Only one-third of American Protestant pastors believe that Christians will be raptured as the end times begin, according to a new study from LifeWay Research. Christianity Today reports that the survey of 1,000 pastors found that few people agree about the specifics of the apocalypse.
LifeWay vice president Scott McConnell said, “Most people want their pastor to preach about the Book of Revelation and the end of the world. But that’s a complicated task. Pastors and the scholars they cite often disagree about how the end times will unfold.”
According to the survey, 36 percent of Protestant senior pastors believe in pretribulation rapture, or Christians being taken up to heaven to meet Jesus. This is the picture of the apocalypse most depicted in pop culture, such as the “Left Behind” series.
However, another large group of pastors (25 percent) argue that the rapture is not a literal concept. Other smaller groups believe that the rapture will occur after tribulation (18 percent), the rapture has already happened (1 percent), that the rapture will take place during the tribulation (4 percent), before the wrath of God comes down on earth (4 percent), or none of these possibilities (8 percent).
The answered varied by denomination, as well as education level. According to LifeWay, Evangelical pastors were more likely to take a literal interpretation of the rapture than mainline Protestants, Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians.
Pastors with higher education were more likely to the take the rapture figuratively than those with bachelor’s degrees or no college degree.
The Armageddon Code: One Journalist’s Quest for End-Times Answers author Billy Hallowell said, “The big picture of Revelation is clear—Jesus returns, people must be ready, evil is defeated. With the rest of the details, there is room for disagreement.”
Publication date: April 27, 2016