Rapture Theology: The Arrogance of the West

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  • Rapture Theology: The Arrogance of the West

    by Jerry Johnson

    'Since its inception the Christian Church has suffered numerous tribulations, beginning with Jesus Himself who suffered the trials of the cross. Jesus declared “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you”. (John 15:18) After the death of Christ, the persecution of the Christian Church became even more intense. Saul, one of the first “ordained” persecutors sought out these Christian renegades and had them imprisoned or murdered. (Acts 8:1) Stephen, who was the first to suffer for the faith, was stoned to death by an angry mob. (Acts 11:19) Paul tells Timothy in his second letter, “…[A]ll who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution”. (II Timothy 3:12)

    The first century Christians new well that a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ meant certain death. Up until 70 A.D. most of the persecution was done at the hands of the Jews. Just prior to the destruction of the temple, Nero Caesar instituted a reign of terror against the benevolent followers of Christ. Many were slain. Children of the believers were thrown into the Roman Arena to be torn apart by wild beasts as onlookers cheered, while their parents were made to watch!

    In fact, it was not until the reign of Constantine (almost three centuries after the death of Christ) that the Christians were finally allowed to openly worship their Savior without the fear of reprisal. But this was soon short lived. Arianism soon became the belief of most governments and the persecution was re-instituted against the orthodox party. After Arianism was defeated Rome again took control of the Empire, but this time under the auspices of orthodox Christianity. For the next 1000 years terror fell upon all those who would disagree with the Roman Catholic Religion. One only needs to casually glance at any work on Church history to see the tyranny and murderous ways the Rome Pontiff dealt with nonconformists. A short list speaks of the Hussites, the Waldesians, the Hugenots, or men like William Tyndle and Martin Luther, (though not killed, Martin Luther did have a price on his head).

    In modern times the persecution has not ended. Various dictators and governments have made the Christian Church the focal point of their hatred. Thousands have died in the concentration camps of Eastern Europe. In the Former Soviet Empire, professing Christians were sent to Siberia never to be heard from again. In Communist China, females who profess Christ are treated like animals, fulfilling the sexual desires of the ruling regime. The Middle East has also had its share of horror stories that would give Stephen King himself many a sleepless night.

    In the midst of all of these tribulations the Church has endured. Western Christians, specifically those in the Untied States of America, have escaped any real threat to their existence. There could be numerous reasons for this. Two possibilities that come to mind 1) God has protected the Church in the West so we can give aid and comfort to those who suffer these persecutions OR 2) we (those in the West) really do not have any strong convictions about our faith and therefore our enemies are not threatened by our presence.

    Whatever the reason may be, after two hundred years of being somewhat free to worship without fear from our government, many Christians believe, to one degree or another, that the United States of America will one day face a persecution under the hands of the “anti-Christ.” They teach that Christians currently living now will be raptured out of this world so as not to have to endure the “wrath to come”. Numerous advocates of this doctrine even refer to it as “the great escape”.

    In recent years, books on “the great escape” have filled the Christian bookstore shelves. Who can forget “88 Reason Why The Rapture Will Happen in 1988”? Or Hal Lindsey, the leading spokesmen for the movement throughout the 70’s and 80’s, and his “textbook” on the rapture entitled “The Late Great Planet Earth” and the latest craze "Left Behind." Rapture theology has so become entwined with American Christianity that anytime an international crisis occurs, especially one in which the United States is involved, videos, books and pamphlets by the thousands hit Christian bookstores declaring that the end is near, again!

    But think about it! Does it really seem plausible that Christians in the United States will some how avoid these “great tribulations”? Without saying it directly, many paperback theologians conclude that the United States is the focal point of Biblical eschatology, and that the Beast of Revelation cannot be revealed until we are “out of here.” Is it not possible that rapture theology is based upon an arrogant Western presumption, that God MUST first rapture the American Church before persecution comes, even though he never did it for Christians in the Middle East or Communist Block countries? Are American Christians more important to God than Chinese Christians? Many pews sitters seem to think so. Though they do not say it in proper words, it is a fair inference to make.

    Those who hold to the view of modern rapture theology see things worked out this way: The Church will be raptured (caught up) and taken into heaven. This event will precede the second coming of Christ by either seven years or three and a half years, depending on your view of pre-trib or mid-trib. Then the anti-Christ will take over and rule. During this time the “great tribulation” will be waging on planet earth. This event, the “great tribulation”, is what American Christians must escape.

    What most do not know is that “rapture theology” of the pre-tribulation variety is a recent doctrinal concoction. The historic church never taught this view. That’s right! No one taught the pre-millennial pre-tribulation view until the early the nineteenth century. This teaching made its appearance with dispensationalism in circa 1830. One is hard pressed to think that all of the great minds from St. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin and Charles Haddon Spurgeon, that though they had read I Thessalonians 4 failed to understand the important teaching of a pre-millennial, pre-tribulation rapture.

    Pre-tribulation rapture theology is at its foundation conceited! It trivializes the sufferings of the early church, as well as the church in third world countries that are currently being told they cannot “buy, sell or trade” or have any freedoms and are imprisoned because of their faith in the Lord Jesus.

    Besides its sheer arrogance rapture theology fails to see Christians as salt and light in the world and may ultimately lead to the total surrender of western civilization. What if Christ does not return for another 200 hundred years? How will future generations remember those who did not carry out the command to bring "every thought captive to the word of God"? How will they remember those of us who allowed the blood bought treasures of western freedom to die out one by one in the name of this aberrant theology?

  • #2
    History will poorly remember our generation of Christians, the generation that presided over the end of cultural Christianity in the west and the first mass decline of professed Christianity since the Church was founded 2000 years ago. Rather than being salt and light, this generation is surrendering our freedom and Christian heritage for endless war against Arabs and other counter-productive efforts.
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    • #3
      But think about it! Does it really seem plausible that Christians in the United States will some how avoid these “great tribulations”? Without saying it directly, many paperback theologians conclude that the United States is the focal point of Biblical eschatology, and that the Beast of Revelation cannot be revealed until we are “out of here.” Is it not possible that rapture theology is based upon an arrogant Western presumption, that God MUST first rapture the American Church before persecution comes, even though he never did it for Christians in the Middle East or Communist Block countries? Are American Christians more important to God than Chinese Christians? Many pews sitters seem to think so. Though they do not say it in proper words, it is a fair inference to make.
      When the rapture takes place all Christians, including those in the Middle East and China, will be taken out of the world.
      Clyde Herrin's Blog
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      • #4
        Originally posted by theophilus View Post
        When the rapture takes place all Christians, including those in the Middle East and China, will be taken out of the world.
        Christians have endured intense persecution and genocides in the past, without being raptured.

        Originally posted by William View Post
        How will they remember those of us who allowed the blood bought treasures of western freedom to die out one by one in the name of this aberrant theology?
        Last edited by Cornelius; 08-31-2015, 04:55 AM.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by William View Post

          What most do not know is that “rapture theology” of the pre-tribulation variety is a recent doctrinal concoction. The historic church never taught this view. That’s right! No one taught the pre-millennial pre-tribulation view until the early the nineteenth century. This teaching made its appearance with dispensationalism in circa 1830. One is hard pressed to think that all of the great minds from St. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin and Charles Haddon Spurgeon, that though they had read I Thessalonians 4 failed to understand the important teaching of a pre-millennial, pre-tribulation rapture.

          Pre-tribulation rapture theology is at its foundation conceited! It trivializes the sufferings of the early church, as well as the church in third world countries that are currently being told they cannot “buy, sell or trade” or have any freedoms and are imprisoned because of their faith in the Lord Jesus.

          Besides its sheer arrogance rapture theology fails to see Christians as salt and light in the world and may ultimately lead to the total surrender of western civilization. What if Christ does not return for another 200 hundred years? How will future generations remember those who did not carry out the command to bring "every thought captive to the word of God"? How will they remember those of us who allowed the blood bought treasures of western freedom to die out one by one in the name of this aberrant theology?
          Great way to summarize a prolific false doctrine!

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          • #6
            In searching for evidence for the Pretrib Rapture, I came across this:

            The Rapture Ready website offers this scripture support for the pretrib Rapture:
            [Charge against Pretrib doctrine:] Nowhere in the Bible does it directly say that the Church will be raptured before the tribulation.

            [Response:] Pre-trib opponents should have thought this one through because any pre-tribulationist has the same right to say, "Nowhere in the Bible does it directly say the Church will go through the tribulation."

            Jesus did say, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:44). The only time frame I can think of when we believers would not be expecting Jesus to return would have to be before the tribulation.
            That verse, even that passage, says nothing about any Rapture, let alone its proximity to any tribulation. Also, pretribbers often deny the Rapture is the second coming, so why does the above invoke a "coming" verse? The premise that pretrib is the least expected time contradicts the argument of many pretribbers that pretrib is to be expected because God is expected to rescue His people from the global judgment. The logic is also self-defeating because if you expect pretrib because that's when it's least expected, then it's no longer least expected.

            Given how stupid the pretrib Rapture is, you can imagine how annoyed I am at Church when a pretrib zombie pushes is stupid doctrine (two of them in my church, vocal older men, probably suffering from dementia). I joined a Presbyterian church to get away from such anti-scriptural Liberalism that infests most Evangelical churches, but even in a good church, there's still a couple of people who get their doctrine from Atheists preachers on TV. I say Atheist preachers because no one who believes in the Christ would teach something so blatantly contrary to scripture. Those TV preachers are in it for the fame and fortune. They serve money, not God. They teach what excites the ignorant, self-focused sheep, such as teaching God wants you to be healthy and wealthy, and that you won't die.

            As for the challenge from the Pretrib website, “nowhere in the Bible does it directly say Christians will go though the tribulation”. Silly pretribbers, I have no obligation to offer a counter doctrine to your stupid doctrine. If the Bible is silent on the issue, then it’s silent and wouldn’t be able to say one way or another when the Rapture is. But, I do have a counter doctrine:

            Matthew 24 directly says Christians will be subjected to tribulation: “9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved… 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”

            Further, the only offer of escape from tribulation Matthew 24 offers Christians is: “15 So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.”

            Pretribbers insist Christens will be raptured out of the world before the judgments of the book of Revelation, but nearly every chapter of Revelation speaks of Christians being present during the judgments.

            Pretrib Rapture is part of the unintelligent and unholy trinity of Pretrib, Dispensationalism, Zionism. And, for the record, the events of Matthew 24 were fulfilled in the first century. There was no Rapture.
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            • #7
              Save it for the Presbyterian site. The rapture shall occur IN THE AIR, then the tribulation, (7 years), then the second coming of Christ TO THE EARTH. The saints then rule with Christ for 1000 years, just as the Bible says. Don't believe it? Then don't claim to believe in the whole Bible.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                Save it for the Presbyterian site. The rapture shall occur IN THE AIR, then the tribulation, (7 years), then the second coming of Christ TO THE EARTH. The saints then rule with Christ for 1000 years, just as the Bible says. Don't believe it? Then don't claim to believe in the whole Bible.
                Save what for the Presbyterian site? The Amil position is not only held by Presbyterians alone but is the largest Eschatological view held in Reformed Christendom. The Title of the OP rightly says, "The Arrogance of the West." I realize you do not believe that Jesus labeled people- whether Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes or even those from two major schools of thought "Hallel and Shema". It is just interesting how you reject theological terminology and the appropriate labels... . yet come running to the fight whenever those theological labels are mentioned.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                  The rapture shall occur IN THE AIR, then the tribulation, (7 years) ... Don't believe it? Then don't claim to believe in the whole Bible.
                  That's your response to the demonstration that there isn't even one verse, even when taken out of context, that looks like it supports a pretrib Rapture? Believe what's glaringly not in the Bible else I don't believe the Bible?
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                  • #10
                    Yep. I have already referenced the Bible verses supporting the view I expressed. Search my threads. I'm tired of repeating myself. I know some teachers who agree with me too. Such as John MacArthur, David Hocking, et al, but the Bible is the convincing factor to what I believe, not some seminaries and scholars. Your doctrine fails to even recognize history and current world events.
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                    • #11
                      In the Olivet discourse, which for anyone who believes the Bible, really speaks of the destruction of the Temple and Judea which happened in the first century, but it is taken by pretribbers as our future, Jesus said "After that tribulation.... [the son of man] will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens." If the Olivet discourse has anything to do with the Rapture, Jesus couldn't be any more clearly post-trib.

                      I wouldn't care much about someone's bad and dumb doctrine, except so much harm is done by bad and dumb doctrine. As I've noted before, pretribbers have done tremendous amount of damage to the credibility of Christianity with their false predictions. These people are also susceptible to believing all sorts of other bad and dumb doctrines. And, I really do get a sense that pretribbers are happy to let the church die because they think the church is dying anyway and they're about to be rescued from dying church in a sinking world. No, the church won't die, but no thanks to pretribbers.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cornelius View Post
                        In the Olivet discourse, which for anyone who believes the Bible, really speaks of the destruction of the Temple and Judea which happened in the first century, but it is taken by pretribbers as our future, Jesus said "After that tribulation.... [the son of man] will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens." If the Olivet discourse has anything to do with the Rapture, Jesus couldn't be any more clearly post-trib.
                        In the Olivet Discourse Jesus said nothing about the Rapture. He spoke of the tribulation which will follow the rapture and which will end when he returns to earth to establish his kingdom.
                        Clyde Herrin's Blog
                        Comment>

                        • #13
                          In the opening post it was said, " What most do not know is that ' rapture theology ' of the pre-tribulation variety is a recent doctrinal concoction. "

                          How is that an argument against the rapture? Revelation from God has always been progressive. Before Israel had the Law, they were not under the Law. The Church is a recent Body of believers also which was unknown in the Old Testament. God reveals truth in His Word at His time, as He told Daniel. Daniel 12:4 "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: ..."

                          So, whatever truth God would reveal at the time of the end, as He told Daniel, would at that time be a 'recent doctrinal ' truth. Wouldn't it?

                          Ship Alone
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ship Alone View Post
                            In the opening post it was said, " What most do not know is that ' rapture theology ' of the pre-tribulation variety is a recent doctrinal concoction. "

                            How is that an argument against the rapture? Revelation from God has always been progressive. Before Israel had the Law, they were not under the Law. The Church is a recent Body of believers also which was unknown in the Old Testament. God reveals truth in His Word at His time, as He told Daniel. Daniel 12:4 "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: ..."

                            So, whatever truth God would reveal at the time of the end, as He told Daniel, would at that time be a 'recent doctrinal ' truth. Wouldn't it?

                            Ship Alone
                            Hi there,

                            I would write more about this but I am about to board a plane at the airport. The Amil camp refers to "progressive revelation" as typology. Types and shadows are brought into fruition and full light in the NT. I think some of the differences could be that the dispensationalist camp tends to interpret according to dispensations where the typology camp tends to look at the intensification, amplification, or fulfillment of prior prophecies... Also there appears to be a difference between these two camps in that dispensationalist tend to interpret the NT through OT prophecy or see no continuity whatsoever .... where the Amil camp through typology tends to look for the fulfillment of prophecy of the OT in the NT... not to mention they also interpret the OT through the NT (Clearer passages). I think your point is rather moot, but in the way that you introduced progressive revelation it appears to open the door to new revelation according to dispensations....

                            Sorry for my quick reply,
                            Wiliam
                            Comment>

                            • #15
                              William

                              No problem, your quick reply is appreciated. I am a dispensationalist,, but I don't think that affects my point concerning revelation being progressive from God. I don't believe it is a mute point, as you indicate a 'recent doctrinal' belief is not to be trusted. And I don't see how that can be the case when God has always been progressive in his revelation to us.

                              So what I am saying is that even if the rapture were a recent belief, that in no way indicates it is false. The question should be, is it Scriptural?

                              Ship Alone

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