Eschatology: The Myth of End Times
By CASPER DAMIEN
“Don’t fall into the temptation of this world, this world is evil. God loves you, repent and be baptized again in the name of Jesus Christ and receive him in your life as your personal savior and you will be saved because the End of the World is near.”
The story of the End of the World or the Second Coming of Jesus is very interesting and at the same time it’s frightening. This topic is very much part of Christianity. All Christians believe the Second Coming of Christ and this world will come to end. It’s recorded that Christianity as a world religion has 2.18 billion Christians or followers of Jesus Christ in the world today. While the total population of the world is about 7.5 billion people. Besides Christianity as a world religion, other major religions of the world including Islam has 1.62 billion followers known as Muslims, Hinduism about 1 billion followers, Buddhism about 500 million followers and Judaism has about 15 million followers in the world today. The irony is that if only Christians believe in the Second Coming of Jesus as End of the world and only Christians be saved, how about the rest of the followers of the world religions. Are they going to be saved or damned to hell? Already this is what Christianity implied to other world religion. Where is the logic? Is this erroneous itself?
To understand the Second Coming of Christ, this topic should be discussed in detail because it is very much part of Christian sect teaching. To understand this issue it is very important to introduce to you this term “Eschatology”. What is Eschatology?
The term eschatology from Gk. eschton “last things.” The biblical perspective concerning events to take place in the last days. (see Heb. 1:2; Isa. 2:2-4; Hos. 3:5 “later days”). While the Old Testament highlights the future of the community (Israel), the New Testament pays special attention to the destiny of the individual. In the Old Testament the idea of eschatological event is established when God made his covenant with his chosen people on Mt. Sinai (after delivering Israel from Egypt). God’s dealings with Israelites through the prophets of the promise and God’s future contact with Israel, usually through the so-called “Day of the Lord” (or Day of Judgment) is the eschatological expression of this idea. For the prophets the Day of the Lord represented salvation, hope, and vindication for the righteous as well as judgment and doom for the unrighteous.
The New Testament, which reaffirms the Old Testament concept of the Day of the Lord, broadens it as well. The Day of the Lord is taken to mean the First and Second Coming of Jesus. Both Jesus and Apostle Paul incorporated their concern for the future within the general framework of their teaching and preaching. Shortly before Jesus’ trail and death, Jesus told his disciples about the destruction of the temple. Jesus explained that certain signs were to be seen before the destruction of the temple and the end of the age (Mk. 13 par.). In the early letters of Paul, he attempted to correct
misunderstandings concerning Christ’s return, a subject he evidently discussed with the Thessalonian believers on his second missionary journey. While reminding them for Jesus’ Second Coming (1 Thess. 1:10), Paul deemed that it is necessary to point out both raised dead and those still alive would together meet the lord “in the air” (4:17) at an unknown time (5:2, “like a thief in the night”). When the Thessalonian believers did not believe in what Paul was saying about the Second Coming of Jesus, in his second letter to them he repeatedly warned the believers concerning the Day of the Judgment to come (see Metzger 1987: 348).
In the New Testament, it presents the two aspects of the eschatology; the present and the future. In the Present Eschatology, both Jesus and Paul distinguished between present idea of the kingdom as “realized kingdom (eschatology). Mark preserves Jesus pronouncement at the beginning of his Galilean ministry: “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:14; cf. Matt. 4:17). In Paul’s other passages of his letter he urged believers to accept Christ, for he perceives that salvation is very near (Rom. 13:11-14; “at hand,” Phil. 4:5). In the Future Eschatology, there were indications in many passages that Christ who by bearing the sins of the people made salvation possible (Heb. 9:26), will return one day to complete his work of redemption (e.g., v.28; 10:25; Jas. 5:7-9; 1 Pet. 1:5). Christ who ascended to heaven forty days after his resurrection (Acts. 1:3, 11), promised to return with power and glory (Matt. 24:30; cf. 1 Thess. 4:16-17, visible to all (Rev. 1:7). Though Jesus and Paul thinking of the imminence of this event, both cautioned against calculating an exact date for the Second Coming of Jesus (Matt. 24:27, 36; 1 Thess. 5:2) (Metzger 1987: 348).
The idea of the Second Coming of Jesus (Return of Christ) also implied the resurrection of the human body or dead. Paul wrote the Thessalonians that Jesus whom he believed to have died and risen again (1 Thess. 4:14), would at his return raise those “asleep,” along with those still alive (vv. 14-18). To the Corinthians Paul explained that since Christ arose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:4), he would rise to life, when he comes, those who belong to him (v. 23). When Jesus comes salvation will be only for the righteous and doom for the unrighteous. Jesus told his disciples that at the Day of the Judgment all the people will be gathered together into two groups-those who would receive life eternal and inherit the kingdom of God because they are righteous, and those who would endure eternal punishment since they had failed to perform good works (Matt. 25:31-46). In John’s account, Jesus proclaims a resurrection to either life of judgment, depending on whether one has done good or evil (Jn. 5:28-29; cf. Rev. 20:12-15). Paul teaches the similar type of judgment (Rom. 2:1-11; cf. Gal. 6:7-10) (see Metzger 1987: 349).
In the similar mode like Apostle Paul, for pastors and street preachers, many preached that we are in the last days and Jesus is coming soon. Current world issues of wars and killing of people, massive natural disasters, greenhouse effect and climate change, HIV/AIDS, Political dominance of one nation as supper power, massive technological development and increase of knowledge today is the Signs of Time as the End of the World is near. Their message is “The end of the world is near so repent and be baptized again and take Jesus as your personal savior.” Eternal life with God in Heaven for the righteous and Hell for those who are unrighteous. That is to imply that when God had taken His chosen people to live with Him in Heaven and Jesus has taken his eternal throne, God will then destroy the heaven and earth and create new heaven and earth which the righteous will enjoy complete redemption of God in it.
Is the myth of the second coming of Jesus real? For Christians, its real and the answer is yes, but for other world religions who do not believe in Jesus Christ, for them this issue of send coming of Jesus is not real. And so where do we draw the line?