The end times and the return of Jesus are topics that provoke discussion and debate among Christians and non-Christians alike. Not only are they covered in sermons and Sunday school classes but also in secular music, movies, and New York Times best sellers. Since the subject lends itself to drama and entertainment, it generates interest and, therefore, sells. While many non-Christians skeptically laugh this off, others allow the secular portrayals to influence them, which leads to fear, questions, and false assumptions. The subject and the confusion around it also divides Christians, leading to some pretty passionate discussions.
About a year ago, I posted a link to this story from The Huffington Post that is consistent with my interpretation of the end times. The author explained in general terms that the popular notion of a rapture (where Christians are taken out of the world) followed by a literal seven-year tribulation prior to the return of Jesus is not the way things will happen. This post received some of the most polarized, passionate responses I’ve seen on my personal social media accounts. A number of people thanked me for sharing and confirming what they believed the Bible taught on the subject. Some did so privately for fear of what others would think if they liked my post publicly. Others were caught off guard and surprised to hear that there is actually more than one opinion outside of the populist view. Some questioned whether I had gone off my rocker and was somehow denying the validity of Scripture. Finally, there were those who wanted to jump in and start a passionate online debate in order to correct my ignorance and borderline heresy.
At the time I promised to respond and expand on why I hold to a traditional view of the end times rather than the current popular view, but due to time constraints at that time and knowing this topic would cause a stir, I wasn’t ready for the drama that will likely come with addressing it. Now seems like a good time to do so, however, for I am quite confident that in the next several months a whole new wave of books and predictions will be coming along. (I’ll explain why I think that in a later post.) In addition, I think I’m emotionally ready for the potential skirmishes that will surely come from these posts. So, for the next several days I’ll be offering a series of blog posts spelling out my thoughts on the end times and the return of Christ.
My hope in tackling this is twofold. First, I hope this will help my unbelieving friends develop a framework to better understand the differences between secular myth, crazy Christians, and honest biblical teaching—including those elements where sincere Christians differ in understanding and interpretation. Secondly, I hope this drives my Christian friends to dig in and strengthen their beliefs about Jesus and the end times, even if this means they draw different conclusions than I have.
The primary difference between education and indoctrination is that education gives people latitude to draw their own conclusions as they learn, while indoctrination is a dogmatic view that is driven into them. I’m not interested in indoctrination when it comes to the specific order of events, even though some of my friends in Christ most surely will be.
With that said, here are a couple of ground rules. This is my blog, and if people can’t interact with maturity and civility, they will be blocked. If people want to present or link counter-arguments that pertain to specific posts, I’m fine with that. But posts that are obviously inflammatory or intended to promote personal agendas will be deleted. So with these guidelines in mind, tomorrow I’ll put up my first in a series of posts on the end times and the immanent return of Jesus.