>Waiting for A Thief in the Night

>What do Christians do about the end times? We wait for them of course. And we have opinions. We may think we are in the end times already. We look forward to Christ’s return. We pray for the salvation of others as well as our own. We scare people into heaven with tales of the coming judgement, tribulation, etc.

Some Christians appear to salivate at the thought of destruction coming upon the wicked. A gleam comes into their eye as they speak of Armageddon and blood as high as a horse’s bridle. Some get excited at the idea that cars and planes will suddenly be driverless and pilotless when the “rapture” occurs. Much of the time we can substitute “the other” for “the wicked,” for it is the other, who is not like us, not of our faith, who will receive condemnation. Right? I am not yet a universalist, but I am close—at least I want to be one, but I have not yet reconciled my understanding of scripture to that doctrine. Still, Christians carry around with them some concept of an end times, of Christ’s return, of a new heavens and new earth. And some versions are more popular than others. But not necessarily more correct.

I recently viewed an interesting documentary film that takes a look at Christians who are eagerly waiting for the rapture and the end times. The film is Waiting for Armageddon. These particular Christians, and this particular form of Christianity, hold eschatological perspectives largely the same as found in the Left Behind books and films—a perspective that I have mostly abandoned. The film also gives space for countering viewpoints. I felt the film was very fair and even handed, and fascinating.

I used to be in that dispensationalist camp. When I was a boy I read Hal Lindsey’s book The Late, Great Planet Earth. I now think about 90 percent of the book is wrong, though I have not read it for many years. And I still eagerly wait for Christ’s return. Even earlier in my life than reading Lindsey’s book I was scared by the film A Thief in the Night. This film was a dramatic depiction of the rapture and the basic ideas in Lindsey’s book. I was merely a child and the leaders of a Christian summer camp showed us this film in order to scare us into a personal relationship with Jesus. The movie freaked me out for years afterward.


I have now come to view the rapture, as popularly understood and portrayed in such films and books mentioned here, as unbiblical. And yet, I do believe we may be in the end times. Exactly what that means is hotly debated, and I am no expert. But like I mentioned above, I look forward to Christ’s return.


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