Many pretribulational churches place an “any moment rapture” affirmation in their statement of faith.
Typically it is found in the last statement under “Jesus’s Return” where after stating that they believe in the “personal, physical, visible return of Jesus,” an imminence statement is added.
This is problematic for several reasons:
i. There are no statements in the Bible that actually say to the effect that Jesus can return at any moment. They are pretribulation inferences (which they would admit) that are based on dubious presuppositions.
ii. The imminence statement is given the impression that it is equaled in value to the orthodox teaching of the “personal, physical, visible return of Jesus,” where the latter is explicitly taught in Scripture.
iii. There are super qualified men of God to be leaders in the church who are premillennial, futurist, affirm the future salvation of national Israel, but they believe that the church will suffer under the hands of the Antichrist before Jesus returns. Are you seriously telling me, Mr. Pretrib Church, that you will alienate this person from leadership or even as a member of your church because they don’t believe in an any moment rapture? Where is your perspective? What do you think God thinks about this?
iv. If you want to have a second tier statement of faith, why not relegate an any moment rapture to this secondary-level statement of faith?
v. This may extend to seminaries. Charles Cooper, who is African-American and was influential with a lot of minorities, was the most popular professor at Moody Bible Institute with the students. He was an outstanding professor of homiletics. He became persuaded that the prewrath view was the most biblical view. The higher-ups got wind of this and told him that he can have his private view of prewrath but publicly he must affirm pretrib. Cooper believed that he was being told to lie. So he ended up resigning from Moody. If I am not mistaken, he did not teach theology, but homiletics and hermeneutics. Moody lost a great professor and man of God because he dared to believe that the church would be persecuted greatly from the Antichrist (not God’s wrath) before Jesus returned.
vi. Finally, I actually think that most pretribulationists believe in imminence for an emotional reason. They make it into a bigger issue than it should. All prewrath is saying is that the church will experience its most intense persecution before Jesus returns and that we need to prepare ourselves today to remain faithful to Jesus. Believing that will, tragically, get you excluded from churches and seminaries today.