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The Rapture Belief Exposed


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I would like to post for you my favorite parts on an article that this site has on it.


The Rapture Exposed:

The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation


By Barbara R. Rossing

Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 2004, Hardback, 212pp., $24.00


Review by G. Richard Wheatcroft


During the 19 th century a new theology was conceived called “premillinarian dispensationalism.” John Nelson Darby, a British evangelical preacher, made a number of visits to the United States to promote what he called “dispensations,” that is, “intervals of time ordering God’s grand timetable for world events.”According to Darby, the Bible contains a schedule of events which will precede the end of history. The first event, coming before a millennium, will be the return of Jesus to ‘Rapture’ all true believers “out of the world into heaven.” Then, after seven years of global tribulation, Jesus will return a second time as a warrior to defeat the forces of evil at Armageddon and establish a reconstructed kingdom of Israel over which he will reign for a thousand years until the end of the world. Darby claimed that the foundation of the “dispensations” is Daniel 9:25-27, the Book of Revelation and other texts from the Hebrew and Christian Testaments.


Although no specific passage in the Bible uses the word ‘Rapture,’ the popularization of the concept began with the Scofield Reference Bible, a version of the King James Bible published in 1909 which included headings and marginal notes highlighting Darby’s theology. Conferences and radio programs sponsored by The Moody Bible Institute and other Bible schools spread the message. In the 1970's The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey was a best seller. Between 1995 and 2004, a series of twelve Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, fictionalizing the ‘Rapture.’ have sold more than 60 million copies. John Hagee, Pastor of the 16,000 member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio and author of Doomsday: The Countdown Has Begun is a proponent of the ‘Rapture.’


Barbara Rossing, who teaches New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, calls the ‘Rapture’ phenomenon a “destructive racket.” She writes that her book is for those who are concerned about the “simplistic” misinterpretation of the Biblical script by the “whole prophecy industry of Tim Le Haye, Hal Lindsey and others.” It is her conviction that dispensationalism must be challenged today “both because of its false theology and also because of its growing influence on public policy.” To counter this distortion and manipulation of Christian faith, she provides an interpretation of the Book of Revelation which provides “a vision of hope for God’s healing of the world.”


The basic theological foundation of the ‘Rapture’ is Manicheism, a form of Gnosticism, considered a heresy by the early Church, which posits that the world is evil and that our goal is to escape it. The focus of the efforts of the ‘Rapture’ proponents is, therefore, to save individuals “out of this world.” The author writes, “The Rapture vision invites a selfish non-concern for the world. It turns salvation into a personal 401(k) plan that saves only yourself.” She charges that La Haye in his Left Behind novels also provides a “powerful platform” for influencing his readers “on a whole range of conservative political issues including anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, anti-environmentalism, militarism, and Middle East policy, as well as opposition to the United Nations.”


The author says The purpose of the Book of Revelation is not to give “God’s play-by-play script for the future,” but to unveil a new vision of life for people who were under the domination and oppression of the Roman Empire and to encourage them to be faithful to God alone. She writes, “Revelation’s proclamation of an impending ‘end’ referred not to the end of the world but to the end of Roman rule.”




"I don;t really agree that the Book of Revelation is only about Roman's past. I think it is about the future..but NOT the way the far right fundamental Protestnats interpretated it.




" I Thessalonians 4:13, Matthew 24:39-42 (See also Luke 17:34-35), Matthew 24-25, and John 14-1-2. These texts and many other biblical passages used by have nothing to do with the Rapture. It is salutary and timely to have a scholarly and lively critique of a dangerous misinterpretation of the Bible."


I also agree with that statment. Next I would like to add my views on this.

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Also now I add my take on all this....(This is long..but is informative and useful..so you may wish to save it or print it out and read it when you have time)


Sun Bear,Hopi & Native American Renewed Earth Prophecies




Sun Bear was born in 1929 on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, United States. He was of Chippewa Tribe and was of Ojibwa descent. His birth name was Vincent La Duke. He started the Bear Tribe. In 1992 Sun Bear wrote a book with fellow Native American Wabun Wind, intitled, "Black Dawn, Bright Day." This book, along with '2' other online Native American sources: "American Indian Prophecies", by Ira Kennedy, and, "Prophecies of the Hopi Indians: Looking Back", when gathered together give the best review on Native American beliefs in the coming renewl of our earth and all life.


In Sun Bear's book: "Black Dawn, Bright Day," as well as these other '2' online book resources explain that Native American's believe in God, the Creator that they often call, "The Great Spirit." The Hopi call The Great Spirit Taiowa, and interesting there is also a belief in Hopi that God created an offspring of himself called Sotunkang. Much like the Bible's Jesus, Sotunkang acts as co-creator to The Great Spirit, and through Sotunkang all things are created. There is also a spirit guardian fingure who falls from grace because of a lack of gratefuness who is much like Satan and his name is Masaw. In the Bear Clan at Songopovi, The Great Spirit is named Yahoya...which sounds very much like the Bible's name for God in Hebrew as Yahweh and Jehovah.




Also, the Hopi have the same sort of Great Flood story in which humankind bacame thankless in their hearts during the third age on earth and only 4 humans seek the Great Spirit and keep The Sacred Way. The Hopi believe that these 4 survivors of the Great Flood are the ones from which the 4 sacred colors of all humanity sprang: Red,Black,White and Yellow. Note how much this is like Twelve Tribe Rasta's Bibical teaching of Noah's 4 sons of which the 12 Tribe would sprout. Since that time, the Hopi teach humanity has turned their hearts away from the Great Spirit and The Sacred Way again. Humans have become greedy, in which they keep taking from the earth, but never give anything back. Hopi say humans are sucking the life from the earth in much the way a flea sucks blood from it's vitim. The earth quakes and world problems going on now are prophecies coming true and are like a dog shaking flies from it's back.


The Hopi believe that this is an age in which the majority live in spiritual darkness. Many Native American's believe that we are living in an age that will come to an end and that a better one will follow it. This believe in the better age to come on earth is what Sun Bear calls "The Bright Day."




What prevents the majority of churches from understanding the Bright Day Prophecy? Sun Bear explains that it is the Ladder Philosophy. The Ladder philosophy, Sun Bear explains, is how American Western society has come to view all God's creation from top to bottom, like a ladder. Naturally at the very top is The Great Spirit (God)and the co-creator (Jesus)...but next in rank and importance is man, then under him is women, then under her is children, then under them is dog and cat and so on. But the question is: All these creations are ranked in order of importance acording to WHO? God? No. Man. That is why he places himself right under Jesus as if he is some sort of Divine King of Kings himself .


But in Native American belief life is viewed as a circle where The Great Spirit and co-creator are still at the very top of the circle..but the rest of creation in not ranked by one being under the other or one over the other but instead the rest of all creation is side by side, next to one another in kinship, not over each other in rulership. Note in the Ladder philosophy of American Western belief things are ranked according to what's important to MEN..and NOT according to what's important to God. But the churches would likely say otherwise.




The Western tradition has convinced people that it is God's will that man rule over the woman instead of being equally yoked side by side with her. The Western tradition has convinced people that the Bible tells human beings that it is ok for them to rule and exploit one another, animals and the earth for their own benifit. In the Euro-American Western tradition of treating the opposite sex, and others races as inferior and exploiting them as well as animalkind and the earth, they have long justified these behaviors by claiming that the Bible teaches the domination over women and animalkind and the earth. They say the Bible told Adam and Eve to "have dominion OVER the animals". Yet a Rabbi in a 1996 artical in Seirra Club magazine intiled, "Faith and the Environment", wisely explains that the actual Hebrew word was SHAMAR..which translates as "Care takers TOWARDS the animals" and NOT "RULERS or EXPLOITORS OVER THEM."


Also, likewise churches have long quoted Ephesians Chapter 5 as a justification for sexism stating that this Scriptures call "men to be HEADS OVER women." Here the English word HEAD is translated from the Greek word ARCHE which means "CHIEF", "RULER" and "to have authority OVER"....But Christians for Bibical Equality wisely bring out this this an a translation error. The word here was not orginal ARCHE/HEAD..but instead WAS the Greek word KEPHALE which means "Selfless one", "willing self-sacrificer" and thus SPEARhead...NOT "HEAD". So are humans justified to exploit animals? The Bible brings out that in this imperfect age, just as with the animals, God permits humans to kill animals for food or if an animal threatens their life. But the Bible does NOT say it is ok to exploit animals or to treat them unkindly or to hunt them for mere entertainment or sport. Genesis 3:21; 9:3; Exodus 21:28)


As for the earth, Jah says he will "destroy those who destroy the earth".Revevation 11:17,18. And as far as claiming one race is superior to another, or that theat one sex is superior to another, the Bible says: "There is is neither Jew nor Gentile,nor male nor female...but ALL become equals through Christ."-Galatians 3:28. Jesus also said: "The MEEK shall inherite the earth." Matthew 5:5. Now if ones thinks of their self as superior to the opposite sex or other races, then that person is NOT "meek". There is a very famous Native American proverb that says: "What ever man does to the earth, he does to himself."


In the Bright Day book Sun Bear says: "Native people try to blend WITH nature, rather than trying to conquer it. Before we Native people look at adding anything to our life we pray over it. We ask, "How does this effect our life? How does this effect the rest of creation? How does this effect our relationship with the Creator?"... In stark contrast to this I call to mind numberous old photographs of our early pioneers during the 1800's, with axes in hands, proudly smiling as they stand in front of a toppled great Red Wood trees. Their eyes gleaming with dollar bill signs. Never 'thinking' how their actions might effect the future,the earth and wildlife. Never stopping to think: "What does God think of this?"...They only thought of themseleves and how they could make a quick buck. Yet, likely many of these men were deemed, "good Christians", by there peers and "civilized", while Native peoples were deemed "savages"...Unforuantly, these type of people still exist.




A prime example of this as well as one of the worst examples of Western church ego gone mad is found in Bun Bear's account of the views held by Ronald Reagen's former aid in the Department of Interior named James Watt. Shockingly, as a "good Born Again" (Evangelical Fundamental Protestant) Christian he expressed not wanting to wast any time or effort protecting the environment reasoning: "Why should we? When Jesus is just gonna come back and scoop all the righteous up to heaven and burn up the earth anyways?"...You see, this is the problem with the 'rapture' movement. Many non-rapturists laughed at the 'rapture' movement as being silly. But it goes beyound being "silly",it is actually destructive for it seems to give people a since of complete apathy about caring the earth or anything other than winning people's souls into heaven.




Both Haile Selassie's Twelve Tribe movement as well as Age to Come Christianity and The Charlse T.Russell movement rebuke William Miller's 'rapture' theory, teaching and believing instead on Jah's Kingdom coming on earth. Never the less, I must stop here and tell you that dispite the fact that the Age to Come Christian movement prime theme is focus on the renewl of this earth as God's Kingdom comes to rule over it, I have been very dismayed and shocked at the high numbers of individuals I have heard from amoung the Russell movements,speak in such an equal tone of apathy toward caring for the environment and animalkind as Evangelical Fundamental Protestants. The additude I have heard them express so often is: "Why bothered saving the environment? When Jehovah's just gonna fix it all for us when earth becomes paradise anyways?"...Oh yes. Jehovah WILL "fix everything"...but with such expressed lazy additudes and lack of care for helping God's creation is this imperfect age...what makes them think he WANTS THEM in his Kingdom? Remember, "He that is faithful in the least of things will be give more." Such ones should know better.




But just how did the 'rapture' belief come about anyways? That is a very long story. But basically, the beginnings of the rapture theory can be traced back to Nelson Darby. Today, it seems that amoung Evangelical Fundamental Protestants, anyone who does not accept the 'rapture' belief is "Unorthodox". However, such "unorthodox" ones would included their Protestant peers: Presbyterians,Methodists, Episcoplains,Lutherns,Disciples of Christ Church, and Quakers. All these also reject the teaching of hellfire as well. While Evangelical Fundamental Protestants proudly proclaim the rapture as "orthodox" Bibical Christaintiy...many are unaware that this is a in the history of the Christian church a fairly new belief. How new? Well according to a History Channel's program on Millenial movements in America when William Miller first began preaching about the end of the world and the rapture, "Methodists LAUGHED at HIM (William Miller)and were reported saying: "Who ever heard of such unorthodox teachings?"...So. what was once deemed "unorthodox" by mainstream Protestants is now deemed "orthodox" by Evangelical Protestants.




Upon reading Sun Bera's Bright Day book I was greatly impressed with his bibical wisdom and insight into understanding Greek and Hebrew. In a very wise manner, Sun Bear brings out in his Bright Day book that in the orginal manuscripts of the New Testament Jesus did not say: "End of the WORLD", but instead DID say: "End of THIs 'AGE'." The English word here 'AGE' is translated from the Greek word 'AEON'. This can be PROVEN by simply looking up the footenote in the Living Bible or Living Translation at Matthew Chapter 24, verses 3 and 34 and Chapter 6. Here the footnotes verify this saying: "Here the word WORLD LITERALLY translates as 'AGE'"...Since it is verified that the orginal word age has been changed to world, the question is why?


Simply put, it seems the world age (AEON) has been changed to world (physical earth) so as to better fit the Evangelical's 'rapture' belief. To admit that Jesus spoke of an end to THIS AGE....instead of the end of this physical earth would mess up their belief that the earth must be destroyed literally by fire while the faithful are wisked away to heaven. You see, if it is understood that God's Kingdom will come on earth...as it is already in heaven..and if the Kingdom will come on earth...then there would be no need to fly away to heaven..and the escape pod known as 'rapture' serves no purpose then. One thing that fuels the 'rapture' belief is the fact that Evangelical Fundamental Protestants believe that the earth will literally be burned up by fire. They make their claim on this based on the scriptures found at 2 Peter 3:7 and Revelation 17:16. These Scriptures speak of the earth being "completely cleansed by fire".




However, in both Native American beliefs and in the Bible the use of the the phrases, "purification by fire", and "Cleansed by fire", is used SYMBOLICALLY. Why does I reason this? Take Matthew 3:11 for example where John the Baptists explains to the crowd that he baptises with "water", but then he tells of one coming who is greater than he (John) and that this one who is greater (Jesus) would "baptize with water,spirit and FIRE." Logically, we know that this does not mean that Jesus would literally dunk people into real fire, but instead again fire is used symbolically to show that when one is baptized then this person's is changed by Holy Spirit and Holy Spirit "cleanses", or "purifies the heart", thus, in a spiritual sense, their hearts are renewed.




So, likewise it is when the scriptures speak of a, "New Heavens and a New Earth"- 2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:5. Thus, why Jesus prayeed: "Thy Kingdom come...ON EARTH...as it IS (already) IN HEAVEN"...The Heavens have already been made NEW...when Satan and his fallen demons were kicked OUT of heaven. When he was kicked out of Heaven he and his demons came down here upon the earth. The Bible says they know they only have so much time before God renews the earth as well and when this happens the Bible says that the Devil and his demons will be cast away from humanity.




Sun Bear discribes in his Bright Day book how a religion came into being. It used fear tacticts, evening barrowing some from other religion that was older than itself. The people representing this new religious movement claim themselves superior and these individuals came to call themselves, "Christians." However, their behavior seemed far removed from the orginal teachings of Jesus Christ. They took Christ's teachings and claim that in the name of the Bible they had the God-given justiifcation not to tolerate others. Sun Bear says these people looked back at other religions that were older than there own and not of their own roots. He said they studied and were greatly inspired with Greek mythology.


They read how the Greeks had this belief of an underworld for the evil. This underworld held a great eternal Lake of Fire to which Hades, the Greek god of the underworld held rein over. Upon reading this, these people thought: "Hey this is good stuff! What it would took these Greek ideas accept make our own twist? We will say that instead of the Bible's teaching that both the righteous and unrighteous go into SHEOL (Hebrew for "The Grave) We will teach instead that the bad and unrighteous get thrown into this Hades's "Lake of Fire" forever. Instead of the keeper's name being the Greek's "Hades", we will change it to the Bible's foe Satan. And we will call this place, "Hell". We will say that Satan is the keeper of Hell and whoever God dislikes we will say he hands over to the Devil and into his Hell! Yes! This will hold a much greater impact over the people with fear,even more so than death! What a great concept to keep the people from questioning our church!"...


Besides changing SHEOL to HADES and then HELL. These folks also took the Bible's discription of an ancient burning trash dump outside the walls of Jerusalem called GEHENNA and merged it with HADES/SHEOL and HELL. Thus, when the Bible speaks of the evil being "Thrown into Gehenna", and that, "This means the Second Death", it merely means that if someone is found worthless at the end of the 1,000 rein of Christ, then they are thrown away into the trash,never to be resurrected back to life again. This is why it says: "This means the Second Death"..because from the second death there is NO ressurection. It's permanent. The Hebrew Scriptures plainly teach that the dead simply "Sleep" or are "Unconscience", "They know NOTHING"-See Ecc 9:5 and Psalm 146:4.




Dispite the Babylon teachings that have been added, the inequalities and the fear tacticits, Sun Bear also states the grand improvements and sincere and humble efforts made on the parts of many churches to correct such ways. That some Christian churches have repaired the demaged bridges between Native peoples and other races and how some have began teaching equality and have become teaching to care for the earth and the animal kingdom. As we have stated before, we know not all Christians students of the Bible believe the same, and that there are many different held views held amoung different Rastas.

So it also is with Native Americans. However, in sum, what I see is at the heart of Sun Bear's message is:


(1) The earth will be cleansed...but NOT destroyed.


(2) The Sacred Path will lead us to the renewl of the earth..which is built on the respect for the Creator.


(3) To find this Sacred path we MUST start caring for the earth NOW, and THIS age. This means we must start caring about our natural world and stop viewing the animals as throw-away dixies cups.


(4)We MUST stop our hyprocrisy of proclaiming the Golden Rule..but then only implying it to those our group, race or gender. This will lead us to peace in this imperfect age and brings us the hope of the better age to come.

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