Michael Gorman’s wonderful book on Revelation, Reading Revelation Responsibly, is a challenging and prophetic word to the American church, situated in the heart of a global empire and subject to the temptations of civil religion.
He regards Revelation as “anti-assimilationist, or anti-accommodationist, literature” (p. 24). The Apocalypse of John calls the church to an ethic of resistance to the idolatrous corruptions of the prevailing culture.
Calling Revelation “resistance literature” is appropriate because one of the primary prophetic purposes of Revelation is to remind the church, both then and now, not to give in to the demands or practices of a system that is already judged by God and is about to come to its demise. But Revelation is not just a document that stands against something. Like all biblical prophecy, it promotes true worship of the one true God, expressed not merely in formal liturgy but also in faithful living, the practice of having no gods besides God. Put more positively, then, Revelation is a summons to first-commandment faithfulness, a call to faithful witness and worship in word and deed. In other words, its character as resistance literature is actually secondary to, and derivative of, its more fundamental character as worship literature, as a liturgical text (p. 25).