Dispensational Distortions – The Rapture

01Jan12

Uh oh!

There are many sacred cows that the modern evangelical world will allow to be skewered without too much of a fight; the sanctity of life, salvation by grace alone, the exclusivity of the gospel, the deity of Christ, the inerrancy of Scripture, the creative act of God. But mess with the rapture and you’re an instant target! You have committed the ultimate blasphemy. You have erred in such a way that your salvation is at stake!

Then not only disagree about the timing of the rapture – pre-, mid-, or post-tribulation, but actually argue that there is no such thing in relation to any tribulation and you’ve gone too far. Surely you must not read the Bible!

Or at least not believe the Bible.

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

This maybe the one and only time you will see me ever agree with Tim LaHaye when it comes to the issue of eschatology. Mr. LaHaye is correct! There is no passage that teaches a pre-, mid- or post-tribulation rapture. There is no verse that teaches a “rapture” as defined by modern evangelicals in any way. There is no warrant to separate the second Coming and the Resurrection. In a later post we will discuss a concept called the “Unity of the Eschatological Complex” that will show the unity of events, but for our discussion today the issue is the modern pre-tribulation theory.

WHY A RAPTURE?
So, despite the admission by leading Dispensational theologians that no one verse can make the case for a pre-tribulation rapture the concept is so ingrained and accepted in our evangelical churches that to question it is to question the validity of the Scripture that doesn’t even support it… huh?

So, where did it come from and why MUST it exist in the Dispensational system?

The rapture is a concept of necessity based on the previously discussed artificial separation of Israel and the Church. Basically and simply, Dispensationalism teaches that because certain prophesies given to Israel cannot find their fulfillment in the Church, the Church must be “gotten rid of” in order for God to complete and fulfill those promises. (For further study you can read the previous posts on the Israel/Church distinction).

This “getting rid of” the Church necessitates a Rapture in which the Church is removed from the earth for 7 years in order to have the final seven years of Daniels 70 week prophecy fulfilled. (You can read the Gap Theory in an earlier post as well). Since I discussed in details the problems with the Gap Theory previously I will let you track down that post and get yourself caught up. A simple critique of the Dispensational understanding of the 70 Week prophecy should suffice, but seemingly it has not helped, so in upcoming posts there will be a exposition of that popular passage. But for our discussion today just note that since there is no Gap in the 70 weeks there should be no reason for the necessity of a Rapture.

But since the concept still reigns suprenme some fiurther discussion is warranted. So, despite the fact there is no Scriptural evidence for the Pre-Trib Rapture and no need for it since there is no gap in Daniel’s 70 Weeks, the concept is simply assumed and injected into passages where there is no warrant for doing so.

Before looking at the particular passages in question, it is important here to stop and take note that the rapture is a rather new concept. The idea of a pretrib, church exclusive “coming of Christ” is foreign to Church history in til the early to mid 1800’s. When it comes to theological history the rapture is a newbie by any standard. The pre-Nicene and ante-Nicene fathers were unaware of Scripture’s support for it. The Medieval Church was also unaware as were the Reformers, Puritans, Quakers, Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Anglicans, Reformed Baptist (Spurgeon), Early Revivalist and just about any group until the late 1800’s!

1 Thess 4:13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words.

The Thessalonian passage quoted above is the primary verse used to promote the concept of a Rapture. But where is the Beast? Where is a 7 year tribulation? This is the resurrection! ALL Biblical Christians believe and hold to a resurrection of God’s people. This is the great hope, the promise and inheritance of being a child of God. But there is no warrant for making this pretribulational, Church exclusive or part one of two comings.
There is one Second Coming!
There is no need to force something into this passage or any other that is not first previously proved. The rapture is an assumed concept forced into Scriptures that are not making the case. Especially since Paul’s letter is a series of answers to questions that we are not made aware of. One can glean from the passage that many in Thessalonica were concerned about those in their family that had died and whether they would take part in the resurrection/coming of Christ. It is quite a leap to then make a passage about the Second Coming and general resurrection to be one about some secret rapture before a horrific 7 year tribulation.Other similar passages would suffer the same fate of lack of quality exegesis and loaded with eisegesis.
Ultimately the concept of a pre0trib rapture is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. It is a baseless concept built on a poor hermeneutic and faulty system that separates God’s Word and ultimately God’s people. More discussion of the rapture and how it ties in to the overall eschatological scheme will follow later, but for now it was important to understand the lack of Biblical support and the lack of any need for such an event.
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2 Responses to “Dispensational Distortions – The Rapture”

  1. 1 Gregory

    Three Cheers and one very big Amen! I can tell that you are the wave of the future! Even Ice (see “Thomas Ice (Bloopers”) and Lindsey (see latter part of Dave’s “Deceiving and Being Deceived”) and LaHaye (see “LaHaye”s Temperament”) and Jeffrey (see “Wily Jeffrey”) and other pretrib rapture traffickers admit that pretrib was NEVER a part of any Christian theology before 1830 and was NEVER taught by any organized church before 1830! In addition to these Google articles, also Google “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “Hal Lindsey’s Many Divorces,” “Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “Dave MacPherson Responds to Frank Marotta’s Allegations,” “Thomas Ice (Hired Gun),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” and “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism.” Stay tuned for the inception of the Pretrib Liars Club which has been having no trouble lining up prospective members! Gregory

  2. 2 Jim

    DOLCINO? DUH!

    Eschatological enforcer Thomas Ice claims that someone named Dolcino taught a pretribulation rapture in 1304 A.D. What Ice doesn’t like to reveal is that Dolcino’s “proof” DOESN’T EVEN EXIST! So what does Ice’s claim rest on? Well, LONG AFTER Dolcino’s death an ANONYMOUS person wrote a SECONDHAND history of what Dolcino reportedly penned – a history that was CHANGED SEVERAL TIMES between the 1300s and the 1900s! If you’re wondering about Thomas Ice’s qualifications as a scholar, Google “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers)” and “Thomas Ice (Hired Gun).” Many are unaware that after the Communists took over Russia and China, there were Christians in those countries who became violent with pastors who had constantly assured them that they would be raptured before anything resembling end-time horrors. Can Ice and other pretrib rapture merchandisers rest assured that if such scenarios occur in America and some other “rapturized” countries, Christians won’t be just as violent towards them? (just ran into this thing on the web – Jim)


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