Monday, May 23, 2011

The "Rapture": a long time ago, in a theology far, far...away??? Part 1

Remember the controversy over the book by Rob Bell? It seems like it was not that "long ago" that many Christians, including Christian leaders, academics, theologians, theology students (including myself) and many others were writing, reading, and re-reading the book "Love Wins" and writing, reading, re-reading and "commenting" about the book.  (Note: Of course when I say commenting that includes both the positive and the negative comments, along with the charges of heresyfalse prophet, etc) Now all you have to do is turn on the television or go to your favorite news website to see that when it comes to "Christianity" these days, the number one topic is the "Rapture".

A couple of days ago, according to Harold Camping and supporters of his "Family Radio", the Rapture was going to happen. It did not. As I reflect on this and the theological arguments behind the Rapture, I find myself feeling sorry for all the people that truly believe (at that time) that the Rapture was coming. Before we continue the jokes let us remember: people's lives have been destroyed over this after some of them sold their houses, left their jobs, families, spouses and lovers over this, drained their bank accounts on expensive trips since 'the end was coming', etc. 

So before we say "it's their fault for believing this nonsense" remember: these are real people in real pain over this, and that includes (as one of many examples) all the young people that will not be going to college because the money is gone and this was not their choice!

And I ask why? Why did so many people believe that the Rapture was coming and now find themselves not only in the middle of a faith crisis with long-lasting financial and emotional effects but also in the middle of a terrible existential dilemma? Before I can even try to answer that I find myself looking at the "Rapture" itself and the theology behind it.

First things first: I know a few people that believe in the "Rapture" and they were simply shaking their heads at all this. They all told me a similar version of this: we cannot know when the Rapture will occur. The other day I saw on the television an interesting talk between two Evangelical pastors and they both agreed: we cannot know when the day of the Rapture will happen.

In the second part of this posting, I will be looking at the ideas behind the Rapture. Stay tuned...

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