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

Missing Airliner A Snapshot Of The Rapture? (What Rapture People Ignore) March 21, 2014

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.

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  • otrotierra

    Benjamin, really enjoy your posts on troubling dispensationalist theology. Quick question: do you have any response to the belief that the bible being translated into every last living language on the planet will trigger the end of the world?

    As I’m sure you know, there are translation efforts being done by U.S. evangelical companies that ascribe to “end times” theologies. How do you respond to these frightening assumptions, and do you recommend any readings, thoughts, or scripture passages to rescue?

    thank you!

  • No, I don’t believe this will trigger the end, however, I certainly applaud the effort to keep making the Bible accessible to everyone, everywhere. It is actually a really good reminder that good things come out of all movements, even movements we disagree with or think are toxic. We must always be careful to say that “God can’t possibly be working over there” because it always seems that he is.

  • Don’t be ridiculous. Only Christians can hear the voice and the trumpet. Fundies have answers for every logical argument. Excuses > any argument against pet doctrines.

  • gimpi1

    In the quote you cited, there’s also the bit, “… and the dead in Christ will rise first.” Again, you would think someone would notice.

  • otrotierra

    Thanks Benjamin, for your reply. I understand the point you are making, though I do wish the evangelical companies funding the translations would also invest in their own personal study of scripture. In short, I’d be more encouraged if U.S. evangelicals who have access to great resources (time & money) would just talk to a trained theologian or biblical historian. Doing so would help them understand that their rapture myth is not represented throughout most of the history of christendom, nor do most christians today believe in John Darby’s doctrine. Thanks again, Benjamin.

  • Jackie Heaton

    Even if we don’t hear the trumpets I’d think that people flying through the air would be sort of noticeable. One of my sisters has the COMPLETE Left Behind series. We don’t discuss religion. Ever.

  • CroneEver

    Having noted that, according to fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible, that most people will, despite empty clothes/cars/beds/etc. ignore the Rapture and stay sinful and defiant, I’d like to point out to the same that what’s being caught up into heaven would be the incorruptible (spiritual) body, and the corruptible body will be left behind with all the sinners. (1 Cor. 15:53) In other words, there’s going to be a lot of corpses lying around. (Which people would mistake for a biological weapons attack, or a plague, or … you name it. Leading to war and more war, etc.)

    Meanwhile, it’s amazing the number of people who simply cannot believe in accidents any more…

  • Oh, the people flying through the air happens in the twinkling of an eye, so you wouldn’t get a chance to see it.

    Also. Left Behind is pretty entertaining as long as you read it as what NT Wright describes it as – pseudotheological fiction. Or if you believe it.

  • The belief that translating the Bible into all the world’s languages will trigger the end of the world reminds of the Arthur C Clarke story The 9 Billion names of God. I don’t want to say anymore because it would spoil a great story for anyone who hasn’t read it.

  • Ruaidhrí Ó Domhnaill

    Excellent story! Thanks for reminding me of it… time for a re-read.

  • Gloria

    I enjoyed the Left Behind series for the “hypothetically this is how the end times look”, but without the “Rapture” of the first book, the whole series fails.

  • David

    So how does “public knowledge” debunk anything except the secrecy? You haven’t really dis-proven rapture theology at all. I also had the same thought gimpi1 had – that dead people will be rising first….someone should notice that too. But none of this carries any weight against any rapture theology whatsoever. The “secrecy” (as you call it) of it is just the assumption that SOME people make. And as Eve says, what is going to be more alarming than the trumpets and shouts and dead people rising is that people still will choose to reject Christ. And as a freebie, it would be nice for someone who is so passionate about truth to present himself as being passionate about Christ. All I see in all your posts is that you’re passionately against those with whom you don’t agree. Just like the fundies. You’re just on the other side, but inherently the same as them. You still have this one major problem to get over. Your doctrine may have changed but your attitude and sense of “higher theological attainment” certainly has not. You forget that fundies are real people who believe things for a reason. When you were a fundy, you forgot that about everyone else. Now you’re just doing all the same stuff, just from a different perspective. We need more than just a different perspective if we’re going to be useful for His Kingdom. Fundies need a different heart all together. Until you get that new heart, you will always have one foot in fundiementalism.