Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rapture: The End-Times Error That Leaves the Bible Behind by David B. Currie

As a blogger for Sophia Institue Press, I had the opportunity to read the book, Rapture: The End Times Error That Leaves the Bible Behind by David B. Currie.  This book is a response to the popular interpretations of the end times, based on a literal interpretation of the bible's prophecies, commonly known as the "Rapture" or "Armageddon".  According to the author, David B. Currie, many religious groups, charismatic leaders and bible believers promote their view of end time events to the exclusion of actually living life as a means by which to avoid the harsh realities of the world which we live in. He believes that the rapture theories provides a safety net for its believers with the idea that they will be swept away or "raptured" up to heaven before having to endure any of the hardships and suffering that are expected to occur in the end times. Furthermore, many extreme cults are adherants to this view as they simply advise their members to  "close up shop" and any other meaningful interaction within society, awaiting the end of the world.

This work represents a thorough and conscientious study of the end times, from  not only a biblical perspective, but from the years of  religious traditions and knowledge of the Roman Catholic church, as well.  I found Currie's research to be objective and very systematic. His findings concerning the interpretations of the end times, nevertheless are based on nine important "ground rules" which he sums up on pages 74 and 75.  Rather than list each one  individually, it would be sufficient to make note that the key to some of his assumptions when interpreting biblical scripture  include a symbolic interpretation of numbers, visions, physical descriptions and objects rather than literal interpretation.  Furthermore, the author states that "Physical-resurrection language can symbolise spiritual renewal" (page 75), rather than simply an actual physcial, literal ressurection. A more symbolic rather than literal translation of the bible may be a stumbling block for many readers accustomed to literal biblical interpretation. This issue is even addressed as well, but perhaps not to the satisfaction of those readers from a background that leans towards the idea "sola scriptura".  It is this distinction, the idea behind a symbolic rather than literal interpretation of the bible, which leads Currie to the view of bible prophecy he presents in  his book. This symbolic interpretation of the bible and its events, can be confidently made, according to Currie, in light of the years of spiritual tradition and guidance of the Catholic Church, its Saints and theologens.

Perhaps it is true, that some extremely literal translations of minute details are taken out of proportion in order to create richly detailed end of the world rapture theories that were never intended by the inspired writers of the bible.  For example a common passage cited by the rapture theorists is used as evidence to state that believers will be caught up in the heavens with Jesus in the clouds, yet because it does not explicitly state that Jesus actually touches solid ground, that this is not considered to be the actual time of the second comming of Jesus, but simply the rapture of believers.  Therefore, the second coming of Jesus is treated as a later and distinct event that is to occur years later after the rapture. Nevertheless, can it be stated with complete certaintly that numbers, events, physical objects and occurances as described in the bible are largely symbolic and not to be taken at face value?  For those who do not have the faith in the Roman Catholic tradition that Currie holds, it might be a big leap to accept this brand of bible interpretive method. 

In sum, I believe that much of Currie's findings are well balanced, legitimate and worthy of serious consideration.  The author recognises that Jesus will return and acknowledges the second coming of Christ Jesus as a fact, that is yet to happen and when it does, it will be known be all. Jesus' return will not be invisible and it will be known to all peoples world wide! He acknowledges that we are in the "last days" in accordance with biblical teaching, but that God's idea of time is eternally based and  not based on man's measure of time.  Furthermore, it is to the glory of God and his unending compassion, that the second coming is delayed as much as possible so as to allow as many as possible to come to salvation. Theologically, there is no biblical error in the author's conclusions about the basic facts of Christ's return to earth. Currie does not embelish the timeline of events, but rather simplifies them without any added theatrical drama- for this he is to be commended. I found this book raised more questions and issues that go beyond the end times events debate itself.  I recieved a copy of this book for the purposes of writing a review.  The ideas expressed are my own.

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