Yes I Believe in the Rapture, and I don't Apologize for Doing So!
This post was triggered by recent Blog discussions of Harold Camping's misguided predictions regarding the timing of what he calls the pre-tribulational rapture of the church. If you read this after May 21, 2011, according to Harold you missed it.
We let the dispensationalist debate about the rapture cloud the meaning of the word “rapture” and its context in the 1Thessalonians 4:13-17 passage. At the end of that passage Paul tells us to “comfort one another with these words..” The snatching or taking up (rapture) is taught in the passage. The issue is not one of will there be or not be a rapture. The real question is when it will occur?
I am very well aware, and have been for many a year, that the 1 Thessalonians 4 passage has behind it a picture of the King approaching a city and the dignitaries of the city going out to meet that King, and escorting the King into the city. . I also read in verse 17, “arpagasometha ‘en nephlais” and “eis aera”. (Pardon my crude transliteration.) The initial meeting does not take place on the “ge” (earth), but in the clouds; that is, "in the air". We will then escort the King down to the “ge” (earth).
There seems to be an assumption by many dispensatinalists and non-dispensatiinalists alike that believers “being taken away someplace else other then earth” is a sin qua non of any rapture theology. My contention is that it is not; that one can hold a rapture theology consistent with the picture of the royal approach of the King.
Jerome supposedly translated “arpagasometha” with the Latin word from which we get the English word “rapture”. You may argue that word, but please don’t argue with "arpagasometha ‘en nephlais” or the factual events Paul says will happen.
It bothers me GREATLY that non-dispensationalists diss the rapture concept as though it is ONLY a dispensatinalist concept. If the “snatching up” (rapture) is not a Biblical concept then why did Paul talk about it at all? I have my doubts about the pre-trib rapture of the church. I have no doubts whatsoever about the rapture of those believers still alive on earth at Christ’s return. We are in danger of letting the debate about timing steal from us the comfort Paul intended for us to get from his words, and in doing so we miss Paul's pastoral intent in writing about the matter in the first place.
In that light I refuse to give up the concept of the rapture because I refuse to give up clearly Biblical concepts period. And pardon me if I get a little passionate about reclaiming a Biblical concept from the dispensational abuse of the concept. Pastoral concern demands no less.