Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Radio Drama And Faith II

 I am following up on a question and suggestion posed by Glen on yesterday's post in the comments:

"What an odd post, TB. I have never read the 'Left Behind' books - would you recommend them to others?

Perhaps if you focused on your questions and exactly what is causing you to question your church and Christianity - you might find why you are drawn back to the books."

A) Left Behind

The Left Behind Series was series of 12 books published by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, which spawned an entire eschatological industry.   The original 12 books - published from 1995 to 2003 - started with the eponymous Left Behind, which posited a simple question:  what would the world look like if The Rapture occurred and seven year period referred to as The Great Tribulation occurred?  It follows a band of characters that are left behind during the seven year period as The Antichrist arises and the events of Revelation are played out.  

The books make certain assumptions:  A pre-tribulation pre-millennial Rapture (as opposed to a mid or post-tribulation Rapture) combined with a literal interpretation of Chapters 6-20 (the remaining chapters of Revelation, 20-22, are covered in the 2007 book Kingdom Come).  This is one of several views of the Return of Christ, one that has occupied 2,000 years of arguments and disagreements and in that sense, is beyond the scope of this discussion.

Would I recommend the books?  To be honest with you, it has been a great many years since I read the first one and as I recall, I do not remember it being particularly well written (my memory may be vague on this point).  That said, the audio drama (you can find it on Youtube) is amazing and completely worth the listen.

The books made a splash at the time, perhaps connecting with the upcoming turn of the century but also connecting with confrontation in terms of what such an event would actually be like.  It spurred a bit of a development like The Passion of the Christ, creating a sort of ripple effect in Christian circles.  It was successful enough that it spawned additional books and series for events for and during the Left Behind timeline. 

B)  What are the questions that are drawing me to this audio drama and in a lesser sense these eschatological questions now?

I will start by saying that in my interest, I am not aware of becoming hyper-eschatological.  Christ can indeed return tomorrow - or twenty years from now.  He Himself said no-one shall know the day or the hour; who am I to outguess the Son of God?  Yes, He said there would be signs, but He certainly did not seem to indicate that Christians were supposed to dwell on them or become consumed by them, a sort of people no better than the Romans of old looking for auguries in flocks of birds or sheep's livers.

And yet, I find myself drawn to them.

Perhaps part of the question or issue I am trying to resolve within myself is simply my own relationship with God.  I listen to the services for our current church and feel...nothing.  Others obviously feel the presence of God in that place; I do not.

Why?  Part of it may be presentation, of course:  we are in a fairly charismatic church and I was raised in a very traditional church setting.  For various and sundry reasons, I prefer an order of service to  a more free flowing service (not that there is inherently anything wrong with them, it is just my preference).

Another part - a personal part - is that I feel largely that the Church no longer calls people to what I understand is a key factor of the Christian life, holiness.  “Be ye holy, for I (the Lord) am holy" said Peter, quoting Leviticus, yet it feels to me that outside of very traditional sects like Catholicism or Orthodox, holiness is just kind of a word we banter around. It is one among many things, not one of the primary things.

A third part is simply that I feel a little at a loss.  For years I was much more deeply involved in serving in the Church than I am now. I am not sure what changed - and when looking at the opportunities that are available to me, they just seem to be other versions of volunteer work.

Lastly, I suppose, there is simply the sense that I feel less and less at home in the world that I live in right now.  Often it almost feels like there are three lives going on:  the life I live outwardly, the life I live through this blog, and the live I live inwardly (the latter two are far more congruent than any other combination).  Living in different spheres long enough can make anyone feel attenuated and stretched thin, I suppose.

This is the first time I have tried to frame my discontent in these terms. I do not know that it makes it any clearer to me, but at least it starts to identify the key aspects of what seems to be troubling me.

14 comments:

  1. I have a good friend who married a woman who prefers the liturgical, rather than free form "spirit led" style of church that he and I prefer.
    Now she does not attend with or without him.
    I was raised catholic. I do not miss the "structured" worship.
    I have a friend who went back to Catholicism and yet attends charismatic masses.
    My mom got saved but stayed in mass for the familiarity.
    I don't know what to tell you without sounding condescending..
    I pray all goes well with your soul.
    I prefer a service where God is free to speak through His Word and His people led by His Spirit, yet testing that spirit.

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    1. Ed - I am grateful that there are different kinds of services, as I am sure 100+ years ago there were people in free-form services that felt trapped in liturgical services and fell away. It would be interesting, I suppose, to see what the church of the apostles did (I suspect it was neither fully free form nor liturgical).

      I very much appreciate the prayers and your taking the time to comment.

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  2. I wonder if that is the way for everyone at some point? I've run into this too. I feel partly ashamed by the lack of attendance, and partly relieved I don't go. My circle is definitely smaller now. This is definitely a sober, thinking man's quest for understanding you are on, TB.

    At the end of Acts 2, you read the church followed the apostle's doctrine (we'd call it a Bible study now), they ate meals together, they prayed together EVERY DAY. Due to the Holy Spirit's involvement, they sold their stuff and pooled their resources. They went to the religious center of that area to worship and find converts to Jesus. It looks like their entire lives were turned right side up. I wonder how much persecution lowered their horizon to the present. Or if that was in response to Matthew 6:25-34.

    God rewards those that believe He is and diligently seek Him. I've seen that first hand. Have you ever heard about the Green Letters? Miles J. Standford. Nothing takes the place of the Bible, but somethings can come alongside and help focus or encourage. I need to reread that book.

    Godspeed on this endeavour. It is a worthy one to chase down.





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    1. STxAR, that is a fair question. If our modern history is an indicator, persecution does tend to move things both to the present and the eternal.

      I had not heard of Miles J. Standford, but now I know more. Thank you for the recommendation.

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  3. Anonymous6:23 AM

    Well thanks for that TB. Question - didn't they do a screen adaptation of that too? I disremember the name of it, but in the show people started disappearing en masse and the premise of the show was how folks coped with the idea of a real and living God and being in the end times. I enjoyed it, but I was not a Christian at the time I saw it.

    Appointing myself as your personal spiritual, financial and life coach (reasonable fees apply, please pay promptly!) - maybe the next thing you should do is sit down and spell out with yourself and your Maker - what it is, exactly, you want from the church. How do you define holiness? In what exact capacity do you want to serve your church? Exactly how is your current church failing or disappointing you? Are these something you need to take up with your leaders?

    I may be full a beans, but it sounds to me like you want to be a spiritual leader of sorts. You can tell me to go jump in the lake or pound sand and I will... but if that is the case... are you positive that you would truly want such a role? Especially in the realities of today's spiritual and political climate? Could your Maker be in motion helping you dodge a bullet? Maybe he needs volunteers, or maybe men that can operate behind enemy lines independently?

    I envy you because you and your visitors walk closer to God than I ever will. Be careful, and don't mess that up. Please keep us posted, I think along similar lines from time to time.

    That will be 27-1/2 cents! No cheques!!! :)

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    1. Glen, they for sure did at least one round of screen adaptations, and maybe two incarnations. Looking at a quick review, they may have suffered from something many such films suffer from: good intentions, not so great production. The Audio drama is top notch.

      The questions are fair. I am aware that ultimately, these sorts of things have to start with me first and then work my way to the church (they do not go the other way, which may have been part of my problem). In terms of taking things up with church leaders, I could only perhaps discuss my struggles - I hardly suspect anyone is willing to change a church just for me!

      Do I want to be a spiritual leader? Not consciously - if anything, the last 23 years has clearly steered me away from this, and looking at where I could have ended up had I continued in the church, I suspect it would not have gone well. I would have had to make some hard choices.

      I do resonate with the idea of working quietly behind "enemy lines", as that is what it feels like so often. That is part of what is driving me to look more deeply at myself, perhaps simply to root out the sin and issues in my own life.

      I am going to have to get to the bottom of this; it is not a sustainable contradiction to live in.

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    2. Filthie3:39 AM

      One of the things our guys drive in our church is the idea that nobody, even the elders themselves - are beyond rebuke or correction. As long as the critique is honest and meant constructively - it’s all good.

      I’m not saying your guys need that, but put another way: if I were a leader in your church, and a man like yourself was unhappy with me or my organization… I would really want to know why. My fear would be that others might feel the same way. Don’t look at it as a conflict, look at it as a Godly obligation. You are trying to strengthen your brothers. If you speak in that tone and spirit… and they take offence to it… then you are in the wrong church IMO.

      Maybe I am misunderstanding you and just flapping my gums. You will sort it out and be the better for it. Keep chewing on it and be well.

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    3. Glen, the Elders of the church we are currently in do not consider themselves at all above rebuke or correction. They have said so many times. What I am careful of in that situation is how much of it is just a "me" issue, and how much of it is a legitimate concern. I am well aware of my own tendency to project my "issues" on the larger concerns.

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  4. It was indeed a TV mini series.
    Still good questions and comments.
    Be blessed all.

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    1. Was it a mini-series Linda? I know it was at least two sets of movies, but I do not think they got much past the first few books. I feel like it is similar to Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand: A book (or books) that would make a great movie, but will just never get done in a way that would do it justice (thus, the radio drama option).

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    2. All I remember was a set of shows. I think it was a while ago and my memory is definitely not the best any more. :-)

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    3. I will have to investigate Linda!

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  5. In my reading today, a verse in Romans 16 reminded me of your post.

    17 And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people's faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them.
    18 Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.

    Now to read your post from today and others I missed.
    God bless, TB.

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    1. Linda, one thing that I was reminded of today in 1st Corinthians 5 was the command that Christians were not to disassociate with sinners and the world, but rather with those Christians that act like the world. We have too often gotten it all wrong.

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