Saturday, June 18, 2011

Do We Stay or Do We Go?

While attempting to revive an often-refuted case against the idea of an end-times rapture which is separated by a short duration from the Second Coming, Matthew Dickerson also employs a somewhat novel tactic of comparing pre-trib rapture adherents to Gnostics. In his article appearing in Christianity Today titled "Who Gets Left Behind" Dickerson warns of embracing Gnosticism and Plato and Socrates (oh my!) as what he sees as the potential outcome of holding to a pre-trib rapture construct.

Dickerson needn't worry, I'm definitely no Gnostic--and I don't think any of my amil friends have ever called me one because of my eschatological position. I'm also not buying his argument. While he reinterprets the classic pre-trib rapture passage in 1 Thess 4: 13-18, Dickerson neglects to cite 1 Cor 15: 50-56. At the rapture, we don't leave our physical bodies behind, they come with us, instantly transformed into eternal, imperishable, but physical bodies. Even the bodies of saints who died centuries before are taken and transformed into a glorified but still physical state. So let's please dispense with irrelevant comparisons to Gnosticism. The hope of the rapture includes the hope of the resurrection and a new eternal glorified physical body for each believer.

Dickerson also frets that folks who expect to depart the earth when raptured by the Lord Jesus one day will treat this world more like a hotel than a home and won't give enough attention to working as "redeeming and restoring influences in this world of space, time, and matter." To which I respond that if he means we won't be caught up in the latest environmental myth like global cooling, ozone depletion, global warming, climate change, and whatever the next fad that comes along masquerading as science might be, then he may be right. But since we pre-trib people tend to lean toward the literal in our hermeneutics, I think most understand, as I do, that Genesis chapters one and two are to be taken as a literal historical narrative. And therefore I think most have no problem understanding the earth is a gift from God which we should be good stewards of while we're here. We're just not seeking to get lured into every politically correct economic reorganization scheme disguised as environmental concern.

So if Dickerson would like to believe that 1 Thess 4: 13-18 describes an event in which believers are raptured into the air and then make an immediate U-turn so they can come back to earth and get back in line again with unbelievers to be re-separated in the Judgment of the Sheep and the Goats described in Matt 25: 31-46, after having already been raptured, he is free to do so. And if he feels the unexpected surprise coming of the Lord depicted in Matt 24: 44 is a description of the same event as that in Rev 19: 11-21 which doesn't appear to surprise anyone, not even the birds...then he is free to do so. I tell my amil brothers and sisters that the Lord won't leave them behind just because they got their eschatology incorrect.

But that Gnostic argument just isn't going to fly. We believers will, though.