March 22, 2012
I'm curious what kind of apocalypse you believe is traditionally discussed in churches. I've always gotten the impression that there's no real consensus and there's quite a range of speculation.
In other words, I would not be surprised to find that the preppers believe their actions are informed by their faith.
Not all people who believe in a rapture believe it will happen before the tribulation, so it seems reasonable that preppers may believe in the post or mid tribulation rapture. Most who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture also believe that things won't exactly be peachy in the lead up to the rapture.
I think there are lots of subtle and not so subtle ways that one's view of the end times influences what they believe is their and the Church's mission.
If someone believes that on the eve of a horrible time period (when the world most needs the Church) that the Church will be raptured, I can see how that could wrongly translate into prepping to fend off your neighbors / unbelievers.
If someone thinks the world is declining into chaos and that finally in the end all Christians will be in heaven, why do we need to care for the Earth?
On the other hand, if you believe that our work here to be co-creators and co-renewers with God will be redeemed fully through Jesus with the new heaven and new earth then there's lots of "earthly" business that the Church must participate in.
Reading this, I couldn't help thinking about Noah's ark. In many ways, he's the closest thing we have to a Biblical "prepper" (with the caveat that he was prepping for something that he had perfectly good reason - even a divine command! - to get ready for). He builds a shelter to weather the storm, stocks it with supplies to last it out, and gets ready for the eventual storm.
I think the difference between Noah and some of these preppers (perhaps not all) is that Noah genuinely wished for his neighbors to come on board, even the day of the storm. There came a time when Noah could not let them onboard without destroying himself, and so I think he was justified in letting them drown. Similarly, I think some preppers expect people won't accept the reality of the situation until it's too late to save everyone - until it's like Noah's neighbors, who want on board once the rains start following. I don't think this is particularly selfish, certainly not any more selfish than Noah was not to open up his ark and drown with his neighbors in the process. But then there are people who relish the thought of their neighbors dying. That <i>is</i> a problem, but I don't think all preppers are really doing that.
Less than 30% of Americans go to church, according to many surveys out there. So it isn't surprising that they don't really know what to expect from the end of days.
Even if they did attend church and learn about the end of days, they would still walk away with varying opinions and interpretations.
One thing that I think is important to realize is that not everybody intends on wiping out their neighbors. The smart folk realize the importance for alliances and know how strength in numbers can help them.
Reading Bethanys post and Martas reply I'm reminded of John Manninghams view of Puritans which can be amended as a description of preppers, " a prepper is such a one who loves God with all his soul but hates his neighbour with all his heart".
Luke, your examples of how people might make that connection in different ways underscores my surprise that the faith aspect of their plans never comes up, even in the one prayer onscreen.
You're right that I was vague about a complex variety of beliefs about the endtimes, I had more media-friendly versions like the Left Behind books or Harold Camping in mind. But I think we agree that any beliefs about the end times should harmonize with Biblical commands to love your neighbor.
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