Francis Gumerlock, author of "The Early Church and the End of the World," has written an article in Bibliotheca Sacra that shows that there were "rapture" beliefs before the 1800s. As the common misconception goes, the rapture, which I do* believe in myself, was an invention of the 1800s.
A preview of that article is available here on his website. The title of the paper is Rapture in the Apocalypse of Elijah.
I first came along a similar notion when I first began reading Pagan Christianity in 2008.
From what I've read, the book doesn't actually come out and says the rapture was created in the 1800s (However, Gumerlock's paper cites a work that might. See the first footnote.). It doesn't even use the term rapture. However, it does talk about "pretribulational dispensationalism" which is linked to rapture beliefs.
From page 71:
It is also worth noting that Moody was heavily influenced by the Plymouth Brethren teaching on the end times. This was the teaching that Christ may return at any second before the great Tribulation. (This teaching is also called "pretribulational dispensationalism.")In the footnotes on page 71, there is some unhelpful wording:
142. John Nelson Darby spawned this teaching. The origin of Darby's pretribulational doctrine is fascinating. See Dave MacPherson, The Incredible Cover-Up (Medford, OR: Omega Publications, 1975).
Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition defines spawned as, among other definitions, "to bring forth or be the source of (esp. something regarded with contempt and produced in great numbers)." So you could see how as a college sophomore (I finished my sophomore year I think and I was in South Carolina for the summer. Did that make me a "rising junior?) I could get a little confused about the origins of the rapture.
While my current church teaches the "rapture," it is one of the many things I disagree with at the church. And on Gumerlock's paper, I must add that he is not saying that belief in the rapture was widespread among early Christians. In fact, from the intro it only seems like a handful (to be generous), held that belief.
Read the intro here.
*Before correction, this post said that I don't believe in the rapture. That is wrong. I do.
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