In the course of seminary studies I had occasion to read ancient Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature. Naturally, the Book of Revelation from the Christian Bible falls into this category. One thing that has always given me pause is the relative inability of our forefathers to envision an end of this world cycle and the beginning of a new one that does not entail destruction, vengeance, and suffering. Like anything we read in sacred writings, this vision reveals far more about the people who wrote the scriptures than it does about the One who inspired the scriptures.
After many years of intense struggle and doubt around faith, I still find the story of Jesus beautiful, moving, and life-changing. But I ask myself: If Jesus were willing to dwell among us, to teach us a path of love and compassion, to suffer on our behalf, what business would he have with this pornographic blood-lust sort of apocalypse? We seem to think that God has no choice but to punish and destroy; this is a problematic way of thinking with troublesome implications. However, I’m no great theologian or biblical scholar, so I’ll leave the answer to those who are better educated and more competent in such matters.
For my part, I say this: We do well to regard with caution and suspicion those who appear to us holy, righteous, and just. These are precisely the people who long for the world to burn, who ardently desire the destruction and damnation of their brothers and sisters. All in the name of God.
Were I to encounter the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I would send them to the stables and then offer them a stiff drink. Death, vengeance, and destruction can wait. There’s too much life yet to enjoy and share in this world and in the worlds to come.
December 17, 2016