Christian, linear history reveals in the Apocalypse the end of a world. Pagan cyclical history sees the end and rebirth of many worlds. These visions were reconciled in the image of history as an upward spiral, culminating in a final crisis. Christians also looked within history for a theologically significant event that would divide history between the earthly life of Christ and the Last Judgment into a before and after. The last age will begin with the coming and defeat of Antichrist, or an Angelic Pope or the Last Emperor. This last age would see human institutions, state and church reach their fulfillment. Both C. S. Lewis and Tolkien also drew from such pagan and Christian eschatology in their fantasy writings.
Apocalypse Then and Now:
One of the chief features of the "apocalyptic imagination" in literature and film over the last half-century is the transformation of the Apocalypse into something minor, comical, or even inconsequential. Both Christian and thoroughly un-Christian models of the end have suffered from this malady. Some works are unintentionally comic or trivial, while others consciously explore the comic possibilities of the end of the world. But all alike betray the routinization of the apocalyptic, its conscription into the everyday world. One wonders, surveying this territory, how it might be possible for contemporary minds to rediscover the true profundities of this world's end.
Rewriting the Future:
Over the past half-century, a new scenario for the End Times has emerged among Catholics. Driven by private "revelations," ideas inherited from the Middle Ages have been replaced by a sequence of Warning-Miracle-Chastisement culminating in the Three Days of Darkness, followed by a fresh start for a purified world before the final End. These expectations are mirror images of Evangelical millennialist notions of the Rapture and have also become entangled in conservative political concerns and conspiracy theories. Many devout Catholics are drawn to the new scenario because they no longer trust the institutional Church. This unhealthy situation needs critical attention to avoid disillusionment when the promised signs and wonders fail to materialize.
His Coming in Consuming Glory:
Dr. Guroian's principle concern was to emphasize and explore in some depth the Eastern Church's liturgical and eschatological interpretation of Christ's coming again in glory and the in-breaking of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is at the heart of New Testament apocalypticism. In the Orthodox tradition, the kenotic Incarnation of the Son of God is symbolically correlated with his glorious coming again at the end of this age. The Gospels and other New Testament sources testify that, even in the course of the Son of God's kenotic first coming, his divine glory was manifested, such as by his Baptism, Transfiguration, Resurrection, and Ascension. Looking backward, these events are connected with the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:2, 19:18) and the pillar of cloud (Exodus 14:19, 19:19), and looking forward, to the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory (Mark 13: 26). Likewise, the Orthodox tradition interprets 2 Peter's imagery of a consuming fire in strict relation to the flames of Pentecost, as sign and signification of the hallowing action of the Holy Spirit in the Parousia event.
The American Evangelical Apocalypse:
In this paper, Dr. Blaising presented an overview and commentary on past and present American Evangelical views on the Apocalypse. He focused especially on the project of maintaining consistently literal interpretations of various biblical texts dealing with the Second Coming, the Antichrist, and the Rapture from a premillennialist perspective.
Traditional ideas of the Antichrist often portray him not as the overt enemy of the faith but as so seductive as to delude believers into taking him as a new messiah. Thus the Antichrist will not be openly anti-Christian but will claim to bring about the fulfillment of existing faiths. Throughout history Christians have differed as to whether the Antichrist will be a person or some kind of institution. Speculation about the identity of the Antichrist is fruitless, perhaps even sinful, in accordance with Jesus' warning.
But at the present juncture of history it seems possible to identify certain forces which in effect work to undermine Christianity in the name of a higher and more authentic spiritual truth and which are not embodied in one man but in certain institutions and movements and the men who control them. One of the major challenges that Christians now face is to maintain the integrity of their beliefs in the teeth of immense pressures to become part of an emergent world religion of secular humanitarianism, which will supposedly incorporate the best elements of traditional faiths.
The Book of Revelation as Liturgical Prophecy:
In this talk, the Book of Revelation is treated as a work of liturgical prophecy. Accordingly there were two parts. First, the book was compared with other prophetic works of Holy Scripture, in order to determine how it should be interpreted. Second, the book was set within the liturgical life of the first-century Christians.
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