Thinking Out Loud

October 8, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Okay, so this was everywhere online this past week, but if you missed it here’s an explanation of the Biblical phrase Gird Your Loins. (click image to link)


Here are the news and opinion pieces from the past week that stood out. You can also read today’s links at PARSE by clicking here.

Because this is Blogger Appreciation Month, you can catch Paul Wilkinson at Thinking Out Loud, Christianity 201, or @PaulW1lk1nson on Twitter.

Hotline to God


October 6, 2014

Left Behind as Object of Mockery

Filed under: books, theology — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:11 am

Cats Watching the Rapture - from Rapture Pet Care

Somewhere over the weekend, a series of eschatological fiction books became an object of ridicule online. In a way, the op-ed sentiment was always there: Stories based on a premise that took hold with the American Christian populace in the 1940s and ’50s, but a premise that serious Bible scholars never embraced. “Rapture? What rapture?”

But then the movie remake scored only 2% on the movie review analysis site Rotten Tomatoes.  Suddenly the book and movie franchise became fair game both for those within and outside the camp. Ed Stetzer tweeted:

Headed to with a bag of clothes. While the movie is playing, Kaitlyn and I plan to spread them out on seats.

Apparently that sentiment caught on because by Sunday the anonymous owner of twitter account Chet Churchpain tweeted,

Played a rapture prank by leaving clothes in my pew and leaving during prayer, but forgot spare clothes.

Hid in closet until everyone left.

with a follow up:

Still missing my wallet and my good crocs.

Greg Boyd joined in the frivolity on Sunday:

I believe in “Left Behind”! If someone strikes you “on the RIGHT cheek,” turn “the OTHER cheek,” which would of course be your LEFT behind.

In a much longer than 140-character post at CT a reviewer wrote:

I was ready to be upset about this movie, is what I’m saying—upset at a movie based on books that I felt totally mischaracterized my faith, books whose central characters were trumpeted as the saints of the new world but who constantly failed to live out anything marginally resembling real Christianity.

I was ready to be upset because the Left Behind books were not Christian.

They talked about Christianity, sometimes. But, at their core, they were political thrillers, featuring characters directly transposed from better Tom Clancy narratives—still violent, hostile, and un-reflecting, they just prayed a little more and took communion sometimes. (This may be unfair to Clancy.)

I was ready to be upset at this new movie because certainly it would have all those same faults. But it doesn’t. It has many, many faults, and almost no positives, but purporting to be Christian while not actually being Christian is not one of them.

I will bold this next point so that readers now searching desperately for the vanished comments section can take note: Left Behind is not a Christian Movie, whatever Christian Moviecould even possibly mean.

adding parenthetically at the end:

We tried to give the film zero stars, but our tech system won’t allow it.

So where did Left Behind get left behind with some Christians?

A popular version has it that the rapture idea began with a young girl who stood up and gave a word of prophecy at a revival meeting in the UK in the 19th century, perhaps either the 1860s or 1870s. The idea represents a mash-up of Jesus words in Matthew (“one will be taken and one left behind”) and Paul’s words to the Thessalonians (“…will be caught up to meet Him in the air.”)

In various places in scripture however we see that being the one “taken” is not always a good thing, and the parable of the bridesmaids shows us that when the guests go out to meet the bridegroom, it is them, not the groom, who does the 180-degree turn.  (See this article at CT.) his idea of rapture, or more specifically non-rapture, is tied closely to teachings about ‘New Earth,’ which for many stands in contrast to an ‘up there’ view of heaven

It’s also important to note that the rapture doctrine did not travel well across the pond. Christians in the United States did not accept the idea well until the aforementioned post-war period.

Furthermore Skye Jethani articulates this issue well in his book Futureville, explaining that this is really an example of letting the culture dictate theology; that the doctrine is born out of philosophy of escapism, a post-WWII desire to exit the planet and all its evils. He shares this also around the 26-minute mark of the Phil Vischer Podcast episode 15.

Of course some people are willing to loyally defend the brand and attack those who don’t:

  My fellow Christians, you can disregard any reviews of the by the pro-homosexual or pro-Palestinian

Nothing keeps the water muddy on any particular issue like parachuting another issue (or two in this case) into the discussion.

My wife thinks that what we’re seeing is simply the outpouring of criticism that takes place whenever something is successful. Big churches are targets. Top authors are targets. But in this case, the movie’s poor critical showing has intersected with the place where rapture doctrine is slowly falling out of favor among even strident Evangelicals.

So this weekend everybody gets to join in the fun.

Rapture? No we were just kidding, that isn’t gonna happen.

April 1, 2011

Rapture Could Lower Weekly Church Attendance

Vic the Vicar, if you haven’t guessed, is a pastor in England who has a blog by the same name.   All the talk of the rapture occuring on May 21st has him concerned, because if it happens, it could seriously deplete his church membership.  And we can’t have that.  It’s nice to know that Vic has such a strong vision for a healthy post-rapture church.   Here are some thoughts taken from recent posts at his blog:

May 21st Rapture – Keeping your congregation

Here, in readiness for the 21st of May, we have purchased specially engineered ‘anti-rapture’ seating for our church building. Here’s a  picture of one of the congregation trying one of the seats out for size:

Don’t delay, buy them now before the need (and the congregation) disappears!

Come in a variety of colours and sizes to suit all of your congregation. Just click the seatbelt on and you’re ready to keep on being church when the others have gone.

Making being left behind fun!

Rapture – Camping Equipment

For those of you wondering what you can do to keep your members from leaving on the 21st may, here’s a nifty little design that might just help.

All you need is a handyman in the congregation to knock these up and hopefully, when the 21st [of May] comes, you’ll have enough members left to pay the amount owing.

May 21st Rapture – Be prepared

Looks like the preparations for keeping believers when the rapture comes in May are taking shape. With this clever little modification to the church it should be possible to catch the members in the nets (being also biblical in that we will be ‘fishers of men’).

Needless to say, Vic the Vicar isn’t a fan of people who set rapture dates.  In one post he reminds us of

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Matt 24: 36.

while in another post, he sees people like this as enemies of the church:

Christians! Who needs enemies?

The main focus of attention this week has been the fact that Christians have no need of enemies or people seeking to pull them down when they have enough people willing to do that from within.

If I had a [dollar] for every mention I have had from people about the end of the world happening in May… “Ho, Ho, Vicar,” They cry, “It’s bad enough that your Jesus geezer isn’t ever coming back without you having people making things worse by announcing his appearing! Won’t come then, won’t come ever – a permanent ‘no show’ your bloke and the prophesies fron nutters will only make more people see that!”

The sad thing is that I can see that they are right about that.

That said, He will come back (at a time no one will predict) and those who sneer, the naysayers and mockers will be wondering what has hits them (and worse still, what will be coming to hit them). Just like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their abortive expected due date, of which there have been sixteen thus far (if I have counted correctly) we’re going to look like a bunch of lunatics and sad types if the ‘prophets’ keep it up!

Moving on. Those amazingly sad types who have prophesied that Japan was God’s vengeance because of [insert blinking ridiculous reason here] bring the whole of Christendom into disrepute and also demonstrate that they have no understanding of who God is, or how He acts. To criticise a blatantly flawed, secular nation, because of their wrong actions is not to raise a hand against the Lord’s anointed but is to uphold what God calls us to be and to do! To condone evil because of a name is to (once again) subject YHWH and His Son and the Holy Spirit to ridicule.

Staggering forward, we come to those who seek to bleat about the world not being Christian and, as proof of this, look for ways in which we can challenge the ungodly. The problem is that whilst the identification of things contrary to God might be right the manner in which they engage damages the argument and weakens our position as Christians even further. Acting in ways that deny God is something we are called no to do, but why let that stop a good campaign?

So, seems that those opposed to us need do nothing but let those outlined above keep on doing the work for them – after all, they’re doing such a good job without any help from those who wish to see us ridiculed, mocked, marginalised and render ineffective.

To indulgine in a modification of the words of St Thumper of Bambi:

“If you can’t say anything sensible (and biblical), keep your mouth closed!”

But in the end, Vic the Vicar softens his language.  Instead of considering these date-setters — and others of that ilk — enemies, he ends up calling them most “unhelpful Christians.”

Nominate your unhelpful Christian

Following on from the blog yesterday I have had quite an interesting mail bag and so I thought I’d ask you for your opinions.

The categories on offer (thus far, feel free to add more) are :

The issue :

1. The Rapture
2. Pathetic Prophets and wicked utterance brigade
3. Marginalized Christians
4. Young Earth

The Message:

1. Jesus returns on 21st May
2. Japan is God’s enemy because . . . .
3. Look at us, we’re being acted against because . . .
4. You’re not a Christian in you done believe in literal days of creation

The Person:

1. Harold Camping
2. Fred Phelps
3. Nomination vacant
4. Ken Ham

Loads of room for more here – what do you think about the way we portray ourselves and ‘preach’ our subjective, skewed and sometimes contrary ‘truths’ to others?

I have to say that I was amazed at the response to this issue which I assumed was one of those ‘just me’ things. Once we’re done with this (if it flies) I will post a poll and we can see who wins the awards and hopefully I’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on outside my own space as well.


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