Monday, February 14, 2011

What Me Worry Eschatology

I’m presently in regular correspondence with someone who has become highly interested in preterism (in fact, you may see a Ticker post by this reader soon) and they’re bringing to my attention various interesting items. One of them is a website by a group that is so convinced of dispensational eschatology that they’ve basically organized themselves into a sort of commune where they hope to escape all the nastiness that’s ahead when the big Anti-guy starts setting his house in order.

To that end, they’ve got this commune organized such that they want to live by the principles of the first century church. I won’t say that’s not commendable in its own way, but it’s principles we should have been following for a while now. And of course, Satan is all over the place on this site, counterfeiting false religions, influencing politics, and so on.

I won’t dignify this wacko group with a link, or say who they are; nor will I answer their arguments, since they don’t have too many – overall, they just assume dispensational eschatology is true, and pretty much, that’s it apart from the screaming in size 25 multi-colored fonts. But there’s a lesson we can take from their existence that’s quite interesting: I’ve noticed that nearly all dispensationalists have a What Me Worry Eschatology.

It’s pretty clear that this wacko group has thought through all the meanderings of writers like Lindsey and Hitchcock and reached the expected “logical” conclusion: If you don’t prepare, you’ll end up as a can of 666 Brand Dogmeat. However, though many people profess to believe the dispensational paradigm, it’s also pretty clear that they don’t believe in it strongly enough to act on it the way these people have. In that respect, the wackos are at least being consistent with what they believe. Most dispensationalists – aren’t.

To that extent, following the dispensational paradigm appears to be for many people nothing more than an exercise in buying the last end times novel. Oh, yes, I’m sure many also figure that the Rapture will be the event which will make the world really collapse, so they’re not worried because they figure things will be hunky-dory up until the time of the Great Vamoose, so there’s no need to do anything more; just live your life as is, soak up the sun, drink the punch out of the umbrella-topped glasses, and have a good time jamming to Amy Grant until Jesus pops a wheelie on a cumulus and calls you home.

I’ve noticed that some writers in dispensationalism – like John Hagee – are starting to think that just maybe, there’ll be some pre-Rapture inconveniences to deal with too. Then there’s also some who believe in a post-trib Rapture; they were more into what the wackos believe long before this. (By the way, I am not clear on where the wacko group stands on the Rapture; I could find no clear statement on the mess they call a website.) But for the most part, the dispensationalists I see out there are What Me Worry sorts – who certainly don’t act as though there’s going to be a huge cataclysm upcoming. (Sorry, asking one of those online services to leave your loved ones a message after you are “raptured” doesn’t count.) How about, for example, stocking food for those loved ones so that they don’t have to take the mark of the beastie?

I know why they don’t do that, of course: They’re afraid they’ll be seen as nuts. But all that shows again is that they’re not sincere about following through with the implications of their views.

To be fair, What Me Worry Eschatology is just a variant on the What Me Worry theology that pervades the church generally: It’s not just that they don’t act consistent with their end times view, but that they don’t act consistent with their Christian beliefs period. Once they’re out of church and behind the wheel of the Lexus, Jesus is a T-shirt slogan again.

In this case, the nuts may be nuts, but at least they’re not hypocritical nuts.


  1. I have recently thought of a term for the kind of thinking that generates this kind of nonsense: "Amelia Bedelia Hermeneutics." Just as Ms. Bedelia gets herself into all kinds of ridiculous predicaments because she interprets her employers' idioms, homonyms and figures of speech with an unreasonable level of literalism, so some Bible interpreters lead themselves and others into some pretty bizarre territory.

  2. And, of course, when you get really bored on a slow day at the commune, you and your family can always play a round or two of this game: