Saturday, August 28, 2004

optional endings - my theories

bill at poet in motion has asked for input into the questions being raised in eschatology. again, i started to comment on his blog, but these issues turn into posts of their own, so i am responding here.

i was raised in the denomination that 'invented' dispensationalism and studied it at bible college, not for professional reasons, but for a deep love of theology. a deep need within me to know as much of god's word as i could possibly understand. to piece together the puzzle that the bible was to me.

most of my emerging is from a lot of the that doctrine and the belief system that i grew up with. i started to call it into question when i began to study the beatitudes. you see dispensationalism sets aside the beatitudes for the millenial kingdom. those precious words of christ are not intended for now, no, it wouldn't be possible for us to be merciful, meek, or mournful, the sermon on the mount was jesus' picture of the millenial kingdom, those are saved for a future time. i started to realize that the christianity i was a part of looked very little like jesus.

that scared the hell out of me. i started to pick those parts of my theology apart, and the rest of the ball got unravelled too. this emerging thing for me is looking at all of the string and keeping the bits of truth and seperating knots of untruth and lies and throwing them away.

for me it began in 1995, i was a faithful reader of the 'left behind' series. (and i can proudly say i never purchased any of them to feed the lehay/jenkins money machine.) as a good dispensationalist i knew they were flawed from the beginning because they made america the center of the story, but i was willing to overlook that for the sake of the world awakening to the coming threat of the rapture... the more i read, the more my stomach turned. i kept reading each installment so that i could intelligently speak on the books to the youth and parents in the church my husband works at, but with each book i soured. by this last book 'glorious appearing' i was so put off i couldn't finish it, and i finish every book i read. jihad jesus stomping through the holy land uttering red letter verses taken out of context and zapping the unbelievers with his eyes. it was horrible. it made me so angry. this was not my jesus.

throughout the series i started to see how this theology and belief really played out in my life and the lives of others who hold that view of the future.

i started to see that the rapture had become the hope of the church, not jesus, the rapture had become an idol. getting swept away from this 'god-forsaken' earth was what those around me really wanted. leave all the sinful to their sodom and gomorrah and we'll just be in heaven. yuck. what a club for people who don't want to live in the present. what i saw when i took off those rapture colored glasses was really ugly.

back in june i blogged on the beginnings of my ability to voice the discord i was feeling about what i had always believe and how i was seeing that play itself out. after reading this post by jonny baker. he blogged the concept of 'escapology', and it cracked a door for me.

here's how i see this theology play itself out in our lives today:

~i had always been taught that protecting israel was necessary, that god would bring back the temple, so the palestinian people (many of whom are christians) didn't matter. all that mattered was isreal having that piece of property, and the north american church was going to somehow make that happen. (yuck)

~why recycle? we don't need this earth and it's resources anyway - god is going to give us a new heaven and a new earth, and jesus is coming back 'any moment', so screw the earth, screw the environmentalist and their fear mongering. we know that we aren't going to be here when things get really bad, so by making it worse i might actually be making the rapture happen even sooner... (ugh)

~we need more wars because the bible says that they show the end times are coming, more earth quakes and natural disasters, hurray! that means the 'big sweep' will happen any minute. (ick)

~everyone and anyone who opposes 'the church' becomes the 'antichrist' when the church itself looks less like christ than just about anything i see.

i realized in june that i have options. i don't know them all yet, or even which one i'll finally land on. the newest theory i've been able to uncover is
preterism and from what i have read (please correct me if i'm wrong) is the concept that other than the millenial kingdom and the real stuff that supposed to be at the 'end' the other stuff has already happened.

the defiling of and destruction of the temple, the torture of the jewish people, all of that that jesus predicted 'would happen within their lifetime' (matt 16:28) did.

this for me reconciles a lot. i haven't had the time to really study it, but again, it's cracked the door and shed some light on things that never really made much sense for me.

i remember our first church as a married couple. we were fresh out of bible college and ready to take on the world. there was an amazing older man, a theologian, who i adored. we spoke many times of deep interesting subjects and he respected me and my voice (unheard of in a brethren church). there was one day when our discussion turned to eschatology. i waited with bated breath to hear his wisdom. he looked at me and said 'well, i am a WAS'.

a 'was'?? what the heck is that? 'wait and see' he said. what a cop out i thought, god gives us all this amazing information to sift through and that's the best you can come up with? wait and see? i was actually angry, and disappointed. oh the naivety of youth. how i'd love to sit and talk with him today.

some things we were never meant to be sure of.

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