I realized earlier this week just how much Christianese I knew. And just how delusional what I’ve believed sounds to someone who isn’t familiar with all this far-fetched pie-in-the sky – no, wait, guy-in-the-sky – eschatology. Heck, they don’t even know what eschatology is. What is that, escha….whaaaatogy?!?
Ever tried to explain the Rapture and the Tribulation to somebody who’s never heard of either? I had an interesting conversation with the Tour Guide earlier this week. Incidentally, he does identify as a Christian. He believes in God and a social gospel but is what I would call agnostic about Christ. He’d like to believe, but feels the evidence just isn’t there.
D’Ma: “Are ya’ll getting any media over there about this preacher from America that says the rapture is happening on May 21?”
TG: “No, what’s that about?”
D’Ma: “Do you know what the rapture is?”
D’Ma: “Here goes. This should be fun. Don’t laugh, okay? ‘Cause I used to believe this.”
D’Ma: “In the book of Revelation it talks about the time of tribulation, also in the book of Daniel and a few other places, but the Antichrist is supposed to rise up and for 3 years there is supposed to be peace – well 3.5 years actually. That’s how he suckers the people into following him. There’s supposed to be a time of great unrest, war, famine, disease, earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons. You name it, it’s supposed to be going on and this Antichrist rises up and ushers in that 3.5 years of peace. After that is the “great tribulation” with 3.5 years of the worst pestilence, war, oppression, etc. known to man. All brought on by the Antichrist who now has all the world under his power.”
“That’s a total of 7 years, but before the 7 years begins Jesus is supposed to call his faithful up into the clouds with him. They just disappear off the face of the earth. That’s the Rapture.”
Somewhere in the middle of all of that I started to laugh myself(and I wondered to myself what TG thought of all this…”man, this woman needs a straight jacket and a padded room?) I didn’t offer up any scripture references or try to defend the view. It’s what I’ve believed for a number of years. I really believed that Jesus was going to come down at any time riding on a cloud and calling his children home. In my mind the following background music cues:
D’Ma: “Jesus says in the Bible that no one knows the day or the hour, only God himself. People have tried for forever to pin it down and Harold Camping has decided it’s May 21, 2011. It’s getting a lot of media attention over here.”
TG: “Not heard nada here, hun.”
D’Ma: “He’s gotten his followers to sell their houses and give all the money to rent RVs and go around the country telling everybody and renting billboard space to put up signs along the interstates warning of the impending rapture. Heck, even when I believed that the rapture would happen I would never have bought into this man’s scheme. This isn’t the first time he’s predicted a date, by the way. The others have come and gone. I guess he figures the raputre couldn’t have happened ’cause he’s still here.”
D’Ma: *laughing* “Okay, you can laugh now.”
TG: *laughter ensues*
D’Ma: “Yeah, okay it was a weird thing to believe – that the sky god is gonna come down riding on the clouds and swoop us all into heaven.”
Scraaaaattttch!!!! *sound of vinyl scratching to a halt on that background music*
Just a few short months ago I was a die hard YEC. I would have attributed the unrest in the Middle East, the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and now the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to some kind of end time events and been looking toward the sky for the return of Jesus, riding on the clouds, listening for the sound of the last trumpet.
Now, I’ve dabbled a bit in some research on the topic. And just like everything else in the Bible, the Holy Spirit has told so many different versions of “the truth”. Scripture can be twisted this way and that to accommodate preterism, partial-preterism, a-millinnealism, millinnealism, or any other “ism”. All because certainly the Bible is inerrant, or infallible, or inspired. It couldn’t possibly be wrong. Jesus couldn’t possibly be wrong.
I’ve since learned that the earth is billions of years old. Plate tectonics are responsible for earthquakes and volcanoes. Atmospheric pressure brings about severe weather patterns. This is what has shaped the earth into what we know it to be today and will continue to shape the earth for billions of years to come.
After what I’ve seen with hurricanes, earthquakes, famines, and wars – after taking off my special “Joseph Smith” style sunglasses – I’m inclined to agree with what my dad once said. I gasped at the time, being a kid and not having experienced much of life. “If there is a God, and he’s in control of all of this, he’s an SOB”.