Warning: I'm a graduate student at the University of Chicago Divinity School. In other words, I am way too interested in this topic, and an aspiring academic.

The Rapture, in the form discussed in this node, is a relatively recent development in Christian theology--you will note that Webster 1913's writeup under rapture doesn't make any mention of people getting carried off to heaven. It may have been floating around England in the early 19th century, but the first person to clearly state the idea was John Nelson Darby, an English theologian and early leader of the Plymouth Brethren.

The idea of the rapture stems from Darby's system of dispensationalism, which reconciles the contradictions in the Bible by explaining that God has made different covenants with different groups of people, each of which is still valid. Of particular importance to Darby was the promise that God made to King David in 2 Samuel 7:12-13--namely, that one of David's descendants would rule over a kingdom that would last until the end of the world. From a very early date, Christian writers had interpreted this as a reference to the Church established by Jesus (who, according to the Gospels, is a descendant of David). Darby, on the other hand, said that the Bible did not equate David's kingdom with the Church--and therefore he concluded that Jesus would return before the final end of the world to establish a kingdom on earth.

The problem is that the kingdom promised to David was a Jewish kingdom in which the Jews would be the center of the world. What would happen to all the people who found salvation by grace through Christianity? Darby hit upon 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 to support the idea of a rapture, when all the Christians (and other saved non-Jews) would be swept up to heaven, getting them out of the way so that the Jews could rule the world after the Second Coming of Christ.

The story of how this belief became so popular in the United States is a complicated one, which will have to wait for another writeup. But it is safe to say that many American Christians who believe in the Rapture are not fully aware of the theological background. But it is important to note that Darby did not develop the doctrine rapture because he thought Christians should be spared from suffering with the infidels; he actually taught that many people who suffered through the Tribulation would eventually be saved--and that the suffering would be followed by a millennium, a 1000-year long Golden Age.

All religious beliefs aside, there is also a band called The Rapture. The frantic post-punk outfit has caught the ears of many indie rock insiders. The Rapture is part of the growing group of early post-punk and funk-inflected acts along with Radio 4, !!!, The Delta '72, and The Dismemberment Plan.

Members:

Luke Jenner: Guitars/Vocals
Matt Safer: Bass
Vito Roccoforte: Drums

Formed by drummer Vito Roccoforte and guitarist/vocalist Luke Jenner in San Francisco in early 1998, the Rapture plays New York rock and roll with New Jersey grit. Fittingly, The Rapture moved to New York City soon after forming. Their noisy, raucous brand of danceable post-punk was first unleashed in early 1999 with their only full-length to date (well, if you call 25 minutes a full album), Mirror. The album was mostly a wilder version of influences like Television and Talking Heads.

After a tour, The Rapture came back with the Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks EP on Sub Pop in 2001 (incidentally, the EP lasts only 2 minutes less than the "album"). The EP (referred to by the band as a "sonic death groove") would once again display The Rapture's melody-less sound and screaming, irritated vocals.

For the 2002 single House of Jealous Lovers The Rapture enlisted the help of the DFA, a superstar producing duo who have produced for UNKLE, Primal Scream, and Radio 4. As with everything the DFA touch, the single turned into gold (metaphorically, you ninny - not a gold record). The added production experience brought out the best in The Rapture, so hopefully the future will see a true full-length produced with the DFA.

Discography

  • Mirror (1999)
  • Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks (2001)
  • House of Jealous Lovers Single (2002)
  • Echoes (2003)

Similar Artists:

Television, Talking Heads, Radio 4, The Delta '72, Primal Scream, Gang of Four, Shellac, Joy Division, Public Image Ltd.

Sources:

  • All Music Guide http://www.allmusic.com
  • http://www.epitonic.com/artists/therapture.html

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