Six Things Catholics Can Learn from Fundamentalists

Today is Ascension Thursday. “He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

2020_05 21 ascension

This seems like an appropriate time to review six things Catholics need to take a lot more seriously than we generally do these days. These five are already part of explicit Catholic teaching.

  1. The authority of the literal sense of Scripture: While it is true that Catholics recognize allegorical, moral, and anagogical meanings can be found in Scripture, the Catechism makes clear, “all other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.” (CCC 116)
  1. The reality of sin and hell: Catholic doctrine definitely includes literal teachings about sin, judgement, repentance, God’s wrath, demons, and eternal damnation in hell.
  1. The absolute unicity of Jesus for salvation: It is the express teaching of Jesus himself and of the Catholic Church that Jesus is the only way to God. No exceptions.
  1. The future Second Coming of Christ: The Catechism teaches that “since the Ascension, Christ’s coming in glory has been imminent” and “could be accomplished at any moment.” (CCC 673) Following Scripture, the Catechism also says that “before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers,” and that “God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.” (CCC, 675, 677)
  1. A willingness to be fools for Christ: We tend to be a lot more worried about looking stupid to the world than about being 100% faithful to God. Let us listen to St. Paul’s exhortation to the church in Corinth: “Where is the one who is wise? […] Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? […] For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. […] But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.”(1 Corinthians 1.20-27)

The sixth thing is the Rapture.

The ChurchPop article I summarized above had the incorrect statement:

Catholics don’t believe it’s possible to predict the “day or the hour” (Mark 13.32) of Christ’s Second Coming, and we certainly don’t believe that true Christians will disappear before a period of tribulation, Left Behind-style.”

This isn’t entirely accurate. Some years ago, I did an intensive study into Catholic teachings about the End Times and found nothing at all, one way or the other, about a Rapture event.

The teaching cited by those who say Catholics don’t believe in this is being misinterpreted by them.

There are actually two separate Fundamentalist teachings.

  1. One is that there will be a Rapture event when the faithful will be “caught up” to meet Christ in the air.
  2. The other is that after Jesus returns and locks up Satan, there will be a New Millennium, a thousand years during which He will reign on Earth before Satan escapes for yet another End Time after which God will lock all the evil ones in the lake of fire forever and create the New Heaven and the New Earth for the saved.

What Catholic and traditional Protestant teaching rejects is number two.

We believe the millennium started when Christ conquered sin and death and that His Second Coming will be when the end of time and Final Judgment occur. In other words, there won’t be any thousand year reign or Third Coming.

There is no Catholic teaching about a rapture event. It simply isn’t mentioned. But it is in Jesus’ teaching about the end of time.

  1. If you read Jesus’ words about “one will be taken, one will be left” (Matt 24:40-44), it is clear this is not the same event as the Final Judgment when ALL will be called before the throne (Matt 25:31-32).
  2. St. Paul referred to the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 – “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.”

Note that those who will be “caught up” (Greek: Harpazo, Latin: Rapio) will meet Jesus in the air while those who are called for Final Judgment will meet Jesus on His throne.

Again, clearly two separate events.

Some Fundamentalist denominations argue about when this “catching up” will happen within their End Times timeline.

I couldn’t find anything definitive about that issue in Scripture and the arguments all seem to take as a premise the non-Catholic teaching that a post-Second Coming/Tribulation millennium time on Earth will happen.

The main schools seem to be Pre-Tribs, Mid-Tribs, and Post-Tribs.

I’m just hoping that Jesus chooses me and mine to catch up and that He does it before the whole Anti-Christ thing happens.

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