Most people are unaware that the modern pretribulation rapture
theory is only about 200 years old. Its earliest version was set forth in 1812 by a Spanish Jesuit named Manuel de Lacunza y Diaz in a two-volume, 900-page work, The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty.
The book was originally published in Spanish and was later translated into English by Rev. Edward Irving and published in 1827.
The basic premise of Lacunza’s book is “futurism,” as contrasted to “historicism.” Up to that time, nearly all of the Protestant reformers and Bible scholars interpreted the book of Revelation from a historicist viewpoint, showing that Revelation set forth the history of the Church from John’s day to the present.
While each one had his own particular flavor of historicism, virtually none of them thought that the “rapture” would occur at the beginning of Revelation (the Book) or that the bulk of Revelation spoke of a future time of “tribulation.” The early church fathers never thought so.
This “rapture” topic is a recent theory all due to slight misunderstandings.
In fact, they saw that the Roman persecution of dissidents (later called Protestants) throughout the Church Age was the persecution of the saints portrayed in the book of Revelation.
It was commonly believed that the Papal (Catholic) system itself was “Antichrist,” the “little horn” coming out of the great iron (Roman) beast in Daniel 7:20.
The Roman Church was, of course, stung by this criticism. They could not deny their policy of burning dissidents ( Those who disagreeing especially with an established religious or political system of the Roman Catholic Church ) at the stake, for this was openly discussed even by Roman bishops, cardinals, and the popes themselves.
Their self-justification rang hollow when they insisted that dissidents deserved such torture.
Neither could they deny the fact that the Roman Church was an extension of the Roman Empire, for the Church assumed power when the old Roman government fell in 476 A.D. The name ROMAN Catholic even proves that.
The Protestant reformers were quick to point out the Papal boast of having the power to overrule the precepts of the apostles and of Jesus Christ Himself. The decrees were true.
These papal decrees were a perfect match with what Daniel wrote about the “little horn” in Daniel 7:20,
that horn [governmental power] which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts.”
All these were true. But Lacunza now made an error which led to this rapture theory.
It appears, then, that Lacunza, the Jesuit, set out to deflect this criticism of his Church organization.
He assumed from the beginning that the biblical “Church” was the organization called Roman Catholic ( that was his error ) and that it was therefore not possible for the Church to be part of the Beast system described by Daniel.
This is one reason why it is vital that we understand the biblical definition of “the Church.” It is not the organization nor the buildings. It is the people, the “congregation.”
The Hebrew word for “Church” is kahal, which is usually translated congregation (of Israel).
For example, Psalm 22:22 says,
I will declare Thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation [kahal] will I praise Thee.
This verse is quoted in Hebrews 2:12, where
kahal is rendered by the Greek word “ecclesia.”
This is the usual New Testament word translated “Church” in the King James Version. The NASB of Hebrews 2:12 reads,
saying, I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation [ecclesia] I will sing Thy praise.
Thus, the word “Church” speaks of the congregation, not the organization or the building. The people do not go to Church; it is the Church that goes to the building to worship together without having to worry about getting wet from the rain.
Being a Christian is not a matter of having a relationship with an organization or any man. It is a matter of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the New Covenant.
Lacunza’s incorrect definition of the Church was perhaps the most basic flaw of all his assumptions.
It was what motivated him to invent the pre-tribulation rapture theory in the first place, to take the pressure off the Roman Church and put the Antichrist into the future.
Edward Irving, then, took those ideas and injected them into Protestantism in 1827. Today, most Christians assume that the futuristic view of Revelation has always been taught in the history of the Church.
Yet the leaders of most of today’s denominations did not teach futurism, nor did they teach a pre-tribulation rapture. If the founders of each denomination were to walk into their own denomination today, most of them would be immediately excommunicated and pronounced heretics.
With this bit of history. We begin our topic “The Resurrection of the Dead”
The whole idea Of tribulation coming and church being raptured to go heaven while the unbelievers will be LEFT BEHIND to suffer the tribulation and all that which comes with this theory will be dealt with extensively in this series.