Saturday, March 28, 2020

Apocalyptic? #1: The End

I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Ἐγὼ [I AM] τὸ ἄλφα [ALPHA] καὶ τὸ Ω [OMEGA], πρῶτος [PROTOS] καὶ ἔσχατος [ESCHATOS], ἡ ἀρχὴ [ARCHE] καὶ τὸ τέλος [TELOS],

(Revelation 22:13—See also Revelation 1:8 and 11 and 21:10)


Four hundred years before John penned these words in the Book of Revelation, the Greek philosopher Aristotle coined a word—entelechy/εντέλεχεια—to describe any process that has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  The last Greek word in the quotation from Revelation 22:13-- τέλος [TELOS]—is actually found in Aristotle’s term entelechy.  The “TEL” in enTELechy is short for TELOS.  Trillions of everyday processes are entelechies, processes that have a beginning, middle, and end.  A seed being planted, germinating, growing and finally producing new seeds, for example.  A day, beginning at dusk (in the Biblical pattern), proceding to morning, and ending, once again, at dusk.  Water, evaporating from the seas, rising and condensing in the skies, falling back to the Earth as rain, flowing from puddles into creeks, into streams, then rivers, and eventually reaching the seas again.

Your life is an entelechy.  It had a beginning, as you were conceived by your parents.  It has a middle—which you are now experiencing.  It will have an end, whether that end is produced by a coronavirus, an automobile accident, a terrorist attack, or just the limits of old age.  Likewise, God created the existence of humanity as an entelechy.   Humans had a beginning, with Adam and Eve.  They have had a middle—chronicled from the Book of Genesis to the future predictions of Revelation.  They will have an end.  But, like all entelechies, ends are just new beginnings.  The seed that grew and produced new seeds started a new beginning in its seeds.  The day that began at dusk and proceeded through the daylight hours to dusk started a new beginning at dusk.  The water that evaporated from the seas, rose, condensed, rained, and flowed back into the seas started a new beginning, there.  99% of all humans that have lived on Earth have sensed that death is not only an end, but also a new beginning.  There is an afterlife.  And, humanity, which began in Eden, and which will someday end, is expecting a new beginning—a New Heavens, a New Earth, a New Jerusalem, coming out of Heaven from God.

It is fair to question my credentials on this matter.  After all, thousands of theologians have written and taught trillions of words in explanation of the Book of Revelation.  Why should anyone accept the teachings of a seventy-year-old professor at a secular university on this subject?  Please, pardon what may appear to be my lack of humility as I offer you my credentials, but I know that I would never personally trust someone on this subject, unless I knew his or her credentials.  Although I have presented more than a dozen scholarly papers on Revelation, over the years, at regional, national, and international conventions of such learned societies as the Society of Biblical Literature, I have found that biblical scholars have a herd instinct.  If one diverts from the conclusions of the herd, one meets resistance.  For example, I contend that the Book of Revelation was written (as the book itself claims) in 69 A.D., as do F. F. Bruce and John A. T. Robinson.  This dating makes a definite difference in the interpretation of the book, as I will explain in future posts.  The herd, however, believes it was written in 96 A.D. or later.  The herd’s mentality was indicated to me, as I was once introduced at a national convention with words to the effect that Dr. Lindsay contends that Revelation was written in 69 A.D.; the majority of scholars disagree, but let’s “pretend” for the moment that he is right and see what he has to say.  I answered by thanking him for “pretending,” and proceeded to point out that, while mine was the minority position among scholars, it makes more sense than does the majority view.

I do, however, claim to be foremost in scholarship on the subject of entelechy.  My Ph.D. dissertation, at Purdue University, was entitled “The Burkean Entelechy and the Apocalypse of John.”  My department’s graduate faculty at Purdue chose to nominate my dissertation for a national honor:  The Council of Graduate Schools/University Microfilms Dissertation Award.  The University Press of America subsequently published my book Implicit Rhetoric:  Kenneth Burke’s Extension of Aristotle’s Concept of Entelechy and Lehigh University Press published my book Revelation:  The Human Drama, which is a unique approach to Revelation, using the principles of entelechy.  I believe I can offer many interesting insights to the Book of Revelation from this perspective.

Let’s begin, counterintuitively, with the END.  There are numerous articles, sermons, books, advertisements, etc., in the news today regarding what are called “apocalyptic” events.  The Opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal on March 27, 2020 reports: “Though less devastating than World War II, the pandemic has remade everyday life and wrecked the global economy in a way that feels apocalyptic” (  The Jewish publication The Jerusalem Post proclaimed on March 26, 2020:  “According to some on social media, the coronavirus is part of the biblical prophecy of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” ( 
Those Four Horsemen (from Revelation 6) are Conquest, War, Famine, and Death.  The two World Wars, followed by the attempts of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and Communism, plus the attempts of Iran, al-Qaida, and Isis, have allowed the world to witness, in the last century, numerous entities intent on conquest, leading to war.  Pandemics (such as the coronavirus), abortion, and terrorists have produced mass death among the relatively innocent population, but not yet to the same extent as the Bubonic Plague (which killed an estimated 50 million people).  Famines have occurred in the world, but they have often been counteracted by the welfare programs of benevolent nations.  Nevertheless, Conquest as a motive has been a part of the human condition for a long, long time.  The ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans have tried to conquer the world, just as Hitler and Napoleon did in more recent years.  War, unfortunately, has been a near constant throughout the history of mankind.  Famine has seen more powerful effects in years past.  Death, of course, has been a problem for every human, other than Enoch and Elijah, throughout all of history.  So, why do the present circumstances seem apocalyptic?  Revelation does speak of the last plagues, and the coronavirus does seem very much like a plague.  We’ll consider that fact in future posts.  Both Exodus and Revelation speak of a plague of locusts, and we have recently witnessed widespread locust devastation.  We’ll look at that.  Abortion is the killing of innocents on a global scale, so there is plenty of reason for humankind to examine its behavior.  I will, therefore, engage in a series of posts on the subject of Apocalyptic.

For today, however, let’s look at the end/TELOS, not in terms of the end of humanity, but the end of you, personally.  Granted, your personal earthly life could be ended by the coronavirus.  As I have driven some of the deserted highways, streets, and back roads around Walt Disney World, in recent days, I am struck by the fact that, although the likelihood of my death may have been increased, if due to a virus, it has been significantly decreased, if due to an automobile accident.  The roads are safer, much less traveled.  For a portion of my life, as I was working toward the completion of my Ph.D., I was a life insurance agent.  I wrote a book, explaining the rationale behind purchasing life insurance.  It was first published by Oasis Books, under the title The Twenty-One Sales in a Sale.  Now, in its third edition, the title is Making Offers They Can’t Refuse. 
In the book, I point out the incontrovertible fact: “You will die.”  The odds of this happening are 100%.  I used to tell my clients that LIFE insurance is misnamed.  No company can guarantee that you will live.  You won’t.  I told them that the middle name of LIFE insurance is the two letters IF.  There is no IF when it comes to your dying.  You will die, sooner or later.  The only question is WHEN.  So, I take the IF out of LIFE insurance and substitute the letters OV.  I call it LOVE insurance.  The only reason anyone buys it is if there is someone that he or she LOVES.  The one or ones you LOVE will receive the money from the LIFE insurance policy, not you.

Here, then, is the advice I have offered for years, since you will definitely die, but you don’t know when.  Four GETS:

1.  GET RIGHT WITH GOD, so that if you die today from a virus, accident, or anything, your family will not have to worry about your well-being.  Read your Bible, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, repent from your sins, confess to others that you believe in Him, and be baptized.  Then, work every day to live closer and closer to his Word.

2.  GET LIFE INSURANCE, so that if you die today from a virus, accident, or anything, you will not have to worry about your family’s well-being.  You need at least 10 times your annual income in life insurance.  At your death, it will come income-tax-free to your family.  They can invest the entire amount and live on just the interest generated.

GET SAFE.  Don’t take stupid risks with tobacco, alcohol, drugs, dangerous activities.  In the age of the coronavirus, follow the recommendations of the government.  I smile that I wrote the following in my book The Seven Cs of Stress:  A Burkean Approach, page 21, over 15 years ago:  “If the lives of newborn babies can be threatened by what one would consider the clean hands of health care workers, everyone is at risk of corporal stress from the transmission of disease through hand contact.  Sparklingly clean and disinfected restrooms in the home and the office are certainly helpful.   Frequently disinfecting door handles, faucets, flush handles, locks, and railings should reduce disease transmission.  Frequent and proper hand washing, consciousness of the diseases passed by handling paper currency, and being on the lookout for potentially accident-producing circumstances in the home and office reduce other types of corporal stress.  . . . Clearly, everyone at times enters environments that might pose risk for corporal stress.  Even if you wash your hands frequently, you may encounter germs on the door handle as you exit the lavatory.  Consider keeping a supply of alcohol-based wiping cloths at your desk, in your car, wherever it is convenient.  Additional protective measures might include flu shots and pneumonia shots.”

     4.  GET ON WITH LIFE.  You can not possibly know or do everything that could save your life, so just accept the fact that some day the end will come.  Don’t worry about it.  As Jesus said, “Take no thought for your life . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6: 25-33).  Enjoy your life on Earth.  There is more life waiting for you when it is over.

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