Thursday, April 21, 2011

The JW Example

(Towards a Humble, Missional Eschatology, part 2)

One of the biggest problems with people missing the point of Revelation and other eschatological texts in the Bible is that it easily overwhelms the stuff that matters. Never mind that a focus on the futuristic elements of these texts overlooks their relevance for the majority of Christianity throughout history. It can lead to a distraction from the main thing. People become obsessed with end times possibilities like half-witted conspiracy theorists and lose any relevance to the culture around them (if they ever had any to begin with.)

Take Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example. This group long ago left behind any similarity to orthodox, Biblical ideology. It all began as an attempt to predict the course of future history based on what the Bible has to say. When they predicted the end of time and the return of Christ the first time nothing happened. Rather than admit that they were wrong and embrace a wiser humility, they began to teach that the return had occurred—Jesus was merely invisible. As time went on they continued to predict (and then try to hide) further returns and ends for the world.

If all of that weren’t enough, they misinterpreted the meaning of the number 144,000 in a huge way. In insisting that that number is the limitation of how many people will make it into heaven, the rendered their belief system irrelevant once that number of reservations had been filled. (Of course they never anticipated the world lasting past the early Twentieth Century.)

Whenever the temptation to associate current events with the end times rises, remember the JWs and other misguided groups and resist. Focus on more important things like the message of the Gospel and those around you who have not heard it. Leave the prediction to the guys with the sandwich boards on the street corners.

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