Theology on Tap: On Tap this Week (05.11.11) - "What about the End of the World?"

OK Theology on Tappers, we are back to our current Theology on Tap discussion series on the contents (chapter by chapter) of Christopher Wrights, "The God I Don't Understand."  I encourage you to pick one up for yourself.  It's a great read and will definitely help you grapple with questions of the faith - not only for your own peace of mind, but also to better equip you to be ready to give "the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15).

the end of the worldThis week we're discussing the contents of Chapter 9 – “Cranks and Controversies.”  Here's the summary:

Speculation over the ‘end times’ is nothing new. Throughout the whole of church history there have been those who predicted the return of Christ in their generation. Today, however, such speculation has become something
of an industry. We need to be cautious as we hear and read these theories, and we must make sure we always test them against a careful study of Scripture. This is especially true for theories that center around complex or dogmatic understandings of three particular areas: the millennium, the rapture, and the land of Israel. We must make sure that it’s the Bible and not popular opinion that shapes our beliefs in these areas.

Quotes and Discussion Questions:
”In spite of Jesus’ warning that we would not know the day or the hour of his return (since even he did not), and in spite of telling us that our prime task is simply to be ready for it by getting on with faithfully doing what he has told us to do, people still insist of defying Jesus’ warnings.” ~ Wright, p.160

#1.  Read Matthew 24:29-51
• In vv. 36–44, what does Jesus say his return will be like? What does he compare it to? 
• How does this passage warn us against speculating about ‘the day or the hour’ of Jesus’ return?
• How should we be living in the here and now as we wait for Jesus’ return?
• What impact might too much speculation have on daily Christian living?
• What do you think is dangerous or unhealthy about getting too wrapped up in ‘end-time’ theories?

“We need to ask whether our beliefs in these matters are shaped by the recent popular ‘folk Christianity’ in our surrounding culture, or by thoughtful understanding of the Bible for ourselves.” ~ Wright, p.168

#2.  Read  1 Thessalonians 5:1–11
• What does Paul say about the ‘day of the Lord’ in these verses?
• What should we be doing since we know that the Lord is coming back?
• How do these verses warn us against unhealthy speculation about the exact time of the Lord’s return? 
• What do you think is the line between honest study and reflection about the ‘end times’ and unhealthy speculation? What might be signs that our speculation has crossed the line?

#3.  How can you help others in your church community to sort through the mass of ‘end-time’ teaching that’s out there? How can you make sure that your beliefs are being shaped by the Bible rather than by popular opinion?

#4. What is reassuring about the fact that the last days have already begun in Jesus’ earthly ministry? How should this impact your everyday Christian life?

Also, check out this video by Christopher Wright to help you better understand this week's topic:

The God I Don't Understand - Video #9 for Theology on Tap (05.11.11) - "What About the End of the World?"

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