Saturday, December 24, 2022

Pretrib anti-Semitism (again)

Is pretrib latently anti-Semitic? Does it have anti-Jewish baggage? I commented on something like this before. Recently a prominent non-pretribber (prewrath) tweeted the following:

The doctrine of the Pretribulational rapture holds that while Christians can claim the God of Israel, the King of Israel, the Kingdom of Israel, Israel’s Covenant, and her wedding, they may expect to avoid the time of Israel’s Trouble.

Someone remarked:

Though probably not intentional or well thought out by most, pre-trib doctrine leans anti-Semitic. God is faithful to His word. He said He would deliver Israel in the end and He will.

No one challenged the anti-Semitic dig. I recall old preterist accusations of anti-Semitism against futuristic premils due to their understanding of Zech 13:8. Note also this from a Q & A with Tony Garland:

[Pretrib is] An ivory tower theology that does not want to face the facts of history is also evident in the relatively recent doctrine that the Church will escape what Scripture calls tribulation and all the punishment will fall on Israel. While this is not a total Replacement theology it nevertheless is a partial one in that the Church inherits the blessings and Israel is left behind with the curses. I see this as another manifestation of Christian anti-Semitism which closes its eyes to the damage that the Church has caused and is still causing with this comforting (for Christians) so called pre-trib teaching. WHERE IS THE THEOLOGICAL VIEW OF HISTORY that does justice to God's eternal covenant with Abraham, to God's own name, for he is supposed to act NOT BECAUSE OF WHAT ISRAEL IS BUT BECAUSE OF WHAT HE IS? (Bolding mine)

Comments such this tend to self-exult: "my rapture view is more virtuous than yours." Or "I'm braver than you." The first person wrote about "Israel’s Covenant and her wedding" and avoiding "the time of Israel's trouble." I'm not sure which covenant he's referring to (New Covenant?). His reference to the wedding is a barb against the pretrib use of Jewish tradition. Does that make the likes of Arnold Fruchtenbaum (and other Jewish pretribbers) somehow suspect?  

But how does this square with the prewrath perspective? As noted elsewhere, the (PW) position maintains that the worst time of all sees the church removed to spare its life. But Israel has to suffer the "Day of the Lord wrath." And according to recent PW accounts, the tribulation continues for the Jews

Not only does this view leave Israel behind, we are also left to ponder how anyone can survive the continuing (worst) tribulation (given the church has to be removed) and (presumably) combined with what ought to be the worst period of all—God's wrath. 

The original tweeter is an intelligent individual with a decent ministry outreach. Sadly, in this case, anti-pretrib bias gets in the way of objective thinking.

Anti-Semitism is insidious. Over the years I've written my share of articles for the Omega Letter exposing anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitism. My rapture view is formed by my (no doubt imperfect) understanding of eschatological passages, not bias against Israel. Inferring otherwise smacks of a cultic mindset. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Conclusion to Messiah's Lecture on Israel - Larry Pettegrew etc

These are the concluding thoughts from Larry Pettegrew's chapter (The Messiah's Lecture on the Future of Israel) of Forsaking Israel. I highly recommend the book, and especially the first chapter: The Curious Case of the Church Fathers and Israel. I've touched on this topic before and will revisit it at some point.  

The Conclusion...

The Olivet Discourse is a majestic lecture presented by the Messiah in which He outlines Israel's future in the age between Israel's recent rejection of Him and the Second Coming when Israel finally embraces her Messiah. Supersessionists, including posttribulationists, argue that the lecture is about the church and the rapture, not Israel and the Second Coming. The disciples, they say, represent the church, and so the lecture must be about the future of the church. But the correct interpretation of this passage is not settled by whom the disciples represent. The questions that the disciples ask at the beginning of the Discourse settle it. Do they ask about the future of the church or the future of Israel? Clearly, they ask about the future of Israel in relationship to her temple, Messiah, and kingdom. And thus Christ answers these questions. [bold mine]

This does not mean that the discourse has no application to the church. All Scripture is profitable to all believers for doctrine. reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. But Jesus Christ is not teaching some form of replacement theology in this lecture. Israel's Messiah knows that Israel's story has not ended ~ Larry Pettegrew

Dr. Pettegrew mentioned posttribulationists, but the same may be said of leading Prewrath Rapturists. Consider the following statements.

Robert Van Kampen, is my firm conviction that the Olivet Discourse is written for the church, and that its application is to believers and not to unsaved Israel which, by definition, has no interest whatsoever in the New Testament or its warnings concerning the unbelieving nation of Israel. (The Sign p 487, Revised Edition 1993)

This is what I wrote in a previous article:

In recent years Alan Hultberg (Three Views on the Rapture) wrote that, Jesus in some way has replaced Israel; that He “fulfills the role of Israel itself.” Hultberg wrote, “Thus for Matthew, to belong to Israel one must belong to the Messiah, Jesus.” He concluded that Jesus had rejected Israel as a whole...In Hultberg’s view, Matthew views the church as in a sense “the inheritor of the Jewish Kingdom.” Regarding that last statement Dr. Larry D. Pettegrew notes that that would mean Jesus was a supersessionist. For more, see page 279 in the book edited by Pettegrew, “Forsaking Israel.” [End quote]

Even where such extremes (?) aren't adopted, proponents cherry pick. For example, they'll note the Greek word for gathering (episunago) in Matt 24:31, and point to Paul's use of it in 2 Thess 2. So they conclude that this is the rapture of the church. But they forget that Christ used the same term in Matt 23 for Israel's gathering. 

We're told that God can simultaneously work with Israel and the church, so there's no reason He can't continue to do so throughout Daniel's 70th Week. Yet PW has the church removed (At the worst possible time?) while Israel endures the continuing Great Tribulation, plus God's wrath. See my brief comment on that logic HERE.

See also Dispensationalism: A Step Up for the Israel of God.

P.S. I note that Escahtos Ministries is hosting Alan Hultberg's response to Larry Pettegrew HERE. Hultberg denies that he's supersessionistic. I intend to make a few observations soon.


Coincidentally, after I published this post, Hultberg was invited to respond to Pettegrew on Eschatos' website. I invite readers to read his comments, and if possible his PW contribution to the book, Three Views on the Rapture. Hultberg aimed to defend against the possible charge of supersessionism. He admits to using supersessionist (Jesus is True Israel) language when commenting on Matthew, but denies holding to Replacement Theology. He writes, point was that Matthew does not envisage the radical discontinuity between the church and Israel that classic dispensationalists require to apply the Olivet Discourse (and the Sermon on the Mount!) to Israel and not to the church. Rather, Matthew understands the church to be in continuity with Israel, though not itself a replacement of Israel. The church of Jew and Gentile is a proleptic or inaugurated version of the messianic kingdom. (Bold mine)

In Three Views, Progressive Dispensationalist Craig Blaising makes the following comment of Hultberg's position,

I was somewhat surprised by Hultberg’s claim that “for Matthew the church is viewed as in some sense the inheritor of the Jewish kingdom.” Once again, this is inconsistent with Hultberg’s self-identification as a “progressive dispensationalist.”

But what exactly is "radical discontinuity"? I recommend Continuity and Discontinuity edited by John Feinberg. It discusses the subject in several key areas. Notably, Progressive Dispensationalist Robert L. Saucy argues in favor of discontinuity regarding Israel and the church. Mike Vlach's blog is helpful HERE

Perhaps I'm being unfair but I sense some equivocation. Hultberg blurs the identity of the Matthew 24 audience in order to defend the PW position by using supersessionist language. It's interesting that he mentions Israel's re-gathering and redemption. Yet he doesn't see Matt 24:31 as its fulfillment, despite Matt 23:37-39. PW requires Matt 24:21-22, 31 to apply to the church. If Israel is to be gathered in the future, which verses apply to it? How is it accomplished, and why wouldn't it be mentioned after Matt 23:37-39?

Another recommended book is Michael Vlach's The Old in the New. For example he compares Zech 12 with Matt 24:30: Persecution of the Jews in Israel (Zech 12:1-2 and Matt 24:15-22); The LORD comes on behalf of Israel (Zech 12:8-9 and Matt 24:29-30); Mourning (repentance) of families of Israel (Zech 12:10-14 and Matt 24:30).

How do we understand verses such as Hos 5:15 and Matt 23:39 (second-coming prerequisites) and the above in light of the church? Does the church mourn at the coming of Matt 24:30-31? Do these passages apply to it? How did the Jewish disciples understand v 31 (gathering) in light of Acts 1:6? Were they looking for the rapture?

Finally, while Hultberg attempted a defense of his stance, Pettegrew's case against PW's view of Matt 24 wasn't addressed.

For further consideration see Dr. Reluctant's Replacement Theology series. Also Mike Vlach's Variations within Supersessionism; What Does Christ as True Israel mean for the nation of Israel?; and Various Forms of Replacement Theology.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Sunday, December 11, 2022

The Glorious Return of Christ - Mike Vlach

I often have been drawn to Revelation 19:15. This verse comes in the middle of Revelation 19:11–21, a dramatic section describing Jesus’ second coming from heaven to earth. Concerning Jesus, the verse reads: “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.”...continue reading

Friday, December 9, 2022

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Begg and Thomas on Books

Needs no introduction.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Rapture: Escape not Escapism

 Article by Paul Miles - Ariel Ministries Newsletter. Click HERE

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Discovering the CS Lewis "Ransom Trilogy"

My review of "Deeper Heaven" HERE


Thursday, December 1, 2022

The Mark of the Beast

Another interesting one. What do you think?

Revelation 13:18 says that the one who “has understanding” should calculate the “number of the beast.” This number is then further identified as the “number of man,” specifically, 666. Preterists have often interpreted Revelation 13:18 as a reference to Nero, but is that what John means when he says that the mark of the beast is 666?...continue reading

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School

Last time we talked about the influence of Marxism and Neo-Marxism on modern society. This is a foundational point, but it is really only part of the picture. The Neo-Marxist desire for cultural destruction needed a tool through which it could destroy Western culture. That tool is Critical Theory. As dynamite is to the field of demolition, so Critical Theory is to the Marxist worldview...continue reading

Monday, November 28, 2022

Does Dispensationalism Hurt the Church?

Not too long ago while I was on social media I stumbled across a quote by a Christian cultural apologist who said, “Wherever dispensationalism has gained ground, Christian culture has lost ground.” Although the claim that dispensationalism has hurt the church is not new, it was interesting to see how much agreement the post garnered in the comments. Some commenters labeled dispensationalism as the worst heresy the church has seen. Others said dispensationalism is a damnable heresy which has single-handedly lost the American culture war. In this post I would like to analyze the argument that dispensationalism itself is dangerous and responsible for the cultural loss we see in Western culture today...continue reading

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Do Dispensationalists Cause Cultural Decay?

Postmillenialists will often claim that dispensationalists do not engage the culture and have no interest in seeing the culture flourish. Furthermore, it is often stated that wherever dispensationalism flourishes, the culture decays. Thus, it is dispensationalism which is dangerous and causes cultural decay. Although I have written before that many incorrectly argue that dispensationalism hurts the church, today I want address the subject again, focusing on whether dispensationalists promote an escapist worldview which causes cultural decay. It is my goal that the argument that dispensationalists don’t care about culture should be be retired from use, since it is neither true nor the real issue...continue reading

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The OLivet Discourse - Arnold Fruchtenbaum

Thought I'd post this here out of interest and for personal reference. I don't necessarily agree with everything (which doesn't make me right). But Dr. Fruchtenbaum makes good points. He correctly puts Israel front and center of the OD. For more, see Larry Pettegrew's "Forsaking Israel," especially Chapter 9 (The Messiah's Lecture on the Future of Israel.)

Dr. Fruchtenbaum,

The famous Olivet Discourse of our Messiah occurred between two significant events. Immediately preceding the Olivet Discourse, the Messiah spoke the final words of His public ministry found in Matthew 23:1-39, which contain the denunciation of the leadership, especially for their guilt in leading the nation to reject the Messiahship of Yeshua (Jesus). With these words, the public ministry of the Messiah as a Prophet came to an end, and for the remainder of His last few days on earth, He would deal exclusively with His disciples...keep reading

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Puritan Conference 2022 (Geoff Thomas)

All the presentations from the 2022 Grace Community Church Puritan Conference can be found HERE.

Interesting Q & A session with John MacArthur and John Piper HERE  Some people have issues with both men (no teacher/preacher is perfect) and will shun them. That's a pity.  

I particularly enjoyed watching Geoff Thomas' talk on "Principalities and Powers." He mentions Thomas Brooks'  "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices" which can be downloaded from Monergism.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

The Excellencies of God Podcast

The Excellencies of God Podcast is a compilation of sermons by Terry Johnson that form the backdrop for his book, "The Excellencies of God: Exploring and Enjoying His Attributes," published by Reformation Heritage Books....Click Here

See also The Identity and Attributes of God

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Biblical Covenantalism: (Biblical Theology) Week 1: God Means What He Says!

This is the first presentation in a playlist series on Biblical Covenantalism by Paul Henebury:

Friday, September 30, 2022

Anti-Jewish Pretrib Rapture

I sometimes see the strangest comments on social media prophecy groups.

One person wrote that believing in pretribulationism means you also believe Israel has to face persecution alone. Pretribbers support Israel, but "during its greatest need" they get raptured out. Hence, the pretrib rapture is anti-Jewish, anti-biblical etc.

No one in that group bothered to check what I consider to be an inane charge of anti-Semitism. As my pretrib friends have observed—the important thing is to criticize the pretrib position. 

Here's the irony: that individual holds to the prewrath view. This position has the church removed earlier—cutting the tribulation short for it only—based on its particular interpretation of Matt 24:21-22. 

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.  And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. Mat 24:21-22 

So the position maintains that the worst time of all sees the church removed to spare its life. But Israel then has to suffer the "Day of the Lord wrath" on its own. Moreover, according to recent PW accounts, the tribulation continues for the Jews! The tribulation is not cut short for Israel.

Not only does this view leave Israel behind, we are also left to ponder how anyone can survive the continuing (worst) tribulation (given the church has to be removed) and (presumably) combined with what ought to be the worst period of all—God's wrath. 

Does that make any sense? 

See also this previous article.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Carl Teichrib: "The Rising Global Spirituality..."

Carl Teichrib gives a detailed account on the rise of global spirituality and the search for personhood. This lecture is part of the "Stolen Identity: The Theft of the Binary" symposium. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Thursday, September 1, 2022

“If It’s New, It’s Not True”

John Williams gives a response to the strawman argument, “If It’s New, It’s Not True.” From the 2022 ISBH webinar on strawman arguments against dispensationalism.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Understanding Change Allowing Counseling

An important discussion. See also my post HERE

Rosaria Butterfield and Dr. Andre Van Mol discuss how Christians should think about what is commonly referred to as "reparative therapy."

Monday, August 22, 2022

Richard Baxter on God’s Love

Richard Baxter on God’s Love for the saints: Baxter (1615 – 1691) is well known for his monumental work “The Saints’ Everlasting Rest.” This work was a product of the turmoil the Puritan experienced throughout his life.

There was civil war and disease. Some 868,000 people died through battle and disease over three countries. At one point, Baxter, who was a chaplain for the Parliamentary forces, walked through a field where he saw “about a thousand dead bodies” and perhaps many more buried there. On top of all this, the frail Baxter was plagued with infirmities and was imprisoned. He was a man who lived under the expectation of death. Nevertheless, he comforted himself with the truth of heaven and God’s everlasting love for the saint...keep reading

See also: How did the apostles endure persecution?

Friday, August 5, 2022

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Vern Poythress and the Seven Seals

A re-post.
I've been slowly reading through Vern Poythress' book "Theophany." While he's amillennial, he makes some interesting comments regarding the nature of the Seven Seals of Revelation. I make a few observations HERE.

PS Here's a review of "Theophany."

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Paul Washer - Life as a Vapour

Paul Washer died three times. How did that change his perspective, if at all? I printed out the following article hoping it does some good for me.
It has been a little over one year since my heart attack (March 21, 2017). Without warning, I fell to the kitchen floor unconscious. I remember nothing that happened thereafter until five days later when I found myself in a hospital room. I asked what happened, and someone said, ‘You died three times.’ My heart had stopped and had been resuscitated on three separate occasions...keep reading 
 See also HeartCry Missionary Society

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Why Everyone Should Believe in Fairies

No, I haven't lost my mind. This is an interesting discussion by three Reformed folk. The person in the center is Chris Wiley who wrote "In the House of Tom Bombadil." See also this link.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Jump Rope Parousia

In a Facebook group I belong to, a gentleman started a thread suggesting that Scripture supports two future comings of Jesus. A prewrath (PW) adherent (Ron Wallace) soon posted a commentary contradicting him. This is a fairly typical scenario. Wallace's position is that when Christ returns, He remains in the atmosphere. While this has problems, I'll grant he can claim a single Second Advent. I noted that Robert Van Kampen, Charles Cooper and Alan Kurschner hold to multiple Second Advent events; where Christ moves between heaven and earth—yet they call it a single Parousia. 

Alan Kurschner reacted HEREclaiming I don't understand prewrath,

The second coming (parousia; the plural in Greek is parousiai) is an extended event when God will fulfill various purposes through his Son. Jesus’s first coming lasted over thirty years, beginning with his arrival of his birth and ending with his ascension.

Christ's resurrection and ascension did not involve a second coming in that time. His first coming, and all the events associated with it, lasted over thirty years—while remaining on the earth. The issue is whether Christ's (PW) deliverance of the church to heaven (Rev 7)—and then His return to earth—constitutes more than one future Parousia. 

He asserts I believe in two future comings because I think Paul's Parousia occurs before the seven-year period. What's his logic? If one insists the PW Single Parousia contains a subset of comings and goings—aside from disagreeing with pretrib—how does the same condition not apply to pretribulationism? 

Kurschner points to Rev 19 (retrieval of heavenly armies for Armageddon), and claims I misunderstand this as a completely different Parousia, 

...if Jesus removes his feet from earth for a particular purpose (such as retrieving his heavenly army) then that must somehow terminate his current parousia. That is where his literalistic claim—and misunderstanding of the use of the Greek word parousia—fails.

Don't know what he means by "literalistic." I understand the PW position and disagree with it. In fact, in my experience, many PW proponents aren't aware of the multi-phase issue and become confused when told. It's not in the charts and Kurschner didn't mention it in his book. As for his prewrath Parousia (in contrast to "parousiai")—where do we find it supported in the definitions

He (oddly) uses "an absurd illustration to make the point" (his words). 

...if Jesus exercised by jump roping one hundred times by lifting his feet off the ground, then there must have been one hundred comings (parousiai) of Jesus.

No, there would then be an event consisting of a hundred jumps, because Jesus would be on the earth while performing them. But if Jesus, while jumping rope, went into Target four times in three years—we wouldn't say He had a continuous presence there. We ought to then say that He visited Target four times in three years. We can say He has a continuous presence in the city He lives in. That's it.

Likewise, at Rev 19, Jesus comes from heaven to the earth. But PW must assert that Rev 19 (not the first coming) is part of the same coming as Matt 24:30-31 with an unspecified period in between, because it wants to declare a Single Parousia. 

Kurschner says,

First, if Jesus must be physically on earth alive to be considered a Parousia, then that contradicts Paul’s teaching in 1 Thess 4:15–17 where Paul explicitly states that his parousia begins in the air—not the earth. Not to mention, just after the second coming (parousia) begins, he will escort the church to heaven before the (sic) his Father.

Jesus' feet don't touch the earth in the pretrib rapture view. Why, then, can't it claim a single extended Parousia if the rapture occurs before the 70th Week, and then Christ returns later? Kurschner attempts to impose an inconsistent criteria because PW is a modified Historic-Classic Premil version of posttrib. Traditionally, HP posttrib proponents deny that the Lord can come (First Parousia) for His church, and then come (Second Parousia) to inaugurate the Millennium.

An afterthought: One reason PW's will not theoretically allow a Single Parousia designation for the pretrib model is that it would then support imminence. 

Prewrathers occasionally cite Ladd's The Blessed Hope. In chapter 3 (The Vocabulary of The Blessed Hope), he writes that the Parousia is a Single Event involving the rapture of the church and the destruction of the Antichrist etc (pages 62-65). But what would Ladd say of the PW extended posttrib version?

Charles Ryrie addresses the vocabulary of eschatology in Come Quickly, Lord Jesus; noting that posstribbers [like Ladd] view the Parousia, Apokalypse and Epiphany as One Event. Again, this would be at odds with prewrath. After drawing an analogy, Ryrie responds,

...the word [Parousia] itself does not indicate whether these are a single event or separate events. In other words, the vocabulary used does not necessarily prove either pre- or posttrib views.

Dr. Kurschner's use of Parousia is bound up in his rapture deductions and opposition to pretribulationism. But he fails to show how his model isn't an example of parousiai. He simply asserts otherwise. 

Further reading:

The Parousia of Jesus Christ (Cooper)

Eric Douma's response to Prewrath

Myron Houghton 

Bifurcating the Parousia

John Walvoord's review of "The Blessed Hope"

Monday, July 11, 2022

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

What does Paul mean by “that Day”?

Tony Garland answers a question re the expression "that day" in 2 Thessalonians. I constantly see criticisms of pretribulationism which presuppose assumptions regarding the DotL and the rapture onto 2 Thess 2:3. But I think Tony's response offers some great points. Read it HERE

Friday, June 24, 2022

The Day of the Lord: Larry Pettegrew

 Dr. Larry Pettegrew covers the doctrine of the Day of the Lord at the 2021 IFCA Annual Convention in Lincoln, NE. Click Here

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Monday, June 13, 2022

He Will Reign Forever - Sermons

Michael Vlach recorded several sessions based on his book "He Will Reign Forever." You can listen to them courtesy of Grace Immanuel Bible Church HERE I reviewed his book at Zeteo 3:16. I also provided links to Dr. Reluctant's in-depth review in a previous post.

Friday, May 27, 2022

"We are God"

A sign of how late it is?


If you have time, go read C. S. Lewis' "That Hideous Strength" and "The Abolition of Man."

Friday, May 20, 2022

The Divine Council Myth

The articles linked below aren't my work. But I found them very helpful in understanding Mike Heiser's Divine Council theory. Heiser has become popular among prophecy buffs. I read his book, The Unseen Realm, on the advice of Darrel Bock. But the more I read, the more I saw red flags. I reviewed the book HERE

The Divine Council Myth:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Friday, May 6, 2022

Susan Pevensie's Last Days

This is a re-post inspired by Lynda O's new blog "Our Blessed Hope: Thoughts on Imaginative Christian Writing." Folks who appreciate C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien should enjoy Lynda's articles. In one post she posed a question about Susan Pevensie. What was her fate? 
A few years ago I indulged in some creative writing. I'm sure Lewis would disapprove because he let the matter rest in "The Last Battle." I didn't....
Susan Pevensie was one of the four children in C. S. Lewis’ classic Narnia Chronicles. One reason I enjoyed these books as a teen is because I recognized that the Lion Aslan was a Christ figure.
Susan first appears in “The Wardrobe” book. Thereafter she is mentioned in “The Horse and His Boy”, and appears in “Prince Caspian.” In “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” we learn that she has gone to America with her parents. Lewis also tells us that Susan was considered the pretty one of the family although she was no good at school.
In the final Narnian installment (The Last Battle) all the children are back in Narnia, having died in a train collision. The only one missing is Susan. The reader is informed that Susan is no longer a friend of Narnia. According to Eustace Scrubb she now asserts that Narnia was just “funny games” they used to play as children...keep reading

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Harris' Review: The Very Good Gospel By Lisa Sharon Harper

Jon Harris parses "The Very Good Gospel" in Part One of a three-part review. This is important because this "thick" social-justice gospel is being picked up and disseminated by many evangelical leaders. (Part Two) (Part Three)

Friday, April 15, 2022

A Pretribber's Desperation

According to Alan Kurschner, Alf Cengia (that would be me) is desperate. See his blog. Now I do consider myself somewhat of a Desperado in a few areas - rapture timing not so much. What Kurschner found offensive was my linking to James Ventilato's response to the Seven Pretrib Problems and the Prewrath Rapture doc in a Facebook group. 

For context, the group has a handful of ardent PW proponents who troll every pretrib post. They incessantly post essay length comments "refuting" pretrib. My contribution was to point out the futility (and frustration) of endlessly debating a Category Three doctrine. Various PW members have linked to the 7 Pretrib Problems doco. At one point I linked to Ventilato given that he responded to the documentary. I also briefly interacted with the 7th alleged pretrib problem HERE.  

Kurschner claims to typically look beyond pretrib rhetoric, but refuses to link to Ventilato's article because he finds it to be utterly deplorable, is written in childish, shouting CAPITALIZED WORDS, underscores, italics, bold, and various colors, the worse part is that it is incoherent on every level as I could not figure out who Ventilato was citing and when and where he was even responding to it. It was like Ventilato used a bot to create his response as it is a hodgepodge of blockquotes followed by shallow pretrib quips.

We ought to be charitable in our responses. Ventilato's effort could have been formulated better, though I had no difficulty following it. I wouldn't have used the same verbal tactics, and I disagree with him on several points. But Kurschner is being a little precious. He might want to take a deep breath and scan the older PW comments at the group he's lurking in. Here's an example of what a prominent PW advocate (from that group) once fired at a Facebook friend after he posted a pretrib article on his private Home Page,

Going into the 70th week: some people [pretribs] will have intractable cognitive dissonance. They will DENY the countdown signs...God WILL HOLD pre-trib/imminence teachers responsible, when their flocks start to feel like the Thessalonians believers...MANY will throw away their faith. False teaching & unprecedented supernatural deception will be widespread. And these pre-trib teachers will either hide (Harold Camping style), or DOUBLE-down with more ‘assurances for the flock’... (Bold mine)

What about Marv Rosenthal saying pretrib leads to “calamitous” consequences and “a spiritual catastrophe” which is in reality “a satanically planned sneak attack”? In The Rapture Question Answered, Van Kampen proposed a link between Darby and the "heretical" Edward Irving. He noted that at the time of the development of pretribulationism, new cults also emerged: e.g., Mormonism, Christian Science, Unitarianism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Is that "pablum" or "rhetoric"? 

Because the Lord didn't return in the 80s, one fellow wrote,

...Hal Lindsey is an unrepentant false prophet who has been showered with royalties since then (false prophets in the Bible were showered with stones).

Yikes! I wonder what he might have said to PW Herb Peters of Fulfilled Prophecy who predicted that the 70th Week was about to be inaugurated. Was he a "false prophet" or simply mistaken?   

When I interacted with Dr. Andy Woods as he was researching the view, he expressed surprise and dismay at the nastiness he encountered. This isn't new. Proponents constantly called my friend Jack Kinsella a false prophet for teaching pretrib. When he occasionally responded, they'd go nuts. PWs confuse objective criticism with attack. I'm familiar with two pretrib ministries who endured constant nasty attacks from this community (seen some of the stuff). When they finally addressed PW it was called a knee-jerk reaction to pretrib territory being undermined. When Paul Wilkinson reacted to Joe Schimmel's epic "Left Behind or Led Astray?" polemical documentary, two participants got their noses out of joint.

After pretribbers responded to Rosenthal's and Van Kampen's rapture books, (Van Kampen & Roger Best opined,

It is very interesting to read the negative reviews on the prewrath position. Not one review to date has dealt with the biblical position of prewrath. Some have set up straw men, and when they tear these straw men down, they think they have accomplished something. Others rehash the idea that certainly all the great men who held to pretribulationism could not have been wrong. The reason, we believe, is because the prewrath position cannot be attacked by taking Scripture at its face value. It is too firmly based upon Scripture...Their argument is not with us, it’s with the Word of God. We have only taken it for what it says, harmonized it with all the other passages saying the exact same thing and gone on record that the Bible clearly tells us what will occur just prior to the coming of Christ. (Bold mine)

Did they read Renald Showers' irenic criticism of PW? Did the website ever respond to his "straw men"? Having studied the system and reading many of these so-called pretrib straw men responses, it's difficult for me to take Van-Kampen-Best's (or Kurschner's) umbrage seriously. 

Contra their assertions, the prewrath view begins by interpreting Matt 24:22 as saying the future Great Tribulation will be less than three-and-a-half years. I discuss it HERE. As stated elsewhere, this isn't biblical exegesis based on other confirming texts; it's a differing interpretation which affects the interpretation of several PW proof texts

As an illustration, I challenged a PW proponent on his interpretation of Matt 24:22. He insisted that the GT had to be shortened to less than 3.5 yrs because the Great Multitude of Rev 7 is the raptured church of Matt 24:31. This is circular reasoning. There's nothing "plain and simple" about it. If the GT hasn't been shortened in the way PW presumes, the GM is likely continuously being added to; not a one-time rapture event, and so on. 

While I hold to pretribulationism, I understand that I could be wrong. But rapture timing isn't regarded a Category 3 doctrine by prewrathers. They'll defend PW and persist against pretrib to the bitter end. It has become a Category One pious obsession for them. Read Best's concluding remarks about preparedness. 

P.S. Can desperation = creating a website called pretribulationism (dot) com, which is an actual arm of Kurschner's Eschatos Ministries? Wondering how he'd react if a pretrib ministry did that with PW.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Dispensationalists respond to Postmillennialist Jeff Durbin.

Recently, Jeff Durbin of Apologia Church made disparaging remarks about the rapture, premil & the gospel etc. Keith Sherlin, Luke Morrison and Brandon Garcia got together to discuss it. I thought the response was irenic and on point. Unfortunately, at this time I can only provide a Facebook link to the discussion. Hopefully it will eventually appear in another forum. 

I'm assuming it's OK to copy and paste Keith's introduction below:


Prior to 1944's great schism in the body of Christ between covenant theologians and dispensational theologians, evangelicals remained more united in their common effort to oppose liberalism in the culture. It should be this way today. Pastors Luke Morrison & Brandon Garcia joined in a Christicommunity Conversation to address the erroneous allegations Jeff Durbin has made against his premillennial brothers in the faith.

Covenant Theologian Ronald Henzel rightly stated of the premillennial movement that it has been a "powerful movement" composed of people with a "fervent commitment to evangelism" and "dedication to addressing social concerns" and such a reality serves as a "REBUKE to those" (like Durbin) who accuse them of "insulating themselves from the present world out of a preoccupation with the next."

Likewise, Covenant Theologian Dr. O. Palmer Robertson stated that believers from the various eschatological positions (Covenant & Dispensational) stand "side by side in affirming the essentials of the Christian faith" while also standing in unison and "alone in opposition to the inroads of modernism, neo-evangelicalism, and emotionalism." In his view, "Covenant theologians and dispensationalists SHOULD hold in highest regard the scholarly and evangelical productivity of one another." Sadly, so far, Durbin does not seem to have this level of respect and admiration for his fellow partners in the gospel. 

If only more Covenant theologians would have that same level of respect for their brothers who walk in the premillennial faith. His allegations lack merit, historical accuracy, and do not encourage healthy unity in the faith.

 Dr. Charles Ryrie, one of the foremost Dispensational teachers of the movement, rightly stated that "there are few enough these days who believe in the fundamentals of the faith, and to ignore those who have declared themselves on the side of truth of God is unwise." Alleging that Dispensationalists cannot properly carry out the great commission (one of several allegations by Durbin) ignores historical reality, misrepresents the leaders of the heritage, and establishes a needless dividing line in the body of Christ where one does not really exist.

 May the Lord's people, with a healthy and respectful acknowledgement in conversation of secondary differences, work towards greater levels of unity in Christ while collectively doing the great commission and opposing liberal ideology that temporally and eternally harms people. If we do that, we can better fulfill one of Jesus' prayers: "that they may all be one; even as you Father, are in Me and I in you, that they may also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me" (John 17:21).

Keith Sherlin PhD; ThD; PhD Christicommunity

Facebook link HERE

Monday, April 4, 2022

Dr. Reluctant's Clash of Worlds

The following series of apologetic articles from Dr. Reluctant date back to 2010. I'm posting them here primarily for my benefit and easy access. But I hope others will be interested.

I've just finished reading K. Scott Oliphint's "Covenantal Apologetics." See Paul Henebury's review of it HERE. This is a book I'll need to read at least once or twice again - at least parts of it. I've written a review on his "The Battle Belongs to the Lord." He has a newer book "The Faithful Apologist" which appears to be a more accessible summary of "Covenantal Apologetics."

Anyway, after reading CA I thought I'd go back and read Paul's responses to an atheist. So here we go!

The articles

A Clash of Worlds (1)

A Clash of Worlds (2)

A Clash of Worlds (3)

A Clash of Worlds (4)

See also Paul's Apologetics Articles. Those interested ought to do a search on Dr. Reluctant's site for more articles, especially using "presuppositional" etc as a tag.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

A few things Tolkien

I've become immersed in Tolkien's writings again. C. S. Lewis and Tolkien are never far from me. They bring me much joy. I wish there were more modern writers like them. As a wannabe Christian-fantasy writer, they've had an enormous influence on me.

One of my favorite characters in The Lord of the Rings books was Tom Bombadil. He was left out of the movies and sometimes dismissed by Christian commentators as an anomaly. Others (like me) have been fascinated by this character and suspect that Tolkien had a specific purpose for including him.

You can read Keith Mathison's take on Bombadil HERE. But, for my money, Chris Wiley's book "In the House of Tom Bombadil" is well worth reading. I believe he nails Tolkien's intent. I reviewed the book HERE.

Then there's Amazon "Rings of Power." If you haven't heard yet, Amazon is producing a series (loosely) based on Tolkien's materials. But it will be produced with a Diversity Quota agenda in mind (LGBTQ, race etc). This has generated an unprecedented backlash against Amazon by Tolkien fans of all stripes. And this is a good thing! See my article, "Amazon Lord of the Rings of Woke."

Lynda O of "Scripture Thoughts" now has another tentative blog "The Imaginative Christian." If you're a Tolkien fan, pop in and take a look around. Did you know that Tolkien was premillennial?

Lastly, years ago I encountered Matthew Dickerson's books - specifically, "Following Gandalf" and "A Hobbit Journey." You might enjoy them. You may also be interested in Jonathan S. McIntosh's "The Flame Imperishable: Tolkien, St. Thomas, and the Metaphysics of Faerie."

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Where is Christ after the Rapture?

There's a segment of prewrath rapturist thought which insists that, after the rapture, the church is taken to heaven while Christ remains on/above the earth. This could be left-over baggage from wanting to hang onto a Single Future Second Coming, contra pretrib's so-called Two Future Comings.

I've yet to see anyone holding to this premise address the following verses. It doesn't mean they haven't. Note that prewrath assumes the Great Multitude is the raptured church. Who is the Lamb and where is He?

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands. Rev 7:9 

 ...for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes. Rev 7:17 

Then there's this,

And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. Rev 19:11 

Most would see this as Christ's coming. Heaven opens and Christ is revealed....

Yet prewrath (shortened tribulation) asserts that the Great Multitude is raptured at Matt 24:31, before Rev 19; but there's only One Future Coming of Christ. Therefore it must deny that Rev 19 is Christ's coming and avoid any second-coming language for this event. It insists that this is the final stage of Christ's coming (that He has already come), and has somehow had a continuous-presence since Matt 24:30. Thus they want to claim a Single Future Parousia (not allowed for the pretrib model). 

I don't know how that works.

Read Charles Cooper's article HERE. Note especially the last paragraph. See also this article.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Dr. Paul Henebury: Rules of Affinity

Dr. Paul Henebury has completed his lecture series on The Rules of Affinity.

You can watch them HERE

Friday, February 25, 2022

Jon Harris comments on the Russia-Ukraine thing

I thought this video commentary on the Russia-Ukraine debacle was important and good enough to post here. The key word is "nuance." Not to say Putin is a good guy - he's not - but this awful situation is more complex than presented by the MSM, and even the prophecy folk looking for Gog. 

Pray for the Ukrainians, the Russians, and especially the Christians. Pray for the church around the world.

More on Covenant Theology vs. Dispensationalism etc

Since a previous column, more voices have weighed into the CT-Disp discussion. I posted a new article with a few links at Zeteo 316 HERE  

Keep an eye out for Dr. Reluctant's posts on this subject as (I think) he is someone who is best placed to comment on both CT & Disp. 

I thought this blog responding to amillennialism was pretty good as well: A Concise Response to A Concise Case for Amillennialism. See HERE.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Mathison vs Vlach - What is Dispensationalism?

In the past I've profited from some of Keith Mathison's blog articles and general insights. Read his short bio HERE. Recently he wrote a brief piece on dispensationalism which attracted my attention, as well as others in the Facebook group I linked it to. I think Mathison's take on disp is a little shallow. I wonder what he was taught at DTS during his time there.

So, the following is what a postmillennialist thinks disp is,

Dispensationalism is a popular and widespread way of reading the Bible. It originated in the nineteenth century in the teaching of John Nelson Darby and was popularized in the United States through the Bible Conference movement. Its growth was spurred on even more through the publication of the Scofield Reference Bible, which was published in 1909. Scofield’s Bible contributed to the spread of dispensationalism because it included study notes written from a distinctively dispensationalist perspective. The founding of Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924 by Lewis Sperry Chafer provided an academic institution for the training of pastors and missionaries in the dispensationalist tradition. Some of the most notable dispensationalist authors of the twentieth century, including John F. Walvoord, Charles C. Ryrie, and J. Dwight Pentecost, taught at Dallas Seminary...continue reading

This is a summary of what Mike Vlach says dispensationalism is,

Dispensationalism is an evangelical theological system that addresses issues concerning the biblical covenants, Israel, the church, and end times. It also argues for a literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecies involving ethnic/national Israel, and the idea that the church is a New Testament entity that is distinct from Israel...continue reading

Also read Paul Henebury's response to the 95 Theses Against Dispensationalism HERE.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

How is the Great Tribulation shortened?

When I first encountered the prewrath rapture view, what immediately struck me was its claim that the "Great Tribulation" (at least for the church) would last less than 3.5 years. This was one reason why I wasn't compelled to buy into this system. The phrase "after the tribulation has been cut short" is pivotal. Other PW tenets hinge on this interpretation of Matt 24:22. 

Neither Rosenthal nor Van Kampen defended this view of the "shortening." Ex pretribbers took it on board. But is this interpretation of Matt 24:22 valid? Proponents affirm it must be so because everything else ties in - "comparing Scripture with Scripture."  

At some point I came across Charles Cooper's "The Meaning and Significance of Koloboo in Matthew 24:22" in a 1997 Parousia Magazine article. I cannot currently find it online (new link below). Cooper threw out a number of strange suggestions in defense, perhaps the oddest being that God can change His mind. In another article he wrote,

The Word of God teaches that Satan/Antichrist’s persecution will be cut short in Matthew 24:22. How? By removing the object of the evil one’s persecution – the Church – to heaven and putting the remnant of Israel in protective custody. 

Yet as I've noted elsewhere, if the rapture is located at Matt 24:31, it occurs after the tribulation. As I understand it, the "remnant of Israel" is already in "protective custody" before the GT is "shortened."  

BTW, I recommend Mike Vlach's book "The Old in the New." He correctly notes where Israel is the focus of the Olivet Discourse (see the back section). It's odd to take OT verses addressing Israel (Daniel's people etc) and apply them to a future predominantly gentile church. 

Another PW position is that Dan 7:25 refers to the nation Israel, and not the church (which is correct). It then states that "Israel and not the church will be persecuted for 42 months." So, in this case, the GT is cut short only for the church. It appears to me that PW inconsistently flexes to accommodate a shorter trib church view against Israel's tribulation. The further one digs into this system the more convoluted it becomes because it must force its assumptions onto certain texts.

Is Israel persecuted while in "protective custody"? Or, is part of Israel in custody while another part isn't (around the world)? Why cut the tribulation short for the church and not Israel? Don't some posttrib folk assert that God can work with both the church and Israel simultaneously? Why, then, is the church taken away while Israel remains. Of course we'll be directed to God's "Day-of-the-Lord" wrath. 

But remember that the GT must be shortened in order to spare all life

What do we do with the Rev 20:4 martyrs? Is the passage a recap providing the missing resurrection element to Rev 7's Great Multitude? Or do the Rev 20:4 martyrs comprise those who come to faith during the 42 month Antichrist Great Tribulation, who aren't in "protective custody"?

Speaking of resurrection: One of the "proofs" that Matt 24:31 is the rapture (cutting short the GT) is allegedly found in Dan 12:2. The argument is that Jesus, in the Olivet Discourse, cites Daniel. Apparently one can find the missing Olivet resurrection there. One problem is that the same chapter (Dan 12:7) speaks of time, times and half a time which PW elsewhere states to be 42 months. We're not even considering issues relating to Dan 12:1, 13. 

Compare Dan 12:1 and Matt 24:21. See also Hos 5:15 and Matt 23:39. Renald Showers and others have shown that Israel is "elect." It also seems that, in a real sense, Christ's coming is contingent on Israel's change of heart. The nation will be elect at Christ's coming when all will see Him. Does Dan 12 and Matt 24 address the future church or Israel? The prewrath view tries very hard to make it the Church. But this raises more problems. See below.

The defenses for a shorter GT are contradictory, deductive and convoluted. I agree with this simple comment at Precept Austin,

"Cut short" does not mean the Great Tribulation will be less than 3.5 years, but only that it will be abruptly terminated by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

In other words, unless Christ stops the process it would continue until no life is spared (which is what the text plainly states). Apart from this, there are three main problems with the shortened GT interpretation of Matt 24:22. I discussed them HERE (citing Larry Pettegrew). 

Further reading:

Tony Garland's Jacob's Trouble and the Great Tribulation.


This is likely going to be a growing document. Prewrath's (new?) position on the length of the Great tribulation for Israel (as opposed to the church) may be seen HERE...

...Snow demonstrates exegetically that the reference of saints [elect?] in Daniel 7:25 refers to God’s holy nation of Israel and not the church. Consequently, it is Israel and not the church who will be persecuted for 42 months. The church’s suffering will be cut short sometime during the second half at an unknown hour and day.
Let's think about that statement for a moment. Note that PW insists on keeping "Antichrist's Great Tribulation" distinct to God's "Day of the Lord" wrath. You see this insistence in their literature and charts. It erroneously asserts that God's wrath cannot occur during the so-called Satan's wrath period. Yet there you have a model where God's wrath runs coterminous with Satan's wrath! But let me ask again: why take the church out and leave Israel if the GT continues for it? The fact that Israel survives the GT and the Day of the Lord, nullifies the reason PWs use for the church's removal (i.e., that some believers must remain alive to be raptured). If you argue that Israel survives because it is somehow protected, then why can't the same be done for the church? 

It appears that this may be a shift in thinking that God can change His mind regarding the length of the GT overall (Charles Cooper's article). The problem for PW is that the GT is always said, in various ways, to last three-and-a-half years. But the system relies on Matt 24:22 as a statement for a shortening of the GT for the church. It must impose its assumptions onto the Olivet Discourse because it reads the church there instead of Israel. Therefore it needs to see two different time lengths for the Great Tribulation in Daniel 7 & 12.

So, after the tribulation (Matt 24:29-31) the tribulation continues for Israel, but not for the church. How astonishing!

Addendum 2

Dr. Alan Kurschner wrote a response to critics re the "Cutting Short of the Antichrist's Great Tribulation" HERE. Those interested can read it and decide for themselves how well he's answered objections. I plan to comment when I get time... 

The convoluted defense mentions Renald Showers. On page 25 Kurschner has an issue with Showers' position on PW and God changing His mind re the length of the GT. He writes that ("while some interpreters may believe this") God changing His mind isn't the view prewrath affirms. Citing Dan 9:24-27, he goes on to assert (a deduction) that there are two distinct events [tribulation lengths?] serving two different purposes, one for Israel and one for the church (see above). Again, one of those tribulations must then occur alongside God's DotL wrath.

In fact, Charles Cooper (Prewrath Resource Institute) once suggested that God can change His mind, and even used the example of Hezekiah's life span (see HERE). Moreover, Cooper talked about fewer hours in the days in context to the GT; something which Kurschner refutes! Note that they are two leading prewrath proponents who participated in the Seven Pretrib Problems Documentary. More to come..

Addendum 3

I agree with Alan Kurschner (AK) when he declares that the cutting short of the tribulation is foundational to prewrath. PW interprets eschatological texts through a PW grid. Due to the length of the essay, I'll only make a few observations. 

AK asserts that Matt 24 is aimed at believers because PW needs v 31 to be the rapture within a cut-short Great Tribulation (v 22). Therefore, AK rejects Showers' citation of Dan 7:25 and Rev 12, 13. These verses speak of saints and holy ones (Israel) and a period lasting 1,260 days, forty-two months and time, times and half a time. 

No mention of Hos 5:15 and Matt 23:37-39. Israel will not see the Christ until it calls Him blessed. If everyone sees Christ's coming (Matt 24:30) and the tribes mourn (Zech 12:10), then "elect" likely refers to Israel in Matt 24. See above.

He (ironically) sees "saints" as partly meaning Israel (and the church) in Rev 13 because he needs two lengths for the Great Tribulation; a shortened version for the church (deduced), and the stated three-and-a-half year period for Israel.  

If Dan 12 supplies a missing resurrection to the Matt 24:31 rapture (see above), what about Dan 12:1, 7 and Matt 24:21-22? Both speak of a uniquely severe period. Daniel is given the length of the tribulation for his people as lasting times, time and half a time. If a remnant of the Jews is protected, but Israel undergoes its worst tribulation (Dan 12:1-2; Jer 30:7), how does it survive a combination of the continuing GT and the Day of the Lord? 

Well, AK says the Antichrist doesn't have absolute authority. For example, assuming the Two Witnesses appear in the 2nd half of the Week, he says they're an example how the AC has limited authority, yet can still muster armies. But, again, if God protects certain people post-rapture and limits the AC, why is it necessary to cut the GT short for the church?  

We agree that God restricts Satan and the Antichrist. They alone cannot be the reason for Matt 24:22. In fact, the Lawless One is a function of God's wrath and judgment (2 Thess 2:8-12). The best explanation for terminating those days isn't to cut short "Antichrist's Great Tribulation" for the church—so some believers will remain alive at the rapture. It is a compound of factors, including God's (worse-than-the GT) wrath which, if left unchecked, those days would result in no one being spared alive. 

PW has the ability to cite a number of texts purporting to support its view; and at first this may seem impressive to those who haven't studied the system. Under closer inspection, it does so deductively and assuming a debatable interpretation of Matt 24:22 as its starting point. It picks and chooses texts relating to Israel, and applies them to the church to prop up PW; but never those which explicitly state the length of the tribulation. 

Finally, the essay constantly asserts that Matt 24:31 is the rapture which cuts the tribulation short (for the church). Read it carefully: v 31 occurs AFTER the tribulation. The gathering does not cut the GT short.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Inspiration from John Williams

I met John Williams on Facebook - so I guess the medium isn't all bad. One thing which impressed me was his patience when dealing with opposing prophetic views. This little testimony relating to his health is inspiring.

John shares about his experience suffering with Crohn's disease and the colostomy surgery that resulted from that disease. In this video there is a description of a stoma, a colostomy bag and how Crohn's has had an affect on his life in the past and what it could mean in the future.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Jon Harris: Enemies Within The Church

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Jesus is the New Covenant

An excellent challenge from Dr. Reluctant.