Apocalypse Now? - Part 3

"It's very tempting for us to take the book of revelation, and frame it into the context of what's happening in the Middle East today." Father Jerry Riney ministers to the parish at "Holy Spirit Catholic Church." He’s been there the past nine years, after studying at the Vatican College in Rome four years.

He says the Apostle John wrote "Revelation" for the people of that time in the Bible. "They had no power, they had no influence, they had no prestige at the time. And Caesar was the emperor, so they either had to pledge allegiance to Caesar or god."

Doctor Joseph Trafton teaches religious studies at Western Kentucky University. "I was raised in a church and the Bible never meant anything to me. I read it, I didn't understand it, till I was introduced to this perspective. I then began to use it. The Bible came alive. I changed from wanting to be an oceanographer, to being a New Testament professor. And I am a Christian, absolutely, but this just made everything come alive to me."

He agrees with Father Riney. "The book is directed to the 7 churches in Asia. I think we need to take it for what it says it is. I think there are things in there about the end, but in the sense of the final judgment, not great tribulation and all those kinds of things. And this book was a book of encouragement, written very poetically with signs and symbols, to give people hope, to give Christians of that day hope, in a time when there didn't seem to be much hope."

So Father Riney believes "Revelation" is not prophetic, but a book of encouragement to keep the faith. "Even though everything else seems to be falling apart, you be faithful to what you have been taught. Be faithful to the lord because in the end, there's something greater here, and the reward will be eternal life."

And although dr. Trafton doesn’t believe "revelation" predicts the future, he does believe there are prophecies in the Bible. "There are prophecies about the second coming. Jesus is coming back. There's going to be a resurrection from the dead. There's going to be a final judgment, and all of that. But I don't see that there are specific events that we'll be able to clearly designate as happening first."

So, as we've seen, different scholars have different ways of interpreting the prophecies in the Bible. All of the scholars we spoke to, had one piece of advice for the Christian community. They said Christians should be ready, and remember the 42nd verse of the 25th chapter of Matthew: "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your lord doth come."

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