The Rapture

timeoutraptureIf you’ve ever heard a train whistle as you’re lying in bed late at night and the first thought through your mind was “The Rapture!”, you may have been a fundamentalist.

To be sure, a fascination with the Rapture is hardly unique to fundamentalists. If nothing else, the wildly popular Left Behind series written by two very non-fundamentalist types attests to that fact. But the fundies have especially honed the skill of using something as glorious and anticipated as Christ’s return to terrorize the living bejeebers out of people.

“When Christ comes back, what will he find you doing?” is the ever-present question. One is forced to wonder whether fundamentalists think that Christ can’t see what everyone is doing right now and will have to actually show up in the flesh to set things straight. The fact that those sinners then be made perfect and get to avoid judgment is sort of forgotten in all this.

The worst of this is the notion that when the Rapture happens there may be people who will be unsaved and die in Tribulation fire because a fundamentalists shirked his duty and didn’t witness. Our sovereign God is evidently quite hampered by such human shortcomings. And to make things worse, fundamentalists teach that once the Rapture happens there will be no more chance for repentance for anyone who has heard the gospel. This is all found in Scripture somewhere or another but it’s hard to pin down just where.

As for all the Rapture-deniers out there, it’s likely you aren’t even saved and won’t know what hit you when that great trumpet blows and your airplane crashes because your pilot has been whisked away. Enjoy!

27 thoughts on “The Rapture”

  1. I was brought up Pre-trib, but always had questions that couldn’t be answered. Most of it was a combination of Rapture and age of accountability, like would babies be raptured? and if not, because they were below the age of accountability would they have the possiblity of being saved during the tribulation?

    These questions went to human free will too, what choice do these kids have before the age of accountability? If raptured they never accepted Christ, if not and condemned to never being saved, they were below the age of accountability, what choice do they have?

    Ironically, the idea of free will was what put the first crack in my fundy armor. I have always been analytical and the different doctrines just didn’t line up correctly. I realize not everyone turns into a calvinist after fundamentalism, and in fact I would still consider myself a historic Fundamentalist.

    Now I am just Ranting, sorry. Here is the article that changed my view on Pre-Trib:
    http://www.apostolic.net/biblicalstudies/post/index.htm
    Totally blew my mind. Now I am what might be called Historic Pre-mil. Not quite seeing A-mil, at least not yet…

  2. And all those people you could have witnessed to but didn’t, when the time comes in Heaven all the Christians will be in a big arena with all the unsaved throughout time sitting on the field. And as each individual’s fate is read, all the Christians that could have witnessed to that person but didn’t will be ushered onto the field to pick the lost soul up personally and throw him to his everlasting punishment, and they’ll return to their seats with the person’s literal blood on their hands. This will go on for as long as it takes to judge the sum total of lost souls throughout history.

    And if that doesn’t make the eternally redeemed sad, the jumbotron will then be lowered, and before the ransomed can pass into New Jerusalem, each saint will be called down to the field, and every sin they ever committed will be played in glorious 30-foot-wide High Def video for all the rest of the saved to mourn over. (Incidentally, this means it would be a great thing to be the last person saved, the last person on the proverbial checklist, after which God would say, “Yup, that’s the last of them. Time to rapture the world!”, since no one else would be there to view all that person’s sins.) And, of course, if you believe “This was your life!” from that bastion of theology, Jack Chick, you’ll be entirely naked throughout the process, too.

    Having thus pitched his boss, neighbor, and even unsaved child into hell, then having 75 years worth of dirty laundry aired for the universe to see, presumably God would not say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” but perhaps something more like “You really made a mess of your life, but I guess I’ll let you in. Just don’t track dirt onto the carpet.”

    Some Fundies, especially Fundy “evangelists” (good news? Nah, let’s make it all bad news!) have no concept of what it really means to be forgiven, or of the patience and mercy of God towards sinners that he is calling, or apparently the holiness of God, to think that a saved person’s sins would be broadcast in heaven before the place apparently became completely sanctified. And I fear a lot of folks are trusting in a few words said out of fear and it’s courtesy of all these guys who preach just like that.

  3. One of the best posts yet. “The fact that those sinners then be made perfect and get to avoid judgment is sort of forgotten in all this.” Seriously–this occurred to me at some point as a child, and I was confused for years as to why this bothered no one else.

    Another good permutation of Rapturemania–akin to the “pulling a rapture” on someone–is when Rapture folklore combines with fundy conspiracy theories, eg: that all airliners are required (sometimes by federal law, sometimes by corporate policy–the fundies are never sure) to have one non-Christian pilot on board at all times.

    Re. mounty: Yeah, and the blood of the unsaved will be on our hands regardless of the fact that it’s ultimately their own sins that damned them. Fundamentalists have a difficult time seeing the opposite side of their false dichotomies.

    Eschatology was the first of my fundy outposts to fall, partly because of internal inconsistencies and the sheer variety of belief even without fundamentalism (which, lest we forget, is nowhere near monolithic–“separation” guarantees that). partly because I realized at some point that regardless of a person’s eschatological beliefs, we’re all ending up in the same place and it’s going to turn out all right in the end. In my experience, infighting about the Rapture and other assorted traditions is just a tool of division.

  4. all airliners are required (sometimes by federal law, sometimes by corporate policy–the fundies are never sure) to have one non-Christian pilot on board at all times.

    YOU MEAN THAT’S NOT TRUE????!!!!ONE!#!!#%!

  5. I have heard stuff like, “Wouldn’t it be sad to meet the Lord with beer on your breath?!” or “Won’t you be embarrassed if the Lord comes back and you’re doing (insert sin here)?!”

  6. I was so scared of the rapture while growing up. I had told people I was saved, but knew I wasn’t (I guess there’s an argument for or against the age of accountability). Anyway, the “two in the field and one taken” verse in Matthew really screwed with me. If I was farming on one of the tractors, and my dad on the other, I would keep an eye on his tractor at all times because I knew he was a real believer. I was so scared he would disappear! I lived in fear for years before it finally dawned on me that I could actually be saved!

    There are more stories than this, but the thing that makes me the saddest is that in church, the pastor would almost always tell us to close our eyes and raise our hands if we were saved. Sometimes he would change it up and ask if we thought we were saved or even if we were unsure. It was always a nervous time for me, hoping to keep the charade going.

    Incidentally, I still think that there is going to be a rapture and a tribulation, but now I’m not worried about either. I’m good to go. And for the record, I do believe we should be telling our friends, which is something that maybe we didn’t understand correctly back in the little church I grew up in.

  7. This is one of the topics I’ve been slightly confused about since my fundy dropping. And still am to some degree. Maybe it’s the fact I’m too lazy to look around about what’s wrong with pre-mil and such.
    So a question I have. Rapture. Biblical? Yea, nay, etc? I’ve just been wondering about it after reading. (These posts make me think and help me realize what I need to change. So with that, great great post) But along with what Dan said, I know I’m “good to go.” So it’s really just a question of curiosity.

  8. Ughh. . . can we say hours and sleepless nights worried that Jesus would come back and I might not have prayed the sinner’s prayer the right way. . or said the right words. Therefore, I constantly prayed, again and again and again and again (and I could keep going.) Not to mention the sad fact that everytime I walked into the house or couldn’t find someone in the house I would totally freak out thinking the rapture had happened and I had been left behind.

    Does this qualify as extreme psychological damage????

    Oh, and I also heard the “what if Jesus came back and you were doing (insert sin or made up sin here)?”

  9. I remember being absolutely amazed the first time I read Article 37 of the Belgic Confession, the last sentence in particular:

    “Therefore, with good reason the thought of this judgment is horrible and dreadful to wicked and evil people. But it is very pleasant and a great comfort to the righteous and elect, since their total redemption will then be accomplished. They will then receive the fruits of their labor and of the trouble they have suffered; their innocence will be openly recognized by all; and they will see the terrible vengeance that God will bring on the evil ones who tyrannized, oppressed, and tormented them in this world…In contrast, the faithful and elect will be crowned with glory and honor. The Son of God will “confess their names” before God his Father and the holy and elect angels; all tears will be “wiped from their eyes”; and their cause– at present condemned as heretical and evil by many judges and civil officers– will be acknowledged as the “cause of the Son of God.” And as a gracious reward the Lord will make them possess a glory such as the heart of man could never imagine. So we look forward to that great day with longing in order to enjoy fully the promises of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

    Growing up in fundamentalism, the “Rapture” and final judgment were something to be feared and a tool for manipulation by every fundy preacher around (interesting how they’re called “Preacher,” not “Pastor” – there’s a topic for you, Darrell, assuming you haven’t already done it!). On the contrary, they should be something to look forward to with joy and comfort, knowing that the redeemed have no condemnation to fear!

  10. Re. Dan and RJW: I’m with y’all. I have no idea how many times those same things happened to me, the difference being that even when I was saved the Rapture scared me to death. Spending a day in an empty house or showing up somewhere alone still gives me the creeps occasionally. I shocked my friends in Sunday School as a child by declaring I’d rather die than be raptured.

    Re. Amanda: In my experience, Fundy preachers almost invariably prefer “Pastor.” I prefer “preacher” for strictly etymological reasons, as “pastor” is Latin for “shepherd” and there is only one shepherd of the Church. I’ve heard one preacher in particular begin each sermon with “My name is Pastor John Doe,” as if his title is his first name. Of course, once they get their honorary doctorate from a nearby church Bible college, they shift it to the end of their name, thus: Dr. John Doe, Pastor.

    Just won’t let it go.

  11. Jordan, I’ve heard it both ways, so I suppose it varies from church to church and pastor/preacher to pastor/preacher (or maybe from subbranch of fundamentalism to subbranch?). Some prefer to be addressed as “Pastor” and others as “Preacher” (as in “Preacher John” or “Last Sunday Preacher said…”). You’ll have to pardon me; I have a rather unhealthy fascination with how people use language!

  12. Ditto on the fascination. The way people use (or abuse) language says a lot about them. I think it may depend on region, too, as I can think of a lot of rural southern preachers (albeit non-fundies) who prefer “preacher,” while the highfalutin’ fundy lot coming through institutions of higher learning like BJ tend to prefer “pastor.”

  13. Pastor: one who shepherds his flock.
    Preacher: one who shouts at his flock.

    That’s my set of definitions, and I’ve seen far more fundy preachers than fundy pastors. Just sayin’.

  14. This is an older post, but I found it following “Random Posts” and had to comment. The first time I went to the movies was two days before my wedding with my fiance. We saw “A Clear and Present Danger”, and it was SO fun to see something on a huge screen, but I was scared that the Rapture would happen while we were in there and I would be ashamed because I was in the movie theater! I also used to be scared as a child if the house was unusually quiet and empty; what if I hadn’t “trusted right” and had been left behind?

  15. I’ve been out of IFB for 8 years now. But some things really stick with you. 2 summers ago I was on a wilderness trip with my church youth group because they needed a female leader. The first day was rough. While waiting for the girls to change in the tent, I fell asleep laying on a rock (yes, I was that tired). When I woke up, no one else was at the campsite. I walked around looking for the others but couldn’t find them. I started freaking out. I thought the rapture happened and I was left because I wasn’t really saved. Then it occurred to me that I was out in the middle of no where and I didn’t know how to get back to civilization. I was near the point of tears when I saw a couple of them walking upstream from a place lower downstream where there was a better place to swim and have fun. They had been wondering where I was. What a relief. While it was traumatic then, it’s pretty funny now.

  16. I am no longer IBF and neither is my dad, but my mom still is. He and I were talking about the amazing possibility of finding another earth like planet for humanity to migrate to, my mom started getting annoyed and said that would never happen and wont be neccessary as the rapture will have already taken place. It makes me really sad for all those bought into this becase they cant think or wonder about other possibilities or be excited about the new technology and knowledge about space that we are gathering.

  17. Let’s imagine for instance that the Rapture is not the same thing as dying. When Jesus Returns he’s going to rapture people up? okay so why Is Jesus Returning? Now when we are whisked away out imperfections in our bodies will fall out, somehow. And our perfected form will be shot up into the galaxy. This has got to be the most unscientific thing I’ve ever heard. For instance if the believer has a cancerous cell that’s mutated into his lungs, it therefore means the corruption will go through his body and fall to the ground? or wait, is it only the soul that is caught up in the air leaving the body left behind? If that’s so, isn’t that just the same as Dying? now I’m pretty sure there aren’t too many people who believe in the rapture, and Fundies never mention it when they witness to people. So how is someone saved if this is an important believe for believers to have? Now let’s talk about the truth behind this myth. Will saved air plane pilots really be sent into heaven? John Hagee has made this comment that when the saved are raptured into heaven there will be much calamity in our public system. How many people are saved? Billions of people? Or just a select few million? how many of these saved people really would be flying airplanes? or doing anything important. Most Fundies refuse to commit themselves to any real service in public life, how can this affect our system at any point of the like of fashion they insist it will be? More or less the old saints who anticipated things happening in the sky saw visions of 9/11 and the plane crash in nevada. Maybe you can’t find the bodies intact but I’m sure those victims were not raptured and if so, they weren’t called up at the same time. The more likely scenario is that faithful saints of the past made certain predictions relating to visions they must have had, which they didn’t fully understand. These visions and occurances are happening every day. But are not necessarily from a story book. Columbine, the massacres in Oslo, the suicide bombers in Iraq… these are prophecies unraveling before our eyes. The Church is blinded by this false doctrine. The saints all die in their own time and dispensation. the Dispensation of Grace is dying off with the greatest generation of American and the world’s history. The world war 2 generation. But the dispensation of grace is still on all God’s people as God does not change. Dispensations change according to the award of the generation which inherits it. What we are seeing happen in our world is the fruition of Christianity which preaches the false doctrine of the rapture. By their fruts ye shall know them… Aliester Crowley, Charles Manson, Dave Hyles, Maryln Manson, and many more evil wicked people are the fruits of the labour of this Church of Smyrna, which the Lord Christ has warned us against. As the saints are dying in their time Christ is sending his Holy Angels to bring us towards the tribulation period, and the Judgement. Most Christian Jobs have been replaced with China, India, and the lower class jobs are being taken by Mexican Catholics. None of which would believe in the rapture. There is seven billion people in the planet. And none of which will be affected when Christians start dying in mass graves. If you are teh Elect you will come to find out the truth. This Rapture teaching is a doctrine of the Antichrist and will be used to decieve many.

  18. “And to make things worse, fundamentalists teach that once the Rapture happens there will be no more chance for repentance for anyone who has heard the gospel. This is all found in Scripture somewhere or another but it’s hard to pin down just where.”

    When I was ordained, one of the old guys on the council (a well known fundy author & speaker in the FBF style) went on for a good 10 minutes because I wouldn’t come out and affirm this. I said I didn’t have any scripture to say what defined an effective “hearing of the gospel” prior to the “rapture” because the heavens declare God’s glory. On that basis, everyone has “heard.” He started pulling out the standard stuff from 2 Thessalonians, but I said I wasn’t convinced that his one verse meant what he thought it meant. Finally the pastor cut off the uncomfortable discussion with “I think he’s made his point clear. Let’s move on.” The old guy died a couple years later, so he got to avoid the “rapture” anyway.

  19. Dear SFL Readers,

    The photo is hilarious!

    It raises several serious theological questions for me though, that perhaps someone could help me with.

    If you get raptured and your clothes get left behind, does that mean we’re gonna be nekkid in heaven in front of all our Christian friends? Wouldn’t that be worldly and give occasion to the flesh?

    Some say we’re gonna be instantly wearing white robes. Would that make the raptured men cross-dressers since they would no longer be wearing that which pertaineth unto two-legged creatures? And what if the women’s bra straps showed through the white fabric? Wouldn’t that be immodest?

    If a baby or toddler is raptured, would they leave behind their poopy diaper for their heathen parents to clean up? Would they be given an eternally fresh, self-changing diaper to wear in heaven under their little white robe? After all, we don’t want anyone messing on the streets of gold 😉 !

    1. I can’t answer any of your excellent questions, but I read recently that the Hoja Santa plant (Piper auritum, also known as the Root Beer Plant) is called that because Mexicans say that Mary used to hang Baby Jesus’ freshly-washed diapers to dry on an Hoja Santa bush.

      Somehow that factoid seems appropriate here.

      1. Awesome factoid, and very appropriate for the time of year. Even inspired me in a little song.

        Away in a manger, no crib for a bed.
        The Little Lord Jesus, he must have breastfed!
        I’m sure he did some crying in the middle of the night,
        For wonderful Jesus understands our plight.

        With diapers and burp clothes Mary took care of him,
        For Little Lord Jesus was fully human.
        When his tummy was too full, he spit up his milk,
        For he’d not read Pearl, Ezzo, or any of their ilk!

        He probably laughed when he pulled Joseph’s beard,
        For Little Lord Jesus, to his heart he was dear.
        He ran, and he played, and he got tired too,
        For wonderful Jesus, he understands you!

        Okay, Mary probably didn’t have diapers and burp clothes as we know them today, but I think swaddling clothes would have been pretty close.

        1. Corny, I know, but the phrase about “No crying he makes” in the original has always bothered me.

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