Left Way Behind

Since Advent is just around the corner, it is the annual time to start thinking about Advent’s dual reflection: the first coming of Christ and his second coming. I grew up in a church that made the Left Behind books look like Dr. Suess. We talked about ‘being ready for the rapture,’ and I, as an 8 year old, had far too much fear of the eschaton. Does anyone remember the Thief in the Night movies? They are about as cheesy as they come, with all the fashion of the 1970s, but they scared the hell out of me as a kid. I know that the tensions in the Middle East have the end times prophets working overtime. So, what do we do with the second coming and the ‘end times?’ Eschatology is, after all, an important part of our Faith. As the Creed says, “And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.”

17 thoughts on “Left Way Behind

  1. Hey Father Neo! Just wanted to point out that the idea of Advent as a time to reflect on Christ’s second coming is a Western tradition. In the east (which started Advent on Nov. 15, by the way, at least for the new calendarists), the focus is definitely more on the Incarnation, with only one of the six Sundays being devoted to Christ’s second coming. That is focused on much more during Holy Week. Anyway, to answer your question, I’d suggest (as my priests do) looking at Matthew 25, and maybe also the preceding two chapters. And of course, pray daily, for God’s mercy, that we “might have a good account before the awesome judgment seat of Christ” as it says in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, among other places. Hope you and your family are well and have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  2. oi Father Neo! i relate to what you said about eschatology & childhood.

    i’ve been going thru some major decostruction of my theology of late and eschatology is one of those areas that strikes me as less and less important. i mean does it help me to love G-d or those around me more? does it really add to my life in a meaningful way? and can i have the correct eschatology?

    i answer these no, no & no.

    we believe that whenever and however it’s going to happen, Christ will return. but maybe that’s all we need to believe on the issue and that G-d wants me & us to concentrate on allowing Christ in us to shine more, to change us.

    great blog Neo.

  3. I remember the Thief in the Night movies! Wow, hadn’t thought about those in a while – with their gargl-y soundtrack. Might make for some great comedy today.

  4. Dude, unfortunately I remember the “Thief in the Night” films far too vividly. They made us watch them in my (briefly attended) private Christian school. I equate showing them to us as child abuse. My sister is much more messed up than I am.

    I love reading my Oxford Study Bible now. Note after note after note reminds us that Revelation is an allegory of the fall of Rome. Thank God for some sanity from people who know how to read literature.

  5. Revelation is many things that the Oxford folks no longer track. Their certainty about their theory is usually called academic arrogance. A little humility keeps the magic associated with uncertainty and keeps the power of Revelation as well.

  6. First Apostle,

    I, too, am a preterist, in addition to being ammillenial. As I’ve said before here, quite some time ago, there’s a reason why the Orthodox don’t read Revelation as a part of their Divine Liturgy, and why Luther thought it highly suspect. It took some time, too, before it was added to the canon, if I recall correctly.

    As to the doctrine of the Second Coming in general? Ya know, I don’t really know what the hell to think about it. Yeah, it speaks of fulfillment and consummation, but other than the ultimate “new heaven and new earth,” whatever that means, I just don’t get it. I mean, what are we to make of the “this generation shall not pass” statement from the Gospel of St. Matthew, and also that very peculiar, indeed, downright strange passage, where some folks rise from the dead and walk around the city??? (Matthew 27:52 – 53)

  7. Amy,

    Why is the ‘West’ always a perjorative term for you Orthodox?

    Secret Rapture man:
    Go take your alien Shtick to another universe.

  8. How neat do you want to be? If you need order and no ragged edges, just eliminate the possibility of the supernatural and you’re there. If you like a little grey with your black and white, accept the possibility that you are not God and may not be given to know what is meant by what is said in these scriptures, at this time. I remember the last time you claimed to be preterist and ammilenial. I didn’t know what those terms meant then, either.

  9. About the only thing I take neat is Johnnie Walker Black.

    As to preterist and ammillenial–ask the good Padre. He might even surprise you and say he’s inclined to both positions as well.

  10. Seraph, what J said. Truly, I did not mean anything perjorative to the West, and if it came across as such, I apologize. I like what ruzl said too–if we pay attention to what we’re doing in the here and now (e.g. love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself), the rest (future) will take care of itself…or more correctly, will be taken care of. So Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Seraph.

  11. Seraph is an old grumpy slug. Nyah, nyah nyah… nyah nyah.

    I’m thankful for the rest of you, though.

    Happy Thanksgiving

  12. To you and yours, ange! Tell us about your name change…

    Seraph is grouchy because of the alien guy who posted yesterday. He’s feeling better today.

  13. C and Morpheus,
    Briefly put, to be ammilenial and preterist is to see the book of Revelation (for example) as a product of the particular situation in the first century, i.e. the persecution under emperor Domition in the 90s AD. Therefore, the antichrist, the Beast and the ‘false prophet’ are all in some way related to the Roman empire. The ‘tribulation’ is specifically tied to that particular persecution. Under this view, though, there is the possibility (as I see it) for there to be a ‘cyclical pattern’ of interpretation, that is, Revelation describes what is always true for persecuted Christians–evil/persecution, martydom, deliverance, and the judgement of Christ. Therefore, there are always antichrists, always evil systems, and always deliverance. The ‘Ultimate’ deliverance is what we are all waiting for in Christ. Second coming? Yes. ‘Secret rapture?’ No. The pattern of persecution seems to have Christians enduring suffering, not ‘escaping.’ Numbers in Revelation are never literal (1000 years, 7 years, 12, 666, 144,000) but they represent completion and perfection (or incompletion and evil–666 for example).

  14. After I started studying French I learned it was the correct way to say it, ’tis all! I thought about it for a while and then considering that French is something I’m pretty serious about I thought I should change it.

    Thanks for asking!

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