No sense in COVID-19 vaccine being mark of the beastMonday, May 03, 2021
I became a Christian at age 17 (1967) and grew up spiritually within a Pentecostal Assembly. As far as I can recall I was intellectually inquisitive and learned by asking hard questions. In the Christian circles in which I moved I would on occasion hear the hollow spiritual 'boast' from the odd preacher, “I have been to Calvary, I don't need to go to college”.
I have never been in a setting in which I could raise questions on the vapid nature of that 'boast', but it irked me because I could not reconcile that statement with the entreaties in the Bible to prize the mind as we love and worship God.
Fast-forward 54 years and I gather, second hand, that there are modern preachers who are still spouting that boast. What's wrong with being to both Calvary and college, not either or? The Apostle Paul and Luke, the gospel writer, were quite educated and used by God spiritually.
Now preachers are teaching that the COVID-19 vaccine is the mark of the beast mentioned in Revelation. It does not require a college education to know that this is not even possible.
In high school literature class we all, I think, heard of asking the basic questions of any piece of literature: Who wrote it, to whom, what kind (genre) of literature is it, when was it written and why?
The book of Revelation in the first chapter (verse 1) mentions 'the who' (author) as John “your companion in tribulation” (verse 9) and states the 'to whom' (first audience/addressees) as the seven churches which are in Asia (verse 5), the 'kind/genre of literature' is hinted at in verse 1 as 'revelation' (disclosure) of “things which must shortly come to pass”. When was it written? In the 1st century of this era and designed to calm the people of God in tribulation or crisis.
Now then, what sense would it make for a 1st century writer trying to calm his 1st century audience to tell them about a future mark of a beast which would not become a reality until “all a dem dead aaf”?
Which reader/hearer of that warning could interpret it to mean a 21st century vaccine that some of us now still can't accept as real?
Biblical common sense should make us realise that if the primary audience could not have understood it to mean something unknown to them, then it cannot mean that to us today. Unless, of course, the text itself indicates that the warning had no immediate relevance for them, but for a later audience.
The book of Daniel (fairly similar to Revelation in kind/genre) has near its end the interpreting archangel's 'heads up' to Daniel, “shut up the words and seal the book even to the time of the end” (12:4 and 9). In contrast, repeatedly in Revelation, the imminence (nearness) of some of the prophesied events gets mentioned (see 1:1; 22:6; 1:3;22:10).
For those who felt a leading to skip college — and their congregants — it may be useful to point out a marker/feature of the book of Revelation for responsible reading.
That key feature is symbolism (one thing standing for or representing something else). Revelation is highly symbolic (non-literal) in language and so you cannot approach the book with a literalistic mindset, otherwise you will misread and misunderstand the whole book.
A 21st century vaccine could not be a fulfilment of anything in Revelation neither, by the way, could atomic weapons, for the same reason.
No one in the 1st century could have read the book to mean these modern things! Common sense, brethren.
Rev Clinton Chisholm is a retired Jamaica Baptist Union pastor and former academic dean of the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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