The Rapture, A Doctrine No One Really Believes

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Millions of American Evangelicals believe that Jesus is going to come back some day very soon, perhaps today, and rapture them from the earth.  This rapture, or catching up, is only for those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Most of the population of the world will be left behind. (Left Behind. Hmm, that would  be a great title for a poorly written fictional book series that would make its authors filthy rich.) For the Evangelical, maybe for the first time in their life, they will get to fly first class. All those who laughed at them or mocked their beliefs will be left behind as they soar through the clouds with Jesus on their way to God’s Motel 6.

After all the washed in the blood Christians are raptured, God will open a big can of whoop ass and for seven years he will pour out his judgment and wrath on the earth. (or 3 1/2 years depending on what kind of rapturist you are) By the time the Great Tribulation is over, God will have slaughtered almost every human being on the face of the earth. Awesome, right?

The rapture is a relatively new eschatological belief, dating back to the 19th century. (the history behind the belief is quite interesting)  Central to rapture belief is the notion that Jesus could return at any moment. I am sure most of you have heard a preacher say that we are waiting for the imminent return of Jesus. He could come today!

Evangelicals often try to scare me into repenting. Here’s what one Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) commenter said trying to scare me with the rapture:

Time is short and HE is coming again. I would hate to see you blogging about how the Lord came and raptured the Church, and how you got left behind, because you were to busy bashing Preachers about this or that. Be a man sir, Please for all of us.

The tactic used by this commenter is used every Sunday in uncounted Evangelical churches. Jesus could return today! Are you ready? Are you saved? You don’t want to be left behind! Are you right with God? Do you want Jesus to come back and not find you busy doing HIS work, HIS work meaning doing what the preacher wants you to do. Oh, these scaremongers are earnest in their pleas, yet when the service is over they pile into their car, drive to the local 10% off if you bring a church bulletin buffet for dinner, and then return home to catch their favorite football team on the TV. You see, these preachers really don’t believe what they are saying.  In fact, no one REALLY believes in the rapture and the imminent return of Jesus.

Right now, an Evangelical is reading the previous paragraph and is outraged that I would suggest that they don’t believe in the rapture. Little do they know that the very fact that they are reading this post is proof of my contention. If a person REALLY thought Jesus was coming back today, would they spend their time reading the blog of an apostate ex-Christian preacher? Of course not.

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How many times have you listened to a preacher preach a humdinger of a rapture sermon imploring people to get  saved because Jesus could come today, only to watch this same preacher after the service get in his car and drive down to the local Bob Evan’s for lunch?  If the preacher REALLY thought Jesus was coming back today, would he be spending time eating and fellowshipping at the local Bob Evans? Of course not.

Here’s how you can tell what any Evangelical REALLY believes. Just look at how they live their life from day-to-day. Do they live like a person who is expecting the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to show up at any moment? Does their life reflect their belief that this is the generation that will see the return of Jesus?  Of course not.  Like the rest of us, they are busy going to work, making money, mowing the grass, painting the kitchen, washing the car, and taking a vacation. Outside of what they do on Sunday and maybe on Wednesday, they live lives that aren’t any different from the rest of us. How they live betrays what they really believe.

If the rapture could happen today and we are one day closer to the tribulation than we were yesterday, and Evangelicals really believed this, wouldn’t they would be selling their possessions and doing all they could do to evangelize the world? Instead, they are sitting in front of a computer screen ordering the latest book in the Left Behind series or some other end times fiction series.  Tonight, instead of talking to their family, friends, and neighbors about the soon coming rapture, they will sit down in front of the TV and watch their favorite show or they will surf the internet, perhaps stopping by The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser to read what the apostate preacher wrote.  Their lifestyle betrays that they don’t REALLY believe the rapture is imminent.

If I believed that there was a fire coming that would burn down the homes of my family, friends, and neighbors, I would make sure everyone knew about it. It would be negligent on my part to NOT warn them of the fire to come.  Yet, most Christians rarely, if ever, share their faith. Even preachers who thunder, stomp, holler, spit, and snort as they preach about the need for sinners to get saved, rarely are diligent in evangelizing others. In the 8 years I have lived in Ney, Ohio, not one Christian or preacher has knocked on my door to warn of the doom to come. They left flyers for Back to Church Sunday, their ice cream social, or their craft bazaar, but not one time have they uttered a word or left a piece of literature that warned the village atheist and his family that Jesus is fixing to come to soon.

John the Baptist went to the wilderness and preached the gospel. The Apostle Paul went from town to town preaching the gospel. The Evangelicals of today? They go from conference to conference, church meeting to church meeting, and website to website,  learning how to be a fatter sheep. The world? It can go to hell, Duck Dynasty is on.

[signoff]

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18 Comments

  1. Kittybrat

    This is true. On-fire Christians sometimes have a difficult time with this, because they want to tell EVERYBODY! They are young X-tians and still believe! Eventually, it wears down and these zealots just follow the leader… Listen to this:
    https://youtu.be/uLtoZOO5B6Y

    Also, if you have Amazon Prime, I highly recommend you watch Rapturepalooza.
    https://youtu.be/9oaS_N1zsqo

    Reply
  2. August Rode

    I realize that the image that you used is only a cartoon, Bruce, but my first thought on seeing it was, “I hope heaven has laundromats.”

    In my experience, it does not occur to evangelicals to think through the implications of their beliefs. The rapture is an incoherent concept, as are heaven and hell.

    Reply
  3. Melody

    I believed in the Rapture for most of my life, as did most of my family on my mother’s side. My grandfather and his brothers all got to the old age of 80 or even 90, in some cases, and Jesus still hadn’t raptured them. They very, very strongly believed they would never die, but would be taken up into the heavens like Elijah and Henoch.

    Anyway, most of the people in our church lived their lives as if the Rapture wasn’t imminent. However, my grandfather’s brother didn’t: he was out preaching always and had a billboard with a warning Bible verse in his garden (his brother had one on his car). It’s one of the things they were known for, which I was a little, ok a lot, ashamed about. He believed so strongly that when he was a young man, he tore people on their way to work of their bikes to tell them the good news. It got so out of hand that he ended up in a hospital for a while: that’s how strongly he believed. Even as christians, we used to call this religious madness, overzealousness.

    Reply
  4. khughes1963

    Fred Clark at Slacktivist wrote a rather amusing series of blog postings in which he deconstructed the tedious musings of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins in the Left Behind series. What I find most interesting about Rapture theology is both that it dates only from the early 19th century and its chief proponent in the United States was disbarred attorney and convict Cyrus Scofield, who is best known today for his Scofield Reference Bible. People who adhere to his theology indeed do not behave as if they really thought the Rapture will come. It also provides the Religious Right with the perfect excuse for not doing anything to make the world a better place, for after all, if you’re zapped up to heaven, why bother feeding the poor, caring for the Earth, or dealing with climate change if you believe you won’t be around to deal with the problems?

    Reply
  5. Ami

    Here’s my offering (hahaha!! OFFERING!!!! OMG OMG) to explain why the rapture did not occur…http://i.imgur.com/rYl7E.jpg

    Reply
  6. Ahab

    Many Christians (including the cartoonist whose comic you shared) who believe in the rapture envision people flying upward toward, as if Heaven was a place in the sky. How primitive are their beliefs if they think Heaven is a literal place up in the sky?

    Reply
    1. August Rode

      In Hebrew cosmology, heaven *is* a literal place *above* the sky and in light of that, it makes “sense” to fly upward to get there. However, now that we know that the sun, moon, and stars are not just lights in the vault of the sky and that they are incredibly far away, flying upward to get to heaven makes no sense whatsoever.

      Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Silly boy…heaven is right up there by the moon! Can’t you see it? 🙂

      Reply
      1. August Rode

        Land o’ Goshen, Rev, I see’s it! [falls onto knees] I really, really sees it! [raises arms in ecstasy] Hallelujah!

        [stands, brushes off knees, puts sarcasm away, walks off whistling]

        Reply
  7. Wisdom Favour

    The only reason why it has not happened it is by God’s grace….. God truly. Loves us that he wants no one to suffer…. The time not being here yet only proves the love he has for us. I TELL YOU THIS… THE WORD OF GOD IS NO LIE… MEN SHALL LIE BUT HIS WORD IS TRUE AND AMEN. God loves you guys…. Accept him today and see your lives transform…. You shall not regret people.

    Reply
    1. Geoff

      Writing in capitals is like shouting, so best avoided. When it’s combined with absolute nonsense it’s much, much worse.

      Offer some evidence for your claims and I’ll listen; unfortunately, not only do you have no evidence to support your position, but the evidence that does exist contradicts your claims.

      Reply
    2. Michael Mock

      Hi there, Wisdom Favour.

      I’m going to make a guess that you stumbled onto this post by accident, and that you didn’t spend any time reading through Bruce’s background or the comment rules before you posted this comment. (I’m not going too far out on a limb here; that’s pretty typical, unfortunately.) So, for starters, let me introduce you to the rules for preachers/proselytizers who comment here:

      If you want to convince us of Truth of Christianity(tm), you get one chance. Present us with some evidence for the existence of the Christian God, some reason to believe… preferably something we haven’t all heard a dozen times before. If you keep preaching after that, you get banned. (You can answer questions and responses from other readers, obviously, within reason.)

      Also, “accept him today and see your lives transform” is not a good start. Most of us here aren’t just atheists and/or agnostics, we’re also former Christians. We already accepted God, and yet, here we are. I was raised as a Christian; I believed that Jesus Christ died for my sins in much the same way that I believed water was wet. Bruce was a preacher for twenty-five years. Most of the others here have their own, similar stories. (Except for the Christians — some of the readership here is Christian, though probably not of the same flavor of Christianity as you.)

      Next, you’re probably going to want to tell us that if we’re not Christians now, then we were never Christians to begin with — or maybe that we must never have found the right sort of Church/belief/whatever. Word of advice: don’t go there. It never ends well.

      But if you want to present an argument/polemic/apologetic, this is your chance. Make it good. If you just want to hang around and chat without trying to proselytize, that’s fine too. And if this was just a drive-by comment and you never stop by again… Eh. Oh, well.

      Reply
      1. Brian

        Very eloquently expressed, Mister Mock, and with a gentle touch I must review and adopt (dream on, Brian, dream on)….

        Reply
        1. Michael Mock

          Naw. You do you, man. Besides, it’s an established fact that good, heartfelt rant is just as effective as therapy, and much cheaper. You don’t want to go arguing with science, do you?

          Reply
          1. anotherami

            God forbid!! /s

      2. Brian

        twice said, as I do know better….

        Reply
  8. Michael

    It is written,

    “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”

    Genesis 5:24

    There have been many raptures. Beginning with Enoch God has taken people to haven all throughout mankind’s history. Eljah was the next,

    ” And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

    2 kings 2:11

    Then Jesus,

    “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

    Acts 1:9-11

    Then Paul,

    “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”

    2 Corinthians 12:2-4

    The church of Philadelphia,

    “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”

    Revelation 3:10

    further more, the two witnesses of the book of Revelation,

    “And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.”

    Revelation 11:11,12

    These are just a few examples of “raptures” that have happens or will happen. The common thread through all these “translations” is perfection.

    Enoch walked with God for 365 years. Elijah called fired down from heaven. Jesus was glorified. Paul saw a heavenly vision and wrote much of the New Testament. Love characterizes the church of Philadelphia. The two witness walk in the miracle power of God.

    The fact of the matter is, and what many do not fully understand, is that the rapture is simply the way God moves people back and forth from earth to heaven and sometimes back again. For the beginning of time God purposed to translate people to heaven when they reached perfection on this world. Adam and Eve, had they not sinned, would have been rapture to God and to His throne at some point.

    People believe in a pre-trib rapture, mid-trib rapture, or post trib raputre are all partially right because God translates people to haven during all those times. In fact, the only Christians who are totally wrong about the rapture are those who say there is none.

    Doubtless, there have been many ratpures throughout history that we do not know about. Whenever believers have reach a certain state of perfection God has simply took them. It is just the way God originally set up the world to work.

    In conclusion, the only way we can know God is through revelation. Without the Holy Spirit showing us what He means our natural minds get hopelessly lost in the holy writ. I did not figure this out through my intellect, God simply showed me. As we mature in Him, God will show us all glorious truths in His word and we will come to a unity of the faith by the revelation of the son of man. That same spirit that illuminates Jesus now illuminates us. Amen.

    Reply
  9. mike

    silly christians

    dare they say the Ezekiel was a false-prophet?

    ezek 37:12

    Reply

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