Where Did Rapture Theology Come From?

Dr. Ben Witherington III teaches at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is widely read and considered to be one of the preeminent evangelical New Testament scholars of our day. That’s right, Dr. Witherington is an evangelical. He cannot be written off as someone who is trying to debunk the Christian faith or someone who doesn’t take scripture seriously. He holds a very high view of scripture.

The reason I’m sharing Dr. Witherington’s evangelical bona fides is that most people will think his view of the rapture is at odds with evangelical Christianity. It certainly is at odds with popular evangelical culture and the majority of end times preaching that you see on television. But Dr. Witherington stands squarely in the historical and scriptural understanding of Christ’s return.

In this short video he makes a brief reference to the exegetical problems of rapture theology, but does not address them. There are many. (Perhaps I’ll blog about them soon.) We believe in the return of Jesus Christ, as Christians have for the past two millennia. But we should not embrace a theology that does not have its origins in responsible biblical interpretation.

Dispensational theology has done a lot of damage to the Christian witness for peace and justice in our day. I think it is important to see its origins. 

I agree with Dr. Witherington when he says that the “Left Behind” theology needs to be left behind.