How do I explain the faulty premise of the Rapture to a Protestant friend?
Belief in the rapture is of recent vintage, dating to the 1800s. It is held by a good number of Protestants, particularly Evangelicals. The rapture’s faulty, unbiblical premise is its premillennialism—that Jesus will first take true Christian believers to heaven and then return to the earth to establish his kingdom for a 1,000-year reign, which will include winning over the Jewish people and reinstituting the Temple sacrifices.
This doctrine fails to recognize that Jesus established his kingdom for everyone (see Matthew 28:20) in becoming man at the Incarnation and living out his earthly ministry that culminated in his passion, death, resurrection and ascension (the paschal mystery) and the establishment of his Catholic Church through which he reigns (see Matt. 16:18-19). Rapture enthusiasts also fail to recognize that Jesus would have no interest in reestablishing the Temple sacrifices, because he fulfilled them all in offering his one paschal sacrifice. Consequently, Jesus’ Second Coming will end the world. There will be no need to establish his kingdom.
The rapture is an example of Protestant tradition and a doctrinal development that was not an issue during theThe Rapture Reformation. For more on this topic, see “Dispensing with the Rapture," a Faith Fact by Catholics United for the Faith (CUF), and the Catholic Answers tract “The Rapture."
By Tom Nash