This last Saturday, like every other day, came and went without a Rapture.
There were no reports of nude Christians flying in the air and there were no piles of clothing left behind on sidewalks and street corners. No unmanned airplanes fell from the sky and cars devoid of operators were not turned into bombs on wheels. As far as I know, Kirk Cameron was not running around with that trademarked, dumbfounded look on his face.
Despite the agonizing pleas of a handful of Christ followers in California, none of these things happened.
What did happen in the days, weeks and months leading up to this weekends anti-climactics, was the result of decades of bad theology, improper use of Scripture and broken eschatology. For Christianity, it was a massive public relations gaffe that would have made Charlie Sheen wince.
How did we let this happen?
Towards the end of last week, there was no shortage of mocking directed at the Church. By proxy, Jesus Christ and the Gospel were turned into a laughing stock. People were creating “end of the world” checklists and playlists to accompany being raptured or left behind. Most of it was hilarious. Unfortunately for the Christian Church, a handful of attention-starved believers were allowed to speak for the whole group.
If this were an isolated incident it would be funny.
Every week, it seems like some fringe element of Protestantism is grabbing the spotlight and using it to do damage to the message of peace, forgiveness and love that is the Gospel. Somehow, the likes of Jim Jones, Harold Camping and Westboro Baptist Church have become the spokespeople for Christianity.
The cast majority of Christians are stunned when these people open their mouths and we deny them emphatically to anyone who will listen to us. In our attempt to show the unbelieving world that they are not us, we also participate in the mockery and humor. The silent majority of true Christianity is only reactive to public relations issues and most of the time it is too late.
How can we be proactive? What can be done to prevent the crazy guy in the mailroom from being the voice of the corporation (forgive the big business analogy)? Talk to an Imam in your community and you will find the same frustration in his heart. Christianity’s problem is much like that of Islam: fringe radicals represent the middle in the minds of Western culture. It should go without saying that this is not helping the Gospel message and we need to find a solution.
One idea that is not original, needs some work and is a little bit idealistic is unity. Yeah I know, you’re thinking “fat chance” right? But any conversation about the Christian voice in the mainstream needs to include some discussion about unity. The Catholic church sends out its press releases through the Holy See but the Protestant faith has no official voice that a majority of its elements agree on. Instead, hundreds of denominations speak for themselves and many cite petty theological issues as reason for not working with their brothers more closely. To an outsider, the church looks like a splintered group of bickering children who let their minor differences define them instead of their major similarities. Protestant Christianity needs unity.
I have no idea what this unity would look like, maybe like the United Nations, but its functions would include public relations, joint missions initiatives and pleading the case of the poor, the fatherless and widow worldwide. The hope is that over time, this unified group of the world’s Christian denominations will come to accurately portray Christ and represent the Gospel to mankind. It should not be a political organization, and its only vision should be the full Gospel for the whole world. Within it’s members, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and Baptists disguised as community mega churches all get along.
Maybe this is asking too much or maybe it is discussion for another time and place. But time is running out, according to a man who knows his Bible and speaks for Jesus, the world is ending on October 21 of this year.