Deconstructing the rapture


From the blog "Experimental Theology" comes an amusing deconstruction of the theology of the rapture, titled "Why the Antichrist is an Idiot". Using the "Left Behind" series as a starting point, blogger Richard Beck points out the absurdity of the notion that events in our near future are being dictated from ancient biblical prophecy. In the "Left Behind Series", the character of the Antichrist is named Nicolae Carpathia:

What bothers me is that Nicolae Carpathia, the anti-Christ, starts following the End Times script to the letter. The Bible prophesies that the anti-Christ will do X. And Nicolae Carpathia does X. The Bible prophesies that the anti-Christ will do Y. And Nicolae Carpathia, monotonously and predictably, does Y.

And I'm thinking, is the anti-Christ a complete idiot?

Because either the anti-Christ is a deterministic automaton, slavishly following the End Times predictions of the Bible, or he's a complete moron. It's really one or the other.

Let's assume he's a moron. Why do I draw this conclusion? Well, first, if I was the anti-Christ I would take the time to read the book of Revelation. Shoot, I'd take the time to get a Ph.D. in New Testament apocalyptic literature. Why wouldn't you? I mean, the opposing team just handed you the play book. At the very least the anti-Christ should sit down and watch the End Times 101 educational video left behind at New Hope church.

Think about it. How could the anti-Christ NOT know he's going to fight a battle at Armageddon? Has he not seen any Hollywood movies? This whole battle is a part of pop-culture. He's got to know.

So you have to figure, on the eve of the battle, that he might think back on his whole life, where each step has been predicted in perfect detail, and wonder, "Hmmmm. Maybe I shouldn't fight this battle tomorrow on the plains of Armageddon. Seems like a bad idea. Maybe I should, well, CHANGE TACTICS! Fight the battle somewhere else. Like Boise, Idaho."
The automaton idea reminds me of that old episode from the original Star Trek series where some of the crew of the Enterprise are forced to reenact the gunfight at the OK Corral. Because the historical gunfight played out a certain way, the crew of the Enterprise were forced to reenact it the same way. One could envision that it is possible that the Antichrist wants to do something different than what is foretold, but God, like the aliens in that television show, makes him do it anyway! In the Star Trek episode, every time Kirk and Spock and crew tried to do something different than what happened in the historical gunfight, the aliens who put them there just forced them against their will to follow the script. When the crew decided they would refuse to show up at the OK Corral at the appointed time, they were just magically whisked there anyway. So maybe the Antichrist is like Captain Kirk in that Star Trek episode--in which case he is apparently just enacting a giant drama for God's personal amusement. (Fortunately for the Enterprise crew, Spock figured out that it was all an illusion and gave everyone a Vulcan mind meld.)

This whole nonsense of the rapture being deduced from biblical prophecy does bring to mind the sort of philosophical problems that can arise when foreknowledge runs up against free will. Both open theism and process theology posit that God does not know for certain how the future will play out, because the universe's free will lies even beyond God's foreknowledge. But even aside from that question, there is the problem that if God spills the beans and tells us what is going to happen, how could that not actually influence the future in some way? This is a sort of time-traveling variant on Heisenberg's uncertainty principle; it seems like it would be impossible to be known by others to accurately predict the future without actually affecting the future that you predict. This business of time travel paradoxes has been fodder for lots of science fiction stories.


Grace said...

I have to admit this is pretty funny, Mystical. I'll have to run it all past my dispensationalist friends to see what they think. Why doesn't the antichrist take the hint? (laughing)

Mystical, you must give your fundamentalist friends and relatives a real run for their theological money. I'll tell you, I would like to be a fly on the wall for some of those discussions. :)

God bless!