Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Does the Bible really tell us how the universe will end?

The Main Questions

  • Do you think the world will end? What about the universe? Why do you think that?
  • How do you think the Bible discusses the end of the world? What books/passages talk about the end? What are some common themes?
  • What challenges have you faced as you’ve tried to think through the Bible’s approach to the end of the world
  • Look in the section below at the definition for the biblical genre of Apocalypse. What do you think of this definition? How does it differ from how you typically think about apocalyptic literature?
  • Take time to read the “Four Christian Views on the End of the World.” Then answer the following questions:
    • Does each view differ in how it reads the Bible (i.e. is one view more literal, one more historical, etc.?)
    • What features do all of these views have in common? What do these commonalities tell us about the Bible’s vision of the end?
    • Which view more closely aligns with your own? Why do you hold this view?
  • Does having a conception of the “end of the world” matter for Christian theology? Why/why not?
  • How should the Bible’s vision of “the end” affect how we live in the here and now?

Key Definitions

  • Apocalypse (Biblical Genre) // a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated  by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is (1) both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and (2) spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural world. It is intended to intended to interpret the present, earthly circumstances in light of the supernatural world and of the future, and to influence both the understanding and the behavior of the audience by means of divine authority. // Adapted from J. Felix’s Compiled Definition
  • Four Christian Views on the End of the World*
    • Dispensationalist Premillennialism // holds that Christ will suddenly arrive and take His church into heaven (i.e. the rapture). After seven years of tribulation, Christ will return to rule from a holy city for one thousand years. After these thousand years, Satan will be loosed to deceive the nations, gather an army, and take up to battle against the Lord. This battle will end in both the judgment of the wicked and Satan and the entrance into the eternal state of glory by the righteous.
    • Historical Premillennialism // places the return of Christ just before the millennial reign of Christ and just after a time of great apostasy and tribulation. After the millennium, Satan will be loosed and rise against the kingdom of God; this will be immediately followed by the final judgment.
    • Postmillennialism // believes that the millennium is an era (not a literal thousand years) during which Christ will reign over the earth, not from a literal and earthly throne, but through the gradual increase of the Gospel and its power to change lives. After this gradual Christianization of the world, Christ will return and immediately usher the church into their eternal state after judging the wicked.
    • Inaugurated Millennialism (or amillennialism) // believes that the Kingdom of God was inaugurated at Christ’s resurrection at which point he gained victory over both Satan and the Curse. Christ is now reigning at the right hand of the Father over His Church. After this present age has ended, Christ will return and immediately usher the church into their eternal state after judging the wicked.

* Adapted from Blue Letter Bible

Important Scripture

  • “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. // Matthew 24:36
  • But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. // 2 Peter 3:10
  • When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. // Revelation 6:12-13
  • Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. // 1 John 2:18
  • Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. // Matthew 13:40
  • “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ // Acts 2:17-21

Thoughts from Others

  • This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper. // T. S. Eliot
  • In 5-billion years the Sun will expand & engulf our orbit as the charred ember that was once Earth vaporizes. Have a nice day.” // Neil Degrasse Tyson
  • It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning. They shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid the general applause from all the wits who believe that it is a joke. // Søren Kierkegaard
  • Have you ever thought what a God would be like who actually ordained and executed the cruelty that is in [the biblical Book of Revelation]? A holocaust of mankind. Yet so many of these Bible-men accept the idea without a second thought. // C.J. Sansom
  • The truly apocalyptic view of the world is that things do not repeat themselves. It isn’t absurd, e.g., to believe that the age of science and technology is the beginning of the end for humanity; that the idea of great progress is delusion, along with the idea that the truth will ultimately be known; that there is nothing good or desirable about scientific knowledge and that mankind, in seeking it, is falling into a trap. It is by no means obvious that this is not how things are. // Ludwig Wittgenstein