Catholic Attack Of The Rapture
By Joseph Chambers
The “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye is thoroughly trashed and hated by the Catholic apologist. Biblical teaching about the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, the Great Tribulation of seven years, and the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ all flies directly against the Catholic revisions of Scripture. Of course, there are some variations of teaching about the Rapture and the Millennium in our midst, and Catholic writers make much out of those differences. What they fail to do is explain the many variations of doctrine in their own camp about Scripture and major truths.
The Catholic view of both the political world and the church is that of a dictatorship rather than a democracy. They brag about their One World views and international monopoly of their contingencies, but their dictatorial and dogmatic approach has always squashed any private views or open debate. Look at any culture dominated by its hierarchy and there are limited human rights, almost non-existent private enterprise that creates great wealth, and very depressed personal freedoms. Let’s especially look at their condemnation of the Rapture and then at their doctrines of End Time prophecy.
“The Rapture Trap”: A Catholic Attack
I have two books from the Catholic bookstore that attack the Rapture with a fury. Both are written by disenchanted Evangelicals who have turned Catholic. The first book is The Rapture Trap by Paul Thigpen.
Let me quote Marcus C. Grodi, another Evangelical who has turned Catholic, from his forward to Mr. Thigpen’s book. He described his background among the Evangelical world. This is the forward he wrote for The Rapture Trap.
“In the midseventies, an engineering student I know experienced a powerful, life-changing adult re-conversion to Christ. He was ‘born again,’ in the popular language of evangelical Protestantism, and he grew intent on loving and serving the Lord as completely as he could. Not long afterwards, a friend, anxious to share a book that had shaken his own life to the roots, passed along a copy of The Late Great Planet Earth, a book of apocalyptic speculations by the Protestant fundamentalist writer Hal Lindsey.”Unable to put the book down, the young man, now working as a plastics engineer, read it from cover to cover. Without adequate religious training to challenge the book’s premises, and trusting in his friend’s sincerity, he accepted the book’s teaching, hook, line, and ‘rapture.’
“In time, the book’s emphasis on the notion of a ‘rapture’– and imminent ‘secret’ coming of Christ–led the young man to question his vocation: ‘If Jesus were to return tonight, would He be pleased with what I’m doing with my life? Would I be content to tell Him that I’m dedicating my life to making better plastic cups, butter tubs, and coffee decanters?’ Eventually this was one reason that the engineer decided to leave his secular career and enter the seminary instead.
“In case you haven’t guessed, I was that young man, and for several years I was caught up in the apocalyptic views expressed in books such as Hal Lindsey’s little volume and more recent ‘Left Behind’ series. During my years of study at an evangelical seminary, I was confronted with every Protestant ‘end times’ notion imaginable. Often during theology classes, or especially around the dinner table, seminarians would debate over the details, the timing, and the imminence of Christ’s return.
“Sometimes contradicting views would split us along denominational lines. (The majority of mainline Protestants actually do not believe in the secret rapture.) Too often these debates led to unchristian anger. I must even admit, shamefaced, that I once lost a close friendship because my friend and I could not see eye-to-eye about whether the timing of Christ’s second coming was preordained or whether it was dependent upon man’s free will in his efforts to reform the world.
“I encountered again these same issues constantly during my years as a Protestant minister. In every congregation I served, some member or members would challenge the longterm planning of the church because the rapture of true believers, snatching them out of the world into heaven, was to occur any minute. ‘Forget tomorrow!’ they insisted. ‘We must insure that all are ready to meet their Maker tonight!'” (The Rapture Trap, by Paul Thigpen, Ph.D. Published by Ascension Press, pp. 11-12.)
Please forgive the long quote but this helps you understand why the Catholics are promoting this book big time. It’s impossible to believe in the Pre-Tribulational Rapture and still be a Catholic. Their entire worldview makes the Rapture anathema to them. The introduction in this book is entitled, “The Truth Will Set You Free”. A few quotes will give you their basic argument against the Rapture. Thigpen said, “Sadly enough, a mistaken and rather novel idea about Christ’s return, rooted in fundamentalist Protestant teaching, is making the rounds of our culture these days. It claims that Jesus is coming back, not once more, but twice. One of those times, this teaching asserts, He will come secretly to snatch away true believers from their troubles on earth. This even has been dubbed the ‘rapture’ (or ‘secret rapture’), from a Latin verb that means ‘caught up’ or ‘snatched.’
“If you are Catholic, when Jesus comes, many of the preachers of this idea insist, you had better be careful. If you have failed to renounce some of the essential beliefs the Church has taught you, too bad. You are not a true Christian. You will be left behind.
“That claim is simply not true. It is a dangerous error. And that is why this book was written. In recent days many unsuspecting Catholics have gotten caught in the ‘rapture trap.’ I want to help them get free of this unbiblical idea and the anti-Catholic theology to which it is typically shackled. I want to warn other Catholics who might be in danger of getting ensnared. And I hope to help equip Catholic pastors and teachers to dismantle the trap whenever they encounter it.” (Ibid., p. 19.)
Please note in the following quote that the basic argument against the Rapture is church dogma and not the Word of God. They simply do not argue from scripture but from the dictates of previous popes. He further stated, “‘The Rapture Trap’ is written primarily, then, for everyday Catholics who accept the God-given teaching authority of the Church and who have a good dose of common sense. They will find here ample grounds for rejecting the rapture teaching as misguided and alien to both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. I trust they will also discover much more in these pages: an overview of Catholic teaching on the ‘close of the age’ (Matthew 24:3; 28:20); some insights for responding to other questionable claims about the end times; and encouragement to grow spiritually strong in the rich soil of the Catholic faith.” (Ibid., p. 20.)
Note that he calls the teaching of this church, “the rich soil of the Catholic faith”.
Author Thigpen states, “‘The Rapture Trap’ is written primarily, then, for everyday Catholics who accept the Godgiven teaching authority of the Church and who have a good dose of common sense.” (Ibid.) Read this statement from his book, “All the tedious and prickly debates over the true meaning of a biblical Greek term used by St. Paul, or over the true significance of a horned beast pictured in the book of Revelation, really count for very little until this larger issue of authority is resolved, some of these minor debates may count for nothing at all.” (Ibid., p. 21.)
The question is the authority of the Catholic Church to teach doctrines, above and contrary to the Bible. This author closes his introduction of this attack of the truth of Scripture by saying, “To know Christ, who is Himself ‘the Truth’ (John 14:6), we gladly turn to the teaching of ‘the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth’ (1 Timothy 3:15). After all, it was the Holy Spirit’s preaching through the Catholic Church that first told the world about the good news of Christ’s coming. And it is the Holy Spirit’s teaching through the Catholic Church that can keep us safely in the truth about His coming again.” (Ibid., p. 23.)
The author’s first chapter is an out-and-out attack on the idea of being “Left Behind.” He calls it, “The puzzling popularity of an odd idea.” He discusses Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” series as following, “Breaking new ground in the religious publishing world, this author’s vision of the end of history has created a multimillion-dollar apocalyptic industry…What exactly has Jesus to do with this startling story line? Why in the world would He want to make people disappear and throw the human race into chaos? … Once they are gone, the Devil will be free to take control of the world through his puppet, the Antichrist. Gross horrors will accompany this diabolical man’s wicked reign.” (Ibid., p. 27.)
How can this author that was gloriously saved, and the evidence points to a real experience, become so totally determined to destroy some of the greatest truth in Holy Scripture. It was Jesus who said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
With that great promise from Jesus Christ in mind, let’s listen to Thigpen’s reason to attack our glorious hope. “The rapture doctrine is dangerous in yet a third way: It is often tied to a larger, complex body of religious teachings that are explicitly anti-Catholic. As we will see in chapter seven, when fundamentalist authors such as LaHaye and Jenkins write nonfiction books to explain the theology behind their novels, they make it clear that they believe the Catholic Church is a creation of the Devil and will be a tool of the Antichrist. They go so far as to associate the Vatican with the bloodthirsty ‘whore of Babylon’ pictured in the book of Revelation, who drinks the blood of the Christian martyrs in the last days of the world (see Revelation 17:1 – 18:24).” (Ibid., p. 35.)
To add to this statement Thigpen stated, “Catholics who read the ‘Left Behind’ books or see the movie are thus at risk of being deceived into thinking that the very Church Jesus Christ founded on St. Peter and through the other Apostles is actually a counterfeit church. Drawn into reading other books or attending religious meetings that use these spiritual scare tactics, they may not be prepared with an adequate defense against such high-pressure fundamentalist propaganda.” (Ibid., pp. 35-36.)
I believe we are getting the picture. The debate is not about the Bible or what Scripture teaches, but the endangering of the Catholic Church. There is no doubt for a Bible-believing person but that any doctrine that anyone teaches contrary to the plain truth of the infallible Word of God is wrong. The Catholic Church must attack and destroy any idea that confronts their established institution. They cannot create their One World Religion unless they can control the way the people think. Whenever Bible believers begin to make an impact, they always come out fighting. These books against the Rapture are wonderful evidence that truth is making an impact.
The second book that we must discuss is entitled, Rapture: The End-Times Error That Leaves the Bible Behind. It is written by David B. Currie. He is also a former Bible believer who was raised to believe in the Rapture. He and Paul Thigpen have the kind of understanding of Biblical truth to make them well prepared to pick at every point. No person is more dangerous to truth than that person that knows it but turns from it. The Bible makes it plain that when Satan is defeated in someone’s life, he returns looking for an opportunity to reestablish his control. If that life returns to its former empty state, the demon returns with additional demons and the latter state of that person is worse than their former condition. These men are perfect examples.
In the preface of his book on the Rapture, which was written for the Catholic Church, Mr. Currie stated the following, “My own experience cannot help but influence this book. I was raised in a devout Protestant home, the only son of a Fundamentalist pastor. Many of the leaders of the “pre-mill, pre-trib” movement were close family friends. I attended Trinity College and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. While still a believer in a pretribulation rapture, I team-taught a college class on prophecy and preached it from many pulpits. Although I had no natural inclination toward Catholicism, I finally reconciled with the Church in my forties. The rationale behind that lifechanging decision can be found in my book, Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic.” (Rapture: The End-Times Error That Leaves the Bible Behind, by David B. Currie, published by Sophia Institute Press, p. XV.)
What is perfectly evident in this book as well as The Rapture Trap is that the difference is based almost totally on the skewed teachings of Catholicism. I do not know whether these personalities changed their views of the Rapture before they converted to the Catholic Church or after, but I strongly believe it was before. The loss of the literal Biblical interpretation of the End Times sets a person on a sea of change. The church denomination, where I spent over forty years, has, for the most part, left the literal and authoritative sense of Biblical interpretation and, in the process, has changed radically. There is a very strong development in that church hierarchy of a growing acceptance of the Roman Catholic Church. Recently, a leader of that denomination was invited as a guest to a celebration at the Vatican and this was reported, along with a picture, in their official publication. That would have caused a revolt twenty years ago.
Let me simply give a few quotes in the order of development from Mr. Currie’s book.
“Left Behind author Tim LaHaye wants to convince America that the rapture ‘could be any time: today, tomorrow, next week’ (CT), while protecting his flanks with the ‘rolling end of the world’ strategy. He will not compromise on the fact that we are in the final generation.” (Ibid., p. 21.)”Anything touching on Jerusalem in Israel or Babylon in Iraq strikes a raw nerve with them.” (Ibid., p. 23.)
“A second problem with premillennialist has to do with their vision of the Kingdom of God. Is it spiritual or physical? The premillennialist would claim it must be a corporeal reign of Christ here on earth. Critics would counter that this completely misunderstands the message of the major prophets of the Old Testament (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel), not to mention the message of the entire New Testament.” (Ibid., p. 47.)
“The third view, amillennialism, is the one held by the vast majority of Christians, whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant. It is the only acceptable option for the Protestant who claims to stand in the tradition of Luther or Calvin and for the Catholic who seeks to remain faithful to the teaching of the Church.” (Ibid., pp. 48-49.)
“While the Catholic appeals to Scripture, Tradition, and the teaching authority, or Magisterium, of the Church to guide his beliefs, rapturists claim to rely exclusively on the ostensibly clear and self-interpreting text of the Bible. So it is fair to ask whether the rapturist belief system is the best way to understand the relevant Scripture passages, considered apart from other authoritative voices. Of course, as Catholics, we would say this approach removes two legs of the three-legged stool of truth. But discounting for our purposes Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium, can the rapture theory really do justice to what the Bible teaches?” (Ibid., p. 51.)
“The Book of Daniel lays the foundation for the entire time framework of rapturist theology.” (Ibid., p. 79.)
“In fact, this gap does great violence to the text, to the fundamental message of the vision – all for the purpose of protecting rapturists from the idea that the Catholic Church might have to be examined as a possible candidate for the present-day Kingdom of Heaven.” (Ibid., p. 82.)
On and on this author espouses the doctrines and teachings of the church he has embraced. When you couple his support of the Mass and the literal transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the substance of His body, with the Marian message, the infallibility of the words of the pope, purgatory, etc., only demonic deception could lead souls to such depths of untruth.
After both of these books attack Bible believers because there have been so many false claims, false prophecies, and false prophets; they describe the situation in their own Catholic ranks to be equally flooded with false alarms. Listen to author Thigpen speak to this issue. “To complicate the matter even further, contemporary ‘messengers’ have sprung up and multiplied as fast as wild mushrooms, and some of them may be just as poisonous. Their messages sometimes agree with one another, sometimes not. Meanwhile, anyone who wants to stay up on the latest alleged locutions has to invest considerable time reading through the stacks of visionary emails that fly around the world daily via the Internet.
“A number of these messengers call for concrete, immediate actions from their listeners. Some insist, for example, that Catholics must procure a supply of blessed candles (a few sources even dictate that they must be beeswax candles), because only these will be capable of providing light in homes during the ‘three days of darkness.’ Others call for the creation of hidden sites of refuge, well stocked for survival, to be used soon when the great persecution of the Church arrives. Still others urge the faithful to move away from coastal areas, because the coming comet will cause tidal waves that will wipe out the populations of coastlines around the world.” (The Rapture Trap, by Paul Thigpen, Ph.D. Published by Ascension Press, p. 227.)
After warning of the dangers from Catholic mystics, Thigpen states, “Even so, we certainly do not want to miss out on any extra graces our Lord may want to give us through private revelations. How much poorer we would be if our Lord had never asked St. Margaret Mary Alacoque to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart! How many souls have been drawn to God because that revelation has spurred them to make use of the more ordinary means of grace! If God has truly spoken, and His words have meaning – perhaps even urgency – for us, we are wise to want to hear and obey them.” (Ibid., p. 82.)
The Rapture of the Saints and the Pre-Tribulation doctrines of Scripture have never been so attacked in church history. This of itself is prophetic. By Apostle Peter, the Holy Ghost said that men would say, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:4, 9)
This vicious attack on the Rapture by the largest religious organization in the world, the very church with much to lose if you believe the truth, is prophetic of where we are in final history. Man cannot set the hour because the Father alone knows the time. Our joy is to watch, occupy, be busy for His Kingdom on earth, and be ready. In a moment that you think not, He may well return.