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The Pretribulational Rapture Bullies
Prophecy - Signs
Friday, September 11, 2015
Alf Cengia

It's time we stood up for the truth and opposed the pretribulational rapture bullies. They want us to think that Christ could come at any time for His church. We must stop this dangerous deception!

That sums up the sentiment I recently received via an email from an earnest gentleman (SP). He thanked me for subscribing to his Non-Pretrib organization, which consists of a website, Facebook page and Twitter account. SP informed me that he's collaborating on a book with Joe Schimmel of Good Fight Ministries, and contributed to Schimmel's Left Behind or Led Astray video. He's been busy.

In fact I didn't subscribe and can only guess how he got my primary email address. It's not that important. However, I found the content of his message annoyingly familiar.

SP has started up a ministry to expose pretribulationism because it "is one of the most dominant false teachings to be found among professing Bible believing Christians." As the story goes, Jesus and the Apostles warned of spiritual deception regarding His return. The false teaching of pretribulationism sets believers up to fall away.

"You can help," I was told.

Even if I was a pretribulationist, he was glad I was reading. He prayed I'd approach it with an open mind and heart. SP admonished me to pray that these false teachers be exposed. I should pray for family and friends caught up in this "false unbiblical teaching." He asked for prayer for strength in the face of pretrib opposition and encouraged me not to be ashamed or bullied in standing up for the truth. Like I said, the guy sounded earnest.

Then he asked for money - his ministry runs on limited resources and there are costs in running a website etc. Well, he kinda lost me....and it wasn't just the money.

Whenever I comment on this topic I'm compelled to repeat myself (again) for the sake of non-pretribulationists who wring their hands in concern over the possibility of unprepared pretribbers apostatizing. Please note:

1) We commonly refer to the final seven years prior to Christ's coming as the "tribulation." This doesn't mean that the church never experiences tribulation. It always has and we should expect it. The nature of the discussion should be the presence of God's wrath within this period and whether the church is exempt from it.

2) If we're wrong about the timing of the rapture and find ourselves in the "tribulation", we're unlikely to be confused about the Antichrist's identity. He confirms a 7 year covenant with Israel, makes war with the saints, seeks to put his mark on everyone's forehead and hand and lops off dissenters' heads. That's going to be a big clue. Next...

3) If we are diligently expecting to face Christ any time and abiding in Him, then we're prepared for anything. In response to one of participants of the Left Behind or Led Astray (LB or LA) video - what keeps us from falling away is not pride in our so-called preparation  or expectation for enduring the Antichrist. It's our position in Christ (Rom 8:38-39).

We've been through all this before and responded often enough. Some of these critics are even Five Point Calvinists. Think about it. So is there some other dynamic driving their attacks?

The blurb for the LB or LA video assures us that "it has been hailed as one of the most compelling and thoroughly researched projects examining the origins of the secret pre-tribulation rapture doctrine!" It declares:

"You will be amazed as we look into admissions by pre-tribulation leaders who admit that the theory is without clear biblical and historical merit."

I haven't seen the four-and-a half-hour video and one wouldn't normally judge any movie by a trailer. But if the trailer is anything to go by, it isn't promising. It resorts to the familiar MacDonald, Darby, Scofield connection and propaganda tactics. One participant even calls John Darby a cultist.

Darby polemicist Dave MacPherson is mentioned, followed by posttribulationist Walter Martin. Anyone who has objectively and "thoroughly researched" the Darby-MacDonald case should have known that MacPherson has been debunked. MacDonald had a vision of a posttribulational gathering in keeping with her (and Irving's) view that the world was already experiencing the Great Tribulation. Obviously Martin relied on polemicists as his source.

While Martin did great work exposing cults he (and Barnhouse) failed to warn about the Seventh-day Adventist reliance on Ellen G. White. He wasn't infallible. His comment that Christianity hadn't heard of dispensationalism for 19 centuries is fraught with problems. The Roman Catholic Church had similar admonitions for Luther's Reformation (circa 1517 - 1648). Even the tenets of Calvinism were developed over time.

Covenant Theology was developed through the 16th & 17th centuries. Modern developments include New Covenant Theology and the New Perspective on Paul. Famous posttribulational scholar Robert Gundry is now arguing that the Apostle Peter was an apostate. Was the church wrong all this time?

Note: Dan Phillips' excellent essay on "stupid" reasons for dissing dispensationalism is helpful, sarcastic and witty. No, dispensationalism doesn't teach multiple ways of salvation or lawlessness.

One might also ask which of the different posttribulational views are historically valid and which millennial view. The church's eschatology has been diverse. Amillennialism, the allegorization of prophetic texts and Replacement Theology dominates the church even now. The question should be - is this belief biblical, not is it new?

The video trailer shows segments where pretribulationists are asked to produce one biblical verse to support the doctrine. It's not a new tactic and it is effective. Yet ask someone to give just one verse for the doctrine of the Trinity, or Molinism, or Covenant Theology or a bunch of other beliefs.

Some wax sanctimonious at the mention of the Trinity in the same sentence as the pretrib rapture. They are not in the same category. One is a clear fundamental tenet, the other an optional doctrine. The point is that both are derived via a systematic study of a number of biblical verses, not from one verse in isolation.

It's true that scholars like John Walvoord and Richard Mayhue have stated that the pretribulational rapture isn't an explicit teaching. None of the rapture views are. Mayhue has stated that while some pretrib arguments aren't compelling, it best fits the biblical data. In fact he was originally convinced that posttribulationist Robert Gundry was correct. After examining Gundry's arguments over time, he rejected them and adopted pretribulationism.

What Walvoord and Mayhue meant is that pretribulationism is the best explanation considering all the data. As an ex-posttribber I agree. After looking at SP's anti-pretrib website articles, I found no new evidence to the contrary.

The LB or LA trailer features Kirk Cameron who starred in the Left Behind movies. Cameron has embraced posttribulationism and Pastor Joe Schimmel. Good for him. However, his article Stay Behind appeals to emotion and paints a broad brush picture of pretribulationists, rather than biblical exegesis.

Cameron's ministry proves that he has a heart for the lost. But he fails to show how pretribulationalism precludes sharing the same goal while desiring to be with the Lord. Many good pretribulational ministries send missionaries out into the unbelieving world. He needs to do better than that.

There are serious issues confronting the church today. Denominations are bowing to same-sex marriage, homosexuality, abortion and a host of other issues. We even have atheist and pagan ministers in the pulpit. The inerrancy of Scripture has been compromised and often Scripture is downright rejected. Universalism and ecumenism are popular. Millions of people are lost - they've embraced the New Age, atheism, other faith systems or are indifferent to Jesus Christ.

So why are entire Christian websites devoted to attacking pretribulationism and John N. Darby? I can only guess.

But there must be something intrinsically wrong when non-pretribulationists act more obsessed with the belief than its pretrib proponents. I've come to the conclusion that many of these myopic attacks border on fanaticism.

Sadly, this doesn't do the Body of Christ or the gospel any favors.

"Learn to grapple with souls. Aim at the conscience. Exalt Christ. Use a sharp knife with yourself. Say little, serve all, pass on. This is true greatness to serve unnoticed and work unseen. Oh, the joy of having nothing, seeing nothing but a Living Christ in glory, and being careful for nothing but His interests down here." ~ John Nelson Darby (Hat tip to Andrew)

Maranatha

About Alf Cengia

Last week: Looking Forward to Heaven



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