One of the ugliest aspects of fundamentalist Christian dogma is the lust for the Rapture.
According to this doctrine, various prophets in the Bible, including Jesus, predicted the end of the world. A period of great tribulation, marked by war and moral decay, will be followed by the ascension of all true believers directly to Heaven and the total destruction of the Earth.
Though the Bible says explicitly that no man can know when this will happen, many Christians are certain that the end is imminent. There is nothing new about this. Every generation of Christians, beginning with Christ’s contemporaries, have been certain that they are living in the End Times and will experience the Rapture personally.
For two thousand years, every single one of them has been wrong.
But the failure of every single previous prediction of the imminent end of the world does nothing to make the current generation of believers the least bit cautious. Masses of modern Christians believe with all their heart that the Rapture will happen any day now.
At its heart, the End Times and Rapture is the ultimate excuse for selfishness, laziness, and irresponsibility. There’s no reason to work hard if the world is going to end tomorrow. There’s no reason to care about future generations. There’s no reason to go to the effort of planning for anything. There’s no reason to make mature decisions and exercise self-discipline.
If Christians believe that the world will end before dawn, then they can party on like there’s no tomorrow. But piously. Or, at least, with the intention of repenting their drunken orgy before the sky falls. Which they can. Every description of the End Times includes lots of opportunities for every Christian with lapsed morals to repent, confess, and make himself an innocent again.
So party on, dudes!
Do Christians really do this? You bet. They drive gas-guzzling SUVs because the world will end before the gas runs out. Peak oil is no problem. They borrow every cent they can because the banks can’t repossess their mansion in Heaven. Global warming is no problem. Cancer is no problem. Nothing is a problem when Jesus is going to come down and save them from their irresponsible choices real soon now.
Worse, they elect people to high office who share their delusion. From James Watt, Reagan’s first Secretary of the Interior who saw no reason to do his job and protect the environment, to most of the Bush administration who trusted in God to save America from their bad decisions.
Want oil? Drill everywhere because there’s no sense saving the National Parks for future generations. Want war? Attack anyone you want because you’re just helping God fulfil His prophesy. Want to let Wall Street wreck the economy? Go ahead. Any day now, you’ll be walking on streets of gold in Heaven no matter what happens to the American dollar.
And the bonus is that it’ll all happen for you because you’re so much better than everyone else. You’re Jesus’s special friend. He’s not so fond of all those other people who are too stupid to believe in Him.
You can be superior to everyone else and still do whatever you want. Where’s the downside?
You just have to believe.
Christianity is a death cult. Christians worship the cross that Christ died on. They celebrate the anniversary of his terrible execution every year. They revel in the martyrdom of legions of saints. They are implored to obsess about their own death every day. They are counselled to consider God’s final grim judgement in every decision they make.
But the End Times and Rapture doctrine goes far beyond this. It turns Christianity into a mass death cult. Rather than anticipating their own death, Christians look forward, with embarrassing eagerness, to the ultimate mass murder – the death of everybody in the world. Everybody else, that is. Everybody except themselves. They’re going to be whisked directly off to paradise by the hand of Jesus, personally. They are never going to die.
This vision began in Judaism and was so attractive that it was inherited by Islam in turn. Mohammed gave Muslims an even more detailed and enticing dream of total destruction of the world.
The end of the world is so desired that all the Christian offshoots, from the Jehova’s Witnesses to the Seventh Day Adventists to the Mormon Church of the Latter Day Saints, have made the end of the world the centrepiece of their doctrines. But adherents to each of these cults is certain that they are the only ones who are going to Heaven. All the others are doomed to suffer, die, and go to Hell because they believe the wrong thing.
If everyone is right, then no one is going to make it to Heaven because everyone has been condemned by everyone else.
Which is exactly what’s going to happen in reality if enough of us embrace the doctrine of imminent doom and don’t plan for the future. On our present course, the last generation of our descendants will choke to death in a burning, poisonous desert, the sun forever lost behind a thick ceiling of noxious clouds.
Believing in the Rapture today will bring Hell on Earth within a handful of generations.
That end-of-the-world prophesy that will come to pass. You better believe it because scientists, not priests, say so. Scientists don’t believe in wishful thinking. They don’t persist in touting prophesies that have been proven false by every generation for thousands of years. If one prediction made by a scientific theory fails, scientists rush to find a better theory that makes a more accurate prediction. Every day of your life, every time an airplanes flies or a vaccine works, scientists’ predictions are proved true once again.
Those are predictions that you can bet your life on.