Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Rapture & The Decline of Christianity

I think no greater threat exists to the persistence of Christianity in the United States than Rapture Theology. Rapture theologians create this strong sense that all the signs pointing to right now being the end of times. So strong is this belief that it is treated almost as a central tenet of Christianity. Additionally, believing Christians are promised safety and security in the face of the final battle between good and evil. Those believers who are caught up in a wave of fear and expectation may have their hopes dashed if the world is still here in 70 years. What percentage of American Christians take the rapture to be a central Christian tenet? How many will be left if it doesn't come to pass in a timely manner? Few, I suspect.

Christianity predicts X, X does not happen, Christianity is then taken to be untrue. But what if X was never what was predicted. I think it is clear from the Book of Revelation that Christians are being warned that they will suffer greatly as the battle between God and satan ramps up. The real prediction of the Book of Revelation is that good and evil reach ever-increasing heights and depths of cosmic proportionality. So what if the End does come, and Christians are still facing the horrors? What will happen if their hope for absolute security in this world is dashed? Again, this is just setting the Church up for failure.

Jesus Christ is never about hiding from the radical insecurity in which every human life is situated. It finds hope and peace within the storm, not outside it. To promise specific security and fail to deliver on it is to court disillusionment. And no faith which trades Ultimate Security with proximate security deserves moral respect. Rapture theology is not just wrong. It does not only trade a gospel of love for one of arrogance and fear. It is dangerous for the Church as a whole.

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