The Second Covenant — which will reach its climax in the Second Coming of the Mashiach – has hardly yet begun, despite being announced as imminent by Jeremiah and other Jewish prophets as far back as the Exile to Babylon in 600 BC.
—On the worst case scenario, Christians have not made any start with the Second Covenant. This means the history of ‘Christendom’ is utterly shaming for all sincere followers of Christ. It is as if the Messiah has not come, given that his followers do not manifest what he brings to profoundly change them. This means, either he did not bring it, or he brought it and his followers have not taken it up.
—On the best case scenario, though in the main no real start on the Second Covenant has been made by Christians, never the less, despite all their glaring failures of omission and commission, the seeds for this new direction have been laid in the past 2000 years. Indeed, it might even be argued that without this painfully slow, and largely unseen, laying of the foundations, the leap forward into the new and radically Spirit-dynamised ethos of the Second Covenant would not be possible. In the Second Covenant, churches and even the bible, are prophesised to disappear but possibly this requires a prior time when churches and bibles were necessary.. Only by virtue of having had a far more explicit structuring of religious life, and for a long time, can we go beyond these kind of things into a more personal, and spiritual, relation to the Spirit of God. Perhaps, the New Age inaugurated by the Messiah will come about through a dialectic, a kind of ongoing ‘conversation’, between more explicit churchly ‘form’ and a rising and more implicit spiritual ‘formlessness.’ Many ‘people of Spirit’ not churchy, and opposed sternly to anything smacking of ‘churchianity’, will be a counter weight to the various manifestations of tradition. Yet tradition can be a life giving stream, if purged of its false accretions, and therefore it may well be that tradition will remain necessary as the dialectic counter-point to the new rising of people living in the Spirit, and receiving from this new life in the Spirit their inspiration and guidance from the deeps that underlie all things. Each stand-point can critique the danger of the other when it becomes too extreme, or fails to hit its mark; but the dialogue between them might be lively, and life enhancing.
Perhaps both standpoints about the Christian past are true, in different ways..
–Certainly, the history of Christendom is pretty much a debacle, its crimes against Christ and humanity too numerous to recount. At the core of all this carnage is the fundamental misunderstanding of what Christ did with, did for, and did through, humanity. The ‘religion’ of Christendom has lost its way because it has fallen into the primary heresy of the blasphemy against humanity. Christ valued humanity more than any other spiritual leader ever had or ever will, but his followers have contrived to negate this valuing which leads to long-suffering of human failure and faith that humanity will come again, will get out of the dirt and stand again.. Giving up on humanity, in the name of God, is the point of the story of the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoyevsky’s last novel, ‘The Brothers Karamazov.’ Every sector of Christendom, East and West, has its own Grand Inquisitor, its own Anti-Christ, running things..
–Yet, perhaps there is another side to the dire historical record. As Christ is persecuted by the Grand Inquisitor when he returns, perhaps the real followers of Yeshua the Mashiach down the centuries have been persecuted by the Anti-Christ running each and every one of the churches; and by the stand made and sacrifice given of these handful of followers, something needful and significant has been attained in tradition ‘against the run of play.’ The religion of the Anti-Christ — the demonic religion of ignorance, hate, indifference, escape — has been countered by the bright flickering of a few flames that no dark and dank can put out. It might still be the case that seeds have been planted, that foundations have been laid.. But even if that is so, it does not alter the fact that much of the super structure and apparatus, as well as the attitudes and ethos, of tradition is contrary to Christ, and as Christ is ‘born’ in people through the power and efficacy of the Spirit, so all that accumulated trash will be swept away. What remains of past tradition will be relatively little, a central core, whilst much will have to go..
This much reduced, central lineaments, of tradition will be what enters creatively into a dialectical conversation with the ongoing rebirth of humanity by virtue of the deed and example of the Messianic King but only through, and in, the power of the Messianic Spirit. The new Spirit given to the Messiah to enable him to do what he had to do will be given to those who love the Messiah to enable them to follow in his footsteps and go where he went and do what he did– in their own way, in their own place, in their own time.
None of us knows anything for sure, but a guess can be hazarded..
In the coming time of the changing of humanity by the Spirit — the time of the growing Second Covenant — the vast difference between the truly religious and the pseudo religious treating the given religion just as a club, some badge of identity, will become clearer in any particular religion, and this will facilitate joining hands across different religions.
This joining hands at the prompting of the Spirit in people’s depths will be far more widespread and more inclusive than just the three main divisions of Christianity [Orthodox; Roman Catholic; Protestant]. It will cross over the three streams of Christianity, uniting them in a loose confederation of people moved by the Spirit in the same way, but it will include other religions as well in the spiritual comradeship, non-Christian ones, and moreover, it will include the ostensibly non and anti-religious who repudiate the club but are in the same Spirit..
The core they will all converge on — different Christians, different religions, different peoples of no religion — will be the redemptive process towards the world..
They will see it differently, describe it very differently, but in action they will converge. Their concern will be action.
No one will believe in any external authority, nor claims to external authority, any more. When people are authoritative in being and action– that will persuade. You will only know the tree by its fruits. All other claims to authority, expertise, privilege, will be blown away, like yesterday’s newspapers on the wind.
“I take communion every Sunday” [so does the devil lurking inside people whose conversion to Christ is far from complete]; “I know the Bible backwards and can quote from it at the drop of a hat” [the devil knows the Bible better than any human and can come up with a quote for any occasion, putting words that are not understood in the heart to the service of evil]; “I belong to the original tradition, the only one that has been properly validated by divine authority” [and your daddy is also the biggest and best daddy in the whole world]; “I keep the law, unlike other weaker humans” [St Paul had something vital to say about the honest impossibility of keeping the law; and Christ in the parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee warns against the self-deception involved in thinking we can keep the law unequivocally and are therefore morally superior to other struggling and stumbling people]. All these, and similar, ‘religious claims’ will fade away, because they cut no ice; they are no witness for any change in the heart, they manifest no indwelling of the Spirit in the heart, but instead convey mutton dressed up as lamb= unacknowledged sin, and regressive childishness, dressed up as kosher religion.
There will therefore be a new, and very far reaching, ‘mixing’ together of peoples and traditions.
The Spirit will cross religious boundaries, and sweep away the sense people now have, in any tradition, that they own a ‘patch’ of religious turf. We are at most stewards of precious things given us long ago by the generosity of Spirit; we own none of this. It is not ‘ours’, as opposed to ‘theirs.’ If the Spirit wants to mix up the jewels in any given tradition with the differing jewels in another tradition, and the jewels in no tradition other than the tears and strivings of beleaguered humanity, in order to make a new necklace for everyone to wear, then it is not for anyone in any of these traditions to say this cannot be allowed! The Spirit makes a patchwork quilt out of very different elements; they hold together, in the Spirit, a genuine and organic coalition of varied ‘positions.’ If ‘private property is theft’, then this is even more true of religion than of economics.
The main theme, for which much that is ‘good’ yet gets in the way must be jettisoned [like good writing you reject in a novel, because it obscures the thrust], will become, more and more, ‘tikkun olam’, as the Jews called it. The rectification of the world, the redeeming of history, in the world.
People will unite around this, from many different vantage points, and they will know it is too important to quarrel over.
Given such a future, then Vladimir Soloviev’s tale about the End Time is very unconvincing, depicting nothing Spirit-inspired but just more of the old kind of manoeuvring for [anti Christlike] power by the churches. The future will retain an essence of the ‘point’ of tradition, but it will fundamentally depotentate the churches, taking away any claim they ever made, or will continue to try to make, to unchallenged authority, sacrosanct power, indispensable kosherness.
We should remain content to stay with the symbols in Ezekiel, Daniel, John of Patmos, and not try to imagine them too literally. I once had a visionary/mystical dream of the night when the world ends. It was nothing like, in feel or story, Soloviev’s account..
Soloviev’s imagining of the End Time can be critiqued for several reasons.
First, he advocates the old nonsense that the Protestants are from Paul, the Orthodox are from John, and the Roman Catholics are from Peter. It is pure cliché the Roman Catholics are the tradition of Peter. They are not! Both Protestants and Roman Catholics are rooted in a much truncated version of St Paul, in different ways [the Roman Catholics are really given over to a version of the old Roman Law of Empire, and as a result tend to hugely overestimate the role of morality, like a Judaism with only Moses and no David, thus an insistence on rules and regulation, yet without any Messianic faith in a changed human heart in the end]. It is true Orthodoxy is rooted in John the Theologian [more or less, though this too is an over simplification].
But no Christianity, East or West, has tried Peter! That accounts for the absence of ‘Jewish’ passion in Christian history.. No one is farther away from Peter than the ‘Roman’ Catholics.. Their every instinct is ‘anti’ the passionate Peter.
Second, Soloviev’s tale still projects a great role for the three churches even near The End, despite the fact that the Jewish prophecies from 600 BC suggest something very different. Churches fade away, even bibles fade away, according to the prophetic announcements, because the Spirit will have brought God into the human heart. Thus, at the climax of all time no one will still care about Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, as ‘jurisdictions’ any more. No one will be cowed by them anymore.. Some of their role in regard to the Sacred will no doubt continue, and some of the authentic treasures they have preserved in tradition will be very freely shared among everyone, but a lot of the status, and clout, surrounding their previous gravitas will fade away.. Thank God!
The future belongs to the human heart..
Soloviev’s tale puts far too much importance on the Temple, the Sacred; the change that is coming is that the current obsession with Temple/Sacred will lapse, and shift to a greater emphasis on World/Holy, and Wilderness/the Mysterious, the Blowing where he wills, of Spirit.
If priest and monk belong to the Temple, consider the different figures who will arise to bring Christianity more to the World= King, Warrior, Holy Fool, Heyoka or Reversal Person, Existential Sage, and Tramp or Broken Down Bum. In the Wilderness is the Prophet, but also prophetic artists and other wayward ones who can be said to belong to and exemplify the Wild. Too much error and destructive poison has accumulated round priest and monk. Their role will decline, as the roles of these Daemonic figures of passion will increase and increase..
Thus by the End Time, the Christian landscape will be very different, and the whole notion that Protestants will still be led by a churchy person, Roman Catholics by their churchy person, Orthodox by their churchy person — whether these figures are called moderator, pope, patriarch, it makes no odds – is off target by a long chalk.
It will not be anything like that, not remotely like that.
The Greek word which Christ uses in the Gospels when he asks Peter to take care of his ‘church’ is not that English term at all. The Greek word means, not church, but ‘fellowship’; or just ‘my fellows’ — those who are brothers, comrades, allies, friends, to Christ.. This is a ‘band of brothers/sisters’, not a church. It has little organization, no hierarchies of power, only elder and younger brothers, and can form and reform in response to shifting and fluid situations..
This is simply nothing like Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox, traditions as we know them today, and knew them in the past. It is nothing like any ‘church’ in the historical sense.. It is doubtful Yeshua wanted the churches, and their traditions, to evolve as we created them. But like Yahweh with the Jews, he had to tolerate our almost endless mis-understandings because our hearts were ‘hardened.’
In the future, an un-hardening of many hearts occurs, but this causes a polarization in which many other people also re-harden their hearts. Thus a polarization of true and false stands in existence arises, and a clashing is inevitable. What form the future battle between ‘un-hardened hearts versus re-hardened hearts’ will take, no one knows, and biblically this is spoken of only in poetic metaphors and symbolic images whose allusions are elusive, and could be unpacked in a lot of different historical ways. We will have to see..
In this sense, Soloviev wasted his time trying to factually incarnate ‘what will happen.’ The Biblical symbols tell us symbolically how it will play out, but that could be incarnated historically in numerous different scenarios. His scenario is particularly non-persuasive, but the actual point is that there is nothing achieved by imaging any one scenario against any other scenario. We do not know, and cannot know, the precise scenario.
As it is still open ended, with all to play for, the specific scenario is not fixed yet.
What scenario specifically unfolds will depend on how well things go, for all humanity, between now and The End. We don’t know this because it has not been chosen by humanity yet. God does not ‘fix’ a scenario before we choose and suffer and struggle.. We, in response to God, will determine the exact scenario of the future.
So, it is seriously misguided to come up with any precise historical scenario of how things End.
And if you want to add another symbolic myth, why add to the Biblical canon of symbolic myth about the Apocalypse? Isn’t it good enough?
For so many reasons, Soloviev’s tale of the Anti-Christ at the End Time is very poor. We have already had plenty of Anti-Christ, and will have to contend against plenty more, before the last roll of the dice.
The churches are like an ivy that attaches to the Tree of Life, and smoothers it; they need severe pruning, severe pulling back, severe purging of all the falsity to let the authentic pearls shine through– and the future will deliver this, among many other, necessary changes.
Big change, change of heart, is coming to humanity.