By Pastor Dan Gayman
The great escape doctrine of Evangelical Christianity is the rapture hoax, the most prominent point of theology they have. The secret rapture of the church is the most exaggerated and repeated doctrine Evangelical Christianity espouses. This hoax is exceeded only by the alleged holocaust of six million Jews in World War II and the other hoax regarding modern Jews—that they are one and the same with ancient Israel of Bible fame. Sadly, these three hoaxes are complete fabrications, without one whit of biblical or historical evidence. The goal of this study is to expose the first mentioned hoax, the secret rapture, to the light of biblical and historic truth.
Pastor Dan Gayman
More than sixty million Evangelical Christians in America and the Anglo-Saxon world have bet the family farm on the pre-tribulation, secret rapture of the church. This doctrine saturates the fabric and soul of evangelical Christianity. Tens of thousands of clergy and the laity following them anxiously await this secret snatching. This popular doctrine has frozen in place millions of the finest Christians in the Anglo-Saxon world, rendering them useless, in a state of spiritual paralysis. They have been rendered neutral in the battle for this earth and the souls of men.
The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine has robbed millions of fine Christians of any thought for taking and keeping dominion of this earth. Because they believe that Jesus Christ may return at any moment and snatch away the church in a secret rapture just prior to the great tribulation, they have little or no concern for America’s or any other country’s future. Essentially, they are content to abandon dominion and allow unbelievers and Secular Humanists to take charge of their political, social, and economic future.
For more than one hundred years, this doctrine has been planting spiritual roots and building momentum. Beginning in the British Isles around 1830, and then spreading to Continental Europe, west across the Atlantic, and into the hearts of Evangelicals in America, the rapture doctrine has taken tenacious root in fundamental Christianity. The consequences of this rooting are nothing less than spectacular! This biblical worldview has so neutralized Evangelicals that it has impacted the entire Christian West. Their abandonment of the political world has helped turn America over to Secular Humanists. If one truly believes that at any given moment Jesus Christ will secretly rapture the church and abandon the earth to Satan and his minions, of course any thought or plan of Christian dominion flies right out the window. Too few sincere, Christian men any longer run for office or guide the political destiny of a nation. When Christians withdraw from society and surrender the earth to unbelievers, the salt loses its savor, and evil men and wickedness become enthroned. Secular Humanism is the new religion in America and shapes every facet of our western culture.
Christianity has lost it savor because millions of our best men and women have opted for the “I’ll Fly Away” doctrine. Christians who wish to take dominion of this earth and try to win the souls of men to the glory of Jesus Christ can no longer afford to live in denial of this popular view. We must understand what this doctrine is about and where these people are coming from. Then we must take the time to not only refute and expose this false doctrine, but also win the hearts of these Evangelical Christians to the battle for God, the right, and the future of our country.
Remnant Christians of every persuasion must understand the nature of this doctrine, its history, Bible “proofs” they use to support this doctrine, and how we can best turn the hearts of Evangelical Christians to the truth of God. In brief, let us examine each of these areas and trust that God will use truth and the light of His Word to expose the error of man and the subtle teachings that have commandeered an entire generation.
What Do Proponents of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teach?
With some modifications, Evangelical clergymen teach that just prior to a period of worldwide tribulation, Jesus Christ will secretly catch away His church and take them to Heaven. Then, void of faithful Christians, the earth will enter a period of intense tribulation lasting seven years, during which time a literal anti-Christi—suave, subtle, flattering, and deceptive—will rule the world. This anti-Christ will make a covenant with the Jews and establish a great temple, complete with animal sacrifices and a Jewish priesthood in Jerusalem. Mid-way through these seven years of tribulation, the anti-Christ will break his covenant with the Jews and turn upon them with persecution. A remnant of 144,000 Jews will believe, turn, and embrace Jesus Christ and undergo tremendous persecution.
During this time, the vials and plagues of Revelation will unfold. At the conclusion of this seven-year period of intense worldwide tribulation, Jesus Christ will return with His saints. He will come in power to judge the nations and establish His Kingdom. This seven-year period of history is believed to be the seventieth week of Daniel 9 and is separated from the other sixty-nine weeks, which they believe has been fulfilled already, leaving only the last week to remain unfulfilled.
When Christ returns, the terrible day of vengeance will unfold, with blood running deep enough to reach the horses’ bridles. Jesus Christ will wage the battle of Armageddon, and His people will be the victors. Then the church will be joined by the 144,000 souls of the Jewish remnant to become the bride of Christ. The Marriage of the Lamb will then unfold, Jesus will possess the earth, and the thousand-year millennial reign of Christ upon the Throne of David will commence.
The rapture doctrine is married to the idea that the modern Jewish State of Israeli (in Palestine) represents biblical Israel, that the multi-racial Gentile church is the bride of Christ, and that ultimately, this Gentile church will join the converted Jews in a millennial kingdom wherein Jesus Christ will rule from Jerusalem (the capitol of the restored Kingdom of God) upon the throne of world government. A multi-racial, Gentile church (the bride of Christ) and a converted Jewish nation (the wife of Jehovah) are the twin pillars under-girding this pre-tribulation doctrine. The seven years of intense, worldwide tribulation and the reign of the literal anti-Christ are likewise essential elements of this doctrine.
The Historical Background of the Rapture Doctrine
Prior to the early 1800s, any idea of a secret rapture of the church before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ was unknown, so this doctrine bloomed quite late in religious history. Its roots go back to 1747, when a sixteen-year-old Spanish Jew by the name of Emmanuel Lacunza became a member of the Jesuits and devoted himself to the study of theology. Writing under the name of Rabbi Ben Ezra, this allegedly converted Jew who lived in Northern Italy devoted his later years to writing a book, The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty. An abridgment of this work was published in two small volumes at the Isle of Leon in Spain in 1816.
In 1816, the diplomatic agent of the Republic of Buenos Aires published in London a complete edition in Spanish, perhaps the very first. A set of these volumes was placed in the library of the Arch Bishop of Canterbury. Dr. Maitland, Librarian to the Arch Bishop of Canterbury, was apparently among the first to study the writings of Lacunza. He published several pamphlets on prophecy that arrested the attention of the Protestant world. As these tracts circulated throughout the British Isles, they stimulated interest in Bible prophecy and the Second Coming of Christ.
The work of Emmanuel Lacunza drew such attention that a young, brilliant Scottish Presbyterian minister, Edward Irving (born in Annan, Scotland in 1792 and founder of the Irvingites, or as they later called themselves, the Catholic Apostolic Church), began translating Lacunza’s work into English. This work was completed between 1825 and 1828. By 1830 and deep into Bible prophecy, Irving was attracted to the spiritual manifestations of a young Scottish girl in her teens who was purported to have received miraculous outpourings of the Spirit. She had a vision of the catching away of the church in a secret and unannounced return of Jesus Christ. Margaret McDonald shared her end-time visions with other clergy, including Edward Irving.
Building on the foundation of Emmanuel Lacunza’s work, his own independent study, and the revelations of Margaret McDonald, Edward Irving crafted the doctrine of the rapture of the church, with Jesus Christ coming to perform this miracle just prior to a time of unprecedented, worldwide tribulation. Beginning in 1830 and thereafter, the rapture doctrine took root throughout England, Scotland, and Wales.
The real planting of this doctrine in Ireland, Europe, and later into America was the work of Nelson N. Darby (1800-1882), a former clergyman in the Church of Ireland (Anglican). Darby had become a prominent leader in the Plymouth Brethren movement, which originated in Ireland and England between 1830-1835 and stressed prayer, prophecy, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Darby founded groups of the Brethren in Continental Europe, especially in French-speaking Switzerland, where he lived between 1838-1845.
Also preaching French, English, and German, Darby published numerous pamphlets and edited a quarterly periodical called the Christian Witness. Darby’s system of Eschatology (end time doctrine), which fabricated the pre-tribulation rapture of the church and built upon the earlier work of Emmanuel Lacunza and his contemporaries (Margaret McDonald and Edward Irving), was popular in the Plymouth Brethren groups.
The writings and notes of Nelson N. Darby finally became integrated in the detailed Bible notes of Cyrus Scofield (1843-1921). His dispensational, pre-millennial Bible, published in 1909, contained an elaborate system of footnotes that embody the entire system of pre-tribulation, “any moment” secret rapture. The Scofield Study Notes became the teacher for tens of thousands of evangelical clergy throughout most of the 20th Century and continues to this very day. Thus, a theological system unknown in Apostolic Christianity became the bread and butter doctrine of the entire Evangelical world.
The pre-tribulation rapture is now the hub of the theological wheel. Evangelicals fit the spokes of most of their theology into this hub of rapture doctrine. The secret rapture is the focus of millions today. Contemporary preachers and writers like John Hagee, David Jeremiah, Hal Lindsay, Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins, John Walvoord, Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, the late Jerry Falwell, and countless others have taught endless sermons and published millions of copies of books on the subject.
In fact, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins teamed up to write a series of books on the rapture. Their books then became best sellers in bookstores throughout the Anglo-Saxon world. Their books have sold in excess of 15,000,000 copies. This series built around the theme of a group of people “left behind” following the secret rapture of the church, includes such titles as Left Behind, Tribulation Force, Nicolae, Soul Harvest, Appollyon, and Assassins. Even one book in this series is designed especially for teens: Left Behind: The Kids.
The Sunday morning and evening Bible menu of most Evangelical churches (filled with millions of good people) features a steady diet of rapture doctrine. These people actually have abandoned the biblical worldview of Christian dominion of this earth for an “I’ll fly away religion in the sky.” They are paid up, prayed up, psyched up, and ready to go up. As a result, the energizing force of Christianity has been lost—largely to this and previous generations, causing our culture to lose its Christian savor. Even with their good intentions, Evangelicals have abandoned their call to Christian dominion and are content to surrender America and the future of their children to Satan, his minions, and the religion of Secular Humanism.
Theology Used to Support the Rapture
The word rapture does not appear anywhere in Scripture. The entire concept of the rapture is built on a philosophical world vision about what some erroneously believe the Bible teaches. Nothing in Christian literature, from the days of the Apostles forward through the centuries, confirms the doctrine of the rapture. The birth of the rapture doctrine is essentially the early 1800s. Before the arrival of Rabbi Ben Ezra, the vision of Margaret McDonald, and the theology advanced by Edward Irving and Nelson N. Darby in the early 1800s, the doctrine of the rapture was unknown in Western Christian teaching.
The architects of the rapture have taken some cornerstones of Bible truth and crafted these doctrines to fit the particular mold of rapture teaching. Granted, the Bible does teach that Jesus Christ will make a personal, bodily appearance on this earth at the consummation of human history. The Second Coming of Christ will usher in the Day of Vengeance upon the wicked of this world. Moreover, the Bible does teach that there will be a time of unprecedented, universal tribulation prior to the return of Jesus to this earth.
At His coming, the battle of Armageddon will fold, wherein much blood will be shed in cataclysmic, earth-shaking events. There will be a sealing of 144,000 Israelite households when the seals of revelation are unloosed on earth. Absolute judgment will visit the nations, and Jesus Christ will marry His redeemed Israel, the true Church. He will restore again the Kingdom to Israel. Jesus Christ will rule this earth from the Throne of David and will usher in the Pax Romana (unprecedented time of world peace) of God’s Kingdom wherein judgment and justice will prevail among all the nations of the earth.
The Bible presents a worldview of history that ends in the triumphant return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The return of Jesus Christ will usher in the Day of His Vengeance upon Edom and all other enemies of His people and His Kingdom. The Church of the Redeemed will have endured a time of unprecedented, worldwide tribulation known as the time of Jacob’s trouble. History is moving the nations toward the irreversible judgment of the Living God, the triumphant return of Christ, the re-gathering of the redeemed children of Israel, and the restoration of the theocratic Kingdom (Acts 1:6). As these age ending events come to a close, Revelation 11:15 will find its fulfillment: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
Evangelical theologians have taken great Bible truths and reshaped, crafted, and fabricated an intricate, eschatological world-vision for the last days. This worldview is built upon several false postulates, many of which were exposed as fraudulent long ago. The rapture doctrine is built from the basic premise that God will deliver His redeemed people from having to endure the age-ending tribulation. At the close of history, the redeemed people of God will be delivered from tribulation by a secret rapture that will catch them away.
One of the cardinal points under-girding the rapture doctrine is the attention given to the birth of the Israeli (Jewish) State in May of 1948. Evangelicals believe this event is a definite sign of the beginning of the re-gathering of Israel and the restoration of the Kingdom. At the same time, they believe that the multi-racial Gentile church will be delivered from this earth in a secret rapture that will witness the removal of all believers from planet earth.
Evangelicals are unable to separate true Israel from the counterfeit, fraudulent Jews that are identified as the “Synagogue of Satan” in Revelation 2:9 and 3:9. At the same time, they are unable to identify the Gentiles that were incorporated into the Christian faith in the apostolic age of the Church. They are blind to the fact that the New Testament Gentiles in the Pauline Epistles are the Israelites of the dispersion who were glad recipients of the Gospel.
Evangelical theologians do not know that genetic Israel is the church and that the church is Israel. Failing to identify biblical Israel as the Celtic, Anglo, Saxon, Germanic, Scandinavian, Slavic, and kindred people of the earth and unable to discern that the Gentiles of the New Testament Epistles are Israelites of the dispersion, Evangelical clergymen are unable to build a coherent and systematic theology from Scripture. They have given “chosen people status” to modern Jews that never even descended from Abraham and have no claim to anything belonging to biblical Israel. Evangelicals have failed to identify the fraudulent Jews who now occupy the land of Israel. In their blindness, they continue to support the very people who hate Jesus Christ and all things Christian.
Rapture minded theologians allege that both Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah (II Kings 2:11) are examples of what the Living Church at the end of history will experience on a much larger scale. Building from the experience of these two Bible characters, evangelicals believe that one day, the entire church will be taken up to heaven.
In reality, both Enoch and Elijah simply serve as examples to show that when Jesus Christ does return, all those who are alive and remain through the great Tribulation (II Thessalonians 4:16-17) will be translated in the twinkling of an eye (I Corinthians 15:51-52). These newly and instantly translated saints, then in glorified bodies, will meet Christ as He returns to this earth to judge the world in righteousness, to execute the Day of His Vengeance, and re-gather His people Israel in preparation for the Kingdom Age.
Why should Christians in the last days be so special as to be raptured out of tribulation when previous generations of Christians suffered terrible persecution, including martyrdom, for the cause of Jesus Christ? Except for the apostle John, all the original apostles suffered martyrdom. Countless thousands of Christians perished in the early centuries, continuing to suffer martyrdom through the centuries to the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century. Salvation history demonstrates that God delivered His people in tribulation or allowed them to suffer persecution for His Name and Kingdom’s sake. Enoch and Elijah were translated not because of tribulation, but because God intended to specially and uniquely take them from the earth.
In every generation, God has delivered His people in tribulation, not out of it! There is no record of rapture in the Bible except for that of the wicked (Proverbs 2:21-22), which the Bible does teach that occur. The three Hebrew children were delivered in the fiery furnace, not out of it. Daniel was delivered in the lion’s den, not out of it. The Israelites were delivered in their bondage in Egypt, not raptured out of it. Throughout history in every generation, God has powerfully preserved His people in their tribulation, not out of it. And, there are plenty of examples of those who were called to suffer horrendous persecution and affliction rather than being caught away in a rapture. Read Hebrews 11:31-40 and ponder where the rapture was for all of those saints.
The idea that Christians at the end of history are a special class that deserves to be caught away and taken to heaven is not in Scripture and assuredly not chronicled in salvation history. The Bible teaches that the 144,000 households in Revelation 7 will be sealed and protected from tremendous tribulation. In Revelation 12, the woman Israel will be taken into the wilderness from the danger imposed by the dragon and his minions. The woman Israel will not be caught away in some kind of a rapture; rather God will miraculously protect these remnant believers.
Theologians frequently cite the “taken” verses in Matthew 24:40-41 to support the secret rapture: “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” There is no authority for assuming that those taken are secretly raptured in advance of tribulation. The ones taken out could very well be those who are deemed unworthy to inherit the Kingdom. Proverbs 2:21-22 demonstrates that it is the wicked who will be taken out—or raptured—not the righteous. The promise of Jesus Christ is that the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Rapture proponents also use the “worthy to escape” verse of Luke 21:36. Again, it is presumptuous to assign this verse to support a secret, pre-Tribulation rapture. “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the son of man.” There are no grounds for assuming that the word escape refers to a secret rapture. Escape is a valid word to describe how Daniel eluded death in the lion’s den. The Israelites escaped from the bondage of Egypt.
To believe that the church will one day fly away to heaven in a secret rapture has no historic application to Luke 21:36 or any other verse in Scripture. Revelation 7:9-17 records a multitude of believers that “came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Where was the rapture for this multitude that endured tribulation?
Advocates of the secret rapture believe themselves to be standing on solid ground with the “We shall all be changed” verses of I Corinthians 15:51, 52: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of any eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” This historic passage clearly points to the resurrection of the dead and the translation of those living when Christ returns. These verses have nothing to do with the rapture.
Not one commentary of note before 1830 ever sought to connect any part of I Corinthians 15 on the resurrection of the dead and translation of the living to a secret catching away of the church. If someone comes selling you a point of theology that is new and lacking any apostolic/early Christian foundation, it is probably not true. And, if something is true, you can bet it is not new (Eccles. 1:10)! Theology crafted after 1830 has a high probability of being false doctrine, especially with the nefarious doctrine of the rapture.
Yet another popular rapture verse is Revelation 12:5: “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto god, and to his throne.” The man child of Revelation 12:5 is our Lord Jesus Christ, not the church. The very next verse (Revelation 12:6) speaks of a woman (biblical Israel) who fled into the wilderness to a place prepared of God during the time of great tribulation. Rapture theologians have truly mixed it up here. They have failed to identify the man child as Jesus Christ and neglected to read on and note that the woman (redeemed Israel in the very next verse) is the redeemed church of God.
This church is not caught up in the rapture in Revelation 12, but rather is taken into the wilderness where God prepared her a place to be cared for during a period of three and one-half years. Again, theologians promoting the rapture have trouble getting it right in Scripture.
Truly, there is no biblical justification for the secret, pre-tribulation doctrine of the rapture, for it is a patchwork quilt of theological aberrations that have no foundation in Apostolic Christianity and were fabricated in the early 19th and 20th centuries. The doctrine of the rapture has been a powerful neutralizing force in Western Christian civilization and has given rise to a failed walk in Christian dominion. This doctrine has effectively moved millions of good Christian people from the scene of battle.
Moreover, the pockets of many evangelists have been lined quite well with this lucrative, money-making doctrine. After all, if you are about ready to go up in a secret, pre-Tribulation rapture, why not give all your money away? Evangelists who promote this doctrine and specialize in writing novels on this subject have become rich. Witness the unprecedented success of such writers as Hal Lindsay, Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins, and others who have reaped a harvest of riches writing about the rapture. And they are not alone. No doctrine preached in any given generation in two thousand years has yielded such financial rewards in the collection plates.
Remnant Christians will do well to pray, read their Bibles, and know with certainty that God has called them in every generation to bear the cross, to endure hardness as true soldiers, and suffer tribulation and persecution for their faith. Remnant Christians living now can anticipate terrible persecution for the cause of Jesus Christ. The warning Jesus issued in His Revelation Letter reads as follows: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17).
There is no historical precedent for Christians in any generation to escape tribulation by means of a secret catching away into the clouds. Revelation 13:7 provides this forecast of the power of political Babylon in the last days: “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”
These remnant Christians will be victorious over-comers against the Beast System, but it will not be by means of a secret rapture of the church. Scripture tells us precisely how they will overcome and be delivered in tribulation, not out of it: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11).
Finally, to all true Christian soldiers of Jesus Christ heed the very words of the Captain of our salvation: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. . . .Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18-20). We are not called into salvation for a secret ride to heaven while others remain to face the foes of Jesus Christ. Rather, our duty is to remain true soldiers of Jesus Christ, occupying till He comes. We must leave the consequences of our warfare in the hands of our perfect and righteous God!
In closing, keep these words of Jesus Christ close to your heart as you wage spiritual warfare against Satan, the world, sin nature, and all those who oppose our Lord and Savior and seek to overthrow His Kingdom. “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).