Joe Bell replied to me writing an egregious ignorant email about the prewrath position. I will respond to it point by point here. He writes:
With all due respect brother, you mean the church needs to be taught a death theology that you propagate because very few believers will make it through the first three quarters of the tribulation, let alone, the very last part. There will be mass martyrdom. Very few believers will survive so I suggest you teach the truth of your positions: death.
First, Bell shows his ignorance by saying that prewrath teaches the rapture will occur at “three quarters of the tribulation.” What prewrath teaches is that the rapture will occur sometime during the second half of the seven year period.
He also says that prewrath teaches a “death theology.” Apparently, he has never read Jesus’ words teaching on this unprecedented suffering and martyrdom that will happen just before his return. So I will let Jesus speak for himself:
For then there will be great tribulation unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matt 24:21–22)
If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed by the sword, then by the sword he must be killed. This requires steadfast endurance and faith from the saints. (Rev 13:10)
A third angel followed the first two, declaring in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and takes the mark on his forehead or his hand, that person will also drink of the wine of God’s anger that has been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tortured with fire and sulfur in front of the holy angels and in front of the Lamb. And the smoke from their torture will go up forever and ever, and those who worship the beast and his image will have no rest day or night, along with anyone who receives the mark of his name.” This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: ‘Blessed are the dead, those who die in the Lord from this moment on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their hard work, because their deeds will follow them.” (Rev 14:9–13)
Next Joe writes:
We do prepare people for suffering and many Christians are suffering terribly today, however believers in Christ won’t suffer one second of the tribulation because it’s the wrath of God being poured out on a Christ rejecting world. The whole seven years is the “wrath of the lamb” not just the last part as you teach. Because Jesus took the wrath of God we wait, as Paul said, “for His Son from heaven, . . .who delvers us from the wrath to come.” Paul also wrote, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation (deliverance) through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Joe makes the common mistake of confusing the Antichrist’s great tribulation with the day of the Lord’s wrath, as most pretribulationists do. There is an important distinction to recognize. The Antichrist’s great tribulation will be against the church. We do not know the day or hour (Matt 24:36) but those days will be cut short with the return of the Lord to resurrect the dead in Christ and rapture them along with the alive in Christ. This same day will start the day of the Lord’s wrath upon the ungodly. Believers are promised deliverance before the day of the Lord’s wrath (1 Thess 5:9), but before that they will face the Antichrist during the great tribulation, a time when the church is purified and refined in faith to meet their Lord (2 Thess 1–2).
I’ve read all the extreme diversions that pre-wrathers go to in an attempt to explain away the wrath of the tribulation but they just don’t fly.
Then it should not be any problem for you to refute them in a public moderated debate with me, yes? I would like to challenge you to a moderated debate on the timing of the rapture: Prewrath vs. Pretribulationism. Will you accept? We can schedule for summer at a location of your choosing. A three hour debate is sufficient. “The first to state his case seems right, until his opponent begins to cross-examine him.” —Proverbs 18:17
Debate is a God-glorifying medium of interaction for truth-lovers. Meaningful interaction is a good thing and is beneficial for God’s people, holding Christians accountable for their theological claims.
The debate will of course contain rebuttals and a cross-examination period; accordingly, the audience is benefited from actual dialogues and not just monologues since it often brings out more substantive discussions.
Mr. Bell, this will be an opportunity for you to defend publicly your pretribulational claims in a debate format. I am willing to put my prewrath claims under your cross-examination. Are you willing to do the same with yours?
Very few reputable scholars hold to the pre-wrath view.
Then that should give you confidence in your debate with me, yes?
I disagree with your statement in a previous email that Calvary Chapel pastors and church members are shifting toward the pre-wrath position.
I beg to differ.
They may have questions but when taught the accuracy of the Word their pre-wrath questions wilt away like a flower on a hot day.
Let us see which interpretation melts away like a flower in front of a packed audience.
Lastly, Joe writes,
Yes, we have all pretribulational speakers [at the upcoming prophecy conference] for a good reason. They teach the accuracy of the Word, unlike the pre-wrath position that has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.
Then you should have no hesitation to debate me and show God’s people in a public debate that prewrath “has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.”