Check out the trailer for this film;
There have been other attempts to scare people into faith by dodgy theological interpretations of the wild meanderings of the Apocalypse of John. I have written before about my childhood experiences in this regard.
Popular culture reflects the zeitgeist in ways that are often interesting. What emerges on to the entertainment market often reflects all sorts of subliminal fears, preoccupations and prejudices. In the American heartland, still dominated by Conservative Evangelical Christianity, this film will do well. Guns, fundamentalism and fear- surely this has to sell well even if the film making itself is rubbish?
Naomi Klein makes some interesting points about what she describes as ‘Rapture Rescue’. I have posted this before- but it is worth watching again;
Western society, despite our peace, prosperity, security and excess, still seem to define itself in terms of fear of catastrophe– be this some kind of real or imagined terrorist threat, a fear of immigration, of civil unrest. We then imagine some kind of massive redemptive transforming event to solve the problem- a new saviour, a victorious war, a wonder technology.
Add religion into the mix and things can get, well just silly. Except that when so many people are caught up in it all it is not really a laughing matter.
Ideas are important. Naomi Klein said this;
“If we want the transformation, we can’t wait for it to happen in some massive jolt, we have to plan for it and model it…”
“Only a crisis, actual or perceived produces real change, and when that change occurs this depends on the ideas that are lying around. That is our function, to keep ideas alive until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”
My concerns about films like the one above are partly theological (there is a discussion of some of the dispensational theology in this post) although correcting esoteric theological ideas is always a bit of a waste of time. Those who hold them do so as if to a branch out from a cliff. They will never let go.
The issue is more relevant when we consider the impact of this kind of theology on our engagement with the world. Christians have some of the best ‘ideas’. We have a story that can change whole cultures- that HAS changed whole cultures. Sadly ideas and stories like this can become the servants of culture, not part of a critical, vitalising commentary.
So if our religion takes us to a place where we believe that this world is doomed, that God is going to suck all the good people (measured according to whether or not they have said the ‘sinners prayer’) up with his great rapture hoover and the rest will get their just deserts- if this is our religion then how might this change the power of our story or the potency of our ideas? How might these ideas set us free to be engaged in works of salvation- not just for a narrow self elected few?
That is why we need to hear other voices of faith- like Tom Wright;
Faced with an apparent crisis in our ability to hope and believe for the future, we people of faith have a choice…
We can proclaim the end of it all, and offer only the hope of a few of us being sucked away from the stinking rotten corpse that is this world, or we can become hopeful critical collaborators in our culture- salting those things that have good flavour, and shining light where there is darkness that requires illumination.