Causing deaths by rapture?
December 23, 2005 1:14 PM   Subscribe

ReligionEthicsFilter: in all the Apocalypse/Rapture stuff, planes will crash and cars and trains, etc, because the drivers will have been swept up. Doesn't that mean that Christians shouldn't do those things, esp if other people will be harmed as a result?

--occasioned by this rapture ethics post here, on a warning bumpersticker-- ...It makes sense that this person would have this bumper sticker up then. They are keeping me from certain damnation by encouraging me not to tailgate them. What a great and caring moment. But I say, let’s take it one step further: Saved Christians, out of a desire to give the rest of us one more chance to believe, should never place themselves in a situation in which if they suddenly disappear they will put the life of someone unsaved at risk.
Saved Christians should never be head surgeons. They should all have non-saved chauffers. They should not work in ambulances, as police officers and certainly not as fire-persons. It’s merely a question of responsibility.


What's the deal? Does it not matter because whoever is on a plane is either saved or is going to hell anyway? And how does that square with the whole wanting more people to be saved anyway?
posted by amberglow to Human Relations (26 answers total)
 
The first chapter of the first "Left Behind" book specifies that Christian airline pilots' rapture was delayed until their airplanes safely landed.

(Not that "Left Behind" is in any way an authoritative text. But then we're basically in "Could the Enterprise beat a Star Destroyer?" territory here.)
posted by profwhat at 1:26 PM on December 23, 2005


First off, many (probably most) Christians don't believe in this kind of Rapture. From the inevitable Wikipedia link:

Most Roman Catholics and many Protestants do not accept the concept of a rapture in which some are "taken up into Heaven" before the end of the world; this idea did not exist in the teachings of any Christians whatsoever until the 1800s, so it cannot be said to belong to Apostolic Tradition. Instead, most Catholics and many Protestants interpret 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 literally, and assert that the rapture will immediately follow the general resurrection on Judgement Day, when the living and the newly-resurrected-dead will rise up to meet Christ as he descends from heaven to judge the world. These people consider the rapture to be merely a minor detail in the Biblical description of the Second Coming of Christ.

Second, I don't think the people who do believe in such a Rapture care what happens after they leave. It's the end times; everyone who will be saved has already been saved. Jesus isn't coming to redeem those who are left, but to simply judge them.

Also, some denominations don't believe in free will. If you aren't saved during the Rapture, then you were never meant to be saved.
posted by sbutler at 1:30 PM on December 23, 2005


I don't get why it would matter..if it's apocalypse every one is dead instantly anyway and then everyone is called to be judged, no? Or do the saved get called up and then everyone down here gets to carry on as usual? If so BOO YA bring on the apocalypse.
posted by spicynuts at 1:37 PM on December 23, 2005


This is fairly easy to rationalize: If the plane crashed, those that were on it who hadn't already been taken up have thus been "judged."
posted by odinsdream at 1:39 PM on December 23, 2005


Also, the Christians aren't harming anyone. God is the one removing them from the situation, and since God gave life it's also his to take away.
posted by sbutler at 1:46 PM on December 23, 2005


spicyniuts: No, only the Christians go to heaven. The rest of us get to live through the reign of the anti-Christ, Armageddon, and Christ's reign on Earth.
posted by orthogonality at 1:47 PM on December 23, 2005


Some christians believe that the rapture won't occur until 3 and half years into the tribulation. Since everything will already be pretty crazy with all the earthquakes etc, I suppose it won't matter much.
posted by meta87 at 2:11 PM on December 23, 2005


since God gave life it's also his to take away.

But if you have a job where other people's lives are in your hands, it's not God who would be harming and killing them, but you, directly.
posted by amberglow at 2:44 PM on December 23, 2005


it's not God who would be harming and killing them, but you, directly.

If you knowingly do something that will inevitably kill others, doesn't that disqualify you from being rapture-d anyway?

And while we're at it, do the gates of heaven swing in or out, or is it a lift-up garage door type thing?

(and a star destroyer could totally beat the enterprise in a race)
posted by JekPorkins at 2:49 PM on December 23, 2005


You can get saved at any time, even after the rapture (whenever it is, debatable) as long as you don't take the "mark," as in Rev 14:9-11 --

"(9) And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, (10) he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. (11) And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name."

In response to those who don't believe in the sudden sweeping-away of people in a rapture, what is to make of Luke 17:34-36 --

"(34) I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. (35) There will be two women grinding at a mill together. One will be taken and the other left. (36) Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left."
posted by vanoakenfold at 2:54 PM on December 23, 2005


If you knowingly do something that will inevitably kill others, doesn't that disqualify you from being rapture-d anyway?

No action taken can disqualify you from salvation except perhaps rejecting Christ as an adequate substitute for your own eligibility for heaven (as the mark-takers will do). The entire basis for going to heaven is acknowledgement to God that you realize you can't earn your way in, and with such an ineligibility, trusting Christ's sole eligibility to take the place of yours -- so in the final review, Christ's record of perfect obedience to God's law will take the place of one's own unclean record. (Notably, simply praying that you trust Christ's righteousness (standard of "good enough") to replace your own righteousness, gives you heaven citizenship, not being a certain level of goodness because that level is only reached by having never sinned in the first place, only accomplished by Christ). Committing an action doesn't make you unsaved, because we are unsaved in the first place; and committing any action yourself doesn't blemish Christ's perfect record.
posted by vanoakenfold at 3:05 PM on December 23, 2005


No action taken can disqualify you from salvation except perhaps rejecting Christ as an adequate substitute for your own eligibility for heaven (as the mark-takers will do).

Then why was Jesus always telling people not to do bad things, and telling them to do good things (like giving all their possessions to the poor and whatnot)? Faith without works is dead. I think John Lennon said that. Or maybe it was in the Bible.

If actions don't matter, why should I love my neighbor? I'm saved even if I don't, right?

I guess I'm just a grace + works guy. Others may believe as they wish.

In response to those who don't believe in the sudden sweeping-away of people in a rapture, what is to make of Luke 17:34-36 --

Um, that doesn't say anything about people being magically swept away or just vanishing into the ether in an instant. It says "taken." Presumably, when one is "taken" from a speeding bus, the "taking" process can include waiting for the next bus stop and then politely exiting. I'd like to see where the whole magical disappearing act theory comes from.
posted by JekPorkins at 3:16 PM on December 23, 2005


The Christians I know who believe in pretribuational rapture believe that God will take care of any planes being piloted by Christians. Also, they believe any baby under the "age of reason" will be automatically brought to heaven as well.
posted by null terminated at 3:34 PM on December 23, 2005


I agree with profwhat that this is an Enterprise vs. star destroyer question (correct answer: Enterprise).

But I don't see a moral contradiction with someone who believes in the rapture driving a car, performing surgery, etc. any more than I see a moral problem with someone who believes in heart attacks from doing any of those things. Both are improbable, unexpected events that would leave those in the subject's care in dire peril.
posted by justkevin at 3:44 PM on December 23, 2005


it's not improbable or unexpected at all, i don't think, to people who truly believe it's gonna happen.
posted by amberglow at 4:08 PM on December 23, 2005


I don't really believe in a pretrib rapture meself. That doctrine is fairly new in the history of Christianity, and most Christians over the years did not subscribe to it.

I'm not a big fan of the"Left Behind" series. Doctrines of end-times are nowhere near as cut and dry as some "prophecy buffs" wish to think. OTOH it never hurts to live each day as your last simply because you never know when YOUR last day is, apocalypse or no.
posted by konolia at 4:15 PM on December 23, 2005


Faith without works is dead. I think John Lennon said that. Or maybe it was in the Bible.

James Chapter 2. I think John Lennon said "All you need is love." Which is pretty close to the apostle John's "God is love."
posted by weston at 4:23 PM on December 23, 2005


This is one of the greatest AskMe questions ever. I honestly never thought of this line of logic. Now I have another rhetoric weapon to use at Christmas dinner. Thank you.
posted by frogan at 4:32 PM on December 23, 2005


Thanks, weston. I was actually kidding -- I knew where it was from.

And frogan, the only rhetoric weapon you really need is the one this question started with: the straw man argument. Assume the person you disagree with believes something that's easier to tear apart than what they actually believe.

Or maybe there are people who really do believe in magical dissapearing rapture transporter beams. If there are, I've never met one.
posted by JekPorkins at 4:46 PM on December 23, 2005


i have a friend who believes she's already been raptured ... and it's not something where you disappear physically, but you visit heaven for a bit and then come back, mentally ... with some insights and perhaps something to say to the world

she says the whole business is misunderstood
posted by pyramid termite at 5:17 PM on December 23, 2005


it's not improbable or unexpected at all, i don't think, to people who truly believe it's gonna happen.

Well, we don't seem to have any true believers chiming in here, but my point was that the odds of the rapture happening at any particular time would be low, relative to being incapacitated by a sudden natural cause. Even if you believe in the rapture, I would expect you would rate it a lower risk than a stroke or fainting spell.
posted by justkevin at 5:20 PM on December 23, 2005


Being run over by an unmanned Mack truck is clearly part of God's plan for post-Rapture -- why question it? Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook, or press down his tongue with a cord? Didn't think so. :)
posted by johngoren at 7:37 PM on December 23, 2005


Re: The Left Behind series and the safe plane landing - that's funny... I read the kids' series when I was a teenager and their plane was piloted by a non-Christian, so I never heard that part.

As an ex-pre-trib-rapture believer (very long story):

You can't stop living life even if you believe the rapture will come any day now. So naturally I would drive a car because the odds of rapture actually occurring, and my car actually killing someone, would be incredibly low.

I can answer questions about what I used to believe (re: JustKevin saying there are no "true believers" chiming in), but suffice it to say my experiences with (an abusive) church have left me an agnostic.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:39 PM on December 23, 2005


it's not improbable or unexpected at all, i don't think, to people who truly believe it's gonna happen.

Sweet. That would establish foreseeability, therefore proximate cause. Hence, a Christian would be liable for any foreseeable harms resulting from their rapture (e. g., traffic accidents, plane crashes, unfinished surgery, etc.) if you can prove they expected to be raptured. Anyone left behind can lawyer up and sue the bejeebus out of their estates. Heaven would be populated by tortfeasors.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:09 PM on December 23, 2005


But, Dr. Zira, the Bible says that the rapture would come "like a theif in the night" - or so most pre-tribbers believe - so they might expect to be raptured, but they would not know when to expect it.

Assuming for a moment that millions of people (perhaps a generous estimate) suddenly disappear - you think the first thing on everyone's mind (who was left here) will be suing their estates??
posted by IndigoRain at 1:17 PM on December 24, 2005


IndigoRain, but all the lawyers will no doubt be left behind, and it'll surely be the first thing on their minds...
posted by greatgefilte at 9:12 PM on December 24, 2005


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