Over at The Prospect, Jamelle offers up a handy primerto the Rapture, which an 89-year-old religious leader named Harold Camping said should be going down tomorrow.
What is the Rapture?
Derived from the Latin verb “rapio,” it means “to catch up” or “caught away,” and refers to the a specific event in several eschatological timelines, when God removes Christians from Earth in preparation for the final days. It’s chief scriptural support comes from 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “_…Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever.”
Who believes this?
In terms of the entire Christian tradition, not very many people. The Rapture falls under a set of eschatological beliefs called “millenialism,” a reference to a 1000-year period of paradise that some Christians believe will precede the final judgment. Millenialism is rejected by the Catholic and Orthodox churches, as well as a large number of Protestant denominations. It’s mostly fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals who embrace it.
This is all so confusing. When do the self-aware killing robots and the nuclear holocaust happen?
Jokes aside, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I realized this was a minority belief among evangelicals. A lot of that was just the company I kept — I was raised Catholic, but I used to hang out with a bunch of “nondenominational” evangelicals in high school who used to pepper otherwise normal conversations with allusions to the Antichrist, who was apparently already walking among us.