According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Monday, October 6, 2014

Debunking "Left Behind" Theology - Resources for Shaping A "Raptureless" Theology

Resources for Shaping a *RaptureLess* Theology: Where to Start to Debunk Left Behind

by Kurt Willems
June 5, 2014

With the new Left Behind movie coming out this Fall, I think it’s fitting to re-examine what the Bible actually teaches about the “End Times.” One thing that I realize when we talk about issues pertaining to the End, is that many folks feel in their bones that what they were taught is wrong. The hard part is putting together something that makes sense and is backed up by Scripture.

Yesterday, I posted an article called: Why the Rapture isn’t Biblical… And Why it Matters. In that post I looked at the most famous rapture passage and demonstrated why it is not about escaping planet earth.

Today what I want to offer are some next steps. Once we have deconstructed a theology that we intuitively know doesn’t reflect the way of Jesus, it’s important to rebuild – to reconstruct. In what follows, I am going to be somewhat strategic about the order of the following resources. If I were going to relearn this stuff all over again for the first time, here’s the path that I think would be the most fruitful.

So, without further ado, here are resources for shaping a raptureless theology. To be clear, the order I’ve arranged these in is intentional!

Introductory Resources

Here I offer some insights I gleaned from another resource, Reading Revelation Responsibly (see below). It’s a helpful overview of the major ideas in Revelation.

This resource will help you understand Mark 13, and its parallels in Matthew and Luke, with clarity. It won’t solve every nuance to every question you may have, but it will give you a framework to move away from Left Behind theology.

This book: The Good News of Revelation, by Larry Helyer and Ed Cyzewski
I had the honor of being one of the book’s endorsers. Here’s an extended version of what I said about this resource – "In The Good News of Revelation," Larry Helyer and Ed Cyzewski accomplish exactly what the title suggests: good news! In a culture where doomsday scenarios rank high at the box office and even higher in certain strands of the church, this book beckons us to imagine the world (although “fallen”) as ultimately destined for a hopeful future.

By placing Revelation within its first century context, the authors offer a compelling and poetic introduction to the most misunderstood of biblical books. They invite us to proclaim the upside-down victory of the Slaughtered Lamb through peacefully resisting evil in all its forms, choosing perseverance rather than compromise, and living as though Jesus is actually King and Caesar is a mere imitation. I HIGHLY recommend The Good News of Revelation to anyone interested in reclaiming Revelation as a call to faithful living – not in the midst of some horrific predictable future – but for RIGHT NOW!”

I’ve often said that this is the one book that every evangelical (and progressive) pastor should read. Wright outlines a vision of the Christian hope that is life-changing. What we believe about the future matters today! It matters for issues of justice, beauty, and art. Every pastor should read this – yes – but so should ever follower of Jesus!

This commentary: Revelation for Everyone, N.T. Wright
This is by far the most accessible commentary on Revelation out there. It’s also a fun read! This book will take the cryptic texts of Revelation and transform them into words to live by.

Resources for Going Deeper

This is the most helpful theological book on Revelation that I’ve read. Seriously, can’t recommend it enough. Read it. Then, tell others to read it!

Ever wonder what an Anabaptist might do if s/he were an expert on Roman culture and apocalyptic literature. Look no further. This book is amazing… especially if you want to go deeper with the imperial themes. A great complement and follow-up to Reading Revelation Responsibly.

This book: Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now, by Wes Howard-Brook and Anthony Gwyther
This book, co-authored by my friend Wes Howard-Brook, invites readers into the narrative of the Roman Empire. By the time you’ve engaged all of the theological and historical themes of the book, you’ll be ready to inaugurate a subversive revolution of love! Great resource for really digging deep while having implications for how we live.

This commentary: Revelation: believers church bible commentary, by John R. Yeatts
This commentary is part of the Believers Church series. Believers Church is “code” for Anabaptist, in case you are curious. This is a great resource for going a step beyond where Wright’s “For Everyone” commentary goes, in that it is more academic in nature (yet still highly readable!).


Rescuing Revelation by Greg Boyd

Other Helpful Resources

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