Christians in America have ZERO incentive to interpret the book of Revelation correctly.
Learned Bible scholars have presented compelling interpretations for years that provide biblically grounded and compelling explanations for its symbols and predictions. And guess what? They aren’t big fans of the rapture—a theological innovation of the 1800’s that rose to prominence because of marketing and chance rather than its accuracy.
Among today’s biblical scholars, there’s a strong consensus that the majority of the book of Revelation addressed events that concerned seven first-century churches in Asia Minor—you know, the seven churches the letter is ADDRESSED TO.
No worries, those liberals don’t REALLY care about understanding the Bible.
My goodness, Christians in America, especially the evangelicals, love to butcher the book of Revelation into sound-bite sized, attention-grabbing, uninformed nuggets of speculation that drizzle in just enough biblical study to make their speculations look biblically legitimate.
If you live in America and you want to understand what the book of Revelation is really about, good luck. There are five really good reasons why Americans love to get it wrong:
1. Revelation Is the Ultimate “You Could Die” News Story
News stations thrive on stories about normal, unthreatening, everyday items that turn out to be lethal.
What you don’t know about your tap water COULD KILL YOU. Tune in at 5 p.m. for the details.
This innocent looking toy could become a MURDER WEAPON in the wrong hands. The story at 11.
You get the idea.
So imagine how amazing it is that this relatively brief book at the end of the Bible—a bestselling book that is in most American homes—contains information about all of the ways that God is going to slaughter the world. Information about this world’s fiery demise is in your living room—right next to your children!
What you don’t know about the book of Revelation COULD KILL YOU.
The potential headlines are too juicy, too urgent, too frightening to resist.
We’re always going to have bunches of Christians combing through the terrifying images and visions of Revelation for the worst possible connection to today.
Let’s face it: The truth is boring if it’s good news. The “truth” is only interesting if things are worse than we expected. Who shares a headline on Facebook that says, “Less People Suffering This Year Than Ever Before.”
Come on, give me some drama to get enraged over! Besides, you can’t do anything with good news.
We’re all looking for headline gold like this: “Misery Expected to Sky Rocket Next Year.”
Oh my gosh! Did you just read that! That sounds terrible. Who can we blame? What should we do? Has someone written a book to help us cope? Is there a news broadcaster who can help make sense of it?
That is the fuel that powers modern media. Get used to it.
I even know of one Bible scholar who used data that he knew to be flawed in order to promote one of his books because the data presented a bleak picture. Of course, his book offered the solution to this fictional problem.
Revelation is especially useful for online link baiting where there are few if any consequences for fabricating sensationalist garbage. Want national media attention? Just compare the president to the Antichrist, toss in a Bible verse and watch your traffic spike.
Bad news sells, and interpreting Revelation incorrectly supplies us with a TON of it.