Bad Theology Kills- The Environment
Updated: Apr 16
"When the rapture happens, I'm outta here!" -My old embarrassing bumper sticker
The concept of the "rapture" (a day when a literal trumpet blasts and all the believers are suddenly blinked out of existence on this planet, reappearing in heaven) was a theology invented in the 1830 and popularized by a series of fiction books in the the 1990s. It has been widely accepted in modern protestant circles.
This theology at best gives hope to believers that we will escape pain and suffering, and at worst leads us to cause pain and suffering to others through our lack of concern for our planet.
Rapture theology leads people to Escapism, Futurism, and separatism. In short:
Escapism: We can escape all of this bad stuff so just hold your breath and shut your eyes, it will all be over soon.
Futurism: Being so caught up in future events you forget about our current world and our current needs.
Separatism: You vs Me. Us vs Them. Saved vs Unsaved. Faithful vs Condemned. Not great for unity and peace building.
Escapism is the one I'm picking on here today. Maybe because its the one I'm often drawn into myself the most.
At worst christians have used rapture theology to justify doing harm to our planet, and at best it has acted as a sedative for any urgency for planet conservation efforts.
Its difficult to forgo the convenience of disposable one-use plastics, even though you know the oceans are filled with straws, when you believe that the planet is doomed anyways.
Its hard to muster up the will-power to save up for a zero emissions car, when you are convinced that in the blink of an eye you will abandon this planet to the apocalypse anyways.
It feels unnecessarily laborious to get a more environmentally friendly diet, when you're certain that the environment isn't worth investing in because one day in the blink of an eye God will make a new earth and we will all have a fresh slate anyways.
Why try to save this planet if we're all getting raptured anyways?
I wonder how many tons of plastic is put in landfills every year because of those tiny one-use plastic communion cups?
The irony of it is almost laughable.
It's like worshiping an Ocean god by dumping plastic in the ocean.
Or worshiping a Sky god by having a fire and filling the skies with smoke.
Big swing. Big Miss.
I believe that our God is the God of the sky and the ocean and the earth. He made it all. He is called Creator and He commanded us to care for this planet.
From Patriarch Bartholomew (head of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople): “If human beings were to treat one another’s personal property the way they treat the natural environment, we would view that behavior as anti-social and illegal. We would expect legal sanctions and even compensation. When will we learn that to commit a crime against the natural world is also a sin?” “The way we respond to the natural environment directly reflects the way we treat human beings. The willingness to exploit the environment is revealed in the willingness to permit avoidable human suffering. So the survival of the natural environment is also the survival of ourselves. When we will understand that a crime against nature is a crime against ourselves and sin against God?”
You can go ahead and believe in the rapture. Many do. You can listen for a literal trumpet sound and gain comfort and hope from that interpretation of scripture, but please don't let it lead you to the lazy cozy arms of escapism. In your hope to escape suffering, do not act in such a way to will cause suffering for others. Our planet can't afford that sin.
-Special thanks to Chris Hawthorn for his input on this post.