Hypergraffiti

Where I spray-paint my thoughts…

Searching Sabbath 25: The Second Coming

4 Comments

As I near the end of this series exploring the beliefs of the church I belong to I come to the one that started it all: the belief that human history as we know it will end with the return of Jesus to establish His heavenly kingdom at a date we can’t specify but have been describing since 1844 as “soon.” This naturally raises all kinds of questions, “How Soon is Soon?” is, in fact, the title of the last sermon I was ever asked to preach in my home church (you can see a clip from it here and make your own judgement about why I haven’t been asked since, but to be honest, not preaching has been kind of a blessing in many ways). Still, the vlog above brings me to about the same conclusion as that sermon did: continuing to preach “Jesus is coming soon!” for over 150 years will certainly stir up a sense of urgency in some, but will lead to cynicism in many others as they look back at all the generations for whom He didn’t come. That said, I am no more convinced than I ever was by the belief that we humans don’t need rescue, that we are capable of building a better world in the here and now without divine intervention. I just don’t see human history trending that way.

Which would leave me in utter despair if I did not believe Jesus meant it when He said “I will come again.” Once again, this is one of those statements of belief that leave me feeling out of kilter with both my Adventist and non-Adventist friends … I’m sure many Adventists, and some other evangelical Christians, feel a stronger sense of impetus about the Second Coming and the need to preach its imminence than I do, but my less religious friends and even many liberal Christian friends probably think I’m crazy for believing in such a thing as a Second Coming at all. But, as so often, this is where I find myself: perched between faith and doubt, resting my hope on something that seems far-fetched and yet without which, the world makes no sense (and the Bible certainly makes far less).

What about you? What do you think about the end of the world, final judgement, and Jesus’ return to this earth?

By the way I’ll note here that last week a great discussion about the heavenly sanctuary broke out among people who’d seen the blog, but it was on my Facebook page. My intention is that when people leave interesting comments on Facebook, with their permission I’m going to copy those comments here to the blog so that later when I look back at this series I’ll be able to see the responses as well as my posts, since dialogue and discussion are my main interests in using this format to explore my beliefs.

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4 thoughts on “Searching Sabbath 25: The Second Coming

  1. I like it….Jesus is coming soon and what matter is how I live with Him and for Him right now…….Amen

  2. I think this belief has been one of the most harmful to Adventists through the years. When taken in all of its fervent glory, it creates a group of people who do not plan for the future (“because Jesus will have come by then”), who do not worry about making this world better by their presence (“because ‘this world is not my home'”) and who must artificially create a heightened sense of expectancy in order to control their children and adherents (and keep them giving to the church). This belief is used much like the rhetoric you find used in MLM marketing meetings – to whip the members into a frenzy of action. It’s emotion-driven and doesn’t take into consideration logic or reason.

    Will Jesus come again in the clouds from a place called heaven? I don’t know. I certainly hope that there is a “Day of the Lord” at some point in time, where we will get to escape this world and go to an utopian and idyllic place to live eternally – but none of us have that foreknowledge. We have hope. Hope is for the living. Rather than being “too heavenly focused to be any earthly good”, the best thing we can do to honor God is to try to help others, be “salt and light” to those around us, and make the world a better place by our presence. That would be the best way to honor the legacy of Yeshua, the Jewish prophet who showed by his ACTIONS how much he loved his (and our) heavenly Father.

  3. First of all, standing ovation for wearing a Next Gen uniform in the pulpit! Instead of always writing off popular culture as of the devil, I think we should use it as a starting point for spiritual dialogs.

    As a third generation Adventist, I’ve heard the “soon” message all my life. And while we don’t “officially” set dates, there are lots of people who talk about how Jesus “surely must” come by such and such. And yet, we’re still here.

    I take Christ’s statement of “I will come again” at face value and do think it should be part of our doctrines. But perhaps we should tone down our “soon” rethoric and emphasize experiencing Christ in the here and now.

    One of the things that makes me uncomfortable about the Adventist doctrines regarding end times is that we are so certain we have everything right, that we know EXACTLY how everything will come down, which is why we feel justified in setting dates while still not setting dates.

    • Yes, and this is something I’m going to touch on when I get to the doctrine about The Millennium and the End of Sin — I’m quite uncomfortable with the level of certainty many Adventists display that we know exactly how the end times will unfold.

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