This last weekend saw the opening of yet another end times thriller, this one staring Nicholas Cage. With the topic once again entering popular culture, our small group discussed various Christian theories about the future. What became apparent was that we all had a deep reluctance to consider specifics. People would only say “no one knows” or “why does it matter?”
After a few personal stories about our experiences with eschatology, themes began to emerge. Many in our group had watched the “official” position on the end times fluctuate wildly. Some of us had been alive for the speculation of 1988. Others recalled the Y2K hysteria, the prophecies of doom after the September 11th attacks, and Harold Camping’s much-publicized announcement of the impending end. We had grown up while the Left Behind books were published, witnessed the excitement over them, and watched the backlash. In short, we were trained to believe nothing we heard on the subject.
Most of us who had grown up submerged in Christian culture also had stories about premillenialists bashing amillenialists, or post-tribulationists attacking pre-tribulationist. We had watched congregations split and seen people get angry or break down crying over the subject. Experience taught us that the cost of having an informed opinion was too great. If forced to choose between studying the topic or being part of a community, our decision was obvious. Better to say “I believe whatever you believe” and avoid causing offense.
Our generation is often labeled “post-modern”, meaning that we don’t believe in anything. On subjects like this, though, why would we? Everything we have seen suggests that the topic brings only pain, confusion, and ridicule. Would Christianity, and the world, be better off if we dropped Revelation and other parts of the Bible that we don’t understand? If our choice is between morbid fascination and ignorance, what are we to do?