Saturday, November 01, 2008

If It Fits...

Conspiracies are exciting, truth is mundane. At least that seems to be the way most of us think. It's much more exhilarating to think of a CIA conspiracy behind the JFK assassination than to think one crazed "nobody" was able to kill the most powerful man in the world. The examples are endless, but I can't help but wonder if the same mental tendencies that causes so many to love conspiracy theories isn't the same as what causes so many to focus so much of their spiritual energy on Revelation, prophecy, and any apocalyptic sections of the Bible? Simple explanations just don't work, because it's more exciting to speculate, wonder, read-between-the-lines, and play theological detective than it is to admit that we don't - and can't - fully understand the meaning of something that involved symbols and language that only contemporary Christians understood.
I've been studying 2 Thessalonians 2 all week and trying to decide how to preach it Sunday morning. This is one of the toughest passages in all the New Testament to understand. It talks about the Second Coming not happening until after the great rebellion or apostasy and it has a long condemnation of the "man of lawlessness" Who is, or was, that guy? The opinions are Legion, and there's more comparisons there than I have time to make. I've heard plenty of Bible teachers (especially from my early years as a young Christian) declare that it was the Pope. Others say it was a Caesar, or all of them. There are many ideas - most, like the way Revelation is interpreted, are conclusions based on the "it fits" approach to figuring out the Bible. It fits? How many JFK theories are based on "It fits"?
Paul clearly says this was a subject they had talked about when he was with them. Since it's a personal letter to the same people, there is no need to explain who and what he is talking about. So here's a novel theory - we don't know! Why is that so hard for us to live with? This speaks to how and why we study God's Word. It's not about figuring out puzzles but seeking the spiritual principles. Paul's principle is: quit trying to be in control of the future. Trust God! I've got four education degrees and thirty-five years of preaching/teaching/studying experience and I'm totally comfortable saying "I don't know." It sure makes for a short discussion of Revelation, Ezekiel, and 2 Thessalonians 2.
That being said - the "Man of Sin," the "Man of Lawlessness," and the "Anti-Christ" is Darth Vader. It fits.

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