What Rapturists Miss About Rapture Theology

May 2008By Paul Catalanotto

Paul Catalanotto is studying for an M.A. in theology from the University of Notre Dame through the theology department's ECHO program. As part of the program, he has been assigned to live and work in a parish church in Wilmington, Delaware.

The Rapture: A non-Catholic theological belief that proposes that Christ will come secretly and unexpectedly -- "like a thief in the night" -- in order to save those people who have authentically accepted Him as their personal Lord and Savior from suffering the tribulation that the world and Church will go through before His second coming.

Apart from the obvious theological problems surrounding the idea of a rapture, as well as its sketchy, non-biblical origins, there is one issue about the rapture that is often overlooked or not considered by most Christian apologists and theologians: the rapture fails to reconcile suffering in Christian theology. Any casual reader of the Bible can easily see that suffering is an ongoing theme that is present in almost every book of the Bible, that suffering plays a crucial component in biblical theology. The rapture, however, does away with suffering, and therefore does not fit into biblical theology.

It is not surprising that belief in the rapture has become popular -- it is everywhere: TV, radio, books, magazines, etc. It is almost impossible to avoid non-Catholic preachers who profess and promote belief in the rapture. Due to its prevalence in Protestant theology (particularly in the evangelical sects) and its seeming omnipresence, it is clear that rapture theology is seeping into all parts of Christian theology.

What is it about this teaching that is so appealing that it works its way into the staunchest of Christian minds? Simply, rapture theology claims to offer God's mercy and salvation from suffering. Every person desires God's love and mercy (whether they know it or openly deny it), and it is human nature to try to avoid suffering: nobody likes being in pain. That being the case, how can the rapture not be appealing? It gives without asking anything in return.

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This 'Beam me out' Star Trek, Protestant mentality may appear to be just a case of misguided scapists. But in a deeper sense, and base on some writings of Catholic mystiques, this is actually what made Juda a Juda because he adamantly demanded that Jesus be a triumphant king subduing all earthly powers according to human understanding. This is also what caused all the Apostles to deny and abandon the Messiah just shortly after they declared that they are ready to lay down their life for Him.
Sr. Mary of Agreda's Mystical City of God explains in detail how the very recipients of miracles from Jesus where exactly the same persons who screamed feverishly "Crucify Him! crucify Him!" when they saw Him 'weak, panting carrying the Cross and without beauty'.
Pope Benedict has a very poignant homily about those who would follow Jesus even towards ignominy, and those who want to drag Him towards triumphalism. That article is "Contemplation of Beauty 'The Feeling of Things, the Contemplation of Beauty'".
His book, Meaning of Christian Brotherhood also sheds light on those who will be lifted up on the Cross [the real Rapture?] as "part and parcel" of the Mystical Body ['many were called but few were chosen'] who will become acceptable offering to God for the salvation of many [...the rest of her (the Woman's) offspring, those who keep God's commandments and bear witness to Jesus. - Rev 12:17]
It seems to appear more and more that Satan's apparent triumph and role in bringing about the Protestants into being is not just a physical laceration of the Mystical Body in its historical context. More serious than that, he (the serpent) has effectively obfuscated their souls with fatal blindness. The first sign of this is Luther's decision to take out seven books from the original content of the Bible. A reflection on the text of these books will show that they are very lethal blueprint of military tactics to keep him (the serpent) at bay. It's sort of like he went behind enemy line and stole the tactical handbook against him in order to confuse them. And that is what has become of the Protestants. They basically don't know were the enemy is while proudly (and blindly) proclaiming that they are the 'vanguards' of Christianity!
Posted by: humblesoldier
May 10, 2008 01:32 AM EDT
Almost a year and a half after first reading this article, I still find myself reflecting on the passage the author quotes toward the beginning, "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thess. 5:18). This is the central theme of the article, indeed the central theme of Christian living. This Scripture passage never stood out to me before I read it here, and I want to acknowledge and give thanks for this article's impact on me personally.

To truly give thanks in "all" circumstances is challenging to say the least, but the key is to let God's will be done, not our own. If we can get to that, then praising Him always will come naturally. Let us pray!
Posted by: Jack_Straw
September 22, 2009 03:08 PM EDT
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