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The Rapture

Does it square with Lutheran theology?

These days the Rapture captures a lot of press. In April I was asked to lead an adult Sunday school class on the creeds. The week before the class, 60 Minutes II aired Barbara R. Rossing's criticism of the Rapture (and the "Left Behind" books written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins). Rossing, a professor at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, is author of The Rapture Exposed (Westview Press, 2004).

That took me back to the early 1980s when, as a physics professor, I participated on a panel discussion during threats of nuclear destruction. There I encountered students who claimed no moral responsibility and felt they would be swept away harmlessly from any earthly destruction. They had no commitment to saving or preserving the Earth for those to come. I was shocked. The encounter left me more concerned with how people think within the world today and less about my personal salvation.

Rossing criticizes Rapture theology while LaHaye and Jenkins reinforce the kind of thinking of those students I encountered. The underlying theology of the Rapture is one of fear rather than love. The vengeful Jesus separating the righteous from the unrighteous promotes a theology of glory rather than a theology of the cross.

The creeds address incorrect beliefs or heresies of the times in which they were created. I say the Rapture is such a heresy. The Rapture relieves humans of thinking about more than themselves: If one does some particular thing (a good work, something opposed to Martin Luther's thinking) like forcing one's self to believe a particular thing, that person will be swept harmlessly away from all difficulty. Clearly this isn't Luther's theology of the cross. Rather, we should be highly concerned and should sacrifice ourselves for those who are to come. Do we not today borrow the Earth from our children?

I challenge you, like I did my Sunday school class, to write a creed that addresses the heresies today. You, like me, may find Luther's insights to be a gift from God.


Comments

David Church

David Church

Posted at 11:25 am (U.S. Eastern) 10/2/2007

THE HAL LINDSEY-TIM LEHAYE DOCTRINE OF THE RAPTURE IS NECESSARY FOR THOSE BELIEVING IN THE TWO PEOPLE OF GOD THEORY, NAMELY THEOLOGIANS OF THE DISPENSATIONAL SCHOOLS SUCH AS DALLAS. THE SECRET RAPTURE TAKES PLACE SO THAT THE CHURCH IS REMOVED SO GOD CAN FINISH HIS LAST SEVEN YEARS OF DEALINGS WITH THE NATION OF ISRAEL. A SECRET RAPTURE WITH THE SHOUT OF THE ARCHANGELIC, THE BLOWING OF THE TRUMPET OF GOD, AND WHERE EVERY EYE SHALL SEE HIM? NOT SO SECRET. BUT THERE ARE BOOKS AND MORE BOOKS TO SELL, PROFITS TO BE MADE,ZIONISM DEFENDED AND DISPENSENSATIONALISM WITH IT'S WATERED DOWN GOSPEL KEEPS ON TRODDING ON THE TRUTH.

Web Manager

Web Manager

Posted at 1:26 pm (U.S. Eastern) 10/2/2007

Please practice good netiquette and use proper capitalization. ALL-CAPS is the Web equivalent of SHOUTING.

Dee Ziemann

Dee Ziemann

Posted at 11:38 am (U.S. Eastern) 3/19/2008

I completely believe in the creeds, as they are written.  I think Bruce Ackerson is missing the point.  The Rapture is just one more example of God protecting his true believers.  There are hundreds of other examples in the Bible.  The book of Revelation shows us Gods ultimate examples of Grace, Mercy and his Love for man.  The reality is unbelievers do matter to God.  I urge you to think about the Prophesy, as written, in Revelation not as a time of torment but, as a time of salvation.  The theology of the Rapture is grace and mercy so that no one will perish, not about Jesus being vengeful.  Everybody has the free will to choose God over themselves.  Belief not good works is what is important here.  According to Jesus what truly matters to God is our Love for him.   How we treat our neighbors shows our true love for God (and this is where you get the good works).  If you are forcing yourself to do something for someone else, I ask do you truly love that person.  God knows what is truly in your heart; this is not something you can hide from him.    I ask you to think about Gods patience with us as we continue to hit the snooze alarm.  WAKE UP!     Think about true believers in the Bible Abraham, Noah, Moses, the list goes on and on.  God does not abandon them.  God shows them grace, mercy and love.  My goal in Life is to be a true believer.  Anything else I do is just fluff.

Revkume

Revkume

Posted at 3:38 pm (U.S. Eastern) 6/9/2009

Agree with Rossings statement that the Rapture Theology is a Racket, but strongly disagree with her unfounded, universalistic theology, prevalent in many liberal theological schools.

The creeds do discuss the end times, but maybe not the popular American view of the end times promoted in American Religiosity.

The real issues is how one approaches Scripture. As some of the posters stated above, there is a lot of speculation and thought that comes into their view of the Bible, and that influences their teachings of the end times.  Agree with you whole heartedly to study what Luthera says not only about the end times, but about Christ Jesus who gave His life that we may have eternal life!

Wanda

Wanda

Posted at 10:40 pm (U.S. Eastern) 7/10/2010

I am not clear on the Evangelical Lutheran belief or disbeleif of the Rapture.  How is this explained to the Lutheran in Revelations?

Rick Mason

Rick Mason

Posted at 7:30 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/31/2011

A key to Rossing's opposition to Rapture theory is that it is non-Scriptural. The classic texts cited in support of an "evangelical" sytle rapture have been mis-read. In 1 Thess. there is no mention of Jesus doing a "u-turn" & taking believers back to heaven. Instead the Greek verb translated "meet" literally means that believers join Jesus in the clouds & accompany him the rest of the way to the earth.

In Matthew, Jesus talks about 1 worker being swept away & 1 left behind & compares it to what happened in the days of Noah. So, who was "swept away" & who was "left behind" in The Flood? The evil were swept away & Noah & his family were left behind. This is the exact opposite of Rapture theory.



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