Saturday, March 19, 2011

Opposing the Rapture: Preterist-Amillennialism vs. Dispensationalism

Eschatology is a fundamental theological concept that separates denominations and unbelievers alike; it asks the question, what happens when the world ends? For the sake of being concise, I am only going to mention a few eschatological views held by various Christians. 
Personally, I am a Preterist-Amillennialist – In short, I the events of the book of Revelation are interpreted as events of historical, not future, importance. Also, this negates a literal thousand year reign, it does not support a tribulation event, or a rapture theory. 
Moreover, The book of Revelation addresses Christians under persecution and asks its audience, who is lord, Christ or Cesar? In the Preterist position, one must accept that John of Patmos expected the Parousia (the second coming of Christ) to happen within or near his lifetime and that he believed the Parousia would be the result of an actual battle with the Roman Empire.

In juxtaposition, the Dispensational Futurist approach to eschatology is a matter of great contention. One could argue that Dispensationalism ignores the original context and symbolism of the book of Revelation. Additionally, it provides a similar trap that John of Patmos experienced; one might anticipate that the Parousia will take place within their lifetime or, worse, start to predict when the Parousia will take place in the future. The Futurist approach depicts a holy war that has yet to occur. Whereas, the Amillennial approach (the second piece of my eschatological position) depicts a spiritual battle for the devotion of people – a battle that Christ already won with the cross.
Arguably,  Dispensational, Futurist, Eschatology is careless, dangerous, and ignorant to the themes of good Biblical interpretation. Elements of genre and occasion are crucial to understanding the historical purpose and function of the books of the Bible. Without genre and occasion, one can interpret the symbolism within Revelation to mean anything – this practice should be avoided when interpreting scripture. 
Finally, combining the Preterist and Amillennial, approaches to eschatology are favorable to this author. Biblical Studies provides plenty of sound evidence against tribulation, thousand year reign, and rapture theories of interpretation. Dispensationalism is popular, but that doesn't make it a sound theological position on eschatology. Honestly, the Dispensational view is, likely responsible for striking fear into people over the end times and the book of Revelation. Do not be afraid, there are other views out there that work, make sense, and don't have to scare people into knowing the day or the hour of Christ's second coming. 

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