Friday, May 20, 2011

The Truth About the Rapture?

I’ve been somewhat obsessively following news and blogs on Rob Bell since “Love Wins” exploded on the market. I do agree with those folks that say you should not make comments about things (such as books) without reading and studying them. I have read “Love Wins” and I have followed Rob Bells teachings (via podcasts, “Noomas” and blogs) for years now. So I’m not just some sudden, casual observer. I have been disturbed by him for years. Each year seems to be more disturbing to me in the evolution of Rob Bell. Check out what I picked up about him from an interview he recently did with The Phoenix. He was discussing the Rapture (in light of all the May 21 gloom and doom stuff). He takes a straight shot at the way traditional evangelicals have defined the Rapture:

I was in Asia Minor, traveling around in some of the first church sites, and the guide said, 'Oh by the way - there were a whole bunch of earthquakes that happened in the first century in Asia Minor, present-day Turkey, the guide said it was in the city of Thessaloniki, the earthquake happened the city was flattened and everyone moved into tents outside of the city. And the Roman Emperor, a Caesar, funded the rebuilding of the city. And when the Emperor announced, 'I'm going to come see the city that you rebuilt with my resources,' everyone got very excited, and when the Emperor was in the distance there was a blowing of the trumpets and everybody rushed out of the city, to greet the Emperor and welcome the Emperor, and then everybody went back into the city to show the Emperor the city they rebuilt with his resources. So, it's to THAT city, that in the one verse that is used by the Rapture folks to say 'Ok, we're all going to go somewhere else,' in the historic context of the story, it's about everybody going BACK into the city, not going somewhere else. For me as a Christian, then, perhaps that particular passsage -- whch is pretty much the only passage (on which) Christians who built the whole 'Left Behind' thing -- perhaps it's much more about being the kinds of people who rebuild and repare and restore THIS world. We care for the environment, we try to help the poor, we're interested in rebuilding the city that was destroyed. (Cackles) Oh boy, that can upset folks. But there are lots of people who go, "Yeah, I always had a problem with that. I'm a person of faith, I'm all about Jesus, etc, I want to make a difference in the world, and with that sort of Left Behind stuff, I can't do it,' -- and when they find out, 'Hey, there's another way to read these stories, it doesn't have to be about evacuation,' People get very excited.

I have to ask you, can you truly believe the arrogance of this one man? He has greater insight on the truth of Heaven and Hell than hundreds of years worth of great theologians that have preceded him? He has greater insight and understanding on the Rapture than hundreds of years worth of great theologians that have preceded him? Can you put your finger on the problem here?

I dare ask, if you review this passage in 1 Thessalonians can you even remotely see Bell’s view?

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NASB)

Bell has a tendency to turn everything into a “social” gospel that is all about reform here and now with little focus on eternity. Can you really reconcile the words of the Apostle Paul with those of Rob Bell? I am greatly disturbed and concerned that Bell is leading a whole generation of folks away from the truths of Scripture. Pray for him. Be wise and seek the discernment of the Holy Spirit.


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