Friday, August 20, 2010

The Doctrine of the Rapture

The Doctrine of the Rapture

Many Christians and non-Christians alike instantly recognize the word Rapture and understand the implications of such an event. Most, however, do not know just how new this idea is to Christianity. The idea itself sprung up in the 1700s but it wasn't until the 1780s that the first hints of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture began. Many would assume that if this event was truly going to take place as it is interpreted that God's spirit would have explained this to believers long before 1780. After all seven centuries is a long time to wait and given that Jesus is supposedly returning "like a thief in the night" and that "no one knows the hour or the day" of his return it MIGHT have been crucial information. So is God withholding info that could save souls? After all having an end date set in stone and known to all man would certainly up the percentage of people willing to be saved...

But its much easier to scare people into believing something if the time of Judgment remains uncertain. If a returning Jesus can arrive like a ninja at any moment pouncing upon us from the Heavens than it keeps parishioners and church goers glued to the pews.

Even more confusing is the number of different interpretations of the Rapture event. There are a great many, even within one denomination you are likely to find differing opinions of how the event will go down. This is because the Bible is anything but clear. The Bible itself never mentions the Rapture by name. The Apostle Paul mentions an event in First Thessalonians in which Jesus scoops up the dead saints and the spirits of the living ones.

Paul was a big believer in bodily resurrection (while many others thought of rebirth as a spiritual one). It appears that he thought Jesus would return to summon the saints right from their burial plots and then take the living ones as well. Nowhere in the account does Paul put a time-frame on this or say whether it will occur before or after judgment day. Also Paul betrays a belief that this event will happen in the lifetime of the readers he is addressing the Epistle to.

17 After 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. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words. - 1st Thessalonians 4:17-18 (Emphasis Added)

Why would they need to encourage each other if the event wasn't about to happen at any moment? How could a book inspired directly by the Holy Spirit have this error? Was the Spirit not telling Paul the truth, that it would be another two millennia or more before Jesus would get his butt off of the throne to gather the Saints?

So the Bible is being vague again and as a result there are

Pretribulation Rapture believers, who believe before God pours out his wrath on us heathens they will be saved.

Midtribulation believers, who believe the rapture will come in between the tribulation, since according to their interpretation only the last half the of the tribulation is really going to be bad, the first half is three years of peace.

Posttribulation - these people are hardcore, they think the Saints will be here for the anti-Christ, the Mark of the Beast and all that tribulation stuff.

Amongst a myriad of beliefs the Bible stays silent on the subject other than to offer its vague and entirely useless account in Thessalonians. There is supposedly another in Matthew 24 but most believe that is depicting the return of Christ long after the Rapture is meant to happen.

So now that we understand the lack of a solid Biblical basis for such an event we can look at the fear tactics involved in this event. For this I will actually be using an anecdote. I know, I know, such personal stories are hardly the basis for a good argument... hear me out.

I used to be a Christian because I was raised in a fundamentalist household (its the main reason this blog exists in the first place). We got fed material about the Rapture basically from birth. When the Left Behind film series came out I was forced to watch it. Yes that's right Left Behind, starring Creationist Kirk Cameron:

At the time all this was happening I was growing up. I'd hit puberty and immediately began fantasizing about girls. At school, at home, anywhere, it was all about girls. I'd also begun, naturally, telling dirty jokes and using a handful of curse words when with my friends. All of this was seen as sinful by my family, we weren't even allowed to watch Scooby Doo (because it mentions the Occult once or twice) or a movie with over a G rating (other than Star Wars). So needless to say I was doing things I'd been taught were sinful and when I discovered masturbation the guilt only sky-rocketed.

I didn't stop doing any of the things I wasn't supposed to. In retrospect all of them were perfectly natural parts of growing older and none of them merit punishment, let alone the eternal brimstone variety. That didn't stem the steady stream of guilt into my brain though. Then along comes the 911 terrorists attacks, there was an announcement over the school inter-com that "Something big has happened in New York and it might be effecting the whole Eastern Seaboard"... I'm in Middle School Algebra at the time I hear this - I BLEACH WHITE, my heart races, I feel like I'm about to vomit. I thought for sure this was it, this was the Rapture, I was left behind by Jesus for my impure thoughts, minor lies and a little harmless masturbation... We got to our next class where it was explained what had happened, that planes had hit the World Trade Center, I breathed a sigh of relief, and I shit you not, said "Phew, is that all. That's not so bad."

I was so relieved that I wasn't about to be living through the Tribulation only to get beheaded by the Beast (what the Bible says will happen if you profess Christianity in the End Times) or go to Hell. Only days later did the gravity of the attacks finally hit me. My Father attempted to spin the attacks as a sign of the End Times (for the record he did the same thing with Katrina, claiming that Jesus return was imminent).

My story says it all. This is the fear and guilt that religion creates. By claiming that simple things like curse words and sexual thoughts are sinful the Bible puts ever teen's soul in immortal peril and creates shame and guilt where NONE should exist. By bringing up the imminent return of Jesus Pastors and Priests the world over keep people afraid. I spent years wracked with guilt afraid that at any moment I might find my family missing and the world in Chaos.

Another scary aspect is that Christians WANT this to happen, and they really don't, for the most part, give a shit about those of other faiths and religions who will be left behind to dwell in a chaotic post-Rapture world. People who are desperate for the world to end have NO place in politics and generally frighten me a great deal.

For further reading on the Rapture check out the wikipedia page here:



  1. It is quite sad to know that so many young people are growing up living in fear. It's actually sickening now that I think about it.

    As an aside; I really enjoy your blog and it's quite possibly the most interesting thing that I look forward to reading (along with stuff on ATS). You really should try to get this out to more people!

  2. Thanks,

    I agree, the fear and guilt that religion can create is really disheartening especially with kids being the victims more often than not.

    I've been trying to promote it by putting a link to it on my youtube account and Xbox Live profile and I even created a youtube video about it but it only has like 10 views.

    I put a thread on BTS about it but it hasn't gotten any attention. ATS has a some rules about promoting your own content, I'm not sure if promoting a blog is okay and in which forum I would post it.

    I'm going to try posting a bit of it on Hub Pages and a few other places.

    Thanks again.


    How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He is now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. Since Jesus must personally participate in the rapture, and since He can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends, the rapture therefore cannot take place before the end of the trib! Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who would be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which is Israel's posttrib resurrection!) If anyone wonders how long pretrib rapturism has been taught, he or she can Google “Pretrib Rapture Diehards.” Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 it was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” ["gathering"] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!). Other Google articles throwing light on long-covered-up facts about the 180-year-old pretrib rapture view include “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “X-Raying Margaret,” "Edward Irving is Unnerving," “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," and “Deceiving and Being Deceived” – all by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” which is available at Armageddon Books online. Just my two cents’ worth.