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Terrorism:  The psychologically damaging effects of Rapture theology

Terrorism: The psychologically damaging effects of Rapture theology

Dr. Marlene Winell, a psychologist and ex-Fundamentalist Christian, who wrote Leaving the Fold, and Tracy Williams, an ex-Christian, have done a video discussing the psychological effects of the doctrine of Rapture theology.  This particular doctrine hijacks important developmental stages, causing fears of abandonment or attachment disorders, which I mentioned before when I posted about Andy Thompson's video, "Why We Believe In Gods".  This particular psychological abusive doctrine Dr. Winell describes as a form of terrorism and child abuse.

Ms. Williams explains how this theology still affects her, despite leaving Christianity five years ago.  She says the fear is so strong that she still has flashbacks due to this teaching.  She gives an example of a moment that caused a flashback, but the reality of situation was actually different from what she felt and thought.

Dr. Winell explains how damaging and traumatizing this sort of indoctrination can be and how it is abusive to young children.  She explains that terrorism is the use of violence, including violent and terrifying images, to control another person.  A fear of abandonment can develop and often does develop at an early age with children, which goes back to the attachment disorders I mentioned before, because it hijacks this very important developmental stage of proper and healthy attachment to caregivers.

Ms. Williams mentions rejection, which causes me concern too, given that those who actually believe this theology could feel rejected after the 21st and potentially do something drastic, such as kill themselves, unless they get help.  It would not be the first time someone committed suicide due to religious beliefs.  Ms. Williams also tells about her childhood in relationship to this theology and the feelings of rejection.

I grew up in Wesleyan theology, where no man knows the day or the hour, not even Jesus knew, which is in the Gospels, but even though we do not know, we were suppose to be ready for His Second Coming, by striving for perfectionism- otherwise known as Christian Perfection.  For many, it was a perpetual weekly visit to the altar, if not twice a week, because they were not the perfect Christian, the perfect child of God, which Wesley himself stated was not possible in this lifetime.  However, Wesley stated, that despite not reaching perfection until we are in heaven, we still had to strive for it, thus the perpetual visits to the altar, because humans are never good enough.  If Jesus were to return and you had not Sanctification or even tried to be perfect…  Ceiling Cat is much nicer. OK maybe not in my version, because the humans were not so perfect, but in hindsight, when I thought about what I had written, some of the teachings from my childhood, though not as blatantly obvious, are in that story.  In my relatives' version of the Second Coming, only the souls are taken to heaven, because there is no use for the body.  Since there is no need for the body, it is left behind and the soul is perfected in heaven, so that justifies the corpses, even before the Second Coming.

Add to that, several people in my family have committed or attempted suicide over a variety theological doctrines and beliefs.  Either way, people die due to this asinine doctrine and other doctrines like it, no matter what one calls it- Rapture, Tribulation, Second Coming.  It is all the same and it could very well lead to many deaths, in my opinion.  Even so, I did not realize that I ran the story, like a plane crash, right into that doctrine until a day or so after I wrote it, but at the time I humourously covered it up well.  Regardless, despite the humour I put in my story, the outcomes of all of this belief could be extremely serious come the 22nd.

Dr. Winell explains how the idea of abandonment implies that there is something wrong with the person.  Thus it is not just fear, but also shame and unending guilt cycle.  So can we get off the merry-go-round now and live healthier lives? Unfortunately, Christian parents think this type of fear is a good thing and children become adults, still having this fear of abandonment.  Sadly, it is not just Camping who teaches this sort of theology.  Many groups, both Calvinist and Wesleyans, teach this and the aftermath of it all might not be so funny.

Dr. Winell and Ms Williams discuss more on this subject in the video below, as well as what Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is and how to get help.  As they both said, we are not laughing at you for believing this theology, because we have been there ourselves.

Religious indoctrination in a repressive, authoritarian religion can be serious child abuse with life-long emotional consequences. Many people are taking steps to recover and there is help available. Go to Journey Free for more information and resources.

About Mriana

Mriana is a humanist and the author of "A Source of Misery", who grew up in the Church of God, Anderson Indiana. After she became an adult, she joined the Episcopal Church, but later left the Church and became a humanist. She has two grown sons and raises cats. Mriana raised her sons in the Episcopal Church, but in their teen years, they left the Church and she soon followed. One of her sons became a "Tao Buddhist" and the other a None, creating his own world view. She enjoys writing, reading, science, philosophy, psychology, and other subjects. Mriana is also an animal lover, who cares for their welfare as living beings, who are part of the earth. She is a huge Star Trek fan in a little body.
  • Derick West

    I think the problem with most people (and preachers) is that they read the Bible allegorically.

    In Genesis we see that beings from the sky (heaven) created beings (humans) that would look like them ("in our image").

    We further see that A Friend of the god "Enlin", namely Abraham (from Turkey) was sent to observe the land where the god "Enki" had his Headquarters.

    Later a fellow called Moses used the opportunity caused by cataclysmic events to convince the Pharaoh to let his people go away.

    He had a heck of a task turning these slaves into civilised beings and eventually had to navigate the desert until the entire original absconders died out so that the younger generation could be convinced that they had to be decent in body and social practice.

    For a long time these ex slaves made a damn nuisance of themselves in Mesopotamia. Not even a wise (clever) man like Solomon could turn them into amicable beings.

    Those who, eventually, did not join the religions of sex orgies etc developed their own style of religion. They so messed up the moral environment of the community (nation), that eventually a spirit in the body of a man was sent down from the skies (Heaven) to show these ex slaves, turned terrorists, the error of their ways. They didn’t waste time on him and just got the Roman rulers to kill him. However, there were a few of the ex slaves who realized that the man "Jesus" would relieve them of all the burdens placed upon them by the chiefs. They tried to spread the good message, but within 400 years were usurped by the Chiefs of the Synagogue of Satan.

  • Great Article Mrina. Lots of good stuff this week from you and Johnthomas Thanks for all the research and for sharing.

  • Jerod Hatch

    Believing or not believing this theology depends on your perspective of theology. The less literally you take the Bible, the more loose your doctrine becomes. Believing in something as drastic as the rapture while holding to allegorized or spiritualized theology would produce fear. For that does not allow one to lay up their treasures in heaven, when all concern is still wrapped up in the preservation of the physical self. For example, Jesus says in Matthew 6:29 (paraphrased), "Do not worry [for any physical needs] for even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these flowers, and are you not much more precious to Him than these?" Now place that scripture inside the heart of an immature believer who has known only relatively super-rich conditions here in the U.S. or Europe (in general). If this is spiritualized, say, perhaps Jesus simply meant not to let worry cloud your love for Him (which is true), it neglects the dynamos, the power in those words. God is the God of math and the God of all perspectives as well. If I tithe out of poverty, then my mind, filled with worry about the physical needs of my body and my children's bodies, will worry, will kick in adrenal responses, heightened parasympathetic nervous responses, and eventually disease, physical or mental, and possibly death. But God is the Great Mathematician, as I like to say. He will always, somehow, provide out of poverty and through the real actions of His Holy Spirit, ministering peace and JOY to my mind, thus changing my perspective on "need" and on my life. The Holy Spirit connects us to support through other believers. This is commonplace in Christian churches (communities with believers in them) all over the developing world.

    Now take the Rapture, a preposterous belief! Foolish, even! Yet, it is alluded to with Enoch in Genesis 5:4, and the Jewish writer in Hebrews 11:5 says plainly of Enoch, "He was taken up" and "he did not experience death." How do you spiritualize death? If we say he didn't experience the curse of death by his sinlessness then God is contradicting himself, because he states that all are sinners and in need of salvation (Psalm 14, 53, Ecclesiastes7:20, Romans 3:10) throughout the old and new testaments. If you say, "Well then, He contradicts himself!" you need to be evangelised! Since an allegorized view doesn't make logical sense (God is not a God of confusion), Enoch was raptured.

    If you can't believe Moses, who wrote the Torah, then believe Christ himself, who said in Hebrews 10:7, "The volume of the book is about Me":
    Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. (Luke 17:23,24)
    Again Jesus is saying a. I take the Scriptures literally, where possible. and b. Stop worrying about your life for:
    …I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11)

    If you read the end of the book, you know who wins. Taking the bible literally allows us to shed the cares of the body, and allow God to work in us despite our temporary circumstances, for even when those circumstances are life-long, they are temporary. Christ said he will return, and before he does, he says, he will call the faithful home, for only we know his voice. We know His voice because He is our Shepherd, whom we love more than the parents who raised us, because He asks us to. Thus, because we love him this much,
    Rapture produces in the devout individual probably the opposite of attachment disorder, some kind of loathing disorder, if you're using the world's eyes. We Christians loathe to be separated from our Father in Heaven, and can't wait to be united with him again, like a union-anxiety, or something.

    "If Jesus were to return and you had not Sanctification or even tried to be perfect…"

    So Mriana's point is eschatologically jumbled, but valid, because first the Rapture, then the tribulation under which fall all the inhabitants on earth into a great delusion, then He returns after the world has gone through major change for 3.5 years, and hell following that for 3.5 years. Should the Rapture happen and you find yourself wondering where the person you were talking to face to face just went, not to worry – you won't actually be worrying because you were never saved anyway and God has given you over to believe the lies of the anti-christ (aliens took us or something).

    Mriana may have raised in the church, and may have at one point believed in Him, but perhaps it was based out of an operantly learned fear, to which Christ now only signifies judgement, rather than salvation. James says in his letter to the twelve tribes "…even the demons believe, and shudder!" (James 2:19) So at least this author was as close to believing in who Christ is as the demons are! Emotional response equals not salvation. If you will believe in Christ he will justify you before the Father, all your sins, yesterday's, today's and tomorrow's will be obliterated by his death on the cross. You will receive eternal life, and possibly get to experience the best ride to Heaven since Elijah rode the chariots of fire. At that point you believe he begins to sanctify, or cleanse and transform your mind (Romans 12:2). It is a life long process! Even the Apostle Paul, after his meeting with the risen Christ spent 15 years making tents before being sent out to preach to the gentile nations. He writes later in Romans 6, "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life." Sanctification is a process with an end, eternal life. You don't have to fear the return of Christ. Trust in Him! Get justified! Trust in Him as surely as you trust in the chair under your rump to hold you up. That kind of trust leads to action, leads to obeyance. Leads to eternal life.

    The more literally you take God's Word, the more you apply real scholarship to every "jot and tiddle", and apply it to your life, the more He will speak to you. If you don't believe it will simply be silliness, but God says he will use the "foolish" things to confound the "wise" (1 Corinthians 1:21). When you believe it will be "life and health to your bones". (Proverbs 3:8, Psalms 38:3)

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