If you’re my age or a little older and grew up in an evangelical home, chances are you had the bejeezus scared out of you by end times films like A Thief in the Night and Hal Lindsay’s book The Late Great Planet Earth. The younger generation has the Left Behind series to give them nightmarish visions of the future. Yet when the Apostle Paul speaks of Jesus’ coming and our being caught up to meet him, he says, “Comfort one another with these words” (1 Thes. 4:18). Where’s the disconnect?
Barbara Rossing’s book The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation (Westview Press, 2004) shows the many errors and contradictions in dispensationalist teaching which lie behind popular end times books and movies. She accuses dispensationalists of selective literalism, poor exegesis, and down right fabrication. Instead of predicting the future, she sees the Book of Revelation, which never mentions the rapture, as a source of hope.
Here’s a small sample of Rossing’s book: “Like the visionary journeys in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Revelation’s vision of seals, trumpets, bowls, and other manifestations are meant to be a wake-up call. . . . The journeys are not intended as literal predictions of events that must happen; they are nightmarish warnings of what may happen—if we do not follow God’s nonviolent Lamb” (91).
Although an engaging and thought-provoking book, The Rapture Exposed goes so far to avoid the mistakes of dispensational literalism that it may to take too much of Revelation symbolically. I was left wondering whether the author even believes in Jesus’ Second Coming in any real sense. Read it with caution, but read it.