Ecclesiastes is often understood to be one of the more dour books in the Bible. The preacher (Solomon) seems to be saying that everything in life is pointless and therefore we should approach things in an “ignorance is bliss” sort of way. Otherwise we will just be depressed all the time.
One of the things I love about my church is the corporate emphasis of our liturgy. Week in and week out the congregation stands together to sing, pray, & confess our united faith. One of the perceived downfalls of many “electric” churches is the inability of the congregants to hear one another sing, pray, or confess. Usually the lights are turned down low so it is difficult to see the Body of Christ and the speakers are turned up high so it is near impossible to hear the Body of Christ. This creates an environment where the individual (and their feelings) are held in higher esteem than the objective reality (salvation) that the Body experiences in the worship gathering.
As I slowly work through James K.A. Smith’s work Desiring the Kingdom I notice him coming back to a familiar theme: Literature, poetry, art, etc. can do a better job getting at the heart of certain truths than theology, philosophy, science, etc. Smith doesn’t write this in order to disregard the didactic transfer of knowledge. To the contrary that’s what his entire book is (as he readily admits). Rather, Smith points out the fact that a theological treatise on courage doesn’t go nearly as far getting at what courage actually is than say J.R.R. Tolkien does when he writes about Gandalf standing down a balrog in Moria in The Fellowship of the Ring.
A couple of weeks ago I was having a discussion with a friend (you know who you are!) about various “macro” subjects: Bible, culture, politics (and how they all intertwine). As our discussion progressed (and regressed) we came to a point where my friend said “that’s just your opinion.” and then expected that our conversation to be over.
Unfortunately, most of the time people hear or see the word “apocalypse” today they immediately associate it with some sort of catastrophic, end of the world, event that’s portrayed in movies like I Am Legend or the forthcoming Left Behind movie. This is unfortunate considering the menial amount of work required to clarify such confusion. Most of you readers should know that the last book in the Bible is named The Revelation to John (not “Revelations”). The word “revelation” comes from the Greek word that we get “apocalypse” from. Ultimately, the word “apocalypse” means “reveal”, hence the name of the last book of the Bible is The Revelation to John & opens by stating “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.” (Rev. 1:1a). Another translation of the first sentence in The Revelation of John goes like this: “Apocalypse of Jesus Christ…” (Wycliffe Bible). The words “reveal/revelation” and “apocalypse” are synonymous. This means that when we are looking at “apocalyptic” literature we aren’t necessarily trying to figure out what it is telling us about the end of the world. Instead we should be asking what it is trying to reveal to us about the world we live in (or more correctly, the world the apostle John lived in).