Book Review – A Woman Rides the Beast

A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days

by Dave Hunt

 

Without a doubt, one of the best aspects of my job is that  people are constantly recommending books for me to read.  And, without a doubt, this is also one of the most challenging aspects of my job.  I love to read, but basic math dictates that I will always have more recommendations than time to read – on top of my own reading goals.  The  other challenge is that what may be meaningful and helpful to one person may not be to me.  While this is true of any book and any relationship, it seems more complicated when a parishioner recommends a book to their pastor.

So by all means keep making recommendations.  And if you really like a book and I don’t, it’s nothing personal, promise!  I don’t think less of you, and hopefully you won’t think less of me.

So Karl dropped off this book a couple of weeks ago with a note to just read the first 30 pages or so.  I made it through the first 40.  After talking with him, his particular interest was really that I only read the opening pages, which provide some historical background on developments between the Roman Catholic Church and certain elements of Evangelical Christianity.  It was material  I wasn’t  aware of before, centered on joint declaration entitled Evangelicals and Catholics Together, signed on March 29, 1994.  Aside from March 29 being my birthday, I found this author’s take on the agreement interesting.  He claims it’s the most important development in church history  since the Reformation 500 years ago.

I haven’t read the document yet, but intend to.  The author of this book claims that it is tantamount to a massive heresy intended to insulate Roman Catholics from proselytizing by Evangelicals in exchange for vague promises of a lack of persecution of Evangelicals by the Catholic Church (particularly in South America).  All of which is interesting.

So, thanks Karl.  Something new to investigate!

But I couldn’t get farther than that.

The premise of the book is intriguing, focusing on the woman riding the beast in Revelation 17.  But my difficulty with the book is the writer’s emphatic insistence that his particular interpretation of the prophecies and symbolism of Revelation are absolutely and indisputably correct.  I appreciate the strength of his conviction, but find it somewhat overstated, to say the least.  People have been interpreting Revelation for 2000 years.  Many have been firmly convinced of the accuracy of their predictions, many of which focused on their own immediate contexts and local/world events.  All were eventually demonstrated to be incorrect.  Faithful, but incorrect.  Or at least partially incorrect.

As such,  I have to stand with my current take on Revelation.  We aren’t given enough to accurately interpret the symbolism with complete  accuracy.  Attempting to glean information about the nature or timing of the very last  days (since I think we’ve been in the last days for 2000 years) will ultimately prove unsuccessful, as per Jesus’ warnings to his disciples (Mark 13, for instance).  We are to be watchful, but not with the idea that we’re going to be able to see it coming or forestall it, but so that we can remain faithful during trying times – whether they turn out to be the eschaton or not.

If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize to Mr. Hunt in heaven.  It may well be that we’ll meet there  as martyrs in the very last days, something that I doubt will be of any greater comfort to him with his foresight than our shared consolation in Christ and the promise of our resurrection when He returns.

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