Like many of you at Edgemont, I have been preparing for our Thursday event, An Evening with Zack Hunt (7:00pm, at our family live center), by reading his book, Unraptured. I enjoyed reading this and the conversational style that he employed while writing it. I want to share with you these three things that make me excited for Thursday after reading it.
First, I share his feelings about growing up during the Left Behind era. The first book was released when I was twelve years old. I related with what Zack talked about when he discussed the fear these books caused while reading, the panic that can come over a kid who just wants to make sure they go to heaven. Even though I knew these books were works of fiction and that obviously things wouldn’t happen this way because they were literally saying it would happen this way (1), these books still shaped a picture of who I thought God was that I would wrestle with as a teenager. Zack books provides a strong but grace-filled critique of this mindset and picture of God which I believe will resonate with many people.
Second, I love how he engages with both history and theology as he presents his discussion of the rapture, dispensationalism, and end times theology (eschatology). Unraptured frequently calls us to take seriously the way the church throughout history has thought and dialogued about the book of Revelation. Some of us learned this when we were in church, in college, or even discovered this history on our own; many of us, however, were not so lucky. Instead, we have only heard this one interpretation that has engulfed a large part of Western Christian thought for the past 200 years. Zack does a good job of sharing the history and theology of the Christian Fathers and others in a way that resonates today.
Finally, I love that Zack reminds us of our duty as Christians to follow Christ’s example. One of the biggest shortcomings of Dispensationalism and rapture based eschatology is far too often it leaves us as Christians looking for an escape hatch from this world. Escape is not our faith; our faith is based on God sending his son Jesus to be with us as Immanuel, God with us (2). Yet, it is easy to fall in love with the idea of escaping this world and going to Heaven to be away from everything. This is not what the Gospel teaches though. I love this quote from Zack’s book.
“Jesus as born in human flesh because God cares about the here and now. Jesus went out across Galilee because God cares about the here and now. Jesus called disciples and taught them how to live because God cares about the here and now. Jesus healed and few people because God cares about the here and now. Jesus laid down his life because God cares about the here and now. Jesus rose from the dead, leaving behind the gift of the Spirit and promising to come back here to earth, because God cares about the here and now. The way of Jesus is incarnation in the here and now—not some escape to a far off safe place.” (127)
We Christians are called to be present and active in our communities and the world around us. We need to be careful that our theological beliefs do not hinder our mission. Again, we get a stern but charitable reminder that we as the church have a calling to uphold and it is in the here and now!
I hope that you will plan on joining us at 7:00pm this Thursday at Edgemont for this exciting Evening with Zack Hunt.
(1) See Matthew 24:36. Zack discusses this verse and the whole principle in Chapter 4 of his book.
(2) Matthew 1:23