. . . posts on faith and life
I started a Doctorate in Ministry program this fall at Drew University. Our first class is called ‘Millenial Markers of Faith and Experience’ and we have spent a good bit of the early part of the class exploring the apocalyptic tradition within Christianity, especially its 20th century expression in the so-called Evangelical portion of the church. I have been both amused and a bit surprised at the number of classmates who refer to that final book of our canon as the book of Revelations, when in fact it is the book of Revelation (no s on the end).
Granted this is a very common mistake. So common that you expect it among the average believer. But we’re talking about ministers. These are men and women who study the Scripture almost every day of their life. They prepare multiple sermons and/or teachings every week for their church. They have been trained in seminaries through a grueling 82-plus hour/unit graduate degree of intensive biblical and theological studies called a Master of Divinity. You would think all of them would know the name of the book at least! I would not be surprised if many of them did not particularly care for the book. Even if some of them had never read the book. But not know the name?
Yet, once I get passed the surprise of this crazy fact I see that it really reflects something about our contemporary misgivings on the Apocalypse of John. Is seems that many people, even many ministers, view this book as a jumbled collection of strange visions that have little do with down-to-earth reality that they face from day-to-day. Thus, they refer to the revelations that are stuck in between their Bible and its concordance. This could not be further from the truth. Revelation is in fact one unified vision of God and his work in, through and above human history. It is the ‘unveiling’ (the literal definition of the Greek word from which we get apocalypse) of reality. That thing which we now only see through a dark glass dimly.
But once I get past my analysis of other people’s misgivings I start to see my own. Do I not go through each day from moment to moment believing that I am in fact living in the midst of a jumbled collection of strange circumstances that have little to do with the Glory-to-God kind of heights I’m trying to attain? Could it be that all of these things that are keeping me from reaching the concordance of my life are not obstacles at all, but rather the very culmination of all that is meaningful in my life? Could it be that the most sacred things in life are right around me? In the lives of my family members? My friends? My neighbors? Indeed, the book of Revelation is the great unveiler!