Friday, August 30, 2013

The Great Disappointment : Obsessing About The End Times

I grew up in a sect of restorationist Christianity known especially for its obsession with the "end times" - Seventh-Day Adventism.  Its very name betrays its key theme - the Advent, the imminent Second Coming of Christ that is to occur rather shortly.  Much like other restorationist movements such as the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, the Seventh-Day Adventists were early on embarassed by what is known as the Great Disappointment - the Second Coming did not happen when it was predicted to, and many years since the non-event were spent explaining and apologizing for this.

This leads me to my main point which I wish to espouse here.  We know neither the day nor the hour (cf. Matt. 25:13) when Christ will come, as we heard in the Mass readings today.  Often, I grow very tired of various movements and sects proclaiming the imminent end of all things - from the most outlandish and fake televangelists and fundamentalists to even serious thinkers, the "end times" seems to be a hot topic of discussion. 

But, if one surveys the history of the Christian faith, it always has been. The early Christians wrote in a decidedly apocalyptic tone - we have only to read the New Testament to know this.  Many saints speak of their age as the final age, the most sinful age, the one in which the imminent return of Christ surely will occur because the world, as it were, has become intolerable, much like the world in which Noah lived.  Every age speaks to a seeming triumph of evil over good, and this seems to naturally lead many into thinking that their age is the last age.

Here is my view on the subject - we know neither the day nor the hour of the return of the Bridegroom (cf. Matt. 25:13).  The end is surely near for us as individuals, as our lifespans are exceedingly short.  My life could end in five minutes or fifty years from now, and I will find myself before God in order to face judgment - and thus, my life will have ended.

But as for this obsessive worrying and fretting over the end times - this is a mistake.  Salvation is not dependent on our knowledge of when the end of all things will occur, nor on some secret revelation from heaven concerning it. Certainly, we must watch for the return of Christ, and be prepared for His return - this is a demand placed on us throughout the Scriptures, and indeed it is healthy to always meditate on the four last things (death, judgment, heaven and hell).  But we must not sit idle and wait for a date and time that some prophet or seer somewhere has deemed to be the exact time of the Second Coming and the end of all things. 

To do so is to take our gaze off of Christ and to set it on worrying about a specific date or to obsessing about signs and cries that Christ is over here or over there (cf. Mark 13:21).  To do this is to sever ourselves from living the Christian life now, to merely sit idly by and twiddle our thumbs in waiting.  Christ Himself hints at His being delayed - in this, as we have seen, many will say He is not coming, that Christianity is a lie, and just another false religion full of false prophecies.

But as for us, let us keep our lamps burning and be on the watch, but let us not be idle nor listen to the words of false prophets and charlatans.  Christ will return when He returns, and will do so precisely when He means to - this will happen regardless of any so-called seer's prophecy about some random date when the world will end.  Instead, let us always be ready to meet Christ at any moment, always endeavoring to be "blameless and pure" (Phillipians 2:15), thus ensuring our preparedness to meet the Bridegroom. 

17 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Ennoh,

      Are you an Elias returning soon to convert the Jews and preach against the anti-christ? Please tell us.

      Sorry, couldn't pass up a little End Times humor...

      Delete
    2. Tempus fugit, Memento more......time flies, remember death....indeed, we do not know when our end time will be....

      Delete
  2. Live each day as if it was the last.

    And "as it was in the beginning, and is now, and ever shall be" -

    Every generation experiences this same feeling of finality/fatalism. I think it's inherent in our mortality and our broken natures, seeking some way to escape the inevitability and the uncertainty of death.

    I conceptualize life being like a wheel, and if we were sitting on a peg on the side of that wheel, the cycle would appear to go upward, forward, downward, backward. So, life continues progressing, but from our limited vantage point, can only see the up/forward, and down/backward, we don't see the overall forward momentum.

    And unfortunately, we tend to focus more on the downward/regressive times, and not the overall improvement and progress in life that has objectively occurred. Similar to our tendency to be covetous/envious of the goods others have, instead of being grateful for what we DO have.

    It would be easy to succumb to mortal greed and materialism, since on a perceptual/sensual level, its all we really know. I can only try to let my faith inform my conscience now, and may it keep hope alive, and love as well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do you ever actually reply to people who comment on your posts? I love your blog, but I think if you got more involved in it, (in the comments section) you might have more of a following. Maybe it's just me but I did read in one of the tips on how to be a good blogger was to reply to your readers. I thought it was kind of a bit of throw away advice at the time, but now I'm starting to think it was right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rebecca,
      Yes I do reply to some comments, and I read every comment I get. I apologize if I come across as stand-offish or anything like that - I am always very busy with writing for MONKROCK, this blog, another blog, and all manner of other things, so I often get sidetracked. That, a dayjob, and a puppy with enough energy to power a small nuclear reactor, and I get fairly distracted!

      Sorry if I have come across badly - I have always appreciated your comments and readership.

      God give you peace.
      Jason

      Delete
    2. Thanks for replying :) And seriously, this is a great blog, so keep it up!

      Delete
  4. First off I would like to say I am a big fan of your blog. Have you ever read/heard of a book called "The End of Present World" by Charles Arminjon? It is a very good book and gives a good analyzes of all the end times stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ian,
      No I haven't read that book, nor have I heard of it. I'll give it a look see.

      God give you peace.
      Jason

      Delete
  5. Just wondering if you have read all biblical scripture pertaining to the end times,as well as the vast amount of Marian apparitions in which the Blessed Mother is telling us that time is short.
    Also,Jesus told Saint faustina in the 1930s that the Divine Mercy message is the last message He will give us before He returns. Also,there are so many signs and yes we need to pray for discernment, that indicate that yes,Christ is returning very soon-probably in our lifetime. I am a Catholic and have been for 54 years. I just have one question-why do so many Catholics deny that that Jesus Christ will not come in our lifetime?
    Why not? With such a morally corrupt world we are living in,why would He not return in our lifetime? Don't you want Him to? I personally cannot wait for Christ to return!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you - I cannot wait for Christ to return. The end times are something to greatly look forward to, and how blessed are we if it should occur in our lifetime!

      Delete
  6. No, we should not be idle or listen to the words of false prohets and charlatans. But - as catholics - we should listen to the words of Mary in many approved apparitions (La Salette, Fatima, Akita, Amsterdam, etc.) about the end of this era (She never speaks about the end of the world!) and to the words of Jesus (to Sr. Faustina, Maria Valtorta, Luisa Picacarreta, etc) about the end times. If we don't listen to these prophetic words, we ignore a great gift from Heaven to understand the signs of the times!
    Best regards,
    fr. Peter, Amsterdam.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The *temptation* is always present, to simply throw up our hands and say "f*ck* it!" and hope/wish/pray God will just wipe this whole wretched planet out already, and get it done and over, instead of dragging out this daily farce of existence, where evil thrives in this world, and the Good are trampled into the dirt, ground up like wheat, crucified, etc. It would be easy to just give up in despair, like that (although, I suppose to many, that is hope, not despair.)

    To me, it's like suicidal ideation: It would appear to answer all our problems if it would just end NOW.

    I don't know if I have a final argument here, this (the concept of the end-times) is just another issue I struggle with daily, fighting depression, despair, hating the world, succumbing to evil, etc.

    We are all put through the crucible and we mostly rebel and reject the trials we're put through while here on earth, even if they are for our purification. Faith is hard to keep alive in the face of all these evils and trials.

    Maybe I should lower my standards, and just aim to avoid hell, and make it to Purgatory. At least there, I would KNOW my final destination. Here in this world, I just have fears, doubts, anxieties. It seems like I make my life more difficult by renouncing enjoyments I could have, for the sake of an uncertainty.

    Lord, increase my faith. Mary, Mother of God, pray for me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The Most Important thing to "Worry" about is your own "End Times". Very good article:-)) Thank You.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a farce. You say we should watch and be ready for Him and yet what are we to look for? Are you suggesting that we should be like the wicked servant who says my Lord delays His coming and party like it's 2099 with the heathen and secular people of this world?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,
      That is not what I am saying at all - I am saying be wary of false prophets, be ALWAYS ready for the end, be ready to meet Christ at all times instead of relying on some pseudo-prophet somewhere who gives you a specific date to watch for.

      God give you peace.

      Jason

      Delete