Caught Up in the Rapture of…

11Apr11

In the previous post we noted the incredible social and theological influence that Left Behind theology has had on the American society and psyche. No form of medium has escaped the allure of this fascinating idea that one day the Church will just “disappear” without warning.

But is this what Scripture had in mind?

Before dealing with a majority of “Rapture” passages, we will do a review of the doctrine of the Rapture as presented by modern Left Behind theologians. This is a review of those things discussed in the Dispensational Distortions section of this blog. I will try and bullet point the highlight for brevity and clarity, for a further study please review the previously discussed post.

  • Before the 19th century the rapture was synonymous with the General Resurrection of the saints or saints and Damned
  • The concept of a pre-tribulation rapture was formulated in the 1830’s by John Nelson Darby and popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible…it was unknown before the 19th century
  • This theory also introduced a “novel” two-part return of Christ in which Christ return in the air only to “rapture” His church and then fully returns to earth seven years later
  • It is admitted even by the most ardent pre-tribulationist that the concept cannot be supported by any single scripture

“One objection to the pre-Tribulation rapture is that no one passage of Scripture teaches the two aspects of His Second Coming separated by the Tribulation. This is true. But then, no one passage teaches a post-Tribulation or mid-Tribulation rapture, either.” – Tim LaHaye

  • The pre-tribulation rapture is assumed, not proven, and that assumption is then imported into passages that describe the general resurrection
  • The rapture concept also assumes the discontinuity of Daniel’s 70 Week prophecy, separating the 70th week from the previous 69 weeks and transporting that last week into the future. For further critique see previous post on the Gap Theory
  • The pre-tribulation rapture is necessary in Left Behind theology so that the Church can be removed from history in order for God to supposedly fulfill certain promises to natural Israel

The biggest problem with the above presuppositions is that they cannot be established by Scripture. The Scriptures are filled with passages dealing with the Resurrection and the Second Coming and they are simultaneous as a previous study showed. You may want to review the Unity of the Eschatological Complex proposition in the post titled, “Wanna Sound Really Smart?”

As Tim LaHaye even readily admits there is no passage the Dispensationalist can point to to make his case. It is simply assumed and forced into the other passages that discuss the Resurrection and Second Coming. Beyond that there are other passages that appear to be about the Second Coming in which the context simply cannot account for. Those will be discussed in future posts as we walk through this very popular ideology.

THE IMMINENT RAPTURE

One of the distinguishing marks of the Left Behind Rapture theory is imminence. This is the idea that the Rapture can take place at any time and at any moment in history with NO signs of it’s coming. There are no clues and Jesus can Rapture His bride at any moment, even while you are in the movie theater watching a dreaded rated “R” movie!

This is as a result of the fact that, according to Dispensationalism, prophecy was about “natural Israel” only and that the Church is an “intrusion” into the original plan of God. The Church must therefore be “eliminated” so that God can complete His work with natural Israel, despite Paul’s clear teaching…

Gal 3:6 Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith…

27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

This teaching is so painfully obvious that one cannot miss, but alas, millions do. Let alone that the Church does not replace in anyway the relationship with Israel since Israel was never an ethnic group, per se, but have always been the people of God. That is why Paul states that the Gentiles are grafted into the tree, not a new tree called the Church. Israel has Biblically always represented the people of God no matter their nationality!

But I digress…

Imminence simply teaches that you can expect the rapture at any moment and that there are no signs of it, only sings of the coming tribulation. Of course this should cause one to ask; If there are no signs concerning the Rapture why are there so many books written about the Rapture and it’s soon coming? Or why are there books written to Christians about the Tribulation if they’re not going to be here anyway?

“the first-century church believed in the imminent return of Christ, possibly during their lifetime.” Tim LaHaye

Mr. LaHaye may be correct. But it is also quite possible many in the first century were also awaiting the coming of Christ in judgment as we have previously discussed. They too could also have been as incorrect about the idea of “coming” as the modern Church today! But their belief of this doctrine does not make the doctrine valid, does it? Just saying so doesn’t make it so!

One ironic twist of the Imminent return doctrine is that many that hold to this doctrine also hold to the ideology of the “Church Age” doctrine in the book of Revelation. Simply stated it is the belief that each of the seven churches represented in the book of Revelation’s first three chapters are different “church ages” and represent the Church throughout history with the current Church being represented by Laodicea. Ironically, everyone I have ever read in history that believed this view also believed they were currently Laodicea!

“…each of these seven churches…represents a particular period of Church history. For instance, the church at Smyrna represents the Church of the second through fourth centuries…The Church at Pergamum represents the beginning of the church-state…And so on” – Tim LaHaye

So, if Tim LaHaye believe in the Church Age theory how can he also believe in the Imminent return theory since it would have been Biblically impossible for the rapture to take place in any other time period except for the Laodicean Church time period? This is an obvious contradiction! The Church Age time period represented by Pergamum could not expect the imminent return of christ because there were several more “Church Age” periods relegated to the future!

So, what are we to do with the passages related to the second Coming and the rapture? Are all of those used by Dispensationalist truly related to the rapture? How can we know?

That is what the following post will consider.

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