Eschatos Ministries is dedicated to teaching biblical prophecy from a futurist, premillennial, prewrath perspective.
I replied to Andy Woods who thinks the prewrath position contradicts itself. He thinks prewrath believes the great tribulation will be the worse time ever for the world. And yet the Day of the Lord’s wrath with its trumpet and bowl judgments should be worse. He cited an article by George W. Zeller to make his argument.
The problem is that he is confusing categories and ignoring context. Further, prewrath does not believe the great tribulation will be the worse time for the world. We believe it will be the worse time for the church and Israel.
I talked about Matthew 24:21, Daniel 12:1, and Jeremiah 30:7 which all speak of an unprecedented period time. I examined their respective contexts, whether they apply to the church or Israel. Pretribs fail to take progressive revelation into account. They also are mistaken to think that God does not work with Israel and the church at the same time.
In short, I answered this pretrib objection to prewrath with Scripture. There is no contradiction when context is properly handled and flawed presuppositions are exposed.
John Nelson Darby: “No events, no earthly circumstances, intervene or modify the direct summons [to be raptured]….[T]here is no event, I repeat, between us and [being raptured to] heaven.”
Charles C. Ryrie: “An imminent event is one that is always ready to take place. Pretribs recognize that something may happen before an imminent event occurs, but they do not insist that anything must take place before it happens; otherwise, it would not be imminent” (emphasis his).
John Walvoord: “There is no teaching of any intervening event. The prospect of being taken to heaven at the coming of Christ is not qualified by description of any signs or prerequisite events.”
J. Dwight Pentecost: “To the church no such signs were ever given. The church was told to live in the light of the imminent coming of the Lord to translate them in His presence.…The doctrine of imminence forbids the participation of the church in any part of the seventieth week.”
John A. Sproule: “Christ can return for His Church at any moment and that no predicted event will intervene before that return” (emphasis his).
John MacArthur: “There are no other events that must occur on the prophetic calendar before Christ comes to meet us in the air. He could come at any moment.”
Robert L. Thomas: “By common consent imminence means that no predicted event will precede the coming of Christ.”
Thomas Ice: “[I]mminency means that the rapture could take place at any moment. While other events may take place before the rapture, no event must precede it. If prior events are required before the rapture, then the rapture could not be described as imminent” (emphasis his).
Renald Showers: “Other things may happen before Christ’s coming, but nothing else must happen before it takes place. If something else must happen before it can take place, then it is not imminent. The necessity of something else taking place first destroys the concept of the imminent coming of Christ.”
Mark Hitchcock: “First, imminency means that, from the human perspective, the Rapture could occur at any moment. Other events may take place before the Rapture, but no event must precede it.…Second, imminency means that the Rapture is a signless event.…Third, imminency means that the Rapture is certain to happen, but not necessarily soon” (emphasis his).
*For the bibliography of these quotes, see my forthcoming book responding to pretrib imminence.
LINKS MENTIONED IN PROGRAM:
In this episode I gave an overview of my forthcoming book responding to pretrib imminence theology. I read the Introduction to the book which included the contents of the book as well. It will be a comprehensive critique of the flawed doctrine of the imminency of Jesus’ return.
I also encouraged listeners to contribute to the fundraising campaign to help pay for the publishing expenses. You can find the campaign page here.
Pretribulational eschatology teaches that the rapture is “signless” or “unannounced,” while the second coming will be preceded by signs and thus “announced.” There cannot be any intervening prophetic events or signs that will occur before the rapture. Hence, it can happen at any moment. If just a single, biblical, prophesied event happens before the rapture, then Christ’s return can no longer be considered imminent.
This is why I have always found it ironic—and contradictory—that it is pretribulationists who seem to be fixated about this or that prophetic sign happening right now. Many of the popular sensational pretrib teachers cannot resist talking about “signs” happening at the present time, not realizing it is inconsistent with their imminence theology. This is the case for Calvary Chapel pretrib pastors and teachers as well as a host of other pretrib teachers from other denominational circles.
I talked about the pervasive emotional attachment that many pretrib believers have toward the notion of of imminency. I also read a pertinent selection from S. P. Tregelles’s The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming on sentiment and emotion.
“Perhaps today!” is the expression that many of us have probably heard as children if you grew up in a Christian home. As a child doing something wrong the notion that Jesus could return at that “moment” could be frightening. Many of us were told that we needed to confess our sins before we fell asleep that night, lest Jesus came back in our sleep. In Sunday School we were taught that Jesus is at the door and he can open it “at any time.” As a teenager I would frequently hear sermons at youth conferences warning, “What if Jesus came back while you were at a movie theater?” In short, the idea that Jesus’ return is imminent is stock language in many denominational circles, some more than others.
This looming axiom is intended—successfully or not—to prepare us to meet Jesus. But is it true? Is it what Jesus and the biblical writers actually taught? We all know that if something is repeated enough it becomes accepted as if it is true, even unquestionable! But sometimes we do have to step back and reexamine our traditions. As Christians we should not be afraid to do this. If it is God’s truth, then it will be shown to to be truth. If something is true and we have biblically challenged it showing that it is truth, we will be even more confident than we were before. However, if we never challenge an entrenched traditional belief that we possess that in reality is false, we will continue to believe a falsehood—and not knowing it is false. In short, the Bible teaches us that we need to be Bereans who “were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
I understand that we can have emotionally attachments to particular biblical teachings from our youth. Perhaps our heroes of the faith hold to imminence, or even our pastors and family members. But we must not fall into the fallacious mindset of “If they are wrong on imminence, then what else are they wrong on?” No one consistently has perfect doctrine, even your pastor or theological hero. That does not mean that you begin to doubt everything they ever taught you. It is not either or: They have to be perfect in every doctrinal point or they are wrong on every point. We have to practice the maturity to distinguish emotional attachments to our tradition from what is genuinely God’s truth. We need to frequently examine our traditional beliefs with much prayer, reliance on the Holy Spirit, and sound biblical interpretation. After all, don’t we want to believe what is true? It is spiritually healthy to do so.
We are living in an increasingly irrational, non-thinking, even anti-thinking society. Emotion, feelings, sentiment rules the today. Black is white, white is black. Evil is good, good is evil. What feels right, is right. What I want to be true—is true! Who are you to say what is right and wrong. It is the consequences of decades of post-modern thought affecting all aspects of life. And sadly, it has also contaminated much of the way the church thinks about the truth of God revealed in his Word. Theological affirmations for many believers is true only if it conforms to their feeling and cultural norms.
In the past two decades that I have been interacting with pretribulationists—both layperson and educated—I have observed that many of them affirm imminence out of sentimentality having emotional attachments for one reason or the other. They affirm imminency, because they want it to be true. Indeed, wanting something to be true is not a bad thing in and of itself. But the impression I have been given over the last couple of decades—and I have interacted with innumerable pretrib believers!—is that the emotion for imminence to be true comes first, then if pressed to give evidence for this, they will cite the aforementioned proof texts to support their sentiment for their tradition. I know this to be the case, because of their emotional arguments as if I had just undermined their Christian faith! “You are stealing my blessed hope.” “You are threatening my readiness for Christ’s return.” “Jesus would never put his Bride through an awful time.”
One of the most noted Greek scholars of the nineteenth century was the English Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1813–1875). When pretribulationism emerged he challenged the “secret rapture” view head on in 1864 writing his The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming. This classic little book is still worth reading today filled with nuggets in every chapter. One of the chapters included in his book is “Sentiment and Emotion: The Truth of God.” It is devoted to the danger and folly of accepting the “any moment” teaching because of how one feels. That is not how we recognize the truth of God. Because his chapter speaks so well to this emotional argument for imminence, I selected a few portions to read for the program.
Pretribulational theology teaches that the rapture will happen pre-tribulational—before the “tribulation” period.
The sine qua non of pretribulationism is the belief in “imminency.” There are variations of this term: “imminent”: “imminence,” and “any moment.” The older terminology used the terms “secret coming” or “secret rapture.” Imminency is the heart of pretribulationism.
Pretribulationism defines this notion in a more narrow, technical meaning to fit their theology. Jesus’ imminent return is not just “near,” it means, “no prophesied events must happen before the return of Christ.” That is, there are no intervening prophetic events or signs that must occur between the Ascension and the rapture. By “Christ’s return,” they namely mean the rapture. It can happen at “any moment.” If just a single, biblical, prophesied event must happen before the rapture, then Christ’s return can no longer be considered imminent. In their system all end-time events prophesied in the Bible will happen after the rapture. So the next event for the church on the “prophetic calendar” is the rapture. Often you will hear them use the terminology that the rapture is “signless” or “unannounced” while the second coming will be preceded by signs and thus announced.
How many times have we heard, “Jesus may come at any moment.” Imminence is the holy grail of pretribulationism; however, on closer examination it is based on a tradition, not Scripture.
In addition, pretribulationism is a relatively new British-American teaching in church history originating in the nineteenth century. If it is found in other parts of the world today, it is only because it has been exported by American and British pretribulational missionaries.
Give this pamphlet out to your friends and I am sure it will stimulate a discussion about our Lord’s return and help introduce them to prewrath eschatology.
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