Harbinger: One that indicates or foreshadows that is to come; a forerunner.
Can a family story be a modern-day harbinger of things to come? We live in a culture that looks for signs of things to come. Sometimes, those signs have been with us all along, illuminating paths that continue to be traveled. America has experimented with many religious and secular movements in this past century. I want to recount a family story which tells of paths that have been traveled, paths that await us all.
It is a story with which I am very familiar, along with its consequences. Every family story speaks of consequences, but not all bear the same spiritual impairment as my family story. My story is about two men; one born just before the turn of the 20th century and the other, his son, born during the Roaring Twenties. Clifton was my grandfather. Wade was my father.
They were born a generation apart, but it could have seemed like centuries with the rapid change taking place in America at the time. One was born into a Christian home in conservative 19th century America. The other was born during the rise of a new secular age. Clifton, my grandfather, diligently searched the Scriptures for answers. Wade, my father, diligently searched humanity for answers.
My father initially took to his Christian upbringing but left it when he came of age. This happened during World War 2, the years which overshadowed his rise from youth to manhood. My father rejected
Grandpa Clifton's faith. Dad thought he rejected faith altogether, but he actually embraced a new faith: one which gained millions of adherents in the space of a few decades.
Why did my father reject the faith of my grandfather? I believe it was largely because he could not reconcile the Genesis story of creation he was taught as a child with what he learned from science. It's a tragic, yet prevalent story. I have a family story that tells the story of a civilization. My dad rejected God and he told me, after I embraced Christianity during my own coming of age, that he had no use for religion. I found his old copy of Darwin's Origin of Species one day while I was going through the attic of our abandoned farmhouse. I showed it to him, but he had already completed his use of it many years earlier. Now it was just another dusty relic he left behind, a memory of the point in life where he parted ways with his father's beliefs.
This is ironic because my grandfather was just as diligent in searching as my father was, perhaps even more so. Grandpa Clifton was extremely curious and chose to tackle the book of Revelation, with all its challenges, as his life's burning devotion. He eventually unlocked its mysteries as few men did in that century. He recognized that Revelation is tied to many Old Testament prophecies that were being fulfilled during the time of the New Testament. It became a passion that solved many problems troubling Christians even to this day. Grandpa Clifton left a lasting legacy by engraving into his tombstone a pictorial overview of his beliefs. I marvel at his foresight. He continues to teach his beliefs from the grave.
My grandfather chose to solve the riddle and he succeeded. My father chose to succumb to the Genesis challenge and moved on with life in his world where he believed God does not exist. Dad was a lot like Darwin in that he could not get past the religious dogma about what the Bible teaches of origins. The dogma, rather than the reality, molded his view and became an excuse for his unbelief.
The greatest irony of all is my Grandpa Clifton's studies in Revelation provided the keys to Genesis and quite possibly his own son's redemption. I believe Grandpa Clifton's views of Bible prophecy unlocked the problems with which his son struggled, some of the very same problems in Genesis that led my father to reject the Bible and Christianity along with it. But Grandpa Clifton never got that far since he concentrated primarily on the book of Revelation. It is now too late for my father. He never lived to see how his father's keys unlocked the book of Genesis.
The inability of Christians to grasp the meaning and message of both Genesis and Revelation create a great divide in America. Christians struggle with both the beginning and culmination of the Scriptures - the Alpha and the Omega as they might be called. Both Genesis and Revelation bring a lot of baggage with them to the American religious scene.
We have great division on end-times views stemming from misadventures into Revelation. Our confused teaching has scarred our culture and created a religious society that has wasted immense energy
preparing for the end of the world. The predictions have come and gone these past decades.
A few Christians are now ready, finally -- at last, to leave behind the "Left Behind" mentality. Why? There have been too many false predictions. For some of us, they are hard to forget. Things got going with The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970. They heated up in 1987, and then we found it was really going to happen in 1988. Through the 90's and even today we hear about the Middle East in prophecy. First, it was the Soviet Union. Then it was Saddam Hussein. Is it the European Union? Or is it Islam? The hot ticket for the Antichrist keeps changing hands. And who can forget Y2K? They have all come and gone and with them goes the credibility of tens of millions of Christians in America.
Genesis has been a more dangerous venture for some. Wrongly understood, it has the potential to undermine one's faith in the God of creation. My father is just one of many who left the path of life because he could not reconcile its perceived problems with what he learned about this world.
I have been intrigued with Genesis for many years. My interest is due largely to my painful family story. But unlike my father, I have searched for answers and refused to give up.
You hold in your hands a book that offers a full picture of both ends of the story the Bible tells. You hold in your hands a book that brings together the story of origins with the story of redemption and provides the most complete and comprehensive understanding that I have ever seen in my decades of study. If my Grandpa Clifton had only understood that the keys he found in Revelation unlocked the confusion over Genesis, I might not be describing my dad's past in this manner today. How many more stories out there today are like my family story? How many tomorrow?
If you want to understand the Bible from beginning to end, this book is for you. If you are at all concerned for how Christians in Western Civilization handle God's Word in our day, from Genesis to Revelation, keep reading. The answers are coming.
-- Norman Voss, 2007
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