“For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13
This post is the twentieth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:
Harmful Effect #20: Long-term environmental issues ignored because of beliefs that the rapture/apocalypse or something will happen soon, so they don’t matter.
Harmful Effect #20 essentially restates Harmful Effect #19, substituting “long term-environmental issues” for “education”. Thus, my previous criticism of that “harmful effect” is applicable to #20 without much further commentary. However, since Harmful Effect #20 mentions the rapture and the apocalypse, I shall briefly address those subjects.
The first thing that should be noted about “the rapture,” a term which is not in The Bible, is that not every Christian believes in it or views it in the same way. (The statement of faith of my own denomination doesn’t even mention it, though I and many of my fellow Southern Baptists believe that it is imminent.) The Bible is clear that the end of the present world is coming but is it does not clearly state the exact time at which the end will come. Article X of The Baptist Faith and Message addresses the coming end of the world in an appropriate and generally agreeable way:
God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
In the first century, certain people in the Thessalonian church were acting inappropriately due to eschatological confusion. Some had ceased to even work in anticipation of the immediate end of the world. The Apostle Paul disabused them of their errant practices and admonished the church to not grow weary of doing good. Those who, in modern times, adopt the posture of those confused Thessalonians do so in opposition to the clear teachings of the biblical authors.
Being a responsible steward of the environment is certainly a good thing for Christians to do. Like Harmful Effect #19 before it, Harmful Effect #20 is fallacious. Like Harmful Effect #19 before it, Harmful Effect #20 it ignores the hopeless nihilism inherent in the atheistic worldview. Christians, at least, enjoy the comfort of having a blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of their great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for them to redeem them from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:
Harmful Effect #21: Wives told they will be tortured forever if they leave their abusive husbands (and vice versa).
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.