I suppose, because of my post title, the cat is out of the bag on my eschatology. So I’ll start this post right off the bat saying, it’s my conviction that there will be no rapture of the Church. I believe the overwhelming weight of biblical evidence in no way shape or form supports a phased approach of the coming of the Lord. Let me explain why.
Firstly (I love that word) if we study the history of this idea we will find that this whole notion of the rapture is a relatively new idea, this fact alone should cause us to pause.
There is some debate as to who came up with this idea originally but most credit it to John Darby. Darby revealed his eschatological view and outlined his idea on this so called “rapture” at the Powerscourt Conference in 1831.
It is very difficult to find any evidence of ”rapture” eschatology prior to Darby’s teaching it beginning in 1831.
So why has it become mainstream? Well the answer is simple. The Christian church has lost its foundation and connection to the roots of Judaism. Most of our modern Christianity has taken a direction influenced highly by the enlightenment age. Because of this the Christian story has been disconnected from the Jewish story. Something God never intended.
So the challenge and the question we are faced with is, if for almost a thousand years after Jesus showed up not a single person believed in this “rapture” idea, why do so many believe it today?
Again it goes back to the story. The bible has within its construct a meta-narrative. To highly summarize the meta-narrative within Judaism it’s this:
God created all things Good, Satan and the powers distorted that good, God in His grace and mercy has not abandoned His creation to destruction and chaos but instead put a plan in place that would eventually lead to the reconciliation and redemption of all things. That plan began with Abraham.
In Judaism this is referred to as the "Tikkun Olam" or the repair of the world.
Jesus and the Church flow out of this reality, which will end up with heaven coming to earth, the original place God intended to dwell. This was the goal from the very beginning. That God would dwell with man and the whole of creation would be a holy temple.
So the flaw in Darby’s theology and the one this absurd end of the world talk is wrapped up in, is rooted in a non-biblical belief that all of reality is about somewhere else and not about this place, this earth, and this humanity. The idea that we will all go off to a distant spiritual reality is an idea we get from Plato not from the bible.
We have a guarantee from the creator that he will put it all back together, or as N.T Wright states “put the world to rights.” He doesn’t need to exile his church to do this, in fact that would be counter to the way God has always done things.
God uses “agents” to accomplish His purposes, to remove His followers and Kingdom agents would fly in the face of how he created things to work in this world. The way He created things to work was that His followers are His hands and feet in the world and the mechanisms by how his will gets done. His will is to reconcile and renew all things, this earth, this humanity not to destroy it. Therefore we have a job to do, participate in new creation, rush the future renewed world into the present anyway we can. Love Wins!
The only thing that gives me concern, that I hope I am wrong about, is that in my thinking it would seem logical that the world is probably going to have to mess itself up quite a bit more. In essence things may have to become much worse before they get better.
To quote Martin Luther “If I knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow I’d go plant a tree.”
So let’s embrace the greater reality to participate in new creation, this Tikkun Olam, right now in this present reality. Let's let God worry about the future and more importantly let's make those people's lives around us better instead of worse.