God's Politics

God's Politics


Becky Garrison: Re-evaluating the Rapture

posted by gp_intern

Following my interview with “Left Behind” author Jerry Jenkins for The Wittenburg Door, I was placed on Jerry’s press list. Just about every time some apocalyptic action transpired albeit in modern day Babylon (Iraq), Israel or Louisiana, I’d get a news release announcing that Jerry and Timmy were appearing on a particular national news outlet. With a childlike glee, they’d brag about how this particular event can be interpreted in light of their Revelations inspired road map that predicts the onset of Armageddon.

Like many raised as a mainline Protestant, my knowledge of this book was pretty much non-existent. Even at Yale Divinity School, this book received only a cursory reading. Hence, my critique of this group has been limited to making satirical asides that I doubt Hillary Clinton, Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein represent the Beast, and that the concept of white robed believers ascending to heaven en masse strikes me as more cult-like than Christian.

But during Trinity Institute’s conference titled God’s Unfinished Future: Why It Matters Now, I discovered what for many of those in attendance was a fresh scholarly approach to the Book of Revelation thanks to Barbara Rossing, professor of New Testament at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and author of The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation.

While Dr. Rossing did not focus her talk on her recent trip to Israel and Palestine, she mentioned this trip to highlight how her critical reading of Revelation differs radically from those seeking signs of Armageddon based on events transpiring in the Middle East. (As a sheer coincidence, we were on two separate trips to Israel and just happened to attend the same Sunday service at Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem. Small world.)

As Dr. Rossing reminded us, while the sensationalist and “nutty” Left Behind books have grabbed the media spotlight and made the bestseller lists, their depiction of the bloody and violent end times differs from how scholars throughout history have interpreted this book. I found much food for thought in Rossing’s reflections on how the Greek words for earth are used throughout the Bible. As she notes, many of the references to the word ‘earth’ in this final chapter of the Bible is translated from the word okumene, which means imperial violence. The other words for earth, which are translated as gaia (dirt) and cosmos (world) are used when the biblical authors reference God’s creation Using these translations of the word earth, Rossing illuminates how in Revelation Chapters 17 and 18 the imperial world that will be destroyed when the Second Coming arrives. She adds that this critique of imperial violence includes violence against the world through our own neglect of God’s creation.

If as Rossing observes the word apocalypse means “pulling back the curtain,” what do events like Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq and global warming reveal for us? How do we read those signs as a people of faith to ensure that no one will be left behind?

According to Rossing, the term prophecy doesn’t mean prediction. Rather, prophetic books such as the Book of Revelation serve as a wake-up call of what will transpire if humanity remains oblivious to the telltale signs from God that something is amiss in our world.

So what is in God’s plan for this world that he created? Quoting a Jewish scholar, Rossing asks, “did God so love the world that he sent World War III?” Or did God so love the world that he sent his only son, Jesus as the lamb of God to die and be resurrected into new life so that all should have everlasting life?

As I sat in a neighboring coffee shop preparing these reflections, I observed a firetruck near Trinity Church. Apparently, shortly after the conclusion of Rossing’s speech, the FDNY was called to Trinity Church’s offices to extinguish a small fire. Coincidence? Log on to Trinity Institute’s website, listen to Rossing’s lecture and you decide.

Becky Garrison
Becky Garrison is Senior Contributing Editor of The Wittenburg Door and author of the Amazon Short My Memorial, a creative non-fiction piece based on those 9/11 volunteers who find they are unable to move forward.

If you’re interested in further reading and study on this topic, Sojourners offers a PDF discussion guide titled, “Christians and the Apocalypse.”

+ Download yours today!



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Kris Weinschenker

posted February 16, 2007 at 3:21 pm


If your knowledge of Revelation is “pretty much non-existant”, you should read it for yourself. Then, explore the NUMEROUS books and commentaries on it instaed of flippantly accepting the views of one ‘scholar’.



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kevin s.

posted February 16, 2007 at 3:22 pm


I have never heard the interpretation of Revelations that this is what might happen if we act badly. One problem with the theological battiness of the Left Behind series is that it can cause us to re-interpret the books of the Bible so that they are more “people-friendly”.



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Kevin Wayne

posted February 16, 2007 at 3:55 pm


Did I miss something here, or did the posters above ignore the thrust of the message and focus on trivailities? O.o Anyway, kudos to you Becky, any alternative views to Revelation are quite welcome in this day & age.



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Marilyn

posted February 16, 2007 at 4:36 pm


I believe that we must remember that the book of revelation was written at a time when the early Christians believed that the end of time was near. Christians were being martyred, the Roman Empire was a brutal regime over which the common people had no control. I believe the the book of Revelation, written in this context, was an attept to imagine what the end of the world would be like. The imagery in the book of Revelation is actually taken from Zorasternism. The Early Christians did not live in a world of facts and science as we do today. In the context of Greek thought Imagination played an important role in daily reality. Myths dreams and visions played a role in that reality. In literallizing the Book of Revelation, we miss the archetypal truth of what is being said. Some Christians distort the warnings of the Book of Revolation by promoting violence to hasten Armeggedon rather then heading the warning to refrain from violence.



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Nathan Ealy

posted February 16, 2007 at 5:28 pm


Big deal. A left-wing Christian came up with her own version of the Bible.



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David B.

posted February 16, 2007 at 5:49 pm


In general, I have never found a interpretation from either stand point that was fully convincing. For me the bigger issue is the reason that end time literature included in the Scriptures. End times literature is not merely confined to the book of Revelation. Did God give us this material to focus on analyzing the latest news looking for His return or could there be another reason. In my analysis, the purpose of the end times literature is to provoke God’s people to action. Some would say that studying the signs of the times is action, but it is not the action that was intended. God gave us this material to remind us of what we should be about. Namely taking the Gospel to a dying world. The end times material should send us out to carry out God’s work and give us a reminder of the hope we have at His coming. In my opinion, the popular interpretation of the rapture and associated theology has done nothing bu distract the Church from the true mission of the Church.



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Payshun

posted February 16, 2007 at 6:01 pm


Her views are not alternative. her views were the standards ones until dispensationalism and cessationism became the norm for the west. Revelation is first a prophetic book designed to teach the church to face affliction and overcome. That is true based off anything John wrote.bTW it is a great discipleship book. One can really study the strength of character and love for God out of that book. Not only that but it’s a great mystic text that can teach some very clear prayer, contemplation and exastic ground rules for such things.I wish we could address that more. There are some of us that get visions like that but too often times there is no instruction on how to deal w/ it. p



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Sean

posted February 16, 2007 at 7:46 pm


Kris, the author didn’t say her knowledge of “Revelation” was non-existent. She said her knowledge of books like “Left Behind” were non-existent. If you have difficulties with reading comprehension, perhaps you shouldn’t be the one telling us what Revelation is really about.



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Elmo

posted February 16, 2007 at 8:04 pm


Marilyn -John’s revelation was a vision from God. I guess you don’t have to believe that if you don’t want to.Also, while the early Christians didn’t have the same scientific advancements we do, that may have been a spiritual blessing. One of the things science has done is give us a multitude of new reasons to question our faith. While we will miss some truths in Revelation if we only look for signs of the apocalypse, we also miss some if we don’t acknowledge that this is a vision of the end and the second coming. The book has dual meaning, and we have to see both of them. And I’ve never witnessed any Christian using Revelation to promote violence. Why would anyone think they could bring about the apocalypse?



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Elmo

posted February 16, 2007 at 8:06 pm


Sean – “Like many raised as a mainline Protestant, my knowledge of this book was pretty much non-existent. Even at Yale Divinity School, this book received only a cursory reading.” I’m pretty sure she’s talking about Revelation. If Yale Divinity did even a cursory reading of Left Behind they should lose their accreditation.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 16, 2007 at 8:09 pm


Isn’t “Left Behind” intended to convey the concept that persons who believe some certain way (and also act in some certain way?) will be swept up into the heavens and the rest of us will be left behind on this earth and have no hope for ever making recompense for whatever it was that we were supposed to have believed (or done?)? Does anyone know in a sentence or two what the beliefs (and actions?) are that we’re supposed to be observing? I know of someone who mentioned this series of books some years ago and I was astonished to think that they would buy into the left behind concept, once I found out that it referred to some select believers getting swept away while others remain here.



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Don Plummer

posted February 16, 2007 at 8:40 pm


I read Dr. Rossing’s book when it first came out. I found it to be somewhat helpful. I certainly think she comes closer to what Revelation is about than LaHaye and Jenkins do, but I think she could have done more. Another Lutheran scholar, Craig Koester, published a book called Revelation and the End of All Things back in 2001 that I thought was very helpful. It touches on Dispensationalism (the interpretive framework of LaHaye/Jenkins) but in a much less polemic way than Rosser. There’s also William Hendrickson’s old chestnut, More than Conquerors, still in print after some 70 years. In one sentence: Revelation was written not to provide us a roadmap to the end of the world, but to provide aid and comfort to persecuted Christians in the first century. Don



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Erin

posted February 16, 2007 at 8:46 pm


Payshun As usual, well said. I spent a term in seminary reading and studying Revelation directly from the Greek text and Jewish tradition. Revelation is a book written to churches struggling under and oppressive Roman empire in @ 90AD. They would have understood its significance in light of the other apocalyptic texts (see 1 & 2 Enoch) which predicted the messiah to come… a genre that was not new for Revelation/apocalyptic text readers of the time. John (NOT the apostle, but the evangelist) turns that genre on its head to give the new church a challenge that GOD vindicates and ultimately will triumph despite what is seen by human eyes and in human power structures of their day (imagine trade guilds where you could not work unless you worshipped the Emporer as God… how would you feed your family?). All of the imagery is taken from what was understandable at the time and it would have made sense to them (will the world really end with us on horses carrying swords?). The point of Revelation is discipleship of these churches under great distress. It is NOT a strict timeline for us to follow or gloat in… I find Revelation both beautiful and frightening. I am glad scholars are rediscovering what was lost in the last few hundred years in terms of the meaning of the text and what is ACTUALLY says…



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Erin

posted February 16, 2007 at 8:55 pm


Don Ooh… good summary at the end of your comment! Other great books (also for those who think some are “alone” in this “new” thinking): Revelation by Ben Witherington III Interpreting the Book of Revelation by J. Ramsey Michaels The Theology of the Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham and a good book to read through the four main views on Revelation to get your own perspective:Four Views on the Book of Revelation by C. M Pate



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Payshun

posted February 16, 2007 at 9:41 pm


ErinDamn straight. I think the churches in Revelation would have a great deal to say about the churhes today. I don’t think much of it will be good. Thanks for the book links they are helpful. p



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B

posted February 17, 2007 at 1:16 am


So very refreshing to see scholars examining Revelations (or anything Biblical, really) with an eye towards the authorial intent we can infer from the languages it was originally translated from. I think it’s very short-sighted of many modern examinations of the Bible to overlook the fact that it was translated (more than once!) from its original draft into the English versions we read today. I find it hard to take many direct quotations from the (English versions of the) Bible as any sort of irrefutable truth without taking into account how its authors originally intended those passages to be read; examining the translation process is, I feel, one of the best ways to make good inferences about authorial intent.



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Ted Voth Jr

posted February 17, 2007 at 4:47 am


Beware, Ms Garrison. In fact the notion of the rapture is not set forth in Jesus’ Revelation to His beloved apostle John, but in the earliest epistle of Paul, His apostle to the Gentiles, in 1st Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.Remember that the writing of the epistles of Paul preceeds that of any of the Gospels, let alone that of the Revelation. Beware the leaven of the Sadducees, Ms Garrison. Matthew 16:6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. What was the doctrine of the Sadducees? Good old ‘religious liberalism’ precisely, the ‘Higher Criticism’. Indeed, Ms Garrison, there is ‘no new thing under the sun!’ Ecclesiastes 1:10) Matthew 22:23 The same day came to Him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked Him 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For some reason it’s incredibly difficult for any single Christian to hold in his heart at once the twin notions of doctrinal orthodoxy and of God’s concern for justice.The Church in the US split in the early days of the previous century, Ms Garrison, between those on the one hand who preached the deity, death, and resurrection of Christ but turned Christianity into a cult of private salvation and private devotion, and those on the other hand who abandoned the authority of Scripture and the supernatural power of God, denying the Christ Who bought them (See 2nd Peter 2:1) and preaching ‘another Gospel,’ the ‘social gospel’, ‘which is not another Gospel’. (See Galatians 1:6, 7) And I see the same disintegrative, centrifugal tendency already among ‘Red-Letter-Christians’: to social activism and damnable heresy, as witness in this blog the denial of any reality to the return of Christ. Beware, Ms Garrison.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 17, 2007 at 6:41 am


Ted, OK, now that you have scared the waddin’ out of us… What is it about love God and love your neighbor that is such an incomplete message?



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Don Plummer

posted February 17, 2007 at 11:27 am


Ted: The words of Paul that you quote in I Thess. say nothing about a rapture as understood by dispensationalists like LaHaye. In fact, the very wording of this passage opposes the idea that believers will be caught up and taken to heaven at Christ’s coming. The Greek word translated “meet” in v. 17 is a technical term that was used when city officials would go out to escort an arriving, visiting dignitary BACK into their city. The same term is used in Acts (don’t have my bible handy for chapter and verse) when church leaders go out to meet Paul on his way to Rome. Yes, there will be a rapture. But it won’t entail Christians being snatched away from the earth before a time of tribulation begins. The message of Revelation is meant to give strength and comfort to Christians who are undergoing times of tribulation. The message is that believers overcome through their suffering, not that we are taken away and don’t have to suffer. This isn’t a matter of liberal vs. orthodox, or ‘higher criticism’ vs. fundamentalism. This is simply a matter of differing interpretations. In fact, I would argue that this is the more historical interpretation, and that the dispensational interpretation is the innovation. Don



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kevin s.

posted February 17, 2007 at 6:27 pm


I think we have set up a false choice here between embracing the dispensationalist theology of LaHaye and rejecting the book of Revelation as Biblical truth. There are many scholars who have studied (by returning to the original language and otherwise) and come to a number of conclusions about the book’s significance. It is incorrect to suggest that the preponderance of Christian theologians regard the book as merely symbolic, which is not to say that it does not make obvious use of symbolism. To reject La Haye is not to reject the inevitability of Christ’s return.



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kevin s.

posted February 17, 2007 at 6:29 pm


“What is it about love God and love your neighbor that is such an incomplete message?” The part where we invariably fall short in our love for God (and, by extension, neighbor), and need to repent before Christ and receive his grace, that we would be made whole. That is the very difference between a works-based faith and Christianity.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 17, 2007 at 6:58 pm


My point was that the lengthy mention of the texts that apparently led to “Left Behind” might be intimidating to many, but when we think back to the very simple message that we should love God and love our neighbor, all those dire warnings fall into their proper place… I think. Love God and love our neighbor is the sum and substance of what God expects of us… And, the detail of how we are to love our neighbor drives that point further home… by doing these kindnesses to persons who are “thirsty”, “hungry”, “naked”, and so on, we do them for God… not just for the person experiencing those hardships.



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Paolo

posted February 17, 2007 at 8:43 pm


Nathan Ealy: “Big deal. A left-wing Christian came up with her own version of the Bible.” Your comment is: 1) Nasty; and 2) Lacking in substance



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A Happy Heretic.

posted February 17, 2007 at 8:53 pm


Ted Voth, Jr.: “And I see the same disintegrative, centrifugal tendency already among ‘Red-Letter-Christians’: to social activism and damnable heresy, as witness in this blog the denial of any reality to the return of Christ.” Beware, Ted, of thinking you know everything! Ooh! Ahhh!



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Don Plummer

posted February 17, 2007 at 9:38 pm


Kevin: I think you are correct about a false dichotomy between accepting dispensationalism on the one hand and biblical truth (not limited to Revelation) on the other. It has been one of the unfortunate tendencies of dispensationalists to label those who disagree with them as theological liberals, social gospel advocates, etc. In some denominations, acceptance of dispensationalism is more or less a test of orthodoxy. The irony, of course, is that nobody in the Christian church held these distinctive beliefs before the 1830s. As I said in a previous post, it is they who have been the innovators, not those who hold to the more historical views. And by the way, Ted, I don’t think it’s difficult at all to hold both to biblical orthodoxy and to seeking for justice in the earth. In fact, the two go hand in hand. Isn’t that one of the principle things the Sermon on the Mount is about? Peace,



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moderatelad

posted February 18, 2007 at 12:01 am


Well – I listened to the whole lecture and it was interesting. Again I find it interesting that she as a ‘non conservative’ can dis the other side and that is OK but not the other way around. Even Garrison referred to the authors of the Left Behind series at Jerry and Timmy – please…yes Jerry is Jerry but Tim has never been referred to as ‘Timmy’ – whatever. I do not believe that all evangelicals believe that the Left Behind series is ‘gospel’ and even our local christian book store has it shelved under ‘fiction’.She did make several statements in her lecture that I need to do a little further study on but one stuck out and I find too fantastic. Greenland is loosing a football field in length of icecap every day? That is about 2 miles a month and over the last 2 years that would be over 48 miles all around the Greenland Ice-cap. I am not sure that this so. It ranks up there with a number of years ago when the homeless guy turned advocate claimed that something like 30,000 people became homeless everyday…I believe it was quoted that at that rate – the whole of the United States would be homeless in about 3.5 years. This is why I am moderatelad and not out on the fringe.



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melchizedek priest

posted February 18, 2007 at 12:18 am


This is why I am moderatelad and not out on the fringe. “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.”Revelations 3:15-16



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A Happy Heretic.

posted February 18, 2007 at 1:09 am


melchizedek priest to moderatelad: “This is why I am moderatelad and not out on the fringe. “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Revelations 3:15-16″ Do you presume to speak for God in speaking to the poster in this way? If you are, you resemble the Taliban.



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moderatelad

posted February 18, 2007 at 2:56 am


melchizedek priest | 02.17.07 – 7:23 pm | #do not assume that just because my handle is ‘moderatelad’ that I do not have strong convictions. Just do not operate at the ‘extreams’ of the issue. I have convictions and strong opinions and I am noted for taking an issue ‘to-the-matt’ when I need to do so.Later – .



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moderatelad

posted February 18, 2007 at 2:57 am


melchizedek priest | 02.17.07 – 7:23 pm | #LDS? later – .



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Payshun

posted February 18, 2007 at 3:14 am


Wow, Interesting discussion. I am a contemplative and mystic that finds dispensationalism heretical. But the people that believe in it are not heretics. I will leave the judgement of that to El.I too think we have killed much of Protestant Christianity by emphasizing and compartmentalizing faith vs. works vs. justice vs grace. I think by antagonistlically linking those things together we have lost the unifying element of the gospel. Kevin, That’s the rub w/ me in evangelicalism. I am wretch. Of that there is no doubt I freely confess I am human broken and weak. But and this is a big but, my faith doesn’t start there. My faith starts w/ being forgiven and being one w/ God. I think that’s where our relationships w/ God differ. You are quick to point out that: The part where we invariably fall short in our love for God (and, by extension, neighbor), and need to repent before Christ and receive his grace, that we would be made whole.I am all for repentance but I don’t define it the way you do. Please correct me if I am wrong but you define it as turning 180 degree behavior based primarily off of your will. I don’t see repentance that way at all. As if any behavior or heart action could bring me closer to God. God has to do the work and i just have to accept what he is doing and love him back to the best of his ability. I just see it as God saving.To me that’s the bigger message of revelation. I really appreciate that folks are calling the book by it’s right name. It’s Revelation not Revelations. p



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Jason

posted February 18, 2007 at 3:37 am


I was going to recommend Bauckham’s book on the Theology of Revelation, but someone else already has. I would also strongly recommend the book Bauckham co-authored with Trevor Hart, his fellow professor at St. Andrews, Hope Against Hope: Christian Eschatology at the Turn of the Millenium, which provides an in-depth look not just at Revelation but at images representing God’s bringing human history to a culmination at the end of time (the second coming, of course) in light of the decline of secular progressive hope. It’s quite good. Let me just add to the discussion above that any discussion of Revelation, or any other topic in Christian theology, for that matter, that focuses on the end of time and neglects how we are to be the people of God in the world today, animated not by any hope of secular justice or progress but by the promises of God to transform us and give us life to the full, which I believe is something that happens in this world and the one to come, is incomplete. Jesus says to Nicodemus that he came not to condemn the world, but so that through him it might be saved, and if we focus on the Heavenly City to the extent that we forget that our mission on earth is to be a temple for the living God, to transform the places we inhabit to holy places, then we are in fact condemning the world. The command God gave to the first humans in the garden, to fill the earth and subdue it, is renewed and redeemed in Christ, and it is our charge to be the people who fill the earth with worshippers of God. And if anyone is concerned about the term “subdue” above, which is from Genesis 1, I highly recommend J. Richard Middleton’s excellent book The Liberating Image: Imago Dei in Genesis 1, which roots the command to rule the earth not in domination but in God’s goodness and gift. I have a review of that book on my web site, btw, if anyone’s interested. Becky, loved the article. Everyone, sorry I’m a pompous windbag. ;-)



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kevin s.

posted February 18, 2007 at 5:01 am


“Love God and love our neighbor is the sum and substance of what God expects of us…” Not according to the Christian faith. “Do you presume to speak for God in speaking to the poster in this way? If you are, you resemble the Taliban.” You then assume the same for Sojourner’s, which claims to understand God’s politics. If you are willing to cast blame both ways, then you are reasonable, so let’s start there. ” Please correct me if I am wrong but you define it as turning 180 degree behavior based primarily off of your will.” I’ll go ahead and correct you, because your wrong. Incidentally, if anyone agrees with this summary, feel free to voice that opinion. What I meant was that, by virtue of understanding that we cannot love God without the holy spirit, we humbly repent of our old lives in order to accept his grace. It does not mean that we work extra hard to correct our sin via the human will. Rather, we apply God to our troubles wiht the flesh. Conquering sin through the human will is the stuff of works-based faith.



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FundieNutjob

posted February 18, 2007 at 12:33 pm


Kevin S: “”Love God and love our neighbor is the sum and substance of what God expects of us…” Not according to the Christian faith.” Thanks for interpreting Christianity for us Kevin. I guess you can do a better job of it than Jesus who made said these things. We hereby annoint you Pope Kevin! NOT



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Don Plummer

posted February 18, 2007 at 1:29 pm


FundieNutJob and others: I don’t understand why we have to insult one another on this or any other blog. Aren’t we supposed to be Christians? Can’t we disagree respectfully? It seems to me that this one thing that ‘love your neighbor’ is about. Can’t we at least put a small amount of thoughtfulness toward others into action here? Or is this asking too much? Is it really the nature of electronic communication to be insulting and demeaning? If I offended anyone by anything I wrote, please say so. But I’ve been trying to focus my comments on ideas, interpretations, and doctrines, not on personalities. Peace,



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FundieNutjob

posted February 18, 2007 at 2:06 pm


I apologize for all of my previous untoward statements. I forgive Kevin S. for his arrogant, condescending attitude although it is probably too much to expect an apology from him.



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FundieNutjob

posted February 18, 2007 at 2:32 pm


I retract my previous post. I offer my unconditional apology to Kevin S. and any others whom I may have offended. Please accept my apologies.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 18, 2007 at 8:49 pm


Love God and love your neighbor is the sum and substance of what God expects of us.



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kevin s.

posted February 18, 2007 at 9:34 pm


Apology accepted.



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melchizedek priest

posted February 18, 2007 at 10:55 pm


More LSD than LDS



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Elmo

posted February 19, 2007 at 5:14 am


Since no one followed up on Kevin’s (IMO , proper) assertion that there is more to the Christian faith than love of God and neighbor – particularly the brand suggested in many progressive Christian circles – I’ll give it a shot. Jesus said that “the Law and the Prophets hang on [loving God and your neighbor].” As Christians we don’t dispute this. But the Gospel follows the Law and Prophets. Jesus gave many instructions on receiving eternal life, as did the apostles. We can’t reduce the Gospel to one statement. Jesus said that he who believes in him would have eternal life, and he who did not believe was already condemned (John 3:18). Peter, controlled by the spirit, said to repent and be baptized in response to the question of how to be saved. Paul tells us not to allow immorality within the church. God punishes Israel for mixing pagan practices and beliefs into their worship. There is more, much more, to the Gospel than love of God and love of neighbor in the sense that it is used on this site and in the progressive Christian movement.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 19, 2007 at 7:47 pm


Oh yes we can say that love God and love your neighbor is the sum and substance of Jesus’ message… And he also said that helping those who are “thirsty”, “hungry” “naked” and so on will earn salvation… and not doing those things will leave that person out of salvation… and that doing those kindnesses to persons in those circumstances is the same as doing those things for God…



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Payshun

posted February 19, 2007 at 7:53 pm


Elmo, All those other statements by the prophets and apostles are nothing more than a reiteration of the above the law. When Jesus said what he said he was reducing the law to those two main things. But for some odd reason that context seems to skip you guys on the right. I don’t get it.Either you learn to love God and your neighbor or you don’t. If you don’t then any other act you do will come from legalism and death. It’s really that simple. p



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Ayla

posted February 19, 2007 at 9:52 pm


NathanWhat is wrong about being a left wing Christian ? I’m from the UK where being left wing is not seen as something unchristian and where the roots of the British Labour Party (not Tony Blair’s horrible Bushite capitalist version) were in Biblical Christianity.Ted What is wrong with social activism? Surely that is something to do with being salt and light in a dark world. Faith without works is very dead and fairly meaningless to those we want to witness to about God’s love for all mankind.



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Ayla

posted February 19, 2007 at 9:58 pm


There’s an excellent article on the UK “Ship of Fools” website re the Left Behind books. It’s called “Left Brain Behind” and is written by an intelligent British evangelical.



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Ted Voth Jr

posted February 19, 2007 at 10:38 pm


Yeah, all right; ‘my heart smote me’, as was always happening to David. Fu I was a bit harsh, not being JHVH/Jesus my self. But we tend to forget these days is that JHVH as the Creator of all things is quite proprietary, and that since as He is the Judge before Whom we all answer, perhaps we should consider the possibility that He might actually have cared enough about us not only to incarnate Himself as one of us, die for our sins, and rise again for for our life, but even also to reveal His word to us in a written form and take care to preserve it for us relatively intact. Perhaps we should do ourselves the favor of asking Him His opinion? The three propositions that He incarnated Himself as one of us, died for us, and rise again for us I with the Apostle to the Gentiles take to be the absolute minimal statement of Christianity: I would say with Christ and with Paul that the two great commandments cited above would be sufficient if we were capable of keeping them, but that we need Christ indwelling us by faith to be able to keep them. Salvation, thanks be to God, does not depend on our effort but on God’sd in Christ.



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Ted Voth Jr

posted February 19, 2007 at 10:43 pm


Oops, Sorry; ‘Full disclosure’, as I was going to say: I met Jesus one Christmas when my grammaw took me on her knee and taught me ‘Silent Night’. Jesus was there, and He was just so beautiful, so lovely, that I gave my hert to Him… and I’ve been trying to lose Him ever since, but He won’t let me go! Thanks be to God. So I cannot discuss Him wwith anything like intellectual detachment. He’s real! I’m what they called in the old Congregational Church a ‘pietist’! Love, All, in Him.



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Ted Voth Jr

posted February 20, 2007 at 2:54 am


2 miscellaneous comments. 1st There’s notiing wrong with social action. I’m all for it. I was trying to say that the fundamentalist churches have lost the works that James says demonstrate true faith, whereas the liberal churches have lost the faith. 2nd I checked out the 1st Thess 4 quote again in my United Bible Societies Greek New Testament. It says v 16 ‘The Lord katabesetai ap ouranou, will descend from heaven.’ And v 17 says ‘Harpagesometha en nephelais, we will be caught up into [the] clouds.’ The glossary in the Greek NT glosses ‘harpazo’ as ‘take by force; take away, carry off; catch up (into heaven)’ perhaps ‘attack’. My abridged version of Liddell & Scott says ‘snatzch away, carry off steal, be a thief seize hastily, snatch up harpazo tina meson, podos; seize by the waist, foot seize, overpower ‘ also ‘seize a post plunder’. Then, significantly, L&S identifies the Greek root of ‘harpazo’ with the Latin root of ‘rapio’, whence ‘raptura’You’re gonna hafta do better than that with your Greek! The image of the people of a city coming out to meet their king returning from receiving his kingdom is a beautiful one: it’s happened once when Messiah first entered Jerusalem, and it will happen for good and all when He finally comes to established His promised Kingdom. But that’s His earthly people, the Jews. ‘Blessed be the King Who comes in the Name of the LORD!’ Love in Him, TV2



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 3:10 am


Ted, I think you missed your calling… you should have been a bishop…Just kidding…… but how do we ask Jesus what he would think or do… we have to guess… and we base that on what we read and experience and reflect upon…I’m with the guy from Boston who said that in this life God’s work must be our own. And, I agree with my classmate at Loyola who said in 1963 that original sin makes no sense… we can’t possibly be responsible for something we did not do… Thanks for the story about your grandmother… my maternal grandmother told me (in about 1950) not to worry about her because “I’ll be all right”… the next time she had a chance to talk with me after my mother told her I was worried about her once I realized she wasn’t a catholic… She convinced me… by her words… because she was who she was… I don’t think Christians hold a lock on access to heaven… I think Muslims and Jewish persons and Buddists and Hindus and Mormons and all the rest have “equal opportunity”… Like my classmate from Loyola in the 60′s, I have to question what I was taught… how could a just God insist that two-thirds of the world’s population are “locked out” of heaven… Don’t buy it… not me… These experiences we all have are well worth sharing… I wish there were more of that on this blog and a lot less aggressive debating… …and pontificating… Just kidding…. Thank you Ted, for sharing your experiences… those stories get through far better than do the recitations from encylopedic memories… that bore us all to tears… or do that to me… Kevin…?



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Susan Nathan

posted February 20, 2007 at 4:11 am


I am a new Christian, neither right wing nor left. I have not read the Left Behind series, but I have read and studied Revelation. If I were a writer, as Ms. Garrison claims to be, I would not reference something I have not read, such as she proudly does in relation to the book of Revelation.Her column contains the same flippant tones of dismissal I find offensive when an ultra anything decides to unload his/her biases. This column is not worthy of readers of works such as God’s Politics: Why the right gets it wrong and the left doesn’t get it. Ms. Garrison is in the category of ‘why the left doesn’t get it.’ SN



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kevin s.

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:44 am


Mike, God clearly lays out how we are to get to heaven. Christ died for it. Literally died for it. If people don’t want to accept that fact, then, well, God clearly laid it out for us. Wouldn’t you agree?



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Don

posted February 20, 2007 at 11:58 am


Ted: We could, if we want, zone out the rest of this blog’s readers by arguing about the meaning of the Greek rendered “meet” in I Thess. 4:17. (I don’t know Greek myself; I’d have to ask my son about it.) And, since you brought up this point, we can argue whether or in what way God has one plan for “Israel” and a different one for the Church. (This latter point–not the rapture per se–is the historical church’s primary disagreement with classical dispensationalism. As Paul says, we are no longer Jews and Greeks. And even dispensational scholars are beginning to question their traditional take on that topic. But that’s another argument for another time.) But when I stand in our worship service and recite the Apostles Creed, which says, in part, that “he shall come to judge the living and the dead,” I am confessing what the Church has always and in all places believed. Christians have never agreed about the details concerning Christ’s return, but Christians at all times and in all places have always confessed its certainty. You are right; those who practice ‘social gospel’ have too often neglected the need for Gospel transformation. I’m less familiar with fundamentalism, so I’ll take your word for it that they often neglect the works that demonstrate true faith. But I especially liked it when you called yourself a ‘pietist.’ I think the historical pietists–and think of the Wesleys as examples of pietist thinking–knew how to balance transforming faith with social action. I go back to the Sermon on the Mount, especially the Beatitudes. I think this passage outlines the way Christians should try to carry themselves in the world. BTW, for an excellent look at dispensationalism from a non-dispensational standpoint, read Vern Poythress’s Understanding Dispensationalists. Poythress, a theology professor at a Presbyterian seminary, does not try to refute any of their arguments; he simply tries to paint a picture of the ways they understand the Bible and the world. It would be good reading for dispensationalists as well as for those who aren’t. And it isn’t very long, either. And thank God for grandmothers! Peace,



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moderatelad

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:09 pm


kevin s. | Homepage | 02.20.07 – 2:49 am | #yes Christ died but more importantly – it is His Resurection that fulfills the plan of Salvation. Just my thought .



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Erin

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:57 pm


Don Good point about the confession of the Apostle’s Creed. If you look historically the Church has often disagreed with the particulars of the return of Jesus but not the fact of it, well put!Ted”What was the doctrine of the Sadducees?” Actually the Sadducees, a specific sect of the Pharisees, were the Biblical conservatives of their day (with respect to the TORAH).For hundreds and hundreds of years faithful followers of Jesus have debated these issues, with their heart and head… There are church fathers who have believed in a literal millenium and some who have not… some have understood the text of the “rapture” in various ways since the letters were first cannonized. All in this debate take scripture seriously. I know I do. But we also need realize we are just a small, humble part of that debate.Much of Revelation is a mystery and we won’t know until it happens what the details are in the unfolding… the most lofty scholar and the most sincere unschooled churchgoers, I think, will be amazed and surprised by what God is gonna do to bring about the fullness of HIS kingdom. The point of Revelation is not WHAT happens, but what kind of people we will be WHEN it happens.



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sara

posted February 20, 2007 at 9:28 pm


Great point Erin. I have been having a field day reading all of the postings on this wonderful story and subject. I found Barbara Rossing to be brilliant and her view to stand out far above the rest on this matter. I personally think she is worth listening to. I find the very name of the books called LEFT BEHIND offensive to say the least not to mention the movies and the use to be actor who has gone off the deep end in promoting them. Not only are they poorly written but they promote guilt and violence and star wars mentality. I like the questions Barbara poses – If things like Katrina are curtains we pull back what do they reveal to us? WE all could spend the rest of our lives on just that one and unpack a whole lot of discussion that I think would be fruitful rather than this other stuff currently being discussed by popular demand. we have to discover why the book was written in the first place and to whom and move from there. some of you on this blog have done that thankfully. This one was sure fun reading and trying to picture all of you out there with your comments and views. I am knee deep in to Ash Wednesday and my mind is elsewhere. Rev. Sara Hardaway



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Payshun

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:35 am


Rev. Sara I feel the same way. The Left Behind series and much of the Christian bookstore stock bugs the ish out of me. More specifically I get really angry about the majority of the writings I see there.As for who is going to hell and how they get there I would agree w/ you Kevin that Jesus died for our sins but he also rose and sent the holy spirit for them too.Part of the power of that is that God and God alone will decide who gets to heaven. Not only that but I find it really odd for any christian to take a stance on who will get to heaven. No one is going to know and to speculate on it at all even in defense of what the bible says on it seems really wrong to me.I am willing to bet that there are going to be plenty of homosexuals and murderers in heaven, all one has to do is look at the old testament and the new to see that.p



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Kevin K (yet another Kevin)

posted February 22, 2007 at 11:10 pm


I think Jesus must be really bugged that people are so concerned about where we end up. It’s about the journey. People wringing their hankies about the state of our world while awaiting some chariot to pluck them off this earth and their sorry circumstances is a state of mind that is anything but Christian. The Left Behind series are scandalous mischief. That the God of love would condemn his creation to some kind of “tribulation” is the worst kind of untruth. John Nelson Darby, Cyrus Scofield and the other fearmongers have done a grave disservice to the Church and the world. There is a new Reformation happening and this rubbish is being shown for what it is. The truth will out!



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Hali

posted February 23, 2007 at 12:34 am


Kevin S., What is the greatest commandment? What is the second? Why is it like the first? All, I am glad to see that Christians have not entirely abandoned the Talmudic tradition. Jesus was, after all, a liberal Jew.



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Kim

posted February 26, 2007 at 7:05 pm


For another look at the misuse and abuse of Scripture in the Left Behind series, check out Dr. LeAnn Snow Flesher’s book Left Behind? The Facts Behind the Fiction. Judson Press published it last year. There’s also a study guide which makes it ideal for small group use. And yes, I work for the publisher, but it really is an excellent resource!



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Shariys

posted June 15, 2008 at 11:20 am


So, the small fire at Trinity Church shortly after Rev. Rossing’s speech .. was it arson? If so, it was an act of terrorism.



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