3.6. How should God’s people live their daily lives?

3.5.4. The Rapture

Some Christians believe that the end of the world will be a long scenario, beginning with the sudden rapture of all true believers. They will disappear to be with God, while everyone else is caught up in horrible catastrophes as God and Satan battle, destroying the earth in the process. This viewpoint has spread in Evangelical Christianity and American popular culture, particularly the “Left Behind” books and movies. This message has appeal because it promises immunity from suffering. The word rapture does not appear in the Bible. The Catholic tradition does not teach this belief. Although we can respect the beliefs of our fellow Christians, Catholic theologians would emphasize the following points.

The early Jesus movement (the term Christianity too much implies an organized religion, which came later) can rightly be considered a Jewish sect

That is, they were a minority group within Judaism that rejected the legitimacy of the mainstream of Judaism, and its leaders in particular. We know about other Jewish sects from around the time of the early Jesus movement. Some of them are strikingly similar to the Jesus movement. The Jewish historian Josephus , writing for a Roman audience at the end of the first century CE, tells us about a Jewish group called the Essenes. The Essenes lived their daily lives in ways similar to what we know about the early Jesus movement from the letters of Paul and the sequel to the Gospel of Luke, the Acts of the Apostles. Josephus tells us the Essenes keep communal property, treat all members equally, do not own slaves, do not marry (with exceptions), reject bodily pleasures and passions, and embrace e basic movement that lived at Qumran and kept the library of the Dead Sea Scrolls . The early Jesus movement seems to resemble what we know of the Essenes and Qumran sectarians in all ways except the last point discussed here. Contrary to other Jewish sects, Paul argued that followers of Jesus are not necessarily required to keep the Law of Moses (the first five books of the Jewish Bible, or Torah, which other Jews interpret for laws of daily life).

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