I’m new to Seward. I’m an “unknown” for many persons as they are “unknown” to me. So, I think there is some amount of “feeling each other out,” finding where we stand. This past week I received a email that was, I think, doing just this.
It was a correspondence from someone in the community who has seen me and they had questions about United Methodism. I’m relatively well versed in United Methodist history and theology and am game to be asked questions. I think that’s how we all learn from each other.
I don’t doubt that these were honest questions. However, it was clear that the person asking came from a more conservative background than myself. United Methodism is about as mainline as the mainline gets. Instead of asking what we United Methodists believe about Jesus or salvation or our understanding of the Bible this person first asked about how we understood the timing of the rapture.
The “Rapture” doesn’t get much play in most United Methodist Churches. I don’t think about it much myself. I still remember a Junior High Camp years ago when one of the counselors had “Rapture Practice” and everyone would rise/stand up and throw their arms in the air as if ascending to be with Jesus. The rapture is when Jesus is said to return and take all faithful believers into heaven, leaving behind the unfaithful. It often comes with conversations of the apocalypse and millennialism–also terms that don’t get a whole lot of attention in the UMC. There are some different schools of thought as to how and when this takes place. For United Methodists, we definitely believe that Jesus will come again at some point but I think we’re much less likely to get involved with the specifics of how and when and who, exactly, is going to be left behind in the process. I don’t think this was any part of my seminary training and, when looking at it historically, it’s a Biblical concept that appears to come late to the table, in the 1700s or so.
Read more to see how I answered!