DOCTRINE OF THE RAPTURE
For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and be exhorted; and the spirit of prophets are subjected to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
(1 Cor 14:31-33, NASB)
The word “rapture” does not appear in the word of God! Nevertheless, most Believers use this word indiscriminately in association with the resurrection. Very few scholars and Believers use the term “resurrection” today, and there is hardly any teaching on the very subject of the resurrection. In this writing, we will pursue to establish the basic doctrine of this teaching.
The first appearance of the term “rapture” appeared in the writing of two Jesuit priests, namely, Francisco Ribera (1537-1591) and Manuel Lacunza (1812). According to these two priests, Messiah would not appear a second time in all His glory only, but He would also appear “secretly” to snatch away the latter-day church before the onset of the Great Tribulation. Three distinct teachings developed from Ribera and Lecunza’s original teaching to what is known today as Pre-Tribulation (a rapture BEFORE the Great Tribulation), Mid-Tribulation (a rapture in the middle of the Great Tribulation before God’s wrath), and Post-Tribulation Rapture (a rapture at the end of the 7 year period of tribulation and wrath). [About Religion by Mary Fairchild, www.christianity.about.com.]
In 1830, an Irish girl, Margret Mc Donald, had a vision describing the persecution of the saints during the Great Tribulation and the resurrection at the Second Appearance of Messiah. This vision was used by John Nelson Darby, a minister of the Plymouth Brethren, and Edward Erving, a Scottish minister, to establish the teaching of the rapture. Both these ministers studied the writings of the Jesuit priests, Ribera and Lecunza.
It was only in the 1950’s that the teaching on the Rapture entered into the mainstream theology of the church. John Walfoord, a theologian at the Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote a book, ‘The Rapture Question,’ and 65,000 copies were sold. In 1958, J Dwight Pentecost, wrote a book, ‘Things to come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology,’ and 251,000 copies were sold. Yet, it was really the books written by Hal Lindsey, ‘The Late Great Planet Earth,’ and Tim la Hay’s ‘Left Behind Series,’ that brought this teaching into the mainstream theology. Not only were these books sold in the millions, but they were also portrayed in movies.
I want to quote directly from Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth, to establish the essential doctrine of this teaching. Lindsey writes, ‘Astounding as man’s trip to the moon is, there is another trip which many men, women, and children will take some day which will leave the rest of the world gasping. Those who remain on earth at that time will use every invention of the human mind to explain the sudden disappearance of millions of people,’ (Lindsey, 1970, p 124). He also states, ‘It will be the living end. The ultimate trip,’ (Lindsey, 1970, p 126); and ‘Here is the real hope of the Christian, the “blessed hope” of the believers,’ (Lindsey, 1970, p 127).
Hal Lindsey then explains that the “translation” which will take place on the day of the “rapture” is explained in 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 and in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, (Lindsey, 1970, p 128-130). He specifically states, ‘The idea in this passage is that when God has the last trumpet blow it means He will move out all the Christians-and at that point we shall be changed,’ (Lindsey, 1970, p 130).
In Romans 8:16-25 we established that the whole earth is in travail, waiting in anticipation for the revelation of the sons of God, and that this revelation, namely the resurrection of our glorified bodies, will be a climactic event – an event that will leave the whole earth stunned. This passage ALSO states that the resurrection is the hope of our salvation; which is also confirmed in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – specific chapters pertaining to the doctrine of the resurrection. Not one of the aforementioned passages can be used to explain the rapture, for they specifically teach on the resurrection of our bodies at the visible and climactic Second Appearance of Messiah.
According to the above mentioned quotes from The Late Great Planet Earth, the secret appearance of Jesus Christ to rapture the church becomes the climactic event leaving the whole earth stunned, and has now become the hope of the church. Moreover, this section of God’s kingdom will now already, in advance, receive resurrected bodies. There is a stark contradiction, diverting our hope and expectation from the climactic appearance of Messiah to complete salvation through the resurrection of the sons of God at the blowing of the 7th and Last Trumpet in Revelation 11:15-18 and Revelation 19.