Answers in Coronavirus?

Answers in Coronavirus?

Within the Adventist faith tradition there is a subculture, this subculture is typified by an almost egging on of any apocalyptic event in the hope that it is the end times. This goes a step further with an almost unfathomable fascination with proving the apocalyptic prophecies found in Daniel and revelation. These prophecies are exciting and any Adventist theologian would agree very relevant with the end indeed coming. We have been ringing the bell that the end is nigh for over 150 years, yet we are still here. This is not a denial of the end but a recognition that we can’t look at every disaster or global event as a sign of the end.

The fallacy of the end.

Many Adventists spend much of their Biblical reading looking for reasons, signs and symbols that line up with events that are occurring within the world. This fascination only serves to breed a culture of conspiracy theories and increases anxiety amongst our children, young adults and adults alike. The idea of being ready for the end has been misconstrued with egging on the Latter Rain or End Time events. Throughout the Gospels Jesus makes clear that in order to be ready we just have to accept him and out of that serve our community. John 3:17 notes that Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Throughout most of Paul’s writing (particularly Romans 3 he highlights the fact that the following the law isn’t the primary way to be a follower of Christ. Rather, loving christ and being faithful to him allows us to realise how much we fall short of the glory of Christ, therefore convicting our hearts to choose christ daily.

Our fascination with the end times can definitely be traced back to the failure of 1844 and the Millerites’ conviction that Jesus would return at a set date and time. Perhaps our fascination with apocalyptic timed prophecies is but an extension of this and may not be essential to our Church. From this our minds can be drawn to the current global pandemic that is facing our entire world. Many Adventist’s have immediately been drawn into quoting Revelation and many works of Ellen G White to show that this is a symbol of the end happening soon. For many these words offer shallow hope, and in fact bring about bigger questions of why a God of love would allow his people to experience a pandemic. This is a theological quandary, if prophecies which most scholars agree are meant to provide hope are instead causing mass distress, angst and anger amongst believers there must be another answer that fits better with the overall picture of grace and love present in the Bible.

N T Wright wrote a wonderful piece of writing on March 30 2020 that was released globally to all through Time Magazine. Wright suggested that the Christianity (which included Adventism) is not meant to try and explain away the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather, we are called to lament with our community, lament in our isolation and turn to God for hope and healing.

 “In fact, it is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain—and to lament instead. As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell” 

If turning to prophecy right now isn’t going to solve the pandemic and instead only serve to distance our Church from the community Wright points out that we should turn to God and allow the new possibilities of ministry, hope and serving our community to flow out of this crisis.

Where from here?

As yet another disaster passes us by and we hear the inevitable sermons and warnings thrown around from Matthew 24, Daniel 12 and Revelation 12-14 we have an opportunity to change the narrative on what it means to be ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Within Daniel 12 it is easy to be distracted by the cataclysmic cosmic battle highlighted throughout the entire of EGW’s Great Controversy. Rather it seems to be hard for Adventists and Christians to believe the simple idea that God wins in the end. Daniel 12:1 notes. God’s people will be delivered and all those that are written in the book of life will be delivered. Ellen White may have said it best in ‘The Great Controversy’

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Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

“It will be seen that he who is infinite in wisdom could decide no plan for our salvation except the sacrifice of His Son. The compensation for this sacrifice is the joy of peopling the earth with ransomed beings, holy, happy and immortal. The result of the Saviour’s conflict with the powers of darkness is joy to the redeemed, resounding to the glory of God throughout eternity. And such is the value of the soul that the father is satisfied with the price paid; and Christ Himself, beholding the fruits of His great sacrifice, is satisfied.” 

(The Great Controversy, Ellen G White. pg 652)

Within our current crisis we need to remember that the end is coming however it was never intended to be our primary focus. Our primary focus, our great commission is to show people who Jesus is, who and what the Gospel is as we continue our cosmic journey with the Godhead towards eternity. Conspiracies, fear and bible bashing aren’t methods that work in a 21st century world plagued by fear. Let’s lament, lets bring hope, lets allow a Spirit of peace to fill us in this time of anxiety, lets reset our eyes upon Him as we walk boldly towards a future where we know our High Priest is working for us just as we are working, standing in the gap for those around us that don’t know Christ.

Published by Andrew Pratt

I am a second year intern Pastor. Constantly learning more about where I fit in this world and just doing life with my amazing wife Michaela as best I can. Join me on this journey.

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