Missing Airliner A Snapshot Of The Rapture? (What Rapture People Ignore)

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Evangelist Billy Graham, says that the missing Malaysian airliner is a good window into what it will be like after the rapture. In a blog post yesterday, she uses the opportunity of the missing airliner to segue to musings on what life will be like after the “rapture”. Lotz writes in part:

“The answers don’t seem to be forthcoming as I write this. But as I have prayerfully pondered all of the above, I can’t help but wonder: Is this worldwide sense of shock and helplessness, of questions and confusion, of fear and grief a glimpse of things to come? Is this a small snapshot of what the entire world will experience the day after the rapture of the church? Because the Bible is clear. There is coming a moment in time when Jesus will come back to gather to Himself all those—dead and alive—who have put their trust in Him. And on that day, the world will be asking, “Where have all the people gone?” Not just 239 of us, but millions of us.

On that day, with millions of people directly impacted by their own missing friends and family members, in the midst of overwhelming shock and helplessness, of questions and confusion, of fear and grief—when the world searches for clues, how easily will they find the answer in what I leave behind?”

I was actually waiting for someone to make this “connection” from the first days of the missing airliner. When the story first turned from strange to bizarre, my mind didn’t go to scripture– but to, ahem, a Kirk Cameron movie. Missing planes? 24 hour news cycles trying to account for missing people?

That’s soooo rapture movie-ish.

I was saddened to see another prominent voice prop up this make-believe theology, but old habits die hard I suppose. The good news is that dispensational eschatology is dying and that it will not nearly have the affect on the world of my grandchildren as it did mine. However, that’s going to require that we be faithful in deconstructing it whenever it pokes it’s ugly head into the evening news.

Or a CharismaNews article.

So here’s what the rapture people ignore:

In her article, Lotz cites 1 Thess. 4:16-17, which is basically the default passage folks use to try to justify the very new doctrine of the rapture. It reads:

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever”

What’s great about this passage, is that it’s one of those passages you can read at face value and realize that it’s not talking about some secret event where planes fall out of the sky and people go missing.

No husbands rolling over in bed to find their wife missing.

No taxi cabs careening off the interstate and crashing into a bus full of nuns.

No mystery. At all.

What’s actually funny, is that this verse– so often used by rapture people– actually debunks the whole sick concept of a secret rapture, and you don’t have to be a theologian or biblical scholar to see it. Watch how simple this is:

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God…”

Dang. Not exactly a secret event. Loud commands? Voices of archangels? Trumpets?

How the heck are we expected to sleep through the “rapture” with all that racket going on in the heavens?

Simply put, even my 5th grade daughter who is still learning English (or engRISH as she calls it) could read this and see that it is describing the second coming not as a secret event, but as an obnoxiously loud, public event that every human alive at that time will likely witness.

It does NOT describing a secret rapture event where planes go missing.

So please, let us reject this kind of nonsense which continues to perpetuate an unnecessarily pessimistic view of the future. The “secret rapture of the church” is not in the bible. It is not part of historic, orthodox Christianity. Neither does it have a place in this new thing we’re building as we usher American Christianity through the current reformation into a more beautiful and optimistic expression of ultimate reality.

So no, Anne Lotz has it wrong– way wrong (but not nearly as wrong as her brother Franklin who recently said Vladimir Putin has it right on LGBT issues). This plane is just a missing plane and bears no similarity to the unbiblical event she, and so many others, have been duped into believing.

The future is better than we have been taught, but to embrace it, we must let go of the end times nonsense that doesn’t appear in scripture.

About Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey is a cultural anthropologist and public theologian. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell (theology & missiology) and received his Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS) from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, which is available wherever books are sold.

He is currently signed to HarperOne and is represented by the Daniel Literary Agency in Nashville, Tennessee.

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