The following is a movie review by Orthodox Inquirer, Phillip Quinn. In keeping with the spirit of JTO, Phillip readily admits he is ever learning and is always journeying toward truth. Even so, I find the truths he is discovering on his way to Orthodoxy encouraging and provocative.
Directors: Kate Davis, David Heilbroner, Franco Sacchi.
A Movie Review
By Phillip Quinn
Plot: America's 50-million strong Evangelical community is convinced that the world's future is foretold in Biblical prophecy.
I keep reminding myself to Judge the Documentary, not the documented. (Yes, the pun is intended)
This is the kind of film that makes Christians look silly. Christian extremists claim all sorts of stuff. (See: Jesus Camp (2006)) If you take one of their leaders, like those in this film back in time to meet their Christian “Brothers and Sisters” of the first millennia, they would not recognize each-other. Much has been added to modern Christian beliefs starting in the eleventh Century and even more so in the Sixteenth Century. Many Christians I have talked to do not know the history of their faith and unfortunately the majority does not care to know their history either.
Neither the word, nor the concept of “Rapture” is found anywhere in the Bible. It is a concept that is man-made dating back to the late 1700s. The Biblical text is clear that Christ will return although; there is no reference to a “Great Tribulation” or to any other events preceding His Return.
In 1825, a Scottish minister named Edward Irving is first attributed to using the word “Rapture”. Many scholars recognize it was actually a fifteen year old female follower of Irving’s who is documented as having a “prophecy” revealing the concept of Rapture. Her name was Margaret McDonald and the collection of her dreams is called “The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets”.
People mistakenly believe Rapture is found in the Bible, but truly it is not. Early Christians taught by Jesus directly or by his Apostles would have no idea what the term or concept “Rapture” means. We know this because they wrote things down and never mention neither the concept nor word “Rapture” anywhere in their writings.
Advocates of the Rapture invention often site: I Thessalonians 4:17 as the sole verse to support their ideas. If you take the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians Church in context, Saint Paul is ending a worry that started in their church because some people believed that Christians who died before Christ’s return would somehow miss out on that glorious event of his return. Start reading from 4:13 forward and you can understand why Saint Paul is correcting them.
Another problem with the modern invention of “Rapture” is that it imagines three times the Lord shall come: First, “His Birth”; Second, “The Rapture” and Third “Judgment”. Furthermore, there are people who claim to know the end of the world. They place their words against Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus said “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” – Matt 24:36. Only God the Father knows the end of the world.
There is both a National Israel and a Spiritual Israel. A modern nation is named Israel, but is distinctly different from Spiritual Israel. Spiritual Israel is a part of the fulfillment of Christ’s incarnation on Earth. Christ fulfilled the old covenant between God and the Jewish people and began a new covenant with all peoples; Jew, Gentile and Pagan. This new covenant (agreement) is with those who carry God’s favor by Carrying God’s message to the World. This is Israel – Christ’s Church. Consider that when reading scripture mentioning Israel after the coming of Christ. What goes on in the middle-east is caused by the extension of the free will of men and nothing more.
Saint Paul wrote, “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham . . . if you are Christ’s then you are of Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:7-9). Indeed, Saint Paul called the body of believers “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). Saint Peter illustrated this point by applying terms used to describe Israel in the Old Testament when he wrote, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (I Peter 2:9). I am still surprised to find modern Christians who did not know Christianity comes from Judaism or that the Old Testament is a collection of Jewish text. The most popular being the Masoretic text, revised in the ninth century by Jews hostile to Christ.
As the documentary continues - In Particular, American Evangelicals look to the Nation of Israel as Prophetic allies. Christians who live in and around the Nation of Israel are certainly not treated as friends by them. The makers of this film interview both Orthodox and reformist Jews, but not Orthodox Christians who lived in and around the Holy Land for the last two thousand years. Instead, they follow the imported American people around the city oblivious to anything but, what they are spoon fed – accepting all, without any investigation.
The fundamentalist Christian bloodlust for violence and vengeance in End Times is disturbing to say the least. This is one area I think the movie covers well. Never mind that the idea of violence and demolition that is sold to them goes against the very core of what Christ teaches - they seem all too happy to welcome human suffering and destruction of anyone who does not believe as they do. The movie also covers how unscrupulous men like John Hagee and Tim LaHaye fleece Christians of their money. Any one of us would easily be able to refute what they say with simple Bible Studies.
All and all, the documentary presents a frightening look at how ignorant, depraved and ill-informed a group of people can be. It is a dangerous movement in that they have political power and are not shy to use it.
JTO Editor's Note: for more on this false doctrine of the pre-tribulation doctrine see: