In my previous post I discussed whether the fact that Revelation is filled with symbolism and not to be taken literally should affect our evaluation of its presentation of violence and domination. Now I move on to ask whether its views reflect those of Jesus himself. I resume where I left off:
To say that this is all “just a story” is to miss the point rather spectacularly. The story conveys a message, an understanding of right and wrong and of what really matters before the Almighty. The book celebrates judgment, bloody vengeance, and divine wrath – not love, mercy, forgiveness, or reconciliation. In the end, the Lamb who was once bloodied avenges his blood a thousand-fold. For John, Christ came the first time in meekness, but he is coming back in power. History will be guided by the vengeance and wrath of God and his Lamb.
Is this what Jesus thought? I obviously cannot provide an analysis of the historical Jesus’ teachings in the time I have left. But I will stress that Jesus’ teachings about power and dominance in the Gospels are stark, counter-cultural, and counterintuitive. It could easily be argued that these are the most striking aspect of his proclamation. The way to greatness is through humility; the way to power is through service; the way to mastery is through slavery. Jesus decidedly did not teach that his followers should submit to serving as slaves for a short period so they would be able to cudgel their masters into submission later, bind them in chains, and force them to spend the rest of their lives in abject obedience.
This the great irony of Jesus’ teaching. Service is not
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