#0094 “God forgive you!”
Link relevant to today’s posting…
Scripture relevant to today’s posting…
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (KJV says: “seventy times seven or 490 times)
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
Today I am posting yet another excerpt from the book I am writing. These posts are early drafts that I will be fleshing out and editing at a later time. But today I wanted to share the basic ideas with you as I am in the process of writing. The main thrust of the new book is to offer a new Christian narrative which the Church is in dire need of; so in today’s post I continue talking about the old narrative: what it is and what its objectives are. If you read the earlier excerpts from the book—the series of posts titled: Hierarchy vs. egalitarian-based communities; keep in mind that this material chronologically, appears before it.
Another tenet related to salvation is the rapture myth
The rapture is a tenet many Christians accept as fact. It’s a narrative depicting future events and it’s tightly woven into the salvation process. The actual word “rapture” doesn’t appear anywhere in the scriptures; rather the concept is derived from a conglomeration of scriptures. A couple of these are found in the writings of Paul; but the key one comes from some words of Jesus in Matthew 24: 37-41. This is what Jesus says…
37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
Matt. 37-41 (NIV)
Out of the conventional interpretations of verses 40 and 41 the rapture narrative was born. From these 2 short verses a big involved story has evolved and it goes like this. At the time of the 2nd coming the people who are living on the earth will be divided into 2 groups, believers and non-believers. They won’t be physically divided but will be divided based on God’s judgment so He’ll know who belongs in which group. Wherever they are in the world and whatever they’re doing at the time believers will be divinely spirited up or raptured away into heaven where Jesus is waiting to receive them. Those who haven’t been saved (as we described earlier) will be left behind to suffer the consequences of not accepting Jesus while they had the chance. There is a popular book series and a movie based on the rapture myth called Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Many Christians think of this book/movie, though a fictional story, as an accurate depiction which captures the essence of things as they will most probably happen at the time of Christ’s return. Without getting into my personal opinion of the interpretation of this scripture right now, I do want to talk about the impact such a concept can have on our modern-day culture. Let’s look at how this passage grew from a handful of scattered scriptures into its current doctrinal status…
This is a great example of how things in the Bible, especially things Jesus has said, tend to get misinterpreted and bloated into something grandiose then presented as a gospel truth. The process begins with Christian ministers preaching this flawed interpretation from pulpits. As this process of preaching and expounding this interpretation continues it gathers momentum—it gets legs. The fact that the preachers’ intentions are righteous; that is they are only trying to promote and exhort the message of the gospel with the goal of winning souls to Christ serves to cloud the issue. The more dynamic and enthusiastic the preachers’ pulpit delivery is, the more they are apt to drive the lesson home. This process has been going on for decades. The rapture myth has been preached as a core doctrine in congregation after congregation; generation after generation and as it has continued thus the deeper and deeper it has become ingrained into the minds and hearts of listening audiences. However, no matter how long this process has been and continues to go on and how many good people hear it from their well-intentioned pastors or favorite preachers; in the end this gospel tenet is based upon a misinterpretation—a lie. One of the surest tests for the validity of the interpretation of any scripture is its tone—does it propel the basic message of God’s love? The biggest flaw in the rapture myth is that it is divisive by its very design; it pits people against each other. In order for some to be saved some others must be damned. It carries the same divisive seed as the salvation narrative. Both narratives are based upon an us-and-them theme. Both the salvation and the rapture narratives strongly suggest that the thing at the top of God’s priority list for humans is for them to think or believe correctly about Him. Actually love and forgiveness is at the top of God’s list of priorities for humans.
The residual effects of this us-and-them theme can be seen everywhere in our American culture. We see it played out in sports; it’s in movie plots; education; politics and religion. My thinking is that all us-and-them themes can be traced back to religion—including Christian religion. The us-and-them theme is evidenced not just between those who claim their Christian status as believers on the one side (the usses) and all those who fall short of that status as non-believers (the thems); it is found internally within the Christian community as a whole. The very concept of denominations lives in the heart of the us-n-them theme. Religious denominations have been springing up for centuries and for a variety of reasons. The Protestant movement began with the likes of Henry the Eighth, John Calvin and Martin Luther and has been continuing ever since. The idea of denominations is cut from the very same fabric as doctrines (e.g.: salvation and the rapture); they are all meant to attract followers to their ideologies. Those who would defend the concepts of denominations are apt to say they are using their particular denomination and its set of doctrines as a program for bringing souls to Christ. They are apt to argue further…saying their denominational structure keeps order within the Christian family of believers. In its basic form, the idea of competition—pitting people one against the other—isn’t a bad one and in many applications it can and is used as a tool for growth and expansion between individuals and between groups. In religion it has most effectively twisted the basic concepts of the gospel which have subsequently grown into something that is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. I will explain myself in the next section.
- Spinning scriptures with the goal of proselytizing (trolling for souls) rather than of establishing stronger and evolutionary relationships with God.
- Hierarchy: another dimension of the us-n-them
- Static regimes v. dynamic communities
In the video link today we see some good Christians who, through unspeakable tragedy and pain have been able to tap into authentic divine authority. Take note of the first lady when she says, “God forgive you!” She isn’t asking God to forgive this man, she is speaking Ebonics…translated she is making a declaration: “God forgives you!” She is speaking with divine authority. “God forgives you!” She knows it’s true, not because she read it in the scriptures; but because the Holy Ghost has given the information to her first hand—branded it into her mind and heart. Her response to this knowledge can be only one thing…“And I forgive you.” The rapture myth—which attests that there will come a time when God will turn His back on some humans—is exposed as a lie under the brightness coming off of this kind of love and forgiveness. “God forgive you!”
If you have a question or thought about this or other postings please feel free to send them in. As always, thanks for reading.
TBC: Sunday, May 29, 2016