Presented at The Bible Faculty Summit Annual Conference
August 6–8, 2019, International Baptist College and Seminary,
The Rapture: Cosmic Segregation or Antidote for Oppression? A Critical Response to the “Racial Ideology of Rapture” by Nathaniel P. Grimes
Cory M. Marsh *
In keeping with trending social issues, a recently published article in Perspectives in Religious Studies (National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion, published by Baylor University) by Nathaniel P. Grimes made a bold, if not sensational claim: the dispensational understanding of the Church’s rapture is a racially coded theology legitimizing evangelical mistreatment of minorities in America since the wake of the Civil War. Perceiving the rapture to be a doctrine invented by Darby and exploited by Scofield, Moody, and other Caucasian leaders of the American Bible Conference Movement, Grimes posited the pretribulational rapture was an idea used to promote a “cosmic segregation,” a heavenly avenue of escape for white supremacists from blacks and other ethnic groups which society had marginalized.
The current paper will offer a critical response to Grime’s thesis, exposing a flawed research methodology he used to validate positions condemning the rapture as a racist doctrine. Further, against the backdrop of contemporary hotbed notions of social justice, this paper will positively build a case for the pretribulational rapture as a biblical antidote for oppression against minorities in the current economy. The thesis will be supported by two main drives: (1) the church is a spiritual, non-political institution comprised of the most marginalized people-groups in human history forming a collective body whom Christ will spare from impending devastation and doom upon the earth; and (2) the imminent appearing of Christ as taught in the pretribulational rapture demands an urgency in applying biblical social justice themes out of love for all ethnicities in obedience to Christ.