A Quick Reply to Posttribulationists Michael Brown and Craig Keener and Their Misrepresentation of Prewrath

I appreciate much of the work that Dr. Brown has done (as I have promoted his material previously on this website), but I believe he has a blind spot on eschatology, particularly on the second coming of Christ.

A caller called into his show Line of Fire and asked if his guest Craig Keener is “prewrath.” He is not, he is a historicist posttriber. In addition, Keener is not familiar with the prewrath position because he misrepresented it, including Michael Brown in a recent program. Brown responded, with Keener’s agreement, to the caller regarding prewrath by saying: “we are not taken out any time before Jesus appears in glory.” That is the pretrib position, not the prewrath position! Prewrath teaches that we are raptured when Christ returns in glory (Mt 24:29-31; 1 Thess 4:15-17; 2 Thess 1:5-10; 2 Thess 2:8). The rapture is not disconnected from the second coming of Christ.  As well read in primary literature Keener is, I have my doubts that he has read any primary prewrath literature. I have poured over thousands of pages of post-trib literature, but we ask a small measure in return from other positions.

It is unfortunate that Keener and Brown misrepresents prewrath. I would love to come on his show and explain prewrath for his audience (perhaps some of you can write him and encourage him to do so).

In this program, I appreciate Michael Brown and Craig Keener’s critique against pretribulationism in some respects, but overall I thought their critiques against pretribulationism were weak. They are functioning from the traditional post-trib presuppositions that I have responded to over and over again.

One of these many flawed presuppositions is that they basically equate the great tribulation with the day of the Lord’s wrath. (Incidentally, I have had many ex-posttribbers—now prewrathers—tell me that the light bulb came on when they understand how prewrath explains that there is a distinction between these events). Keener even says in the show that the prewrath distinction between the great tribulation and the day of the Lord’s wrath is “semantic.” It is not semantic, because the biblical data is voluminous in showing that there is a period of tribulation before the wrath of God is poured out. Unfortunately, he does not provide a single response to his claim that it is “semantic.” Again, I do not believe he has actually read any primary prewrath literature.

At one point Brown said that “we want to be left behind!” Uhg. I recently refuted that ingorant notion and Keener’s misunderstanding of the Greek for “the flood swept them all away.”

Also, as great as a historian and New Testament scholar Keener is he commits the word-concept fallacy (to be sure he is not a Greek linguist, but one does not have to be to grasp this common lexical fallacy). And Brown who has a Ph.D. in linguistics (!) certainly must be aware of James Barr’s seminal work The Semantics of Biblical Language. But again, you do not have to be a linguist to avoid this simple and very common lexical fallacy.

Another error that Keener makes is stating that the Greek word apantēsis (meeting) in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 requires an “immediate descent to earth.” This is not true. In fact, recently, I devoted a program to this issue refuting the post-trib teaching.

I could go on and on about the flawed presuppositions that post-tribbers possess, but these examples suffice.

Brown and Keener are both historicist posttribulationists (e.g. they deny a future abomination of desolation, future great tribulation and a future seven-year period, and they do not make much of a future Antichrist, even though on paper they affirm it).

They have something in common with amillennialists (even though they are premill). And that is they view that when Christ returns it will be a simple event, not complex. When Jesus returns *snap* that’s it, basically. This is why they have to make the seals, trumpets, and bowls the same event, but I have refuted that notion before. Scripture teaches that the second coming of Christ will be a complex event with both the great tribulation and day of the Lord’s wrath unfolding over a period of time, not some punctiliar event where if you blink its basically all over.

I have a lot in common with Dr. Brown, particular on Israel’s future salvation and Jewish apologetics, but I have to take issue and challenge him on his form of post-tribulationism.


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