With the new "Left Behind" movie premiering this fall many people are writing about the film and its theological implications. There are some very good points being shared and thought I might add a few. Basically Left Behind is built on a dispensational belief that Christians will be raptured, that is removed from earth bodily, while leaving non-Christians on earth to struggle, that is wallow in the results of their sinful reality. While it makes for creative fiction in the vein of Steven Kings "The Stand" it is not all that biblical.
In his article, "Why the Rapture isn't Bibilical...and Why it Matters" Kurt Williams lays out three good points how people have misinterpreted I Thessalonians 4:15-17, that reflect the teachings of NT Wright. In summary Paul is not talking about bodies going into heaven, but rather physically resurrected bodies joining Christ on Earth upon his return.
Jewish eschatology of the Old Testament and "intertestimental" period did not look for the removal of the righteous from the earth. The whole point of God creating earth and placing humanity as care givers was so that we would remain in community with God on his created earth. Sin damaged this relationship with both God and creation but someday the ultimate eschatological hope is that all will be in perfect harmony together again. Creation and Restoration are the main themes of Jewish and Christian hope.
God has given the earth to the children of men in Psalm 115:16. Paul states God promises that Abraham's seed would inherit the world, not heaven in Romans 4:13. Psalm 2:8 declares earth is Christs inheritance and the earth is his possession. The messiah will one day fully rule over the earth but only after the wicked are removed in Proverbs 2:21-22 and Psalm 37:9-11. Jesus says that the meek with inherit the earth in the Sermon on the Mount.
This matters because if we do not have an appropriate view of God's greater narrative for his creation it is easy to get off track and create our own narratives as those who support a dispensational eschatology do. Because as many have argued lately including NT Wright and Christopher J H Wright (no relation) the earth has intrinsic value and it is not to be easily escaped or destroyed. Therefore as important as heaven is, ultimately that is not our destination but rather a redeemed and restored heaven and earth as seen in Revelation 21-22.