Here is a subject I have ignored like the plague…but since the world is facing a pandemic I figured I’d discuss this idea – the rapture.
Is the rapture plausible?
The scriptural basis for it is flimsy at best and the doctrine wasn’t even in Christian theology until the mid 1700’s and 1800’s. Here is some historical timelines from Wikipedia.
“The concept of the rapture, in connection with premillennialism, was expressed by the American Puritan father and son Increase and Cotton Mather (both part of the Salem Witch trials). They held to the idea that believers would be caught up in the air, followed by judgments on the earth and then the millennium. The term rapture was used by Philip Doddridge (1738) and John Gill (1748) in their New Testament commentaries, with the idea that believers would be caught up prior to judgment on the earth and Jesus’ Second Coming. The concept of a pre-tribulation rapture was articulated by Baptist Morgan Edwards in an essay published in 1788 in Philadelphia.”
“John Nelson Darby, considered the father of dispensationalism, first proposed the pre-tribulation rapture in 1827. This view was accepted among many other Plymouth Brethren in England. Darby and other prominent Brethren were part of the Brethren Movement which impacted American Christianity, primarily through their writings. Influences included the Bible Conference Movement, starting in 1878 with the Niagara Bible Conference. These conferences, which were initially inclusive of historicist and futurist premillennialism, led to an increasing acceptance of futurist premillennial views and the pre-tribulation rapture especially among Presbyterian, Baptist and Congregational members. Popular books also contributed to acceptance of the pre-tribulation rapture, including William Eugene Blackstone’s book Jesus is Coming published in 1878 and which sold more than 1.3 million copies, and the Scofield Reference Bible, published in 1909 and 1919 and revised in 1967″
As is told by the history of this theological belief – it started in the 1700’s and caught momentum afterwards (namely publications and conferences helped push this along). But for like 1500 years prior the belief was pretty much non-existent. Which makes me wonder – why did it even spring up and in relation to what? Christians that needed this idea were persecuted under Roman rule many centuries earlier and never held such a viewpoint. They held the view they would ‘suffer like Christ’…Paul is pretty quick to admit this in his letters and the gospels also keep this idea afresh in the believers minds.
History is not on the side of the doctrine (that’s pretty clear). I also think the idea is not plausible and falls into the category of ‘make belief’. I think it is a best wish scenario based on a passage (from Thessalonians) that is pretty vague to be building such a detailed doctrine upon. I don’t see the theological or historical credibility of such an idea – as it is presented in this day in age (I am talking pre-trib ideas here).
I figure if the early Christians had to take the hard road and face most of the persecution from society around them – why would that change for the West (if this were to ever happen)? Also, wouldn’t WW2 have been a good time for this to occur? Some 200 million men went to fight in that war – likely some 30% or higher (maybe even 50%) were Christian (UK, Canada, America, France, and other northern territories). I figure, if people were gonna escape some tribulation – that would’ve been quite ideal.