The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby ArcticFox » Mon May 04, 2015 9:02 pm

No problem, just thought I'd ask to make sure :)

I don't believe in the Rapture because I believe the passage in Revelations saying the saints will be caught up in the air is symbolic, not literal.
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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Tue May 05, 2015 10:03 am

YOU don't feel that there have been any arguments sufficient to refute your beliefs. I personally believe quite the opposite. We need to make sure we separate opinion from fact. This includes personal interpretation of scripture.
Well I get what you're saying and in principle I agree, but how does one tell the difference? There needs to be some external standard which to measure this.
I agree with your points on the danger of looking for signs and trying to make them fit our theological beliefs and fleshly desires for rewards. However, a dislike of how scripture is applied is not a reason to ignore (what I feel is) clear biblical teaching.
Well, it's more than just a dislike. My goal was more of providing the historical background for where the arguments against it came from. I guess I should have approached it better by just presenting what the arguments were in the first place. I am happy to do that if you want but I figured it may be better to start off with saying "It was wrong before, why is it now all of a sudden correct?" first. My mistake.
Which brings us full circle to the first post. It's fine to disagree on Scripture, interpretation of Scripture and beliefs based upon those two.
Well, I agree and disagree, depending on which interpretations and beliefs are in question. There are some that aren't important (Evolution vs. Creation for example), some that are important but not necessarily core essentials (like the Rapture), and then there are core essentials (Divinity of Christ as fully God and fully Man for starters). The core essentials are not negotiable regardless of personal interpretation, period. A proposal that contradicts the core essentials is one that is outside of Christianity. What are the core essentials is of course a matter of debate in itself but that issue is beyond the scope of this topic. That said, it should not be a reason to ignore the fact that core essentials do exist and are necessary in order to preserve the faith.

Non-important issues are well, not really that important :). It's nice to talk about and know but we won't know the answers in this life or it is something that really doesn't have the potential to undermine one's faith.

The final category is where I put things such as the Rapture. While not exactly a core belief in itself, whether or not the Rapture is correct has far reaching effects on other areas of Biblical interpretation. It cannot be dismissed as a mere difference in opinion.
However, if we fail to use scripture to back up our opinions and beliefs, we are on shaky ground and in grave danger of being deceived by our own heart and flesh.
I've always been confused by this. How can we use Scripture alone to back up our beliefs and opinions when it is often our personal interpretations and opinions that influence our views of what is considered Scriptural to begin with? To me it always seemed like a chicken and egg problem. The usual answers were either we read it and the Holy Spirit guides us, or that Scripture interprets itself. Well, for the former I agree with that but then when I asked how do we tell the difference between the Holy Spirit and other spirits, there was never a solid answer to that question that didn't circle back to this chicken and egg problem. The latter is not something I accept because there are many places that are not entirely clear one way or another if taken alone or even in context of other Scripture verses.

It often ended not in pursuit of what is truly Scriptural, but more like a battle of competing interpretative frameworks. In the absence of any external standard to arbitrate any of this, it became more of a battle of wills and whose interpretations would win the day. In short, in my opinion truth was surrendered to power and persuasive ability. These all were major factors in me leaving the Protestant world to begin with.
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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby Wolfeman » Tue May 05, 2015 1:04 pm

My personal belief is scripture should always be interpreted with scripture. It is fine to bring in outside information (the wedding supper is truly amazing when we study Jewish wedding traditions of that time period) but we must never let that outside information reinterpret the scriptures for us. (7 day literal creation seems pretty obvious when we read Genesis and study out the use of "a day and a night" but when we add in what science tries to tell us about fossils and the fossil record we find ourselves trying to fit scripture to a world view instead of the other way around - ie, gap theory and whatnot). We can not measure God against anything and I think we can place ourselves on shaky ground when we start trying always to measure the scriptures against external standards.

Core essentials are very important and we should have a good grasp of what we believe and why. However, even core principals sway from denomination to denomination based upon differing interpretations of the same scriptures (calvinism vs free-will), authorities outside the Bible (the pope or the book of mormon) and even differing interpretations of the meaning of a word used to define a belief (indwelling of the spirit, salvation). It is difficult to establish common ground on any subject, even core beliefs, when we have little to no common ground on where we view these doctrines from. We either agree to disagree or we part ways if we feel we must all believe the same way even on core essentials.

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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby ArcticFox » Tue May 05, 2015 1:23 pm

It is fine to bring in outside information (the wedding supper is truly amazing when we study Jewish wedding traditions of that time period)
Especially when you consider the implications of who the groom must have been, given the details of the text.
We can not measure God against anything and I think we can place ourselves on shaky ground when we start trying always to measure the scriptures against external standards.
This is true, but care needs to be taken. The scriptures are meant for the use of humans, and humans see everything through a lens made from existing worldviews and preconceptions. If you want to read scripture with the correct understanding, you MUST do so with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who teaches us to understand. That means sometimes it can be very useful to compare the text with external, observable phenomena. This is exactly what parables are, and Jesus used them because they're effective.
Core essentials are very important and we should have a good grasp of what we believe and why. However, even core principals sway from denomination to denomination based upon differing interpretations of the same scriptures (calvinism vs free-will), authorities outside the Bible (the pope or the book of mormon) and even differing interpretations of the meaning of a word used to define a belief (indwelling of the spirit, salvation). It is difficult to establish common ground on any subject, even core beliefs, when we have little to no common ground on where we view these doctrines from. We either agree to disagree or we part ways if we feel we must all believe the same way even on core essentials.
And this reiterates the necessity to be open to the Spirit when studying scripture.
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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby Wolfeman » Tue May 05, 2015 3:08 pm

We must have the Holy Spirit inside us to even begin to understand the Scripture. The Bible is very clear on that point. It's foolishness to those who don't have the Holy Spirit. However, we must be careful when using outside influences for help in understanding. Jesus used parables because the lost would NOT understand what He was talking about. Outside influences and external material can be helpful but I find very little in the Bible that can't be understood (with careful study) when we compare scripture with scripture. And if outside material contradicts simple to understand passages in scripture, we must discard it. (female or divorced pastors as an example)

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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Tue May 05, 2015 5:20 pm

We must have the Holy Spirit inside us to even begin to understand the Scripture.
But the question I've been asking is what does that actually mean? By what means does He do this? What does it look like when He guides us? How does the person know it is the Holy Spirit and not merely a projection of their own preconceived ideas or even worse, an unclean spirit masquerading as an angel of light? Without a solid and clear answer to this, the phrase is vague to the point of being meaningless.
However, we must be careful when using outside influences for help in understanding.
Are we talking any outside sources of any kind of just certain ones? If it is the latter I would agree cause we can't just use any random source as our sole sources. However, the former I don't agree with since I think some external standard is necessary to ensure that our own understanding of what constitutes as Scriptural in the first place is right.
Jesus used parables because the lost would NOT understand what He was talking about. Outside influences and external material can be helpful but I find very little in the Bible that can't be understood (with careful study) when we compare scripture with scripture. And if outside material contradicts simple to understand passages in scripture, we must discard it. (female or divorced pastors as an example)
I am genuinely confused. In addition to what I've been asking so far, so personal interpretations and disagreements over them were ok as long as they didn't contradict Scripture? Also, going from your previous post what confuses me more is that on one hand you claim there isn't even enough of an agreement on core essentials to warrant any real concern about them. Yet, here I seem to be seeing a message that anything that discards whatever is deemed Scriptural must be disregarded? To me that would sound like some core essentials that are not negotiable, although perhaps I've totally missed something.
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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby Wolfeman » Tue May 05, 2015 7:02 pm

We must have the Holy Spirit inside us to even begin to understand the Scripture.
But the question I've been asking is what does that actually mean? By what means does He do this? What does it look like when He guides us? How does the person know it is the Holy Spirit and not merely a projection of their own preconceived ideas or even worse, an unclean spirit masquerading as an angel of light? Without a solid and clear answer to this, the phrase is vague to the point of being meaningless.
1 John 4:1-3
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

John 16:13-14
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.

Unfortunately, the answer you're looking for isn't a cut and dried answer. It's more of a "you'll know it when you see it" answer. The best answer I can give you is look at where it's pointing you towards. The Holy Spirit will help you understand and interpert scripture but we also need to show some discernment as well. Does what it's showing and teaching us point us back towards Christ and Biblical teaching or does it point us towards what we Want it to teach, what our flesh desires or does it contradict scripture somewhere else?

However, we must be careful when using outside influences for help in understanding.
Are we talking any outside sources of any kind of just certain ones? If it is the latter I would agree cause we can't just use any random source as our sole sources. However, the former I don't agree with since I think some external standard is necessary to ensure that our own understanding of what constitutes as Scriptural in the first place is right.
It depends on your denomination and beliefs. The King James translators refused to use any manuscripts from Alexandria, Egypt because they believed the Bible stated God's word would not come out of Egypt again. Every single new translation today uses those manuscripts. The outside sources you use are determined by your starting point. Mormons use a book no one else would consider as a point of authority. Catholics place as much emphasis on tradition and the pope as the Bible.




Jesus used parables because the lost would NOT understand what He was talking about. Outside influences and external material can be helpful but I find very little in the Bible that can't be understood (with careful study) when we compare scripture with scripture. And if outside material contradicts simple to understand passages in scripture, we must discard it. (female or divorced pastors as an example)
I am genuinely confused. In addition to what I've been asking so far, so personal interpretations and disagreements over them were ok as long as they didn't contradict Scripture? Also, going from your previous post what confuses me more is that on one hand you claim there isn't even enough of an agreement on core essentials to warrant any real concern about them. Yet, here I seem to be seeing a message that anything that discards whatever is deemed Scriptural must be disregarded? To me that would sound like some core essentials that are not negotiable, although perhaps I've totally missed something.
Scripture itself is interpreted differently by different groups. Based upon the same verses, some people believe the Bible promotes Calvinism while others believe it promotes free will. Some people believe alcoholic wine should be used for the Lord's Supper/Communion while others believe it should be pure grape juice. Catholics believe Mary was a virgin till her death, everyone doesn't. Almost everyone will agree that core beliefs are of the utmost importance yet if we really pin them down and get detailed explanation of them, we almost all disagree.


Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Salvation - The most core belief of Christianity. This verse and others are used by Baptist to teach that Salvation is given as a gift and not earned. There is nothing that can be done to earn. We don't believe AND get baptized. We don't believe AND persevere to the end. We don't believe AND confess our sins to a priest. We just exercise faith.

Many other denominations will argue against this belief. If we can't even come to an agreement on what it takes to be saved using only the Bible, how can we agree on anything else?

I truly believe core beliefs are essential but I don't think we can every truly agree on them because we often use outside sources to shape our understanding of the Bible including our own personal interpretation. Using ONLY the Scriptures, we still won't agree. So what do we do with that revelation? Fight because essential is essential or agree to disagree? We must agree to disagree if we wish to continue a nondenominational cooperative existence.

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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Wed May 06, 2015 3:40 pm

The Holy Spirit will help you understand and interpert scripture but we also need to show some discernment as well. Does what it's showing and teaching us point us back towards Christ and Biblical teaching or does it point us towards what we Want it to teach, what our flesh desires or does it contradict scripture somewhere else?
So to drill down further, how does one exercise such discernment? What specific things does one do in order to know that they have discerned the answer to this properly?
It depends on your denomination and beliefs. The King James translators refused to use any manuscripts from Alexandria, Egypt because they believed the Bible stated God's word would not come out of Egypt again. Every single new translation today uses those manuscripts.
Well, that's not the only surviving manuscripts that were used, but the history of Biblical canon is a topic beyond the scope of this discussion. I wouldn't mind opening up a new topic on it though as it is quite fascinating. It is interesting how well preserved the canon of Scripture really was and how much of it we take for granted that was not so easy to preserve in the early centuries.

As for other outside sources, well, that's another topic too, and one that I like to have cleared up for future talks too.
Scripture itself is interpreted differently by different groups. Based upon the same verses, some people believe the Bible promotes Calvinism while others believe it promotes free will. Some people believe alcoholic wine should be used for the Lord's Supper/Communion while others believe it should be pure grape juice. Catholics believe Mary was a virgin till her death, everyone doesn't. Almost everyone will agree that core beliefs are of the utmost importance yet if we really pin them down and get detailed explanation of them, we almost all disagree.
Well yes, and there are a lot more of these things of course, but this alone should not preclude any attempts to define these things. I would go with the Nicene Creed for a start. It's a good summation of the faith and something that is common to all of us. Beyond that it is not quite so easy to do. It should not be a stumbling block to defining them though, given the importance.

I know I've been hammering on this point for a while now. In my life I have learned that there are many things we can agree to disagree on, but there are some that we cannot. Making everything out to be an agree to disagree situation regarding what is core doctrine and what is not ends up creating a relativistic faith. It undermines our ability to discern truth from falsehood cause anything can then be justified as pro-Christian or anti-Christian.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Salvation - The most core belief of Christianity. This verse and others are used by Baptist to teach that Salvation is given as a gift and not earned. There is nothing that can be done to earn. We don't believe AND get baptized. We don't believe AND persevere to the end. We don't believe AND confess our sins to a priest. We just exercise faith.
Well yeah, I don't think there's any fundamental disagreement, although I would say that salvation and all these other things aren't mutually exclusive. That would go better under a Scripture and Tradition/outside sources topic instead though.

The divinity of Christ is another to add on top of Salvation. If Christ was not fully God and fully Man, then basically the entirety of the New Testament is a lie. Everyone may as well have remained Jewish in that case, cause Christ was quite clear in the Gospels on who He claimed to be. If He was not who He claimed to be, then everything else is bunk.

His death and resurrection are also essentials, as they go hand in hand with what He came on this earth to do.

So here now we got three things, salvation by God's grace that we did not earn, Divinity of Christ, and Death and Resurrection. These three are certainly things we can build on. If we want we can begin another topic on this as well.
Fight because essential is essential or agree to disagree? We must agree to disagree if we wish to continue a nondenominational cooperative existence.
Are these our only choices? I think there are more options than this.
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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby Sstavix » Thu May 07, 2015 12:12 am

But the question I've been asking is what does that actually mean? By what means does He do this? What does it look like when He guides us? How does the person know it is the Holy Spirit and not merely a projection of their own preconceived ideas or even worse, an unclean spirit masquerading as an angel of light? Without a solid and clear answer to this, the phrase is vague to the point of being meaningless. ....

So to drill down further, how does one exercise such discernment? What specific things does one do in order to know that they have discerned the answer to this properly?
I think Wolfeman touched on this earlier, but it's not as clear as saying "you've experienced X , so therefore it's from God." Consider the experiences of the Apostle Peter, Saul / Paul, Martin Luther and (to pull from the LDS tradition) Joseph Smith. These are all powerful, spiritual figures from Christian history, yet each one also had a remarkably different spiritual experience to get them to where they were. I'm sure that many of us on this forum also have had their own spiritual experiences and tales, and would be willing to share if you asked.

The only thing that tends to remain consistent is this - you'll know it with every fiber of your being that what you've experienced is true. There won't be any doubt - at least from your perspective. Others may question your own experiences, but if you have experienced this feeling, you'll absolutely know it was true, and it will edify your faith and build your personal testimony.

Here's one example - what do you feel when you read the scriptures? What is it that makes the Bible more than just old, fanciful stories, not much different from Greek myths or Beowulf? If you didn't have the guidance of the spirit - which some people don't seem to, when they read the Bible - then there really isn't a difference. But how do you feel? Do you feel the Holy Spirit assuring you that what you're reading is true? That these words can serve as a guide and a comfort for your life? If you have, then congratulations! You have experienced a taste of divine revelation. :)

If you haven't experienced this sensation, then don't give up! There have been many people, even lifetime Christians, who don't experience it until even later in life. It's part of the spiritual challenges and tests of our faith that we face in this mortal existence. Prayer is a key part of this - praying and listening. Recall that in 1 Kings, chapter 19, Elijah heard the Lord's voice not in an earthquake or a strong wind, or a raging fire, but a "still, small voice." For the longest time I've believed that God speaks to all of us, in His own way - it's up to us to figure out how to listen.

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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby ArcticFox » Thu May 07, 2015 8:56 am

I think Wolfeman touched on this earlier, but it's not as clear as saying "you've experienced X , so therefore it's from God." Consider the experiences of the Apostle Peter, Saul / Paul, Martin Luther and (to pull from the LDS tradition) Joseph Smith. These are all powerful, spiritual figures from Christian history, yet each one also had a remarkably different spiritual experience to get them to where they were. I'm sure that many of us on this forum also have had their own spiritual experiences and tales, and would be willing to share if you asked.
And as is the case with all of those people, you can, and WILL be questioned, derided and dismissed by some when you share that experience. It's amazing how often I've told my own personal story to others who, upon hearing it, magically become PhD Psychoanalysts and want to debunk my experience as being some sort of psychological phenomenon, not at all connected with my Creator.

But then I remind myself that every single person you just mentioned* was eventually killed for his faith, and so I realize how fortunate I am :)

*Except Martin Luther, but he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church... which is okay because so was I :P
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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby ChickenSoup » Thu May 07, 2015 3:23 pm

Except Martin Luther, but he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church... which is okay because so was I :P
How exactly does that work, if you don't mind me asking?

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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby Deepfreeze32 » Thu May 07, 2015 3:43 pm

That sounds like something out of a Monty Python sketch.

Also not a Catholic, would also like to know how this whole Excommunication thing plays out. :P

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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby ArcticFox » Thu May 07, 2015 4:32 pm

Well my case really isn't very dramatic, but I don't mind sharing.

See, usually if you're a Catholic and you leave the Church to become some form of Protestant, but later change your mind and want to come back, all is well. You go to Confession, get a penance, and all is good.

On the other hand, some denominations are regarded as sufficiently different from Catholicism that to join one is to trigger an automatic excommunication. Spoiler alert: The Mormon Church is such an example.

So, by being baptized LDS and officially informing my local Catholic parish that I'd switched over, it would have triggered an automatic excommunication.

If I were to ever want to return, I'd have to be re-baptized as a Catholic and all that.

No hard feelings, I understand completely why they have that policy. It's the same for the LDS Church anyway so it doesn't strike me as particularly draconian or anything.
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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby Sstavix » Thu May 07, 2015 11:09 pm

Does this mean we can call you "ArcticFox the Heretic?" ;)

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Re: The Rapture: The Hope of All Believers or Dangerous Heresy?

Postby ArcticFox » Fri May 08, 2015 9:20 am

One can never have too many nicknames :mrgreen:
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
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