Currently within the United States there is a prevailing view of eschatology (study of end time events). It is popularly called the “Pre-trib Rapture” (This eschatological view is actually futuristic – pre-millennial – with a pre-tribulation rapture. It is opposed to the Church’s historic position, which is futuristic - pre-millennial – with a post-tribulation rapture.) and arises from a system of theology known as Dispensationalism. The Dispensational system of theology began to be developed by John Nelson Darby of England in 1827. He inserted a pre-tribulation rapture view of eschatology after hearing a prophecy given by Margaret Macdonald in the spring of 1830. Darby’s dispensational views gained ground in the United States when C.I. Scofield included it in his reference Bible of 1917. After that, it began to be taught at Dallas Theological Seminary and one of its students; Hal Lindsey made it popular with his book, The Late Great Planet Earth (1970).
Four major components of the Pre-tribulation Rapture position are:
- That Christians will be raptured (caught up to meet the Lord in the air) before a seven-year tribulation period.
- That the rapture occurs before the second coming of Jesus Christ.
- That the rapture is “secret”. (It will not be visible to anyone. Those who remain are either Jews or unbelievers and they will discover that all the Christians have disappeared in the twinkling of an eye.)
- That the rapture is imminent. (It can occur at any time. No signs have to precede its occurrence.)
- If Jesus’ return was imminent (could occur at any time)
- Why didn’t He say so?
- Why did He bother to tell His disciples about specific future events?
- Why did He caution them not to be misled?
- Why did He issue specific commands to the disciples when they observed the events happening?
- Since according to this scheme no signs are required to precede the Rapture, why did the Apostle Paul say that our gathering together to Jesus would not occur until after the apostasy and the man of lawlessness was revealed?
- Why didn’t He say so?
- Jesus commanded His disciples to be alert.
- What difference does it make if a believer is alert or not, since the rapture is a secret?
- What are they to be alert for?
- If the rapture of Christians occurs before Christ’s coming why didn’t Jesus or any of the apostles or prophets tell anyone or write it down?