Greg Boyd Rejects the Theology Related to the Rapture

A brief post that looks at the issues with the rapture. Greg Boyd’s ministry emailed out a video the other day where he explains why the rapture is bad theology.  This is more of a discussion post than anything else. 

“You have a poem called “Bad Theology.” What would you call a bad theology?I guess any theology that presumes to have God in its pocket. Can I explain this without sinning further? We’ll find out. The community in which I was raised did what they would call theology, but it was always a kind of cranky, brutal reduction of lush and beautiful complexities into the lowest common denominator, the dullest version. But when I went away to school and started reading more, I became increasingly dissatisfied with any theology that replaces the enormous, immeasurable real with very measurable and very calculated replacements. I’m not saying this very eloquently, but I guess bad theology articulates as definitive and conclusive that which is unknowable and without end.

Tony Leuzzi 

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.[g]16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died[h] will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 NLT 

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 

Greg Boyd of Woodland Hills 

Long ago I rejected the concept of the rapture to be one of the most erroneous teachings in modern evangelicalism. I was stunned when I realized how new it was, and I thought the theology to be inconsistent with the core of the Christian faith. Plus it didn’t help that many evangelicals were caught up in the Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins books and the cheesy movies such as the Kirk Cameron. I recall watching Left Behind in 2000, and I still have not recovered from Kirk Cameron’s acting to be honest with you 😛 These are some of the many reasons why I reject the rapture: 

  1. It leads people to be spiteful to their neighbors. 
  2. It causes Christians to look at the earth around them as being disposable. Why care about nature, the environment or so many other issues if you don’t have to deal with it? The theology undermines the core concept of Christian faith. 
  3. It also contributes to an anti-intellectualism in the Christian faith. Why wrestle with issues like evolution of the problem of evil if you think you are going to be sucked up into the sky? Why care? 
  4. I believe one of the people who influenced the teaching, John Nelson Darby is a man who was mentally ill. 
  5. It leads Christians to celebrate disasters and view bad news as being good. For me this is horrific in so many ways. 
  6. It also leads to many evangelicals to neglect the poor and many of the “least of these.” Some evangelicals get so wrapped up in this topic that they neglect the more important 

The other day Greg Boyd’s ministry emailed out a video where Boyd talks about why the rapture is bad theology. I have that brief 5 minute video up above. If you want to see a longer video that looks at this issue in about an hour long sermon, then you should go here. I like Greg Boyd quite a bit, and I appreciate him taking on this issue. Its long overdue that this topic be addressed. One of the posts I need to do sometime is a post that talks about what I appreciate from Neo-Calvinist theology. This issue is one of the topics that I do appreciate. You don’t hear this theology in a Calvinist system, if I am wrong please correct me. So let me ask you the following questions to consider.

  1. Why is the rapture bad theology?
  2. What stories can you tell about this theology, and how it adversely effected you?
  3. What led you to reject it?
  4. On the flip side why do you embrace it?  

Feel free to discuss this issue below. That’s it for the day guys, please know that I love you! 

32 thoughts on “Greg Boyd Rejects the Theology Related to the Rapture

  1. Wondering,

    I believe in the rapture, and Darby had nothing to do with it, and neither does the Left Behind Series. I’m a bit confused when you say that it is NEW theology.

    You are a former Catholic, right? Do they believe in the rapture? How old is Catholicism? Does it pre-date Darby?

    I find a lot of fault in the Left Behind Series, but the rapture is not one of them.

    I started studying this when I was researching why the 7th Day Adventists insist on going to church on Saturday, telling people that they are hell bound if they step one foot in a church on Sunday, neglecting Saturday, as they believe that Saturday is the ONLY day of the Sabbath, as set forth by the 4th Commandment, telling people that they are willfully sinning, if they violate God’s 4th Commandment.

    The 7th Day Adventists don’t believe in the Rapture, either, yet they are huge proponents of the books of Daniel and Revelation, just as their sister religion, the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    And, since I do not believe in the theology of both of those, why would I believe their story regarding their non-belief of the Rapture? Charles Darby? I never even heard of his name til about 5 years ago.

    So, why do I not believe their version?

    They both believe in SOUL SLEEP, meaning that when the Bible states that when you die, you are ASLEEP, and they describe asleep as being UNCONSCIOUS. According to those who subscribe to soul sleep, once you die, you do not exist at all in any form or fashion until the resurrection. This theology is known as ANNIHILATION. They use Ecclesiates as their proof, that when you die, you have no more REMEMBRANCE. But, I’ve learned that their interpretation of that is off base.

    When you come upon a corpse, and ask IT a question, that corpse will not respond. Why?

    James 2:26 is why. You are a spirit, and spirits cannot die. They exist for eternity. They are neither mortal, or immortal. Bodies are either mortal or immortal, not the spirit. You are a ghost in a body.

    They have told me that DEAD MEANS DEAD.

    I respond with, “OK, Good, now that we know what dead means, what does dead mean?

    So…Let’s begin…

    It all ties in with the 70 weeks.

    Since I cannot post a Word Document, I am going to post a link to Daniel 9 that I did years ago, regarding the 70 weeks. Click on the link, and a word document opens up. It’s a flow chart. If it were just words, I would just simply do a cut and paste.

    https://chapmaned24.wordpress.com/2017/10/24/70-weeks/

    I could expound on the rapture much much more, but I will leave you with food for thought.

    We have a saying that is not necessarily related to religion, in that history repeats itself.

    Well, the bible tells us something similar, in that the end was declared from the beginning.

    And…

    Ecclesiastes 3:15
    Whatever is has already been,
    and what will be has been before;

    Ecclesiastes 1:9
    What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;

    NOW…since the end was DECLARED in the beginning…We must go back to GENESIS to find out what the end will be.

    Now…NOT USING CARNAL EYES, use your spiritual eyes, and read the story regarding Noah and his Ark.

    The Ark is JESUS, the wicked is BELOW the Ark, and the Ark is ABOVE the earth, while destruction is happening below. Those IN CHRIST are PROTECTED by the Ark (Jesus), and they are not involved in the GREAT tribulation…they are not here.

    Come Hell, or High Water.
    Getting back to Thessalonians, we meet the Righteous DEAD (not resurrected yet) in the air with Jesus.

    The end declared from the beginning…The Tree of Life is Jesus.

    Finally, RESEARCH the ENGLISH word, Rapture, and it’s ORIGINATING Greek Word.

    Transliterate that word to Latin.

    In simple terms, the originating Greek word is to SNATCH away. Just by studying that one word should settle it…but apparently, for whatever reason, people don’t believe in it, and it shocks me.

    Ed Chapman

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are a former Catholic, right? Do they believe in the rapture? How old is Catholicism? Does it pre-date Darby?

      The majority position in Catholicism is amillenial, though Post- and Pre-Mil (historical Pre-Mil, NOT Darbyite Secret Rapture) are minority positions that are still open to debate.

      And Catholicism in a recognizable form — the original Western-Rite Liturgical Church — dates back well over 1600 years; traditionally our bishops can trace back “apostolic succession” of ordainment 2000 years to one of the Twelve Apostles, though records for the first couple centuries are understandably spotty.

      Darby was 19th Century, and the idea of The Rapture does not trace back before his “Dispensationalism”.
      You do the math.

      Liked by 1 person

      • HUG,

        I still have yet to study Darby. Actually, I could really care less as to what he has to say. But when I do study of the English Word, “Rapture”, AKA “CAUGHT UP” in the KJV, and take it all the way back to the original Greek Word, and see the definition “TO SEIZE”, and then TRANSLITERATE that word to the LATIN, which is the Catholic OFFICIAL LANGUAGE of the scriptures, and then TRANSLITERATE that word again to English, we get RAPTURE…NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.

        Our KJV uses the word, “CAUGHT UP” in place of the word RAPTURE…but it’s the SAME word, transliteratd from the Greek, and they all mean TO SEIZE.

        So…just look in the KJV and see all references to the words, “caught up”. Easy Peeeeezy.

        It doesn’t take a genius theologian to figure out that the rapture is a real solid theology.

        I’ve been researching this guy, Greg Boyd. He does indeed believe JUST LIKE THE 7th Day Adventists regarding ANNIHILATION, not realizing that spirits are NOT MORTAL, OR IMMORTAL AT ALL. Spirits are eternal.

        He also thinks just like the Jehovah’s Witnesses that the comma is in the wrong place regarding the theif on the cross; he also believes that the story of the rich man and lazarus is nothing more than a parable, not realizing that the place of both the dead of the righteous and of the wicked was located IN THE HEART OF THE EARTH at that time. He presents the case that heaven was the topic, and that someone in heaven that can see the wicked in hell is kind of far fetched. Problem, Jesus hadn’t died on the cross yet, and no one was in heaven yet. And, the rich man and lazarus is not a parable. ZIPPER the gospels and you find that Jesus was talking to his disciples only, not to anyone else…but if you only rely on Luke, it has the appearance that Jesus was speaking to the crowd. He wasn’t. He was in a house alone with his disciples CONTINUING a conversation regarding divorce, and THEN the conversation of the rich man and lazarus came up. The crowd never heard that conversation at all.

        There is much wrong with his theology. He might as well be a 7th Day Adventist, cuz he’s got their theology in a nut shell, but he goes to church on Sunday.

        Ed

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  2. I rejected the notion of The Rapture years ago. Nothing in he Bible lends credence to it. It is wishful thinking on the part of those who think they should not have to face the end of days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I remember right, the prophets called the end of days “That Great and TERRIBLE Day”.

      NOT a spectator sport with catered box seats for God’s Speshul Pets.

      I heard so much glib gushing over The End when I was in-country (in the heyday of Hal Lindsay); these days I figure if any of those Uber-Christians so smug and glib about the subject ever DID see a vision of “That Great and TERRIBLE Day”, they’d be curled up in a corner with a bottle of Jack Daniels, drinking and blubbering.

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  3. OK, so in the long version, he begins discussing the blood moon thing, for which I DO NOT BELIEVE in, for which MARK BILTZ invented…he is a LOCAL TACOMA, WASHINGTON “returning to our Jewish Roots” preacher that is a massive legalist.

    Not long ago…about a month ago, there was massive fires in my area in which the smoke was heavy in the air, and the air was stagnant. It took about 2 weeks for the wind to finally get rid of the smoke filled air.

    However, when we had full moons…the moon was red, more red than what Biltz calls BLOOD MOON.

    Anyway, I can’t stand the theology of Mark Biltz.

    I also need to mention that I am a dispensationalist, tho. Pre-Trib (from the GREAT Tribulation)

    Ed Chapman

    Liked by 1 person

  4. At present, there is two people from the bible who has NEVER DIED.

    Who are they?

    That is also an important aspect of the rapture.

    Why?

    Hebrews tells us that it is appointed unto man ONCE TO DIE, then the judgment.

    They gotta come back so that they can die.

    But, their spirit is what was snatched away…poof, they were gone, yet they did not die. They were raptured.

    Ed Chapman

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope you will forgive me if I do not go into detail, but I agree with the main thesis of this point. The denomination I serve is part of the Brethren tradition that is strongly amillennial in its history and though they leave the final teaching up to individual churches, it still consistently as a denomination holds to amillennialism.

    The congregation I pastor is pretty solid premilleniallism, but when I teach eschatology, I make sure they also know about the other viewpoints: amillennialism, historical preterism, and post-millennialism.

    My final statement from the pulpit is this: Even if premilleniallism is theologically correct, it’s emphasis and its disciples who have the events written down second by second have done more harm to Christendom than any atheist. Jesus said to “Be about my business until I return” (Luke 19:13) and whether he comes back in the next minute or not for one hundred years, let him be interrupting our living for him.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. OK, so viewed the video that you provided and this guy has a serious lack of knowledge of the Bible. He’s terrible.

    1. His first topic is John being told, “Come Up Here”.

    So…to refute his ignorance:

    1 Corinthians 12:1-5
    …I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like…

    Now, Paul was speaking of himself, even tho he spoke of this person in the 3rd person. He didn’t like bragging about himself.

    So, when John is told to come here, where was here, and how did he get there? He was exiled to Patmos, but where did he see the vision?

    2. He has a problem with “escaptist” theology, thinking that this theology has RAMIFICATIONs.

    He states that we are PROMISED tribulation. However, we are not discussing generic tribulation. The tribulation that we speak of is known in the Bible as the “GREAT Tribulation”, not “tribulation. Huge difference…huge.

    3. He claims that the call is to bring heaven down to earth.

    He claims that God needs Christians to recover, redeem, renew and restore the earth for him.

    He claims that it is not to abandon this earth, to destroy it…

    Wow…this guy is biblically ignorant.

    Isaiah 24…AND 2 Peter 3 refutes his nonsense.

    ********************

    Now, I get it…this guy is an environmentalist…

    Well, to refute YOUR complete allegiance to the earth, as well as his:

    Ecclesiastes tells us that your thinking is all VANITY. Jesus tells us to stop looking at things on earth, and look upward.

    Yes, this earth is OUR TEMPORARY housing. We are in TIME, not ETERNITY. Eternity comes to earth after Isaiah 24 and 2 Peter 3.

    This next is the MOST IMPORTANT, that you are a spirit first and foremost. If you don’t understand that, then you will never get it.

    That preacher does not get it.

    2 Corinthians 4:18
    While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

    Ed Chapman

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  7. I think, in part, the idea of the rapture comes as a logical deduction that tries to resolve the supposed anytime unpredictable nature of Christ’s second coming with the prophesies that if fulfilled would indicate that the time for that coming is very close. This is off of the top of my head and relates to stuff i read in Gundry (a post trib premil. – at least at the time he wrote on it). Does anyone agree with this? Does anyone have a different idea?

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I said below, the Rapture was a part of Dispensationalism, an attempt to turn the entire Bible into one logically coherent checklist by splitting off apparent discrepancies into “Dispensations” separated into separate time periods. Sort of literalist systematic theology.

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  8. 2. It causes Christians to look at the earth around them as being disposable. Why care about nature, the environment or so many other issues if you don’t have to deal with it?

    Expressed in four words I heard a lot when I was in-country:
    IT’S ALL GONNA BURN.

    When the World Ends any minute now and It’s All Gonna Burn, DON’T expect anyone to dare great things or even plan ahead beyond the immediate. Only keep their noses squeeky-clean to pass the Rapture Litmus Test (any minute now) followed by the Great White Throne Litmus Test (any minute now). And hide from all that potential Heathen contamination, just like Kirk Cameron barricaded in his dressing trailer on the set of Left Behind.

    This gets compounded by the accompanying idea that only “Saving Souls” will count at the Great White Throne. That God will judge you based on your Fire Insurance Sales Record, with a big helping of Ezekiel 33 guilt on the side. So SELL THAT FIRE INSURANCE! OR ELSE!

    When you have no Future (It’s All Gonna Burn), the Future tends to happen regardless — WITHOUT YOU.

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      • You must camp out on this thread or something — I posted that comment about ten minutes ago.

        I have seen where “It’s All Gonna Burn” leads:
        Nihilism with a Christian coat of paint.
        Forty years later, the damage is still there. I have to stay away from the subject just in order to function.

        I will be posting my experience in-country with The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and Christians for Nuclear War in a day or two as time permits. In the words of the prophet The Grateful Dead”,
        “What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.”

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      • Camp Out? Hahahaha! I keep my EMAIL open…I get NOTIFICATIONS in my email regarding comments on VARIOUS blogs that I have subscribed to.

        Camp out…hahaha! I answer my emails.

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      • I learned MANY years ago, to take the word of theologians with a grain of salt. I never bought into ANYTHING that Hal Lindsay ever said. Never.

        I made a point to study topics ON MY OWN. They (Hal Lindsay, or just FILL IN BLANK of ANY theologian) tell me what they believe via their preaching. But ALWAYS take the teachings with a grain of salt. Just use what they say as a topic to study, but don’t be all lock, stock, and barrel about what THEIR conclusions are. Study it yourself from the source, just like the Bereans did. The Bereans were not gullible.

        When I was in the Navy, in our SHIPS library, which the chaplains are responsible for, I found pamphlets left by some religious organization that the world was going to end on a specific date.

        I was not a Christian at the time, but that date was a date that we were underway. I’m still here.

        If we had a dime for all the end time theologians that make TIME TABLE predictions, I would be a millionaire.

        Why would anyone get all knotted up about end time predictions not coming true? They do the math, they are wrong, they explain that they forgot to carry the 1, and re-predict, and they are wrong again.

        Didn’t anyone learn this from the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the 7th Day Adventists in the 18th and19th century?

        Ed

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  9. 4. I believe one of the people who influenced the teaching, John Nelson Darby is a man who was mentally ill.

    I understand John Nelson Darby didn’t just “influence the teaching”; he ORIGINATED it. Despite the “I Have a Verse! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!” there is no evidence of any Rapture belief predating Darby.

    Alan Loewen (above in this thread) has told me several times that he credits “John Nelson Darby and Hal Lindsay with destroying Protestant Christianity in America.”

    Darby was a product of the one-two punch of the Age of Reason and Industrial Revolution, which in the speculations of Chaplain Mike over at Internet Monk turned the Bible into a Spiritual Engineering Manual. And so the Old Stories of God and Man became nothing more than a checklist of literal Fact, Fact, Fact. Check, Check, Check, Check, Check…

    The Rapture itself was only a portion of Darby’s big project: Dispensationalism, an attempt to reconcile apparent discrepancies in the Bible by dividing them into different “Dispensations” throughout history, thus classifying everything into a single airtight system (and Theological Checklist). Like Calvin’s Institutes, Darby had God’s Plan All Figured Out. (“Dispy” then spread through this country by means of a “colorful” character named Scofield, who wrote a popular Reference Bible. I do know that by my time in-country, Dispy and Pre-Trib Rapture were SCRIPTURE, Period.)

    The idea of The Rapture was also said to have originated in the visions of a teenage girl in Darby’s church (Plymouth Brethren?). From the description I heard, said vision sounded a lot like trance channeling. However, when I mentioned that on a YahooGroup years ago, most of the rest of the group turned me into a pile of rocks on the spot.

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    • I find it strange that people want to slam dunk Darby in his teaching of the rapture, when I see it from the Bible and I don’t even know what Darby even said.

      But on a lighter note, how many Pharisees thought that Jesus was a nut case?

      Ed

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    • “The idea of The Rapture was also said to have originated in the visions of a teenage girl in Darby’s church.”

      Please check out the facts instead of just believing what was “said”. I presume you are referring to the Margaret MacDonald prophecy which has been accredited to it. I read that prophecy fully and I cannot find any hint of pre-tribulational teaching anywhere. Go and read it on Wikipedia! The Dave McPherson is a guy spreading this idea that Darby got it from an utterance at Edward Irving’s church and he made this bold assertion in his book The Rapture Plot: “”The real test is ahead. If pretrib promoters ignore or twist this book’s documentation, and if their only bottom line is a continuing flow of funds, then I won’t be surprised if God views them collectively as an “Achan” (Josh. 7) and allows a national or even international money collapse!” You should question your sources on this, and it sounds like the guy behind it is unhinged. The source on that quote is from an endorsement of his book at
      http://biblicalexaminer.org/plot.htm.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. 5. It leads Christians to celebrate disasters and view bad news as being good. For me this is horrific in so many ways.

    Eagle, maybe you should reply to this with your account of the reactions you saw on 9/11. You remember; those Rapture Ready types who were living in the prequel to Left Behind and found it all very exciting.

    Now imagine those same rejoicing reactions about Global Thermonuclear War instead of 9/11 and you reading this will have an idea of what I went through in-country some 40 years ago.

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  11. I personally do believe in the rapture. The timing of it is a different discussion altogether but I believe the concept of it is Biblical. The word “rapture” is from the word “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4. Although Darby is believed to have “originated” it, this is not the case. He took seeds of thought that were already existing and made it into a systematic view. John Gill and John Wesley referred to a rapture in their commentaries on 1 Thessalonians 4 although they were not pre-tribulationists. Iraneus, who was two generations from the Apostle John, taught that the church will “caught up” at the end of time although he also believed that the church would go through the tribulation. A Dallas Theological Seminary journal also references Brother Dolchino led the Apostolic Brethren in Northern Italy who were persecuted by the religious authorities of the day. He died in 1307 and taught a transference of believers to heaven. All these men lived and died and before Darby was even born. I have seen more examples but I can’t remember them at the moment.

    I believe it also because Jesus said “I will come and take you to myself that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3). It is also in Philippians 3 where Paul says that our citizenship is in heaven and Jesus will transform our bodies. In 1 Corinthians 15 he says that we will be transformed in the blink of an eye. The Apostle Paul often said that he desired to be absent from the body and at home with the Lord. I do feel discouraged and disappointed if people impugn the motives of those who believe in a rapture. Many believe it because they love Jesus, love his appearing and have set their hope on seeing him. Jesus Christ is the focus of my faith and the purpose of my life. The Apostle Paul said that to live is Christ and to die is gain. This does not prove a rapture but it shows where their heart is.

    I do see where you are coming from and your concerns. Whilst I believe in a rapture, it is not salvific and most of my brothers in Christ, with whom I fellowship, do not agree. And the command to love God and to love your neighbours are of far more importance. This includes caring for the poor and we should also be stewards of our environment and everything we have. The Bible makes this very clear and it is sad if those when any believer fails to do that. Paul countered a faulty attitude when many believers had given up their jobs because they believed Jesus was coming back soon and reminded them “if a man shall not work, neither let him eat!” The fault is not with the theology but with human nature. The same charges could brought against any view that the world is going to end and that has been the orthodox, traditional and majority view in Christianity throughout it’s history. This fact does not mean that we should stop being responsible and living our day to day lives. We don’t know when Jesus is going to return – it may not be in our lifetimes but the overwhelming view throughout church history is that he could return at any moment. The Apostle Peter said that we should be living holy lives. If you love Jesus Christ you will both “love his appearing” and “keep his commandments”, not polarise one against the other.

    I also don’t agree with making a particular eschatological view an essential component of membership or of employment in some Christian organisations. I appreciate you asking these questions because it is good to discuss it in a brotherly and civilised way. There has been far more heat than light generated in discussions on eschatology, creation vs evolution, Calvin-Arminius and many other issues. It completely violates the command of Jesus to love one another. He did not say that the world would know that we belonged to him by our right theology but by our love for one another.

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    • I also don’t agree with making a particular eschatological view an essential component of membership or of employment in some Christian organisations.

      You may not agree, but IT’S THERE.

      During my time in-country (see below), I heard NOTHING else. That was THE ONLY ESCHATOLOGY, THE ONLY TRUE TRUTH! FROM THE VERY LIPS OF GOD! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! RAPTURE! RAPTURE! RAPTURE!

      It was not until I detached and became a “None” (with ten years of PTSD Rapture flashbacks) that I found out Secret Rapture was NOT the ONLY view. While in-country, I HEARD NOTHING ELSE.

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  12. What stories can you tell about this theology, and how it adversely effected you?

    This is going to be long and rambling; I’ll try to limit it to my interactions with the Rapture Ready crowd.

    First, a little Grateful Dead to set the mood:

    Then a bit of personal background (so everyone knows what I came in with):

    I’m a former Cold War Kid Genius, IQ around 160, diagnosed in Kindergarten two years after Sputnik and fast-tracked for the remainder of my school career. Wesley Crusher and Doogie Houser are the FANTASY of the Kid Genius; the reality is VERY different. Such as “conservation of neurological energy”; while your Intellect is racing years ahead of your age, the rest of your personality development is lagging behind. I got that side effect BAD; serious emotional and social retardation as well as the near-total isolation inside my head.

    Though I was never diagnosed with Aspergers, I do have some of the Aspie traits. Primarily social awkwardness and taking EVERYTHING at literal face value; Rachel Held Evans’ old blog had an “Ask an Aspergers” posting many years ago, where one of the points was that Aspies are advised to avoid “certain types of religious environments” which could really mess them up. More on that one later.

    I am also a natural talent speedreader; in third or fourth grade I tested out at 600-900 words per minute with full comprehension. By the time I was 10-12, I had read more than most people do in their entire life — with NO idea how to fit it all together. And remember, I took EVERYTHING at literal face value. I practically lived in the local public library like Twilight Sparkle in her Canterlot days, just absorbing data. Everything from fringe UFOlogy (Contactee Saucer Cult stuff) to gory details on capital punishment to fiction well beyond my emotional age to fringe literature (Frank Edwards weirdness) to Sixties Space Program to model airplanes/cars/trains/ships to military history to every encyclopedia to nuclear weapons effects (“painlessly and instantaneously vaporized into Heaven” is NOT one of them) to as much science fiction and fantasy as I could get my hands on. Result: a massive mash-up mental database with no search engine and most EVERY bit of data taken as literal truth.

    When it came to religion, my parents were supposedly Catholic but completely non-practicing; some mention of God but no details whatsoever. And Kid Geniuses were expected to be agnostic to atheist, because SCIENCE!

    Now for Close Encounters of the Rapture kind:

    My introduction to Christ was through Jehovah’s Witness material shoved under the door of our house and Jack Chick tracts (primarily “This Was Your Life” and “The Beast”.) Lotsa fear-mongering in both of those. In high school said fear got me guilt-manipulated into a Sinner’s Prayer conversion.

    This was the early Seventies, when Hal Lindsay’s “Late Great Planet Earth” was THE big thing. The “Spiritual Life Club” at my high school did Bible Studies without a Bible in sight, just LGPE and lotsa Verses. (I quickly found out I was NO good at deciphering Christianese, much less speaking it.)

    Late Great Planet Earth was the Left Behind of its day, except scarier. This wasn’t too long after the Cuban Missile Crisis (I went through “bomb drills” in first grade), and Lindsay interpreted “the plain meaning of Revelation” as God showing John a movie of The End Times (1980s at the latest) and John wrote it all down as best he could. And the plagues and horrors were all effects of Global Thermonuclear War. (Looking back, Lindsay just gave the Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War trope of the time a Christian coat of paint to get them down the aisle for the Altar Call.) There was NO Bible other than Daniel, Revelation, the “Nuclear War Chapter” of Ezekiel, and Late Great Planet Earth.

    Then came junior college, and I hooked up with a “Christian Fellowship” club on-campus. Which turned out to be stealth recruiting for a Shepherding group called “Koinonia House Christian Fellowship”, Love-bombing, Cult Compound (two houses in the older section of Whittier), Cult-owned janitorial service all members were employed in, Separation from those Heathen, mandatory Bible Study, compulsory Witnessing, Heavy Shepherding — and “It’s All Gonna Burn” (“SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! RAPTURE! RAPTURE! RAPTURE!” “PROPHECY IS BEING FULFILLED EVEN AS WE SPEAK! WE MIGHT NOT HAVE A 1978!!! OR EVEN A 1977!!!” Shepherding “Elders” between 20 and 25, no single cult leader except for a general Groupthink. HEAVY anti-Intellectualism, “Vain imaginings of man or WORD OF GOD!!!!!”

    (I’ll say one thing about them; they supported me through my mother’s fatal bout with cancer. (Remember, I was an emotional age somewhere between 6 and 12 in a 20-year-old’s body.) However, after that the REAL Love-Bombing began to “Come out from among those Heathen (my family) to your Brothers and Sisters in Christ” and turn off your Sinful Mind and “be Discipled”. Incidentally, their version of the Holy Spirit coming in to “disciple” you was the “snapping” phenomenon you find in forcible Thought Reform indoctrination. The pressure got so great I bailed out and became what’s now called a “None”; fortunately I had discovered SF fandom and D&D and had something outside the “Fellowship” to fall back on.)

    During this period, I went through three major Rapture scares, one per year:
    1973 Yom Kippur War Rapture Scare — every Arab-Israeli War touches off one of these.
    1974 Comet Kohoutek Rapture Scare — based on the brightness of the comet fulfilling a Prophecy in Isaiah about the Sun and Moon brightening seven-fold. Found out recently (40 years after-the-fact) that Mo David of the COGs were behind that one.
    1975 Rosh Hashanah Rapture Scare — this was El Biggo; Rapture timed down to the minute (sunset in Jerusalem begining Rosh Hashanah of the year whose number transliterates as “Messiah” in Hebrew numerology), Nuclear War cued up, the King of Spain as the Beast, the entire Seven Year Tribulation all choreographed out, Verses and Proof Texts for almost every word — “You Deny SCRIPTURE?????” Found out a couple years later the Jehovah’s Witnesses started it but nobody would ever admit to it.

    I was also listening to Christianese AM radio. Liked J Vernon Magee, thought a lot of the other radio preachers were silly, and then there was “Southwest Radio Church — Today’s Headlines in Light of BIBLE PROPHECY!” (and that was just about what it was — cherry-picking headlines as Prophecy Fulfillments — “IT’S COMING! IT’S COMING!”). Then there was that yelling radio preacher of whom I only remember the line “GOD’S PUNISHMENT FOR AMERICA’S SINS SITS READY AND WAITING IN THE NUCLEAR MISSILE SILOS OF THE SOVIET UNION!!!!!” (Remember, this was during the height of the Cold War, when EVERYONE had heavy Nuclear War JItters; there was even a secular equivalent of “Why bother? It’s All Gonna Burn” where everyone KNEW they would never live to grow up because of the Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War.)

    The result of all this was Fear, Guilt, and Despair. It Was All Gonna Burn (any minute now), so Why Bother? Plus Jack Chick-style Great White Throne scene and Eternal Hell. What Slacktivist calls “Turbo-Jesus” who’s only purpose seems to be to Come Back and Destroy Everything (except for his Special Pet Uber-Christians). Death, Destruction, The Mark of the Beast (which was everywhere) followed by Eternal Hell. (Oh, you think you’re Saved? Where’s your Fruit? Are You Sure? Are You Certain You’re Sure? Are You Sure You’re Certain You’re Sure? Are You Certain You’re Sure You’re Certain You’re Sure?) I must have walked the aisle and ended up as a notch on a Bible half a dozen times, only to have the next Witnessing session tear down what little assurance I had. God Demanded Absolute Perfection — OR ELSE!

    That Way Lies Madness. Even after disconnecting, I had PTSD flashbacks for over ten years. They finally faded around the time of the “88 Reasons” Rapture Scare in 1988, but I still can’t look out a kitchen window at the northern sky (courtesy of a Rapture dream during my time in-country).

    During that time, I observed that Rapture Eschatology, Young Earth Creationism, Negative Holiness (defined as Thou Shalt Nots), and Altar Call/”Sinner’s Prayer” conversions all came together as an all-or-nothing package deal, take it or leave it. And the constant drumbeat of End Is Nigh.

    That’s not living. That’s not a life. Just waiting for the World to End, with you being beamed up into a Never-Ending Compulsory Bible Study just before the megaton warheads detonate.

    I’m rambling…

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    • Perhaps the most insidious of Hal Lindsay’s “plain reading of Scripture” was an attitude I called “Christians for Nuclear War”. Since ALL the plagues of Revelation — the scrolls, the vials, the trumpets, everything — were plainly Massive Use of Nuclear Weapons, It Was Inevitable, It’s All Prophesied.

      In the secular realm of the time, fear of nuclear war caused a lot of paralysis and despair. (Those who didn’t live through the Cold War have little idea of just how deep this fear went; today’s freakout over North Korean Nukes is a taste of it.) This was just the Christianese version of it. Fear of The End. Except this came with a Rapture which still meant everything you knew and lived and loved “Was All Gonna Burn” on a COSMIC scale. Especially when the Rapture would beam you up just before the Big Boom. (Do I need to go on about how dangerous an attitude that can be?) Especially because “I’ll be Gone”, you don’t have any stake in the matter. Or hope. Or reason to work for a future. Because you have no future. (Any minute now… Any minute now… It’s Prophesied… It’s Prophesied…History Written in Advance.)

      There’s a theological term called “Imminentizing the Eschaton”. In this context, it means “Jump Start Armageddon”. Let’s just say there’s a reason the military doesn’t give two Born-Again Christians arming keys to the same nuke.

      Eagle has written in the past about the Rapture Ready types’ reactions to 9/11. “I hope I’m in a skyscraper when it happens so I don’t have as far to go to Heaven” and all that. Just substitute Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War for 9/11.

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      • HUG,

        I very much appreciate this “rambling” that you posted here. To clarify, I do not consider it a ramble. Actually, I think you could actually write a book. Your intelligence still out-surpasses many that I know. I’m no stranger to you on the blogs. I often agree with your point of view. And now, I understand from where you are coming from in your comments, so I thank you for your explanation.

        I was born in the early 60’s, and my recollection of things was about cults, such as the moonies, etc., and the love bombing from the hippies, and the flowers being passed out at the airports, while they are wearing long white robes in sandals, then later the movies on TV regarding a potential WW3 with Russia, and that movie with Matthew Broderick about global thermal nuclear war.

        In those days, I had no “religious” training in anything…but I did go to Sunday School from time to time, and to Vacation Bible School in the summer, and to Summer Camp put on by the YMCA.

        But, I figured out later that they were all for the purpose of a “baby sitter” for my mom, rather than for teaching me about Jesus. But, Jesus was a seed planted in me, even from my mom, even tho she did not attend church very often herself.

        The topic of “prophesy” was not even something that was ingrained into me until I finally studied the bible for myself after 9/11. And yes, I was proselytized by the Jehovah’s Witnesses myself. But, from my youth, everyone considered them to be a cult, so they were not going to gain me into their club.

        However, I did take that opportunity to learn EVERYTHING about them, to find out WHY everyone states that they are a cult. But before I did, I had to read my own bible first…then, and only then, could I counter what they teach.

        In studying them, I found out their origination came from breaking away from the Baptists. When I began to study 7th Day Adventists, I learned that they broke away from the SAME EXACT Baptists as the Jehovah’s Witnesses did. That was interesting.

        So, you had both the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the 7th Day Adventists both predicting that Jesus was returning on SEVERAL specific dates. The Jehovah Witnesses actually built a HOUSE for Jesus to live in while he was here.

        Then when Jesus never showed up, they SPIRITUALIZED it, telling people he came back INVISIBLY in the early 1900’s, even tho they had predicted him coming back as late as, what was it, the 70’s? I can’t remember.

        In the 7th Day Adventists, Ellen G White had numerous predictions that never materialized…I’m surprised that they still revere her to this day.

        But in my study…Until we see a temple in Israel, all predictions are meaningless. I’ll be dead before then, I’m sure. But for all these reasons, I never took Hal Lindsey serious.

        All prophesy “experts” are a NICE TO KNOW, but I never take it serious. I make my own conclusions, but I don’t even take my own conclusion as a final conclusion.

        However, I have indeed concluded that RAPTURE, aka “CAUGHT UP” is indeed in the Bible. Therefore, I can’t figure out why people don’t believe in it. But, like I said, I’ll probably be dead by the time the END TIMES comes, and I will already be with Jesus, so I won’t be raptured in the End Times.

        Nothing to worry about, so Wondering can go about and save the planet from global warming, while I go snow skiing instead.

        Thanks again, HUG

        Very Respectfully,

        Ed Chapman

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      • When I began to study 7th Day Adventists, I learned that they broke away from the SAME EXACT Baptists as the Jehovah’s Witnesses did. That was interesting.

        Another legacy of the Burned Over District, 19th Century Weird/Offbeat Religion Capital of the US?

        Funny you should mention the SDAs.
        One of the things that punched a crack in The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay was this SDA End Time Prophecy book I acquired in my teens in the same crates as my treasured 1929 Encyclopedia Britannicas. Titled What Jesus Said, it presented the SDA’s End Times Choreography. Let’s just say the SDAs have their own unique take on the Books of Revelation & Daniel. Very different from the Darbyite Dispy Rapture (which was all I had known up to that point), yet quoting the same Verses and Proof Texts to PROVE a completely-different End Times Checklist.

        The Jehovah Witnesses actually built a HOUSE for Jesus to live in while he was here.

        Like L Ron Hubbard’s mansion at Flag Base?
        Built, maintained, and kept ready by Sea Org for Elron’s reincarnation to return and move in?

        But in my study…Until we see a temple in Israel, all predictions are meaningless.

        Some years ago, it struck me that that The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay also opens Christians up for some serious manipulation.

        Item 1: Christian Zionism (which I called “Anti-Semitic Zionism” before I found out the proper name). Israel is In The Land, fulfilling End Time Prophecy (tick tick tick tick tick…). So Israel Can Do No Wrong, and must be supported on pain of Rebellion Against God. Yet the Israelis are nothing more than pieces to move about on the End Time Prophecy gameboard, just like you & me, and will be destroyed for Not Accepting Christ when He Returns (and boy, is He mad!) It’s Prophesied, It’s Prophesied…

        Item 2: There is some sort of fringe group somewhere who’s actually trying to breed a “Red Heifer” for Temple Sacrifice. Don’t know any details, but it made the rounds of all the Rapture Ready media.

        Item 3: Surrounded by hostiles, the Israelis have been in a Survival Mode since Day One.

        Mix these together: It would be very easy for extremists in Israel to get fanatical support from American Christians for support by hinting about Red Heifers and Temple ceremonies. There are already Christian Urban Legends about these; why not encourage them? Of course, these Israeli Extremists and Christian Zionists would be using each other for their own ends, whether that end is National Survival or End Time Prophecy charts.

        Liked by 1 person

      • HUG,

        Well, I, as a Christian, am a Zionist, I suppose you could say. I think that the Bible supports that. Regarding Abraham, God did indeed promise Abraham’s descendants, thru Isaac, (meaning that it does not belong to Arabs) a piece of real estate in the middle east, and that promise included specific borders, which, to date, has yet to be 100% fulfilled.

        I think that we, as Christians, have an obligation to a race of people who brought us Christianity, EVEN IF they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, because in a very real sense, Christianity is an extension of Judaism. Christianity did not replace Judaism. It is thru the Jews that we see Jesus clearly.

        However, we cannot dictate, much less proselytize Jews to Christianity. They feel it is blasphemy for us to do so. However, we are not to turn our back on them regardless of the criticisms against them.

        My best friend is a Jew by race, and is a Christian by belief. Never in my life would I ever consider talking bad about the Jews in any context. Not now, not ever. God did not cast away his people, the Jews.

        They exist FOR our purpose…we don’t exist for their purpose. That is what I have learned from my bible studies.

        OUR future in prophesy does tell us what their future is in their own homeland, their PROMISED land, that cannot be annulled for any reason, for it was a promise without conditions placed upon anyone.

        Finally, regarding the 7th Day Adventists version of the end times, to them, the Pope is THE…not just an “A”, but “THE” anti-Christ.

        But that is impossible, and utterly stupid.

        But from my studies, Jesus said that when you see the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place…that is the temple, by the way…to flee to the mountains.

        The Jews are still looking for their Messiah…THAT PARTICULAR so-called Messiah is the Anti-Christ, and THAT is why I have serious conflicts with the Left Behind Series, and the 7th Day Adventists End Times “expert” prophesies.

        Messiah is just another word for Christ, and the Jews are still awaiting that savior. That messiah will trick the Jews by performing miracles, etc., just like Jesus did.

        Do you remember what Jesus’ own disciples asked in Acts 1? Something about RESTORING THE KINGDOM?

        ONE of the main reasons that Jews don’t believe that Jesus is the Christ is all because he FAILED, according to them, to “RESTORE THE KINGDOM”.

        But what did Jesus respond with to his own disciples?

        And, the Jews KNOW that the Bible shows that the Christ MUST BE from the family line of David.

        I don’t know, man, but that tells me that their Anti-Christ will be a Jew…Not Trump or the Pope.

        There has never been a Jewish Pope that I know of…

        Respectfully,

        Ed

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  13. Another effect of Left Behind Fever has been to kill any Future. As someone put it, “Christians have signed the future over to the Antichrist and just await the airlift out.” One of the corollaries has been in Christian attempts at SF.

    I have been a serious SF litfan since 1966, when I discovered Andre Norton juveniles at the same time as Star Trek first premiered. And when I got mixed up in Evangelicalism a few years later, I noticed all the SF I found in Jesus Junk stores was LAME. As Jeff Dunn guest-posting at Internet Monk put it:

    Guilt. Oh sure, you used to like listening to Christina Aguilera, but now you are a Christian, so you listen to BarlowGirl, not because you like their sound or their lyrics, but you would feel guilty listening to and enjoying Christina Aguilera now that you have been saved. You used to love reading science fiction by Orson Scott Card and Ursula K. Le Guin, but now you read Left Behind.
    — “Selling Jesus by the Pound”, http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/selling-jesus-by-the-pound

    i.e. Christianese knockoffs as consolation prizes for those Forbidden to read the real thing. Instead, this “Christian SF” was largely “Christian Apocalyptic”, an only vaguely-related genre centering around the Rapture, Tribulation, and Antichrist. (Again, “Christians have signed the future over to the Antichrist…”)

    1) The current example of Christian Apocalytpic (Left Behind‘s myriad volumes) is far from the worst. Check out a book called 666 by a Salem Kirban sometime, i.e. the WORST Christian Apocalyptic ever written. (And even rarer, its accompanying cantata.) And when you do, remember in its day that Christianese “Eye of Argon” was a best-seller in the bubble.

    2) During my time in-country, whenever anyone found out I was into SF, they always recommended “C.S.Lewis’s Space Trilogy! C.S.Lewis’s Space Trilogy! C.s.Lewis’s Space Trilogy!” Before you give that same example, remember Lewis wrote that trilogy between 1938 & 1944. If nothing comparable has been written since, that’s NOT something to brag about.

    3) I’ve tried to write the stuff as well. All small-press (paid with a copy of the book), including two novellas in collaborations with (above) Alan Loewen for Catholic-themed anthologies and co-writing and editing five My Little Pony novellas/novels (uploaded to FIM Fiction website) for my other writing partner, Eric “Ardashir” Hinkle.

    While working the two anthology collaborations, I observed something. Even there (in the first anthology, Infinite Space, Infinite God), the most common setting was Near Future Persecution Dystopia. This led me to do a little checking, and found that Near Future Persecution Dystopia (with or without an End Times tie-in) was THE most common Christianese SF setting. Even Lost Genre Guild (http://lostgenreguild.blogspot.com/, a writers’ circle founded to increase variety in Christian-themed SF) had as its flagship example Frank Creed’s Flashpoint a “Christian Cyberpunk” series of Near Future Persecution Dystopia. I also observed Four Forbidden Tropes, conspicuous by their absence:
    1) No stories more than “Twenty Minutes Into the Future” (because Christ is Coming Soon and It’s All Gonna Burn).
    2) No stories set off Earth (because Christ is Coming Soon and if we’re offworld we WILL be Left Behind when He comes…)
    3) No aliens or nonhumans, unless they’re Satanic. (“There are no ‘aliens’, only Fallen Ones come to deceive us; no I am not a Conspiracy Crackhead”.)
    4) No semihumans (genetic chimeras), uplifts, or other constructs, unless Satanic and/or Unnatural. Similar reasons to “No Aliens”.

    If you’re familiar with the genre, these four Thou Shalt Nots kill a lot of the genre, leaving you only with Near Future Persecution Dystopia. A little over a year ago (several years after the above observations), I found confirmation that this indeed was the case, that the only SF Christians are allowed to write IS Near Future/End Times Persecution Dystopia. Here’s the essay, reprinted:
    http://alanloewen.blogspot.com/2016/09/guest-editorial-why-is-christian.html

    Another seminal essay on the subject was author Simon Morden’s “Sex and Death and Christian Fiction”:
    http://bookofmorden.co.uk/essays/sex-death-and-christian-fiction/
    And its sequel:
    http://bookofmorden.co.uk/essays/where-are-we-now/

    Again, the “No Future” is more of the legacy of “Left Behind Fever”.

    Bonus: There’s a snark site called “Heathen Critique” which does a page-by-page snark of Christianese fiction, similar to what Slacktivist is doing to Left Behind. Here is a type example, a well-selling Near Future Persecution Dystopia trilogy by the main author of Left Behind:
    https://heathencritique.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/soon-the-story-so-far/
    Like Atlas Shrugged, this one started with a legitimate premise: Retelling the story of the Apostle Paul in a contemporary-to-future setting. And then fell flat on its face with truly bad writing. Check the comment threads for the back and forth for maximum enjoyment. And remember that is what passes for Christian SF.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m not going to argue for/against any particular theology here, but I will make a few observations regarding Eagle’s post:

    1. I’ve noticed that those who adhere to or gravitate towards a “dispensational” theology, tend to go one way on many issues (baptism, end-times, other), while those who see the bible in terms of a “covenantal” theology tend to go another way. And each presents many biblical reasons for such theology. This is just an observation; I’m not advocating for either. I’m still learning. 🙂

    2. Eagle, when you say: “I believe one of the people who influenced the teaching, John Nelson Darby is a man who was mentally ill.”, you’re engaging in a ad hominem argument, which simply isn’t valid. The rapture theology should stand or not stand on its biblical merits, rather than merely on who made an argument for or against it. I don’t think this shouldn’t become a debate about Darby.

    3. Eagle, when you then say: “It leads Christians to celebrate disasters and view bad news as being good. For me this is horrific in so many ways”, I believe you hit a nail on the head. 9/11 is merely one of examples too numerous to count. We’ve discussed this before. Your previous post on this aspect was eye-opening, and articulated something I’d felt for a long time, but couldn’t quite put my finger on. So thanks for articulating this again.

    However, this is a merely a faulty application of the Rapture by those who take certain views of the Rapture, rather than an assessment of the theology itself.

    4. In my experience, the views you expressed in #1-3, and #6 have not been experienced to a very wide degree. I know a lot of people who believe in the Rapture who care about their neighbors, the environment, the poor, the “least of these”, and who are quite intellectual, some of whom are far more intellectual than I am. Of course, your mileage may vary, but that is my experience.

    I’d engage the other fascinating views presented here in the comments section, and I’ve learned from reading them, but I’m sorry, I just have to pick my spots/battles these days. I appreciate you all, and I hope we all continue to use the bible as our ultimate source of truth whenever possible.

    Blessings.

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