Many Christians in the Orthodox – Anglican – Catholic worlds have only the faintest idea what dispensationalism is, and more over are not sure they want to know. Yet this is the motivating spiritual force driving a small but vocal group of Christians. The popularity of the LEFT BEHING series of books was based on this theological understanding. Fr. Ernesto has been doing a series about this.

I have included below the introduction with the drawing which is the beginning of Fr. Ernesto’s series, and his second article. If you find this interesting, the remaining articles follow these two on his blog. By the way, Fr. Orthohippo as well as Fr. Ernesto does not subscribe to the understanding portrayed in the cartoon in the first article.

Fr. Ernesto begins his series with this –

Cory Doctorow at 6:36 AM May 17, 2010

Jim Munroe and Shannon Gerard’s Sword of My Mouth is sequel to Jim’s earlier Therefore, Repent!, a story about the tyranny and horrors visited upon the earth by the angels who come with the Rapture.

All of the pious souls have ascended, and the earth is in turmoil. The left-behinds fall into two camps: those who slaughter and enforce martial law for the angels, and those who join the resistance and fight against God’s tyranny.

Ella was abandoned in Detroit by her husband, who went to fight angels in Chicago. She is raising their son alone, and like many, he has been mutated by the wild magic of the rapture, making her the target of derision and fear by her neighbors. Driven from her home by a fire, she takes up refuge with urban farmers who are contending with a plot by Famine, the Horseman, to destroy humanity’s food supply and make them more dependent on the angels.

Munroe is a fantastic writer in many media (novels, games, films and comics), and his talents are ably matched by Gerard’s stellar illustrations, jagged line drawings that play with time-series and an expressivity of posture to convey emotion with unexpected punch.

Profane and wonderful, Sword of My Mouth and Therefore, Repent! are subversive, smart, and gripping.

———————————————————————————————————————-Article two

Many Christians do not know the technical name for the theology that is behind the Left Behind series of books. It is called dispensational theology or dispensationalism. While there are a couple of types of dispensationalism, here is a reasonable definition:

Dispensationalism is a Protestant evangelical tradition based on a biblical hermeneutic that sees a series of chronologically successive “dispensations” or periods in history in which God relates to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants. As a system, dispensationalism is rooted in the writings of John Nelson Darby and the Brethren Movement. The theology of dispensationalism consists of a distinctive eschatological “end times” perspective, as all dispensationalists hold to premillennialism and most hold to a pretribulation rapture. Dispensationalists believe that the nation of Israel is distinct from the Church, and that God will fulfill His promises to national Israel. These promises include the land promises, which in the future result in a millennial kingdom where Christ, upon His return, will rule the world from Jerusalem for a thousand years. In other areas of theology, dispensationalists hold to a wide range of beliefs within the evangelical and fundamentalist spectrum.

Now let me give you an overly simple summary of a couple of points in dispensationalism. Please realize that there are many parts of dispensational theology missing in these couple of points. But, these are the couple of points that led to the comic book I cited yesterday. (Do go to yesterday’s post or you will not fully understand this post.) First, dispensationalists believe that the millenium mentioned in Scripture is a literal time in history in which Our Lord Jesus Christ will be reigning on earth with his saints. It is at the end of that time that the really final battle will take place and then the Final Judgment. Second, they believe that prior to the millenium there will be a seven-year tribulation period and that the Church will be raptured (that is taken from Earth) during that tribulation. There are differences among dispensationalists about the exact timing of the rapture, but certainly no later than halfway through the tribulation.

The rapture itself will be a traumatic event upon Earth. Planes will be flying and if their pilot(s) are Christian, they will crash because of the suddenness of their being taken. There will be massive car crash pileups in all parts of the Earth. During the part of the tribulation in which the Church is not present is when the judgments of the Book of Revelation will fall upon the Earth. This will be an absolutely awful time in which plagues, famines, death, and war will whip the Earth. One third of the population of the world will die, for sure, maybe more. One third of the plants and animals will be destroyed. The ecological and human disaster will be massive. These are judgments sent directly by God upon those left upon the Earth.

The words of a Larry Norman song, I wish we’d all been ready express this dispensational reality. Let me quote just some of the verses:

Life was filled with guns and war
And all of us got trampled on the floor
I wish we’d all been ready
Children died the days grew cold
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold
I wish we’d all been ready

There’s no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind

A man and wife asleep in bed
She hears a noise and turns her head he’s gone
I wish we’d all been ready
Two men walking up a hill
One disappears and one’s left standing still
I wish we’d all been ready

There’s no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind

Children died the days grew cold
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold
I wish we’d all been ready
There’s no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind

It is against this description of the end of the world that the comic books are reacting. And, perhaps you can imagine why. In many ways, dispensationalism has been presented with a distinct triumphalist tone. In the Left Behind books, not only are non-Christians left behind, but, suspiciously, any pastors that do not fully agree with a strict very conservative Evangelical theology. More than that, it has appeared to many that there is almost a discernible flavor of mocking present in some of the presentations of this theology. [Note: Yes, I am quite aware that this is a perception, but perceptions are powerful.] But, even stronger is the question of God’s character to which the secularists are reacting.


Related posts:

  1. Secular reaction to extreme, uhm, dispensationalism?
  2. Do secularists have a point about dispensationalists?
  3. On theology and set theory
  4. Vampires and Protestant theology
  5. Comics and Orthodox theology, part 1

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Posted by Fr. Orthoduck on Wednesday, May 19, 2010

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About Fr. Orthohippo

The blog of a retired Anglican priest (MSJ), his musings, journey, humor, wonderment, and comments on today's scene.
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2 Responses to

  1. fr john gayer says:

    dispensationalism. was raised in it pastored in inde fund churches for 22 years. could never see pre trib rapture. prayed that i could accept it much pressure to conform to it could not. that became the wedge that opened the door to embrace “Spirit filled life and eventually a sacramental understanding. am now an anglican minister and attend daily mass in a rc parish with the permission of the pastor. i have paid dearly for my journey having lost much but happily embrace my walk dispensationalism is so devisive . it puts secondary issues up there with the the foundational truth found in the creed

  2. Jerry says:

    You might enjoy Googling “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.” All written by historian Dave MacPherson, author of bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (see Armageddon Books) and he has researched pretrib rapture history for 40 years and is known as the “Pretrib Rapture Answerman.” Great reads! Jerry

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