Resources for Shaping a *RaptureLess* Theology: Where to Start to Debunk Left Behind

With the new Left Behind movie coming out this Fall, I think it’s fitting to reexamine what the Bible actually teaches about the “End Times.” One thing that I realize when we talk about issues pertaining to the End, is that many folks feel in their bones that what they were taught is wrong. The hard part is putting together something that makes sense and is backed up by Scripture. Yesterday, I posted an article called: Why the Rapture isn’t Biblical… And Why it Matters. In that post I looked at the most famous rapture passage and demonstrated why it is not about escaping planet earth.

Today what I want to offer are some next steps. Once we have deconstructed a theology that we intuitively know doesn’t reflect the way of Jesus, it’s important to rebuild – to reconstruct. In what follows, I am going to be somewhat strategic about the order of the following resources. If I were going to relearn this stuff all over again for the first time, here’s the path that I think would be the most fruitful.

So, without further ado, here are resources for shaping a raptureless theology. To be clear, the order I’ve arranged these in is intentional!

Introductory Resources

My post: Why the Rapture isn’t Biblical… And Why it Matters

My post: Corrective Strategies and Themes for Understanding Revelation

  • Here I offer some insights I gleaned from another resource, Reading Revelation Responsibly (see below). It’s a helpful overview of the major ideas in Revelation.

My series: Earthquakes – Signs of the Times? Based on this academic paper

  • This resource will help you understand Mark 13, and its parallels in Matthew and Luke, with clarity. It won’t solve every nuance to every question you may have, but it will give you a framework to move away from Left Behind theology.

This book: The Good News of Revelation, by Larry Helyer and Ed Cyzewski

  • I had the honor of being one of the book’s endorsers. Here’s an extended version of what I said about this resource – “In The Good News of Revelation, Larry Helyer and Ed Cyzewski accomplish exactly what the title suggests: good news! In a culture where doomsday scenarios rank high at the box office and even higher in certain strands of the church, this book beckons us to imagine the world (although “fallen”) as ultimately destined for a hopeful future. By placing Revelation within its first century context, the authors offer a compelling and poetic introduction to the most misunderstood of biblical books. They invite us to proclaim the upside-down victory of the Slaughtered Lamb through peacefully resisting evil in all its forms, choosing perseverance rather than compromise, and living as though Jesus is actually King and Caesar is a mere imitation. I HIGHLY recommend The Good News of Revelation to anyone interested in reclaiming Revelation as a call to faithful living – not in the midst of some horrific predictable future – but for RIGHT NOW!”

This book: Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright

  • I’ve often said that this is the one book that every evangelical (and progressive) pastor should read. Wright outlines a vision of the Christian hope that is life-changing. What we believe about the future matters today! It matters for issues of justice, beauty, and art. Every pastor should read this – yes – but so should ever follower of Jesus!

This commentary: Revelation for Everyone, N.T. Wright

  • This is by far the most accessible commentary on Revelation out there. It’s also a fun read! This book will take the cryptic texts of Revelation and transform them into words to live by.

Resources for Going Deeper

This book: Reading Revelation Responsibly: uncivil worship and witness – following the Lamb into the new creation, by Michael Gorman (and Scot McKnight’s reviews)

  • This is the most helpful theological book on Revelation that I’ve read. Seriously, can’t recommend it enough. Read it. Then, tell others to read it!

This book: Apocalypse and Allegiance: worship, politics, and devotion in the book of revelation, by J. Nelson Kraybrill

  • Ever wonder what an Anabaptist might do if s/he were an expert on Roman culture and apocalyptic literature. Look no further. This book is amazing… especially if you want to go deeper with the imperial themes. A great complement and follow-up to Reading Revelation Responsibly.

This book: Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now, by Wes Howard-Brook and Anthony Gwyther

  • This book, co-authored by my friend Wes Howard-Brook, invites readers into the narrative of the Roman Empire. By the time you’ve engaged all of the theological and historical themes of the book, you’ll be ready to inaugurate a subversive revolution of love! Great resource for really digging deep while having implications for how we live.

This commentary: Revelation: believers church bible commentary, by John R. Yeatts

  • This commentary is part of the Believers Church series. Believers Church is “code” for Anabaptist, in case you are curious. This is a great resource for going a step beyond where Wright’s “For Everyone” commentary goes, in that it is more academic in nature (yet still highly readable!).


Other Helpful Resources

What other resources are helpful that would complement the theological ethos of the one’s I’ve listed?

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  • Darrel

    It is obvious from the rest of your web site that there indeed will be no rapture for you and your friends for a multitude of reasons, the first of which is that you are still in your sins, lost and on your way to eternal damnation. That’s reason enough, but to add to the list your denial of the penal substation of Christ’s sacrifice, the need to repent of your sins and believe the real Gospel (not this faux edition you vainly spout here) and your dominion ‘light’ theology; no wonder your “jesus” will not return to gather together you and your co-hearts to himself since he is nothing more than a product of your wishful thinking nonsense “theology”

    • cipher

      the first of which is that you are still in your sins, lost and on your way to eternal damnation

      But just think of how much pleasure that will give you.

  • Paul

    this article by Wright really helped me

  • Jonathan Welton

    Seeing as you use the term several times in your article, maybe you have heard of my book which has been free on the internet and viral for the last two years. ??

  • Eric Weiss
  • Ed_Cyzewski

    I was going to recommend that book too. It was very helpful as I worked on the Good News of Revelation.

  • Ed_Cyzewski

    Thanks for including our book in your list! Our book aims to provide some very general points, and I’d say that Reading Revelation Responsibly is a good next step for those looking for a full length book, but everything you’ve listed would be great and “rapture free.”

  • Kitty Hahn-Campanella

    Left Behind and Loving It by D. Mark Davis.

  • Jane

    “Apocalypse” by Ana Mendez Ferrell is excellent!

  • Bonni

    Left Behind and Loving It, by D. Mark Davis.

  • Ravynwolfe Moondancer

    What I don’t understand is why so many who call themselves Christian , don’t realize that Christ speaks to them from within always and it is easy to know what is of Christ and what is of ego (satan). Why oh why do so many people try and squeeze God into a book…instead of the other way around? Why do they believe the brainwashing of never trust your instincts ……control is connected to fear and the best way someone can control you is to tell you that you can’t even trust your own instincts. We use our inner Christ to find the truth in the Bible, other texts and all situations. We don’t put all of our trust in an “idol” which is what people are doing. Humanity was here long before the Bible was written down. God is always with us….God is in his heaven and the kingdom of heaven lays within. Blessings.

  • John_QPublic
  • Joan Livingston

    please help if you can!