We live at an age of religious confluence and confusion.
Confluence, because the streams of many religions have come together. Whereas we (in America at least) formerly saw churches and a few synagogues, we now see Islamic mosques, Buddhist and Hindu temples, Sikh gurdwaras and more. Our knowledge of other religions was developed in the 19th century, but it has become a lived reality today.
And, like at the confluence of two or more rivers, there are currents pushing several ways. How are we to understand all of this, and make sense out of all the confusion? And, looking at the Bible, what might we expect?
We have already discarded, in discussion #4. the mistranslated notion that mankind has reached “the end of the world”. We are looking for the fulfillment of Christ’s promises but, following the example of the Wise Men of the East (#1) we are not holding onto fixed, pre-conceived ideas. In particular, we are not clinging to the sort of meta-miraculous ideas of a Messiah which misled the Jewish people 2000 years ago–those who were hoping for someone who would descend from the sky to kill all of the evil- doers as noted in discussion #3.
So, what might we expect instead?
Let us look at some Biblical clues:
First of all, He warned us that there would be some truths that could be difficult to bear. But, returning as the “spirit of truth” He would, in the future, guide us to all truth (John 16:12-13) including those things which were too difficult for the Jesus’ disciples to understand. So we must be open to new ideas rather than clinging tightly to old ones.
He told us that His return would happen after His gospel had been taken to all nations (Matt 24:14). In other words, it would happen when our means of transportation had advanced sufficiently that we could reach all nations and carry Christ’s message there. This task was completed in the early half of the 1800s. That’s why so many people started to expect the return of Christ in the early 1800s.
He knew that, when the age came in which His Christian followers were routinely encountering other belief systems in other parts of the world, a new infusion of Divine knowledge and wisdom would be needed at that time, in order to resolve the religious conflicts that would inevitably ensue from the confluence and mixing of the peoples of many religious backgrounds.
He warned us that everyone is going to need to make some changes. He spoke of the other folds of sheep He had, and how He would gather together all of the folds into one fold (John 10:15-16). This gathering implies that each of the different folds will need to move somewhat i.e. that some changes will be needed in each group, in order that they will be able to gather together in a common center.
Two millennia ago, Jesus brought a message that was difficult for the Jewish people to accept because it reached out to a wider world, beyond the confines of the Jews as “the chosen people”.
Might we not expect that His new teachings would again reach out even further, beyond the Christian world?
Having these understandings, you will be well-equipped to join Zach and James on their journey, in search of the Promised One in the Latter Days.
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