The Rapture. I don't get it?

I am looking for an explanation of where this idea of the rapture comes from. I have heard some scripture quoted but I am unclear of the specifics. My intent in asking this is two fold. First I am unable to present a clear Catholic position on this when speaking with others who believe in it; and second, it seems that the “anti-christian” folks out there are beginning to pick up on certain fundamentalist sects that are infatuated with the coming rapture. The most common arguments are coming from environmentalists who feel that these fundamentalists simply wish to ignore environmental problems because the coming rapture will “set everything right”. I am not a staunch environmentalist but I do believe in the Christian responsibility to be good stewards of the resources that God has given us. Any insights on these 2 issues would be greatly appreciated.

Ok, I’m not “up” on the exact scripture, but I think I can give the basic idea behind this. Christ will come once again. But it will be at the end of time to take up all people for the final judgement. This is the basic “rapture.” I believe it’s based on a latin word meaning “caught up.”

I grew up protestant, so learned some idea of the rapture that is different from this. There are some, but not all, protestants who believe that there will be a “secret” rapture. They claim that at this time, Jesus will take up only true believers, who will then escape from the tribulation. This tribulation is suppose to last seven years. It will be a severe time. A time that is, basically, like having all the disasters of the last 2000 years happening during that seven years. Anyone coming to faith in Jesus during that time will be martyred.

I don’t know if this helps at all. These protestants do claim scriptural basis for this. But only if other scripture is ignored. Jesus said that when He comes again it will be like lightening “that flashes in the east and is seen in the west.” In other words, everyone living at that time will see Him and know exactly who He is and why He’s there.

There are a few places where it is implied, most notably:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall 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.%between% (1 Th 4:16-17).

IMHO, the Scripture is real and true in its description of Jesus’ second coming; what is misinterpreted in the eyes of the Catholic Church, is the timing and also a misintepretation that there are two more comings, not one.

When was the “rapture” first written about?

Thanks for your replies. I was reading a book last night that mentioned that the idea of “the rapture” was coined by an Englishman some time within the last 150 years. Does anyone know any additional information about this?

I guess what really disturbs me is when I hear people calculating the days till the rapture or trying to find clues in modern events to point to the end times. Jesus made it quite clear that only the Father knows the time of his return. It seems that worrying about the end times is a waste of time and one should live every day as if Jesus was coming back tomorrow!!!

Secret Rapture???

Most of the Christians in the United States have heard about or even read the book series Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. What is presented in the first book Left Behind is that Christ will come beforethe “great tribulation” to take away His “elect.” The teaching goes according to 1 Thes. 4:13-17 that Christ will come down in the clouds and His people will be taken up caughtup in the cloudsand will not go through the tribulation. Then those “left behind” if they convert when Jesus comes again at the end of history may be saved.

This teaching inherently goes against Catholic teaching on eschatological matters; i.e. “the end times”. This is because, the teaching on the secret rapture says; that Christ will actually come 2 more times. Nowhere is this found in Catholic teaching. We just have to look at the Nicene Creed in this matter.

“He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.”

The Nicene Creed is a profession of our Faith that has been recited for centuries. It declares firmly that Christ will come again in glory to judge the world, but it says absolutely nothing about an extra, “third” coming to snatch believers from the world before the final tribulation. Now admittedly, a number of important Christian doctrines do not appear in this brief statement of Faith. Yet when we consider that the creed does address specifically the doctrine of the Second Coming, it is only reasonable to wonder why, if Christians through the ages had believed in a “secret rapture” associated with Christ’s return, nothing was ever said about it here.

Some folks who believe in the secret Rapture turn to Paul’s writings in 1 Thes. 4:17 as a proof text for the secret rapture. “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. Thus we shall always be with the Lord.”(N.A.B.) They point out the words “caught up” as if to emphasis their point.

What is the answer to the verse in question, 1 Thes. 4:17 in regard to what is meant by “caught up”.

The answer is simple when we recognize an ancient custom common in St Paul’s culture. State dignitaries and victorious military leaders of his time often made grand public visits to a city. Such an appearance was called a *Parousia, *which can mean presence or appearance; the same Greek term that St. Paul and other biblical writers often use to write about Christ’s glorious arrival at the close of the age. This in fact is what happened when Jesus made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the day we call Passion or Palm Sunday.

When we find that the Greek word translated here as “meet” or “meeting” apantesis; is the same term that was used for the gathering of citizens to meet the approaching celebrity, the passage makes perfect sense. Those who are still alive on earth when Jesus returns, gathered together from the ends of the earth by the angels, will have a great privilege: They will be caught up in His clouds of glory to meet the approaching King of kings and Lord of lords.This will happen after the “great tribulation.”

This is what St Augustine says about 1 Thes. 4:17 concerning those who will be “caught up in the air” at the Lord’s coming: They are in fact meeting Him in His clouds of glory so they can accompany Him in His triumphant descent to the earth. “For the words. ‘And so shall we ever be with the Lord,’” the bishop


insisted, “are not to be understood as if He meant that we shall always remain in the air with the Lord; for He Himself shall not remain there, but shall only pass through it as He comes. For we shall go to meet Him as He comes, not as He remains.” (City of God, XX, 20.)

Another verse cited by secret rapture believers is Matthew 24:37-41 which says, “For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In (those) days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be (also) at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out 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.” (N.A.B.)

Even if this text does refer to the end times, which is in doubt, we just have to re-read the introduction to verses 40 thru 41 to see the flaw in a secret rapture interpretation. “For as it was in the days of Noah…” In the days of Noah who was taken, swept away, the wicked, and who was left behind, Noah and his family. These verses seem to prove the opposite of a secret rapture interpretation with the wicked being taken away and the righteous being left behind.

Referenced from the Catechism of the Catholic Church this is what the Church teaches regarding Eschatological matters:

Jesus will return to the earth in glorious triumph. (671) 673)

First, however, the Antichrist will appear to deceive the world and persecute the Church. (675) (676)

The Church will suffer the great tribulation prophesied by her Lord. (677)

The final victory of Christ on earth will not come through a gradual improvement in the world’s spiritual condition. (677)

The final victory of Christ will not come within history, but beyond it. (676)

The Jewish people will come to recognize Jesus Christ as their Messiah before He returns. (674)

The dead will be raised. (988) (997) (999) (1000)

Christ will judge the living and the dead, and the Evil One and his allies will at last be utterly overthrown. (677; see also 1038-1041)

At the end of time, God’s kingdom will come in its fullness, and all things will be renewed. (1043-1048)

A good reference for issues regarding the “end times” and the “secret rapture” is a book called **The Rapture Trap **by Paul Thigpen; published by *Ascension Press. *This is one of the many resources I have used in writing this document.

Another good resource on “The Rapture” is John Martignoni’s tapes\cd’s they are free. They show how with just two scripture passages you can put some pretty big holes in rapture theology. It is pretty easy to refute, it just takes a little reading, since there are so many rapture theories it gets confusing if you try to learn them all.

The rapture is a pretty recent invention, about 150 years old.

The Rapture doctrine, which was the invention of the Plymouth Brethren led by John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), has today been adopted by most Baptist, Pentecostals, Assemblies of God, and a variety of other fundamentalist sects. The idea that Jesus Christ will return for His true Church just before the beginning of the Great Tribulation in a secret gathering or “catching away” was an important part of Darby’s teaching. The movement in which this teaching began originated in small groups in England and Ireland about 1828 and by 1831 was part of the official teaching of the Plymouth Brethren. By 1860 the “rapture” had made its way to the United States.

In the late 1800’s, America was fertile ground for a wide variety of religious extremists, most notably the Adventist movements. These movements, which produced new denominations, sects, and cults, almost always had as one of their chief tenets the belief that Christ was going to return to earth “very soon” and that they could tell you when. As the eschatological and apocalyptic teachings of the Plymouth Brethren entered this mix of religious fervor, some of their teachings became a permanent fixture within the newly formed sects. Among the many heresies of the “brethren” the Rapture was the most successful. It even went on to affect millions of people in denominations which had not yet been formed. Two examples of this are the Assemblies of God and the United Pentecostal Church which were not founded until early in the 20th century. At about this same time the Rapture made its way into the theology of the Southern Baptist Church, which had not previously known of the

It worked its way to America When Cyrus Scofield Of Scofield Reference Bible fame attended the Niagara Bible Conferences, where a presentation on Darbyism (founder of the Plymouth Bretheren) was given and Darby, was taken by the whole idea.

All you need to know is that you can’t find this stuff existing in Christiantiy for like its first 1700-1800 years. Protestants like to say we invent stuff but this is clearly out of left field. You can at least find in some form all catholic doctrine in the early church fathers of catholic christianity first 800 years.

There is quite a division among Fundamentalists as to when the rapture will occur. Some say it will happen before the Great Tribulation; others say it will happen during it; others say it will happen after it. The rapture is described in I Thessalonians while the Great Tribulation is described in the Apocalypse, so the relative timing of the two is open (according to Protestants) to interpretation.

There is a Catholic equivalent to this in the modern apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in this country. Many of these so-called apparitions involve prophecies of disaster and destruction. Part of the impetus behind this may be wishful thinking–God will deliver us from our troubles–and part of it may be egotism–I may suffer and die, but everybody else is going to suffer and die along with me.

I believe that this sort of thing may provide motivation for some people to get their relationship with God in order. Beyond that, however, you are right that it is a colossal waste of time.

  • Liberian

The idea of a rapture doesn’t make sense either.

If God didn’t save the first pope, Peter, from the cross, what makes us think we are better than Peter and will be saved from trials and tribulations?


John Nelson Darby’s “fly-away rapture” heresy is built upon his undiscerning acceptance of Margaret Macdonald’s “visions” in the year 1830 (Margaret Macdonald was a member of the Plymouth Brethren).

Margaret Macdonald’s Original Pretribulation Vision [This is Margaret Macdonald’s handwritten account of her 1830 Pre-Trib revelation, as included in Robert Norton’s Memoirs of James & George Macdonald of Port-Glasgow (1840), pp. 171-176. The italicized portions represent her account as it appears in shorter form in Norton’s The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets; In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861), pp 15-18.]The above link is from Dave MacPherson’s website, who authored the book:THE INCREDIBLE COVER-UP
Exposing the Origins of Rapture Theories

Dave MacPherson, 1975

I’m a Fundamentalist, but I have my doubts about “rapture theology.” It would be good, however, to consider the fact that such theology is not restricted to off-beat factions and weirdo groups. It has won the acceptance of many Bible scholars who excel in peer reviewed scholarship.

They do not accept it merely because of Darby and his prophetess; they accept it because it commands their acceptance on its own merits. If you cannot see those merits, (whether or not you find them conclusive is a different question), you still don’t understand the doctrine.

Rapture politics are intertwined with neocon philosophy, which gives grist for the mill, such as:RAPTURE THEOLOGY HAS HAD AN “ENORMOUS” IMPACT ON AMERICAN POLITICAL LIFE, says Robert Jewett, professor of biblical studies at Garrett-Evangelical Seminary, Evanston, Ill.

Some rapture theology teaches that “the apocalyptic end of world history is predetermined by God in our time,” Jewett noted. "Consequently, there is nothing we can do to avert it.

"In this view, peacemaking is both futile and sinful, and all efforts to promote international cooperation are inspired by Satan. Every compromise with our adversaries is viewed as a betrayal of divine trust. Every effort to achieve arms control and to reduce the danger of accidental nuclear wars is a sellout to the demonic powers.

"Similarly, efforts to deal with pollution or global warming are seen as futile and counterproductive [because the end is near]. While rapture advocates don’t wish to promote a holocaust or a global ecological crisis, they are convinced God wills it and thus there is absolutely nothing humans can do to stop these dangers. *************************** Council For National Policy - The Religious Reich & Bush

Excited by Reagan’s election, Tim LaHaye, Richard Viguerie, Weyrich and a number of far-right conservatives began meeting to discuss ways to maximize the power of the ultra-conservative movement and create an alternative to the more centrist Council on Foreign Relations.

… In the summer of 1981, Woody Jenkins, a former Louisiana state lawmaker who served as the group’s first executive director, told Newsweek bluntly, “One day before the end of this century, the [Council For National Policy] will be so influential that no president, regardless of party or philosophy, will be able to ignore us or our concerns or shut us out of the highest levels of government.”

From the beginning, the CNP sought to merge two strains of far-right thought: the theocratic Religious Right with the low-tax, anti-government wing of the GOP. The theory was that the Religious Right would provide the grassroots activism and the muscle. The other faction would put up the money.

The CNP has always reflected this two-barreled approach. The group’s first president was LaHaye, then president of Family Life Seminars in El Cajon Calif. LaHaye, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher who went on in the 1990s to launch the popular “Left Behind” series of apocalyptic potboilers …

Oh I forgot…The Plymouth Brethern gave the world more than the rapture…

They gave us Aleister Crowley, the occultist,and phoney great beast.

It seems that Crowley found growing up in the sect SO repressive that he rebelled as soon as he was old enough and just kept rebelling.


Pre and Mid Tribulational views don’t hold up well against Biblical proof. Sacred Scripture rejects three comings of Christ which has to happen for Pre and Mid views. Read Heb. 9:28. This verse tells of Jesus coming for a second and final time. Here are the three comings from the Pre and Mid Tribulational views that Scripture rejects.

Pre and Mid Trib views:

First coming:
Christ being born.

Second coming:
Pre-tribulational camps say the this view the rapture will occur before the tribulation. Jesus returns for the rapture before the tribulation.

Mid-tribulational camps say the rapture will come to being during the middle of the tribulation. Jesus would have to come during the middle of the tribulation.

Third coming:
Christ returns at the end of the tribulation and makes the “New Kingdom”.

Four good verses in the Bible that shows contradictions to Pre and Mid tribulations are:

Matt. 24:24-31; Mark 13:24-27; and 2 Thess. 1:1-12, *2 Thess. 2:1-12. *These actually reinforce the rapture and the Second Coming occur together after the tribulation.

Hope this helps. If anything, I think the Church would lean towards Post Tribulation. This view says the rapture will occur right after the tribulation and immediately before the Second Coming of Jesus.

Go to John Martignoni offers a free tape or CD covering this topic. He uses the bible to support his explaination. Hope that helps.

For a good introduction to the Catholic perspective of the Rapture and “Left Behind” errors, start with the Catholic Answers articles

The Rapture

False Profits

Also, Carl Olsen has written a book called “Will Catholics Be Left Behind” which is an exhaustive look at the orgins and errors of the Rapture theology. His website has numerous helpful articles in this regard:

[quote=Kevan]I’m a Fundamentalist, but I have my doubts about “rapture theology.” It would be good, however, to consider the fact that such theology is not restricted to off-beat factions and weirdo groups. It has won the acceptance of many Bible scholars who excel in peer reviewed scholarship.

They do not accept it merely because of Darby and his prophetess; they accept it because it commands their acceptance on its own merits. If you cannot see those merits, (whether or not you find them conclusive is a different question), you still don’t understand the doctrine.

I think your wrong I have read some recent articles where the rapture doctrine has all but fallen aparart on evangelical bible seminaries and theological schools.
Such havens of evangelicals like Fuller College, Gordonw Conwell and Dallas theological etc don’t embrace the rapture doctrine anymore its laughed at in many cirlces.
Do fundamentilist rapture scholars still hold to their views and are able to debate it to their statisfaction using the Bible alone.
Certainly but more and more mainstream evangelical seminaries have discredited it and the higher scholarship of evangelicals no longer think it is a very good interpretation of the end of days.
I can’t think of any mainstream christians scholar writing about his sudden light bulb about the truth of the rapture.
However their are many books from former fundamentlist who now believe that the rapture is a flawed doctrine.
So to me at evangelical higher scholarship its dying out.
However it is hot as ever in fundamentalsim and lower level scholarship of evangelicals which rarely take an objective viewpoint outside of their fundamentalist viewpoint.
Well that’s what makes them fundamentalist to begin with.

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