The Book of Revelation and Me: A Love Story
Who am I, anyway?
I’m a pastor, seminarian, collector-of-books, and lover of all things pertaining to the book of Revelation. If you hang around long enough, you’ll quickly realize my theological perspective but just to make it easy, I’ll lay out the basics here: I’m firmly planted in the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition. I’m amillennial, non-dispensational, egalitarian, and I have a fairly high view of the sacraments (which should be evident from the fact that I call them ‘sacraments’). As a child of the Church of God (Anderson) movement, I’m also a strong advocate for a united Church as well as a focus on embodying holy love.
Oh, and I love Johnny Cash – the author of the best song ever written about John’s Revelation, The Man Comes Around.
I’ve always had a slight love-affair with the book of Revelation.
Its peculiar style scares a lot of people away. But it’s always entranced me.
John’s vision of cosmic battles, heavenly worship, and life without pain, tears, or death grabbed ahold of me from a young age and wouldn’t let go. But as I read the words of this book – words that have both enchanted and repulsed men and women for nearly two-thousand years – one question nagged me: What does it mean?
What’s up with the dragons? And the heavenly battles? Who is the pregnant sky-woman in Revelation 12? Why does the sea disappear in the new earth?
Every chapter of this mysterious book leaves the reader with questions. And for every question, there are at least ten-thousand people waiting in the wings to give an answer.
But these questions don’t have ten-thousand answers.
They have one. And I want them.
I’ve spent the past several years buying (and occasionally reading) every book or article I could find that touches on the Revelation. Since it’s becomes such a passion for me (and not only the book of Revelation, I’m fascinated by prophetic and apocalyptic literature in general), I recently decided to compile my thoughts here on this blog.
Getting the Most Out of ‘The Revelation Explained’
I’ve already made my personal predispositions clear. However, I don’t consider this a polemic blog. My purpose isn’t to beat up on the premillennialists, postmillennialists, or panmillennialists (you know, the folks who don’t bother with it because they figure it will all ‘pan out in the end’). Obviously, I have a particular view on these issues – and that view will come out in what I write here. But I’m willing to give everyone a fair shake. I’ll review – and interact – with believers of every stripe.
Ultimately, our salvation doesn’t hinge on Revelation (Thank God!). God won’t keep us out of his presence because we were a premillennialist rather than an amillennialist. Or vice versa.
Faith in Christ saves. Not adherence to a particular eschatological scheme.
And yet, in the opening chapter of Revelation, we read, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3).
We need the book of Revelation. If we didn’t, it wouldn’t be in the canon. It contains a valuable message. But if we’re going to find that message, we must approach it very carefully. With that in mind, let me explain how I’ve divided this blog up.
Before we can make sense of any Biblical book, we need context. This is, however, especially true of the Revelation. We don’t live in first century Asia Minor. Our church services look and sound different from the churches John wrote to. Apocalyptic literature sounds strange to modern ears – and its symbolism quickly flies over our heads. For all of these reasons, and more, we need to approach Revelation with the proper tools. We need context. We need historical and literary details. And we might even benefit from reading other apocalyptic literature written around the same time. This is the purpose of the articles found in the ‘Approaching Revelation’ section of the blog. If you’re going to start anywhere, start here.
If we can get a handle on some of the context of Revelation, our next step will be to engage with the actual text. This is where we deal with all of those questions we mentioned before. Who is the beast? What is the dragon? What part does the Anti-Christ play in all of this? I’ll attempt to answer these questions (and many more) in the ‘Understanding Revelation’ section. Eventually, I’ll have commentary on each and every chapter/verse contained in the book of Revelation. I’m also planning on compiling lists of how Biblical interpreters throughout history have understood the various symbols that Revelation uses.
Once we have grasped the book of Revelation’s message, we’re forced to ask another important question: What does it mean for us? This is a piece of apocalyptic literature that was composed nearly 2,000 years ago. What possible meaning could it have for 21st-century Americans? A great deal! We’ll examine the implications of Revelation (and its message) for modern readers in the articles found under the ‘Applying Revelation’ heading.
Dozens and dozens of scholars, authors, theologians, and pastors have tried their hand at interpreting the book of Revelation. There are countless books on the subject from every century since Jesus ascended. And I’ve collected a small library of them (and I’m working on collecting more). So, if you’d like to read reviews of commentaries, polemical works, and even comic books that deal with Revelation, you’ll find them all here.
I was reading N.T. Wright’s book After You Believe the other day and came across a beautiful passage on Revelation 21-22. The book doesn’t deal with Revelation at length. But it touches on it. Likewise, I often have little snippets of thoughts about Revelation throughout the day – perhaps while reading in the Psalms or watching a sunset. These random thoughts don’t necessarily belong anywhere else on the blog so I’ll simply file them under ‘Marginalia’. If you’re curious about my odd musings on the Revelation, apocalyptic literature, or eschatology more generally, you’re welcome to check it all out in this section of the blog.
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