If Harold Camping and Family Radio are to believed, this will be my last blog post. As, according to them, the “rapture” of all those who believe in Jesus will happen tomorrow and the world will be destroyed sometime in October.
There’s many responses I could give to this (and spend five minutes browsing google and you’ll find many people who already have) but I guess I want to focus on one particular bit.
In fact, I don’t believe that the world is going to end. Certainly not in the way that Camping and other fundamentalists (or as a like to call crazies) think it will. I don’t for one minute believe that God is going to ‘steal’ us all away to some place called Heaven and leave everyone who doesn’t believe in Him to suffer on earth for the next few months until its destroyed.
That’s a science fiction story. And one with a lot of holes in its plot.
There are things I love in this world. The simple pleasure of feeling the sun on my face on a hot day. standing with my (almost) three year old son watching and and listening to the river and sitting chatting for hours with my wife. I believe God also loves these things. I believe God takes joy in the simplest of pleasures. He probably does so, so much more than me. It’s this belief that makes me question the entire understanding of the ‘rapture’.
Revelation is a hard book to understand and grapple with. It’s written in a form of writing that we do not fully understand. It is burst with imagery, allegory and politics. I think it has very little to do with how the world is going to end.
I believe God loves this world. And that he’s not going to destroy it. I don’t believe that christians (however you understand that term) are going to be whisked off to some other realm. I believe that revelation paints this beautiful image of God coming here. Of God dwelling here with us. I believe that this world will be renewed, not destroyed.
And I believe the fundamental message of Jesus is to to reveal to us how we can participate with God in renewing this world. By celebrating life, by treating each other fairly, by loving one another we will live as if this were Heaven. I believe that’s the point. I believe this is what we should be communicating to the young people we work with. Show them that we are not all going somewhere else.
Show them that God has begun a plan to restore and renew this world. And we get to be part of it.
I believe that Saturday will come and go. And I hope that rather than lose faith (or come up with some silly reason as to why we are all still here on Sunday) that Camping and his followers embrace the message of reconciliation and restoration and start trying to save this world rather than celebrating its demise.
I read this post by John Koessler yesterday.
In it he claims that those who attacked Rob Bell‘s new book, “love wins” (and I don’t use the term lightly) were right to do so.
“the general message seemed to be that anyone who would be disturbed by possibility that Rob Bell denies the literal nature of hell must have too much time on his hands. Don’t Jesus’ followers have better things to do than to dispute such things?”
He then finishes his post with the following statement:
“I know. It sounds “old school.” It seems “ungenerous.” But what can I say. It’s what the Bible says. Unpleasant as it sounds, doctrine does matter. And no, we really don’t have better things to do.”
I agree doctrine is important (as a way of understanding and articulating what it is that we do or do not believe) but to say that we really don’t have better things to do?
That doctrine is the be all and end all.
Did Jesus really spend all his time making sure the disciples understood everything perfectly?
Wasn’t one of Jesus’ issues with the pharisees that they put too much doctrine on people? Jesus attacked them for focusing too much on right belief.
“Faith, hope and love. but the greatest of these is love”.
The greatest commandment is to love. love God. Love people.
The greatest commandment is not too make sure your doctrine is all nice and neat.
In one of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, Jesus congratulates them on rooting out false teaching but convicts them because, as a result of this heresy hunting, they have forgotten what it means to love people.
Yes, critics had the right to read Bell’s book and criticize it but is that really the most important thing? The things above all else?
As a youth worker in a church, I ‘m realizing more and more that young people struggle with doctrine. they struggle with right beliefs. they get bored by it. we can load them up with all the right info and teaching but does that really do anything?
Isn’t it time we move past simply making sure young people know the right doctrine and instead help them experience faith.
experience God. Walk with them.
Discipleship should be more than teaching.
teaching should be the end bit.
Here is a short animated video of Sir Ken Robinson talking about education.
Yes the video focuses on state education but christian education should be no different.
Let us move away from pouring knowledge about God into our young people and instead, help them to get to know God.
- Love Wins! It Also Criticizes. (johnkoessler.wordpress.com)
- Discipleship: time for a complete personal reevaluation (onfollowingchrist.wordpress.com)
- Christian Discipleship: Definition | Cost of Discipleship (theoraclemag.wordpress.com)
- Costly Grace (confessingchurch.wordpress.com)
- Costly Grace (roemerbrief.wordpress.com)
- The Coming of You Pt 1 The Dead Seed By Apostle Ricardo Butler (reasondisciple.wordpress.com)
I saw Prince of Persia last week. It’s not going to win any awards but it was a bit of hollywood fluff that didn’t outstay its welcome.
The film follows the exploits of Prince Dastan, a street orphan, who is adopted by King Sharaman of Persia. Through a series of events, he is forced to go on the wrong after being wrongly accused of the murder of his adopted father and comes into possession of a dagger that control time. By pressing the button on the dagger he is able to travel back in time by one minute, but if it is inserted into a certain holy wall then he can travel back as far as he wants.
We’ve done something or said something that we later regret and wish we could go back and sort.
I know I have.
But it got me thinking about a more interesting idea. At the end of the movie (spolier alert) Dastan goes back in time in order to prevent Hell on Earth (quite literally). He has seen what is going to happen and goes back and changes his actions accordingly.
Discussions about God’s divine providence still go on today. How much does God know about what it is going to happen? How much is He in control of events?
The Book of revelation has been often read as a guide to what is going to happen at the end of world. A kind of crystal ball. I’m certainly not convinced that was the aim of John when he wrote it but I understand how people can come to that opinion.
What I do believe is this.
The death and resurrection of Jesus brought about the start of a renewed creation. It showed us we are to partner with God in bringing about this new creation. I believe in the poetry and story of Revelation that one day God will dwell on earth and everything we do now will somehow have meaning then. Because we know how the story will end, we should live accordingly.
Are we about bringing Heaven to earth or Hell to earth?
What kind of world do we hope will exist when God renews everything?
Let’s start working with God to bring about that renewed world now.