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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : The Rapture: An American Prosperity Gospel

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Joined: 2002/12/11
Posts: 38181
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

 The Rapture: An American Prosperity Gospel

At this point in redemptive history, nearly most of the educated Christian world has heard of or has been taught of the impending Rapture—the glorious day in which the Lord will take up His Elect and deliver them from the Great Tribulation to follow. During the time of the Great Tribulation, according to what has been coined as “Dispensational Premillennial [pretribulational]” eschatology, men and women will have one final opportunity to repent and believe on Christ before Christ’s inevitable return, and before the commencement of the thousand-year literal reign of Christ and the Church on earth.

Of course, like all theological frameworks, Dispensational Premillennialism [pretribulational] can be far more nuanced and can and does certainly contain varying opinions on some of its distinctives.

The most glaring distinctive of pretribulational theology, though, that is not ever up for debate, is the timing of the Rapture event itself.

Most of the evangelical Christian world believes this event [the Rapture] will take place before the commencement of any real calamity in the world—before the “Great Tribulation.” That is, before the realized commencement of any real threat to one’s faith and physical well-being, Christ will return to save His people. As seen in many sensationalized enactments of what is to come via this Rapture event, Christians will one way or another be taken up to Christ, as He makes His second appearance to the world. In some premillennial circles, this return or appearance is referred to as the “Second Coming of Christ for the Church,” wherein He receives all who believe up until that point, later to come back once again to receive converted Jews, along with others, and commence His thousand-year reign on earth (akin to “Chiliasm,” which was resoundly defeated by the proclamation of the Nicene Creed). The focus here, though, is not so much what or who our friends believe Christ will return for, but the purpose of Christ’s re-appearing.

I find great issue with the proposition of this event—not only because it lacks any sort of historical or biblical precedent and is quite literally a modern invention of thought, but primarily because of its teleological purpose and all over-arching implications that come from its ultimate purpose.

As our world degrades at a rapid pace, calls of an impending Rapture event continue to grow. Calls by our Evangelical and Protestant friends maintain that, “it is coming! We will soon be Raptured and saved!”

We will indeed be saved, but as Orthodox Christians, our understanding is that we will be saved through the endurance of our struggles—that the coming calamities will orient us towards our God and Savior, yet we will suffer to the end, just as our forefathers and martyrs of the Church did.

What is the Rapture exactly?

The Rapture is the ultimate prosperity Gospel, wherein the blessed hope of the Christian is to be spared of any real and substantive persecution and suffering.

When we begin to affirm this eschatological and theological schema, our sense of reality is completely lost, as we see the preservation of a Christian future as purely futile, since the denigration of humanity will simply result in our [supernatural] physical separation from this world in an attempt to avoid any suffering leading up to the appearing of our Lord. This thought is opposed to Christianity. It is opposed to the Holy Scripture. It is opposed to the universal witness and testimony of our Holy Fathers. And it is an insult to every holy Martyr of the Christian Faith who gave their life for the preservation of Truth in a dying world.

To suffer in Christ is to grow in Christ, and while we may never understand why suffering comes at the time in which it does and in the magnitude in which it comes, we ought to rest assured that God allows this suffering for His own glory and for our own good, using it as a tool of purification for our souls to prepare ourselves for a life more worthy of His glorious Kingdom, just as the Shepherd of Hermas says,

“For as gold is tested by fire, and thus becomes useful, so are you tested who dwell in it. Those, therefore, who continue steadfast, and are put through the fire, will be purified by means of it. For as gold casts away its dross, so also will you cast away all sadness and straightness, and will be made pure so as to fit into the building of the tower.”
We are not to seek neither comfort nor persecution, and we are certainly not to seek a false reassurance that we will be spared of any impending calamity in Christ’s name, as believing in the innovation of the modern-day Rapture would have us think. If it be, then may it be, but we have a strong witness that the promise of suffering exists in the Christian life, and it exists for the purpose of conforming us to the holy Image of our God. Difficulties are coming, and we ought to fast and pray, looking to the Fathers of our Church and to the Holy Spirit for guidance, wisdom, and courage to overcome impending tribulation however it manifests itself during our time.

St. Ignatius of Antioch writes:

“May I enjoy the wild beasts that are prepared for me; and I pray they may be found eager to rush upon me, which also I will entice to devour me speedily, and not deal with me as with some, whom, out of fear, they have not touched. But if they be unwilling to assail me, I will compel them to do so. Pardon me [in this]: I know what is for my benefit. Now I begin to be a disciple. And let no one, of things visible or invisible, envy me that I should attain to Jesus Christ. Let fire and the cross; let the crowds of wild beasts; let tearings, breakings, and dislocations of bones; let cutting off of members; let shatterings of the whole body; and let all the dreadful torments of the devil come upon me: only let me attain to Jesus Christ.”
And elsewhere, he also writes:

“Seeing, then, all things have an end, these two things are simultaneously set before us — death and life; and every one shall go unto his own place. For as there are two kinds of coins, the one of God, the other of the world, and each of these has its special character stamped upon it, [so is it also here.] The unbelieving are of this world; but the believing have, in love, the character of God the Father by Jesus Christ, by whom, if we are not in readiness to die into His passion, His life is not in us.”
The promise of True Life is the promise of true suffering. It is not the promise of deliverance from any purifying persecution or suffering. The westernized innovation of the “Rapture” is nothing more than a type of prosperity Gospel, concealed in a way as to invoke a spiritual comfort in Christians so that they may never seek to embrace suffering as a tool of true sanctification. It is a prosperity Gospel that makes one feel comfortable with the idea of rejecting any supernatural outworking of daily miracles in the life of the Church [as the Cessationists do], while granting comfort to the idea that Christ will work a miracle in actively preventing suffering in His Name before that very suffering descends on to the face of the earth in full force as to purify Christians everywhere. St. Paul writes, “…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

Tribulation is not something to avoid, but rather something to embrace, as it prepares us to receive the heavenly Kingdom of God.

St. Justin Martyr writes:

“And when you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom; whereas we speak of that which is with God, as appears also from the confession of their faith made by those who are charged with being Christians, though they know that death is the punishment awarded to him who so confesses. For if we looked for a human kingdom, we should also deny our Christ, that we might not be slain; and we should strive to escape detection, that we might obtain what we expect. But since our thoughts are not fixed on the present, we are not concerned when men cut us off; since also death is a debt which must at all events be paid.”
St. Makarios of Egypt summarizes perfectly the futility of clinging to the perceived comforts of this life, in saying,

“Since the road leading to immortal life is extremely narrow and full of affliction, and on account of this there are few who traverse it (Matt. 7:14), we must staunchly endure every trial of the devil, awaiting with hope our heavenly reward. For, however great the afflictions we suffer, what are they compared with the promised future reward, or with the grace of the Holy Spirit that visits souls even in this present life, or with the deliverance that we have received from the obscurity of evil passions, or with the enormous debts we owe because of our sins? As St Paul says: ‘The sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us’ (Rom. 8:18). Hence we must patiently endure everything for the Lord’s sake, as brave soldiers dying for our King.”

The Freedom of the Intellect, Philokalia 3

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).


SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2021/8/21 19:29Profile

Joined: 2007/2/8
Posts: 1996

 Re: The Rapture: An American Prosperity Gospel

Hi all,
If you want to believe in a Post Trib coming of Christ I can accept that as Christ didnt definitely say "Just before the Great Tribulation I will take you out of this world" But he didnt say either "Their will be a great tribulation and every Christian will go through it"

But again the difference between "Tribulations" and a period of Time called "The Great Tribulation" is muddled up for the sake of perhaps argueing against a pretribulation rapture.These are different things and are not interchangeable except to say tribulation is not nice even if it is valueable.
This makes very hard reading because its full of innuendo and a misunderstanding of Pretrib believers take on the "doctrine of the rapture" and their take on "trials,tribulations and suffering".
An arguement could be made for instance that the post trib view is a "works gospel" devoid of any grace.We could also say that some post trib believers have a "Martyr Complex"
I dont want to go to Kabul to be Martyred do you?
Its a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater because of emotional reaction to a false gospel rather than exegesis.
Because some post trib believers have such a hatred for "the prosperity gospel" then they throw everything out and not look at the scripture in the cold light of day.They should look at "Prosperity Preachers" as the wrong people on the right side of the arguement (when it comes to the rapture).Just because prosperity preachers have a false gospel doesnt mean the rapture is false.In the interest of balance I should say "possibly on the right side of the arguement"
The majority of Christians I know are Pretrib and also have a hatred of prosperity gospels
The majority of Christians I know are pretrib and expect trials and tribulations
All the Christians I know who are pretrib recognise the purpose of tribulations and trials and do not deny benefits of perserverance,character and hope as a result of tribulation.
The Majority of Christians I know are pretrib and believe the world is getting worse and worse and its harder and harder to be a Christian.
Havent Pretrib Christians died for their faith ?as have post trib believers?
The majority of Christians I know are pretrib value holiness and good behaviour.
All of the Christians I know who are Pretrib understand suffering by personel experience of trials and persecution .They would find it pretty degrading if I told them that "you never really suffered for Christ because you are a pretribber"

I think that an exegesis of the "doctrine of the rapture" has to be from biblical passages and I think that we have to understand a couple of things whether we are Post Trib or Pretrib.
1:Many great preachers and teachers who love Christ have argued differing sides of the coin
2:Whatever our view is ,it will colour the rest of our Church/Biblical views, for instance if you are a Post Tribber you will probably also believe you can lose your salvation and if you are pre tribber you will probably believe in once saved always saved.
So your tribulation view has an importance including those like David Wilkerson who said he had a "pan tribulation view" ie it will all pan out right in the end.Believing this view may appear middle of the road but it also will colour your Christianity,
I think that its good to discuss the rapture but I would ask post trib brothers and sisters not to muddle up "Trials and Tribulations" with the period of time called "The Great Tribulation" and to understand that most pre trib believers have experienced suffering as much as post tribulation believers have.The trick if their is one is not to base your theology on experience while taking into account experience as of great value,urs staff

 2021/8/21 22:27Profile

Joined: 2005/1/9
Posts: 1253
Germany NRW

 Re: The Rapture: An American Prosperity Gospel

I agree with here staff. The rapture is definitely biblical.

1 Thess 4:15-17 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

and also

1 Thessalonians 5:9
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Just because the rapture spares the church from Gods wrath it does not mean that it is an easy way out.

The bible warns us to watch and pray that we may be accounted worthy to escape all these things. So there is a real danger to fall asleep and be trapped.

God as a father chastises his children but he also spares them. If you only do not see these attributed in balance you will end up with a distorted image of God.

Premillenialism still offers the best eschatological framework. One might differ on the point of time when the rapture will happen - pretrib, midtrib, or posttrib. I believe it is purposely shrouded in mystery so that we focus rather on Christ than on timelines and events.

Persecution and hardships are good for sanctification, but glorifying martyrdom has lead to gross idolatry. We live in days that are marked by relative peace and prosperity and absence of persectution as far as the West is concerned. I dare to say it is just as difficult to stay close to God in an environment of materialism and hedonism, peace and prosperity than during persecution.

I am quite concerned that recently so many orthodox sources are being quoted here. The orthodoox church is quite similar to the catholic church though they differ in some areas.
They have priests in robes, rely on icons for worship, have a territorial view of the church, strange ideas about salvation, and heaven and hell, practise infant baptism, chrismation, mandatory celibacy for priests, excessive liturgy and rituals...all things that not agreable with biblical Christianity.

Another article on this site states the benefits of ecumenical union with the catholic church - back to Rome.

 2021/8/22 16:14Profile

Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 6041


How many raptures are there? Paul says one.


 2021/8/23 7:45Profile

Joined: 2007/2/8
Posts: 1996


Hi TMk,
I think the problem with answering your question is that the post only becomes A Post Pre debate which we have had on many many occasions.
My points on the post are not to do with the rapture as such but a comment on the post.
1 The exegesis used in the post is not based on scripture
2 Post Tribulation believers continually muddle up the term "tribulations" and a fixed period of time called "The Great Tribulation" sometimes delibrately I am beginning to think.
3 Post Tribulation believers have pre conceived ideas about Pre tribbers that are incorrect such as the subject of "suffering"
4 Many good teachers who love the Lord have argued on different sides of the debate
5 Our rapture views are important either way as they affect our Church/Christian life on issues like salvation etc

Urs staff

 2021/8/23 13:19Profile

Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 6041


//The exegesis used in the post is not based on scripture//

Come on staff. Your view became dominant in just the last century. Are you telling me that, prior to the advent of dispensationalism, eschatological views were not based on scripture?

The point of my question is that if there are not 2 raptures(btw there are not) then pre-trib must fail.


 2021/8/23 13:53Profile

Joined: 2007/2/8
Posts: 1996


The exegesis in this post is not based on scripture ,Ignasius and Justin Martyr are not cannon and regardless of where or when the theological arguement comes from the exegesis has to be from scripture.
What I am saying for the reasons listed the original post makes a poor critical case.I accept that you are trying to make a critical case against the rapture.I accept that you could make a thoughtful,scriptural arguement against a pre trib view but that this post does not in my opinion.

Again the problem with the post is its ideas of what Pretribbers think of suffering is incorrect,the non use of scripture in the post relying on non cannon ,the idea that because the false prosperity gospel believes the rapture then the rapture is wrong by association rather than exegesis and the misuse of the term tribulation as being interchangeable with the period of time called the great tribulation .
I could also add that no pretribber I know is saying that their will be no suffering ,trials ,tribulations or even Martyrdom before the rapture
One last point would be the problem with the prosperity gospel is not the rapture ,the problem with the prosperity gospel is the prosperity gospel and it should be scrutinized scripturally because of this.Belief in a prosperity gospel is not interchangable with being a pretribber,
urs staff

 2021/8/23 15:56Profile

Joined: 2008/10/25
Posts: 3472
This world is not my home anymore.


I could also add that no pretribber I know is saying that their will be no suffering, trials, tribulations or even Martyrdom before the rapture

No, pre-tribber that YOU know. I don’t know where you live but I live in the buckle of the Bible belt – East Tennessee and I am surrounded by pre-tribber’s that actually believe they will NOT suffer (my Pastor and his wife are two of them), they believe they will escape.

What’s going on in Afghanistan is blowing their mind. We talked about it at church but it is still half way around the world. Out of sight, out of mind.

Edit: martyrdom will not be for them, just for the other countries.


 2021/8/23 17:46Profile

Joined: 2007/2/8
Posts: 1996


Hi Lysa,
The majority of the Christians I know are Pretribbers and have a very biblical view of suffering.
As you know both Post tribbers and Pretribbers adhere to wrong understanding of the bible at times.
Again you cant argue from experience ie "Afghanistan" and make a theology from it.Whats happening in Afghanistan shouldnt make you believe in the Pre trib or the Post trib.
A theology has to come from scripture or is in line with scripture.
Also what can a pastor in North America do about Afghanistan ?We can pray .Its not his fault that people are getting killed.
Just because Christians are dying or suffering doesnt mean that the Pretrib rapture is wrong.Dying or suffering has nothing to do with the rapture pre trib or post trib.
This theology comes because Post tribbers are muddled up regarding the difference between "tribulations " and "The great tribulation".
What pre tribbers are saying is you will have tribulations but you wont go through the great tribulation.
The original post had many things wrong with it and I was pointing out that it didnt do the Post Trib side of the debate any favours as it was relying on hearsay ,it didnt understand the pretrib point of view and its muddled up on what the Great Trib is compares to tribulations.
In fact when I have debated this on SI with Post trib believers they always end up saying that the Great Tribulation wont be world wide and things will be relatively normal just before Christ returns,
Well you cant have a Great Tribulation and things will be relatively normal both cant be true at the same time,
urs staff

 2021/8/23 18:29Profile

Joined: 2007/2/8
Posts: 1996


Hi Lysa,
If I put it another way.If the Taliban burst through my doors with allguns blazing and they demand I convert to Islam or be killed ,it doesnt change my Tribulation view. All it means is that I didnt make it to The Great Tribulation and I was martyred before I was raptured,
urs staff

 2021/8/23 18:41Profile

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