Read Pastor John’s article in the Moose Jaw Times Herald from June 17.
An Apocalyptic Blockbuster
Superheroes save the world from near disaster. Monsters rise from the sea. Aliens attack earth. A meteor threatens destruction. Viruses cause a pandemic. The sun might explode.
Movies give the impression that we live in an increasing apocalyptic age and catastrophic change is all around us. Peter Leithart writes, “Zygmunt Bauman has argued in several books that we now live in a liquid society, in which all formerly sure ground has become unstable. Distinctions apparently rooted in the nature of things – like male and female – are deconstructed, and moral principles once thought to be inescapable are flouted.” Surrounded by global warming and Islamic terrorists, more and more people are talking about the end of the world as we know it. Living in the era of “Trump,” many believe we are living in an apocalyptic age.
Our society is not unique among civilizations in living with apocalyptic terror. Leithart adds, “but we are one of the first to experience the dread of secular apocalypse.” In the book How to Survive the Apocalypse by Robert Joustra and Alissa Wilkinson, they point out that many think the disasters we face are of our own making due to technological or political failures. Therefore the solution and salvation are in our own hands.
The word apocalypse comes from the ancient Greek language meaning unveiling or revealing. Apocalypse has been torn from its original sense and implies disaster and destruction. The last book of the Bible is called Revelation [The Apocalypse], not because of the impending destruction, but that the disasters predicted are revealed to be divine judgment. Apocalyptic events are manifestations of God’s arrival. The salvation offered is also from God, not human ingenuity. This is the great change today when compared to previous civilizations.
The Church proclaims a message of calm in the face of disaster because God’s arrival is good news. There is life after the apocalypse. The good news of God does not eliminate destruction but clarifies the reason for it and gives hope through it and after it. As Revelation makes clear, the final judgment makes way for the new heaven and new earth. The apocalyptic blockbuster is not the end of all things but a beginning of the new. Therefore, it is revealed that we do not need to fear a coming destruction. It is not dependent upon us to solve the issue.
Christian teaching reveals the drama of this world in spiritual categories. A Christian witness speaks words that destroy and make new. A Christian witness proclaims words that tear down and build up. When apocalyptic blockbusters threaten the end of human existence, social and political authorities panic. Christian teaching reveals the plans of another authority. The Bible reveals that human existence does not necessarily have an end. In this world, we will continue to go from one disaster to another until there is an end to this world but not an end to humanity. The Church reveals hope in the face of destruction.
Revelation is not primarily a revealing of destruction but a revealing of Jesus. As Leithart comments, “For us the ultimate outcome of our apocalyptic moment will be a fuller, deeper revelation of the Christ. In Revelation, Jesus is already glorified at the beginning of the book. Before the falling stars, before the beasts and the harlot, before the battles, Jesus stands unveiled before John.” The climax of the book is the revelation that the Bride of Christ, the Church, will survive the destruction and enter into God’s new creation. That is the ultimate salvation. That is the real apocalyptic blockbuster.