A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Friday, October 3, 2014

Leaving Behind "Left Behind" Theology

If it wasn't enough that we have the Left Behind books, we now have a Left Behind movie. Ugh!!

The Left Behind series is based on a modernist misguided theology that is centered around a supposed "rapture" in which there will be a cataclysmic end to the world and Christian believers will be snatched away to heaven while heathens will be left behind.

First of all, and really the main point I want to make is that IS EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of classic/orthodox Christianity teaching. The whole point of the gospel and what makes it such compelling good news is that God will one day rescue creation, not destroy it.

Think of the Lord's Prayer which states, "Thy kingdom COME, thy will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven." This famous prayer reminds us that God's desire is for God's kingdom to be realized on earth.

The ending of the Book of Revelation tells us that the new Jerusalem will COME DOWN OUT OF HEAVEN. This is how the biblical story will conclude, heaven and earth coming together the way it was always meant to be.

God affirms the physical and seeks to redeem and renew it.

Rapture and Left Behind theology is really an escapist theology based more on a dualistic philosophy where the physical is separated from the spiritual. This leads to the faulty assumption that physical is bad and spiritual is good. When God created the world, God called creation good. God affirms the physical and seeks to redeem and renew it.

Left Behind theology uses fear to scare people into the Christian faith. By painting a picture of a future gloom and doom for the world, they want you to sign up as a believer and avoid this messy place called earth. Notice the movie poster image of a city engulfed in an inferno. They can't imagine you would want to be a Christian because of the hope and promise for this world to be rescued and redeemed by a loving God. Fear sells. As for love and good news, not so much.

So, if you want to see the movie, think of it as sci-fi.  Let's leave behind "left behind" theology.

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