Rapture Theology: History & Influence

Rapture theology dominated the “end times” landscape of pop-culture Christianity for most of the 20th century. However, I don’t think this is proving to be the case for 21st century evangelicalism.

I believe evangelicals are slowly taking steps away from this modern theological invention.

I remember growing up believing that rapture theology was what the NT plainly taught. Like many fundamentalists, I was simply unaware that the idea of a secret rapture was completely foreign to the apostles, and did not stand up to exegetical scrutiny.

[I have pointed out some inconsistencies with rapture theology and the NT vision of the future in this article.]

I was a freshmen in college when I was first challenged to rethink the Left Behind doctrine. And once I discovered that it actually distorted the gospel, nullified the Christian hope of the resurrection, and undermined the promise of kingdom coming to earth (Rev 21), I intentionally questioned everything else about my faith. What else needed to be reexamined?

I then set my course to learn how to think critically about my faith.

I believe the following video is a nice exposé of rapture theology. Watch and learn about its history and influence in American evangelicalism.

Do you think what we believe about the eschaton (last things) really matters? If the claims in this video are true, what difference does it make in the present? How have you worked through these matters?

D.D. Flowers, 2012.

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About David D. Flowers

David received a B.A. in Religion from East Texas Baptist University and a M.T.S. in Biblical Studies from Houston Graduate School of Theology. David was in student ministry for 7 years, taught Biblical Studies & Latin at The Woodlands Christian Academy for 5 years, and now pastors an Anabaptist congregation in Virginia. View all posts by David D. Flowers

41 responses to “Rapture Theology: History & Influence

  • Larry

    Are you believing in no rapture, or just not a “pre-tribulational” one?

  • Cindy Skillman

    David,

    I’m not sure I believe in a “rapture,” at least not in the way it’s been taught in “Left Behind,” etc. That said, I think this video sets up at least several straw men concerning those who do believe this.

    For example, the last one mentioned and therefore still in mind — that dispensational Christians don’t hold caring for the environment as an important value. I remember the Sec. Interior saying that — I think I probably had the radio on during or shortly after he said it. Most of us were appalled. And that was back when I lived in FL and didn’t have many personal environmental issues before us.

    Now that I’m in SD and right in the middle of the pine beetle epidemic (probably 1/3 of the trees around our house are dead and/or dying) the idea that dispensational Christians somehow don’t care about the environment is that much more ridiculous. Most of the Christians here are dispensational, and most of them are very bitter toward the environmentalist agenda. Antagonism toward “environmentalism” is not at all the same thing as lack of care for the environment.

    The pine beetle epidemic, or its seriousness, can be plopped right smack in the laps of environmentalists. We wanted to control the epidemic by therapeutic cutting but were prevented from doing so by environmentalist lawsuits from far away places — people who assume that any cutting is BAD and that there cannot be too many trees. This has forced mismanagement of the forests that has led in part at least — large part — to the current situation. Even now they sue and harass and prevent the forest service from treating this crisis.

    This is only one example, but there were at least four or five miss-characterizations of dispensational Christians. I’m not saying there’s no virtue in this video, nor that these accusations are not true of ANY dispensationalists, but I am deeply troubled at the one-sidedness and misrepresentations I see here.

    Sure, question the rapture theology. It SHOULD be questioned, as should all theologies. If a theology can’t stand up to questioning, we should know it and we should dump it. But to do it in this way is just more propaganda from another point of view, and I can’t be too impressed by that. There are two or more sides to every story. Fairness to all sides doesn’t hurt one’s cause; it makes one look rational and honest. (Not personalizing this to you, Brother — I realize you didn’t make the video.)

    Love in Jesus, Cindy

    • David D. Flowers

      Cindy, as always… thanks for responding. I’ll be brief.

      I agree with the distinction you make between “environmentalism” and actually having a care for God’s creation in kingdom-style. However, I didn’t really hear enough in the video to say it’s propaganda for some other agenda. You’re right that not all dispensationalists disregard creation care.

      However, many do as a logical outworking of their bad theology. Others that do care for creation and see it as part of bringing the Kingdom of God should seriously reconsider the implications of embracing this theology. That’s what I took from the comments on the environment. Nothing more. I’ve grown up with the ideas presented in the video. I don’t see any gross misrepresentations.

      Also, keep in mind this is an expose of sorts. You always run the risk of misrepresenting (or at least appearing to misrepresent) when you shorten things like this. My posting of the video is not to end the conversation, but to begin one. And to stir folks to (re)thinking the theology they have embraced.

      Is it consistent with Christ and the NT vision of the future? As I said, I think it has huge implications for living. And I have found rapture theology propagating ideas that are inconsistent with the Christian hope in the resurrection of the dead and the restoration of the planet.

      Thanks, sis. I appreciate your heart.

  • Brandon

    David, appreciate your insights and courage.

  • Terri

    This is great stuff David. I featured it today on the ReKnew site. Thanks!

  • Gioia Morris

    Thanks David!! Watched this video this morning at the gym – got so into it that I didn’t even feel any pain during my 30 mins on the stair master – lol!! The last 3 years have been a journey of a “new beginning” for me – questioning an re-thinking everything I believe – asking over and over – “why do I believe what I believe…?” It’s been like cleaning a house – throwing out junk that’s just sitting around taking up space inside my being – the more I throw out the more room there is for Him to have His being through me :)

  • James Snelson (J.Tom)

    It is very easy to get caught up in the prophecies of Daniel, Revelation, and what little Jesus discusses of it in the Gospels. The literal/metaphorical/ or mythical language, depending on what theological end time theory you subscribe to, fascinates and terrifies. Events described with dragons, false prophets, the Antichrist, and (my personal favorite) the descriptions of our Lord on a white horse are compelling, exciting, all of the above. However, it seems at least in modern history that these prophetical writings have been used to distract, deceive, and confuse the followers of Christ.

    Too often in recent times (and frankly throughout all history) we have allowed our individual ideas or doctrinal beliefs to divide us. Most indicting of all, these divisions have given us a false sense of security in abandoning our final instructions from Jesus, to go forth and make disciples and to teach them all He commanded. End time theology is as much a part of this division as any of our other divisive theologies.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not a proposing that these writings should be ignored. I believe they should be studied and that we should pursue the mysteries of the Lord hidden within, but I believe the Lord left these prophecies somewhat ambiguous for a reason. They certainly shouldn’t rule the way we live our life in and for the Kingdom of God.

    I am also not arguing that we should just all accept and agree with whatever anyone believes. The apostles didn’t do that and neither should we, but we should not let these different interpretations, other than claims against the divinity and person of Jesus, keep us from the unity and purpose we have through the Holy Spirit in Jesus.

    To sum up, we should take our eyes off of the unknown/ambiguous and place our eyes on the Rock of Christ and His kingdom.

    • David D. Flowers

      James, you would like my post(s) Will the Real Heretics Stand Up? that discusses the sort of thing you’re getting at about division in the church.

      But as you pointed out, these matters should be discussed. I often feel that anytime someone presents a legitimate challenge to popular evangelical thought, that’s when some want to talk about division, and that theological issues like this are really not all that important. I’ve heard it before: “Let’s just focus on Jesus.” There will be no division when there is a civil conversation seasoned with grace. That’s what we need. There are serious implications to what a person (or a church) decides about future events. That’s why the future is mentioned so often in the Scriptures.

      Furthermore, I think apocalyptic literature, including biblical prophecies, though bizarre to our times, is not near as ambiguous when understood in the original situation and context. It’s the contemporary “dooms day prophets” and secret Bible Code folks (along with Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins) that have turned Scripture into Nostradomas-type predictions about the modern world, and how it’s all going to hell in a hand basket. They are the ones who we should disregard in any serious scholarly dialogue about the coming of Christ.

      I recommend reading these books from renowned NT scholars: “Surprised by Hope” by N.T. Wright; “The Rapture Exposed” by Barbara Rossing; “The Theology of the Book of Revelation” by Richard Bauckham; “Breaking the Code” by Bruce Metzger.

  • Matt Turner (@MattPTurner)

    David,

    Thank you for posting this. This is going to be a doozy of a reply so I might as well be the first to tag it as a “tl;dr”. I remember in High School and beginning into college that I thought the Left Behind books to being true (at least that was the impression handed to me by others in my church). Thankfully, the teachers I went to and especially Dr. Bob Utley’s Revelation class realized that what I was believing was a series of assumptions with some texts take out of context, not to mention that the Left Behind books were fiction. I left the class unsure of what I believed in interpretation of the end times but at least I had all the information and tools necessary to look at Revelation in it’s own light rather than solely using other bits of scripture not directly quoted & interpretation. I remember when he made this joke in class that he was a “Panmillennialist”, which means “You’re going to wait and see how it all pans out.” :)

    Anyhoo, fast forward to a couple of years ago when I was teaching adult Sunday School class at a church and the class had requested to study the whole book of Revelation. Naturally, I was very apprehensive about it considering I already knew there was a strong belief in the church for Dispensational Premillennialism. There were also some in the class In any case, the class trudged through the text and by the time we were all done, it was clear that some still had their own beliefs but they also knew that it may not be correct and to be open to the possibility that it may not be the correct view. I used the example of the Jews and Christ’s birth and ministry. The Jews were so blinded by the fact they had their own idea of the Messiah, they totally missed the boat on Jesus being the Messiah. I didn’t want them to have the idea that their interpretation of Revelation was going to happen “this way” with 100% certainty (blinders and all) that they could miss the true way that Revelation could be interpreted, whatever view that may be.

    The only thing that we can say with certainty with it comes to interpretation of Revelation and Christ is that victory has already happened before Revelation was written by John when Christ died on the cross and resurrected, not at a future event. And I think that was one of the reasons that Revelation was written to the people of his time and Christians throughout time, no matter how dire the circumstances or your surroundings, God through Christ has already won and as long as someone is alive, there is always hope.

    Sorry this was a super long reply but this was in my heart after I watched the video. Many thanks and keep it up David!

    ~Matt

  • David D. Flowers

    Matt, I hear what you’re saying, bro. Thanks for sharing from your heart. Bob Utley is a great biblical expositor with a big heart. His passion for discovering biblical truth was (and is) very contagious. Thanks!

  • James Snelson (J.Tom)

    There aren’t many things in this world I love more than civil discussions of and about the mysteries of our Lord :). I look forward to more in the future!

  • Stephen W

    Does anyone know where to get a better quality version of this? The text on the YouTube version is unreadable in parts (even at highest quality).

    Great video though!

    • David D. Flowers

      Hey Stephen, I thought that the first time I saw it. I’ve not been able to find a better quality video. It was once on Vimeo, but not any longer. And I don’t remember now who made it. I know it was a graduate student.

  • Larry

    How would you interpret 1 Thessalonians 4:17 regarding being “caught up in the air?”

    • David D. Flowers

      Hey Larry, great questions. I thought about writing a post that just addresses 1 Thess 4:17 in context.

      I do believe that knowledge of first century ideas of imperial coronations and second temple Judaism sheds light on the imagery Paul uses in this passage. It appears that Paul is speaking in a way that his contemporaries would have understood. The language of Jesus coming on clouds and everyone going up to meet him, should not be understood literally, but as a powerful image of divine kingship.

      In the first century, kings would return to the city victorious from battle and be paraded back into his city. They actually did this to Jesus on palm Sunday. Except he was riding on a donkey and had no army. (That’s saying something!) The clouds should rightfully be understood as exalting Christ as divine. In both the Old and New Testaments the cloud(s) speak of divinity (e.g. Daniel 7:13). So, I believe Paul is meaning to say that Jesus (king) will return victorious, and like a king coming into his kingdom, we will usher him back to the city (earth) and reign with him forever. As he says, “So shall we be with the Lord forever.”

      Rapture theology distorts this imagery by reading it literally and emphasizing “rapio” (to be caught up) to promote an escapist view of the future. The promise of the Lord has always been to restore this earth, not destroy it to steal us away somewhere else. The imagery I think Paul is using here is much more consistent with the biblical covenants, promises, and hope for the future of God’s good world.

      • Larry

        Not destroy this present earth? I don’t understand.There are too many scriptures to list about this earth being reserved unto fire. “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” 2 Peter 3:7 “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” verse 10. I’m not understanding at all.

        • David D. Flowers

          Hey Larry, I do understand the initial confusion.

          Notice that the “destruction” is for the ungodly, not for the earth. The “fire” is used metaphorically to speak of the purification of the earth. This is the way fire is used in the Scriptures. Even when fire is used to speak of final punishment, it means that the wicked who are thrown in the fire are destroyed.

          Yet, the fire language is also used to speak of purifying God’s people, not to destroy them (1 Cor 3:13-15). Gold is purified by fire. The impurities are burned away.

          Keep in mind that Peter, including portions of OT & NT books, are using apocalyptic imagery to speak of a cataclysmic event of judgment. It’s a second temple literary way of using over-the-top “special effects” language to speak of events of judgment (which can be good or bad–depending on what side of judgement your on). It’s not meant to be understood literally, no more than the moon turning to blood, as Peter quotes from Joel in Acts 2:20.

          Does that make sense?

        • Larry

          Well, no David, it doesn’t. It would appear you take the scriptures metaphorically. I believe that is a great error. There ARE scriptures that are metaphorical, but it;s the exception not the rule. “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroryed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” That’s pretty plain. You have to twist the scriptures to get around the plain literally interpretation. I am disappointed in your interpretations.

        • David D. Flowers

          Larry, I have spent quite some time studying biblical literature, especially Second Temple literary methods. Scholars in this field have devoted themselves to understanding how biblical authors used language to communicate truths in their ancient context. It’s not twisting the Scriptures to read and interpret according to the common literary devices of the first century, and those common even in our own day. The “plain” meaning isn’t always the literal meaning. I recommend reading: “Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible” by Duvall and Hays; “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” by Gordon Fee; “How to Read the Bible as Literature” by Leland Ryken.

        • Larry

          David,
          I understand that the plain meaning is not always the literal meaning, but you seem to be saying all language on the issue of Christ’s return is metaphorical. So, the LORD will not return as the Apostles saw Him leave? Or was His ascension metaphorical? Clouds are not clouds and the air is not the air? The anti-Christ is a metaphor? The heavens are not the heavens and they will not disappear with a roar? The elements are not the elements and fire is not fire so they will not be burned up? The earth isn’t the earth and will not be laid bare.New heaven and new earth are not real heavens and earth?

          I DO agree the “pretrib” rapture cannot be supported biblically and has been partly to blame for the church’s lackadaisical attitude.

        • David D. Flowers

          Larry, as I said before… I recommend reading a book or two that I mentioned about biblical literature and interpretation. It appears that you’ve never heard the sort of things I’m saying. I’m not proposing that there will not be a literal return of Christ, I’m simply saying that the beauty of the message is found in the images the biblical authors were using to communicate a glorious truth. Christ will return the way they saw him, yes. That means he will reappear in glory as he disappeared in glory.

        • Larry Jenkins

          David, Question. If the account in 1 Thessalonians 4 is figurative in nature, that is Jesus doesn’t literally come from heaven, the dead are not resurrected to Him in the air and those who survive are not “raptured” to Him, What does happen when Christ returns? How should this passage be interpreted?

          Thanks, Larry

        • David D. Flowers

          Larry, I believe Jesus will literally “come from heaven” (which is God’s space), not from literal cumulus clouds, but a hidden dimension altogether. Again, the cloud(s) are most always used to speak of divinity. Whether it be the cloud by day which led the Hebrews out of Egypt, the cloud on Sinai with Moses, the clouds of the Son of Man in Dan 7:13, the cloud enveloping Jesus during his transfiguration, or at his second coming… the cloud(s) are used to speak of the presence of God. I’m not making this stuff up or picking and choosing here. The context dictates these things.

          As I said before, the purpose of the dead rising to meet him in the air is to mix the metaphors (as it were) in presenting this picture of a divine king coming to his city and being paraded back (to earth in this case) by his people. It’s a beautiful image that ancient readers would have known. So, Christ’s return is literal, but the imagery being used is not to be taken literally.

          The authors and readers of the NT would have understood this. They communicated great mysterious truths (especially future events) in this fashion and weren’t bothered by it like 21st century American Christians who think that the literal reading is always the right one. Should the bizarre apocalyptic images in the book of Daniel be interpreted literally? Do you think Jesus really meant that we should cut off our hands and gouge out our eyes in our fight against sin? How about a seven-headed beast coming out of the sea in the book of Revelation? Hardly.

          Therefore, the original intent of human language, in the ancient situation and the context, is what makes the difference here. Unfortunately, our unfamiliarity with the metaphors and the deliberate use of over-the-top language in 1 Thess 4:16-17 is why most evangelicals react with such frustration at someone claiming that the literal reading is a mistake. It has only be translated literally by those who are unfamiliar with the metaphor(s) and by those who seek to defend an escapist view of the future.

          It also reminds people that learning and study is required in reading this ancient text. Many folks don’t like to be reminded of that. It’s either laziness, anti-intellectualism, or pure dogmatism and fundamentalism at work. I’m not sure which. The Scripture is an ancient text that does often require help from trained individuals who have spent a great deal of their time studying the ancient literary and cultural context of the biblical world.

          How do I envision Christ’s literal coming? Honestly, I don’t know exactly. And I’m not too sure that the apostles knew either. I think that’s why they mentioned it the way they did. They are essentially saying this: “When Christ returns, it will be like a king returning from battle victorious to his city. And then we will all go out to meet him.” They mix the metaphors of clouds (divinity) and meeting in the air (exalted and caught between heaven and earth) for obvious reasons. Throw in the resurrection of the dead in this meeting of the Lord and you have a beautiful way of talking about something mysterious and unknown to any man on this planet.

          So, I’ll stick to the metaphors and imagine that whatever it’s going to be like, it will be greater than the metaphors themselves. :-)

        • Larry

          David, thank you for taking the time to try and explain your position. Personally, I am not unfamiliar with biblical metaphors, I am not an escapist ( I believe we will endure much persecution and tribulation preceding Christ’s return) I am not lazy, anti-intellectual, dogmatic or a fundamentalist. I could take offense that you propose only these type people would be unable to see the non literal nature of these writings, but I won’t.

          May I ask, was the flood an actual event, or just literary imagery in your opinion?

          Thanks,

          Larry

        • David D. Flowers

          Thanks, Larry. I remember you saying that you’re not escapist. However, many evangelicals are whether they are willing to admit it or not. I’m thinking of those who believe the things being critiqued in the video I originally posted above. I wasn’t thinking of you.

          Also, I didn’t mean offense by what I stated on those outright ignoring the literary methods of Scripture. I just haven’t been able to make sense of why else someone would deny such a commonsensical point of biblical interpretation.

          Your question about the flood opens up an entirely different discussion which would take us away from the conversation at hand. I’m sure I’ll be posting stuff in the near future on the literary genre of Genesis ch. 1-11. Yes, I do believe there was an actual flood.

          Thanks for your patience, Larry.

  • Stephen W

    David,

    Shame – it’s really well put together (though I’m assuming they didn’t get copyright clearance for all the clips involved!) Would love to get hold of a better quality version to show people in my cell group :)

  • jimpuntney

    David,
    I thank you for engaging this topic, to respond to the questions at the end of your blog:

    In the very early 80′ I was a part of a fellowship that was preoccupied with “end times”. We had Bible studies on the books of Daniel, Mathew 24, and Revelation, and we had charts to link our theology together. We knew we were the ‘true church’ and our mission was to band together, and wait out the tribulation. This group “Worldwide Church of God” did not believe in the ‘rapture’, they taught we were to be protected here on earth. Petra was the suspected place of protection.

    All of this had an illusion of truth, it had special knowledge, apostolic revelation, and predictions. The true result of all of this ‘fruit’ was and is separation. Separation from ‘the world’, and then separation among the group. Looking back on this I see that we were blinded by our own ‘light’. We were Pharisaical in the classic term of the word. This was not a fellowship built upon Jesus Christ, just His name, and there of course is a vast difference.

    Today I see this dispensationalism catching a second breath, and I strive to help others to see that there is more, much more to the Christian life than fear, or separation.

    When we look upon Paul’s text to the ekklesia at Galatia we find some very revealing words:

    “My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”.

    Here we see that Paul’s life is no longer his life, his life was found ‘in’ Christ. Therefore Paul ‘in’ Christ was free to live by and through the mind of Christ. This frees Paul to no longer have a personal agenda, his life is lived in and through the indwelling presence of Christ. With this we find his statement:

    “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

    Just as Paul walked ‘in’ Christ, we can and do today, just as Paul, we too have nothing to fear, and if we have a message it will not be of us, but from us to the glory of Him that lives within us.

    Thank you David for your ministry.

  • gregory

    Hey David, came across Norman Geisler’s website. How do you debate the historical/grammatical interpretation of scripture? I’ve settled for NOW and yet FUTURE, keeping my eyes on Christ JESUS of Nazareth. He discerns the pseudo-christ in me to avoid in this world.

    • David D. Flowers

      Gregory, I disagree with Norman Geisler on a number of things. While some of his apologetical work is helpful, I don’t agree with how he and many other gatekeepers of conservative evangelicalism have defended the “inerrancy” of Scripture.

      What’s really at work here is a desperate attempt to defend their fundamentalist ideas on the nature of Scripture, protect reformed theology, and insist that those who don’t agree with them are liberal agitators. Geisler recently formed an attack against Christian apologist Mike Licona because he disagreed over his interpretation of Matt 27:52.

      Here’s my brief response to Geisler’s argument for historical-grammatical biblical interpretation:

      I was taught this approach to interpreting Scripture by most of my professors (esp. Dr. Bob Utley & Douglas Kennard) and I take issue with how he’s claiming that this is what he’s doing. His logic is flawed, he ignores the various literary genres and grammatical styles used in Scripture by insisting that everything (at least most things) be read literally, and he uses fear tactics (if you question this… you’ll end up worshipping the devil before you know it) to scare you away from considering other views.

      He actually states: “to deny the foundation of premillenialism is logically to undermine salvation fundamentals as well.” This is quite an illogical statement. In fact, it’s absolutely absurd.

      I don’t find his work here scholarly or his attitude toward other believers on these matters very appropriate for Christians.

  • Marcelo Plioplis

    Thanks David for pointing me to this blog from the Reknew FB page. If I understand you correctly, you don’t believe the parousia is this cataclysmic event that will cause this earth to “melt with fervent heat”, right? It is something more spiritual as far as an event goes, but it does include the literal appearing of Christ, correct?

    Just so you know my convictions, I’m more of a “historicalist” rather than a preterist or futurist when it comes to interpreting Daniel/Revelation.

    I personally believe in a literal, glorious appearing that will cause a lot of destruction to the planet (a natural result of God’s “letting go” of his divine protection), then we will spend 1,000 years in heaven with Christ and at the end of those we would come down with Christ to reign on earth for eternity.

    I just don’t believe in a secret rapture, especially not before the great tribulation, when the whole world is worshiping the beast. The result of God’s parousia is essentially that things on earth are being left to reap consequences of centuries and many millenia of human neglect and destruction.

    The 1,000 years I believe will be spent in Heaven and at the end the new Jerusalem comes down and that’s when I believe the second resurrection happens and we witness the complete end of sin.

    Also, I believe it’s imminent as well.

    • David D. Flowers

      Yes, the apocalyptic imagery of the parousia of Christ should not be interpreted literally. However, we have every reason to believe by the NT that his return is indeed a literal return. It was a real expectation of all the apostles of Christ. Good question, bro.

  • Logan Bartley

    I’ve often wondered about what the “rapture” actually is. If the dead in Christ shall rize first, then we who are left behind will follow… don’t we currently believe that those who have died, their spirit is already in heaven? Isn’t that in essence a “rapture” for them? And we who are still alive, when we die we too will be caught up together with everyone else who has also gone before us? If the rapture were true as it is described in pop film and book culture, what’s going to happen with our physical bodies? If our bodies were to “disappear” like in the movies, but yet, we’re supposed to get a new body in heaven, or at least be spiritual being with no need of an earthly body… what would happen with our original bodies? Surely it can’t be simply transported from earth to heaven, then once we get there, God would be all like “oh, you don’t need that old body any more, just toss it here in this waste bin.”

    • Alan R

      Logan, I’ve had a lot of the same questions. Here’s how I make sense of it currently: when Christ returns, if we read that with the assumption that Christ is returning to reign on the earth, restoring our bodies and creation instead of “rapture us away” to Heaven, it begins to make sense. “The dead shall rise first,” having been asleep. “We shall meet him in the sky” because we’ve been anticipating his return.

      I think the other thing that’s confusing you is the assumption that we go to Heaven when we die, and that’s where we get a new body. But if we look at all the OT and NT references to Heaven, we don’t read anywhere that we go there when we die or when Christ “raptures” us. Rather, we’ll get our new bodies when heaven comes to earth. That’s what the Lord’s prayer anticipates, and that’s the restoration we are bringing in this present age as we submit to God’s will: “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

  • Ed Taylor

    Thanks for sharing, bro. Just shared your blog post on my fb page. We’ll see if it generates any controversy :)

  • Jim

    David – I appreciate your article and your desire to examine the concept of a rapture from a Scriptural perspective. Let Scripture define Scripture. Obviously it’s drawn a crowd and some pretty opinionated comments.

    I became a Christian at a relatively old age (early 20s) and learned most of my theology by simply reading the Bible, rather than being taught what it meant. This meant that the idea of a rapture, when I first heard it, seemed foreign and difficult to support.

    Later I studied scripture through the teaching of a man named Steve Gregg, who holds the Amillenialist perspective. I agreed with his understanding of what the Bible taught.

    I appreciate your approach to interpreting the Bible and would be curious to hear your thoughts on the origin of Satan. It is my feeling that the verses we have used to describe Satan’s origin have similarly been pulled from their intended context to describe something they weren’t originally intended to speak about. I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks again!

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