Are these the End Times?

 

Father Dwight Longenecker tackles the question of whether we are living in the end times:

 

The Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, Kaulbach 1846

The Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, Kaulbach 1846

In the fundamentalist Bible church I attended as a child we would regularly have long sermons about the “end times”. These were based on an interpretative system of the Bible called “Dispensationalism”.

The roots of this theology were the idea that history could be broken down into various “dispensations” or time periods and that God behaved differently and different things happened to the human race in these different dispensations. Part of this teaching was that the “rapture” would take place in which all the Christian people would be supernaturally whisked up into heaven and the sinners would remain behind. Thus the “Left Behind” series of books and films.

From a Catholic point of view dispensationalism is bogus, shallow and just a later modern man made theology.

Nevertheless, we do believe in an end-point in human history and it is interesting to read of Pope St John Paul II’s take on this. Fr CJ McCloskey comments on it in this article for The Catholic Thing. In 1976 on a visit to the US, then Cardinal Karol Wotyła made these observations in a speech:

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.
We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it. . . How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time.”
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13 Responses to Are these the End Times?

  1. Toadspittle says:

    …Serve us right if they are.

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  2. Roger says:

    The question is answered by the Church’s own History. The purpose of Our Lord’s Passion was Original Sin. To enable Man to regain what had been lost. The Church isn’t static its dynamic and moving forward towards the restoration of what was lost. The early Church and the Apostles understood this. Then comes the Great Marian Dogmas Immaculate Conception, Assumption the Holy Ghost revealing the Glories of Our Lady AND thus magnifying Our Lord.
    The seesaw between Love and Hatred. Spiritual and material is being played out before our eyes.
    But what makes the End Times so definative? Well the return of the Jews as a Nation. The Apostacy of the West and Divorce, Abortion and the reality of the flesh pots of Egypt, Sodom and Gomorrah.

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  3. johnhenrycn says:

    I’m no philosopher, but my two cents worth is this: There’s no such thing as “time” – except in a material world and as a human way of coming to grips with the concept of physical movement – because everything that has, and will happen, co-exist eternally. I avidly read The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey, one of the very popular evangelical pundits of the ’60s who wrote that eponymous best seller about Armageddon; but thinking back, it was all such foolishness dressed up as exegesis. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, etc., etc.

    Jesus asks us : Can ye not discern the signs of the times? I think Our Lord was speaking rhetorically, because clearly we never have; although, as a race, we continue trying to do discern the signs of the times, just as this particular thread proves. I wonder if there might be some reluctance on the part of the commentariat on this blog to endorse my submission (not a belief exactly) that time is an artificial thing and that the “End Times” have already taken place and that everyone who has died knows this. Calvinistic is slur that some might wish to hurl at me when I say that planning for the End Times is a waste of time. Fr Longenecker says : “[W]e do believe in an end-point in human history…” and I won’t quarrel with that. My point is that it has already taken place.

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  4. Toadspittle says:

    “There’s no such thing as “time” – except in a material world and as a human way of coming to grips with the concept of physical movement…”

    True, and very deep, JH – but by that token, there’s no such thing as anything abstract – except, paradoxically, within a material world, which is where we happen to find ourselves.
    Time is, as you say, the measurement of evolution – and outside this world there are no such things as numbers, or geometry, or music* – unless we export them there, of course.
    “But thought’s the slave of life, and life time’s fool;
    And time, that takes survey of all the world, must have a stop.”
    – Henry lV.
    (End bit pinched by Huxley.)

    Anyway, why do you disclaim being a philosopher? Not a bad aspiration, surely?

    *(I must add, “as far as we know” at this point.)

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  5. kathleen says:

    I haven’t got the exact quote with me at the moment, but Our Lady of Fatima talks about the “end times” and it is quite clear that this is not a reference to the end of the world, only the end of an epoca… whatever that might actually mean. She says that her Immaculate Heart will triumph in the end, and that should alleviate our fears for the future, while we continue “to fight the good fight” for Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Church in whatever vocation we might have chosen in life.

    Once, when St. Dominic Savio (a boy saint) was playing with his friends in the school playground, someone asked him what he would do if he were told that he would die in the next few minutes. Without even having to ponder the question Dominic replied that this was recreation time, and he would carry on playing with his friends, because that was where the Lord wanted him at that moment!
    In other words, he was obediently fulfilling his daily duty. His whole life was orientated towards loving God and avoiding everything that might be displeasing to Him, so if death were to overcome him now, he knew he need have no fear. There is a great lesson for us all there.

    If the end times are coming there is not much we are going to be able to do about it, except take Fr. Longnecker’s advice at the bottom of his article:
    “Don’t compromise now and you won’t compromise then. Stay faithful now in all the little things so you will one day be faithful in a great thing. Stay loyal, true, bold. Stay honest and informed, sympathetic and alert. Live the life of faith now with joy, zeal, courage and love.”

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  6. mkenny114 says:

    John Henry,

    That there is no such thing as time in the absolute sense (or rather, if I read you rightly, that it is simply our experience of being contingent beings without necessary existence) does indeed imply that the concept of the ‘End Times’ has to be put in a wider context. However, if we take this to its logical conclusion, then all of creation is in the same position, leading to a case where creation itself is under the same shadow – the beginning of all things is also the end of all things.

    If you mean more specifically that the coming of Christ announced and inaugurated the End Times and we are all living in the wake of that (c.f.; John 3:19) then this is indeed true – each age lives under that particular judgement, and so when each one of us dies we face that reality we were already living in, but yet only realised it imperfectly.

    My point I guess, is that just because Time is perhaps just a means we have for charting progression and not something with real existence, this does not necessarily mean that our experience of it (and the events that take place during it) have equal (or even no) significance. The Incarnation, etc, though in the mind of God eternally (and so outside of Time) did actually take place within Time, and so at least in this sense, the acts of God incarnate commit Him to the temporal process, even if it is a process that is contingent and slightly unreal. If we believe the events of the life of Christ were always in the mind of God, then Time itself also has a place in His mind too, so the temporal process, whilst lacking ultimate reality, is consecrated and worth taking seriously.

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  7. johnhenrycn says:

    Intriguing responses from all the above interlocutors, Roger and me included 😉

    Paradoxes of time, or otherwise, are endless fun. If I was more of a metaphysician, or even a mathematician, I might start my own blog: The Möbius Strip Club might be a good name.
    ____
    Thanks for not mentioning my misuse of eponymous.

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  8. johnhenrycn says:

    I did put a winky face at the end of my first sentence.

    It must be in moderation 😉

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  9. johnhenrycn says:

    oops, there it is. Good night. Pace Solomon (or Eccles) I have no more “time to kill”. I’ve always suspected Eccles borrowed his name from Ecclesiastes.

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  10. johnhenrycn says:

    But speaking of time, I ran into a guy today who fired me 33 years ago. Hadn’t see him for about 30 years. He hadn’t changed much. I was able to recognize him after a few seconds. We had a short talk about old colleagues: who’d died, who’d divorced, who’d divorced and then died. Then we went our separate ways again. For the next 30 years I guess.

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  11. Brother Burrito says:

    JH,

    I remember treating a very ill professor of philosophy on intensive care, and making him rapidly better. When I first met him, on an ordinary ward, and in extremis, his mood was sharp, hostile and sarcastic, to say the least. This is what adrenaline does to one.

    By the next morning, he was out of danger and feeling really very well. He asked me what sort of doctor I was. I explained that anaesthetists are neither physicians or surgeons, but we are kinda “meta-physicians”

    He laughed-out-loud. I made his day!

    PS: Toad’s ban has just been lifted

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  12. Brother Burrito says:

    JH,

    I was having exactly the same thought myself. Time is an illusion which the Saints do not suffer from.

    History, as the mere record of appearances and power-play that it is, ceased to be of importance with the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord, which is re-presented every second of every day unto all corners of the Earth.

    We have been in the “end times” since Our Lord’s Ascension.

    To be a Catholic is to be a timelord. Holy Communion connects us with every Mass by every Graced soul who has ever lived and with the Heavenly Host. I wonder how many of us see the Mass like that?

    Our missionary work is to spread this knowledge to everyone we meet. The more people who realise that abuse-history and power-history is over, the fewer power-plays and atrocities there will be.

    “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth”.

    (This Beatitude used to be the basis of western civilization. It still should be ).

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  13. johnhenrycn says:

    BB at 22:06 – that’s so reminiscent of an early episode on Ballykissangel, in which an irascible retired judge dying in hospital forms a bond with Father Peter Clifford and bequeaths him an antique Javelin Jowett automobile. Can’t find a You Tube link, but our beloved GC will, if it exists.

    As for your 22:29 comment, I need more time to consider something as weighty as that.

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