Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Rapture Will Not Happen May 21, 2011


We shook hands as we were introduced. “And this is Pastor Brant.” His big fist engulfed my hand. “Pastor,” he said, not letting go, “do you believe in the Rapture of the Church?” It was a test. I was about to fail.

The Rapture is that strange doctrine, which, in its most widely held variation, says that before the end of the ages Jesus will come partway down from heaven. Hovering above the earth, he will call all true believers to himself. They will caught up together in the air with Jesus who will take them back up into heaven. The rest of humanity will be “left behind” to suffer a period--usually seven years--of horrible tribulation.

In some sectors of Christianity, belief in the Rapture is considered a mark of orthodoxy.

Radio preacher Harold Camping has made the news by claiming that the Rapture will occur next Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. In Camping’s version Jesus will apparently hover in earth orbit rapturing the faithful to himself in each successive time zone as  intense earthquakes follow in his wake. The subsequent tribulation will be briefer than in most Apocalyptic systems: a mere five months. On October 21, 2011, as Camping tells it, the earth will cease to exist.

While Camping is convinced that the Rapture will occur on May 21 (“The Bible guarantees it,” he says.) I am equally convinced that it will not. You see, I don’t believe in the Rapture.

The doctrine of the Rapture is not a part of the historic teaching of the Church. It is an innovation, thought up some time in the late 18th or early 19th century. It is patchwork doctrine stitched together from disparate Bible verses combined in ways that their original authors would not recognize. Those verses, each taken in its own context, can be interpreted in other ways and for most of Christian history, they were. Some Christians today make belief in the Rapture a test of orthodoxy, but it was not a part of the faith of Jesus, his disciples, the Apostle Paul, the Church Fathers, the Reformers or anyone else before about the year 1800.

Most of all, I do not believe in the Rapture because it is directly counter to what Jesus taught. He never said that he would spare his followers from tribulation. On the contrary, he warned his would-be disciples to count the cost of following him. He told them to take up crosses. He promised them persecutions, not escapism.

I found Jan Luyken's illustration of the Rapture at wikipedia.

No comments:

Post a Comment