Most Christians have a belief that Christ will come again, but the details vary considerably. Most
see Christ as their Elder Brother, just as we do, but often they see His Coming as a Coming in Anger to destroy the
wicked world and all in it. Some see Him first taking those who are worthy to Heaven with Him in one single action, and then
destroying everything else.
This is usually called the "Rapture", because of the postulated rapture of those thus saved
from disaster at the last minute. Many modern thinkers would see any such happiness as being merely a manifestation of
great selfishnessf, for it is hard to see how any really good individual could be rapturously happy when most
of their fellow-mortals were being been destroyed. Possibly it is a reflection of the way that some medieval theologians contended
that the joy of the "Saved" was actually enhanced by witnessing the sufferings of the damned!.
Needless to say, few but the msot extreme fundamentlists would say such things today, and it
is hard to see how the actual idea developed, for it is quite distinct from the way that Christ Himself
described His judgement. He does not speak of destoying the peoples, but of judging them, of separating the nations one
from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (St Matthew 25; 32)
The idea of the Rapture may be based on 1 Thessalonians 4; 15-17 in which St Paul tells
us that those who are dead will be judged first, before the living, and that thereafter the living will be "caught up together
with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air:" so let us examine this passage.
We have already seen from his previous writings (2 Corinthians 12; 2) that St Paul was a first
class mystic in his own right. And this seems to be a reference to Christ’s descent through the Planes and His Judgement
of those on the Astral and Spirit Planes before He judges those on earth. And this is clearly correct.
Those who dwell on the Form Plane will see Christ sooner than those that are on the Astral
Plane and much sooner than those who remain on the Earth plane. Their time of waiting is shorter and their time of struggle is
shorter. Moreover, their work on the Spirit Plane is not so difficult as that on the two lower planes, and God is Just. Those
who are working on the earth are working under the most trying circumstances of all, with greater temptations and difficulties,
therefore their service deserves a higher reward and so it shall be. The dead shall indeed see Him before we do, but our reward
will be the greater. Yet the ultimate reward, teh Crown of Victory, is the same for all those on all three Planes
who persevere in His Service until He comes.
Whilst this is clearly applicable to the great majority, there may possibly be a few exceptions.
There are a number of historical instances when great servants of God were "Assumed" into Heaven or "caught up" into the clouds
in a manner similar to our Lord’s departure at His Ascension. We shall discuss the psychic mechanism that He used to
produce this effect at another time, but there is no reason to doubt that He could employ that same ability to effect
a similar result in others. Our Lady’s "Assumption" is probably the best-known example of this type of miracle, and
if we are to accept the general artist’s rendition of the event, this is certainly the way it happened. Other examples
include the Assumption of Moses and the carrying away of Elijah and both of these have also been depicted in art.
We may therefore assume that such "assumptions" are certainly possible. We do not suggest, however,
that all or even most of the servants of Christ will be assumed in that way when He comes to reign on earth. Most will be
used by Him in His work for mankind on earth, for obviously if He is to rule the whole earth as King, that will be a
mammoth task and He will require many of His faithful servants to help him therein
Christ’s Coming as a Non-physical Event
There are however many other Christians who play lip-service to a Belief in the Second Coming,
but who look for some sort of a "raising of the spiritual consciousness of humanity", rather than a physical coming of Christ.
This idea is actually just one more example of nineteenth century Rationalism trying to rationalise away a Christian Doctrine,
but unfortunately it is still found in many of the larger denominations today.
It is the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that Christ will come again, and most
other Catholic and Orthodox Groups support this view, but many of their more worldly theologians try to rationalise it away
in this sort of fashion.
Yet other Romans suggest that Christ's Second Coming is no more than a world-wide acceptance
of His Presence in the Eucharist. They equate His Coming with some form of triumph for the Roman Church over all other denominations,
and often express this view by saying that; "Christ will reign through His Vicar". By this they mean that
the Pope, the head of the Roman Church, will become the defacto ruler of the world, just as at certain times in the Middle
Ages he was the de-facto ruler of Western Europe.
Many other Christians are vague about exactly what they expect to see when Christ comes, but
from the earliest Biblical times there has been a looking-forward to His Parousia. (A Greek word meaning Advent) The term
was widely used at that period, when it was generally expected that the Return of Christ would be quite soon.
It is plain that in the decades immediately following Pentecost, Christ’s Parousia was
expected almost immediately, and there are several references in the canonical epistles which support this view. There are
even reports that Christ appeared with many followers in the clouds over Jerusalem just before its Fall in 70 A.D.
The historicity of this appearance is given support by the Jewish historian Josephus who tells
of claims of a great Army in the clouds, and who also describes Halley’s Comet as hanging like a great sword over the
doomed city. To Christians, of course Josephus’ "sword" would have been seen as the Sign of the Cross - "the Sign of
the Son of man in heaven" that had been promised by Christ in St Matthew 24; 30.
But even though Christ may well have appeared at that time and condemned the City that had rejected
Him, the remainder of His Promises concerning His Second Coming have yet to be fulfilled. Not "every eye" saw Him at that
time, nor had He then gathered the remnant of the Israelites from "out of the north country, and from all countries whither
I had driven them".
And certainly He has not yet reigned as "King over all the earth", as He Himself (St Matthew
25, 32) and so many other prophets have predicted. (Zechariah 14; 9. See also St Luke 1; 32,33 & Revelation 11; 15.)
It is generally believed, also that Christ’s Coming will be preceded by a period of great
tribulation in which the true followers of Christ will be bitterly persecuted and the forces of materialism will become dominant.
There are many Biblical references that foretell this time of trouble. Christ Himself, says in St Matthew 24; 21, 22;
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this
time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's
sake those days shall be shortened.
St Paul describes this period in his second epistle to St Timothy, chapter 3, 1-5
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves,
covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers,
false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more
than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
It is clear that many of these prophecies, though fundamentally correct, have been grossly mis-represented,
usually in an effort to support one philosophical position against another. But there is no doubt that difficult times are
approaching. The ending of an Age is always a time of tribulation and many prophets have warned us that the collapse of Western
civilisation is approaching.
It is plain that this collapse could take place in at least two different ways – either
through anarchy or through dictatorship. We today can see that the increasing threats by terrorists could easily produce a
state of anarchy, whilst the government response of imposing more and more restrictions on civil liberties could easily end
in dictatorship. In an attempt to make our supporters as free as possible from these twin threats, we have always
been advised to be as self-sufficient as possible.
Of the two threats, however, dictatorship by an anti-religious government is undoubtedly the
greater danger to Christianity and both we and indeed most other denominations expect the time of tribulation to include a
great anti-religious leader generally called Antichrist.
There is not time here to consider this subject in detail, but much has been written about this
person, both in religious and in secular circles. According to St John, (1 John 2; 18) there were many antichrists in his
day, but he also refers to the prophecy that a great "Antichrist" will come.
In the Book of Revelation he makes it plain that the term refers to a single man (Revelation
13; 18) but also refers to a Beast which shall ascend out of the Bottomless Pit.
The idea of "Antichrist" is not restricted to religious writings. Jeanne Dixon the famous American
seer once said that the man who would become Antichrist had been born in the Middle East in 1961. Note; I neither endorse
nor condemn this prophecy. I merely mention it as an example of modern views about Antichrist. Other groups also expect a
final conflict between the leaders of the forces of good and the forces of evil on earth.
This final battle is usually called the battle of Armegeddon a word that is derived from the
Hebrew "Ha Meggidon", referring to the great plain of Meggido in northern Israel where Solomon built the stables for the horses
for his cavalry and chariots. (1 Kings 9; 15) Archaeologists have discovered evidence of many great battles that were fought
in this region, especially the great victory of pharoah Thutmose iii over the
Canaanites in the15th Century B.C.. (See also 2 Chronicles 35; 22 & Zechariah 12; 11)
According to St John (Revelation 16; 16) it will be at Armageddon that the final battle between
good and evil will take place, in which Christ and his followers will triumph over the forces of evil. And although we should
hesitate to claim that it will necessarilly take place at this site, nor even that it will be a physical battle at all, it
is certain that the war between good and evil will reach its climax before Christ can reign as King.
Non-Christians and the Coming of Christ
But it is not only Christians who look for the Return of Christ. They may not know Him by that
name, but all the other major religions of the world expect a "Great One" who will come and establish a new and glorious era
on the earth. A time of spiritual replenishment and Peace and even of material well-being and prosperity – a truly Golden
There is not time here to provide great details although I will do so in another place, but
a brief outline of the beliefs of the major faiths is provided together with the table below which compares the various views