My folks go to a Pentecostal Church in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. I’ve been there when I was younger, and, if you’re not too familiar with the Pentecostals, things can get “freaky.” It felt that way then, and it continues to do so today, as a grown man. Anyway, my concern is not to trash on the Pentecostals and the whole “slaying of the spirit” and “speaking in tongues” thingy. We unfortunately pigeon hole all Pentecostal churchs (AoGs, Four Square, Apostolic, etc) with such characteristics. Indeed, there are more to these churches than that.
Back to my folks’ church back home. They have a website (For the sake of confidentiality I will not reveal its name or the URL of the website) and they post sermons online for people to listen. Not wanting to be “left out” I was curious to see what the contents were and what sort of things get talked about at the church.
I’ll spare the details on the content of the sermon except that it is mostly proof-text style sermons dealing with the End Times and relationships (among others). Not that any of the topics covered were bad, save for the End Times thing. The Pentecostal church’s obsession on the return of Jesus borders on crazy, in my opinion. As I recall, the speaker of the church declared the return of Christ as “something glorious.” I don’t know about you, but you gotta be a little morbid to call the destruction of millions of so-called non-Christian lives (if one is to subscribe to what Revelation is saying) to be “glorious.” There is nothing glorious about fire and brimstone. Plus, you have to be pretty sick to be “happy” and shedding no tears when your friend/relatives who are not “saved” gets burned in eternal damnation. What does it mean to be without tears in heaven when you know for a fact that some of your friends are burning in hell? Does God “erase” our memories? Are we so “high” on God that we are oblivious to the death and destruction around us? But enough of End Times preaching. I for one do not really take Revelation and to a certain extent, the latter chapters of Daniel as predicting tit for tat the events the will lead to the return of Christ. It seemed rather stupid in my opinion, for the writer of Daniel and Revelation to be writing about events so removed from their contextual situations (that is, the persecution of Christians around the Roman Empire). I’m of course simplifying things here, but I do not have the space nor energy, or scholarly biblical knowledge to engage in a hermeneutical reading of Revelation.
I don’t know if it is just me, but I find that churches that are obsessed with the E? nd Times to be counter-productive. Why do we have to be so obsessed with this subject? If one is supposedly “saved” from the jaws of Hell, you’re going to Heaven already. Why do we care about the details? Why do we have to be “ready” for it? We’re already going to be, depending on your theology, raptured or saved. There is nothing to be ready for it.
Apologists here would say that we have to be ready and know the details so that we good Christians can step up our game in “saving souls.” Okay, but why such things are not needed to save souls. If one is truly fulfilling the Great Commission, then the task of making disciples is a constant thing, not something to be done “last minute.” Notice too I mentioned “making disciples,” not “saving souls” or “making converts.” These things are significantly different from each other, and unfortunately, we often conflate converts with disciples. Anyway, I digress.
So why is this church back home, attended by my folks talk so much, among other things, about the End Times? Is it because of the socio-economic of the church which indicates that it is “safer” to talk about an event that is supposedly to happen in the near future rather than addressing the pressing needs of the community outside the church? How come the church does not talk about the state of the Malaysian government which oppresses its citizens, makes a mockery of the judicial system, and discriminates against the poor? Why not address the unprotected status of the GLBTQ community in Malaysia? Or the racism that is happening around us? Or the abject poverty of many rural Malaysians? Why choose the End Times over issues of justice?
Perhaps I am being too judgmental. Or maybe my PhD education has made me arrogant. Hmmm… on second thoughts, NO, I’m not. While I acknowledge its possibilities, I am genuinely concerned about the well-being of my folks who are constantly bombarded with topics that are simply counter-productive to the Christian life. I do have faith however that they are have reasoning capabilities and can actually think for themselves rather than succumbing into a mindless automaton of the church.
That’s good enough for me………………….for now.