Mr Jay Parini, a poet and novelist who teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont, just published “Jesus: The Human Face of God,” a biography of Jesus. He has some opinions about the doctrine of the Rapture.
The rapture concept is relatively new. It started with an Anglo-Irish theologian, who in the 1830s invented the concept. This may come as a shocker to many, but it’s a fact: Before John Nelson Darby imagined this scenario in the clouds, no Christian had ever heard of the rapture.
Said no Christian ever.
|Not my grandmother|
BAH HA HA [wiping eyes] Anyways, whaddya gonna do? as my Italian grandmother used to say. This is what non-saved people believe. They say things with such assurance, and such force, as if they know. But it is only godless chatter, (1 Timothy 6:20). Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1)
Though Mr Parini calls himself an Episcopalian who is “a regular church-goer” not one person who is saved by grace of Jesus would ever say this as Mr Parini did:
“For instance, when Jesus says, ‘repent, and you will be saved.’ What He’s really saying, if you read the Greek, is: open your mind to the light. Go beyond yourself into the larger mind of God, and you will experience enlightenment and reconciliation with God,” he explained.
Oh, how easily the blinded twist sin, judgment and damnation into Light, ‘duality’ and New Age self-god concepts!
I’m not so aggravated at the usual blasphemy regarding the mystery of the rapture that Paul unfolded for the precious brethren, (WAAAAY before Darby or Scofield) as I was surprised to find myself agreeing with his statement from the article:
“The famous “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins was already out there. It consisted of 16 best-selling novels on the same premise, and it’s about to come to the big screen again, in a film starring Nicholas Cage. The original film adaptation (of three) appeared in 2000. And then there is the Christian real-time strategy video game called “Left Behind: Eternal Forces.” If anyone hasn’t noticed, the rapture has become a commercial juggernaut, endlessly shape-shifting, finding new and highly entertaining outlets.
The rapture and apocalypse in general has become an economic juggernaut, just as Peter wrote that it would. (2 Peter 2:3).
The co-opting of Christianity for entertainment and mocking purposes is age-old. Every Christian sentenced to die in the Roman Ampitheater was part of Rome’s economic juggernaut. Christians and Christianity being fodder for entertainment through martyrdoms, or torture, or today through debates, TV shows of movies, is par for the course.
I wrote about the economic exploitation of God’s biblical doctrines earlier this year here:
In the above piece, I listed all the movies and television shows I could find being released on the Christian themes. One of the new economic juggernauts was a video game of the rapture I found especially horrifying. I’d posted the summary of the game:
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture video game PS4, “The game will take place in a village in Shropshire during the apocalypse.”
In that piece I focused on the movies coming out that took biblical doctrines and presented them to a secular world for monetary gain. I’d mentioned movies like Noah, Exodus, TheBible, Left Behind, Son of God, Heaven is for Real and the smaller and well-intentioned movie God’s Not Dead but I missed the television series of The Leftovers and the video game “Left Behind: Eternal Forces.”
|Photo by Kevin King. Wikipedia Creative Commons|
The rapture certainly is one of the most fascinating doctrines in the bible. The encouragement of it, the reason for it, the science behind it (or supernatural science), the imminence of it, the suddenness of it, the fact of it. Additionally I find it fascinating that the Holy Spirit waited about twenty years after Jesus’ ascension to reveal this to the brethren. Paul revealed the mystery around 55AD on his 3rd missionary journey in a letter to the Corinthians,
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet... (1 Corinthians 15:51)
In 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 Paul explains to the church that some things on God’s plan were kept secret so that satan and his unholy angels would not try to thwart what must be done. In those verses Paul says that the reason for the cross was kept secret. Not that satan and his angels could thwart anything, but God does not reveal absolutely everything all at once.
About 20 years after the cross, Paul’s Thessalonians letters and the Corinthians letters explained the new doctrine of the rapture. It was planned from the beginning of time, but satan didn’t know about it until the Corinthians and the Thessalonians did. Satan still only knows what we do: it will happen … sometime.
|What’s on the other side? Everyone is curious. Everyone.|
That the rapture is equally fascinating to the lost is surprising, but if we think about it not so surprising after all. It’s a puzzle, a great and mystifying puzzle. And really, who wants to die? Just knowing that in the generation in which God ordains it to happen, all the living Christians will never see death but will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. For the lost, great minds have always pondered the supernatural, wondered about other dimensions, secretly wanted to step behind the veil and peek at the heavenly machinery. They have tried divination, seances, hypnotism, peyote, astral projection…anything to solve the mystery.
And all along, Paul had revealed it. It is plainly able to know…for anyone who first repents of sins and turns to Jesus as Lord and Savior, that is. He then opens up the mind to the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in illuminating the bible for us.
What I wonder is…with the sudden glut of movies and TV shows devoted to the subject of the rapture, does satan know something? He isn’t omniscient nor is he omnipresent. Also, he doesn’t know for sure any more than we do about the timing of it. But he does have the advantage of having seen human history from the long point of view, he knows how human hearts work, he’s in the thick of the spiritual battle and as its general he knows how it’s going, and having access to heaven he sees what is going on up there. I just wonder…
Anyway it is surely a heartbreak to see someone who is so puffed up with vain knowledge writing biographies of Jesus and claiming biblical things about the rapture that aren’t biblical at all. I am so grateful to my King that he elected me to salvation and opened my mind to the scriptures. In this way I get to know Him and His will for man by reading them. I learn about His character, and about how to live. I can be assured of my eternal destination. I can even be encouraged by Paul’s words, that we may be the generation that sees the Lord in the air and are translated alive into glory.