Monday, June 3, 2013

Catholic Courses: Unveiling the Apocalypse

Before the birth of our son, my wife and I were involved in several different ministries. We both taught Catholic Religious Education, were active at our parish in the Young Adult ministry, led one Bible Study, and participated in another Bible Study. Some of you might be thinking, "Where do they find the time?" Let me assure you that we have a set of friends who do ten times (at least) that much WITH two kids! After the birth of our son, we have had to set aside more time for family life and some cuts had to be made. One painful cut was the Bible Study in which we were just participants. They were studying the book of Revelation at the time, and unfortunately it didn't fit into our schedule anymore. Fortunately, Catholic Courses has a study on Revelation!

Revelation is a book that fascinates basically every Christian of every denomination. In fact some denominations avoid the book altogether. In addition to being a fascinating book, it is also a grossly misunderstood book. If you asked five different Christians what a specific passage meant, you would get five different answers. In this course, Unveiling the Apocalypse: The End Times According to the Bible,  Fr. Alfred McBride looks to answer these types of questions:
  • Does the book of Revelation disclose the date of the end of the world?
  • Will there be a millennium?
  • Does Scripture support a belief in the Rapture?
  • When will the seven years of Tribulation begin?
  • Who was the book of Revelation written for?
You might recognize Father McBride from another Catholic Course - The Christ: A Faithful Picture of Jesus from the Gospels. I reviewed that course back in April, and he does another masterful a job in this course on Revelation. Like most Catholic Courses  this one is four DVDs and eight lectures. If you think that there is no way he can cover all of Revelation in four DVDs, you would be correct. For example, there are letters addressed to seven churches in the first few chapters of Revelation. Fr. McBride doesn't try to cover them all by cramming too much information into our heads. Instead, he picks a few, explains the meaning of the letters he does cover, and lastly explains the format of the letters so we can later study the ones he omitted. I greatly appreciated that.

I liked many things about this course. For starters, Fr. McBride approached the book of Revelation from different perspectives including historical and present day. Secondly, he taught this course from the idea that Revelation is inspiring and beautiful, not scary and to be avoided. I appreciate that viewpoint. I grew up Protestant and was basically indoctrinated to believe you could pick up a newspaper and find a passage in Revelation that relates to it. It definitely took a few years to eradicate that line of thinking. Lastly, he didn't bog you down with information, which is very easy to do when studying Revelation.

However, one aspect that I would liked to have seen touched on was Patristic thought on the book of Revelation. Since this book nearly was omitted from the Canon of Scripture, there was very little commentary on it. However, Andrew of Caeserea (6th to 7th Century) provided a full commentary on it, which I believe is very important as it gives us one of the earliest views of this book. This commentary is beneficial for Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants to read. because it is dated closer to the time Revelation was actually written than all modern commentaries.

Fr. McBride did an excellent job of cracking open the Scriptures. He provided a detailed but straightforward study of Revelation and also helped dispel some of the misinterpretation related to end of the world mania and fear. I recommend this course for anyone looking to better understand the most misunderstood book of the Bible. I especially recommend it for converts as it will provide you with the real way that Revelation is to be read and not some doom and gloom version you grew up with. To see a brief preview of this course, check out the video below. Also, tune in next month when I review The Hidden Meaning of "The Lord of the Rings."