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Stopped Believing in Rapture
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Post Stopped Believing in Rapture fortheleastofthese
Pre-tribber and Post-tribbers are usually ok and respectful about the differing opinions, but folks like me who quit believing in beam me up scotty theology are seen as heretics sometimes. (Even though my position has solid historical orthodoxy and biblical fidelity throughout church history)

Below is a snippet that sums up my point of view. I first came to this conclusion after a lecture by Ben Witherington (A well respected conservative scholar at Asbury seminary)... My question to the majority here that believe in the rapture is: what is unreasonable or wrong about this interpretation of scripture? Why does it not make just as much if not more sense than a rapture theology?

Sorry about the length. This is a big topic and a thorough explanation is needed!!! Grab and drink and read it if you have time and are interested.

"The doctrine of the Rapture is one that even most non-Christians are familiar with...

But the Bible does not, in fact, teach anything of the sort!

Having previously examined the only passage in Scripture where the phrase "Left Behind" comes from, and seeing that in fact, Jesus was saying the EXACT OPPOSITE of what most people think, we will now look at the most popular passage in Scripture that people who advocate belief in the rapture rely upon.

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. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
According 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. For 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.
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. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
(1Thessalonians 4:13-1Cool

This passage is where the term "rapture" comes from. The word translated "caught up" in Greek is "harpazo". When the New Testament was translated into Latin, the word "rapiemur" was used to render it. It is from this verb that we get the English term "rapture".

But does this being "caught up" really refer to Christians being whisked away into the clouds in a massive disappearance act, leaving behind a confused world that will then go through 7 years of horrible tribulation until a final Antichrist figure emerges (from somewhere in Europe, according to most versions of Rapture theology!) and attempts to destroy the city of Jerusalem in a massive Chinese/Russian/Iraqi/Iranian invasion--only to be stopped by Jesus' visible return to reign on earth for 1000 years from a throne in Jerusalem?? (Whew! That's a lot to recount in a single paragraph!)

In short, no. It does not.

Nor have Christians historically believed this to be what this passage is referring to. Only in the 1850s did this view begin to emerge.

No, Paul is not talking about the mass disappearance of Christians from all over the globe. He is talking about the final return of Jesus as conquering King and Judge of the Living and Dead. And he is doing so using the unmistakeable vocabulary of Roman Imperial rhetoric, which his Thessalonian readers would've immediately recognized. New Testament scholar and historian Ben Witherington elaborates:

What sort of return is Paul envisioning here? Can it be a secret or invisible return? Do we have some sort of theology of a pre-tribulation rapture here with Jesus not actually coming to earth? The details of the text as well as the use of the language of the royal visit to a city surely rule out such a view....V. 16 also makes as clear as one could want that we are dealing with a public event, one announced not only by a loud command, as on a battlefield, and the voice of the archangel, but also by the trumpet call of God, though these may be three ways of referring to the same sound. The images are martial, as if Jesus were summoning his army.

The meeting place is said to take place in the clouds or in the air, not in heaven. Paul considers the dead in Christ to be persons who can be “awakened” or “addressed.” He is probably drawing on the yom Yahweh ["Day of the LORD"] traditions, which referred to a trumpet blast announcing the event (cf. Isa. 27:13; Joel 2:1; Zech. 9:14; 1 Cor. 15:52). But it was also the case that a royal visit to a city would be announced by a herald (see Ps. 24:7–10) and might well also be announced by a trumpet blast meant to alert those in the city that the king was coming.

This imagery is pursued further in v. 17 with the use of the term apantesin ["to meet"]. For example, Cicero says of Julius Caesar’s victory tour through Italy in 49 b.c.: “Just imagine what a meeting/royal welcome (apantesis) he is receiving from the towns, what honors are paid to him” (Ad. Atticus 8.16.2). This word refers, then, to the actions of the greeting committee as it goes forth from the city to escort the royal person or dignitary into the city for his official visit. “These analogies (especially in association with the term parousia ["presence/arrival"]) suggest the possibility that the Lord is pictured here as escorted the remainder of the journey to earth by his people—both those newly raised from the dead and those remaining alive.

[Church Father John] Chrysostom picked up these nuances quite clearly:

"For when a king drives into a city, those who are honorable go out to meet him; but the condemned await the judge within. And upon the coming of an affectionate father, his children indeed, and those who are worthy to be his children, are taken out in a chariot, that they may see him and kiss him; but the housekeepers who have offended him remain within. (Homily 8 on 1 Thessalonians)"

Paul’s Thessalonian audience may have missed some of the allusions to the Old Testament, but they would not have missed the language used here about a royal visit, indeed an imperial visit. They would remember the visit of Pompey and later Octavian and others in the days when Thessalonike could even be talked about by Pompey as the capital in exile.
[From: 1 and 2 Thessalonians : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary by Ben Witherington III (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2006)]

Witherington is not alone in seeing this entire passage as Paul speaking not of a "rapture" but of a the final return of Jesus and His followers--both alive as well as those who have died and are resurrected--meeting him upon His arrival and welcoming Him as one would welcome a triumphant ruler returning from victorious battle to sit upon his rightful throne. Scholars from many denominations and theological traditions recognize what is going on in 1Thessalonians 4 is nothing resembling the current pop-theology as found in scenarios such as those found in the "Left Behind" books/movies, the writings of Hal Lindsay, David Jeremiah or John Hagee, or the various "End-Times Thriller" B-movies released by Christians over the past 40 years or so:

"The picture is that of a group of citizens going out from a city to meet a visiting dignitary and accompany him back. This implies that the Lord returns with his people to the earth. (They certainly do not stay permanently on the clouds playing harps!) This language was probably never intended to be understood absolutely literally; it is describing things that go beyond words. The important thing is that believers, whether the dead or the living, are from then with the Lord for ever."
[From: New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition by D.A. Carson, ed. (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove 1994)]

"In describing the second coming of Jesus, Paul uses another cluster of images borrowed from the triumph of the divine warrior. The trumpet call (1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thess 4:16), for example, is reminiscent of the call to battle, just as the picture of the faithful meeting the Lord in the air (1 Thess 4:17) is drawn from the practice of coming out of the city to welcome a returning warrior who has been successful in battle. The use of this cluster of images communicates that Jesus is God’s agent of salvation but also defines salvation, in part, as the defeat of Satan (and all that would oppose God’s purpose) in cosmic warfare. The book of Revelation, of course, continues the theme of divine warfare in relation to Jesus’ return."
[From: The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery by Leland Ryken, ed. (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove 1998), 769.]

"When all the dead in Christ are raised, then the trumpet shall sound, as the signal for them all to flock together to the throne of Christ. It was by the sound of the trumpet that the solemn assemblies, under the law, were convoked; and to such convocations there appears to be here an allusion. When the dead in Christ are raised, their vile bodies being made like unto his glorious body, then, Those who are alive shall be changed, and made immortal. These shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. 8. We may suppose that the judgment will now be set, and the books opened, and the dead judged out of the things written in those books. The eternal states of quick and dead being thus determined, then all who shall be found to have made a covenant with him by sacrifice, and to have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, shall be taken to his eternal glory, and be for ever with the Lord. What an inexpressibly terrific glory will then be exhibited!"
[From: Clarke's Commentary: First Thessalonians by Adam Clarke (electronic ed.;, Logos Library System, Ages Software, 1999)]

Pastor and British Theologian, John R.W. Stott--who is something of an Elder Statesman of Evangelicalism--sums up the message of this passage quite nicely:

"Thus the coming of Jesus, Paul seems to be hinting by the mere adoption of this word, will be a revelation of God and a personal, powerful visitation by Jesus, the King. It can hardly be fortuitous that he is writing this to the Thessalonians among whom, at least according to his critics, he had defied Claudius Caesar’s decrees by announcing ‘that there is another king, one called Jesus’.?

The Christian hope, however, is more than the expectation that the King is coming; it is also the belief that when he comes, the Christian dead will come with him and the Christian living will join them. For it is the separation which death causes (or seems to cause) which is so painful, both separation from Christ, since the dead have died before he comes, and separation from those who survive them, since they have gone ahead and left the living behind. It is these two bitter separations which the apostle solemnly assures his readers are neither real nor permanent. For the dead will come with Jesus, and the living will not precede them.
[From: The Message of Thessalonians: The Gospel & the End of Time by John R.W. Stott (; Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England, 1994), 97.]

So, given the fact that neither Jesus nor Paul ever taught that Christians would be "raptured" out of the world before the final return of Christ, and given that the key proof-texts for such a view teach nothing of the sort, Christians who seek to be faithful to God's Inspired Scripture should see to it that pop-theologies such as that of the rapture are what gets left behind."

article posted: http://www.examiner.com/article/why-belief-the-rapture-should-be-left-behind (not a fan of this author, but this is basically copied and pasted quotes from a variety of respected authors like Ben Witherington)

Also see:

http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_BR_Farewell_Rapture.htm


Last edited by fortheleastofthese on 8/9/12 4:09 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Post Link
Being caught up in the air as Christ returns is still a 'rapture' just not a 'secret rapture.' People who write such articles should not write against the 'rapture', since the word is from the text (Anglicized from the Latin), but rather against a particular version of the rapture.
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Post Daniel Rushing
Enjoyed your post. Please update your link though. It has a [/b] that shouldn't be there. Golf Cart Mafia Consigliere
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Post Nature Boy Florida
ahh - from N T Wright - I understand
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Post fortheleastofthese
Link wrote:
People who write such articles should not write against the 'rapture', since the word is from the text (Anglicized from the Latin), but rather against a particular version of the rapture.


The author mentions the latin roots of "rapture"...

I think everyone would agree that rapture is synonymous with a specific doctrine. That's what is being discussed here...Not necessarily the definition or etymology of a word.
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Post fortheleastofthese
We can all agree that Jesus is coming back and that those who are alive will be caught up in the air with Him.

That's the bit that matters most right?
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Post Link
fortheleastofthese wrote:
Link wrote:
People who write such articles should not write against the 'rapture', since the word is from the text (Anglicized from the Latin), but rather against a particular version of the rapture.


The author mentions the latin roots of "rapture"...

I think everyone would agree that rapture is synonymous with a specific doctrine. That's what is being discussed here...Not necessarily the definition or etymology of a word.


But post tribulation rapture seems consistent with what the author said, or much of it, and that is still a rapture doctrine. I don't know if he takes the tribulation as literal 7 years though.

For me, coming from a background where I heard the rapture taught and where the word comes from explained, claiming not to believe in the 'rapture' at all seems to be a denial of scripture. Maybe someone not raised around the rapture who hadn't heard this type of argument a lot would not think the same way. If that is the case, and they want to persuade people from rapture backgrounds, they need to use relevant language anyway. More important to that, the terminology they use should be true to the scriptures.
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Post I still believe JLarry
in the rapture and I sure hope I am right.
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Post Re: I still believe Cojak
JLarry wrote:
in the rapture and I sure hope I am right.


I know I am weird, but with so many 'intellects' that disagree on prophesy, I leave it up to them. I take every day God gives me and try to use it to its fullest.

I'm not smart enough to dig up my own interpretation, so I must listen to learned Scholars and theologians. What does one do when two respected men take opposite poles?

I tried once when pastoring to answer a question I was not sure of, I never tried it again. I learned to say, you will have to find someone smarter than I for that one.

So I fall in step with Larry in his comment! Cool
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Post Resident Skeptic
Quote:
No, Paul is not talking about the mass disappearance of Christians from all over the globe. He is talking about the final return of Jesus as conquering King and Judge of the Living and Dead. And he is doing so using the unmistakeable vocabulary of Roman Imperial rhetoric, which his Thessalonian readers would've immediately recognized


Amen. Such a mass disappearance ushering the reign of the Anti-Christ would be recorded somewhere. It is not.
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Post Unfailing Protection Patrick Harris
If I go in the Rapture I'm good, If I have to go through the tribulation, I have unfailing faith in an unfailing God to protect me and mine.

If it takes my life, it's his to take. I will not worry.

Either way, I'm good.

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Post Joshua Henson
fortheleastofthese wrote:
Link wrote:
People who write such articles should not write against the 'rapture', since the word is from the text (Anglicized from the Latin), but rather against a particular version of the rapture.


The author mentions the latin roots of "rapture"...

I think everyone would agree that rapture is synonymous with a specific doctrine. That's what is being discussed here...Not necessarily the definition or etymology of a word.


Technically "rapture" is "synonymous" (I would probably 'most commonly identified') with multiple doctrines...

Pre Trib
Mid Trib
Pre Wrath
Post Trib

The reality is mostly everyone believes in a rapture...the big issue is the timing and the dual nature of the concept
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Post Bro Bob
What a crock!

There are some rather glaring straw men, like an assertion that 1 Thess 4 states King Jesus is returning to a city... it never even makes the hint.

As has already been observed, the writer quoted in the original post begins by declaring things are not "as they seem", nor the way it has been preached since the 1850s. The assertion is that reasonable scholars never took this literally. But when did the Bible become available in the hands of people capable of reading it in their own language? We're not talking 2000 years of world-wide common belief based on knowledge of scripture.

He refutes item after item by merely declaring it is not so. Then he proceeds to perfectly describe post-tribulation rapture!

The events he admits to are:

* Resurrection of the dead. (That is a really big deal.)
* Immortalization of the living righteous. (Another big deal. This one thing is impossible without a judgment being made of the status of every living person.)
* Both being caught up in the air to meet the returning King Jesus, never to be separated from him again. (HUGE!) And all three taking place in an instant.

Regardless what is going on on CNN or how much calender other events are using up, this is not only a rapture, the sequence of these events is correct.

I'm not a fan of the Left Behind stuff. Too much Hollywood-style filling in the details that are not known, or knowable. The inertia of their story is a combination of 1 Thess 4 and Matthew 24, where Jesus talks about two in the field, one taken, the other left. It is not an unreasonable connection. SOME of what Jesus describes in Matt 24 happened in 70 A.D. Some of it hasn't happened yet. I am sure those who heard him thought it was all one event.

It is enough for me that the truth, (admitted to by this writer who set out to say it isn't so), of those three bullet points above are understandable prophecy.

Warning: Always be suspicious when someone tells you:
Quote:
This language was probably never intended to be understood absolutely literally


What they are really saying is that you are incapable of understanding the truth, because you don't know when to reject Bible. Don't believe your lying eyes, listen to me. I have letters behind my name, while you went to work, I studied and studied and studied. And I found the Bible to be problematic until I read the works of others who studied like me. You are very lucky, I am willing to be your mediator.
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Post fortheleastofthese JLarry
The main thing is that you believe in Jesus. I have discovered the fact that how one believes as long as their core belief's are solid is not a big issue with me.

Whether you believe the rapture takes place before or after should not determine whether or not you are a "Brother". And the older I get the more important this is to me.
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Post Daniel Rushing
Bro. Bob,

Perhaps you can clarify waht is crock. Things you and Wright (et al) agree on:

- Great Resurrection
- Meeting in the air to be with the Lord forever
- Great final judgement

So where is the crock? I think for Wright, and others, the dispute is over a bizarre event where Christians disappear while God kills everyone else over a span of 7 years.

For me, the difficulty revolves around a 7 year tribulation in the first place. So many textual acrobatics are neccessary to find this event in scriptures- you ahve to jump here, jump there, fit this verse into these verses, etc. You would think if something like that was going to happen, and it was so important, and so concise (as some assert)- that Jesus would have made that more clear.

However, He, nor any other writer did. The events of Matthew 24ff were mostly fulfilled in the 1st century with Jerusalem's destruction. And, Revelation is not necessarily a timeline as it is a revelation of Christ to the nations across all centuries.

Why when we talk about the "rapture" is it always done around the concept of a previous or subsequent event to a "tribulation." Some end time tribulation does not seem to me to be a major doctrine of Jesus or the New Testament; or of the COG.
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Post Curtis Lowe II
Daniel Rushing wrote:
Bro. Bob,

Perhaps you can clarify waht is crock. Things you and Wright (et al) agree on:

- Great Resurrection
- Meeting in the air to be with the Lord forever
- Great final judgement

So where is the crock? I think for Wright, and others, the dispute is over a bizarre event where Christians disappear while God kills everyone else over a span of 7 years.

For me, the difficulty revolves around a 7 year tribulation in the first place. So many textual acrobatics are neccessary to find this event in scriptures- you ahve to jump here, jump there, fit this verse into these verses, etc. You would think if something like that was going to happen, and it was so important, and so concise (as some assert)- that Jesus would have made that more clear.

However, He, nor any other writer did. The events of Matthew 24ff were mostly fulfilled in the 1st century with Jerusalem's destruction. And, Revelation is not necessarily a timeline as it is a revelation of Christ to the nations across all centuries.

Why when we talk about the "rapture" is it always done around the concept of a previous or subsequent event to a "tribulation." Some end time tribulation does not seem to me to be a major doctrine of Jesus or the New Testament; or of the COG.


I would think that the book of Revelations (a New Testament book)implies some pretty major tribulation. Smile
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Post JLarry
Quote:
I would think that the book of Revelations (a New Testament book)implies some pretty major tribulation.


Where is the book of Revelations?
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Post Daniel Rushing
Does it? Or is it truly apocalytic literature?Or is it a revelation of how Christ has shook the foundations of the empire and did away with the old age? Golf Cart Mafia Consigliere
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Post PastorJackson
Or is it a revelation of the end times that the Holy Spirit gave to John on Patmos? As the Bible says it is. Again the bible trumps commentary at least for me.
Daniel Rushing wrote:
Does it? Or is it truly apocalytic literature?Or is it a revelation of how Christ has shook the foundations of the empire and did away with the old age?
Cool
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Post Daniel Rushing
PastorJackson wrote:
Or is it a revelation of the end times that the Holy Spirit gave to John on Patmos? As the Bible says it is. Again the bible trumps commentary at least for me.
Daniel Rushing wrote:
Does it? Or is it truly apocalytic literature?Or is it a revelation of how Christ has shook the foundations of the empire and did away with the old age?
Cool


I understand what you say. And I am right there with you. But, does Revelation explicitly say that is about the "end times." And what are the "end times" any way? The end of the age, it seems, was at the cross. For me, the killing of God at the hands of human is the end of the world. It is the worst thing that could ever happen, and God answered with resurrection.

People are looking for the end of the world (according to Jewish apocalyptic understanding); but it seems to me that Jesus nailed that world/age to the cross- and raised up a new creation 3 days later. Yet we wait for the consummation- which is in the future upon His bodily return to earth.

For now we live in the presence of the ashes of a world long dead- awaiting the time when Jesus will return and sweep up the ashes.

G.K. Chesterton wrote:
On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of a gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.
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