Volume 13, Number 1 (Spring 2002)

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  • by John F. MacArthur

    Naturalism has replaced Christianity as the main religion of the Western world. Though the teaching that natural evolutionary processes can account of the origin of all living species has never been proven, that teaching is central to the philosophy that now dominates Western scholarly thinking. Even evangelicals have become less willing to defend the early chapters of Genesis against the encroachments of evolutionary thought, although in actuality affirming an "old earth" theory and remaining evangelical is an inconsistency. A "framework" approach to those chapters does not square with a consistent hermeneutical approach to Scripture, because the first chapter of Genesis teaches that God created the world in a normal week of seven days. The purpose of evolution is to explain away the God of the Bible. The absurd teaching of the Big Bang theory affirms that nobody times nothing equals everything. It is a theory that raises an almost endless array of unsolvable problems. It is degrading to humanity, hostile to reason, and antithetical to the truth that God has revealed. When one starts adapting the Word of God to fit scientific theories based on naturalistic beliefs, he has begun his journey on the road to skepticism.

  • by F. David Farnell

    Second Corinthians 10:5 and Colossians 2:8 was believers to examine their thought life carefully to guard against being taken prisoner by philosophical presuppositions that are hostile to the Bible. One can either take thoughts captive or have their thought life taken captive to the detriment of their spiritual lives. One place in particular where conservative evangelicals have been taken captive is in the historical-critical discipline of source criticism. The predominant view of the early church was that the Gospels were four independent witnesses to the life of Christ. Starting around the A. D. 1600-1700's, there occurred a philosophical and ideological shift in the thinking about the origin of the Gospels, particularly in relationship to the Synoptic Gospels. Due to the rise of Rationalism, Deism, Skepticism, the Enlightenment and Romanticism (to name a few), the Independence approach was rejected and two qualitatively different approaches in explaining the gospels resulted: the Two-Gospel hypothesis and Two-Source hypothesis. A careful investigation reveals that both approaches stemmed from the same errancy roots as modern unorthodox view of inspiration. Because of the history and philosophy behind source criticism, when evangelicals adopt either approach in their interpretation of the Gospels, they automatically tap into these errancy roots that inevitably lead to deprecating the historicity of the Gospels.

  • by John H. Walton

    Objectivity is the goal of hermeneutics so that the text of Scripture may speak for itself. For an interpreter to bring his subjective views to the text jeopardizes the authority of the Word. Two forces at work among evangelicals today tend to increase the subjective element in interpretation. The first is the principle of the analogy of faith or the harmonizing of different texts with one another. Harmonizing is desirable, but if taken too far, it can distort a text by inserting theological motifs into places where they do not belong. Doctrinal considerations should be introduced only to solve complexities of certain passages. The second force is the practices of the NT authors. Sometimes the interpreter must choose between using objective methods and following the example of NT authors in their use of the OT. He must maintain objectivity rather than pattern his exegesis after the NT in matters of typology, symbolism, role models, and fulfillments. The difference between contemporary exegetes and NT writers is that the former must abide by principles of hermeneutical objectivity while the former were led to follow the pattern of inspired subjectivity. Inspired subjectivity is not an option in this day and time.

  • by Robert L. Thomas

    When interpreting the OT and NT, each in light of the single, grammatical-historical meaning of a passage, two kinds of NT uses in the OT surface, one in which the NT writer observes the grammatical-historical sense of the OT passage and the other in which the NT writer goes beyond the grammatical-historical sense in his use of an OT passage. Inspired sensus plenior application (ISPA) designates the latter usage. Numerous passages illustrate each type of NT use of the OT. The ISPA type of usage does not grant contemporary interpreters the right to copy the methodology of the NT writers, nor does it violate the principle of single meaning. The ISPA meaning of the OT passage did not exist for man until the time of the NT citation, being occasioned by Israel's rejection of her Messiah at His first advent. The ISPA approach approximates that advocated by Walton more closely than other explanations of the NT use of the OT. "Fulfillment" terminology in the NT is approximate only for events that literally fulfill events predicted in the OT.

Volume 13, Number 2 (Fall 2002)

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An Issue Devoted to the Subject of The Pretribulation Rapture

  • by James F. Stitzinger

    The coming of God's Messiah deserves closer attention than it has often received. The future coming of the Messiah, called the "rapture," is imminent, literal and visible, for all church saints, before the hour of testing, premillennial, and, based on a literal hermeneutic, distinguishes between Israel and the church. The early church fathers' views advocated a sort of imminent intra- or post-tribulationism in connection with their premillennial teaching. With a few exceptions, the Medieval church writers said little about a future millennium and a future rapture. Reformation leaders had little to say about prophetic portions of Scripture, but did comment on the imminency of Christ's return. The modern period of church history saw a return to the early church's premillennial teaching and a pretribulational rapture in the writings of Gill and Edwards, and more particularly in the works of J. N. Darby. After Darby, pretribulationism spread rapidly in both Great Britain and the United States. A resurgence of posttribulationism came after 1952, accompanied by strong opposition to pretribulationism, but a renewed support of pretribulationism has arisen in the recent past. Five premillennial views of the rapture include two major views-pretribulationism and posttribulationism and three minor views-partial, midtribulational, and pre-wrath rapturism.

  • by Larry D. Pettegrew

    The Olivet Discourse as the ultimate exposition of events related to the future of Israel has been a proving ground where incorrect rapture systems have gone astray. A survey of the Discourse starts with the backdrop of a scathing rebuke and proceeds to note the stunned disciples, the doomed temple, the timing question, the unexpected delay, the great tribulation, the second coming, and the application. The first of three erring rapture systems, posttribulationism, understands the Discourse to focus on the church, but the larger context and the immediate context demonstrate conclusively that Israel is the main focus. The pre-wrath system is the second erring interpretation when it misconstrues Matt 24:22 and its mention of the shortening of the great tribulation. The third erring system is preterism with its teaching that the Discourse was in the main fulfilled in events around A.D. 70. Preterism falters hermeneutically in its non-literal interpretation of the prophecy. Pretribulationism responds to the hermeneutical fallacies by interpreting "this generation" in Matt 24:34 to refer to the generation alive when events of the great tribulation take place. Consistent pretribulationism understands "one taken, one left" and "the fig tree" to refer to events pertaining to the second coming, not the rapture of the church.

  • by Robert L. Thomas

    Fathers in the ancient church dealt frequently with the doctrine of imminence, sometimes viewing God's future wrath against rebels as imminent and sometimes viewing the future coming of Christ as imminent. The NT furnishes good reason for the fathers to view both aspects of the future as imminent, beginning with the teachings of Christ who laid the foundation for the teaching of imminency though His use of parabolic expressions of a master standing at the door and knocking and of an unexpected coming of a thief and His use of the futuristic tense of (erchomai). In company with other NT writers, Paul emphasized the imminence of both future wrath and the return of Christ in His two epistles to the Thessalonians. He did this in several parts of the epistles-in discussing the day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5, in describing the "catching away" in 1 Thessalonians 4, in 1 Thess 1:9-10 and 2:16, and in 2 Thess 1:9-10 and 2:1-3. A study of the two epistles and a survey of the rest of the NT indicates that the church fathers were right: the rapture of the church and the beginning of the day of the Lord could come at any moment.

  • by Keith H. Essex

    The relevance of the book of Revelation to the issue of the timing of the rapture is unquestioned. Assumptions common to many who participate in discussing the issue include the authorship of the book by John the apostle, the date of its writing in the last decade of the first century A.D., and the book's prophetic nature in continuation of OT prophecies related to national Israel. Ten proposed references to the rapture in Revelation include Rev 3:10-11; 4:1-2; 4:4 and 5:9-10; 6:2; 7:9-17; 11:3-12; 11:15-19; 12:5; 14:14-16; and 20:4. An evaluation of these ten leads to Rev 3:10-11 as the only passage in Revelation to speak of the rapture. Rightly understood, that passage implicitly supports a pretribulational rapture of the church. That understanding of the passage fits well into the context of the message to the church at Philadelphia.

  • by Richard L. Mayhue

    This article raises four key questions: (1) What does "rapture" mean?; (2) Will there be an eschatological "rapture"?; (3) Will the "rapture" be partial or full?; and (4) Will the "rapture" be pre, mid, or post in a time relationship to Daniel's seventieth week? In answering the fourth question concerning the time of the rapture, seven major lines of reasoning produce the conclusion that a pretribulational rapture best fits the biblical evidence and raises the fewest difficulties.way of conclusion, the article answers thirteen of the toughest objections to pretribulationism.

  • by Dennis M. Swanson