The Rapture Files

Well, the paper has been graded and I got a favorable response and critique from the professor.  I am actually quite happy, as I have managed to earn A’s in all four of my classes from this spring.  That is no small feat and I feel very blessed at the return on all of the hard work that has been put in so far.  I am just over halfway now to my MA in Religion and I am now starting a class that is an intensive study of the book of Isaiah.  I love it already.

In any event, some have asked about the paper that I did for my theology class regarding the rapture.  I have converted the paper to a PDF file using OpenOffice so that anyone should be able to read it at will.  The Rapture of the Church Research Paper.  Just click on the link and enjoy.  I will say that I am aware of a few shortcomings in the paper already.  It was not as comprehensive as I would have like to be due to time and space contraints, but I think it makes for an interesting discussion starter.  Let me know what you think in the comments and we can have a friendly discussion about the return of the Lord and the rapture of His people.

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Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, End Times, Prophecy, Signs of the Times, theology | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “The Rapture Files

  1. i AM DOING A BIT SO SOUL SEARCHING AFTER READING YOUR PAPER.

  2. Is it me, or did dispensationalism bring with it a Holier than thou, wiser than thou attitude to the church. I feel it has been very destructive, but i could just be bitter. The dispensational charts were in many of the churches i was asked to leave. It definitely has a Gnostic taste. What made you look past the teachings of your youth?

  3. Will,
    It took a long time for me to take a new look at this stuff. My grandmother taught me a lot of things about the Bible and she was an adamant dispensationalist. And I have a lot of respect for my grandmother as a student of God’s Word and devoted believer. The beginning rumbles came in discussions with my former boss, who had wandered off of the mainstream Christian reservation a few years back and delved into what closely resembles the current Messianic Jewish movement.

    I poked and prodded at his views for almost a year before we moved here and I still talk to him on the phone frequently. He even makes the random comment here on the blog. The upshot of it is that I started to take a fresh look at the Scriptures without some of my long held notions. The first nail in the dispensational coffin for me was the realization that there was no such thing as an “age of Law” versus an “age of Grace.” God isn’t schizophrenic. He has always been a God of grace and love from the beginning and His plan for redemption didn’t start with Jesus death on the cross, it was brought to fullness there, but that is a different thing. All of those statements about Abraham being justified in the same way that we are really started to make me think differently and I no longer could see a bunch of dispensations or ages of God working in different means.

    I need to get some more of my thoughts put together that didn’t make the paper and improve a couple of things. My prof pointed out that I created some strawman arguments for the premill view and I want to fix that. Which means of course that I would love to discuss it with any premill folks that wander through here as well.

  4. Jeff,

    Sorry I haven’t been around here much recently. My “tent making trade” has picked up a little and put me so far behind in my blog reading. I did keep all of yours unread, however, so I could come back to them. 😉

    I’ve pulled down the doc so I can read it.

    I would love to get the strawman arguments that your professor gave for the premill view.

    One of the things that I’ve struggled with is terminology, not having been to any sort of Bible college or formal education in the Bible. All of my knowledge has been from my own studies and through supplemental books and teachers. As a result, I would love to talk more about this entire subject however it ends up, either via comments or posts, etc.

    God bless, my brother!

  5. Joe,
    You do very well in the studies I have read at your blog. Don’t let the notion that you have had no formal training in Bible study make you fell inadequate. You have the Holy Spirit as your guide and you will do just fine. I really enjoy reading your blog (although I am behind on that as well at the moment). Let me know what your thoughts on the rapture paper are in the comments here and we can have a good discussion if you would like.
    I may not have communicated it well in my earlier comment, but the strawman arguments are in my paper. The prof felt like I underplayed the premill position too much. I was honestly trying to portray it the way I had learned it growing up, but I would welcome those who can give it a better fleshing out since my convictions are no longer in that vein as much.

  6. Jeff,

    Just ran across this post at Bible Prophecy Today blog. I think it explains the pre-trib view quite well.

    Would love to get your thoughts on it.

  7. Joe,
    I managed to read it and I do have some comments, but it might take me a day or two to post them. My folks are visiting this week and I have been staying busy with them.

  8. Joe,
    I am going to have to tackle this thing in stages. I have a paper due on Sunday and I am winding it down, so I will take a quick stab at a couple of things.
    When Jesus told His disciples that the Temple would be completely flattened they assumed that it would happen at the final judgment of God (I am actually working on one of these judgment passages in Isaiah for my paper as I type this) and asked their questions reflecting that understanding. Obviously, they were wrong in their assumptions, but Jesus didn’t correct them in any way that we can see. So, is he answering their question about when the Temple will get flattened or about when the final judgment will take place? I would also point out that it is curious for them to ask about a sign of His coming when He is standing there with them. It is apparent that they are asking more than we might realize on first glance, but I think the answers need more than what this guy has given.
    Two quick issues I have with his comments:

    It was this astonishment that led to their questions. They didn’t know anything about a Church Age that would cause a 2000 year pause in Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy. Most of us today don’t understand that the Church Age didn’t end the Age of Law, it has just interrupted it. How could they have understood it? (The fact that the Age of Law hasn’t ended explains why there will be a Temple erected in Israel soon. Israel needs one to complete the final 7 years.)

    This doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think it is novel that he understands that the Law has not come to an end, yet thinks that God has “put it on pause” somehow. What in the world does that mean? This is part of my growing frustration with dispensational thinking. I will have to take some serious time to flesh this problem out more.

    So why is the Olivet Discourse even in the New Testament if it’s not for the Church? There are several good reasons. First it gives the Church some early warning signals we can use to know how close we’re getting to our departure. The birth pangs serve as “nearness indicators” in that the more frequently they occur the closer we are. Also, throughout the entire Church Age the signs the Lord gave to Israel have not been in evidence, primarily because until 1948 there was no Israel. This is what makes the re-birth of the nation the pre-imminent sign that the End Times are upon us.

    Second, the absence of any reference to the Church shows us that we won’t be here during the time He was talking about.

    And third it shows Tribulation believers both inside and outside of Israel what to look for to help maintain their faith that He’s coming to end their ordeal.

    With all due respect to this author, these three points are nonsense. The Olivet discourse is in the Bible because the disciples asked Jesus the question and felt it important enough to include the answer. God placed it there for our benefit so that He would be proved right when these things take place.
    Second, the idea that the absence of the word “church” in this discourse means the church is not present during the tribulation is simply wishful thinking. Arguments from silence are tricky things to say the least and the whole notion that God wouldn’t allow his church to undergo tribulation is currently being disproved in any number of countries hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ today.
    His third point is at least half right, except for his assertion that it is only for Tribulation believers comfort. It is for all believers past, present and future. He spoke these words to His disciples for their benefit as well as for ours.

    That is a couple of quick thoughts from me. I gotta get some sleep and get this paper done. I will try and add a few more comments or answer any questions or comments you might have to add as soon as I can.

  9. I have a couple more comments to add to this now.

    Seen from this perspective it’s clear that the Olivet Discourse is not about the Church. It’s the account of the Jewish Messiah speaking on the Mt. Of Olives to His Jewish followers about the future of Israel. To underscore the point, in Matt. 24:15 He made reference to a Jewish Temple and in Matt. 24:16 He spoke of Old Covenant followers in Judea, the Biblical name for Israel, at the End of the Age. Only observant Jews would be unable to flee on a Sabbath. These are the only specific references to a people group in the entire passage. They both point to Israel and they’re both written in the 2nd person (v. 15, when you see … v.20, pray that your flight … ), indicating that the Lord considered the disciples to be representative of Israel. To place the Church in the Olivet Discourse is to make a fundamental error in interpretation. (Only the pre-Trib Rapture position avoids this error.)

    With all due respect, this is terrible exegesis. Verse 20 about the flight not taking place on Sabbath, also mentions winter. Is there some religious significance for the Jews regarding winter that I am unaware of? In fact, the winter would be the best time for the Jews as there are no Scripturally mandated observances that take place during winter at all, so this is weak grounds for this argument altogether.
    Additionally, why would he assert that Jesus viewed the disciples as representative of Israel when they were in fact the foundation of the church. This is contradictory and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. I think excluding anyone from paying attention to the Olivet discourse is a much greater error than simply trying to include the church in it. The discourse is intended for all of God’s people.

  10. Naomi

    A most interesting blog! After wondering about the origin of the pretribulation (pretrib) rapture view, I went to search engines and typed in ‘pretrib rapture” (and variations) and learned that one researcher popped up and was cited constantly: journalist/historian Dave MacPherson who has focused on the same origin for several decades. Recently I noted, while glancing at the “Powered by Christ Ministries” site, his article entitled “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” (a more stunning piece of documentation on rapture roots I have never found!). It details long hidden evidence about Darby, Scofield, and present-day teachers such as Thomas Ice that either has been overlooked by scholars or else deliberately covered up – reports of huge amounts of plagiarism, revisionism of early “rapture” documents, various personal scandals, etc. which normally would have great bearing on the rapture debate, considering Timothy’s qualifications for church leaders! Naturally I checked out MacPherson’s background and reputation and found “Scholars Weigh My Research” on Google etc. If only 10 percent of his findings are valid, it would still seem to constitute one of the most awful scandals in Christianity’s history, as I see it. I mean, we can argue over interpretation and even aspects of church history, but who on earth can defend plain old stealing? The more I’ve checked into all this, the more I’ve found deliberate attempts by some really big names to cover up evidence or muddy it up. I would like to see a team of scholars examine MacPherson’s evidence and weigh it fairly. Just because the pretrib view is obviously more comforting, and just because well-known names have taught it, does all this prove that it is Biblical and supported by church history? (In this regard, Google “Famous Rapture Watchers.”) As an example of items that really make me wonder, World Net Daily reported that the school that gave Ice his Ph.D was fined by the state of Texas for illegally issuing degrees! (See the above article “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” on the “Powered by Christ Ministries” site.) If there has been deliberate deception and other dishonesty in the rapture debate, isn’t it past time to get all of this sorted out and aired? Naomi

  11. Naomi,
    Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your comments. My questioning regarding the pretrib view came about pretty slowly and is mostly focused on the biblical evidence for or against, so I haven’t looked into much detail about the who or why of the origin of the doctrine. I am interested in checking out some of the information that you mentioned, but will have to wait for a little break in my classes to dig further.

  12. Pingback: Harold Camping -Twice Bitten and Still Not Shy « Jeofurry's Jesus Journey

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