What Shall We Do with the Last Days theology?

The “reality-context” from which most End Times theology assumes a premise was quite imaginatively portrayed and taught to millions of Christians by Tim LaHaye with help from fiction writer Jerry Jenkins in the Left Behind novels.

Within the LDS Church there are those who have a related version of End Times theology, some of which has been driven by speculation based on historical sermons primarily of Joseph Smith. In many ways the LDS “true Church” and “revealed religion” is a basis for Joseph’s public utterances about the Last Days.

My experience has been that Sunday School and other adult classes tend to focus on the perceived place of the Church in the world.

The most prominent LDS end times knowledge currently seems to be the oft-discussed or silently-pondered idea of the Constitution hanging by a thread and waiting for the elders to save both document and country.

And although up until our current time with Mormon presidential candidates, proving the prophesies has not had any urgent sense except perhaps in the minds of the highly literalistic survivalist element that stresses independence, self reliance and a certain amount of political panic as relating to the Last Days. I prefer to withhold judgment and in fact am not in the camp that believes in apocalyptic theology or the idea of the end of the world other than by natural astronomical events over millions of years.

For scriptural literalists and prophesy mongers, one could conclude that the biggest fear is the fear of being wrong. Whenever I hear a declaration about what God is about to do, I wonder if I’m also hearing a fear of riding the wrong horse in the wrong direction, to the wrong place with the wrong consequences.

The fear of being wrong implies a powerful acceptance of the notion that God will hold all accountable for being “right” or being “wrong,” elevating that single separation entirely out of proportion in  importance.

I have no experience of God as divinely watching for “right” and “Wrong”. Rather, my perceptions have been that our Heavenly Parents await growth and maturity beyond issues of right, wrong … and a liberation from any need for justification.

In their end-times theology that insists that god will get all sinners, what happens to those who don’t measure up?

Who will be left behind?

The idea of justice asks the same questions of everyone.

If we are not to judge that we be not judged then we owe it ourselves and the sake of community goodness to get out of the condemning business. Condemning or divine avenging is not part of what God is nor ought it be our habit or automatic stance regarding those with whom we disagree. The fundamentalist construct is a God of War, Wrath, and Punishment with a major emphasis on what God hates and how vindictive God can be.

Such is a construct full of all that is ugly and detracts from a concept of a Heavenly Parent possessed of love, compassion and a sense of human goodness.

Such continues to drag back into our awareness a punitive God who is artificially angry and mocks the Father proclaimed by Jesus.

So what do we do as decades pass and the mouthpieces of God on Earth continue an insistence that those who are evil and do not conform are still going to get theirs?

What if these theological  threats don’t come to pass?

Would we not be investing way too  much emotional energy in the wrong direction?

“Heavenly Father, if you don’t whack the evil-doers in the way I believe and according to what we have been taught in Sunday School will it have been a mistake to follow the brethren as they’ve continually warned us?”

If Father and Mother’s thoughts are not my thoughts and higher than my thoughts, can I not trust  the Divine to deal with those folks and quit worrying about who’s worthy and who isn’t?

According to the literal scriptural declarations we have time to spend worrying about the realities of our own lives each of which includes those kinds of “evilness” not approved by the Church.  If we consider ourselves “saved” or even the more dramatic conviction of certain Calling and Election, we ourselves may not possess those tendencies.

It is far more important to be anxiously engaged in seeking the highest good than to sit around worrying about how and when God will deal with our apostates, inactives and otherwise good people with whom  we doctrinally disagree.

Where the loudest publicly political Christian mouths have brought us seems to look like we are also like the extremely inaccurate parody of Islam that stokes flames of hate where none need exist. Do we not as Mormons owe it to the beauty of our belief in being good for goodness’ sake to repudiate such nonsense?

When the rose-colored glasses are removed, one can see very little difference between the Talibans in Afghanistan and our American Pharisee’s who not only preach equivalent judgmental thinking, but use the same tactics … mostly verbal now. 
Though not in agreement with Bishop Spong who stated that “Christianity must change or die,” I am in harmony with an understanding that literalist Christians may very well literalize themselves into inconsequential roles, or worse, becoming the cause of highly negative national and global consequences.

The same can be said for literal-minded Mormon’s who wittingly or unwittingly self-submit to someone else’s thinking magic and refuse to consider what truth means to an individual within a believing context. I’m not counting on any apocalyptic end times to interrupt our social corruption. I’m not giving up, shrugging off humanity or buying into moral hubris thinking that Jesus will have to clean up the messes being made after eye-twinkling the morally self-righteous.

Enduring to the end in my life means the consistency of attempting to be good for the sake of being good … and knowing that The Father has not set a time or date when all striving must end because it’s out of our hands.

It will never be out of our hands.

The two great commandments are that which rules.

For a good portrayal of the origin of all this Left Behind foolishness, see Will the Catholics Be Left Behind? by Carl Olson. Available also at Amazon.

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