Answers to Reader Questions
Q: Could you point me to materials that show the superiority of pre-wrath over post-trib? Most of the post-trib sites do a thorough job of addressing pre-wrath position, but I have not found pre-wrath responses to these.
A: Not specifically, because my main concern is the damage I feel that the pretrib rapture teaching does to the spiritual preparation of the Church. Post-trib teaches that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation, so I believe that, while the doctrine is in error by teaching that the Great Tribulation extends to the end of the 70th Week, it does not do the damage that pretrib does.
My book does address one critical issue of the post-trib doctrine, and that is dismissing the possibility that Matt. 24:29-31 is at Armageddon. Since this is the foundational verse for post-trib, this is an effective argument.
In short, my response would be this:
1. If Matt. 24:31 is the rapture, which post-trib believes that it is based on the similarities to 1 Thess. 4:16-17 and 1 Cor. 15:52...
2. Then, using the same argument, Matt. 24:29 must be the sixth seal based on the similarities (indeed, word for word correlation) with Rev. 6:12-13. If so...
3. Then the rapture must occur after the sixth seal, not at Armageddon.
Assuming a futurist perspective on Revelation, the only likely post-trib response to this could be that Revelation is not consecutive and that the six seals last the full seven years of Daniel's 70th Week. This would require the seals to be an "overview" of the 70th Week, covering the same period as the trumpets and the bowls. This, or they may use some other version of the "judgments in Revelation are not consecutive" argument, which is also impossible to reconcile with scripture. I refute any attempt to take the judgments in Revelation anything but consecutively in the book in the chapter "Is Revelation Consecutive?"
In my view, these two arguments, in themselves, do enough damage to the post-trib position to render it impossible to reconcile with scripture. I do have a short section, a page or two, discussing other reasons why Matt. 24:29-31 cannot be referring to Armageddon, but it's not a main thrust of the book.
The greatest refutation of the post-trib position is the strength of prewrath: its perfect consistency with scripture, from one end of the Bible to the other. Many posttribbers make the error of taking much of their doctrine from the Old Testament, when the Church — and, indeed, the two-stage coming of Christ— were still a mystery. Many prophets saw the Messiah coming only once, in the clouds, then immediately setting up His kingdom. This would favor the posttrib view, but we also know that many things were hidden from the Old Testament prophets, including the mystery of the Church, the rapture, and the detailed events described in the Book of Revelation. These visions are but a glimpse of the broader, more complex truths revealed in the New Testament. This is why we interpret the Old Testament prophecies in light of the additional revelation
given in the New Testament, not the other way around.
It's also notable that most of the arguments against the prewrath view are on peripheral issues. Like trying to dismiss Christianity because there are inconsistencies in the genealogies in the Old Testament while ignoring the claims of Christ. Most of the criticisms of the prewrath view that I've seen have been of the same sort: so tangential as to be meaningless. This creates an illusion of effectiveness without actually doing damage to the position itself.
Q: In your Talkin' Rapture column, “What About Revelation 6:17?”, you wrote,
“Thus, the cry, 'the great day of God's wrath has come,' does not mean that those making this statement are experiencing God's wrath. Rather, it tells us that the mighty men realize that they have entered this final period of judgment, called the Day of God's Wrath, during which God's wrath will be poured out. Indeed, it is only after the completion of the seven trumpet judgments and prior to the outpouring of the bowl judgments, in Rev. 11:18, that we see the actual arrival of God's wrath: `The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints...'”
Does this mean that you don't see the seven trumpet judgments as part of God's wrath? Aren't the trumpets and bowls all God's wrath, but the bowls are described as the “final” part of God's wrath (Rev. 15:1)?
A: Yes, it is my understanding that God's wrath begins with the bowl judgments, not the trumpets. It is the only way that I can see that all of the scriptures relating to God's wrath can be read with perfect consistency. Not all theologians agree with me, of course, not even Marvin Rosenthal or Robert Van Kampen as I understand it, but this is my take.
I am not, however, dogmatic on this point. Whether God's wrath starts with the trumpets or the bowls does not impact the timing of the rapture in any way. What is important is that God's wrath cannot start earlier than the trumpets, undermining one of the most fundamental pillars of the pretrib position.
I will, however, take a closer look at the meaning of this verse, and my reasons for seeing God's wrath as contained in the bowls, in an upcoming Talkin' Rapture column.