Second Coming of Jesus Christ

The New Testament is literally riddled with references to Christ’s coming again. The matter is mentioned in over three hundred places. Obviously it was a basic to early Christian doctrine.

It is neither basic to my denomination’s tradition. And, I must admit, a sermon by yours truly on the Second Coming (Parousia) rarely enters my repertoire. Why is it then that in the mainline churches one seldom hears the subject mentioned? Sects, the cults, conservative groups almost never stop mentioning it. They hammer on it night and day; they make films concerning it; they write books about it–many of which are best sellers. They preach about it incessantly. But the rest of us stay away from it. While so much of the Christian world argues about being premellinialism verses post-mellinialism we are standing around yawning. We treat the Second Coming as though it were only for the religious fanatics who knock on doors. What bothers us about the Second Coming of Christ?

It bothers us because it seems so weird. The Parousia cannot be quantified, commercialized, explained or predicted.

Kurt Vonnegut, jr.–not exactly a paradigm of the faith I know!!!–says that his fiction is so accurate that it is non-fiction. In a way he is right. The truth can be so bizarre, so true, that it becomes threatening and seems like it is untrue. I think that is why many of my colleagues–in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.–and my congregation find eschatological talk to be on one hand irrelevant and, on the other, sensationalistic.

We are in good company. The doctrine of the Second Coming has proved to be embarrassing and troublesome to various groups of Christians throughout history. Take the Apostle Paul, for in-stance. Many of the Christians in Thessalonica believed that Christ was going to come and wrap everything up any time now, so they quit their jobs and were just sitting around waiting for the day. Paul had to write to them: “We hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.” (2 Thes. 3:11). “If anyone will not work, let him not eat (2 Thes. 3:10). Paul was sure himself, though, that Christ would come back soon. He told the unmarried Corinthian Christians to remain that way. No use getting married if the end was near!

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