Saturday, April 17, 2010

Top 7 Reasons I Left-Behind a Pre-tribulational Rapture

I recently wrote a paper for my Systematic Theology class on the differing views of the millennium.  In this paper I did not deal with the differing views of the rapture, but it caused me to start thinking along those lines.  I have held to a Post-tribulational view of the rapture for quite some time.  In other words I believe that the Second Coming of Christ and the Rapture are the same event.  To put that another way I do not believe that a “secret” rapture of the church is most faithful to the biblical revelation.  Because I may be in the minority view, I  thought it may be beneficial to explain my reasons.  Here are the top 7 reasons (in no order):
  1. History. This is by no means a “nail in the coffin”, but the fact that the view of a secret rapture of the church is relatively new in the history of the church is quite telling.  This view of the rapture was first made popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s.  Some will make an attempt to put pre-tribulationalism on the lips of Tertullian, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, etc.  I’m not convinced.  They were historic premillennialist but not pre-tribulational. 
  2. The Silence of Paul.  Arguments from silence are typically pretty shaky.  However, I think this one is pretty loud.  In 2 Thessalonians some are worried that Christ has returned.  Paul could have easily reminded them that they had not been secretly raptured.  “Duh,  you’re still on earth…you haven’t been raptured…Jesus has came back.”  But instead Paul talks about the man of lawlessness.  Certainly, it could be argued that what is “restraining” him is that the rapture has yet to happen.  Fair enough, but I’m not convinced.
  3. 3. Revelation 3:10.  “I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”  This is one of the most widely used verses for the pre-tribulational position.  Consider what this word means in John 17:15, "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”  This word does not have to be read as Jesus zapping us out of earth.  His keeping us is not removing us.  His keeping us is bringing about our perseverance through his powerful working.
  4. The “meeting” of a dignitary.  In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 this “meeting” the Lord in the air is more than likely not referring to meeting Jesus and then going back to where he is, but rather meeting Jesus and going together where we are.  This word was used of meeting a Roman dignitary.  You meet him outside your town and then brought him back into your town—not vice versa.  This is the same meaning in Matthew 25 with the parable of the Ten Virgins.  Notice that the virgins go meet the bridegroom and then take him back to where they have been waiting. 
  5. The Silence of Jesus.  Where Jesus speaks on the issue where you would expect a secret rapture he is silent.  Wait, you say, “what about Matthew 24 and the one being taken away”?  Consider the context.  The one that is “taken away” is like the one swept away in the day of Noah.  The one that is left is what you want to be—not the one taken away. 
  6. Since when are believers taken out of suffering and not called to endure and go through it?  It seems to be that the general tenor of the teaching of Scripture is that we will go through many tribulations.  It is through much tribulation that we will inherit the kingdom.  It seems to be following in the steps of our King to endure through suffering not to be taken away from it.  Of course believers are protected in and through suffering—but that does not mean that we are delivered out of it. 
  7. What sense would Revelation have made to its first century audience?  Revelation was written to struggling 1st century Christians that were being bombarded with persecution and intense suffering.  The hope laid out in Revelation is not a manual for interpreting the end times.  The hope laid out in Revelation is that Jesus Christ the true King reigns victorious.  Believers, though suffering now, will one day be victorious if they remain faithful to Christ in the midst of suffering.  If I am correct about the general tenor of Revelation then this notion of a secret rapture would seem to undercut the teaching of this book. 
The beauty of eschatology is that even though we differ on these matters we still have the same King that will bring it about.  If I am wrong about the secret rapture of the church—then I’m totally cool with that.  If I am right about the second coming and “rapture” being the same event then I pray “come Lord Jesus”.  I hold fast to the confidence that no matter what the future holds, Christ Jesus holds my future. 
Now, feel free to disagree in the comments…

7 comments:

  1. Huh, sorry; can't disagree. Think I've held this position for a while, as well, although I don't think I could've enumerated the reasons for doing so in such a great fashion. The "dignitary" one was totally new for me - thanks for sharing. I love the way you pain Revelation, too; the early church would have seen it more as a hand-book for enduring tribulation with hope than as a handbook for eschatology. That would probably have been Daniel.

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  2. I'm with nunnkind. If you're looking for a fight, you'll have to go elsewhere.

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  3. But where else can I go? LOL. I'm not actually "looking for a fight" or even an argument...just encouraging anyone that disagrees to leave a comment explaining why. This is a topic that will probably be discussed for quite some time.

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  4. My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! My Cleansing/Culling/Evacuation of the Earth in My Conflagration at World's End! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand! Stay tuned!
    Read My Inaugural Address
    My Site=http://www.angelfire.com/crazy/spaceman

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  5. [Great thoughts, Mike. Spied this piece on the web. Jim]

    Christ's return is NOT imminent !

    by Bruce Rockwell

    (Pretrib rapturists claim that Christ's return is imminent, that is, capable of occurring at any moment. Theologian and pastor Norman MacPherson, in his excellent book "Triumph Through Tribulation," offers proof that the Bible has never taught an any-moment return of Christ. Here are the points brought out and discussed at length by MacPherson:)

    1. Great Commission fulfillment implies a long period of time.
    2. Seed growth in Matthew 13 is a time-consuming process.
    3. Paul expected death, not rapture, in II Timothy 4:6-8.
    4. Jesus predicted Peter's martyrdom in John 21:18-19.
    5. Matthew 24 teaches that signs must come first.
    6. Many passages speak of a large interval between Christ's ascension and return: Jewish dispersion into "all nations" (Luke 21); "man travelling into a far country," "after a long time the lord of those servants cometh" (Matthew 25).
    7. Apostasy of last days takes time to develop.
    8. Bridegroom tarried in parable of virgins.
    9. Pastoral epistles teach Church's continuing ministry, which involves time.
    10. Paul says Christ's coming is not imminent (II Thessalonians 2:1-3), for apostasy and Antichrist must come first.
    11. View of seven phases of church history (seven churches of Revelation) involves big lapse of time and imminence difficulties for pre-tribs; could Christ have come before the last phase?
    12. Exhortations to watch and be ready are tied to what pre-trib teachers regard as the second stage (which is necessarily non-imminent) in Matthew 24 and 25, I Corinthians 1:7, Colossians 3:4, I Thessalonians 3:13, II Thessalonians 1:7-10, I Peter 1:13 and 4:13, and I John 2:28.

    (How can an "imminent" return of Christ have a greater practical effect on us than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit already has, or should have, on us? For more on pretrib beliefs and history, Google "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," "Pretrib Rapture - Hidden Facts," "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.")

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  6. To me this is a none important issue in my personal relationship with Christ.I have always held the view of pan-trib. In my heart I wish pre-trib because I don't like tribulation but should tribulation come I will opt for choice #2 (mid-trib) so I go through less tribulation but should that not happen I will go with post-trib union with Christ. So you see I am pan-trib. All will pan out in the end just the way God designed.

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