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July 25, 2012 10:05 AM   Subscribe

A very short history of The Rapture
posted by Artw (88 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know how they could write this whole article and not talk about the "House Of Jealous Lovers" EP even once.
posted by koeselitz at 10:07 AM on July 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


Yep. The idea didn't exist until the nineteenth century, but it rapidly became part of the then-nascent Dispensationalism. Related: previously.
posted by valkyryn at 10:17 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


One engineer spent most of his retirement savings on publicizing Camping's predictions, only to see them fail to materialize.

Oh, right. Is this the guy who designed the Hyatt Regency Hotel skywalk in Kansas City?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:19 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was like please be about the band but then I realized it was lolxtianfilter.
posted by resurrexit at 10:20 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Rapture may be our best shot at reversing Global Warming.
posted by Groundhog Week at 10:20 AM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was like please be about the band but then I realized it was lolxtianfilter.
posted by resurrexit at 1:20 PM on July 25


You would say that, wouldn't you?
posted by zombieflanders at 10:21 AM on July 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


A Short History of the Universe: The Big Bang. Now, some current events.
posted by DU at 10:24 AM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fab Five Freddie told me everybody's fly
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:26 AM on July 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


A friend of mine was in a Jesuit seminary for a couple years (never followed through, though) and in an earlier thread I shared a story he told about what happened when he tried to write about "the origins of The Rapture" in one of his theology classes. He literally could not do it, because he had to stick to using either actual Scripture or Catholic theological sources, and there were none.

Rapture eschatology has been one of his own personal berserk buttons ever since.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on July 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


Shouldn't it be called the McRapture?
posted by Splunge at 10:30 AM on July 25, 2012


McRapture?

Seems like the Rapture folks would do better to funnel their advertising dollars through Chik-Fil-A at this point...

Family Radio Employee Estimates $100M Spent on Judgment Day Advertising (linked from article, possibly previously here)

Damn, talk about money burning a hole in your pocket. Couldn't it have been more wisely invested in a privately-held space exploration company? Ok, so you airbrush some halos and Renaissance art on the craft to make it sufficiently anti-science or whatever, get an ecclesiastical physicist to man the controls. At least fake it FFS, instead just burning a shit-ton of liquid assets on advertising...but no let's step valiantly up to the plate-tectonics roulette table and lose it all on one bet.
posted by obscurator at 10:33 AM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, I've been a devout Christian for years, but I'm not holding out much hope for being r
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 10:33 AM on July 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


Eeeeuwww!! Eeeeuwww!! Eeeeuwww!!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:34 AM on July 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's a good summary. Bravo, Keith Veronese!

This is one of the things I obsessively nerd out about myself; I find it a fascinating topic. It is amazing how broadly these beliefs spread in such a short time.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:34 AM on July 25, 2012


See also: The Singularity, aka Dorknarok
posted by jquinby at 10:42 AM on July 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


A much more in-depth treatment of the topic.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:46 AM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, I've been a devout Christian for years, but I'm not holding out much hope for being r

The rapture is run by Candleja
posted by shakespeherian at 10:50 AM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Newsflash: People encouraged by major institution to ignore reason and accept things on faith prone to believe in unsupported and possibly heretical fan fiction.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:53 AM on July 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


A university where I used to work had Advent Christian founders, which had connections to Millerism. It was home to an impressive collection of prophetic charts used to make the End Times clear to all learners (Jesus to return 1843-4). There is something about the artistic style that must have been passed down through our collective subconscious, they all give off a really creepy feeling when you are in their presence.
posted by cgk at 10:56 AM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's amazing that all of this junk gathered so many followers, while the fellow who discovered the Time Cube gets so little respect.
posted by fredludd at 11:06 AM on July 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


The rapture has better charts.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:09 AM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


The proximity of Scofield's notes to the religious text no doubt lent credence to his words, especially in a world lacking widespread communication systems.

There's something very weird about this sentence.
posted by goethean at 11:10 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The article they link to about post-rapture movies is good. It's hard to watch this clip without imagining Adam West and Burt Ward rushing in to beat up the Antichrist.
posted by Gary at 11:11 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't remember which rapture movie it is (not Left Behind, possibly A Thief in the Night?) but when everyone gets raptured their loved ones find the clothes they were wearing folded in a neat little pile where the raptured person was standing, which I always liked-- I mean, sure, we're vaporizing millions of people and the earth is going to explode or whatever in seven years, but we don't want to leave a mess.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:15 AM on July 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's amazing that all of this junk gathered so many followers, while the fellow who discovered the Time Cube gets so little respect.

Give it time; look at how long it took Joseph Smith's ideas to catch on.
posted by TedW at 11:22 AM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


There may or may not be a rapture but it assuredly will NOT be as LaHaye et al describe. When Jesus comes back, as far as I know, He's STAYING.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:24 AM on July 25, 2012


I was raised in the Plymouth Brethren and was absolutely convinced the Rapture was going to occur by the time I was 20. My dad is still convinced it'll happen before he dies.

It wasn't till I'd left the church that I realised that the Rapture had no biblical origin.

In my folks church they had a tradition of special "testimony meetings" where people would get up and tell how they had Come To Jesus. Even as a kid i was struck by the amount of people who told variations of the same story. One guy told of coming home from school age 8 or 9 and his mother not being there as he expected and how he'd flown into a panic thinking that the rapture had occured while he'd been walking home. He thought his parents and older sister had all been taken up and he was left alone. He gave his heart to Jesus there and then.

Others told of waking up in the middle of the night to check that their parents were still there and how worrying about this and not wanting to be abandoned spurred them on to become born again frightened pre-teens.

I could never see where God was in any of this.

A personal rapture anecdote - As a teen (still in the church and not knowing how break my parents hearts by confessing my non-belief) I looked up one afternoon while on my paper-round and saw a light in the sky. At first I saw it was a plane but as I squinted my dodgy eyesight and vestigial programming combined to squish the plane lights into flapping golden wings.

Even though I thought I no longer believed i was stood there for a good 20 seconds, struck dumb on Stoneyhill Crescent looking at angels and awaiting the sound of trumpets and eventually, thankfully, hearing only engines.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 11:25 AM on July 25, 2012 [20 favorites]


A university where I used to work had Advent Christian founders, which had connections to Millerism.

This is a tangent, but -- geddouddatown, you worked somewhere that still had Millerite stuff hanging around?

I'm actually related to William Miller (he was one of my great-great-great-great-grandfathers) so I dig this kind of stuff. Which university was it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:26 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Give it time; look at how long it took Joseph Smith's ideas to catch on.

The Rapture and Mormonism emerged at roughly the same time. Joseph Smith's ideas caught on a lot faster, for a large number of very complicated reasons.
posted by The World Famous at 11:28 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


As always, one of the best places to start is on Slacktivist for a thorougly readable approach to Rapture-ology and other evangelical bugaboos. Just the one post I linked there has enough links to keep you reading for a while.
posted by emjaybee at 11:30 AM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


What moral obligations do people who believe in the rapture have? If two rapture-expectant Christian pilots are assigned to the same plane, should they insist on having an atheist sub in for one of them? (or at least an Episcopalian)

It's a pity this service got cancelled, because now no one will feed the pets of raptured people. That's more depressing than the idea of the seas turning to blood.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:31 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: The earth is going to explode in seven years, but we don't want to leave a mess.
posted by jonp72 at 11:35 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What moral obligations do people who believe in the rapture have? If two rapture-expectant Christian pilots are assigned to the same plane, should they insist on having an atheist sub in for one of them?

The (completely made up) story that airlines don't allow two Christian pilots has been around for a long time.
posted by Gary at 11:35 AM on July 25, 2012


What moral obligations do people who believe in the rapture have? If two rapture-expectant Christian pilots are assigned to the same plane, should they insist on having an atheist sub in for one of them? (or at least an Episcopalian)

I've always been fascinated by the "IN CASE OF RAPTURE, THIS CAR WILL BE UNMANNED" bumper sticker, and for two reasons.

First, it's incredibly presumptuous; way to just assume that you're in, huh?

Second, because you're basically saying that at any moment, the car you're driving might become an uncontrolled missile.

So when I see those bumper stickers, my brain translates the words to "DRIVER IS AN ARROGANT SOCIOPATH, AVOID AT ALL COSTS".
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:37 AM on July 25, 2012 [16 favorites]


I'm currently listening to the audiobook version of Frank Perrotta's The Leftovers so I'm getting a kick out of these replies.
posted by fuse theorem at 11:37 AM on July 25, 2012


One guy told of coming home from school age 8 or 9 and his mother not being there as he expected and how he'd flown into a panic thinking that the rapture had occured while he'd been walking home. He thought his parents and older sister had all been taken up and he was left alone.

Oh god this happened on a like weekly basis to me. I went to this crazy Christian high school where our 'comparative religion' section in our Bible class included Catholicism. I had a teacher who took the bit where Peter says 'a thousand years is like a day with God' and extrapolated to the six thousand year age of the earth and the year that Jesus was born and the 7-day creation of the earth (God rested on the 7th day!) to prove that the post-rapture 1000-year millennial reign of Christ was going to start in 1999. This coupled with the constant 'Can you lose your salvation?!?!?!' conversations going on and the sort-of-insinuated Better Safe Than Sorry alter calls at weekly chapels (and authority figures always saying that Just Going To Church Doesn't Mean You're A Christian!) meant that everyone I knew was in perpetual fear that they weren't really Christian, that any inkling of doubt would doom them to hell, that any single wrong thing they'd ever done hadn't been forgiven yet or enough or something, so yeah, any time you walked through your house and didn't see anyone or you went into a room and were surprised to find it empty, you got this terrible cold feeling in your ribs that you'd missed the rapture, you're sure of it, even though this has happened to you several times already this time it really happened.

Certain strains of Evangelicalism seem, whether purposefully or not, to be focused primarily on keeping people terrified of stepping out of line or questioning anything that you've been told. I know there's about to be sixteen comments quoting that sentence and saying 'Duh!' and 'Just like all religion!' but no, really, certain parts of Evangelicalism exist at or have found the perfect confluence of influences and cultural notions and fears to pretty much perfectly mine fear from their younger adherents in order to perpetuate their beliefs. Which is why Slacktivist compares this sort of religion to Amway-- it's a pyramid scheme of belief. Young Evangelicals are told that they've got the Good News, and they need to share it with everyone, but the only real News seems to be that they've got the Good News and they need to share it with everyone.

Or else.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:41 AM on July 25, 2012 [17 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos : Aurora University about 40 miles west of Chicago. Originally a seminary, became fully secular sometime in the last few decades.
posted by cgk at 11:41 AM on July 25, 2012


HOUSE OF!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:45 AM on July 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


JEALOUS LOVAAAAZ!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:45 AM on July 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh...srry evrybdy
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:45 AM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


So when I see those bumper stickers, my brain translates the words to "DRIVER IS AN ARROGANT SOCIOPATH, AVOID AT ALL COSTS".

Huh. When I see them, my brain translates the words to "I'M JOKING ABOUT RELIGION."

It's interesting that people interpret things in such different ways. I wonder why that is.
posted by The World Famous at 11:49 AM on July 25, 2012


I've always been fascinated by the "IN CASE OF RAPTURE, THIS CAR WILL BE UNMANNED" bumper sticker...

I like the response
posted by TedW at 11:51 AM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "There may or may not be a rapture but it assuredly will NOT be as LaHaye et al describe. When Jesus comes back, as far as I know, He's STAYING."

The "as far as I know" part being where this runs into the rocks a bit.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:55 AM on July 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't remember which rapture movie it is (not Left Behind, possibly A Thief in the Night?) but when everyone gets raptured their loved ones find the clothes they were wearing folded in a neat little pile where the raptured person was standing...

That was definitely in the Left Behind books for teenagers. I loved (and by loved, I mean terrified that I'd wake up and there would be piles of my family's clothes all around the house) that detail and the fact that they mentioned so and so's contact lenses were left behind too. So how far can you take that? Pacemakers, replacements joints, earrings---are they left behind too? Are there going to be silicone breast implants sitting neatly upon the clothes?
posted by book 'em dano at 11:56 AM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, right. Is this the guy who designed the Hyatt Regency Hotel skywalk in Kansas City?

Bit of a derail, but, according to Why Buildings Fall Down?, the problem was not the engineering but with changes made to the design by contractors.

The Rapture is a pretty interesting subject -- there is definitely something in us! Regardless of creed, which longs for "The New Jerusalem," a perfected place (according to each individual philosophy, of course) that is going to happen "real soon now," in this world or another, and, importantly, it's just going to happen -- sure we may have to lay the groundwork, but Jesus or the Force of History or Progress or whatever will do the heavy lifting.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:57 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it OK to link to my husband's music here? If so, let me recommend his song "Salvation" (in the "2011" bucket; I hate his website interface).
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:58 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks. I never heard a word of the rapture in Catholic school. Indeed, never heard of it at all in England, so I assume it's much less common here?
...cars that are suddenly missing their drivers careen into each other,
Aye, that should shake the barnacles loose.
posted by Jehan at 12:03 PM on July 25, 2012


There may or may not be a rapture but it assuredly will NOT be as LaHaye et al describe. When Jesus comes back, as far as I know, He's STAYING.

For obvious reasons.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:13 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah shit should have read that comic more closely. Maybe the deep fried oreos will convince him to stick around.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:14 PM on July 25, 2012


Left Behind had hearing aids, tooth fillings, etc. left in little piles. So yes.

It's one of the more fun parts of this myth, deciding which parts of your body are rapture-able and which aren't. What if you'd had a heart transplant from a nonbeliever who was now roasting in hell? Would their sinful unsaved flesh be left behind with your clothes? What if you were a nonbeliever with a dead Christian's heart...would it get raptured and leave you dying and on your way to hell? If you whispered the sinner's prayer before you popped off, would your own now-redeemed (and magically reconstituted) heart be restored to you in heaven while the dead Christian got his or hers back too?

I could do this all day.
posted by emjaybee at 12:32 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Certain strains of Evangelicalism seem, whether purposefully or not, to be focused primarily on keeping people terrified of stepping out of line or questioning anything that you've been told.

I was raised in a Non-Rapture-Compliant fundamentalist church, and this was exactly my experience, and pretty much the thing that originally started me questioning the church. In my opinion, the gotcha God concept is not compatible with a loving, omnipotent, all-good god.

Young Evangelicals are told that they've got the Good News, and they need to share it with everyone, but the only real News seems to be that they've got the Good News and they need to share it with everyone.

Yes, the "replicate this idea" part of the ideology is the most important part. it's The Selfish Meme.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:43 PM on July 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


My fundamentalist-inclined parents gave me my very own, leather-bound Scofield Reference Bible in 1966 (copyright 1909 by the Oxford University Press). I’m looking at it right now.

Among other wonders, it gives 4004 BC as the beginning of the world, following Ussher, and refers to the Catholic Church, in one of many scholarly notes to Revelation, as the Great Whore of Babylon.

Scofield never calls it the Rapture, but he does say, of I Corithians 15:50-57, “the bodies of living believers will, at the same time, be instantaneously changed. This ‘change’ of the living, and resurrection of the dead in Christ, is called the ‘redemption of the body.’”

He ties this to I Thessalonians 4:17. “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”


In the air, get it?
posted by Short Attention Sp at 12:45 PM on July 25, 2012


Shouldn't it be called the McRapture?

That's actually one of the better re-branding ideas since Paul went with "Christians" over his earlier choices- "Judaism for Everyone," "JUDAISM+," and "Crystal Pepsi."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:05 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos:
"Rapture eschatology has been one of his own personal berserk buttons ever since."
The Rapture, and premillennial dispensationalism in general, tends to be the berserk button for most Jesuits. A nerdy kind of berserk.

Unles you're one of those folks who think the Jesuits are the Vatican's secret assassination squad - at which point you can assume berserk means they flip out and begin killing people.
posted by charred husk at 1:09 PM on July 25, 2012


I went to this crazy Christian high school where our 'comparative religion' section in our Bible class included Catholicism.

Not that wierd. I went to this crazy Unitarian Universalist Church where our comparative religion textbook had separate sections for Catholicism (and a bazillion other denominations). But the only non-Christian one (roughly speaking) was Judaism. The current curriculum is a little more comprehensive.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 1:13 PM on July 25, 2012


What I find interesting about the Left Behind movies is that they resurrect a very old, sort-of queasy Christian notion: That one of the pleasures of Heavven is watching the torments of the sinners in Hell. This notion was proposed, as far as I can tell, by Tertullian all the way back in 197 CE, in De spectaculis, which proposed that taking pleasure from things like circuses and public shows was actually sinful, because they derive from pagan rites and misuse god's creation -- a debatable but defensible notion. But then he goes on to say this:

“that last day of judgment, with its everlasting issues; that day unlooked for by the nations, the theme of their derision, when the world hoary with age, and all its many products, shall be consumed in one great flame! How vast a spectacle then bursts upon the eye! What there excites my admiration? What my derision? Which sight gives me joy? Which rouses me to exultation?—as I see so many illustrious monarchs, whose reception into the heavens was publicly announced, groaning now in the lowest darkness with great Jove himself, and those, too, who bore witness of their exultation; governors of provinces, too, who persecuted the Christian name, in fires more fierce than those with which in the days of their pride they raged against the followers of Christ. What world’s wise men besides, the very philosophers, in fact, who taught their followers that God had no concern in aught that is sublunary, and were wont to assure them that either they had no souls, or that they would never return to the bodies which at death they had left, now covered with shame before the poor deluded ones, as one fire consumes them! Poets also, trembling not before the judgment-seat of Rhadamanthus or Minos, but of the unexpected Christ! I shall have a better opportunity then of hearing the tragedians, louder voiced in their own calamity; of viewing the play-actors, much more ‘dissolute’ in the dissolving flame; of looking upon the charioteer, all glowing in his chariot of fire; of beholding the wrestlers, not in their gymnasia, but tossing in the fiery billows …”

He positively seems to be gloating!

St. Augustine also seemed to think the good in heaven get to enjoy viewing the punishments of Hell. From "The Saints’ Knowledge of the Punishment of the Wicked":

the good go out to see the punishment of the wicked . . . so as to witness the torments of the wicked in their bodily presence

And this, from St. Thomas Aquinas:

In order that the bliss of the saints may be more delightful for them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, it is given to them to see perfectly the punishment of the damned

It somehow leaked down to American Puritan and theologian Jonathan Edwards:

The sight of hell torments will exalt the happiness of the saints forever.

So these Rapture fantasies are just fictionalizations of an old idea. By reading the books, we get to proactively enjoy the torments before they even happen.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:15 PM on July 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


a bit on the resurrection of the dead: it floored me when i found out most christians believe their physical bodies would literally come back to life at the 2nd coming. i had always thought it was more of a metaphysical concept. so...what if it's mostly decayed? do you get new flesh? what if there's nothing left, are you just not going to make the cut? which was the reason cremation was so controversial at first in the western world, how can you be resurrected if there's nothing left?

which brings another beef i have about christian eschatology: so if you're good, when you die, you go to heaven. BUT at the end of the world your body is raised from the dead and you have to be judged...again. isn't this a sort of double jeopardy? i mean you were already saved. or is it just a formality so no one feels cheated?
posted by camdan at 1:16 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Rapture, and premillennial dispensationalism in general, tends to be the berserk button for most Jesuits. A nerdy kind of berserk.

Oh, lordy, "a nerdy kind of berserk" describes this guy's rants PERFECTLY. (Not just about theology - he has also been known to hold forth on Why Anarchism Is The Economic Ideal, How Buddhism Makes Sense Too, Why Dan Brown And Damien Hirst Are Hacks, and Why Jambalaya Must Contain Shrimp Or Else It Is Bullshit. But all with the same exacting "here is the exact documentation I have found in this esoteric source that proves I am right" kind of detail.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:25 PM on July 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Jambalaya can be perfectly well made with mudbug and sausage. Your friend is insane.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:26 PM on July 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


camdan:
"a bit on the resurrection of the dead: it floored me when i found out most christians believe their physical bodies would literally come back to life at the 2nd coming."
The way I always had it explained to me was that there was never really a solid concept of the afterlife early on. Hell was actually just death to begin with, then it was eternal death, then the lake of fire ceased to be metaphorical, etc. The whole part about the body actually going to the afterlife was part of the early conception of the idea. As you get more spiritual about the religion that doesn't make as much sense, but the plain language is there indicating that the body does survive for those who want to go with the literal interpretation. I imagine there are better theologians around here who could explain the hermeneutics of it.
posted by charred husk at 1:28 PM on July 25, 2012


Jambalaya can be perfectly well made with mudbug and sausage. Your friend is insane.

When he has found what is to his mind the Platonian Ideal of a thing, it is hard to dissuade him. (But it is vastly entertaining to watch the lengths to which he will go to prove his point.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:32 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


so...what if it's mostly decayed? do you get new flesh? what if there's nothing left, are you just not going to make the cut? which was the reason cremation was so controversial at first in the western world, how can you be resurrected if there's nothing left?

These are really variants on the problem of identity of objects with component parts across time.

The supplement to the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas tackles this and related questions through the application of Aristotelean metaphysics.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 1:32 PM on July 25, 2012


I've always been fascinated by the "IN CASE OF RAPTURE, THIS CAR WILL BE UNMANNED" bumper sticker...
Pope Guilty

In Portland, OR, at a stoplight, ahead of me I once saw a Cadillac with the "IN CASE OF RAPTURE THIS CAR WILL BE UNMANNED" bumper sticker, and in the other lane, a beater pickup with "IN CASE OF THE RAPTURE, CAN I HAVE YOUR CAR?"
posted by Dreidl at 1:56 PM on July 25, 2012


Certain strains of Evangelicalism seem, whether purposefully or not, to be focused primarily on keeping people terrified of stepping out of line or questioning anything that you've been told.

In my (Atlantic Canadian Baptist) experience, it was less about keeping people terrified than making sure everyone had a vague unease about being "not a good enough Christian". That congregants cannot be trusted to "live the right way" and need to get a good arm-twisting.

Sermons seemed to start off with the base assumption that most people in the congregation were shit Christians. Sermons never were used to inspire or open our eyes to the beauty and possibility of this precious gift of life, but would instead cultivate a vague sense of "I've not been good enough".

I don't think that ministers neccesarily picked this approach deliberately. Perhaps it came from their resentment that the church could be so much more if the people just stepped up and were more faithful to god. In any case, I do think it served to make people more meek and subservient to church authority.
posted by beau jackson at 2:03 PM on July 25, 2012


The idea of a rapture always struck me as an excuse not to plan for the future.
"We don't need to plan for retirement. Rapture!"
"No sense in prepping for natural disasters. Rapture!"
"Spend all my children's inheritance. Rapture!"
posted by hot_monster at 2:04 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This has shown up in the comments before on the blue (most recently about a year ago), but there is a utterly fantastic free pay what you want to (and NSFW) comic about the rapture called Therefore Repent. It's really interesting and, while about the rapture has a very different twist on it.

(Yes, you can probably find it online for free, like it used to be, but would it kill you to throw a buck or two at him?)
posted by Hactar at 2:05 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod: “And this, from St. Thomas Aquinas: ‘In order that the bliss of the saints may be more delightful for them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, it is given to them to see perfectly the punishment of the damned...’”

As usual, St Thomas Aquinas explains this better than anyone else – and, as usual, it's very easy to take his explanation out of context. In the section you're quoting, Q. 94, he goes on in Article 3 ("Whether the blessed rejoice in the punishment of the wicked?") to explain very clearly that the blessed cannot possibly rejoice in the punishment of the wicked as such, because it is evil to rejoice simply in the suffering of another; rather, says St Thomas Aquinas, the blessed rejoice in the punishment of the wicked only insofar as it represents divine justice.
posted by koeselitz at 2:08 PM on July 25, 2012


So, wait, you get to heaven and god is STILL pulling that "worship me, or else" shit?
posted by Artw at 2:15 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Artw: "So, wait, you get to heaven and god is STILL pulling that "worship me, or else" shit?"

Well, he HAS delivered the goods at that point.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:20 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This has shown up in the comments before on the blue (most recently about a year ago), but there is a utterly fantastic free pay what you want to (and NSFW) comic about the rapture called Therefore Repent. It's really interesting and, while about the rapture has a very different twist on it.


The sequel, Sword of My Mouth, is even better.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:25 PM on July 25, 2012


So, wait, you get to heaven and god is STILL pulling that "worship me, or else" shit?

It sounds like Aquinas is saying that it's literally impossible for the blessed to rejoice in the punishment of the wicked, not that it's forbidden.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:31 PM on July 25, 2012


Yeah, to St Thomas Aquinas heaven pretty much revolves around beatific vision, the perfection of knowing that is bestowed on the blessed. Basically, even if in your lifetime you're the type of asshole who would laugh at people just because they're suffering, you won't be that type of asshole any more after the perfection that comes with beatific vision is bestowed on you.
posted by koeselitz at 2:55 PM on July 25, 2012


But... You still get to check in on the sufferers to, I dunno, be meta-smug about not being smug about it?
posted by Artw at 3:10 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


so...what if it's mostly decayed? do you get new flesh?

TEETH WILL BE PROVIDED!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:12 PM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's one of the more interesting things about St Thomas Aquinas' approach to this problem. There are some people who say that the blessed sitting in heaven are just blissfully ignorant of the wicked suffering, that they just sit up there in a happy daze. But reason and knowing are of paramount importance to St Thomas, and he does not believe that you can be perfectly happy and ignorant at the same time. Therefore, the blessed must be aware, utterly aware, of all things that exist, including the wicked who suffer in torment. Yet this awareness does not diminish their bliss, as they also know that it is just and correct and that it flows from the lovingkindness which, as Dante's phrase has it, built hell.
posted by koeselitz at 3:16 PM on July 25, 2012


which brings another beef i have about christian eschatology: so if you're good, when you die, you go to heaven. BUT at the end of the world your body is raised from the dead and you have to be judged...again. isn't this a sort of double jeopardy? i mean you were already saved. or is it just a formality so no one feels cheated?

Well, here's the thing: Jesus never says that believers will go to heaven after they die. Never. And there are only a few Bible verses that might be interpreted that way. The Christian emphasis on "going to heaven when you die" is a move away from the Biblical vision, where you are resurrected into an incorruptible body and live forever on Earth, renewed and restored, with God.

I did a little blogging about this last year:
Everything The Gospels Say About Heaven is a delineation of every verse of the gospels that mentions heaven. You'll notice that none of them are about Christians going there, which would shock most church-goers.

One Thing The Gospels Never Say About Heaven makes this point explicitly.

Something Better Than Heaven is a sermon I preached about replacing the boring heaven imagery that is prevalent in the church with the much more compelling resurrection hope the Bible envisions.

Why the church moved from bodily resurrection to wispy souls in heaven is a long story, but it has a lot to do, I think, with undervaluing physical existence in favor of an almost Gnostic emphasis on pure spiritual life. N.T. Wright is one of many who are trying to bring resurrection back to the forefront, in his excellent book "Surprised By Hope."


TIME: At one point you call the common view of heaven a "distortion and serious diminution of Christian hope."


Wright: It really is. I've often heard people say, "I'm going to heaven soon, and I won't need this stupid body there, thank goodness.' That's a very damaging distortion, all the more so for being unintentional.

TIME: How so? It seems like a typical sentiment.

Wright: There are several important respects in which it's unsupported by the New Testament. First, the timing. In the Bible we are told that you die, and enter an intermediate state. St. Paul is very clear that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead already, but that nobody else has yet. Secondly, our physical state. The New Testament says that when Christ does return, the dead will experience a whole new life: not just our soul, but our bodies. And finally, the location. At no point do the resurrection narratives in the four Gospels say, "Jesus has been raised, therefore we are all going to heaven." It says that Christ is coming here, to join together the heavens and the Earth in an act of new creation.

posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:17 PM on July 25, 2012 [18 favorites]


resurrexit: I was like please be about the band but then I realized it was lolxtianfilter.

It's actually not, or at least not from the FPP.

(someone else): I've always been fascinated by the "IN CASE OF RAPTURE, THIS CAR WILL BE UNMANNED" bumper sticker, and for two reasons. First, it's incredibly presumptuous; way to just assume that you're in, huh?

Everyone who believes in the rapture assumes that they're in. EVERYONE.

emjaybee: Left Behind had hearing aids, tooth fillings, etc. left in little piles. So yes. It's one of the more fun parts of this myth, deciding which parts of your body are rapture-able and which aren't. What if you'd had a heart transplant from a nonbeliever who was now roasting in hell?

We can do better than that. Before you excrete it, is urine part of you? How about the food, or recently-food, traveling through your digestive tract? When the rapture appears does the contents of your bladder and intestine splash onto the ground and soil your falling clothes? One can have endless fun imagining this cascade of filth, like the popping of a bubble.

Short Attention Sp: This ‘change’ of the living, and resurrection of the dead in Christ, is called the ‘redemption of the body.’”

How does one even arrive at that use of the word "redemption?" It sounds like God is cashing in our mortal coils for the deposit. This is one of the things I hate most about this virulent strain of Christianity, the weird, subsuming, sometimes capitalized names they have for everything, in many cases ruining perfectly good words.

Bunny Ultramod: What I find interesting about the Left Behind movies is that they resurrect a very old, sort-of queasy Christian notion: That one of the pleasures of Heaven is watching the torments of the sinners in Hell.

Oh, that's just their way of warning the listener to beware of false prophets. Behold Matthew 7, 15-20:
15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
You see? In their religious fervor they just want to tell us to beware of people who bring evil into the world, for that is how you know their teachings are false. They are using themselves as an example.
posted by JHarris at 4:10 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Have you been left behind?

The Complete Guide to the Future
posted by Algebra at 4:19 PM on July 25, 2012


How does one even arrive at that use of the word "redemption?" It sounds like God is cashing in our mortal coils for the deposit...

Much like, back in the day, one could "redeem" S&H Green Stamps for valuable consumer goods?

But don't ask me. I keep my Bible around for nostalgic, familial reasons, not because I believe one barking mad word of it.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:29 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I beleive that the MeFi rapture front page last year was awesome.
posted by humanfont at 5:33 PM on July 25, 2012


... tends to be the berserk button for most Jesuits. A nerdy kind of berserk.

There was a high risk of me becoming a Jesuit. Even though I was raised Jewish, I still think it was a close miss.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:25 PM on July 25, 2012


needs more cowbell?
posted by palidor at 6:37 PM on July 25, 2012


needs more shofar!
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:55 PM on July 25, 2012


How about the food, or recently-food, traveling through your digestive tract?

Not to mention all the non-human organisms that live on and inside the human body. Poor little fellas.
posted by dumbland at 11:32 PM on July 25, 2012


Not the kitty amoebas!
posted by Artw at 12:06 AM on July 26, 2012


The Simpsons video on the Io9 page is actually not unfunny, amazing for something post season 8.
Scene: Homer and Marge starting to have sex and roleplaying a little bit.
Marge: "I could be the Rachel to your Jacob"
Homer: "Okay, but it will be hard to not think about their hardship"

LOL.
posted by Chekhovian at 5:57 AM on July 26, 2012


The odd thing about belief in the rapture is that it is so often accompanied with devotion to the Bible, yet the Bible has scant support for the notion.
posted by dgran at 12:22 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, wait, you get to heaven and god is STILL pulling that "worship me, or else" shit?
posted by Artw at 2:15 PM on 7/25


This is how I first learned to tune a guitar.
Even
After
Death
God
Bothers
Everybody
posted by zoinks at 2:45 PM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


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