Even though the Revelation has inspired God’s people throughout Church history, I believe this book has unique relevance for western Christianity. Missiologists have stated that the Church is in a process of limanlity as we shift from the preferred position of society’s center to its margins. We find ourselves in a place similar to John’s original audience. Existing on society’s fringes, they were persevering through external opposition while simultaneously resisting the internal temptation to yield to society’s values and benefits.
In fact, I think the Revelation can speak freshly to the Emerging Church, which finds itself both on the margins of the Church and society. Scot McKnight has recently posted his observations that the Emerging Church can be defined as praxis, protest, and postmodern. I believe the Revelation speaks to all three aspects. Regarding praxis, the Revelation refashions the Christian imagination so we can “overcome” through our prophetic witness in society. It is a revelation about Jesus that can fuel our lives for Jesus. Secondly, the Revelation shows that our prophetic witness is protest. We confront both the surrounding culture as well as the heretical teaching within the Church to embrace the culture by embodying the truth of Jesus, even unto sacrificial death. Finally, the Revelation speaks powerfully through its literary and theological form to the postmodern values of story and mystery.
The Revelation has been held hostage long enough by the literal futurist interpretation that strips it of its beauty, meaning and worth. As the Emerging Church focuses upon following Jesus’ life, words and ministry as communicated through the Gospels, we should also embrace and integrate the Revelation’s portrayal of the Resurrected Jesus, who is the Lord of creation, history and the Church and who holds the keys of death and Hades and has overcome by being the sacrificial lamb of God.