Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Revelation and Persecution

One of the (many) things I get depressed about from time to time is how stupid some Christians get in interpreting Revelation. Mind you, I probably would if I hadn't had some good teaching on it. But as a book it was clearly written to churches who were being persecuted, and it's great (in a way) to see that in the context of persecution, it's much more obvious what it means.

[American Pastor]: What book of the Bible is most precious to you?

[Chinese Pastor]: Well, probably the book of Revelation because...

[AP]: Because your suffering makes you long for the end of the world, and you are strengthened by the vision of how it will end, with Christ's victory?

[CP]: That too, but we don't just take Revelation to be a description of the way the world will end; we see it also as a description of the way the world is now.

[AP]: I'm not understanding you. Surely Revelation is a book that tells us how the world will end.

[CP]: And I'm telling you that it's also a description of the way the world is now. Suffering has made this clear to us in China. Clearly prosperity has hidden this from you in America. You see, we had a Caesar here in China, called Mao, and he, like the Caesar of the early church period, demanded what was not only his but God's. As in Revelation, he used a beast to coerce us (Communism) and a false prophet to beguile us (false bishops). When we resisted this idolatry with the “testimony of the Lamb”, we were slaughtered and jailed. In this way, we saw that Revelation is a description of the spiritual war that always goes on in every society, including yours.

Faith that Endures, Ronald Boyd-Macmillan (p316-7)

One of the (many) things that makes me rejoice in God is when people seem to really get it.

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