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You're spot on with this, Jonny. The popularity of books like Left Behind and the theology along with it often feels like we're giving ourselves permission to be unconcerned with the condition of the world we live in. If we're all going to be raptured any day now why should we work to end hunger, eradicate disease, or speak out against injustice? "Escapology" is the perfect descriptor.


jonny; you're absolutely right, this theology is also driving our (usa) political system. it's narrow, death-loving, life-denying anti-theology. it's functional atheism packaged for thoughtless consumption. i hope you can plant some seeds, let me know if you meet any fellow liminal travelers, it's a lonely pilgrimage on this side of the pond


Sadly, I feel more and more the heat of the good old fashioned "Pass the Plate" theology at work. "Do something that will increase giving (or at least keep stasis)."Staff decisions still, in our case, largely reflect a consumer oriented, profit driven service. Does...that make us shallow?


PS: I was feeling like I was just plain mean. We're not a church of Bling...more like a church of panic. Jesus coming back is a suitable mentality overall to having to adjust to the community and culture. It just smells like fear.

Chris (DesertPastor)

Great thoughts, Jonny, concerning "escapology."

I'm wondering though...it may be that this is more symptomatic of an errant soteriology -- especially among we Evangelicals who view salvation as primarily a "destination" rather than a relationship/life-transformation. This tendancy may be more tempered though among Evangelicals of the Pentecostal variety.

chris erdman

"the planet needs a theology of incarnation, engagement, presence, redemption... not an escapology theology!" Jonny, yes, and we need leaders who can carry us there and truly refound the church. But how to form and cultivate them? Many of us are wrestling with just this (as surely as many are there in Nashville around you now). Al Roxburgh and I are inviting dialog on alternative training experiences for emerging/missional leaders. I'm blogging about this at http://odyssey.blogs.com/odyssey/


keep ranting jonny, the US needs you.



when i was younger i was subjected to this kind of theology in my school, it still sits in the back of my mind as i work with young people even today. i allow memories it to sit there so that i am reminded that this kind of theology is damaging and that i do not EVER want to use it with anyone ever.

this escapology theology is not only crap, it's psychologically damaging and evil.




this theology is not only crap, but it's also dangerous and psychologically damaging.



Hey thanks - this is an awesome way to see this. I hate the focus on "God coming back and getting us out of this crappy world" that I see around me. This post just made my morning and I wanted to say thanks...and...i think the mag is newsweek...

Peter Haslehurst

Great post Jonny. I deeply dislike Rapture theology - I was exposed to loads of it in my early years as a new Christian in a Pentecostal church. This sort of premillenialism teaching is very prevalent in the Pentecostal tradition, propogated by the Scofield Reference Bible. The weird thing is that the Pentecostals, with their bad theology and all, are notably successful at reaching working class and ethnic minorities, something that the rest of the protestant churches are not so good at.


thanks guys for your comments....

i agree with all of you! i love the comment that it smells of fear - i do think fear underlies a lot of the way evangelcials have related to culture - it's sometimes harder than we think to shake that off...

chris not sure if you have comne across forge - alan hirsch and others in melbourne have modelled a way of training in melbourne that i think has a lot going for it and it's been running for 6 years. we are looking at similar things in the uk... (see 'the shaping of things to come'

we have run a thing called re:source in the uk which has been our step into another way oif training - see www.,resourcechurchplanting.com

chris (desert pastor) - it think it is about soteriology sure... i'll try and think/write some more about this at some point when i get a bit more time. i teach a course for people doing youth ministry and one session i do is ask 'what is the gospel'? - peoples answers to that question are astonishingly different. yet we tend to assume when we talk about 'the gospel' that we are talking about the same thing!...


tim i love the phrase liminal travellers - did you just make that up?!....

i undrestand that it is a lonely journey - it often feels like that.. i've just got back from the emergent women leaders breakfast - that was a very hopeful moment. let them run the whole conference!!!! but yes i've met some kindred spirits. karen ward, spencer burke are two whom i have felt a real kindred spirit with but there are others. i need to compose my thoughts more before offering wider reflections but i will do that in due course... keep on keeping on


You aren't alone, Jonny.

Last month, the International Sabeel Conference met for five days in Jerusalem. The final statement of the Conference rejected "the heretical teachings of Christian Zionism" that, in its extreme form, "places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ's love and justice."

You can read more about it, with links to the statement and a full report of the conference, here;



Hey, Jonny,
Just about Noah and the Rapture = My view is that the passage which has the words "as it was in the days of Noah" was not talking about the rapture per se, or who was left, or the Ark,it was speaking about judgement - ie: people will be judged to see who is able to enter the kingdom.
So the question is not "who got taken in the day of Noah" but "who were "taken away" into judgement.

That puts it into context the way it was written to be. The passage then goes ont talk about Sodom and Lots wife - hence "in the days of Noah" It's not just about the Ark -OK?


I think this might be the article you're referring to, Jonny:

And thanks for your comments, and everyone elses.


I'm concerned that pride will be the downfall of the Emergent Church movement. I'm sure we've all felt it (reading a book or listening to a preacher and, instead of trying to glean some meaning from it we stick our noses in the air and tsk tsk about how they are stuck in the modern era or backward theology).

I have read nothing in particular in this strain with which I can say I disagree, but I worry that we are not gracious in our criticism of our brothers and sisters' work. If we can redeem Kill Bill, can't we find anything good to say about Left Behind?

At Chapel Hill Bible Church we are just starting to get people interested in embracing some of the emergent church sensibilities. I was speaking today with somebody who was keeping up with the convention by reading some of the blogs. His very first response was "boy, these people really seem to think the rest of the church is stupid." It was a real turnoff to him, as it should be.

The leaders of the movement (McLaren, Pagitt, Keel, etc.) have been great examples of humility in my view. I'm more worried about the rank and file. We're not doing this to be cool, are we?

Mark Closson

I couldn't agree more with these posts. N.T. Wright has spoken on this subject alot. I highly recommend his books (even though some are HUGE) and also his lectures at regent college on Creation & New Creation.


are these lectures available online?...

Mark Closson

I must agree with these posts. The current rapture theology is in my opinion doing more damage that many realize. I am in love with N.T. Wright's lectures at Regent college on Creation & New Creation. Our plausibility structures need to constructed around New Creation and the (re)new[ed] world.

Midrash Creed

What you did'nt mention was the need for Christian Theology to go back to its first century Jewish roots or to recover the kind of sysyamatic approach summarised in the Leeds Creed, found my weeb site at, www.geocities.com/midrashcreed


i think that while there is obviously value in relating to first century christian faith and practice, it's also a flawed strategy... we are not first century palestine. our challenge is how to relate the faith into our own cultural situations. albeit drawing from the wisdom of the church fathers and mothers....


Actually, Noah and his family got taken off the earth. They were led into the Ark. This fits in with the classical view of who is taken in Matthew 24, and fits comfortably with 1 Thes 4:17

Willard Lavonne

I'm curious to know if anyone has read a recent novel called The Last Disciple, by Hank Hanegraaff. One foundational premise is that Revelation was written before the fall of the temple in A.D. 70, a viewpoint with historical credibility than many theologians chose to reject because it doesn't fit their theology. This premise sheds an entirely new light on interpreting Revelation, and directly challenges the theology of the Left Behind series. Go to decipherthecode.com to read how faulty and literal interpretion of the John's vision can lead to dualism and negates the resurrection claim of Christianity, as was done in Left Behind's book The Indwelling.


Am reading the book --The Last Disciple. I am finding that I agree with the idea that Revelation was written before the destrution of the temple in A.D.70. Like Hank saids on his talk show--there are over 400 verses in the book of Revelation & more than half of them deal with prophecies out of the Old testament. If you don' know the O.T. than you can't understand or comprehend what the book of Revelation is saying.


Uh, Can we leave Escapology out of your discussions. I am an actual Escapologist (Entertainer) and I dont think that the term is meant to be used in your explaination here as Escapology has nothing to do with any of these Theories. I dont use your religious words in degrading ways please do not use our entertainment words to degrade something that has nothing to do with us.



I have read transforming vision and the book of revelation and I believe that either one can seriously change ones world view, but both require some unravelling. One thing, however, I struggle with is this constant 'them and us' thing we christians love to keep going...the just & the unjust, the escapologist and the non escapologists, christian and non christian. The world is not over yet, Gods love is still active and I hope it will result in this sad world being restored to it's former glory and everyone who lives and has ever lived too. Don't forget that theology is the study of God not the box he lives in.


Written to provoke comments :I an a European but if I was an American maybe I too would find books like 'Left behind' comforting as the alternative would mean having to face up to the fact that rest of the world either fears you or looks upon you as a nation of overwieght sheep bleeting about the need for a worldwide democracy that you haven't yet perfected yourselves yet feel the need to force on other cultures older and often wiser than your own.

Secret Rapture

My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions!

At: http://www.angelfire.com/crazy/spaceman/

Your jaw will drop!

eschatology,End Times,second coming,rapture,secret rapture,Second Resurrection,Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead,
End of Days,Day of the Lord,Endtime,Judgment Day

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