Are we raptureless? Is that really what Dr. Jonathan Welton saying? Today, I will share my perspectives on this fascinating book called “Raptureless”. It’s been around since 2012. Apparently, it’s been stirring up some controversies.
There is an earlier version of Dr. Welton’s book called “Raptureless: An Optimistic Guide to the End of the World – Revised Edition Including The Art of Revelation” and it’s still available on Amazon. I’d suggest getting the Kindle version.
For the purpose of this article, I’ll be focusing on Raptureless Third Edition“; as it’s more updated and a little more streamlined. Like the former, it is available on Amazon.
Before I dive in, it would be best to go over some very important details; especially if you are new to this genre of Christian books. For one, this book belongs in a category called “eschatology” What is that? Eschatology is the study of End Time prophecies. Did you know the Bible is filled with end time prophecies?
Oh great! Are you going to turn into a super nerd or something?
Don’t worry, I won’t become a fanboy on you. My goal is to keep this blog post easy for you. So, I hope you’ll enjoy my review and comment on the whole end time feeding frenzy. However, I need to give you a brief background.
It’s very likely that you found this blog post and you have no clue about my background. Fair enough! Though I’m not a theologian, I have been doing a personal study of eschatology, for many years. As a kid, I grew up on the Book of Revelation. As a fan of science fiction, this book was easily my favorite.
Yes, the Scripture was quite real to me and I certainly believed in God. I can still recall talking with God, about this strange and fascinating book. Though I didn’t understand, Revelation was easily the most enjoyable. In addition, I’d also watch shows like Herbert W. Morrow’s “World of Tomorrow”. At the time, I was about 10 years old.
Years later, I was still hungry for such materials. When I came to Christ, my interest in the study of eschatology still remained. In time, I’d discover teachers like Hal Lindsey and Jack Van Impe. Television shows weren’t the only thing. I’ve also read fictional stories like Paul Meier’s “Fourth Millenium” and the Left Behind series.
Here’s what you really need to know, before reading Jonathan’s book. Jonathan is writing from a partial preterist viewpoint. What is that? A partial preterist looks at end time prophecy through the lens of history. For them, the events described in Matthew 24 has already happened. In some ways, it also mirrors certain events in the Book of Revelation.
However, you should not confuse a partial preterist with a full preterist. The partial says “Jesus has not come back in the flesh to sit on the throne in Jerusalem.” They are looking forward to the Second Coming like the Futurist. Dr. Jonathan Welton is such a person. The full preterist claims the Book of Revelation is all history and Jesus has already returned.
Oh really? Thankfully, Dr. Jonathan did not take this path. It would have made this book too difficult to believe or consider. What about me? I’m close to a classic premillennialist. It’s from Revelation 20:1-10 that we get the idea of a literal thousand year reign. Here’s where I differ from dispensational premillennialism. They believe in something called a “pre-trib” rapture.
I will talk about the rapture, at the end of my review. Why am I bothering with the above description? When you read a book, it is going to be read with a set of preconceived ideas and understanding. When it comes to books like “Raptureless”, it’s importance to set aside your own personal opinion and listen to the other person’s point of view.
When I first read the prophecies described in Matthew 24, it is without the aid of historical information. I, for one, appreciated Dr. Jonathan furnishing the historical data for what happened in 70AD. I just knew that Jerusalem was attacked and the Temple was destroyed. I had no ideas of the full scope of what happened.
For this one reason, I would definitely recommend this book; even if you’re not agreeing with the partial preterist view. I have read Josephus’ account and I had some idea; however, it didn’t shock me like this book. I can see why Titus would say “It was the judgment of God that has visited this place!”
To an extent, I can see why Dr. Jonathan Welton would see the events described in Revelation 5 to Revelation 10 has largely occurred. However, I am not so certain of this. Why? When I read those chapters, the scale seems a lot bigger. All this for Jerusalem? For me, it seems a bit much.
Roman Catholics will definitely like Dr. Jonathan Welton’s take on Revelation 18. Why is that? If you don’t know, this chapter talks about the fall of religious Babylon. In this case, Babylon is a picture of old Jerusalem. It is more than that, Dr. Welton describes it as the passing of the old covenant and the instituting of a new covenant.
As I was raised a nominal Roman Catholic, it was a refreshing change of pace. Sadly, I’ve run into Protestants, who forgot Jesus’ command to love your enemies and your brothers. Thankfully, this nonsense happened in the past and I’m enjoying healthy fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Of course, I did not know the full Church history. With Dr. Jonathan Welton’s help, I have a better sense of what John Wesley and other reformers were talking about. I mention this because Dr. Welton has written a new book called “Understanding The Seven Churches of Revelation“. I may opt to review it, at a later date. I’m hoping that he’ll do more than cover the history of these churches.
There is more to “Raptureless” than the fall of Jerusalem. Dr. Welton provides an interesting answer to the fifth kingdom mentioned in Daniel 2. What is the fifth kingdom? King Nebachanezer had a bizarre dream; where he saw a giant statue. The statue represented five earthly kingdoms. According to Dr. Jonathan Welton, the last kingdom was created by Augustus Ceaser when he divided the Roman Empire into 10 provinces.
Guess what came next? It is the Kingdom of God and it is marked by the arrival of Jesus. It’s a Kingdom that would continue to grow and it would eventually cover the whole earth. Here is the best part! How do you suppose this Kingdom grew? Yes, Jesus did usher in a new era; however, there is another part.
It’s the Church. At the end of Matt 28:16-29, Jesus gave this instruction:
16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The need to share the Good News of Jesus has never changed. Did you notice that Jesus didn’t tell them to sit on their laurels? Yes, Jesus did say to wait in Jerusalem; however, it was because the disciples were going to need help. They were going to need the help of the Holy Spirit. With God’s help, there were to preach the gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world.
Wait a second! What about the last day? Isn’t Jesus coming to set up his Kingdome? What about te rapture? First, I suggest that you read Jesus word in Acts 1:6-8
6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Disaster was coming to Jerusalem and the disciples had a lot of work to do. Their focus needed to be on the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The above instruction applies to today’s time period. The Church still has a job to do. What about the Second Coming? Dr. Jonathan Welton does say that Jesus will physically return, at a future date.
I did a lot of heavy reading in the past couple of days and I’m not certain if Dr. Welton mentions a literal millennial kingdom. However, the “Great Tribulation” seems to be a past event. I honestly disagree; however, I am not going to toss out the good with the bad. You can read his book and decide for yourself.
What about the “rapture”? I would suggest that you listen to this short 5-minute video.
The video covers some of the misconceptions created by his book. In the video, Dr. Jonathan Welton explains that he does believe in the rapture, where the believers will be transformed into their new bodies. He’s also included a chapter on this very topic.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, it is definitely worth reading and it may help calm down some of the needless hysteria caused by people panicking over what may come. Why do I say this?
As it happens, I believe in a post-trib rapture. Now, here is a word of warning and advice. Listen! For years, the Church has been wracked with all kinds of speculations about when the end will come. Though I am a classic premillennialist and believe in a post-trib rapture; I am not worried about it. My focus is on what God has called me, to do.
We are letting our fear of what may happen, distract us, from the mission. If you really believe that time is so short then I suggest that you get cracking on sharing the Gospel of Christ. If you are a partial preterist then I’d suggest that you act like premillennialist and get moving. We’re not supposed to be sitting on our blessed assurance.
Let’s share the good news of what Jesus did for humanity. Let’s tell of the love of God, the Father. Let’s focus on the ministry of reconciliation that we’re given. Remember, we don’t know the amount of time that we’re given. For this reason, it’s good to press onward and be about what we’re called to do. Worrying about the future isn’t helping anyone.
By the way, that is the whole point of Dr. Jonathan Welton’s book. Stop worrying about what you can’t control and focus on what you can do. He’s trying to give you a sense of optimism about advancing God’s Kingdom. I, for one appreciate his effort.