Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Rapture Theory, by John Nelson Darby

A short history of the Rapture in simple terms.

In case you were scared that you might be one of those paranoid Christians who don’t “know that you know that you know that you know.”

Part 1: The Reformation.

It all started way back,(cue swivelly flashback screen) when a few men by the name of Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingly got ticked off at the Catholic Church for its corruption and decided that the Catholic Church was the anti-Christ predicted in Daniel and Revelation.

The Catholic Church got together in a big meeting called the Council of Trent in the mid 1500’s to explore and counter the claims being made against the Church that pretty much equated the Catholic Church with the Devil. From this “counter-reformation” at the Council of Trent came the teachings of a Jesuit priest named Fransisco Ribera. He came up with a method of interpretation called “futurism.” Cool name huh?

According to his interpretation, the prophesies in Daniel and Revelation did not apply to the whole of Church history but applied only to the final 7 years. Therefore, the properties of the anti-Christ didn’t apply to the Catholic Church, but rather to a single powerful, evil person who would appear and rule in those final years. The Catholic Church did not fully embrace this interpretation but didn’t say it wasn’t so either because it was a quick way to get them off the hook.

The Reformers thought this was pretty cool as it was scarier to preach from the pulpit so they dropped the Anti-Christ charges on the Catholic Church and picked up where Ribera left off developing “futurism” filling the pews with fresh, antichrist-fearing folks.

Enter John Nelson Darby, a 19th century Irish lawyer turned Anglican preacher. He came up with, IN THE 19th CENTURY(!!!!) an interpretation called “dispensationalism” where he incorporated Ribera’s futuristism views.

Thus Darby became “the father of the rapture doctrine.” (You could say old Tim LaHeyell owes Darby’s fam some Royalties.) Darby authored the theory that Jesus would return secretly (second coming) to rapture his true followers, leaving everyone else behind at the mercy of the antichrist for the next 7 years and on his “third” coming on the clouds, he would destroy the antichrist and save those that had seen the light during the seven-year tribulation and establish his kingdom here on earth.

Enter Cyrus Scofield. He later published a Bible with explanatory notes in which he incorporated Darby’s views on the rapture. It is by far still the most popular Bible sold today.

Where does that leave the soul who is fearful of being left behind?

I feel that you should know three things and feel better.

1. The way that the rapture is taught today is a theory invented by a man. It does not mean that it will happen that way. It might not.
2. No man knows the day or the hour. Period.
3. John 3:16, believe it.

Sleep better. The End.


FancyPants said...

Thank you for that incredibly objective explanation of the Rapture, Seth. I'm glad you could manage to avoid inserting personal opinion and bias.

FancyPants said...

Note the sacrasm in the above comment. And for the record, I agree with your 3 points at the end there.

Seth Ward said...

Moi? Personal opinion?

Discontented Refuge said...

obviously this might not be the place, but you could at least throw in some links or something to help out your argument that "everything I hold as truth about the rapture is crap" blog....

*applauds Fancypants*

The Cachinnator said...

Link to me; I'll back you up.

Austin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Austin said...

title should be:

Rapture Theory for DUMMIES

Seth Ward said...

I am sorry, I am so lazy about linking. I think, "I should link... and no linkage happens. So here is a huge cut and paste to the alternate veiw of things that the Christians thought up to our buddy John Nelson Darby...

I do know the more you study the imagery and context of what Paul says (Paul was so dang educated and knew just how to communicate using imagery that the local x-pagans would understand...) the better you can understand... well understand that it is a mystery. And Paul meant to bring them hope even though he told them that they knew very well that no one knew, even Jesus does not know, how could be so arrogant and think we know more than He?

Problems with the Rapture

We might conclude by asking, “What view of the world is encouraged, even legitimized by the Rapture/Left Behind ideology?” It can be fairly described as an extremely pessimistic, “outsider mentality.” It feels “left out” of the world and of society, so it eagerly anticipates leaving all of that behind. In fact, God shares their disgust, and the signs are clear: God is coming soon to put an end to it. The world itself is doomed to destruction, so there is obviously no point in caring for it or protecting it now.

Everyone left behind on the earth at the time of the Rapture will be subject to the sufferings of the Tribulation. The violence envisaged and described (as in the “Left Behind” novels) is almost pornographic in detail.

The spirit of vengeance is much in evidence as those “left behind” are subjected to extreme anguish. The hope that the earth and most of its inhabitants will soon be destroyed is a cause of happiness and rejoicing among those who are eager to be separated from sinners and “raptured” out of the world because then they will be with the Lord.

To this we might juxtapose another, very different, world view. The world of God’s creation is basically good (Gn 1). Though it is marred and broken by sin and death, it is still created in, through and for Jesus Christ (Col 1:15-20). The world shares in the redemption of God and even now is groaning, awaiting the fullness of redemption (Rom 8:19-23) which will be manifested as a (re)new(ed) heavens and (re)new(ed) earth (Rv 21:1-5).

God sent the Son into this world out of love to show us the way to life. Jesus did not separate himself from sinners but, on the contrary, they seem to have been his preferred company. If we want to be with the Lord, we should be together with sinners.

In all the Gospels, he is criticized by the self-righteous, “He eats with publicans and sinners” (e.g., Luke 5:29-32), but, as he assures us, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just (Luke 15:7,10). The day of the Lord’s second coming is delayed, in fact, precisely because “ [the Lord] is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9-10). Jesus’ harshest words are reserved for those who think they are secure and look down on others (e.g., the Pharisee and the publican, Luke 18:9-14).

Even though we may long for the day of the Lord’s return in glory, the time of that return is unknown. Not even Jesus knows; only the Father knows (Mark 13:32). We are warned against false prophets who say that the end is near (Mt 24:23-26), but Jesus assures us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).

Until that time, we are to be about the Lord’s work, “Blessed are those servants whom the master will find at work when he arrives” (Mt 24:46). If we look too eagerly for Jesus’ return on the clouds of heaven, we may pass him by too often on the street (Mt 25:31-46). It would seem that what gets left behind most in the “Left Behind” mentality is the whole Bible.

Discontented Refuge said...

so this isn't about Rapture. This is about what we are consumed with on a day to day basis, and Rapture just happens to be your target of the moment?

What is your alternative argument to Pre-Tribulation Rapture?

FancyPants said...

I wouldn't call it the rapture theory for dummies, considering many intelligent people believe it and study it.

But...I will say that the whole theory in itself, the last 7 years theory, pre trib, post trib, anti-christ, yada yada, is NOT held by many many Christians, mostly outside the Evangelical circle. And it's just that, a theory.

So for the Left Behind authors to take it and make it into this best selling fiction series, is a little irritating to me. And I don't appreciate, however fiction the book may be, that the authors go along and "pick" who's left behind and who isn't.

I had a 12 year old, the daughter of some dear friends of ours, tell me she was scared after reading it because she wondered if she was doing enough to be Raptured, or if she'd be left behind. She's a Christian, and here she is, operating out of fear in her faith....It doesn't sit well with me.

FancyPants said...


"operating out of fear in her faith" was poorly worded. I don't know if she's "operating" out of fear, and let me just say I know a healthy "fear" of God is good for us.

It seemed to me that she was doubting her faith and whether it was "enough" to be raptured, instead of being assured that Jesus' sacrifice covered her sins and his grace is sufficient. I have a feeling her mom soon reminded her, but still...I remember that place of wondering if I prayed the prayer hard enough, if I meant it enough. Now we've got this hyped up literature that makes us wonder if the person in the pew next to us is really saved or not.

Discontented Refuge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seth Ward said...

I have some personal issues with it, but I'll save them till after I try and present my (or the rest of Christianity that doesn't buy this theory) arguement.

Again quoted from Michael D. Guinan, O.F.M., Ph.D., is a professor of Old Testament, Semitic languages and biblical spirituality at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, California. (This view is and has been the view of about every other Christian denom and faith except a cell of evangelical Christians in the past 180 years. Grown more fervent recently.)

"Those who propose the Rapture maintain that it is found in Scripture. From its first appearance, as we have seen, others have questioned this. What are we to think?

Written by Paul from Corinth, about 50 or 51 A.D., less than 20 years after the death of Christ, 1 Thessalonians is commonly considered the oldest book of the New Testament. It is clear that these earliest Christians were eagerly expecting Jesus’ return in glory at the end of the world. As time went on and this was delayed, two pastoral problems emerged that Paul addresses in these lines.

The first is the question of when. Paul tells them that they “know very well” that we do not know the time of the end; it will come like a thief in the night. This becomes a truism throughout the New Testament, appearing in the Synoptic Gospels (Mt 24:42,44; Mark 13:21-23, 32-33; Luke 12:39-40; 17:20-24; 21:34-35); Acts of the Apostles (1:6-7); the Letters (our passage and 2 Peter 3:9-10); and even in the Book of Revelation, not once but twice (Rv 3:3; 16:15)! Needless to say, this clear teaching has been consistently ignored by many up to the present day.

The second question seems more urgent. Since Christ’s coming was delayed, some of the community had died. Those who were left became worried: Would the dead lose out in some way at Christ’s return? Would they be at any disadvantage?

In describing Jesus’ return, Paul combines imagery drawn from two sources. From biblical apocalyptic (e.g., Daniel 7:13), he gets the coming on the clouds of heaven with the angelic trumpets. From his Greco-Roman experience, he gets the imagery of an arrival of a king on a state visit (in Greek, parousia); a joyful multitude goes out to meet him on the road and accompany him back to the city.

The dead will rise first and then we, the living, will be “snatched” up to join them in the air. Many pagan epitaphs of the time spoke of the living “being snatched” away by death. Here Paul speaks of our “being snatched” up to join the Lord and to welcome him at his return.

In the ancient world, the “air” was a scary place filled with unseen beings, many of them hostile. Together with Christ, there will be nothing to fear. Paul means this as a message of comfort and consolation for the Thessalonians. Christians do grieve the loss of their loved ones, but they should not do so “as others do who have no hope.”

The passage is about Jesus’ return in glory at the end of the world. The New Testament knows of only one such return. There is no “first” second coming!

Further, the passage says absolutely nothing about being “separated from” sinners; the whole thrust is exactly the opposite. It is about “being together with” the dead. There is no suggestion that once we meet Jesus “in the air” that he then turns around and goes back, taking us with him, to return later.

The conclusion is clear: There is no basis whatsoever in this passage for a doctrine of the Rapture. To see such a doctrine here is a complete distortion of the biblical text. If we were to examine other biblical texts often cited in support of this doctrine (e.g., Mt 24:40-41; Luke 17:34-35; Rv 3:10), the results would be the same." (end quote)

Why I think it is not only false, but unhealthy. (I’m gonna type fast cause I’m on a date so apologies for the messy English or if I come off as jerky. I am not attacking you my friend. Some of this is stored-up frustration.)

This theory has been burned into the subconscious of the evangelical Christian subculture as TRUTH and I feel STRONGLY that it needs to stop. If you want to teach it as a "way" to look at it, or as "one of the ways it could happen" (even thought I have never seen ANYTHING that would lead me to believe in a double or triple return) then fine, tell them who came up with the theory and that still, no matter how hard we want to know, NO MAN KNOWS FOR SURE HOW IT WILL LOOK. IT IS A MYSTERY. It is alllllll symbolic in varying levels. Trumpets blowing, seals broken, plagues, famine, death, antichrist(s), beasts...

The fact is, no one really knows all the mysteries of Revelation or the SECOND coming. We know there is a second coming. And that Jesus will rule and reign Judge the living and the dead and the dead in Christ shall rise, but we don't know the chronology or what “exactly” that will look like and most importantly, there is zero real evidence that suggests Jesus having a double return. NONE. It was a theory developed to try and make sense of the most mysterious writings about our faith. -The end times. When and where?

They like to think they do but they don't. The disciples didn't and neither did Jesus. How in the name of uncle Jed do they think they know more than Paul, Peter, John or for crying out loud Jesus?

In fact, I think it downright promotes spiritual snobbery. It belittles belief in that it says that your faith must be sooooooo great that you need to have the suuuuuurest "relationship" at all times with Jesus or your ass just might be left behind,

WHEN EVERYTHING ELSE THAT JESUS SAYS IS TO THE CONTRARY. "Even to those who believe on his name." or "whosoever believeth" or "those that call upon the name." or "faith of a mustard seed" "where sin abounds grace superabounds."

In turn it has been used to scare the hell out of kids (literally) and youth who love Christ to run multiple times down the isles so many times to be sure that God loves them, which distorts the love of God into a fickle and changing thing, depending entirely on your mood. It has been used to plant fear into the hearts of the children of God that should be told to hold fast to the truths that have been spoken about Him. That he will never leave you or forsake them. And when He returns, every knee shall bow and every toungue will confess. Not, every knee that hasn't been snatched up on the first run.

The faith in fact to believe and be saved is so powerful, or God is so powerful through it, that it saves your soul for all time. Any other prettying up of that faith weakens it by trying to strengthen it. It neuters Grace into some sort of "experience" when it is a super-natural ongoing yet timeless thing that is as mind boggling as God making a universe from nothing.

Discontented Refuge said...

Ok, I understand why you don't like it. Good point.

I'm re-reading my defense of the rapture books so I can demolish your argument like any good, loving Christian debater.

Seth Ward said...

In the words of the immortal Sly Stalone in that Rocky where he took on that Ruskie and then made that speech at the end about everybody just getting along,

"Go for it."

nancy said...

I have enjoyed reading this blog and all the comments. Informative and helpful. I do have a question though --- is that George Bush standing with the little children?

Seth Ward said...

Yes it is! I was hoping someone would notice that! Just a little harmless fun.

Thanks for the nice comment and for stopping by.

Please continue!

Discontented Refuge said...

Here we go:

1: Thessalonians talks about meeting the Lord "in the air" - seems to point out that Christ is not coming to earth (i.e. the 2nd Coming is when he sets foot on the Mt. of Olives)

2: Revelation speaks of the Marriage supper of the Lamb and points to a time lime that it happens during the Tribulation. The church, being the bride of Christ, will be present at the Supper - implying they won't be present during the tribulation.

3: The Daniels gap argument is a logical one, but supports the other views and is not stand alone.

4: The church is not mentioned in Revelation once the Tribulation begins. It is omitted. It implies the lack of the presence of the church. Again, a logical argument, but one with more foundation than Daniel's gap.

Anonymous said...

There is a present day prophecy in some Catholic Marian circles based on a private revelation at Garabandel, which can be called a form of a
'rapture' but which explains it in a different way from the traditional Protestant view. In this understanding there will be a min-judgement given to each individual soul in the world. It is called the "Illumination of Consciences". As we can see there is great confusion right now in he world over what is moral and immoral. At times good things are called bad and bad is called good.
This darkness is called by the spread of Satan's smoke throughout the church in all denominations including the Catholic. According to this view the darkness hides God's truth to the point that God has to intervene and He allows a miracle by which every person is allowed to see the state of their soul as God sees it. God allows them to see everything they have done or thought and allows them to see what is evil and good as He sees it. This correction of consciences will last a few minutes and willbe world wide. Everyone will partake of it. Afterwords people will be left to change their lives or refuse the grace by explaining it away. It will be an act that sifts the wheat from the chaff. Those who refuse the grace and go back to their old ways will be like the hard rocky soil unable to receive the seed given them. A short time after this God will cleanse the world of those who reject what is good and establish His reign on earth. Satan will chained in Hell for a period of time and there will be a glorious reign of peace on earth. I believe in this form of the rapture. I believe it is Bibical and that we are near this time. I see this as the greatest act of God's mercy to us because he is correcting each person and giving each person a chance to change.

Jove said...

I have to agree with Seth here. I come from a very devout Church of God family (grandfather was the minister) and of course, went my own way and have my own beliefs.

There is no way I can adopt a theory as a just and pure 'fact' from some 19th century lawyer turned ''born again christian.''

I choose not to live my life by identity. I am me. I am not a Christian. I am not a meat eater. I am not an animal. There is a God. There is something.

That's as simple as it need be.

Unk said...

At one time I beleived there was a God. I was told if I believed I would go to heaven. I was warned not to get into other denominations.
The problem is I was never told to turn to Jesus. I just accept mans word as fact and didn't questioned it.
When I finally did turn to the Lord I was taught how wrong those so called truths were. I was taught how to make sure what is being taught is in the context of scripture.
I've seen good preachers take scriptures out of context just to back up doctrine's of man.

viagra online said...

buy viagra
generic viagra