14 May 2011

Can I have your motorcycle when you are raptured?

There are several things to say about the announcement by "evangelist" Harold Camping that he being the wise and holy man mentioned in Ecclesiastes 8:5, uniquely knows that May 21 is the day of the "rapture."

First the man's lack of humility would stun a pope! 3000 years on, after the coming, life and resurrection of the messiah, we finally have the "wise man" a prophet spoke of and he is a radio evangelist? Jesus said he did not know the date of final judgement, but this guy does. The late John Lennon said the Beatles were "more famous than god." His ego is now dwarfed.

Second, why oh why are we cursed with so many bible worshipers and so few Christians? The Bible is a collection of works written over centuries describing the mythic and real histories of the Hebrew search for an understanding of God's desired relationship with man, and (for Christians) the culmination of that search in the life, ministry, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus. Along the way it picked up wonderful poetry (Psalms,) some very good advice that some fools tried to turn into laws (Proverbs,) and a good deal of cultural baggage. It is worthy of constant, informed, and careful study.

What the Bible is not, is a book full of hidden secret passages only the holy can find.

Nor is the Bible a book of laws (see Talmud for that!) It is not God, nor even a piece of God.

The Bible is also not a unified text, the authors of Torah did not know about nor write in coordination with the authors of the Gospels. Attempting to impose a single narrative is the great heresy of this age's "evangelicals."

It is precisely that heresy, the attempt to impose a single narrative which leads to such silly ideas as "inerrancy" and "rapture." There is no "rapture" described in the Bible. What the proponents of this heresy do is take separate sections from multiple books and slam them together with their own explanation of how they "must" fit. This leads to error because the books were not written to be read together.

Origen, one of the great fathers of the church writing well before there was a bible at all, said of the synoptics that they were worthy of study because they "generally are in accord with the Gospel (oral) which the church has received." That the church would eventually decide to add John to the three so that the reference, the bible, would include a Christology was a decision made later.

The synoptics are the great treasure of the church because they contain almost all we have of the words and teachings of Jesus. Only a few critical words of Jesus that Paul quotes in First Corinthians come from outside the gospels. Without them evangelicals would not know what to ignore.

The works should be read and studied on their own merits. No magic, no special discernment for special people, just Jesus, Paul, Luke and the other authors as they wrote. To understand them takes a lot of study of the cultures that were the context of the books. That is what we should read, mark and inwardly ponder.

Fortunately we have lifetimes to study and pray. The world is not going to end anytime soon.


Have a great May 22nd!

FWIW
jimB

3 comments:

Lensman said...

Did you see the picture of the controversial billboard that was recently put up by another spiritual group near Family Radio’s headquarters? It directly challenges them about May 21. Here is a picture of it:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62779138@N08/5708063636

Jim said...

Lensman,

The web site referenced in their billboard is a dead end. That actually may make sense given that the world ended or is ending or rapturing or something. ;-)

FWIW
jimB

Anonymous said...

You're more likely to get coherence and common sense from "The Hobbit" or "Alice in Wonderland" than the Bible. At least Alice and Bilbo aren't told to kill children by bears or cut off parts of their sons' bodies.

St Laika's

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