Perhaps no subject inspires more controversy these days than the concept of the rapture of the church. Christians will (unfortunately) argue with other Christians to the point of becoming bitter on this subject, not only between different church denominations but within the same denomination. To say nothing of Christians arguing with different religions and half-believers on the subject. Let’s try and examine some of the dynamics of the controversy.
Believers vs. Non-believers
This one is a waste of time. Somebody who believes in God has no business discussing doctrinal issues with an atheist. Don’t even go there. If you want to argue with an atheist, stick to the main subject, that is, what are we all doing here and how did we get here. Focus on the incredible series of accidental coincidences that they insist are responsible, and tell them you simply don’t have enough faith to believe that wild story. Ask them why sunsets are so beautiful.
Believers vs. Half-believers
Here you will have some trouble. People that profess to believe in God but do not believe the Bible is true can make you want to bang your head against a wall. Avoid doctrinal issues with these folks as well. Ask them why God would choose to make his one book that he wrote for us a mystery book that nobody can understand. They will tell you man wrote it, not God.
Their main problem is that their concept of God is flawed. They think his power is limited and that he could not even make sure the thing called the Bible – that sits in the pews of all the churches, the book that all the people who love Him turn to for instruction to try and get close to him – is his true and correct Word to us. You might want to give these folks the URL of this website and tell them to come here for instruction after all the real Christians suddenly die or vanish.
Christians vs. Christians
You need to be careful arguing doctrinal issues with other Christians as well. Don’t let a discussion become an argument. The important thing is that man is a sinner and needs a savior and Jesus is that savior. He died on the cross for all our sins and God raised him from the dead. Those who believe this and seek forgiveness through Christ will be saved. Get that straight first. There is no point in arguing a doctrinal issue with somebody who has not even properly digested the basic message of salvation from the gospel.
In my experience, the ones who usually start getting angry and bitter in the rapture controversy are the no rapture or post-tribulation folks. The Pre-trib and Mid-trib folks are usually very graceful and easy going, and will wisely avoid heated arguments on the subject. I don’t know why this is, but in my mind it only further testifies to the legitimacy of their viewpoint. They tend to understand the scriptures better, and more importantly, they tend to better demonstrate the love in their heart that Jesus told us was so important to have. So for all practical purposes we can divide Christians into these two main groups.
No Rapture and Post-trib Argument
Perhaps the reason that this group tends to be so quick to become bitter is that their viewpoint is pretty hopeless. They get mad at the silly, happy, grinning hope the other group displays in the face of looming disaster. How can we be so calm and say we are not worried? This frustrates them. We should be burying food and stocking up on ammunition like they are. Because darned if they are giving us any of theirs! As if we couldn’t depend on the Lord for help in times of trouble. (Somehow I don’t get the feeling that this group spends much time in the book of Psalms.)
This group insists that the Bible tells us there will be times of trouble for Christians. Pick up your cross and follow me. You will be persecuted for my names sake. And so on. They do have a good point here. Jesus did promise tough times in the world for his followers, unfortunately.
They always seem to have an answer ready for all our scriptures that support the rapture. For 1 Thessalonians 5:9 they say that simply means we are going to heaven, not hell, when we die. When faced with Revelation 3:10 they say that means we will be protected during the tribulation, not raptured. (Which naturally brings up the question, then why do we need to worry and stock up on canned food and ammunition?)
But they don’t have a good explanation for Jesus telling us his return will be a surprise, when we do not expect it, like a thief in the night, at a day and hour that no man knows – when the Bible also gives us the exact day of his second coming. Ultimately they must say that some scriptures are not true, or don’t mean what they say, in order to support this viewpoint.
Pre-trib and Mid-trib Argument
There is so much overwhelming scriptural support for the idea of a pre-trib or mid-trib rapture that I won’t go into it all again here. The rest of the articles on this website do that. Suffice it to say that this group has hope. In 1 Peter 3:15 we are told to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us. We can do that. The other group cannot, because they have no hope.
They are preparing for the worst. They believe that the graceful, merciful God whom loves them enough to send his own Son to suffer and die in their place will also subject them to unthinkable horrors, and leave them to their own defense. We don’t. We think that the trouble Jesus promised us in the world has already been enough to satisfy that promise. Christians were fed to the lions for entertainment at one point. Missionaries are still executed to this day in many parts of the world. I got laughed at the other day by some “friends” of mine when I said I believe the Bible is true.
Pre-trib vs. Mid-trib
We will divide into these sub-groups for a final look at the rapture controversy. You won’t find these sub-groups arguing amongst themselves much. Mostly just loving each other (and everybody else). They both have hope. They both have an answer for the hope that is in them. Neither plans on being here for the final pouring out of God’s wrath upon the earth.
The mid-tribbers are looking for the anti-Christ. They read the news and expect to see him soon. The pre-tribbers don’t think they will get to see him, or if they do they will be watching from the mezzanine. But if the mid-tribbers turn out to be right, that won’t upset us too much. Because we still have hope and faith in our savior.