I’d like to add a little levity back into this forum by taking a moment to turn away from the tedious subject of re-recounts, to touch once again upon my eternal torment.. No, I’m not talking about reading the comments on (un)Sound Politics… I’m talking about the widespread belief that upon Christ’s imminent return, I shall be cast wailing and screaming into the pits of Hell.
When I last wrote on this subject a couple weeks back (“Have you heard the good news? I’m going to Hell!“), I generated some thoughtful and not-so-thoughtful criticism, ranging from those who accused me of demonizing Christians, to those who bluntly stated that the “truth hurts,” I am going to Hell.
But the critique to which I gave the most consideration was that I had misinterpreted Revelations. The truth is, I’ve only read the New Testament once, and that was twenty years ago for an Ethno-History class in college. And so I read with great fascination Tim Appelo’s cover story in the current Seattle Weekly: “Is Bush the Antichrist?”
Appelo delves into the history of the Antichrist and modern apocalyptic theology that I was only peripherally aware of. But while Appelo makes it clear that these themes are not part of main stream Christian theology — and Rev. Rich Lang of Seattle’s Trinity United Methodist Church goes so far as to make accusations of “heresy” — it is hard for me to dismiss these “heretics”, knowing that they control the White House.
“The progressive church should bring back–and this sounds so crazy–the word ‘heresy.’ The end times theology and this other thing called Dominionism or Christian Reconstruction–those are heresies.” Lang says not to believe Christian Coalition leader–turned–Whore of Enron–turned Bush/Cheney campaign lieutenant Ralph Reed when he claims the Christian right has no plans to upend the Constitution and impose its religion on civic life. “He’s a liar,” says Lang. “Dominionism is the notion that God has given the dominion, the governance of the world, to the church. And so Christians literally are born to rule, by force if necessary, to bring the Kingdom of God on Earth. I believe that the theology that drives the Bush administration affirms this.” When Falwell preached, “We must take back what is rightfully ours,” his ambitions did not stop at U.S. borders. This is a Church of a Law Unto Itself.
Years ago, after an especially harrowing driving experience in Boston, that involved my (now ex-)wife angrily driving the wrong way up a freeway exit, she turned to me and said, “I put the fear of God into you didn’t I?” To which I shakily replied: “It’s not God I’m afraid of.”
That is also my reaction to those Evangelicals so enraptured with The Rapture, so eager to leave people like me behind to our imminent and eternal damnation. I do not, cannot, will not accept Christ as my savior. If these people so fervently believe that I will be punished for this sin in the next world, how can I expect them to respect my rights as an American in this world?
Dismiss them as wacky cultists, whose time will pass, if you wish. Just remember that 2000 years ago, that’s what my Jewish ancestors probably said about the early Christians.