Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The AngelAlien Abductions - aka - They Wish We'd All Been Ready

Courtesy of Jesus Needs New PR:

First off, I love this style of animation. I'm not sure what it's called, but it's cheap, obviously inspired by anime, and highly stylistic. But then, what's up with the angels or aliens or whatever they are straight jacking people in the middle of the road? Is that how the filmmakers interpret the "swept away" phrase in Matthew 24?

Wherein do these abducted people meet Jesus? Halfway in the sky is the literal translation, right? So, if the filmmakers took the passage saying that Christians are going to be 'taken away' literally, they'd also have to accomodate that Jesus would meet all the Christians somewhere in the air. But where? Is everyone gonna fly over Budapest or O'Hair or LAX or Jerusalem?

They're supposed to see Jesus, right? Everybody can see him... So... Giant TVs? Or is the earth flat? Because that would be my option. The earth is flat so all the raptured folks can go *up* to see Jesus when he's coming down on clouds from his giant space ship - aka, heaven.

But yet, we all know that heaven isn't just literally up there in the clouds. So why do we read all the other stuff as if it were going to happen as we literally interpret it to happen?

Confused? Angered? Frustrated?

But beyond the logical fallacies are also problems in theology, history of theology, biblical exegesis, orthodoxy, etc, etc. I wrote a series on Teh Rapture a few months back. A quick recap on some of the main points, for your study, perusal, anger-management, flights of boredom...

From pt. 1:

I believe that we misread a lot of the Bible because it wasn't written specifically for us. The case of the rapture is a major misunderstanding that affects how we treat the world around us as well as our neighbors and, thus, needs major correcting.
From NT Wright:
In I Cor 15:23-27 Paul speaks of the parousia [Jesus' royal presence, a sort of political image, where Jesus is the true king and the emperor is a fake] of the Messiah as the time of the resurrection of the dead, the time when the present but secret rule will become manifest in the conquest of the last enemies, especially death. Then in verses 51-54 he speaks of what will happen to those who, at Jesus's coming, are not yet dead. They will be changed, transformed. This is clearly the same event he is speaking of in I Thess 4; we have the trumpet in both, and the resurrection of the dead in both; but whereas in I Thess he speaks of those presently alive being "snatched up in the air," in I Cor he speaks of them being "transformed." So too in Phil 3:21, where the context is quite explicitly ranging Jesus over against Caesar, Paul speaks of the transformation of the present lowly body to be like Jesus' glorious body, as a result of his all-conquering power.

This idea that heaven is far away and above us is really a Greek concept. This idea that we all leave this cursed planet and live as body-less beings on some celestial clouds is not only immensely boring, but woefully dangerous and erroneous (suggesting that our bodies and the material world is irrefutably broken beyond even God's hand is Platonism - not Jewish and not Christian). There's a reason why so much of the language of Revelations echoes the language of the Garden of Eden.

We are not leaving this corrupted planet to destruction. We are called to redeem it; the same work that Christ began at his resurrection, the same work that is being done on us, is the same work that God is calling us to do throughout his creation. And has already begun doing. And will see to completion with the new heaven.

Then I found that I needed to clarify contextual understandings with a 2.5...

I cannot understand how we've come to read the Bible in some kind of rarefied air where it needs to be understood in some sort of literal and lineal phase. As if the writers of the ancient texts were writing out of space and time. No one ever writes or speaks in a vacuum. The trick is to figure how the Bible wants to be read. For example, when Jesus told a story, he did not mean for it to be taken literally, as if the things he said actually happened; they illustrate a (or a few) point(s) that he makes about, say, the Kingdom of Heaven (his favorite topic, btw). When we read the beginning of Revelations, the author says that he witnesses one as the "Son of Man" with "white hair like wool." The images are from Daniel 7. If the question is, "Did John the Revelator literally see a wooly-white haired man that looks like an improved version of humanity in front of him?" we're asking the wrong questions. We focus too much on the literal, but not enough in what it all means, and what the signs are pointing to (in this case, the established and eternal Kingdom of God through Jesus).

And then finishing with a reading of the Matthew 24 passage, where this video seems to come from (with the alienangels "taking away" the "elect" to escape God's wrath, or something...):

There's nothing in this passage to support the theology of the rapture. Verse 31 speaks about "gathering the elect from the four corners." But there's nothing in there to express a disappearance from the earth, or a raising, even. (My initial thought is that it has to do with a type of reverse exodus based on my reading of the corresponding Zechariah passage). Verses 41 and 42 are where the phrase "Left Behind" (of those horrific 'thrillers') are taken from. But a closer look at the immediate context reveals that it's not those who are left behind who are unfortunate, but the other way around.


Be kind. Rewind.