The Simpsons spoofed the much maligned cash cow book series Left Behind in an episode called ‘Left Below’ where the characters in a mise en abyme found themselves left behind (no pun intended) after the so-called rapture.
Yesterday, according to one cranky old dude in the US, the world was supposed to end. It didn’t. I wasn’t surprised. Nor were you.
This post isn’t an attempt to discuss anything theological, but I am curious about two things.
Firstly, why was everyone I encountered on May 21st referring to this ‘rapturous’ (no pun intended) event? Or more specifically why did the media jump all over this story?
Secondly, rapture theology (more accurately called dispensationalism), should be called out for what it is: a very narrow and dying breed of conservative Christian theology.
First off, how on earth did some no name-preacher in the US garner incredible media attention? Social media probably sent record numbers of curious gawkers to investigate the ‘ministry’ of this old man and his hapless victims.
This is really unfortunate for two reasons. Firstly, this isn’t news so it’s either a blatant attack on Christianity/religion as a whole or really poor reporting by practically every media outlet. Secondly, it’s bad because there are/were people who were suckered into the message of the false prophet.
[I won’t get into more details, check out Euguene Cho’s take if you’re curious to learn more.]
It seems the only time everyone hears the word church in mainstream media it has to do with one idiot. One xenophobe burns a Quaran, one numerologist makes another wild false prophecy about the end of the world, both get insane levels of national media coverage.
Too bad neither are reflective of anything Christian.
Despite my chagrin I did get a kick out of the attempt by people to jump on this opportunity to ridicule religion and Christians.
Think about it. The rapture event itself, not withstanding any wild prophetic date predictions, sits outside of orthodox Christianity. To assume even the rapture is even common place in Christian theology is like believing mashing your video game controller harder will impact your characters on screen–there’s just no connection.
Now I readily admit the place where dispensationalism is popular is the Southern US consisting of an decreasing yet very vocal minority. But even there, thankfully, 200 years after its inception (dispensationalism itself is not even 200 years old), its popularity is declining exponentially.
I hate to draw lines in the sand over trivial theological matters, but the notion that the rapture will happen like the old ‘pastor’ said, or how the Left Behind books describe, is false.
To state the obvious, there are more important things to worry about.
So if you were left below don’t feel bad, I was left behind too. But actually I prefer it that way since it means the church can keep on busying itself by participating in God’s ultimate dream, that’s still unfolding, to right the wrongs in the world around us.