If you visited Culture Feast since the relaunch, you’ve likely skimmed through the post on how Jacques Ellul challenges my eschatology (i.e. my understanding of how the End Times will unfold). I wouldn’t fault you if you stopped dead in your tracks and bailed after the first paragraph or two. After all, we all know at least one or two people who have used the Book of Revelation at the end of the Bible as a tool to teach people all kinds of weird and completely unprovable ideas.
I get it. Most of us would rather just avoid John’s book of Revelation entirely. I held that view for about 15 years. My reasoning was that if we can’t actually know which interpretation is accurate, we’re wasting our time. And that’s not entirely untrue. We live our lives based on what we believe, and most of the faith is much more solid than the part about the future.
Stay with me for just a little longer.
While we CAN ignore the predictions of Revelation and still follow Jesus like his friends and followers did for decades before Revelation was written, we’ve lost an important part of our identity. Whether you realize it or not, Rapture theology has shaped your great grandparents, your grandparents, your parents, and you. Just as many families carry on traditions after forgetting how they started, seeing the world as irreversibly going to hell in a hand basket has now shaped society for generations. Our historical interpretation of the Rapture and the total destruction of this earth has led to a cataclysmic irresponsibility.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. – Revelation 21: 1
This one statement has led tens of millions of people to live as though nothing they do TO this earth matters. It’s a disposable planet. They’ll just get to reboot and live in a paradise someday, so while they follow an interpretation of Hebrews 11 that says they’re aliens/foreigners on this earth and should therefore only focus on the age to come.
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. – Hebrews 11: 13-16
I’m not surprised that writings like these could convince people that they are indeed foreigners on this earth. With the sense of separation and not belonging that comes from holding completely different values and convictions, the cultural rift is immense. In a very real sense, a person who has been given abundant life IS like an alien on a foreign world.
I get it. I went through that.
But I see that Christendom has failed the individual in connecting the dots between Genesis, the Gospels, and Revelation. God had/has a purpose in mind when He created man and woman. And while there is sin and depravity and suffering now in the picture, do we REALLY believe that His plans and purposes for humanity have completely changed?
God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:28
Three ways to look at this original creative mandate for humanity.
- The original mandate stands and is irreversible as it is a decree from God
- The original mandate has been completely replaced by a new mandate because there is now a theme of Fall and Redemption in the Earth
- The original mandate has displaced as the most important mandate, is secondary or tertiary to the Great Commission, but it’s still there in some form
It’s easy to adopt #2 because it’s the mindset you likely absorbed from parents and influential adults when you were a child.
After 20 years of church elders, pastors and teachers talking about evangelism and worship as the only things that really matter, it’s hard not to devalue other vital dimensions of life.
Maybe you’re an evangelist at heart. Or a worship leader. I get it. Our worldviews reflect our talents and place heavy priority on areas that we feel most fulfilled engaged with.
It’s not my intention to replace worship or evangelism with ecological stewardship. But stewardship was the original mandate before worship or evangelism. It’s part of the DNA of human beings to have this awesome and creative responsibility.
So what DOES the rapture have to do with permaculture?
Stay tuned. We’re going to get there.