Friday, May 25, 2007

Coming Soon, Unlocking the Book of Revelation and Applying its Lessons Today, Michael Barber: A Book Review

While reading Robert Sungenis study Bible, The Apocalypse of St. John, I picked up a copy of Michael Barber's book, Coming Soon, Unlocking the Book of Revelation and Applying its Lessons Today. I saw the book mentioned on the internet, and wanted to see what it was all about. In the preface, Barber tells us that the book is based on a Bible study he taught in California, where he saw a great interest in the Apocalypse. The book is oriented to Catholics who are not familiar with the Book of Revelations (including study questions). In a light and amusing manner, the Introduction leads to the advice to "Read the Book, Don't Wait for the Movie". This is after reviewing some of the current popular takes on Apocalyptic themes. In this section Barber promises to take the reader verse by verse through the Book of Revelation. He states:

Rest assured: The Holy Spirit inspired human authors of Scripture, and He helps us understand Scripture as the Faith is passed on through the life of the Church, particualrly in her liturgy and in her teaching authority

This implies that Barber will use the magesterium as a guide for understanding the Apocalypse. Still in the Introduction under the heading "Keeping it Simple" he states:

Whenever anyone attempts to explain a book like Revelation, readers often wonder whether the interpretation that is laid out can be backed by credible sources or whether it is simply the result of the creativity of the author. Recognizing that other faithful Catholics who strive to be faithful to the Church might come up with different interpretations of Revelation, I have done my best to provide extensive support in the endnotes...

So one may ask who these credible sources are? What are these "different" interpretations of Revelations? It is clear that the Church has historically taught the amillenial view of the Apocalypse (i.e., Apocalypse concerns the Church age- starting at the Cross and ending at the Second Coming and New Heaven and New Earth). But unfortunately this is not the interpretation Barber chooses to use. It is clear that he is using the view espoused by Scott Hahn (based on Euginio Corsini's The Apocalypse: The Perennial Revelation of Jesus Christ). In fact several of Dr. Hahn's books are referenced (as well as Corsini's). The book itself is dedicated to Scott and Kimberly Hahn, and is published in Steubenville, Ohio by Emmaus Road (a division of Catholic's United for the Faith). Now I am not being critical of Dr. Hahn's speculative theology. It is clear that there is a lot of room for interpretation of the Apocalypse, but a book aimed at uninformed Catholics on the Apocalypse, at least in my opinion, should start with the Church's well established view, not some modern and novel (though perhaps interesting) interpretation.

The first thing I did to review the book was start with Robert Sungenis' advice- see how the author handles chapter 20 (see The Apocalypse of St. John book review). This is key to understanding how the author places the Apocalypse in time, by understanding how the author handles the Millennium. This occurs in chapter 13 of Barbers Book, entitled "The Perennial Millennial Question". Therein he states (p. 243):

Traditionally Catholics have understood the "1,000 year reign" as referring to the age of the Church...the thousand years is understood symbolicaly...from the time of His [Christ] first coming to the time of His second coming. Satan is restrained...This view is well attested to in the Fathers of the Church.

He then goes on to state:

I whole-heartedly affirm this view. Nevertheless, I think we can add to this view. As stated, the interpretation laid out here understands the Millenium in terms of the Davidic Covenant.

This lost me immediately. He states that he will use credible sources to back up his interpertation. He states that the Fathers uphold the "age of the Church" view (amillennial)- clearly one cannot find more credible sources. He states that he whole-heartedly affirms the Church view. But he chooses to teach uninformed Catholics a novel teaching. He does not "add to the view" [of the Church], but rather replaces it with a novel teaching.

There is no Scriptural or Church support for the binding of Satan in the Old Testament, while there is ample evidence in the New Testament. Similarly there is no Church support for a Davidic Millennium in the Apocalypse, while there is nothing but support for a Catholic millennium, which starts at the cross (with the binding of Satan) and ends at Christ's second coming.

The book also promises to apply the lessons of the Apocalypse today. If the established Church view is that Satan is currently bound in the pit, and the beast and the false prophet are wandering the earth deceiving the nations as agents of the dragon (Satan), one would think this might a useful piece of information for Catholics of today to have. While trying to relate the Apocalypse to the Mass (as Barber does) may be appealing and actually appropriate, this can be done without changing the basic eschatology of the Apocalypse as traditionally interpreted by the Church. The main lesson should be 'keep faith, Christians, resist the deceptions which you are daily bombarded with on TV, newspapers, advertisements, political movements, etc. Watch that your children understand this so they are not deceived'. Instead Barber ends up drawing some generalized allusions from lessons learned 2000 years ago in the collpase of Israel. While I do not want to state what Barber's intent was, this seems to be a "Precious Moments" view of the Apocalypse and current state of the Church, which somewhat ignores the intense spiritual battle the Church and world are currently mired in, and effectively places us 2000 years after most of the challenging times (though Barber does teach the final judgement).

I ended up reading through much of the book, but did not complete it. I was personally disappointed in the approach Mr. Barber took in trying to reach uninformed Catholics who "ought to begin in the Scriptures with a Gospel or the Book of Genesis". I really think it does a disservice to write a beginning book on the Apocalypse for Catholics which does not teach the traditional Catholic view. Though the book was nicely written, entertaining, and probably did a reasonable job capturing Scott Hahn's views, I cannot recommend it for the reasons stated.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Laurence Gonzaga said...

This was the topic of the 6th Annual Catholic Biblical Conference here in Riverside, CA last year... It was on Revelation or the End Times... I went to the Central California Eucharistic Conference instead with Fr. Mitch Pacwa... Great time...
-Laurence

PS- I wish I would have learned something, if it werent for such a small media technician brain, :-(

Friday, May 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The early church fathers nearly all believed in a some sort of 1000 year period (for instance St. Justine Martyr). St. Augustine is the reason for the novel amillenial view becoming predominant over the literal view. He spiritualized the 1000 year period, without reference to what it literally was. Without a literal references for Revelation's writings, spiritualization can take on the beliefs of the "Left Behind" believers, who clearly don't understand the book. Authorities who can't deal with the literal meaning, and make appeals to persons no longer available as authorities aren't authorities, they are whiners, whose appeal will go unanswered. When you go spiritualize the text like amillenialists do, you start getting people spiritualizing other parts of the Bible, for example Hell: "Hell is a metphor, not a real eternal punishment" -- That is how these false doctrines get started... Poor understanding of the literalness of the scriptures (this isn't a reflection on St. Augustine) and poor understanding of what reasonable Church teaching is, and you have a new group of heretics. We need to root people in what the author meant before they spiritualize the meaning. Amillenialism is consistent with a 1000 year period that ended about the time the Church was formed. Either the period 1003 BC, (entrance of the ark in Jerusalem) to 2BC (Nativity of Christ) or to 70 AD (temple destruction) less the Babylon Captivity (70 years) fulfills this. If you can come up with a better 1000 year period let's see it. Otherwise you can spiritualize the Davidic Kingdom BC to the David Kingdom ruled by Jesus. I think that's what St. Augustine and other amillenialists do, they just didn't explicitly tell anyone what the 1000 year period literally was (if they even know). Since the only view the Church has actually explicitly taught not viable is the premillenial futuristic view of the "Left Behind" types and the view espoused by Barber/Hahn et al is incompatible with the "Left Behind" view, we can use it to show that they have concocted an incorrect spiritual interpretation (esp. given Rev 1:1). Preterists who spiritualize history and amillenialists are actually on the same page, amillenialists just don't know it. Amillenialism isn't the only theology the Church allows on this issue, and treating the early Church Fathers as if they don't exist is shameful.

Thursday, July 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By far the best book I have read on the subject is The Book of Destiny by Fr. Herman B. Kramer. Written between 1930s and 1950s

Never read anything else that comes close to his analysis.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007  
Blogger James Rinkevich said...

And St. Augustine view of the 1000 years has never been defined as the only or even the best way to interpret the text. The view being espoused by Hahn/Barber et al was actually an original interpretation by a Catholic monk. Protestants have furthered the theory but often loose the spiritual exegesis that should be performed on the literal events, which often creates gaps in the their theories.

Sunday, October 28, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this gay stuff comes from WHORING heavy drugs and sex outside of marriage, when that happens people receive evil spirits. If you go out as a young person to bars looking for the opposite sex and wind up in the sack with someone involved with bi-sexuality or someone involved with the occult, and you didn’t know it …u received a evil backwards spirit.

Many people in this generation have evil spirits and (don’t know it) that includes straight people..because of whoring and very few have repented. Others are polluted with evil spirits and r possessed and sleep around everywhere infesting more people…inside of those who r possessed, “{gay)”,many many r waiting to be freed from the grip of satan because they r possessed and there is nothing they can do about it, unless someone prays for them. Which very few do, because for whatever reason, no one seems to understand.

At the same time many gay people who r possessed, secretly get involved with churches not telling people they r gay and end up wearing holy e tire….telling the people to except the gay life style, blah blah blah and because so many people have very little faith, they will except whatever they r told to keep peace and for the good of humanity….which is a pile of crap!

This is a current list of accused priests http://bishop-accountability.org the number of accused priests is beyond staggering!

Many other churches have the same problem…a good church is far and wide between in this generation.

If u were to look back in history, there was alot of gays in the early 1900′s and gay movies at theaters. In 1917 The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to children in a place called Fatima. She gave a warning that if people don’t repent God the Father will punish us by a world WAR…that happened, not just once but twice. When the wars was over, in the 40′s and 50′s was the cleanest time with many living with good morals. Divorce was taboo, the movies were clean and decent and people like my mom did not even know what a lesbian was until the 60′s.

In the 60′s young people rebelled…heavy drugs, dirty feet and dirty bodies and hair…open sex ,orgies and whatever. The singer Cher was a part of that and tried a lesbian thing that she realized was not for her….the point is, she tried it! and got cursed for it, just look at her daughter or son…whatever this person is? that goes with many many others…it started back in the 60′s and many r cursed by it. There is even prophecy that the pope at that time stated “the smoke of satan has entered the church.

Sunday, September 07, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here’s something off the wall. The Lord has different ways of showing people stuff, if they r receptive. The rock star Alice Cooper was the first man to have a woman’s name .We all know how he flaunted sick images of all kinds in everyone’s face. Alice Cooper comes from a very strong long line of ordained Baptist Ministers and other preachers in his family. His father was a ordained Baptist Minister and the woman AC married, her father is also a ordained Baptist Minister.

When he first came out IN 1968 0R 69 the majority of people hated his guts BIGTIME!…In LA people would buy tickets just to walk out….even when they came to see Jim Morrison and the Doors…they cleared the building empty when Alice Cooper took stage before the Doors.

Within ten yrs after Alice Cooper …gay bars flourished in all major cities…men dressed like women and women dress like men…Everything u see when u look at Alice Cooper is what this generation is all about…total darkness. What people use to hate is now excepted as a normal thing. When AC chopped babies to pieces in front of the world…they didn’t realize, it’s about them and the onslaught of abortions everywhere!…instead, they would point the finger at AC and say your sick! when it’s really the whole generation that is sick.

AC has never, ever, whored around, never divorced, and he’s not covered in tatoo’s like everyone he is surrounded by.

There is more to this, The Blessed Virgin has appeared everywhere around the world…VERY FEW LISTEN….There is a Great Warning coming to everyone…After the Warning, many will flock back to church not realizing many of the churches r sick. Soon, after the Warning, the ANTI CHRIST will come out as a man of peace and per sway the people that gay is ok, and preachers the current pope and governments political people and many by the multitudes will agree with this anti christ…until he shows his full colors.

When he shows his full colors, persecution of Christians will be alarming…..the same thing that everyone has seen at a Alice cooper concert…the hangings guillotines, electrocutions will happen in real life to many Christians and to those who will not take the mark of the beast…which will be a computer chip on the hand or forehead..

It’s true…The Second Coming of Christ is right above us. It’s going to happen in our life time…once the Warning, then the anti christ for approx 3 and a half yrs…then The Second Coming.

Only Catholic prophets r calling out about the Warning in the Christian world..all other Christians from different denominations….r putting flames to it because it comes from the Virgin Mary and only a few listen to her when she appears with messages for the whole world. Even many many Catholics today r against these messages of The Warning and Second Coming of Jesus.

Because a whole pile of them, r queer.

In Jesus Name, Thy Will Be Done, Amen and Amen (*)

Sunday, September 07, 2014  

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