I’m on the road today to speak at the Youngstown Diocesan Men’s Conference.

I’m wearing my clericals and as I’m going through the ritual public humiliation we call “airport security” one of the rather stern looking guards–thin, bald headed with an aquiline look to him leans over and says to me, “What’s your eschatology?”

Now this is Greenville, South Carolina–the resplendent buckle on the Bible Belt. I pegged this fellow as a Bible believing, independent hyper Baptist dispensationalist, pre tribulation, rapture, Left behind sort of person.

(I will resist jokes about the right behind)

If you’re unfamiliar with this sort of religion, these are the folks who believe that the rapture is when Jesus will appear “in the twinkling of an eye” and take all the true believers up to heaven pronto–leaving behind all the sinners. When that happens many people will simply disappear. Cars and planes will crash (because their pilots and drivers have been raptured)

(See the painting accompanying this post)

So being a Bob Jones boy, brought up on dispensationalism and the Rapture and Jack VanImpe and Tim LaHaye (who was at Bob Jones with my Dad) and all that wonderfully ridiculous stuff myself I reckoned I knew the lingo.

I replied, “Sir, I believe the Lord Jesus Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and that his kingdom will have no end.”

He seemed to be satisfied with that answer and it occurred to me that the words of the creed can be very ecumenical if you need them to be.

Somewhat mollified but still suspicious he eyed me and said, “You independent?”

“Well sort of. I’m Catholic”

That confused him a little, so I said, “One thing I do know…at the Last Judgement we will all have to go through security.”

He laughed.

I made a friend and maybe that Independent Baptist thinks a little bit better of Catholics than maybe he did before.