Book Review: Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb Into the New Creation, by Michael J. Gorman

Reading Revelation ResponsiblyMichael J. Gorman’s Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb Into the New Creation proposes exactly that: read Revelation well (stop taking symbols literally), worship and be a witness of the Lord (not governments, and be especially mindful of those that co-opt Christianity and claim to be the mighty savior), and follow the Lamb (imitate him by being nonviolent and sacrificial—lay down your life, don’t take others’) into the New Creation (there will be a new creation!). “Yes” on all fronts!

Gorman briefly describes several ways people read and interpret the last book in our canon, noting some of the problems that arise and unhealthy conclusions thereby taken from the text. He helpfully explains not only what we know of apocalyptic writing, but that the book of Revelation is actually a collection of genres: apocalypse, prophecy, and letter, as well as being both liturgical and political. There’s a lot going on here, and it cannot be simplified into one narrow way of interpreting the entire text—certainly not a literal approach (e.g., 1,000 years does not mean a literal 1,000 years). We are reminded that the sacrificial Lamb is the central image of the drama, and that when the Lord comes with sword in mouth (not in hand!) his robes are already bloodied—his own blood from already conquering evil through sacrificing himself!

Revelation is about worshiping the true Lord and living that out (discipleship). It’s not all about either what was (the Roman empire) or will be (a blueprint for the “end times”), but encouragement for us in the end times (between Jesus’ ascension and future return) while we live as witnesses of the Lord. Empires will rise and fall, but freedom, salvation, and truth are in Lamb!

I highly recommend this one. It may be particularly helpful for those who currently find themselves in the hermeneutical camp of dispensationalism.

Aside: I read the book in Kindle format, which has no page numbers and is sometimes a bit clunky in the formatting.