Here Be Irreverence

Spiritual Smart Aleck

57

My older son in recent years has become a born-again atheist. The other night he posted an infomercial on Facebook that featured Jim Bakker selling buckets of freeze-dried food labeled “Staying Alive.” Bakker is marketing this product to evangelical Christians in case they get hungry in the End Times.

I thought, wait a minute, won’t they be raptured up before they get hungry?
In case you missed the class, the Rapture will sweep all Christians up into the air with Jesus, first the dead and then the living. There will be seven years of Tribulation, extremely hard times on earth. At the end of the Tribulation, there will begin the Millennium, a thousand years of heaven on earth, at the end of which the Final Judgment will occur.
Sometime in this process, Christ will come again.

As in all things church, there are disagreements about these events.

Does the Rapture occur before, during, or at the end of the Tribulation? Before Christ returns, or at the same time? Does Christ return before or after the Millennium? Is the Millennium literally one thousand years, or is it “a really long time?”

I am an Anglican. We believe the Millennium is now, and it will go on until the second coming of Christ. We do not subscribe to the doctrines of the Rapture or the Tribulation. Neither do the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Lutherans, or many Calvinists.

Anyway, Jim Bakker is making money from evangelical Christians who believe they will be hungry during the End Times, and my atheist son finds that hilarious.

FYI, back in the 1980s Jim and his then wife Tammy Faye had a televangelism empire. They made millions of dollars, had mansions and cars and an air-conditioned dog house, and they built a theme park called Heritage USA.

Alas, Jim was weak. He kept two different sets of books. He paid his secretary, Jessica Hahn, $290,000 hush money so she wouldn’t divulge that he and another pastor drugged and raped her.

The Assembly of God dropped him as a pastor in 1987. He was investigated, indicted, tried and convicted of mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy, and served almost five years of an eight-year sentence.

Tammy Faye divorced him and built a new life.
Bakker still owes the government $6 million, if you can believe the internet. He’s gone back to making money on television in the name of Jesus. Jim Bakker is the kind of person to whom my son points when he’s ranting about there being no God, and religion being evil.
I do not defend the perversions which have arisen from religion. I only point out that these perversions arise in the disarrayed minds and desires of human beings, not in the mind of God.
I speak of perversions ranging from Jim Bakker’s corruption to the horrible murders and atrocities that have been committed in the name of God, in Christianity and other religions, over the centuries. There are no excuses and I offer none.

Atheists often ask, “What kind of a God allows …?”

I think their point is that an all-wise, loving God would not allow war, famine, or diseases like ebola or AIDS, for example.

In my mind, I had to accept the randomness of creation – I don’t think everything is predestined. I think accidents happen. I think viruses are amoral, and like the boll weevil, are just looking for a home. I think that human beings are a chaotic mix of good and evil.
Human beings flatter themselves that they are the end-all and be-all of creation. “Made in God’s image,” and all.

Have you looked at the sky lately? Do you really think that we little scraps of DNA on this tiny rock are what everything is all about? If you truly believe in God, and that God created everything, and you realize that we human beings are incapable of wrapping our heads around everything, do you really think we’re the main act in the circus?

Maybe in God’s mind we’re on a par with viruses and trees and dogs. Maybe God’s true image is a Golden Retriever.

I don’t argue with my son about the existence of God. There is no point arguing with someone whose mind is made up.

To me, God and reality are the same thing – too big, too beyond my imagination or mind to comprehend. The word “God” is a little box to contain the idea of something that is too immense to contain, or even imagine. Accepting that I’m not in control and I don’t know much is peaceful. If I can also do a little good, and avoid doing harm, bonus.

Peace be with you. May we all someday enter the kingdom of Dog. I mean God. Maybe.