I propose, as an idea for a bumper sticker, "The Rapture has already happened."

Elsewhere on this blog I have posted an essay, "The Ethics of Jesus", in which I reported what I had found by collecting everything Jesus is reported to have said about what we should DO. I wrote:

Summing up so far: Abandon all your Earthly ambitions. Forsake your Earthly family and give your loyalty to God and your fellow believers. Sell everything you own and use the money to do good works. Avoid getting any Earthly reward for your good works. Follow the Mosaic Law, both the letter and the spirit of it. Abstain from all sin, inside and out; abstain from covetousness, abstain from anger, abstain from lust. Do WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO to abstain from lust. Practice strict nonviolent pacifism; do not resist evil, do not strike back, do good to those who hate you. Practice mercy and forgiveness and peacemaking. Do not judge others, that is not your job, Judgement Day will come soon enough. Seek to purify your own character, strive to "be perfect, even as your father in Heaven is perfect."

It occurs to me that in the late 1970's some friends and I, driving from Colorado to Virginia, picked up a hitchhiker who turned out to be a serious Christian. He was a member of a church whose members (some 100-odd) met once a year at a farm in California, and spent the rest of the year traveling around the country spreading the gospel. These folks actually tried their hardest to DO the things Jesus said to do. They were all renunciates, having given away all their money and left their jobs and families, as Jesus himself had been, depending on the kindness of strangers for their food and clothing. Our hitchhiker had the clothes on his back and a backpack, and owned three books, an English Bible, a Spanish Bible, and an English/Spanish dictionary. In conversation we found that he believed that those hundred-odd people were the only people on the face of the Earth who were saved... the Pope was going to hell, Billy Graham was going to hell, everyone, because they were not doing what Jesus said to do.

Since writing my essay, I have come to realize that this guy was not as crazy as we thought at the time; he has an excellent case, assuming the text is reliable. Jesus does say that very few will be saved; Matthew chapter 7, Jesus says 13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

A lot of "born-agains" expect to be taken in a "rapture", snatched bodily up out of Earth to Heaven, before the years of Tribulation, etc. etc,; Tim LaHaye has co-written a whole series of bestselling "Left Behind" novels based on this belief. In the usual scenario, million of True Believers are taken, and so traffic snarls, cars and planes crash as the faithful disappear from the driver's seats. I've seen bumper stickers that say "In case of Rapture, this car will be unpiloted." But in the Synoptic gospels, it is not faith that will get you into Heaven, or keep you out, it is what you DO. So, it may be that very few would be taken if the Rapture happened. Indeed, it may have already happened. If those hundred-odd penniless drifters from that church in California were to vanish, no one would even notice.

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