The Rapture, the Anti-Christ, and Obama
The above article articulates a common view of America, that of Rapture Theology: “You have some prophecy teachers that argue that the tribulation has begun now. So every time something happens, it has to fit into the narrative”. It cites the sale of books by John Hagee and Perry Stone, two firm rapture believers.
The modern idea of the rapture is quite novel. In 1827 John Darby suggested that Jesus would call up to heaven those faithful on earth before a period of trial on earth (the tribulation), wherein the anti-Christ would reign. This was contrary to the view at the time, which was held all the way back to the Apostles, and this heretical view was popularized by Presbyterians, Baptists, and Congregationalists.
The Catholic view is that life will be going on as normal until Jesus comes back to earth. We will go out to meet him in the sky with our newly glorified bodies to join his entrance to a newly glorified earth, where we will live forever: heaven and earth become one. Before Christ comes back, countless anti-Christs will appear. An anti-Christ is someone who has themselves worshipped instead of God, just as the Roman Emperors did.
Further, because Christ brings communion, these anti-Christs bring war (still looking at you, Pres. Obama). The anti-communion of violence is a signature of the anti-Christs each generation will have to face.
So must we expect Jesus sooner than other generations because Obama fits the definition of anti-Christ? Nope. St. John’s revelation teaches us that by the sword of speech and death of martyrdom do Christians conquer violence in every generation. This has been the traditional and only understanding until the 1800’s when Darby suggested otherwise. And don’t worry, St. John’s revelation also offers us the knowledge that Christ has already won. Now is the long time of Christ’s reign (the “millennium” in the Revelation), and this is because the final battle was fought and won on Calvary. We are only concerned with the moping up after the divisive victory against evil that was already accomplished. We do this moping up of evil by uniting our own suffering to Christ’s on Calvary, and therefore completing the victory he attained for us.
Rather than the fear Rapture theology can bring about current events, Revelation offers a message of hope about current events. Christ won against evil, but we cooperate with him to bring that communion and love to the whole world. In that sharing of communion with the world we will face down many different anti-Christs, those who wish for war and self-aggrandizement. Our victory against them is been accomplished in our loving those who hate us and acceptance of suffering to spread the kingdom of God. So while we suffer as soldiers bringing the good news to people, we suffer joyfully knowing we have already overcome the ultimate evil of death.