Thursday, September 02, 2004
"Pretribulation Rapture Not Scriptural," Says Theology Prof
Looks like the Mullah Billdoug's blog is popular reading material at today's top (Christian) theological seminaries, if the email we just received is any indication!
Professor Chromgas Restek of Ecumenical Theological Seminar in Liberal, Kansas, writes:
Dear Mullah Billdoug,
You're the greatest! All my colleagues and I regularly turn to you for spiritual guidance in these trying times. I know you're a Muslim and we're Christians, but this is, after all, the Ecumenical Theological Seminary, in Liberal, Kansas!
Anyway, I wanted to correct one point in a recent post. I'm not sure whose reporting it was, but the writer of the piece on the Christian Coalition and "Rapture" seems to have taken the various fundamentalists' assumptions for granted that the "Rapture" would come before the end-times, before what's commonly known as the "tribulation." According to conservative fundamentalists, the Rapture will be the first sign that the tribulation is beginning. This is utterly unscriptural, and the conservative traditions that have grown up around the misreading are thus theologically absurd.
The actual passage in 1 Thessalonians 4, which Christian Coalition President Combs cited in the piece, reads: "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thess 4:16-17).
Note the sequence of events: (1) Jesus descends, (2) the dead are resurrected, and (3) those still alive are taken up (the Rapture). In the Book of Revelation, all three of these events follow the tribulation. If we want to be Scriptural about the Rapture, we have to assume that it will happen to those who are still alive after the angels of the apocalypse have destroyed the heavens and the earth. Hard to imagine who might survive that, but then, the apocalyptic passages in the New Testament never were strong on narrative continuity.
The pretribulation Rapture was, in fact, a Puritan invention--in seventeenth-century America. The great thing about the idea is that it makes the idea of the end-times much more attractive to Christians. If everybody's going to be suffering, it's best to hope the end won't come in your lifetime! But if you're among the elect--and all readers of Tim LaHaye's idiotic Left Behind series clearly expect to be--then you will be taken out of the world before the suffering begins. Whew!
Anyway, just wanted to let you know about that. Keep up the good work, and look out for angels bearing swords!
Chromgas Restek, LLD
Professor of New Testament Studies
Ecumenical Theological Seminary
I must admit, a little red in the face, that I was the one reporting on that Christian Coalition press release, and didn't think to challenge Rebecca Combs's Scriptural authority. The Mullah Billdoug, had he been in town, certainly would have noticed! Thanks, Dr. Restek, for straightening us out!