Book Review: Evidence for the Rapture: A Biblical Case for Pretribulationism

Evidence for the Rapture: A Biblical Case for Pretribulationism is an excellent recent, work that goes beyond the promise of the title to argue for the necessity of a pretribulational Rapture of the church. If your not familiar with this end-times position, it is the view that the deceased who came to faith in Christ through the Church, and living believers will be caught up out of the world to meet the Lord in the air and be taken to heaven where they will be kept safe during the seven years of tribulation that will come upon the earth.

Whether you agree with this position or not this is a work that ought to be in your library. It will equip pre-tribulationists with cogent arguments defending their view. Opponents will need to understand and respond to the arguments made by the ten contributing authors 

Evidence for the Rapture provides a reasoned, rational alternative to popular end-times works that sometimes resort to date setting. It also provides an exegetically derived framework that allows the student of prophecy to integrate all that the Bible has to say with regard to Jesus’ return. The book is aimed at a thoughtful, Biblically literate, and curious audience. Each essay carefully interacts with the text of the Bible. Whenever an argument is made from the original languages of scripture it is thoroughly explained. Sources are well footnoted so that those who want to know more about supporting and opposing arguments can consult the works referenced. 

Each of the essays provides an exegetically based defense of the pre-tribulation Rapture from different perspectives. Contributors are from Dallas Theological Seminary, Grace Theological Seminary, The Master’s Theological Seminary Moody Bible Institute, and Shasta Bible College and Graduate School. 

I enjoyed the book so much that it is hard for me to identify individual highpoints. Nevertheless, I am going to make a try. The opening essay by Dr. Robert Thomas addressing imminency is a fantastic survey that roots the doctrine firmly in the teaching of Jesus and then shows how His teaching echoes through the subsequent New Testament books. 

Similarly, the editor Dr. John Hart, demonstrates that the New Testament teaching about the Rapture of the Church is rooted in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24.

Lastly, Dr. George Gunn ably defends the eschatological promise of Jesus to take His Children to a heavenly home in John 14:1—3 against recent attempts to argue for a non-eschatological interpretation. 

This is an important and much needed work in the area of Biblical eschatology. In the best tradition of dispensational hermeneutics each author grounds their argumentation in text of scripture. Without reservation I recommend this to those who both oppose and support this eschatological stance.

Emotion First? Not According to the Bible

When we first moved to here we started visiting churches.  One of my big surprises is how much sentimentality and emotion pervades the ministry of worship and the word. Recently a friend and colleague forwarded me an email he received that is designed to entice the recipient to sign up for a webinar. The lead in line for the webinar was that a famous Christian apologist came to faith by first making an emotional decision, and then later backed it up with reason. The email went on to say that nearly every buying decision is made emotionally not intellectually. So, of course, I need to learn offer the Gospel by first bypassing the mind by first appealing to emotions, which the webinar would teach me to do. 

I understand and even appreciate the emotional aspects of faith. Yet, the idea that I need to first get someone to make an emotional commitment to Christ, and only later help them find reasons for their faith just strikes me as wrong. Why? First, I think there is a false dichotomy here. But hold it, big word alert! What is a dichotomy? It is just a fancy way of saying that the two things being compared, in this case emotion and reason, are opposed to each other or entirely different. But are emotion and reason opposed to each other? Not at all! Instead we find that in the Bible emotion is to be controlled and informed by reason. Joshua was told not to fear because God was with him (Josh. 1:9), Ruth was told to quell her fear because Boaz would be her redeemer (Ruth 3:11), Joseph was to set his fear of taking Mary as his wife aside because her conception was a work of the Spirit, and of course Jesus told His disciples to rightly fear God because He can destroy both soul and body (Mt. 10:28). Note the pattern here; fear was to be controlled by reason. I think that is the relationship between emotion and reason throughout the Bible. Emotion is to be subject to reason, not the other way around.

Second, when God invites His people into communion He appeals to their minds first. Check out Isa. 1:18 where God says “Come now, let us reason together…”. When Paul visited synagogues on his missionary journey the Bible does not say that he appealed to their emotion. Instead it says that he reasoned with them (Acts 17:2, 18:4). In fact the Bible says that the noble-minded responded to Paul by examining the scriptures and comparing them with what Paul said, that is they thought through what they had heard.  Lastly, Jesus gave a warning about those who have a strong emotional response to hearing the word preached. He said that the person who hears the word and immediately receives it with great joy is the one who is rootless and his reception of the word is only temporary (Mt. 13:20-21)

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that our apologist friend isn’t deeply rooted in the word with an enduring faith. By God’s grace I pray he is. No, what I am saying is that this is not the way the Bible tells us to engage with others. The example we see in the Bible is definitely not people making emotional appeals to “buy” the Gospel of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone.  Rather, we see a simple and hopefully winsome appeal to consider the facts of God’s grace and align our emotions accordingly.