So I just finished Barbara R. Rossing Book The Rapture Exposed. WOW! I’m not usually one to revert to such vague expressions of excitement, but her book answered so many questions! In one of my early post I refer readers to investigate the possibility that the “Rapture” is a heretical teaching. However, in my own quest these sources only served as a accelerant in my quest for truth in this subject. So I stumbled across Rossing book and was curious in a very cautious way. Nonetheless, I decided read the book. I was worried the book would be judgmental and condescending in tone, authors who stand-alone in the wilderness often have this attitude. Yet, Rossing did not. Her book is very level headed and inviting. She does, admittedly direct many of her attacks against rapture enthusiasts Hal Linsey and Tim Layhe. In all fairness though they have set themselves up as the gurus of Bible Prophecy and End Times Chorology.
Not to give too much away, because I recommend the book to all, Rossing deals with the historical rise of dispensationalism beginning about 170 years ago with John Darby, and flourishing with the popularity of the Scottfeild Reference Bible. Rapture theology now permeates American Cuture, even our politics. But what I love about her book is that she doesn’t waste extensive time arguing the historical rise of dispensationalism, rather deals with Rapture theology head on, biblically, theologically, and its effects of culture and society. (Her epilogue debunks several of these “rapture” passage.) Yet, for me this book was much more than a theology against the Rapture. Rossings book was a theology for a complete and full unveiling of the character of God. One of the main points she affirms over and over again in her book, almost to the point of redundancy, is that revelation is a story of hope, where God comes to dwell with man on Earth amongst our pain and brokenness rather that snatching us always from reality.
Furthermore, as a pacifist, the book of revelation has always been a thorn in my theology against a violent militarist God who calls his people to war and kill evildoers. I can deal with the Old Testaments conquests, understanding the life and message of Jesus was inviting us to live in a new kingdom, the Kingdom of God. And as citizens of this new kingdom we are called to live under its rules, we are to live selflessly, peaceably, and worshiping God and loving others. The prophet Micah exclaims this new kingdom would be a place where its people took their instruments of war and turned them into instruments of cultivation and agriculture. And although the Kingdom of God is seen in tension between “already” here and “not yet” here we are invited citizens. Then, came the book of Revelation; this dark and gloomy, blood and guts, sadistic steamroller vision of God who comes to trample of the heads of the unrighteous in warlike fashion.
I had previously dealt with this issue by remarking God can do what ever he wants, but he has called us to live peaceable lives… This however, as true as it may be, stood in as a contradiction to a God who had previously came and suffered in nonviolent resistance. Why would the he in round two come back swinging?
This is what surprised me most about Rossing book. Rossing exposed the error in traditional views of the Book of Revelation. Revelation was not a God who is coming back to wage war with violence, but a God who has already won the war when the Lamb of God was slaying. Moreover, as followers we “conquer only by [our] testimony and faithfulness—not by making war or killing.”(pg 121) Rossing argues that the John paints a picture in revelation of a God who acts in every way contrary to the Roman militaristic way of life. The Kingdom of God is in fact upside down from the way the kingdom of this world operates. By submitting oneself self to death on the cross Jesus conquered the Kingdom of this world and made a public spectacle out of it. His death mocked the system of this world and stripped it of its power.
Revelation is not about a militaristic God, but a nonviolent God who loves the world, even enough to die for us and dwell among us forever.
Thank you so much Rossing. I read your book in two days… I could not put it down!
For everyone else out there please pick up the book and read it, even if you disagree with everything I have just said. If nothing else you’ll get a glimpse into the oppositions camp.