Thursday, January 2, 2014

On Dog Whistle Raptures & Other Trivia

Months ago I was asked to help admin a pretrib prophecy forum. Being an admin was never on my short bucket list of things to do, and it hasn't always been fun. I must hand it to the others for their composure through tiresomely predictable diatribes from well-intended, concerned folk. These are often so formulaic that one might think these people were handed the same work sheets to go out and conquer with.

I wish I had a dollar for every Margaret MacDonald-vision-rapture claim we've had. Don't use it unless you've actually read something other than MacPherson or can provide a pretrib quote from MacDonald. That insinuation is pure gossip and sloppy criticism at best.

When you engage these people, they often come back with the sanctimonious: "My motive is to warn pretribulationists that they're vulnerable because of this false teaching....."

A few days after my blogging on this topic, we got that one again. We ask these people how they are specifically better prepared than a pretribber, but rarely get cogent replies. I know one vocal posttribulationist who finally responded that his geographical location was on the other-side-of-the-world of the future conflagration, which he believes is confined to the Middle East. Apparently he's content to avoid the future "purification" of the church in that area and he's comfortable where he is.

On that note, both pretribbers and non-pretribbers may consider the following books: John MacArthur has a great one called Slave. See also Edwin Yamauchi's article Slaves of God. MacArthur also penned The Power of Suffering, Hard to Believe and, of course, The Gospel According to Jesus. Dale Johnsen wrote What To Do Until Christ Comes. I also enjoyed Alistair Begg's The Hand of God.

Anyway, I've recently come across two instances where pretrib has been referred to as a Dog Whistle Rapture. One blogger quotes Riddlebarger's book on amillennialism where he refers to it as a "cosmic dog whistle" (page 143).

Perhaps amils allegorize so much Scripture that they've become super-sensitive and self-conscious of this condition. And so they feel inclined to accuse dispies of inconsistency because they don't really believe in multi-headed dragons running around terrorizing a future world. This gives them an excuse to justify allegorizing stuff like the resurrection in Rev 20:4. After all, you can't have dead saints regenerated after a real physical resurrection. That's plain silly. And we just know there's no 1000 year millennium. So that resurrection must be symbolic. Case closed.

I know, I know, the Dog Whistle thingy makes up for the long-chain taunts dispies have fired at the amil version of Satan's er...imprisonment. Sorry, guys, we'll quietly ignore the fact that Riddlebarger squeezes the entire Church Age into the last half of Daniel's 70th week, if he allows that Scripture doesn't preclude Christ's return for His church before the tribulation.

Then there's the premil non-pretribber who also used the Dog Whistle allusion. He may have been reading Riddlebarger's notes. I suspect he's also taken a glance at MacPherson's gossip column because he's referred to pretrib as "Strange Trib". He thinks it's an irony that pretribulationist John MacArthur is a cessationist when he's adopted: "the very view that, it is argued, finds its origins in the utterances of charismatic-visionary Margaret MacDonald or possibly the charismatic Edward Irving (early 19th century)."

I've already expressed my feelings regarding these unsubstantiated taunts. Irving and MacDonald were arguably historicists, and the latter envisioned a church under trial from the Antichrist.

My premil Dog Whistle friend has published his first book and I commend it to anyone who wants to know more about his late 20th century view. I laud its overall irenic tone which contrasts to his blog's polemics. It avoids the bitterness I detected in Rosenthal's book, and it shuns the smugness and annoyingly repetitive axioms in Van Kampen's work. It will delight devoted prewrathers; however it doesn't address problems others have noted about the system.

He doesn't fess up to those multiple comings of Christ in his own system. I'm not sure if all these comings involve the same "shout" and "trumpet" but he uses all the Parousia-Rapture texts to assert that there's a Single Parousia. Yet he consoles his readers by telling them that - after the tribulation - they will be in heaven...standing before the throne and before the Lamb (p 98). If the Lamb (Christ) is in heaven after the rapture, then He has to return to the earth again in, at least, one more er...different yet same coming. It certainly can't be a Dog Whistle coming - right?

On page 173 we're told Jesus' Parousia won't be an instantaneous event; that it will be a "multi-phase, complex whole in which God will fulfill His divine purposes..." That statement is designed to accommodate a system which teaches multiple comings. It also seeks to resolve a contradiction regarding 2 Thess 2:8 where Christ does not destroy the Antichrist at His initial appearing.

All this seems inconsistent given the dog whistle rapture jibe.

As an aside I found it interesting that he draws a connection between Matt 24:31 and the resurrection in Dan 12:2 as one proof that the former is the rapture (p 91). Posttribbers would nod their heads in assent. Missing from the discussion are the OT texts speaking of Israel's gathering.

Another problem is that Daniel's resurrection is implied to be at the end of the 1,335 days (Dan 12:13). There's a whole other study which could be done just on that. If you identify the church with Daniel's people (or those texts) then - to be consistent - you should also note the duration and purpose of this period (Jer 30:7; Dan 7:25, 12:6-7; Hos 5:15; Matt 23:37-39). Yet his entire system hinges on the premise that this purification period (p 54) is cut short for the church (pp 59, 60, 91).

I may review various other points of the book in future blogs.


Alan Kurschner said...

Hi amc,

Thanks for your post. Just a few comments.

I appreciate your critiques against the prewrath position because you—unlike the vast majority of pretrib teachers—do not misrepresent the prewrath position.

I thought I was clever to come up with "Dog Whistle" and "Strange Trib", but it looks like a couple of other fellows coined them before me as noted in your post. Oh well :/

I understand that some pretribs, such as yourself, will be disappointed that I did not address certain objections to the prewrath position in my first book such as Israel's gathering in Mt. 24:31 and the "multiple comings" issue.

This is because my book _Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord_ was aimed to be a positive presentation of the prewrath position. As you know, Van Kampen and Rosenthal wrote their books 25 years ago. So the purpose of my publication is to be an "update" if you will of a prewrath statement, augmenting argumentation and being more exegetically rigorous than the latter works. Indeed, at certain points I felt compelled to interact with pretrib and sometimes posttrib in the main text and endnotes.

That being said, as far as comprehensively interacting with pretrib, I will be publishing a book series beginning in March with two volumes already being edited. It will end up with about 8-10 volumes in the series.

So in short, the interaction is just beginning and I will in some of these early volumes devote entire chapters to each of those two objections. So I look forward to your feedback on them.

Incidentally, my objection against pretrib is not so much with "multiple comings" or "two-stage coming"; it is that you cannot have the parousia in your system _beginning_ in Mt 24:31 (at the end of the 7 year period) and at the same time have the parousia _beginning_ at 1 Thess 4:15 (at the beginning of the 7 year period), all the while claiming "one future parousia of Christ." (See "Reason # 3" in my book). In any event, I will have a chapter devoted to this issue vis-à-vis the pretrib objection.



amc said...

Thanks for dropping by, Alan. I wish your book well. There have been too many self-published efforts of late that haven't helped the prewrath cause.

I have read the reasoning re the correlation between 1 Thess 4:15 and Matt 24:31. I think multiple comings are an issue for a system that critiques pretribulationism for a two-phase Second-Advent, regardless of where the Parousia is argued to begin. Dr Cooper and Van Kampen cite four comings some of which are "secret". This isn't something that prewrathers openly acknowledge. In fact, in my experience, many of them are oblivious to it.

Eric Douma discusses the Parousia

For the reasons I've laid out on this blog, it's obvious that the gathering in Matt 24:31 is after a tribulation which is not less than three-and-a-half years. Moreover, taking the relevant OT texts into account (including Matt 23:37-39 and Matt 24:22) I am compelled to see this as Israel's promised gathering after their refinement.

You write that the tribulation is cut short otherwise every believer would be exterminated (p 60). Yet that cannot be a problem for a God who, not only ordains this period, but also resurrects the dead at the rapture. Matt 24:22 better fits a scenario where the flesh being saved is a repentant Israel entering the millennium in physical bodies.

I'll be looking forward to reading the upcoming publications

God bless