The Tragedy of Revelation
A useless but fun exercise is to speculate “what if” about various historical events–like what if the South had won the Civil War? Or what if Kennedy had not been assassinated? Along those lines I’ve often wondered what the history of Christianity might have looked like if the book of Revelation had not been included in the canon. By most accounts of the New Testament’s development, Revelation almost did not make the final cut. Unfortunately for us, it did. And that fact may be one of the most tragic legacies of Christianity.
With it’s bizarre imagery, cataclysmic battles, and it’s vision of a vengeful Christ pouring out his wrath on the enemies of the faith, Revelation has been a source of fascination for many believers up to the present. When I was still working for the church, I would occasionally ask students in the weekly Bible class which book of the Bible they would like to study next. Revelation was always the most popular choice, hands down.
Now there are a lot of incomprehensible parts of the Bible, but Revelation takes the cake. What on earth possessed ancient church leaders to claim that that this hallucinogenic rant was divinely inspired? And because they deemed it divine, we are still suffering the consequences today. Many Christians are not only eagerly awaiting the fulfillment of Revelation’s visions in their lifetimes; they are actively seeking to hasten Armageddon. When you have a free moment, do a Google search on “Numbers 19 Red Heifer.” I’ll be some interesting stuff comes up. And because of Revelation, many Christians actively oppose environmentalism. After all, if this world is headed for destruction, and there is going to be a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) why bother taking care of this earth that’s passing away? The sooner we trash it the better. This was summed up well in the bumper sticker I saw recently. It was on the back of a behemoth SUV sporting a Christian fish sign, and it read: “Friends don’t let friends become environmentalists.”