Monday, November 17, 2014

Just One Clear Verse

How often have I heard that! Just give me one verse to prove _____ (insert whatever you like). Most often prophecy buffs or opponents of dispensationalism will insert "the pretrib rapture."

As a friend pointed out to me, that's what Doug Hamp did recently. He visited a few Facebook groups, posed the question and reported his findings. He didn't say what the question was but there are no prizes for guessing, and his "astute" readers picked up on it. According to Hamp:

I...have asked people what they believe is the best verse/passage about a certain doctrine which is extremely popular in American churches. I was told point blank, “there is no verse,” and “it is a mystery” or “I just know.” Those kind of responses I would expect from Mormon missionaries, not Bible carrying born-again evangelicals. At one point several people asked me what I was getting at since there was no verse and they couldn’t give me a biblical reason why they believed it. I asked if there is no verse then how do we know that it is true.

However, there were two people who asserted that it is the “it is the most logical,” and proceeded to build a logical case why the doctrine had to be true but in the end could still not provide even one clear verse in support of the doctrine. The problem with a logical syllogism (a syllogism has two premises and a conclusion) is two premises, even if true, may lead to a faulty conclusion will necessarily be faulty. (Emphases mine)

Did you get all that?

I confess to having little patience with the Mormon remark. Van Kampen pulled that stunt in The Rapture Question Answered (p 193) by associating the arrival of the pretrib rapture theory with the the arrival of "new cults such as Mormonism, Christian Science, Unitarianism, and Jehovah's Witnesses." He suggested that these "cults" appeared because of the "disillusionment with Orthodox Christianity." He also touched on the possibility that Irving - "later accused as a heretic" - originated the doctrine. Irving was a historicist, not a pretribulationist. Van Kampen's book spawned a generation of zealous proselytizers telling people to "compare Scripture with Scripture"; to take a "face-value" approach, and that it is all ultimately "plain and simple." If the rapture question was really so "plain and simple" one wouldn't need to write two books to prove one's point.

Getting back to Hamp; he once held to the pretrib position. Note this:

I believe that the Bible in its totality teaches a pretribulation rapture followed by Jesus returning before the beginning of the millennium.  The millennium is a literal 1000 year period in which Jesus will rule and reign from Jerusalem.  We will be there assisting as judges in some capacity. (Emphasis mine)

And note his article HERE. But now he says:

...I was sad too! I liked the doctrine. You are right there are a lot of positions that we teach that are not taught in Scripture...and my point is that we ought to stop. If we do speculate, then we ought to be quick to mention that and not teach it as "doctrine."

One can't argue with that attitude. Non-pretribbers will kick up their heels in joy and celebrate. But here's what I think (not that it matters much):

Hamp instigated. One of his responders is also notorious for doing that. As an admin of more than one group I'm all too familiar with the phenomenon. You don't visit other groups after some personal epiphany, start trouble and then complain when you get evicted. There are plenty of non-pretrib groups which will oust you for similar behavior. You should have explained your reasons (logic) for changing your mind in your blog and then indicated where the errata lay in your previous thinking.

Hamp knows the rapture timing isn't explicit in Scripture. Walvoord said as much about pretribulationism and posttribulationism. That Hamp used the word totality in context to pretribulationism (see above) implies he understands the timing is inferred in a number of passages. Paul Henebury rightly assigns it a Category 3 teaching, which is "an inference to the best explanation." Richard Mayhue wrote:

Problems remain to be solved by pretribulationists. Yet at this state of the art, pretribulationism most consistently fits the Biblical data and is championed by this writer as the view which best explains the coming of our Lord for His own.

In fact when Mayhue first read Gundry's books he was impressed. It was only after he read them several times over that he began seeing flaws in Gundry's arguments. He goes so far as to encourage The Master's Seminary students to study and develop an opinion on the rapture, even if they disagree with him.

I've said this before; it's one thing to attack someone else's eschatology, and quite another to defend against criticism. Yet the sad reality is that some of us (me included) probably do better at defending our eschatological positions than we do some of the fundamentals of our faith. Try debating the Trinity and the divinity of Christ to a clued up Jehovah's Witness next time one knocks on your door. I've had the unfortunate experience and now have my paperwork prepared.

Ironically, Hamp holds to what I'd call a range of fringe prophecy beliefs. I'd suggest that he'd be hard pressed to biblically or "logically" prove some of them with just a few passages, let alone the one where demons are conspiring to alter human DNA. Perhaps he should listen to his own advice. You can find much of his stuff on his website and on YouTube.

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