In the first place, we would have it distinctly understood that, in our ecclesiastical capacity, we are neither the friends nor the foes of slavery; that is to say, we have no commission either to propagate or abolish it. The policy of its existence is a question which exclusively belongs to the state. We have no right, as a church to enjoin it as a duty, or condemn it as a sin…The social, civil, political problems connected with this subject transcend our sphere, as God has not entrusted to his Church the organization of society, nor the allotment of individuals to their various stations.
Refusal to address that heresy is an embarrassment which continues until this day.
Also, I think of the heresy of nationalism. I have never been comfortable with putting the American flag in the sanctuary because it seems almost inevitable for the average member of my congregations to identify the mission of the church with the success of
. They quote, ”My country, right or wrong.”
However, they seldom quote the rest of it,
“My country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right, when wrong, to
be made right” The failure of the church
to address the unchristian actions of the United States has allowed such ungodly
policies as condoning torture, tolerating poverty and polluting the atmosphere. Not only will the church’s silence on these
matters lead to the downfall of America ,
it will eventually corrode the soul of the church. America
Heresies abound, and the church has survived them. However, it is painful to see the church so anemic when facing the heresy of Zionism. I am not thinking of the five million Jewish Zionists. That is a Jewish heresy, but that is a problem to be addressed by the Jewish community. I have in mind the fifty million so called Christian Zionists, the CZs, who are far more Z then C., those who support the state of Israel, right or wrong. More specifically, they promote the idea that God gave Palestine to the Jews, therefore anything Israel does to claim that divine donation is of God, including the theft of land and water, robbing Palestinians of their livelihood and dignity, and the indiscriminate bombing of unarmed civilian men, women and children. I fear that after the Palestinians have been wiped out, all the church will have left is a guilty conscience and our children asking us, “How could you have let it happen?” It will not do to simply say, “We did not know.”
Stephen Sizar, author of several books on Christian Zionism says:
It is my conclusion after more than 10 years of postgraduate research that Christian Zionism is the largest, most controversial and most destructive lobby within Christianity. It bears primary responsibility for perpetuating tensions in the Middle East, justifying
Israel’s apartheid colonialist agenda and for
undermining the peace process between and the Palestinians. Israel
And it is all based on the heresy of Rapture Theology. So:
WHAT IS RAPTURE THEOLOGY?
I start by confessing that I am neither a Biblical scholar nor a church historian. But, one does not have to be an expert to recognize the danger of the Rapture Theology promoted by the Christian Zionists.
Most Christians had never heard of Rapture Theology until very recently. Suddenly, it seems that the mega-television churches have become afflicted with a terminal case of “end of the world” madness.
According to the CZs, (Christian Zionists) seven weeks before the second coming and final judgment, true Christians will be “raptured up to heaven.” From there, they will watch those left behind suffer “tribulation” and war as the tribulation army will fight against the anti-Christ, usually defined as Obama, Khrushchev, the United Nations or more recently, Islam. After seven years, Jesus will return to
to fight the
great battle of Armageddon. Of course, Jesus wins and rules for a thousand years from
his throne in Jerusalem ,
at which time, every person gets judged. Most of “them” will go to hell. Jerusalem
HOW AND WHEN DID THIS GET STARTED?
In 1882, a man named John Nelson Darby, after finding little success in
Britain, came to during
the time of the “Great Awakening.” He preached that God has two people, Jews
and Christians, but only one, the Jews, has an everlasting covenant with
God. That in itself would have been
harmless enough, but Darby goes on to proclaim that Jesus will return twice,
first to rapture his true believers to safety and then to war with the anti-Christ.
After his victory, Jesus will rule from America
for a thousand years before the final judgment.
I hasten to point out that no
where do our Christian creeds or the Bible
describe Jesus as returning twice. So, where did Darby get his information? Jerusalem
He claims that it came from I Thessalonians 4:16-17.
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.
The believers of Thessalonica were concerned about their loved ones who were already dead and what will happen to them when Jesus returns? Paul says, Not to worry. Then like declaring a doxology, he explains, They will rise first, to meet Jesus in the air, then it will be our turn.
What the CZs fail to point out is that there is no suggestion in this, or any other Biblical text, that Jesus gathers a crowd unto himself and reverses direction. It was the custom in those days to go out and meet a king, a dignitary, or bridegroom (Mt. 25:6, Acts 28) and escort him into the city. But, they never changed directions and go off with their king.
Most significantly, Darby’s goal is for Christians to escape the world and its problems, not to redeem it. To him, the role of Jesus is to judge sinners, not forgive them. For 1800 years, no Christian theologian ever saw this “coming in two stages.”
In 1909, Cyrus Scofield came out with his Bible, complete with footnotes supporting Rapture Theology. Scofield saw the Bible as composed of seven water tight eras which he called dispensations. We are now living in the sixth department. In fact, the church, according to Scofield’s footnotes, is but a parenthesis, no longer relevant when the rapture occurs.
Then, in 1970, Hal Lindsey shocked the Christian world with his book, The Late Great Planet Earth. Lindsey was absolutely certain that the rapture was just around the corner and that
was its focus. How did he know? He took
three verses out of Matthew. Israel
From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branches becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (24: 32-35).
Wow!, said Lindsey. The fig tree must mean
Israel, and by tender branches, Matthew must be
referring to the establishment of the state of in 1948. Thus, Israel is the
fulfillment of Biblical prophesy. If a generation can be thought of as 40
years, that means that the rapture, with Jesus coming to Israel , will take place in 1988. He sold millions of copies. When
1988 passed without the rapture, he simply revised his timetable and sold more
books identifying Jerusalem
as the anti-Christ. Today, he says the
anti-Christ is an Arab and that the rapture is "coming soon". Russia
More recently, in the 1990s, the Left Behind, series by Tim LaHaye, hit the marketselling 64 million copies. You can still go into any book store and ask for Left Behind
The sales person will say, “Of course, we have them. The fiction department is right over
there.” Not only is LaHaye’s book fiction, his theology is also fiction. The word rapture
is found no where in the Old or New Testaments. Look to the signs, he says; wars,
tsunami, Katrina, militarism and
John Hagee, is quoted as saying, “God’s plan is to destroy the earth and there is nothing we can do to stop it”Hal Lindsey, “I grieve over the lost world. Our hope is in the Rapture”“
Jack Van Impe, “Armageddon cannot be avoided.”
Rapture Theology does not make the world better. It seeks to save a chosen few out of the world. Look at all of the above and you will find little concern for the poor. Some even oppose welfare ministries as being contrary to God’s plan.
Matthew tells of two men working in the field, suddenly one is taken and the other is left behind. But what the CZs fail to acknowledge is that the one taken was taken in judgment. (14:39-42) Being “left behind” is actually the desired fate. Being “taken” would mean being carried off by dark forces like a death squad.
There is no Biblical teaching that the church will be raptured off the earth before Jesus comes to
. Tim LaHaye,
points out that the last time the church is mentioned in the Book of
Revelation is in chapter 4, verse 1.
Therefore he concludes that the church must have been raptured. However, “saints” are very much present
throughout the entire book. Israel
In fact, the basic message of the Book of Revelation is that God hears the cry of the “saints,” and will come to them.
The entire Bible is about justice, not about stealing land and water from Palestinians. The Book of Revelation pulls back the curtain on Roman power and attacks Roman oppression. It was written for the little people and it warns us of the consequences of failing to feed the hungry and defend the oppressed. The prophets condemned injustice and greed. They advocated for the poor and widows. They did not proclaim a play by play of the future judgments of God.
Many point out that the Book of Revelation is about a Lamb who conquered by shedding his own blood, not shedding the blood of others, it’s about terror defeated, not terror inflicted.
While dispensationalists make the claim that raptured saints are part of the “army of heaven” that returns to earth with Jesus to fight in Revelation 19:14 in what they call the “Glorious Appearing,” this claim is not substantiated in Revelation… and amazingly, no actual attack or war is ever pictured.
Daniel 9:25-27 says that when the anointed one comes, “sacrifices shall cease.” Again, the CZs reason that for sacrifices to cease, they must, in fact, be taking place. They declare that everyone knows that the only proper place for a Jew to make a sacrifice is in the temple in
. But, the temple was destroyed by the Romans in
70CE. Thus, for Jesus to come again, the
temple must be rebuilt and it must be rebuilt on the temple mount on the exact
spot where Muslims now worship in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. So, we hear conversations about destroying
the Dome of the Rock and building another temple so Jesus will have a landing
place in Jerusalem .
Some CZ churches actually send money to a group called the “Temple Mount
Faithful,” who are committed to doing exactly that, to blowing up the Islamic
Mosque in Jerusalem ,
even at the risk of a Third World War. We
also hear our politicians declaring that Jerusalem Jerusalem
must never be divided and let’s move the US Embassy to .
It’s OK to keep three million Palestinians under brutal occupation,
create the largest refugee population on earth, steal land and water, kill and
drive out native Palestinians, it’s all a matter of prophesy. (or campaign
Christian Zionists make numerous tours to the “
Holy land” every year and never talk to a Palestinian, not
even to a fellow Christian.
WE SHOULD BE OUTRAGED.
Why? Because this heresy is driving our
foreign policy U.S.
Yet, Fifty million CZs claim to be speaking for real Christianity as they promote Rapture Theology. The question is, can the church survive 50 million heretics? Probably, but the Palestinians certainly will not. And what will we be worth, if we do and they don’t?
Thomas L. AreOctober 24, 2013
 Maurice W. Armstrong, Lefferts A. Loetcher, and Charles A. Anderson, ed., The Presbyterian
: Source of American Presbyterian
History, (Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1961) p. 215 Enterprise
 Stephen Sizar, Christan Zionism: The New Heresy that Undermines
Middle East peace. (See www.stephensizer.com)
 See Barbara Rossing, The Rapture Exposed. (Basic Books, 2004) p. p. 121.