The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Rapture and Universalism

One proposal of Universalism is that Revelation 22 is not the end of the age, but rather that I Corinthians 15 describes the victory over death and thus should be viewed after the events of Revelation.

But it has come to my attention that in doing so, one rather dispenses with the idea of the Rapture (at least in pre-trib/pre-mil views). I Corinthians 15:51-52 has a parallel passage in I Thessalonians 4:14-17. Is this not the same event? There are several clues that suggest so:

  1. There are those that sleep (are dead)

  2. There will be a trump of God.

  3. Then the dead (those who are asleep) will rise first

  4. Then those who are still alive will be changed

Ergo, if this is the same event, then the Rapture (pre-trib/pre-mil) cannot happen at the beginning of the tribulation, but must occur at the end of the age, if the above view is the consensus.

If true, many expectant Rapture-ready Christians are in for a big surprise.

What are your thoughts?

The pre-trib Rapture is a big doctrine in my neck of the woods; and I can understand (to some extent) why its proponents push it so hard. (Though in my experience they tend to fudge some things, too.)

I can also understand, exegetically, why an exclusively post-trib Rapture is believed instead by other large batches of Christians.

I don’t come down on that issue (yet) one way or the other (though overall I’d say the post-tribbers have a better case so far). But I do note that even pre-trib rapturists actually believe in and accept a post-trib rapture, too: it applies to new Christians surviving to the end of the Trib; and if I recall correctly (it’s been a while since I studied this in any depth) that’s exactly how they apply the verses you mentioned. Just like the post-trib rapturists do.

So actually, it isn’t a debate over whether pre-trib or post-trib rapture is true; because both sides agree post-trib is true. It’s a debate over whether pre-trib is also true. (I mean between those of us who believe in a coming rapture at all. Which I do.)

Consequently, I’m doubtful there is any conflict between pre-trib rapture and a universalistic interpretation of 1 Cor 15, any more than there is a conflict between pre-trib rapture and a post-trib rapture interpretation of 1 Cor 15. (Though strictly speaking, that prophecy has plenty of leeway for narrative gaps between the stages. After all, Christ has already risen bodily and been transformed, long ago!)

I personally fall loosely into the Postmillennial/ partial preterist camp.

I don’t personally think that any “rapture” is going to occur, at least not in the sense it’s usually meant and taught.

Ironically, there are pastors out there who have known for years that the “rapture” doctrine is false and due to faulty exegesis, yet they continue to teach it anyway, because it’s the mainstream belief.
There are of course many closet universalists as well, who are publicly silent about their private belief.

I’m also doubtful there is any conflict between pre-trib rapture and a universalistic interpretation of 1 Cor 15. One could read it this way:

23a But in this order: Christ, the firstfruits (refers to His own resurrection 2,000 years ago);

23b then, when he comes, those who belong to him (refers to a pretribulational rapture).

24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (refers to the second coming of Christ, post the battle of Armageddon and the tribulation, and then the Millenial Reign that follows – I believe Revelation 22: 1-5 fits in here well, perhaps as a beautiful picture of Christ’s reign during the millenium).

26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet” (Here I see that future age, following the Millenium and perhaps additional ages, that Universalists look to as the culmination of Christ’s atonement when all are reconciled to God and death itself is destroyed).

28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (A-men!)

Personally, I find dispensational theology works well with the Universalist understanding of God working through a series of ages in order to to finally reconcile to Himself all things (Colossians 1:20). Thoughts?

But what is the difference between the rapture and the resurrection?

I’m slowly coming to that conclusion. I don’t know, but it seems that the rapture has a tendency to breed complacency, especially in the current state of the world, as folks seem to feel that Christ can come any moment as prophesies are apparently being fullfilled before our eyes (admittedly, I too, fall into this catagory). I fear, though, that many are getting the wrong impression that we as Christians are going to be spared from much of the events of the tribulation, which might well be, and the pre-trib rapture seems almost a guarantee of that, but are people prepared if that’s not the case?

That’s very insightful, now that I’ve read the preceding passages of the OP. But tell me, how many ‘comings’ are there of Christ?

Typically in evangelistic circles the scenerio is like this:

  1. Pre-trib Rapture - Imminently in the near future, all those in the graves rise first, then they which are alive. I’m assuming a bodily resurrection. And hence people disappear in cars and airplanes and the like.

  2. Tribulation - People are converted, but those believers now have to face the consequences of the tribulation, i.e. persecutions, beheadings, etc.

  3. Second Coming - As described in Rev 19, Christ in all His Glory and His Saints, culminating in Armaggeddon.

  4. Millenial Reign - Christ reigns for 1000 years with His Saints (described here as those who are part of the *first *resurrection), while Satan is bound for that period.

  5. Satan Loosed - To deceive the nations for a short time before being cast into the lake of fire along with the beast and the false prophet.

  6. Great White Throne Judgement - Judgment of the damned, who are not found in the Book of Life, who are likewise cast into the lake of fire, along with death and hell.

  7. A New Heavens and a New Earth - the culmination of all things.

You will see the problem in number 4, where those who reign with Christ are called the first resurrection, but that is presumably some 7 years after the rapture, which assuming is also a bodily resurrection, would actually be a second resurrection. I suppose you could argue that they are a two-stage process of the same event, but I don’t see anywhere else in scripture to indicate this. Even if you hold to a post-trib/pre-mil rapture, the first resurrection described here only pertains to those that were beheaded during the tribulation (see Rev 20:4).

Of course, a first resurrection, by implication, would mean there would be a second resurrection, and it rather says so in Rev 20:5, which occurs only after the 1000 years were up. Furthermore, it says that those in the first resurrection will not be affected by the second death, which also implies that those in the second resurrection will. And if you are a universalist, the second death, where death and hell were cast into the lake of fire, along with those not found in the book of life, one wonders just who are these that are included. If there are believers at the GWT judgment, it is assumed that they are found in the book of life, while those who aren’t are cast into the lake. And if they are believers, then for them, is this the Bema seat of Christ (that is, is there a distinction between it and the GWT)? And would that imply that there is a purgatorial period going on as described in I Cor 3:11-15? Or would this only apply to those who are cast into the lake of fire, who are not in the book of life (but presumably are prepared in those purifying fires)?

Just a further thought, what if those beheaded have already gone through their ‘purgatory’ in the tribulation, and therefore do not require further purging. Thus in the millenial kingdom, there hearts are already purified to do service for God. It seems that some forms of suffering have that effect. Lazarus in the parable received bad in his life, but was comforted afterward. And James 2:5 and Luke 6:20-23 indicates this as well: Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Dondi, please forgive my ignorance, but what does OP stand for???

I am truly wanting to understand your last post and your thoughts around the whole Rapture/Resurrection thing.

Thanks for helping me understand what you meant here so that I can really study what you had to say… looks like you’ve really thought things through!

OP means original post. I was commenting on my original post that I referenced I Cor. 15:51-52 when I really should have paid more attention to the earlier verses (vs 23-28) in the same chapter that you quoted. Your view makes a lot of sense when you broke thoses verses down. But then it generated more question also.

I’m sorta with you on dispensationalism, especially in light of Romans 11:25-26. Much of what is happening in Revelation (coupled with Jesus’ Olivet Discourse) is geared toward Israel’s redemption. Though that doesn’t preclude the redemption for the rest of the world, either. I’m just not sure on how escapist the rapture really is in regards to Christians, though I once was pretty convinced. And I’m not sure exactly how my universalist views play into it.

The ‘Rapture’ has nothing to do with the tribulation of 70ad. If one is alive at Christ’s return, one is instantly changed into a resurrected person.

That generation of Jews in 70ad experienced the tribulation - we won’t. It has already been fulfilled. Christ can return at any moment precisely because tribulation on that generation happened two thousand years ago. ‘All scripture must be fulfilled.’ That leaves His return as a thief in the night - He’s not going to be ringing the doorbell with tribulation countdown. So stop sitting on your butt waiting/wishing for the world to end. Spread the good news - not all this doom and gloom blaming every nasty evil event on God. Men are evil enough to screw things up.

Be ready. But Christ may not return for another 20 thousand years. Who knows? Nobody! (Except all these self-proclaimed prophets poisoning His Church and the world) Meanwhile we let hope fade as the message gets lost. Dispensationalism is another gospel and bad one! Islam is full of apocalyptic nut-jobs as well. You knew that, right?

The Late Great Planet Earth was the most stupid book ever written. Total garbage. He got rich - you got scared. Snap out of it!

I have no idea what you are referring to, but according to Romans 11:25-36, the redemption of Israel will come when the time of the Gentiles is fullfilled. And that hasn’t happened yet. Neither has the tribulation, which promises to be a time of trouble the world has yet to see.

And as far a the LGPE, it doesn’t take a genius to see the the political landscape merging toward what the bible has predicted. Maybe Lindsey wasn’t right on every detail, but things are happening that are rapidly closing on a one world government, starting by no less than the collapse of the US economy. Have you watched Glenn Beck lately? … 198/33297/

Not much; the rapture happens to people who haven’t yet died, but the transformation seems to be the same. (The end of 1 Cor 15 indicates both the similarities and the distinctions, for example.)

Even pre-trib rapturists agree (pretty much, I think) that the post-trib rapture of believers is in effect the same bodily transformation that will occur for those already deceased. There’s some debate among them, however, about whether the pre-trib rapture will involve a similar transformation or whether it’ll be deferred until the return of those saints with Christ at the end of the Trib. And, if the latter, what exactly happens to the bodies meanwhile.

(My favorite modern Christian apocalypse series–even though I don’t quite agree with its theology at points–The Christ Clone Trilogy, goes with the idea that only the spirits of those raptured before the Trib are taken, leaving the bodies behind for resurrection later. Which has the advantage of, ironically, not looking so much like a rapture per se–since most pre-trib rapturists believe and teach the whole body will vanish, which in turn would look massively more like the Christian rapture they were predicting and thus much less likely to be explained away by survivors. Even the pre-tribs who expect the body to be taken, too, however, don’t necessarily agree on whether the transformation happens at that point or later. Plausible arguments can be made either way. I have no opinion. :mrgreen: Incidentally, my favorite conventional Christian apocalypse novel before the CC trilogy, was a book that’s probably impossible to find today: The Seven Last Years. It kept things moving at a brisk pace, juggled its wide cast of characters very well, and had loads of heart. Unfortunately, the author (with, sadly, a quite serious prediction!) finaled things in the early 1990s! :laughing: Thus explaining its lack of popularity today, I expect. I don’t much like most conventional Christian apocalypse stories, though, including Left Behind, which I have a generally low opinion of, some nifty touches notwithstanding.)

To be fair, I don’t think ‘complacency’ is quite the right word. All the pre-trib rapturists I’ve ever personally known, whenever they get it into their heads that this time it’s really real for real (and I know some who always take that notion with a huge grain of salt, too :wink: ), desperately want to increase evangelism, because they want as many people as possible to escape the coming tribulation. But of course, they tend to disregard any future social or cultural issues beyond a particular short-term point as nothing for them to be concerned about (except as evidence that the trib, and the escape rapture, is on the way). Maybe that disregard could be considered ‘complacent’, but it isn’t as though they aren’t concerned at all about what will be happening then. Just that they won’t be around (they think) to affect events, or be affected by them, so why prepare for them?–better to focus their preparations elsewhere, from a practical perspective.

Two-and-a-half! :mrgreen: (On standard pre-trib rapture timing of events.)

Not counting whatever happens at the end of the millennial reign of Christ, when Satan is released again to deceive the world, and there’s another rebellion, thrown down by Christ and leading into the lake of fire judgment. (Assuming that’s not only a legitimate prophecy in a legitimately canonical text, but also not just another repeat of continually repeating visions or something of that sort. For which there’s some good evidence, too. Though on the balance I tend to think that part is meant to be understood sequentially.)

But yeah, I’m positively agnostic about a lot of the timing and how it’ll be fulfilled with which people etc. I’m not sure if we’re even supposed to be clear about particulars–I rather doubt it. (Neither the angels nor even the Son, but only the Father knows, etc.)

I prefer Lewis’ attitude (following MacDonald): it’s fun and interesting to try to hash things out, but our responsibility is to be doing what Christ tells us until then.

You mean like the Temple being destroyed? That happened to the generation Christ predicted it would. It doesn’t take a genius to believe Christ. Read Matt 24:34 again (if Glenn Beck didn’t have you rip it out of your Bible already.)

Well, that’s what I meant, really. I agree that the complacency is not in evangelism. Some folks aren’t too concerned about running up debt, seeing as the Rapture will take care of any outstanding balances. However, I think that is wrong from a biblical view, all that just weights and balances thing (Proverbs 20:23).

According to both passages, the dead will rise first. That is part of the same event. Are you saying that there is a significant gap between the dead rising and those still living?

As an aside, what happens to those dead who arise first anyway? Are they just united back with their spirits (assuming that their spirits went to heaven upon death)? Or is the spirit in some abode like Abraham’s bosum below the earth and raise with the body? Or is there really soul sleep, like some folks claim? I always found it odd that the dead rise up when the spirit is already in heaven, like God telling everyone to go back to their graves, put on their dead bodies, and rise up with it. Or is it some interdimensional phenomena?

I’m not trying to predict the end of the world. But Christ did give signs of His coming. I think it is important to have proper attitude when it comes to the subject of the Rapture: Hope that it is imminent, but prepare for the worse, just in case.

At the beginning of chapter 24, vs 1&2, Jesus and his disciples have just departed the temple when He tell them that not one stone will be unturned. They were still in the vicinity of the temple. That prediction came true in 70 AD.

But the next verse 3, we suddenly find our party at the Mount of Olives, which is a mountain range east of Jerusalem. Therefore, some time must have elapsed between their being at the temple and getting to the mount. This means a new topic is started, separate from the discussion of the Temple’s destruction.

So when the disciples ask about the end of the world, Jesus gives a long grocery list of things that will happen: wars, roumours of wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences, etc. And even then He says the end is not yet. And finally, He tells them that the gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all nations. Are you telling me that all this happened in a scant 40 years time. Certainly, we have a ways before the Gospel is preached. Even if it had, Jesus says that when the gospel is preached the end will come. By your logic, the end of the world happened in 70 AD. But we’re still here.

In verse 34, When Jesus is speaking of ‘this generation’, He’s talking about the generation that will experience all these birth pangs, all the signs of the times, which appears to be jelling, especially since the return of Israel as a nation in 1948.

Every generation thinks it is living in the ‘last times’ and surely Israel is full of Judeans not Israelites? :smiley:

Be nice, Ran. No one in this thread shows any evidence of sitting on their butts waiting (much less wishing) for a cataclysmic tribulation to end the world.

And I am aware of exactly zero tribulationists, post-or-pre-trib, who don’t agree that Christ predicted the destruction of the Temple (and Jerusalem being sacked by the Romans), which was fulfilled in 70. (And they would be incensed at the notion that anyone would ask them to discard it, or to rip that prophecy out of the Bible. Especially Glenn Beck, whom they would also have an exceedingly low opinion about on religious matters, considering that he’s a Mormon. :wink: But I don’t think Dondi was recommending him for that purpose. Besides which, I’m pretty sure he would also agree that that event was a fulfilled prediction of Christ’s, and wouldn’t want it ripped out of the Bible.)

But since a bunch of other things weren’t fulfilled (or even weren’t fulfilled as described), they not-unreasonably figure it’s one of the common multiple-fulfillment prophecies of the Bible; so they look for it to be more completely fulfilled later.

Likewise, I am aware of zero tribulationists who don’t ignore ‘all those things’ happening in 70ad. They cherry-pick what they will accept in Matt 24:34. Then go right to predicting the end - precisely what Christ told them NOT to do. Apparently, believing Christ has little to do with most people’s ‘eschatology’.

I didn’t know Glenn Beck was a Mormon. Thanks for that bit of info.

Right. The generation sitting in front of Him. John’s generation - who was predicted by Christ to be still alive when ‘all those things’ would happen. After which John died.

Amos predicted what the world would look like when the Gospel can’t be found. Men running to and for looking for the truth. And the Glenn Becks and bin Ladens of the world delivering it up.

"When the son of man returns, will He find faith on the earth?’ One thing is certain - He’ll find people believing something or someone.

Let’s take it in context:

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. - Matt. 24:32-34

Tell me, what ‘all these things’ specifically have been fulfilled? Are you saying the whole grocery list?

BTW, where does Jesus say that John will be alive when these things happen?

Or Obama.

OMG!!! He is the Messiah!!! (Or the anti-Messiah!!!) :laughing: :laughing:

:mrgreen: Sorry. That was just too funny, given some of the pro/con rhetoric around him in the past couple of years, for me to pass up. :laughing:

Don’t know. I’ve seen interesting arguments either way. The latter part of 1 Cor 15 would seem to indicate not much delay between those two events; and I think it can be plausibly argued that it isn’t specifically talking about a sequence of events so much. Verses 51 and 52 both seem to emphasize instead that we all (whether we’ve been ‘put to rest’ or not) shall be changed “in an instant, in the twinkle of an eye, at the last trump.” So in the second half of v.52, it may only be talking about it in sequence (“For He will be trumpeting, and the dead will be roused incorruptible, and we shall be changed”), not describing it as a sequence.

Don’t know. I’ve seen interesting arguments either way. One thing that impresses me about the whole concept of bodily resurrection, is that it’s reasonably clear God doesn’t have to work with the exact same body for the res (insofar as any of us could be said to have ‘the exact same body’ even from day to day in the first place), and yet He seems devoted to doing so anyway insofar as any of the body remains to be transformed. That fits in very well with God being devoted to repairing and restoring that which has been corrupted, rather than just flushing it away as waste. Even in the case of the wicked resurrected to punishment!–the fact that God bothers to resurrect them at all is hopeful in itself, but the bodily resurrection itself is also an enacted sign that God is devoted to salvation from corruption. Even devoted to saving that which has been wholly ruined/destroyed.

I know. :slight_smile: And I agree about the attitude. (That was always my parents’ attitude, especially my Mom’s. She’s never been much impressed by the rolling waves of prediction, even though she respects the idea that God has given us prophecies about it beforehand which ought to fit the events as they finally occur–and so for which there ought to be preceding indications.)

All means all. Christ was perfect in His prediction. Read some history of that time. Josephus would be a starter.