Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yesterday I finished my last of four theology courses at Master's Seminary. This course focused on ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church) and eschatology (the doctrine of end times). After three intense weeks of reading, exams and much writing, I found myself coming back to this thought repeatedly, "Why is eschatology so neglected today?"

It is not as though the Lord intended to baffle us with his doctrine. The writers of sacred Scripture (who were inspired by the Holy Spirit) wrote that which was understandable. They did not sit, write and chuckle to themselves in knowing that they would be penning words (and doctrines) that would be debated and argued for centuries to follow.

Rather, we must hold forth the perspicuity of God's Word. Perspicuity is a word that means "clarity." The Bible is meant to be understood. That is the normal logic of interpretation. If something is written, it is meant to be understood. There is no hidden meaning, there is no allegorical interpretation intended. If we abandon literal interpretation and succumb to some hidden spiritualizing of the text, then all objectivity is lost. Then what remains is a bunch of subjective and personal opinions - none of which bear any authority. What was written was meant to be understood.

Furthermore, it is not as though the book of Revelation is some cryptic manuscript that is different than Mark or Ephesians or Isaiah. The book of Revelation is the Apostle John's account of what will take place in the future. This is what Revelation 1:19 (the theme verse) says:

Revelation 1:19 19 "Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things.

As we spent many hours working through a plethora of texts on how the events in the end will take place, I am more firmly convinced than ever of my premillennial doctrine. More specifically, I can understand how others come to various rapture views (within the Premillennial camp), but I still come back to the Pretribulational eschatological viewpoint. That is, that Jesus Christ Himself will rapture the church (that is all believers of this age) before the seven year tribulation which will take place (Rev 6-19) on this earth followed by the Second Coming of our Lord with his saints at the end of the Tribulation so as to establish his Kingdom on earth centered in Jerusalem for 1,000 (literal) years.

Are there those that object? Yes. Do I love them. Absolutely. Do I understand their viewpoints? Yes. Do I break fellowship with them and call them heretics? Absolutely not. I cherish my brothers and sisters who differ. Yet, I myself am absolutely convinced that eschatology ought NOT to be a neglected doctrine for its 'so-called' inability to be rightly understood. Much of the Bible is about eschatology. The Bible is meant to be understood. Therefore, eschatology was written for our understanding for our hope in the soon coming of our Savior!


Anonymous said...

Being of the Pretribulational eschatological persuasion myself, I have often thought (and this is not a great or unheard of theory) that what makes Revelation difficult to understand is John's descriptions of things that were not known in his time, not things that God did not mean to be understood.

-Jill the MIL

Geoffrey R. Kirkland said...


Sure, I understand. We do need to remember that John received this by 'revelation.' So he is writing that which he actually saw - but it was a revelation from Christ Himself.

I believe that John knew he was writing what would take place in the future. But this still does not downplay the importance of reading the text as the text is to be read - literally (of course still allowing figures of speech, metaphor, etc).

Marana Tha! (1 Cor 16:22)

Anonymous said...

Therefore, eschatology was written for our understanding for our hope in the soon coming of our Savior!


Geoff, "he who has this hope in himself purifies himself"!

1 John 3:3


your wifey ;-) said...

Preach it, Honey!

You make some REALLY great points here. I especially liked your argument against "hidden spiritualizing of the text". It dispells the idea that God, in writing the Scriptures through human authors, embeded secret codes, bizarre symbols and other mystical mysteries to only be unlocked by those who hold the special keys (... whoever they may be :). This whole view of the Bible does a HUGE diservice to lay-persons everywhere as it makes the Scriptures seem unapproachable & ambiguous.

However, this whole approach to the Scriptures is completely antithetical to the primary purpose for which God intended the Scriptures in the first place. He did it so that we might know Him. If that is the case, then why would He make it difficult to understand? It just doesn't make any sense.

But still, there are folk out there who just cling to this view of the Scriptures & ward others away from God as a result... it is really sad :-(

Thankfully, the Lord did not design it to be that way though. We CAN know about Him. Like you said, "there is no hidden meaning, there is no allegorical interpretation intended"... we should just approach the Scriptures a literal interpretation & the rest will be made plain to us (by the work of the Spirit).

Thanks for reminding us of this simple, but wonderful truth, my Love! You rock!!! =)

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