Peter Rollins & The Rapture – St Anne & ‘Evandelism’ Tracts

image There’s a new sculpture in St Anne’s Square in Belfast. Crafted by Lucy Glendinning, it is the figure of a woman being lifted up to the heavens. She faces out towards St Anne’s Cathedral, and it appears she is being ‘raptured’, taken up to meet the Lord in the air. I think the sculpture looks great.

For those of us who grew up within evangelicalism, the coming Rapture was a prominent theme in the sermons we heard and the Sunday School lessons we attended. We were told that the Rapture is what will happen when Jesus comes back and rescues all the people who have been ‘born again’ or ‘saved,’ sparing them from a period of seven years of woe and punishment on the earth.

In my youth group in my American high school, I remember watching a movie about this coming event. The film featured scenes of chaos as Christians all over the planet were spirited away. All that was left behind was their clothing, folded very neatly on the seats of cars, airplanes, etc.

(Oh, and the film – the name of which I do not recall – featured footage from all over the world and I remember that the rioting looked the worst in Belfast, Northern Ireland!)

The case for the Rapture is usually made based on passages of Scripture in the book of Revelations, as well as 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and Matthew 24:29-31. It was not until I went to university that I discovered that theories about the Rapture had only begun to be developed in the 1700s. I didn’t know that most Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Calvinist denominations did not accept the version of the Rapture that I had been taught.

The interpretation of the Rapture offered by the churches I attended as a youth is based on the theology of John Nelson Darby, an Anglo-Irish evangelist who came up with the idea of the pre-tribulation rapture in the 1820s. Darby’s dispensationalist theology has been especially influential in evangelical churches in the United States.

Versions of Darby’s ideas are offered in popular books such as the Scofield Reference Bible and, more recently, the ‘Left Behind’ series, which detail the adventures of people who, previously ‘unsaved,’ have been left behind during the Tribulation and are now trying to remain faithful to God. There is even a Rapture Watch website, whose posts include instructions for those who are left behind after the Rapture.

One way in which evangelicals have spread their ideas about the Rapture is through tracts. If you live in Belfast, Ballymena, or some cities and towns in the US, you may have been offered these palm-sized pamphlets as you walk down the street. The churches I attended as a child always had a wide selection of tracts in the foyer, with topics ranging from the Rapture to how to be saved, for us to take away and hand out to friends.

image Peter Rollins, the post-modern philosopher and theologian, has created his own ‘Rapture’ tract. Rollins plans to distribute the tracts during his ‘Insurrection’ tour, which is being launched in at the Re-Emergence Conference in Belfast, 16-18 March 2010. On his blog, Rollins says he is making the tracts

‘available to anyone who might be interested in doing a little street evandalism (handing them out, placing them on buses, hiding them in Christian book shops, slipping them into people’s pockets etc.).’

Of course, Rollins’ Rapture doesn’t have quite the same ending as the one offered by John Nelson Darby or the modern dispensationalists. If you are not able to attend the Re-Emergence Conference or another insurrection event, you can get a batch of tracts at cost price by contacting Rollins directly.

3 Responses to Peter Rollins & The Rapture – St Anne & ‘Evandelism’ Tracts

  1. david Cahill February 5, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    When news reached Iris Robinson of the meterorite shower that lit up the skies of Ireland on Wednesday night, she got a terrible fright and almost had another breakdown.She thought that the Rapture had finally arrived and she feared being “Left Below” heheheh :-)

  2. Alexandra February 22, 2010 at 4:55 am #

    (spied the following article while webbing. reactions? Alexandra)

    PRETRIB RAPTURE SECRECY

    by Dave MacPherson

    The word “secrecy” when applied to Christ’s return can refer to two different things: time and visibility. Before 1830 the only coming Christians looked for was the “every eye shall see him” second advent to earth – secret only in point of time.
    Enter Margaret Macdonald in 1830. She saw “the one taken and the other left” before “THE WICKED” [Antichrist] will “be revealed” – and added that her pretrib rapture would not be “seen by the natural eye” but only by “those who have the light of God within.” Her rapture was doubly secret: at an unknown day and hour and also invisible to “outsiders.”
    Desperate to eliminate Margaret as the pretrib originator and the Irvingites as the first public teachers of pretrib, Darby defender Thomas Ice foolishly claims that they taught a secret POSTTRIB coming even though he knows that when Hal Lindsey teaches “one taken” etc. before the Antichrist “is revealed” Lindsey is expressing the kernel of the pretrib view – what MM and the Irvingites clearly taught before Darby did! Google “X-Raying Margaret” and “Edward Irving is Unnerving” to see why they are properly labeled “pretrib.”)
    As early as June 1832, Irving’s journal taught that only “to those who are watching and praying…will Christ be manifested…as the morning star. To the rest of the church, and to the world, this first appearance will be…unintelligible.” (“Present State of Prophetic Knowledge” etc., p. 374)
    Always trailing and “borrowing” quietly from the Irvingites who in turn had “borrowed” from Margaret, Darby in 1845 finally sounded like them when he wrote that “the bright and morning Star…is the sweet and blessed sign to them that watch…And such is Christ before He appears [at the final advent to earth]. The Sun will arise on the world….The star is before the [Sun], the joy of those who watch. The unwakeful world, who sleep in the night, see it not.” (“Thoughts on the Apocalypse,” p. 167)
    And Lindsey’s “Late Great Planet Earth,” p. 143, says that “the second coming is said to be visible to the whole earth (Revelation 1:7). However, in the Rapture. only the Christians see Him – it’s a mystery, a secret.”
    My bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (available at online stores including Armageddon Books) has 300 pages of such documentation and proves that Margaret was the first to “see” a secret, pretrib rapture, that the Irvingites soon echoed her in their journal (which Darby admitted he avidly read), and that Darby was last on all of the crucial aspects of dispensationalism.
    Shockingly, all of the earliest pretrib development rested solely on unclear OT and NT types and symbols and NOT on clear Biblical statements. Margaret’s rapture was inspired by Rev. 11′s “two witnesses.” And her “secret visibility” rested on the “types” of Stephen, Paul, and John – all of whom saw or heard what others couldn’t see or hear.
    For 30 years Darby’s pretrib basis was the rapture of Rev. 12′s “man child” – actually his plagiarism of Irving’s usage of this “pretrib” symbol eight years earlier!
    As I said at the start, the “second advent to earth” is secret in point of time with its unknown “day and hour,” as Christ stated. Pretribs assert that if Christ returns for the church after the tribulation, we could count down the days and figure out the actual date of His return – which would contradict Christ’s words.
    But pretribs deliberately ignore the fact that Christ said that the tribulation days will be shortened – and He didn’t reveal the length of the shortening!
    Our opponents also assume that the “watch” verses prove the “any-moment imminence” of Christ’s return. But do they? II Peter 3:12 says we are to be “looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God” which all premills claim is at least 1000 years ahead of us and therefore hardly “imminent”! What’s the difference between “watching for” and “looking for”?
    You have just learned a few of the many secrets that the Secret Rapture Gang has hidden for a long time. Evidently they have forgotten Luke 12:2′s warning that “there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed”!
    PS – For the ultimate in uncovered secrets, see engines like Google and type in “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.”

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