Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Left Behind – it’s a good thing!

Garry Wills takes a look at the biblical sources of the Rapture. Remember the Left Behind series, the batch of novels that dramatizes the Fundamentalists’ End Times? The Rapture stuff was ginned up by a man named John Nelson Darby in the 19th century (although the Darbyites greatest influence took the form of a “reference Bible” authored by Cyrus Scofield – “the book is dry, pedantic, and certain – a kind of printed papacy, where an infallible meaning is given for any verse in the Bible” – a book which sold in the millions). Darby’s (& Scofield’s) reading of the Bible updated prophecy – those biblical authors weren’t writing about their own ages but ours.

The phrase “left behind” (wherein the nonChristians are left behind by the saved who rapture up to Heaven) has its source, says Wills, in “Matthew 24.40-41: ‘Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.’” Yet the context of the passage reveals another meaning. “Describing all the people who refused to hear Noah and join him on the ark, [Matthew] says, ‘And [they] knew not until the flood came and and took them all away.’ The section speaks of destruction, not deliverance. To be taken away is to be destroyed. Being left behind, like Noah and his family, is the desirable thing.”

source: Head and Heart: American Christianities by Garry Wills


David Lee Ingersoll said...

If you ever feel like readying a very thorough vivisection of Left Behind Slacktivist has been working on that for years. His review so far is probably longer than the book itself.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

oh dear. Thanks for the link. I'll probably go look at three of the LB posts, shake my head, and move on.

David Lee Ingersoll said...

It's definitely a lot more fun to read on weekly basis than as a big chunk.

When I worked at Half Price Books I found the Left Behind series attractive because the covers were well designed. They looked good; modern, at least compared to the rest of the christian fiction that came in. I never tried reading any of the books mainly because I generally avoid reading series novels.

Anonymous said...

(What I recently wrote. Enjoy. Todd)


How can the "rapture" be "imminent"? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He is now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. Since Jesus must personally participate in the rapture, and since He can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends, the rapture therefore cannot take place before the end of the trib! Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) (which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening - Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who would be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54)! (Will death be ended before or during the trib?) If anyone wonders how long pretrib rapturism has been taught, he or she can Google “Pretrib Rapture Diehards.” Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 it was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” ["gathering"] in 2:1 can happen - the height of desperation!). Other Google articles throwing light on long-covered-up facts about the 178-year-old pretrib rapture view include “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “X-Raying Margaret,” “Revisers of Pretrib Rapture History,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Desperados” and “Deceiving and Being Deceived” - all by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” which is available at Armageddon Books online. Just my two cents’ worth.