The idea of the Rapture, popular in Evangelical and Fundamentalist strains of Christianity, came into existence in the 1830 “thanks” to John Nelson Darby. The theology Darby espoused can be summed up this way – Jesus is going to come back to get the good people, then throw a major temper tantrum in which God kills the bad guys and destroys the earth, all while the good people get to watch from the front row bleachers in heaven.
Granted, this is my interpretation of Rapture theology. And it is certainly an unkind interpretation. Mostly because it is dangerous.
Frankly, this notion of Rapture is also pretty sick too. Who actually enjoys watching the planet get destroyed and vasts amount of people be killed? Who actually cheers for this? Who wants to help move things along so that this happens?
But it’s the main idea. How does one come to embrace Rapture theology? By twisting Scripture in all sorts of ways, pulling random verses out of context, and interpreting Scripture to mean certain things that it doesn’t mean. Again, I’m not being kind about it. The fact remains that the theology is really bad.
While Rapture theology is a fun topic for Mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox theologians to dismiss as heretical and fun to poke at as ridiculous and poor Biblical scholarship, there are some serious concerns associated with Rapture theology.
In her book, The Rapture Exposed, Dr. Barbara Rossing, does an excellent job of talking about the flaws in the theology and the real life repercussions to such theology.
There are two real world consequences to Rapture theology that are deadly serious.
- Rapture theology espouses the belief that God is going to destroy the earth. This goes against Scripture in multiple ways. Revelation 21 is the first thing that comes to mind where we hear about God coming down to dwell with a renewed creation. Scripture doesn’t support the idea of some kind of escape plan. Nope. We’re stuck here folks. And God is going to restore creation, not destroy it. The problem with this theology is that it goes against the whole idea of stewardship of the earth. If God is going to destroy everything, then why bother caring for the earth at all? Why not extract everything we can out of the earth before God throws the temper tantrum? This is not good stewardship. This is not what it means to follow Jesus.
- Rapture theology espouses the idea that there has to be Armageddon – a major military conflict that consumes the whole world. The center of this conflict involves Israel. Only when Armageddon happens can Jesus come back to throw his divine hissy fit and start killing and destroying. Again, this goes against Scripture and sound theology. To say what the requirements of Jesus are, with certainty, is to make a claim of control over God. The real world consequence of this is that you have people in high level foreign policy positions who buy into Rapture theology. If they want Jesus to come back, then is it in the world’s interest to move towards peace in the Middle East, or war? The consequences of such a war are death and destruction on a massive scale. The Jesus I know from Scripture was not one who favored war for anything. He talked about blessed are the peacemakers – not blessed are those that cause great death and destruction.
Rapture theology isn’t just bad theology, it is dangerous theology. And the people who adhere to it have no business being in foreign policy or in charge of stewardship of the earth.