Whenever I mention that my ministry is pre-Millennial, pre-Tribulational, and absurdities of all absurdities—believe in the doctrine of the Rapture, I receive responses. For several reasons, my ministry generally has not entangled ourselves in this issue. But, apparently, according to the responses we receive, to believe that a Rapture will occur brands one as “low brow,” “gullible” and “escapist.”
If anything, it seems that a spirit of derisiveness as well as smugness is becoming more prevalent. Nevertheless, over the years we have observed that the “No-Rapture” proponents apparently feel unsettled with Rapture-believers. We receive letters from supposedly well-meaning people who would like to convert us; some even want to “deliver” us to a post- or mid-tribulation perspective.
Interestingly, most of these respondents will agree that any differences in our perspectives are nothing over which to lose fellowship, as long as both parties are pre-millennial. Yet, for some reason, they still want to disprove the Rapture view, though it is not a “salvation issue.”
Conversely, those who hold the Rapture view do not feel it an imperative to expunge the world of Rapture naysayers. As mentioned, it is not a salvation issue. The Rapture believer knows that the non-Rapture-believing Christian is given salvation through grace as anyone else, and moreover, will be taken up in the Rapture even while they remain doubters.
So why “proselytize” them to the Rapture view, other than to gain the blessing of a full biblical alignment of one’s views?
While not every variant of doctrine threatens one’s salvation, every deviation from Biblical truth does have its price.
We wonder why there is such an opposition to the Rapture view. Just what spirit — or irritation — is behind these attacks? The range of counter arguments and viewpoints range from the thoughtful to pure vitriol.
It would be fine to debate the Rapture doctrine based upon Biblical exegesis. However, increasingly it seems that Rapture-deniers resort to mostly unfounded and unbalanced allegations. They have not come to their opinion by way of “scholarly” study, but rather shallow anti-Rapture propaganda.
Recently, a friend (with an evangelical background and who was raised with the Rapture expectation) rather suddenly changed his mind, announcing to me that he no longer believes in the Rapture. I was curious what was behind this “conversion.”
Apparently, he had swallowed the argument that it was a “new” doctrine, supposedly popularized by a delusional young woman named Margaret MacDonald in the 1800s. This couldn’t be further from the truth in many respects. To fall for such a shallow falsehood is to ignore Scripture and the full history of the Christian church.
This writer may be amongst the least credible apologists to present a case for the Rapture; however, I have certainly consulted and read many solid “dispensationalist” books and arguments supporting this view. As such, we supplement our brief response here by borrowing from pedigreed scholars. Anyone expounding on the Rapture, pro or con, should decide for themselves on the following four points.
1. Back to the Source – First, we must begin with the document that is claimed to be all sufficient for teaching, rebuking and admonishing (2 Timothy 3:16). Its truth towers far above that of all other documents in the world. The Rapture doctrine finds its source in Scripture. Nowhere else. Not only is it spoken of specifically, it is also foreshadowed and deductive, based on the character of God himself.
The doctrine of the Rapture must stand on the Bible “full stop.” The view of any church father, Pope, or entranced young girl cannot add any credence nor pedigree to what Scripture has said. As it is, a so-called church father can be found and quoted to support almost any theological view. We may have our favourites, but quoting them adds nothing proof-worthy to this main point — the Rapture is a scriptural doctrine.
2. Context: The History of the Church – Rapture doubters often claim that a teaching cannot be true because it is alleged to be “new” … i.e. perhaps something popularized over the last several centuries. This argument is not valid for a number of reasons. For one, it ignores church history; and second, it ignores the very warnings of the Bible. Early on—more than 2,000 years ago—Christians were already warned about false doctrines and that deceivers would creep in unawares. This was clearly an issue already during the time of the apostles. (See 2 Timothy 3:8, 4:3; 2 Peter 2:1-3.)
Once the Apostles had passed on, the dilution of the gospel happened rapidly. Over the course of a few centuries, many false doctrines (driven by an “anti-christ spirit”) became embedded in various teachings. The pagan-infused empire of the Holy Roman Church eventually became a full-fledged apostate religious system. As the 1,000 pound religious and state-sponsored gorilla, it oppressed any and all that would differ with its doctrines or disrespect its authority.
Once Constantine (the 4th century Roman emperor) adopted Christianity as the state religion, the Roman Catholic Church eventually became a regal earthly power, abrogating to itself even sovereignty and the role of the vicarious presence of Christ upon earth. Fallaciously claiming that Apostle Peter was its founder, it nevertheless chose to not heed even one statement of Peter’s found in the Bible.
Throughout the centuries of Roman Catholic dominance (the Dark Ages) no contrary opinion upon any matter was allowed other than that of the ostensibly infallible Popes (no matter how despicable and ungodly some of them may have been.) Those believers and preachers who stood up for Biblical truth were jailed, tortured and murdered.
The Roman Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was feared. Those with biblical views that were contrary to the “revelations” and pronouncements of the Roman Catholic Magisterium had to flee for their lives, living in obscurity or hiding. To be branded a heretic was a dangerous thing, punishable by incarceration or torture even in Protestant circles.
Is it any wonder that so little of the biblical doctrines and views of the New Testament Church survived through the Middle Ages? Instead, many biblical doctrines were obliterated and suppressed. Those who attempted to revive or restore them (often viewing the “Holy Roman Church” as the whore of Revelation 17) were persecuted. Relatively few writings or records survive of the Church outside of the Holy Roman church anywhere from the period of the 6th to 16th centuries.
History records that millions of Ana-Baptists and other groups (Protestants of various sects — Waldensians, Huguenots, claimed heretics such as the Albigenses, etc.) were slaughtered under the edict of the Popes (and countless Jews were annihilated as well). These are documentable facts.
Only later, as the Middle Ages ended, England repudiated the rule of the Popes, the Reformation occurred, and Luther, Wycliffe and Tyndale opened the Bible to the public did Biblical teachings again see the light of day and could be recorded and published.
However, crucially, these were not “new” teachings. Rather they were largely restored teachings that were based on Scripture. Amongst these was the doctrine of the Rapture.
3. Solid Scholarship and Proofs – Today, we have the benefit of much scholarship on the origins of Christian doctrines. Amongst this record are the teachings of various preachers and theologians of the 16th to 19thcenturies (outside of the Roman Catholic church) which have been found and uncovered. Plain to see in these records is the dominance of pre-millennial interpretations of the Bible.
Moreover, there is much proof of the Rapture being taught once the systematic oppression of Christians (or those with merely opposing scriptural views) starting being gradually lifted. The Rapture view was held by some clergy centuries before the alleged “trance revelations” of Margaret MacDonald. The promotion of this “trance” allegation is a “hatchet job” as far as scholarly evidence is concerned.
Today, we can say with confidence that the trance allegations of the “anti-Rapture” crowd have been thoroughly debunked and invalidated based on scholarship. We can recommend sound scholarly works proving the views expressed here. A recent “light bearer” work is the book titledDispensationalism Before Darby by Dr. William C. Watson (published by Lampion Press). This book is full of quotes of the dispensationalist perspectives of many pastors, theologians and churchmen from the 16th to 19th centuries.
4. Logic and Apologetics – There are many excellent books available on the doctrine of the Rapture. As such, as already mentioned, we can hardly do credit to this body of work … especially so in such a short article. Students of the entire Bible (Old and New Testaments) can sense in their spirit God’s divine plan behind the Rapture.
It is in alignment with the entirety of the Bible. God always called out and preserved the believing remnant before he unleashed His wrath (the family of Noah, Lot). Why then, would the Church (what He calls His Bride) be allowed to be utterly slaughtered under the justice of his wrath.
Indeed, God disciplines and reproves those whom He loves. As Peter says, “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household” (1 Peter 4:17). But, he also says in this same passage: “[…] if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”. The treatment of the Church and those who “do not obey” are not one and the same.
We have recently completed a 5-part series called Anxiety Merchants and False Prophets [the first part of which will be published in the February issue of the Midnight Call. You can read it at this link when it is published.] In these articles, we present the point that ALL Christians will be killed in the Tribulation Period.
None who refuse to take the mark and worship the beast (Revelation 20:4) will survive. Contrary to the Bible, if one presumes that Christians will not be “[…] caught up together […] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air […]” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) then what “blessed hope” is there (Titus 2:13)?
To the contrary, says Jesus Christ to the Philadelphian church, “I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
This writer sometimes struggles with the concept of grace. As such, the Partial Rapture Theory can appear logical. Why? It naturally just doesn’t seem just that Jesus Christ would rapture all Christians though hardly any of them could be as worthy as perhaps Elijah and Enoch of the Old Testament who were also raptured. But, if the Lord saves us “while we are yet in sin” (Romans 5:8) through grace, then the Rapture is equally likely and equally undeserved for last-day Christians.
In conclusion, today, the attacks against the Rapture (excepting on the basis of scriptural evidence) can be ignored. Most arguments are fallacious … and sometimes mendacious. ALL last-day Christians are both saved and raptured by grace!