Friday, May 20, 2011

Tomorrow, Rapture...

By now you've no doubt heard that the Rapture is supposed to happen tomorrow. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Harold Camping has predicted the end of the world. In fact, we have a long history of enterprising individuals who have convinced themselves and others that God had given them a special revelation as to the end of all things. Do you remember the book, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 (and don't forget the follow up book the next year)? We tend to get fascinated by these things.

Let me say, first of all, without hesitation, there is no Rapture. It will not happen. It is not in the Bible. I've written about this extensively in the past, and if you're curious, you can read my thoughts here, here, here, and here. While a lot of folks are laughing at the Rapture crowd, I don't find it amusing. This is a dangerous doctrine that has far more in common with Greek Philosophy and Gnostic Heresy than Christian Theology. Underneath the doctrine of the Rapture is the belief that this world is fundamentally evil and destined for annihilation, making escape from this world necessary for all true believers to experience eternal life with God in heaven.

The idea of escape from this world is a very old idea, going back at least to ancient Greek Philosophy. Many Greek teachers believed that this body was a prison for the soul, and that death was a welcome escape from the pains and rigors of this life.

The idea that this world is evil also goes back a long way. The early Christian heresy Gnosticism taught that everything material was evil and everything spiritual was good. These two streams, escapism and dualism, combine with a fundamentally flawed eschatology to create the doctrine of the Rapture.

But none of this has anything to do with Jesus, who, rather than escape the trial set before him, endured the suffering of the cross and died for our sins. In his death, Jesus has set the pattern of life for those who would come after him--suffering for the sake of his glory. Not escape, but endurance.

What is more, in his resurrection (a bodily resurrection, not a disembodied apparition) Jesus has begun the renewal and recreation of this world, which God has already called "good" and stills deem it good enough to redeem. God judges the world not because he has given up on it, but because he wants it to become what he intended it to be from the beginning.

The Bible teaches us not to seek escape from this world, but rather to engage with it in order to spread the rule and reign of Jesus Christ into every heart and home on earth. If you believe in the Rapture, I urge you to reexamine the passages I've linked to in this post, and also to take a close look at the worldview that is driving your profession of Rapture Theology. I sincerely believe that belief in the Rapture clouds our understanding of Jesus and Scripture, and I only offer my words here because I know that you deeply love Jesus and are fundamentally committed to the teachings of Scripture. Please, for the sake of the kingdom and your heart, take a second look at the Rapture.

1 comment:

4thpoint said...

Thank you, Andy, for your good, sensible, Biblical words -- a balm in the current whirlwind of nonsense.

I've gotten a little behind in keeping up with your blog, but I'm slowly working on remedying that! =)

Blessings to you the rest of this week and next, as well! ~Stan