Posts Tagged ‘Rapture’

Secret Rapture

[S.P.] Tregelles, a member of the [Plymouth] Brethren in those early days [~1830], tells us that the idea of a secret rapture at a secret coming of Christ had its origin in an “utterance” in Edward Irving’s church, and that this was taken to be the voice of the Spirit. Tregelles says, “It was from that supposed revelation that the modern doctrine and the modern phraseology respecting it arose. It came not from Holy Scripture, but from that which falsely pretended to be the Spirit of God.”1S. P. Tregelles, The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming, first published in 1864, and now available at Ambassadors for Christ, Los Angeles, California. This doctrine together with other important modifications of the traditional futuristic view were vigorously promoted by [J.N.] Darby, and they have been popularized by the writings of William Kelly. – George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope, 40-41

Dispensationalism started in the Plymouth Brethern churches in England in the 1800s. One of the most distinctive beliefs of that system is that Jesus will secretly return before The Great Tribulation to remove, or Rapture, his church, i.e. take it out of the world so that God’s wrath can be poured out. Ladd, writing in the 1950s, said that the view was popularized by William Kelly. More recently this view was popularized by Tim LaHaye in his Left Behind series of books.

rapture1992This is the first time that I’ve heard that the teaching of a secret Rapture came from a supposed prophetic utterance. Keep in mind, this is one citation of one man. According to Ladd, Tregelles was a Brethren scholar respected for his work on the Greek New Testament. The “Edward Irving” mentioned was a man who spoke eloquently and widely on the imminence of Jesus’ return but in 1830 he published a tract that asserted that Jesus had a fallen human nature. Tregelles also said that the same “spirit” which gave the utterance was “not owning the true doctrine of our Lord’s incarnation in the same flesh and blood as His brethren, but without taint of sin.” That is, Irwin’s error and it sounds like Tregelles is claiming that the “spirit” that announced a secret return of Jesus also revealed Jesus’ supposed fallen human nature.

If accurate, this does not cast a good light on the origins of Dispensationalism.

1 S. P. Tregelles, The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming, first published in 1864, and now available at Ambassadors for Christ, Los Angeles, California.

Left Behind Too

Previously, I’d cited this verse to explain why it is best to be left behind:

The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth – Matthew 13:41-42

This is what Jesus meant about one being take and one begin left behind in Luke 17:

I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left. – Luke 17:34-35

The context for the Luke quote is that Jesus is comparing the day when Jerusalem will be sacked in 70 A.D. with the days of Noah (see verse 26) or the days of Lot (see verse 28). The judgement will fall swiftly on that unrighteous city and when it does, the wicked will be swept away but the righteous will be spared.

Another verse comes to mind as well that gets at this point and gives it some historical context:

Therefore I am full of the wrath of the LORD;
I am weary of holding it in.
“Pour it out upon the children in the street,
and upon the gatherings of young men, also;
both husband and wife shall be taken,
the elderly and the very aged…” – Jeremiah 6:11

Jeremiah is warning Jerusalem that just as Israel had been carried away in exile, the same is coming upon Judah. Armies from the north would soon sweep down and carry away the rebellious nation. Likewise, Jesus and the Apostles preached and taught the Jews that the generation Jesus faced had never actually gone into exile, that is, they had never learned what God intended them to learn when he sent them into exile in the first place. There may have been Jews in that day who taught that that they were technically still in exile till the Davidic king, the Messiah, would come and that’s why there was a lot of expectation about the coming of the Messiah in and before Jesus’ day.

But Jesus repeatedly compared the Jews of his day to their fathers who killed the prophets (cf. Matthew 23:29-39). The point is made most strongly when they kill Jesus himself, God incarnate, and yell, “We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15) Jesus never compared them to the chastened Jews who waited in exile for their deliverance such as Daniel or Ezekiel. This is why Jesus used the same turn of phrase as Jeremiah. Jeremiah was condemning the god-hating, prophet-killing sinners of his day and Jesus is doing the same. I think Jesus intended that his hearers would make that same connection.

So how do you avoid being “left behind”? You reject Jesus and kill those he sends. That’s how to make sure you are taken but it is to be taken in judgement.

Rapture Interrupted?

1 John 2:28 reads in part “not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.” I don’t understand how this would work if the Church is raptured, caught up in the air with Him and wisked away from the earth. If, as the bumper sticker reads, your car will be unoccupied in the event of the Rapture, how is it that you might “shrink away from Him”? You’re floating in the air, aren’t you?