The Rapture


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I was reading something the other day that off-handedly referred to the "rapture" as a disinctly US Protestant construct.

My questions are:

1/ What is the Rapture specifically supposed to be, and

2/ Is the Rapture a disinctly US Protestant construct?
As far as I can make out it is. I know my (English) relatives are completely unfamiliar with it, and I didn't hear of it until I was an adult. I hope WHKeith will address this soon, since, if I may reveal one of his dread secrets, he did believe in the Rapture for a while back in his Christian days. Meanwhile, here's what I know of it.

The Rapture is based on a handful of verses in Revelation, Thessalonians and Matthew 24. It posits that world will end as described in Revelation, complete with an apocalyptic battle and Judgement Day. At some point in the troubles leading up to this point, the truly faithful will be directly assumed into heaven. Here's the section of Matthew (Chap. 24, vs. 6-42) which describes some of this:
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand-- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.
"So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
"Immediately after the distress of those days
" 'the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'
"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
The verses toward the end which refer to two men standing in a field and two women grinding are the ones used to justify the idea that people will be snatched away from what they're doing. I have, I'm afraid, seen the bumper sticker which reads, "In the event of Rapture, this car will become driverless." There are also people who are now convinced we are in the End Times.

Me, I'm pretty sceptical about the End Times. People have believed that since Paul's time, and so far, we haven't been right in nearly 2,000 years. Also, Christ states just as explicitly that no one knows when this will happen.

I also, to be honest, have a strong, knee-jerk negative reaction to Rapture theology. I hear in it a cruelty and arrogance which I am not willing to accept, a sort of "Nyah, ni-nyah, ni-nah nyah! I'm going to Heaven and you-ou're no-ot!" tone to it. I cannot believe God would be so cruel as to snatch up only the devout (usually defined as those who have a personal relationship with Christ at a bare minimum) and leave everyone else to sort things out. The notion of Him doing so and leaving an unmanned vehicle travelling along at speed seems more akin to a demon's trick than something I would expect of God. I have also said and will maintain that, if the Rapture does happen and I am so fortunate as to be taken, I'm not going. It would not be right of me to leave my fellow human beings to suffer. This is a difficult subject for me to be sensible on, but I'll give it my best shot. I also do hope to deepen my understanding of it, although I'm afraid I'm much more likely to take up Wicca than I am to believe this particular bit of Christian theology.

I said:
I was reading something the other day that off-handedly referred to the "rapture" as a disinctly US Protestant construct.

I think I may be responsible for that, but I did not say protestant, whereas i do believe, as a 'theology', it to be confined to the US.

I said:
1/ What is the Rapture specifically supposed to be

Siege has answered that one.

I said:
2/ Is the Rapture a disinctly US Protestant construct?

Whether or not Protestant, I don't know - but I do know it's a reduction of a Scriptural prophecy to a political methodology. The US believes those saved (144,000 is mentioned, and one would have to understand gematria and scriptural numerology to read it properly) will all be US citizens (of the white type) as this makes only logical sense seeing that the US is the saviour of Europe and the only civilised country in the world (in their eyes).

Actually, the best comment I heard was from a catholic priest, who smiled and nodded and said, "they'll grow out of it."

I'm not sure how narrowly you want to define "Rapture", but apocalyptic ideas go back to earliest Christianity and before. Paul talks about the time when Christ will return, the dead will be raised, and everyone will get a new spiritual body. John the Baptist told people to repent because the end of the world was coming. Jewish writings like the book of Enoch and Jubilees show that Jews were concerned about the end times even before Christianity and John the B.

Some scholars think this apocalypticism in Judaism derives from Zoroastrian ideas.
As it happens, a couple of days ago I e-mailed WHKeith asking him what the appeal of Rapture theology was after I saw something on a different message board. His reply was good and thorough enough I asked him why he hadn't posted it here and got his permission to do so (he's a bit swamped at the moment). Here's his reply (personal stuff omitted):


As for rapture theology, I think the appeal lies in some pretty basic psychology. If This Is It, the Big Guy is gonna come back ANY MOMENT now and settle scores, give out rewards, cast unbelievers into the lake of fire, and all that, and if, as the rapturists like to say, this is the Last Generation, it does several key things for the believers.

1. No matter how crazy their personal beliefs and practices might seem to the world, it doesn't matter. God's gonna come any second now, and then you'll see we were right and you were wrong! Be a fool for Christ; it's okay, 'cause he'll be here any second now to say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

2. It reinforces the "them" against "us" motif. "We've got a secret, and we're not gonna tell you until you come join us to find out what it is!" Okay, so it's not exactly secret with authors like Lindsey and LaHaye out there, but the way fundies see it, they're actively working and waiting for The Day, while people around them are just going about their business, dallying, sinning, fornicating, and so on, utterly unaware of the impending flood. It makes them feel wonderfully smug. Think of the fable of the ant and the grasshopper.

3. Salvation by fear. Like the dogma of hell, the idea of the rapture does catch a few unbelievers thinking, "Gee, what if they're right? Maybe I'd better clean up my act. . . ." I don't think it's the best way to win converts, but it has won a number of them.

4. Witnessing topic. This is related to #3. If I'm a Christian who believes this stuff, it's just possible someone's going to come up to me in a parking lot and ask me about my bumper sticker, the one that says "In case of rapture, the driver of this car will disappear." He's not going to ask about the one that says "Ask me about John 3:16," because that's boring scripture stuff. He'll have heard the word "rapture" and wonder what it's all about. It gives me a chance to talk about what I believe in the context of something that is happening RIGHT NOW--i.e. how everything happening in the Middle East or in Iraq or in Paducah, Kentucky was accurately predicted thousands of years ago, and those prophecies therefore must be right when they say Now is the Time. Maybe the guy will be intrigued enough that I can give him a Chick tract.

5. Assurance that we're on the right track. Related to #4 and to #2. Rapture theology is wonderful sermon ammunition. A preacher can stand up there and talk confidently about all the stuff we see happening in the world, and how this PROVES that the Bible is 100% right, that Jesus is coming back any moment now, and how, therefore, we are all RIGHT in having made this decision and in sitting in this church. We're right, they’re wrong. So there.

6. Comfort in the assurance of salvation. This comes out of #5. The world just seems to be getting uglier and uglier. Families falling apart. Crime on the increase. Government repression. Wars and rumors of wars. Each generation feels that THIS generation has it worse than ever before in history, even though there's plenty of proof to the contrary. When someone points out that the Bible predicted all of this, right down to the identity of Saddam Hussein as the Beast of the Revelation (or Hitler, or Napoleon, or the Pope, or Martin Luther, or the Emperor Nero, depending on when you're living) it kind of makes all the chaos and ugliness and death and despair seem worthwhile, somehow. It's All God's Plan Coming Together At Last. (I have even seen meticulously worked-out "proofs" that JFK, Kissinger, and Reagan each was the one and only Antichrist.)

7. Aren't I clever? Most rapture theology involves piecing together many, many verses from allover, especially Daniel, Revelations, and numerous isolated verses from the Gospels, from Paul, and from 1st and 2nd John. It all sounds so plausible when strung together, "proving" that "false prophets and deceivers = antichrists = the Beast = "many will come in my name." For example, the beast referred to in Daniel, which probably refers to Alexander's Empire which broke up to eventually become the persecutor of the Macabbees, can be cobbled together with the Beast of Revelations . . . OBVIOUSLY the same beast! If you can glibly rattle all of this stuff off, it sounds damned impressive. Geeze, I MUST be an expert on Bible prophecy! This ties in with #2; WE'RE clever, and know what the Bible REALLY says. If you want in on the secret, believe what we do.

8. Live the moment. This, to my way of thinking, is the only valuable aspect of rapture theology. We should live every moment as if it were our last, that Christ could come back and find us at any moment. "No man knows the day or the hour" keeps us all on our toes, keeps us in line, keeps us on the alert for His appearance.

It's very important to keep in mind that even in the 1st century, rapture theology had a hold on people. Jesus Himself is recorded as saying "no man knows the day, etc.," but he's ALSO recorded as having said to the Apostles (sorry, I'm paraphrasing from memory here) "I tell you that you shall not have gone through every city of Israel before you see the Son of Man return in glory." He's also on record as having told the chief priests and scribes that they, personally, would see His return. These verses were written considerably after the fact, of course, and probably reflected the theologies of the writers decades after the crucifixion. A very great deal was wrapped up in the idea that the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed, and then the Son of Man would return in glory. It's not certain whether that was written before the Temple was destroyed in 70, or after. Whoever wrote them and whenever they were written, it's fairly obvious the writers were convinced that THEY were the last generation.

Although I've studied many different ideas on the subject, to my way of thinking, Revelations can be best explained by equating Nero with the Beast (neronius = 666 in gematria), Rome with the Whore of Babylon (seven heads = seven hills, drunken with the blood of saints and martyrs, she rides the Beast, 10 horns = 10 emperors*), and the woman clothed with the sun who gave birth to a child with Israel giving birth to the Christ (12 stars = 12 tribes). Of course, the fundie argument to this is that God layers his messages so that they are meaningful to everyone. Nero DOES = 666 (and there was a popular urban legend going about at the time that he hadn't really killed himself, that he would soon be back, bigger and badder than ever, i.e. the wound unto death that was miraculously healed, and in 96 there was an urban legend that claimed that Domitian was Nero returned from the dead) but you can also get 666 out of Roma, the Pope, Luther, and quite a few other names, depending on which alphabet and which form of gematria you use. Of course, this begs the question as to why THIS generation isn't just another in a long list of not-quites, and that the REAL Beast is due to show up sometime in the 34th century.

* Footnote: Depending on whether or not you count Julius Caesar, Nero was only emperor #5 or #6. (Julius was not an emperor, but he was seen as divine throughout the empire.) I think #10 was Trajan, who took the throne in 114. There were lots of emperor = antichrist movements among the Christians under the persecutions of Domitian in 96, Nerva in the early 100s, and Trajan. Also, note a certain amount of confusion here. The Antichrist is NOT the Beast; the Antichrist is usually equated with the SECOND beast, or False Prophet, who makes the world follow the first beast. So Nero could be the beast ridden by the Great Whore, or the Great Whore could be either the Roman Empire or the Catholic Church riding on Rome, with the second beast--the Antichrist--as Nero or the Pope. Later rapturists point out that ten horns = 10 nations arising from the Roman Empire, and there was a LOT of expectation when NATO got its 9th and 10th members in the '70s.

Rapturists believe different things about all of these historical bits, depending on their particular flavor. Note, though, also, that the word "Antichrist" never appears in Revelations. It comes, I believe, from 1st and 2nd John, which speak of multiple antichrists . . . and which almost certainly historically refers to the Gnostics, who refuted that Christ ever had a material body or that He actually suffered. (Read 2 John:7 in this light to see what I mean.) It's fascinating to realize that a very great deal of the fire and brimstone preachings of Paul and other presumed writers of the New Testament were actually aimed at other Christians! (Paul against the Jewish Christians who held that Christians needed to follow the Law of Moses, later writers against the Gnostic Christians who believed Jesus was spirit only and not flesh and blood, and the Arian Christians who believed Jesus was the greatest of the prophets, but human. The Nicene Creed itself, from 325 or so, was specifically written to nail down once and for all the trinitarian, Jesus = God concept by emphasizing the importance, literally, of the Greek letter iota, "i." Homouiouson = "of one substance." Homououson = "of like substance." In other words, was Jesus the one and only Son of God, and, in fact, God himself, of one substance with the Father? Or was he of "like substance," created in the Father's image . . . and therefore ANY Joe can become "like God," a son of God.

As you know well, you can manipulate history and numbers to say ANYTHING you wish, and people WILL believe you.

Don't know if this helps, but it sums up my take on the topic.
Thanks Siege and, by proxy, WHKeith for a comprehensive overview.

As a corollary to this - I was wondering whether the 'take up' of rapture theology is a comfort and assurance - as WHKeith states - in the face f the realisation by Americans that 'the American dream' is not quite what they thought it to be.

After WWII America was unassailable - even the Cold War was 'won' in a sense - but then the flow of history has turned, Korea signalled something 'not quite right' and Viet Nam was the first significant military defeat, and since that day America has not prosecuted a war to a clear and unarguable success - in fact quite the opposite.

Internally the failure of financial and social dreams, etc. etc. leads to a turning against the world, which is perceived as hostile, and an escape into one of the more 'fantastic' aspects of Scripture: The Rapture.

This is my concern, because in the absence of the overall moderation of the Christian message, rapture theology on its own - in isolation - can justify 'nuking the rest cos we're the best'.

It's a form of ultra-right wing supremacy, and any form of supremacy philosophy is always frightening.

(Not to stretch the point - but the US funding of the Israeli-managed genocide in Palestine is just one such instance of 'justificiation')

Hi, folks. Okay, Siege . . . what's the idea of dragging me over here from my nice, safe hidey-hole over in Alternative Spirituality? ;^D

Thomas—respectfully, I can't agree that rapturist theology is connected in any serious way with recent U.S. politics. We have, of course, the New Testament itself as an argument: Jesus, Paul, Luke, the author of Revelations, and others all evidently believed Christ would return at any moment, and that--one way or another--the believers would be gathered unto Him out of the nations and out of their persecutions.

The earliest manifestation of rapturist theology in the U.S. appears to be the Millerite movement. Miller was a Baptist preacher who, in 1831, proclaimed that Christ would return on a particular date in 1843. Reportedly, thousands gave away their belongings, donned white robes, and joined Miller on a mountaintop to await the Second Coming. When it didn't happen, Miller did a fast recalculation, discovered a math error, and issued a new date--in 1844. When Jesus didn't return then, he gave up and left the ministry. The episode was named "The Great Disappointment."

Ellen G. Wright--one of the disappointed--went on to help found the Seventh Day Adventists, who continued to expect the Second Coming at any time.

Another Christian sect with similar ideas is the Jehovah's Witnesses, who first predicted Christ's return for 1914. Later revisions of this date set the time of His coming in 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, and finally 1975. The most recent JW argument I've heard suggests that Christ really DID come in 1914; we just haven't noticed Him yet.

The point is, literal interpretations of Biblical scenes of fiery judgment and the triumph of the righteous are not restricted to the failure of the American dream.

It's tempting for people outside these movements to assume that people who believe in rapture-oriented or Armageddonist theologies are either/both poorly educated and/or low on the social and economic scales. This last could contribute, it is argued, to their desire for something better. Christ's return would be a great way to escape grinding poverty, back-breaking work, and exploitation by social "betters."

I've been in such a movement however, and can say from the inside that it ain't necessarily so. I can't speak for the Millerites, but in the '70s, Rapturists tended to be middle and high-middle class white-collar workers, and included plenty of people with college educations. . . i.e. people who were LIVING the American dream. It hadn't failed them, and so can't be said to have driven them into extremist theologies. It is true that many Rapturists of the '70s were recruited from the ranks of the hippies of the '60s--people who'd become disillusioned with society and dropped out. In most cases, that was less the failure of American Dream than it was a *spiritual* disenchantment with western materialism. I can’t see any reasonable link with the political or military failures in Korea or ‘Nam.

I will say that disillusionment with the spiritual aspects of Western culture does contribute to a turning away from those aspects in search of something purer, more holy, more God-centered. And, yes, people who do so are perceived as kooks or fanatics and are marginalized by the rest of society—or they crusade so fervently or withdraw so completely that they marginalize themselves; this inevitably leads to an “us against them” worldview, which rapturist theology exploits to the full.

I must also say that I never, EVER heard anything justifying our nuking anybody else or an argument that we—either the U.S. or a particular Christian movement—should, could, or would lord it over the rest of the world. Such an idea would have shocked my fellow rapture-believing Christians silly. What rapture theology DID do back in the seventies was reassure us that the scary things happening in the world and even the immediate threat of nuclear holocaust were all in God’s plan—not that we would instigate it, but that when it happened, it would all turn out to be part of His eternal plan of the ages.

Thus endeth Part I of this epistle. Part II cometh, yea verily, for as usual I runneth off at the fingers.
And here comes Part II.

The closest thing to rapturist political intervention in world events I can think of in the '70s was support—by a VERY tiny minority of churches—for a similarly fringe-element splinter of ultra-Orthodox Judaism. You see, one of the many interpretations of Second Coming scriptures holds that before the rapture can occur, the Temple must be rebuilt on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. That particular bit of real estate, of course, is currently occupied by one of the holiest shrines of Islam, and Muslims worldwide become infuriated at the periodic (and untrue—the Israeli leadership is NOT crazy!) rumors that the Israeli government is about to take over the Mount, tear down the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque of Omar, and rebuild the Temple. If such were to happen, I can easily believe in a WWIII scenario occurring as a direct result; many believed in the ‘70s that an Arab-Israeli conflict would drag the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. into war on opposite sides. It could easily have happened—and came frighteningly close to doing so in the Yom Kippur War. But by no stretch of the imagination were the vast majority of Christians interested in FORCING such an outcome. Most were content to let God carry out His plan, whatever it was, in His own way.

As for Christians lording it over others—I can think of only one theology that directly espouses this: some Jehovah’s Witnesses see the 144,000 of Revelations as being an elect group of believers—JWs, of course—who will rule over ALL believers (who, of course, are the only survivors of the Last Judgment) in the New Jerusalem. Not all Jevohah’s Witnesses believe this—an alternative interpretation is that ONLY 144,000 will be saved.

I think what I’m trying in my long-winded and rambling way to say is that while some American white supremacists and some American global supremacists do embrace rapturist theology, they are a tiny, tiny minority. The vast majority are uninterested in politics—save marginally as world events support their views—and look forward to being with Christ, not becoming the new ruling class. The American Religious Right—which has a bad rep both here and abroad for political extremism—is also a small minority of the entire spectrum of religious belief here. They just happen to be one of the noisier wavelengths.

For whatever it may be worth, MY take on the appeal of rapturist theology has to do with the American fascination with the philosophy of Material Realism.

Brian was right in his initial post on this thread. Rapture theology DOES appear to be peculiarly American. (Though I’ve talked with Christians from other countries who accept rapturist views—notably a native of Indonesia converted in a fundamentalist Christian revival over there in the 1960s. Since the revival was sparked by Western missionaries, this changes nothing.)

Since Democritas of Abdera who declared that nothing existed but atoms and the void, through Aristotle who first proclaimed the separation of mind and body, through Thomas Aquinas who introduced reason over revelation as a theological tool through Descartes who proclaimed the separation of religion and science, Western thought has been increasingly dominated by Material Realism, which states that what we sense is what there is, that there exists “out there” a reality that is completely independent of us. This worldview is so pervasive that it influences the most spiritual of westerners. For Americans, in particular, it seems to have led to a fascination with the material, knock-on-wood reality of everything from politics to the meaning of Revelations. It’s as though we have to measure everything, translate everything, understand everything, boil everything down to simple and easy-to-grasp facts and figures.

For American Christians, this has led to Christian fundamentalism, which holds that the Bible is accurately and uniquely God’s literal word. If God said six days, then, by God, He meant six days! Or . . . well, maybe “six periods of time,” since the sun, moon, and stars weren’t created until the fourth day. But He said “six,” and He meant six!

This, in turn, has led to some astonishingly detailed and torturously reasoned syntheses of scriptural text. Daniel, Revelations, stray verses from Paul’s writings. bits of Isaiah and Amos and other minor prophets and the Gospels all smooshed together in an attempt to come up with a linear, rational, touchable, *knowable* whole. Christ coming in men’s hearts is not real-world enough. He must PHYSICALLY return in glory. Right and wrong eventually receiving recompense is not real-world enough. Believers must SEE the wicked cast into a lake of fire. Believing that humans are flawed and in need of help is not real-world enough. We must understand that one specific and material act in history resulted in the separation of humanity from God, the appearance of death and suffering in the world, and the universal condemnation of humankind, and that ONLY one specific and material act in our life will save us individually from certain doom.

I find it fascinating that an over-reliance on a philosophy as spiritually impoverished as Material Realism has become the driving force for a major branch of American spirituality, resulting in, ironically, not realism, but fantasy. To my way of thinking, rapture theology over-emphasizes superficialities at the expense of spiritual depth—and of such non-material virtues as loving-kindness, compassion, and tolerance. (My opinion alone, of course; I mean no offense to my fundamentalist friends with whom I disagree, many of whom are deeply spiritual and who do exhibit Christian virtues.)

It's also possible that we're seeing a purely accidental effect of history. The United States was the first country in history to encourage religious freedom on a broad scale. That meant we had a tradition of taking narrow Biblical interpretations and turning them into new religions. England had its share of new religions, of course. The Baptists, Quakers, Methodists, and many others arose there, as dissenters. They thrived over here, though, and developed a peculiarly American flavor. Maybe rapture-oriented theologies thrive in the U.S. simply because of the tradition of religious freedom.

As my dear friend Siege would be the first to point out, not all Christians, not even all AMERICAN Christians--fall into the rapture trap. By far the majority are content to leave timetables and judgment to God, and to content themselves with living the best lives they can and tending to their own relationship with God, however they see Him. Like the Religious Right, rapturists are a small but vocal minority.

I see no connection at all—save coincidental—between rapture theology and American supremacist nonsense.

Forgive me, Brian, for the long double-post ramble. But this topic is important to me.
Hi WHKeith - Thanks for the reply - long, but worth it.

but whoa! Don't misread me!

I did not mean to imply that rapture theology is an American invention - as you say it is founded in Scripture - but rather that it's taken hold in the US much more so than in Europe, even if it is only a small and noisy percentage.

In Europe I can only think of the JWs who bang on about it.

Maybe,,as you say, it's a result of the freedom of religious expression.

BTW - there's one, if not two 'rapturist' author(s) whose books outsell the NYTimes best-seller lists but, because of their content, they are never listed - reported here on the BBC.

Perhaps the US, being that much younger, is experiencing something that Europe went through generations ago.

No need to apologise, Bill - quantity and quality together works well for myself. :)

Btw - Thomas - do you have a link to the BBC article? Sounds interesting that the books would not be listed - something to look into.
I think the books Thomas is talking about are the Left Behind series. I should warn you that an annoying popup encouraging you to sign up for their mailing list covers some of the text. I've seen the books in all of the bookstores I've been to, I think, not to mention the large discount stores, Wal-Mart, etc. They do indeed sell well over here, and there are those who take them seriously. I've also seen them in every library branch I've been in lately, and I spend far too much time (and money!) in bookstores and libraries.

While I'm scaring folks (hey, it is close to Halloween :p ), I hate to tell you this, Bill, but I have read Christians who are in favor of various things in the Middle East, including some of Israel's more violent actions against the Palestinians because they see it as bringing about some of the events required for the End Times to occur. I know. Do you want to hide under my bed, or is it my turn to hide under yours? Come to think of it, if things do get out of hand on my side of the Atlantic, do you British members of this board think I could re-patriate?! ;)

Siege said:
I think the books Thomas is talking about are the Left Behind series.

That's the one!

I'll try and dig out the details.

Siege said:
Come to think of it, if things do get out of hand on my side of the Atlantic, do you British members of this board think I could re-patriate?! ;)

If you ask really, really nicely.

Siege said:
Come to think of it, if things do get out of hand on my side of the Atlantic, do you British members of this board think I could re-patriate?! ;)
Only if you repudiate Lancashire and sing the praises of Yorkshire. :)
Hey, guys! Keep in mind that--whatever Siege or her parents might have done about American citizenship--she remains a British subject until the Queen tells her otherwise. You've GOT to take her back! She's still yours!

I agree completely, Thomas. And I don't think I was misunderstanding you so much as I was running off at the mouth, er, fingers. I DO tend to believe that the current take on the Rapture, with the obsessive attention to exactly how it will all play out in gory detail, IS an American invention. I bow my head in shame.

Perhaps we can blame it on the exuberance of youth?

Siege, I think what I was trying to say was that support of tearing down the Dome of the Rock or nuking Russia because any of this would bring about the Second Coming sooner was never a part of an organized effort by--dare I say it?--mainstream American fundamentalism. (Yes, I believe there is such.) There have always been plenty of psychopathic individuals who thought God was a telling them to kill people, supremacist groups that thought it was God's will that genocide be carried out, and even individual churches or chgurch splinter groups that thought a little nuclear armageddon would be a good thing. [shudder!] Fortunately, such voices are scattered, divided, and few and far between, relatively speaking. You would not, I believe, here Pat Robertson, to pick one example, declaring that we SHOULD nuke Russia. He's certainly on record as saying that a nuclear war might well be the Biblical Armageddon, (I think even Billy Graham has said as much, and he's not nearly as extremist as Robertson) but he knows the national scandal of declaring that we SHOULD attack other people to fulfill prophecy would end both his career and his political credability.

Thank God!

I think you'd better come hide under my bed. Portland, Maine is less of a target than Pittsburgh. I think.
WHKeith said:
Perhaps we can blame it on the exuberance of youth?

I think there's more in that than first appears.

WHKeith said:
I think you'd better come hide under my bed. Portland, Maine is less of a target than Pittsburgh. I think.

I those old, cold days, I actually considered an escape proceedure, from London to relatives in Norfolk (East Anglia, not Virginia), until I realised that E Anglia is home to a number of UK & US Air force bases and would probably be higher on the hit list than the city!

On a more serious note - I view 'movements' (be they physical, social, political, etc) as manifestations of movements in higher realms, or as significant of a breakdown of 'continuity' between the two.

That was behind my idea of fundamentalism being a reaction to the collapse of the American Dream, in that the stirrings would make themselves apparent before one could pinpoint a 'collapse' as such, but that was a moment's idle speculation.

I should also say that the US hasn't 'cornered the market' on fundamentalism as such, Catholic Europe went through a painful process in the wake of Vatican II, and Anglican Christianity is likewise going through the throes with the homosexual debate.

This was posted on another board. Although I question the legitimacy of it (if the woman was killed, how does she claim anything?), it does fit into this discussion, though in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner.

Arkansas Woman Killed in Mistaken Rapture

ARKANSAS CITY (EAP) -- A Little Rock woman was killed yesterday
after leaping through her moving car's sun roof during an incident best described as a "mistaken rapture" by dozens of eye-witnesses. Thirteen other people were injured after a twenty-car pile-up resulted from people trying to avoid hitting the woman who was apparently convinced that the rapture was occurring when she saw twelve people floating up into the air, and then passed a man on the side of the road who she claimed was Jesus.

"She started screaming 'He's back!, He's back!' and climbed right out of the sunroof and jumped off the roof of the car," said Everet Williams, husband of 28-year-old Georgann Williams who was pronounced dead at the scene.

"I was slowing down but she wouldn't wait till I stopped,"Willams said. She thought the rapture was happening and was convinced that Jesus was gonna lift her up into the sky," he went on to say.

"This is the strangest thing I've seen since I've been on the force,"said Paul Madison, first officer on the scene.

Madison questioned the man who looked like Jesus and discovered that he was on his way to a toga costume party, when the tarp covering the bed of his pickup truck came loose and released twelve blown-up sex dolls filled with helium which then floated up into the sky.

Ernie Jenkins, 32, of Fort Smith, who's been told by several of his friends that he looks like Jesus, pulled over and lifted his arms into the air in frustration, just as the Williams' car passed him, and Mrs Williams was sure that it was Jesus lifting people up into the sky as they passed by him, according to her husband, who says his wife was a devout Christian.
Here's information on the source, but I'm afraid it's not true. If anyone here isn't familiar with, there a wonderful site for tracking down the truth of various tales which float around the internet.

I was pretty convinced - until I got up to the second to last paragraph, about the toga party and inflated sex dolls. :)
I, too, question this story. It has all the trappings of an urban legend. But--my God! It's hilarious, in a gruesome way! Please, please cite the source, if you have it!

I can relate a story--not NEARLY so dramatic, but it is true. Perhaps thirty years ago, I was still a Charismatic Christian, was deeply involved in lay ministry at a local church, and had been counciling a woman who'd come to Christianity after being a practicing witch. Somewhere along the line, I told her all about the Rapture and the Second Coming, and she avidly abosrbed it all.

A couple of weeks later, though, she was driving down a major street in the Northwest Chicago suburbs--this is a BUSY area with lots of traffic at all times--and she suddenly realized . . . she was alone. There were NO other cars on the highway, no pedestrians, no sign of any other people anywhere! This went on for several moments, and she became more and more and more nervous, afraid that the Rapture had ocme and everyone had been zapped up to heaven except her! She ended up driving at high speed to the church and calling me for reassurance! We decided that God had allowed her a glimpse of a "what if" scenario, to remind her in a memorable way that Christ could return at any moment. It's a wonder she didn't get herself in an accident, though.

But the helium-filled sex dolls . . . man, I can't top that!