Perhaps there is no issue which more clearly divides conservative Evangelicals, than the question of the relationship between Israel and the Church. Subsumed beneath that overriding concern are the intramural debates over soteriology (Calvinism, Arminianism or “neither”), eschatology (premillennial or amillennial and pre-trib or post-trib), and ecclesiology (paedobaptism or credobaptism).
These questions are not minor. The baptism question divides the Protestant church into denominations. The millennial question bars the entry into parachurch organizations, mission boards and educational institutions. Yet most agree that people from all perspectives on this issue take the Bible seriously: this is a Christian debate, separating fellow believers.
In this installment all I want to do is to set down the main verses which are used in discussions about the rapture. Let me make it clear that this is not to say that many other passages must be considered so as to understand the doctrine. As I will be at pains to show, the rapture is not a teaching that can be established by simply comparing proof-texts. The doctrine excites many passions and this can lead to wishful thinking in exegesis. Some of the verses listed below are brought very hardly and reluctantly to bear on the doctrine we are considering.
We have already taken a quick look at 1 Thessalonians 4:17, but there are other salient passages. 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 is often brought in to help. Then Jesus’s words in John 14:1-3 must be considered. Also joining the fray are 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and 13, Matthew 24:36-44, 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9, and Revelation 3:10. Let’s try to situate each one of these.
I had been intending to write about the removal of the Church (the rapture) for quite a while now. What galvanized me to do so now was a couple of entries by Ben Witherington and Roger Olson about the pretribulational rapture. These men, (like them or not), do not usually write poorly, but their articles attacking the concept of the pretribulational rapture are pretty lame ducks, rehashing the same old populist presentations of Dispensationalism by sniping at Clarence Larkin’s charts, and bringing into the frame the names of Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye, only to mock them.
Now let me be clear about this, although I am a pretribultionist, I am not about to contend for the parity of the doctrine of the rapture and its timing with the doctrine of the Trinity, or justification by grace through faith. I will not die on a hill fighting for the timing of the rapture, be it pre-, mid-, prewrath-, or post-tribulational.
"My guess is that, despite Kelly and DeYoung’s claims, TGC has taken a stand on eschatology. As Kevin Bauder has noted, most traditional dispensationalists (perhaps this is what is meant by 'hard-line') do not believe that the kingdom has been inaugurated, while TGC’s Founding Documents explicitly claim that it has."