The Rapture, Hell and Salvation: How our Doctrines Can Breed Fear, Suspicion and Judgment
Recently I have heard strange talk regarding the Illuminati, interesting ideas about salvation, read a controversial article about The Rapture and came across some in depth Greek transliteration on hell. This topical exposure has presented some interesting thought in reminiscing on my own doctrinal journey. The clean out Apprehension overwhelmed me this morning as I entered into a personal clothes clean-out flurry. What if, all of a sudden, I want to wear the top or jeans I just ejected from my cupboard? Had I made an immense fashion mistake getting rid of them? I managed to productively remove two bags of clothing from my life. However, it’s a little scary now as I am analysing what I have left.
---The clothes in my wardrobe present a mysterious segue---
Lately I have been considering the practicalities of having doctrine and beliefs that one might fervently hold to. Locked up within our doctrines can be; misinformation and misunderstandings passed on through generations of religion and denominations, and in some cases mistranslated from the original text. What doctrines do you adhere to? Alignment with certain beliefs regarding hell can affect thinking and perspective, which become apparent in how we deal with people and how we view God. For example: “I’m right, and THEY are going to hell”, “I’m going to hell, so who cares how I live”, “YOU need to confess otherwise you are going to hell”, “God condemns people to hell – what kind of God is that?” Beliefs about the End Times and The Rapture can influence worldviews and dictate, in such views, the steps that believers must take to prepare themselves.
Photo Credit: pixabay.com/en/users/dengri-3457401/
Some might hold to strong procedural dogmas regarding baptism and this can create judgements and requirements on the journeys of others. We may have a strong view concerning sin and this plays out in our observation and treatment of people (including ourselves). Some may elevate the Bible above Jesus and employ verses to attack or condemn. We can build up a wall of doctrine around us. We can then become very sensitive to anything that comes against it. Anyone challenging our doctrine or thoughts we instantly feel offended by. The very next thought after offence is often wariness - “This person is off track”. Why do we have these responses? Even when we rid ourselves of some old doctrine, we still judge others through our new lens of ‘truth’. Throughout history new denominations have risen and fallen. Denominational divisions have emerged due to doctrines, direction and belief systems. A Rabbi to follow In early Jewish history were the Rabbis (teachers). They were extremely respected and well educated in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). They were particularly knowledgeable about Jewish Law. Anointed Rabbis had different interpretations of the Torah. A follower would align himself with a particular Rabbi based on the interpretations that corresponded with their own personal understanding.
---Even before Jesus, there were accepted differences in understanding ‘doctrine’---
In the book of Matthew, Jesus says “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” I note that this verse does not add on the end, “as long as their doctrine is correct.” The Bible records Jesus being called to judge or arbitrate several times during his earthly ministry. In most cases he was not interested in judging or taking sides. In fact, when people thought he should be on one particular side, he promptly advocated the opposing argument or remained neutral. This is demonstrated in the book of Luke when a man asks, "Teacher (Rabbi), tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." I’m not sure what the man took from the response Jesus gave him. In his mind it wasn’t fair. Surely he should get some of the inheritance? Surely Jesus wants his brother to do the most reasonable thing? So what does this mean for our doctrines? Slowly God chips away at our built up, inherited or incorrectly taught views of Him. He taps away at our doctrine and gently asks us to put down our fists of battle. He asks us to remove our lines drawn in the sand and look to Jesus. Our futile attempts to build things up around us, once pulled down, bring freedom. However, it can be daunting letting go of our doctrinal walls. Similar to my wardrobe situation, my brain begins to search what life might be like if I let something go: “But I can’t let it go! I’ve carried it around with me from house to house, state to state! Some items I’ve inherited and I don’t even know how they got in my wardrobe!” My built up doctrine is essentially a barrier from experiencing who God really is and affects my acceptance of his love and free gift. Doctrinal freedom What have our doctrinal walls bred within us? Do we experience fear, suspicion, anger and judgment? Or do we feel joy, acceptance, peace and freedom? The renewing of the mind, day after day is an honour and delight - but this may not be the renewing of the mind that you have been taught at Sunday School or Youth Group… The message we get from Jesus is love, acceptance, mercy and grace. And yes, in its fullness it will mess with your head … and your doctrine.
Belinda has always enjoyed expressing herself. Her mediums have included dance, painting, writing and performing for local theatre companies. In 2010 she was invited to write comment articles for Press Service International which culminated in her winning the 'Basil Seller's Australian Young Writer of the Year' in 2015. Her writing is now published at cinemafaith.com, patheos.com and periecho.com. Belinda lives on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.
See previous articles by Belinda Croft