Saturday, May 21, 2011

Those misleading pretribulationists

The very first article I posted when I started this blog was on 2 Thess 2. I wanted to respond to a claim made by Rev Larry Wolf to the effect that:

“Pre-Tribulation Theory has no clear Biblical basis of support, but in distinct contrast it does have problem passages which are ignored instead of explained, such as II Thess 2:1-8.”
Prewrath proponent Dr Charles Cooper recently criticized Dr Robert L Thomas’ work on 2 Thess 2 and imminence. Dr Cooper made a number of, what I’d call, provocative statements:

“Dr. Robert L. Thomas’ efforts to defend pretribulational imminence may be likened to gymnastic contortions with his exegesis of II Thessalonians 2:1-3, and suggest either a deliberate attempt to deceive his readers or an ignorance of the whole counsel of the Word of God. I refuse to believe either conclusion to be true. Therefore, I am at a loss to explain why Dr. Thomas takes the positions he does when seeking to interpret what some conclude is the most difficult passage for the pretribulational position to overcome.”

He's at loss to explain it, cannot believe it and yet chooses to poison the well.

Dr Cooper again:

“For their definition of imminence to be correct, pretribulationalists like Thomas must distort Scripture to prove it.”
One of the main bones of contention was this:

“First, an uneducated reader is immediately mislead (sic) by Thomas’ first defense of his conclusion that “is present” is the best translation of enestēken (ἐνέστηκεν) because of the three translations that support his position.”
I contacted Dr Thomas and asked him about enestēken (ἐνέστηκεν). He graciously pointed out that some have not delved deeply enough into the documentation that he has presented in Vol 12 of the Expositor's Bible Commentary (revised edition). He added that it takes time for the truth to sink in if one adopts a position before a thorough examination of the text.

By the way, what wasn’t mentioned in Dr Cooper’s curious introduction of Dr Thomas - which included a bizarre reference to his age - was his contribution to the Expositor’s Bible Commentary. He has also penned one of the most outstanding commentaries on Revelation.

As Dr Cooper knows, not all pretribulationists agree that the day of the Lord covers the whole of Daniel’s 70th week - Richard Mayhue (a colleague of Dr Thomas) being one of them. He even refers to Dr Mayhue as he takes Craig Blaising to task in a more recent PRI article. Yet Dr Mayhue is more than capable of defending his pretribulationism, despite his DOL stance.

But either way, pretribulationists don’t have problems with 2 Thess 2.

Earlier, Dr Cooper suggested that some conclude that 2 Thess 2:1-3 is the most difficult passage for the pretribulationist position to overcome. Some may well "conclude" that but they'd be wrong.

I strongly recommend reading Dr Mayhue’s book 1 & 2 THESSALONIANS – TRIUMPHS AND TRIALS OF A CONSECRATED CHURCH in conjunction with Dr Mike Stallard’s first & second Thessalonians – LOOKING FOR CHRIST’S RETURN.

At this stage it’s worthwhile revisiting Eric Douma’s contribution to 2 Thess 2 and his thoughts on the prewrath system. While I don’t agree with his angle on the identity of the Restrainer, Pastor Douma has some challenging questions for the prewrath model that haven’t been adequately addressed yet.

This is, perhaps, one of the motivations for the recent spate of activity in this area.

More later....