Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Jesus, Riding on the Clouds

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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.

Anyway, the conversation was inspired by this post over at Fallen From Grace and went like this:

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?”

TG: “Nope.”

D’Ma:  “Here goes.  This should be fun. Don’t laugh, okay? ‘Cause I used to believe this.”

TG:  “Okay.”

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.”

TG:  “Gotcha.”

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:

 
The conversation continued:

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”.   

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6 thoughts on “Jesus, Riding on the Clouds

  1. So true! This same issue extends beyond just religion too. Anytime everybody around you thinks the same way, there's a good chance that you are missing something. The scientific community has made such blunders as well, but nobody is staking their afterlife on what guys in lab coats think. (Although, maybe they should!)

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  2. Ditto what The Wise Fool said. And yes they should. There may be no afterlife, but this life, well we have a stake in it. :-)I listened to Twila. I must confess a great deal of emotionalism, the moment I heard her voice. She was one of my favourites and I had all her tapes (that's going back eh?.) And then her CD's when CD players became the rage.It has taken me years and years to come to this point of actually turning on a video like this and listening to it and watching it as well. I felt my heart in my throat, the beat quicken, and that familiar feeling of floating away into the clouds with Jesus, arms extended. Tears came to the surface. When I listen I understand the pull. Almost trance like. I see how easy it is to want to believe. Not how easy it is to believe. But, how easy it is to "want" to believe. Who wouldn't want to float up in the clouds with the great "I Am" and be spared hell and the Tribulation? I have also found people in life, who haven't got a clue about any of this stuff. Then when I tell them, they look at me and say, "You? You actually believed in this? How could you believe such a thing?" Then I sigh because it would take a lifetime to explain it.I too believed it all D'Ma.

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  3. It's easy to believe this when everybody around you is like-minded. When trying to explain it to someone outside the faith, who's never even heard these things, I felt a bit like Jerry Fletcher in Conspiracy Theory. It all sounds so crazy.

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  4. sorry I am a bit late to the party, Dma. I have been offline for a week or two.I had to explain all this kind of stuff to RoseMary, my Catholic wife. I explained it to her when I was a Christian, but who had left the crazy eschatology behind, and again as a non-believer.Also, I showed her some YouTube clips from old tent revival rallies – including those led by Marjoe Gortner, Oral Roberts and Kathryn Kuhlmann, to give her an idea of the kind of Christianity I grew up in. I also forced her to watch the movie ‘Jesus Camp’, and I told her that my childhood religious upbringing was almost identical to that depicted in the movie (there were some differences – for instance we were never taught to be so overtly political)She is absolutely dumbstruck when I show her this stuff. She does not laugh or find it funny – she just confused and sad for me. She knows and loves my mother – and she finds it so hard to believe that she was once like those tongue-speaking Pentacostals, but I assure her it is true.Then I sometimes dare to turn the tables on RoseMary. But really, what is more outlandish? That Jesus is coming back in the clouds to raise the dead and retrieve them from the Tribulation, or that a wafer and wine, at the command of a Priest, is magically transformed into Jesus’ flesh and blood, and in order to live forever, you must drink that blood of a god? To me, each is just as outlandish to one on the outside looking in.She agrees with me. But she says the difference is in how we act. She says that at least she did not lose control of her bodily functions as a worshipper, whereas we would speak in tongues, and allow ourselves to be slain in the spirit. I guess the difference to her is that she is able to remain in control and keep everything exclusively a mind-game.

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  5. HeIsSailing, You brought up a very interesting point about speaking in tongues and being slain in the spirit. As a Southern Baptist I suppose I can relate to Rosemary somewhat in that I was able to remain in control and keep everything exclusively a mind-game. Did you ever speak in tongues and were you ever slain in the spirit? How do you explain that now?

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  6. Ditto what The Wise Fool said. And yes they should. There may be no afterlife, but this life, well we have a stake in it. :-)I listened to Twila. I must confess a great deal of emotionalism, the moment I heard her voice. She was one of my favourites and I had all her tapes (that's going back eh?.) And then her CD's when CD players became the rage.It has taken me years and years to come to this point of actually turning on a video like this and listening to it and watching it as well. I felt my heart in my throat, the beat quicken, and that familiar feeling of floating away into the clouds with Jesus, arms extended. Tears came to the surface. When I listen I understand the pull. Almost trance like. I see how easy it is to want to believe. Not how easy it is to believe. But, how easy it is to "want" to believe. Who wouldn't want to float up in the clouds with the great "I Am" and be spared hell and the Tribulation? I have also found people in life, who haven't got a clue about any of this stuff. Then when I tell them, they look at me and say, "You? You actually believed in this? How could you believe such a thing?" Then I sigh because it would take a lifetime to explain it.I too believed it all D'Ma.

    Like

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