rapture

Regarding Israel and the End Times, what is Dispensationalism? What is the rapture?

Regarding Israel and the End Times, what is Dispensationalism? What is the rapture?

THE QUESTION:

Regarding Israel and Bible prophecies about the End Times, what are the meanings of such terms as Dispensationalism, the rapture, premillennialism, the great tribulation,  pre-tribulationism and Armageddon?

THE GUY’S ANSWER:

A March 31 New York Times article on how religion may influence U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s approach toward Israel had this headline: “The Rapture and the Real World: Pompeo Mixes Beliefs and Policy.”

One key point was that the then-Congressman told a religious audience in 2015 that humanity faces “a never-ending struggle” until “the rapture.” Yes, think “Left Behind” books and movies.

The move of the United States embassy to Jerusalem, and U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Syria’s Golan Heights, were thought to boost both President Donald Trump’s evangelical support and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s April 9 election prospects. Analyzing those decisions, the Times explained that “white evangelicals,” Pompeo included, believe “God promised the land to the Jews, and that the gathering of Jews in Israel is foretold in the prophecy of the rapture — the ascent of Christians into the kingdom of God.”

The Times wording was truthy but confusing, and the standard rapture belief is not taught by evangelicalism as a whole — but only one segment. Also, the “white evangelical” reference is strange, since this doctrine can be found in quite a few different kinds of evangelical sanctuaries.

So let’s unpack some elements of these complex matters.

Secretary Pompeo is a member of the Michigan-based Evangelical Presbyterian Church, a small body (89,190 members, 207 congregations) that forsook the more liberal Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1981. It upholds the Westminster Confession and catechisms proclaimed by British clergy and politicians assembled by Parliament in the mid-17th Century. Churches that follow such Reformation-era credos affirm Jesus’s Second Coming and the Last Judgment, but not the modern rapture belief formulated two centuries later.

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Ten religion stories that made us ooh, ah, chuckle, scratch our heads and otherwise go 'hmmm' in 2015

Ten religion stories that made us ooh, ah, chuckle, scratch our heads and otherwise go 'hmmm' in 2015

Religion news was heavy in 2015.

Heavy, as in weighty subject matter ranging from the legalization of same-sex marriage to the atrocities committed by the Islamic State terrorist group to the shooting deaths of nine worshipers in Charleston, S.C. 

But occasionally this past year — as is the case every year — the Godbeat blessed us with headlines that were a little different. They were heartwarming or quirky or simply far enough off the beaten path to catch our attention.

In chronological order, here are 10 of my favorite GetReligion posts from 2015 that concerned news that — surprise, surprise! — didn't make the Religion Newswriters Association's year-end list:

1. Lawmakers in my home state of Oklahoma made headlines as they considered — seriously, it seemed — getting out of the marriage business.

 

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Reading, writing, arithmetic — and the Rapture: Welcome to a real Texas Supreme Court case

Reading, writing, arithmetic — and the Rapture: Welcome to a real Texas Supreme Court case

Hypothetical question: If you home-schooled your kids, and they were about to be raptured, would you bother to teach them reading, writing and arithmetic?

Just curious.

I ask because of this real Texas Supreme Court case making headlines this week:

AUSTIN, Texas — Laura McIntyre began educating her nine children more than a decade ago inside a vacant office at an El Paso motorcycle dealership she ran with her husband and other relatives.
Now the family is embroiled in a legal battle the Texas Supreme Court hears (this) week that could have broad implications on the nation’s booming home-school ranks. The McIntyres are accused of failing to teach their children educational basics because they were waiting to be transported to heaven with the second coming of Jesus Christ.
At issue: Where do religious liberty and parental rights to educate one’s own children stop and obligations to ensure home-schooled students ever actually learn something begin?

A little deeper in that Associated Press story (published in many newspapers throughout Texas, including the front page of The Dallas Morning News), the writer notes:

Like other Texas home-school families, Laura and her husband Michael McIntyre weren’t required to register with state or local educational officials. They also didn’t have to teach state-approved curriculums or give standardized tests.
But problems began when the dealership’s co-owner and Michael’s twin brother, Tracy, reported never seeing the children reading, working on math, using computers or doing much of anything educational except singing and playing instruments. He said he heard one of them say learning was unnecessary since “they were going to be raptured.”

What do we mean by "rapture?"

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