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Featured The Iconoclastic Rapture

Discussion in 'Controversial Christian Theology' started by Residential Bob, Jan 14, 2019 at 9:25 AM.

  1. Residential Bob

    Residential Bob Member

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    The idea of a rapture generates controversy even among futurists. Like Preterists, some futurists see no scriptural basis for such fantasy. The majority do, however, and even they cannot unite on it fully, except that they base it loosely on a scant few passages, namely Matthew 24:37-41, Daniel 9, 1 Thessalonians 4, and Acts 1:9-11. To derive from these passages the idea of a “taking up” of the church, we must approach them with preconceived notions rooted in tradition and popular culture rather than in the Scriptures themselves. This presents conflict, as we see in Matthew.

    Contrary to what popular culture teaches, Jesus doesn’t say that anyone is left behind, as if unbelievers are left on a loathsome planet to their dismay; he just says left. And he says the opposite of what popular culture says. Note his wording in Matthew:

    For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. (Mt 24:37-41)​

    To illustrate his point, Jesus references Noah, who was righteous and who inherited the earth. When the rains came and flooded the land, the wicked were swept away and the righteous were left, not the other way around, as popular culture insists. When his disciples ask him where the wicked are taken, Jesus says not that they are literally taken somewhere, for their corpses are exposed to the vultures (Lk 17:37). They continue to inhabit the earth, but they are dead in spirit (the body without the spirit is dead (Jas 2:26)); they do not live in paradise with God. Those not in Christ have no life; they are not numbered among the kingdom of heaven. The wicked are taken from the kingdom. Think about the church in general. Though it opens its doors and may inadvertently admit undesirable elements from time to time, it is not a den of iniquity. Certainly unbelievers enter, but so do the righteous; indeed, the church is where the righteous gather. The Lord said he would gather his people, and he has. And note that Jesus says no one was left behind; they were just left, and definitely not to their dismay.

    Not only does Jesus not use the phrase left behind, he also stands opposite popular culture on its very premise. The wicked got too pervasive, and they were the ones who were taken, or who would not inherit the earth.

    This passage in the Olivet Discourse is applicable specifically to the destruction of the temple. The Olivet Discourse, after all, portents this looming tribulation. In Revelation, John the Divine refers to the imagery of birds feasting on the corpses of kings, merchants, and mighty men, and indeed all men who perished in the struggle to maintain a cult of temple that God so detested (Rv 19:17-18).

    Jesus tells us in this monologue and also in the Beatitudes that the righteous remain on the earth to inherit it. He charges his apostles to pray that the Father’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The earth is where the Lord intends to establish his paradise. Rapture theology, on the other hand, teaches that Jesus comes not to redeem the earth but to destroy it. This theology not only disagrees with scripture but, on its face, is anathema to it. It is a foreign theology introduced in the nineteenth century, allegedly from a Scottish teenager’s 1830 vision of the end times. Before then, no one had ever heard of a rapture.

    The 70 weeks theology that futurists derive from Daniel 9 is extraordinarily convoluted and beyond the purview of this exposition, but in brief, it is, like premillennialism and futurism in general, a theory that has been recently introduced to Christendom. During the Reformation, Protestants believed that the seventy weeks (490 day-years) of Daniel had already run their course. Catholics also believed this. Christians simply had not thought of separating the time measure with two thousand years of ecclesiastical history.

    Another passage that requires futurist assumptions to read into it some vague concept of a church literally taken up into heaven, a realm that is not literal, is in 1 Thessalonians:

    Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thes 4:17)​

    To believe that this is a reference to a rapture, we first must believe that a person’s spirit, which defies any literal existence, can manipulate or be manipulated by nature, that even after we die, the spiritual man still shares confines with the natural man. But of course, the natural order is not heaven; it is not where the spirit resides for eternity. This verse is about something completely different than a lifting up of the church into the atmosphere. Objects cannot float around the earth in the air that we breathe. If we were to do that in our new bodies, we would be restricted to the very confines that natural man is restricted to. That is not eternity. Paul seems to be using the word in the same sense he uses it in Ephesians when he equates sin to the “prince of the power of the air.” (Ep 2:2) That is, the air represents a “sphere of life and influence,” as Wallace calls it.* Believers are in the sphere and influence of the Lord, as Paul tells the Thessalonians, and unbelievers are in the sphere and influence of sin, as he tells the Ephesians.

    Concerning those who are asleep (1 Thes 4:13-18), Paul is simply reassuring his contemporaries who are still alive that their fellow believers who have died, though their flesh rots, are still alive in Christ. Salvation is no longer strictly nationalistic; it is also for the individual.

    Notice also that Paul is writing in the present and addressing people living in the years between the crucifixion and the fall of Jerusalem. We who are alive, he says; not those who are alive centuries from now. Whether dead or alive, Paul continues in the next chapter, “We live together with him.” (1 Thes 5:10). We also see in 1 Corinthians that Paul expects the Lord’s coming in his generation when he says “we shall not all sleep.” (I Cor 15:51) Paul also says this to the Corinthians:

    Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (1 Cor 10:11)​

    That Paul would tell one group of a rapture and another group something diametrically opposed to a rapture is hypocritical. Paul is telling his contemporaries in Corinth unequivocally that they are experiencing the end of the age. He is not clearly telling his contemporaries in Thessalonica that they will experience a rapture. Thus the one remedy that can fix this apparent contradiction is to adjust our interpretation of his conveyance to the Thessalonians.

    Barclay makes no mention of a rapture in his commentary, but says simply that Paul lays down a great principle in these verses to the Thessalonians, that a man who has lived in Christ is still alive in Christ even when dead and buried (https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/1-thessalonians-4.html).
    Though the natural man is dead, the covenant man is alive.

    Now let’s look at Acts 1:9-11. The ESV translation is that Jesus “was lifted up.” When we “lift up” someone, we honor that person. We lift up a soldier or a police officer for his heroism. The Greek language also captures this concept. The transliteration for the expression in the online Blue Letter Bible lexicon is the word epairō, which translates to lift up or raise up, or metaphorically to exalt (www.blbclassic.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1869&t=ESV).

    But more important, note what the two men in white robes do. Presumably angels, they challenge the reaction of the apostles. Why look toward heaven? they ask. “Jesus will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” If looking up is pointless, then that is not the way Jesus left (and so he does not descend that way from above on a stratus cloud). Note what else the angels say: that Jesus will come the same the apostles saw him leave. The apostles did not actually see Jesus lifted up into heaven, as a cloud had taken him out of their sight, but yet they look up to heaven for him after the cloud takes him. So, what was this ascension? Did Jesus actually float up into space? Is that where heaven is? Some physical place in the universe? That’s foolishness. Jesus ascends in a cloud of gory. So that’s the way he comes back. Jesus comes unnoticed, like a thief.

    As an aside, suppose the apostles did see him leave. They would not have seen him leave on a white horse; Luke does not mention any animals at all when Jesus is lifted up. If futurists are to believe Acts, then they would have to alter their interpretation of Revelation 19:11-16.

    Rapture theology is a foreign theology that really did not emerge in the church until about 1830 under the leadership of the likes of Edward Irving, John Darby, D.L. Moody, and C.I. Scofield. And in hindsight, even the most ardent futurist must see that this theory in all its iterations really has served no useful purpose. It has generated more confusion than understanding, more anxiety than serenity. It requires constant explanation because those new to the theory do not derive a rapture theology simply by reading scripture. Again, it is a foreign theology, a new-age load of hogwash.

    * Foy E. Wallace, Jr., The Book of Revelation: Consisting of a Commentary on the Apocalypse of the New Testament (Fort Smith, AR: Richard E. Black, PDF version of ninth printing) 273.
     
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  2. Dave-W

    Dave-W Grandparent of six grandchildren, #7 on the way! Supporter

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  3. Residential Bob

    Residential Bob Member

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    Following the latter part of the twentieth century, when Hal Lindsey published his books The Late Great Planet Earth and The 1980’s: Countdown to Armageddon and Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins began publishing their Left Behind series, the idea of a coming apocalypse captured the imaginations not only of Christians but of others as well. The idea of a future apocalypse predates these publications, of course, but these authors, among others, have managed to sensationalize a foreign theology.

    One inspiration for Left Behind was a song by Larry Norman called I Wish We’d All been Ready, published in 1972 on the Only Visiting This Planet album. One of the verses reads thus:

    A man and wife asleep in bed
    She hears a noise and turns her head he's gone
    I wish we’d all been ready
    Two men walking up a hill
    One disappears and one’s left standing still
    I wish we’d all been ready

    Larry Norman was a pioneer in contemporary Christian music. His lyrics reflected the human condition and his music both rocked and soothed. But as enjoyable as Norman’s music was to listen to, and still is, it may not be scripturally sound. Even the album’s title runs counter to the spirit of the Gospel. Certainly because our flesh dies, we’re only visiting this planet, but the Gospel message is not that we should despair of our lives on the planet. This particular song only reinforces this erroneous message. And when LaHaye and Jenkins capitalize on the lyric of this song, they, too, disseminate a false theology. Like this song, the Left Behind books say that the righteous are taken away, or raptured, as futurists like to say, and that the wicked are left behind, as if the earth is not a desirable place to be, even though David’s poetry says otherwise:

    The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork;
    The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein,
    for he has founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers. (Ps 19:1; 24:1-2)​

    Jesus often quoted the patriarchs, who never even hinted that man should endeavor to escape from the earth but rather that he should behold it and find pleasure in it even while he toils. A sample of passages to this effect includes Psalms 24:1 and 33:5 and Ecclesiastes 3:11-13.

    Man may have a hope in the everlasting, but his place is on the earth. From scripture we glean that that is the very heart of creation—that man shall walk the earth with his Creator. Man’s place being on the earth is key to the disconnectedness of futurism, which in one sense is escapism. Futurists want to escape; they’re only visiting this planet, they insist. This world is not their home. The Bible, however, takes a rather dim view of that. As we see with Noah, the Beatitudes, and elsewhere, the earth is the Christian’s home. Not forever, of course, for though the earth may not be heaven, it is paradise when Creator and Creation reside there together. God’s dwelling place is with man (Rv 21:3).

    The earth is good; God created a good thing, as Genesis tells us, and Jesus did not come to suggest otherwise:

    I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. (Jn 17:15)
    The Lord is with us, now, on the earth.
     
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  4. Dave-W

    Dave-W Grandparent of six grandchildren, #7 on the way! Supporter

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    That album was #1 in a trilogy that also had “So Long Ago the Garden and “In Another Land.”

    This song was the entire soundtrack for the 1970 film “A Thief in the Night.”

    I was a fan of Normans since the late 1960s.
     
  5. Residential Bob

    Residential Bob Member

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    Larry Norman could rock, that's for sure.
     
  6. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Two points:

    1. It is not "popular culture." This idea of a literal rapture and all that goes with it according to the teaching of a certain segment of Christianity has almost no following among most churches, their peoples, and society as a whole.

    2. The passage quoted here (Mt 24:37ff) refers to the swiftness and unexpected nature of God's action--in that case the Flood. The reference is not to which people are righteous and which others are wicked, etc.
     
  7. Dave-W

    Dave-W Grandparent of six grandchildren, #7 on the way! Supporter

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    Actually the song was on Norman’s 1969 album “Upon This Rock.” The 72 version was a longer and better produced remake.

    One thing the “Left Behind” series did that was the opposite of that song was people being saved during the tribulation. The whole point of the song was the opposite of that:

    There’s no time to change your mind
    How could you have been so blind
    The Father spoke
    The demons dined
    The Son has come
    And you’ve been left behind.
     
  8. Residential Bob

    Residential Bob Member

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    A rapture has certainly become ingrained in popular culture - in movies, novels, music, etc.

    In referencing Noah, Jesus does not mention words like swiftness.
     
  9. redleghunter

    redleghunter Abide Boldy my friend Supporter

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    I'm interested in hearing more of this materialistic explanation of the supernatural because the passage says:

    1 Thessalonians 4: NASB

    13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18Therefore comfort one another with these words.

    Which expanded on here:

    1 Corinthians 15: NASB

    50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.


    So I'm not seeing what I quoted from you as an argument against the so called rapture. You are actually arguing against how we are be resurrected as if the language applies to some material event.

    The way to fix this is to discard your self created contradiction. You only needed to turn to 1 Thessalonians 5 to find out Paul established they were not in the end times yet and did not miss the boat.

    With the premise false so goes everything that follows. Of course each generation is to be like the wise virgins in Matthew 25 await the return of the Bridegroom. Paul nor Peter nor any apostle knew the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority."

    Acts 1: NASB
    6So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

    Luke 12: NASB
    35“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. 36“Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. 37“Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. 38“Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

    39“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 40“You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”


    Now let's be clear. I am not using the above passages to 'proof text' for a pre-Trib or Mid-Trib rapture. But to point out to you your Preterist second coming 70 AD and events leading up to it are not the 'end times' Jesus and His Apostles speak of in the NT.
     
  10. Dave-W

    Dave-W Grandparent of six grandchildren, #7 on the way! Supporter

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    Indeed.

    Apparently there is a distinction between various Pre-trib theories. I grew up with the Wesleyan/Arminian theory that no one could be saved during the Trib since the believers and the Holy Spirit were completely withdrawn from Earth. That is the understanding behind “A Thief in the Night.” The “Left Behind” series has a different take (more baptist???) that has people still getting saved during the Trib, even though no Christians remain on earth. Before those books I had never heard that idea before.
     
  11. Dave-W

    Dave-W Grandparent of six grandchildren, #7 on the way! Supporter

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    RedLegHunter posts several scriptures, and the term “rapture” actually comes from one of the passages quoted: 1 Thes 4.17. Where the English says “caught up” the Latin Vulgate has “rapiemur,” where we get the word Rapture.
     
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  12. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I believe what is mostly in dispute is the "secret rapture" in other words two of them. One before the 1000 year reign and one on the last day. I believe that the Lord will come again in an instant and that is it. I also take the 1000 years as symbolic. And most of revelation has already been fulfilled in 70AD.
    However! I await His second coming!
    Blessings
     
  13. Residential Bob

    Residential Bob Member

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    Resurrection is a bone of contention among Preterists.

    That is the world in which I live. To me, your post is vague and long.
     
  14. Residential Bob

    Residential Bob Member

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    Competing theories is one of the very reasons I avoid futurism. I do not want to add to the Scriptures.
     
  15. redleghunter

    redleghunter Abide Boldy my friend Supporter

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    Can you at least address the Bible passages I posted and confirm if you see them as the Resurrection upon Jesus' Second Coming?

    Those are two Christian creedal and orthodox (little o) eschatological events we should all agree on.

    (1) There is the Resurrection of the dead and those alive at the time of the Second Coming of Christ

    (2) The Second Coming of Christ He will be conquering King and He will Judge the nations.
     
  16. redleghunter

    redleghunter Abide Boldy my friend Supporter

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    And Preterism takes large liberties as well.
     
  17. Residential Bob

    Residential Bob Member

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    Preterists debate a corporate view/individual view (CBV or IBV), and I'm not sure of my view. I don't think you and I are even in the same room.

    As to the resurrection when Jesus came in judgment as the conquering king, I suppose I can say a little something. Jesus tells some scribes and Pharisees that certain people of old will rise up at the judgment with these scribes and Pharisees’ generation and condemn it (Mt 12:38-42). Among those who would rise up were the Ninevites who repented after Jonah paid a visit to their city and also the Queen of Sheba who journeyed from deep inside the Arabian peninsula to meet Solomon and hear about his God. Despite the absence of righteousness, as David and Paul both despaired over, a remnant would still prove worthy of God’s grace, and at the judgment, a sort of corporate resurrection occurred. Obviously the resurrection at the judgment predates believers after the fact, but that doesn’t mean they missed out. It just means that resurrection also includes the patriarchs and other believers before Christ.
     
  18. redleghunter

    redleghunter Abide Boldy my friend Supporter

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    I really have not heard of secret rapture or two. If billions or millions are missing one day, there goes the secret right? :)

    The fact is no one can produce a concrete certainty (time/space) of when Christ will come and raise the dead and seized and transform those who remain. Acts 1 Jesus makes this clear. We waste a lot of 'ink' on this when the command is "Be ready!"

    That's true He will.

    Some do and some don't. I think it is literal because His Second coming is literal to judge the nations.

    Debatable. Anyone can shoehorn human history into Revelation. It's been done every generation. What preterists need to explain is if they see Revelation 19 as fulfilled. Because there is no doubt that chapter describes the future Second Coming of Christ.

    Amen! Marantha!
     
  19. redleghunter

    redleghunter Abide Boldy my friend Supporter

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    Ok this is confusing so let's take piece by piece.

    Let's start here. You are claiming Jesus already came in judgment as conquering king. Please present a defense of this statement from Scriptures.
     
  20. Residential Bob

    Residential Bob Member

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    Or we can just make this thread about the rapture.
     
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