Thursday, September 17, 2009

the gospel of Tim LaHaye

Recently heard in a sermon: In my opinion, the rapture could happen at any moment. But I think there's one reason he hasn't come back yet. I think he looks down on Creation and says, "Oh, it can't be today. Today's the day that "Shirley" or "Maynard" or "Gloria" is going to get saved." One day, he'll look down on us and realize that there's not going to be anyone getting saved anymore, and then the rest of us will be out of here.

Hmmm...okay.

The church I grew up in is consumed with end-times stuff. At least they were. As a little kid, it really freaked me out. I mean, majorly. I really wanted to grow up a bit first. Looking back, those sermons that really harped on it were really traumatic for me.

I've recently been reminded of all this stuff, and even though I've grown up a bit, I'm still a little freaked out by this. Everywhere there are silly people looking at all kinds of things and desperately trying to see how they fit with all the Bible prophecy. They might be well-meaning, but they're silly. I've read at least most of the Bible and I don't think Obama or healthcare or the part in Ted Kennedy's hair or what Kim Jong-Il ate for breakfast is mentioned once. A couple of these silly people are on TV. Hal Lindsay, seen here with his fourth wife, might be the most resilient man in the world. Been wrong a hundred times, but he keeps on truckin.' Plus, he and his "Tom Selleck ain't got nothin' on this" mustache don't look a day over 65. Amazing.

There was another guy who used to freak me out when I was a kid. See, I had this 5-inch black and white TV in my room. Late at night, when I was supposed to be asleep, I would get it out and turn on some of the filth I was never supposed to see, like "News Radio" or "Unhappily Ever After." Occasionally, I would watch this guy...forget his name...Jack Van Impe talk about how he was constantly shocked that he was here on Earth to see another day. I think he was talking about Christ's return, not his bout with cancer.

All this stuff, the sermons and TV shows, did little to foster my faith and help it grow. I'm really sick of it, actually. I think it's like this for most people, even if they don't realize it. All I know is, if you're always looking at the sky, you're going to have no friends and a stiff neck.

A little faith would go a long way here.

For the record, I long ago left dispensationalism...really, you can do that...and I'm 58% sure a post-trib, pre-mil position is safe, but I'm not particularly worried about it. I'm not saying it isn't important. I'm not saying we should avoid the issue, either. It's going to happen someday and I'm cool with that. I'm just thinking maybe we should kinda, you know, chill out about it a bit. There are three main reasons:

1) Nobody knows when it's going to happen.
2) It's not going to help me show Christ to anyone.
3) There are better things to do with our time.

So next time you feel a little anxious because folks around you are consumed with all this stuff, just relax and enjoy your afternoon. Be faithful image-bearers. Oh, and "Left Behind" paperbacks burn nicely when it's cool outside.

4 comments:

E. A. Harvey said...

I had to chuckle at this post. I too had traumatic experiences as a child in regards to the rapture. Ever see the "Thief in the Night" series where they guillotine all the people who don't get the mark of the beast? We had an all-nighter at church where we watched the whole series. I think I clawed out the arm rests on the chair I was sitting on because I was so freaked out.

I've come to much the same conclusion that you have-- our eschatology is important, because it does affect how we live today. But since none of us know the day or hour, are we gaining anything by trying to predict it or arguing about it? Whether it's pre-trib, post-trib, or even no-trib, it doesn't change the mandate Jesus gave us to go into the world and make disciples.

I didn't know "Left Behind" paperbacks burn nicely, but I did know "Your Best Left Now" does get a charcoal BBQ going. ;-)

jaigner said...

I'm with you, but I don't think it ever got as scary as what you described. I just remember a whole lot of really ominous statements like "I just know the return of the Lord is imminent" and "we may very well be feeling the birth pangs now." Funny how 10 or 15 years will kinda dispel a lot of those statements. I was terrified at the time. I know it's not something to be terrified of, but 1) I was a little kid and 2) it was presented as being very, very scary.

You're also right about the great commission, but as I see it, it's something that can never be objectively, entirely fulfilled. It's just for us to go and never stop. I'm not thinking someone will one day tell the final person and usher in the kingdom of God, which was something else I heard a lot of growing up.

"Your Best Life Now"...yeah...that's for another day.

Dan Martin said...

I just have to add a can-you-top-this comment here...last time my wife and I had our wills revised we did it with a very sincere and well-intentioned Christian attorney who encouraged us to consider adding what he called a "rapture amendment" to our wills. This is basically a document that takes care of the eventuality that we, along with millions of other Christians, are suddenly missing and can't be declared dead under the law (because there's no body nor evidence of foul play). The "Rapture Amendment" is supposed to designate some non-Christian executor (they have to be around, after all) to use the estate to survive the tribulation and hopefully get converted during the ensuing chaos.

I'll admit it's creative, and this guy was most emphatically NOT joking, but it still creeped me out a bit...

I'm glad you're not worried about it. I still like an elder believer's characterization of himself as a "pan-millenialist," as in "I know the Lord's in charge and it'll all pan out right."

jaigner said...

Funny you should mention this, but I recently read about some atheist groups that are, surely facetiously, offering to take care of your pets in the event of the rapture. A hundred bucks reserves your spot for ten years.

The lawyer story is very, very strange.