The Remaining is a refreshingly realistic portrayal of the rapture and tribulation events described in biblical prophecy. It seems to follow the Pre-Wrath perspective on the rapture timing. Overall, it is one of the better Christian films I have seen. The film begins with a wedding (as in the days of Noah) and focuses on a group of contemporary twenty somethings:
“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,”(Mt 24:38)
The acting is quite good for a Christian film and the personalities and attitudes of the characters resemble those of today’s young adults. The swanky wedding party quickly goes south as many folks drop dead and the building is bombarded with basketball size hail. I suspect many Christians might take exception with this interpretation because the dead folks are actually the Christian believers. Rather than piles of clothes on the floor like in the Left Behind film, the believers bodies remain while their souls are taken up. Of course, this readily dismisses the proverbial question, “How will they explain the missing Christians?” It makes a lot of practical sense but I wonder if it is biblical. The principle rapture passage is from 1 Thessalonians:
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.(1 Th 4:16–17)
Paul does not specify that those who are left are bodily “caught up” up but the preceding verse speaks to the awakening of the dead whose souls are already in heaven so it must be their bodies in focus. The best description of this event is in 1 Corinthians 15:
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”(1 Co 15:51–52)
Because Paul compares this to Jesus’ bodily resurrection (1 Co 15:20-23), it is problematic to spiritualize the raising of the dead and consequently the rapture of living believers. Thus, the apparent death of believers provides a satisfying rationale for the rapture but it doesn’t accurately match Paul’s descriptions.
Overall the film gets a lot of things right and corrects many of the common errors in worldly thinking. Some of the film’s characters believe “the good people were taken and the bad people were left.” This is corrected by Pastor Shay (played by John Pyper-Ferguson) who clarifies “the believers were taken and the unbelievers were left.” The message of scripture is that there are no “good people” (Rom 3:10) and the saved are forgiven because they believe Jesus died for their sins and was raised from the dead (1 Cor 15:3) This important point is emphasized as demons strategically destroy Bibles and kill the characters who come to saving faith. However, this also brings my main criticism into focus.
The biggest problem with The Remaining is that the Gospel is never clearly articulated. The bride in the opening wedding scene, Skylar (played by Alexa PenaVega) is a nominal Christian whose parents dropped dead at the wedding. She is the first in the film to realize that the rapture has taken place and she finds a Bible to prove it to her friends. She prays to God and repents of her luke warm faith. Soon after, she is attacked by a demon and slienced. As mentioned above, the apostate pastor also realizes he never really believed and repents. He is also quickly taken out by demonic assault.
What’s missing is what they came to believe. The name Jesus is hardly mentioned much less the fact that he died for our sins and rose from the dead. I suspect the producers wanted the film to provoke unbelievers to ask, “What is it they believed?” rather than hit them over the head with it. Even so, it seems to me that at least one of the characters could have said “I believe Jesus died for my sins!” It is still a great film to start the conversation and I recommend it.