Monday, July 7, 2014

The rapture is an economic juggernaut, fodder for the unsaved in titillating scenarios they will all too soon live out themselves

Mr Jay Parini, a poet and novelist who teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont, just published "Jesus: The Human Face of God," a biography of Jesus. He has some opinions about the doctrine of the Rapture.

Even Jesus wouldn't buy 'the rapture'
The rapture concept is relatively new. It started with an Anglo-Irish theologian, who in the 1830s invented the concept. This may come as a shocker to many, but it's a fact: Before John Nelson Darby imagined this scenario in the clouds, no Christian had ever heard of the rapture.
Said no Christian ever.

Not my grandmother
BAH HA HA [wiping eyes] Anyways, whaddya gonna do? as my Italian grandmother used to say. This is what non-saved people believe. They say things with such assurance, and such force, as if they know. But it is only godless chatter, (1 Timothy 6:20). Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1)

Though Mr Parini calls himself an Episcopalian who is "a regular church-goer" not one person who is saved by grace of Jesus would ever say this as Mr Parini did:
"For instance, when Jesus says, 'repent, and you will be saved.' What He's really saying, if you read the Greek, is: open your mind to the light. Go beyond yourself into the larger mind of God, and you will experience enlightenment and reconciliation with God," he explained.
Oh, how easily the blinded twist sin, judgment and damnation into Light, 'duality' and New Age self-god concepts!

I'm not so aggravated at the usual blasphemy regarding the mystery of the rapture that Paul unfolded for the precious brethren, (WAAAAY before Darby or Scofield) as I was surprised to find myself agreeing with his statement from the article:
"The famous "Left Behind" series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins was already out there. It consisted of 16 best-selling novels on the same premise, and it's about to come to the big screen again, in a film starring Nicholas Cage. The original film adaptation (of three) appeared in 2000. And then there is the Christian real-time strategy video game called "Left Behind: Eternal Forces." If anyone hasn't noticed, the rapture has become a commercial juggernaut, endlessly shape-shifting, finding new and highly entertaining outlets.
The rapture and apocalypse in general has become an economic juggernaut, just as Peter wrote that it would. (2 Peter 2:3).

The co-opting of Christianity for entertainment and mocking purposes is age-old. Every Christian sentenced to die in the Roman Ampitheater was part of Rome's economic juggernaut. Christians and Christianity being fodder for entertainment through martyrdoms, or torture, or today through debates, TV shows of movies, is par for the course.

I wrote about the economic exploitation of God's biblical doctrines earlier this year here:

Is the fact that 2014's been dubbed 'Year of the Christian movie" a good thing? Well, was Ahaz redecorating the temple a good thing?

In the above piece, I listed all the movies and television shows I could find being released on the Christian themes. One of the new economic juggernauts was a video game of the rapture I found especially horrifying. I'd posted the summary of the game:
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture video game PS4, "The game will take place in a village in Shropshire during the apocalypse."
In that piece I focused on the movies coming out that took biblical doctrines and presented them to a secular world for monetary gain. I'd mentioned movies like Noah, Exodus, TheBible, Left Behind, Son of God, Heaven is for Real and the smaller and well-intentioned movie God's Not Dead but I missed the television series of The Leftovers and the video game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces."

Photo by Kevin King. Wikipedia Creative Commons
The rapture certainly is one of the most fascinating doctrines in the bible. The encouragement of it, the reason for it, the science behind it (or supernatural science), the imminence of it, the suddenness of it, the fact of it. Additionally I find it fascinating that the Holy Spirit waited about twenty years after Jesus' ascension to reveal this to the brethren. Paul revealed the mystery around 55AD on his 3rd missionary journey in a letter to the Corinthians,

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet... (1 Corinthians 15:51)

In 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 Paul explains to the church that some things on God's plan were kept secret so that satan and his unholy angels would not try to thwart what must be done. In those verses Paul says that the reason for the cross was kept secret. Not that satan and his angels could thwart anything, but God does not reveal absolutely everything all at once.

About 20 years after the cross, Paul's Thessalonians letters and the Corinthians letters explained the new doctrine of the rapture. It was planned from the beginning of time, but satan didn't know about it until the Corinthians and the Thessalonians did. Satan still only knows what we do: it will happen ... sometime.

What's on the other side? Everyone is curious. Everyone.
That the rapture is equally fascinating to the lost is surprising, but if we think about it not so surprising after all. It's a puzzle, a great and mystifying puzzle. And really, who wants to die? Just knowing that in the generation in which God ordains it to happen, all the living Christians will never see death but will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. For the lost, great minds have always pondered the supernatural, wondered about other dimensions, secretly wanted to step behind the veil and peek at the heavenly machinery. They have tried divination, seances, hypnotism, peyote, astral projection...anything to solve the mystery.

And all along, Paul had revealed it. It is plainly able to know...for anyone who first repents of sins and turns to Jesus as Lord and Savior, that is. He then opens up the mind to the Holy Spirit's wisdom in illuminating the bible for us.

What I wonder is...with the sudden glut of movies and TV shows devoted to the subject of the rapture, does satan know something? He isn't omniscient nor is he omnipresent. Also, he doesn't know for sure any more than we do about the timing of it. But he does have the advantage of having seen human history from the long point of view, he knows how human hearts work, he's in the thick of the spiritual battle and as its general he knows how it's going, and having access to heaven he sees what is going on up there. I just wonder...

Anyway it is surely a heartbreak to see someone who is so puffed up with vain knowledge writing biographies of Jesus and claiming biblical things about the rapture that aren't biblical at all. I am so grateful to my King that he elected me to salvation and opened my mind to the scriptures. In this way I get to know Him and His will for man by reading them. I learn about His character, and about how to live. I can be assured of my eternal destination. I can even be encouraged by Paul's words, that we may be the generation that sees the Lord in the air and are translated alive into glory.

Maranatha!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

The Rapture defined and why it will happen

9 comments:

  1. Elizabeth, I'm glad you emphasized the fact that Paul revealed the doctrine of the Rapture as a "musterion" (mystery) 20-odd years after Christ's earthly ministry.

    mystery (n.) -- Something now being revealed by God and that has never been revealed before.

    Excuse me as I point out the obvious dilemma this creates for our intrepid post-trib brethren:

    Q. How could Jesus be giving us a graphic description of the Rapture in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:29-31) when according to the Holy Spirit, the Author of all Scripture, it wasn't revealed for another two decades?

    A. He couldn't have been, and indeed He wasn't.

    Quod erat demonstrandum.

    Jesus only hinted at the Rapture without actually revealing it at the Last Supper in John 14:2-3 ("In my Father's house are many mansions..."), and we only see that in hindsight.

    Another great point you brought out has to do with what Satan is doing in regard to the Rapture. As you know, it can be highly instructive to sneak behind enemy lines from time to time and gather some intelligence on what is being promulgated by the New Age crowd. I've heard that a number of New Agers are channeling messages from demonic entities (Ascended Masters, Pleiadians, Little Green Men, whatever) about how millions of people will suddenly be snapped into another dimension so the world can embrace the coming Christ figure (uhm, Antichrist figure?) and evolve spiritually. These misguided snapees will be those who stubbornly cling to exclusive, archaic notions about the Bible being the Word of God, Jesus being the Son of God, etc.

    In other words, us.

    Oh, but not to worry. We will be gently, patiently retrained in another dimension before being returned to earth so we can get with the program.

    Few things reveal as much about the truth as a finely crafted lie.

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  2. The usual anti-rapture comment, uttered by both unbelievers and eschatologically misguided Christians: "the rapture is a made up doctrine from the 1830s..."

    Biblical answer (quoting Elizabeth): "About 20 years after the cross, Paul's Thessalonians letters and the Corinthians letters explained the new doctrine of the rapture."

    Greg: you're going to have to translate that latin for this unlearned soul, friend! :)

    -Carolyn

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    1. Carolyn it means “that which was to be proved" or in modern language, "Oooh, SNAP, BURN!"

      I agree, it is to [yawn] the usual anti-rapture comment. It is satan's maniacal glee to destroy rapture hope but God's glory to save multitudes of people during the Tribulation.

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    2. Elizabeth,

      Thanks for translating the latin. I don't know much latin except for some of the more commonly used phrases (ad hominem; quid pro quo; e pluribus unum; etc).

      I just can't fathom why Christians don't want to believe the pre trib rapture - not only is it the truth - but really, would anyone want to go through *any* part of the 7 year tribulation?

      That said, for years I did have "rapture fatigue". A very over zealous *date framing* pre trib brother discouraged me very greatly. For quite a while, I didn't want to hear, think, or talk about the rapture, due to the date framing, which naturally led to constant let downs. I was a fairly young believer at the time, so it really confused and frustrated me.

      That said, those "rapture avoidance" years were not wasted, the Lord used them to teach me some very important truths about day to day living in the here and now for Christ. And He kept me from falling into doctrinal error - I never did end up amill or post trib or preterist or anything like that. I always worshipped in a pre-trib teaching church. If anything, I ended up I guess you could say a form of "pan trib", just avoiding the topic altogether, acknowledging the truth of the rapture but I just didn't want to deal with it.

      Now I'm happy to be thinking about prophecy again.

      -Carolyn

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    3. Yes, Elizabeth is right. I majored in math in college, and at the end of the proof of a theorem, we would often write "Q.E.D.," which stands for the Latin phrase "quod erat demonstrandum." It literally means "which was to be demonstrated," or words to that effect. In other words, it signifies that the final step of the proof has established what you set out to prove.

      What's funny is that I was just going to write Q.E.D., but then thought "No, wait, some people might not know that...maybe I'd better write it out. Yeah, that's it...then more people will get it."

      Pray for me.

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    4. Greg, I'm not offended in the least that you used latin. I'm sure there are many people who would have understood it. I'm just not one of them, and neither is my husband, lol.

      -Carolyn

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  3. With the Middle East a POWDER KEG ~ ready to blow!!! And with Psalm 83 and/or Isaiah 17 looming on the horizon ~ it would certainly seem feasible that YES, we ARE the generation that will not taste death, but will be called up soon to meet Jesus on a cloud in the air. I firmly believe it may be any time ~ any day!
    Maranatha!

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  4. What burns me up about the post-trib dog-and-pony show starring J. N. Darby and Margaret MacDonald is the simple fact that it is demonstrably untrue--and if they don't know that, then (a) they're lying, (b) they've been lied to, or (c) both.

    Darby was a minister in Ireland, and in December 1826 he was thrown from his horse and suffered a serious knee injury. He was laid up for about three months, with nothing to do but pore over the Word.

    According to Darby, he was already beginning to perceive the distinction between Israel and the Church, and by January or February of 1827, he had worked out the framework of dispensationalism, and later wrote that when he clearly grasped the distinction between Israel and the Church and the future fulfilment of prophecies concerning both, the fact that the Rapture had to logically precede Daniel's 70th Week practically jumped off the pages of Scripture.

    So, Darby had it pretty much worked out three full years before a young lass in Port Glasgow, Scotland started passing around handwritten copies of her alleged "vision" to ministers throughout the area. Many came to Port Glasgow to investigate the alleged manifestations of the Holy Spirit that were occurring in meetings--meetings that by most accounts were characterized by chaos and wild excesses.

    One of those who came to investigate was J. N. Darby, and he concluded that it was most likely of demonic origin, but certainly not of God. As far as I know, after that he washed his hands of young Maggie and her rapturous ramblings--ramblings that, according to those who have had the misfortune of analyzing them carefully, speak of either a post-trib Rapture or some sort of partial Rapture. But whatever she was trying to say, it's vague to the point of being useless and does *not* clearly describe a pre-trib Rapture.

    Yet the post-trib hit squads keep yammering about how Darby got the whole idea of the pre-trib Rapture from this nutty Scottish girl in 1830 and promptly twisted some Scripture around it to make it sound biblical. Then he spent the remainder of his inglorious career selling the idea to carnal-minded wimps in the Church who so desperately wanted to escape the slightest hint of the persecution promised every Christian that they were willing to cling to an unbiblical fantasy about flying through the sky in the sweet by and by.

    In reality, the teaching of the pre-trib Rapture goes back a bit further than 1827.

    There's this letter written to a church in Thessolaniki around AD 51 by some guy named Paul...

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    1. Thanks for the history lesson! I have heard that Darby story but didn't know the facts. Facts are stubborn little things.

      -Carolyn

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