What If I

What If I'm on Mars During the Rapture?

If mankind succeeds in leaving the planet and establishing colonies on either the Moon, Mars or both, what's going to happen to those inhabitants if the Rapture occurs?

If the general conception about the Rapture is to be believed, the righteous will go up to meet Jesus in the air, or be instantly transformed and taken into Heaven, leaving horrific drama to unfold for the unbelievers here on Earth. But what of those who don't live on this planet? Will a five-person crew of explorers on Mars suddenly disappear and get transported either back to Earth (there is no air on the Red Planet) or go directly to Heaven?

And just about the those Left Behind? Let's say two out of our five Mars explorers aren't believers. Will they comprehend just what happened, as neither of them has ever heard of the Rapture? Will they be able to get back home or are they doomed to die on Mars because there's hardly anyone left to help them get back home? I guess you could remark that most scientists are atheists, so hardly anyone will disappear at NASA, but still, if we take theological claims seriously, and the fact that the Parousia (return of Jesus) still has not occurred for two thousand years but might at any moment, what are the implications if mankind reaches the stars and branches out to other worlds?

There are many flavors of Christianity that don't talk about the Rapture at all; it's not a theological main point of Christian education, but one belonging to those groups grounded in dispensationalism and the like. Broadly stated, the drama of what's written in the Apocalypse of John takes place with protracted suffering and, basically, genocide, leaving only 144,000 (virgin Jewish) males in Heaven. Of course, in the fertile imaginations of those obsessed with Armageddon, the number of Heaven's inhabitants swells appreciably to accommodate the number of true believers of both genders. But the real tortures and agony are for those remaining on this planet (and the worst of it all is reserved for the Jews, hardly a surprise.) Again, we have to confront the question: what happens to those humans who might be off-world? Could an explorer traversing Olympus Mons be held accountable for not deciding to pick to follow the Anti-Christ since he has no idea that personage is wreaking havoc on Earth?

(Honestly, who worships living people any more? The idea that this satanic figure will be be worhsipped by people is even more far-fetched than you might think the theme of this essay.)

Going a bit further, when Jesus wins Round 1 with the Devil and sets up a millennial kingdom on Earth, who is going to guide our surviving astronauts back home? What will become of the information that still comes to us from our space probes? Let me take the claims of dispensionalists and the Rapture at face value: what happens next? Will there no need for a space program, or does the Kingdom of God on Earth negate all need for future space exploration? In Christianity, the promise of this ultimate transformation means that the entire world is destroyed in fire and replaced with a New Jerusalem. But does this new world have a Moon? Will the birthplace of humanity become its grave because no one will do anything else but worhip God?

If you think I'm being factitious, you're wrong. I'm serious. The longer the delay in Christ or the Mahdi's appearance, the more complex our society gets and the more we don't focus on wishing for our world to be destroyed. Or waiting for a redeemer to appear in the skies above Houston, Texas and descend to set things right. My question is addressed to those believers who need to answer the question:

What happens to me if I'm Mars during the Rapture?