Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #42: “Caught Up with the Lord in the Air”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next installment, the Catholic apologist continues his section on “The Last Things” as he attempts to counter the assertion by some Protestants that, prior to the Great Tribulation mentioned in Matthew 24 and Revelation 6-11, believers will be “Caught Up with the Lord in the Air.”

capture30

Roman Catholicism teaches that the “church” will go through the Great Tribulation period prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ.

“Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.” – CCC 675

This view is commonly referred to as the post-tribulational “rapture” (Latin, rapio, “caught up”).

Many evangelical Christians believe in the pre-tribulational rapture, which posits that believers will be taken up into Heaven before the end-times tribulation begins. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 is cited as the basis for the pre-trib view:

15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

Broussard attempts to rebut the pre-trib view with two arguments.

(1) Broussard suggests that the reference in 1 Thess. 4:17 to believers being “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air” refers to “how Christians will meet the Lord…to escort him in a way that is analogous to the ancient custom of citizens ushering in important visitors” (p. 225).

(2) Broussard then cites three Bible passages that he contends support the post-trib view:

  • 1 Cor. 15:22-24 – Broussard argues this passage teaches that “the end (of time) happens in tandem with the resurrection of the dead” (p. 226), not that the resurrection of the dead occurs at a pre-trib rapture.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8 – Broussard claims this passage indicates that the Antichrist and his reign of evil precedes the “coming of the Lord.” He argues that (A) since 2 Thess. 2:1-8 and 1 Thess. 4:15-17 both refer to the “coming of the Lord,” and because (B) 2 Thess. 2:1-8 clearly indicates that the “coming of the Lord” will follow the tribulation, then (C) 1 Thess. 4:15-17 must also be referring to a post-trib rapture.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 – Broussard posits that this passage links the divine trumpet blast with the resurrection of the dead at the end of time. He argues that (A) since 1 Cor. 15:51-53 links the trumpet blast with the resurrection of the dead at the end of time, and since (B) 1 Thess. 4:15-17 also refers to the trumpet blast and the resurrection of the dead, then (C) 1 Thess. 4:15-17 refers to the end of time.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

(1) Broussard’s interpretation of 1 Thess. 4:17 as Christians merely greeting the Lord as He descends from Heaven at the time of His Second Coming is merely his interpretation.

(2) Responding to his three proof texts:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:22-24 – This passage doesn’t necessarily imply a chronological immediacy between the resurrection of “those who belong to Christ” and “the end” (of time).
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8 – The “that day” in v. 3 doesn’t refer to the “being gathered together” in v. 1, but to “the day of the Lord” in v. 2. Throughout Scripture, “the day of the Lord” refers to the final end times. Broussard’s attempt to link the gathering of the saints in v. 1 immediately with the final end times is without merit.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 – While Broussard claims that this passage connects the divine trumpet blast “with the resurrection of the dead at the end of time” (p. 228), there is no explicit or implicit reference to the end time in the passage. Pre-trib Christians frequently cite this passage along with 1 Thess. 4:15-17 as validation of their view.

Not all evangelical Christians adhere to the pre-trib rapture view (see the article, “When is the Rapture going to occur in relation to the Tribulation?” below). Some subscribe to the mid-trib view while others hold the post-trib view. After trusting in Christ and becoming born-again back in the early-1980s, my wife and I attended an independent fundamental Baptist church that taught the pre-trib rapture and that is what I believe. I’m not a fervent eschatologist, as some are, so I’m content to leave it at that.

I also agree with the Reformers who believed that the Roman Catholic church is going to play a prominent role as the primary apostate false church during the end times. In this chapter, Broussard quibbles over eschatological details, but let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees. The most significant issue on the table is that the Roman Catholic church teaches a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

When is the Rapture going to occur in relation to the Tribulation?
https://www.gotquestions.org/rapture-tribulation.html

What is the day of the Lord?
https://www.gotquestions.org/day-of-the-Lord.html

Next up: “A Thousand-Year Reign”

24 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #42: “Caught Up with the Lord in the Air”

    1. Thanks, Mandy! Yeah, this chapter was difficult for me because I don’t have a lot of personal investment in the debate. I know many Christians are very passionate about their particular viewpoint, but not me. It also strikes me as pointless to debate eschatology with a Roman Catholic when their views on justification and salvation are so wrong. It’s like shopping for a used car and worrying about the stereo system but not whether the car actually runs or not.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yup! Catholicism is definitely “salvage title” material when it comes to soteriology. Sorry for the lame analogy, but I was up late (for me) last night watching the Padres stun the Cardinals with 5 home runs so today the brain neurons are having a hard time jumping the synapses.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I loved that analogy!!! I thought it was fantastic!! Tonight’s game will be interesting! I have to tell you, I DESPISE this fake crowd noise. It annoys my very being! I don’t see how it helps the players. Like no one is there. It reminds me of the Emperor’s New Clothes! Everyone knows the seats are empty, this fake noise adds insult to injury. Ok, my rant is over sorry! Now your motor and sensory neurons can be annoyed with me!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I confess I’m ambivalent about the phony crowd noise and cardboard cutouts in the seats. For last night’s game, somebody at Petco came up with the VERY bright idea of putting cutouts of the Padres 1984 NL Champs team to the left of home plate and cutouts of the Padres 1998 NL Champs to the right. That was very much appreciated by an old fan like myself. I spent as much time identifying the cutouts as watching the live action.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you for this informative and reaffirming post, Tom. Rupture first then followed by the tribulation that is what I’ve known whether through preaching or independent films. Although being part of those who disappeared/gone by rapture is the best, I’d like to be of service to GOD even by few hard months and guide those left in the gruesome times towards the belief and faith of our GOD and Savior JESUS CHRIST during the few months of tribulation until my life is required by GOD. GOD bless you and your wife!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comments, Kent! I was taught a pre-trib rapture when I was discipled as a new Christian and was later surprised that other churches taught different views. This is one of those issues we’ll leave to the Lord and just keep following Him by His grace. Thanks and blessings to you and yours!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Tom. I would actually side with Broussard far more than with any pre-Trib argument. I think the pre-Trib is a terrible theology, which I have written about in my blogs, and agree with the Pre-Wrath Rapture view, which has Christ’s return / the Rapture of the Church coming after the sixth seal.

    Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David. I guess I was a bit grateful for this chapter because it forced me to review the three eschatological views again, something I don’t naturally gravitate to. One of the articles I came across humorously mentioned a fourth Millennarian view: panmillennialism – i.e., “We don’t know which view of the millennium is correct, but we know it will all pan out in the end.” I may lean closer to panmillennialism than being an ardent pre-tribber.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good post, a humble one really and I love your point about going back to the main thing: Rome is still wrong with the Gospel and the Gospel should be central and that is what Rome needs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, brother! This chapter was a tough one for me because eschatology is not my forte. Yeah, debating with a Roman Catholic over eschatological details doesn’t help them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Crissy! From what I can remember before I left the RCC and from what I’ve read since then, the Catholic church doesn’t give a lot of emphasis to eschatology.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s