A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The One Cardinal Rule Necessary for Reading the Book of Revelation...


... or any book of the Bible for that matter.

Reading the Bible is a good thing, but it is not always an easy thing. Some texts are fairly straight forward-- "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (John 3:16). But other biblical passages are not so easily understood-- "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11:12).

If one wants a bewildering experience in Bible reading, just work through the pages of the last book of the New Testament-- Revelation. It is filled with all kinds of difficult symbolism and wild imagery with beasts and dragons and cryptic numbers. How does one make sense of it all?

The book of Revelation is fascinating to so many because they wonder how it speaks to our current times. Does it foretell some of what is happening right now? Is there anything in Revelation about Iran? Terrorism? Pandemic? Unrest in the Middle East?

There is one cardinal rule of biblical interpretation that is necessary if we are to interpret the book of Revelation responsibly. We cannot know what Revelation may mean for us today in the twenty-first century until we know what it meant for its original hearers in the first-century. Too many readers of Revelation today read it through the lens of current events without first understanding it through its first hearers. We cannot know what Scripture means now until we know what it meant then.

That does not necessarily make the interpretation of Scripture for us today any easier in some cases, but it can provide the necessary parameters for us to interpret the book of Revelation responsibly that will hopefully guard against wild readings that in the end are irresponsible.

That one cardinal rule for interpreting Revelation will guide us in my online course I am offering entitled, "The Book of Revelation: Exploring Difficult Questions." This is a free course, but requires registration.

I invite you to join me Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. beginning September 3rd as we explore the sights and sounds of the Book of Revelation.

The eleven weekly sessions will not be a verse-by-verse study, although we will look at specific passages. Specific themes throughout the book will be highlighted in order to understand the book as its first audience heard it and then what it means for us today.

No materials are required for the course, but we will be utilizing Michael Gorman's book, Reading Revelation Responsibly. If you desire to have it, you can order it by clicking here. Each session, however, requires no reading or preparation.

To register for this free seminar, click on the link below.


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