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Some Chick
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 1:21 am    Post subject: "Come the Rapture, can I have your car?" Reply with quote

Moderate Christians fight rapture with Sunday school



By Andrea Hopkins1 hour, 36 minutes ago

Real estate agent Dave Eschenbach is an active member of his church, but he feels uncomfortable around a sizable portion of U.S. Christians -- those who believe they could be transported to heaven at any moment.

Several years ago, Eschenbach had a boss who scheduled meetings around the rapture, the term for an event that around 20 percent of U.S. Christians believe is imminent.

"One day he announced to the employees that they probably wouldn't be there next week because of the rapture," Eschenbach said of his former boss. "His church had decided that the rapture would happen that week."

The belief has been fueled by the bestselling "Left Behind" novels, which tell how Christian believers will soon be whisked to heaven -- leaving clothes, dental fillings and eye-glasses behind -- while others are left behind to fight the anti-Christ in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ.

Eschenbach is a member of Cincinnati's Episcopal Christ Church Cathedral, a mainstream Protestant church. When it hosted a Webcast of a New York conference on rapture theology, he and about 50 others signed up to participate.

Speakers at the conference, organized by the Episcopal Church's Trinity Institute, minced no words in their attempt to turn a tide that has swept much of middle America.

"The rapture is a racket," said Barbara Rossing, whose 2004 book, "The Rapture Exposed," criticizes rapture theology as unbiblical.

Rossing, a Lutheran minister and teacher at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, said fiction that focuses on Armageddon -- the ultimate battle between good and evil that follows rapture -- is popular in the United States because it plays into American fear.

"The (Iraq) war isn't going well, there is great anxiety about oil, the economy, the sense that jobs are going overseas," Rossing said in an interview. "The specter of more events like Hurricane Katrina ... is terrifying."

"LIBERAL BRAINWASHING"

In Cincinnati, Rev. Canon Joanna Leiserson said members of her Episcopal congregation started asking about the rapture when "Left Behind" books, movies and games flooded onto the market.

Before the books, Leiserson said, mainstream Christians paid little attention to the Book of Revelation, the part of the Bible that mentions Armageddon.

"The mainstream churches haven't avoided (Revelation) as much as we just didn't think it was that big of a thing, until the fundamentalist churches started making a big production out of it," she said.

For Leiserson, Revelation is a story about Jesus confronting the evils of the Roman Empire. To help counter the rapture tide, she is developing a Sunday school curriculum to teach kids that Jesus loves everyone and would not leave anyone behind.

"We were asleep at the switch for too long, and fundamentalists rushed in to speak to this vacuum. Now we've got to reclaim it," said Rossing, the Lutheran minister.

Rossing called on fellow moderates to write their own novels about God's love -- though she admits that story might not sell as well as the violent plot of the "Left Behind" books, which have sold more than 43 million copies.

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the "Left Behind" series, said Americans like his books not because of the violence, but because they believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

"Surprisingly enough with all the liberal brainwashing they've got in public education, most people that claim to be Christians have a tendency to believe the Bible," LaHaye said in an interview.

Moderate Christians will never come up with a story that can compare, he said.

"They are just liberal, socialists, really, and they don't believe the Bible," LaHaye said. "What they probably will come up with is a plausible explanation from their liberal standpoint to satisfy their adherents that are reading our series and liked it. But it will be inferior because the story will be inferior."

The success of the graphic novels is just one indication of the strength of belief in rapture, Armageddon, and the subsequent second coming of Jesus Christ. A 2006 survey for the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found 79 percent of American Christians believe in the second coming, with 20 percent believing it will happen in their lifetime.

Skeptical Christians at the Cincinnati conference said they don't always know how to respond when confronted by those who swear the rapture is imminent.

"Because one of our goals is to be very tolerant, it is sometimes hard to go to the public. There is limited means to get the message out," said Shirley Wang.

Christian moderates also tend to view their fundamentalist cousins with an indulgent wink, more comfortable joking about the rapture than trying to change their minds.

Rossing said her students once left piles of clothes on their chairs to make her think they'd been raptured.

A popular bumper sticker reads "In case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned." Skeptics counter with an irreverent "Come the Rapture, can I have your car?"

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited


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Lester
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
You know what creeped me out? The anti-christ is supposed to unite all the nations of the world... this has been one of my goals since childhood.

Eeek. Come the rapture, you better give me your car if you want to survive to see my counterpart.
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exton
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Lester wrote:
You know what creeped me out? The anti-christ is supposed to unite all the nations of the world... this has been one of my goals since childhood.


Isn't that sickening?

By reflex, these sorts of christians automatically believe people who do good things to be evil. It's absurd.
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Lester
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Whats worse they believe people who do evil things to be good.
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jusdeadphunky
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
is popular in the United States because it plays into American fear.

"The (Iraq) war isn't going well, there is great anxiety about oil, the economy, the sense that jobs are going overseas," Rossing said in an interview. "The specter of more events like Hurricane Katrina ... is terrifying."

i have been saying this sort of thing since this whole evangelicals being influential enough to elect a president started.
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jusdeadphunky
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
exton wrote:

By reflex, these sorts of christians automatically believe people who do good things to be evil. It's absurd.


it is to be expected. people would love to believe a story with a happy ending over reality any and every time.
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