My sister, who is a homophobe, living in Anchorage, AK wrote me an email and is all worried about whether or not we are in the tribulation. Below is an excerpt of her email to me.
On another note I'm really getting concerned about world issues. I really do sense the end coming. I don't believe in the Pre-Tribulation rapture as many Christians do, and neither does dad anymore for that fact. I base it on what I understand from Scripture and I'm not alone in this belief. There is actually a term for it called Historical Pre-Millinialist. Anyway, with global warming and scientists saying that if the effects are not reversed, that within 30 years our planet will become uninhabitable (could this be what the "new heavens and new earth" speak of in Revelation?); With China now consuming more than a 1/3 of the world's oil supply, and increasing in that; with Iran's president saying he is the chosen one to preceed the coming of the "great one"(did you happen to catch this in the news last year when he made his famous statement about wiping Israel from the face of the earth? I did, and it is scary!) in the Islamic view of end times; Iran wanting a nuclear program and Russia supporting it; An asteroid the size of the state of New Jersey on a direct collision path with our planet by the year 2030; the new social security card already being made mandatory in several states to be able to purchase an airline ticket, file tax returns, engage in any federal business for that matter; the list goes on.... Can you see why I am concerned? Particularly with what Scripture says the Tribulation will be like (Matthew 24:3-28; Luke 21:5-36). I see this happening in this generation. In 30 years I'll be 72, but Lewis and Alex will only be in their 30s. Dad says to pray as instructed in Luke 21:36, and that's what I've been doing.
My question is this-Does this sound like fatalistic religion? I mean I don't know what I really believe about all this anymore. I grew up under my Dad's teaching, which is rather "grim" and "fatalistic" very Calvinistic. So now that I have come out of the closet, my theology is not so much grim as it is grace filled and I just don't concentrate on the negative. Fundamentalists are so gloom and doom anymore, it is depressing religion and what people need is hope.
Moreover, how do I respond to my sister and allay her fears, if possible. I am not sure she will listen a backslidden lesbian sister, who I am quite sure she has consigned to hell, much like my mother has....:rolleyes:
Point her to Matthew 25:13 "Keep awake for you know not the hour or the day"
Mathew 24:36 But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,* but only the Father.
John 14:1-3 Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe* in God, believe also in me. 2In my Fatherís house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?* 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.
God created us to live faithfully in the world in the here and now and to exercise stewardship over it. The future is in His hands and he doesn't tell us in advance what is going to happen. Tell your sister to knuckle down and get busy doing something useful (environmentalism, social justice, works of compassion ... whatever) and by doing that she will be ready when Jesus decides to shows up.
When ever my friends start on the end time gloom and doom I tell them I am more interested in going a day without cussing.
U-dog is right. Tell her to do something with her life.
If it is the end we won't stop it anyway. I just read in our paper the other night from a local preacher celebrating the building of a new sanctuary how homosexuality is going to destroy America. Gawd has had enough.
I thought , "well, as long as it's not my fault". I say that tongue in cheek but isn't that what all good fundi's want? Someone to blame for their misery?
This is the message I hear:
You miserable bastards need to be happy like us and allow Gawd to place you in authority over all others. We don't judge God does, he just uses us to tell his message, a message of hate for fellow man, a message of condemnation for those who don't believe like we do. Repent and be like me or burn in hell for I am the..er.. I mean...Jesus is the way so follow me...er...I mean Him...Anyway give me you money so Gawd knows you really live him.
The End Times nuts sicken me. The book of Revelation is one among a list of books known as Antilegomena. It basically means that it doesn't -really- belong. There have been doubts about it's validity since 325 CE. Eusebis didn't accept it, Martin Luther didn't accept it, but somebody decided that it was important. Research the term a little bit, and you'll find that several books of the Christian Bible don't really belong.
"Put all things to the test, and hold fast to what is good."
Translation: If it doesn't make any sense, you probably shouldn't believe it.
Dispensationalism (the "end-times") teaching is a relatively recent teaching that came about in the 1800's. It isn't something that was taught in the church before then. I don't believe that the book of the Revelation should be omitted from the Bible, but it certainly isn't to be taken literally. It is obviously figurative.
Those of us alive in the 1970's remember Hal Lindsey and The Late Great Planet Earth. Time has proven that his teachings were total hogwash. (Though that hasn't stopped him from revising and publishing more recent books.)
A good book that deals a lot with this topic is Bruce Bawer's Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity
I don't know why fundamentalist Christianity has adopted the dispensational theology. It is totally unBiblical. I guess it goes along with the idea of exclusivity. Only those who are right will be saved while the evil masses (especially gays, gasp!) will be left to suffer. It turns God into an avenging warrior.
(Actually I sort of hope there is a rapture and all fundamentalists are taken away. It will be a lot of fun without them. :D)
OK I apologize for that last comment - sort of.
I read Bawer's book, too. Like I said, growing up under my Dad's teaching it has been a long, hard road coming out of the closet and breaking away from gloom and doom teaching. My father is a wonderful man, but so Calvinistic in his theology and that is what I grew up under. He pays so little attention to grace it is not funny, yet one of the Bible verses he taught, drilled into my head, was Ephesians 2:8&9, "For by GRACE you have been saved, through faith not of works, lest any man should boast." King James no less.
I don't know what I believe, but my sister is sitting there in dark, dreary Anchorage waiting for an asteroid to come destroy the earth or China to reveal the Antichrist and afraid that her children are going to have to endure the Tribulation, and I just want to enjoy whatever time I have left. You know I really could give a rat's ass how this is all going to play out. I know where I am going when I die and I really don't care how I get there. I don't care who the Antichrist is. I don't care if it is a metaphor and people who pay attention to this really need to get a life....:rolleyes:
Funny..."Fantastic" is how I first saw the title of your thread. I think it fits.
Your sister notes the "president of Iran." He's a good example of another fatalistic religion. But it is interesting how active many of the religious fatalists are. Fundamental Christians are afraid God is going to judge the U.S., so they help God out by beating God to the punch and pass laws punishing homosexuals. "...if we would judge ourselves, God would not have to judge us...."
I have found that many who are panicing because of the "signs of the times," put the cart before the horse. They read what's supposed to happen and go looking for things to make it fit, and often stretch things to make them fit. Here's just one example stretching from what your sister wrote:
"With China now consuming more than a 1/3 of the world's oil supply, and increasing in that;"
This is simply not true. Not even close. The last time I checked this out, about a year ago, the U.S. was the top oil consumer in the world, consuming 18% of the available oil. China came in at 6% and growing. Here are some more recent figures from the Dept. Of Energy
I think that it is people who are willing to stretch things to make them fit their beliefs who pose the most danger to humanity. The president of Iran has weapons of mass destruction at his disposal. Bush has weapons of mass destruction at his disposal. Both are fundamentalists who believe their "God" is going to judge the human race. Do they also believe they could be the "tool" that "God" uses to carry out those judgements? Could this be a self fullfilling prophecy?
I was appalled when I pulled up the chart and looked at the statistics. Now fatalistic religion will not believe logic. Neither will she. But the facts say otherwise. Thanks Paul for taking the time to set the record straight. I need to email that chart to her.
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