Did Jesus Falsely Predict the End of the World?
Book review of What Jesus Really Said About ‘The End of the World.’
BY FATHER C. JOHN MCCLOSKEY
| Posted 8/3/13 at 8:00 AM
What Jesus Really Said About
‘The End of the World’
By David B. Currie
Catholic Answers, 2012
231 page, $10.95
To order: CatholicAnswers.com
Have you ever met a serious Christian who was not at least somewhat interested in the end of the world? I have not.
And fascination with this topic is not reserved to Christians, as witnessed by the recent brouhaha over the supposed prediction of the Mayan calendar of the end of the world in December of last year.
But here we still are — all but those who have already exited this world in the traditional way to meet their Maker.
Now, David B. Currie, author of Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic and popular speaker on Catholic radio and television, tackles this much misunderstood topic in his book What Jesus Really Said About ‘The End of the World,’ published by Catholic Answers.
Currie’s aim is not only to properly interpret Jesus’ mysterious words about the end times (which he does with almost excruciating investigation), but also to refute the notion that Jesus falsely predicted when they would occur.
That Jesus was mistaken was the opinion of both the well-known mathematician and atheist Bertrand Russell and the German Lutheran minister, musician and medical missionary Albert Schweitzer. Both believed that Jesus was just a very good man.
Somewhat surprising is a third doubter of Christ’s prophecy, though not of his divinity. Christian apologist C.S. Lewis also thought that Christ had been mistaken — resembling in that opinion, as Currie notes, “millions of other Christians who live with a contradiction. They keep their faith and morals mostly intact, yet accept the claims that Jesus was wrong.”
Since any well-formed Catholic knows that Jesus, being God, could not be mistaken in anything, there clearly has been and continues to be confusion about the meaning of Jesus’ words about the end times.
Currie lists some 25 different failed prophets, from the second century to our own time, including Luther and other Protestant figures, the Mormons, the Darbyites and various crackpots clearly out to make a buck or find a following by preying on ignorant people.
As Currie puts it, “Predicting the end of the world doesn’t seem like the smartest strategy for building a following. Eventually, the deadline comes, and something better happen!” And it never does. Remember the expected Y2K catastrophe at the dawn of the year 2000, which in some circles was conflated with the end of the world?
This book combines elements of Church history, Scripture study, detective fiction and a challenging crossword puzzle. It also features many quotations from the Church Fathers and, of course, St. Thomas Aquinas.
I will not reveal the ending, in which Currie wraps up with great neatness. However, in this Year of Faith that, in part, celebrates the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Church, perhaps a quotation is appropriate:
“Before Christ’s second coming, the Church must pass through a final trial. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity.’ The Church will enter the glory of the Kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and resurrection. The Kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive triumph of the Church, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil.” (296)
What Jesus Really Said About ‘The End of the World’ is a book worth the read. And I can hardly wait for the movie!
Father C. John McCloskey III is a Church historian and research fellow at
the Faith and Reason Institute in his hometown of Washington.
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