The God-hoover is out of the cupboard again…

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.

constructing amongst the deconstructors…

There are lots of concepts and key words that have been reference points for those of us who have been following this emerging church ‘conversation’…





We live in world in flux. The personal angst seen in the popular culture of the sixties and seventies has found its way into the very structure of our society, and into our institutions. Everything is now questionable, everything is old and tired and broken down…

Another word we hear a lot is deconstructionism, a philosophical term first used by Jacques Derrida in the 1960s- who began to form a method of thinking about concepts that allowed him to get behind the assumptions and rationalisations that the modern world operated under. You can check out what wikepedia has to say about this stuff here.

I like this quote from John Caputo;

Whenever deconstruction finds a nutshell — a secure axiom or a pithy maxim — the very idea is to crack it open and disturb this tranquility.

The suggestion for we Christians is that not only are our institutions based on a whole set of modernist assumptions that are being challenged, but that the world we serve is likewise deconstructing itself about us, and we ignore this at our peril…

But here is another quote, culled from a useful article (here) by Alistair MacIndoe, from the Rock Church in Dumbarton.

And how long must it be before we learn that our task as Christians is to be in the front row of
constructing the post‐postmodern world? The individual existential angst of the 1960s has
become the corporate and cultural angst of the 1990s. What is the Christian answer to it? The
Christian answer is the love of God, which goes through death and out the other side. What is
missing from the postmodern equation is, of course, love.’
N.T. Wright 1

We Emerging types have used too many destructive words- perhaps even relished them, and the feelings of superiority this has given us.

But now the real work begins- the purpose that God gave was to go and tell people about Jesus- and (to paraphrase Francis of Asisi) if necessary, use words…

How we do this- how we start to tell again the stories of Jesus, and turn people again towards his beautiful way of living in these our complex times- this is for me to work out, with my community. So we turn to that other buzz-word at the moment-


But, I am convinced that God is creative, and seeks to make and remake, not to break down and destroy. And so for we, his servants, it seems clear that we should start the spiritual cement mixers, and fire up the brick kilns. Busy times are ahead.