After writing a post yesterday about a book I’m reading called ‘Antichrist’ – a friend asked me with deep concern if I was alright, given my reading material.
I thought it was a fair enough question from a concerned friend, but it also showed a very big problem, namely, why is it assumed that someone is not alright because they are reading such a seriously minded book.
First thing to say is that my friend endorses me writing about our exchange, as he is also interested to explore his immediate response.
It’s not a big deal to read big deal books. It’s amazing, but it’s hardly end of the world stuff, except, that is, books about the End Times and Antichrist. I think the subject material divides people into a few camps: Those who are engaged with the material at a serious level; those who are fanatical with a construct offered by a segment of that material (fundamentalists); and those who are bewildered about most things End Times.
To read about the End Times or Antichrist is not about mood, emotions or feelings (though reading seriously about this will affect all three); but it is rather, to inform oneself of the vast theological literature in the Hebrew, Inter-testamental, and New Testament period of writings. It is to understand the post-apostolic writings of the Early Church fathers, and how the Church have understood Her own writings.
Behind all this, is a seriously minded attempt to engage with the biblical literature on its own terms, and working hard to be set free from the entanglements of post-WW2 Protestant fundamentalism.
Within all this, is the necessary cultural context framework of our own day. What did all this material mean and what could it mean now, if we are being faithful interpreters of the times, as Jesus urged us very strongly His followers to be (Matthew 16:1-4)?
The fact is, as I said to my worried friend, this is part of the Christian faith, and we mustn’t allow it to remain to preserve of ‘The End is Nigh’ brigade – even if the end is nigh, it’s not Nigh in the way they think it’s nigh! We need neither nay sayers nor nigh sayers, we need truth sayers – and that requires engagement will all the material that the Judeo-Christian tradition offers us.
The upshot of all this is that as we engage in what the Bible calls ‘Antichrist’, we are being faithful to Scripture to the degree that we are being prochrist – and being prochrist is to be Christian – and to be Christian is the best defense against the antichrist.