I will address the interpretive criteria that pretrib interpreters have used in order to determine whether a biblical passage teaches imminence. Wayne A. Brindle gives four general criteria that have been used to establish imminence theology in pretribulation literature. Incidentally, Brindle does not give any explanations for his four criteria for imminence. This is a serious omission in his article that claims to argue for imminence. Instead, he simply asserts all four of statements of criteria in a brief paragraph and then quickly moves to his section on proof texts that purportedly teach imminence. Nevertheless, in this four part series, I will respond to each of his criteria since they are used to support pretribulationism.
Brindle states his first criterion:
- The passage speaks of Christ’s return as at any moment.
In this first criterion, the circular reasoning is immediately apparent. Brindle begins with his conclusion and uses it as evidence. This is classic begging the question. He is basically saying, “We know a passage teaches imminence, if it teaches imminence.” Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common practice of how pretrib teachers argue for imminence. It is not an overstatement to say that imminence as a theological axiom is ingrained so deeply in pretrib literature that they may not be aware that they are reasoning in a circle. Further, the criterion says, “The passage speaks . . .” But Brindle does not explain what he means by the vague term “speaks.” Evidently, he means that the passage teaches imminence. But this first criterion is supposed to give a reason how we know that it teaches imminence! The circular reasoning of this criterion reveals that the conclusion of imminence is being assumed, not argued for. He also uses the expression “Christ’s return,” which he fails to explain what he means by this expression. He thinks we should share his assumption that it refers to the supposed imminent return of Christ at the rapture excluding any events that must happen before the rapture. And this is exactly what he will assume in his second criterion. In short, this first criterion fails miserably to be an objective, valid principle of interpretation. It assumes what the interpreter wants to be true.