Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Rapture Wrap-up

I am back. My character "Secretary 9B8 Gamma Sector" has returned to my closet of weird thoughts. My spoof on the Rapture has ended. Doing this Rapture spoof has been enlightening on a number of levels. I realize that a lot of people take this seriously! This blog is no powerhouse. Usually I get about 60-70 unique visitors a day on average. During these rapture posts, my site meter jumped to around 130 visitors a day, and on July 6th it was 351! Most of these visitors were searching for "rapture" or "July 7th," and somehow found me. I even had to moderate comments after one person thought a violent threat was in order.

What is it with this Rapture business? Barbara Rossing, a theologian and Lutheran minister, wrote The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation. To get an idea of where she is coming from, here is an interview with her from the Wittenberg Door. This is a snippet:
The first sentence of my book is, "The rapture is a racket," and I think it's important for your readers to know that the whole rapture is a fiction. It was invented by British preacher John Nelson Darby in the 1830s as part of his system of biblical interpretation called dispensationalism. (Read More)
When asked what she wants to expose about the Book of Revelation, she answers:

The Book of Revelation exposes the oppression and domination of the Roman Empire for first century Christians. The question for today is, "What needs exposing in our culture?" In my view, it is the violent and dangerous "gospel" of books like Left Behind that leads to war and an eagerness for Armageddon.

I applaud Rossing for this book, especially as it is from a clergy person. Sam Harris in his book End of Faith saves his harshest criticisms not for religious fundamentalists but for the mainline moderate and liberal Christians who harbor them. I think what he means by "harbor" is that the mainline congregations continue to cling to mythology without being clear that it is mythology. We don't provide nearly enough critical examination of the Bible and of the creeds. Christians across the liberal to conservative spectrum continue to be apologists for creeds that do not make sense any longer.

When we continue to mouth creeds and platitudes about incarnation, resurrection, the word of God, the last days, and so forth, without providing historical-critical evaluation of what these symbols meant to those who wrote about them, we allow the fundamentalists to take over the tradition and turn it into violent ignorance, ie. the Rapture.

When 59% of Americans believe that "the events" of the
Book of Revelation will occur in the future, the mainline church is obviously failing at providing religious literacy.

How do we begin to correct this? We need to teach people how to read the Bible critically. I have done this exercise with my previous two congregations and I am going to lead my current congregation through a Year with the Bible. I am producing a guidebook with quiz questions and everything! We will even have prizes! More details to come. I am also curious regarding the success of other clergy in introducing religious literacy to their congregations.

12 comments:

  1. I'm not actually a believer in the rapture, but I DO believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and the other elements of the Apostles and Nicene Creed, for example. And I do believe I am reasonably well-educated and well-informed about theology. You express the typical liberal conceit that only your heterodox views are theologically well-informed. This arrogance, as much as your ridicule of traditional Christian beliefs (your ridiculing goes way beyond the rapture, as you know) is what annoys people, and raises concerns about your teaching "ministry."

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  2. Presbyman,

    I am sure you are "reasonably well-educated and well-informed about theology."

    Here is your chance. When you say you believe in the Second Coming of Christ, what do you mean? What will happen? How will whatever happens happen?

    Here is a chance for you to exercise your teaching ministry on my blog. (Notice I didn't put dismissive quotes around ministry as you did for me).

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  3. hey,
    I enjoyed it. In fact, that was really entertaining.
    I still want a ride in a Boing 777, though.

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  4. Hi Reverend Mommy!

    Glad you enjoyed it. Have fun with RevGals party in Georgia! Give them all my love.

    Sometimes I wish I were a Revgal. (sigh)

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  5. I have to say that this was not at all funny. As you know I personally didn't believe a word you said but a friend of mine did. He's dying of cancer at the ripe age of 25 and wants so bad to be in Heaven instead of living in pain the way he is. He found this blog and believed every word of it and tried and tried to convince me that what you had to say was the real deal! Perhaps that's the reason it made me so angry, I hope you understand. I didn't mean to attack anyone it just makes me so angry that people came to your site and some of them ACTUALLY believed it! I hope you understand.

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  6. Dear Suds,

    I am so sorry about your friend. I really mean that. My posts were of course a spoof on the hurtful insanity of rapture theology. It offers a pipe dream that is never going to be true.

    God is not vengeful or hurtful. God does not choose some people over others. God is the loving embrace of all living things. "Whether we live or we die we are the Lord's."

    If you or your friend would like to communicate with me personally my e-mail is johnashuck@earthlink.net.

    I am first a foremost a pastor. I have been with many people who have suffered like your friend has suffered.

    Often, when people are in a position such as your friend, any kind of consolation regardless of how crazy is a comfort. Be patient with him and with yourself.

    I am pleased that you are there for him. Your compassionate care will mean more than anything else.

    The most important thing you can offer to your friend is that he is right now in the loving arms of God. This time you have with your friend is sacred time.

    In Christ's peace,
    john



    Peace be with you,
    John

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  7. I thought this was one of the funniest series of blog entries I've ever encountered. Identifying the actor with the same name as yours as the Antichrist, all the fussing about the cod, the business of Mary and her clothing--it was all inspired comedy.

    By the way, there are people who have believed that articles in the Onion were real.

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  8. My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand!
    Read My Inaugural Address
    At = http://www.angelfire.com/crazy/spaceman

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  9. As you know John, I greatly enjoyed it all.

    And I've heard Barbara Rossing speak on this subject via the intertubes. She is very wise, learned, and clear-minded. Her book is among those on my night stand to be read, hopefully before my end (or much, much sooner!). Too many people believe what others tell them without using the critical reasoning skills God gave them. Sometimes, that's why he puts others in our lives who have that skill for us!

    Anyhoo, that was brilliant John. Thanks!

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  10. Thanks Seeker and Eileen!

    Thanks especially for playing along. That made it fun.

    And thanks to the anonymous green-headed guy. I couldn't have made him up!

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  11. John,

    You know you can join the "BlogPal" part of the RevGals. We are about 5 to 10 percent male; mostly those clergymen or male laity that affirm the ministry of women clergy.

    There may not be the, ahem, HEATED DISCUSSIONS in the RevGalosphere that there is in the so called "Boy Bloggers" but there have been occasions that some of our members have gotten snippy.

    I think it's because we are such a minority that we really honestly do have to stick together.

    There are two Tennessee guys in the group Gavin Richardson and Jonathon Norman -- so you could join too! Really!

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  12. Hi Reverend Mommy!

    Thanks for the invite. I just sent a request to revgalblogpal, that's the one right?

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