Rapture

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It seems to me that the great attraction of the theory that Jesus will "catch up" (rapture) the faithful as the beginning of the end of the world is the hope that the Rapture would spare us from the tribulations prophesied in the book of Revelation. By contrast, the Catholic Church teaches that "the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers" (CCC #675).

1 Thessalonians

1 Thes 4:13-18

13 We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
15 Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up [raptured!] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore, console one another with these words.

Theories about the Rapture

Left Behind

The picture of some being "taken away" and others "left behind" comes from some parables and sayings of Jesus in the synoptics.

When the terms "taken away" and "left behind" are fitted to the Rapture verse, those who are "taken away" are the lucky ones and those who are "left behind" are doomed to suffer and die. In this sense, those who found a place on Noah's ark were "taken away," while all other living beings were "left behind" to drown.

The sense of some of Jesus' sayings is exactly the opposite of this scenario. Those who are "taken" are like soldiers taken captive in battle. They are the losers, and their fate is that of miserable enslavement or death. Those who are "left behind" are the lucky ones who escape capture. They live to fight another day. It is the enemy who takes them captive and plunges them into misery, not the Lord taking them up into the heavens to preserve them from tribulations.

Before, During, or After the Millenium?

What is the relationship between the Rapture and the Millenium?

Term Definition
Premillenialism The Rapture comes before the Millenium.
Postmillenialism The Rapture comes after the Millenium.
Mid-tribulation Christians get Raptured after 3.5 of the 7 years of Tribulation, which comes after the Millenium.
Amillenarianism There is no Millenium; the Rapture coincides with Judgment Day.

Using this terminology, Catholic teaching is closest to the Amillenarian position.

The great attraction of the doctrine of the Rapture is the idea that believers will be given a ringside seat in the heavens while only the wicked are "left behind" to suffer the time of tribulation. I believe that the Catholic teaching Amillenarian, which means that the innocent will suffer along with the wicked. Believers will have the consolation of knowing what God is doing, but they will still have to persevere to the end in order to win the rewards of victory (Rev 2-3).

34 “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.

35 For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.

36 Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Catechism

The Church's ultimate trial

#675
Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.[1] The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth[2] will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.[3]
#676
The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,[4] especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.[5]
#677
The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.[6] The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.[7] God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.[8]

References

  1. Cf. Lk 18:8; Mt 24:12.
  2. Cf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20.
  3. Cf. 2 Thess 2:4-12; 1 Thess 5:2-3; 2 Jn 7; 1 Jn 2:18,22.
  4. Cf. DS 3839.
  5. Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris, condemning the "false mysticism" of this "counterfeit of the redemption of the lowly"; cf. GS 20-21.
  6. Cf. Rev 19:1-9.
  7. Cf Rev 13:8; 20:7-10; 21:2-4.
  8. Cf. Rev 20:12 2 Pet 3:12-13.

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