Eschatology and God’s Beauty – Keep the meat, spit out the bones

I’ve been wanting to express my frustration and excitement for some time now with respect to some of the revelation distributed to different places in the Body of Christ:

  • Excitement – fabulous revelation that will change how we think and usher us into new realms in God and new dimensions of the manifestation of His Kingdom concretely here on earth if we will just get this stuff into us at a heart level.
  • Frustration – people whom I respect, either personally or from afar based on their body of teaching and ministry, who contradict each other in aspects of their teaching. Contradiction is not necessarily a bad thing and is certainly not to be unexpected when groping to discover the Infinite God with finite minds and weak hearts. Where it becomes frustrating for me is the passion with which those “on one side” of a perspective categorize and label others.

Of course we all do it! 🙁 I was just in a church meeting Sunday afternoon where the diversity of perspectives, personalities and communication styles was exhilarating…which at first blush means: “Dang I wish they’d just shut-up!” I was seriously exhilarated and pleased by the diversity, but I was also seriously annoyed as a first reaction! 😉 As another example, just yesterday I was in the parking lot of a local supermarket waiting on Angela and Olivia who were inside shopping. While waiting I observed the stream of people arriving and leaving. One car caught my attention as it maneuvered slowly, directly in front of me, into it’s parking spot with its three occupants. You could see the visible signs of brokenness on what I supposed was a family. You could see where they needed a radical change of perspective and the gracious healing that only Jesus could bring. Unfortunately all of this “hindsight description” that sounds so spiritual manifests itself in my heart initially simply as “Ewww! What a depressing sight!” So, I admit, I put labels on people and I don’t do it with amazingly objective compassion and love.

That being said, when it comes to how we perceive God and His Kingdom I really think it’s important to realize that at the same time that we are being stunned by the depth and breadth of some revelation, our perception, our perspective, is really amazingly limited and small. I’ve attempted to represent it with an image in this mashup of clipart (ugly but I think it gets the idea across):

God and His Kingdom are so vast and multi-faceted that eternity will not be long enough for us to understand and experience everything. What I see/hear when I listen to/read about various revelations of who God is, how He acts, what His Kingdom is all about, etc. is more like this following image:

In this image, there is the logical realization that others do hold different perspectives, but over-simplification distorts reality and there is a tendency to lump all other perspectives into a few clearly defined camps that are then easier to dismiss. What happens then is that group “A” presents arguments as to why perspective “B” doesn’t really work. Group “A” will have some good points about their objections, but will neglect the fact that “B” is not really summed up that easily and that there are groups that they’ve lumped into “B” that hold to certain facets of that perspective but are really based on perspective “C”, etc. The fact of the matter is, that one needs to sink deep into the perspective of the other to see what they see and understand what they understand. I think when walking a mile in another man’s moccasins, we often stop after about 100 yards and are pretty sure our conclusions won’t change…forgetting how many miles we had to walk to gain our perspective.

So with that little soapbox dealt with, I want to present two different series of teachings. One is Martin’s Scott’s fabulous, line-upon-line presentation of a “framework” for developing an eschatological perspective broken down into 40 (that’s right 40! ) 15-minute podcasts. Both the podcasts and their transcripts can be found on his great and lively blog site (worth connecting with):

The other is one of Mike Bickle’s many teaching series. Mike and the worshiping intercessors at IHOP in Kansas City have focused a LOT on eschatology in the last 10 years. They have come to many different conclusions than has Martin (who is more interested in creating a healthy framework for interpretation than to be rigid in interpretation). There are many other series specifically on the End Times on Mike’s site, but I chose one called “The Beauty Realm of God“, which is 8, 1-hour messages specifically on Revelation 4-5. The reason is that this series lays the foundation for the IHOP “framework” of how they view eschatology. So you kind of have two different “eschatological interpretation frameworks” if not really two different rigid eschatology theologies. I think they are both valuable to explore… deeply …as they both include rich, rich truth not presented in the other. You’ll have to deal with some unresolved tension however as there are definitely conflicting aspects to what they’ve concluded based on their perspectives.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign…

In my ongoing quest to juxtapose two teachings that come from different perspectives, yet both say very important things, I offer to you a teaching by Martin Scott called “Prophet as sign” and a two-part teaching by Dave Sliker of IHOP called “Signs of the Times.”

Both speakers make excellent, if divergent points about “signs” and I believe there is value in holding these somewhat divergent perspectives in tension. It’s the “triangulation” of two valid, well-thought-out, biblically-justified, coming-from-godly-people, and yet divergent perspectives with what we feel is God’s perspective that brings “3D” depth to our otherwise “2D” theological understanding. So, while I’m not encouraging that we simply listen to something and then find someone who disagrees so that we can wallow in discord, I am saying that we can increase our depth and breadth of understanding of who God is, His heart, and His plans when we tenaciously (in prayer and meditation) hold in tension two such perspectives.

Prophet as Sign: (29MB mp3) (Martin’s blog post about this teaching:

Signs of the Times: Part 1 (14MB mp3), Part 2 (14MB mp3)

Jim Maher – Why/How Do We Stand For Israel?

I’m recommending this 2-part teaching not because I believe that it represents the be-all/end-all of end-times eschatology and where Israel fits in that. I’m recommending it for these reasons:

    • It addresses questions that we, as the Body of Christ need to be addressing. Again the responses/perspectives are not necessarily all ones that I share, but we need wrestle with the subject matter and some of the conclusions being drawn. None of us (and the speaker admits this too) has all the answers about the future because God continues to bring revelation…and He will for eternity!
    • The speaker manages to land in several different ideological/theological camps at the same time. Those who are fully convinced about certain things will find themselves saying, “Yes! Finally someone who is trumpeting truth!” and then 5 minutes later, “It’s Bozos like this guy that give Christians a bad name!” Personally, I find the ability (whether conscious or not) to mesh together polar opinions a virtue in and of itself in this hugely dualistic age in which we live! 🙂

This message was given as part of the Passion For Jesus 2007 conference at IHOP in Kansas City.

Jim Maher-Why Do We Stand For Israel? (11.6MB)

Jim Maher-How Do We Stand For Israel? (18.7MB)