Since we are approaching the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I think this is a perfect time for part 4 of my First Church of the Holy Rollers series. Enjoy!
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The second red flag came up a week after September 11th.
Like most Americans during that time, I was full of fear and confusion. Why did this happen? What’s going to happen now? What are we supposed to do? I looked towards the Holy Roller Church for answers. A week after September 11th I went to Wednesday night Bible study looking for some word of comfort. I wanted to hear about how God is always faithful, even if the mountains fall into the sea. Or maybe that now is the time to be the hands and feet of Christ in this world full of hurt and pain.
Instead, the message I heard was, “Get ready for the apocalypse.”
Throughout the evening all Pastor Dave talked about was pre-tribulation rapture, seven-year tribulation, the Antichrist, and finally the destruction of heaven and earth. That was all I had to look forward to in this post-September 11th world: getting swooped up into heaven, away from the tragic material earth, while all of the poor suckers left behind burned to a crisp.
This kind of eschatology is known as “escapist theology:” the belief that planet Earth is just a fragile shell that doesn’t really matter because in the end it will all disintegrate and every soul that has ever existed will be in either Heaven or Hell for all of eternity. Even though Jesus said heaven and earth will pass away, He was actually referring heaven and earth in their current condition. The Bible says that at the end of the age the New Jerusalem will come down to earth, and heaven and earth will be one. So in other words, what happens in this world does matter.
Of course I was a young Christian then, so I didn’t know any of this at the time. However, I did know that Pastor Dave’s Bible study lesson that night was the biggest crock of fecal matter I ever heard in my life. I just couldn’t put my finger on it back then.
After that night, I was done with religion. I still believed that God existed, but I figured if the Holy Roller Church represented what Christianity is all about, then I didn’t want anything to do with it. Why can’t religion just be simple, and just be about loving people? Why do we have to be so concerned about the end of the world, something that even Jesus said He doesn’t know when it will happen? Maybe I was better off before this whole Jesus crap happened.
Slowly but surely, though, Jesus kept nudging me back to the Church. Sometimes it was a dream where I was back at the Holy Roller Church and everything was back to normal again (or at least what constituted as “normal” for that church). Sometimes it was a particular Bible verse that made me realize how much I wanted to be a part of the Kingdom of God. I wondered if maybe I was just demanding too much of the Holy Roller Church. Maybe in the Kingdom of God you have to sometimes put up with some crazy stuff from time to time.
So, after about a month and a half away from the Holy Roller Church, figuring out what I believed, I came back once again to their Wednesday night Bible study. I even stopped by on Sundays from time to time. Fortunately on those Sundays, I didn’t see anyone rolling around on the ground giggling.