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We're Hunting Pretribbers
In Defense of the Faith
Friday, September 30, 2016
Alf Cengia

We're hunting pretribbers! Or as Elmer Fudd would say, "It's pwetwib season. We're hunting pwetwibbers - ha-ha-ha-ha!" 

It's always pwetwib season, Elmer.

Yes, I know the odd pretribber likes to throw mud around. There are always a few. None of us should ever call people with different eschatological viewpoints, heretics or false teachers. Let's all get a clue.

That said the level of rancor I've seen against pretribulationism fascinates me. It almost ranks with the animosity I see against modern Israel. In fact the only reason I ever became interested in the rapture timing debate was because of this weird anti-pretrib phenomenon.

I'm sure many sincerely believed they were doing a good thing - rescuing pretribulationists from a "dangerous teaching." Later I discovered that a lot of them were influenced by polemical books written against pretribulationism. There are even entire websites designed to combat the "pretrib heresy."

My shift from posttrib to pretrib was partly a result of struggling to understand why some people were so fervently anti-pretrib. I wanted to know if their arguments and concerns stacked up and how they justified their views.

Having reached my conclusions, I started a blog on eschatology in order to record my thoughts. Sure enough, whenever I posted an article on the rapture, I'd get drive-by comments suggesting I should Google something about John Darby, or Tommy Ice, or Cyrus Scofield, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye etc. It hardly ever failed.

I learned something from jousting with the rare few who bothered engaging me. Most of them weren't interested in genuine dialogue. Whenever I answered an objection they'd move to a different one. They also disliked justifying themselves. Interestingly, atheists use the same tactics.

Others who run public pretribulational forums know that pro-pretrib articles are bound to be magnets for attacks. After a series of attacks by proponents of one particular rapture timing system, one ministry decided to officially respond to the view.

Personally, I felt that the response was fair and irenic considering the provocations. But the non-pretribbers were incensed. "Foul!" they cried. Blogs were written and debate challenges dutifully issued. Those wotten pwetwib wascals! How dare they attack us!

Then there was the four-hour documentary produced against pretribulationism in which John Darby was a focal point. It was natural that pretribulationists who actually endured the four hours would react. Ironically, the doco producers were so offended by one rejoinder - they convened a one hour and forty-five minute conference. Is there some disconnect here?

Speaking of Darby - a standard attack on pretribulationism consists of drawing connections between Margaret Macdonald, Darby, Scofield, Lindsey, and LaHaye's Left Behind novels. When Grant Jeffrey discovered a pre-conflagration rapture statement by someone called Pseudo Ephraem, non-pretribbers circled the wagons. "It couldn't be!" they cried. "Wishful thinking!"

Posttribber Robert Gundry came to their rescue by suggesting that PE spoke in symbolic language. Sound familiar? Dr Ice responded HERE. Note that Gundry wrote two books arguing against the pretrib rapture.

Yet PE was the tip of the ice-berg. William C. Watson has since written Dispensationalism Before Darby which opens the flood waters of pre-Darby rapture and dispensational themes among Puritans. Dr. Watson told me that Gundry - despite this overwhelming data - insisted his view was based on Scripture. One then wonders why that urgency to debunk PE.

There's more. One prominent non-pretrib website recently criticized a well-known pretribber because of his biblically questionable associations. The writer observed that the man was sliding into apostasy, all the while obstinately clinging to his pretribulationism.

The man's "apostasy" wasn't the real focus - it was his pretribulationism. How else does one explain the roaring silence in the face of posttribber Gundry's bizarre stance regarding the Apostle Peter's alleged apostasy? According to C. David Farnell, the heart of Gundry's problem is his bias against biblical inerrancy:

Clearly, Robert Gundry’s view of inspiration allows for errors and contradictions, both factual and theological, in the Gospel records.

Did I miss something? Is this the same Scripture Gundry uses to cling to his posttribulationism? Why is there no non-pretrib outrage over this?

Because dispensationalism and pretribulationism are often intertwined, we often hear of the so-called heresies associated with the former as a means to refute the latter. Foremost is the charge that dispensationalism teaches two ways of salvation. As many times as this is refuted it keeps returning. Please read Tony Garland's response.

Another alleged issue is that pretrib-dispensationalism "dangerously" teaches a different mode of salvation during the 70th week of Daniel. Salvation is always by faith through grace - even in the Old Testament. The question is the content of that faith.

Here's the irony. In this Age of Grace there's no sin preventing an unbeliever from repenting and coming to salvation through faith in Christ. Yet when John MacArthur suggested that people who'd taken the Mark of the Beast could repent and be saved, pretribbers and non-pretribbers alike criticized him. Of course the latter had a field day against pretribulationism.

Now I'm not defending MacArthur. However, what has changed in the 70th week? What about Matt 25:32-46? Think about it.

I realize I'm going over some well-trodden ground. But it bears repetition because it keeps coming up. Are pretribbers ill-prepared for the coming tribulation? Will they confuse the Antichrist for Jesus because the former allegedly arrives first?

It's hard to take the last one seriously. The Beast doesn't come down in the clouds, and he chops people's heads off if they don't take the mark and worship him. That isn't what Christ does. Case closed.

Here's something for the non-pretrib preppers. There's much wisdom in being prepared for short-term disasters. Yet it isn't likely one can prepare for seven years of it. Will you bunker down? Then who will witness to the lost? When the starving lost ones knock on your door, will you feed and witness to them? Or will you send them away? Remember Matt 25?

I sometimes see non-pretrib Christians use the pseudonym "Overcomer" as a pointer to Matt 24:13 and Rev 7:14. Tribulation is already here. It always has been. Every day, around the world, Christians are dying for their faith.

The time for overcoming is now.

How do we overcome?  Do we trust ourselves? Paul wrote that he was able to bear all conditions through Christ who strengthened him (Phil 4:11-13). He didn't prep for shipwrecks. Paul was ever ready because of his position in Christ.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5

This is what should comfort us greatly:

My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. Psalm 62:5-6

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:38-39

Instead of hunting down people with differing eschatological views, our focus should be on our personal daily walk in the Lord and witnessing to the lost. We don't know when God may call us home through death. Are you ready to meet the Lord now?

Let's wisely use whatever time we have left.

The Lord might come for us sooner than we imagine.

About Alf Cengia

Last week: Everyone Loves Israel



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