Parousia Ponderings

I’ve agreed to teach a spring or summer course at church on “The Second Coming of Christ,” part of a series of extracurricular (not “extra credit”!) offerings that our adult education ministry has introduced.

It may not be a terribly important item for many Christians, but it was a crisis issue for me thirty years ago. I kept coming up against too many references to it in the New Testament that sounded imminent then; as if His return would happen within years, if not at just any moment. But that was nearly two thousand years ago.

I just couldn’t imagine that the writers were mistaken. Or that Jesus was lying.

Since I have problems, as well as points of agreement, with virtually every interpretation of parousia (second-coming) in scripture, I’ve had to work it out to my own satisfaction.

It’s a bewildering wilderness of theories: Dispensationalism, Millennialism, Pre-Milleniallism, Post-Millennialism, Amillennialism, Transmillennialism(R), Preterism and within them all kinds of subcultures like Pre-, Mid-, Post-Tribulationism, and Full or Partial Preterism.

And if the whole thing isn’t very important to you, consider the fact that certain views have forged powerful political liasons in support of committing our nation to very sensitive issues in the Middle East.

To me, it has ramifications in this life as well as the next.

So many positions have been defended so staunchly on this issue (as with so many others), that I’ve wondered if there’s room in the market for a book that just investigates what the scriptures say and asks questions about what it might all mean. It might even draw tentative conclusions that make the cut of Occam’s Razor (“Prefer the simplest solution.”).

I’m hoping that my study to present the course will spur me on to write the book.

So far, all I’ve written is part of an introduction: a prayer for inspiration and guidance in the study. Since some of my friends have been encouraging me in my paltry attempts at verse, I’ll share it along with the question: Is it worth a book?

There is so much that I don’t know
about the Day to come …
I treasure what Your word does show;
I’m glad You’ve told me some.

I know that You will come again
from far beyond the sky,
and though I don’t know where or when
I do know how and why:

As lightning flashes east to west
so suddenly You’ll shine,
and take me where the angels rest
and tell Death, “This one’s mine.”

For long ago You conquered Death
while pinioned to a tree
You gave up with Your dying breath
a Spirit meant for me.

One thought on “Parousia Ponderings

  1. I can’t believe nobody ever commented on this one (or even that I didn’t the first time I read it!)Keith, this is really good.As David would say, you should write the book.(4 years later…sorry, just taking a quick stroll through your archives this evening!)

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