In certain Protestant circles (not all), especially among the Evangelicals there is a strong and often vivid preoccupation with signs of the Second Coming of Christ. Many of the notions that get expressed are either erroneous, or extreme. Some of these erroneous notions are rooted in a misunderstanding of the various Scriptural genres. Some are rooted in reading certain Scriptures in isolation from the wider context of the whole of Scripture. And some are rooted in reading one text, and disregarding other texts that balance it.
The Catholic approach to the end times (aka Eschatology) is perhaps less thrilling and provocative. It does not generate “Left Behind” movie series or cause people to sell their houses and gather on hillsides waiting for the announced end. It is more methodical and seeks to balance a lot of notions that often hold certain truths in tension.
I thought it perhaps a worthy goal to set forth certain principles of Eschatology from a Catholic point of view, since this topic often comes up in discussions with Evangelicals and others. Most of these insights are drawn straight from the Catechism and the Scriptures. What I offer here I do not propose to call a complete eschatology, only a sketch of basic principles rooted right in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
While we cannot know the exact time of his Coming, nevertheless there are things that both remind us and signal us as to his approach, if we have eyes to see them. These signs give indications only. The presence of such texts cannot be seen to over-rule that He will come “on a sudden” and that many will be caught unawares.
Here are some notes from Catechism (The Blue and Red texts are my own). I have made the Scripture quotes live by way of hyper text so you can click right over and read them.
1. “Soon + Sudden” – Since the Ascension Christ’s coming in glory has been imminent (Rev 22:20), even though “it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.”(Acts 1:7) This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are “delayed” (Mat 24:44; 1 Thes 5:2; 2 Thes 2:3-12). (CCC # 673).
Of all the points the Catechism makes, this one sets the tone of balance that must, most surely, be maintained. So, on the one hand Christ says, “I am coming soon” and that his coming could be both sudden and without warning.
Yet this truth must be held in tension with other truths that set forth certain things and signs that must be accomplished first. And these things are not easily or quickly accomplished. And this point is developed in point # 2.
2. Suspended – The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel” (Romans 11:20-26; Mat 23:39), for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” (Romans 11:20-26) toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. (Acts 3:19-21)” St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” (Rom 11:15) The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles” (Rom 11:12), will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all” (Eph 4:13; 1 Cor 15:27-28) (CCC # 674)
This going forth of the Gospel to all the nations and the acceptance of the Jews to Christ would seem to be matters that would take some time.
Has the Gospel really reached all the nations? Have the full number of Gentiles come in and are they serving God and repenting in sufficient numbers? Perhaps so, one may argue. And yet, on a planet of six billion, less than one third are Christian. And yet, there are very few places in the world where there is no Christian presence.
And what is meant by the “full number” of Gentiles? That number is hidden from us and surely is debated.
And has the “hardening” that has come upon the Israel been lifted? This too is debated and, despite certain movements of “Messianic Jews” it does not seem currently that the hardening that has come on Israel has been lifted in any wide sort of way or that he has been recognized by “all Israel.”
3. Suffering and Sedition– Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers (Luke 18:8; Mt 24:12). The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. (2 Thess 2:4-12; 1 Thess 5:2-3; 1 Jn 2:18-22) (CCC # 675)
Clearly, many of these troubles have afflicted the Church in every age. There has always been persecution. Many have fallen away, sometimes in large numbers, most into schism, some into unbelief. There have been times too where it can be argued that the love of many has grown cold.
And yet, clearly too, in the times in which we live, these are very severe problems and they have grown to envelope most of the planet. But God only knows when these signs will be present in a definitive rather than merely present prefiguratively.
(The problem of pseudo-messianism is developed more in the next point).
4. Secular Utopianism Rejected – The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism. (CCC # 676)
Yes, many in human history, but especially in modern times, have advanced the notion that a secular utopia could be ushered in by human effort, and by submitting oneself to a government or worldly power or charismatic figure to do so.
Many repressive regimes and movements (often typified by powerful or charismatic leaders) of the last Century claimed the power to usher in such a utopia. The sad legacy of the 20th Century shows how tragic, bloody and repressive such attempts have been.
The Church also rejects religious forms of this which hold that prior to the Second Coming of Christ a period of 1000 years is set aside in which Christ will reign on earth or in which the Church will somehow attain a total victory prior to Christ’s Second Coming. This will be developed more in the next point.
5. Second Coming follows a final unleashing of evil – The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. (Rev 19:1-9) The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. (Rev 13:1ff; Rev 20:7-9; Rev 21:2-4) God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world. (CCC # 677)
Hence, a final and intense unleashing is envisaged by Scripture and the Church. And this final and cosmic conflict will usher in the great triumph and the Last Judgment. This unleashing of the full power of the Devil in the very end is mysterious and difficult to understand but it is clearly set forth in Scripture, perhaps as a final test for the Church, perhaps as a definitive demonstration of the power of God.
Balance! Now please note that while we may wish to focus on one or two points above, each of the five points must be held in balance. In one sense all these signs have been present in the Church’s history, yet not in the definitive and final sense.
Thus, while these are signs that do in fact signal and accompany and usher in the last things, exactly when and how they come together in a definitive sense cannot be known by us. Were that the case, Christ’s clear word that he will come at an hour we do not expect (cf Mat 24:44) and that no one knows the day or hour (cf Matt 24:36) would be violated.
The key point is hold all five principles about in balance, and to accept the tension of knowing signs, but not the definitive time or fulfillment of them.
Most errors in eschatology proceed from a lack of balance and a failure to appreciate that the final age in which we live is steeped in mysteries and meanings known fully only by God. Time itself is mysterious, as are the deeper meanings of events and human history. The Lord, while giving us a framework that reminds of us his coming, and signals us in a merciful way to remember, has insisted that it is not for us to know the times or the seasons fixed by the Father, let alone the day and hour.
Humility, prayerful vigilance, readiness through obedience and the gift of holiness, along with an eager longing heart for the Kingdom in all its glory are our best posture.
Avoid doing lots of mathematical calculations here. The Catholic approach may not be the stuff of movies and bestsellers, but it is the balanced and trusting faith to which we are summoned.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen. (Rev 22:20-21)
Just for some fun and also for a creative reminder, here is a little video I put together over a year ago.
39 Replies to “When Will Christ Come? Some Basics of Catholic Eschatology”
Thank you, Monsignor for a wonderfully thoughtful piece. I also loved your video – great theme & music. I did similar videos a few years ago using 60s/70s “counterculture” music as a criticism of that “counterculture”. Here’s one of them:
Msgr. Great article as always. Perhaps you could write an article how the Rapture Crowd mis-interpret Scripture.
I would love to read your teaching on that. Christian (non-Catholic) friends are so caught up with the rapture, driver-less vehicles, etc and point to Scripture as authority.
Peace and blessings to you.
Dear Msgr. Pope:
Generally I find your articles and homilies fascinating, but in this one I am offended by the fact you said some of our “notions” are “erroneous” and “extreme.” Although I have always admired and respected the Catholic Church, thinking of it as a “mother” church, I could say that some of your notions are “erroneous” and “extreme.”
Sorry you seem to have taken personally what is said. But what is not clear is if you yourself mean to affirm all notions of eschatology. For example, what of people who hear “pastor” John say that the end of the world will be next Tuesday at 2pm, thus his followers should sell their stocks homes etc. Now this sort of stuff does happen. Do you you think this is erroneous or extreme? Further, why do you take my observation that there are some erroneous and extreme positions among the Protestants (even though I qualify, “not all”) as referring either to you or to all Protestants in general?
Why would people be selling their stocks and their homes? They can’t take their money with them. I’d say that anyone who believed such a prophecy is much more likely to quit their jobs so they can ‘live’ in a church somewhere begging Almighty God to take pity on them, have mercy, and forgive them. At least, that’s what I would do. Of course, your point is valid either way. People being mislead and quitting their jobs and then finding they are still living weeks later is just as bad as selling their property only to find the same thing.
Excellent article (I was very disappointed when I came to the end of it), and a very good video, too.
May God Bless us all.
For clarification, I was not saying that I was disappointed with the _article_, but rather that I was disappointed that it was coming to an end — because it was fascinating and enjoyable. Thanks.
God Bless. Bill Velek
The part which I like about the time references is the sealing of the when. Many people, including myself, can slip into a substandard state when the boss is away while planning to do a thorough cleanup and a re-establishment of efficiency before his scheduled arrival. Sometimes though, the boss arrives early and finds poor hygene, poor production, poor quality lots of stuff.
However, if we don’t know the time we are inspired to keep our standards up and experience the benefits of those higher standards.
The boss may not have his plan figured to perfection but God certainly has His done perfectly.
Excellent and helpful post, Father. For some reason I wonder what the effect would be if the images in the video were set to a hymn like Adoro te devote.
Great article. Should you have used a Catholic picture of Christ rather than a Mormon one?
While viewing the video, even before reading the comments, including yours, I thought I recognized that painting in real life; my wife had become upset because she thought is shouldn’t show what appears to be an angry Christ, but I viewed it, instead, as a very good depiction of what we might be facing on Judgment Day. Anyway, that picture is the painting on the back wall of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. — a Catholic Church. Why did you think it was Mormon? Maybe our church borrowed one of their paintings.
May God Bless us all.
Msgr., has the Vatican – or any official entity within the Church – ever tried to predict the date? I hope we have stayed well clear of that business.
I have never heard that any Vatican official ever made a prediction.
There are some loose ends here. One for example: what is the purpose of Christ’s return?
Also why is fleshly Israel going to be saved? (Rom ch. 11) Why not China? or Senegal? or the rest of the world for that matter? What would happen to them at Christ’s return?
Israel remains specially beloved of the Lord. Read Romans 11 for the full answer, but in short Paul’s answer is that the call of God is irrevocable. It need not be that literally every Jew comes to Christ. Your concerns about China et al. are answered also in Romans 11 wherein the Lord will not come until the full number of Gentiles comes in. Purpose is well stated in # 5: the full glory of the Kingdom is ushered in, Christ’s Judgement on this world is made and the power of evil is finally and fully cast down.
Thank you for the answers. Yet (forgive me) it does not answer fully, rather vaguely. Apostle Paul states that a certain number of the Gentiles is to be gathered, but also that after that he states that Israel will be saved. What I understand from my Bible studies (I am a protestant) is that the purpose for this is as follows:
The number of Gentiles that will be gathered from all nations constitues the Bride of Christ, His Church. We believe that these people are the future government of planet Earth. They will be taken from Earth and will receive spiritual nature the only humans to experience this change. The rest of the people, will remain on Earth and they will be judged by the Christ and Church/Bride for 1000 years. This time (future) was alloted for the mankind to be re-educated and brought back in harmony with God. The time for the Church/Bride is now.
This brings me to the next point which is the role of Israel in the future. Israel has a special place in this plan. They will be the connection between Heaven (God, Christ/Church) and the mankind on earth. The opportunity to be part of the Church class was presented to Israel first but they lost this opportunity and the Gentiles stepped in. Yet Israel still has the honour to be the bridge between God and His Christ and the world on Earth.
This is how we see it. Peace and Grace
Yes, the Catholic position expressed here is amillennial, we are not talking about a premillennial position here which in effect you argue for. As a Protestant you are free to hold these views if you wish, but as you can see, they do not comport with the Catholic view. And, by the way many Protestants would not hold your view either, but only some. For there are pre, mid and post tribulation Evangelicals who interact with pre and post millennial Evangelicals and who further intersect with rapture and non rapture proponents. Thus when you say “We believe” it is not clear to me whom you claim to represent. But as for this article, I am representing the Catholic view as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Father, an excellent piece of work.
Maybe you’d like to take a look at my translation into English of (to my mind) one of the best books ever written on this subject (by an Argentine Jesuit, published in the ’50s).
Here it is:
In your third point you take note of the quote from 2 Thessalonians; it is important to note that what is referred to in the passage seems to be atheism and practical atheism. This is really a new phenomena unlike other crises of the past. However, the text of Thessalonians does not seem to be referring to the Last Judgement (end of the world) because it speaks of the Lord overcoming evil “with the breath of his mouth” which would seem to refer to the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, Pope John XXIII asked for another Pentecost when he penned the prayer for the Second Vatican Council. There are numerous references to the work of the Holy Spirit in history, especially in Romans 8:18-23; likewise Revelation 20:3 seems to indicate some extraordinary intervention of God prior to the end of the world since verse 7 of the same chapter speaks of Satan being released again after a “first resurrection.” Getting back to Revelation 20:3, Our Lady of Fatima did promise that her Immaculate Heart would triumph and that a “period of peace” would be granted to the world. Just as the Jews failed to understand Christ from the prophets until it was all over, we will no doubt not understand exactly what God has in mind until it is over, but in the meantime, there is room for optimism. On several occasions, Pope Benedict XVI has stressed that what is called “private revelation” is actually part of the living tradition of the Church. In fact, just as I mentioned Fatima, there are other ecclesiastical writers who have delved quite deeply into these matters which are touched on here and clarify some of the puzzling aspects of Revelation 20.
At some point, I have read an article about that mysterious ‘1000 year reign with Christ’ that is mentioned in Revelations. The article implied that this had already occurred– the fall of the Roman Empire was the beginning of this period as the message of Christianity began to rapidly spread at this point. This took place around 476 AD ? And then around a thousand years later, this period came to an end – think Protestant Reformation and Enlightenment period. Yes, I know that sounds smug and arrogant, and it may not be true at all. But, then again……………? Would the Church reject this idea? Your point #5 didn’t quite clear up point #4 for me. Can you elaborate?
Hobbit mentions a putative past 1000 year reign. Another view I’ve seen is 800 CE (Charlemagne, the first “Holy Roman Emperor”) to about 1800 BCE, when Napoleon took the Imperial crown from the Pope’s hands- in Paris, not Rome- and crowned himself.
Charles Pope writes: “his coming could be both sudden and without warning … Yet this truth must be held in tension with other truths that set forth certain things and signs that must be accomplished first.”
Indeed. The scriptural signs are found in many places, and are worth reading in full and with notepad at hand.
Mt 24 & 25
2 Tim 3:1-5 [which begins, “Know also this, that in the LAST DAYS…”]
and scattered allusions in Romans, in Peter’s letters, and in Jude.
I have found some common misunderstandings of scripture which can be dangerous to a Christian; they’re here as well: “his coming could be sudden and without warning”
First, his “coming” WILL BE sudden. “And they knew not till the flood came and took them all away: so also shall the coming of the Son of man be … And the bridegroom tarrying, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom comes. Go forth to meet him.” (Mt 24 & 25) “Many will say to me IN THAT DAY: Lord, Lord, have not we … done many miracles in your name? And then will I profess unto them, [at that very time] I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” Mt 7
Second, his coming will not be “without warning” Since the days of Noah God has always sent prophets to warn of impending punitive actions: “And spared not the original world, but preserved Noe, the eighth person, the preacher of justice, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 2:5) Note, though, that these warnings were not IMMEDIATELY before the cataclysm; they were far enough in advance for meek ones to go into whatever refuge God provided in each case.
Third, the Greek word here translated “coming”- in all mss. I’m aware of- is parousia. This word can mean “coming”, but usually in the Bible means “presence”. Strong’s definitions at his G3952 is
2) the coming, arrival, advent
a) the future visible return from heaven of Jesus, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the kingdom of God”
So from his 2a we see that Strong too prefers “coming” at Mt 24:3. But compare how it was used by Paul, fluent in Greek and Hebrew:
“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only but much more now in my absence) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.” Php 2:12, Douay. When Paul was IN Philippi the congregation behaved well. (As the child does when Mommy is home.) The Philippians ‘obeyed even in my absence’. The same child may head straight for the cookie jar as soon as Mommy leaves on an errand! 🙂 )
Parousia is here (and elsewhere) directly contrasted with its antonym apousia; neither means “coming”.
‘Mommy’ has been away for a long time. Are we still doing our assigned chores, or are we gathering chairs that will give us access to the cookie jar? “But if that evil servant shall say in his heart: My lord is long a coming …” Mt 24:48
Yes. We need to be constantly prepared for our own end. Death and the particular judgement occurs every day.
Richard, I thought that was the purpose of Catholic prayers for the dead: if caught short by an unexpected death (I think the word is “unshriven”) then the living can at least shorten the dead one’s time in Purgatory. Can you clarify?
I am grateful for this balanced article. The required balance tips, for me in favor of our Lord’s instruction to keep our eyes, minds, and hearts in the present moment, which has troubles sufficient for the day. When trempted to wonder whether the current public villain is the antichrist, our Lord urges me to consider the lillies of the field…. The Catholic balanced teaching on end of the world matters echoes our Lord’s wisdom. Thanks, Father Pope!
I am a devote Catholic but I also have a pretty vivid imagination. So forgive me. But I have my own personal beliefs about the end times but they are born of my understanding (hopefully not misunderstanding) of my Catholic Faith. Forgive me if I do not give any precise bible verses. I recently just finished Pope Benedict XVI’s “Jesus of Nazareth part 2” so my take is just a creative spin on what I have read.
First of all, I think everything you said Msgr. affirms our Catholic faith and thank you for those points. And I do believe in the balance of those points but I think the highlights should be around the “number” of Gentiles and the return of Israel.
I think both Mark and Matthew have the accounts of Jesus’ return to Jerusalem in them. I forget the exact sequence but I think Jesus’ disciples first pass a fig tree and Jesus demands fruit from it but it bears no, therefore Jesus curses the fig tree.
My understanding is that the fig tree represents the Israelites. Then Jesus’ zeal for His Father’s House consumes Him and He goes on to condemns and cleanses the Second Temple which has lost its way and predicts its destruction.
Jesus and His Apostles then pass by the fig tree and one of them points out how the tree has withered away.
I forget what happens then but I think Jesus makes a seemingly arbitrary statement on how the fig tree will once again be restored and will finally give fruit back to Jesus.
Benedict mentions how various Church Fathers (sorry for not citing) seemingly excused themselves and fellow Christians from preaching to the Jews as they believed that ‘God had a special time for them’ which followed the final count of the gentiles. As if the Jews’ hardened hearts were part of God’s divine providence the whole time, especially for most of us from gentile backgrounds.
I think that is the key; now here is my baseless interpretation:
I believe the Holy Spirit closed the hearts of the Jews for a greater purpose which will come to fruition towards the end of earthly salvation history; the Jews were the Chosen People for a reason and they will now come to the full purpose of the Old Covenant.
When the anti-christ comes, he/she will try to deceive the world, but the veil over the Israelites’ hearts will be lifted by the Spirit and they will deny the Anti-Christ and will realize that Jesus Christ as the One True Messiah, the High Priest, rightful Davidic King and Son of the Living God. They will help to return the world back to God and His Holy Church and against the anti-christ, therefore fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy of the restored fig tree bearing fruit.
To me, God made a great sacrifice by using his Chosen People and closing their eyes to the Grace and Love of His Son.
By eyeballing humanity’s progress, I don’t see this happening for thousands of years as I think Israel would have to be restored to some worldly prominence which it has not yet achieved.
Again, its probably baseless, but its just a possible interpretation that I saw. Nothing that is in stone because only God knows the hour right?
Francis, it’s clear you’ve done some heavy thinking about this important topic, but I’m worried about a recurring idea: “I forget the exact sequence” “Forgive me if I do not give any precise bible verses” “I forget what happens then”.
All the ideas you refer to are in fact in the Bible- any translation- so they should be on your bookshelf. Please read them. Then many of your uncertainties will be dealt with BEFORE you begin to investigate ‘the hard stuff’.
I apologize, I just want to put down the importance of my idea. I don’t anyone taking seriously if that makes sense.
CCC: “1007 Death is the end of earthly life. Our lives are measured by time, in the course of which we change, grow old and, as with all living beings on earth, death seems like the normal end of life. That aspect of death lends urgency to our lives: remembering our mortality helps us realize that we have only a limited time in which to bring our lives to fulfillment:
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, . . . before the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
Since none of us know when our own earthly death will take place – – – – – be prepared to meet the Lord at all times.
Ask for forgiveness and forgive others. Pray daily. Go to Mass as often as possible and receive the Sacraments.
Jesus, I Trust In You and your Mercy.
Guessing the end time seems to be not trusting of the words of Jesus. So why try to figure it out? If our Souls are prepared, it won’t matter.
Mt 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” – Our Lord Jesus.
Good stuff, Maria thanks for contributing. I agree that seminary was a problem for me in this area. I think part of that was my heart, and part of that was an inherent deficiency in how we (i.e. The Church) trains pastors for ministry. And Head, Hand, Heart is an easy way to think about that but there is a social reality too we are socially embodied beings and our character is up to more than just what we do.
When you deal with apocalyptic writing, numbers are important for they have symbolic values. The well known one is 7 which is the number of perfection. 6, on the other hand, is lack of perfection, and thus the man of evil in the book of Revelation is 666. Thus, often a period when evil triumphs it 6 times 7 = 42 (a limited time). Thus, three and a half years is 42 months. This does not mean that evil will triumph for that time on the calendar. It means that evil will have a limited or imperfect time of triumph. Likewise, three is a sacred number since it is connected with the thrice holy Trinity. Thus we have cubed numbers for perfection. A thousand, for example, is 10 times 10 times 10. Thus, the thousand year reign of Christ after the defeat of evil in Rev. 20 should not be interpreted literally. 12, of course, is the number of the tribes of Israel and also the number of the Apostles. Some writers have delved deeply into these matters, but everyone who reads the Bible should be aware of these very basic symbolic uses of numbers
So, according to you, an ‘extreme’ view is different from an ‘erroneous’ view. I agree with you that it may be possible to hold an extreme view that is not erroneous. What I don’t understand is why God went to the trouble of sending so many prophets to warn of the coming of the great ‘fitna’ of the antichrist if our response ought to basically be to chalk the whole effort up to shrugging our shoulders at mysteries too great to be meant for us. It doesn’t make any sense why Jesus would even respond to disciples’ eschatological questions with any response more than, ‘don’t worry about that stuff,’ If your opinion is right. Revelation might just as well have contained a verse writ boldly in red: “Que Sera Sera,” and I just don’t see that.
Wasn’t the generation at Christ’s first advent judged for not realizing the hour of its visitation? If so, your teaching us to disregard the possibility of anything happening beyond vagary is unfair.
I’m not completely sure that it is honest for you, presumable a Protestant (of uncertain qualification) to enter a Catholic website in order to criticize a Catholic Msgr. regarding his theology (which you know unequivocally, beforehand, will not agree with your own) only to conclude with the salutation “respectfully.” I find your intent somewhat divisive and your “respect” dubious. There most certainty are numerous places on the internet wherein you may discuss your eschatology with others who would be in agreement with you, a site other than the Archdiocese of Washington.
Just to qualify my statement, I am by no means an ardent defender of Catholicism or it’s eschatology. I am in fact a seminarian at Liberty University (of Baptist affiliation). However, at the end of the day, I am simply a Christian who finds your attempt at debate here (of all places), about as appropriate as a Catholic priest walking into your church next Sunday in an attempt to argue against your theologies.
If my presumption is incorrect and you are in fact a Catholic, you may have a bigger issue to deal with than the simple misplaced pride and divisiveness that your post implies.
I find the study of eschatology very important. I think our view of eschatology shapes the roll of the christian church in the world and as an individual my life’s-work. As a protestant (with other misgivings of the Roman church) think it gets right the eschatological mission of the body of Christ.
If we are going to be removed from the earth in order for God to punish the earth then why would we ever work for justice, beauty, benevolence or mercy here and now? If all of this is going to go away then who cares? This view renders life meaningless.
However, if we view Jesus’ ministry as the inauguration of the reign and kingdom of God then we, as his ambassadors and citizen’s of this new kingdom, are to help bring his kingdom MORE (confirmation) of his reign. What we do matters, as St. Paul says because when we show mercy, love, justice, healing, etc will be renewed in the new heaven and new earth. The things that are contrary to the kingdom of God (greed, wars, sickness, famine, etc) will not be renewed. This is the basic eschatology espoused by people like NT Wright, kingdom theology of the Vineyard movement, etc. How does the Roman church align or contradict this eschatological view?
Eschatology – a very intersting but divisive subject. As can be seen from this article and the subsequent postings it definitely divides the catholic and the protestant. It also brings much division among the protestants. I am not of the catholic nor protestant religions. The church I represent and have the honor to be a part of pre-dates catholicism, was founded before the foundation of the world, blossomed throughout the Old Testament period and began to bring forth fruit on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts, and has been faithfully bearing fruit eversince. The Eschatology presented in this article and other catholic writings is more accurate than most of the protestant interpretations which are based on an erroneous theory called dispensationalism and the false teachings of Darby. A carefully balanced study of God’s Word, in entirety, reveals that Jesus returns for his bride after a great tribulation. The major error of the catholic writings is their effort to deal with the Nation of Israel. This is also what causes the multitudinous errors in protestant eschatology. The nation of Israel had their House left desolate. Only those who receive Jesus as the almighty God shall be saved.
The use of birth control by Catholics must be part of the ‘falling away, because the love for God has grown cold.’
This article deals with one issue of many in eschatology that I find the Catholic view is the one that has missed the mark. You see the events of Revelation did not happen in 70 AD. There was no two witnesses calling down fire from heaven and no plagues like those mentioned. Israel did not accept Nero as the messiah. If you look at Dan 2 it describes the 2nd coming of Jesus as the stone descending from heaven which crushes the image of the beast in its feet then the whole things crumbles and the kingdoms of man are done and this kingdom which came from heaven covers the earth and has no end. Jude spoke14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Zechariah describes this day perfectly in Ch 14 Behold, the day of the LORD is coming,
And your spoil will be divided in your midst.
2 For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem;
The city shall be taken,
The houses rifled,
And the women ravished.
Half of the city shall go into captivity,
But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3 Then the LORD will go forth
And fight against those nations,
As He fights in the day of battle.
4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,
Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
From east to west,
Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north
And half of it toward the south.
5 Then you shall flee through My mountain valley,
For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal.
Yes, you shall flee
As you fled from the earthquake
In the days of Uzziah king of Judah.
Thus the LORD my God will come,
And all the saints with You.fn
6 It shall come to pass in that day
That there will be no light;
The lights will diminish.
7 It shall be one day
Which is known to the LORD—
Neither day nor night.
But at evening time it shall happen
That it will be light.
8 And in that day it shall be
That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem,
Half of them toward the eastern sea
And half of them toward the western sea;
In both summer and winter it shall occur.
9 And the LORD shall be King over all the earth.
In that day it shall be—
“The LORD is one,”
And His name one.
NOTE; The day the Lord and the word is JWHA for Him coming and His feet standing on the MT of Olives and then Israel says that the Lord is one God, This is not the old quote they have always used but them declaring Jesus and the Father are one. It is Jesus who stands there and saves Israel coming with His saints. But Zech is certainly not done as he speaks of conditions of the nations that start from then on.
10 All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. Jerusalemfn shall be raised up and inhabited in her place from Benjamin’s Gate to the place of the First Gate and the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses.
11 The people shall dwell in it;
And no longer shall there be utter destruction,
But Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
12 And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem:
Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet,
Their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets,
And their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths.
13 It shall come to pass in that day
That a great panic from the LORD will be among them.
Everyone will seize the hand of his neighbor,
And raise his hand against his neighbor’s hand;
14 Judah also will fight at Jerusalem.
And the wealth of all the surrounding nations
Shall be gathered together:
Gold, silver, and apparel in great abundance.
15 Such also shall be the plague
On the horse and the mule,
On the camel and the donkey,
And on all the cattle that will be in those camps.
So shall this plague be.
16 And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain. 18 If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
20 In that day “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the LORD’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. 21 Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the LORD of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them. In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.
Here we see that the day of the Lord coming the enemies are to be melted and the geography of the land changed with a river flowing years round but then note the end where all the nations are required to keep the feast of tabernacles lest they get no rain, Egypt is singled out for this too.
The Catholic church teaches the events of Revelation happened in 70AD and that there is no millennium. Here in Zech we clearly see the day Daniel is talking about where the kingdoms of man are destroyed and this kingdom taking over the earth. Rev says that Satan is bound for 1000 years and also the multitude in heaven sing that they shall rule with Him upon the earth. There is a rule of Jesus on this earth to come. All the events of 70 AD including the temple and the return of the sacrifice are setting up. This is about 1% of the biblical support for these ideas and they are not read into the text but taken for what they say. These days are near!
Your Analysis is flawed because you say the church rejects the millennium. The General consensus among scholars in the Catholic Church is amillenial not pre-or post. Thus, the rest of your analysis is irrelevant, given your flawed premise
Catholics know that the bestselling “Left Behind” books and movies have grossly perverted Catholicism’s biblical “rapture” doctrine – the only “rapture” view before 1830.
The 2000-year-old Catholic “rapture” occurs AFTER the final “tribulation” (post-tribulation) while the 185-year-old evangelical Protestant “rapture” supposedly occurs BEFORE it (pre-tribulation) and is said to be “imminent.”
All Catholics should read journalist Dave MacPherson’s “The Rapture Plot” (available by calling 800.643.4645) – the most accurate documentation on the history of the pretrib rapture which began in British cultic circles in 1830. By twisting Scripture, this new doctrine gave folks the (false) hope of being evacuated from earth before the chaos found in the book of Revelation.
“The Rapture Plot” reveals, for the first time, how a Plymouth Brethren historian, after John Darby’s death, secretly and dishonestly changed the earliest “rapture” writings of the Irvingites (the first group publicly teaching a pretrib rapture) so that he could wrongfully credit P.B. leader Darby with “dispensationalism” as well as with that rapture view! (Some still view Darby as the “father of dispensationalism” even though MacPherson’s book amply proves that Darby wasn’t first or original with any crucial aspect of that system but subtly plagiarized others!)
The leading pretrib rapture merchandisers (Scofield, Lindsey, LaHaye etc.) are openly anti-Catholic and believe that the Antichrist during the coming tribulation will be headquartered in Rome (and you can guess where!).
For more shocks Google “Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture,” “The Real Manuel Lacunza,” “Pseudo-Ephraem Taught Pretrib – NOT!,” “John Darby Did NOT Invent the Rapture,” “Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart” (she originated the pretrib rapture!), “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Evangelicals Use Occult Deception,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.”
1.Although the times are cloaked from our eyes, there may be a time when pieces begin coming together and our eyes begin to “see.” For example, St. John’s words in Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near” also has been summarized as when one reads it with understanding the time is near.
So there are signposts, as you have stated in your post, that taken individually can cause responses that are in error. Therefore, we agree that these things must be seen in balance. Another example, what may come “soon” and also “as a thief in the night” is an event that ushers another step of prophecy. Consider the statement of St. Patrick- “The ocean shall inundate Ireland seven years before the End so that the devil may not rule over that people.” that could be seen as a fulfillment of Revelation 8:8-9. This event will be seen by all and no one with faith will be able to deny its meaning, Rev.8.13. What we are waiting for, then, is for the sealing of those mentioned in chapter 7 and these accepting that “Passover” the Church mentioned in the Catechism.
2. In your second point called “suspended” you mention Rom.11.12 where St. Paul states Jews will remain blinded until “the full number of the Gentiles” come in. In response to this you wrote:
Have the full number of Gentiles come in and are they serving God and repenting in sufficient numbers? And what is meant by the “full number” of Gentiles? That number is hidden from us and surely is debated.
Perhaps it’s not the number that is hidden but the meaning of the term “full number of the Gentiles” or in Hebrew, “M’loo Ha Goyim.” Paul seemed to know the meaning due to his Jewish understanding when their parsha (Torah reading) Vayechi (Gen.47.28 – 50.26) was read. In this passage we read Jacob placed his right hand on Joseph’s youngest son’s (E’phrayim) head, not the elder son’s (Manas’sah) saying:
“I know my son, (Joseph), I know and he (Manas’sah) too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother (E’phrayim) will be greater than he, and his descendants will become the fullness of the Gentiles.” Gen.48.19
It would seem this is the reason Paul wrote: “Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand a mystery, brethren…” Goyim, or Gentiles, believing in G-d will no more change Judah’s belief in a Christianize Messiah now as back in the third century when our faith was declared legal and took off like wildfire. Rather, it would be due to the return of their lost brothers (E’phrayim/ Northern Kingdom/ Israel) through Christ’s Church.
5. “The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover” matches another Jewish prophecy of E’phrayim:
“The world-fathers (patriarchs) will one day in the month of Nisan arise and say to (the Messiah): ‘Ephraim, our righteous Anointed, although we are your grandparents, yet you are greater than we, for you have borne the sins of our children, as it says: ‘But surely he has borne our sicknesses and carried our pains; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him and through his wounds we are healed’ (Isa.53.4-5).” (Pesiqta Rabbati (ca.845) on Is.61,0)
The passage in Isaiah 53 contains both singular and plural words when read in the original Hebrew. Christ fulfilled His part but it appears that a plural body will one day take up their literal crosses and join Him fully in His Passover. This body is E’phrayim, Hebrew Christians. And if these died to save Judah, well, that would be recognizable.
With God Blessings,
C & C
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