An Open Letter to all of the Rapture Theorists in the Worldwide Evangelical Community.
One suggestion; Stop the nonsense.
As one could have told William Miller in 1842/43, and one could have told Evangelicals in 1888, 1892, 1904, 1914-17 (along with thousands of Watchtower adherents), and again in 1939, then in 1941, 1963, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1981, 1984, 1988, Whisenant in 1990/92, Camping in 1994, others in 2000, 9/11/2001...Jesus did not return to rapture the church. Nor will Jesus return in the next year, or the year after, nor in the next 5 years, 10, 15, or 20 years. Jesus will not return in our lifetime.
Evangelical Christianity has a history of making claims about the rapture, even claims that Jesus could rapture the church "tonight!" All claims for the last 180 years have been false, erroneous, and have rendered Christians severely noncredible, incredible, and incredulous.
Of course, you might say, it only takes one correct prophetic proclamation to wipe the slate clean. So if someone made the claim today that Jesus could come tomorrow and then, if tomorrow He did come to rapture the church, you think you have made your point and won the day, if not the argument? If that did happen, I would concede the argument. What will the Rapture Theorists do if it doesn't happen? What will they concede? They have begged the question very neatly with their Imminency Doctrine. But that ignores the trail of woe "left behind" in its wake from such a false expectation.
For the last 180 years, false prophets in the evangelical community (I am not talking about cults now) have been telling their congregations to get ready cause Jesus could come this year, etc. But Jesus did not come. So the question remains, if He did not come, could he have done so? Well, our Lord can do whatever God ordains that he should do. The issue is not what is Christ capable of doing? The issue is what has God ordained for Christ to do in the future? What is the prophetic witness of Scripture concerning the future? What if there is more to God's prophetic plan than meets the evangelical imminent eye? What if there is not merely more, but What? What if the whole prophetic scheme of the Rapture Theorists is seriously askew and unbiblical?
180 years of false hope is prima facie evidence that the rapture theory is askew, and therefore not what the word of God teaches. Dispensationalists have been expecting the rapture at any moment for several decades and it hasn't happened! They say Jesus could rapture the church at any minute. And they could have all been wrong. And evidently they were wrong. But they think they can weasel out of their responsibility because of the one little qualifying word, 'could'. Readers, don't let them weasel. Don't let them slither, either. I will let them grovel, which they will surely do as they assert their doctrine of Imminency as justification for their Rapture fantasies, pre-trib, post-trib, mid-trib or otherwise. (I have heard there is a pan-trib position now.)
The point is that Jesus didn't come that year, this year and won't come next year either. And some of you think that I am the false prophet because I predict he won't come next year. Yet, if he doesn't come next year, do you think I will win the prestigious "Prophet of the Year" award at the next Dove Awards, the Religious Broadcasters Convention, or the Christian Booksellers Association? No, but I will be the most accurate prophet in the evangelical world. Because I will be one-for-one; 100%.
Save this e-mail until January 1st, 2003 and re-read it to see if my words are not true. Save it until 1/1/2004, or 1/1/2005, etc. Read it in your church every New Year's Eve Sunday. Save it and read it to the great great grandchildren of Hal Lindsey, Zola Levitt, Tim LaHaye, Dave Hunt, Jack Van Impe, Dave Breese, Tommy Ice, etc. Have it dictated in your will for your descendents to read it in the year 3002, one thousand years from now. But don't think me a prophet. I am just a student of God's Word.
Besides the fact that all Rapture prognosticators such as Hal Lindsey, Zola Levitt, Tim LaHaye and Jack Van Impe will be wrong about the Rapture this year and years following, the more serious problem is that their popular prophetic schemes foster an unbiblical mindset in the Christian community. Christians no longer are building the Kingdom of God, but they are digging fox holes trying to hold out 'until Jesus comes.'
Although there are some hopeful exceptions, generally there are no long-term Christian movements for establishing mercy institutions Christians once were famous for; institutions such as hospitals, universities, cathedrals with their ministries of mercy to immigrants, indigents, recovery centers for prostitutes, Christian schools, with an historically Christian and orthodoxically Biblical view of the world and of the future. We now slap a Band-Aid on something and call it a ministry thinking we really are doing a work for God. There is no longer an unabashed, decidedly Christian nurturing of leaders, spokesmen, researchers, poets, historians, educators, pastors and preachers, and medical practitioners, etc., as there were in previous generations of Christians. Mostly we are content to think in terms of street-witnessing for the next 3 or 4 years since we are afraid that is all the time we have left. Most Rapture-enthusiasts have a hard time trying to finish 4 years of college.
When we finally wake up after 10, 20, 30, 40 years, and Jesus hasn't raptured us out of this evil world of Satan's rule, and we haven't gotten married and/or had children, because "who wants to bring kids into this world when they might miss the rapture and go through the Great Tribulation"; after years of this,...we find that we have wasted many opportunities for blessings, and we have failed to build a godly legacy for the generations to come.
Woe! to the evangelical rapture culture for its shallow hope in a wimpy Gospel about an effeminate Jesus who will whisk them into the air at any moment so they don't have to change another diaper. We have been so acclimated to the evangelical world mindset, this Diaper-Escape Theology, for the last 180 years that it is nigh impossible for most of us to realize that old time Christians, Gospel-believing, Jesus-loving Christians didn't think about the future that way. We have a mighty inheritance from the Lord in the 1820 years of Christian history prior to the modern evangelical era. And, hey, if it wasn't for them we wouldn't have had anyone to bring us the Gospel, because they are the ones who brought it to our world. They were not looking for the Rapture to deliver them from bloody persecution, martyrdom or deprivation and hardship. Like Latimer and Ridley, they were busy lighting the fires of God’s grace at the cost of their lives. Thanks be to God for those fires, and they have never been put out.
Hallelujah! By the grace of Almighty God, may we find many more of their tribe in our midst. Because we can't stand much more of the LGELBT (the Late Great Escape Left Behind Tribe.)
I am a believer in the ancient faith of the holy scriptures of the old and new testaments which testify to the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ, the redeemer of the world. He is coming again and when he does he will wrap the world up in judgment, dividing the sheep from the goats and will carry his flock that no man can number into a blessed eternity of feasting with the hosts of heaven and almighty God.
But scripture is clear that we must occupy until he comes. His coming will come at the end when he has defeated every enemy, the last of which is death. He will then turn the kingdom over to God. (1 Cor. 15) In the meanwhile, Christians must be busy about the work of the kingdom of God through evangelism, worship, prayer, nurturing their marriages and families in the faith, expanding missions, discipling nations, exposing heretics, and ministering mercy to the downtrodden of this world and developing our God-given talents to be good stewards of the resources He has provided us with in this world, to glorify Him. We are in the 'business' of establishing legacies for generations to come. I do not expect to be alive at the coming of Jesus. Nor do I expect my children or my children's children will be alive at the coming of Jesus. We are in the infancy of the church and I expect that we have 10,000 more years to go at least. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against us.
"...All the scripture texts claimed as proof that the coming of Jesus Christ must now be close at hand have also been confidently so used in former generations. Not a few Christians in the past have been erroneously convinced that their age must witness the end."
— The Puritan Hope, pg xix, Iain Murray
- Michael E. Rench