There’s a lot of chatter about Bible things.Rob Bell comes out with a book that purportedly brings into question where there is a real hell. (Haven’t actually read the book, so I can’t say what he in fact said… but Bashir’s interview kinda nails it I think.)
And then Stephen Hawking - who makes no claim to being a follower of Jesus - has said last week that there is no heaven. (Sounds like we’re trapped in the lyrics of a John Lennon song. Sigh.) But actually Hawking is saying there is no God. Nothing new for Hawking. He’s been making anti-God noise since at least 1988.
And now on Saturday May 21st, the destruction of planet earth is to begin with the Rapture of Jesus followers. A guy with money and influence is making noise about the destruction of the world and the catching away of Believers.
This all makes it extremely sticky for those of us who hold a high view of Scripture to keep our heads high and not look like a bunch of reactionary kooks. Or at least I find it difficult. I hate being bunched together with a bunch of embarrassing people.
And my main reason of difficulty is that I see Rob Bell and Harold Camping as brothers; part of the big Church family. Maybe they’re like the loony uncle or loser can’t-get-it-together cousin that you’re embarrassed by or concerned for, but nonetheless members of the family so you don’t want to say anything disparaging about them. Hey! They’re family. In some weird and sad way so are Rob and Harold and their loud and obnoxious followers.
For me the heaven/hell issue is a no-brainer. Because I put my faith in the literal really-happened life-death-resurrection-ascension of Jesus of Nazareth and accept that He’s not a myth, but the actual incarnate born-of-a-virgin Son of God and Messiah, I’m good. And for me it’s not about proof and Twenty-first century science trumping ancient texts. It’s a faith thing. I was needy and I put my faith in the saving acts of Jesus the Messiah. I’ve believed on a deep level that what the Bible says and the Creeds echo is true and worthy of my total devotion.
Simple. But complicated.
But then again when is faith not both simple and complicated in the same moment? Mark Twain said something like this, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t true.” But true faith is believing something that might not be provable in a time/space world with three dimensional limitations.
And true faith is as real as it can be. True faith is about spiritual things experienced in spiritual ways. Not very scientific, not very provable, but nonetheless very real.
And the Rapture/Doomsday scenario? I’m confident that this same Jesus that was taken up in the clouds will return in the same way. Someday, when we least expect it, but yet deeply long for it, Jesus shall return.
So, am I ready for Rapture, Heaven or Hell? Well, yes. I have placed my trust in the good news of Jesus that we find in the Gospels and was proclaimed by the Apostles and accepted by the early Church. I’m not ashamed of it; I’ve bet my life on it! I can say with the Apostle Paul, “Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”
My faith is simple but solid. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m confident with what I have. And I love Jesus with a genuine devotion and passion.
There. I said it,