I was in Asia Minor, traveling around in some of the first church sites, and the guide said, 'Oh by the way - there were a whole bunch of earthquakes that happened in the first century in Asia Minor, present-day Turkey, the guide said it was in the city of Thessaloniki, the earthquake happened the city was flattened and everyone moved into tents outside of the city. And the Roman Emperor, a Caesar, funded the rebuilding of the city. And when the Emperor announced, 'I'm going to come see the city that you rebuilt with my resources,' everyone got very excited, and when the Emperor was in the distance there was a blowing of the trumpets and everybody rushed out of the city, to greet the Emperor and welcome the Emperor, and then everybody went back into the city to show the Emperor the city they rebuilt with his resources. So, it's to THAT city, that in the one verse that is used by the Rapture folks to say 'Ok, we're all going to go somewhere else,' in the historic context of the story, it's about everybody going BACK into the city, not going somewhere else. For me as a Christian, then, perhaps that particular passsage -- whch is pretty much the only passage (on which) Christians who built the whole 'Left Behind' thing -- perhaps it's much more about being the kinds of people who rebuild and repare and restore THIS world. We care for the environment, we try to help the poor, we're interested in rebuilding the city that was destroyed. (Cackles) Oh boy, that can upset folks. But there are lots of people who go, "Yeah, I always had a problem with that. I'm a person of faith, I'm all about Jesus, etc, I want to make a difference in the world, and with that sort of Left Behind stuff, I can't do it,' -- and when they find out, 'Hey, there's another way to read these stories, it doesn't have to be about evacuation,' People get very excited.
When you wrote this book, Love Wins, did you know you were going to freak people out?
My wife knew. This is a long pattern we have. I guess to be honest I don't live in a world where that book would be that offensive or dangerous.
Right, neither do we. As my editor said, at Harvard Divinity School, this would be another day in class.
Right. So, secondly, at a deeper level, my assumption about faith is that I'm taking part in a discussion that's been going on for several thousand years. That's the beauty of it. And to me, the compelling thing about the Christian faith is its ability to embrace a wide spectrum. It's the push and the pull and the give and the take and the poking and prodding that its strength, not a weakness. And even at a deeper level, the Bible itself contains discussion. I mean, Job's friends sit in the ashes and they can't agree on anything. The story teller almost says that GOD can't even wait to get in on the discussion. I mean the God character shows up with this sort of rant --
That's my favorite part.
Oh, it's absolutely beautiful, the way it's portrayed, like, 'Oh, I am so tired of listening to you all discuss it, here's what I have to say.'