The End of Dispensationalism

There is no official church doctrine on the end times. It is a matter of dispute. However, there does seem to be a consensus  among all different corners of the Christian world today among Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and thankfully more and more evangelical theologians all the time: dispensationalism is an erroneous teaching. [*NOTE: I changed this paragraph after so many comments focused on the words "Christian heresy." I think calling dispensationalism a Christian heresy is a mistake. So, I'm striking it & posting this retraction. I typically reserve the word "heresy" only for generally accepted Christological heresies, (Jesus isn't God, Jesus isn't human, Jesus wasn't resurrected). I violated my own rule here & shouldn't have. I don't think dispensationalists are heretics, nor is it a heresy. I do believe it is an erroneous teaching, but I don't want to count people out for that.]

I feel like most people who hold to a belief in the rapture do so because they don’t know the story; they don’t know the history. My hope is that when people discover the history, they will be able to think more critically about the concept of a rapture.
In the 1830s a pastor named John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) was ministering in PlymouthEngland. Although Darby never studied theology, he came up with a brand new interpretation of the bible, specifically in regards to the end times – what happens when you die and what is the final destiny of humankind and creation, the chief feature of which is the rapture.
The idea of the rapture was floating around Christian circles at the time and Darby picked it up and developed it. It basically says that there will be two second comings of Christ. The first second coming is a secret second coming, the rapture. The second, second coming was when Jesus comes back to earth with all of the saints who have gone before and those who were raptured and to set up his millennial reign on earth. The word rapture (from the Latin raptura, which means “caught up”), does not appear in the bible, nor does Christ ever mention two second comings.
Darby’s teach was based on an errant translation of 1 Thess. 4:16-17 by Jerome (347-420) in the Latin Vulgate text (405AD). It was a radical teaching in his day and was a significant break with the teachings of the Catholic Church, the Church of England, and the Protestant church of his day. His theological line of thinking is not found in any of the reformers such as Luther, Calvin, Wesley or any Catholic theologians such as Augustine or Aquinas. Darby broke off from the Church of England and formed his own non-denominational church that eventually became the Plymouth Brethren. He died in obscurity having never gained acceptance until his writings/thought found a powerful disciple in Cyrus Scofield.
Like Darby, Scofield was trained in law, not theology, and his great accomplishment was that he published the world’s first study bible in 1909. The Scofield Reference Bible was a huge seller (it’s still in print) and to this day it contains the errant translation from Jerome & the thinking of John Darby about the rapture. This study bible was printed by Moody press and was hugely influential in America. This is perhaps one reason that the rapture concept is largely an American phenomenon.

The concepts of dispensationalism and specifically a belief in a “rapture” are still not generally accepted by most theological streams of thought. In recent times this view has been championed in schools like Dallas Theological Seminary, Bob Jones University, Liberty University, and other fundamentalist churches and institutions, as well as by authors such as Hal Lindsay (The Late Great Planet Earth), Tim Lahaye (Left Behind series), and others like John MacArthur, and Charles Ryrie… and television’s Kirk Cameron.

The fact is that the church rejected ideas like the “rapture” for 1800 years. Even after the Darbyites helped it to gain popularity, it was still very limited. The vast majority of Christians today reject the idea. Consensus among Christians is that this is an aberrant teaching.
It’s time to let dispensationalism – mainly the belief in the rapture – go. 

Jesus will return to be sure, resurrection awaits the cosmos, but a “rapture” isn’t part of our future. Rapture needs to go back to meaning “ecstasy,” and should be used only in romance novels. 

About Tim Suttle

Tim Suttle is a pastor, writer, and musician. He is the author of several books: Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), and An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade Books, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, and other magazines and journals. Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. He has planted three successful churches over the past 13 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06652348774664112216 kim

    THANK YOU! Todd and I had date night downtown KC and spent the night at the Marriott. During our stay IHOP was hosting thier huge youth gathering. Todd and I spoke to a couple the attendees and they were totally caught up thier theme about rapture. The 2 girls where from the Brethren church and Todd and I were confused as to why they would so strongly hold onto this belief of the rapture. Now we know!!

    Todd's and my heart were so heavy that night thinking about the thousands of children who were being taught that rapture was just around the corner and they had better do missional work so they will be part of the rapture. That is what the theme was for this youth gathering. We said to them why not be missional regardless of rapture? They really caused them to think. Todd and I are very missional people and we do it because we are called to love God with all our heart and soul and to love one another as God love us. There is nothing in that bible verse that says "Oh yeah and because of rapture."

    Peace to You and Your Family,
    Kim Pitts Schultz

    • Colleen

      I appreciate the information in the sight, thank you. I would really appreciate if you went into detail into scripture giving specific Bible verses? Explaining the verses that are used for the dispensational view and then explaining them or using other verses to give the view you are trying to make? If you know them please let me know thank you so much because I didn’t know that the rapture was made up from Darby…but it didn’t sit with me right thinking how Jesus would like you said come back a first time and gather up those who are His, and then there be a final day He returns? Just trying to see where those verses about being ” caught up” went wrong? Thanks again!

      by His grace

  • http://mattsbibleblog.wordpress.com Matthew Hyde

    Thanks for this – I knew the Rapture took hold thanks to Schofield's Reference Bible, but I was a bit fuzzy on the other details. Interesting stuff.

    Thing is, with all those Left Behind books in stores, the Rapture is probably the most popularised theory about the End of the World. That's going to take a bit of shifting…

  • Anonymous

    You've done a great job summarizing what shouldn't be there; how about a little help summarizing what should be there?

  • Anonymous

    I think the article is more about the development of the "rapture" idea then it is about dispensationalism. One case in point is the first comment below the article which mentions rapture fever in a local charismatic church. I know this church teaches Covenant theology and not dispensationalism, so I don't think it is the type of theological interpretation that is promoting the relatively new concept of the rapture.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14375791402584954598 marko

    Tim up to now I have been in agreement with your previous postings on Joel Osteen and the Apostasy in the Church today. However I am now at a loss when I read your last post on The Parousia or being caught up or Rapture. You say their is no official doctrine on the end times. Is it not enough for you that the official doctrine is the Bible which is very clear on the end times. Their is no dispute to Bible believing born again Christians of the end times. We believe in the literal translation and not a allorgorical view of the scriptures. Do you really believe that Christians only started believing in this catching away after Mr Darby started preaching on the subject ! Do you not believe that Christians misunderstood the Apostle Paul when he clearly described this event in 1 Cor 15:23, 1 Thes 5:23 and 2 Thes 2:1. In fact Tim it is also mentioned in the old Testement in Is 26:19-21, Zeph 2:3 and Ps 27:5. As you mentioned in your post and clearly missed the point when Jesus returns he will come with his saints, if he comes with his saints they must have already previously been taken so as to come back with him. Crystal clear Tim no misunderstanding in the scriptures. No disrespect but as a Pastor of a Church you should really know the basics of our Faith and understanding of the Bible. One last thing Paul described the catching away as a glorious and literal event and told us to comfort one another with this wonderful revelation. I for one along with Millions of born again bible believing saints all around the world look forward to that glorious event. And have been comforted long before Mr Derby started preaching on the subject.May God open your eyes of this wonderful revelation. Mark O'Rorke

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14375791402584954598 marko

    Tim up to now I have been in agreement with your previous postings on Joel Osteen and the Apostasy in the Church today. However I am now at a loss when I read your last post on The Parousia or being caught up or Rapture. You say their is no official doctrine on the end times. Is it not enough for you that the official doctrine is the Bible which is very clear on the end times. Their is no dispute to Bible believing born again Christians of the end times. We believe in the literal translation and not a allorgorical view of the scriptures. Do you really believe that Christians only started believing in this catching away after Mr Darby started preaching on the subject ! Do you not believe that Christians misunderstood the Apostle Paul when he clearly described this event in 1 Cor 15:23, 1 Thes 5:23 and 2 Thes 2:1. In fact Tim it is also mentioned in the old Testement in Is 26:19-21, Zeph 2:3 and Ps 27:5. As you mentioned in your post and clearly missed the point when Jesus returns he will come with his saints, if he comes with his saints they must have already previously been taken so as to come back with him. Crystal clear Tim no misunderstanding in the scriptures. No disrespect but as a Pastor of a Church you should really know the basics of our Faith and understanding of the Bible. One last thing Paul described the catching away as a glorious and literal event and told us to comfort one another with this wonderful revelation. I for one along with Millions of born again bible believing saints all around the world look forward to that event. May God open your eyes of this wonderful revelation. Mark O'Rorke

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14375791402584954598 marko

    Tim up to now I have been in agreement with your previous postings on Joel Osteen and the Apostasy in the Church today. However I am now at a loss when I read your last post on The Parousia or being caught up or Rapture. You say their is no official doctrine on the end times. Is it not enough for you that the official doctrine is the Bible which is very clear on the end times. Their is no dispute to Bible believing born again Christians of the end times. We believe in the literal translation and not a allorgorical view of the scriptures. Do you really believe that Christians only started believing in this catching away after Mr Darby started preaching on the subject ! Do you not believe that Christians misunderstood the Apostle Paul when he clearly described this event in 1 Cor 15:23, 1 Thes 5:23 and 2 Thes 2:1. In fact Tim it is also mentioned in the old Testement in Is 26:19-21, Zeph 2:3 and Ps 27:5. As you mentioned in your post and clearly missed the point when Jesus returns he will come with his saints, if he comes with his saints they must have already previously been taken so as to come back with him. Crystal clear Tim no misunderstanding in the scriptures. No disrespect but as a Pastor of a Church you should really know the basics of our Faith and understanding of the Bible. One last thing Paul described the catching away as a glorious and literal event and told us to comfort one another with this wonderful revelation. I for one along with Millions of born again bible believing saints all around the world look forward to that event. May God open your eyes of this wonderful revelation. Mark O'Rorke

  • Anonymous

    The Footsteps of the Messiah. By Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum. Th.M.,Ph.D., One of the formost authorities on the nation of Israel, and is a Messianic Jewish believer. This book is excellent for those interested in eschatology, teaching from the Bible,a Jewish Book, from a jewish perspective. I would recommend Todd read this. Also visit, Ariel Mimistries website, for teaching material, download free.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03339070185735621870 hupernikao

    If we have the holy spirit within us who guides us into all truth then how do you Tim come up with such anti-scriptural promises? I see you love man made titles like 'lead pastor'.What does that mean?you are a pastor who lead men astray from what Apostle Paul taught or is it meant as a form of a heavy weight to which you burden the flock with no hope of Christ coming to take His bride.
    Luk 21:28-31 "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."Then He spoke to them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees."When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near."So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10974397437648079481 Tim Suttle

    hupernikao,

    I would humbly submit that perhaps there is a different way to read the scriptures than what you are suggesting, and that this way is older, truer, more textually warranted, and less compromised than the one Darby taught.

    I really can't help you see this way because in order to see it you'd have to allow the scriptures to call your beliefs into question, and it seems like you are pretty entrenched.

    Whether you realize it or not, you are not simply reading the bible, you are interpreting it according to the way you have been taught. I think there are some errors in the way you interpret it, as there are errors in the way I interpret it. The key is to read it in such a way that it continually calls our lives and our beliefs/doctrines into question.

    So I hear your critique, I'm listening to it, it comes from my Baptist/fundamentalist heritage. I still think it's an errant reading.

    As for hope. Our hope is in Jesus & in the resurrection. Christ will come again for his bride, but not in a rapture.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13806367809094287664 Be Ye Holy

    Mr. Suttle,
    There is a "New Breed" of christians that may accept your premise that the rapture is heresy, but that is a result of New Age doctrines of demons that have crept into many churches under the guise of a worldwide ecumenical movement that will ultimately establish the harlot church that worships the Anti-Christ in the Great Tribulation.

    Make no mistake about the difference between the rapture and the Second Coming of Christ. The Bible clearly states that God has not appointed His elect (Christians) to endure His wrath that will be poured out upon the face of all the earth. In fact, just like God spared Noah and his family by instructing him to build an ark of gopher wood, God too will preserve His people by catching them away to a place that the Lord Jesus Christ has prepared for all those that believe. That place is Heaven, where God dwells.

    Just prior to the Second Coming of the Messiah, as prophesied by Isaiah the prophet, there will be Great Tribulation. As the King of all kings appears to rule and reign for a thousand years, he will bring peace after all authorities and powers are "made" subject to Him. There will be no escaping the mighty hand of God. At one point the chosen nation of Israel will finally find and realize for the first time that the Lord of glory is their Deliverer. And make no mistake about it, every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

  • Barry Dundas

    Way to create a little controversy Tim. It is fascinating to me how two people can read the same Bible and come to very different conclusions. I read each scripture that marko suggested and did not see any of them referring to a rapture. The whole concept seems to stand in opposition to the nature and character of Jesus. I hope that your post can lead to a fruitful discussion that does not deteriorate into insults and questions about one's commitment to the Christian faith.

  • Anonymous

    This generation is full of scoffers, mocking the prophesied return of Jesus Christ to Planet Earth. This is as the great Apostle Peter foretold it would be at the end of the age of grace (Church Age): “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Pet. 3:3-4). I am shocked and amazed that you would seriously suggest that Christians only started believing in this catching away after Darby started preaching on the subject…… The rapture, the "catching up" (harpazo) was revealed by Paul the apostle. It is a mystery he gave us through Holy Spirit inspiration, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18. The Rapture was not the concoction of John Darby, who picked up this teaching, and gave it improved order of presentation centuries after the doctrine was believed and taught by the early church fathers (first two centuries AD).
    The rapture isn't built on one or two verses, but on the entire body of Scripture we see rapture or the catching away of Enoch, Elijah, Isaiah, Jesus, Phillip, Paul in one form or another. When viewed in totality, and in context, the doctrine flows with prophetic signals we observe occurring in the world today–i.e., the world isn’t getting better and better as the "kingdom-now" people believe (that the Church will make the world better until Christ can return to set up His throne). The pre-trib rapture view puts forward that the world will grow worse and worse. The Church will be removed from earth, then God’s judgment will begin to fall on rebellious earth-dwellers.
    Which do we see happening today? The world getting better and better –or- are things looking worse and worse for Planet Earth? Read the daily headlines, or watch the hourly news, and you will have your answer.

  • Anonymous

    This generation is full of scoffers, mocking the prophesied return of Jesus Christ to Planet Earth. This is as the great Apostle Peter foretold it would be at the end of the age of grace (Church Age): “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Pet. 3:3-4).

    I am shocked and amazed that you would seriously suggest that Christians only started believing in this catching away after Darby started preaching on the subject…… The rapture, the "catching up" (harpazo) was revealed by Paul the apostle. It is a mystery he gave us through Holy Spirit inspiration, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18. The Rapture was not the concoction of John Darby, who picked up this teaching, and gave it improved order of presentation centuries after the doctrine was believed and taught by the early church fathers (first two centuries AD).

    The rapture isn't built on one or two verses, but on the entire body of Scripture we see rapture or the catching away of Enoch, Elijah, Isaiah, Jesus, Phillip, Paul in one form or another. When viewed in totality, and in context, the doctrine flows with prophetic signals we observe occurring in the world today–i.e., the world isn’t getting better and better as the "kingdom-now" people believe (that the Church will make the world better until Christ can return to set up His throne). The pre-trib rapture view puts forward that the world will grow worse and worse. The Church will be removed from earth, then God’s judgment will begin to fall on rebellious earth-dwellers.

    Which do we see happening today? The world getting better and better –or- are things looking worse and worse for Planet Earth? Read the daily headlines, or watch the hourly news, and you will have your answer.

  • Anonymous

    May I say, Jesus can come NOW or He can rapture His people NOW. If you read ALL of the Scriptures regarding the end days , ifnothing else , you will see almost all prerequisites have been fulfilled and He is going to be back SOON !! I am not certain your beliefs and teachings are open to this.
    And having been taught and acting as a Berean I CHECKED for myself to see what Scripture had to say and since God only holds back the final days with His restraing force holding back the Antichrist and the Tribulation. that restraing force is , in context, a person who is God , the Holy Spirit. Now that being said if there is an absence of the Holy Spirit CHRISTIANS must be GONE. We are filled with the Holy Spirit and endued with His power. We can technically do great harm or impediments to the Antichrist if we were here on earth. Only the rapture explains this .
    AS LONG AS THERE ARE CHRISTIANS THE RESTAINING FORCE IS NOT REMOVED !!
    Those who get saved after the Antichrist is revealed are like OT saints…. No Holy Spirit within … for this short but awful time Scripturally including the 144,000. It is the Word of God that shall uphold and teach them

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06652348774664112216 kim

    I thought it was interesting that his is Soujourners bible verse for the day:

    "Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the [reign of God] was coming, and he answered, 'The [reign of God] is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!' For, in fact, the [reign of God] is among you."

    - Luke 17:20-21

  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

    We see in many churches today, the book of Revelation (which has been foundational to explaining prophecy) isn’t even considered to be a prophetic book. Nothing or very little in the book can be taken literally according to these interpreters.
    The popular teaching held by many today looks a lot like the old amillennialism. Some proponents of this view deny there will be a tribulation. Others say there will be no literal millennial reign. Universally, however, this new eschatology denies a rapture of the church.
    First, they are wrong theologically. The Bible clearly teaches a rapture. The Apostle Paul showed us this mystery in 1 Corinthians 15. In 1 Thessalonians 4, he gave us a word from the Lord which clearly includes a catching away of the church. A comprehensive theological defense of the rapture is outside the purpose of this short post, however I am convinced that an honest search of the scriptures will confirm that Jesus is coming for the church.
    Next, they are wrong when they say there cannot be a rapture because church fathers did not teach a rapture. The rapture has only been taught for slightly more than a century, they argue, so it cannot be theologically sound. The basis of our belief should never be based on church tradition, but an honest search of the scriptures. Think about it. If we only believe and teach what Wesley, Luther or others believed and taught we could not believe in the Holy Ghost, baptism……etc……. Surely God can restore a biblical truth that has been lost to His church for centuries. He can and He has!
    Those who deny the rapture are also wrong in their understanding of this doctrine’s effect on the church. No doctrine or experience has motivated the church to evangelism and missionary activity more than a belief in the eminent rapture of the church. Nothing has motivated the church to discipline and holy living more than this belief. One could argue, on the other hand, that it is today’s amillennialists that do little or nothing to evangelize the lost.
    Finally, How many churches sing about the rapture? How many sermons are preached on the rapture? Who, today, lives with their eyes on the skies? The Pentecostal movement today is less rapture conscious than any time in our history. Our user-friendly, program-driven churches are too caught up in fa-la-la-feel-good songs and how-to-feel-better-now sermons to worry people with hopes of heaven or (God forbid) fears of hell.
    Perhaps, instead of questioning, denying or even ignoring the doctrine of the rapture the church should embrace this long-held biblical truth. Maybe we should sing about it again. Preach about it again. Perhaps the fear of suddenly and unexpectedly facing a Holy God would set a fire under today’s tepid church. Maybe, just maybe, that fire would purify us, convict us and send us into our neighbourhoods and even the whole world proclaiming the good news, “Get ready, Jesus is coming soon!”

  • Anonymous

    The rapture is an expression that means, to be caught up together in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, to be gathered together unto Him, the redemption of our bodies. I would have thought all Christians would believe that one day we will be changed and caught up to meet the Lord in the air (I realise they don't). The only difference between them should be how long a period of time between meeting the Lord in the air and coming with Him to reign on this earth. In Paul’s day there were some going round saying that the resurrection had already happened (2 Timothy 2 v 18). If they didn’t believe in a gap between the resurrection of our body and the return to earth of Jesus to reign how come they could overthrow the faith of some? If there was no time between these two events then they couldn’t say that the resurrection had already happened because Jesus would have returned to rule. Paul tells us that after our gathering together unto Him the day of the Lord will come (tribulation period, the day of God’s wrath) when that happens the man of sin will also be revealed.
    Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that were I am there you may be also.” John 14 v 2-3.
    “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21 v 36.
    Scripture indicates that when Jesus goes away He will come and receive His Bride to Himself and take her into the marriage ceremony. There will then be the marriage of the Lamb with His Bride. He will then return with His Bride to reign.
    If you think it is important that we are experts in Greek then both W. E. Vine and Kenneth Wuest believe in the rapture theory.
    The Old Testament is full of types of the rapture.
    Mark Greenwood

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10974397437648079481 Tim Suttle

    On 1 Thess. 4:17 the question keeps coming up about “caught up” and “to meet,” (Latin: raptura, Greek: harpazo).

    The word harpazo means to grab, sieze, claim for one’s self & it’s used in several different ways. The term itself does not mean “rapture” in the sense dispensationalists mean it.

    The word translated “to meet” is apantēsis.

    “Paul is here drawing on the Greco-Roman custom of apantēsis (“meeting”), indicated even by his own use of the verb apantēsin (“to meet”) in verse 17. As Gene Green has aptly pointed out, “this was almost a technical term that described the custom of sending a delegation outside the city to receive a dignitary who was on the way to town.”37 It was customary for people to vie for pride of place in meeting the dignitary, hence Paul’s assurance that Christians who had already died would not be inconvenienced at this great event; rather they would rise first (and perhaps even be the first to meet the coming King). Most importantly, explains Green, the custom was that those In this case, this means an escort to earth.” (Middleton – A New Heaven and a New Earth)

  • Anonymous

    So long as people elevate their interpretation of scripture to having the same authority of scripture, or are unable to see that there is more than one "plain reading" of scripture, adhering just to the proof texts that support their position, and ignoring the texts that weaken it…

    So long as people follow the logic that "my opinion is founded on the bible, your opinion is different from mine, so your opinion is heresy", or the logic that "your interpretation supports this heretical group, therefore you must also be a heresy"…

    …you'll get these kinds of responses.

    In my _opinion_ such responses are not made in the spirit of love or grace, gently correcting, but rather in the spirit of accusation. And we know where _that_ comes from.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14039071404585967982 Seth Sears

    Tim, I know you as an intellectual with a tremendous sense of humor, who also has great feelings of love and commitment, to your family and children, and to the believers in your midst. To all of thos persons, I declare that I was enraptued by your romantic debunking of the rapture.

    Since I was little, I've always wondered if Jesus or his followers were to blame. How many raptures can there be in a second coming. Does he come once hidden like a thief in the night, and then later when the trumpets blow and the saints descend with him (this is much more romantic looking to me than the former).

    Regardless, we get up to about 3 second comings when I think we'd better send the consultants in to figure out all of these discrepancies. The Bobs can sort out what everyone does and where the discrepancies are to reduce the expedenditures. However, shortly after this consultation, I fully hope to get caught up in the air. I don't care really where I'm in line, or on which foot we are all wearing sandles, (it was left!, no it was right!) and I'm willing to be the romance novel cover, just give me Kirk Cameron's head with Fabio's body. And I want to be wearing something purple, because it looks regal and maybe my outfit can accessorize with His.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10974397437648079481 Tim Suttle

    You already have kirk cameron's head & Fabio's body, Seth!

    Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10139584434556099455 kjl

    Honestly, I really don't understand how this debate is edifying to the body of Christ. It just breaks my heart that the issue causes divisions among believers. To me, whether we believe we will be caught up with Christ and head away from the earth or caught up with Christ and head back to the earth is not essential to the Christian faith. The point is, we will all be with Jesus for eternity in the kingdom of heaven, wherever that might reside! I, for one, don't really care how or when I get there.

    Although I've been Christ-follower for many years and usually know the theological jargon that Christians use, I find debates like this confusing and disheartening. Imagine how a new believer or seeker might feel about this argument! Is the conversation bringing glory to God, or are we driving people away with our extensive bible knowledge that's lacking in love–even for one another!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10974397437648079481 Tim Suttle

    Good word kjl, I hear you. Sorry if this seems confusing to you… it's not my intent to divide :-) My hope was to try and bring clarity to a theological history which is often untold. I always write – and live for that matter – with the assumption of fidelity among believers.

    My blog is Paperback Theology – it's really geared toward theological discussion like this. I don't take it personally when people are praying for my soul, or praying that God opens my eyes. I'm praying for my soul & hoping God will open my eyes, too!

    Although it may not be fun to watch, wrestling with the way we read the scriptures, talking about our doctrines, even disagreeing about what they mean… it's an important part of what it means to be a Christian. It's like the Jewish practice of Midrash; the discussion is evidence that we take our scriptures seriously. We just have to be kind in the process, and never count each other out!

    Either way – thanks for saying your part. It's an important reminder that the way we conduct ourselves in these discussions says as much about what we believe as anything…

  • Epios

    One should not cry "heresy" in a crowded blogosphere. Seriously, calling dispensationalists heretics is not very charitable, especially since the sine qua non of dispensational theology is not the rapture, but the future fulfillment of YHWH's promises to Israel. Perhaps if you (Tim) would take the time to dialogue with the writings of modern dispensationalists like Darrell Bock and Craig Blaising rather than parroting the tired arguments of anti-rapture writers, you might gain some respect for the high level of scholarship employed by these "heretics".

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16479712737448056001 thejovan

    Tims!

    It certainly can be difficult to find the line between boldly declaring the truth, and simply slashing at the tendons of those we feel are leading or walking erroneously. UnfortunatelyI think this post came off more as the latter. It doesn't feel like you've challenged beliefs, as much as sucker-punched those who hold them.

    I trust that your heart is firmly in the right place, but I think more than a blog post is required when you as a shepherd decide to toss bombs like this into the water. You're blithely tearing down old foundations – previously unquestionable beliefs – held by many thoughtful, studious, lifelong believers. You're calling my beliefs heresy, (such a loaded and incendiary term!) without a thoughtful and clear explanation of…whatever it is you believe instead.

    I enjoy your blog and teaching, and I say these things with all respect for you as a friend, a leader, and a genuinely good man.

    piece of toast,
    ~jb

  • Anonymous

    Try reading some Jesuit writings. They also have a phenomenally high level of scholarship. Doesn't make them right.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10974397437648079481 Tim Suttle

    Hey Jovan & Anonymous – you guys are right. I made a change to the first paragraph – I really shouldn't have used the word "heresy" there. That's my bad. It's not actually what I mean to say.

    I typically only use the word heresy for generally accepted Christological heresies (Jesus wasn't really God, Jesus wasn't really human, or Jesus wasn't really resurrected). It always bugs me when people pull that word out for non-essentials, which is what I did, regrettably.

    I don't think people who hold to dispensationalism are heretics, nor do I think the doctrine itself is heretical. I do think it's wrong – but don't want to count people on because of it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17392128856846951342 JDB

    Interesting that the "rapture" is so entrenched in people's eschatological thinking that to deny it is to deny Christ's return. Also interesting that what is old (non-dispensationalism) is often seen as new and dangerous, and what is new (dispensationalism) is seen as orthodox and unquestionable. Thanks for the article, hope you're enjoying the firestorm!

  • Anonymous

    I just came across timsuttle.blogspot.com and I want to say: "What a beautiful picture!" I will surely contact you if we need a professional photographer.

  • Anonymous

    [Hi Tim. Great blog. Saw this goodie on the net. Enjoy. Marcus]

    PRETRIB RAPTURE SECRETS

    How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He's now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. ("The Rapture Question," by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn't dare to even list, in its scripture index, the too-hot-to-handle Acts 3:21!) Since Jesus can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends (Acts 2:34,35 echo this), the rapture therefore can't take place before the end of the trib! (The same Acts verses were also too hot for John Darby – the so-called "father of dispensationalism" – to list in the scripture index in his "Letters"!)
    Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The "rest" for "all them that believe" is tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who'd be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which is Israel's posttrib resurrection!)
    Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this "rapture" was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” ["gathering"] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!).
    Other Google articles on the 182-year-old pretrib rapture view include "Pretrib Rapture Politics," "Pretrib Rapture Scholar Wannabes," “Famous Rapture Watchers,” "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," “X-Raying Margaret,” "Edward Irving is Unnerving," “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” "Walvoord Melts Ice," “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" – all by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (see Armageddon Books) who's obviously not money mad because he has said publicly that folks with no money can borrow the same "Plot" book thru inter-library loan at any library for almost a pittance!

  • Ross Purdy

    Hi Tim, you wrote: “Darby’s teach was based on an errant translation of 1 Thess. 4:16-17 by Jerome (347-420) in the Latin Vulgate text (405AD).” Are you serious in saying that Jerome’s translating harpazo into the latin for rapture is the basis for Darby’s teachings on the matter? Have you read anything by Darby? (Don’t bother, his English, or the English of his time and peers is fairly incomprehensible to modern ears, so read something by a modern dispensationalist who knows Darby.) His teachings arose out of a strict literal interpretation of scripture along with coming to the conclusion that Israel is strictly an earthly people with an earthly destiny involved with God’s earthly plan which he saw as necessarily totally separate from the church which is God’s heavenly people with an heavenly destiny. The Latin rendering comes through the French to us as “rapture.” Darby worked on a translation of the Bible and it was rendered not only in English, but in several languages and in French too. He probably liked best the French rendering I would guess.
    You wrote: “The Scofield Reference Bible was a huge seller (it’s still in print) and to this day it contains the errant translation from Jerome….” You have not read the original Scofield Bible either I see! It used the KJV which does not say “rapture” here. Nor does it mention it in the note. Now the 1967 New Scofield Reference Bible never came close to the original in popularity nor even in use today. It did insert between bars within the Bible text updated words, but it does not insert “rapture” here. It does insert it into the footnote though. Again, these are not the same works exactly nor are they in the same league. Tim you really have not done your homework! Tim, Dispensationalism was virtually synonymous with the world rocking (pretty much blanking out the rest of the christian church all-together in the last century). The Fundamentalists were the only ones with layman in the pews actually reading and studying the Bible…something that the entire christian church forbad for almost 1,800 years. Yah! no one in the church until then was allowed to have a different opinion on the matter (or any theological matter) because they were not allowed to think for themselves…way to dangerous for those in power. So your comment about “the church” rejecting it is like saying that the church rejected air travel until recently.

    • Ross Purdy

      I wrote: “Tim, Dispensationalism was virtually synonymous with the world rocking (pretty much blanking out the rest of the christian church all-together in the last century).” I meant to write: “Dispensationalism was virtually synonymous with the world rocking (pretty much blanking out the rest of the christian church all-together in the last century) Fundamentalist Movement.”


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