Three Views on the Rapture ~ Summary

With the recent rerelease of Zondervan’s latest edition of Three Views on the Rapture, people are bound to ask the big question, “So who won the debate?”  After any debate, critics from all sides will appear out of the woodwork to throw in their two cents offering critiques as to who appeared victorious and who just appeared.  After reviewing every section of the book, including the critiques, I now offer you my orange review of who the winners are in this round of debates.

If the contest concerned graciousness and charity, Douglas Moo would undoubtedly be the winner.  His conversation was worded so as to cause little hurt even though the disagreement was at times great.  He sincerely complimented those who he was critiquing.  In this category, Craig Blaising would be the loser.  His accusations many times crossed the line into areas that were not even being debated.  One example was whether or not one could call themself a Progressive Dispensationalist if they did not agree with him on one particular matter.  Another example is in calling a foundation “shallow”, which is a less than flattering term, rather than debate the foundation from scripture with a superior point of view.  Let others decide if the foundation is shallow.

Concerning the rapture debate proper, I believe the PreWrath Rapture was presented as the most scripturally sound position.  Hultberg did a fantastic job of keeping his thesis on the subject matter.  While Blaising may have done better in presenting the Olivet Discourse in such a way as to deal with Preterist objections more adequately, that was not the point of this debate.  In three clear passages, Matthew 24, Revelation 6-8, and Revelation 14-16, Hultberg outlined how the rapture would take place after the great tribulation, before God’s wrath, at the sixth seal/cosmic signs, at the coming of Christ, and beginning the Day of the LORD.  Blaising could only insist that he had previously proven that Daniel’s 70th week, the Day of the LORD, and the great tribulation were all interchangeable terms, something which he had not clearly done.  Moo had to rely on presenting the second coming as one simple event which takes place rather quickly, not allowing for an extended period of time.  When Moo conceded that Revelation could portray the rapture in the passages that Hultberg had suggested, he undermined his own position which stated that the rapture does not result in believers going to heaven, but instead are brought into the presence of Christ.  The passages [which Moo conceded could be the rapture] picture believers in heaven after the great tribulation and just before the wrath of God.

In second place would be the PostTrib position.  Moo presented clearly that the rapture occurs after the great tribulation.  He also showed that other positions make the end times more complex than they need to be by trying to separate Christ’s coming into different phases.  Scripture is united on the timing for Christ’s coming, each passage being complimentary to the other.  Where Moo lacked was in specifics concerning Revelation chronology, although he admitted upfront that Hultberg knew the subject better than he.  He also was vague when it came to how the Historicist viewpoint jived with other passages.  Sometimes the passage being quoted was Historicist in nature (having an ongoing fulfillment until the end of the age), but other times a passage in particular was not Historicist and Moo brought in an outside element.

In third place would be the PreTrib position.  Blaising has presented a better PreTrib outline than most others have.  He has evidence to support the Day of the LORD being an extended event, but when it came to proving that this extended event lasts seven years and is coextensive with Daniel’s 70th week, he could not make a clear case.  His detractors clearly showed that he was subtly presenting two second comings in order to have one line up with the scriptures and the other line up with his definition of imminence which leads to the PreTrib Rapture position.  Further, in Blaising’s critique of Moo, he suggests that there are two Day of the LORD complexes.  When faced with evidence that the Day of the LORD cannot begin until certain signs are fulfilled (i.e. Elijah, cosmic signs), his essential response was that the Day of the LORD complex would begin before the Day of the LORD begins.

Overall though, readers will be the ultimate winners.  Every rapture position shone forth that scripture was united on the second coming of Christ.  The Olivet Discourse passages, the Thessalonian letters, and the book of Revelation all were unanimously quoted, dissected, and presented as referring to the same second coming of Christ.  There was no attempt whatsoever on the part of any position to say that a certain book was speaking of a different second coming.  With all positions presenting such a united front, this will encourage every student of the end times to study, not just one or two end times passages, but every end times passage in the scriptures in order to be obedient to Christ’s teachings.  No matter what your rapture position, or who you believe won the debate, the result will be the same, increased study of the Word of God.  So what are we waiting for?  Let’s study God’s Word.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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3 Responses to Three Views on the Rapture ~ Summary

  1. ICA says:

    What would your opinion be on my articles here regarding the rapture? http://midnightwatcher.wordpress.com/articles-written-by-in-christ-alone/

    • Well hello there. That’s an awful broad question and a lot of material to cover. I can probably sum up some of the major issues briefly, but of course that is not going to do justice here in a comment.

      As a PreWrather (while you are a classic PostTribber), I see the trumpets as encompassing God’s wrath. The mention of God’s wrath at the sixth seal and seventh trumpet serves as bookends of sorts. There is a chronology to the progression [of the sixth seal, followed by the seventh seal, followed by the first trumpet] that is difficult to overcome. The fire and brimstone contained within the trumpets leads one to believe that this is the type of wrath upon the earth likened to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Luke 17 gives the comparison.

      On the subject of the temple in II Thess. 2, I would point to language in Daniel which was fulfilled to some extent during the days of Antiochus IV. Jesus pointed to Daniel’s phrase “abomination of desolation” for our understanding of this event. The end times antichrist is rooted in Daniel and our understanding of the A of D should be built upon that foundation. However, you word it that there could be a dual fulfillment, and I personally understand the arguments that are used to show that the church is a type of temple. I have written about this and point out that Herod’s temple was still standing and functioning while Paul wrote about this comparison, with Christian Jews even offering sacrifices at this temple while living out their Christian (Messianic) faith.

      As far as Gog/Magog, I have blogged several time that there are two different time periods spoken of. The first is at Armageddon which is the subject of Ezekiel 38:1-7 and 39:1-29. The operative word in 38:8 is “after many days” which shows that Ezekiel 38:8-23 is post-millennial. Ezekiel 38:4 and 39:2 both mention the “turning around” of Gog which results in the battle of Armageddon. I’m in agreement that no “pre-trib” event is spoken of.

      One other subject of note that I see you have written about is the identity of the 144,000. Part of my blog is to proclaim what I believe is the truth, but I also would like to learn. The relationship of the nation of Israel to believing Gentiles is something that I struggle with a position on. I see where you are coming from, but I don’t think I would agree completely. The 144,000 are on earth while the great multitude is in heaven. The parallel passage in Revelation 14:1-5 also gives this same idea with a multitude in heaven shown at Revelation 15:1-2-4. It would be difficult for me to concede that the 144,000 remain here on earth preserved through the trumpets, then are suddenly part of the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. While there is a unity to the people of God, I see the 144,000 as the believing remnant of Psalm 96 and Psalm 46 which endure God’s wrath to proclaim the message of salvation in the form of a new song. They are instrumental in the millennial kingdom in turning the nations to Christ. This is not the same as believing they evangelize the world in the midst of the great tribulation or during the Day of the LORD.

      I hope that helps you determine where I stand. If you have something specific you would like me to look at, please let me know.

      Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

      -The Orange Mailman

  2. Irving says:

    [Thanks, Orange Mailman. Have you run across this item which I just viewed on the net?]

    PRETRIB RAPTURE CENSORSHIP !

    How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He’s now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. (“The Rapture Question,” by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn’t dare to even list, in its scripture index, the too-hot-to-handle Acts 3:21!) Since Jesus can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends (Acts 2:34,35 echo this), the rapture therefore can’t take place before the end of the trib!
    Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The “rest” for “all them that believe” is tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who’d be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which is Israel’s posttrib resurrection!)
    Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this “rapture” was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” [“gathering”] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!).
    Other Google articles on the 181-year-old pretrib rapture view include “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “X-Raying Margaret,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Walvoord Melts Ice,” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” – all by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (see Armageddon Books).

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