Friday, May 20, 2011

Rapture Ridicule

Since "no man knows the day or the hour" (Matthew 24:36), it is highly improbable that the rapture will occur this Saturday, May 21.

Granted, the religious group that has made such a forecast has set itself up for ridicule. But I refuse to join the snickering because I suspect that underneath is a dismissal of the idea of the Lord's return in particular, if not the Christian faith altogether. But the rapture is an event described by the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. And there is nothing in the text that suggests a metaphor. In verse 17 he says the redeemed will be "caught up together" (along with resurrected saints) to meet the Lord in the air. The Greek word for "caught up" is harpazo, which means to "snatch up" in the manner of a bird of prey (raptor).

I've read objections stating that the word "rapture" does not appear in scripture. But the word is simply a latinization of harpazo. The word "trinity" likewise appears nowhere in scripture; yet the vast majority of Christians believe in the Trinity as expressed in the historic creeds because its existence can be deduced from scripture.

The rapture is an event that Paul describes in conjunction with the Second Coming of Christ -- a prophetic expectation affirmed universally by the Church. I won't go into the various eschatological theories on the sequence of prophetic events as held by learned and reputable scholars. That isn't the point. Whether the rapture is foretold at all is not debatable (regardless of how one feels about John Hagee's politics). It is plainly prophesied by the apostle.

Therefore, while I feel embarassment for those who try to predict the timing of the unpredictable, I will not scoff at the Church's blessed hope.

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