Beliefnet
O Me of Little Faith

Today at RelevantMagazine.com I have an interview with Rob Stennett, the author of the new novel The End Is Now, which is probably best described as “satirical rapture fiction.” It’s a hot new genre!

I’m not going to reprint the full interview, but I will give you an excerpt because I think it applies to some of the other stuff I’ve discussed here at the blog. Rob and I share a fascination with apocalyptic history and research…and coupled with that is a shared experience of religious uncertainty and doubt — the kind that accompanies knowledge. In my mind, that’s the hardest kind of doubt to deal with.

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JB: I’m right there with you when it comes to “the more I’ve studied it, the less I know.” In fact, when people ask me what I believe about the End Times, I tell them I’m an “eschatological agnostic,” which means I have no idea how it’ll play out and I don’t have any interest in any kinds of predictions. I am interested, however, in the relationship between knowledge and uncertainty. The more I seem to learn about a subject—the apocalypse, the Bible, the afterlife—the less certain I become about it. As a Christian writer and researcher, can you identify with that? If so, what do you make of it?

Rob Stennett: Yeah, I can definitely identify with uncertainty. There are stories in the Bible that I once thought were really nice (Abraham and Isaac, for instance), until with study and critical reading of them they just became frightening. It made me wonder: How did I ever find solace in a story like that? And just as troubling is that I’ve researched the rapture and learned where these ideas were formed. I’ll realize: OK, so a minister (or a group of ministers) took this combination of verses and came up with a theology from it. Then other people wrote about it. Then someone made a movie about it and wrote a catchy song and a book about it all from this teaching. But still, there are verses in the Bible that describe these things. So are they right or are they wrong? Or is it even that simple?

So if all the research and writing has taught me anything, it’s that we have to engage in what we believe in. Not just regurgitate something. This is one of the reasons we need stories. Jesus used them all the time. Stories help us to explore our beliefs and what they mean. They also let us come up with our own conclusions … whereas sermons can often prepackage solutions for you.

I’m not trying to sound like everything is relative, but I am saying these are issues that have been debated for thousands of years, and the arguments on both sides of the coin are really strong. Everything I write has a tone of uncertainty in it because I think these subjects are too complex to just say, “Well I’ve got it all figured out.” I’ll step off my soapbox now.

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Read the full interview here, and join the discussion.

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