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Is Revelation relevant to current times?

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With the recent spate of natural disasters and the potential of pandemics, talk of the end times has heated up. Speculation about the end of the world has become the topic of blogs and evangelists.

What are your thoughts on the Book of Revelation in relation to our current age? Do you believe in the prophecy of the end times, or not? Are the disasters more than natural?

No, it’s not the end of the world, and we’re not even close! One of the biggest mistakes Christians down through the ages have made (and continue to make!) is that such-and-such in the Bible means that the end is right around the corner. Remember the Y2K fear about our computers not being able to work in a post-2000 world? That scare was unwarranted.

Back in the year 999, as the year drew to a close, some Christian fanatics withdrew to some mountaintop in Europe and expected the end when the year 1,000 rolled around. Guess what: we’re still here! Admittedly, we now have the ability to blow up ourselves and everybody else into smithereens, but I believe it is theologically wrong and just plain wrong to look at any book in the Bible and claim that it is a “prediction.”

The Book of Revelation was written for the benefit of the faithful in the Roman Empire in the second century, encouraging them to hang onto their faith. It is written in veiled language so that the Christians would understand and the non-Christian Romans would not. The “beast” is Rome. The “harlot” that is “drunk with the blood of the saints” is also Rome. There are no predictions in that book that are applicable to current events. I guess we’ll just have to hang on for another thousand years, give or take a millennium or two!

THE REV. C.L. “SKIP”

LINDEMAN

Congregational Church of

the Lighted Window,

United Church of Christ

La Cañada Flintridge

Nothing has changed. This world we live in has always been a perilous place with dangers lurking everywhere. But, it is a wonderful world nevertheless. Who would exchange it for any other place in the universe? Our world is unspeakably beautiful, kind, gentle, loving, positive -- and yet at the same time most challenging. God did a great job when he designed our world. Nothing about it is dull.

As for end times: I believe this idea is pure mythology. I do not expect Jesus Christ to come back in a blaze of glory and rule over an “end world” at any time in our future. Jesus Christ left us once and does not need to return because he left us his wonderful teachings. If we would but live his core teachings more fully, we would not have to fear an end of our world. I believe that when Jesus Christ spoke of end times he meant that in the future there will be a time when all men and women will live together in peace -- that there would be an end to conflict. I am optimistic that that time will come.

Meanwhile, I believe that the predictions that the world will end someday were simply made a part of scripture to keep people in fear and guilt. Rest easy. It is not going happen. Life is too precious to ever end. An absolutely good God would not permit it to happen.

THOMAS E WITHERSPOON

Minister

Unity of the Valley

La Crescenta

In order to discuss the Baha’i viewpoint of the meaning of Revelations, it helps to understand a bit about one of our primary beliefs, that of “progressive revelation” from God. Throughout history God has sent messengers to renew and further spiritual and social teachings, according to mankind’s needs at the time, and ability to understand. The Book of Revelation contains metaphors and symbolism predicting revelations from God beyond the time of the New Testament, that is, the coming of Muhammed and Baha’u’llah. As for the “end times.” This refers to the end of one cycle of man’s progress, and the beginning of another.

Natural phenomena such as extreme weather has its cause in the laws of nature, set forth in God’s creation. In the Baha’i writings, nature is said to be “in the grasp of the power of God, who ... holds nature within accurate regulations and laws, and rules over it.” Man’s alignment with God’s laws has a physical effect, but at the same time, we must know that life is unpredictable, and the natural world full of surprises. In the face of terrifying events beyond our control, after acting with intelligence, bravery and compassion, we must ultimately turn to God with acceptance, and faith that He will guide us through . No matter the outcome of cataclysmic events, God’s word will always be alive, giving us the opportunity to proceed with hope.

BARBARA CRAMER

Secretary

Baha’i Faith

Glendale

It never ceases to amaze me how quick people are to latch on to the prophetic aspects of faith and ignore the practical fundamentals that are essential to quality living.

The Book of Revelation is not meant to be read as a guide for the end times.

It was written in prison by the Apostle John while most Christians were suffering and enduring violent persecution toward the end of the first century. Its message is in line with the rest of Holy Scripture: God’s enduring love will carry us through the most horrendous persecutions and in the end love is triumphant.

Those who extrapolate messages correlating to world events today are out of sync with the orthodox reading of Scripture. Their blueprints and maps for disaster are erroneous.

I have a simple approach to end-time theology. Don’t worry about the second coming of Christ until you’ve first mastered the lessons of his first coming. When we can love, care and respect one another in our diversity, when we can honor the sacredness of our planet and stop the exploitation of God’s wonders, then we may be living in a utopia where the cares of tomorrow are minimized by the fullness of the life we live today.

FATHER VAZKEN MOVSESIAN

Armenian Church

Youth Ministries

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