Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay


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Can A Pre-Christian Version of the Book of Revelation Be Recovered? - Biblical Archaeology Society

And here is the practical and critical point to grasp: the set of glasses we wear, our frame of reference, our perception of reality, determines the dimensions of our world and the quality of our lives. The question then becomes: is my perception of reality accurate? Does my frame of reference square with the way things really are? Revelation 5 — 9 describes what happens when society wears one set of glasses. This leads to the discovery of a new set of glasses in chapter 10, and Revelation 11 — 20 describes the process by which God helps society to view existence through this new set of glasses.

A discussion of glasses is never straightforward. As far as I can tell, there is no way to avoid this problem, because to examine something means to put on a set of glasses.

Thus, if one wishes to discuss Discipleship on the Edge adequately, one must also examine the set of glasses that I am wearing as well as the set of glasses that Johnson is wearing. I will begin by describing how my set of glasses have affected my understanding of Revelation. This description will take a few paragraphs, but it is essential for understanding the tone and focus of this essay.

I have been studying the mind for several decades. Studying the mind is different than other forms of research because the object of research is the same as the subject doing the research. Stated simply, the mind is studying itself. I have learned that if one wishes to gain an accurate understanding of the mind, then one must continually apply what one learns.

I am not stating this as a throwaway remark but rather as a deep principle. That is because I keep seeing researchers getting sidetracked into dead-end paths because they do not apply the knowledge that they have, and I do not want that to describe me. As I continued to follow this path of research combined with application, my understanding of the mind grew, but that was not the only result.

I also realized that I was acquiring a new set of glasses that was causing me to view life from a new perspective, and that most other individuals did not share my set of glasses. Being raised as a conservative Mennonite, I was taught as a child that Christians view the world through a different set of glasses than non-Christians, but I was now discovering that my research on the mind was causing me to view the world through a different set of glasses than the glasses worn by most Christians.

Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay

This forced me to ask fundamental questions regarding the nature of Christianity. I gradually realized that what I had discovered through my research on the mind was actually consistent in detail with the content of the Bible, as well as with core Christian doctrine. This is described in the book Natural Cognitive Theology.

Saying this simply, Christianity describes the path by which one reaches mental wholeness.


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If Christianity describes the path to mental wholeness, then what does prophecy describe? Until recently I have regarded the book of Revelation as a mysterious book of hidden symbology. But three months ago I took a fresh look at Revelation 13 and discovered to my surprise that the text made sense. I kept reading through Revelation and found that the text kept making sense. Revelation 13 — 22 appears to be describing the path toward mental wholeness that I am attempting to follow, and it resonates especially with what I have experienced trying to follow this path in the midst of a society that is wearing a different set of glasses.

When one is evaluating glasses, then one cannot use the normal rules of rational thought, because rational reasoning is always done from the perspective of the glasses that one is currently wearing. Thomas Kuhn pointed out this problem in his groundbreaking book on paradigm shifts. But one can still use guidelines such as clarity and universality.

A good set of glasses makes it possible to see everything clearly, while a poor set of glasses results in limited vision and fuzzy images. When I viewed the second half of the book of Revelation through the glasses of the theory of mental symmetry, the biblical text made sense as a single connected sequence in which each step lays the foundation for the next step, and the details of the text also fell naturally into place.

This implied that I was now viewing the text through a good set of glasses. Technically speaking, a paradigm is slightly different than a set of glasses. A paradigm is the general theory that one adopts in Teacher thought, while a set of glasses is the worldview in Mercy thought that results from adopting this theory.


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  • After finishing the second half of the book, I turned to the first half, expecting it to make sense as well. It did not. After struggling with the text, it dawned on me that Revelation 5 — 9 describes the sequence that is followed by a society wearing a different set of glasses, not the glasses that I had painfully acquired through studying the mind, but rather the glasses worn by the average person of current society. The meaning of Revelation 10 — 12 then became immediately obvious. It describes the development of a new set of glasses.

    When a strong angel swears by the eternal God who created everything that the mystery of God is finished and then hands a little book to John and tells him to eat this book v. This is then followed by the instruction to prophesy again v. Now let us turn to the set of glasses that Johnson is wearing and how this affects his understanding of Revelation. Before we do this, I should point out a set of glasses that Johnson is not wearing, which is the American fundamentalist glasses of global divinely-ordained destruction, as typified by the Left Behind series.

    In contrast, Johnson approaches Revelation from the viewpoint of discipleship and personal transformation, as exemplified by the title of his book.

    The Bible and same sex relationships: A review article

    I mentioned earlier that my starting point was understanding the mind combined with pursuing mental wholeness. In contrast, I find that I have almost nothing in common with the blood and guts interpretation that one finds in the Left Behind series. Everything revealed in the rest of the book is revealed relative to this vision.

    To put it another way, the rest of the book is unintelligible without the vision of Revelation 4 and 5, especially without what we see in Revelation That scene is the single most important scene in the whole of the book of Revelation. Italics are in the original. A huge paradigm shift does occur between Revelation 4 and Revelation 5.

    Can A Pre-Christian Version of the Book of Revelation Be Recovered? - Biblical Archaeology Society

    In Revelation 4, there is an emotional fixation upon worshiping God, while in Revelation 5 the attention turns from God to the lamb. I suggest that this paradigm shift of Revelation 5 is responsible for modern Western civilization. But Revelation 10 describes another paradigm shift of at least equal magnitude, and Johnson misses this second paradigm shift.

    Instead, as the quote makes clear, Johnson interprets the entire book of Revelation wearing the set of glasses revealed in Revelation 5. I have suggested that when one is evaluating a set of glasses, then one must look for clarity and universality. Indeed, what he sees next may have happened before what he saw last! When did this happen? It happened when the child was born!

    And when was that? On Christmas Eve!

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    But Revelation 12 describes the initial implications of the new understanding of the nature of God that emerged in Revelation In other words, because Johnson is viewing the entire book of Revelation through the glasses of Revelation 5, his picture of Revelation becomes complicated when the text describes what it feels like to put on the glasses of Revelation The glasses of Revelation 10 are based in a rational understanding of the nature of God and creation. No human-designed biblical system can finally replace the biblical text itself. In other words, building a systematic theory is fine, but it will never replace quoting from the biblical text.

    Johnson is giving good advice, because we have seen that is very easy to deceive oneself when studying the mind. But the theory of mental symmetry has been used to explain Christian doctrine from a cognitive perspective to the level of systematic theology, and this explanation has been put in book form in Natural Cognitive Theology. In other words, when I talk about a paradigm shift occurring in Revelation 10, I am not just referring to some hypothetical theoretical explanation of Christianity.

    Instead, a candidate theory now exists—that can be read—which is the end product of years of mind-bending and heart-changing research, that in retrospect can be seen to have been providentially guided. This rational understanding does not contradict the biblical text, or eliminate the need to follow the Christian path of salvation. But it does make it possible to start from a general theory rather than from the words of a specific holy book.

    This, I suggest, describes the essence of the paradigm shift that occurs in Revelation Actually, what Revelation 10 describes is not just a shift from one paradigm to another, but rather a shift from no paradigm to a paradigm, which explains why claiming to have developed a general theory of Christianity tends to be automatically rejected as presumptuous. As Thomas Kuhn states, this kind of shift occurred during the birth of science, when pre-scientific thinking with its schools of thought was replaced by scientific thinking with its general theories.

    And when a general theory is discovered, then feelings of reasonableness will change as well. For instance, it would now be considered presumptuous for a person to declare that the law of gravity did not exist. The purpose is not to question Johnson but rather to show that the current paradigm of Christianity is inadequate, because evangelical Christianity currently interprets God and salvation in the light of Revelation 5.

    When one is attempting to explain something to an audience who is wearing a different set of glasses, then everything that one says will be slightly misinterpreted.

    The Coming of Jesus-as-God

    The only solution that I know of is to talk about the subject in many different ways in painstaking detail. Therefore, this essay will examine the applications that Johnson takes from the book of Revelation in the light of a Christianity that is based in a general understanding.

    Understanding the Book of Revelation

    Again, the ultimate purpose is to help people to understand more clearly the difference between Revelation 5 Christianity and Revelation 10 Christianity. My ultimate purpose here is to grasp at a deep emotional level what it would feel like to experience such a paradigm shift, in order to provide the understanding and motivation that is necessary to prepare for a new heaven and earth.

    So far this essay has talked about glasses and paradigms. We will now switch to the language of mental symmetry, which uses mental networks to describe the mental functioning behind glasses and paradigms. Mental symmetry suggests that cognitive glasses are provided by mental networks , which impose their structure upon the mind when they are triggered.

    An introduction to mental networks can be found in another essay. The important thing to notice is that there are two kinds of mental networks, Mercy mental networks MMN that are based in experiences of culture and upbringing, and Teacher mental networks TMN that are rooted in general theories as well as various systems of order and structure.

    However, a general theory will also turn into a mental network when it continues to be used, and this mental network will attempt to impose its structure upon thought.

    Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay
    Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay
    Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay
    Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay
    Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay
    Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay
    Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay
    Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay
    Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay Alternate Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Essay

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