Whatever Happened to the Rapture?

I’m sure all of us old-timers remember the Rapture. And I’m sure that even those who have arrived more recently are aware of the concept. Briefly, it’s a theological event made up by a pair of 19th-century American preachers, declaring that at some time all good Christians will be instantaneously whisked straight up to Heaven. Meanwhile everyone remaining on Earth will be subject to the seven year “Tribulation” period, where war and floods and all sorts of nasty stuff will torment us. Then Christ returns for the grand finale.

This was big news when I joined the SDMB in 2001. Users of this humble message board were facing an invasion by users of the “Left Behind Message Board”, the fan club for a series of conspiracy- and paranoia-laden science fiction fiction novels popular in right-wing circles. When not trying to overload our servers with spam or make threats against the adminstrators, they would spend their time posting new threads in the forums, informing us about the major world events that would be starting in roughly five minutes. Common themes included world dominations by the United Nations; enormous conspiracies involving bankers and scientists and many others; and, of course, the Rapture.

But while the SDMB had the misfortune to receive this up-close-and-personal look at religious nuttery, we were hardly the only ones. Books about the approaching end times popped up all over the bestseller lists, both as fiction and as alleged non-fiction. Pat Robertson and other TV Evnagelists brought the subject up on an almost daily basis. At one point in 2002, no fewer than three separate churches along my drive to work posted signs which guaranteed the Rapture by the end of the year.

What a difference three years make.

I have not heard any reference to the Rapture in any form this year, as far as I can recall. Not on television, not in bookstores, not on church bulletin boards, not anywhere. Admittedly I am not a close follower of right-wing thinking, but am I correct in assuming that the concept is dead in the water, at least for the time being? That there’s widespread acknowledgement among Robertson and his ilk that the Rapture didn’t live up to the hype? Are they know trying to pretend that none of them ever believed in something so stupid?

I still here people claim that we don’t need to worry about the future because of the rapture, and part of the purpose behind the war in Iraq is keeping Israel under Jewish rule so that Biblical prophecies can be fufilled. I’m not sure if the latter involves Rapture believers, but I think it probably does.

It does seem to have died down a little, however.

Dude it was awesome. Everyone was there. Job, Peter, even the big man, The Notorious G-O-D, showed. Judas was doing the beer bong while everyone cheered. Mary Magdalene was doing this trippy strip tease with a donkey. It almost ended early when we ran out of beer, but the J-Man rose to the occasion and turned all the water into wine and we just went on partying all night long, well, that was until that dick head Satan next door called the cops. Too bad you totally missed it.

Big news to you, perhaps, but belief in the rapture did not begin then, nor has it stopped now. There are religious fads, just like anything else, and they come and go just like everything else. There was a big rapture/eschatology thing back in the late 70s when Hal Linden wrote The Late Great Planet Earth. Then it was passe for awhile before LaHaye and Jenkins wrote the LB books.

Remember a few years back when angels were all the rage, with TV shows and everything? All of a sudden there were angel calenders and angel books and now you don’t see them so much.

I suppose some of this represents real theological change, but I doubt very many people suddenly started believing in the Rapture or in Post-Trib eschatology and have now stopped. Millions of people believed in the Rapture in the 90s, millions will believ in it in 2010. At a guess, I’d say the ups and downs of media profiles of various doctrines are more driven by marketing efforts and by world events than by any theological change.

Some are busy recalculating the date, some are busy counting up the money they got from the suckers^H^H^H faithful. Some noticed that the Bible says no one expects the Spanish, uh, Rapture.

NO! Not science fiction. Fantasy. Really, really bad fantasy. My wife actually got the first book to see what the fuss was, and stopped reading after about 50 pages because the writing was so dreadful.

“It is not a book to be set aside lightly, but hurled with great force”

  • Dorothy Parker

I had to read the penultimate book for a class. I believe my comment was “Recent Tom Clancy has got better writing than this!”

Plenty of people believe in the Rapture, but the market for Rapture fiction/movies/etc. has been pretty much filled. There was not a lot of End Times fiction around (some, but not a lot) before the “Left Behind” series showed up and took over the market. It was well-publicized and marketed with some famous names behind it, and it got very very popular. Now the series is finished and people have got the message, so it’s not a hot topic at the moment. Rest assured that something else will come up and catch their attention, however.

Christian fiction is still going strong though; “Left Behind” was only part of the enormous popularity of the stuff. Publishers hadn’t paid attention to the market, or even realized there was one, and there were hundreds of thousands of evanglicals just dying to buy books featuring characters that take their religion seriously. So when Christian publishing took off, it really took off in a big way, and it’s only getting bigger, more professional, and more profitable these days.

A couple of corrections to the OP & other posts-

While Pat Robertson has spoken often for the past 30+ years RE the End Times, he has not promoted the Pre-Trib Rapture. He’s one of the few TV preachers who holds that C’tians will go through the Tribulation. His End Times novel “The End of the Age” has the Rapture conspicuous by its absence.

Hal Lindsey wrote “The Late Great Planet Earth” (the book that convinced me to become active in my Christian faith- for that reason, I still feel some affection for Lindsey & Rapturism, even tho I now differ with many of his claims)- It was not written by the man who would become Barney Miller. :smiley:

Believe me, if you came to my church the past two Wed nights, you’d know that Rapturism is alive & well. My church is Rapturist (I’m a loyal dissenter, and not the only one, but Wed night Bible study is not a time to bring it up L)- I knew that going in even tho I’d left it behind (ha!) a couple of years before I joined, but the church has other plusses that keep me in.

It was already the rage when I became a Christian in the fall of 1970. (According to Amazon, it was published by Zondervan that June.)

Many Protestants still do believe in Rapture Theology. However unlike a couple of years ago, there aren’t currently a craze of mainstream media (i.e. the Left Behind series, or Hal Lindsay’s work in the '70s for that matter) that is bringing it to the masses, so to speak.

What I found interesting when I Googled it was that most of the Rapture links that come up are from catholic sites that preach the danger of this belief, and how (according to Catholic belief) there is no such thing. I guess all of the hoopla in the past few years caused some Catholic groups to go on the offensive.

The most amazing thing to me about the Rapture is that the most ardent believers of it - you know, the ones who have the “In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned” bumper stickers - also seem to be the most ignorant of the history of it all.

Online I will often tell them that the idea is a fairly recent idea in Christianity and I am usually met with some variation of, “No, it’s in the Bible and the Bible is old…” :smack:

There’s no Biblical justificaiton for it at all? I’m not a Christian but I grew up in the heart of the Bible belt, and I’ve met so many people who believe it in some form, that I’m astounded.

Biblical literalism is also a fairly recent school of theology-it only came about in the 19th century.

There IS Biblical, well, context for the Rapture, I suppose, but it’s a reach. Don’t ask me the passages, because I couldn’t tell you.

The Left Behind movies are still going strong-they’re all straight to DVD, and they star…KIRK CAMERON! The Live Journal blog “Oh No They Didn’t” had a submission about Kirkles doing an appearance at Wal-Mart for the latest installment.

I didn’t say that; only that the Bible passages being interpreted that there will be a Rapture is a relatively new phenomenon. As for the Biblical evidence:

Ah, ok. Thanks for the link.

Getting back to the OP’s question,

It would be easy to point to the trade of Vince Carter as the beginning of the collapse, but clearly the team had fallen out of contention before then. Really, the mass signings of Antonio Davis, Alvin Williams and Jerome “Junk Yard Dog” Williams in 2001 were the central problem; the team overpaid for players of only moderate value, tying up almost all the room under the salary cap and commiting the point guard position to a player who…


… Oh, I’m sorry. I thought this was about “What Happened to the Raptors?”

I read Late Great Planet Earth in 1972. It all sounded so plausible at the time. I still feel like the biggest idiot for believing it.

Oh- a lot of what Lindsey foresaw continues, and some has gone a somewhat different direction- the European Community is still jelling but not yet solidifying;
the Soviet Union & Eastern Bloc have fractured with the governments & societal structures still in flux; Islamism has replaced Communism as a major threat to the West & Israel (in fact, the Islamic peoples of Southern Russia & the northern
MidEast could unite into a “Gog-Magog” type coalition); left-leaning ecumenical US Christendom is leaning further left while right-leaning evangelicalism is growing within those mainstream churches, threatening schism- and there is greater cooperation between conservatives & evangelicals of varying denominations;
Red China is freeing up its markets but not its political system & who knows about its military ambitions.

I now have a very different view of how Bible Prophecy will play out (I now wonder if the Tribulation was the 60-70 AD Neronic persecution of the Church & the Roman Siege of Jerusalem, with us now in the slowly growing earthly reign of Christ as all peoples are evangelized & discipled), but I cannot deny that the international stage still has potential for a future AntiChrist-Tribulation scenario.
And I do think it’s healthy to live with a slight edge of uncertainty about meeting God- If these are not the Last Days for everyone, every day is the Last Day for lots of people. Either Jesus will return to us or we’ll all eventually appear before Jesus.

I do not remember the author or verse but I did read somewhere that it said something about meeting the Lord in the air. I believe the people of Jesus’s time expected it to happen then because they were told Jesus went up in the air after the Ressurection.


Mork calling ephraim, come in ephraim.

The Rapture will definitely happen before Mahmoud Abbas dies, apparently (although our resident Rapturist has declined my challenge of promising to post here admitting that it was all a fetishistic fantasy on his part should he still have access to a computer terminal when old Abbas kicks the bucket.)