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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eschatological Absurdity

It is not easy to build a new sanctuary that costs near a million dollars when many in the congregation are preparing for the immanent rapture of the church. You are thinking future and they are thinking Armageddon. The popular success of the Left Behind Novels created a blanket that has spread over my three decade ministry. Hal Lindsey published "The Late Great Planet Earth" in 1970 and this strange teaching has spread confusion throughout most of the evangelical scene. Every prediction contained that strange blend of certainty and the creation of an out option. Lindsey's favorite phrase was "The 19??'s could very well be the last we ever see. The date would come and go and eager Christians would promptly forget the failed promise and accept the next scenario.

So, for the rapture ready Christian bad news in the world is good news for the soon return of Christ to destroy the wicked and enthrone the righteous. This teaching really emphasized the general failure of the gospel proclamation and continually proclaimed the unfaithfulness that would characterize the last days.

I don't need to go on about this, you've been there if you've had a pulse. You may still be polishing up your expectations if you were raised with this view. I was not, and in 1999 I get pretty fed up and decided to study the issue for myself. From that point on I attempted to became a late blooming ex spurt on the history and development of views relating to the return of Christ. There was always a list of books I was reading during my study time and late in the evenings, and when I found an interesting theory I would restudy the appropriate New Testament documents as well. It was an exciting time for me to have healthy doubt and a hungry mind.

I was pretty much convinced that Y2K computer crashes "probably would not occur" he said, leaving himself apology room if he woke up one day "left behind" The thought of an entertaining novel just went by the wayside as I searched for a consistent set of beliefs on the eschaton. I was not even wanting to be another wise ass know it all, I just believed their were better views than the kookiness I was reading, and maybe better than the reactionary views of my own denomination.

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