Paul's Passing Thoughts

Rapture Fever – Guest Writer, John Immel

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 24, 2017

I was 17, (I think) at Fishnet, a Christian Woodstock, when I had my first serious conversation about end-time theology. I had that conversation with Hal Lindsey, a preacher who has made his living packaging and repackaging all things Second Coming. If memory serves I disagreed with his reading of a passage in Daniel. He was less than amused; he was the authority and I . . . wasn’t. My peon public objection was a threat to his livelihood. Preachers can never tolerate such things.

Back then I was under the delusion that preachers wanted to talk about the truth, about the ideas that shaped doctrine. It took me a long time to figure out preachers never have that motive. Certainly, had I understood this truth, Hal’s reaction to my question wouldn’t have surprised me.

Since I’m a hard-headed soul the interaction at Fishnet wasn’t the last unwelcome doctrinal conversation I would have with preachers and certainly not the last discussion about “biblical” eschatology.

(Eschatology, for those of you who don’t know, is the formal term for the Rapture, or End Time things.)

Anyway, the next notable time I entered this Rapture fray was during college: 1988 to be exact. A guy by the name of Edgar C. Whisenant, published a book titled: 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.

The book was garbage but it still took the country by storm. (If Wikipedia is to be believed, it sold 4.5 million copies.) True story. I visited a friend of mine from college in Virginia and when her mother (we’ll, call her Mrs. H) heard me reject Whisenant’s book she cried for two days. Mrs. H. started praying and fasting to save my soul and read from 88 Reasons Why . . . every couple of hours to persuade me. When that didn’t work Mrs. H. gave me a Pre-Millennial systematic theology book by Dwight L. Pentecost. I pulled out of the driveway with Mr. H begging me to recant lest I be left behind.

So, you can imagine that if the country at large had this kind of emotional investment, the veritable belt buckle of the Bible Belt in Tulsa Oklahoma at ORU, my university of choice, was sweat soaked infestation: Rapture Fever burned across the quad in South Tulsa, like Pentecostal wild fire.

As a budding Theology student, and as an eager member of the ORU School of Theology, I joined the general academic outcry against the madness. A great college friend Bret Nicolson, now a pastor in Evansville Indiana, and I spent HOURS, in our ORU dorm rooms, arguing the merits and doctrines of the Rapture madness. Those many musings eventually culminated in me doing my Senior thesis on the subject. I titled the paper: “Are We Getting Out of This Place or Not.” Dr. Autry was not amused. The upside was, the Dwight L. Pentecost book was a primary source for my rebuttal. Mrs. H. if you are reading this, thanks. And oh, . . . told you so.

>snicker<

Anyway, in 1988 the furor over the Rapture was new to me, but now I’m older and a LOT wiser. Rapture Fever infects the masses about every decade or so. Resurfacing again in my life time in 1995 when the world was treated to the Tim LaHay, Left Behind series. Just for the record, the only thing that got left behind in the books and movies was any respectable biblical exegesis and acting. But hey, he sold a LOT of books: 65 Million copies.

(Evidently the Rapture is a growth business.)

And the next one that comes to mind was Herold Camping who said that May 24th 2011 was the day that big J was gonna whisk everyone away.

(Do you like how I did all that alliteration. That was kinda fun)

And then in 2017 there was an eclipse and Jesus is supposed to be coming back . . . again.

And of course, He didn’t. He hasn’t and he’s not this year, not next, or the one after that or the one after that. (Mark my words. If not I’ll be glad to say I told you so). But that won’t stop LOTS of people from making really, really bad life choices even in the face of insurmountable evidence that whomever is making the prediction the day or hour or year will be WRONG.

So how can this be? How can ostensibly, intelligent, 21st century people, with a full grasp of reality in 95% of their life get so screwed up in the other 5%.

Where does this Rapture Fever come from? And why does it cycle with such consistency?

I’ll tell you but, like Hal Lindsey and Mrs. H. and a host of other people I’ve encountered when talking about this subject, you won’t like the answer.

Spoiler alert. I’m gonna rip off the band aid.

The rise of Rapture doctrine is inversely proportional to social/political chaos.

Or said another way, the more people feel uncertain about the future the more helpless they feel in dealing with reality, the more they abandon reality and look for a way to escape.

Or said another way, the feebler people feel, the more they yearn for someone to erase reality.

Or said another way, the Rapture, the longing for the return of Jesus, is an existential punt.

I told you, you wouldn’t like it.

And we have seen this existential punt, drawn through history like a standing wave, cycling above and below the line as cultures and nations ebb and flow through civil stability and unrest.

And do you want to hear the real punchline to the joke: The cycle is exacerbated by historic Christian doctrines. The roots of Christian doctrine come from St. Augustine merging 2nd century Christianity with 3rd century Platonism. 90% of what you hear in church today, in the 21st century, is Augustine, which really means you’re listening to Plato.

Hey, don’t shoot the messenger. You can find this stuff out yourself in about 2 hours with that cool answer box called Google. Just think, I spent a LOT of money 20 years ago, to learn this stuff. You can get it for free.

Anyway, Augustinian dogmas turned the world into an insurmountably evil place, inhabited by a metaphysical aberration called Man and dubbed the cosmos malevolent.  The height of this worldview is in the Dark Ages: the Dark Ages were dark in principle because people during that time took Augustine seriously and the result was a nightmare come to life. Thankfully, the world was pulled out of the madness by Thomas Aquinas: he reintroduced Aristotle to the world, and within 400 years the Enlightenment sparked the Age of Reason, that culminated in the American Constitution. Political freedom released the human mind to thrive and soon the world was filled with light: the cosmos was intelligible, knowable and benevolent. And for a while, it seemed that Augustinian doctrines would slide into the primordial ooze like so many disastrous ideologies that came before.

“John, you are crazy! Your great learning is driving you insane! I don’t listen to Augustine, I listen to my preacher and he reads the BIBLE! He’s always telling me about the good that God does.”

Hold on there, Festus. I get it. I’m Dorothy pulling the curtain back revealing the man pulling the very real, very tangible levers. I’m that punk in 4th grade who told you that Santa Clause wasn’t real and it was mom and dad that put the presents under the tree. You might not like it but that doesn’t change the truth.

The intellectual pedigree goes like this (assuming you are a Protestant) Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Reformed Theology—a bunch of 17th century thinkers—the 20th century resurgence of Calvinism, your pastor. There isn’t any preacher in America that hasn’t been affected by the resurgence of these doctrines. And I’d bet money that for every time that preacher tells you about the “good” he hedges and fudges with three times the reiteration of your sin, and depravity and guilt, and weakness.

And so here we are in the 21st century, being fed a steady diet of metaphysical gloom and doom and the name of Christian righteousness. The more Augustinian doctrines of self-doubt and human impotence overtake a cultural mind the more people pine for a world that is not this world.

So, there you have it. Go to church on Sunday and hear how wretched you are, how bad the world is, how evil life is. Watch the news. Watch America—the single most amazing political achievement in human history—tearing itself apart; watch people do evil and call it good, do crazy things and call it sane. It is enough to make grown people turn to alcohol or religion. Any religion. Any mysticism that can show them how to get away from reality.

You think I’m being cynical?

Nope. Just making an observation.

The problem is that the very doctrines people turn to for comfort and hope are the same doctrines that affirm reality is an evil chaotic place that no man can tame or grasp.

Now you can follow the progression to Rapture Fever:

  • As the cycle of social unrest increases social instability, the more people go to mystical sources to find “answers.”
  • Preachers tell everyone that this world is evil and everyone is sinfully incompetent.
  • Psychological impotence grows in its own echo chamber of despair.
  • Eventually people accept the premise and punt.

Alakazam Poof! The Edgar C. Whisenant’s and the Tim LaHay’s and the Harold Camping’s of the world seem like the clarion call of sanity. Their voices affirm people’s greatest fears and satisfy their greatest hopes. Men will sell their souls for a glimpse of stability so if someone claims a special ability to reveal a new reality, they will lobotomize themselves to wipe out what they feel they have no power to master.

My greatest objection to Rapture doctrine has little to do with when it will or won’t happen. My objection has always been against the underlying attitude: the wholesale abdication of civil responsibility. It is much easier to breathe portents of divine retribution and pretend you will be somewhere else when the bad #$%@ happens.

It sounds Churchy for preachers to thump their Plexiglass podiums while reading the book of the Revelation and ranting about God pouring out Fire and Fury against whomever violates their moral sensibilities. But in the end it is all posturing. People infected with Rapture Fever have no intention of taking any action, responsibility, or initiative. “I’m getting out of here so I don’t care what happens next,” is their battle cry. They capitulate, pretending that the course of human events is beneath them. They abandon the responsibilities of self-government and flee the obligations of a representative republic without so much as a fair thee well. The result: they contribute to societal decline by sitting idly, waiting for a bus that never comes and then complain their world is turning to #$%@.

And it is for this abdication that those infested with Rapture Fever should be called to account by the doers, the able, the rational, the responsible, and the motivated.

Get in the game!

~ John Immel

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10 Responses

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  1. John J. said, on August 24, 2017 at 1:45 PM

    John Immel, the phrase “Christian Woodstock” hit me like a legal medically induced state of unconsciousness, aka as general anesthesia. I vividly saw the pretty theatre assistant in her green face mask asking me to count down from ten to one. “No problem,’ I said, “In which language?” I added confidently, reminding myself to get her name post-op. “I speak three languages: English, Fren….zzzzzzzzz.”

    And then there was nothing, but this song that came floating to me from the past (not from the future, that would be a prophecy, creepy, Gnostic like MacArthur, and silly). Its lyrics made no sense as the main character from Mars ate cars, bars, and eventually guitars and then the writers ran out of options and the song ended. But I got it, somehow.

    As much as I look forward to the rapture (with my luck, it will happen the day after I die in a skiing accident where there’s snow and no down- or uphill), I also enjoy the time in-between. The rapture has never scared me, and it should not be used as a scare tactic. That is cruel and a sly way of surrendering to forces you don’t want in your life. Yes, I do enjoy the in-between time which I use to tell others about Jesus, to learn more of God, to warn the clueless about the EVIL men and their evil ways, and to help heal those women who have been and who are being pummeled and almost destroyed physically, mentally, emotionally by Protestantism and all its different dungeon smells.

    Jesus may meet me in the air; that’s going to be great (bar the skiing accident), but it’s not the gospel or part thereof. It does not save you; did not save you, cannot save you unto eternal life. So, John, your pastor may have his hissy fit and destroy his Plexiglass podium to pieces. He’s acting.

    Oh, but since you mentioned Woodstock, this song is especially for you. It’s called “Rapture” by a band called Blondie whose lead singer was blonde. Too many coincidences for me to handle.

    Thanks for a fine piece of writing, John Immel. Here’s Debbie:

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    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on August 24, 2017 at 2:11 PM

      John,

      Now you’ve got me nostalgic! The was one of the jams at the roller skating rink when I was growing up! You make me want to break out my skates.
      Man, I can hear the DJ now…
      “It’s time for a boogie skate! Boogie skate…advanced skaters only.”

      Thanks for the memories!
      LOL

      Like

  2. Susan said, on August 24, 2017 at 2:40 PM

    John,
    I don’t believe for a second that “the rapture” is going to happen. And when it doesn’t happen and things go to hell in a hand basket and all the “Christians” are still very much here on earth, how many “Christians” are going to turn away entirely from following Christ? I am betting a huge! number! The rapture and left behind books sell well, and men have made fortunes off of them. I am seriously expecting things to deteriorate even more.

    Think: the Great Depression 2.0 and Civil War 2.0 and World War III and throw in a few natural disasters (like San Andreas or New Madrid fault lines and famine (from the nuclear conflagration) and plague (from the Biological Warfare and/or from the unsanitary living conditions and contaminated water). In other words, I fully expect the people who are running the various governments of the world to create a literal hell on earth.

    I don’t mean to be the bearer of doom and gloom on a Thursday afternoon … but … that brings me to my next point. What in the world are the common people supposed to do about all of this? Voting doesn’t seem to matter (not that I can tell). Writing or calling your congress critter gets you a form letter response (or none at all). Protests and marches are turning into killing fields with vehicles as the new mode for mass murder.

    On a personal level, I can tell you my approach: making practical preparations in anticipation of societal collapse, boycotting select companies and retailers, cutting off main stream media and accessing alternative news sources, trying to awaken friends and neighbors (good luck with that! deep sigh!), withdrawing from the institutional church (I believe churches will be a killing field in the near future like in Egypt, Syria, etc.)

    Notes: I want nothing to do with the institutional church for many reasons other than I fear a terrorist attack/ massacre. I don’t attend because of truth in doctrine (or lack thereof). The vast majority of people in my circle are sound asleep. They don’t like what is happening, but they aren’t doing anything practical to prepare either. As for the “attacks”, I am beginning to think many of them are “staged, false flag, bought and paid for events.”

    Seriously, I don’t know what one is supposed to do about what is unfolding in our world.

    For example, I don’t want to see the US with continued involvement in Afghanistan, but I can write and call my representatives till the cows come home, but the poppy fields much be guarded, the oil must be mined and pipelines built and the rare earth metals must be harvested. The US government and Deep State are going to do as they damn well please, the people and the best interests of this country be damned.

    For example, I want to see ObamaDoesn’tCare repealed. It is a scam to benefit the insurance industry. Health insurance does not translate into health care. It is both unaffordable and inaccessible. Trump ran on the platform that he would repeal it. There is a Republican majority in both houses/ congressional bodies. Has ObamaDoesn’tCare been repealed? Absolutely not. It will collapse and then they will roll out Single Payor.

    Accountability, responsibility and involvement are all great ideas. And I think the monster has become such that until the entire rotten, corrupt, evil, demonic system collapses … there is little to do to turn it around. The USA is bankrupt — spiritually, financially, and morally. Perhaps there will come a time to rebuild (for those who survive), but I am not at all confident things can be turned around. Please, someone tell me I am wrong.

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    • John J. said, on August 24, 2017 at 3:52 PM

      Susan, how are you? As I’ve stated (if you were referring to this John and not the main dude, Immel. BTW, there are three Susans now. Let’s start using numbers), the rapture is not part of the gospel. The day I believed on the name of the Lord and He saved me there and then, I knew nothing about the rapture. My faith and eternal gratitude and joy have always been in the One who saved me (past tense) and not in the rapture or baptism or flavored wafers. There are so many different interpretations of future chronological events that it can easily distract us from the present. I mean really, I don’t care about that part of time: It’s pre-trib, post-trib, mid-trib, post-nasal drip, etc.

      It’s the now that matters. Let’s get those souls out of that thing called Protestantism; let’s set them on the one and only road to salvation; let’s live out God’s wonderful love in all the ways we can; let’s love one another (those who are the body of Christ). I don’t give a hoot about the “Left Behind” franchise (money-making hogwash) or any other “Christian” book that tries to steer us away from the only book we need. Let’s encourage and help one another. Those that’ll turn away from God will do so by their own choice, be it now or after the rapture, whether the rapture happens or not.

      I belong to my Father and nothing will or can separate me from Him. I know it’s the same with you, Susan. Hope your Thursday is a bit better. Tomorrow is Friday, so why don’t we take out our roller skates and skate into the first obstacle . . . just for fun? (I’ll fall before I put the second one on.)

      Much blessings to you, Susan.

      I did not want to, but I gave into temptation: Here’s the roller skate song (blame Andy). “Brand New Key”:

      Like

  3. johnimmel said, on August 24, 2017 at 3:55 PM

    Well, Susan, I won’t say you are wrong because you are not. All of the things you listed are reality. So we start with what we have. The fact is America is in a civil war. And at the moment there is only one side shooting.

    Don’t accept for a minute the lie that the Nazi’s is the political “right” and Antifa/Black Lives Matter is the political left. National socialists, communists, socialists, Fascists, the KKK and Democrats are ALL politically leftist, statists movements. They are all sub factions of the same quest for dictatorial power, fighting over the same turf.

    (And i’m about 80% sure the violence in Charlotsville was staged/fomented until someone got caught up in the blood lust)

    What we witnessing now is the fact that those who love liberty and are defenders of the Constitution and limited government are sitting on the sidelines, still playing by the agreed upon social contract. We are still holding out the hope that the people in Washington will figure out that the Constitution protects them from the people as much as it protect the people from government. The story of Maximilien Robespierre, the French Revolution and the guillotine is a cautionary tale that Senators, Congressmen, Judges and the “Deep State” should take to heart. History makes it very clear how a coup is put down.

    So what do you do? The answer is simple: start with reality and leverage the tools you have. Keep talking, keep advocating the fundamental principles of liberty and when the time comes . . . we’ll take Thomas Jefferson’s line seriously . . .

    “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it . . .”

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    • Susan said, on August 24, 2017 at 7:14 PM

      There is an interview on Z3News — purportedly an eyewitness to Charlotsville that is very interesting. It goes against the official media narrative. Z3 is a Protestant Prophesy/ News/ Charismatic type of website. Disclaimer: There is lots and lots that I do not agree with on that site; that being said, it has some interesting things from time to time and what I reference above is A VERY INTERESTING THING. I think this information needs to get out there to every nook and cranny of the internet.

      If correct: the witness says there were six buses of “protestors” brought into town. AntiFA and KKK were on the same buses. The witness was eating at a local restaurant and the people inside (including kids and elderly) were herded out of the eatery and into an alleyway. The police prevented safe passage/ escape — and these folks were set upon by these thugs. Prior to the supposed “protest” the people of the community had voted on removal or not of the Confederate statutes — 80% to 20% to keep the statutes. City Council overruled them.

      It is frightening. Also, on alternative media — Investment Watch Blog — is a letter from the parents of the kid (about 23 years old) who supposedly tried to detonate an vehicle filled with explosives at a local bank (in KS or OK). He was arrested by the FBI and charged with terrorism. The parents lay it all out. They say that their son is schizophrenic/ paranoid and is easily influenced by others. The parents know who the “informant” is (a local criminal/ drug dealer) and the father had ordered this individual off of his property and to not see his son again.

      The entire situation sounds like a set up. If what the parents say is true, it is deplorable — no downright evil — on the part of law enforcement. (I will reserve judgment, but it doesn’t paint the FBI in a good light at all.) The kid who was arrested has no bank account, no driver’s license, does not work, lives at home, and is totally dependent upon his parents. He has had multiple admissions to a psychiatric hospital. The parents are this young man’s guardians. But basically, apart for the FBI and the informant, there would be no “crime.”

      Yes, only one side is “shooting” right now. I think what is being attempted is a “soft coup”. There are evil men (and women) who are trying very hard to spark a civil war and to get the “other side” to begin shooting. That would be a mistake. I hope the folks who have acted in restraint are smart enough to know that this type of thing can’t be fought and won directly. I think it will take “lone wolf” types that are completely off the radar who target the real perpetrators/ puppeteers. The BLM, AntiFa and KKK folks are just useful idiots and canon fodder.

      I am not too worried about three Susan’s on the site. I write distinctively. I don’t like the idea of a number, but I might consider changing my handle to “Bailey and Nash” OR “3 Dog Night”. I had three dogs for years but at the moment I only have two (the aforementioned Bailey and Nash). Any votes either way?

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      • John #2 said, on August 24, 2017 at 10:06 PM

        Susan, the proposal of allocating numbers to all Susans was my attempt at being pragmatically challenged. You should then actually be “Two Dog Night,” but still able to bring joy to the fishes and the deep blue sea.
        Blessings.

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      • Republican mother said, on August 25, 2017 at 7:32 AM

        Also intersting is that the Charlottesville incident coincided with George Soro’s 87th birthday. What a present!

        Back when I had free time, I used to blog on these subjects ie. Government entrapment of vulnerable people to them take away rights. I wondered why people in the church weren’t interested, but John lays out in the article why that is.

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  4. Republican mother said, on August 24, 2017 at 6:31 PM

    I agree that our country could have never gotten off the ground with Christians like we have today. I believe the rapture will happen eventually, but not after many plot twists. On an earlier post, John commented how his Calvinist friend had gone full New Age. I do enjoy listening to Pastor Charles Lawson out of Knoxville because he preached on the “fun stuff”: CERN, the new age, transhumanism, the banking system, and being born again: PRAISE GOD!!!! I used to go to a sister church where I was forever immunized against the reformed movement (they taught me how not to take crap from anybody who doesn’t teach the new birth). My oldest daughter came to faith there and I was taught about grammatical Bible interpretation.

    Anyway, it was 2nd grade when I spread the truth about Santa. I learned early that people don’t want to hear the truth. Also, my roller skating song is Hungry Eyes. It was playing every time I went to the rink when I was learning to skate.

    Thanks for a great article John!

    Like

  5. Susan said, on August 24, 2017 at 7:29 PM

    And John, I take all of this very seriously. By the way, the jury in the Bundy Ranch trial has either acquitted or deadlocked on all criminal charges against the defendants. (I think there were a couple of relatively minor charges from the earlier trial that the defendants were found guilty of.) This latest verdict is a result of a retrial, and from the little (very little) media coverage it has been given, it sounds as the court proceedings themselves were “unusual”. Folks aren’t stupid. The people in that area know what is going down and I imagine they don’t like it at all. Can we spell “jury nullification”? Yes, we can. Hopefully the prosecutors are smart enough to let this thing go after two trials. I would not want to be one of the government lawyers living in that community!

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