Friday, May 20, 2011

Less than rapturous thoughts

Y last day in New York. When I get home and have something better than a smartphone virtual keyboard to hunt and peck on, I'll have more to say about this trip, but in the meantime a few words about the Rapture that's supposed to happen on Saturday.

I have very mixed feelings regarding any discussion of the Rapture (in case you've been living under a rock, I'm referring here to the concept of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, an event which a small number of Christians believe will cause the righteous and faithful believers to be caught up to meet Jesus, while the sinners remain behind to experience the terrors associated with the end of the world). On the one hand, I believe all such talk of this event is meaningless, having no basis in what Jesus himself had to say about the manner of his return. I also have to wonder about the pride issues of any group that declares itself already saved and ready to be Raptured, when that decision is one best left to God. On the other hand, as you've probably gleaned from a few entries in this blog, I am a Christian and as such do believe that one day Christ will return. So if I don't think the Rapture is going to happen tomorrow, why should I care what some fringe group says on the subject?

Maybe because I've noticed what false prophesies like this do to the already-battered reputation of all Christians, not just the ones who believe in this prediction. The skeptics who already hold a dim view of Christianity will take this occasion to savage all Christians in the media. Christians with tenuous faith who were hanging on just to see this day will likely falter and fall away from their faith because of this non-event. Christian groups who proselyte to others will also receive a black eye from this incident. And those people who might have spent their brief time on Earth striving to become better people and preparing to meet God may be convinced to put off just a little longer doing what they should do today, to live for the moment rather than focus on the larger picture. And that would truly be a tragedy. In fact, no one benefits from this Rapture prophecy (with the possible exception of stand-up comics, who are already having a field day with it).

My mother always taught us that it doesn't really matter when Christ will come again. The most important thing is to live your life -- to behave in all your dealings with others -- as though Christ could come back at any time. That seems to me to be excellent advice, even on days when I struggle to follow it.


MarieC said...

AMEN! You said it all, Sooz.

Dori said...

I guess I looked at the whole fiasco differently...I didn't see that anyone (other than themselves) took it seriously. Even my non-Christian, atheist friends looked at it them as a separate entity from the rest of the Christians.

I realize I follow a slightly different doctrine and theology, but I was a little shocked with your statement that a "a small number of Christians believe" in the pre-tribulation rapture. That's actually a belief held by a vast majority of Christians! But the Bible also states that "no one knows the day or the hour". And if Jesus did return today? I'd be ready. There's nothing prideful about that. It's all written down in that Book I believe so passionately about!

Sorry, Sooz! I know you probably weren't looking for a theological debate when you hit the post button this morning. Love you!

Soozcat said...

It's OK, Dori. I appreciate your comments, and I really don't mind the occasional theological discussion.

I hope I didn't cause offense by using the phrase "small number of Christians" in the article. I haven't yet been able to find a definitive count of the number of Christian denominations who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture. Online research seemed to indicate that this belief is largely confined to Evangelical Christian denominations in North America. To the best of my knowledge, the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran and Anglican churches do not espouse this doctrine; I haven't looked into any other denominations.

As far as the question of pride regarding being "saved," I did a little reading and I think it may have more to do with specific differences in the way the word is used from church to church. If a Protestant were to ask a Mormon, "Are you saved?" the average Mormon would reply with something like, "I hope I will be," not understanding that the question is to be parsed as "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?" (In which case the answer would be "Absolutely.") Mormons understand "salvation" to mean the state granted by God only after resurrection and final judgment, which might explain my confusion on this issue.

Dori said...

Oh my goodness! There was certainly no offense taken (or meant)! And, yes, Evangelical Christians denominations are typically the ones who interpret Revelations as pre-trib. rapture. And while we make up a huge percentage of the protestant group, we differ greatly in our dogmatisms...sadly enough.

I whole heartily agree with living every day with idea that Jesus could come back tomorrow. Always good advice...and something I struggle with as well.