Posted by: Mel Smith | August 26, 2008

The Rapture Follies

In my continuing study of the  rapture, end times, and related matters, I have finished reading the book, “The Raptrue Follies” by Scott Garber. I would include a picture of the cover but the book has been passed on to a friend to read before I thought to record the image. I have many more books waiting to be read on the subject and so without further comment I will publish my review of this book.

The Rapture Follies, an amusing critique of a segment of modern Christianity.

The Rapture Follies, an amusing critique of a segment of modern Christianity.

The Rapture Follies

Review by Mel Smith

The ‘Rapture Follies’ by Scott Garber, is a comical tale about the author of a make-believe book series regarding the rapture (… like the ‘Left Behind’ series?) and a small group of contest ‘winners?’ Peter, the author, leads the group on a mission trip to Romania where both the missionaries and the towns-people think that the others have been raptured. Some suspect the Mayor is the anti-Christ while others form a ‘tribulation force’, led by the mayor, to combat the anti-Christ’s take-over of the world… if the rapture has indeed taken place!

Through the comic tale, Garber offers an insightful critique of the way many contemporary Christians think, act, and believe. Peter makes a great comment with an escapism-mindset when in the midst of ‘tribulation’… of his own making, he dreams of “the ultimate escape, the rapture of the church.” (Garber 98) Later, as the little mission team faces an uncertain future with no likely means of escape, one member, Jim, offers comfort with this thought, “Praise God we’re in a different dispensation than the martyrs.” (Garber 120)

The Rapture Follies is a refreshingly lighthearted look at an aspect of contemporary Christianity that takes itself way too seriously. Prophecy ‘experts’ and hawkers of “religious” fairy tales… as well as seriously deluded disciples of dispensational theology may not appreciate the humor of ‘The Rapture Follies’ but I found it refreshing, and I want more. Who cannot smile at the discovery of the ‘mark of the beast’?

I recommend “The Rapture Follies“. This funny, insightful, penetrating critique of contemporary evangelicalism is a timely and sorely needed peek in the mirror for a look at us. Our Father has exposed false teaching, hypocrisy, cynicism, and other faults in other generations, and I believe he is doing the same in ours. Read “The Rapture Follies” with an open heart and mind, and see if you do not end up laughing at some of the silliness seen in your own reflection. ‘The Rapture Follies’ could be especially useful for anyone reading or discussing the “Left Behind” series.

Book

Garber, Scott. The Rapture Follies. Phoenix: ACW Press, 2003. ISBN: 1892525909 List Price $12.99

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Posted by: Mel Smith | July 11, 2008

Rapture?

Beam Me Up, Jesus!

________________________________________________

by mel smith

I have become interested in the topic of the rapture, the second coming of Christ, and the millennium. I questions my past acceptance of pre-tribulation propaganda written by the likes of Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe, the LaLondes, and others. I never even read Tim LaHaye’s fairytales, thank God, but I wonder even about some of the more scholarly dispensationalists and their teaching, folks like John Walvoord. With an open mind, I have started to read several books that consider these things.

Three Views On The Rapture

Three Views On The Rapture

I am reading the book, “Three Views on the Rapture” by Stanley N. Gundry and Gleason L. Archer. The book is written at a more scholarly level than I am at. Greek words… they look funny and I make something up about their pronunciation, but I have no clue. Still, I am able to pick a few things up as I read this book.

First, I am impressed by the cordial approach that each side adopts toward their opponents as they put forth their ideas. They recognize that no one really knows, or will know for sure, what God’s plans will be before they unfold. Unlike John Walvord’s statement as he discussed Pretribulation, midtribulation, posttribulation, and partial rapturism:

“An offshoot of pretribulationism, though seldom recognized as an orthodox point of view, is the partial rapture concept that only the godly Christians expecting the return of Christ will be translated before the Tribulation. The rest will continue through it until the return of Christ to establish His earthly kingdom. It is obvious that only one of these four possible positions is correct, and it is the duty of the student of Scripture to determine which is the proper interpretation of related Scripture.” (Walvoord 19)

Perhaps it is true that only one of those four views could be true but I’m saying none of those four views MUST be true! It might be something all together different, so I think Walvoord’s words are a misstatement.

Robert Van Kampen came up with a new theory on the rapture known as pre-wrath and convinced Marvin Rosenthal of its correctness. They both wrote books in the 1990’s presenting this new theory.
Two decades later, has this new theory held up to scrutiny?

First question: Why not just read the bible and ignore all these ‘other’ ideas and teachings of men?

I think a great example of why Not to rely on ‘yourself, God, and scripture’ is found in William Miller (1782 -1849). Mr. Miller is only one of a multitude of people that have decided to study the scriptures without relying on the benefit of other scholars. After two years of consulting with himself, Mr. Miller became convinced that the return of Christ was imminent – in 1844! Like many others that have traveled this solo route, just me and God, Mr. Miller lost his way and led thousands upon thousands into his error. Several cult organizations of our day can trace their heritage to their father, William Miller.

Scripture, on the other hand, tells us that we are not all teachers, not all preachers, not all of us receive gifts of knowledge, but God has given these gifts to those He has chosen within his church. I believe that relying on others and studying the ideas, teaching, scholarship, and Godly wisdom that God has given to other members of the body of Christ in our day and throughout all time of Christ’s Church is a wiser course to travel. I am not a historian, I can not read the original languages of the scriptures, and I can not even think very deeply on most days. I can turn to God and His Spirit to teach me, but I will remember that He has already given me great gifts as he has appointed others to do the things I cannot.

My study of the rapture and the return of Christ will include a study of many writings on this subject as I seek to learn not only through the Spirit of God and the Scriptures, but through the many men and women that God has already prepared to teach on the subject.

Today I am finishing reading another book, “The Last Days According to Jesus” by R.C. Sproul. Since I have many more books to read on this topic, I may begin to write a short post on each title as I finish reading them.

Note: I am continuing to work on this post, it’s not finished yet. I’ll be adding and updating for a few days or weeks yet. Mel Smith.

Works Cited:

Rosenthal, Marvin. The prewrath rapture of the church. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1990.

Walvoord, John. The Rapture Question . revised and enlarged. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.

Posted by: Mel Smith | June 25, 2008

25 June 2008

The End is Near! Isn’t it?

(introduction)

by Mel Smith

Book \

I have been reading a book called “End-Time Visions – The road to Armageddon?” by Richard Abanes; it is a fascinating portrait of a parade of the seriously deluded! I never knew that so many people could be so confused about who they are. In addition, they all tend to believe they are someone or something great: God, Jesus, light, truth, or at least an angel, prophet, or messenger sent by God!

What is even more amazing is that others by the hundreds, or even thousands, agree with them! “Yes, we think you are God”, they agree!

In his book, Abanes introduces us to many – teachers, christs, and gods, and those that follow them. One of the first groups he mentions, though only briefly in the introduction, is The Way International. He identified them as – a cult with whom he had been involved. Though I think I have heard the name before, I never knew anything about The Way International, so I spent a few hours reading about them on the internet and afterward… I felt dirty! Yuck!

I looked at the official website of The Way International and I noticed this statement, “For God’s plan in His Word to be made known, it requires someone teaching it to willing Students – those who desire to know God’s will.“(1) The problem with that statement, to begin, is that the one that presumes to teach ‘God’s will’ to another must first possess the truth themselves. Scripture complains of some, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Hebrews 5:12 (NKJV 1206) I would certainly think that this verse applies to many of the characters involved with The Way International that I met in my internet study.

I think The Way International meets the ‘cult’ criteria for at least one of the three main reasons that scholars classify groups as cults: 1. sociological, 2. psychological, or 3. theological.

Theologically, they deny that Jesus is God. I have met many people that no longer (if they ever did) think through the implications of Jesus being just a man. They reason that since he is called ‘the Son of God’, he must not also be God in the flesh, the incarnation. That is one of the major theological dividing points that I noticed but there are others such as their belief in dispensations which has led them to reject major portions of scriptures as not applying to this dispensation and that has opened the way for their ungodly sexual sin within the organization.

I suspect they meet ‘cult’ standards in the other two categories as well, but I have not studied enough to know what those catagories mean or how the abuses I have read about fit into them.

I have really gotten off to a bad start writing about the end of the world! I became sidetracked on a cult that as far as I know would not even make my top-ten-list of the craziest doomsday groups. They do provide some interesting lessons though and I may return to say more about The Way International. In the mean time, you might find the following video funny if you’ve been a part of The Way International or grew up watching some cult movies.

Rocky Horror Spirit Show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlGesF2RFIc

Friday, July 11th, 2008

I finished reading “End Time visions, The Road To Armageddon? ” ; this is one book that I’ll keep in my library. It offers a wealth of information concerning those that have erroneously misled Christ’s followers or would-be disciples. They mislead to stir-up and gain followers to themselves, gather gifts and fees to themselves, and make themselves out to be something famous as they are all about something. They’ve had their reward!

It’s important for all to remember the teaching of Christ and not be misled by these charlatans.

“Be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming… The Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” Matthew 24:42, 44

“But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven” Mark 13:32

“It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority” Acts 1:7

“Now as to the times and epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. for you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night” I Thessalonians 5:1-2

“I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you” Revelation 3:3

(Abanes 300)

I believe we will see a new round of date-setters and scare-mongers as the economy worsens, prices of energy soar, and times become hard and uncertain for many people. It will become a prime time to forget the words of Christ and instead imagine that our escape from planet earth is imminent. Rather than not knowing the day or the hour of our Lords return, the false prophets will again fix the date and those not firmly grounded in the word of God will believe them.

Great Book! Well worth reading.

Works Cited:

Abanes, Richard. End-Time Visions The Road To Armageddon. 1st. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1998.

NKJV Bible, Nelson. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996.

(1) “Teaching.” The Way. 2008. The Way International. 25 Jun 2008 <http://www.theway.org/teaching.htm&gt;.

Posted by: Mel Smith | May 27, 2008

27 May 2008

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing!

by Mel Smith

Yes, the things in life that are worth doing are worth doing well and some might regard it as “overdoing” but I think nearly anything that is appreciated has been done very well by someone. Painting, writing, music, food, or wine, excellence is what we appreciate and for which we must strive.

Take writing as an example; the purpose of writing is to communicate your thoughts to someone else. According to Professor F.L. Lucas, there are four elements of good writing. “honesty, clarity, brevity, and variety” (Lucas), and he notes “it’s ill-mannered to make your readers rack their brains trying to understand you”. (McMahan and Day 7) I recently began studying a text book called, “The Writers Rhetoric and Handbook” in order to improve my writing. I hope it helps.

I plan to post a few essays on this site as I work to improve my writing. The areas that interest me have to do with Christianity along with questions about peace, the church, and life as we await the return of Jesus Christ. In addition to my study of the scriptures, in the coming weeks I hope to be reading some of the following books as I add them to my library.

  • End-time Visions, the Road To Armageddon? By Richard Abanes
  • The Upside-down Kingdom by Donald B. Kraybill
  • The Jesus I never Knew by Philip Yancey
  • Three Views on the Rapture by Paul D. Feinberg
  • The Rapture Question Answered: Plain and Simple by Robert D. Van Kampen

My goal is to be an over doer in my life, my studies, and my reflections… as if I need to strive to become something that seems to come natural to me anyway, overdoing it!

Works Cited:

Lucas, F.L. “On the Fascination of Style,” Holiday, XXVII (March, 1960), p. 11 – 21

McMahan, Elizabeth, and Susan Day. The Writer’s Rhetoric and Handbook. New York, St. Louis, San Francisco: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1980.

Posted by: Mel Smith | May 16, 2008

Who is a Saint?

‘Saints’ are who you are if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, adopted into the family of God, borne of the Spirit of God. You are a saint according to the way the word was used in the bible though not according to the way some use it today.

I think immediately of the Catholic Church. They have a different type of Saint, a Saint according to the Catholic Church and they are welcome to them. They are almost always dead I think and have little if anything in common with the living saints that were spoken of in scripture.

In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know shat we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself interceds for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Romans 8:26,27

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the Saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened inorder that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saint, and his incomparable great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:15-19

It’s you and I the living saints that this weblog is about not the saints of the Catholic Church. Not that they aren’t alive in a spiritual sense, they are, but we who are yet journeying on this earth are the Saints of Central Wisconsin and the Saints of all other parts of the earth that will yet read and respond to these messages.

Grace and peace to you Saints in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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