There’s nothing like an apocalypse prediction to get the media buzzing. Last May, one of the more particularly publicized predictions in recent memory came from radio host Harold Camping, who gained country wide notoriety by caution that Judgment Day would arrive on May 21. (It didn’t, of direction.) Meanwhile, other doomsday predictors have had their eyes on 2012 for several years now; some say the Mayan calendar place the end of the world on Dec. 21. But amidst all the hype and pop culture hoopla, what does the Bible genuinely say about the end times?
Eschatology is a famous however notoriously tough area of Christian theology. There are nearly as many theories on how to interpret the book of Revelation, as an example, as there are books within the Left Behind collection. One of the most contested factors of evangelical end time scholars is the rapture — in particular whilst it’ll take place when it comes to different eschatological activities just like the tribulation and the return of Christ to earth.
Alan Hultberg, a companion professor at Talbot School of Theology, is one in all Biola’s resident specialists on end time theology, and he lately edited the book, Three Views on the Rapture. Biola Magazine these days interviewed Hultberg about the rapture, its various interpretations, and why it’s vital for Christians to take critically.
What is the rapture, and what’s the scriptural evidence for it?
The rapture is the doctrine that on the return of Christ, all believers might be stuck up (i.E., “raptured”) to meet the Lord in the heaven. The bodies of dead believers could be resurrected, and all believers, dwelling and dead, will be glorified. It is taught explicitly in 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 and more or much less implicitly in 1 Corinthians 15:51–55 and John 14:2. Other passages, which includes Matthew 24:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; and Revelation 14:14–16 are debated.
What purpose does the rapture serve in the normal functions of God for creation? How does it suit into the huge image of God’s redemptive plan?
God’s redemptive plan is to restore what was misplaced in Adam, to restore the right functioning of his rule in creation through the vice-regency of a humanity living in proper relation to him (although that entails a lot greater than what I’ve stated here). The resurrection of believers is a part of that restoration, as Paul teaches in Romans 8:18–23. So, in so far as the rapture and the resurrection are associated, the rapture performs a position in that recovery. However, the Scriptures also educate that before the established order of the Messianic state on the return of Christ, God will pour his wrath out upon the world opposed to his rule. The church is promised reprieve from this wrath, and the rapture is the approach via which it’s far protected.
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In your introduction to Three Views at the Rapture, you are saying that at the same time as the issue of the timing of the rapture isn’t significant to the Christian faith, it “touches on the doctrine of the church and on problems of normative Christian experience,” and “is for that reason not an inconsequential doctrine but one that the church at huge needs always to struggle with.” Why is that this trouble a crucial one for Christians to talk about?
Well, after I say that the doctrine of the rapture touches on the doctrine of the church, I imply that the distinction made amongst believers by the rapture raises the question of the relation of diverse groups of believers within the large family of God. The Bible teaches that some believers will go through the length of God’s wrath (appreciably the 144,000 in Revelation 7, 9 and 14) and a few cannot (the “us” that Paul buddies himself with in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, people who might be raptured). Why is there this difference among believers? What does it need to teach us approximately the circle of relatives of God? When I say it touches on issues of normative Christian experience, I imply that it raises the query of God permitting the church to go through. There is debate over the timing of the rapture in terms of the final tribulation, the final period of exceptional persecution by Antichrist. Some argue that God will not permit the church to suffer underneath Antichrist. But God does allow the church to suffer on this present age (John 16:33; Acts 14:22), so what makes the difference, if there’s one?
There are three essential views of the timing of the rapture: pre-tribulation, post-tribulation, and pre-wrath. Could you briefly explain the main claims of each function?
The pre-tribulation view teaches that God will rapture the church before the very last seven years of this age (regularly called the seventieth week of Daniel, from Daniel 9:27, or the tribulation). According to this view, this whole time period is characterized by God’s wrath. It depends in element on creating a difference between the approaching of Christ to rapture the church and the approaching of Christ to return to earth to reign. Post-tribulations teaches that the church can be ruptured at the very end of the time, while Christ returns to reign. The church can be stuck up to satisfy the Lord in the heaven and immediately return to earth with him. The pre-wrath view teaches that the wrath of God is poured out sometime within the final three and a half years before the end of the age, after the begin of the very last persecution through Antichrist. The church is ruptured right now earlier than God’s wrath is poured out, so, like pre-tribulations, a difference is made among the coming of Christ to rapture the church and the final coming to earth, however unlike pre-tribulations, the church will experience the very last persecution through Antichrist.
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You argue for the pre-wrath function. What are the main supporting arguments for this role?
I base my argument on two factors that I believe the Scriptures to teach: that the church may be ruptured someday for the duration of the second half of Daniel’s 70th week (this is, after the abomination of desolation and beginning of the final persecution through Antichrist), and that between the rupture of the church and the return of Christ to earth will be an extended time period when God’s wrath is poured out at the hostile world. The first point is derived specially from Matthew 24; 2 Thessalonians 2; and Revelation 13. The second point is derived in particular from 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5 and Revelation 7 and 14. Of course, each points take into account numerous corollary problems and passages. In the main, even though, pre-tribulations is ruled out through the first factor and post-tribulations through the second.
As someone who takes the pre-wrath role, do you then believe that the rapture cannot be totally surprising? That is, if the abomination of desolation is an event we can study occurring, would not that sign that the rupture will be drawing close?
Since the pre-wrath position calls for the upward push of Antichrist and his abomination of desolation earlier than the rapture, it means that, in this view, the rapture isn’t approaching in the sense of being able to appear at any moment. In my opinion, 1 Thessalonians 5:2–4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1–4 teach exactly that those “signs” should arise (and other passages imply as a whole lot). That manner that I need to address “imminence” passages, like Matthew 24:42–44, in another way than as coaching an “any second” rapture. Matthew 24:32–33 indicates that is right. Essentially, in my view, the Bible teaches the “unknowability” of the timing of the rapture, not its “any second imminence.” As long because the wide variety of intervening occasions or the period of time among certain occasions and the rapture is unknown, “imminence” within the biblical sense is maintained. There is not anything within the pre-wrath view that undermines that biblical “imminence.”
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Do you believe you studied it’s a risk for Christians or churches to focus too much on rapture? Do you believe you studied it offers off the impact that Christians are just keen to break out the world and go away to its very own destruction?
I bet it’s depend of the way that awareness is provided to the world and what one holds to be significant to Christian theology. If one makes the rapture the principal consciousness of first Christian life and holes oneself up looking forward to the return of Christ or merely (and gleefully?) preaches destruction to unbelievers, or if one neglects the larger troubles that make for Christian team spirit and distinctive feature — things a whole lot more really taught and prescribed in Scripture — in choose of dogmatic and divisive interest within the rapture, then one is focusing too much on the rapture. Paul enjoined against something like the first problem within the Thessalonian letters and Jesus something like the second John. Getting things straight scripturally is essential, but majoring at the minors and becoming boastful and unloving in the procedure, each towards insiders and outsiders, isn’t always of the Spirit.
To the outside (secular) world, the concept of the rapture is looked at derisively, as a sort of kitschy comic story that makes Christians appear stupid (“date predictors” like Harold Camping don’t help matters). How ought to Christians shield the concept of the rapture in a more clever or plausible way?
Well, protecting what the Bible says is always going to be a comic story as a ways as the world is concerned. All we are able to do is goal to be correct, humble and winsome, admitting wherein things are clean in Scripture and where they aren’t clear. One aspect that “date setters” have in common is poor hermeneutics; they use indefensible interpretive methods. More knowledgeable Christians can attempt to give an explanation to an incredulous world what defensible interpretations lead us to finish about the return of Christ.
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In the midst of various interpretations of the end time, what would you saying are the most important eschatological truths or facts that each one Christians have to grasp to? In other words, what are the eschatological “necessities” as opposed to “non-essentials”?
Things indubitably taught in Scripture and vital to our religion are critical; things much less absolutely taught are non-vital. That Jesus is coming once again to vindicate his church and choose the enemies of God is the large vital. That is the blessed hope of the church. When and how are not as essential. That there could be a resurrection of the dead, a few to everlasting life and a few to everlasting struggling, is important. What the new heavens and earth may be like, what the dominion of God on this world might be like, and so forth, this is, the detail, are non-vital.