Are we going to be raptured away someday? Is that an actual Christian belief? Hollywood says yes…or at least they think it might make a good action story.
Anglican Pastor writer Thomas McKenzie has addressed these questions in a movie review of Left Behind. Fr Thomas has reviewed movies for years and so he has the movie chops. But he also hits the theology, and steers us back to Christ and the Bible. Here is an excerpt and the the whole review is at www.thomasmckenzie.com.
By Thomas McKenzie
I could really go on and on about how bad this movie is. Worst film of the year! But the real problem is, of course, theological. There is a moment in that other film, “The Remaining.” in which a young woman opens a Bible, saying she’s looking for the Rapture. Then she exclaims “it’s not here!” She’s right.
Many people have said very strange things about what we should expect around the time of Christ’s return. However, the Rapture, at least as understood in these movies, is exceedingly odd, and entirely unbiblical. In this odd, and historically very late, theory of the End, Christ must return more than once, and the first of these returns is secret. No one sees him. At this return, he sucks up all Christians into heaven. Then, those who remain are in for a whole (demonic) host of really, really bad days. This allows Christians to be freed from all suffering, and all judgment. Something that the Bible categorically denies will happen.
In the Bible, Christ returns. Every eye sees him. He is not hidden in any way. Upon his return, some of us will meet him “in the air” . We will meet him as villagers would run out to meet their traveling king. We go out, greet him, and then bring him into our village. Since Christ is coming back as he Ascended, this may well look like people meeting him in flight, but then quickly ushering him back to our, and his, permanent home, the remade earth.
You see, Christians do not believe that we permanently reside in some place far above us. As N.T. Wright has said, “heaven is a big deal, but it’s not the end of the world.” When Christ returns, we will all be resurrected. The heavenly realm will be revealed, all creation will be made new, and we will live here, in the New Jerusalem. It will be a place that is perfect, a city that is visibly inhabited by God. We will eat and drink, work and rest, love and be loved, in an eternal, material, spiritual world with no sin.
This is the hope of scripture. Not that we will be pulled out while our fellow humans are brutally tortured, and then we live on some cloud. No, not at all. We will suffer in the End Times, as the Book of Revelation makes clear. But we will also be raised up, in perfect physical bodies, to enjoy eternity with our savior. This is the message of the Gospel. Not that we go up there, but that Christ comes down here.
It is my belief that in Paradise, we will still make art, perhaps even cinema. I think that the films we make will be better than Left Behind (or, perhaps, any other movie ever made). I also believe that the hope we have in Christ is far greater than false hope that Left Behind offers
Thomas is a husband, father, friend, pastor, author, speaker, movie reviewer, and by grace alone the beloved of Jesus. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two daughters. He was ordained in the Anglican Communion in 1998, and is the founding pastor of Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, Tennessee.