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Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Second Coming of Christ: Peaceful or Violent?

I was recently involved in an online discussion in the Christadelphians Worldwide Facebook group on the topic of the end-times conflict that will occur at the Second Coming of Christ.

This is a very unpopular topic in postmodern Western culture, so I wasn't surprised that some sharp disagreement arose. However, I was unprepared for the claim that when Christ returns he will win the nations over with the greatest outpouring of love the world has ever seen, rather than using force.

The person who made this point insisted that it would be a contradiction for the same Jesus who preached the virtues of love and peace to use violence to impose his rule on the nations.

This position is attractive to our sensibilities in the postmodern age, where the rights of the individual are paramount. Sinful humans are practically entitled to God's mercy, and God's sovereign right to judge his creatures is belittled if not rejected entirely.

 The problem with this view of Christ's return is that no scripture - including the words of Jesus - makes any such point when describing Christ's return. Jesus himself compared his coming to two past situations recounted in Genesis: the days of Noah and the days of Lot (Luke 17:26-30). In both cases, as Jesus described it, people were going about their business when judgment came from God and "destroyed them all." He concludes, "So will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed."

Short of rejecting Jesus' words there is no way to revise this historical message to bring it in line with postmodern values. Many other scriptures could be brought to bear on this matter, but the point is clear. Any view of Christ's return which ignores judgment and destruction is unscriptural. It is true that Christ's return will be a joyous occasion for those who are expecting it, and that it will be the first of a series of events leading to world peace. However, this does not change the fact that Christ will bring judgment and will crush resistance to his rule.

Judgment and destruction are compatible with the love of Jesus. For anyone who thinks otherwise, I recommend D.A. Carson's book, "The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God."

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