The Extractional Church?

(The) evangelical world extracts us out of the mission found in our daily lives into programs for personal piety and therapeutic catharsis.  (The) Mainline world extracts us out and into programs of platitudinal do-goodism and justice advocacy.  Neither consistently produces communities of disciples who are sent in the context of daily lives as neighbor and worker.  Mission has become the process of extracting others from their contexts into the insular orbit of church programming.

– Michael Kruse (via FaceBook)

The idea of rapture in the form of the escape of the church from the troubles of this world has implications, not just for eschatology, but for discipleship as well.  Michael Kruse, in response to a facebook post by David Fitch, hits the nail on the head in 4 sentences.  The escape motif which is present in most theologies that include a rapture of the church (i.e. God’s people are snatched off earth into heaven at a future date), when applied to discipleship, leads to missional extraction.  The church becomes a sort of half-way house, or holding tank, on the way from earth to heaven.  The problem is that Jesus explicitly says that he is NOT taking his followers out of the world, but prays for them as they engage the world with the good news of the kingdom of God.  They are sheep among wolves to be sure, but sheep that are called to proclaim, teach, invite, and demonstrate the good news of the kingdom of God in their midst.

Most would not make the connection between holding to a rapture theology and a disengaged missiology and ecclesiology, but I think the connection is worth considering given the popularity of both rapture theologies and “Christian-ghetto” sub-cultures and congregations.

What say ye?

[note: the featured image is the cover of a tract written by Peter Rollins.  Check it out and you will see another interpretation of the rapture – for good for for ill, it will make you think]

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