Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Man of Lawlessness

I threatened to write something about the antichrist - so here is the first something. Paul's writing on the end times in both Thessalonian letters has always (ok, for a long time) fascinated me - he seems to be party to much inside information.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-10 is the part that is relevant to today's post. The 'end' will not come until the 'man of lawlessness' is revealed.
I think most of us are ok with the idea that the antichrist need not be an individual but that scripture that speaks about him uses personification. Although it may be that this is/will be an actual person.
The key thing learned from this passage is that this man of lawlessness will oppose everything that is called God or is worshipped - so Paul does not see the antichrist having 'being worshipped' as its aim. Also it will not propose a set of doctrines or a rule of life, but claims that there is no law - no right or wrong. I used to preach saying that the motto of the man of lawlessness will be, 'it doesn't matter'.
I guess, if I'm honest, I am afraid that I hear a lot of preachers saying 'it doesn't matter'. A lot of theologians claiming that humanity has the right to determine truth and not God. And that is almost true. It doesn't matter what we have done, where we have been or who we are - God calls us into a saving relationship with his son. But he also says that as his children we have the obligation to live as children of God. The past doesn't matter, but the future most definitely does.

4 comments:

markpenrith said...

"most of us are ok with the idea that the antichrist need not be an individual but that scripture that speaks about him uses personification."

Help me out on your thinking here. I might be one of those outside the in crowd.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Mark, ja ok. I suppose this come down to how we read the Bible - I'm ok with a not completely literal interpretation (so I'm ok with the creation being over 6 periods rather than 6 days for instance). I'm not sure how you think, so don't know how to articulate my answer - because you also don't believe in literally cutting off right hands?
I think that we have seen a lot of hype about the antichrist being various people - Hitler, Gorbachev and so on. We're starting to see that it seems unlikely that there will be an individual having that much power. Easier to see Islam or materialism or communism as that which draws people away from God (although I don't think it could be any of those). I'm not sure how you read Daniel, but his prophecies referred more to nations than individuals - I see this in a similar way.
Thanks for making me think - I'd like to know more about how you see it.

markpenrith said...

I think that the term “literal interpretation” has been over literalised. Literalists simply apply, as a rule, that “when the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense”

E.R. Craven captures my view of unfulfilled future prophecy by saying “The literalist (so called) is not one who denies that figurative language, that symbols are used in prophecy, nor does he deny the great spiritual truths are set forth therein; his position is, simply, that the prophecies are to be normally interpreted (i.e., according to received laws of language) as any other utterances are interpreted-that which is manifestly figurative so regarded.”

That probably doesn’t explain it but I’m trying to be succinct. Check out http://www.gotquestions.org/Biblical-hermeneutics.html for a slightly more detailed answer. I love this topic.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Mark - then I think that we are pretty much on the same page. The question then in this case is whether the antichrist as a human individual makes sense or not. My thinking tends to be that although it makes literal sense (as does cutting off right hands) I cannot see how it transfers to reality. I might be wrong and I am surmising for the purpose of discovery and understanding, but I think it is unlikely that individual can gain world power in the way the man of lawlessness seems to. So I must look for another solution. Does that seem a valid position, even if you don't agree with it?