is clearly no consensus on this issue.

So its back into it this afternoon after this short rant and we’ll see if I can make more sense. It’d be nice to be able to:

a) help people understand how our theology gets shaped – I seem to do a lot of this as we all have filters and lenses that we don’t always realise are there and it needs reminding.

b) present people with 4 lenses that they can look thru and help them think critically about the content thru those lenses.

c) help people deal with the popular ideas and assess them in light of other views.

The biggest struggle I see at the moment is that in a very short time I need to get across a mountain of information to be able to do this intelligently. Not sure if I can manage in the limited time I have, but now that I’ve started I might as well push on for a bit longer. We will soon know… And by the way I have no idea what the hell ‘blood moons’ have to do with anything…

5 thoughts on “Revelunacy

  1. Hey Hammo, I found Gorman’s book “Reading Revelation Responsibly” a beaut read. Not too academic, but takes into account a load of serious scholarship. Have a look see on Amazon. Just a suggestion.

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