I was reading the other day a new survey of pastors. The results suggested that the overwhelming majority of pastors who answered the survey did not hold the same beliefs or interpretation of the book of Revelation as their churches do. They also did not preach or teach their understanding to the local church of which they were a part.
Revelation is the last book in the New Testament and it’s been the source of scary movies, church splits, best-selling fiction and non-fiction books as well as the stuff of nightmares. Maybe “source” isn’t the right word, more like the subject matter. It’s a graphic book full of violent images, fantastic descriptions and words of warning as well as comfort. The prevalent take on the book within many evangelical churches is the one that’s only been around for the last few decades and made popular most recently by the Jenkins/LaHaye novels, “Left Behind”.
Most pastors on the survey don’t believe the Jenkins/Lahaye/Lindsey version of Revelation. Most Bible scholars utterly reject the interpretation as well. The book of Revelation has great significance and meaning, but not as a countdown to Armageddon or as scary bedtime stories for little Christians. There are some big questions the survey didn’t answer but I’d love to ask.
Why are pastors preaching & teaching an interpretation of Revelation that they don’t agree with? Why don’t pastors feel free to preach and teach their best understanding of Revelation? What other things do pastors believe differently than the church they serve and what happens when/if the church ever finds out?
Why, in a community that is supposed to be about truth, do we find honesty so hard to find?
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