A year after Rev Harold Camping’s followers messed up on doomsday and the rapture didn’t happen Patrick Archbold links to a sympathetic article on the followers who were “left behind” when Jesus didn’t turn up in glory. They didn’t experience the rapture, but they did experience a rupture–in their belief system. Matt notices that this article observes that “most mainstream Christians” believe in the rapture, and he goes on to point out that this just ain’t so. Read his post here.
I was brought up in a fundamentalist church that followed dispensationalist theology. This is a theological system devised by a Protestant Bible scholar called C.I. Schofield. His basic thesis is that God’s work in the world occurs in different time periods or “dispensations”. God’s message to humanity and work within history happens different ways in different times. This dispensationalist theology is the foundational system for all the “end times” prophecies that abound in this sort of Protestantism. It involves a the “rapture” in which Jesus returns supernaturally and takes all believers to heaven–leaving the wicked behind to suffer seven years of tribulation before the final return of Christ and the Last Battle of Armageddon. The writer of the article Matt quotes can be forgiven for saying that this “end times” stuff is “mainstream” because it is mainstream within American Evangelicalism. This reveals the incredible ignorance of the typical American about historic Christianity. The writer clearly has a blind spot and can only call this form of American Evangelicalism “mainstream” because he doesn’t even see Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism and the other Christian groups.
However, this is not the core problem. The main difficulty is with Dispensationalism itself. Some time ago I wrote this article about the whole “Left Behind” phenomenon. Check out that article, but also stop to consider the problems with Dispensationalism itself. The fact that this kind of religion is considered “mainstream” in America says an awful lot that is disturbing about American religion and stuff that is even more disturbing about the American Evangelical mainstream. Read more.