My wife is afraid of heights. She didn’t like flying out west, and she didn’t want to peer down into the Grand Canyon. I wonder how she would feel at the end of time, “caught up together with the saints in the air to meet the Lord.” I know she’d prefer that this reunion happen down here on solid, flat ground.
Mark Allan Powell has suggested that biblical critics have ruined the apocalyptic by fixing it in a context of long ago and thus “depriving everyday Christians of the heartfelt expectation of their Lord’s return.” I feel the opposite: it’s because the biblical scenarios speak to a situation long ago that they provide bearings for my life now. As Christopher Lasch says, “Children need to learn about faraway times and places so they can make sense of their own surroundings.”
James C. Howell is senior minister of Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and author of What Does the Lord Require? Doing Justice, Loving Kindness, Walking Humbly (Westminster John Knox).