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Christian beliefs


The rapture: Hoax or Hope?

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The rapture is Christian belief that forms a major part of the current teaching and expectations of fundamentalist and other evangelical denominations. In its most popular current form, the doctrine involves Jesus Christ returning from Heaven towards earth. In violation of the law of gravity, saved individuals -- both dead and alive -- will rise up in the air and join Jesus in the sky:

simulated image of rapture

Needless to say, the above image is not of a past event.
It is a simulation, with photographs of
individuals superimposed on a picture of the sky.

A very brief description of the rapture is found in the Bible -- 1 Thessalonians 4 -- and is supported in other passages. Unfortunately, the Bible is ambiguous about exactly when the rapture will occur. Most believers in the rapture suggest that it will happen just before the expected seven-year Tribulation -- a time of great suffering, instability, the devastating War of Armageddon, and the largest genocide that the world has ever seen. Some suggest that it will happen just after the Tribulation when Jesus finally returns to Earth.


The doctrine of the "post-tribulation rapture" was taught by Christianity starting in the first century CE and was popular until the 19th century. It is still held by some Christians. It teaches that when Jesus Christ returns to earth after the tribulation, believers who are alive at the time will be changed into immortal glorified bodies.


A relatively new competing belief promoting a "pre-tribulation rapture" was developed during the 19th century and has become a near universal belief among fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians. This belief has Jesus returning towards the Earth before the tribulation. Christian believers -- both dead and alive -- will rise in the air to meet him in the sky. It will occur without warning. Believers in the pre-tribulation rapture have eagerly anticipated the event since the 1840s and have never given up the hope that it will occur in their very near future or at least within their lifetime.

Harold Camping, founder of Family Radio, once predicted that the Rapture would occur on 2011-MAY-21. It didn't.

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Topics covered in this section:

The following essays discuss the pre-tribulation rapture. This section is currently being edited to add information about the post-tribulation rapture

bulletIntroduction: What is the rapture? The main biblical supporting passage at 1 Thessalonians 4.
bulletAdditional Bible verses.  When will it happen?
bulletWhat will happen during the rapture?  About the "secret rapture."


After the Rapture: How you can provide help for your loved ones & friends who are left behind

Related essays on this web site:

bulletThe year 2000 and the end of the world
bulletWill the end of the world happen in the immediate future?
bulletThe millennium - competing theories
bulletInterpretation of Jesus' and Paul's prophecies about the end times

Site navigation: Home page > Christianity > History... > Beliefs > here

Copyright © 1998 to 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2019-DEC-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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