August 8, 2014

Taylor and Piper versus The Rapture

by Lyndon Unger

***Update from August 11 – In the light of the meltdown that this post has caused, and in response to a friend who gave me a little “what for” with regards to this post, I’ve gone through and attempted to edit it and soften my responses as much as possible.  This is a touchy subject matter and I didn’t treat either John Piper or Justin Taylor with the respect that they deserve.  We’re all works in progress…some with more room for progress than others…sigh***

A few days ago, I had an article passed on to me called Nine Reasons We Can Be Confident Christians Won’t Be Raptured Before The Tribulation from Justin Taylor’s blog, in which he was summarizing/re-blogging an article by John Piper.  A bunch of folks got worked up (on the internet?  What?), but my superiors asked me to respond and so I agreed to write a response.  Now I’m no stranger to disagreement and my various theological positions that have essentially made me the sweaty asthmatic nerd on the playground of Evangelicalism (nobody likes an outspoken cessationist who is Calvinistic and dispensational), so I’ve basically got nothing to lose!

Nerd

Justin Taylor linked to this article by John Piper and delivers nine reasons why he finds the concept of the pre-tribulational rapture problematic.  Let’s take a look at each one in full, and I’ll post my responses in green:

Point 1. The word for “meeting” the Lord in the air in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (apantesin) is used in two other places in the New Testament: Matthew 25:6 and Acts 28:15. In both places it refers to a meeting in which people go out to meet a dignitary and then accompany him in to the place from which they came out. One of these, Matthew 25:6, is even a parable of the second coming and so a strong argument that this is the sense of the meeting here in 1 Thess. 4:17—that we rise to meet the Lord in the air and then welcome him to earth as king.

The word is used in three other places; Matthew 25:1, 25:6; and Acts 28:15.  In Matthew 25:1 & 6 the word is used of the ten virgins going out to meet the bridegroom (not really a dignitary) and Acts 28:15 involves a passing mention of how the Christians at Rome came out to meet Paul (but says nothing about accompanying him back, though they no doubt did).  I’d dare suggest that attempting to construct a nuanced meaning beyond the idea of “going forth to meet someone”,  especially when the term occurs three times in the NT, is somewhat reaching.  Ignoring that all, the whole idea can easily work within a pre-tribulational framework even if the nuanced definition is intact: Christ removes the church from the world, they’re with him during the tribulation, and the raptured believers accompany Christ to earth (after the tribulation) where he’s welcomed as king. This is, at best, a wet noodle slap against the idea of the rapture…but he’s got eight more points to make!

Noodle-Slap

Point 2. The wording of 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7, when read carefully, shows that Paul expects to attain rest from suffering at the same time and in the same event that he expects the unbelievers to receive punishment, namely, at the revelation of Jesus with mighty angels in flaming fire. This revelation is not the pre-tribulational rapture but the glorious second coming. Which means that Paul did not expect an event at which he and the other believers would be given rest seven years before the glorious appearing of Christ in flaming fire. Vengeance on unbelievers and rest for the persecuted church come on the same day in the same event.

This whole line of reasoning seems to assume post-tribulationalism.  God will “repay with affliction those who afflict you” (vs. 6) and “to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us” (vs. 7).  When will this occur? This will occur “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels” (vs. 8).  This will also occur “when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (vs. 10). What’s interesting is that the NET translates vs. 7 as “and to you who are being afflicted to give rest together with us”.  There’s a case to be made here (which I won’t go into due to issues of length) that Paul and those with him will have already been given rest at the time of the revealing of the Lord, and those who are afflicted at that time will join Paul (and those with him) in the rest they already experience.

Also, vs. 10 speaks of Christ being “glorified in his saints” and (separate category), “marveled at among all who have believed“.  If pre-tribulationalism is true, it would make sense that the dead believers (who are now sinless and awaiting the resurrection) are the “saints” where as Christians who survive the tribulation are the “all who have believed”, seeing that they’re neither (totally) sinless nor glorified at that time.  If they’re all just one category, it’s strange that Paul so clearly talks about two separate categories of people who celebrate the second coming.

Point 3. The wording of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 suggests that the “assembling to meet him” is the same as “the day of the Lord” about which they are confused. But the assembling is the “rapture” and “the day of the Lord” is the glorious second coming. They appear to be one event.

Supporting this is the reference to “gathering” the elect in Matthew 24:31. Here there is a gathering (same word) but it is clearly a post-tribulational context. So there is no need to see the gathering and the day of the Lord in 2 Thessalonians as separate events.

I don’t understand why these two passages need to be discussing separate events.  If Matthew 24:31 is clearly a post-tribulational gathering (and I’d suggest that it is the gathering of the elect at the end of the tribulation), then why is the “being gathered together” in 2 Thessalonians 1:1 not post-tribulational as well, especially seeing that 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8 talks at length about the revealing of the “man of lawlessness”; the AntiChrist?  The Thessalonians were confused about two events that were both in the distant future.  If the assembling isn’t the rapture (and I’d suggest it isn’t), then this whole argument doesn’t seem to be as strong as it first appears.

Point 4. If Paul were a pre-tribulationist why did he not simply say in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 that the Christians don’t need to worry that the day of the Lord is here because all the Christians are still here? Instead he talks just the way you would expect a post-tribulational person to do. He tells them that they should not think that the day of the Lord is here because the apostasy and the man of lawlessness have not appeared. . . .

This assumes post-tribulationalism again.  If the day of the Lord (the specific “day of the Lord”, not the general time period) is at the end of the tribulation (after all that stuff about the man of lawlessness occurs), then Paul’s not lying to them.  He’s just not saying “don’t worry, you won’t be here”…but that assumes that no Christians will be around for the tribulation.  Pre-tribulationalists all believe that many people will get saved in the tribulation (though most of them won’t last long), and the scriptures are written for them too, not just us.

Nemo-disneyscreencaps_com-8201

Point 5. When you read Matthew 24 or Mark 13 or Luke 21, which are Jesus’ descriptions of the end times, there is no mention of a rapture removing believers from the events of the end. A normal reading gives no impression of a departure. On the contrary, he talks as if the believing listeners and then the readers would or could experience the things he mentions. See Mt. 24:4, 9, 15, 23, 25f, 33, etc.

See previous comment.  Also, why exactly does Jesus (or anyone else) have to give every detail of the entire program of eschatology every time he mentions the subject?  Did Jesus do that on any other subject?  Did any biblical writer do that with any other subject?

Point 6. Going through tribulation, even when it is appointed by God, is not contrary to Biblical teaching. See especially 1 Peter 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10; Hebrews 12:3-11. But even so, Revelation 9:4 suggests that the saints will be in some measure protected in the time of distress by the seal of God.

1 Peter 4:17 suggests that Christians will go through the tribulation?  I don’t see how that’s the case in that passage.

1 Thessalonians 1:3-10?  That passage says that we’ll go through the tribulation?  Verse 10 says “…Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”  Call me crazy, but that sounds like believers are not going to face the wrath to come. 

Hebrews 12:3-11 somehow suggest that Christians will endure the tribulation?  Is God’s disciplining of believers somehow the same as the coming end-time tribulation?  General references to “tribulation” or “suffering” aren’t the same as specific references to “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) or the “great tribulation” that is unequaled from the beginning of history (Matthew 24:21) and is a specific time of tribulation (Matthew 24:29; Revelation 7:14).  It honestly seems that some post-tribulationalists seem to, in practice, operate as if “suffering” and “tribulation” and “discipline” and “wrath” are all generally synonymous in the scripture.

Finally, Revelation 9:4 suggests that Christians will have some measure of protection?  Well, not if 1 Peter 4:17 and Hebrews 12:3-11 are what we’re talking about!  1 Peter and Hebrews suggest the exact opposite; the struggle/discipline mentioned in those passages starts with the church and is specifically worse for unbelievers (i.e. Hebrews 12:7-8).  What’s being suggested (at least in a roundabout way), is that the Lord will protect believers from his own discipline of them that’s supposed to produce a harvest of righteousness.  Call me crazy again, but that seems incredibly strange…

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Point 7. The commands to “watch” do not lose their meaning if the second coming is not an any-moment one. See Matt. 25:1-13 where all ten maidens are asleep when the Lord returns. Yet the lesson at the end of the parable is, “Watch!” The point is that watching is not gazing up for an any-moment-return of the Lord; it is the moral vigilance that keeps you ready at all times doing your duty—the wise maidens had full lanterns! They were watchful!

Nor does the teaching that the second coming will be unexpected lose its force if post-tribulationism is true. See Luke 12:46 where the point is that if a servant gets drunk thinking that his master is delayed and will not catch him-that very servant will be surprised and taken off guard. But as 1 Thess. 5:1-5 says, “You (believers) are not in darkness for that day to surprise you like a thief.” We still teach that great moral vigilance and watchfulness is necessary lest we be lulled asleep and fall prey to the deceits of the last days and be overtaken in the judgment.

The commands to watch involve the imminence of the rapture component of the second coming, not descent to earth and destruction of unbelievers component of the second coming.  And why quote 1 Thessalonians 5:4?  1 Thessalonians 5:3-4 reads:

 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.

So will the day of the Lord surprise believers?  No?  So how exactly does that work?  How can believers be not surprised at an event that might happen at any time?  Could it be that the rapture is the imminent any moment event that comes without any warning or preceding signs and the tribulation and second coming (as in the specific second coming where Christ descends from Heaven, destroys his enemies, gathers the surviving believers from around the world, etc.) comes with a whole lot of signs that unbelievers won’t see for what they are? (like all the stuff mentioned in Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2, Revelation 3-19, etc.).  Just thinking out loud here.

Point 8. The strongest pre-tribulational text, Rev. 3:10, is open to another interpretation without any twisting. It says, “Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth.” But to “be kept for the hour of testing” is not necessarily to be taken out of the world during this hour, and thus spared suffering. Compare Gal. 1:4 and Jesus’ prayer for his disciples in John 17:15where to “keep from” does not mean physical removal. And notice the inevitability of martyrdom in Rev. 6:9-11. The promise is to be guarded from the hour in the sense of being guarded from the demoralizing forces of that hour.

So “keep from” doesn’t necessitate physical removal because it doesn’t mean that in Galatians 1:4 or John 17:15?  The phrase “keep from” (tereo + ek) only occurs in Revelation 3:10 and John 17:15, though the verb tereo occurs another 73 times in the New Testament.  John 17:15 is also clearly talking about an absence of physical removal, so I’ll give John Piper (and Justin Taylor) the point on the verb here…they’re certainly right.  The question then follows: what is the Father keeping believers from?  Tribulation?  The hour of trial that is coming on the whole world?  No.  John 17 uses the verb tereo multiple times:  The believers have kept (tereo) God’s word (John 17:6), Jesus asks the Father to “keep (tereo) them in your name” (John 17:11) and Christ says that he has “kept (tereo) them in your name” (John 17:12).  The “keep them from the evil one” in John 17:16 is in the immediate context of sustaining the salvation of believers and protecting them from temptation, not shielding them from trial or tribulation.  In other words, John 17:16 is talking about something totally different than Revelation 3:10.  The fact that a verb means one thing in one passage doesn’t mean it means the same thing somewhere else in scripture.

Galatians 1:4 is a totally different word (exaireo), so the point doesn’t even hold up there.  Not only that, but if the hour of trial in Revelation 3:10 (a time of trial) is coming on the whole world to try those who dwell upon the earth (i.e. everyone who lives on planet earth), and Christ will keep believers from that hour, where on earth would they be placed where they would not face that trial?  There may not be an obvious indication of physical removal, but it definitely makes more sense than twisting the passage into some sort of arbitrary metaphor.

banjo

Revelation 6:9-11 makes just as much sense if there have been martyrs throughout history and in the tribulation.  The promise isn’t to be “guarded from the demoralizing forces of that hour” but rather kept “from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth.”  That’s pretty broad spectrum talk and would make sense if the church is removed, but the gospel will still be going forth with massive fruit in the tribulation.  Many people will get saved and many people will get murdered for their faith.

Point 9. The second coming does not lose its moral power in post-tribulationism. New Testament moral incentive is not that we should fear being caught doing evil, but that we should so love the appearing of the Lord that we want to be pure as the Lord is pure, for whom we hope, as 1 John 3:1-3 says.

Okay…but does the moral power/thrust of any eschatological position indicate whether or not it’s true?  The only thing I’m concerned about is whether or not it is derived from the reasonable and accurate exegesis of scripture.  Pre-tribulationalists also long for the appearing of the Lord and strive for purity in the light that our master may return at any moment.  We too hold to that hope and attempt to obey John 3:1-3.

So that sums up my response to his article.

Now I celebrate the life and ministry of both John Piper (who gave me my wife) and Justin Taylor (who’s done wonderful work at Crossway).  I understand that they’re not on the same page as me when it comes to hermeneutics and, as a result, eschatology.  I also know that many who have left pre-tribulational circles (as well as other circles that people love to hate) tend to have had painful encounters with with ignorant, judgmental or even vindictive elders.

I get that.  I know that there’s bad defenders of pre-tribulationalism out there, and I get that there’s obnoxious arguments and graceless “end times evangelists” who teach ideas about the end times that are laughable.

That being said, I also get the idea from a lot of ex-pre-trib fellows that a majority of their understanding of pre-tribulationalism comes from crabby elders and silly extra-biblical ideas that they rejected in their youth (I too was caused to suffer through Jack Van Impe videos).  When I have conversations with ex-pre-tribs, I regularly learn that many of them haven’t done much serious reading of pre-tribulationalism in their recent adult years, and generally assume that the theological convictions they reached when they were young are mature and settled, although they wouldn’t ever say that about any other point in their theology.  That’s kinda the first think I thought when I saw that the article was from 1987…Has John Piper gone back to the topic in the last 27 years?  Has he grown on his understanding of this topic since then, or has he simply stuck with his convictions from 1974 (when he was 28 and fresh out of school) that were rightfully reactionary against a bad expression of pre-tribulationalism (I too disliked Hal Lindsey’s best-selling book), but sadly were parroting the same old arguments that have been soundly refuted time and again?

I just had to get that point off my chest.

Now, home for ice cream and Cranford!

Lyndon Unger

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Lyndon is a pastor/teacher who’s currently between ministry work and in the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Witness Protection program. If you think you saw him somewhere...you didn’t.
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  • Lyndon Unger

    I was directed to another response here:

    http://www.randywhiteministries.org/2014/08/07/piper-picked-peck-piddly-proposals/

    I haven’t read it all, but it looks good.

    Apparently something about post-tribulationalism makes pre-tribbers want to alliterate the letter “p”. No idea why…

  • Doug Evans

    Maybe I’m just a buck-toothed idiot but these questions come to mind:

    Is allegiance to pre vs post tribulation a vital portion of the plan to my salvation?

    Did Paul say that we are saved by faith in John Darby’s perception of Doctrine?

    Did Jesus command us to love each other, unless we disagree then name calling and backstabbing is vital to retaining his love and forgiveness?

    I’d hate to count the times that I’ve been damned to hell for my heretical views on Darby’s doctrine by “Christians”. Personally I’m beginging to believe that the only proper response to an invitation to the pre vs trib debate is found in Exodus 14:14

    BTW, These are legitimate, serious questions. Do you have a legitimate serious answer?

    • elainebitt

      The fact that we are not saved according to our eschatological views doesn’t mean we are not to study other doctrines contained in the bible. Your implied argument is a strawman.

      • Doug Evans

        You ignored my point, and no strawmen lost their lives in this argument. This is a real issue that really needs to go away. Would you like a list of pre/post trib websites that are convinced that the other side is damned to hell because of their stand on the timing of something that even Jesus says he doesn’t know when is going to happen?

        Personally I am a Pan-milleniallist: God is in charge so it’s all going to pan out in the end

        • elainebitt

          Doug, if there are such websites, there are many more wrong issues with what they believe other than saying non-premills will go to hell. I am not saying they don’t exist, it’s just that I don’t really waste time with that type of crowd.

          But here’s what I see from your above comment: Jesus doesn’t know (didn’t know) when, and premillennianism is about about the timing of His Second Coming, but the Millennial Kingdom. You are a bit confused on these two subjects.

        • Lyndon Unger

          Now we’re getting somewhere.

          Was Jesus a Pan-millennialist? Did he ever say “don’t worry about it? It’ll all work out in the end so don’t worry about it!”

          No. No he didn’t.

          But in essence, you’re actually suggesting that Jesus was wasting his time with things like the Olivet discourse, and his teaching on the matter either isn’t adequately clear or isn’t REALLY worth working through.

          Do you do that with any other issues of theology?

          Creationism?
          The deity of Christ?
          The Trinity?
          The Gospel?
          Spiritual Gifts?
          The ordination of women?
          Penal Substitutionary Atonement?
          Homosexuality?

          There are plenty of websites that take aggressively different positions on all those doctrines, and most of those websites claim quite loudly to be unquestionably right; the faithful believers who “get it” where as those who disagree with them are basically imbeciles or blinded by the devil.

          The fact that there is heated debate doesn’t mean that God hasn’t revealed his position on the issue in the scriptures. It’s up to us to do our best to ascertain what that position is.

          • m

            “The fact that there is heated debate doesn’t mean that God hasn’t
            revealed his position on the issue in the scriptures. It’s up to us to
            do our best to ascertain what that position is.”

            Amen! And more often than not the real issue isn’t about “[ascertaining] what that position is.” It’s about quelling our pride, recognizing our sinful nature, and submitting to the truth of Scripture.

          • Lyndon Unger

            Agreed…and if it weren’t for the pride, sinful natures, and lack of submission to scripture, this whole debate would be a whole lot more enjoyable (for everyone on all sides).

        • m

          So what do you with Paul when he writes to the Thessalonians on the subject of eschatology and told them “we do not want you to be uninformed”. Seems to me we should be concerned about being obedient to God in “not being uninformed”.

    • Andrew Bussell

      I couldn’t agree more in saying that these issues don’t directly deal with personal salvation. No one is saved or damned based on their doctine of the triulation; salvation is through faith in the effective work of Christ. That being said, it seems youre assuming that the only things that really matter are those that pertain to salvation. I would challenge you to think through the implications of that way of thinking. Is that inherently man-centered? What does God view as important?

      From a human perspective salvation is certain the most pertinent issue, but I would argue that our Lord’s main concern is his own Glory, which extend far beyond just the salvation of man (e.x. Christ will be glorified when he conquers his enemies in the 2nd coming). As believers under his grace we can ascribe glory to him through these multifaceted means (including but not limited to salvation). On another point, if our God is a God of detail, then we have a responsibility to be detailed in our understanding of Him.

      Regarding the websites youve encountere, it certainly is sinful to be hateful, arrogant, unloving towards other believers whom you disagree with theologically. But I would argue that it’s also sinful to be on the polar end of the issue and not care about or discuss with others what God has revealed about himself. What Lyndon has done, as well as Justin Taylor, is engage in God glorifying issues with love and respect for one another and are coworkers in the work of the Gospel, but its far more important that we are precise and accurate when it comes to how we handle the Word of God.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Why would I think you’re a buck-toothed idiot? I’m the one who gets treated that way for being pre-tribulational. I’ve read enough of the post-trib and mid-trib folks to know they’re not idiots…just working from some inconsistent or categorically different hermeneutics than myself (not that all pre-trib folks are consistent either…I can only speak for myself on that.)

      Is allegiance to pre vs post tribulation a vital portion of the plan to my salvation?

      No…unless it becomes a component of the gospel that cause you to separate and condemn fellow believers for not holding your own personal theology. That goes for everyone on all sides of the debate.

      Did Paul say that we are saved by faith in John Darby’s perception of Doctrine?

      No…but Jesus had hard words for folks who disregard the scriptures or replace them with their own batch of rules and beliefs. That goes for everyone on all sides of the debate.

      Did Jesus command us to love each other, unless we disagree then name calling and backstabbing is vital to retaining his love and forgiveness?

      No. Who’s doing that again? Where did I call Justin Taylor or John Piper names in the article above?

      Are you looking for more? I’m not sure what you’re looking for really…I’d like to point out that I didn’t condemn anyone to Hell in the article above, but you couldn’t help but slap me in the face with your “legitimate” questions.

      Darby? Really?

  • Todd

    Dispensationalism……… Celebrating being 50 years older than Azusa Street. Lol!! I’m just kidding. I am not a pretribber but those who hold that viewpoint have richly helped me in ministry and life in general. So to you guys, Warren Wiersbe, John Phillips, Swindoll, ect and ect Thanks!! Now I have questions for anyone who chooses to answer.

    1. Rev. 1:9 – John explicitly asserts that he was a partner in the tribulation.Could someone please explain how this tribulation is different from the “great tribulation”?

    2. The term “great tribulation” is used in Rev. 2:22; 7:14; Acts 7:11 & Matt. 24:21 could someone please explain why this term is a technical term for a 7 year period in Matt. 24 and Rev. 7 but it is not viewed as a technical term in the other two texts that were mentioned. Neither context explicitly asserts a 7 year period.

    3. What do dispensationalists believe about the term “last day”. John 6:39, 40, 44, 54 and 11:24 all indicate that the Lord will raise people on the “last day”. He didn’t tell Martha what I mean is 7 years prior (you got punked!) or if you say “well it was a mystery”, that implies the Lord is misleading those in John 6 and is going to come back and say Gotcha! How do pretribbers define “last day” raising in John’s gospel?

    4. Do you believe resurrected bodies live in Heaven for 7 years and come back to live on earth for a 1000 years??? Really? If you do that’s fine but just want to be sure.

    5. How do you explain an any moment rapture when Peter, John, Luke or Paul obviously believed that certain events had to take place before the Lord’s return? According to Luke, Paul knew he had to go to Jerusalem first. According to John Peter knew he would become an old man and die. These are explicit verses, how do dispensationlists explain this?

    Well, to everyone who has been made to feel like they are not a Christian because of their eschatological stance let me share with you Warren Wiersbe’s words “Better to be on the Lord’s welcoming committee than on the Lord’s planning committee”!!!! WELL SAID!!!!

    2nd Cor. 13:14 & 3rd John 2 to all you brothers who love the Lord’s appearing!!!!!!

    • Fred Butler

      I am kind of unsure what you are advocating here? Are you dissing Premillennialism (which is an eschatological system existing before Augustine created Amillennialism), or Dispensationalism (which is an historical theology systematized maybe 150-200 years after covenant theology was systematized in the mid-to-late 1600s), or pre-tribulationism (which is a view point in a sub-set of Dispensational Premillennialism regarding the specific events related to how eschatology plays out). Identifying your point of view may help in tightening up any responses so that we are not chasing ridiculous rabbit trails.

      • Todd

        Hey Fred, how are you? Thanks for responding, friend.
        Fred the reason you are unsure of what I am advocating is because I’m not advocating anything here.
        I asked 5 explicit questions which you did not address. Could you explain to me how my “point of view” has anything to do with answering the questions posed? By the way, I am not being sarcastic. Wise man told me “criticism either helps you or the one criticizing”. So if knowing my point of view helps in answering these questions please explain how.

        However, the questions still remain. If you or anyone would like to answer these questions I would love to hear your explanations. Even if we come to a different conclusion I would certainly appreciate the feedback.

        So anyone who would like to answer those 5 direct, explicit questions I would appreciate it.

        Fred thank you for your feedback and thank you for your post if you are the same Fred from Hipandthigh let me say that your response to Michael Brown was very helpful and I thank you!!

        God Bless you all!!!

        • Fred Butler

          Todd,
          You’re point of view helps in clarifying where you are coming from as far as the hermeneutics you employ to interpret the text. If you are either an amillennialist, or its red-head step sister, postmillennialist, how you engage the text will telegraph the conclusions you draw when you interpret prophetic passages. This is doubly true if you adhere to some variety of preterism.

          I can certainly give you my understanding of those texts from a historical-grammatical perspective, leaving none of your questions remaining unanswered. But if you are someone who insists my approach is untenable or unworkable, you will only be unsatisfied with my answers.

          Glad you enjoyed the Brown reviews, btw. Thankful they could be helpful.

          • Todd

            Thanks for responding!

            That is why I never advocated a position. Some, not you or others here but some, have their system, and force their system to explain the text instead of the text determining their system.

            Full disclosure, this fall our Church will be hosting a conference on eschatology. This is why this post is of such extreme interest to me.

            Also, rather I find your approach untenable or unworkable or am unsatisfied with your conclusions is completely secondary to my supreme appreciation in your willingness to engage, sharpen and share your points. In short, I’m not someone that wants to bicker. (PLUS I AM UNSATISFIED WITH HALF MY SERMONS, SERIOUSLY!!!!)

            One last request to you directly. Would you mind looking over some of my conference materials? (Its only like 3 to 4 pages one sided and a powerpoint) If you could give me some feedback on what to add or leave out or highlight that would be extremely helpful.

            Thanks again brother,

            3rd John 2

          • Fred Butler

            Sure. Contact me through my web page, hipandthigh.wordpress.com. Email is posted under the “About” tab. FWIW, and to troll a little bit, I did write up a series of blog posts on eschatology that can be found under my Articles tab.

    • Lyndon Unger

      1. The clause is “John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus”. There’s three components there, and they’re all things that the believers are currently facing. The believers were facing tribulation, were part of the kingdom, and were patiently enduring.

      It seems fairly clear that those were all present realities, and yet John clearly talks about the tribulation in Rev. 3-18 as a future reality, so the tribulation he was partners with the believers in isn’t the same tribulation as the other one he had unveiled to him in the prophecy of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

      2. In Rev. 2:22, that “great tribulation” is aimed at a specific person and is escaped by repentance (read vs. 20-22). That’s clearly not true of “the great tribulation” that John talks about in Rev. 3-18. That tribulation is global and isn’t escaped by repentance.

      In Acts 7:11 that great tribulation was caused by famine, was escaped by moving to Egypt, and is a past tense occurrence. The coming great tribulation is global, inescapable, and is a future event that hasn’t happened yet.

      3. Last day is a term meaning “final day”. It’s a generic reference to a general time period (i.e like saying “the end”), and the timing of the resurrection isn’t the point being made in John 6 or John 11. You’re stretching the text to try to make it suggest something with a level of precision that isn’t there. I also don’t speak for all dispensationalists…

      4. No. Why would I think that resurrected bodies are in Heaven?

      5. This may be REALLY hard for you to grasp, but there are those of us who don’t mash all eschatology texts together into some sort of “end times goulash”.

      The rapture is any moment.

      The tribulation is not any moment, but will be preceded with signs…as will the return of Christ at the end of the tribulation (namely, the tribulation itself will be a sign that unbelievers will completely miss). The day of the Lord is not the rapture, but the rapture may possibly be included as a component in the time period marked by the general label of “day of the Lord” or “last day” or “that day”.

      You also forgot to provide your “explicit verses”.

      • Todd

        Look, it seems I must say this before I respond. The use of sarcasm or ribbing is nothing to get sensitive about. I would not have indicated how much I appreciate you guys or the number of dispensationalists I mentioned if I felt I had to walk on “egg shells” because you were going to go get sensitive Lyndon.

        So allow me to reiterate but before you respond like randywhiteministries, I ENDED WITH 2ND COR. 13:14 & 3RD JOHN 2 NOT AS SOME GENERIC PHRASING BUT BECAUSE I ACTUALLY MEAN IT. I APPRECIATE YOUR WILLINGNESS TO BE UNPAID AND TO THOUGHTFULLY ENGAGE IN DISCUSSIONS THAT ASSISTS A BODY OF PEOPLE YOU WILL NEVER MEET THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN. SO IF YOU WANT TO MISINTERPRET MY JOCULAR SARCASM AND IGNORE MY DIRECT THANKFULNESS FOR YOU GUYS…….. THAT’S ON YOU. STILL DOESN’T CHANGE HOW I FEEL.

        5. First off, I didn’t provide “explicit verses” because I assumed as meticulous as your postings usually are that you were already familiar with the verses. You don’t come off as a novice. I apologize. Here they are.

        John 21:18-19 & Acts 23:11. Since Peter is to die an old man & Paul is to make it to Jerusalem before he dies and both were promised this by the Lord Himself would they have espoused an “any moment” rapture.

        4. From what I had been taught (I maybe wrong; that’s why I’m asking) is that pretribbers believe the dead in Christ rise first and then believers and that they at that moment would receive their resurrected bodies in accordance to 1st Cor. 15:50-58. You answered no, and I thank you.

        3. Once again, thank you for answering the question. You really didn’t have too. Rather I agree with you or not, I appreciate you answering the question and it was helpful. So thank you. I had understood differently according to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia’s excerpt on John. (Which seems pretty convincing) I will go study your interpretation and hopefully will be given more clarity on the issue.

        2. We disagree here but thank you for responding. Some of us learn not so much by conclusions but by the process in which one came about arriving at their conclusions.

        1. Thanks again for responding.

        I agree with you in your response to question 5 even more than what you asserted on this point: Yes, there are a number of things that are REALLY hard for me to grasp.

        You obviously felt that I offended you. If you felt that way I apologize. That was never my intention. As my wife lovingly reminds me “my content doesn’t always match my intent”. I also apologize for approaching you with questions in such a jocular, cavalier manner. We don’t know each other; so I presumed too much. I’m not a very sensitive guy (not implying that you are) but once again………….we don’t know each other.

        However, switching gears. Our Church is hosting an Eschatology conference later this fall. This is new territory for me. If you have time I would appreciate it if you could look over at least an outline of what will be covered and presented. It is a two day conference that will be presented in a classroom type setting with Q & A more so than a formal service. If you could help that would be great.

        Here is my prayer for you and your family.

        3 John 1:2 (HCSB)
        2 Dear friend, I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health physically just as you are spiritually.

        Thanks

        • Lyndon Unger

          I want to apologize for any unnecessary rudeness. I edited my post to soften the rhetoric.

          I find that the use of sarcasm and ribbing doesn’t really work super well online as conventions of language change from country to country (and I’m not American).

          Thanks for the affirmation though. I appreciate the vote of confidence in the midst of disagreement.

          5. I never assume what verses people are talking about as I’m often wrong…but yes. They would have still espoused an “any moment” rapture. All John 21:18 says is that Peter was going to get old and be led somewhere he didn’t want to go. John 21:21-23 also suggests that there was undue confusion among the apostles regarding Jesus words regarding the end of John’s life based on reading too much into his language. Be careful you don’t do the same in 21:18-19. As for Acts 23:11, Paul was only told that he would testify in Rome. He didn’t know when, but he knew that he would.

          The fact that a handful of NT people have prophecies made about them doesn’t overturn the fact that the rapture might be at any moment. God’s general plans can have specific exceptions that don’t negate God’s general plans (i.e. Israel being wiped out in the wilderness after the Exodus with Caleb and Joshua surviving doesn’t make passages like Numbers 32:11-13 untrue.)

          4. I honestly don’t get how someone would suggest from 1 Cor. 15:50-58 that the dead will be given imperishable bodies and taken to heaven for seven years. It says that the dead will be resurrected and given imperishable bodies because flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom. The dead won’t be going to heaven for 7 years; the rapture is only of living believers. The dead will be resurrected after the tribulation and enter the kingdom in imperishable bodies.

          3. In the scripture, there’s a whole lot of language for “end”, and it’s not all speaking of a specific calendar day. You’ll see “in that day”, or “on that day”, or “the day of the Lord”, or “the day of his coming”, etc. You have to read the context of the passage and attempt to figure out what it’s talking about (or at least the likely options). Also, there were historic “days of the Lord” in the past that were times of judgment that foreshadowed the ultimate “day of the Lord”, so there’s also double entendre in some prophetic passages or oracles of judgment.

          Nobody said this stuff was easy. In fact, God makes it hard on purpose.

          2. I honestly don’t understand how you disagree on Revelation 2:22. The passage is in the letter to the church at Thyatira and it involves a specific threat against a specific group of people (v. 20 – Jezebel and those who practice sexual immorality with her, and who have learned “the deep things of Satan” – v. 24). The “great tribulation” is escapable via repentance (v. 22). There’s not a lot of wiggle room in the passage, and unless I’m missing the broad side of a barn here, there’s absolutely no possible way it’s talking about “THE great tribulation”.

          1. When I said “hard for you to grasp” I didn’t mean that as an insult. What I was getting at was that post and a-mil guys tend to mash all the end times passages into a big mish mash and not allow them any nuanced differentiation. Sam Waldron and Dog Wilson are wonderful examples of this (they mash every passage into their framework of either “this age” or “the age to come”, without exegetically defining those two broad categories, and performs horribly forced exegesis as a result).

          When guys like myself make fine distinctions between passages, it’s often confusing to others who haven’t encountered that before.

          No hard feelings. I was quite inarticulate in my response and needed to re-word things (which I did).

          No promises about helping out with an eschatology conference as I’ve got my own commitments…Feel free to message me when the time gets close and I’ll do what I can.

          • Ryan

            To your point 4 above, how does 1 Thessalonians 4:17 fit in?

          • Todd

            🙂 No need to apologize at all!!! Like I said I just didn’t want to give the impression that I was disrespectful to you. Also I don’t want to bite the hand that the Lord is using to feed me.

            (Sidenote: My morning consists of prayer, devotions, M”Cheyne reading plan and then seeing wha’ts posted on Cripplegate. So thankyou. By the number of responses this post has garnered you have proven your patience.

            2. I’m sorry. I did it again. My content not matching my intent makes communication difficult at times. I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU WITH EVERYTHING YOU SAID!!!! NO ARGUMENT WHAT SO EVER!! I am still working over if “the great tribulation” is a technical term or just a general term since it is only used in Rev. 7:14 with that particular article. However, contextually yes we stand in full agreement.

            4. I’m a little confuse. How does that coincide with 1st Thess. 4:17? Well, I see Ryan just asked that also.

            5. If Peter knew he would make it to old age then wouldn’t he not expect a rapture to occur, for example within 3 years of the Lord’s words? Same with Paul. If he was stuck in the Jerusalem prison for 2 years before being transported to Rome wouldn’t he expect the Rapture at least to happen after he witnessed in Rome since in both Paul and Peter’s cases this prophecy was given to them directly from the Lord?

            Either way, thank you again!!! It’s not essential or imperative but you have given me some things to think through.

            You guys keep up the good work and thank you for not having a hair trigger when I fail to communicate with clarity.

            2nd Cor. 13:14 to you and those you love!!!

            Todd

          • Guest

            Todd and Ryan, I saw the comment and will come back and edit this comment tomorrow. I just needed to make a note to myself to remember to respond to you guys.

          • Lyndon Unger

            I’ll respond to Andrew and Ryan.

            I think I was totally confused too. I don’t remember what I was thinking when I wrote the comment on 1 Cor. 15:58 about the dead not being resurrected in the rapture.

            You’re right to bring up 1 Thess. 4:17. That passage clearly states that the dead saints precede the living saints and they apparently get resurrected at that time.

            I apologize for my confusing and bizarre response. I haven’t been paying much attention to this thread as it’s spun a bit out of control and I have a class that I’m teaching which has taken most of my attention.

            I’ll basically take one in the teeth on this.

            Thank you guys for calling me to task on saying something wrong. It’s not comfortable, but certainly necessary.

  • Shaun Little

    “nobody likes an outspoken cessationist who is Calvinistic and dispensational”

    I like you Lyndon, but sadly this is one of the times I can’t agree with you. Even so I respect and glean a great deal from many of my dispensational brethren so I will let it slide 😉

    Hope all is well.

    • Lyndon Unger

      I don’t understand the point of disagreement.

      What exactly are you suggesting?

      Do people actually love cessationist Calvinistic dispensationalists?

      • Shaun Little

        Sorry for the lack of clarity. I disagree with dispensationalism but I still certainly like and read a number of dispensationalists in spite of that.

        • Lyndon Unger

          Ah. Well, I disagree with many theological positions that folks take, but I like some of them and learn from them as well. It’s a mark of maturity to be able to glean from someone who is good in one area and foaming mad in another.

          Ignore my foam and glean from where I’m good.

  • Todd

    Lyndon or Cripplegate a couple of other issues that are not directly related to the post.

    1. Thank you for deleting certain responses.
    2. Thank you for your tone. I just read the article by randy white. SHEEEEESH!!!! He was totally TURNED UP!!! I, like you, have particular views on eschatology that I am convicted on from scripture. However, my eschatological view is not taking me to Heaven. So without lambasting that brother let me just say I appreciate the consistent tone at this site. There is blend of firmness, where we can speak directly and love.

    God bless you all

    • Lyndon Unger

      Glad we could set a more cordial tone to the discussion.

      I think I can speak for all the guys on the Cripplegate when I say that Christians can definitely disagree with one another, even passionately, and yet still obey the Lord’s commands regarding how to use our tongues toward one another.

      Most of my growth and development has come from kind but firm and wise older men in the Lord telling me I’m a meatball.

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  • Andrew

    “…and who cares about the moral power of any eschatological position?” I am curious to see if you would think it legitimate to say that 1 Timothy 1.5 commands us to care about “the moral power” of a particular reading of scripture – whether it fundamentally stirs in us love for the Lord…or just another ‘fascination’ (or argument!)? I’ve met lots of really godly but plain/unlearned saints who use precisely this ‘love-test’ when they encounter new (to them) readings of Scripture. St. Augustine is the one who worked-out this kind of ‘ethic of reading’ from the whole of Scripture. And anyone who has read him knows how easy it is to be convinced from Scripture that ‘love’ is the key mark of proper scripture interpretation. I would suggest that the ‘love test’ properly enters the purview when dealing with a difficult interpretive issue. Thanks.

    • Lyndon Unger

      1 Timothy 1:5?

      Hang on a moment brother. How about we read the preceding passage?

      “3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” – 1 Tim. 1:3-5

      So is the test of truth whether it produces love or not?

      I’d dare suggest that the “love test” fails it’s own standard.

      If Mormons are more loving than Christians, does that make their denial of the core doctrines of Christianity TRUE?

      • Andrew

        Thx for this thoughtful response. To your question – no, when I listen to what mormons are teaching about Jesus, I do not find myself loving Him nor others more. They fail the ‘love test’. I know this post is a few days old (an eternity in blog-time!), but was just curious if you would be willing to elaborate on your statement “the ‘love test’ fails its own standard”? I’m not clear on why you think the context of 1.5 points away from my claim that ‘true doctrine’ will produce love for God and others and that we need to hold ourselves to this fact. Thx again.

        • Lyndon Unger

          Yeah. Is the love test true because the love test itself stimulates love for the Lord? If so, how does that work?

          How does an abstract principle like the “love test” stimulate love for the Lord?

          I’d suggest that the obvious answer is that the love test doesn’t, in and of itself, stimulate love for the Lord (and thereby fails its own test).

          The test of truth is whether or not something corresponds to scripture.

  • Dan Phillips

    “nobody likes an outspoken cessationist who is Calvinistic and dispensational”

    Word.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Word.

    • Hugh McCann

      Well, two outa three ain’t bad.

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  • Mason Goodknight

    Well I like you Lyndon. Even though I’m an outspoken continuationist who is Calvinistic and covenental and dispensational. LOL! Love you brother. Glad you are well enough to write and encourage the brothers and sisters.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Thanks Mason. I appreciate the affirmation!

  • You did a fine, job, Lyndon. The fact is that all wrong doctrine is a form of unbelief and ultimately is sin which will have a negative consequence. When people hold to false beliefs, they inevitably are on shaky ground and cannot help but cover it somehow. This explains the phenomenon known as “particular post-tribulational personalities promote the poo-pooing of pre-tribulationalism via persnickety pointing…”

    Paul tells Timothy to study to show himself an approved workman who needeth not be ashamed. I would say the same charge is due us. Thanks for the effort.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Uh, I’d actually disagree with you there Michael.

      Where does the Bible command anyone to repent of having wrong doctrine?

      I’d dare suggest that doctrinal confusion can be well-meaning and sincere, and Paul writes whole letters to churches (i.e. 1 Thessalonians or 1 Corinthians) where there was significant doctrinal confusion and he instructs them in right doctrine, but doesn’t command repentance for the confusion they had that necessitated the letter of correction.

      I get your desire to promote a sobriety and seriousness in study and elevate the correct understanding of scripture, but I’m really reticent to label wrong belief “sin”.

  • Lyndon writes, ” Some of us have gotten to pre-tribulationalism out of a love for, and meticulous study of, the scripture.”

    No doubt, but if I may interject a little reality into the mix, I’ve never met anyone who INDEPENDANTLY came to any of the popular eschatological paradigms.

    And I meet very few who are willing to say, “You know, those are pretty persuasive arguments you have there, but I think _____ are more persuasive. And so I LEAN HEAVILY to ______.”

    Of course, you can’t take that “leaning” attitude on the so-called fundamentals of the faith (e.g., “I LEAN to the Virgin Birth”, or “I LEAN to the Deity of Christ”) or you are a heretic.

    Personally, I think the only reasonable FIRM position is the proverbial Pan-Millennialism (everything will pan out when Christ returns), but not an IGNORANT Pan-Millennialism by the lazy non-student, but an INFORMED Pan-Millennialism resulting from diligent study and interaction with born-again scholars of each persuasion — followed by a LEANING to a view, if one must.

    Granted, that causes some difficulty in verse-by-verse exposition, but so what?

    At least it’s honest difficulty, instead of, “Doggone it, I’m going to pick a view, hold to it come hell or high water (‘cuz what would people think of me if I changed my mind like A.W. Pink did?*), and preach it as though anyone who has another view is a buck-tooth idiot.”

    Full disclosure: After almost 40 years of intense study, I am a firm INFORMED Pan-Millennialist, trained in a Bible Institute to be a firm Pretribulational Premillennialist, who for many years now LEANS HEAVILY to Amilleniallism — or as Jay Adams prefers**, “Realized Millennialism”, the idea being that it’s incorrect to say “no millennium” because we are in it.

    *I owned a rare hardcover copy of a book where Pink strongly defended Premillennialism. Sold it on eBay. Could kick myself. Pink later became an Amill.

    **Jay E. Adams, “The Time Is At Hand”, (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.), 1966, p.9

    P.S. I not only like, but love, Lyndon, Dan Phillips, John MacArthur, and all those other Calvi-Dispy pre-trib BROTHERS, from whom I’ve learned MUCH.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Where did I suggest that I got to pre-tribulationalism out of being alone on a desert island with my Bible?

      Also, is the virgin birth in the scriptures?

      What about the second coming?

      Why is the virgin birth clear in the scriptures but not the second coming?

      The whole equation betrays a speech impediment or some sort of incompetence on God’s behalf regarding his efforts to reveal truth to mankind. He apparently was competent to reveal one but not the other.

      Now, admittedly there’s a significant difference in complexity regarding the issues, but the fact that something is difficult doesn’t mean that the Bible doesn’t teach a coherent or discernible position on it.

      I’d dare suggest that talk about pan-millennialism betrays a subtle arrogance that no believer should rightly celebrate. The only way that you could TRULY be a pan-millennial is if you’ve comprehensively thoroughly worked through the issues and have arrived at the exegetically derived position that the Bible actual has no position on the issues surrounding of the tribulation and the millennium.

      I seriously doubt that’s the case.

      Instead of celebrating pan-millennialism, maybe you should be a little more humble and just admit that you haven’t plumbed the depths of scripture on the issue and not paint yourself as more spiritual than those of us that have done more study at a deeper level than yourself.

      • Wow, Lyndon. I’m arrogant and proud? So much for your not name-calling. “Fatty” would at least be more demonstrable.

        You don’t see any difference in the perspicuity of Scripture in regard to the Virgin Birth and Pre-Tribulationalism? Really?

        If not, let me say this: a little old grandma in a rocking chair with her KJV will clearly see that Jesus was born of a virgin. But she may or may not be a pre-tribulational dispensationalist, without significant coaching.

        The perspecuity of Scripture is not level in all areas. Indeed some things are secret (Deut. 29:29).

        Most of us would say that the person who denies the Virgin Birth, or the Diety of Christ, or salvation by grace through faith, is a false teacher, a heretic.

        You wouldn’t say that about a post-tribulationalist, or an amillennialist, would you? If not, why pretend to ridicule my distinction?

        Pan-millennialism is not an eschatalogical “view”, it’s a simple statement that the Lord is in control, and doeth all things well, regardless of whether a particular eschatalogical view is correct or not.

        It’s an expression of faith and humility, glorifying God, even if we don’t have the details right on the second coming. So yea, I “celebrate” pan-millennialism (as a minimum floor to be assured of, not as a separate eschatological view).

        I could, of course, bombard you with the problematic verses regarding pre-trib pre-mill, but you would explain them away, and nothing would be accomplished.

        The reason I lean toward amillennialism is not because it is clear and obvious, but because I believe it has the LEAST problematic scriptures to deal with.

        But I could not promulgate it as a fundamental doctrine which one who disagreed with would be a heretic. Could you with pre-tribulationalism?

        • 4Commencefiring4

          Agreed. Teachers and theologians of all stripes think very highly of–and abundantly quote–many other teachers and theologians who hold eschatological views with which they may differ (e.g., Sproul, Adams, McArthur, Scofield). But they would not so much as mention their names in polite company if those same people differed with respect to the fundamentals.

          Last things is a difficult study, and if were so cut and dried as the Virgin birth, this discussion wouldn’t be on this site, nor would websites and books exist to argue the matter.

        • Lyndon Unger

          Well, what did I say?

          “talk about pan-millennialism betrays a subtle arrogance…”

          “Instead of celebrating pan-millennialism, maybe you should be a little more humble…”

          I’m not suggesting that you’re blindly arrogant, but probably not recognizing the implications of your comments. You’re making the wild and broad scoped assertions about the content of biblical prophecy, let alone a half dozen other issues.

          It’s interesting how I suggest that you’re not as humble as you think and you then come back and defend yourself. I wonder if that irony escapes you?

          “Fatty” is my nickname and you cannot have it!

          You may not know this, but when the iron curtain fell, a whole cohort of Russian pastors met with a whole bunch of evangelical leaders and refused to work with them because their theology was sub-par. Amazingly, under communist rule, a bunch of them (representing several hundred churches) arrived at pre-millennialism and pre-tribulationalism all by themselves, with a few decades and their bibles, in the days before the internet.

          I got there myself, and that was back when I hated John MacArthur and refused to read anything he wrote.

          Deuteronomy 29:29 doesn’t suggest that the perspicuity of scripture is unequal in all areas.

          “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever”

          “The secret things” are the things that aren’t revealed, but “the things that are revealed” are the things in the scriptures.

          Pan-Millennialism is an eschatological view in the same way that agnosticism is a religious position. In the same way that agnosticism feigns openness to belief in God but is actually a positive position of disbelief, pan-millennialism feigns to be uncertainty about eschatology that is actually a positive position of denial (or cryptic impenetrability) regarding the teaching of scripture on certain subjects of eschatology.

          The Prophets and apostles actually said coherent and specific things that they wanted the people of their day to understand. Those coherent and specific things cover more ground than the single point of the virgin birth (eschatology is of course a whole framework of single points regarding dozens of individual issues), but the point of clarity is equal for both. A more accurate comparison would be Christology (en toto) vs. eschatology, not eschatology vs. the virgin birth.

          The fact that you say “I could, of course, bombard you with the problematic verses regarding pre-trib pre-mill, but you would explain them away…” betrays your eschatological position.

          Regardless of my answer, you already know that my answers would be ad hoc. You don’t know what I’ll say or whether or not those answers would be exegetically defensible, but you toss them out before you’ve heard them because you know I’ll doubtlessly be wrong. That’s saying that there’s no possibility of systematically addressing your “problem” passages with coherent biblical answers because my position will, a priori, fail.

          That’s arrogant if I’ve ever seen it.

          That’s also an positive eschatological position of biblical uncertainty. You’re not saying “who knows”. You’re saying “Lyndon, you’re wrong”.

          • First, I believe you are seriously mis-representing the concept of Pan-millennialism as a LACK of foundational belief (as in agnosticism), when it’s actually a very foundational belief in the goodness and promise-keeping integrity of the Lord.

            Second, you wrote:

            “Regardless of my answer, you already know that my answers would be ad hoc. You don’t know what I’ll say or whether or not those answers would be exegetically defensible, but you toss them out before you’ve heard them because you know I’ll doubtlessly be wrong.”

            I sincerely apologize for my cynicism there. I shouldn’t prejudge your hypothetical response like that. My bad. Please forgive me.

            Part of the problem is that we all tend to rally to the standard “responses” of our own [hermeneutical and eschatological] paradigm, rather than look freshly at opposing views.

            That’s even partly reasonable in a way, because we can’t review Genesis through Revelation every time a question comes up. I get that.

            Still, I believe that if someone thinks their own paradigm has no SIGNIFICANT exegetical problems, they haven’t really grasped the issues.

            And when I surmise that another might just plug in standard Pre-trib explanations for problematic passages, I’m reflecting that even I, a non-Pre-trib guy could plug in those same Pre-trib explanations, because I know them well.

            But they still won’t be satisfying.

            Nevertheless, here are a few examples of the types of “problems” I speak of:

            1. In Revelation 2:10 it speaks of “you will have tribulation ten days”. It should be fairly obvious that this is not a literal ten days.

            Then in Revelation 17:12 it speaks of “they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast”. It should be fairly obvious that this is not a literal hour.

            Yet in Revelation 20, when it speaks of “1000 years”, we take it as a literal number?

            Huge problem (to me).

            2. In Matt. 22:23ff, the Sadducees ask Jesus about a lady whose husband dies, and his brother marries her, then he dies, etc.

            They ask him who’s wife will she be in the resurrection? (They are mocking because they don’t believe in the resurrection, of course.)

            Jesus answers that in “the resurrection” there will be no marriage, but like angels (which the Sadducees also don’t believe in, BTW), they will all be spouseless.

            Well, in the supposed earthly millennium, there are supposed to be families living and dying, and we may presume the saints are not living “in sin”, so who’s wife will she be?

            Jesus’ remarks only make sense if there is one final resurrection at His return, ushering in the eternal state.

            Huge problem (for me) with premill.

            3. In 1 Cor. 15 we read, “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

            The natural reading of this is that death is no more, and that occurs when the saints are resurrected (vs 52).

            Yet in the presumed earthly millennium, death will go on for 1000 more years.

            Huge problem (for me).

            4. In Peter’s sermon (Acts 2:34,35), he said, ““For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:

            ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
            “Sit at My right hand,
            Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’

            David looked forward to the reign of Christ from heaven, and David’s own resurrection, not to an earthly reign on his throne.

            And indeed, Christ IS reigning (cf. vss. 29-33)!

            Huge problem (for me) with Pre-trib.

            I repeat, I too could answer these with standard Pre-trib explanations, but to me they are not satisfying at best, and at worst twist pretty-clear scriptures.

            Oh, one last example that just came to me, and has always been problematic for me:

            5. In Isaiah 65:17ff, the “new heavens and new earth” refer, according to Pre-tribs to the earthly millennium (see vs 25 where the wolf and lamb feed togehter).

            Yet Rev. 21:1 clearly seems to refer to the “new heavens and new earth” as the eternal state after the dissolving of heaven and the melting of the current earth (cf. 2 Pet. 3:10-13).

            Huge problem (to me), and I have never found prophetical “compression” valid on this subject.

          • Lyndon Unger

            1. In Revelation 2:10 it speaks of “you will have tribulation ten days”.
            It should be fairly obvious that this is not a literal ten days.

            Why exactly?

            Why cannot people have 10 days of intense trial, kinda like Job did? (It wasn’t 10 days, but it certainly was a far shorter time than 10 years.)

            Secondly, why does the figurative nature of a number in one verse have anything whatsoever to do with the figurative nature of a number in another verse?

            Your argument makes me wonder why Rev. 2:10 or 17:12 is an interpretive key for Rev. 20? If I flipped that argument over and cited Rev. 11:3 (1,260 days) and Rev. 11:9 & 11 (3.5 days), and then pronounced that Rev. 20 obviously had to be a non-figurative usage of the number one thousand, would you buy that?

            Of course not.

            Here’s the million dollar question that I’d love many people to answer:

            ***By what objective process or standard does one tell if a number is being used in a figurative way in the scriptures?***

            It seems pretty clear that most people on all sides of these debates don’t actually have any objective standard for discerning figurative language but rather just assume and then protest to objections without concrete reasons…kinda like you did.

            The huge problem to me is your usage of the word “obvious”. If it’s not obvious to everyone, it’s not actually obvious.

            2. Well, those non-glorified believers who survive the tribulation are the ones who marry and populate the millennium. They’re not glorified like the resurrected saints, and those glorified folks are the ones who don’t marry.

            No problem there at all, at least for my.

            3. When does the perishable put on the imperishable? When the living saints are raptured and the dead saints are resurrected (vs. 51). When the saints are resurrected and glorified, death will have no power over them. That’s probably agreed by both of us.

            Thing is, those who get saved in the tribulation and survive the tribulation will enter the millennium in non-glorified bodies. They’ll marry, have children, and some of those children will die.

            There’s no problem here for me at all, unless one assumes that the two groups mentioned in 15:51 constitute all believers of all time. That’s an exegetical leap that requires more support than the “natural” reading of 1 Cor. 15:51-54, since 1 Cor. 15:51-54 doesn’t directly address the issue.

            4. Well, let’s look at Acts 2:29-35:

            “29 Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

            “‘The Lord said to my Lord,
            “Sit at my right hand,
            35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

            Vs. 30 – God would set one of descendants on who’s throne? David’s throne. Is that in Heaven?

            You tell me. Is David’s throne ever spoken of as being a seat in Heaven?

            V. 31 – Is the promise about the throne a present or future promise? Seeing that it’s post-resurrection, that seems to indicate that it was a future promise.

            Questions is, has that promise been fulfilled yet?

            v. 33 – Is Jesus seated on a throne?

            Nope. He’s at the right hand of the father.

            V. 33 – What promise HAS Christ received from the Father?

            The throne of David?

            Text doesn’t say that. Text says “the promise of the Holy Spirit.”

            V. 35 – So is Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father forever?

            Well, if he’s sitting on his promised throne, you’d think so…right? He’s probably NOT getting his promised throne and then abdicating it…right?

            Well, the text says that he’s sitting at the right hand of the Father until the Father makes his enemies his footstool.

            Funny thing is that the whole footstool language suggest that at that time of the subjugation of his enemies, he’ll be sitting somewhere else.

            Where would that OTHER seat be?

            You tell me.

            So does the text tell us that Christ is reigning?

            Nope. Based on the text you gave me, I have absolutely no reason to think that Jesus is currently reigning…what with the text not actually mentioning that and all. Call me crazy, but it appears that you’ve made some rather broad and unsubstantiated assumptions about the scripture you’re claiming that I twist.

            Your explanation isn’t satisfying to me since you’re attributing words to the scripture that actually aren’t there whatsoever.

            I believe that’s somewhere along the spectrum of “twisting scripture”…but that might be my, what was it now? Twisting of “pretty-clear scriptures”?

            5. So can you explain exactly how a phrase appearing in Revelation is the interpretational key to the phrase appearing in Isaiah 65?

            Do you do that anywhere else in scripture?

            Does the fact that “day” means “time period” in Genesis 2:4 necessitate that “day” means the exact same thing in Genesis 1?

            I sure hope not.

            You’re just making unsubstantiated assumptions that reveal that you don’t actually have an articulate understanding of how exegesis actually works. Is that arrogant? Just wait until we’re done and then you tell me.

            Now is Isaiah 65:17 a difficult passage?

            Sure it is, and that’s basically for the reason you brought up.

            What does Isaiah 65 say?

            Well, 65:1-16 is really interesting in that it talks about Israel’s utter rebellion (65:1-7) and yet how the Lord will NOT destroy them all (65:8) and instead the land will be posessed by the offspring of the rebellious sinners (65:9-10), where as the sinners themselves will be destroyed (65:11-12) and both groups will be simultaneously remembered (65:13-16), with the sinner’s name being remembered and used as a curse (65:15) and the righteous offspring taking oaths in the name of the Lord (65:16).

            Sound like the eternal state?

            Not for a second.

            What about after Is. 65:17?

            Well, there’s the talk of death in 65:20, as well as the presence of sinners…that’s definitely going to be the case in the eternal state, right?

            Oh wait. Nope.

            What about bearing children in 65:23?

            Again, definitely not the eternal state.

            So, what is the “new heavens and new earth” in Isaiah 65?

            Well, a difficult phrase certainly.

            Most likely “new” in the sense of “qualitatively novel”, or “something not seen before”.

            Not “new” in the same sense that the term is used in 2 Pet. 3 or Rev. 21, what with the glaring differences between the two periods and all (i.e. presence of sinners and death…)

            The only reason there’s a problem is because you grab a single phrase and demand that it necessarily refer to the same thing in Isaiah as it does in Revelation.

            You likely don’t do that in other passages where there are identical terms, but you do it here.

            Why is that exactly?

          • 1. The point of the Revelation verses is to show that Revelation, written in the apocalyptic manner that it is, is wont to use numbers symbolically.

            Because of that, the burden of proof is on showing why the “1000 years” is literal. Since it’s the only place in scripture that references that 1000 years, I don’t think the burden of proof is even close to being presented.

            2. You make the “marrying and giving in marriage” problem even more problematic to me, because the scripture and history is *progressive* in regard to the covenants, and to glorify saints under the New Covenant, then revert back to unglorified saints for another round of history is as non-progressive (to me) as things like rebuilding the temple and sacrificing animals again “in memoriam”.

            The covenantal progression of scripture, culminating in the glorious New Covenant, is a beautiful thing — decimated, in my opinion, by your scenario.

            3. See #2. The “retro” back-pedaling from the New Covenant aspect of premillennialism stifles the whole progressive flow of scripture, in my opinion.

            4. The important thing about “David’s Throne” is that it is typological, fulfilled by Christ.

            That’s the whole *flavor* of David’s prophetic view. The typology is the *throne* (i.e., the ruling, the kingship), not the *Earth*.

            Read Hebrews Ch. 1 for a sense of this.

            Here are two relevant excerpts:

            “When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” – vs 3

            “But of the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. – vs. 8

            “Throne” is symbolic of rule (even as in, say, the “throne” of England). When Jesus was seated at the right hand of the throne, that’s not a place *off* of the throne (again, think throne of England). It’s the honored place *on* the throne. (Cf. Rev. 7:17, “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne”; and Rev. 22:3, “the throne of God and of the Lamb”).

            I’m only scratching the surface, but the point is that Jesus is in authority now, and will be forever and ever — a far greater reality than a 1000 year reign on an earthly throne which is not forever and ever.

            5. I believe you’re complicating the pristine simplicity of the phrase “new heavens and new earth”.

            It’s not that every occurrence of every word in scripture means the same, as you wrongly imply that I’m saying.

            It’s that when “new heavens and new earth” are used prophetically, there should be a pretty good reason to say that there are more than one “new heavens and new earth”. And I don’t see any such reason, especially when one is earthly with wolves and lambs, and one is clearly eternal and not earthly.

            And again, the whole “progressive” nature of scriptural revelation (especially regarding covenants, and the king of covenants, the New Covenant, now enjoyed by believing Jews and Gentiles) mitigates against two “new heavens’ and new earths”.

            In conclusion, my disillusionment with premillennialism (pre or post trib) is actually enhanced by your arguments, rather than weakened, because I see again the natural tendency to expect the burden of proof to lie with disproving something (earthly 1000 millennium) that has not been proven to begin with, in my opinion.

            To illustrate with a ridiculous (I admit) example: If I say that President Obama is going to visit my house next Thursday, and you say, “I don’t believe that”, it makes no dent in your doubt if I say, “You can’t prove he’s not coming Thursday”.

          • Lyndon Unger

            1. So the point is to show that Revelation uses numbers symbolically and because of that, the burden of proof is on anyone suggesting that ANY number in Revelation isn’t symbolic?

            Terry, that doesn’t hold water for several reasons:

            A. You misunderstand how the concept of “burden of proof” works. You don’t simply get to assume that your position is, by default, right and then demand that everyone who disagrees with you produce proof. “Burden of proof” is applied to anyone who makes a positive claim about something. If you suggest a positive claim about something, then the one who makes the claim has the “burden of proof”; namely, the burden is on them to prove their claim.

            B. Not everyone agrees that Revelation is “apocalyptic literature”, or that “apocalyptic” is even a biblical genre. Some of us might think that Revelation 1:3 suggests that the book is prophetic literature, and that “apocalyptic” is a non-canonical genre made up from the study of apocryphal and pseudopigraphal literature. For those reasons, I suggest that Revelation is non-apocalyptic literature (and that’s not a legitimate biblical genre in the first place).

            C. Not every number in Revelation is used symbolically. I produced some examples of that already. Another point to consider is everywhere else the phrase “thousand years” appears in scripture, it’s not a metaphor for some indefinite period of time (Ps. 90:4, Ecc. 6:6, 2 Pet. 3:8). It’s always an actual thousand year period being used as a part of a simile or other figure of speech, but the phrase “thousand years” itself is non-metaphorical.

            2. There’s no reversion in the Millennium. There’s saints who survive the Tribulation and continue being saints on a (qualitatively) new earth as part of a righteous culture. That’s not regression…also I don’t use some sort of theme (i.e. “covenantal progression”) as an exegetical trump card. See my comments on Is. 65.

            3. I see how it is. I walk through a text of scripture and make some exegetical observations and you ignore then and pull out your thematic trump card.

            4. And again, same thing. I walk through the actual passage in question and you make blanket statements.

            You said “The important thing about “David’s Throne” is that it is typological, fulfilled by Christ.”

            Seeing that you made the claim, feel free to show me where you get that from the text of scripture.

            Also, where in the Bible is David’s throne ever used metaphorically? Where in Hebrews 1 is it again?

            Is it in verse 3 where he sits at the right hand of God? (i.e. not on God’s throne, but also not on David’s throne?)

            Is it in vs. 8 where Christ is spoken of as having everlasting rule? Does Hebrews 1:8 mention David’s throne?

            No?

            So do we just randomly assume that David’s throne is *implicitly* mentioned everytime the word “throne” is used with reference to Jesus?

            No wait…that doesn’t work either.

            So is every mention of a “throne” symbolic when it’s references to Jesus?

            Jesus most certainly is God, and he’s upholds creation and rules his creation right now.

            He’s not on David’s throne.

            Also, his 1,000 year reign will be forever and ever.

            Wonder how that could be?

            I’m only scratching the surface here too.

            5. I believe you’re twisting the scriptures with reckless abandon. I gave you lots of reasons, from the very text in question.

            I walk through the scripture, and you give me themes and “covenantal progression”. Why is it that one of us is comfortable and eager to get into the nouns and verbs of scripture and one of us is not?

            That’s also related to my disillusionment with postmillennialism, especially in the way you portray it.

            I spent many years under guys who talked big but when it came down to chapter and verse, they simply couldn’t put their money where their mouth is and back up their talk with hard exegesis and “the burden of proof is on you to prove (insert arbitrary point)”.

            We both have to prove our cases.

            I’ll see you in the pages of scripture again and again, and you’ve given me multiple reasons to think that you’ll simply gloss over what the Bible says on the basis of where you think the Bible aims.

          • Hugh McCann

            ” a whole cohort of Russian pastors met with a whole bunch of evangelical leaders and refused to work with them because their theology was sub-par. Amazingly, under communist rule, a bunch of them (representing several hundred churches) arrived at pre-millennialism and pre-tribulationalism all by themselves,* with a few decades and their bibles, in the days before the internet.”

            * Even if this happened apart from their seeing *any* commentaries or Scofieldian heresy, it certainly proves nothing. They could be as easily deceived & misguided on their own as many are with dispy study notes.

          • Lyndon Unger

            Or, it could also be that it’s something that’s actually taught in the Bible. That’s also a legitimate option.

      • I think further clarification is needed, which might bring a further charge of arrogance, such arrogance (as God is my witness) not being the case.

        There is a field of study worth engaging in, which all of us Bible believers do INADVERTENTLY, but usually not DELIBERATELY.

        It is the field of study called epistemology (sometimes called the science of knowing), or specifically in this case, Biblical Epistemology.

        From a very practical standpoint, what can we KNOW from Scripture?

        Here are some things I KNOW:

        1. I KNOW Jesus was born of a virgin.

        2. I KNOW Jesus is God, the Son.

        3. I KNOW we are saved by grace through faith, not of works.

        Q. How do I KNOW these things?

        A. By revelation.

        That is, God has regenerated me, revealed to me the inspiration and truth of His Word, and shown me by revelation that it is true and inerrant.

        And in His Word, He clearly declares the Virgin Birth, the Deity of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith. We can KNOW these things, if we are born again.

        (Sidenote: I’m well aware that some would say they KNOW Jesus was not born of a virgin, and they KNOW we are saved by grace PLUS works. But they are wrong, and I would not hesitate to say — nicely, usually — that they are deceived and deceiving.)

        That is Biblical Epistomology 101.

        What about eschatology in this vein, then?

        Well, I KNOW Jesus is coming again, which is why I don’t hesitate to call Full Preterism (Jesus “returned” in 70 A.D.) false teaching. That KNOWING is the foundation of so-called pan-millennialism, and we should all be pan-millennialists in that narrow sense.

        I am essentially an Amillennialist.

        But do I KNOW that Amillennialism is the absolute true scriptural paradigm, in the same way that I KNOW Jesus was born of a virgin — such that I could comfortably call a Pre-tribulationalist a false teacher?

        Of course not.

        Throwing it back to my Pre-trib brothers, do you KNOW the Pre-trib paradigm is absolutely true, as you (I trust) KNOW that salvation is by grace through faith?

        I hope not.

        And in that Biblical Epistemological spirit, let me amend my original statement regarding “reasonable” to the following:
        ======================
        Personally, I think the only reasonable ABSOLUTE-KNOWING-WITHOUT-ANY-REASONABLE-DOUBT position is the proverbial Pan-Millennialism (everything will pan out when Christ returns), but not an IGNORANT Pan-Millennialism by the lazy non-student, but an INFORMED Pan-Millennialism resulting from diligent study and interaction with born-again scholars of each persuasion — followed by a LEANING to a view, if one must.

        =======================

        Lastly, this kind of epistemology can be troublesome in some areas. Because I, too, may “know” some things that I could be wrong about.

        I humbly admit I have real angst about some of these, but have concluded that they can’t be considered “fundamentals” which determines heresy (some even disagree with that).

        For example, I “know” (I didn’t say KNOW, but yet I’m 100% certain) that it is unbiblical and wrong to baptize infants.

        I am 100% certain that there is no command or example in Scripture to do so, and historically it has been the secondary cause of many people going to hell because they think they were saved by infant baptism, even though their baptizers protest that they had no intention, blah, blah, blah.

        But I can’t in good conscience spend much time going around branding baby-baptizers as false teachers.

        Though their arguments are convoluted and absurd, and come from a bad hermeneutic (am I arrogant?), I don’t have reason to believe they are thus unregenerate (not that I’m their judge), or that they have any disrespect for the Word of God (quite the contrary in most cases).

        So in my little study of epistemology I would say there are things we can KNOW, things we can “know”, and things we can SURMISE (that is, believe is true, without absolute certain evidence).

        I think millennial views belong in the “surmise” category, but I’m not complaining if some claim to “know” their view is correct.

        I would be suspicious, based on the above, of one who absolutely KNOWS his view is certain.

        Final sidenote: I had a professor or two who fell into this camp, claiming that Amills were actual heretics — but they’re the same guys who severely criticized MacArthur when he wrote “Kingdom Living Here and Now” in 1980, because he applied principles of the Sermon on the Mount to present-day believers, thereby “reading someone else’s mail” which belonged only to the Red-Heiferite Jews of the coming Millennium.

        Perhaps the above might erase some of the “pride and arrogance” smudge off of this poor humble lil ol’ servant [kicks dusty ground with shoe, saying, “Shucks, folks”].

        Sorry for the Red-Heiferite jab — not really 🙂

        • Lyndon Unger

          Seeing that this post is about to have its comments closed, I won’t respond to this one. I’d love to engage you on your “Biblical Epistemology” though sometime.

          That would be rather interesting.

      • Hugh McCann

        “The whole equation betrays a speech impediment or some sort of incompetence on God’s behalf regarding his efforts to reveal truth to mankind. He apparently was competent to reveal one but not the other.”

        Not if you’re simply misreading the text and are deceived.

        • Lyndon Unger

          Show me.

          Let’s look at any text, anywhere in the Bible.

          Bring your exegesis and I’ll bring mine. Let’s see who can make reasonable sense of the nouns and verbs of the text of scripture, as set in their historical and grammatical context.

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  • Vince

    “Possibly unbeknownst to Mr. Taylor, there are those of use who aren’t post-tribulationalists due to reasons beyond buck-toothed idiocy.”… Not sure if you purposely misspelled us* 😉

    • Lyndon Unger

      Spulling errror?

      Me?

  • Sam Hendrickson

    While I understand that putting forth the notion that “no one would come to this or that eschatological argument by themselves” makes one sound neutral or perhaps evenhanded, but there is a subtle (though large) problem with this approach. No single Christian is to be left alone in studying and interpreting the Bible, that is not the scriptural pattern for the Church. The NT is filled with the theme of teachers, pastors, etc. who help others understand the Word. They can hope to humbly stand in that position because they make out a life doing what other people do not have the time for–they study the Scriptures. To relegate eschatology nearly to the level of adiaphora (or less) is unwise, and can lead to great error that extends beyond one’s end-time views. I reference the rise of liberalism and its variants–among other influences and reasons, eschatology directly or eventually influenced crucial doctrines. This topic is worth the effort of debate, and must always be so.

    • Total straw man, Sam.

      1) I didn’t even IMPLY that one should study totally on their own. On the contrary, that’s often how cults get started (e.g., Joseph Smith, Judge Rutherford, Victor Paul Wierwille).

      2) I didn’t even IMPLY that eschatology was not important. For crying out loud, I’ve studied it for 38 years!

      3) I didn’t even IMPLY that it shouldn’t be debated. It should. and you need to understand that theological Liberalism comes not from eschatological views but from unregenerate hearts (and demons).

      4) BTW, I would disagree with you that the professionals and scholars are the only ones who have time to study the Scriptures. Unless you mean that they are too involved in TV dramas and sit-coms, then I see your point.

      On that note, the professional teachers, preachers, and scholars whom I respect the most are those who WANT their students to study on their own, and not just rely on the pro. As does the Holy Spirit who inspired praise for the Bereans.

      • Sam Hendrickson

        Brother Terry, I replied as I did because you stated “the only reasonable firm position…” I think it is reasonable to say that some might perhaps quibble with you about the reasonableness of that statement :D. Two. I do not think my remarks implied what you think they implied, exegesis would show that. For example, I wrote that some want to “nearly” place endtimes in the realm of adiaphora. Please note the word “nearly”–by this I did not mean such people did not think it was important, but important enough. The rest of your implications notwithstanding, I would still affirm that “panmillenialism” (regardless of how hard one says they studied to get to that point) is at the very least an incautious approach to a topic which has so much biblical data surrounding it. It requires more study, and it does affect one’s hermeneutic, and when you are teaching and leading people (as I do), you need to teach a reliable and faithful-to-the-imago dei-type of hermeneutic. But that is another issue. Last, while I agree that Liberalism is a product of Satan and the lost, eschatology was one of the areas which was attacked in Liberalism. While I admit to use such an argument puts me into the realm of “slippery slope” argumentation, such argumentation is not always fallacious. I.e., since eschatology has twice been a modern means of distorting the Gospel or the Mission, we would do well to be more definitive about it than panmillenialism. Grace to you and peace.

  • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

    I admire you, Lyndon, but what if you’re wrong? What would the outcome be if the church fully anticipates being raptured, yet finds itself having to endure a time of testing? Personally, I would rather be joyfully surprised at a pre-tribulation rapture, than confused and disillusioned in the event I have to go through it when someone assured me that I wouldn’t. All I’m saying is that there are valid differing views on this subject and I don’t believe that warrants them as being buck-toothed idiots. “Blessed is the man who doesn’t condemn himself by what he approves.”

    • elainebitt

      That stance of “what if” should not be one that a Christian should espouse. We can say “what if” about anything. Or do you hold to other religions just in case Christianity is wrong?

      You need to put Romans 14:22 in its context.

      • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

        The context of my “what if” had to do with differing viewpoints on eschatology, not matters related to foundational faith. I referenced Romans 14:22 because determining when the rapture will take place is a disputable matter in that we differ on its timing. That should not divide us, nor should we be arrogant about our view or unkind to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Jane, if I’m wrong then I’m wrong.

      If I expect the rapture and face the tribulation, I’ll find solace in knowing that I only have to wait it out for 7 years.

      There are certainly differing views on the subject, and I hope I don’t portray myself as having all my theological ducks lined up. I like being wrong; I’ve been wrong on almost everything I’ve ever believed and have been straightened out in those areas by good men and women of God who have seen my errors for what they were. That being said, a believer who studies the scripture for decades should eventually arrive at a position on the content of the scripture.

      There was a time where I was undecided on spiritual gifts, but I am not that way anymore (as you might have guessed). That didn’t happen overnight, but after struggling with those issues over 2 decades, I eventually started seeing the same arguments over and over, started memorizing all the relevant passages and started being able to predict where a book was going before it got there. In other words, I gained a decent grasp of the issue of spiritual gifts and ended up finding the cessationist camp holding water and the continuationist camp constantly leaking. After 2 decades, if I DIDN’T come to any greater understanding than when I started, I would suspect that I was a total imbecile or wasn’t really studying fruitfully at all. I’m in the process of doing that same thing with eschatology, and I’m definitely not there yet…but I’m working through things one question at a time and eventually, I’ll run out of questions and have to coral myself in on most of the issues.

      Also, I was suggesting that I’m the one who get’s called a buck-toothed idiot. I don’t think I’ve ever called anyone names on the Cripplegate, have I?

      • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

        This is why I love following what you write, Lyndon. Thank you for responding with humility, another sign of your wisdom. (Btw, I misunderstood your buck-toothed comment, my bad. I should have read more carefully). I do appreciate your efforts in studying tough issues like this and sharing with us what you learn.

        • Lyndon Unger

          It’s all good Jane. I also called myself a “sweaty asthmatic nerd” too, if you remember.

          I’ll keep attempting to share my study with folks and they can keep attempting to chop my head off. What doesn’t kill us makes us stro…uh…well, actually less willing to write about certain things (and annoyed at internet trolls…).

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Keep sharing, Lyndon, It’s how we learn and are challenged to dig deeper on subjects.

      • Barbara

        Thanks Lyndon for another great post. 18 years ago I was a new believer who had no knowledge of anything! So Yes, now after careful study and weighing all the arguments I find myself a pretrib rapture, cessationist, reformed, hymn singing attendee of Calvary Chapel… feel my pain. Much of my thoughts went to the word “wrath”, and “poured out wrath” , there’s no reason for God to pour out His wrath upon his bride.. the LORD isn’t a wife beater. My simple thoughts….Praying for you Lyndon. Barb L

        • Lyndon Unger

          Thanks Barbara. I’m glad I can encourage and I covet your prayers!

          Also, I’m stealing the “The LORD isn’t a wife beater” line.

          Golden!

    • 4Commencefiring4

      I’ll bet I know a group of christians who, if they were pre-trib before, are wondering at this very hour if they got their signals crossed: those on the mountains of Iraq who are fleeing ISIS.

      • Fred Butler

        God never said Christians won’t suffer persecution (BTW, the group on the Mtn top in Iraq are not Christians, but a religious ethnic minority). The 7 year tribulation is specifically designate for the Jews to repent and turn to their Messiah, cleanse the land, and to seal all prophecy related to the Jews per Daniel 7:24. Pre-trib rapture is saying that God removes the church so that the focus of His redemptive purposes for those 7 years is on the nation of Israel specifically.

        • 4Commencefiring4

          I’m always perplexed by this notion that God has reserved a separate salvation path exclusively for the Jews; that simple faith in the cross, which is the whole message of salvation for the entire world and somehow our (Gentiles’) means for obtaining eternal life, yet the Jews require another whole program to bring them into His kingdom; that the Jews’ Messiah has yet to appear (who then was Jesus?); that while coming “to grant repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31), their national rejection of that message only means God has another series of steps to take to accomplish the same thing He did with us without all that.

          I’m also fascinated to see that God’s eternal redemptive purpose, which according to Eph 3:11 was the creation of the Church (made up of Jew and Gentile alike), is to be “raptured away” and Israel will again have God’s undivided attention, as though His purposes with the Church are an afterthought. (Actually, it is–according to this theory. The whole Church age is called a “parenthesis” in God’s overall plan by some pre-trib authors–quite a slap in the face when you consider that this “parenthesis” is the very Bride of Christ, the company of the redeemed).

          Here’s a few questions:

          1. Are believing Jews–either now or in the future–part of the Body of Christ, the Church?

          2. If so, does that mean the Church continues to exist on Earth after the rapture as Jews come to faith? If they are not part of the Body, how are they to be saved if only those who are “in Christ” are saved?

          3. If believing Jews, now or later, are part of the Church–the Body of Christ–then where does that leave the all-important distinction between “Israel” and the Church?

          Ponderous.

          • Lyndon Unger

            God hasn’t reserved a separate salvation path exclusively for the Jews.

            Everyone is saved by Christ’s atoning work, solely by the grace of God.

            Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.

            What in the world are you talking about?

            If you mention Scofield I’m going to snap.

          • 4Commencefiring4

            I hadn’t heard that Scofield had become a “D List-er.” Weren’t his footnotes where everyone in the 70s used to learn theology? He was the E.F. Hutton of those halcyon days. Everyone stopped what they were doing to hear what Scofield said. I guess the times, they are a-changin.’

            Perhaps “path” was not the right word. Let’s try “effort” or “approach” or “program.” Whatever you call it, “separate” seems accurate, as it’s believed by many that most of Revelation–the plagues, the judgments, the locusts, the bloody rivers, etc., are all part of God’s prep work to get Israel saved…things that He didn’t need to lay on the church because the simple Gospel message was all we got. And it worked fine.

            But the Jews are apparently to be given a different, seven-year, very troubling recipe, all of which leads them to recognize that Jesus of Nazareth was their Messiah all along. Call me crazy, but that sounds like a whole other production just for the Jews.

            And even after all this, according to your description, believing Israel will not be part of the Church, the Body of Christ, but merely the “elect of Israel.” Well, Christ didn’t die for “the elect of Israel”, He died for the Church–according to Eph 5:25. Were I they, I’d want to make sure I was in the Body–not some miscellaneous “elect” that’s apart from it.

          • Lyndon Unger

            1. Jews who believe between the ascension and the tribulation are part of the church. Jews who believed before the church were’ part of the church (but were part of the elect in Israel), and Jews who believe after the era of the church won’t be part of the church either (they’ll be part of the elect in Israel).

            2. No. There are those who aren’t part of the church who are still “in Christ” (i.e. OT saints).

            3. See comment 1.

          • 4Commencefiring4

            I would challenge anyone to prove from the Bible that one can be “in Christ” and yet NOT be part of the Body of Christ, the Church. He loved the Church and gave Himself for her (Eph 5:25), not for some other miscellaneous group of “elect.” At the end of time, the Body of Christ–the Church, the Wife of the Lamb–will the entity with whom God eternally dwells, so if there’s anyone who isn’t part of that, then we’d have a rather eclectic mix of the “saved” : O.T. believers, the Church, Tribulation believers, millennial believers…I don’t think the Bible describes such an amalgamation of the redeemed.

            O.T. saints were saved just as we are: through faith, not works. And since Christ was slain “from the foundations of the world”, His death was the only basis upon which anyone at any time could be saved. I Cor 10:4 says the “rock” that the Jews of the O.T. drank from was Christ, implying that the same salvation in His name was available to them on the same basis. No, they didn’t know the name “Jesus”; but David and Solomon and Abraham were saved through faith, and God attributed righteousness to them on that basis, Christ having been effectually slain before time began.

            Just as we are, positionally, “seated with Him” in heaven today, even before we join Him there, so also the O.T. believer was part of the Body before Calvary ever took place. If they were not, then they had a salvation that was on some other basis. I’m not sure what that would be.

          • Lyndon Unger

            You just answered your own question.

            Was the Church in the OT? Without a doubt, no.

            Were those who were saved in the OT saved through Christ? Without a doubt, yes.

            The Body of Christ is known as the bride of Christ, not the “wife of the lamb”. In the OT, Israel was God’s “wife”. Similar metaphors, but subtlety and significantly different.

          • 4Commencefiring4

            The bride (of Christ) is indeed called “the wife of the Lamb” in Rev 21:9, there also called the New Jerusalem. And no, the bride is not a literal city, for Christ isn’t married to a city–He’married to us, the company of the redeemed He died to save.

            There is no other “bride” with regard to Christ than that which is known as “the bride of Christ”, His Body–the Church. It is pictured as a beautiful “holy city” in Revelation, but it would be senseless to say Christ has a walled city as a bride. As you say, metaphors: this Body is like unto a city of gold, precious stones, and pearls. It is perfectly fitting to have been described as it was in that passage.

            If the Church–the Bride of Christ and/or the New Jerusalem didn’t exist until Pentecost, and you’re going to posit that saved people exist outside the Church, you may want to consult Revelation 22: 14-15. There we are told that those who have washed their robes and have the right to the tree of life (the saved, in other words) may enter this city (which is the Body of Christ), and those “outside” [the city] are dogs, and socerers, etc. In short, you’re either in this city, or you’re not having any access to the tree of life.

            I’d have to conclude that there is one–not two, not three–body of the saved, and they are all part of the same Body.

          • Lyndon Unger

            Jesus isn’t married to a city?

            My whole eschatology just crumbled.

            Revelation 22:14-15?

            Sure thing. Let’s look at that.

            “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

            So the city isn’t a literal city? Please walk through Revelation 21:10-22:4 and explain that whole passage then. Sure looks like John is getting shown a physical city in that passage. Like 21:24 for example. If the “New Jerusalem” is the church, do the kings of the earth come in and then leave again? Or 21:25…if the gates are never shut does anyone get in and are all the universalists who use that text as a support correct?

            Best put on your tap shoes for the dance you’re about to do.

            Revelation 22:14-15 isn’t even in the same area code as making the point you try to force upon it.

            Who gets in?

            Those who “wash their robes”.

            Who are they?

            Text doesn’t say…but it seems like a fairly general phrase meaning “the righteous”.

            Who’s outside?

            Sinners.

            So again, was the Church in the OT?

            No. Not for a second.

            Were there believers before the church?

            Sure.

            Could “those who wash their robes” be a general category including the righteous people from before the church and after the church?

            Well, if not, there’s no reason in Revelation 22:14-15 for that.

          • 4Commencefiring4

            There’s just two views of this city, unless you can think of more:

            1. The New Jerusalem is an actual city, a cube 1500 miles in each direction. It sits on the new Earth, and all the saved (of any era) live inside; anything outside of this city is the abode of the damned (22:15), never mind that they were supposedly thrown into the lake of fire in chapter 20. (Perhaps the city floats on the lake of fire).

            So then, this city will be our eternal home (because we have no reason to go outside where the dogs and the sorcerers are, or if the lake of fire is out there…well, you know), and it’s an enclosure that would be a place that would be equivalent to a cube whose footprint would take up a piece of real estate stretching approximately between Phoenix and Atlanta at the bottom, and up to Calgary and across to somewhere in Ontario on the north edge. Since we don’t know how large the new Earth will be, it’s impossible to say how much of the planet the city occupies. But I think it’s safe to say that a cubical residence of 1500 miles on a side will be rather limiting, especially if we’re going to be there forever, and the redeemed of all ages–billions of people–will be living there shoulder to shoulder. I’m beginning to think we’ll be in somewhat cramped quarters; but I could be wrong.

            But that’s what a literal city would boil down to, wouldn’t it? A new Earth with a city sitting (or floating) on it that is likely a rather small sector of the whole place. You may think I’m being facetious, but I’m sincerely trying to be as LITERAL as I can with what I understand this view to mean. I’m really trying to picture a literal city this size on the new Earth. Yes, I know there’s a lot of unanswered questions about what eternity will be like, but from the data given in this passage, it seems my speculations are well within reason.

            2. The angel tells John he will show him “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” in 21:9, and he is shown (v10) the “holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God”, (exactly the language from v 2). So we have a direct equivalency between “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” and this city.

            So the question is whether, despite all the measurements of walls, gates of pearls, and streets of gold, the city is a physical city that takes up space, or if it’s instead a depiction in symbolic language of what we all know from the rest of the N.T. is the “bride”–the Body of Christ.

            Given what the alternative would mean (see #1), it seem reasonable that–in a book that is chocked full of other symbols and metaphors and visions, like a woman clothed with the sun, locusts with lions’ teeth, a “great star” (something thousands of times larger than our planet) that falls to Earth and manages to strike just “a third of the rivers”–that perhaps we have here a symbolic and beautiful description of the precious community that Christ died to redeem.

            It’s either literal, or it’s not. If literal, then we have a very peculiar future to look forward to with anomalies I cannot possible fathom and which make no sense, given other truths we know from other places. If symbolic (in the book of Revelation? Say it ain’t so), then it begins to come together…at least, for me.

          • Lyndon Unger

            For starters, I’d like to direct you to this post. I don’t think you’re using the word “literally” that consistently or correctly. You seem to confuse “woodenly literal” with “naturally literal”.

            1. You can simply ignore the all the details and measurements about the city, but if it’s a metaphor for something, I’d love to see two things:

            1a. Any biblical precedent for the dimensions for a city/building/etc. being a metaphor/allegory for something else that was understood as such by any biblical author.

            1b. An explanation of any of the elements of the metaphor.

            Your problems are almost silly, as if you’re desperately grabbing for reasons to support your thesis.

            If the damned are thrown in the lake of fire, are the in the city or outside the city? Does “outside” mean “outside the city gates”, “outside the kingdom”, or something else?

            I’d take a stab in the dark and guess that “outside” would be more accurate than “inside”, and the description is about as general as it gets based on the inside/outside contrast. The fact that the biblical authors don’t write with the level of detail or specific precision that you’d prefer is no fault of the authors of scripture.

            As for the city being a little cramped, a little basic math might help you realize how absurd that idea actually sounds. A City of 1500 meters in length, width and height would have a cubic volume of 3,375,000,000 miles. That’s 3.375 BILLION cubic miles of space. Assuming that there are 100 people per cubic mile (147,197,952,000 cubic feet in a cubic mile), that means the city would easily hold 333.375 billion people with relative ease…and each person would have more than enough elbow room, seeing that your average 50′ railway boxcar has 5,238 cubic feet. I am pretty sure there haven’t been 333+ billion people in history, and each one would easily have a rather large amount of space for themselves.

            To further unpack the math, your average building has around 12 feet making up one story (give or take a foot, depending on the construction/design and other things). That would mean that a building that was a vertical mile high would be 440 stories, and the New Jerusalem would be 660,000 stories high.

            That’s pretty big. I dare say that space will NOT be a concern, not even for a second.

            2. So if the New Jerusalem is a city, then why would the angel say “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb” in Rev. 21:9?

            Well, I’ll admit that this is a difficult passage/figure of speech…but difficult doesn’t mean “inscrutable” and difficult doesn’t necessitate tossing up our hands and saying “since there are metaphors throughout this book, THIS must be a metaphor too!”

            If we refine our thinking to concrete and answerable questions, we can likely come up with a good direction for an answer.

            Question #1: Is the Church referred to as the Bride of Christ elsewhere in the NT?

            Well, it’s amazingly infrequent. The term “nymphe” (“bride” in Greek) only occurs eight times in the NT. Mark 10:35 and Luke 12:53 clearly have the term used in a regular fashion that has nothing to do with the church. John 3:29 has John the Baptist using the term as part of a descriptive metaphor, and that’s it until the book of Revelation. Rev. 18:23 has the term used by an angel as part of a curse against Babylon. Then, in Rev. 21:2 the term is used as part of a simile when John writes:

            “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

            So how is the holy city prepared?

            Well, 21:3-8 mention some things, like being ready for the presence of God (21:3) and his activities (21:3-5), having the river of living water in it (21:6, again mentioned in 22:1), being ready for the righteous (21:7) and being free from all the wicked (21:8). Namely, the “holy city” (21:2) was prepared in that it was actually, a truly “holy” city.

            We already know about 21:9, but there’s one more occurrence in Revelation: Rev. 22:17:

            “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

            If you read 22:16, it reads “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

            Now THAT is interesting. So Jesus says that “these things” (i.e. the things contained in the book of revelation) are revealed to John by his angel “for the churches”…and yet in 22:17 the Spirit and the Bride say “come”.

            Who’s bid to come? The saved of the damned?

            Well, the one who comes is “the one who is thirsty” and “the one who desires”. That doesn’t sound like disbelievers, does it?

            So does it strike you as strange that if the Bride is the church, then the church is calling those within herself to “come”? That seems strange to me…for the church to bid the church to “come” to the city (which is actually the church) mentioned in 22:14-15. It seems to be redundant for the church to call the church to come into the church, no?

            Oh well, don’t let the nouns and verbs of scripture distract you from the trajectory of scripture or the message of the book.

            So what does 21:9 likely mean?

            Well, given that the closest mention of the term occurs just 7 verses previous as part of a simile, I’d suggest that the term “bride” is either a metaphor (instead of saying “the one like a Bride” the angel says “the Bride”), or a synecdoche (the eternal residence of the redeemed is used to refer to both the residents and the residence). That allows me to take a reasonable reading of 21:9 without having to say things like “despite all the measurements of walls, gates of pearls, and streets of gold…”. I can take 21:10+ and hang onto 21:9.

            But do I win?

            Well, just for the sake of thoroughness, I looked up all 221 occurrences of “gyne” (“woman/wife” in Greek) as well, and guess what? There’s only 1 occurrence in the entire NT where there’s any possibility of the Church being referred to as the “wife” of Christ: Rev. 19:7, which says:

            “Let us rejoice and exult
            and give him the glory,
            for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
            and his Bride has made herself ready…”

            So looking at that passage, I’ll grant that the church is referred to as Christ’s “Bride”, though I’d point out that this is the only clear example of such in the entire NT. Sure, there’s lots of “bride” and “marriage” similes and metaphors, but this isn’t “symbolic language of what we all know from the rest of the N.T.”

            It’s the only clear occurrence in the N.T as a whole.

            I’d actually suggest that it’s also a metaphor rather than a label, given that 19:8 explains that the preparation of the “Bride” is the “putting on” of righteous deeds, and the marriage supper is when birds of prey gorge themselves on all the corpses of the enemies of the Lord (19:17-18, 21).

            Still, the New Jerusalem is an actual physical city where the righteous (i.e. the “Bride of the lamb”) reside.

            I hope that helps.

            Forgive me if I hold my breath.

          • 4Commencefiring4

            I appreciate all your research and references; that’s what makes Bible study rewarding, isn’t it?

            My observations begin, in this case, with the fact that all this language and description of things is found in a book that is clearly apocalyptic in nature, which should prep us for a whole other kind of understanding. This is not going to be a straight-ahead “news of the future” book; it’s going to be a kind of poem, or dream sequence, that will require a lot of unscrambling and interpreting. Many have tried, and few agree on everything. Except that we are the victors in the end, for which I’m eternally grateful.

            Anyhow, the Revelation is made up of visions (“bowls” of wrath poured out, stars that “fall to Earth”), symbolic characters (red dragons, locusts with lions’ teeth), numbers that make no literal sense: how can a “great star” fall to the Earth and only strike “a third of the rivers”, rather than completely obliterate the entire planet? And with the nearest star over four light years away, and therefore unaffected by our gravitational pull, no “stars” are ever going to be “falling to Earth.” If any star–to say nothing of a “great” one–ever gets any closer to us than the sun, Earth disappears entirely–not just 1/3 of our rivers. It would be like saying the space shuttle could “fall on” a pencil and only strike the eraser. No, the pencil is done.

            So that’s where I begin. This whole thing is a series of visions, so I’m not expecting much literal news here. But to hear some tell it, it’s nearly all literal depictions of things to come. Gotta admit, I’m dumbfounded.

            You asked for precedents in Scripture of building measurements not being literal, but I could ask you where else in Scripture is there an actual “red dragon” roaming about? Is there any other passage where an angel–or anyone else–restrains the devil with a chain? No–we understand that these are pictures of other things; this is a vision, after all. It’s not a news report.

            And so, too, with this city. We can dissect the language, trying to decide what constitutes “outside” and “inside” it, or where the lake of fire is in relation to this city, or who the “bride” is. But ultimately, we have to settle on what seems to make sense and what God is saying with all this.

            And to me, a future eternal state in which we all live in some kind of cubical structure 1500 miles on a side, some at lobby level, and some getting the flats at the top with skylights, and some in the middle 1,000 floors with no view at all, is not exactly what I signed up for. I don’t know about you. That’s not the “mansion” I thought Christ was preparing for me–or the one I’ll be trading in to get a place in The Cube.

            Well, we’ve spent enough digital ink on this. I’m not going to “watch the skies” expecting any stars to hit us, but feel free to do so if you think that’s in the cards. It’s pretty out there no matter what, right? 🙂

  • 4Commencefiring4

    Why is the term “wrath” made to refer to the tribulation? (“God has not destined us for wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation” is often cited as proof of christians’ absence during the tribulation).

    Is the tribulation really the “wrath of God”? If so, what sense did John the Baptist make when he asked the Jewish leaders at the Jordan, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Their presence at the river couldn’t have related to fleeing an event thousands of years in the future. “Wrath to come” has to mean God’s eternal judgment at the end of the age. That IS something we are not destined for.

    • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

      4C4, I agree. I have also understood wrath to mean eternal punishment, not the tribulation period.

    • Sam Hendrickson

      “Wrath” is used in the OT to denote the treatment God gives Israel in their covenant-breaking, and in those cases it would seem a stretch that they were all thus headed to eternal punishment when He means it as covenant chastisement. [Neh 13:18; Is 60:10; Jer 21:5]

      Also, the use of the verbs “made to refer” implies a forced interpretation. Perhaps you meant to color your meaning in that way, but one might guess this kind of language might be understood to be begging the question or similar? The scholars who interpret “wrath” in this way have genuine lexical and other contextual cues to warrant such an interpretation without being accused of making the word mean this or that.

  • 4Commencefiring4

    Of all the passages that speak to this question, the clearest one to me is Matt 24. In that single passage, we have–

    1) a definitive time clue: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…”
    2) a description of the coming of the Son of Man, something He had promised elsewhere (“I will come again [not “again AND again”] and will receive you to Myself…”)
    3. trumpets being sounded in conjunction with this event
    4. angels being sent forth in conjunction with this event
    5. gathering of believers (“elect”) from every quarter

    Yes, I know–many like to recast this event as a separate and distinct “gathering” of just Jewish believers who came to the Lord after the church left town seven years earlier, or Gentiles and Jews who did the same, or some such. If that’s true, then one must conclude that–

    1. The Lord is coming back TWO MORE times, as opposed to the statement that He shall appear “a second time, for salvation…” and despite all the N.T. writers who referred to THE “coming”, THE “appearing”, THE “revelation” of the Lord, never once implying yet another Divine appearance beyond the ONE to come.

    2. This Matthew event, despite the fact that it involves the dispatching of angels, the sounding of trumpets, and the gathering of believers from everywhere going to meet Christ, is nevertheless NOT the same event as I Thess 4 and I Cor 15, everyone’s go-to passages on the rapture, which include the same things. There will therefore be TWO angle dispatches coming, TWO more trumpet soundings, TWO gatherings, TWO MORE returns of Christ.

    3. “Elect” can refer to just Jewish believers, as opposed to “believers” generically.

    4. The entire world will have witnessed the sudden disappearance of hundreds of millions of people from every nation, and we should not expect the Bible to spend a single sentence describing the utter world-wide chaos and fear such an event would be expected to precipitate. Life gets harder, to be sure, but everyone’s apparently unaffected by all these people suddenly being gone.

    In short, Matt 24 sums it up nicely for me. He’s coming again, so buck up for that day. When the last out is made, the ballgame is over. No more innings, no matter the score.

    • I always appreciate your comments, and thanks for this particular one, even though I disagree with it, I appreciate the time you took.
      I’m not going to respond point by point, but I do want to respond to the first one (two second comings?) because its a common misconception. Pre-trib rapture peeps do NOT believe in two second comings, but rather that the second coming encompasses the events of the 7-year tribulation (the rapture, the rise of antichrist, the covenant of peace, the wrath of God unveiled, and physical return of Jesus to the earth). Just like the first coming contained John’s miraculous birth, Jesus’ virgin birth, magi, Egypt, baptism, ministry, cross, resurrection, teaching, ascension. Nobody calls the resurrection his “second coming” or says, “so wait, there are two first comings?” Its sort of ridiculous to say that at the end too, especially when the pre-trib view is that Jesus does NOT even physically set foot on earth at the rapture anyway.
      I submit your other points have some similar misunderstandings in them, but the two second comings thing stands out.

      • 4Commencefiring4

        Point taken. So let’s make it simpler: Christ ascended back to heaven, and sat down where? Answer: at the right hand of God, there to be our perpetual advocate before the Father.

        For how long will He be seated there? Answer : Ps 110:1/Matt 22:44–“Sit at My right hand UNTIL I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” In other words, until Christ’s enemies are totally and completely vanquished and under His eternal control.
        When will that be accomplished? Well, if His enemies are still loose and running about for seven years during the tribulation, and another 1,000 years after that (for they mount a rebellion against Him at the end of it), then clearly His enemies are not finally conquered for at least 1,007 years after He supposedly LEFT His seat to come for the church.

        Of course, one might try to say He won’t have to “leave” His seat at the rapture, but clearly He is not both in heaven and “in the air” where we’re to meet Him, at the same time. Sounds to me like we’re expecting Him to depart His advocacy seat far too early.

        • RGSCT

          When David wrote Psalm 110 the Son was sitting at Father’s right hand as deity. Did He leave His seat to become flesh? He was clearly not in Heaven and Calvary at the same time. And clearly His enemies were not His
          footstool.

          Rev 3:21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

          Two thrones: Jesus Christ, now as undiminished deity and true humanity, sits at the Father’s right hand with the Father Who is eternally sovereign. Christ sits there now as High Priest not King. He will return to earth as King to take His throne as the Son of Adam, the Son of Abraham and the Son of David. His kingdom will be after He has taken the scroll out of the right hand of the One seated on the throne (Rev 5:7). By breaking the seals He is executing His throne rights .He authorizes judgment to claim His inheritance, His property rights. The Lamb breaking the seals triggers both divine and human agencies in a tremendous escalating wrath of God: The day of the Lord which we are not destined for.

          In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul lays out the order of resurrection,
          victory over death, the last of the enemies to be defeated. First Christ; second those at His coming; third and final at the end when the Son hands over the Kingdom to the Father. Revelation 20 says that’s 1000 years (six times).

          • 4Commencefiring4

            When the Psalms were written, I don’t think we have any statements as to Christ being “seated at God’s right hand”–other than He was in heaven, because He told us He had “come from heaven.” 110:1 was a prophetic statement about where He was going after He ascended–He “sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb 10:12).

            As for Revelation, it also says a beast with seven heads and ten horns comes up out of the sea, and a red dragon sweeps away a third of the stars with his tail…which is one heck of lot of stars, and a heck a long tail. I think it’s called “a vision”, not a literal depiction of two actual existing (or yet-to-exist) beasts.

          • RGSCT

            I agree that Ps 110 is a prophecy of the promised Messiah’s ascension and session. While where He was “seated” before is debatable, He was not made high priest until the ascension. Still the fact is that the throne in heaven is the Fathers’ eternal throne not the Messiah’s established throne. Also death has reigned since Adam. It was His enemy before and after the first advent and the order of victory over death confirmed by both Paul and John indicates that death will still be an enemy for a time after His second coming. I take 1000 years repeated six times to be emphasis on a literal length of time which needed no symbolic communication. When symbolic communication is needed and used in Revelation there is always OT referents: The beast, the heads, the horns, the dragon and the stars included.

          • 4Commencefiring4

            Well, even the beast’s description includes specific numbers, too: 7 heads, not 8. Ten horns, not 12 or 17 or 2. The 144,000 is curious as well: it says 12,000 of “every tribe of the sons of Israel” are sealed, yet Dan is not listed, nor is Ephraim. So I’m left to think 144K is a number meaning something else altogether, just as the number of baskets full of bread left over (7 or 12), while literal, was arranged that way for a reason–symbolism. (Jesus camped on those numbers–“How many were left? Do you still not understand?”, He asked the Apostles).

            So in a book that is 99.9% visions and clearly symbolic characters, like “a woman clothed with the sun” and red dragons, etc., I have to take numbers that way or it gets ridiculous. Besides, I see no theological purpose to the 1,000 years: it doesn’t do anything regarding the Abrahamic Covenant (land), as that was completely fulfilled according to Joshua 21: 43–45. The only aspect of that which could be yet future is the eternal nature of the inheritance (“…to thee and thy seed will I give this land FOREVER”) is not met by getting land for just 1,000 years. But on the new Earth? Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. 🙂

            But that’s all another discussion.

  • tovlogos

    Splendid, Lyndon — Since I am a serious pre-trib, it was music to my ears. Moreover, you didn’t have to write a book on this subject, because you hit significant (hard to refute) points — and I am always open to bolstering my exegetical outlook. You put a few smiles on my face. Blessings brother.

    Mark

    • Lyndon Unger

      Glad to make you smile Goodword!

  • Randall Hartman

    I generally appreciate your site, but I was very disappointed by this post for several reasons.

    1. You assumed bad intentions on the part of those with whom you disagree. I’ve read the posts you reference, and the are serious, thoughtful, and offered respectfully. Yet you imply many bad motivations without any basis, damaging your credibility, not theirs.

    2. Perhaps as a result of the above, your responses are snarky, disrespectful, and in many cases non-substantive. As a result, found it impossible to take even your actual supporting arguments seriously.

    3. I had hoped for a serious treatment. I was raised pre-trib, but I have found most of the arguments for it to be emotional, sensationalist, and rife with out of context proof texting. Therefore, I was looking for a serious presentation of the support for pre-trib and intellectually honest, scripturally sound engagement with the post-trib views and support. Unfortunately, I’m still looking.

    • Lyndon Unger

      What? Where did I imply bad motivation on behalf of John Piper or Justin Taylor?

      Whatever tone you read into online text is 90% imported by you.

      Where’s the proof-texting?

      I’m not engaging post-trib views and support. I’m responding to a single post by a single person. This is a blog, not a theological textbook.

      I’m sorry to disappoint you, but your expectations were quite unrealistic.

      Feel free to ask a specific question instead of make blanket statement comments that don’t get anyone anywhere.

    • James

      Look no more!! The Counterpoint series has two books (one on the rapture another on the millennium) I think you will find those books to be more of what you’re looking for. Don’t know about Lyndon’s disposition tho…… Seemed to me in reading the responses that most was just men humbly admitting that we are still learning how to communicate with each other. I maybe wrong tho. Lyndon I know eschatology and the gifts usually garner this type of heated discussion. Thanks for undertaking it!!!

      • Lyndon Unger

        Thanks James.

        One man’s “humble” is another man’s “snarky (and) disrespectful”. I found it interesting how my apparent tone was justification to completely ignore the actual arguments being made. I tend to find that sort of attitude in people who aren’t *actually* interested in discussion, but instead more interested in finding mud to fling.

        I may point out that I got showed up in at least one thread of comments and admitted that I was wrong. I wonder when was the last time certain folks admitted their own errors in a widely read public forum?

        (holding my breath)

          • Lyndon Unger

            Good link Mike. That should be a separate page linked along the top!

        • James

          AMEN!!!! I noticed some people either missed the point of the post or didn’t respond directly to the post. That must be infuriating.

          AMEN AGAIN!!! Very rare someone ever apologizes in a public forum!!!

          Don’t hold your breath too long on that!!!

          • Lyndon Unger

            Thanks for the affirmation James.

    • Todd

      I think you might enjoy this roundtable eschatology discussion from the faculty of Southeastern Baptist Seminary. It’s not as detail as the one with Piper on youtube but it presents a solid dispensational viewpoint from scripture by Daniel Akin.

      Hope this is helpful

      • Lyndon Unger

        Thanks for the link Todd!

  • Pingback: Roundup | Eternity Matters()

  • Because the I’ve blogged on my rapture views before, I’d rather just link that here, rather than going through the comment thread one-at-a-time. If there are other rapture issues that remain unanswered here, just reply to this comment and we might tackle it in the future.

    http://thecripplegate.com/why-i-believe-in-the-pre-trib-rapture/

  • Lyndon Unger

    It appears that this thread has the most comments of any post this year. If I’m anything, I’m obnoxious/engaging enough to make people comment!

    • Todd

      Allow me to add some observations because it does not shock me that this post has received the most comments.
      1. Rather right or wrong, eschatology still garners passionate response among believers.
      2. You deleted comments that were completely inappropriate and that were completely off topic.
      3. You didn’t have a hair trigger and hit “comments closed” when there was legitimate pushback or when individuals (me in particular) failed to articulate a question/comment accurately. Herculean Patience!!!
      4. You ANSWERED JUST ABOUT EACH RESPONSE!!!
      5. You were not afraid to apologize if you thought you were wrong and didn’t hesitate to stand your ground when you felt you were right.

      As a reader, I found this post extremely helpful and eye opening!!! A number of your responses were eye openers. I can not share with you how many times I have heard the argument that post trib is valid based on the Greek word “meet”. Not to be a chronological snob, but most of the pre trib defenders that I have heard have been from an older generation (Walvrood, Ryrie, Phillips ect) not taking anything away from those men but you address certain question I’m not sure they’ve faced. So thanks for bringing much clarity into this discussion and the hard work you put into it.

      I have one last question that is somewhat off topic and if you decide not to answer I understand but hopefully you will consider writing about it later.

      Question: Would you be considered a Classic Dispensationalist or a Progressive Dispensationalist? Also what is the difference? Could you suggest some further literature, books, articles or blogs that explores the similarities and the differences?

      Thanks, hope I didn’t open up a can of earthworms.

      3rd John 2

      • Lyndon Unger

        Thanks for all the affirmation Todd.

        Honestly, I don’t know enough about Classic and Progressive Dispensationalism to place myself somewhere in that mix.

        I’d suspect that I’m some sort of “leaky”, like MacArthur, mostly because I get annoyed at almost all the dispensational literature I read. I got a eschatology chart book from Thomas Ice (for $1 at a thrift store) and within minutes I had my study tools out and was yelling at the book.

        I tend to stick with exegetical work and try to not adopt systems consciously that override my exegesis…which is probably why I sometimes contradict myself. I tend to focus on a text and forget the work I’ve done with other texts.