Contrary to the recent doctrines of recent denominations, neither Scripture nor the holy fathers ever spoke, nor spoke against, the teaching of the Rapture. I do not say that those who believe the teaching are in formal heresy, but instead doctrinal error which I believe will lead to the terror and confusion of many good Christians who put their faith in this particular doctrine.
Let us first note, for all Protestants reading this post, a little fact from history. I ask, When the Protestant Reformers rose up, whom did they declare to be the Beast of Revelation? The Roman Catholic Pope. As Dr. Walter Martin once asked a congregation, How can the Pope be the Antichrist revealed if the Rapture had not previouslly occured? Naturally, neither the Papacy nor the Pope is Antichrist as many good Protestant and Orthodox theologians will admit. This is not the point. The point being, according to the Rapture-doctrine, the Rapture must occur *before* Antichrist is revealed. However, the Protestant Reformers declared the Pope to be Antichris revealed.....and not one of these same Reformers likewise declared that something called the Rapture had already taken place. To the Protestant world, this is a very serious issue. For the Catholic and Orthodox, we need only look to the holy church fathers....and find not one implicit shred of evidence for such a teaching. The Protestants may likewise look into the holy fathers, and even according to their doctrinal standards will find not one hint of anything called a Rapture. Instead, the holy fathers declare unceasingly that Christ's Church will be forced to endure the Tribulation Period, to face Antichrist and suffer martyrdom for the cause of Our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, Who suffered death for us.
The Rapture doctrine originated in the early 1800s, far too late, from one John Nelson Darby.
One of the primary texts to substantiate the doctrine comes from...
"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17)
However this is no way declares the Rapture. Far from it, in context it refers to those who remain at the coming of the Lord - the Second Coming. Our God Jesus Christ said that "he who endures to the end shall be saved", speaking primarly of the Tribulation Period, but also applying it to the Christian's every-day spiritual race in Him. So in actuality, if one reads the text without isolating it from the rest of sacred Scripture, he or she will find that St. Paul is saying that those who physically survive the Tribulation will behold Christ's glorious return at Armeggedon and be caught up with Him in the heavens. After reading Scripture in its entirety, one sees clearly that the Rapture teaching is no where to be found in this particular passage.
Another distinct verse used to support the doctrine is...
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left." (Matthew 24:36-41 [NIV])
The phrase "Two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left" has always been quoted as irrefutable proof for the Rapture and how it will occur. However, once again, when looked at in context we find the exact opposite. Christ explicitly compares the last days to the days of Noah and the Flood. He says, "...and they knew nothing...until the flood came and took them all away." Then He immedietly follows up by declaring, "Two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left." In truth, the man who is taken is the one swept away in the destruction and horrors of the Tribulation, Hell-on-Earth. The man remaining will be the one who endures by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Yet another 'proof-text' comes from...
"Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way." (2 Thessalonians 2:1-7)
The Holy Spirit is He who restrains Antichrist from doing his evil - how then can the Holy Spirit be removed unless the Church is also removed from the Earth? Actually, the text never says the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth, but that He is merely taken out of the way. In a way, He will let down His Shield, and like Christ let down His Shield, the Holy Spirit will allow the Body of Christ to suffer at the hands of evil men, just as Jesus allowed Himself to suffer at the hands of evil men, viz., ourselves. This is no way means the Church will no longer exist, since "the gates of hell shall never prevail." But as you well know (if you are Catholic), and if you don't know, I will tell you: the Church, specifically, the Catholic Church, is in Eclipse, and with it, all Christendom is in Eclipse. I do not say that Benedict 16th is a false pope, since I believe that is heretical: Benedict 16th is the true sucessor of St. Peter. Nor do I believe Vatican Council II was evil. When I say the Church is in Eclipse, I mean it is hidden in the mire of Apostasy - hundreds of men and women who declare themselves Catholic live as though they were atheists; priests and bishops are proclaiming doctrines contrary to the solemn teaching of the Church; they deny the Virgin Birth, they allow occult activities and New Age seminars to be held in their parishes, they declare all religions to be equal, they deny the Holocaust, they have led the sheep astray. Certainly, not all bishops and priests have done so, but a very many have, and there remain only a few who hold to the solemn teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, that Church which declares perfect Faith in the God-Man Christ Jesus, who is the Way, Truth, and Life, and that unless a man be born of water and Spirit in Christ Jesus, he will not see Heaven. But this Eclipse must take place, for it is the Great Falling Away, in which many will leave the Church and form the Apostasy, which we see is now in the earth. This is the Holy Spirit slowly letting down the Shield, moving Himself out of the way for Antichrist to make his appearance. As the Catholic Church continues to be covered in smoke and ash, so will all Christendom. The Eclipse grows darker every day - but Christ is our Light, and by Him we stand and show Him to the dark world.
I find it dangerous to believe in a 'new doctrine' which cannot be supported in Scripture, nor is found in the Holy Tradition of the fathers, until most recent times. St. Paul said false teaching would arise in the last days. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine has led many to a false security that they will not have to endure Satan's wrath. But I remind all my brothers and sisters in Christ that just as Noah and his family endured the tribulations of the Flood, they were safe and secure in the Ark. The Ark is a type of the Church, which is the Body of Christ. Whoever is in Christ is in the Church. He is our Ark, in which there is eternal safety. We would do well to remember the Psalmist's words when he says, "What can mortal man do to me?" Certainly, man can do many horrible things to our bodies - but they can *never* take away that which we hold dear - Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Salvation. Christ declares in John 6, "No one can pluck them (believers) out of My hand." If we continue to remain in Him, He will remain in us, and no one can force us out of Him. By the grace of the Holy Spirit we continue to remain within Him, continually submitting to His Divine Will, placing all trust in Him. During Antichrist's wrath, we will be safe in the arms of Christ the Ark, despite the terrors the Church will endure. He endured the terrors of the Cross for us, and so we who are His Mystical Body must endure the terrors of the Tribulation. This time will test our Faith, and soon it will be revealed who has truly followed Jesus and who just simply proclaimed to know Him.
As I said before, I don't condemn anyone who believes the Rapture will occur, but I do warn them they are taking a grave risk at putting faith in a false security.
"For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."