Skip to comments.Five Myths About the Rapture
Posted on 08/10/2010 2:09:49 PM PDT by Viking83
About ten years ago, I mentioned to a Catholic friend that I was starting to work on a book critiquing the Left Behind novels. I explained that it would thoroughly examine premillennial dispensationalism, the unique apocalyptic belief system presented, in fictional format, within those books. Premillennial dispensationalism teaches that the "Rapture" and the Second Coming are two events separated by a time of tribulation and that there will be a future millennial reign of Christ on earth. "Why?" she asked, obviously bewildered. "No one really takes that stuff seriously."
That revealing remark merely reinforced my desire to write Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"? (Ignatius, 2003). Other conversations brought home the same point. Far too many people -- including a significant number of Catholics -- dont recognize the attraction and power of this Fundamentalist phenomenon. Nor do they appear to appreciate how much curiosity exists about the "end times," the book of Revelation, and the "pretribulation Rapture" -- the belief that Christians will be taken up from earth prior to a time of tribulation and the Second Coming. In the course of writing articles, giving talks, and writing the book, Ive encountered a number of questions and comments -- almost all from Catholics -- that indicate how much confusion exists about matters of eschatology (theology of the end times), not to mention ecclesiology, historical theology, and the interpretation of Scripture. The five myths I present here summarize many of those questions.
MYTH 1: "The Left Behind books represent a fringe belief system that very few people take seriously."
Exactly how many copies of the Left Behind books must be sold before the theology they propagate can be taken seriously? Sixty-five million? Thats actually where sales stand right now, making the 16 novels the biggest-selling series of Christian fiction ever. Then there are the movies, CDs, childrens books, devotionals, greeting cards, and a host of other products, along with a Web site that attracts hundreds of thousands of fans every month.
But thats only part of the larger picture. The biggest-selling work of non-fiction (other than the Bible) since 1970 is dispensationalist Hal Lindseys The Late Great Planet Earth (Bantam, 1970), which sold more than 40 million copies and established the blueprint for a number of other popular, self-described "Bible prophecy" experts (including Tim LaHaye, creator and coauthor of the Left Behind series). LaHayes first work of "Bible prophecy" was The Beginning of the End (Tyndale, 1972), essentially a carbon copy of Lindseys mega-seller. In the years that followed, Lindsey and LaHaye, along with authors such as Salem Kirban, David Wilkinson, Dave Hunt, Grant Jeffrey, John Walvoord, and others, produced a string of best-selling books warning of the rapidly approaching pretribulation Rapture, the Antichrist, and the tribulation.
The success of these books and of the dispensationalist system isnt "fringe." Far from it -- theyre actually quite main- stream, influencing even nominal Christians and non-Christians. It reflects a trend that has been steadily growing for several decades. While Lutherans, Methodists, and Episcopalians dwindle in number and influence, Fundamentalist and conservative Evangelical groups continue to form and grow vigorously, making their mark increasingly in the secular realm. Many of these Fundamentalists -- including "non-denominational" Christians, "Bible-believing" Christians, "born-again" Christians, Baptists, and Assembly of God members -- are antagonistic toward the Catholic Church and her teachings, and a majority of them believe in some form of dispensationalism.
Harvard historian Paul Boyer, author of When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (Harvard University Press, 1998), estimates that 30 to 40 percent of Americans believe in "Bible prophecy" and hold to eschatological beliefs such as those taught in the Left Behind novels. Admittedly, such numbers are difficult, if not impossible, to verify with any real accuracy. Still, it can be safely said that tens of millions of Americans believe in a pretribulation Rapture and would readily accept the Left Behind books as a fairly accurate, fictionalized depiction of the fast-approaching end of the world.
MYTH 2: "Catholic beliefs about the end times are quite similar to those of Fundamentalists such as Tim LaHaye."
Studying dispensationalism (as in studying almost any theological system) is like exploring an iceberg -- the vast majority lies beneath the surface, out of sight and unnoticed by the casual observer. On the surface, dispensationalists and Catholics appear to agree about the Second Coming, a future Antichrist, and an impending trial and time of apostasy. And, in fact, common beliefs about aspects of these teachings do exist. Although it comes as a surprise to many Fundamentalists, the Catholic Church clearly believes in the Second Coming, "a final trial," and a "supreme religious deception... of the Antichrist" (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 675).
As noteworthy as these agreements are, the differences between premillennial dispensationalism and Catholic doctrine are even more striking. Stripped to their bare essentials, these include three premises about the past and present, and two beliefs about the future.
The first dispensationalist premise is that Jesus Christ failed to establish the kingdom for the Jews during His first coming. Dispensationalists believe that Christ offered a material and earthly kingdom, but the Jews rejected Him. John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), the ex-Anglican priest who formed the dispensationalist system, wrote, "The Lord, having been rejected by the Jewish people, is become wholly a heavenly person." This dualistic notion was echoed and articulated by Darbys disciples, including Cyrus I. Scofield (editor of the Scofield Reference Bible), Lewis Sperry Chafer, and many of the popularizers of the system. Leading dispensationalist theologian Charles C. Ryrie, in his systematic Basic Theology, gives this convoluted explanation: "Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus Davidic kingship was offered to Israel (Matthew 2:2 and 27:11; John 12:13), but He was rejected.... Because the King was rejected, the messianic, Davidic kingdom was (from a human viewpoint) postponed. Though He never ceases to be King and, of course, is King today as always, Christ is never designated as King of the Church.... Though Christ is a King today, He does not rule as King. This awaits His second coming. Then the Davidic kingdom will be realized" (Matthew 25:31; Revelation 19:15 and 20).
This supposed failure leads to the second premise that the Church is a "parenthetical" insert into history. Put another way, the Church was created out of necessity when the Jews rejected Christ. Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952), whose eight-volume Systematic Theology is the dispensationalist Summa, wrote, "The present age of the Church is an intercalation into the revealed calendar or program of God as that program was foreseen by the prophets of old. Such, indeed, is the precise nature of the present age." The Church is not, in dispensationalist theology, the new Israel spoken of by St. Paul (see Galatians 6:16) but is utterly separate from Old Testament Israel. So long as the "Church age" continues, the Old Testament promises made to Israel are on hold, waiting to be fulfilled.
The third premise, so vital to dispensationalism, is the existence of two people of God: the Jews (the "earthly" people) and the Christians (the "heavenly" people). This is the language and theological vision established by Darby and taken up by leading dispensationalists ever since. In Rapture Under Attack (Multnomah, 1998), LaHaye notes that the pretribulational dispensationalist view is the "only view that distinguishes between Israel and the church," and then remarks that "the confusion of Israel and the church is one of the major reasons for confusion in prophecy as a whole.... Pre-Tribulationism is the only position which clearly outlines the program of the church."
As LaHayes statement indicates, these premises result in the belief of the pretribulation Rapture. This event is necessary because the heavenly people (Christians) must eventually be taken from the earthly stage so that the prophetic timeline can be "restarted" and Gods work with the earthly people (Jews) resumed. That work will involve seven years of tribulation, which dispensationalists believe will be a period of Gods chastisement on the Jewish people, resulting in the vast majority of Jews being killed, but also in the conversion of those remaining.
This, finally, leads to the second belief about the future: an earthly, millennial kingdom established by Christ for the Jews. Based on passages such as Revelation 20 and Ezekiel 40-48, this includes the claim that animal sacrifices will be renewed in a rebuilt Temple. Some dispensationalists think these sacrifices will be symbolic; others believe they will have salvific value, befitting a theocratic government.
All five of these points are incompatible with Catholic doctrine. Christ did not offer an earthly kingdom, nor did He fail, nor was He rejected by all of the Jews; His mother, the apostles, and the disciples were all Jews who accepted Him as the Messiah. The Church is not a sort of "Plan B," but is, according to the Catechism, the "goal of all things," reflecting the Catholic recognition of how intimately Christ has joined Himself to the Church (cf. Ephesians 5). The Old Covenant is fulfilled in the New, and there is only "one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body" (CCC 1267).
Flowing from incorrect, flawed premises, the idea of a pretribulation Rapture is foreign to Catholic theology. Based largely on St. Augustines City of God, the millennium has long been understood (if not formally defined) to be the Church age -- a time when the King rules, even though the Kingdom has not been fully revealed (cf. CCC 567, 669).
MYTH 3: "The Rapture is a biblical and orthodox belief."
LaHaye declares, in Rapture Under Attack, that "virtually all Christians who take the Bible literally expect to be raptured before the Lord comes in power to this earth." This would have been news to Christians -- both Catholic and Protestant -- living prior to the 18th century, since the concept of a pretribulation Rapture was unheard of prior to that time. Vague notions had been considered by the Puritan preachers Increase (1639-1723) and Cotton Mather (1663-1728), and the late 18th-century Baptist minister Morgan Edwards, but it was John Nelson Darby who solidified the belief in the 1830s and placed it into a larger theological framework.
This historical background leaves the dispensationalist with two options: claim the pretribulation Rapture is biblical but went undiscovered for 1,800 years, or argue that it has been the belief of "true Christians" ever since Christ walked the earth. Ryrie, in his apologetic Dispensationalism Today (Moody, 1965), makes a case for the former by stating: "The fact that the church taught something in the first century does not make it true, and likewise if the church did not teach something until the twentieth century, it is not necessarily false." LaHaye and others argue for the latter, pointing to passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, and Matthew 24 as clear evidence for the pretribulation Rapture (those passages make several appearances, for instance, in the Left Behind novels).
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is especially vital to the dispensationalist:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangels call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.
There are three problems with claiming this passage refers to the Rapture. First, neither it nor the entire book of 1 Thessalonians mentions Christ returning two more times, or makes any reference to such a distinction. Second, dispensationalists believe the Rapture will be a secret and silent event, yet this passage describes a very loud and public event. This is all the more problematic because dispensationalists insist that they interpret Scripture "plainly" and "literally," allowing for symbolism only when such is the obvious intent of the author. Finally, dispensationalists teach that all other New Testament references to Christ coming in the clouds (Matthew 24:30 and 26:64; Mark 14:62; Revelation 1:7) refer to His Second Coming but inexplicably deny that that is the case here.
1 Corinthians 15 and its reference to "the twinkling of an eye" is often used as a proof text but is equally unconvincing. The point of the passage is that Christians will be glorified at the Second Coming, not that theyll be secretly whisked off the planet prior to the tribulation. It describes an event that will occur at "the last trumpet" and states that "the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:52).
Yet LaHaye and Left Behind coauthor Jerry B. Jenkins, reflecting the common dispensationalist interpretation, claim in Are We Living in the End Times? (Tyndale, 1999) that Matthew 24:29-31 describes the Second Coming, which will include "a great sound of a trumpet" (Matthew 24:31). So how can 1 Corinthians 15, which speaks of "the last trumpet," refer to the Rapture when there is yet another trumpet to be sounded, several years later, at the Second Coming?
Some dispensationalists have admitted, at least in a backhanded fashion, the recent roots of the pretribulation Rapture. In an article titled "The Origin of the Pre-Trib Rapture" (Biblical Perspectives, March/April 1989), LaHayes colleague at the Pre-Trib Research Institute, Thomas D. Ice, writes that "a certain theological climate needed to be created before premillennialism would restore the Biblical doctrine of the pre-trib Rapture." He continues: "Sufficient development did not take place until after the French Revolution. The factor of the Rapture has been clearly known by the church all along; therefore the issue is the timing of the event. Since neither pre- nor post-tribs have a proof text for the time of the Rapture... then it is clear that this issue is the product of a deduction from ones overall system of theology, both for pre- and post-tribbers." In fact, the Rapture as dispensationalists conceive of it was never part of the early or medieval Churchs theology but is the modern creation of Darby less than 200 years ago.
MYTH 4: "The early Church Fathers believed in the Rapture and the millennial kingdom on earth."
This clever argument, used by Ryrie, LaHaye, Lindsey, and others, is effective in persuading those with little knowledge of historical theology or the beliefs of the early Church. True, several early Christian writers -- notably Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Methodius, Commodianus, and Lactanitus -- were premillennialists who believed that Christs Second Coming would lead to a visible, earthly reign. But the premillennialism they embraced was quite different from that taught by modern dispensationalists.
Catholic scholars acknowledge that some of the Fathers were influenced by the Jewish belief in an earthly Messianic kingdom, while others embraced millennarianism as a reaction to the Gnostic antagonism toward the material realm. But the Catholic Church does not look to one Church Father in isolation -- or even a select group of Fathers -- and claim their teachings are infallible or definitive. Rather, the Church views their writings as valuable guides providing insights and perspectives that assist the Magisterium -- the teaching office of the Church -- in defining, clarifying, and defending Church doctrine.
Those early premillennialists did not hold to distinctively modern and dispensationalist beliefs, especially not the belief in a pretribulation Rapture and the radical distinction between an earthly and a heavenly people of God; such beliefs didnt come about until many centuries later. The early Church Fathers, whether premillennialist or otherwise, believed that the Church was the New Israel and that Christians -- consisting of both Jews and Gentiles (cf. Romans 10:12) -- had replaced the Jews as Gods chosen people.
In attempting to prove the validity of their beliefs by appealing to early Church Fathers, dispensationalists always ignore the Church Fathers unanimous teachings about the nature of the Eucharist, the authority and nature of the Church, and a host of other distinctively Catholic beliefs. They also conveniently blur the lines between the historical premillennialism of certain early Church writers and the dispensational premillennialism of Darby and his disciples.
MYTH 5: "The Left Behind books are harmless entertainment that encourage Christians in their faith and help them better understand the Book of Revelation."
Even when presented with the faulty theological premises underlying dispensationalism, some Catholics still insist that the Left Behind series is just good fun -- a light read with a sound moral message. Some, however, go even further and claim the books have changed their lives, provided answers about the end of the world, and made sense of the Bible, particularly the Book of Revelation. Responding to my book, a Catholic reader wrote, "I personally believe that the dispensationalists have done Catholics a favor by alerting them to the serious times we live in and by encouraging them to search out the Scriptures." She never makes mention of Catholic scholarship or magisterial documents.
Another Catholic reader of the series told me, "You condemn these books because they are successful." In fact, Ive strongly critiqued the Left Behind books because theyre written by a noted Fundamentalist (with serious animus toward the Catholic Church) in order to propagate a theology that is incorrect, misleading, and contrary to historic Christianity.
One message of LaHayes that comes across clearly in books such as Are We Living in the End Times?, Rapture Under Attack, and Revelation Unveiled is that the Catholic Church is apostate, Catholicism is "Babylonian mysticism" and an "idolatrous religion," and Catholics worship Mary, knowing little about the real Jesus Christ. Its difficult to overstate the dislike -- even hatred -- LaHaye has for the Catholic Church or to exaggerate the ridiculous character of his attacks. He condemns the use of candles in Catholic churches, insists theres hardly any difference between Hinduism and Catholicism, and emphatically declares that the Catholic Church killed at least 40 million people during the "dark ages."
When I asked LaHaye, via e-mail, why he never refers to Catholic sources or official documents in his writings, he replied:
Because I think that for centuries the Catholic Church has presented church history in a manner protective of "Mother church." ...I have seen more concern on the part of your church for Hindus, Buddhists, and other pagan religions than they do [sic] for those who love Jesus Christ as He is presented in the Bible and are committed to making Him known to the lost so they will not be Left Behind.
In other words, the Catholic Church is simply wrong and doesnt deserve a fair hearing. LaHaye has not only revealed himself to be an anti-Catholic polemicist but a theologian with a seriously skewed view of Gods salvific work. In a newspaper interview, LaHaye said, "Weve [himself and Jenkins] created a series of books about the greatest cosmic event that will happen in the history of the world." What is that "greatest cosmic event"? The Incarnation? The Cross? The Resurrection? No, the Rapture -- a modern, man-made belief based on a distorted Christology and an anemic ecclesiology.
But dont the books help people understand the Bible? According to contemporary Christian music star Michael W. Smith, "Left Behind has brought understanding and clarity to [the Book of] Revelation, a book of the Bible usually seen as confusing and dark." This echoes LaHayes assertion that St. Johns Apocalypse "gives a detailed description of the future." But a perusal of dispensationalist interpretations of the Book of Revelation written over the last several decades suggests otherwise. Dispensationalists disagree about nearly every major element of the book, including the identity of the Whore of Babylon (i.e., a reformed Roman Empire, the Catholic Church, Iraq, the United States), the mark of the Beast (i.e., computer chips, bar codes, social security numbers, laser technology), and numerous other entities, personages, nations, and events.
More importantly, dispensationalists give little attention to the rich Old Testament allusions or the first-century context of the Book of Revelation. To the contrary, Hal Lindsey proffers in Theres a New World Coming (Vision House, 1973) that "Revelation is written in such a way that its meaning becomes clear with the unfolding of current world events." Considering that none of Lindseys interpretations of the books prophetic utterances has come to pass over the past 30 years -- including his conviction that the Rapture would occur in the 1980s -- one can only wonder at Lindseys unflagging confidence. Futurists such as dispensationalists have always been prone to read current events into the Book of Revelations mysterious passages, and prophetic speculators of the past connected it to the French Revolution, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the founding of the modern Israeli state in 1948. More recent events supposedly shedding light on St. Johns vision include the Cold War, the Persian Gulf War, and the conflict with terrorism and Iraq.
The appeal of the pretribulational Rapture is understandable. The idea that those living today are "the generation" who will see Christs return is attractive and intoxicating. "My prophetic studies have convinced me," LaHaye writes, in Rapture Under Attack, "that we Christians living today have more evidence to believe we are the generation of His coming than any generation before us." Its no surprise that many people want to hear that they wont have to die. Such promises of escape from suffering, illness, pain, and potential martyrdom are tempting, but they arent an option for Catholics. Each of us will endure suffering, and the Church will, one day, have to endure a final, great trial: "The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection" (CCC 677). The pretribulation Rapture, dispensationalism, and the Left Behind books, in the end, are long on promises and short on biblical, historical, and theological evidence.
Myth 6: In case of the Rapture, this vehicle will be unattended.
You can know when the rapture takes place by answering the following three questions using scripture.
1. Who rises first?
2. When do they rise?
3. When is the last trumpet?
That's far less than Harry Potter and nobody actually believes that story either.
If they try to explain away the sudden disappearance of millions of born-again Christians by saying space aliens took us away because we weren’t vibrationally in tune with the spiritually evolved people left behind . . . don’t believe them.
When I first read this, I thought it sad “rupture”, and thought it was a thread about hernias.
When I first read this, I thought it said “rupture”, and thought it was a thread about hernias.
The event of 1 Thess. 4 differs from the return of Christ in Mt. 24, Rev. 19 and Zech. 14.
In 1 Thess. 4, there is no warning, Jesus does not touch the earth, there is no action of judgment by Jesus, and the believers who are both dead and living go UP to be with him.
In the Second Coming passages, his feet touch the earth, he does a major smackdown on the nations, there is great political, spiritual and cosmic disaster preceding the event, the whole world sees him coming, and the believers are coming with him in a great army.
It will go platinum.
Don’t be grounded when the Rapture comes.
Thanks Viking83, this was well-written and informative.
The author makes some glaring mis-statements about the pre-trib position, and I think glosses over scripture in favor of Church teaching. However, I don’t think most people who believe in a pre-trib Rapture expect Catholics to believe in such, just as non-Catholics don’t believe the Pope is the direct spiritual descendant of Peter, that Mary was assumed bodily into heaven or that the bread and the wine become the literal body and blood of Christ during communion. If they did, Catholics would become “fundamentalists”, and “fundamentalists” would become Catholics!
I had opportunity to read ALL the books in sequence around the end of last year.
It’s a BIG difference than having to wait a year or more for each one.
Good points. Although it’s fun to study and wonder about when, where, and how the end will come, it definitely will come no matter what your theological understanding is. Every knee will bow. I’m practicing up now.
You can know when the rapture takes place by answering the following three questions using scripture.
1. Who rises first?
2. When do they rise?
3. When is the last trumpet?
The dead in Christ rise first, as part of the complex of things that take place in short order on the last day.
Amazing how such an article can miss the one thing that all dispensationalists state clearly:
DISPENSATIONALISM is arrived at by the normal, literal, or plain or grammatical-historical interpretation of the Bible.
The Bible is not allegorized (like the Catholics and other fringe elements do), and in all instances: the original intent of the writer is studied.
So if you take the Bible literally, you are by nature, a dispensationalist.
The Bible clearly teaches the rapture. An argument by any church father is meaningless: Scripture is God’s opinion, and that is the only opinon that matters.
It sounds funny, but they’re already working on it.
Amen, Salvavida. AMEN
>> About ten years ago, I mentioned to a Catholic friend that I was starting to work on a book critiquing the Left Behind novels.
Those who can, do. Those who can’t ... critique. Greatness is rarely created by piggy-backing on someone else.
The Left Behind Novels are Christian fiction. They’re vaguely based on Biblical Revelation ... but only vaguely. We “fundamentalists” do not believe there exists a Book of LaHaye in the Bible. It is a compelling story of the End Times with a Godly message ... nothing more.
I just want to make sure either the pilot or copilot on my plane is at least sufficiently debauched or maybe even an outright heathen if the rapture comes. I don't care if you have wings on your uniform, I don't want you flying off until you've landed the plane! :-)
Oh.... I know! We used to talk about this all the time. How to explain the sudden disappearing populace. Never thought people would be so out-of-touch with reality as to believe aliens would be a part of the scenario. I nixed that idea until we elected Obama. Now I KNOW there are those among us who will believe anything! :)
Darby was not the first dispensationalist.
Ephraem (A.D. 373) wrote extensively on the Rapture, but his writings were not translated from Latin until 1995.
See “Final Warning” by Jeffrey ISBN 0-921714-24-6
Well Karl.....if you’re a born-again Christian...you won’t have anything to worry about! :)
the Church was the New Israel and that Christians -- consisting of both Jews and Gentiles (cf. Romans 10:12) -- had replaced the Jews
If the Church "REPLACES" the Jews. You are calling God a liar.
There are ONLY two theories: Every other is a derivative of one of those two: REPLACEMENT or FULFILLMENT Theology.
God keeps His promises or He changes his mind. Catholics, and most liberal denominations, believe he changes His mind.
Evangelicals, conservative denominations, believe He will literally fulfill ALL His promises on His time schedule.
Lots of inaccuracies about Dispensational history and teaching in that one article...
like this, “The first dispensationalist premise is that Jesus Christ failed to establish the kingdom for the Jews during His first coming.”
You got it!
The Harry Potter books, or the Left Behind books. Harry Potter’s author uses excellent grammar almost all the time, and has clever and realistic dialogue.
Great Post - a little side note to the Catholic bashers. it was the Catholic Councils of the church that decided which books would be in the New Testament and the Book of Revelation was not a shoe-in.
St. Augustine championed its inclusion:
Augustine ... adopted the Book of Revelation partly because it had been so troublesome and its place needed to be stabilized. And partly because it helped him solve some other theological dilemmas that he was wrestling with in his own studies. So around 393, 394 it seems there were several councils that were being convened in his own region where debates ... with people who believed in greater degree of free will and other kinds of theological issues were all taking place. And during this context of these councils the decision on which books to use in the New Testament as the authority, behind which all other Christian theology would be worked out, came up. Augustine championed using the Book of Revelation within the New Testament, assuming, as others had, that it was actually written by the Apostle John, therefore carrying authority. ...
What Augustine does by helping put the Book of Revelation in the Bible really accomplishes two things. One, he provides what will become, at least eventually, the normative reinterpretation of the book by reading all of the symbolism in it as just that, symbolism and not literal history. Now, that doesn’t happen overnight, but his view is the one that will eventually carry the day throughout most of later Christian tradition.
The second thing that he does in canonizing the Book of Revelation is they put it at the end of the New Testament, and this also has a very significant symbolic force. Because at the end of the Book of Revelation, we have a strong warning, “You may not add to or take away from any thing in this book.” Now originally in the Book of Revelation that refers to the revelation that John himself saw—write it, seal it, don’t do anything more with it, it’s over. But when you take that put it at the end of the New Testament, it has the double force of saying John’s revelation of the end is sealed up but also this is the end of the New Testament, there will no longer be any future revelations from God that will stand alongside of the New Testament itself. ...
I might enjoy the Left Behind books.
Who knows. I’ve never seen one or even an excerpt.
The Potter books? Pshaw! Love ‘em. I’ve got collectibles
and a DVD collection and even a real Snitch that Allegra gave me.
Right, most Catholics don’t know what they believe. And they don’t realize they own the “Acre of Diamonds”.
You are right in that it being SECRET is a Myth. A myth put on by the liberal theologians that it is a secret. It will be anything BUT Secret and the Devil has to be READY with some poser to step up and make some sort of explanation for the event.
There is one REAL question I have for the non rapturites. WHY is God going to bring all those plagues and deaths and unbelievably bad things in Revelation down on the world?
I mean what is His goal? Purpose? WHY DO IT?
There are ONLY two answers and NEITHER support a non rapture position.
First: PUNISHMENT. You know, he’s had enough of the bad sinners. OK. So, He is going to punish all his GOOD believers too? At the same time? Ruin their lives in a living hell?
Second: REPENTANCE: You know, “I won’t believe in God until I see X Y Z for myself. OK, you asked for it... ya believe it Now buddy? THAT? Well, what does that do for those who already believe? Jack Nada! To bad, sucks to be you born at this time, all that church was for nothing, you get screwed with the sinners just the same?
NO TO BOTH!
YES TO BOTH!
Both reasons are TRUE. To punish the wicked and wake the others up. He is UNWILLING that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Some just need to see wild shit go down before they “get it”.
Thus, the Church, His bride, US, Believers will be SPARED His Wrath. We are not subject to wrath. We don’t need to be punished or woken up. Oh, some of you reading this do and you WILL BE HERE for the wake up call... pack lots of beans and ammo... it won’t be pretty. But it will be real.
You are so right about the rapture. And WHEN it happens, I hope that everyone left behind go straight to their Bible, and start reading, from Hebrews to Revelation. It will be their survival guide to the tribulation. If they desire to endure to the end to be saved.
Yeah. No kidding. I read that and thought WOAH NELLY! They done slipped their own strawman right into their own critique.
What truly scares me is how many people really embrace the utter SATANIC view that the Jews have been "replaced" or that anything "Jewish" failed at all. They really do not get that God means what He says. Those promises were to David and Abraham, JEWS. And there are no "lost tribes" or other "new Jews" about the place.
Oh, I know WHY hey think this, I mean besides the outright Satanic suggestion, but, Israel was wiped out. Gone. As a nation and a culture and a language. GONE from the utter face of the Earth and a few scattered little hovels of "Jooos" clinging to outdates customs and such did not enter into the minds (clouded anti semitic minds) of men that somehow Israel and the Hebrew Language would come back!
For this same reason the Dome sits upon the Temple mount. But buddy, I gotta tell you all reading this.... NOT FOR MUCH LONGER! K?
The same "magic" that suddenly made Israel a Nation and People and a Language again after 2 thousand years ain't done. The Temple will be back and the Dome gone. Coming soon to a CNN Breaking News Report near you!
In those last days will come scoffers... I shudder... I am awed.
Cool! We don’t have a Snitch, but we have authentic reproduction wands handmade by Anoreth, before she left home. They were popular in the neighborhood; she paid for the wood and varnish out of sales, at least.
“You’ll put your eye out, kid!”
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!
Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from? And I said to him, Sir, you know.
So he said to me, These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
-— A LOT will. God the Father is going to SPANK them and THEN they will believe.
But, BLESSED are those, US, who have believed though we did not see.
The author complains of strawmen, while sprinkling strawmen and red herring throughout the essay. When Jesus used the Jewish wedding process to describe His work, we immediately had a form to which the rapture and judgment process may be compared. One needs to ask oneself: Would Christ leave His Bride on Earth while He pours out heavenly wrath upon the place? In answering that querry, the only important note is to understand Whom is The Bride of Christ. [HINT: it is not an institution, but it is drawn from humanity, marked by Spiritual Identity.]
If you could ‘see’ in the magnetic spectrum, you would see that this planet is now thoroughly filthy, wrapped in the electromagnetic envelope of porn and lies, etc. All one needs to ‘receive’ the filth is the tuned receiver of the constantly ‘there’ around us of the electromagnetic waves carrying the filth, covering our world with the filth, tainting beyond human understanding the gleaming jewel God created originally for the human family as dwelling place. The tribulation severity will cleanse this filth away, in prep for the new, clean place for human dwelling, humans ‘redone’ as God intended ... now learn of the thousand year slice when the author of lies a murderer from the start will be loosed and destroyed in the end.
” most Catholics dont know what they believe”
My friend, the process of canonization of the books of the Bible cannot be fully attributed to “Catholic Councils”. The process of determining the canonized books was a process that occurred over a three hundred year period. Most of the NT canon was accepted as such in the first hundred years, before there could be said to be a church under the authority of the Bishop of Rome. Believers in Asia and Africa, in many cases having divergent views, sometimes bordering on the heretical, also contributed to the acceptance of canon. Some books weren’t immediately accepted while a couple accepted by some groups did not stand the test of time and were thrown out. By the 4th century when the councils met and the canon was formalized, it was already generally accepted which books were inspired.
You are correct in saying that Revelation is one of the last to be accepted. But, having said that, it was. And, given this, it must be believed to be just as true and authoritive as any of the gospels. Ultimately, the determination of which books are worthy to be called scripture is determined by no earthly person but by the Holy Spirit who resides in all believers.
You got it!
Looking over the thread so far (to post 39), I'm inclined to let the popists and the dispys play dueling cliches.
"We interpret literally!". Yeah right. Where's the gap?
"We gave you the Bible!". Not remotely. Canon doesn't work the way you think it does.
Good analysis. Simple, logical to follow, backed by Scripture.
God’s going to act like a parent. The good kids aren’t going to get punished for the actions of the bad ones. Why would the faithful in Christ have to endure the tribulation?
God’s not a bureaucrat. “Oh well, you just happened to land your existence during a sucky period, so you get hit with a giant comet for your trouble.”
Men and institutions make a determination about which scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Look at the difference between a Catholic (and Orthodox) Bible and a protestant one. They are different because men made the decision to remove or include certain books.
The Ephraem quote of which you speak is from PSEUDO- Ephraem. Meaning the FALSE Ephraem. As opposed to the well known true Ephraem. Ephraem the Syrian, who lived AD 306 to 373. Pseudo-Ephraem, writing years after the true Ephraem, wrote under a false name, falsely ascribing his writing to Ephraem the Syrian. He falsely impersonated the true Ephraem. No one knows the false Ephraems true name.
On the second coming, the writings of the true Ephraem, Ephraem the Syrian, are in perfect agreement with Barnabus, Justin Martyr, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Hyppolyutus, Victorinus, Lactanius, Methodius, etc., and vitually everyone else who wrote in those times.
Everyone of these writers listed here were what we would call today, post-tribulationists, that is, they spoke of only one second coming taking place at the end of the tribulation. None of them said a thing about a pretrib rapture, or a two stage second coming. They obviously had never heard of it, else they would have addressed the issue. They werent shrinking violets afraid to address the issue of two very different doctrines of the second coming, which one is right? far from it, they in fact wrote to set forth what they believed to be the true doctrines handed to them from the Apostles.
So, did the false Ephraem actually believe in a pretrib rapture and a two stage second coming? If so, he assuredly didnt get it from the true Ephraem. If so, he was a virtual loner, as no one else back then believed it.
Truth is, modern pretribers, casting about trying to find at least one early centuries writer in support of their doctrine, interpret P-Ds (Pseudo-Ephraem) words to mean what they want it to say.
Quoting Dave McPherson here, the last section of P-E places the resurrection of those who sleep in Jesus and the rapture of those who meet Jesus (details found only in I Thess. 4) at the Matt. 24 coming! The same post-tribulational coming that the real Ephraem wrote about, in other words.
To summarize, P-E couldnt have meant a pretrib rapture in the section Grant Jeffery quotes from, because in P-Es last section he has the resurrection and rapture taking place at the Matt. 24 coming.
Correction, this sentence should say:
Truth is, modern pretribers, casting about trying to find at least one early centuries writer in support of their doctrine, interpret P-Es (Pseudo-Ephraem) words to mean what they want it to say.
P-E not P-D.
ping for later reading
I read the left behind series and another called “The Christ Clone Trilogy” (which IMHO, was better). One interesting difference between the books was in the LB series, Christians just disappeared, and in The CCT, The spirit left, leaving millions of bodies everywhere and those left behind going WTF!?!? They figured it out eventually.