The Pure Flame of Devotion: The History of Christian Spirituality, edited by G. Stephen Weaver, Jr. and Ian Hugh Clary, was published recently. It is a collection of essays on the history of Christian spirituality in honor of Dr. Michael Haykin. My contribution to this book is Chapter 6 entitled “Apocalyptic Spirituality in the Early Middle Ages: Hope for Escaping the Fire of Doomsday through a Pre-conflagration Rapture.”
We have all heard of the pre-tribulation rapture view, popular with many evangelical Christians, which says that seven years before Christ returns, the church will be caught up to be with Christ to escape the Great Tribulation. The view which I hold is that the “catching away” of 1 Thess 4 is simply the resurrection of those Christians who are still living at the time of Christ’s Second Coming. The purpose for this is so that the living as well as the resurrected dead will stand before the Last Judgment in both body and soul. For, after the judgment, they will spend eternity in body and soul either in heaven with Christ or in eternal torment.
The essay “Apocalyptic Spirituality…” presents a view of the rapture, held by many Christians in the early middle ages, called the “pre-conflagration rapture.” This view says that one of the purposes of the catching up of the saints is to protect Christians from the grand conflagration, a big word for a big fire: the burning up on the present heaven and earth that accompanies the Second Coming of Christ. I hope you enjoy the essay.
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