Monday, January 3, 2011

Is May 21st The End of The World?

Family Radio Worldwide, a controversial religious group, has predicted that the end of the world will happen on May 21st, 2011. This group is using the same kind of Rapture theology that pops up every few years. The best known incarnation was presented in the Left Behind book series. There is a formal name for this Rapture theology. It's called premillennial dispensationalism - and the idea was created by John Nelson Darby in the 1800s. Darby strung some lines together from the books of Daniel and Revelation; made these lines look like they are predicting the end of the world; and then sold his new interpretation of these texts to the world. It's exciting stuff. Rapture theology suggests that the end of the world would happen like an edge-of-your-seat action movie. And like all good action movies, the good guys win. In this case, the good guys (fundamentalist Christians) go to heaven while Jesus murders everyone else. Obviously this is a very different depiction of Jesus than what the Gospels give us. But, hey, these folks get points for creativity!

Barbara Rossing, a Lutheran theologian, cuts through the fog of excitement of the Rapture and points out how perverse this theology really is. Here are her powerful words:

The Rapture is a racket. Whether prescribing a violent script for Israel or survivalism in the United States, this theology distorts God’s vision for the world. In place of healing, the Rapture proclaims escape. In place of Jesus’ blessing of peacemakers, the Rapture voyeuristically glorifies violence and war. In place of Revelation’s vision of the Lamb’s vulnerable self-giving love, the Rapture celebrates the lion-like wrath of the Lamb. This theology is not biblical. We are not raptured off the earth, nor is God. No, God has come to live in the world in Jesus. God created the world, God loves the world, and God will never leave the world behind!
For more info on the Rapture, and an alternative vision of "end times," check out Rossing's book The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps the rapture is a desire from the human spirit of an unexpected event that will lift humanity out of life as we know it. In some sense, this has already happened. Just look at how ideologies like human rights and technologies like the internet have drastically re-organized the daily ethics of our lives. To me, these are very super natural things. It would be underestimating the power of their existence to call modern advancements in society anything but super natural. The lines between fiction and non-fiction are becoming undecipherable. Something has already arrived and something is surely on its way. But we are not at a level of awareness to specifically point out what that is exactly.