Sunday, February 15, 2015

On Exposing Pretribulationism

Every once in a while when the mood takes me I get to grind my axe. Here I go again.

There's an essay on pretribulationism that I've come across several times on Facebook. Its author provides a bunch of excuses for his anti-pretrib crusade. Similar pretexts commonly appear on blog and Facebook hit and runs by different individuals. I want to address a sampling here, in no particular order.

The motives are always altruistic, of course. They do it out of "love" and to correct "false doctrine." I'm reminded of my busy posttribulational friend who once told me he went after pretribbers because he feared their escapist mentality would endanger them once the tribulation arrived. Sound familiar?

That same individual also happened to like going after prewrathers even though they believe the church will experience the tribulation. Truth be known, he just loves to argue. What's love got to do with it? Pardon the Tina Turner pun but when you use terms such as "laughable" or when you call to question a pretribber's integrity (as opposed to yours) - what you are indulging in is arrogance and pride. Not love.

As a side note, if you're a Five Point Calvinist you might consider dropping the "dangerous escapism" routine. It won't wash. On the other hand if you believe one can lose their salvation, perhaps you'd better humbly look at yourself first. Do you know you'll survive the tribulation, faith intact? Where are you placing your confidence?

Here's a suggestion: if you people want to go on a Worthy Crusade, go after the Lost. They really need the gospel. And, if you're really "Brave and Courageous" or an "Overcomer" (in contrast to spineless pretribbers), I know a few volatile countries where you could preach the gospel and get some practice in for the Great Tribulation purification. Practice makes perfect - right?

Next, I don't care whether someone had an overbearing pretrib pastor who ridiculed non-pretribbers. That's plainly wrong. Get over it. Don't do the same thing.

Neither am I impressed that you too were once a "clueless" pretribulationist who was "indoctrinated" by that "recent tradition" - especially if you've now embraced the newest constantly evolving position. It doesn't automatically follow that you're a "Berean" because you changed your view. I was "indoctrinated" by Catholicism and a bunch of other doctrines. I now embrace dispensationalism and pretribulationism as better viewpoints, but that alone doesn't mean I'm suddenly right.

Strange as it may seem non-pretribbers sometimes do migrate to pretrib. It's not because the Holy Spirit "told them so" or because of some "special revelation" as people sometimes declare. It's a case of weighing arguments against Scripture. Yes, we occasionally think for ourselves. Life is full of ironies and surprises.

I'm not impressed with assertions that John Darby purloined Margaret MacDonald's vision and indoctrinated "Schofield." Provide a pretrib quote from MacDonald, not an excerpt from one of MacPherson's "plots." That the Scofield Study Bible then indoctrinated most of the American Church reminds me of the Israeli 9/11 conspiracy theory (sorry, Stephen Sizer).

I also don't want to hear about Scofield's or Lindsey's or LaHaye's sins, or any other pretribbers' or non-pretribbers' for that matter. Consider your own.

Speaking of indoctrination and Scofield's Study Bible (I don't own one); I see plenty of non-dispensational Study Bibles around. You can get Reformed, Puritan, Creationist, Catholic and Adventist versions, and likely many other varieties. In fact there's a project for a Pre-Wrath Study Bible. And good for them!

Pretribulationism is sometimes called a divisive doctrine. There's a whole essay's worth in that concept. Yet I'm now seeing non-pretrib individuals desperately looking for churches which teach their particular rapture view. I often see the comment, "I won't attend a pretrib church."

My wife and I are privileged to attend a non-dispensational church. We do have a pretribulational option. What we love about our church is the pastor's passion for the gospel in the tradition of people like Spurgeon and M'Cheyne. He's often invited to speak at pretrib churches because of that commitment to the gospel.

I don't care for gossip related to an encounter with a leading pretrib teacher who allegedly lost his cool because he wasn't familiar with the new-kid-on-the-block view. The teacher has gone to be with the Lord and cannot defend himself. We can all dish up anecdotes about our personal experiences.

I'm not a fan of prophecy conferences at the best of times. But don't lump all pretrib conferences into one bucket and compare them unfavorably to your own - especially when you originally wanted to participate in them. Some of us remember.

Yes, there are some sensational pretrib "prophecy" teachers out there in the market place. Don't jump the gun too quickly, though. Pretribulationists don't have a monopoly on weirdness. Trust me!

When anyone claims a well-known (usually solid) dispensational teacher said salvation in the Old Testament was attained by works, a citation and link ought to be provided. They may also want to demonstrate how salvation was achieved. Don't just tell me it was by faith. We all know that. What was the content of one's faith then?

Now, once again, repeat after me: "Dispies do not teach salvation by works in the OT."

Please don't gripe to me when your view has just been attacked....especially when a significant portion of your program involves criticism of another system. I've lost count as to how many times Adventists chided me for "attacking" Steve Wohlberg (not related to the actor) after I responded to his End time Delusions.

No, pretribulationism isn't the "monolithic" teaching in the mainstream church that it's frequently made out to be. It may have been once, and might still be the dominant view among older premil prophecy buffs. However, that's quickly changing within the younger generation. Many of us have seen an upsurge of attacks on pretribulationism and dispensationalism. Pretribulationism and premillennialism are losing whatever ground they held within evangelical churches for a number of reasons. Feel better now?

Mainstream churches are starting to abandon fundamental teachings in favor of diversity issues and liberation theology. Think about the Social Gospel, Same-sex Marriage, inerrancy, anti-Israelism, spiritualizing the Resurrection, denial of sin and the Trinity, Universalism, Ecumenism, Inter-Faith Dialogue etc. Get the picture?

I always feel better after a good gripe.

Switching my grinder off for now...(stay tuned).

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