A friend of mine “helpfully” posted this article on Facebook. It’s from an organization called The Christian Left. The first paragraph reads:
An epic deception has taken place over the last 35 years. Purveyors of deceit have managed to equate Christianity and right-wing ideology as one and the same in the majority of Christian minds. We know the history, but how this ever happened is unfathomable to us because the two things could not be more opposed. Right-wing ideology is selfish, greedy, arrogant, vengeful, loud, pushy, judgmental, exclusive, controlling, militaristic, aloof, void of empathy, hostile towards the weak and the sick, and many times racist, misogynistic, homophobic and Islamophobic. The list goes on. Does that sound like Jesus?
The writer went on to accuse the “Christian right” of brainwashing, false teachings, and shaming. (And then they asked for donations.)
In previous two posts I’ve explained what I believe, or don’t believe, about the rapture. But why even talk about it—whether or not there’ll be a rapture? After all, our human interpretation of scripture won’t change God’s plans. Either the church will be raptured or it won’t. My opinion doesn’t change the truth.
However, our theology has repercussions. We will act differently depending on what we believe. Therefore, I need to ask, what is the fruit of our view on the rapture? Does it draw us closer to God? Does it make us more loving, more compassionate, more like Jesus?
As I mentioned last week, a sermon at church has me thinking a lot about the doctrine of the rapture. Whenever any church controversy arises, my first response is to see what God has to say about it. I started by rereading Revelation, specifically noticing the many references to believers living in the time of the Great Tribulation. There were many—see Revelation 6:11, 7:3, 7:9-15, 11:1-12, 12:17, 14:12-13, and 20:4-6. I also looked for verses about God taking the church out of the world before or during the tribulation. I couldn’t find any.
Our pastor said something the other day that really shocked me. We were in the middle of a sermon series on the book of Mark and we had reached chapter 13, about the second coming of Christ. As usual, Brady’s excellent sermon focused on the Biblical text. But before he began, he mentioned his personal position on the rapture—He doesn’t believe in it.
I was astonished. The vast majority of evangelical Christians side with authors Jim Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, and their Left Behind series, and believe that at any moment the faithful here on earth will be suddenly caught up to heaven. I’ve always felt like a bit of an apostate, since I’m not so sure I agree. I usually tell people who ask that I’m preparing to to still be here during the hard times to come, but I’d be more than happy to be excused.
- “No, I haven’t prayed about this—it isn’t that important, after all.”
- “I don’t want to bother God.”
- “I’m sure God has more important things to take care of than my little problem.”
Have you ever heard someone say any of these things? Have you?
As finite human beings, it is difficult for us to conceive of an all-powerful, omniscient God. We get overwhelmed—people constantly make demands on us, our calendars are full, and we just don’t have the time or energy to deal with every little issue that comes up. Moreover, when we’re so swamped ourselves, we have a hard time caring about the minutia of other peoples’ lives. Let them deal with their own problems—we have enough of our own.
I’m married to a man who loves the truth. It shows in his deep commitment to God. It pops up in his appreciation of civil but “vigorous” discussion. And it definitely appears in his penchant for researching and analyzing complex problems, be they technical or social. He has a compulsion to dig in and uncover the facts on any controversial issue, rather than simply going along with whatever hype the news media is currently pushing.
Of course, facts are always subject to interpretation. But one thing I appreciate about Pete’s approach is that he tries to separate the two—making a distinction between what is known to be true, and his opinion about it all.
Every day we read about more violence in the Mideast. Everyone seems to hate everyone else. In spite of decades of negotiations, cease-fires, and truces, the battle continues. Palestinians, Jews, Arabs, Christians. Can they live in peace? It seems that no matter what we do, the problem is unsolvable. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but do we really expect an answer?
Pete and I enjoyed a real treat this week—getting to sit down with some long-time friends to hear what God has them doing now. Bob and Kathryn Carlton are the kind of people that you can’t resist. Meet them for the first time and an hour later you’re best friends. Perhaps that’s because no matter where they go, they fall in love with people. Put them in Tibet, and they love the Tibetans. Put them in Burkina Faso, and they love the people there. That kind of love is irresistible!