Though provoking . . . humorous â€¦ Chris Wellâ€™s novel Tribulation House was everything the blurbs promised. At first glance, his story featured a questionable mixture of first and third person narration, but in the end, he made it work, as what we actually have is a third person multiple interspersed with a lengthy police statement given by the fun Mark Hogan, who is so blatant in his erroneous thinking, heâ€™s a humorous example of everything thatâ€™s wrong with those who get so caught up with prophetic timetables and sky watching, they forget key texts in scripture, that the author happily quotes, making his point quite deftly, if not subtly.
I amened the whole way through it, but the very people who need to read it, I fear, wonâ€™t be so amused, and may instinctively insulate themselves from conviction by taking offense.
Some will deal by laughing at Hogan and insist it doesnâ€™t apply to them, because they donâ€™t have time lines identifying the exact day, hour, and minute, instead, their date is a nebulous tomorrow perpetually a day a way. They will pat themselves on the back for not taking their doctrine so seriously that they empty the kidsâ€™ college fund, or borrow money from the mob, to buy a boat, and hence completely ignore the bookâ€™s larger point concerning the self-fulfilling prophecy of disengaging from culture, rationalizing â€˜itâ€™s Godâ€™s willâ€ for things to get worse and worse until Jesus gets back.
But this tradition of man makes the claim we are somehow fighting God by doing what Jesus commanded us to and staying on the spiritual front lines (including on the political front, as Well correctly points out.)
He may have pushed the peachiness envelope somewhat, but this is offset at least partially by the humor in Hoganâ€™s self-centered blindness to his faults and inability to take responsibility for his own actions. In this, Hogan is a perfect example of some of the biggest problems among us evangelicals today. I dare say, Wellâ€™s critique would make the prophets of old proud.
In my own observations of Christian culture in America, the popularity of the doctrine of an imminent pre-trib rapture taking up the faithful before the final and greatest period of tribulation on the earth has little to do with whether it is a sound interpretation of the prophecies; considering how terribly wrong the bible scholars of the first century got the prophecies concerning the first coming, the wisdom of assuming we are capable of doing better with the second coming is questionable. As Well pointed out in his book, history is decidedly against us on that.
Rather, then, the popularity of this interpretation has everything to do with why the rates of divorce among Christians are just as awful as the rest of society. Weâ€™ve become slothful, spiritually lazy, afraid of pain, afraid of discipline. We want instant victory with minimal suffering, no personal accountability, and no commitment required. We want all the blessings of His Kingdom, without all the unpleasantness of bearing His cross. For the most part, when the going gets tough, the American Church, like the rest of our society, bails.
We would be wise, then, to prayerfully consider what Well has to say in Tribulation House.