There is one question, or set of questions, that I want Michele Bachmann to answer in a presidential debate, but no one will ask them:
Congresswoman Bachmann, do you subscribe to the doctrine of the Rapture, which suggests that the elect will be translated miraculously into heaven while the rest remain to suffer tribulation?
If so, assuming that you hope to be among the elect and that you live your life in accordance with how those who espouse this doctrine envision the elect, what provisions will you make for the rest of us who will not be so blessed and will remain to suffer a period of unsurpassed upheavals?
Will you select a running mate who is unlikely in your eyes to be raptured?
If so, can you tell us that you are selecting the best possible person to stand in for you if you are no longer able to fulfill your office?
If not, how can you pledge to serve the interests of all Americans faithfully?
The rapture differs from all other messianisms. It proposes that the elect will not face apocalyptic upheaval along with the majority of humanity. Those left behind–to employ commercially successful terminology–will include some who will eventually be saved and many who will not. But all will suffer.
Pre-millenial dispensationalism proposes that Christ will return and reign on earth before a final battle with anti-Christ. Post-millenial dispensationalism envisions a period of earthly glory at the end of which Christ will appear and defeat anti-Christ. In both situations, which posit a historical period between history’s consummation and the final, triumphant remaking of the world, humanity remains together. Other Christian historiographical schema posit no such period. Whoever lives at the time of the apocalypse will face its upheavals together. Jewish messianisms operate in this fashion. In all these situations, humanity remains together in the final stage of history. Only adherents of the rapture posit a prior division between the elect and everyone else.
It doesn’t matter that I don’t ascribe to any of these. It matters what Michele Bachmann believes. It bears upon what kind of commitment she is prepared to make to the American people. If she believes she will be raptured, I want to know whom she proposes will govern in her stead. And it doesn’t really seem like she can solve the conundrum of choosing the best possible person while being confident that person will not merit being raptured.