A Russian friend of mine wrote and asked me about the web site raptureless.com. So I checked it out. As the name suggests, part of the main idea is that the whole concept of “The Rapture” is not really on the cards.
Raptureless.com is put together by a guy that I feel is a very appealing and sincere person. His name is Jonathan Welton and I was fascinated when reading about him. Here’s how he describes his parents and background
My parents both graduated from a Pentecostal Bible College in the early 1970s. They attended classes during the era of the Jesus People Movement, the Vietnam War, and the especially bestselling “Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey. My parents met and married and I was born in 1983. This was an era of much speculation and fear regarding the endtimes. My parents heard all the confusing, conflicting points of view, and instead of becoming obsessed with figuring it all out, they made a choice.
They determined to raise godly children who would raise godly grandchildren. They chose to think long-term and invest in their future and the future of their children. They didn’t have all the answers regarding a “perfect theology of the endtimes,” but they knew better than to buy into the hype. When their friends quit their jobs, bought boats, and racked up credit card debt “because the end of the world is around the corner and we won’t have to pay it back,” my parents called this irresponsible and unChristlike behavior.
Amen, bravo and well done. I come from nearly exactly the background of Mr. Welton’s parents. I have 4 children who are right in his age group.
It’s a challenge to comment on Mr. Welton’s website and views because I try to limit the size of these posts. He’s placed a book on line, with much research and church history included. I find myself agreeing with a number of points and opposed to many things he’s opposed to.
In his third chapter, he goes over the history of Christianity’s understanding of Bible prophecy. And he highlights the influence in the 1800’s and early 1900’s of 3 men, John Darby, Edward Irving and C. I. Scofield. Those who are more knowledgeable concerning prophetic study will know these men were instrumental in promoting what today is called the PreTribulational view of the return of Jesus.
Then Mr. Welton goes on into our times to outline the numerous modern authors and teachers of Bible prophecy who’ve in a sense, cried “Wolf! Wolf!” And yet no wolf appeared. I share Mr. Welton’s deep concern for how these well known modern writers have profited handsomely from their writings but they’ve also just been completely wrong in their numerous predictions of “the end of the world” being only a matter of a few years or even a few months away.
But as much as I respect the character in Mr. Welton’s writings, some of it does seem like the story of the one who throws the baby out with the bathwater. He’s certainly right about the religious hype and fear-mongering that’s generated so much noise (and income) here in the States. At least it’s raised the awareness of millions to the knowledge of a coming Kingdom of God on earth. But there’s been very much that’s just proven false and that’s certainly confused the hearts of believers.
But Mr. Welton’s solution is to present a view of the history of Bible prophecy that doesn’t ring true to me. He says that for 1500 years the church and body of Christ didn’t look to a future of endtime events leading up to the coming of the Lord and His Kingdom on earth. Instead, he says that the church saw the prophetic chapters and verses that we look to as happening in the future to have already been fulfilled at the time of Jesus or immediately after that.
This teaching of Mr. Welton’s is not uniquely his. There’s a good article about this view of prophetic fulfillment in Wikipedia under the title “Preterist”.
Again, I’m constrained by a desire to keep these articles short and so I won’t go into voluminous details to explain how the body of believers has looked to a future return of Jesus for the last 2000 years. But Hippolytus of Rome, from 211 AD, wrote in his “Commentary on Daniel” in Book 4.14.2 about Daniel chapter 7:25,
“’It was given into his hand for a time and times and half a time’ which signals three and a half years and after this the coming judgment…”
This and so much more in Hippolytus’s book from the third century points towards the believers of those times looking to a future Great Tribulation, followed by the return of Jesus and His Kingdom on earth.
As much as I respect Mr. Welton and his work, I remain a firm believer that there are prophecies yet to be fulfilled, of a rapture and a coming of Christ’s Kingdom on earth. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness to all nations. And then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14)