Monday, September 27, 2004

Carson in KL

I had an enjoyable two nights listening to Prof Don Carson. No, not merely enjoyable - it was a stirring two nights joining the full house crowd at Tropicana taking in a very able exposition of 3 key chapters in Revelation. Missed the third lecture though, because I had to be in Kota Kinabalu. It didn’t seem so long ago that he was here in KL for his lectures on Ezekiel - that was 3 years ago right after Sept 11.

The lectures on Revelation 12 and 13 (missed 14) were excellent. Taking a somewhat circuitous route, he explained what apocalyptic literature was about as he drew lessons for God’s Church today. There were the usual head-scratching references (Dragon! Beast with horns and heads! Woman with wings! War! Blood! 1,260 days! Anti-Christ! 666!) but he deftly sidestepped popular end-times hype (ala LaHaye et al), perhaps not to dignify suspect eschatology with his comments. Yep, not one word, not even an aside.

I’ve always been bugged by the wholesale acceptance of such a misreading of Revelation by so many in the Church (and I am not just referring to the Left Behind series). It’s not an easy book, what with their fantastical symbols and mixed metaphors, I know. We’re so caught up in the imageries and their purported meaning we tend to overlook the focus of history from God’s viewpoint. Sure, one can’t be dogmatic about interpreting the last book of the Bible, but while eminent New Testament scholars keep their options open - about the meaning of 666, Carson looks straight at his audience and says, “I don’t know” - the pre-trib horde corners public consciousness.

After a long day at the office, just sitting through an hour plus of Bible exposition, even by a classy rhetorician like Carson, taxes butt and brain. Not to mention the absolutely messy traffic situation en route that almost made me want to turn back. Real bad jam. Beside me was a woman, Bible on her lap, who couldn’t keep her eyes open. After Carson closed in prayer, she woke with a start and asked her partner, "End already-ah?"

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