Lya Kahlo posted The Rapture is Crapture, part 1 at God4suckers.net, and part the second at her blog.
I can only say D'oh!, because I know a thing or two about this nonsense (I once read, in the days of my baroque meritocracy, Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth, a primer for Rapturees). So let's proceed to break this apart. Why? Because there's far more to it than meets the eye.
So, as Samuel L. Jackson said in Jurassic Park: "Hold onto your butts."
First, comes the Apostasy:
"Christians often quote the prophecy in 2 Thessalonians about a coming apostasy:
"Let no one in any way deceive you, for that day cannot come without the coming of the apostasy first, and the appearing of the man of sin, the son of perdition, who sets himself against;" (2 Thessalonians 2:3 NASB/WEY).
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints(Mormons) believe that this foretold apostasy, "The Great Apostasy," began with the death of the early apostles and continued into the early nineteenth century.
The apostasy can alternatively be interpreted as the pre-tribulation Raptureof the Church. This is because apostasy means departure (translated so in the first seven English translations). Dr. Thomas Ice, Pre-Trib Perspective, March 2004, Vol.8, No.11.
Signs of apostasy vary widely among many Christian denominations, the most common include:
1. Denial of the Trinity and the deity of Christ;
2. Denial of the deity of the Holy Spirit;
3. Denial of moral absolutes, as found in the Bible;
Some denominations quote Jude and Titus 3:10 saying that an apostate or heretic needs to be "rejected after the first and second admonition." In Roman Catholicism, apostasy is among the offences, which bring automatic excommunication.
In the first centuries of the Christian era, apostasy was most commonly induced by persecution, and was indicated by some outward act, such as offering incense to a heathen deity or blaspheming the name of Christ. (The readmission of such apostates to the church was a matter that occasioned serious controversy.) The emperor Julian's "Apostasy" is discussed under Julian. In the Roman Catholic Church the word is also applied to the renunciation of monastic vows (apostasis a monachatu), and to the abandonment of the clerical profession for the life of the world (apostasis a clericatu). Such defection was formerly often punished severely."
I'd say that the 21st CE covers this adequately.
Then comes the Tribulation (bear with me - this gets somewhat confusing, unless people wear badges)
"The Tribulation (or "Great Tribulation") is an event referred to in the New Testament of the Bible at Matthew 24:21 ("For then shall be great tribulation..." - King James Version) and other passages.
In the futurism view of Christian eschatology, the Tribulation is a relativelyshort period of time where believers will experience worldwide persecution and be purified and strengthened by it. This view was introduced to the modern church by "John Nelson Darby, the father of "dispensationalism, became widely accepted through the notes in the "Scofield Reference Bible of 1909, and was recently popularized through the novel "Left Behind and its sequels.
In the Christian "preterist view the Tribulation took place inthe past when Roman legions destroyed "Jerusalem and its temple in 70 CE, and it affected the Jewish people rather than all mankind. This is a minority view that is growing in influence among certain scholars and theologians.
In the Christian historicist view also, the Tribulation came upon the Jewish people, beginning in 70 CE. An historicist approach was taken by Martin Luther and John Calvin, and prevailed among Protestants from the Reformationuntil the rise of dispensationalism. Some modern historicists see the Tribulation as continuing upon the Jews through the centuries, perhaps culminating in the "Holocaust, and ending with the restoration of the state of Israel or the return of Jerusalem to Jewish control.
The Dispensationalist or Futurist View
While it is considered a period of immense suffering and sacrifice, greater than anything before in history, believers are promised strong faith and powers to help them endure and prevail. Persecution is attributed to the believers rebelling against the "Antichrist and his regime.
The Tribulation is generally thought to occur before the Second Coming of Jesus and the end of the world. Some Christians believe that it will last seven years in all, usually divided into two periods of 3.5 years each. Others believe it is for only a 3.5-year period. The time period for these beliefs is based on the phrases found several places in the book of Daniel, time, times, and half a time," interpreted as "a year, two years, and half a year," and the book of "Revelation, "a thousand two hundred and threescore days" and "forty and two months" (the prophetic month averaging 30 days, hence 1260/30 = 42 months or 3.5 years)."
Among Christians who hold a futurist view of the Tribulation, there are differing views about what will happen to Christians during the Tribulation:
·Pretribulationists believe that all Christians then alive will be taken bodily up to Heaven (called the rapture or Parousia) before the Tribulation begins. Those who become Christians after the rapture will live through (or perish during) the Tribulation. After the Tribulation, Christ will return.
·Midtribulationists believe that the rapture of the faithful will occur halfway through the Tribulation, after it begins, but before the worst part of it occurs.
·Posttribulationists believe that Christians will not be taken up into Heaven until Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation. Immediately after the tribulation ... then "shall appear the sign of the Son of Man [Jesus] ... and he shall gather his elect" (Mat.24:29-31). In pretribulationism and midtribulationism, the rapture and the Second Coming (or Greek, paraousia) of Christ are separate events; while in posttribulationism the two events are identical or simultaneous.
Some including many Roman Catholic theologians do not believe in a "time of trouble" period as usually described by tribulationists, but rather that there will be a near utopic period led by the Antichrist
Confused yet? You should be. Cosmic Baskin-Robbins here: We have five thousand-and-THIRTY-ONE flavors of xtianity (all of whom claim everyone else ain't a 'True Christian' excepting themselves - what a surprise!).
At this point, you're probably asking: "Why should I give two figs from the cursed tree?" or "How does this effect me?", or something similar.
It has been observed (both by me, and many, MANY others) that the current administration is making inroads to kick off the 'End Times', or the End of the World - in short, Armageddon.
Witness the ongoing events in the Middle East. We have Israel (who plays a pivotal role in the oft-quoted, little-understood madman's diary known as Revelation), YHVH's 'Chosen People', pitted against its neighbors, we've invaded Iraq (formerly Babylon), and as Lya notes, we are now going after Iran (read: the Persians and Medes - book of Daniel). In the meantime, we are also witnessing Christian Reconstructionism on all scales of life - an effort dedicated to instituting Biblical laws as law of the land.
This can either be interpreted as
You can flip a coin between these two. It matters little.
The major problem, is not so much as folks believing in the Rapture: we need to be on the look-out for Tribulations. We already got the Apostasy (though that may vary from cult to cult): My big worry is that there's people trying to create the Tribulations (which, as illustrated above, will be a tad more than 'difficult' - it's going to be 'Hell on Earth', according to some).
The worst problem we have here is this: all of this bullshit is based on prophecies that never came true, from a false prophet (I effectively demolished the NT here).
Here's a few more amusements for the discerning reader:
A common interpretation that is quite popular is sometimes referred to as the "secret Rapture". Corinthians says Christians will all be transformed in an instant. Thessalonians says Christians will be caught up. Nothing says humans will be caught up in an instant (and disappear instantaneously). According to the Bible, when Jesus returned to heaven his followers saw him go up. When Elijah was taken up Elisha saw him go up. Some views posit that there is no scriptural instance of a person vanishing instantly, which is what the "secret Rapture" interpretation teaches; however, in the Old Testament, Enoch was "raptured" by God instantaneously: "And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God took him" (Genesis 5:24).
In Russ Doughten's A Thief in the Night, the Rapture was depicted as people disappearing. In Left Behind, it was depicted as people disappearing, but leaving their clothes behind in a pile. If they were driving cars, they careen into other cars upon losing their drivers. The view is echoed in the popular bumper sticker which reads "In case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned." While some of these views may have been popular for many years beforehand, there is no doubt that these movies have influenced some people's thinking on the "rapture".
Oh yeah, that don't sound elitist in the least.
"Supporters for this belief generally cite the following primary sources in the New Testament:
·"Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left." (Matthew 24:40-41)
· "[Christ] shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." (Philippians 3:21)
Generally, an elaborate set of predictions about the end times is constructed from these sets of verses, together with various interpretations of the Book of Revelation and the predictions of Christ's return in Matthew 24:30-36. In general, believers in the rapture consider the present to be the end times, and offer interpretations of the various symbolisms in the book of Revelation in terms of contemporary world events."
Oh, and hey! We'll get a wake-up call, folks! Check this out:
God's 40 Day Warning of the Rapture
"A common interpretation that is quite popular is sometimes referred to as the "Dead in Christ". In the Apostle Paul's first letter to the Church at Thessalonica, he told them that before the Rapture would occur an event would take place that would leave no doubt of the impending Rapture:
I Thes. 4:16 "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first."
This is an event that will mimic an event that took place at the time of Jesus' resurrection and is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 27, Verses 52& 53: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which were dead arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."
Known dead people will be brought back to life in a 'spiritual' body and appear to living people in . That is the Gospel account of what happened after Jesus' death, and it is what Paul is empathically explaining to watch for when the end is near.
Additionally the Gospel record that after Jesus was raised from the dead He remained on earth for forty days and then ascended into heaven. According to the "Dead in Christ" theory, Paul is explaining that this is the same sequence of events that will take place at the time of the Rapture of the Church. He is demonstrating that the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven is indisputably linked as a foreshadow to the Rapture of the Church. And, because the Church is called the Body of Christ this is said to be the 'Body of Christ' going up into heaven in both instances.
Paul is also saying that from the time the 'dead in Christ' raise from the dead this time, they will stay on earth for forty days [just like their predecessors did in Matthew 27: 52,53] and then they will be Raptured along with those that are alive and waiting for the fortieth day to arrive. The living are waiting for the fortieth day because they knew the warning sign had taken place forty days prior.
And lastly, Paul sets the timing for both the 'dead in Christ to rise' as well as the Rapture when he says that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the Jewish Feast of First Fruits and ascended forty days later. That interpolates into the 'dead in Christ' will rise this time on the Jewish Feast of First Fruits and the Rapture of the Church will happen forty days later. And all that comes together to say that the warning sign for the Rapture of the Church is the 'dead in Christ' rising on First Fruits, a springtime feast."
I wonder if those are 'prophetic' days, or regular ones, hmmmm?
I tell you what: the dead start walking, I most definitely reconsider my position as an atheist. Either that, or I'll do my impression of 'Shaun of the Dead.' But I'm making a prediction here:
Ain't gonna happen.
Somebody might want to call some of the preterists, and give them a head's up, ey?
I don't know about the rest of you, but my head's spinning with data overload at this juncture.
They say, "Watch the skies." I say: Watch those in power. Closely. An effort's being made to make our lives entirely miserable.