It's amazing the things you find when you are looking for someone else.
Looking for a link on LaHaye Rapturologists for the post below, I stumbled onto hilarious review by Gene Lyons called "The Rapture Will be Televised
. A sample:
Here are our heroes, zipping around the Holy Land on ATVs, when G.I. Jesus finally materializes in the sky, mounted on a white horse and costumed like a professional wrestler
But after you finish laughing yourself silly, check out this very good piece by theocrat John Whitehead interviewing Barbara Rossing, titled God So Loved the World that He Gave Us World War III
. It raises my estimate of Rutherford by several notches:
JWW: The first sentence in the first chapter of your book is, "The rapture is a racket." Why do you say that?
Barbara Rossing: My emphasis is not on the financial racket side of things, which I don’t know much about. Some argue that the whole prophecy industry is hucksterism, but I am referring to the theological racket. It is also a political racket, I think. They are playing off of people’s fears.
JWW: The rapture is only 170 years old? Thus, you are saying that the rapture, the Left Behind books and the Hal Lindsey books are something the traditional churches didn’t believe until 1830.
JWW: Are you saying that they [people who believe the end of the world is imminent] glorify violence, war and mayhem?
JWW: You argue in your book that God still loves the world and doesn’t want to destroy the earth. But we see violence all over the world. We live in a very violent world. How do we explain all that? Maybe the Left Behind novels are trying to explain it.
BR: Jesus also lived in a violent world—a world as violent as the one we live in. The Roman Empire was extremely violent, but Jesus didn’t respond in kind. That is the key. Christians have to remember that the Bible teaches us nonviolence in the face of violence. But what’s different is that Christians through such things as the Left Behind books are glorifying violence. That is a very distressing shift in theological thinking.
JWW: That mentality [that the world is about to end] obviously leads to other things. For example, you quote Ann Coulter who has said, "God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.’" Are you saying the Left Behind books and that sort of theological thinking leads to a rape of the world because there is no reason to look toward a better tomorrow?
BR: Yes, exactly. I am not necessarily saying they do that. However, that kind of thinking leads to that. For instance, in the Left Behind novels, the characters start buying bigger and bigger cars. They first buy a Range Rover, and then they buy a Hummer. But they don’t buy it. They just get it. There is a sense that they can use up the earth.
JWW: There is a strain of violence in the Left Behind novels by Christians, who carry weapons and fight the anti-Christ’s army. Let’s just say it’s true that the anti-Christ is coming. How do Christians respond in that situation? Do they pick up a gun and shoot back to defend themselves? How do Christians act in a situation like that?
BR: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane told Peter to put away his sword. Christ said that those who take up the sword will perish by the sword. There is absolutely no invitation in the New Testament for Christians to take up violence as a way of responding to evil in the world.
JWW: If Christians are not supposed to gear up and become armed to fight the anti-Christ, how should they live in the so-called end times?
BR: Just like the early Christians did, with love, joy, an infectious kind of hospitality and a lamb power that has the power to persuade people by our love toward them.
JWW: You discuss Christian Zionism in your book. You seem bothered by it. Why?
BR: I am a supporter of Israel and a Zionist in the traditional sense. However, the militant Christian Zionism of authors like LaHaye argue that all the land that ever was biblical Israel needs to be given to the state of Israel. In the most extreme scenario, Palestine cities need to be relocated and virtually everything has to be relocated so that the Jewish temple can be rebuilt. This is ridiculous.
JWW: Why is it ridiculous?
BR: First, this is not biblical. Second, the Palestinian Christians—the whole Palestinian people—are also God’s people. They too are created in the image of God, and they are our sisters and brothers. They also have a right to that land.
JWW: [Theologian] Martin Luther once said: "If I knew the world was going to end tomorrow, I would plant a tree." ...
BR: I believe Luther is trying to tell us that God wants us to live caring for the world until the very last moment.... I believe that if we know Jesus is going to return and it could happen at any moment, then we need to be more ardent and urgent in caring for one another and our world. Planting a tree is a great way to do that. The basic message is love for all of life and our fellow human beings.
If Christians were really like this, wouldn't you want to be one?