Barbara R. Rossing, The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation.
Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2004.
212 pages.

The author believes that Christ will return, but is disturbed that the "Left Behind" fiction is based on an interpretation of the Bible which is also fiction. This method of interpreting end-times writings was invented less than two hundred years ago, but by now is the dominate American view of prophecy. "Sadly, what gets ‘left behind' by the Rapture plotline is the Bible itself." Because these chapters were originally gives as separate lectures, there is some redundancy in the book. Overall, however, it is well written.

Rossing decries the doomsday outlook that God plans to destroy this earth and there is nothing we can do about it. We should be stewards of this earth and not simply live in anticipation of escaping it. "The Bible's message is not that ‘God so loved the world that he sent World War III.' The message of Revelation for the Middle East is not that God plans to destroy the world with a bloody battle culminating in Jerusalem, but rather the vision and promise of New Jerusalem: the story of a shared city, with a tree of life and open gates to welcome all nations."

Rossing also asserts that, "The Bible would never allow the claim that the world ‘belongs' to the Antichrist!" The author asks how Christians should live if they know they are living in the end-times. Her conclusion is that, "The Left Behind novels completely reverse the early Christian understanding of how to live in the end-times." The novels were written for people who don't want to read Revelation, who instead want something easy and fun. Yet Rossing concludes that the deficiency of the theology on which this fiction is based does not seem to believe the Lamb has truly conquered or won the victory when he was slaughtered. "They preach the saving power of the blood of the Lamb in Jesus' crucifixion, but it is not quite enough saving power for them. They need Christ to come back again with some real power, not as a Lamb but as a roaring lion. Jesus has to return so he can finish up the job of conquering."

The teaching that Christ would return twice was first seen in a vision by a fifteen year-old girl in 1830, then popularized by John Darby and imported to America through the Scofield Reference Bible. The whole concept of a future, seven-year tribulation hinges on three verses at the end of Daniel 9. Darby inserted a gap in this text, separating the first 69 weeks from the final week of seven years. "The fact is that not one single biblical passage lays out the dispensationalists' overarching chronology of Rapture followed by seven years of tribulation followed by Jesus' return to earth. They have to piece this grand narrative together like stringing clothes on a clothesline. There is not two-stage return of Christ in the Bible, no escapist Rapture from earth for born-again Christians."

Rossing's 1999 feminist commentary on Revelation, The Choice Between Two Cities, presents the key to the book as a political choice between Babylon and Jerusalem personified as a choice between two women— the whore and the bride. Much like the rhetoric concerning two women in Proverbs, Rossing sees revelation as an exhortation to right action. In making her case she leans too hard on pagan myths and overlooks the central character of Revelation — Jesus Christ. While this more recent book by her could be dismissed on the basis that its author is not a conservative theologian, it is all the more significant that with this book the author protests the mishandling of Scripture by "conservatives." Oswald T. Allis was right when he wrote 1936 that this popular, dispensational view of "conservatives" is as destructive to the faith as the higher criticism of liberal theology. Many who have rightly contented for the inerrancy and authority of Scripture are rebuked in this book for wrongly interpreting it.


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