Re: eschatology is not geology

Robin Mandell (rmandell@jpusa.chi.il.us)
Wed, 16 Dec 1998 18:15:22 -0600

You wrote
>The 'beginning vs. end' bias has been something I have also noticed. I hope
>to do some more thinking about the other end issues, someday when I have
>more time.
>
>Jonathan's second question I think is very important. Genesis 1:1 refers to
>'hashmayim v'at eretz', the heavens and the earth. Revelation concludes
>with the same phrase, as 'a new heaven and a new earth'. The new earth is
>pictured as a polished gold cube, thousands of miles on a side, 'coming down
>out of heaven'. Since dimensions are explicitly given, it is apparent that
>this object is much smaller than the known size of the whole universe. It
>reminds me of the 'Borg' of Star Trek, only nicer. However, that is enough
>for you to see the direction this heremeneutical approach leads to.
>
>Our exhaustive discussions of Genesis have at least allowed many to realize
>that the text is more than merely a literal, journalistic account of
>history. I know some have insisted that historical narrative is the
>'highest' kind of message, and others have found 'numbers' hidden in the
>text. But many (Jews as well as Christians) have felt that this
>unnecessarily restricts the text and tends to overemphasize its other
>meanings, resulting in endless debates over details. Worse, it distracts us
>from the more profound messages it may contain. (My conclusion is that its
>metaphysical philosophy is one of its most helpful messages, a philosophy
>which forms the foundation of the 'Western' scientific approach to nature).
>
>When we approach Revelation with the same historistic emphasis, we run into
>even more difficulties, because this hasn't happened yet, so there can be no
>geological or astronomical evidence to relate to it. If we are going to
>make any sense out of the Rev. text at all, it will have to be by other
>hermeneutical methods. For instance, it is pretty obvious that the text is
>full of symbols drawn from the OT. This points in a direction away from
>historic narrative.
>
>The YECs are fond of saying that the laws of physics were different in the
>universe before the Fall. I think this is just an inverted way of saying
>that the Genesis text is not talking about physics. Likewise, I don't think
>Revelation is talking about physics, or astronomy, or geology. It is
>talking about collective personal, spiritual relationships. These are not
>measured in units of time and space.

I agree with you here but sometimes wonder why then the measures at all.
Was it just a way of describing John's mental picture of what he had seen.
I do think there is a thread here to follow about revelation itself. It was
a revelation from Jesus to John
via an angel. ( vs.1) To what extent was the message put into John's
worldview and then
how much of it would be lost with time and cultural change? The end of
course adds warning of terrible things for those who take any words away
from it even his share in the kingdom. How does that fit in with ideas of
biblical inspiration? Surely cause for caution in being to quick to cast
off anything we shouldn't.Anyone heard any ties on Revelations warnings and
biblical inspiration. I know I have been clubbed with them by
YEC hardliners in the past.
Andrew