And, if it does, will the job market open up?
This is a blog post I wrote about the rapture. I apologize for any misspellings or unclearity. I typed it on my blackberry late last night and did not proofread it.
From time to time, I have the advantage of knowing about religion work in my favor. Regularly, I meet people in bars that want to talk religion. This is rarely a good thing. Beer and discussions about thought are often not good.
Recent news about the rapture happening on Saturday from religious radio talk show host Harold Camping raised many comments of facebook and discussions about eschatology, or the “end time” Theology. I want to take a few minutes and clarify many ideas in Christian Theology that the mainstream media will obviously not care to cover. It’s not “sensational” enough and is more “newsworthy” than what they want.
–Who is Harold Camping?
Harold Camping is the guy who came up with the idea that the rapture will happen on Saturday. He also wrote a book that says the rapture will happen in 1994.
He is a radio talk show host who claims no affiliation with any church. He was an engineer and tries to fit this idea that numbers must mean some sort of prediction in Scripture, so he made up a confusing formula to say people will be raptured this weekend.
Now, I have studied Eschatology for years. I have laughed at many ideas. Camping’s formula is the first thing I have looked at EVER and said, “What!?” It honestly makes no sense. It is based off ideas of Jesus’s death (that he seemed to make up) and multiplying numbers of that to certain numerical values of what number stands for heaven to come up with a strange idea that…well…NOBODY gets.
Why is the media even caring…oh yeah. Sensationalism = $$$.
–What is the rapture?
We have to clarify a point here. Camping is not suggesting that the end of the world is on May 22nd. He is saying the rapture is May 22nd. It is important to clarify this because it means a lot in terms of understanding what ideas we are … quite frankly … laughing at.
So what is the rapture and how does it differ from the end of the world? This is VERY complicated to answer because of how different groups view the rapture. Essentially, the rapture is when Christians are brought out of this world, then Jesus comes back and opens a can of whoop ass on the world.
The idea of the rapture comes from one peculiar verse in Scripture. I bet most of my readers would assume it is from Revelation. It is NOT. The verse is:
“and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
It is not found in Revelation at all, but is often attributed to the book of Revelation. It is found in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4.
These few verses alone have lead to such a complicated mix of ideas in Christianity that I don’t want to go into them in depth here. Still, it is important to note that the idea of the Rapture is not based solidly in Scripture. Rather, this is one of the earliest books of the Christian Scriptures (possibly the earliest) and is most likely written by Paul to help reassure the church of Thessalonica about staying with Christianity. Little, if any, of the book is about strict doctrine and the whole book itself is someone personal, and poetic, in nature.
I say this all because many Christian denominations don’t believe in the rapture as proposed in this way. MOST see this verse as more poetic than literal.
–Eschatology in pop culture
Eschatology, or “end time” Theology is huge business in Christianity. When I started my Book of Revelation class in college, my professor started the class by saying if we hoped to make money off Revelation, we should NOT take his class. The less you know about the book, the more you can make. I still believe him after 15 years.
There have always been people that put forth “end time” Theologies. There is not a moment in Christian History where the “end of the world” and speculation about it were not a central focus. In recent times, Hal Lindsey’s “The Late, Great Planet Earth” became a huge sensation in the 1970s, claiming the world would end in the 1980s. He later wrote a different, less popular book, about the world ending at a different date (which I cannot recall offhand, as well as lack of caring since it made no real impact).
Now we are faced with Camping’s predictions. Somehow, his initial prediction that the world would end in 1994 made no ground and was obviously flawed. Now people are hovering around his new and improved 2011 prediction.
–Eschatology in Scripture
What scripture says about eschatology is complicated to answer. First and foremost, we have to understand the people that brought us these ideas and how they are viewed.
I won’t go into what people wrote the prophetic books. I will say we can focus on one book for this discussion: Revelation.
Revelation was written by someone that calls himself John. After reading this, people often jump on the assumption that it’s John, the Apostle. Little supports this and there are many reasons to believe it is not, in fact, THAT John. Nor, despite some odd similarities in Theology, is it the same anonymous person that wrote the Gospel of John.
Revelation was written, at least according to most scholars, around 95 AD, and during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domition.
The theme of the book talks about keeping hope during THAT time period. It promises that there will be difficult times, but God prevails. What we should look at next is an idea I believe to be true as I read Scripture, particularly Revelation. This is the idea of realized eschatology.
I can’t even grasp, after over a decade of reading on this subject, all the major ways Revelation and eschatology is understood in Christianity. There are just too many interpretations. Still, one idea I love is the idea of realized eschatology.
In laymen’s terms, realized eschatology means God is with us now. If we are always looking to figure out that “time” when God will come back, we miss the point. God is with us here…now. Revelation talks about that fact quite frequently. So much so that I argue it is the main point of the book.
I am not writing this because I think most of you are afraid of the rapture. I am writing this because I wonder how many actually think this is a main part of Christian Theology. Many (if not most) denominations reject the idea of the rapture. It’s a little annoying to see people label Christians based off such a silly concept.
As a side note, I have yet to find a church that has cancelled their Sunday services. If you do find one, wait until Monday, then call and ask their ideas about eschatology. You might find something humorous.