(This is Day 15 in our 30 days of Revelation series.)
If I knew the world was going to end tomorrow, I would plant a tree.”
— Martin Luther
“Luther is saying he would continue to live even more deeply rooted in the confidence of God’s love for the world. ‘Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,’ is what Jesus taught us to pray. It is not a prayer to take us away from earth, nor a prayer for escape in a bunker, but a prayer that God’s reign will come to earth–and that it will even come ‘through us,’ as Luther explains.”
— Barbara Rossing in The Rapture Exposed
Barbara Rossing, author of The Rapture Exposed, noted in the first sentence of that important book that “The Rapture is a racket.”
Indeed, the theology may be bunk, but the novels and the films the novels inspired are certainly profitable for evangelical figureheads who never miss an opportunity to turn an easy buck on the Bible.
An updated version of the “Left Behind” movie series came out just last October, complete with caps and t-shirts aplenty for sale.
Not surprisingly, profiteering Christian Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame (don’t get me started on the Robertson family’s despicable takes on all things biblical) was an executive producer of that latest film based on the huge-selling series of Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and his partner in biblical exploitation Jerry B. Jenkins.
As I noted yesterday, Rapture/Left Behind theology was a 19th century concoction created by a Brit named John Darby and popularized in 1909 by a Dallas preacher named C.I. Scofield, who came up with The Scofield Reference Bible.
The Dallas Theological Seminary in the north Texas city to this day teaches and preaches Rapture theology, which is one reason it endures. The seminary, steeped in the history of Scofield’s biblical interpretations, is hugely influential in fundamentalism.
Rapture theology is based on a crazy quilt of scriptures from 1 Thessalonians, Daniel, Isaiah and, of course, Revelation with its Antichrist.
The bottom line of this Doomsday doctrine is that God is going to destroy this earth that, as LaHaye himself has said, “is so marred and cursed by Satan’s evil. He will include the atmospheric heaven to guarantee that all semblance of evil has been cleared away.”
This is a man who obviously has a pipeline to God in heaven.
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So God created the earth and atmosphere and famously declared it good in the first book of the Bible, only to declare in the last book of the Bible that His/Her good earth has to be utterly destroyed–along with kazillions of people God created in His/Her image.
This theology makes no sense on the face of it, but what it does do is feed the fears of vulnerable and gullible people attracted to escapism from a world that is, for sure, shot-through with evil.
As Rossing writes, “the Bible’s message is not that ‘God so loved the word that he sent World War III’–and yet Rapture believers believe just that, that God is going to bring about ultimate peace by bringing about God’s personal war to end all wars.
“God,” Rossing writes in The Rapture Exposed, is not a God who will destroy the earth by fire or nuclear war. Nor does God approve of our destruction of the earth.”
That said, no one can deny we–not God–have done a thoroughly good job of destroying God’s good, green earth.
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In the opening of her book Rossing writes:
“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. The Rapture proclaims escape. In the place of Jesus’ blessing of peacemakers, the Rapture voyeuristically glorifies violence and war. In the 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 through Jesus. God created the world. God loves the world, and God will never leave the world behind!
Today’s takeaway is:
15. God who created the world and loves the world is not going to do a 180 and leave the world behind just because a C.I. Scofield or a LaHaye or a Jenkins or a Hal Lindsey of The Late Great Planet Earth book fame or some doomsday preacher in Dallas or on TV’s Trinity Broadcasting Network said so.