There is a popular view among some Christians that the COVID-19 pandemic is some kind of apocalyptic plague. Now the world is seeing some unprecedented things because of the virus. However, if it really is an apocalyptic judgment then God must be losing his touch because there have been far worse disease outbreaks in human history. There are other significant problems with this view but the reflex to read major contemporary global events as signs of the apocalypse is not new among Christians. In fact, this kind of apocalypticism has made its way into pop culture, especially in film and television over the last decade. While I do recognize the biblical premises that have inspired such views, it actually reveals a fundamental failure in how the church has taught eschatology, that is, what the end of the world will be like.
Because of their highly symbolic language, apocalyptic texts tend to be quite difficult to interpret. This is what makes them such excellent fodder for rampant speculation. Those who go down the apocalyptic rabbit hole end up missing the forest for the trees. In my experience, Christians who get swept up in uncritical apocalyptic speculation tend to get bogged down with the details of apocalyptic visions in the Bible and tying them to world events and current affairs. They therefore miss the big picture of what the New Testament says about the end. Of course, the exact meaning of apocalyptic passages in the Bible matters but they exist in the larger context of the Bible’s general vision of the end. According to the New Testament, the end is not primarily marked by global disasters, mass deception and sinister conspiracies. In fact, we are already in the end times and have been for two thousand years. Continue reading “The End is Already Here!”
I have written many times on the state of contemporary Christian music. Overall I am generally not impressed with Christian music both in Ghana and internationally. While there is and will always be good Christian music, unfortunately a large proportion of contemporary music is just not good enough. This assessment goes beyond my own subjective musical tastes and looks at the substance of the music, particularly the lyrical content. Continue reading “Recovering Biblical Music for Today”
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. – Romans 8:23 ESV
Many modern people, particularly those living in urban settings, are far removed from the natural world and what has to happen to before you get food on the table (and no food does not grow in the market in plastic packaging.) It’s only fairly recently in human history that a large section of society is not engaged in agriculture but even today a lot of people are involved in the actual production of food, not only for their livelihood but sometimes it is their meal for the day. In a world where people directly depend on the soil for their daily bread, firstfruits are very important. So while it might not seem much to us but for Paul’s audience “firstfruits” is a very potent metaphor. As the name suggests it is quite literally the “first fruits” i.e. the first crops that are ripe for harvest. Continue reading “The Firstfruits of the Spirit”
When you look at biblical events in the Old Testament that are adopted thematically in the New Testament, the events of Exodus take precedence. The New Testament is so littered with Exodus references, the most obvious being Jesus death on Passover. After the resurrection and ascension, chronologically the next important event in the New Testament is Pentecost when the Spirit of God was poured out. None of the gospels record the event but all of them anticipate the coming of the Spirit. As significant as what happened on the day of Pentecost 2000 years ago was and continues to be for Christians, Pentecost does not seem to have nearly the same thematic weight in the New Testament text as the Exodus events. When you consider how prominent the Spirit of God is to New Testament theology, praxis and ethics, it is quite strange that Pentecost does not enjoy greater importance as a New Testament motif. With this observation in mind, I began to look more closely at the New Testament to see if there are theologically significant references to Pentecost beyond Acts. Continue reading “The Spirit of Pentecost”
A few days ago was Ascension Day, commemorating Jesus’ bodily ascension into heaven 40 days after his resurrection. In my experience a lot of believers do not know what to do with this strange event. It seems after all the drama that had just gone by a month earlier, Jesus simply checked out and took a really long break which he is still yet to return from. The ascension of the Messiah is not an extended hiatus. He had not been exalted to the right hand of God to sit down twiddling his thumbs. There is something extremely profound that had happened in that exalted moment. Continue reading “When Heaven met Earth”