Left behind? Mormons, who don't really buy this Rapture thing

The Salt Lake Tribune/May 20, 2011

If the Rapture happens Saturday as predicted, Mormons likely will be among those left behind. It may not be because they are any less righteous than other Christians, it's just that they don't actually believe in the Rapture, where the saved are taken up to heaven in an instant.

Latter-day Saints do believe, however, in cataclysmic events leading up to Jesus Christ's Second Coming. In fact, 19th-century Mormons had a strong sense that they were living in the last days — hence the name, "Latter-day Saints — and that the so-called millennium was around the corner.

As Mormonism settled permanently into Utah, though, the faithful downplayed those sentiments and began to plant roots for the future.

In the intervening century, Mormon fears were occasionally aroused by world events, prompting some members to once again claim the end was near.

The late LDS apostle Bruce R. McConkie, for example, compiled a lengthy list of Signs of Second Coming in his authoritative volume, Mormon Doctrine, and conservative Mormon writer, Cleon Skousen, advanced his own arguments, some of them recently revived by LDS convert Glenn Beck, writes Kaimi Wenger at timesandseasons.org. "And of course, there is always That Guy in Elders Quorum, who makes vague predictions of doom."

Mormon leaders have never assigned a particular date to Christ's return, though, and routinely caution members against trying to predict one.

On the eve of 2000, when some feared the Y2K computer blackout would bring the dreaded end upon the world, LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley assured the Mormon faithful to "say goodbye to a millennium [and] greet the beginning of another 1,000 years" during which the church would "go forward on a continuing path of growth and progress and enlargement, touching for good the lives of people everywhere for as long as the Earth shall last."

At some point in the future, Hinckley said, Jesus Christ would appear to "reign in splendor upon the Earth."

Not even the "angels in heaven know of the time of his return," Hinckley said, "but it will be a welcome day."

No unexpected disappearances for Mormons to worry about. Unless, of course, they are wrong.

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