Do Mormons believe the righteous saints shall be caught up?

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Answered by: C. Romney, An Expert in the About the Scriptures Category
Mormons (Latter-day Saints) very seldom speak about or teach about the rapture.

Nevertheless, it is a very important and clearly documented part of LDS theology.

It is very curious that the rapture doctrine is not a major part of the Latter-day Saints consciousness, even among LDS prophecy scholars.

The New Testament clearly teaches about the rapture and Latter-day Saints accept the New Testament as scripture. Of course the word rapture actually never shows up in the King James Version of the Bible.

The word has been adopted in modern times by some evangelical Christians to refer to the “catching up” of the Saints to meet Christ in a cloud. Some Christian prophecy scholars point out that the word "Rapture", in the context of eschatology, is an English noun derived from the Latin verb rapio, "caught up" or "taken away." as found in the Vulgate rendering of 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

The doctrine that the righteous saints shall be caught up to meet Christ in the clouds at his coming is clearly taught in the Bible.

Perhaps the most celebrated rapture scripture in the New Testament is as follows-

“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thess. 4:15-18 see also 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Daniel 12:2, John 5:28-29 , Revelation 20:1-5, Matthew 24:36-42)

Mormons accept the Old and New Testament as the word of God along with the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.

Interestingly, since the Doctrine and Covenants makes numerous declarations about the catching up of the Saints to meet Christ in the cloud, Mormons have more rapture passages in their scriptures than Evangelical Christians do!

(The Doctrine and Covenants is a compilation of published and canonized revelations received through the prophet Joseph Smith between 1829 and 1844.)

Here are a few passages from Mormon scriptures that refer to the rapture doctrine-

“ faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also. Amen.” (Doctrine and Covenants 27:18)

“..these all are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud.” ( Doctrine and Covenants 76:102)

“And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him.

And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—

They are Christ's, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:96-98)

The rapture doctrine is a very popular topic among many Christian prophecy groups as evidenced by the best-selling "Left Behind" series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. In this 16 volume series they provide a dispensationalist interpretation of prophecies from the books of Revelation, Isaiah and Ezekiel.

Left Behind tells the story of the end times, in which the righteous have been "raptured," up to Christ, leaving a shattered and chaotic world behind, which is eventually governed by the Antichrist who becomes the secretary-general of the United Nations.

A hot topic of debate between different Christian groups has to do with the timing of the rapture in relation to the last seven years tribulation that take place prior to Christ’s second coming in glory. Hence believers in the rapture are usually categorized into one of three groups; pretribulation, postribulation and midtribulation.

According to the LDS seven volume history of the Church, Joseph Smith taught that-

“..all will be raised to meet him [Christ] but the righteous will remain with him in the cloud whilst all the proud and all that do wickedly will have to return to the earth, and suffer his vengeance which he will take upon them, this is the second death..”

Again, the answer to the question is, yes, Mormon theology, according to the teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith and the scriptures he brought forth, does teach that the righteous saints will be caught up to meet the Lord while the remainder experience the wrath of God, however most Mormons never talk about that doctrine and many Mormons are not even familiar with it.

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