question about Catholics and the "end times"

I was raised Southern Baptist, but I’m nothing now (kind of agnosticish). So I grew up with the belief that someday Jesus would come again, believers would be raptured, there’d be a time of tribulation blah blah four horseman, etc etc.

What is the Catholic belief on this? Do Catholics believe in this apocalyptic stuff? How does the Catholic church interpret the book of Revelation?

Thanks in advance,

Basically, the Catholic position is that Jesus will come back, that people will be judged, the world will end and that will be that. It’s all pretty much seen as one event, not a prolonged “endtimes” scenario. There is no “Rapture” in Catholicism and no “tribulation” in the Left Behind sense of the word.

Revelation is mostly interpreted as relating to the ancient Roman Empire, not to events of the future.

Many elements of currently popular apocalyptic formulations (The Rapture, the Antichrist, some kind of “tribulation” or final battle on earth) are 19th century American Protestant developments.

The RCC actually discourages a lot of endtimes speculation because it assumed that humans cannot know what will happen and the details of the Parousia are less important than concentrating on being a good Christian.

The most recent catechism actually has moderately expanded its eschatological content. In particular paragraphs 668-682 seem to indicate that the lead-in to the end times discussed in the Revelation has already passed and we’re just waiting now for the other shoe to drop. And, of course, it will be a surprise to everyone since “It is not for [us] to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1:7)

Further, paragraphs 1038-1050 cover the last judgement and the renewed state of Heaven and Earth. The dead shall be raised and everyone judged by Christ. The new physical universe will be the consummation of God’s just rule. Evidently basic physical principles will be reworked, since “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay” – so the second law of thermodynamics is out.

On the intuition the OP was wondering for a compare/contrast with the better-known evangelical views (and the policies some say they have engendered in the current US administration), I toss out this passage:

In short: just because the world is about to end (“about to” in an extended, metaphorical sense) is no reason to either sabotage this world nor to attempt to hasten its demise by looking for particular signposts.

This maybe a silly question. Is Revelation one of the recognized books of the Bible for Catholics?

Yes, the Catholic Bible does include the Revelation.

I hardly remember it being discussed in Catholic school at all; we’re not literalists and studied the Bible in the light of who was writing it, what their agenda was, and what the politics were at the time. Revelation was just not that important, since it wasn’t helpful to helping you live your life day to day except in a general sense that you should live it AS IF Jesus was coming to judge you at any moment; but in a church with a long view of history, we were taught that there had been times much more dangerous, morally bankrupt, and evil than now.

Generally it’s not something we dwell on. Revelation is a source of some beautiful but weird metaphors and a coded reference to Roman rule and not clues to anything tangible or pertinent to modern life.

And for future reference: the New Testament is the same for all mainstream Western Christians, Catholic and Protestant. The deuterocanonical books are all in the OT and the RCC adds, does not subtract.

But yes, as stated, the RCC holds that the content of the Revelation of John is allegorical and refers to events throughout the history of the Church, many of which already happened as far back as Roman times, rather than to one specific catastrophe in the future. “Antichrist” is not one specific dictator, aka “The Beast”, it’s a force at work in the world that takes the form of many people and many institutions. And the passage of Tessalonians that some Fundamentalists use to justify “Rapture” theology is interpreted as referring to the Resurrection and Judgement, not to a pretribulational mass disappearance.

As it happened, one of my religion courses back in my Catholic high school days was called New Testament Writings of John and Paul. We did read and discuss the Book of Revelation, which is one seriously weird piece by the way, but the “John” part of the course was much more focused on the Gospel of John and his epistles. And when we were working on Revelation, the teacher took great pains to explain that Catholic teaching held that this work was not to be taken literally, but was more like a parable or a loose allegory, perhaps inspired by troubles that the infant Christian Church was going through at the time it was written.

(And of course we asked if we got to read George and Ringo next semester. Wouldn’t you? :smiley: )

Thanks for pointing that out. I never realized that was the case.

It was, in fact, esentially a Catholic/Orthodox man who wrote it. And Catholic/Orthodox were the ones who decided that it did belong in the bible as well.