Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Eschatology is one of those topics that keeps coming up every once in a while. It is amazing how much time people spend thinking about the end and what is going to happen. Often times, they want to skip to the end and not give any thought to what happens when our own personal end comes. One of the things that Lutheranism is very strong on is personal eschatology, which deals with what happens to me. This doesn't tend to be emphasized in Dispensationalism, even though it is one of the most comforting doctrines to those in Christ.

I'm not here to discuss personal eschatology, however, but to discuss John and how John writes. Anyone who has read the Book of John knows how out of sequence some of the events seem to be when compared to the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The clearing of the temple is early, rather than late. Things are all out of sequence. If you continue by reading 1 John, things start getting even wierder. He seemingly contradicts himself and continues to say the same thing over and over and over and over and over again. If you ever have the time, read 1 John in one sitting and note how many times he says the same thing. When we read Paul, we understand him because Paul, for all his Jewishness, still thought like a Westerner. John, on the other hand, thinks like a near Eastern man, and it shows. His ideas go in circles. He keeps telling us the same thing over and over again. We don't think like this. John wouldn't have been bothered if, when writing about Christ, he told the story out of sequence. It doesn't bother him that he thinks circularly.

It is here where we get to the question: how can a Dispensationalist think that the Apocalypse of St. John (Revelation) gives a linear time line when nothing else he has written resembles anything linear? A Dispensationalist commits the error of being a literalist while not being literal. A literal reading would take into account John's tendency to wonder and be non-linear. This isn't anything new. People have been looking to older writings to determine how to read newer writings by the same author for years. We do this with other Biblical writers. A Dispensationalist, however, doesn't let other writings by the same author to get in the way of a bad hermeneutic.

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