Beyond the Standoff: How Shall We Read Apocalyptic Texts?

So what’s going to happen—and when? A couple of millennia and more down the road, we’re still asking, and for good reason. The drumbeat of eschatological angst is picking up once again, and the ancient signs and portents return to speak anew. We Seventh-day Adventists, long accustomed to secular pushback against our midnight cries, now find ourselves in the midst of concurring voices. These arise not only from fundamentalist and even evangelical fellow Christians, but also in varying scenarios from certain Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist circles.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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Excellent reflection, John, on the apocalyptic article featured in Spectrum’s most recent issue. Three Adventist scholars helping us think about how believers in every age dealt with the hope that God will create a future free of evil and suffering. Thank you!!

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We live in a very confusing post-post modern materialistic rich vs poor, us vs them society. Those early Christians did too, in their way, so I found this essay to be very helpful.


his resurrection [sic.] as the establishment of a new creation. – Christ’s advent or millennial reign?

Thank you for a wonderful review! I find a reading of apocalyptic that is anchored in what its authorial intention was for its original audience to actually be more applicable to contemporary readers than forcing apocalyptic into a historical time line straitjacket that admits only one fulfillment, and also only one specific application.

IOW, the typical Adventist historicist reading of Revelation finds the papacy and the US colluding on Sunday law enforcement as the only concrete fulfillment of a locked in series of images, that depict a locked in historical trajectory towards this single fulfillment. However, a preterist type of reading, that sees Revelation as an unveiling of what the real challenges to faith that Christians in 1st c. Asia were facing, and as a warning and exhortation to remain faithful to God and his future in Christ, ends up being applicable to believers at all times, and living in all sorts of circumstances that challenge their faith.

The first is a misreading and mishandling of apocalyptic, that has led to a chicken little approach to eschatology. The second acknowledges what apocalyptic is, what its original purpose was, and can lead to a variety of healthy applications concerning how to live out our faith in whatever life situations we may find ourselves, between Christ’s resurrection, and the resurrection promised to all of us who believe.




I found this article an exemplar and necessary contribution to rethinking the so-called apocalyptic. Is not the the focus of the apocalyptic writer a call for humans to submit to the One now? Our demise will come inexorably based on human experience. So live now. Righteous. Choose the Creator of the Universe. Live in covenant.

The unfolding of the End is right before us, personally and collectively. Nations and peoples come and go. Be ready. Hope. Don’t sweat it–or sweat it. Live in Grace, Mystery. The glass is dark. Then we shall see face to face. Fight the good fight. Thanks for the article.


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