Tag Archives: Eschatology

CIA, Shia Islam Eschatology, Christianity and Pop-Corn Action

Over the past decade, author and former political consult Joel C. Rosenberg has been amassing a huge following with multiple New York Times best sellers. Drawing off his as a consult for Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky and then-former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Rosenberg’s books tend to focus on Middle Eastern politics and terrorism (think CIA and State Department thrillers).

A good chuck of Rosenberg’s fame comes from his uncanny ability to ‘predict’ real-life events within his books. For example, he wrote about kamikaze plane attack on an American city nine months before 9-11 and five months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq he wrote about a war with Saddam Hussein.

Having heard bits and pieces of this fame throughout the years, I finalize decided to give his books a try (well, that and the fact that a co-worker was pressuring me to read them!). Looking at my local library, I discovered that they had both the “The Twelfth Imam” (2010) and the sequel “The Tehran Initiative” (2011) in an audio format, which is my preferred method of ‘reading’ non-fiction books.

As to be expected, the hero of the series is an American CIA spy named David Shirazi who must infiltrate the Iranian government and try to stop a nuclear war. What was not expected was the way in which Rosenberg incorporated both Shia Islam eschatology and Christianity into the story line. Simply put, in the books the leaders of Iran are devoted Imami Shīa Muslims who are trying to hurry the arrive of the Mahdi (the twelve successor of Prophet Mohammad who is prophesied to unite the world under Islam) via destroying Israel and the USA – i.e. ushering in the end of times.

In fact, the Mahdi does show up in the books as someone with supernatural powers and insight into the future. Jesus also makes various appearances – only Jesus tended to appear to small groups of folks while the Mahdi takes the spotlight and control of various nations. Think of them as a Frank Peretti, Tim LaHaye/Jerry Jenkins, and Tom Clancy hybrid novel. (Note that Rosenberg is a Christian believer with a family tree of Orthodox Judaism.)

Continue reading CIA, Shia Islam Eschatology, Christianity and Pop-Corn Action

Maintaining Hearts of Tranquility in Times of Global Turmoil

Tri and Nancy Robinson (picture courtesy of trirobinson.org)

There is a lot of fear in the world today about the future. People are scared of earthquakes, super volcanoes, political shutdowns, and the apocalyptic Second Coming of Jesus.

Some of this fear is good as it prompts us to prepare both our hearts and our lives. Yet, unchecked fear is a bad thing.

It is to this unchecked fear that I would like to highlight Tri Robinson’s recent article entitled, “Maintaining Hearts of Tranquility in Times of Global Turmoil.”

This article captured my heart on the subject of global turmoil so beautifully I had to share it with you all.  🙂

Here are the five points Tri makes:

1. Simplify your life – “Physically, emotionally and spiritually. Most of our lives have become cluttered with material things, out of control emotions and wrong choices which have not only complicated our lives but caused a form of paralyzing dysfunction.”

2. Be prepared for short term crises– “Having the experience of working in disasters such as Hurricane Katrina it became evident to me that people who took basic steps of preparedness recovered much quicker than those who became dependent on government help. Not only that, but many of those with the mindset to be prepared also became the workforce that served others in the aftermath of the crisis.”

Continue reading Maintaining Hearts of Tranquility in Times of Global Turmoil

Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective On The End Times by Dennis Engleman

bookIn some ways, Ultimate Things by Dennis Engleman is a fitting end to a year of eschatological studies. The book focused on strengthening the church for the upcoming struggles against the kingdom of darkness with several chapters devoted to standing firm.

At the same time, there were some parts of the book that I did not like – mainly the parts where the author gets away from Biblical themes and started speculating about how things will be. For example, Engleman looks at Saint Paul’s words in 2 Thess. 2:3-8 about the ‘one’ who is holding back the antichrist and interprets it as a reference to the Christian Monarchy (ie. as long as there is a Christian king/queen on the throne of the Roman Empire, the antichrist will not be reviled).

Note that for Engleman, the Christian Monarchy starts with St. Constantine in 312 AD and continues to death of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II in 1948. (Moscow is concerned the third “Rome” by the Eastern Orthodox following the destruction of Constantinople, which was the second “Rome”).  This begs the question of what kept the “man of lawlessness” from showing up prior to establishment of the Christian Monarchy in 312 AD?  😕 Continue reading Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective On The End Times by Dennis Engleman

Is Pre-Millennialism A Heresy?

assetOne must be careful when studying history – for history can be likened to a wild tiger with sharp teeth and bared claws.

I recently discovered this “dangerous” side of history while researching the theological history of the physical millennial kingdom of Jesus.

What was this “dangerous” item found in the dusty manuscripts of old?

It is the knowledge that in 381 A.D. the Church Fathers gathered in Constantinople and declared that the pre-millennialism view of Revelation chapter 20 is a heresy.

Yes – you read that right.

The hugely popular pre-millennialism view of eschatology promoted throughout the world by the Protestant church was declared a heresy by the SAME guys who canonized the New Testament!!!

Wow! Continue reading Is Pre-Millennialism A Heresy?

The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity

The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity
The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity

A few months ago I mentioned that I was trying to find a commentary on the Book of Revelation from the Eastern Orthodox Church. Well, I found one – The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity. Originally written in Russian by Archbishop Averky Taushev, it was translated into English by Father Seraphim Rose in 1985.

In a nutshell – it was the best book on Revelations I have ever read.

Yeah. It was that good.


Well, for starters the book wasn’t about trying to map out the “end times”, find out what everything John means and how it plays together in the 21st century. Instead, the commentary was written with the knowledge that Revelation is a book of mysteries:

The deep things bound up with the beginning and end of all things, the ultimate purpose of the world and man, the opening of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven; and so we must read it with fear of God, and with a humble distrust of our own wisdom.

Continue reading The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity

The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture

At the heart of Biblical redemptive truth is the Blessed hope of the personal, glorious second advent of Jesus Christ. Salvation has to do both with the redemption of men as individuals and as a society. Salvation of individual believers includes the “redemption of the body” (Rom. 8:23). We must not only be saved from the guilt of sin, and delivered from the power of sin. Redemption is not completed until we are delivered from the very effects of sin in our moral bodies. The Biblical doctrine of the resurrection is a redemptive truth: it means the salvation of the body. This salvation will be realized only by the personal second coming of Christ.

So begins the introduction of George Ladd’s book The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture.

The Blessed Hope by George Ladd
The Blessed Hope by George Ladd

A fairly easy read, this book tackles a very important issue into today’s church: the substitution of the rapture in place of the Second Coming of Christ.

Think for a minute – if you were to stop your average every-day Christian on the street and ask them what they are looking forward to when Christ comes back, what would they say? I guess that most of them would tell you that they are looking forward to the rapture when they will be taken out of this world.

Yet, Biblical the rapture is not our hope.

Our hope, our Blessed Hope – as Ladd would say – is with the return of the King of Kings. That we may dwell with Him on a renewed earth. That is what we need to be looking forward too – not a pre-tribulation rapture that takes us out of the world like a cosmic escape hatch. Continue reading The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture

Eschatology and the Eastern Orthodox Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church has fascinated me for years.

They were the one church that remained faithful to the Teachings of the Apostles when all others broke apart and drifted into darkness.  Unfortunately, the believers in the West do not know much about the Orthodox Church – shoot, I heard one man this week say that the Orthodox Church was the same as the Roman Catholic Church!!  (In case you didn’t know, they are VASTLY different)

Recently I have had the pleasure of looking into the theology and practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is pretty cool – there is something about the way they focus on experiencing God and living with Jesus vs trying to understand Christianity via Bible studies, theology books or conferences as Western Protestantism does (with some exceptions).

Another cool thing about Orthodoxy is the fact that the core of their worship has been unchanged for 1600 years. Wow! That is a long, long time…yet, there is something to be said about faithfulness and enduring; especially in culture that values rapid change and the “next best things”.

The only negative to this unchanged worship is that it is easy to start relying on the system instead of having to listen to God and seeing what He is doing in the moment (granted, one can go to far the other way and start relying on one’s self and the gimmicks of the day…balance…it is all about balance)[@more@]

Seeing how we are studying Revelation in our small groups, I decided to look up what the Eastern Orthodox thought about the end times. It turned out to be harder then what I thought as there are not very many English speaking Orthodox writings….sigh. Undecided

However, I did find out that the Orthodox Church tends not to focus on the “end times.” In fact, one site I found mentioned that since Jesus Himself did not know the time, we, as His followers, should not be seeking to know the when’s and how’s of the Second Coming/Judgment/End Times.  Instead, we should be focused on the ministry of Christ: loving God and loving others.

Wow! Man, did my heart rejoice to hear that! Finally a major church that realizes the unhealthy focus on the “end times” and chooses not to go there; instead they focus on Jesus. Cool

Granted, there are a few Orthodox theologians that have studied the book of Revelation and the “end times.” By far the majority of them tend to lean towards amillennialism – which, again, is really cool as personally I lean that way as well. Tongue out 

The goal now is to try to get my hands on a commentary of Revelation from the Orthodox viewpoint…not just because I “agree” with them, but because I want to know what God has shown them over the years. Not only are they coming at the “issue” from a different branch of Christianity (ie. not Western Protestantism), they are also looking at the Bible through a non-Western culture viewpoint.

We shall see if can I locate one through the library system… Undecided

I Don’t Want To Be Raptured; Leave Me Here!

When people talk about the “great-capital-T” Tribulation of the coming future they mostly end with this comment: “I don’t want to be here (on earth) when it happens.”  

I don’t know if I’m screwed up in the brain for what – but with all seriousness, I want to be HERE – on planet earth – when things go down.

This isn’t a high-brow comment or a holier-then-thou attitude. It is feeling born out of a heart for people. I want to be here with those who are hurting. With those who are crying out for help; with those who are looking and searching for something or someone bigger then themselves or their lives.

I don’t want to be raptured. I want to stay and go about my Liege’s Work.

In the words of Noal Richards:

Would I stand for injustice? Speak for those who can not speak?
Could I be the hand that help the helpless and be your arms that hold the cold and weak?
Could I lose the life you gave me? Lay it down with all I own?
Will I walk with every pilgrim that walks this road of narrow way of love?

I will, I will,

So hear my prayer, let your spirit lead me on to where I stand with the broken
It’s what Jesus would have done
                              (from the song “What Jesus Would Have Done”)

[@more@]Now that I have shocked most of you – let me back up and explain things a bit more…
The concept of an end time Tribulation (capital “T” Tribulation as opposed to the small “t” tribulation of “regular” Christian life) comes from Revelation 7


After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands….. and he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelations 7:9 & 14)

The typical Pretribulation Dispensational view of this passage syas that this “great tribulation” is the judgment of God upon the earth after the “Church” has been removed or raptured from the earth. Folks who are left (ie. those who choose NOT to follow God) have one more chance to turn to Christ – ie. They must resist the Anit-Christ and be martyred for their faith.

Granted, there are variations on this view point – namely those who say that the church will be taken out during tribulation, but before the wrath of God…

You want to know something interesting? The Pretribulation / Rapture view point came about in the early to mid-1800’s in England. In other words, the concept that the church will be taken out of the earth before the judgment of God is a fairly new idea.

Plus, it is an idea that can be traced back to one man John Nelson Darby. Granted, just because one dude started the concept does not mean it is invalid. However, I do find it interesting to note that the concept took 1,800 years come about…and when it did, it was by a guy living in a fairly stable, Christian nation with little to no persecution… Undecided

Anyway, going back to the Scriptures….

The Final Judgment of God was talked about a lot by the Old Testament prophets. In their eyes, the people of Israel (God’s people at the time) where to be on the earth at the time of the judgment – which, it should be noted, would affect both Israel and the Gentile nations. It would be similar to the plagues of the Exodus – the unbeliever gets punished why the people of God go unharmed.

In addition, Revelation 7:14 is within the context of the seven seals of the scroll. A lot of scholars see this selection (Revelations 6-8) as mirroring Jesus’ Mt. Olive discourse on the end times (Matthew 24). If that is so, then the seven seals are not end, end time events as much as they are things that are happening in the world between the Ascension of Christ and His Second Coming.   

Meaning that the Great Multitude of Revelation 7 is The Church – meaning all believers who have ever followed God and have lived through the “tribulation” and suffering of this Present Evil Age.

Which brings us full circle back to my heart and prayer – “let your spirit lead me on to where I stand with the broken”

How Do You Read The Book of Revelation?

The book of Revelation is one of the most misunderstood and forgotten books of the Bible. In a nutshell – it is hard to read.

Yeah, there are certain themes and ideas that are easy to understand. Namely the fact that those who follow Christ Jesus win and those who don’t, lose.

As several of you know, I have been attending a Bible study on the book of Revelation through my local church. Well, actually it is a men’s group that decided to study the book rather then a specific class about Revelation.

The group is really interesting – you see, we approach the Bible study differently then most groups. Instead of having a study book or one specific leader, we just read a chapter of the Bible and then talk about it. Each person in the group is encouraged to study the chapter at home the week before so that they are ready to discuss it at the group.

As a result of this group setup, we get all kinds of ideas and thoughts – which are great! Laughing[@more@]

Yet sometimes it can be hard as each person has a different way of reading Revelations. This bent or worldview can slant the way you read the text – as such it is important to have a general knowledge of the different ways you can read the book of Revelations.

The first way is to read the book as a first century document. This is usually called the Preterist view. People to hold to this view state that John was writing to a first century church about things happening in their life time. Some people even go on to say that all the “prophecies” in the book where fulfilled during the 1st century.

The second view is the historical view. This view claims that Revelations details the full scope of human history (or, as some say, history from the time of Christ to the Second Coming of Christ). Folks who hold this view will read a passage and then look at world history to see if there is a corresponding historical time period.

The third way to read the book is called the Spiritualist view. This view says that the entire book of Revelations is taking about the spiritual fight between good and evil. Nothing in the book is literal – instead, it is all to be taken symbolical.

The fourth and most common way of reading Revelation is the Futurist view. Just as the name says, the view looks at the writings of John as events that will happen in the future. People who read the book this way often reference Daniel in their attempt to outline the events of the “end times”. However, it should be noted that not all futurist hold to time lines – instead, they just read the book as one long prophecy.

There are other ways of reading Revelations – but these are the four main views. Most of the others are combinations or variations of these four views.

On a personal level, I hold to reading Revelations through the eyes of both the Preterist and Futurist view points. This means that I up hold the view that the entire book (not just the first few chapters) had meaning to the 1st century church. As we read the book, we MUST ask ourselves what did the 1st century church think about the text? How did it affect them?

At the same time, I recognize that John was writing about the second coming of Christ – which has not happened yet. As such, when we read Revelations, we must read it with an eye to the future.

Some might say that this can get confusing as how does one know if the scriptures are talking about the future or the past? Yet, I don’t think it has to be that confusing as we start by asking ourselves what would the 1st century church think about the scripture in question?

If they would of taken it to be a future text about the second coming (similar to the way we read Paul’s writing), then it deals with the future. Those passages that would have been “fulfilled” in the past – well, some of them may have a double meaning… at that time, we need to get on our knees and ask God what He is saying.

However, overall we need to keep our eyes on the context – historical, cultural, and textual context – in which the book is written. We must resist the urge to create doctrines based upon one or two scriptures in Revelations – especially when those scriptures don’t seem to have support from the greater context of the entire Bible. (And yes, there are a few verses in Revelation that fall into this category).

*smile* I can’t help be chuckle as it is my determination to read Revelations in the context of the 1st century that keeps getting me into trouble at my Bible study. Smile Most of the folks there are pure Futurist and as such, don’t like to – or don’t understand the need to look at the historically and cultural ideas the 1st century church would have held.

Oh well – at least it gives the group plenty of “life” as we debate things. Tongue out

The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology: Toward a Christ-Centred Approach

eclipse of christTo begin with, I am back from conquering the Sawtooth Wilderness (at least the East to West approach) – it was a great trip full of adventures and beautiful scenery. Lord willing I will try to upload some pictures tonight or Saturday at the latest.

Until then, I would like to introduce you to a new friend: Adrio König.

Adrio König was, until his retirement a few years ago, the professor of Systematic Theology at the University of South Africa. He is a member of the Dutch Reformed Church – which made is book The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology: Toward a Christ-Centred Approach all the more interesting as it looked at the kingdom of God through a different angle or window then American Evangelicalism.

One side note before jumping into the book – I just recently realized the difference between a biblical theologian (like George Ladd) and a systematic theologian (Adrio König). A biblical theologian focuses on the details of biblical exegesis or specific books. A systematic theologian takes a step back from the details and looks at the vast landscape of the Bible and Christian doctrine.

Knowing this, I realized that I tend to lean towards being a systematic theologian vs a biblical theologian (i.e. big picture vs details). This is interesting as I did not enjoy the systematic theology class of VLI nor the systematic theology book we had to read…. Oh well.

Anyway, back to König book The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology.[@more@]

I wish I could quote some of his words from this book – but I loaned it out already, so I will have to rely on my memory to write this review.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was a bit tough at times to wad through – but not that tough, especially after reading Ladd and other such items.

The main theme or focus on this book was the understanding that Jesus Christ is THE end. In the study of eschatology (literally the “study of the end”) people tend to focus on the second coming of Jesus. What König does is bring eschatology back to the Biblical idea that Jesus is the eschon (Greek for “the end”) – He is the end and the beginning, the first and the last. Therefore a study of end (end of the word, end of this age, etc) is a study of Jesus Christ – His birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension and Pentecost (when His Spirit was given to the church).

Why some of this focus on Jesus may come from König Reform background, I believe most of it comes from a strong Biblical foundation. I mean; does not the Torah and prophets all point towards the person of Jesus Christ? Was not the incarnation or God-in-flesh nature of Jesus an end event?

The Bible says that Jesus came to destroy the works of the evil one, to conqueror death, hell, sin, and to redeem all of creation for the glory of God. Each and ever item listed was prophesied by the prophets of old to happen when the Day of Lord came. If Jesus really was God, then the ‘end’ has already come – yet it is also coming still.

Adrio König describes this tension in three ways: for us, in us and with us.

  • Jesus has destroyed sin and the evil one (“for us”)
  • Through Jesus, we can become the people of God (“in us”)
  • In following Jesus, we can, through His Spirit, join with God in doing His works on this earth at this time (“with us”)

As you can see, König covered a lot of territory in his book The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology – territory well worth traveling.

It is actually kind of funny that I just so happen to read this book at this time seeing how our church has started studying Revelation. It was not a planned event as I had bought the book about a year ago – but had loaned it out almost immediately to a fellow journeyer. He returned the book just recently and I started reading – all in God’s timing. Smile