I have just finished a course on the book of Revelation and its Interpreters. Here is the outline of my final class lecture, “The Message of Revelation” (in 7 points, naturellement):
1. God the creator reigns! Jesus the redeemer, the slaughtered Lamb, is Lord! The reign of God is not merely future or past but present. God in Christ both demands all and offers all.
2. Evil is real. Empire is now—not merely future or past but present. Empire, by nature, makes seductive blasphemous and immoral claims and engages in corollary practices that bring disorder to both vertical (people-God) and horizontal (people-people) human relations, promising life but delivering death—both physical and spiritual.
3. The Christian church is easily seduced by Empire’s idolatry and immorality because these claims and practices are often invested with religious meaning and authority.
4. In the midst of Empire, the church is called to resistance as the inevitable corollary of faithfulness to God, a call that requires prophetic spiritual discernment and may result in various kinds of suffering.
5. The spiritual discernment required of the church, in turn, requires an alternative vision of God and of reality that unveils and challenges Empire, a vision in need of the Spirit’s wisdom to see and apply.
6. Christian resistance to Empire conforms to the pattern of Jesus Christ and of his apostles and saints: faithful, true, courageous, just, and nonviolent. It is not passive but active, consisting of the formation of communities and individuals who pledge allegiance to God alone, who live in nonviolent love toward friends and enemies alike, who leave vengeance to God, and who, by God’s Spirit, create mini-cultures of life as alternatives to Empire’s culture of death.
7. God the creator and Christ the redeemer take evil and injustice seriously and are about both to judge humanity and to renew the cosmos. The will of God is for all to follow the Lamb and participate in the life of God-with-us forever.