I believe that the key concept in that passage from 2 Peter is not "all", but rather "not willing", translated elsewhere as "not wanting",
because it speaks to the fundamental nature of God's relationship with humanity. The argument that this passage implies that the Second Coming is on
hold until EVERYONE is saved is an invalid one, because there were people in Peter's time who had died without being saved, so if that were the case,
the 2 Peter 3:9 is nonsensical, as it is impossible to fulfill.
However, emphasizing "not wanting" shows that, as God is infinitely loving, he doesn't WANT anyone to perish, but as he is infinitely just, he will
not impose his will on anyone and leave the decision of whether someone wants to accept his grace in their hands. It is the work of Christians to
spread the message and allow people to make an informed decision about accepting him.
Which brings us to the question of when, for lack of a better notion, "God's patience runs out". Will there be a time of diminishing returns for
salvation? I'm not sure -- clearly, the passage in Peter states that we get every fair chance, but there is nothing there that draws a line in the
sand as to what "fair" means.
But it isn't a big leap to say that, if there is an age that might herald that line, we are approaching it.
Christianity is on the decline
, due in no small part to the behaviour of many in the church, who
discarded the religion in all but name long ago. When mainstream religions debate discarding core Christian
in an effort to fit into a post-Christian age, do we not see the signs?
Recognizing that "anti-Christ" is not some horror movie cliche, but a person who actively opposes Christ, are we not seeing a tremendous rise in the
number of anti-Christs? The New Atheists do not merely promote non-belief, they call for the destruction of religion -- Richard Dawkins equates
religious education with child abuse. Spend a few minutes browsing on Youtube, and you will find thousands of videos demanding that the "evil that is
Christianity must die." Christians respond, but the bleak intellectual arguments and elitism of these evangelical atheists appears to be having no
small impact on the upcoming generation, many of whose parents, overworked and overwhelmed, turned them over to the media for installation of
As I noted earlier, generic signs of the end times have little value unless they are notable. Proclamations of an immoral and corrupt society would
draw yawns in 1st Century Rome, but if we look at the depraved society that seems to be emerging from the values of greed, hedonism and arrogance so
common today, the prevalence of random and horrific violence, disdain for the dignity of life and intentional collapse of the family stands in stark
contrast to any period of the last thousand years.
I suggest, also, that the phrase "rumors of wars" in Mark 13:7 may refer to a time when people are far more AWARE of war -- a hundred years ago,
most conflicts were unknown outside of their locale, today, we are inundated with every battle, escalation, potential conflict and riot. The media and
Internet saturate us with negative news about our world and our future, a newly notable fulfillment of Mark 13:7.
Similarly, if one was to take a non-literal reading of the claim that there would be "famines and earthquakes" and see, rather than specific
phenomenon, the more general "public unrest and natural destruction", we can see that our age becomes notable, in both areas. Part of this is a
heightened awareness of the world in which we live, but there is hard evidence that there are more destructive natural events occurring, and more
political dissent than ever before.
That said, neither earthquakes nor famines are on the increase, but in the case of the latter, our reliance on technology, our globally interwoven
economy, the potentially looming water crisis, and the proportion of producers to consumers makes a large scale famine, even in affluent countries
like the US, quite likely in the near term. Add in potential terrorist induced pandemics, drug resistant bacteria, chemical weapons of mass
destruction and other hazards unique to our times, and it seems that hundreds of millions of lives hang in a fragile balance.
So, if we are to take prophetic signs of the end from Daniel, Jesus, Paul and John, we can not only see their fulfillment in our time, but we can
differentiate between our time and any other in Christian history, as regards notability of the phenomenon.
Socratic Q1: Is God's will achieved by his imposition of it on an unwilling mankind, or brought about through the actions of mankind?
Socratic Q2: Has man's technology trumped evolution, to the point that natural selection no longer plays any part in the advancement of humanity as a
species? We seem to be at a spiritual dead end, are we at an evolutionary one, as well?