(Posted to my MySpace Weblog on June 21, 2007)
Okay, this will be tiresome for some of my readers, but I must respond to a moronically insane, orthographically challenged Bible-thumping shrew who arrogantly claimed on a now defunct MySpace Weblog that "the Pretrib Rapture is just plain logic." The "Pretrib Rapture" is not "plain logic"; it is, rather, a contorted, totally depraved misreading of the Bible.
Of course, some of my readers would think what my Church, the Catholic Church (which is the one, true Church that God Himself established on earth), considers to be a proper reading of Holy Writ is completely and utterly without logic and only howling lunatics like me would take it seriously. And so my calling a belief of another religion whacky is kinda like Bush calling someone--oh, I don't know--a member of the axis of evil, say. Fine, I understand. Perhaps, later I will write a post about why Catholicism is the paragon of sanity, but for now suffice it to say that no Catholic Doctrine makes Catholics into useful idiots of the rogue state of Israel, and no Catholic Doctrine demands that American Foreign Policy focus on orgasmic thoughts of triggering nuclear Armageddon. Catholic Doctrine may be whacky, but the Rapture Theology is when considered from a geopolitical perspective simply batshit crazy.
So, what is this Rapture Theology? For those of you who don't know, it is the theology dramatized in those godawful Left Behind novels. For those of you who've never heard of those novels, let me say that I envy your ignorance. What really sucks about being a non-Amish American is that you can't avoid either news about Paris Hilton or the publishing phenomenon of the Left Behind crap. But, then again, Paris Hilton is an utterly useless extravagance, not necessary to understanding our insane foreign policy. In fact, Paris Hilton is a clever trick invented by Karl Rove to distract us from our insane foreign policy. Rapture Theology is one of the reasons why our foreign policy is insane.
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THIS IDIOCY
Rapture Theology claims that Christ did not intend to redeem the entire world from the consequences of sin. No, He came down to restore the Jewish Kingdom and inaugurate the Thousand Year Reign on Earth, the Millennium. But the Jews rejected Him and thereby thwarted His plan--for the time being, that is. So, Christ turned to those who would accept Him, the Gentiles. Nevermind the fact that none of His apostles were Gentiles. I guess they became honorary gentiles once they started eating traif. This turn to the gentiles began the parenthetical "Church Age". It is parenthetical because it is a pause in Prophetic History. After the end of the "Church Age" this History will resume its sentence, and the "Church Age" ends with the Rapture, that is, when Christ comes down in secret and takes all the "Church" up with Him to heaven. "Church" here is understood in the Protestant sense of simply the assembly of all who believe in salvation by faith alone. So, if you are on a plane and you are not a Protestant, then you better hope that your pilot is a damnable heathen as well. Otherwise, he'll be raptured, and you will crash, burn, and die (and go to hell).
And now this is when the fun begins. The Rapture, despite all the salivation over it, is only foreplay. The climax comes only after the Seven Year Tribulation, the final battle at Armageddon, and then Christ is victorious and enters the re-built Temple in Jerusalem to commence the Millennium! Here is what happens roughly: The Seven Year Tribulation comes and brings with it all the dire calamities of the Trumpet, Seal, and Bowl Prophecies from the book of Revelations. So, the sea will turn to blood, locusts will cover everything, the sun, moon, and stars will fade to black, there will be war and famine everywhere, and the anti-Christ will appear, set up shop in the rebuilt Temple, declare himself God, and take over the entire world because the anti-Christ apparently is a twisted Mormon who wants to rule a dark planet covered with nasty insects and blood. While the Anti-Christ is adding evil to all the famine, death, and locusts, there will be two witnesses who launch a campaign to win those that the Rapture "left behind" to Christ, especially the Jews. The two witnesses are killed, but not after 144,000 Jews have said the Jesus Prayer and turned their hearts to Christ. And then Christus ex Machina swoops down and whups the anti-Christ's ass at--you guessed it!--Armageddon!
And then comes the judgement of the Sheep and the Goats. This is one of most fucking sick things about this warped and demented theology. The Biblical proof-text these Rapture Rubes use for this judgement is none other than the very passage that is the lifeblood of Catholic teaching of social justice, Matthew 25:31-46, that most beloved passage of Blessed Mother Teresa. Christ tells us that we will all be judged according to the maxim: whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers that you do unto Christ. We Catholics have always understood Christ to be the paragon of mankind, and, therefore, every single human is his brother or sister, and, hence, we are to treat everyone, especially the weakest and most infirm, as we would the King of Kings.
But the Rapture Rubes do not understand Christ as the model human. No, these bigoted bastards (and, yes, I do mean to accuse the proponents of this theology of bigotry) understand Christ in this passage only as a Jew. According to their sick reading, the sheep are the left behind gentiles who aided the 144,000 Jews during the Tribulation, and the goats, obviously enough, are those gentiles who did not. Note that not only does this reading deny Christ's universal humanity, it also makes Christ's moral imperative applicable only after the conclusion of the "Church Age". During the "Church Age", in other words, Protestantism rules and works do not matter. The Rapture happens and then the Catholic teaching of merit kicks in but only insofar as it benefits a certain tribe. If you as a left behind gentile feed a Hindu child during the famine or shield the eyes of a Buddhist toddler from the swarming locust or save a Palestinian baby from being picked off by a sniper, you are still a hellbound goat. Yes, this is bigotry.
It also cashes out as geopolitical lunacy. Now a smart Rapturite (forgive me this oxymoron) will tell you that they do not know when the Rapture will occur to re-set the prophetic clock. But he will also tell you that there are unmistakable signs such as the re-constitution of Israel in 1948 and the general accumulation of wars, rumours of wars, famine, and other sundry cataclysmic events.
This means that two things are very much in the interest of those pining for rapture: 1) Israel must be kept intact at all costs, even at the cost of, say, starving, torturing, and even killing lots of Palestinians and 2) the exacerbation of geopolitical chaos for just before this chaos reaches Tribulation-level disaster, Christ will surely rapture his loyal believers to spare them from it. Yes, that's right, these bastards want bloody chaos in the world, the more the better now that Israel is back again. This means that if there is a World War or worldwide anarchy or anything that will consume the entire globe in blood and famine and misery, then that will have to be the prophesied Great Tribulation. Jesus promised to rapture all the believers before that happened, or so they think. Therefore, really apocalyptic chaos means that the Rapture Rubes will soon be flying high and dry while all us poor heathen fucks will have to grin and bear the brimstone.
But should Israel go down, then all bets are off, of course, because the Temple has to be rebuilt to trigger the cosmic battle between Christ and anti-Christ. But the Israel created by U.N. fiat is not the Israel that must be kept intact. No, the Biblical Israel must be kept intact. This means expansion, of course. So, those settlements in the West Bank, they're not violations of international law, they are fulfillments of God's prophecy and, hence, signs of the imminent rapture.
Oh, and that Mosque that is now on the Temple Mount must be destroyed to make way for the New Temple. Destroying the al-Aqsa Mosque is a sure way to trigger an all out Middle Eastern conflagration, and the Rapturite will just shrug his shoulders and say, "Yeah, well, the Rapture will happen before that will ever affect me."
Israeli leaders consider this theology to be nonsense and obviously don't consider the idea of lots and lots of Jews dying during the Tribulation all that kosher. Even so, they would be fools not to have noticed that this whacky theology of the Bible-thumping goyim fits quite well with the idea of a Greater Israel that can do no wrong and may tyrannize the Palestinians with impunity. So, fearful that Israel might lose America's support if the only voices in America pleading her cause were the neo-cons and the Israeli lobby, the Israeli government decided to appeal to the Bible Belt by laying out the red carpet to the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. The Israelis are smart. They know very well that to have us by the balls, they just have to butter up our Christofascist evangelicals. The Israelis make Karl Rove look like a piker.
RAPTURE THEOLOGY BETRAYS CHRIST
Rapturites will prove all this nonsense with all sorts of proof-texts from Daniel, Revelations, Ezekiel, Thessalonians, etc. My readers, if they have read this far, probably do not want me to show how the Rapturite Rube reads his dark Manichean fantasies into each and every one of these verses and pericopes. Fortunately I don't have to do this to refute this nonsense. The central claim of Rapture Theology is that prophetic history concerns Israel and Israel alone and that, therefore, the Church can only represent a rupture of that history. If it can be shown in the Christian Bible that the Church is the New Israel, then it is part of the Christian belief that the Church is the continuation of prophetic history and not just some two thousand year (and counting) pause.
This is easily done. In Galatians 6:16 St. Paul calls those who walk by the rule of faith "Israel of God". So, St. Paul obviously thought that all believers--remember, this is the Protestant conception of the Church--form "Israel of God". Yeah, I know that Rapturites will quibble and say that if you diagram that verse, you find that St. Paul is asking for a blessing on not one single group, but two distinct groups of people: "them", those who walk by the rule of faith, and the Israel of God, the Jews. But this makes no sense in the light of St. Paul's distinction between the true Israel and the pretended Israel in Romans 9:6-9. He clearly says there that Abraham's physical descendants are not children of God, but the ones of the promise made to Abraham. Therefore, Jewish Israel cannot be the Israel of God because as St. Paul makes clear later in Romans Jewish Israel has rejected the promise in favor of the works of the law.
There is another easy refutation of Rapture Theology. During the Tribulation 144,000 Jews turn to Christ and are saved. How? This is where the Protestant conception of Church comes up short. The Church is not simply the body of believers. It is the Body of Christ as well. How can someone be saved apart from the body of Christ when it is that very body according to Christian belief that makes salvation possible? The Church cannot then be a temporal parenthesis. If redemption on earth is possible, there must be a Church on earth. The Church will not perish before the earth's end.
Finally, the idea that Christ will spare the Church the intense suffering of the earth's final tribulation ignores the central fact of the Gospel, that Christ Himself did not spare His own body from ungodly torment. He loved us so much that He was willing to suffer for us, and if Christians love Him as much as they profess, then they as part of His body, the Church, should want to share His horrible wounds and not wish to avoid the final agonizing gasps of mankind. Rapture Theology is theological euthanasia.