One way to get Christians to disengage from what’s happening culturally, politically, economically, and educationally is to assure them that we are living in the last days and we will be rescued by the rapture of the church before a period of Great Tribulation. This doctrine has been popular with Christians for decades. Hal Lindsey made it popular with the 1970 publication of The Late Great Planet Earth that predicted the “rapture” of the church would take place 40 years from the reestablishment of the nation of Israel in 1948. For those who are counting, that was to be 1988. Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel was even more dogmatic about the prophetic reality of the claim.
While the promotion of the “rapture” doctrine can’t be blamed for all of society’s ills, it has had an effect on how millions of Christians evaluate and respond to current events. Many believe that we are living in the last days and Jesus is coming soon to “rapture” His church because the world is a “sinking Titanic,” and the “rapture” is the only solution. Such a belief has had an impact.
Dr. Mark Hitchcock has written a free eBook for Dallas Theological Seminary with the title The Truth and Timing of the Rapture that has been promoted on Facebook. When Hitchcock writes about the “rapture,” he is referring to a pre-tribulation “rapture of the Church” prior to the start of the long-postponed 70th week of Daniel’s “70 weeks of years” prophecy found in Daniel 9:24–27. He writes:
The pre-tribulation rapture position depends on the 70th week of the “70 weeks of years” prophecy to be separated from the other 69 weeks. If the Bible does not teach such a separation, then the pre-tribulation rapture is a false doctrine. Read the passage for yourself and see if there is any mention of anyone being “raptured”— taken to heaven—for any reason. You will not find the doctrine…