Friday, July 26, 2013

More Pretrib Problems

As I've noted before, there's that sense of urgency on the part of a certain group to get the word out that pretribulationism is a dangerous unbiblical doctrine which leaves one unprepared for the tribulation. I think I've just about heard most of the excuses offered up against the pretribulational view. Some of the polemics border on the absurd. One example of the latter is the following blurb for a book by John Finkbeiner:

Lifesaver was written to expose the hypocrisy, the abuse of trust and the fatal flaws in modern American Christianity’s most popular and trumpeted position on the end times— the Pre-tribulation rapture (PTR) view.

That offering was tame compared to some of the other lame remarks in Finkbeiner's book. A more genial Chris White has also chimed in on YouTube by churning out several "pretrib debunkers". His videos are engaging and he's done an excellent job in some areas - debunking pretribulationism, not so much. Take his Parousia video:

"The word “parousia” (coming) is only used 24 times in the New Testament; The definition includes and encompasses all the things that Christ will do, starting with the rapture–His visible return, the raising of the dead, the last judgment, and the setting up of the kingdom after Armageddon; The rapture will be the first thing to happen at His coming (“parousia”), but there are not multiple “parousias”;..." (Emphasis mine)

Finkbeiner agrees:

The most common accepted meaning of parousia is “presence” or “a coming to establish an abiding presence.” Is there anything in this definition that supports dual parousias or two comings? Can one “coming to establish an abiding presence” be followed by another “coming” seven years later? What professor, knowledgeable in N.T. Greek, would distort parousia so we have parousias plural?

What's really bizarre is that White and Finkbeiner's rapture system has multiple future comings of Christ. Robert Van Kampen and Charles Cooper detailed four. In fact the system needs at least two if one takes the Great Multitude (Rev 7:9) to be the post-rapture church. One advocate has defended this contradiction by stating that Jesus and the church hover somewhere in the earth's atmosphere until Rev 19. That position would require relocating God's throne, the angels, the elders and the four living creatures and taking a symbolic view of Rev19:11.

Before God's Wrath author H L Nigro proposed an elaborate solution including the following remarks:

First of all, Jesus may have the ability to be in more than one place at once. Second, God and heaven exist outside of time as we know it, so one moment of earthly time can be all the time Jesus needs in heaven to judge a billion or more saints, and have a wonderful wedding celebration. While I hold to the multi-phase view, the single-phase view is no problem either. (Emphasis mine)

There's some level of contradiction operating when someone admits to a multi-phase position, yet denounces the so-called pretrib "two-stage event" by asserting that: "When the return of Christ is mentioned in scripture it is always mentioned as a singular event."

Which "singular event" would that be - the one at Matt 24:30 or the one at Matt 25:31 & Rev 19:11? And what about those in between (which Scripture is silent about)?

Another issue arises from 2 Thess 2:8. Early strategy was to say the Antichrist was "handcuffed" at that point, rather than destroyed. Yet how can he be said to be handcuffed, or lose authority, and still able to muster armies to gather at Armageddon? Someone proposed the solution that he is destroyed at the end-phase of the single Parousia. But an honest assessment of that position would be to say that Antichrist's destruction occurs at Christ's final visit.

As Eric Douma aptly points out:

"There is a logical fallacy in attempting to maintain that Jesus can come bodily in the parousia, and
then somehow be continually present –without being present bodily."

I agree. If Christ comes for the church and returns to heaven, then one cannot legitimately lay claim to a single-phase Second Advent.

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