Critique of “The Pretribulation Rapture”
Fundamentalist Christians have a particularly unique way of interpreting and analyzing the bible. Such Christians view the Bible in literal terms, interpreting the scripture literally word for word. Christian fundamentality, essential believes the bible was verbally inspired by God, dispensing any possible misinterpretation and personally inspired writing by human beings. “The Pretribulation Rapture” by Todd Strandberg is one such fundamentalist view of the rapture. Strandberg directly interprets events and scriptures in the bible to justify the concept of pretribulation rapture as opposed to post-tribulation rapture. By directly quoting scriptures in the bible, Strandberg produces his scriptural evidence illustrating or prophesying the pretribulation rapture. Strandberg’s view is adopted by numerous fundamentalists and advocators of the pretribulation rapture theory. Nevertheless, this theory is not usually supported by Christians with other views, as such; this paper will compare the articles interpretation and understanding with the more accepted view.
One thing notable about the article is the author’s evidence is highly superficial and interpreted to suit his arguments. For instance, use of the phrase “comes up hither” from Revelation 4:1 to refer to the rapture of the church is farfetched as the phrase can also be interpreted in other ways, illustrating a lack of concrete evidence. The author’s understanding of the prophecy is based on a fundamentalist view and on the misinterpretation of the some of the scriptures. From reading the article, it is obvious the author is comfortable with using inferences and theological systems to derive his position on pretribulation rapture. For instance, the author uses contextual clues like the final week of Daniel (Daniel 9) as a sufficient basis to extend the notion of pretribulation rapture. Utilization of such scriptures with no solidity essentially places question marks the author’s claim of a pretribulation rapture. Notably, the lack of direct scriptural or textual support to the theory from the author impedes theological reasoning and is also unsupported by believers in “sola scriptura” who always question any position on the Bible that lacks any Biblical pronouncements. The author’s claim of the rapture is built on common-sense and shallow interpretation of the Bible. His understanding of the prophecy is based on rapture coming before the ensuing tribulation which will then be followed by the coming of Christ.
Objective reasoning from the author is illustrated at the beginning of the article when he quotes Apostle Paul where he claims the Apostle clearly gave a description of the rapture. However, these parts of the scripture are susceptible to other interpretations that may not bode with the author’s interpretations. Also, it begs belief whether Apostle Paul would merely use allusions and hints in his letters to illustrate an event as important as the rapture. As a pretribulationist, Strandberg fails to meet the threshold of clarity as any of the events he depicts in the article are not clearly illustrated with clarity anywhere in the scripture. In essence, his claim of pretribulation rapture becomes more like a theory than a certainty. The article illustrates several misconceptions derived from the wrongful interpretation of Apostle Paul letters. For instance, Paul never differentiates gathering he speaks to, to the gathering Jesus speaks to in Mathew 24. Careful reading of the texts illustrates no evidence of any chronology offered by Apostle Paul on pretribulation with Apostle Paul seemly speaking to the same folk as Jesus. More importantly, comparing Paul letters to the Thessalonians and Corinthians with Jesus’s message in Mathew 24, there are certain similarities that point to a post-tribulation rapture rather than a pretribulation rapture. For instance, there are similar words and phrases in both texts like “trumpets”, “coming of the lord” and “angels” among others. 2nd Thessalonians 1:7 does not illustrate rapture as illustrated by the author but rather a glorious second coming of Christ. At one point in 2nd Thessalonians, when the Thessalonians claim that “day of the lord has come”, Apostle Paul disputes this by saying it was not possible because the Anti-Christ has not been revealed and apostasy has not happened yet. At this point, Paul’s message draws similarity with Jesus’s teachings on the Abomination of desolation which should signal the second coming of Christ.
Strandberg’s arguments on pretribulation rapture seem to be derived from speculative theology. All the author’s arguments seem to be derived from conjecture. Like other pretribulationists, one of the author’s arguments is that a post-tribulation rapture fails to account for the people who will be left to populate the Millennium, allowing only a single possible outcome. In essence, this is unknown to both the pretribulationists and the post-tribulationists although it is accepted that Christ will rein the world for a thousand years with believers and the world will also be occupied by mortals. As such, this is susceptible to misinterpretation as illustrated by the article. It is always imperative to utilize direct Biblical prophecies when trying to interpret the Bible. The author’s believes seem to be clustered around fallacies that cannot be explained nor have better explanations than the ones offered. The author also argues on the aspect of imminence like other fundamentalist Christians. By interpreting the happenings in the world today, they claim the Church’s rapture appears imminent. However, referring to apocalyptic signs and the like is also a reference utilized by post-tribulationists creating a conflict. In addition, Jesus says no one will know the day or the time placing the argument of immanency into contention. The argument that the Church would the antichrist is also a subject that can be questioned. It is essentially an assumption that is not derived from any considerable proof. The Church is continually getting divided along many lines and this begs the question whether they would align to fight the antichrist at this current rate. In addition, the author uses Old Testament examples of Noah and Lot, how they were saved before God passed his wrath on the non-believers. From these examples, the author believes God will utilize the same methodology for the rapture. However, this is wrong analogy and wrongful assumptions. It is said the circumstances are unknown, thus illustrating the author’s arguments might be wrong.
In conclusion, Tom Strandberg claim of the pretribulation rapture is only an alternative argument to the post-tribulation rapture. In essence, no individual knows the exact dynamics of the rapture and whether the tribulations will come before and after the rapture. Nevertheless, the author’s arguments are weak, labored with weak misinterpretations and full of inconclusive assumptions which cannot be used to validate his claim. It is imperative when establishing a claim or a theory to always utilize direct Biblical evidence and allow theological reasoning. The author’s arguments on pretribulation rapture are well written and structured but lack strong credibility to change the view of post-tribulationists.
The Bible. Authorized King James Version. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.