Thursday, November 10, 2016

Getting the Rapture Right

Some time ago Dr. Paul Henebury posted a series of studies on the rapture at his blog. I liked his fair and irenic approach to a frequently divisive topic. While I didn't agree with everything, I liked how he humbly arrived at a pretribulational conclusion.

You can begin to read the series of 12 posts HERE

Dr. Henebury rightly (I think) classifies rapture timing as a C3 (Category 3) doctrine.  My own hierarchy of eschatological importance begins with the biblical covenants, the future Kingdom, and whether Israel is replaced by the church. How do we treat prophetic passages relating to Israel? Logically flowing next is premillennialism and, lastly, rapture timing.

Some of the comments were interesting. I'm impressed with Paul's patience in a few instances. One confident fellow from San Diego (Part 6) wasn't backward about preaching his prewrath position. It was familiar territory for me. Paul was polite. But in other forums Greg A might have run into some difficulty defending his militant assertions.

I was first drawn into the timing debate when I was directed to the late Herb Peters' Fulfilled Prophecy website. Peters - an adamant prewrath rapturist - was confident he'd discovered the identity of the Antichrist and that the 70th week of Daniel was almost upon us. He even contacted John Walvoord to announce that he'd found the Antichrist. Needless to say Walvoord wasn't convinced. At the time I was leaning posttrib and found his theories intriguing.

Peters contacted Jack Kinsella and Hal Lindsey to see if they'd give their authorship to his book, given that they were better known in prophecy circles. They declined because 1) it wasn't their material and 2) they didn't agree with his conclusions. Some of his irate followers then flooded Jack's Omega Letter Forum to wreak havoc.

Ironically, what swayed me to seriously consider pretribulationism were the claims of these zealous prewrathers. Most of them were sincere converted pretribbers who were introduced to Marvin Rosenthal's book. The three books most touted were: "The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church" (Rosenthal); "The Sign" and "The Rapture Question Answered" (Van Kampen).

We read books with a bias in place. I'm no exception. That said; my take on Rosenthal and Van Kampen was that they were more provocative than eschatologically challenging. Rosenthal came across as bitter and Van Kampen overly self-assured. The latter also misrepresented, Walvoord, Mayhue and Barnhouse. It was after reading Van Kampen that I realized why so many prewrathers constantly used phrases such as: "compare Scripture with Scripture," "face-value" (see Greg A's comments in the link above), "plain and simple," etc. These expressions filled the pages of his book and his readers adopted them.

Under close examination the system's arguments aren't always "face-value." One self-published prewrath defender (Dave Bussard) once called prewrath "meat and potatoes." I disagree. One only has to look at the charts. It has also undergone schism and some revisions. And it has been my experience that many adherents are confused over some points.

I give credit to prewrath friends for faithfully articulating the framework of their system as set out by Rosenthal's and Van Kampen's formulas. However, articulating and defending its points isn't the same. Most prewrath blogs and websites spend more time attacking popular pretribulationism than defending their assumptions. This is true of the two leading prewrath websites. Here's another example.

I've responded to some of these issues on this blog.

My disagreements with the system doesn't make pretribulationism correct. There are other views. I'm surprised the midtrib view doesn't generate greater interest as I think it is more viable than prewrath. Then there's the posttrib view. I may take a look at one certain posttribber's criticisms at some future point.

May the Lord come soon!

Further reading for the bored:

God’s Wrath in the Sixth Seal

Who are the 144,000?

We’re Hunting Pretribbers

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