Archive for October, 2010

Are Pre-Trib Rapturists No Good for this World? Part 2

In responding to the USA Today article “What if the end isn’t near?” from August 23, 2010, I want to deal in this particular posting with some basic thoughts on how the article and some (more liberal?) evangelicals think about the motivation of pretrib rapturists when it comes to social issues like nuclear weapons and environmentalism.

The basic idea I want to suggest is that there are many more factors involved in one’s view of such things than how end time events are understood.  Let’s take the two issues of nuclear weapons and environmentalism one at a time.

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Tommy Ice and the Barndollar Lectures

A couple of weeks ago we had my good friend Dr. Tommy Ice present “The History of the Doctrine of the Rapture” in the Barndollar Lectures at BBS.  Some of the things I appreciated about Tommy’s presentation are the following:

1.  He did not try to force the pre-trib rapture into the early church fathers when it was not there.

2.  He helped us to understand that some people in history like Bede who are taken to hold to a pre-trib rapture by some hold to a conflagration view, not a pre-trib rapture view.

3.  He helped us to know with hard historical facts that the pre-trib rapture doctrine predates Darby.

4.  He helped me especially to put some things together that I had not seen.  From my dissertation research on Arno C. Gaebelein I had run across Emile Guers, a pastor in Geneva, who had been influenced partly by Darby in 1837ff.  Guers later wrote a book in the 1850s entitled The Future of Israel.  This book teaches a 3 1/2 year tribulation not a 7 year tribulation, but it has a rapture before the trib.   Dr. Ice pointed out that Darby held to only a 3 1/2 year tribulation until the middle 1840s.  It was later that Daniel’s 70 weeks are brought into the discussions that were then going on relative to the tribulation.  So now I feel like I understand the early dispensational thinking of the 1830s a little better.

Are Pre-Trib Rapturists No Good for this World?

I have mentioned Tom Krattenmaker, editorialist for USA Today, under the topic of “Evangelicals and Sports.”  I’ll be doing more of that in the days ahead.  However, I consider our differences in that arena somewhat mild and less important than in the area of a recent editorial:  “What if the end isn’t near?” (August 23, 2010).  The subtitle comment of the article tells the basic thrust:  “Too many evangelical Christians welcome the biblical rapture with an unsettling eagerness.  This fatalistic view serves neither fellow humans nor the planet.  A new breed of believers thankfully is taking another path toward Jesus.”  In general, I read the editorial as a gigantic caricature of my own pre-trib rapture view which I consider to be main stream among my kind of evangelicals.

The article goes on to champion the work of Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, founder of the Two Futures Project, who is attempting to get evangelical Christians to “join the nuclear abolition cause.”  The article bemoans the fact that many evangelicals who hold the pre-trib rapture are enamored with end times stuff and are therefore not willing to engage the needs of the world such as abolishing nuclear weapons and helping the environment.  This article reminded me of an event that occurred when I was an aerospace engineer working on F-16s for General Dynamics in Ft. Worth while I attended Dallas Theological Seminary.  A fellow worker came to sit down in my cubicle and told me that Christians were responsible for pollution.  He was a member of the Sierra Club and had rather strong feelings about this.  When I asked him why he thought this way, he gave me two reasons:  1.  Christians use the cultural mandate passage in Gen. 1:26-28 to give us the right to rape the planet; 2. Christians believe Jesus is going to come back and jerk us off this planet so we don’t care about fixing anything that is wrong.  This was the first that I had encountered that thought.  It is interesting that at the time I had been a pre-trib rapture kind of Christian for 8 years and had never heard that in any of the churches I was involved in.  I have encountered it since, but I don’t view those who shun all social activism as representing the majority of Christians who believe strongly in the Second Coming.  I feel so strongly about the caricature of this article that I intend to make several posts highlighting various facets that I think need to be explored along different lines instead of the in-your-face drubbing that is given.

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Evangelicals and Sports Continued

In an earlier post, I had mentioned Tom Krattenmaker’s book Onward Christian Athletes which is critical of the influence that evangelicals have in the sports world in America.  I am scheduled to give a faculty forum paper on “Evangelicals and Sports” in chapel at BBS on November 8 (in about a month).   I am interacting mostly with this book but not exclusively.  My research assistant, Stephen Stallard (my nephew), has been digging for articles and books on the topic from our library and elsewhere. 

In my continued reading and meditation on this topic and of Krattenmaker’s book, I have come to agree with some of the things that are being said.  However, I am still concerned about what I perceive to be perhaps one more way in which the pluralists in society are trying to marginalize those who believe in absolute truth.  In one article in USA Today (“And I’d like to thank God Almighty,” Oct 12, 2009), Krattenmaker notes “But Jesus’ representatives in sports aren’t just practicing faith.  They are also leveraging sports’ popularity to promote a message and doctrine that are out of sync with the diverse communities that support franchises, and with the unifying civic role that we expect of our teams.”  His first statement that evangelicals in sports are not just practicing their faith is problematic on the face of it for me.  Evangelicals believe that evangelism is part of their faith, not something in addition to practicing their faith.  Taken to its logical conclusion Krattenmaker’s approach seems only to want those at the table of sports who never try to persuade others to their view.  He needs to restate this differently to come across reasonably to evangelicals.  I also wonder about the idea of a unifying civic role for sports.  Regional pride certainly exists, but to use this to argue against Baseball Chapel might be a bit much.  I am looking forward to writing the paper — I’ll probably start over the upcoming weekend.  I will outline both where I agree and where I disagree.

I will post my paper in my articles section and attach it to a post when I am finished with it.