Once someone becomes committed to a belief there is a tendency to refuse to acknowledge any facts to the contrary.  This selective sifting out of contrary realities is called willful ignorance.  Often willful ignorance has disastrous consequences.  Willful ignorance, for example, was at the heart of the space shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986.  The report on this incident cited willful ignorance concerning a small component of the shuttle as the cause of the explosion.  There is even an interesting book about the perils of willful ignorance.  It is Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril”.

So, when I came across a video recently of William Lane Craig confidently asserting that the rapture of the church was never taught in the early church, I just shake my head at yet another example of willful ignorance.  In recent years books such as Dispensationalism before Darby”, and “Ancient Dispensational Truth” have demonstrated that the apostolic fathers had rapture on their minds.  Consider just one example.  Here is Irenaeus (ca. 130-202),  “And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, “There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.”[1]  He is a particularly interesting example.  He had learned the Christian faith from his mentor Polycarp.  Polycarp had been a disciple of the apostle John.  So not only is Irenaeus writing about the rapture but we can trace his understanding back to the apostles.

I think William Lane Craig’s willful ignorance is lamentable.  He has been a notable Christian apologist.  While I don’t share his evidentialist approach to apologetics, I nevertheless am grateful he has a prominent platform to address agnostic and atheist objections to Christianity.  However, when he says willfully ignorant things, he damages his credibility.  Nothing worse than an apologist that can’t be believed.

[1] Irenaeus of Lyons, “Irenæus against Heresies,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 558.

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