Christians Should Not Believe in ‘Left Behind’s’ Rapture Theology

Pulled from the christianpost.com… (This moderators take? After reading the Bible every day for 35+ years, I still have not found the topics and ideas presented in those books…. As we been researching with honest exegeses, what is popular is not necessary Biblical. What is best? Just read the Bible yourself and not what people who do not read the Bible to tell you how to think what it says or tell you what it says…. BTW, what Revelation really teaches is far more powerful and impacting…..)

“This doctrine is not really found in the book of Revelation. If you read the book of Revelation, you won’t find any mention of the rapture there,” said William Craig, a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University.

left behind“If you compare what Paul says there to what Jesus says about the End Times, Paul uses the same vocabulary, the same phraseology. I think it’s very plausible that Paul is talking about the same event that Jesus predicted, namely the visible coming of the Son of Man at the end of human history to usher in his kingdom,” said Craig. “But proponents of the rapture view, say that Paul is not at all talking about the second coming of the Christ there. What he’s really talking about is this invisible preliminary secret return of Christ to snatch believers out of the world before the great tribulation occurs. I think there’s no textual warrant for that at all.”

According to Craig, the rapture became a popular theory about the End Times due to the influence of the Scofield Reference Bible, which was published in the early 20th century and promulgated John Darby’s mid-18th century’s views on the rapture. Later, Christian institutions, among them Dallas Theological Seminary, and churches began teaching the validity of the rapture.

“A good many Bible-believing Christians absorbed this view as their mother’s milk as it were and have never thought to question its Biblical credentials,” said Craig.

Craig affirmed that it was completely possible for Christians to watch the upcoming “Left Behind” movie or read the series, but they should resist taking its claims seriously.

“It could be maybe good fiction. It would be say like reading science fiction or fantasy novels like The Lord of the Rings. Just so long as you’re not deceived into thinking that represents biblical eschatology,” said Craig.

Craig, who leads Reasonable Faith, an apologetics organization that equips Christians with the resources to speak about their faith in an “intelligent, articulate, and uncompromising yet gracious” manner, called upon Biblical scholars, pastors and other church leaders who also refute the rapture to speak out about their position.

“It is astonishing, if I’m correct about this, American evangelism is very widely misled, that it has departed from the historic Christian position about the second coming of Christ. That’s really rather sobering, because if we’re wrong about this, what other things might we have misinterpreted?” he said…..>

http://m.christianpost.com/news/no-christians-should-not-believe-in-left-behinds-rapture-theology-says-prominent-apologist–124070/

 

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Do you think that the “rapture” is really in the Bible?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtrLNfMFayQ

Perhaps not! You may want to investigate this, Scripture in context, real word meanings… From 20 years of research at the Schaeffer Institute investigated this more thoroughly than anyone, now it seems the rapture is a made up myth and not in the Bible… But do not be like I did get all mad and think rebuttals to a rapture is nonsense, rather read and not read into the Bible what we want it to say…

http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=43936&columnid=4624http://www.biblicaleschatology.org/

THE WICKED ARE RAPTURED FIRST

AN EXPOSITION OF MATTHEW 24:41-42

You’ve probably heard the stories. A bus is heading down the highway when the bus driver and several passengers suddenly disappear causing the bus to veer off the road in a horrific explosion of broken glass and twisting metal. One of the pilots of a jet airliner disappears forcing the other pilot to take over the controls just in time to keep from crashing. It dawns on everyone that millions have vanished from the earth in an instant, leaving all those remaining with a sick feeling of dread.

Is this really what the Bible teaches will happen at the end of time?

Many evangelical Christians believe that a day will come when the saved will be removed from the earth without having experienced death, leaving behind all those who do not know Christ. I do not believe the Bible teaches this “Doctrine of the Rapture.” I’ve seen the supposed biblical evidence for it and I am not convinced.

In this post, I want to focus on Matthew 24:40-41, a passage that is often used to support the the rapture. I want to show that, in reality, this passage teaches exactly the opposite of what proponents of the rapture doctrine teach. The text reads:

“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.”

It may appear that these words support the doctrine of the rapture as described above. However, those who interpret it this way have committed one of the classic errors of biblical interpretation; they have ignored the context in which these words are found. To understand that context, we must look at the words immediately prior to our text. Jesus says:

“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Mat 24:38-39).

Jesus is comparing the days of Noah with the days immediately leading up to His second coming. Here is the key: Jesus says, “they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” The phrase “took them all away” is a translation of the word HEREN in Greek and it literally means to be “lifted up,” “taken up,” “carried away.” Our English word “rapture” comes from an archaic French root that originally referred to the “act of carrying away.” So, Matthew 24:40-41 is in fact talking about a rapture.

Here is my question: in the days of Noah, who were the ones raptured? Obviously, the wicked are the ones taken away by the flood. They are the ones who were eating, drinking, and getting married. They are the ones who “did not understand.” It is the wicked who are raptured by the flood unto destruction and the righteous remain in the safe protection of the ark.

Now, let’s read the text again:

“Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left” (Mat 24:40-41).

If we take the context seriously, we are left with no choice but to understand that the ones taken are the wicked. Jesus is simply using another example to say the same thing he just finished saying in the Noah example. Two men will be in a field and suddenly, the wicked will be “raptured,” “taken away,” and the believer will be left in safety. Two women are grinding at the mill; the wicked woman is taken while the redeemed woman is left behind in safety.

If this is a correct interpretation of Matthew 24:41-42, then it dismantles one of the key arguments used by those who support the idea that it is the Christians who are taken first and that the wicked are left behind.

Dr. Greg Waddell
Director of Institutional Improvement
Mid-South Christian College
DrGregWaddell (at) gmail.com

See his Blog: www.SpiritOfOrganization.com

Farewell to the Rapture?

 

(N.T. Wright, Bible Review, August 2001.  Reproduced by permission of the author) 

Little did Paul know how his colorful metaphors for Jesus’ second coming would be misunderstood two millennia later. 

The American obsession with the second coming of Jesus — especially with distorted interpretations of it — continues unabated.  Seen from my side of the Atlantic, the phenomenal success of the Left Behind books appears puzzling, even bizarre[1].  Few in the U.K. hold the belief on which the popular series of novels is based: that there will be a literal “rapture” in which believers will be snatched up to heaven, leaving empty cars crashing on freeways and kids coming home from school only to find that their parents have been taken to be with Jesus while they have been “left behind.”  This pseudo-theological version of Home Alone has reportedly frightened many children into some kind of (distorted) faith. 

This dramatic end-time scenario is based (wrongly, as we shall see) on Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, where he writes: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God.  The dead in Christ will rise first; then we, who are left alive, will be snatched up with them on clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). 

What on earth (or in heaven) did Paul mean? 

It is Paul who should be credited with creating this scenario.  Jesus himself, as I have argued in various books, never predicted such an event[2].  The gospel passages about “the Son of Man coming on the clouds” (Mark 13:26, 14:62, for example) are about Jesus’ vindication, his “coming” to heaven from earth.  The parables about a returning king or master (for example, Luke 19:11-27) were originally about God returning to Jerusalem, not about Jesus returning to earth.  This, Jesus seemed to believe, was an event within space-time history, not one that would end it forever. 

The Ascension of Jesus and the Second Coming are nevertheless vital Christian doctrines[3], and I don’t deny that I believe some future event will result in the personal presence of Jesus within God’s new creation.  This is taught throughout the New Testament outside the Gospels.  But this event won’t in any way resemble the Left Behind account. 

Understanding what will happen requires a far more sophisticated cosmology than the one in which “heaven” is somewhere up there in our universe, rather than in a different dimension, a different space-time, altogether. 

The New Testament, building on ancient biblical prophecy, envisages that the creator God will remake heaven and earth entirely, affirming the goodness of the old Creation but overcoming its mortality and corruptibility (e.g., Romans 8:18-27; Revelation 21:1; Isaiah 65:17, 66:22).  When that happens, Jesus will appear within the resulting new world (e.g., Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2). 

Paul’s description of Jesus’ reappearance in 1 Thessalonians 4 is a brightly colored version of what he says in two other passages, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and Philippians 3:20-21: At Jesus’ “coming” or “appearing,” those who are still alive will be “changed” or “transformed” so that their mortal bodies will become incorruptible, deathless.  This is all that Paul intends to say in Thessalonians, but here he borrows imagery—from biblical and political sources—to enhance his message.  Little did he know how his rich metaphors would be misunderstood two millennia later. 

First, Paul echoes the story of Moses coming down the mountain with the Torah.  The trumpet sounds, a loud voice is heard, and after a long wait Moses comes to see what’s been going on in his absence.

Second, he echoes Daniel 7, in which “the people of the saints of the Most High” (that is, the “one like a son of man”) are vindicated over their pagan enemy by being raised up to sit with God in glory.  This metaphor, applied to Jesus in the Gospels, is now applied to Christians who are suffering persecution. 

Third, Paul conjures up images of an emperor visiting a colony or province.  The citizens go out to meet him in open country and then escort him into the city.  Paul’s image of the people “meeting the Lord in the air” should be read with the assumption that the people will immediately turn around and lead the Lord back to the newly remade world. 

Paul’s mixed metaphors of trumpets blowing and the living being snatched into heaven to meet the Lord are not to be understood as literal truth, as the Left Behind series suggests, but as a vivid and biblically allusive description of the great transformation of the present world of which he speaks elsewhere. 

Paul’s misunderstood metaphors present a challenge for us: How can we reuse biblical imagery, including Paul’s, so as to clarify the truth, not distort it?  And how can we do so, as he did, in such a way as to subvert the political imagery of the dominant and dehumanizing empires of our world?  We might begin by asking, What view of the world is sustained, even legitimized, by the Left Behind ideology?  How might it be confronted and subverted by genuinely biblical thinking?  For a start, is not the Left Behind mentality in thrall to a dualistic view of reality that allows people to pollute God’s world on the grounds that it’s all going to be destroyed soon?  Wouldn’t this be overturned if we recaptured Paul’s wholistic vision of God’s whole creation?              
           

 http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_BR_Farewell_Rapture.htm 

[1] Tim F. Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind (Cambridge, UK: Tyndale House Publishing, 1996).  Eight other titles have followed, all runaway bestsellers.

[2] See my Jesus and the Victory of God (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1996); the discussions in Jesus and the Restoration of Israel: A Critical Assessment of N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God, ed. Carey C. Newman (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999); and Marcus J. Borg and N.T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999), chapters 13 and 14.

[3] Douglas Farrow, Ascension and Ecclesia: On the Significance of the Doctrine of the Ascension for Ecclesiology and Christian Cosmology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999).