Down with the rapture
Don't worry. Or, as the media tend to say in the wake of a
disaster: 'Don't worry unduly'.
No, we're not against the Rapture -– but some of our
friends are -– and that's why we're worried.
You see, we and our mates have a few years of practise in
disagreeing. Noisily. We've never seen much merit in surrounding ourselves
with cute little clones. Cheerfully acquiescent yes-men persons. So debate,
discussion, even the odd spot of full-on table thumping are familiar features of
our dinner-table debates.
But we're worried...
...because we have two or three cobbers who disagree with the
Rapture teaching -– and we totally, completely, abysmally fail to understand
what they're saying. We even tried (at great personal risk to our blood
pressure - Betaloc, anyone?) keeping our big mouths shut and actually listening,
instead of thinking up smart replies.
It didn't help one tiny bit. Even the bloke who told us he
was quoting near-as-dammit a quality sermon he heard in the wilds of Auckland.
So, in case any of your little friends try and talk you out of the Rapture, here
are their devastating arguments against the event.
1. It's escapism: Oh, for a dollar every time
someone says 'Beam me up, Scotty' as a put-down. (Note for trivia fans: as
long-time Star Trek nuts we can assure you that Captain Kirk never, ever said
that. Nor did Humphrey Bogart say 'Play it again, Sam'.) Escapism is one of
those meaningless, pseudo-psychology terms that can be applied to a whole raft
of religious stuff. Like heaven, salvation, justification. Taking the mickey or
labelling doesn't prove or disprove anything. It trivialises, that's all.
And trivialising is really escapism, come to think of it.
Avoiding the relevance of the event.
2. Arguing against mis-applied scripture: We've
mentally drummed impatient fingers while our aforesaid friends painstakingly -–
and interminably -– explained why this parable and that parable by Jesus didn't
relate to the Rapture. Why the Transfiguration wasn't a proof of the Rapture.
Why certain verses in Corinthians mean something totally different.
Sure. No probs. That wasn't where we were coming from in
the first place.
3. Ad hominem: That's Latin, but we couldn't
resist showing off, eh. It means (give or take) attack the man, not the subject.
So our negative friends solemnly assure us that Dr.
Scholfield or J.N. Darby invented the Rapture, Hal Lindsay popularised it, and
Tim LaHaye is currently making big bucks out of credulous Christians who want to
read about it.
Yawn. We believe in justification alone -– but not because
Mr. M. Luther promoted it. We believe in the sovereignty of God -– but (heaven
forbid!) not because Mr. J. Calvin gave it several columns in his Institutes.
4. Etcetera: And there's no etcetera. Only a whole
heap of scripture totally ignored. End of subject.
Okay -– now look... We don't mind if you choose not to
believe in the Rapture. That's your privilege. Three of our mates don't, and
that's okay by us. But if you want to convince someone (especially if you want
to make a sermon out of it) you need to do better than Star Trek gags and
So why do we believe in it?
Just to be personal and subjective -– it's a great
concept; it's typical of God; it's in the same league as the Flood, Babel,
and the Red Sea. No, that proves absolutely zilch. But it tells you a bit about
us. And tells you a bit about those who nix it, too.
Let's get serious. Scripture and stuff.
It's a good rule of thumb to apply the following criteria
to any teaching you come across. One: there should be some illustration,
foreshadowing, example, whatever of it in the Torah -– the first five books of
Moses. (Some groups start their proof-texts in Ecclesiastes or Proverbs; look
sideways at such.)
Two: the teaching should find some outworking in the life of
Jesus. He's the head, we're part of the body -– there has to be some
Three: Quite apart from hints in the epistles, there needs to
be a clear, unambiguous teaching directed specifically at the Outcalled.
Four: There should -– ideally -– be allegories and examples
traceable throughout the Bible.
(Try those guidelines out on your favourite doctrines and see
how they stack up.)
Let's give it a go vis-à-vis the Rapture...
In the Torah? You don't have to wade far before you trip
over Enoch. Find him, then find the rather wow-ee reference in Hebrews: 'Translated
so he wouldn't see death'; 'A friend of God'; 'God took him'.
The life of Jesus? Would you believe that some people
actually overlook this one! The Ascension from around Bethany. Bells 'n'
smells groups in fact have a special Sunday to celebrate this. Technically, it's
precisely dated as being ten days before Shavuot (Pentecost). One of the few 'dated'
highlights in the life of Jesus which (although pegged to a Feast of the Lord)
has no relevance to any Feast as such. We'd suggest that -– as with Enoch -–
it's not an essentially Jewish event. Therefore it is for the Outcalled, both
believing gentiles and Jews.
Clear teaching on the subject? It's found in a lengthy bit
from 1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 5:11, but a snippet from 1 Thessalonians 4:17 will do for now: 'We
... shall be caught up ... in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air'. Read
the context, read the whole quote. This is Paul the rabbi being pedantic and
literal. No 'glass darkly' metaphor here. Just straight and unambiguous
Allegories and examples? (Note: these, by themselves, don't
prove the Rapture, but round out and support the points above.) The Flood and
the Transfiguration are allegories of being above and being changed while
judgement or demonic activity goes on below. Elijah taken by a whirlwind
(please, not a chariot); Paul to the third heaven, John through a door in heaven
and (with the interpretation left up to you) the manchild and the two witnesses
Look -– it should be obvious that no matter how unusual
being physically, literally taken up from here into heaven may sound to our
rationalistic minds -– scripturally it's a bit of a pattern with God.
Is it for all believers? Dunno. But the way Hebrews 11:6
stresses the importance of faith in the context of the Rapture makes us suspect
it's probably a good idea to believe in it.
Just a couple of points to round this off.
Some folk worry about what'll happen to kids. Or to cars
being driven by believers. Simple answer: get to know God and you'll have an
idea that He manages the details better than we could. Ditto to what happens to
pets -– though if you're too entrenched with pets, possessions, places and
people, it might be better to pass on the Rapture. Anyone remember Lot's wife?
Basically, if you don't know God well enough to want His plans regardless -–
then you don't know God well enough. It's that simple.
Anyhow, ask the neighbours to feed the chooks when you go. We've
heard the phrase 'secret Rapture' and frankly don't get it. The date may
be a secret, currently. But the event will be world-shatteringly obvious -–
and, incidentally, an object lesson to Jews that believing gentiles get straight
into the presence of God on nothing but the righteousness of their rabbi. Jesus.
The other point is this: anyone who believes in the
fulfilment of prophetic scripture (and all believers should) is bound to live in
a degree of disappointment until the actual happenstance.
So you fill in until then. Doing whatever the Boss says. And
being aware that each 24 hours brings us nearer to what believers call the
Rapture, the Bible calls the Translation, and the sceptical call unbelievable.