Archives For Eschatology

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Weightless effigies collide in a disembodied world.
Time and space melt through pixelated moulds.
Ambulating artefacts plugged into wire, fiction,
and the illusion of communal hold.

Minds are plunged into formlessness.
There is no such thing as peace.
Life plugged into lifelessness,
.      where reason and faith cease.

Human blood runs through silicon veins,
.   false achievement becomes a commodity,
.            buying and selling souls chained to the game;
.   false lords, colluding with extremes,
Masters to slaves,
.            forcing the fight for existence between gambit and guillotine.

Every written opposition,
.         each noun,
.         each verb;
.         each electrified word,
.         even if eloquently sung,
.         via comments, is from the gallows, hung.

The society of strangers lined up in drab, conforming rows.
Thought, faith and true freedom, filtered out from within the flow.

But, lightening moves knighted apparitions,
.      there one second, then gone the next.
Holy attendants, heads covered in hoods.
Concealed by the night, as if concealed by soot.

Their presence whispers,
.            of what is to come,
.       as their voices hymn in the Gregorian, baritone, tongue:

“For God still lives, and so, God speaks.
The arrogance of human revolution is breached
Know, He comes,
.          the new exodus, claimed via Crucis.
The once and forever,
Prince of Peace, God’s only begotten Son.”


(©RL2017)

‘…the poor man that loveth Christ is richer than the greatest man in the world that hates Him.’

(John Bunyan, Pilgrims Progress, Faithful talking to Christian)

Inhaled Grace Ignites

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Relentless, I hear the sighs.
The “talentless” noticed by nothingness and its endless siren’s cry.
Sinking into the sands of insignificance,
.          head lowering;
.          a sun and its sinking glow;
.          heart being dragged under by the weight of its undertow.

Hear the black dog that snarls and rides with the incoming tide.
See the fight from within.
As the fire of creativity lights up embers,
.          and inhaled grace ignites.
For this battle belongs the beat of a drum,
.          foot soldiers, metaphors, the Rock of offense;
.          the white horse, its rider and the march of the second Adam.

Once more, embroiled in a stand-off with emptiness.

.        Once more, engulfed in battle against listlessness.

.                 Once more, pushing back echoes that drift through the mist of a toxic mess.

This battle is fought in the shadows.
Where fists meet walls in nightmares,
and an exhausted silence follows.
Each bit of shade.
Every movement.
One more potential mask.
Insincerity and plasticity,
.               hiding behind ersatz love, fabricated charity and a pristine facade.

Against which there is no retreat; no slide into the dark,
No giving in to the Black dog, its bite or grave digging bark.

Only complete surrender to the white horse’s scarred rider;
The alpha, the omega; the finish and the start.


(©RL2017)

‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’ (James 4:7. ESV)

March Of The Eschaton

November 30, 2015 — 4 Comments

 

March of the Eschaton With FrameI spent a few days experimenting with an electronic sound. All this was worked out on the guitar first. Afterwards I mixed the tune and ended up with this rather cool sounding 3min tune.

In theological circles, the word eschaton  ‘means doctrine of the “last things – in the last days.” It’s definition is fairly broad, but is at times restricted to pertaining to all things do with the final age. It can also relate to the completion of a cycle’ (EDT, p.386)

As always, constructive feedback is always welcome.

SoundCloud: {linkage}

YouTube:


Source:

Elwell, W.A. 1994 EDT: Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Baker Academic

IMG_4810‘Many problems arise when eager Christians try to make concrete what God has left pictorial’
………………………………………………………….(Dickson & Clarke, p.85)

This artists impression of Revelation 11-13, comes out of notes from our current journey through the wonders of John’s testimony.

Although Revelation isn’t an easy book to walk through with teenagers and littler ones, the study is going well.

It’s been interesting to note the unusually high amount of distractions and frustrations that have hindered our path.

Call it coincidence or not. In general, one of the deep realities of this text is that it calls us away from ourselves, our comfort, our complacency and half-heartedness. So there’s bound to be some spiritual challenges that cross our path.

There is more to the unsettling way in which Revelation grabs us. More than the first response of our intellect and emotions allow. Sense experience only goes so far. Whether that be total rejection of John as a nut job, suspicion over any mythological lag of the era being conveyed or unquestioning acceptance that hypes up parallels to modern events without restraint.

One of the primary go to points for me when teaching this has been the caveat of not reading into the text. I remind myself constantly to fight easy assumptions that  link this number to that historical figure or that metaphor to any number of current events.To paraphrase many a theologian worthy of their qualifications: like the rest of the books of the bible, read as it is, Revelation reads us.

With this responsible frame, working through the text with our homeschoolers is bringing up some opportunities to recreate images and scenes. Just going with what John says, without adding anything to it via speculation, frees us to explore the large amount of activity John testifies to. It’s also meant that cross referencing the texts with other biblical texts.

Brief and simple introductions to the historical setting and language makes things easier. Free of confusing interpretations, teaching eschatology (end of the old in Christ/beginning of the new in Christ) gets a lot more exciting.

With the fog cleared, it’s easier to see that this book of hope is full of colour; adjectives and verbs, repetition and mathematically mapped out illustrations. Noting this helps when looking at the detail and care John has put into relaying what he has witnessed to the people of his day.

For us, a hypothetical example of the impact of John’s message on his audience might have been stated like this: Working with John’s ‘one third of all’ lists we put 1/3 of 6 billion people into a pie graph, then work the fractions into percentages. (Given time constraints we couldn’t do this with land mass of the earth or the oceans), but the reason for focusing on this brings home John’s point, a major and very physical event affects one third of the inhabitants of both continents and oceans.

Repetition of measurements are one of the most interesting aspects of Revelation. In some sense it gives a plausibility to the text. Meaning that Revelation cannot be easily written off as the ramblings of a madman.  John’s own words, “this calls for wisdom”(Rev.13:18), reflect a call towards a more cautious and sober approach to the text.

More than with Luke and Acts, in teaching Revelation I’ve been more aware of my own prejudices towards the text, both learnt and those imposed through popular views of Revelation. Including the popular mockery of society attached to it. Some of which is not unwarranted. I’m learning that part of teaching the text responsibly requires going into battle against these subversive lens’ and others like them.

Instead of finding something specific about the future, in Revelation, we hear of Jesus Christ, his people, his victory and how humanity is found, then rescued by God through His Son. We are told of a now and not yet. All speculation pales when put up against these facts present in the text.

Revelation is alive. John calls the Church to reform, tells his people of a war on Christians, and encourages them to endure persecution patiently. It’s a prophetic reminder that a history lived without the redemption of Jesus Christ is one bound and deceptively enslaved to sin’s constant downgrading of humanity on all fronts. John tells of how God answers us and directs our attention to the present and future hope we are gifted in the unconquerable, Jesus Christ – Christus invictus!

‘Unquestionably, the most common interpretative error in reading the symbolism of Revelation is to confuse the symbols of the book with its message. The symbols are not the message; they carry and embody the message…John wrote to awaken and shape the moral and religious imagination of Christians on his own day.’
(Achtemeier, Green & Thompson, p.562)

Source:

Achtemeier, P.J., Green, B.J., & Thompson, M.M. 2001 Introducing The New Testament Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing

Dickson, J.& Clarke, G. 2007 666 And All That: The Truth About The Future, Blue Bottle Books

Revisiting some older texts on eschatology for input on some issues that I’m having difficulty processing at the moment, I came across these words from Nigel G. Wright:

‘There is no room for triumphalism, the easy celebration of victory or superiority. But there is room for, and a need of, the underlying sense of confidence and triumph, of  victory that has already been won and that will one day be complete…
In the period of extension of the kingdom of God, Christians need a proper sense of the ”even now” and the ”not yet”.
The kingdom has come and is among us; therefore we may expect evidence of its presence and power. It is present as a dynamic force, which means that tomorrow has already broken into today.
We have a foretaste of what is to be and signs of the coming reality. Still, the kingdom is not yet. It is not fully come and manifest. We only know in part or possess in part.
We will have enough now to sustain us but not enough completely to satisfy us or leave us feeling there is nothing more to hope for. Christian existence is strength and weakness, success and failure, cross and resurrection.
When we are tempted to despair we need to remember that it was not in spite of but through Gethsemane and Golgotha that the world’s redemption was achieved.’ [I]

What I hear Wright saying is that since we exist between the lines there is a need to push against a deluded human triumphalism towards the more accurate awareness and knowledge of how humanity is grasped by grace in God’s triumph.

Of how it is that, in, through and with Jesus Christ we can stand in contradistinction from the self-reliant, often destructive ego and accept that it is not by our might or our strength, but by the decisive good will, freely spoken Word and suffering of God that we are, can and will be more than what this world or sin defines us to be.

Although we are stuck between opposing forces or struggle against being sucked back into the darkness from which we have been saved, we are not without God’s assistance. Something which is grounded in His ultimate triumph and the subtly evident, but hidden presence of the fellowship that this reconciled.

The world moves on oblivious of this timeline. Conveniently ignorant of the distinction and the dialectic (the ”now”, but ”not yet”; grace and judgement), though not completely unaware of the present indwelling of God’s kingdom; His gracious prodigal authority or  the presence of things to come that it signposts.

Bell and the Blue Sky

 


Source:

[i] Wright, N.G. 2002 A Theology Of The Dark Side: Putting the Power of Evil in Its Place Wipf & Stock Publishers IVP (pp.162-163)

Image: Bell tower at the Anglican Cathedral, Grafton, NSW.

 

JetsHalloween isn’t really an Australian ‘thing’. Outside economic reasons and a general understanding that Australians have a love/hate relationship for some things American, I’m not sure why we’ve even gone down that road.

Therefore, since it’s a little ironic for me to post something that wavers on the extraordinary, consider that a disclaimer, and this, an acknowledgement of the irony of this post.

In ‘Part IV: To the Reformation’ Edwards hones in on something well before his time. Here is American theologian describing the antichrist’s activities in both the West and in the East.

When reading this bear in mind two current events and one historical fact: first, the beheadings of Christians in the East, court rulings against Christians in the West, and the fact that Edwards wrote this in the 1700’s.

Where things get sketchy is Edwards’ association of the Ancient Roman Empire with the antichristian West. In the context he uses words such as ‘heathen’[i] which helps, up to a point, separate the Roman Catholic Church from his meaning. He does, however, as most Reformed theology does to some degree, discuss the corruption within the R.C that brought on the reformation.

Nevertheless, in Edwards’ commentary a separation between the ‘heathen’-Ancient Roman Empire and Roman Catholicism exists.

For instance:

‘The two great works of the devil, in this space of time, against the kingdom of Christ, are his creating his Antichristian and Mahometan kingdoms; which both together comprehend the ancient Roman empire; the kingdom of Antichrist the Western, and the Mahometan kingdom the Eastern, empire. As the Scriptures in the book of Revelation represent it, it is in the destruction of these that the glorious victory of Christ, at the introduction of the glorious times of the church, will mainly consist.’[ii]

What he means by “it is in the destruction of these that the glorious victory of Christ, at the introduction of the glorious times of the church, will mainly consist” is unclear. From the context which includes referencing Revelation 9, his meaning is certain to be that of the ‘end times’.

‘Satan’s Mahometan kingdom shall be utterly overthrown. The locusts and horsemen in the 9th of Revelation, have their appointed and limited time set them there, and the false prophet shall be taken and destroyed…The visible kingdom of Satan shall be overthrown, and the kingdom of Christ set up on the ruins of it, everywhere throughout the whole habitable globe.’[iii]
 ‘then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree…in appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like woman’s hair, and their teeth like lion’s teeth; they had breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots rushing into battle’
– Revelation 9

There is a danger of reading too much into this (e.g.: projecting a form of apocalyptic apologetics by assuming a literal and not metaphorical reading of Revelation 9). Something I’m trying to avoid by simply allowing Edwards to speak for himself.

Outside the uncanny relevance, I won’t speculate on how spot on Edwards’ eschatological perspective might be. That task is one I’ll leave up to each individual reader.


Source:

[i] The Works of Jonathan Edwards: Volume I & II (Loc. 47424) Kindle Ed.

[ii] Ibid, Loc. 47409-47412 Kindle Ed.

[iii] Ibid, Loc. 48158-48159 & 48201-48202 Kindle Ed.

 

The Thread of Existence is born of grace

Sometimes the disruption in our lives can ignite creativity.

Sometimes that disruption itself becomes the catalyst for a greater awareness of an indwelling knowledge that allows us to speak down into the abyss and say “all is right with God, but not all is right with us. I hang on because God hangs on to me”.

This thread of existence is born of grace.

This lifeline extends beyond our lifetime, to an eternity already witnessed by millions and blessed by the physical presence of the Christ.

Yet.

Right now.

Right here.

His Spirit dwells. This giver of life heals, frees, and helps us recall law in the light of grace.

No pleasing words, no acts of goodness, just grace. Unfettered, generously splashed out for us, so that the God who reigns could be with us as much as he justly rules over us.

His unlimited hunger for our success is beyond our limited grasp. Even though it may seem to be within our grasp, all attempts to grasp it fall short.

All appearances of achievement are false.

We cannot grasp hold of that which already has grasped hold of us. Though we try, all attempts to witness it mean we overlook it. All we can do is turn in faith, gratitude and prayer; thanking the one who chooses to exalt that which is fallen to an undeserving place.

From this time of grace we are called to respond.

From this time of grace we are taught to respond.

From this time of grace we who were once lost are found.

In this act of being found we encounter disruption[i], our sin is brought low, our broken heart is raised and our minds renewed.

‘Think on eternity,
and do not mock the time of grace,
for judgement is not far off’[ii].


[i] Karl Barth
[ii] Blumhardt, J.C. (1805-1880), & Zuendel, F. 2011, ‘According to oral tradition, these words were mysteriously painted on shutters of  a young woman’s house, in Germany, during her fight with demonic powers, 1841-1843.The Awakening: One man’s battle with Darkness p.4