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Thursday, 30 September 2004
A Critique of the Rapture: Will Catholics Be Left Behind?
Mood:  energetic
Topic: Books/Book_Reviews

How exciting and exhilarating must it be to know what's going to happen in the future! No I am not talking about predictors of the future. I am talking about the events of pre-tribulation Rapture or Rapture as revealed and described in passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. The term "rapture" is taken from the Latin word "rapiemur," used by St. Jerome for the Greek word in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 meaning "caught up" or "snatch away." For Christian denominations and believers, these are very important events accompanying the Second Coming. Now you can appreciate the basis for the discomfort felt by many Roman Catholics and conservative Protestants with the views and content expressed by the widely popular 'Left Behind' series.

We have now come to appreciate the premises of the counterattack launched by the Catholic bishops of Illinois who allege that the content of the novels by Tim Lahaye and Co cast them in an unfavorable corner. The point of their discontent is based on the fact that the novels present a future pope who establishes a false liberal religion linked with the Antichrist. The bishops of Illinois contend that these books have rejected the traditional Christian beliefs bout the End of Times.

Who Believes in the Rapture? Who is well-informed enough to lead the counterattack at Left Behind?

Carl E. Olson, a convert from the 'dispensationalist' protestantism and Envoy Magazine Editor is ready to cast the first stone condemning the current interpretation of End Times suggesting a pre-rapture of many years preceding the Second Coming. "Will Catholics Be 'Left Behind'?: A Catholic Critique of the Rapture and Today's Prophecy Preachers" is his first swing at the series. No one can tell whether this new book will cause the Left Behind's throng of followers to question the spin on the End Times by these famous preachers.

Now the question to ask is whether or not Catholics believe in the Rapture.

For all of you who had any doubt about Catholics' beliefs in this matter, I will let Carl Olson give his answer. "Catholics, along with the members of the Eastern Orthodox Church and most Protestants, believe that those alive at the Second Coming will be caught up to meet Christ in the air. They do believe in a rapture event, if by that we are referring to believers being caught up to meet Christ at the Second Coming, or Parousia -- not several years prior."

I imagine that you will have lots of fun reading this thought-provoking book that purports to shed light on these murky issues of End Times. If you are a believer, all that should matter is that if you are still alive, you will be caught up to meet Christ at the Second Coming. For sure, he is returning to take his church, you and me, to Heavens with him. As noted above, here's the text of the quoted passages: 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 "Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, int he twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 "For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever."

All of these quotes show that the Second Coming does not happen in two phases as suggested by the Left Behind Series. Carl E. Olson who did his theological studies at Briercrest Bible College in Caronport, Saskatchewan, takes a look at the history of dispensationalism's popularity in the New World.

"Vague notions of such an event have been around for about three centuries, but the form that is so popular in North America originated in the 1830s in England with an ex-Anglican priest, John Nelson Darby [1800-1882].

Darby created an entire system of theology called pre-millennial dispensationalism, based on a radical separation between Old Testament Israel, described as God's "earthly" people, and the New Testament Church, his "heavenly" people. The Rapture is the means by which God will remove the heavenly people from the world so that he can finish the work begun with his earthly people.

Darby's ideas spread to North America in the late 1800s and were developed and systematized by a number of American fundamentalists, notably C.I. Scofield, Lewis Sperry Chafer and Charles Ryrie.

Dispensationalism's popularity grew enormously in 1970 with the publication of Hal Lindsey's best-selling "The Late Great Planet Earth," and that popularity continues today, as evidenced by the "Left Behind" novels, created by noted fundamentalist Tim LaHaye, which have now sold about 50 million copies."

It's worth noting that "Will Catholics Be 'Left Behind'" is heavily footnoted. This way, readers can embark on their research. The point of all these footnotes is to corner the proponents of the dispensationalist contemporary preachers.

Is this book interesting and captivating?

I will be the first one to say that it is. I will quickly point out in defense of the 'Left Behind' series that the books are novels. As such, one can expect that some characterizations are loosely based on the sources. If anything, these books cause many believers and non-believers to think about the End Times. By the same token, Olson's book is more of a call for the Catholic leadership to be more proactive in their teaching. The truth about the Second Coming was revealed.

Jesus will return for you and me. Are we ready? Or are you ready to go with him?

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Updated: Saturday, 23 October 2004 6:28 AM

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