No, that banderole wasn’t allurement and switch.
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I’m alms you, baby friend, the adventitious to apprehend the absolute aboriginal affiliate of my accessible book Unraptured actually free.
No strings attached.
No newsletter to assurance up for.
Not alike a pre-order requirement.
Though, I mean, if you like it and appetite to pre-order Unraptured before its official absolution on March 19th that would be swell.
But seriously, there is no obligation whatsoever. You don’t alike acquire to bang on a appropriate articulation to apprehend it. Here it is in its entirety, affiliate one of Unraptured: How End Times Canon Gets It Wrong….
My bedchamber was dark, ablaze aloof about peeking through the curtains. My boyish affection began to race, my abdomen clinched in ever-tightening knots. Agitation was beheading my senses as I formed out of bed, calling out for my mom, my brother, sister, anybody. But no one answered. The abandoned complete to be heard was the acrid of old board floorboards below my feet. Stepping carefully out of my bedroom, I began authoritative my way throughout the abode allowance by room. Slowly at first, one footfall at a time bottomward the hallway, analytical into anniversary room, hoping, praying that somebody—anybody—would be there. With anniversary abandoned allowance I best up my pace, afraid that my affliction daydream had assuredly arise true. I was atrocious to acquisition anyone at all, alike a drifter who had burst into my abode to annihilation me and abduct aggregate I had.
But all I activate was emptiness.
It had assuredly happened.
My affliction daydream had arise true.
The rapture had occurred and I had been larboard behind.
Jesus had arise to aggregate his saints, but I had been activate wanting; a blackmailer base to be taken in the ablaze of an eye to heaven with the absolute Christians. But why? What had I done? I had been so accurate not to sin—at atomic not too much. I didn’t smoke. I didn’t drink. I didn’t do drugs. I wasn’t accepting premarital sex. I never absent church. I abandoned listened to Christian music, and I had, like, every Christian T-shirt anytime made. What abroad did Jesus appetite from me? What alien sin had I committed that kept me on apple with the reprobate?
As I raced through my aback blurred anamnesis analytic for some acumen for award myself on the aisle to hell, I threw accessible the aback aperture to get one aftermost attending at the sun afore alpha my chase for a alembic to alarm home for the abutting seven years as the adversity caked out its acrimony on left-behind sinners like me. But afresh I saw him.
The best august affair my eyes had anytime beheld.
No, not Jesus.
It was my stepdad.
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Cutting the grass.
I hadn’t been larboard abaft afterwards all! My ancestors was still earthbound and accounted for. My stepdad had been outside, alive in the yard. My mom was active errands, my sister was aphotic out with friends, my brother was fishing. And I—well, I would acquire accustomed all this if I hadn’t slept in till the able of noon.
If that book sounds unimaginably affected to you, afresh acutely you didn’t abound up in bourgeois evangelicalism. Moments like this one are a approved accident for endless bodies who grew up assertive Jesus will acknowledgment at any moment to barrel affectionate Christians abroad to heaven, abrogation abaft non-Christians to ache through a seven-year adversity in which the Antichrist will aphorism the apple through a one-world government while alarming plagues rain bottomward on those larboard abaft until Jesus allotment to achieve a thousand-year administration of peace.
Or maybe the thousand years will alpha and afresh he will return—it depends whom you ask. What is assertive is that you don’t appetite to get larboard behind. And you don’t acquire to be! All you acquire to do is say the Sinner’s Prayer, acquire Jesus into your affection as your claimed Lord and Savior, and pay accurate absorption to the signs of the end times that disentangle anytime Israel is in the news. Acute those signs won’t necessarily get you accomplished the fair gates, but it will advice you accumulate on your toes. If you acquire backslidden a bit, you’ll apperceive aback you charge to get your act calm so you won’t be larboard behind.
Thankfully, acute the signs is easy. There are affluence of televangelists accessible to breach it all bottomward for you with archive and diagrams and books and videos. Best of all, these guides to the apocalypse can all be castigation for a baby adulation alms of abandoned $29.95. Or if you can’t delay that continued for the mail to arrive, your bounded Christian bookstore is abounding abounding of end-times resources. I should know, because I bought best of them in aerial school.
But I wasn’t alone. The Larboard Abaft alternation of novels has awash added than eighty actor copies, but it is far from the abandoned banknote cow of the apocalypse.1 Continued afore Larboard Abaft authors Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye showed up on the scene, addition end-times able called Hal Lindsey wrote The Late Great Planet Apple to about the aforementioned acclaim—and book sales. Not continued after Lindsey set the apple on blaze with guarantees of an approaching Armageddon, above NASA scientist Edgar Whisenant had his own bestseller: 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. Spoiler alert: the rapture didn’t arise in 1988.
If books aren’t your thing, association like San Antonio–based preacher John Hagee are able with colossal archive and account television programs, in which his abbey casework are adapted into apocalyptic lectures. Or for the adolescent generation, there’s the Third Eagle of the Apocalypse on YouTube, who is added than acquisitive to explain to you the aroused adumbration at the Denver International Airport or acknowledge the abstruse prophetic symbols in the latest iPhone commercial—that is, if he’s not too active basic an aboriginal song on the end times.
And afresh there’s my claimed admired astrologer of the end times: Jack Van Impe, who forth with his wife, Rexella, produces a account faux account appearance in which he quotes an alarming cardinal of Bible verses while breaking bottomward account stories, usually affiliated to Israel, to acknowledge how they are bright fulfillments of biblical prophecy.
But that’s aloof the tip of the apocalyptic iceberg. There are rapture-themed movies advised to alarm you into not actuality larboard behind; bonanza stickers to acquaint your adolescent drivers that should the rapture occur, your agent will be driverless; and rapture pet insurance, which guarantees that a left-behind agnostic blackmailer will booty affliction of your pet aback you get zapped to heaven.2 To be fair, that aftermost one was arise to be a hoax, but that abandoned agency the bazaar is accomplished for a new rapture allowance aggregation should you be attractive for an advance opportunity.
The point is, the rapture can booty over your activity if you let it. Affluence of association are acquisitive for that to happen, because they’ve got lots of actuality to advertise you. Rapture-related businesses may seem like accessible scams, but that’s because you’re not abashed of actuality larboard behind, or worse—and this is the absolute abhorrence abaft it all—going to hell.
And so are endless added Christians who acquire been conditioned to accept that if they don’t accept all the appropriate things and do all the amiss things and don’t say the appropriate prayer, God will ache them with doubtful horrors for all eternity. That abhorrence collection my acceptance for years. It beatific me active into the balmy embrace of end-times theology, which promised to affluence my fears with accuracy about the apocalyptic approaching it predicted and a agreement that I would be rescued from affliction to come.
That was how I accustomed Christianity for abundant of my life. Alike today, continued afterwards I absent my acceptance in the rapture, the abhorrence of actuality larboard abaft still haunts me. If I acquisition my wife’s pajamas on the bed aback I didn’t apperceive she had to assignment aboriginal that morning, I panic. I apperceive better. I absolutely do. But the rapture is adamantine to accord up.
Because aback your acceptance is focused on the end of days, they can actual calmly become a batty attraction that takes over your life. Aggregate I anticipation about, talked about, and did or didn’t do revolved about authoritative constant I wasn’t activity to be larboard behind. So aback that cornerstone was removed, I was larboard wondering, what was the point of accepting acceptance at all? Why bother actuality a Christian?
When my acceptance became unraptured—when I chock-full assertive that one day added believers and I would abandon in the ablaze of an eye and leave the heathens abaft on earth—I had an existential crisis. All I knew was the Christian life, and all I anticipation the Christian activity was about was not actuality left
behind. So after the rapture, who was I? Why did I charge to be adored if the point of conservancy wasn’t all about artifice apple and accepting to heaven?
Those questions drive this book, and they are why this book isn’t absolutely about the rapture at all. Sure, the chat rapture is appropriate there in the title, and we will absolutely absorb a lot of time talking about it. But this book is about what Christianity looks like after the rapture (which doesn’t alike arise in the Bible—but that’s for a after chapter). It’s about what Christianity looks like aback we stop absorption on aggravating to escape apple for heaven and alpha aggravating to accompany heaven to earth.
This book isn’t about the end of the world.
It’s about the actuality and now.
It’s about what Christianity looks like aback conservancy isn’t article that happens to us in the approaching but rather article that God does through us in the present.
When I aboriginal got saved, the abhorrence of actuality larboard abaft and activity to hell had yet to booty over my life, but not because it didn’t acquire the chance. I was in abbey afore I had my aboriginal childhood changed. Okay, maybe it wasn’t absolutely that quick, but that’s how the adventure goes. My preacher grandfathering had to appearance me off in abbey the aboriginal adventitious he got. And he did. I was built-in on a Tuesday. By that afterward Sunday, I was in church. I was aback in abbey afresh for midweek casework on Wednesday, afresh aback afresh Sunday morning, and aback yet afresh Sunday night, ablution and echo every week. Growing up, I was in abbey about as generally as I was at home.
I’m beholden to say that my aboriginal time accepting adored wasn’t because somebody actually afraid the hell out of me. It was because somebody showed me what it agency to be loved, what it agency to belong, and what it agency to be admired and cared for. It was because addition showed me that all that adulation and acceptance and caring came from Jesus.
Her name was Grandma Ruthie, but she wasn’t my grandma. She was everybody’s grandma, and she had been teaching Sunday academy at my abbey continued afore I accustomed on the scene. She was aggregate you would apprehend a Grandma Ruthie to be: kind, loving, welcoming, generous, and diminutive in stature, but no pushover. She was a grandmother beeline out of axial casting. Alfresco of my family, she was the aboriginal actuality who absolutely showed me what the adulation of Jesus looked like and why that Jesus was account admiring back. There wasn’t annihilation affecting she did for me to appearance me that love. She didn’t accord a branch or pay for me to go to college. But she was relentlessly affectionate and welcoming. You knew the moment she smiled at you that you belonged, that she admired and accustomed you aloof as you were. There was no charge to try to affect her. Artlessly absolute was abundant for Grandma Ruthie to appearance the affectionate of constant love, kindness, and generosity that abandoned comes from, well, a grandmother.
Her activity was an archetype I’m abandoned now absolutely alpha to appreciate. Don’t get me wrong. Like anybody abroad who anytime above her path, I’ve consistently been beholden for accepting Grandma Ruthie in my life. But it wasn’t until my acceptance began to complete and I saw how abundant my abhorrence of hell and the fear of actuality larboard abaft had shaped my acceptance that I became absolutely beholden for a foundation that wasn’t congenital on those things—a foundation that was congenital on their complete opposite.
That’s not to say Grandma Ruthie didn’t accept in hell. I’m constant she did. But I can’t anamnesis her anytime absolutely bringing it up with us. I’m constant she apparently mentioned it already or twice, but the acceptable account she preached to us was apprenticed by love, not fear. Her activity was activated by a deep, constant affection for bringing others into the balmy embrace of the God she loved. She knew above any agnosticism that God admired her and was actually dying—or had died—for us to adulation him too.
If my adventure of acceptance had started out abnormally from that—if I didn’t acquire a anamnesis of article bigger than the abhorrence of actuality larboard behind—I don’t apperceive area I would be today. If my aboriginal appointment with God was one of base alarm of abiding torment, and if that was the abandoned God I anytime met, I apparently would acquire absent my acceptance continued ago, never to acquisition it again. I acceptable would acquire absitively that this Jesus adolescent absolutely wasn’t addition account following. But that foundation of adulation assuredly branded me with hope—hope that, admitting the alarming images of God that I would after appointment and alike arise to accept in, this was not, in fact, who God absolutely was.
Revelation is a admired book amid the end-times crowd. What the multimillion-dollar end-times automated circuitous doesn’t point out, though, is that Revelation is about foundations as abundant as it is about the future. Revelation is as abundant about ancestry as it is about endings. It’s about the alpha of a new heaven and a new apple but abandoned because the old adjustment of things has been transformed, not destroyed.
The foundation laid in Genesis doesn’t crumble at the end of Revelation. It’s adequate as the affiance of paradise is fabricated absolute already more. The basal accord amid conception and Creator that Jesus congenital aloft with his life, death, and awakening is fabricated complete, as the apple God created is affronted into the Eden it was consistently meant to be. We are the ones who took things into our own easily and adapted the paradise of Eden into the hell on apple so abounding of us acquaintance today. But Revelation tells us to abhorrence not. Area Genesis plants the timberline of life, Revelation sees it blossom. Anon and actual soon, Revelation promises, we will be arrive aback to eat from its branches for all eternity.
But Revelation does added than that. It additionally proclaims that tomorrow is already alpha to aurora today, because the awakening of Jesus wasn’t aloof a onetime, one-person event. The moment Jesus absolved out of the tomb on Easter morning was the aurora of a new era. His awakening was the firstfruits, or start, of a transformation that extends to all of conception and continues to this day.
That’s not aloof the bulletin of Revelation; it’s the acceptable account of the gospel, the actual foundation of Christianity. Christianity isn’t aloof about accepting adored and activity off to heaven. Christianity is about “Thy commonwealth come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 KJV). That’s what makes the actuality “good account to the poor” (Luke 4:18). It’s the affiance that God isn’t sitting around, cat-and-mouse for some abroad cabalistic day in the approaching to act. God is at assignment in the apple today, authoritative the lives of the atomic of these bigger now.
It’s so important to balance and accost the book of Revelation because, ironically, as abundant as rapture canon has acquired us to lose the accurate bulletin of the gospel, rightly understanding the apocalypse can be the actual affair that starts to adjustment the accident done by the rapture. For as we balance what it absolutely agency to alive in the aftermost days, Revelation reminds us of the accurate foundation of the Christian acceptance and the acceptable account that God is already at assignment in the apple authoritative all things new in and through us.
That’s not aloof the adventure of Revelation; it’s the adventure of the absolute Bible. The adventure of the Bible isn’t the adventure of a God who whisks bodies abroad to assurance aback trials and tribulations are on the horizon. It’s the adventure of a God who became beef and who walks beside us alike through the basin of the adumbration of death. God doesn’t affiance that the airing will be chargeless of pain. But God does affiance we will never airing alone. It’s a affidavit both to God’s adherence during times of agitation and to the role of God’s bodies as agents of adroitness in and for the world.
That was the affiance I saw embodied in Grandma Ruthie— the adulation of God actual in my activity in the present. It was a foundation of adulation that larboard the aperture absurd accessible aloof abundant for me to one day airing aback through and balance my aboriginal adulation or, added accurately, the One who aboriginal admired me.
Of course, this book wouldn’t abide if my acceptance had backward that way. My acceptance would not acquire bare “unrapturing” had I backward on the aisle of adulation instead of abandoning it out of abhorrence and self-preservation.
So what happened?
Ironically, I forsook my adulation for Jesus in the aforementioned abode that accomplished me that adulation drives abroad all fear: church. I don’t beggarly my bounded abbey or alike my abbey is to accusation for this. At atomic not exclusively. I beggarly the abbey universal—from the bounded abbey and abbey to parachurch organizations, citywide revivals, Christian media, adolescence events, abbey camp, regular old abbey people, and aggregate and anybody abroad in between—became a agitator for abhorrence and bent and legalism in my life.
I apperceive how ambagious that ability complete to addition alfresco the church. It would accomplish for a nicer, cleaner anecdotal if I had one adversary in my story—if the “bad guy” wasn’t additionally the “good guy.” But that’s not how my adventure unfolded. The abbey that captivated its accoutrements about me and showed me the adulation of Jesus? That’s the aforementioned abbey that absolute the legalism and abhorrence of hell that collection my acceptance for so abundant of my life.
That’s what this book is about: complexity, messiness, and how the aforementioned antecedent can be molded for acceptable or for bad. I’m not attractive to debris the abbey or Christianity or the attitude that shaped my faith. Yes, there will be appraisal ample in the pages to come. But that’s not why this book exists. The bad is there with the acceptable because that’s the absoluteness of my acceptance journey, and maybe of castigation too. Breaking abroad from the traditions we grew up with is hard. There’s a lot about them that we love. Added importantly, there are a lot of bodies in those traditions whom we love, alike if we no best see eye to eye with them.
So while I acquire affluence of not so balmy and down-covered things to say about the acceptance of my accomplished and the all-embracing accompaniment of the abbey today, Unraptured is not allotment of a adept plan of advance to accompany Christianity abolition to the arena (as if I had such ability to activate with). It’s aloof the circuitous absoluteness of activity if you grew up in and about a assertive blazon of church. Acceptable bodies can go astray, or be led astray, alike in the best blue-blooded of pursuits.
Most Christians we affray with aren’t altogether bad people. Their lives are adequately normal, and frequently affectionate and compassionate. We would apparently anticipate of them as good, appropriate bodies were our encounters with them not authentic by considerately bad accomplishments and behaviors—racism, bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, you name it. Our sisters and brothers in Christ acceptable don’t see how or why what they’re accomplishing is amiss or un-Christlike. They may alike see their accomplishments as an important allotment of demography a angle for their faith. What we ability call as abhorrent they see as loving, because they accept their words or accomplishments will accumulate bodies out of hell. Meet them at church, work, or the abundance and they’re nice to be around. They’re contrarily acceptable people, but that aphotic atom is so aphotic it makes the ablaze in their lives difficult for others to see.
I was already one of them.
I was one of those Christians you so generally apprehend caricatured on the news: accustomed for who they hate, who they’re aggravating to abjure account to, who they’re aggravating to accumulate out of the country, and what abhorrent baby-kisser they’re supporting. They are aloof as abashed and affronted with us as we are at them because they anticipate of themselves as acceptable bodies who are artlessly actuality accurate to their aboveboard captivated religious beliefs.
I was already one of those contrarily acceptable people, and honestly, I wouldn’t appetite to be accompany with that adaptation of me either.
So how did I go from Grandma Ruthie to apocalyptic fearmonger?
How did I go from falling in adulation with Jesus to actuality abashed he would accelerate me to hell?
And how did a Christian acceptance founded on the acceptable account of God advancing bottomward to apple become an escape plan?
As they say, the alley to hell is paved with acceptable intentions.
Excerpted from Zack Hunt’s accessible new book, Unraptured: How End Times Canon Gets It Wrong. (Herald Press, 2019) All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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