Eschatalogical Switzerland

I actually wrote this piece a month or two back. As you will see in today's and tomorrow's posts, the topic is obviously occupying some space in my thinking (you have to be sleeping under a rock not to have some awareness of all this!), the reasons why becoming clearer tomorrow.  But lest I leave the impression that I'm consumed, it just so happens that my current interest in posting coincides with the current Mayan madness. Correlation does not necessarily equal cause, remember... So here's my meager contribution.


I have many and varied bed fellows these days. That doesn’t mean I’m sleeping around. It means that among my friends are people who view things very differently. These differences are never seen any clearer than in
their approach to current and coming world events, specifically preparedness for anticipated end times—or not.

On one hand there are those whose particular passion it is to study and absorb historical and theological information supporting the belief that an apocalypse is imminent. Some pastors have put readiness steps in place to protect the safety of their gathered congregations in the event they would come under attack. It’s undeniable that there are people in the world who sadly choose to inflict terror and inhumanity on those who differ. And several are pointing to natural disasters as indicators that God is done with life on Earth as we know it. Their awareness seems to work for them and they have grave concern for the masses who will be caught in the cross fires of his judgment, innocent or not…as if any of us truly are. They think another view borders on foolish heresy.

Another group of my friends, of an entirely different theological persuasion, believes that the events of the biblical book of Revelation have already taken place and that apocalyptic images are predominantly metaphoric. They are wondering why in the world I keep company with such so-called “nut cases,” as are my friends who believe I’m equally a nut case for tromping around in the field of faith at all. Many in both of these groups live free of that particular fear and dread. They seems able to embrace each moment as the gift it is. They work at living peacefully and engaging in the present. They look with pity and sadness at the poor misled creatures who are concerning themselves unduly with a series of misfortunate events they believe will never come to be. Their awareness seems to work for them. They think other views are just foolish, period.

Recent events and my internal responses to them have finally caused me to give serious reconsideration to my own position. I’ve written elsewhere about being a spiritual Switzerland and perhaps that is where I shall take up residence on this issue—and not because I am fully persuaded they are all wrong about things. Rather, it’s because I’m quite sure none of us is completely right! To list here all the reasons why, exceeds the scope and purpose of this little exercise. And because it’s thoroughly exhausting. Besides, even highly-respected scholars can’t seem to come to a consensus.

I have certainly not landed on the Millionaire’s "final answer." What has become clear to me this past week, however, is what I am NOT to do. Argue. Spin. Panic. Fear. Insist. Ruminate. Demand. My conflict-averse bent already lists toward pain avoidance. Therefore, I prefer to ignore the subject altogether. But when forced I can become as irritating in my refusal to commit to a view as are any of my pals who are convinced I should. And therein lies the problem—well, and the solution.

Here’s the deal: I have enough apocalyptic, fear-infused fiber in my formative background to keep me from dismissing the possibility entirely. Yet as my engagement with the world of faith has broadened, I have encountered those who are equally well-informed but hold opposing views. And faith IS my context, whether or not it’s popular with my non-adherent friends.   

Given my particular personality, vocation and calling, I am deciding that where I am, is exactly where I need to be: In eschatological Switzerland. In fact, I’m standing just across the border from a woman I once knew who, in answer to the question, “Are you pre-, mid- or post-trib?” responded in this way:

            “I’m pan trib. I believe God is in charge and it will all pan out.” (Thanks, Sandy B. Admittedly, my non-apocalyptic friends will still take exception to her premise.)

I have no idea what’s around the bend. Who of us really does? “Boast not yourself of tomorrow, for who knows what a day will bring forth?” Jesus said. Of course, it only takes one unexpected traffic jam on the way to work to answer that rhetorical question. In fact, we are vaguely told certain things about our future but we are very clearly instructed about how to process the present. Yes, I have the normal list of things a person would do for a few weeks of survival for me and a few extra people I love in case of a regular old emergency—whatever that is. But beyond that, I am at the mercy of God’s care and provision, who, it is rumored, can find me, at least for now, an ex-pat at peace in Switzerland.

 Photo: Courtesy of Creative Commons

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