Kept From The Hour – By Gerald Stanton

Chapter 10

The Posttribulation Rapture Theory

It is never a pleasant task to refute favored beliefs held by those who are brethren in Christ, particularly men of like precious faith not only respecting the person and work of Christ but also concerning the fact and certainty of His premillennial return.  While it is possible to fill a book with differences of opinion over the relation of the rapture to the Tribulation, it would not be difficult to fill many such with points of agreement as to the importance, certainty, and blessing of Christ’s return, the anticipation of rewarding and reigning, the task of the Church prior to the rapture, and the many other important features of our mutual premillennial faith.

The points of disagreement are small indeed when compared with the widely divergent views of amillennialism, and premillennialists would do well to remember the basic unity which exists in spite of their differences.  Nevertheless, it must also be remembered that the Bible does not teach two different systems of prophecy, nor three, nor four, and with vital issues at stake such as the hope and comfort of the Church, the intelligent believer will seek to learn “what saith the Lord” on these issues.  The interpretation of an amazingly large segment of Scripture depends directly upon whether one accepts or rejects pretribulationalism.

Much of the first seven chapters has been given over to the defense of that viewpoint, or to the analysis of problems kindred to both the midtribulational and the posttribulational positions.  In this chapter, several of the claims and problems peculiar to posttribulationalism will be discussed, with particular attention given to the viewpoint of its leading advocate.

I.          Posttribulational Attitudes and Methods
A.          Offensive Attitudes
In any investigation where there is a sharp cleavage of opinion, there are always those who resort to unwise and intemperate language.  Such has been the case with the issue at hand.  However, anyone who reads widely in the literature of the four viewpoints involved will be forced to conclude that much of the harsh language and offensive attitudes stem from the posttribulational camp.  Some of those who argue so strenuously that they must go through the Tribulation reflect in their writings an attitude of bravado, mingled with contempt for those who, either from ignorance or cowardice, do not share that conviction.  Fromow, for instance, puts it this way:  “We would lovingly ask, is there not a strain of weak-kneed, invertebrate, spineless sentiment in this idea of escaping tribulation?”[1]  To Reese, pretribulationalists are “Darbyites,” who follow “the Rapture craze, fathered by theorists,” and whose views are held to be “supreme rubbish.”[2]  Scruby, in his writings, seems not to give even the common courtesies of debate, but speaks (all on one page) of carrying “the war into the enemy’s country (Beard the lion in his den, so to speak) … bring my guns to bear … on these deceptive doctrines … rank absurdities … helpful in the fight against this latter-day delusion.”[3]  Certainly, this is not the way to convince the brethren of their love, and fortunately, all posttribulationalists are not as picric.

The book which has come to the fore as the most outspoken attack upon the pretribulational position is a large volume by Alexander Reese entitled The Approaching Advent of Christ.  The title is somewhat misleading, for instead of giving a well-ordered, helpful analysis of the doctrine of the second advent, it is a sharp and unveiled attack upon the writings of Darby and the dispensational school, concerning itself primarily with the supposed merits of posttribulationalism over pretribulationalism.  Lest the convictions of the present writer be thought to dominate at this point, here is a part of the analysis of Hogg and Vine, conservative British commentators:

The book, issued by Marshall, Morgan & Scott, London, 1937, owes its bulk not to the variety or abundance of its matter, nor to the necessities of its argument.  If its attacks upon the character and competence of teachers, all of them God-fearing men, who sought to live honestly and to write sincerely, and many of whom were at least as competent and as well furnished as Mr. Reese himself, were eliminated, the size of the volume would have been considerably reduced and its general atmosphere sweetened.  Erudite-seeming, lengthy, and irrelevant quotations could have been omitted with the same advantage….  He gives large space to modern translations of the New Testament….  The paraphrasists become not translators but interpreters of Scripture.  Their readers should always bear this in mind.  Wade, for example, p. 128, paraphrases Tit. 2:13 thus: “Looking forward to the hope (so fraught with happiness) of witnessing the Manifestation.”  Mr. Reese calls this a “translation,” which it assuredly is not.  It may be “idiomatic,” but it is not what Paul said.  The Christian does not look forward to being a spectator of “the appearing of the glory,” but to being a sharer in it, according to Rom. 8:19, 29 and Col. 3:3, 4.[4]

This introduces something of the type of argument used in the book, but of the objectionable attitude which prevails throughout, Hogg and Vine continue:

I have just been reading, in a secular Review, of “the courtesies of debate” observed in the world, but these have escaped the notice of Mr. Reese….  Mr. Reese does not seem to have made up his mind whether those whom he attacks so trenchantly are fools, or only knaves; his language, indeed, frequently suggests that they are both!  Here are some things he says about them, taken at random as the pages are turned: They are guilty of “aggressive sophistry and fantastic exegesis,” and of “paltry reasoning.”  They prefer “any rubbish to the true and obvious explanation” of a passage, and they “wrest the Scriptures.”  Their preference for the line of teaching they favor is “no longer a question of exegesis….  It is simply a question of ethics….  Have we the right moral disposition toward the truth, or will we still cling to error … shall we act against the truth or for the truth?”  (This, on p. 244, causes the balance to dip rather toward the knave theory!)  They are not God-fearing readers of the Bible, but “theorists,” “showing little acquaintance with great exegesis.”  Their teaching is “consistent and ludicrous” in its “absurdity.”  Its effect is to blight “Bible study and Christian fellowship all over the world.”  “It has cursed the (Brethren) movement from the beginning.”  “They wrote their errors on their broad phylacteries.”  (For the significance of this grave judgment reference must be made to Matt. 23:5 and its context.)  They “are misguided and misleading teachers.” …  The list is not exhausted, but let this suffice.[5]

Reese follows the objectional practice of attacking, not ideas, nor conclusions, but individuals, characterizing the men of God with whom he cannot agree as Sadducees and Darbyists!  In one section, he says:

I must leave to another place William Kelly’s contortions of exegesis on the nature of the Great Tribulation, put forth with studied offensiveness in his two books on the Second Coming.  His statement, as miserable as it is inexact. …[6]

But even if the Apostle had mentioned a Rapture at 2 Thess. i. 7, Darbyists would arrange three shifts to get rid of it.  This is not cruel or churlish, but the plain fact.[7]

The reader will have to judge if these statements are “cruel or churlish,” or if Reese, in his denunciations, manifests the fruit of the Spirit which is (to quote Reese’s favorite translator, Moffatt) “good temper, kindliness, generosity” (Gal. 5:22).  Indeed, if in dealing with his fellow brethren, a man fails to manifest such fruit of the Spirit, including as it does love, longsuffering, gentleness, and self-control, is he to be trusted as one who is Spirit-taught in the understanding of things to come?  (John 16:13).  It is one thing to rebuke false doctrine.  It is entirely another to whip the brethren.

B.          Questionable Methods
Many undesirable methods could be mentioned, but three or four will suffice.  One of these is to imply that those who expect a pretribulation rapture are unqualified to judge, are of inferior intellect, and are unacquainted with the truly great literature in the field.  Those of posttribulational persuasion, however, are among the greatest of exegetes!  Reese expresses an attitude of mock humility when he says:  “I have refrained from giving a bibliography; a long list of learned works is apt to convey the impression that the author is a scholar or a theologian; as I am neither I have omitted it.”[8]  He then goes on to spoil all this by speaking with all the dogmatism of a pope, and by concluding the book with page after page of authors and publications either referred to or quoted.[9]  Some of the authors examined reveal that for them, posttribulationalism became a lifetime hobby, conducted along the line of a proselyting campaign – making converts, and always insisting that leading pretribulationalists saw the light just before they died.  Scruby obviously spent the better part of his time making converts for posttribulationalism.  Reese speaks in his Preface of a friend who maintained an interest in the venture of his own book for over twenty years prior to publication.  Of Cameron, Newell writes:

Robert Cameron, of Watchword and Truth, whose later life was largely a proselyting campaign for post-tribulationalism, used to claim that Dr. Brookes, of St. Louis, had given up this hope “before he died, in an interview with him!”  But both the last books and the later associates of Dr. Brookes deny this.  Others claimed that Prof. W. G. Moorehead gave it up, etc., etc.  Someone told me that R. A. Torrey weakened.  I challenged him.  He could produce no proof whatever!  Mrs. Torrey, when told that a Canadian magazine had claimed that her husband had given up the hope of Christ’s coming for the whole Church, was much distressed, and wrote the editor to publish her denial of such a false report.[10]

Much capital has been made of the fact that the revered George Muller of Bristol, misled by the mistranslation above alluded to [“day of Christ” in 2 Thess. 2:2, instead of “day of the Lord”] declared his belief that the Church would go through the Great Tribulation.  He is quoted by Mr. Scruby as one of his witnesses [as also by Reese, Cameron, Fraser, et al.].  What was the result of this unfortunate mistake of beloved George Muller?  I speak now from personal knowledge.  The truth of the coming of the Lord was tabooed at Bethesda, where I was brought up, and was for many years a member and most regular attendant at the services.  But I never once heard Mr. Muller or any other preacher say that they believed the Church would go through the Great Tribulation.  And what is more, long after I had left Bristol Mr. Muller at the last conference at which he spoke said plainly that he believed the Lord might come at any moment….  Mr. Muller evidently changed his opinion a second time, which he would do, for he “could do nothing knowingly against the Truth.”

C. H. Spurgeon is another of Mr. Scruby’s [and Reese’s, etc.] supposed supporters.  That mighty man of valor was not ashamed to confess publicly that he once believed the Lord would not return till the world was converted, but that he came to see that this could not be done in “an eternity and a half.”  Mr. Spurgeon did not then believe the Lord would come before the Tribulation, but I heard Mr. Spurgeon at the Tabernacle not long before he died.  It was at a conference on the coming of the Lord.  Other speakers were Dr. Alexander Maclaren and Dr. John McNeill, and the impression left on my mind in the absence of any statement to the contrary was that all the speakers believed in the imminent coming of the Lord without any premonitary signs or the revelation of Antichrist.  These facts show how futile it is to rest our faith on what great men may have believed.  The greater the man the more ready he will be to revise his conclusions if he receives fresh light from the Word of God.[11]

This latter quotation comes from the pen of F. W. Pitt, who indicates that he was taught the posttribulation rapture position from my youth up,” but who said, after carefully examining the Scriptures for himself: “When I saw these things I did not have to give up ‘Post-Tribulation Rapturism,’ it melted away.”[12]  Yet posttribulationalists often argue that those who believe the pretribulational doctrine do so only because they are taught it, and that most of the “great men” finally see the light.

More objectional than this is the method resorted to of bending facts to suit the posttribulational fancy.  Miles writes of Reese’s book:

I … opened the book in a spirit of expectancy.  The first hundred pages or so filled me with astonishment.  It is almost incredible that any considerable number of Christians could believe in the fantastic and grotesque theories dealt with.  They seemed to me to be so many ‘Aunt Sallies’ set up to be skittled down. …

The writer is so thorough that it comes as a shock to find him confusing things that differ and bending things to suit his case while engaged in criticizing others for doing the same, which certainly many have done.[13]

Pollock, who gives this citation, goes on to say: “We think it is a pity to have raked up so many silly fantastic opinions of this writer and that.  It appears to us very like the trick of the lawyer with a bad case, who, to make up his deficiency, resorts to abusing the other side.”[14]

Such inconsistencies abound in the book.  Everywhere, pretribulationalism is criticized as something new and novel, but when it comes to the pretribulational view on the twenty-four elders, “The old interpretation is abandoned, except by those who need it as a prop to an edifice reared on insecure foundations.”[15]  Extreme positions are dismissed, and preference is given to Darby, with his own peculiar views, on the one hand, or to Bullinger, who muddies the waters with hyper-dispensationalism and “two church” theories, on the other.  Yet when exigencies arise, both Darby and Bullinger (attacked so vigorously on other issues) may be appealed to when they can be used to prove a point.

On page 71, Reese writes of “the wild dispensational theories of Dr. Bullinger,” yet, when it comes to the elders: “Bullinger, also, I believe, gives the true interpretation … from his commentary on the Apocalypse.”[16]  On page 123, “happily, it is only an odd expositor like Bullinger who deprives Christians of the Epistle to the Hebrews,” yet on pages 59, 295, etc., Bullinger again becomes the authority, or else the views of Moffatt, who is a liberal.  Dalman, also, who sees Christ on earth as “merely a man,”[17] is cited with approval.  Of this business of attacking extreme views and citing “off brand” authors, Pitt writes in the Advent Witness:

We find that Mr. Reese not only sets one side against the other but chooses the authors who shall engage in the controversy, and selects from their writings such passages as suits his purpose.  Torn thus from their context the Darbyists are made to say what Mr. Reese wants them to say and no more or less, while the anti-Darbyists without regard to the subject in question are called upon to express their views on the different side issues which shore up the main proposition.

This is like playing a game of chess with yourself.  IF you are white you move black into positions where you know you can beat him.[18]

Certainly the large number of authorities that Mr. Reese quotes is astonishing.  One would rather that he had expounded Scripture in such a clear way as to carry conviction of the truth.  To come to an understanding of what Scripture says by depending on what others say is rather a weak way of arriving at the truth, and certainly beset with peril.[19]

One more objectional method should be noted before passing on to more constructive matters.  Reese makes the statement: “Darbyist advocates … smooth over a thousand difficulties in their programme of the prophetic future by judiciously keeping silent on inconvenient texts, and hoping for the best.”[20]  Reese rather notoriously falls into the same condemnation, picking and choosing what is convenient and letting the rest go by.  For example, he admits that John 14:3 is one of the three leading texts on the rapture, but where in his voluminous treatment of other matters does he give the verse anything more than a passing mention?  Certainly, the fact that when Christ comes He will take His own to be with Himself, where many mansions are being prepared, does not forward the argument of those who say that the rapture is only an incident in the downward sweep of a returning and wrathful King.

Similar is the tendency to attack the non-representative positions, all the while dismissing main issues.  An illustration of this is the adoption of Darby’s position on the coming and the appearing and on the Day of the Lord as the norm for pretribulationalism, while completely dismissing the more acceptable interpretation of other Brethren leaders, Hogg and Vine, whose position on these matters completely avoids both the attack and the conclusions drawn by Reese.[21]

For one who would study Reese’s volume, it is important that these methods be kept in mind, for to do so goes a long way toward answering his arguments and takes the sting out of many of his rebukes.  To note the approach and method a man uses is particularly important when his work is voluminous, for it is manifestly impossible to answer all arguments point for point and line for line without making the rebuttal as lengthy as the original document.

II.      The Historical Problem
Chief among posttribulational arguments is the contention that anything else is new and novel, and that pretribulationalism in particular did not come into existence until about the year 1830.  Although embodying the doubtful value of an “argument from silence,” the charge is thought to be an unanswerable one and is pressed to the limit.  Pretribulationalism has been variously attributed to the writings of Edward Irving, to the utterances of a woman-prophet in a trance, to the writings of Darby and his associates, to a godly clergyman named Tweedy, and ultimately to the Devil himself!  The following quotations illustrate the general tenor of posttribulational claims:

These views, which began to be propagated a little over one hundred years ago in the separatist movements of Edward Irving and J. N. Darby, have spread to the remotest corners of the earth.[22]

About 1830, however, a new school arose within the fold of Pre-millennialism that sought to overthrow what, since the Apostolic Age, have been considered by all pre-millennialists as established results, and to institute in their place a series of doctrines that have never been heard of before.  The school I refer to is that of “The Brethren” or “Plymouth Brethren,” founded by J. N. Darby.[23]

Darby, the author of a new programme of the End – a secret, pre-tribulation Parousia, followed by the rise of Antichrist. …[24]

Darby … sponsored a doctrine of a secret, pre-tribulation Rapture, brought from the West Indies by a godly clergyman.  [Mr. Reese has difficulty making up his mind who authored the doctrine, and in which hemisphere!][25]

I am not aware that there was any definite teaching that there would be a secret rapture of the Church at a secret coming, until this was given forth as an “utterance” in Mr. Irving’s Church.[26]

The theory that “the great tribulation comes after the rapture,” is not taught in the Bible.  It is traceable to the Irvingites and the Plymouth Brethren, with whom it is quite definitely shown to have originated about the year 1830.  It is said to have been first suggested by Mary McDonald, an Irvingite woman, supposed to be speaking in an “unknown tongue,” which was interpreted that: “The Church will not go through the tribulation.”[27]

It remained for a nineteenth-century “Irvingite” woman to introduce the flesh-pleasing doctrine, and that at a time when Irvingism admittedly had begun to corrupt.  And the “weak” “flesh” causes the vast majority of Pre-Millennialists to hold that doctrine today, although they reject almost all else that the Irvingites taught.[28]

Indeed, no one, in all Christian History from the Apostles to Edward Irving, ever heard any other view (i.e., than that the true Church has no hope of the Lord’s Coming at any moment, but must remain on earth during the time of the Great Tribulation).  Such a thing is not even hinted at as a possibility until the women-prophets of Irving’s assembly gave it out in those awful days of demoniac delusion.  [Italics in the original citation.][29]

Here then is the alleged origin of pretribulationalism: either Darby, or Irving, or Tweedy, or Margaret McDonald, or Satan.  It originated in both Great Britain and the West Indies.  It was produced because of craven cowardice, to please the flesh, and ultimately, because of demonic delusion.  Reese concludes that “the secret, pre-tribulation Rapture is a Gentile conceit of the nineteenth century,”[30] but even he is outdone by another who speaks extravagantly of “the Scripture wresting, God insulting, Christ dishonoring, saint-deceiving doctrine of Pre-Tribulation Rapturism.”[31]  Nor is this the worse example of posttribulational bitterness, but let it suffice.  The point is that pretribulationalism is looked upon as a new and novel doctrine, with “no hint of such a belief … from Polycarp down … never taught by a Father or Doctor of the Church in the past … without a friend, even … amongst the orthodox teachers or the heretical sects of Christendom – such a fatherless and motherless doctrine …”[32]  What, then, is there to say in answer to such claims?

(1)             At the very best, all of this is an argument from silence, the absence of a record never proving the absence of a belief.  There have been times in history when even the most cardinal doctrines of Christianity have been obscured by ignorance or ecclesiasticism.  Were the great reformation doctrines recovered by Luther and Calvin, such as justification by faith alone, “new and novel,” just because they had for centuries been in obscurity?

(2)             As it is has been demonstrated in chapter 6, the early church lived in expectation of the imminent return of Christ.  They viewed his coming as a momentary possibility – so much so that some had left their work, and all had to be exhorted to patience.  They were disturbed by the false report that the Day of the Lord had already come, hardly the attitude of men who view the Tribulation as the prelude to Christ’s coming.  In a word, the soon coming of Christ was the hope and expectation of the early church, which would never have been the case if they first expected the Tribulation and Antichrist, if not the certainty of a martyr’s death.  In this connection, Anderson writes:

It is a fact of great significance that the Coming of the Lord is never mentioned in the Epistles of the New Testament save in an incidental manner – never once as a doctrine that needed to be expounded, but only and always as a truth with which every Christian was supposed to be familiar….  The fact is clear then, that in Apostolic times the converts were taught to expect the Lord’s return.[33]

(3)             It can likewise be demonstrated that, although the advanced details of a pretribulational theology are not found in the ancient church Fathers, belief in an imminent return was widely held, and if imminent, then pretribulational.  Belief in the soon coming of the Lord Jesus Christ was standard doctrine in the Church throughout the first three centuries.  Almost any church historian will grant that “the early Fathers lived in expectation of our Lord’s speedy return,”[34] although there is not too much clear reference in the writing of the Fathers to the Tribulation itself.

According to Moffatt [Expositor’s Greek Testament, on Rev. 3:10], “Rabbinic piety … expected exemption from the tribulation of the latter days only for those who were absorbed in good works and in sacred studies.”  Thus there was a Jewish background for the expectation that some men would not pass through the Tribulation.  When we come to the early Fathers we find an almost total silence as to the Tribulation period.  They abundantly testify to the fact of tribulations, but they say little about the future period called by preeminence The Tribulation.  This fact should cause us no perplexity.  These writers lived during the second and third centuries, and we all know that those were the centuries of the great Roman persecutions.  The Church was passing through sore trials, and it did not much concern itself with the question of the Tribulation yet to come….  Silver says concerning the Apostolic Fathers, that “they expected the return of the Lord in their day….  By tradition they knew the faith of the Apostles.  They taught the doctrine of the imminent and premillennial return of the Lord.”[35]

It is not necessary to enter into a detailed analysis of the belief of the early church Fathers pertaining to the coming of Christ.  There is an abundant literature to prove that they were almost without exception premillennial, down to the end of the third century.  There is also sufficient evidence to prove that many of them held the coming of Christ to be an imminent event, as seen in the following quotations.

Clement of Rome, undoubtedly a fellow-laborer with Paul as indicated by Philippians 4:3, wrote in his First Epistle to the Corinthians (about 95 a.d.):

Ye see how in a little while the fruit of the trees come to maturity.  Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished, as the Scriptures also bear witness, saying, “Speedily will He come, and will not tarry”; and “The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Holy One, for whom ye look.”[36]

Again, in his Second Epistle:

If therefore we shall do what is just in the sight of God, we shall enter into His kingdom, and shall receive the promises, which neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man.  Wherefore, let us every hour expect the kingdom of God in love and righteousness, because we know not the day of the Lord’s appearing.[37]

We read in the Didache, dated about 100 a.d.:

Watch for your life’s sake.  Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ye ready, for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh.[38]  [The post-communion prayer in the Didache ends with “Maranatha – The Lord Cometh.”]

Of special interest is a passage taken from The Shepherd of Hermas, written about 100-120 a.d., and thought by many to be the person mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:14.  In a vision, Hermas was told:

You have escaped from the great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of the beast….  Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His might deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming.  If ye then prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of your lives serving the Lord blamelessly.[39]

Lest it be asserted that all the passage teaches is the hope of preservation in Tribulation, let it be noted that according to the dialogue only the “double-minded” enter the Tribulation that they might be purified.  Hermas, who “opened (his) heart to the Lord, believing that salvation can be found through nothing save through the great and glorious name,” completely escaped the beast and “passed it by.”  The Greek word used throughout (ekphugo, to escape) is very explicit, as a careful comparison with its New Testament usage will confirm.  It does not speak of patient endurance in tribulation, but of complete exemption from the judgment of God (Luke 21:36; Rom. 2:3; Heb. 2:3; I Thess. 5:3).  Moreover, the maiden of the vision herself typifies the Church, as expressly stated.  She is “adorned as if coming forth from the bridal chamber,” hardly the description of one locked in dread encounter with the beast!

While pretribulationalists get their doctrine directly from the Bible and not from early Christian writers such as Hermas, this passage direct from the turn of the first century completely voids the argument that the concept of escaping the Tribulation is something “new and novel,” originating with Darby and Tweedy, etc.

Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, who flourished as a writer 220-250 a.d., declared:

It were a self-contradictory and incompatible thing for us, who pray that the kingdom of God may quickly come, to be looking for a long life here below….  Let us ever in anxiety and cautiousness be waiting the second coming of the Lord, for as those things which were foretold are come to pass, so those things will follow which are yet promised; the Lord Himself giving assurance and saying, “When you see all these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.[40]

Similar passages might readily be cited form other writers of this period.  Although the fathers were not always consistent in their views, it is apparent that not a few of them looked upon the return of Christ as imminent, expressing a definite conviction that the Church may escape the Great Tribulation.  As for the testimony of the apostles themselves, their belief in the imminency of Christ’s coming shines forth from nearly every book of the New Testament.  To reiterate, a belief in imminency implies a belief that the rapture will precede the Tribulation; this fact is further attested by the bitter attack which posttribulationalism has launched upon the very idea of an imminent return.  In the light of such evidence from the early church and from representative Apostolic and Ante-Nicene Fathers, it can hardly be sustained that pretribulational beliefs “are new and novel, and have never been heard of in the whole history of the Christian Church since the Apostolic Age.”[41]

(4)             Cameron himself suggests a logical solution why the doctrine of a pretribulational return apparently started about the year 1830.  While he claims that no mention of this doctrine is found “from the first century until a.d. 1830,”[42] he notes a little later that “the doctrine of the Lord’s Coming was recovered about ninety years ago.”[43]  Now, ninety years before the publication of Cameron’s book in 1922 takes us right back to the date he sets for the first mention of posttribulationalism.  In other words, up until the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the entire doctrine of the Lord’s return had been obscure, if not almost lost to the Church.  The Brethren and other godly men of that period were used of the Lord to restore to the Church the whole truth of the second coming of Christ, and when that truth was restored it was pretribulational!  For centuries, prophetic study had been in disrepute.  During the time of Roman ascendancy even justification by faith was almost lost and had to be recovered.  The Reformers, occupied as they were with the cardinal issues of the gospel, largely carried over a Romish amillennial eschatology, and when the doctrine of the second coming was finally restored, pretribulational distinctions shared in the restoration.

(5)             One more important fact must be noted, for it helps to explain the resurgence of interest in prophecy which has marked the course of the last century.  Early centuries were occupied primarily with Bibliology and Theology Proper: the problems of inspiration and canonicity, the deity of Christ and the relationship of His two natures, and kindred problems.  Later centuries debated Angelology.  At the time of the Reformation, the primary issue was Soteriology.  Then followed the rise of the great denominations, the chief issues of which fell largely in the area of Ecclesiology.

During these past nineteen centuries, there has been a progressive refinement of the details of Christian theology, but not until the last one hundred years has Eschatology come to the front to receive the major attention and scrutiny of foremost Bible scholars.  It is not that the doctrine of Christ’s coming, or any of its special features, is new or novel, but that the doctrine has finally come into the place of prominence it rightfully deserves.  With that prominence there has become a greater discernment of prophetic detail.  A distant mountain range, upon closer inspection may turn out to be two distinct ranges with a great valley lying between.  Even so, a general view of the second coming may reveal one united event, but upon closer scrutiny, two separate aspects may be seen.  This progressive attention to and refinement of Christian doctrine satisfactorily explains the lack of emphasis prior to the nineteenth century upon anything but the most obvious outline of prophecy.  James Orr, in his Progress of Dogma, may well be quoted to sustain this thesis:

Has it ever struck you … what a singular parallel there is between the historical course of dogma, on the one hand, and the scientific order of the text-books on systematic theology on the other?  The history of dogma, as you speedily discover is simply the system of theology spread out through the centuries – theology as Plato would say, “writ large” – and this not only as regards its general subject-matter, but even as respects the definite succession of its parts….  If now, planting yourself at the close of the Apostolic Age, you cast your eye down the course of the succeeding centuries, you find, taking as an easy guide the great historical controversies of the Church, that what you have is simply the projection of this logical system on a vast temporal screen….  One thing, I think, it shows unmistakably, viz., that neither arrangement is arbitrary – that there is law and reason underlying it; and another thing which forces itself upon us is, that the law of these two developments – the logical and the historical – is the same.

. . . Using, then, the controversies which impelled the Church in the formation of its creed as a guiding clue, mark, in a rapid survey, the exactitude of the parallel.  The second century in the history of the Church – what was that?  The age of Apologetics and of the vindication of the fundamental ideas of all religion – of the Christian especially – in conflict with Paganism and with the Gnostics.

. . . We pass to the next stage in the development, and what do we find there?  Just what comes next in the theological system – Theology Proper – the Christian doctrine of God, and specially the doctrine of the Trinity.  This period is covered by the Monarchian, Arian, and Macedonian controversies of the third and fourth centuries.

. . . What comes next?  As in the logical system theology is succeeded by Anthropology, so in the history of dogma the controversies I have named are followed in the beginning of the fifth century by the Augustinian and Pelagian controversies, in which … the centre of interest shifts from God to man.

. . . From the time of Augustine’s death we see the Church entering on that long and distracting series of controversies known as Christological – Nestorian, Eutychian, Monophysite, Monthelite – which kept it in continual ferment, and rent it with the most un-Christlike passions during the fifth and sixth, on even till near the end of the seventh, centuries.

. . . Theology, Anthropology, Christology had each had its day – in the order of the theological system, which the history still carefully follows, it was now the turn of Soteriology … the next step, that taken by the Reformers in the development of the doctrine of the Application of Redemption.  This, as we saw, is the next great division in the theological system. …

What now shall I say of the remaining branch of the theological system, the Eschatological?  An Eschatology, indeed, there was in the early Church, but it was not theologically conceived; and a Mythical Eschatology there was in the Mediaeval Church – an Eschatology of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory … but the Reformation swept this away, and, with its sharply contrasted states of bliss and woe, can hardly be said [note] to have put anything in its place, or even to have faced very distinctly the difficulties of the problem….  Probably I am not mistaken in thinking that, besides the necessary revision of the theological system as a whole, which could not properly be undertaken till the historical development I have sketched had run its course, the modern mind has given itself with special earnestness to eschatological questions, moved thereto, perhaps, by the solemn impression that on it the ends of the world have come, and that some great crisis in the history of human affairs is approaching.

. . . I am very far from disputing that there is still room for fresh developments in theology….  I do not question, therefore, that there are still sides and aspects of divine truth to which full justice has not be accorded….  All I am contending for is, that such a development shall be a development within Christianity and not away from it.[44]

Posttribulationalists should have seen this progress in doctrinal study as the logical solution to the problem they have raised, even though they missed the concept of imminency in the early church and the writings of the Fathers.  Even Reese admits: “Darby had his place in causing fresh light to break forth from God’s Word….  And the great work goes on: fresh light always breaking from God’s Word, in all sections of the Church.”[45]

If God used Darby and his associates to restore to the Church doctrines long obscure and neglected, his name should be remembered with gratitude and not profaned as the originator of a twentieth century heresy.  In this whole matter concerning the history of the imminent, pretribulational return of Jesus Christ, there is little by way of factual support or by way of attitudes taken to commend the writers from the posttribulational school.

III.    The Resurrection of the Saints
The argument against a pretribulation rapture based on texts pertaining to the resurrection of dead receives little attention from most posttribulationalist writers, and is evidently thought of little consequence.  In the hands of Reese, however, the issue is blown up to giant proportions and made the number one argument, both from emphasis and from position given to it in his treatment.  Of this argument, a disciple of Reese says in summary:

The argument based on the time of the first resurrection throws much light on this theory of the double coming of Christ.  Alexander Reese in his study, The Approaching Advent of Christ, has devoted sixty pages to elaborating this argument which seems well-nigh unanswerable.  He presents evidence from the Old Testament, the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Apocalypse.  The argument in brief is this.

Clearly the resurrection of the holy dead takes place at the Rapture of the Church (I Thess. 4:16).  Therefore, ‘wheresoever the resurrection is, there will the Rapture be also.”  Upon examining passages that speak of the resurrection of the holy dead, which is the first resurrection (Rev. 20:5-6), we find that this first resurrection is associated with the coming of the Lord (Isa. 26:19), the conversion of Israel (Rom. 11:15), the inauguration of the Kingdom (Luke 14:14-15; Rev. 20:4-6), the giving of rewards (Rev. 11:15-18), the Great Tribulation coming before it (Dan. 12:1-3).[46]

Here, the main line of argument is suggested, together with the more important Scriptures used by Reese in his lengthy treatment – all of which is labeled “well-nigh unanswerable.”  It is not the purpose here to engage in a point by point analysis and refutation of the argument (although the writer is confident that this could be done), but to expose the erroneous premises upon which the argument is built, leaving the application of the same to the reader who pursues these pages and those of Reese.  When David arose against Goliath of Gath, he chose five smooth stones out of the brook, any one of which was sufficient to fell the giant.  Even so will lengthy argumentation fall, without examination of all its detail, by the proper application of a few well-placed, fundamental truths from Scripture and from logic.

In his examination of “The resurrection of the saints in the Old Testament,” Reese’s argument takes on the form of a syllogism, the major premise being (1) that the Old Testament Scriptures prove that the resurrection of Old Testament saints is at the revelation of Christ, just prior to the millennial kingdom; the minor premise being (2) that all Darbyists agree that the resurrection of the Church synchronizes with the resurrection of Israel; hence, the conclusion is drawn that (3) the resurrection of the Church sets the time of the rapture as posttribulational.  To put the argument in the words of our author:

But a blind man can see that the exact contrary is the truth.  The resurrection follows the tribulation.  The angel tells Daniel that at that time Israel would be delivered – that is, delivered from the time of trouble just mentioned [Dan. 12:2].  Then it is that the sleepers in the dust awake to inherit eternal life and the glory of the resurrection. …

Now the termination of the week is characterized by two events, among others – first, the destruction of Antichrist, and, secondly, the deliverance of Daniel’s people….  Nothing can be surer than that here we are at the close of the tribulation.  What happened then?  The resurrection of the saints. …[47]

The minor premise is expressed in several different ways:

Darbyist writers themselves asset that if we can fix the epoch of this resurrection, we can know the time of the resurrection of the Church, since the two synchronize.[48]

I must again remind the reader that we are not looking for the resurrection of the Church in this passage.  We are concerned only with the question whether the text teaches the resurrection of the holy dead of Daniel’s people, the Jews….  It will be sufficient if we can prove that the righteous dead in Israel are raised, for it is these writers [Darby, Kelly, etc.] who tell us that the Church will be raised at the same time.[49]

Putting together these premises, Reese concludes that the resurrection of the Church, and hence, the rapture, is posttribulational:

These conclusions are fatal to the new theories of the Second Advent, because it is a fundamental point in those theories that the sleeping saints of Israel will rise some years before the destruction of Antichrist, the deliverance of Israel, and the Coming of Jehovah and His Kingdom.[50]

In this chapter, Reese insists upon the literal interpretation of the Old Testament resurrection passages, which is highly commendable.  But as for his main line of reasoning, he incorporates a false premise and of necessity arrives at a false conclusion.  Darby and his associates, to whom we owe so much, were not always right.  When they insisted that the resurrection of Israel’s dead occurs at the beginning of the Tribulation, that is, at the same time as that of Church saints, they were very probably in error, Reese adducing material proof from the Scripture that Israel’s resurrection follows the Tribulation.  The syllogism should more correctly follow this order: (1) The Old Testament saints are raised after the Tribulation; (2) Darby says that Israel’s resurrection occurs before the Tribulation with the resurrection of the Church saints; (3) therefore, Darby was wrong in respect to the time of Israel’s resurrection.  Such a conclusion is all that this chapter by Reese warrants, yet it suits his theory to adopt an erroneous premise in order to arrive at the conclusion posttribulationalism demands.

A similar cycle of argumentation is found in Reese’s discussion of “The resurrection of the saints in the Gospels.”  His first premise that the Day of the Lord is a definite point in time, the last day of this age and immediately prior to the Millennium.  This has been stated in several different ways:

In addition to this we were able to locate with relative exactness the time of that resurrection.  It is to take place at the Day of the Lord, when Antichrist is destroyed, Israel converted, and the Messianic Age introduced by the Coming of the Lord….  The “resurrection of the just” … in every case … takes place “at the last day.”  Here is a very definite point of time….  And having regard to His [Christ’s] fundamental ideas on Eschatology there can be no doubt that “the last day” is the closing day of the Age that precedes the Messianic Kingdom of glory.[51]

Proof cited to identify “the last day” in the Gospels with the day preceding the Messianic Kingdom follows along the line that it was a fundamental idea of Hebrew eschatology that time falls into two ages, “the Messianic Age,” and that which preceded it; and it was adopted by our Lord and His Apostles….  The Apostle Paul, like Christ, continues to employ the usual expressions of Hebrew eschatology – “this age” and “the age to come.”[52]

At this point, it might be well to ask: When did the ideas of Hebrew eschatology ever become the norm for determining the eschatology of the Church, particularly since the Church is an entirely separate body from Israel, differing from Israel in a score of ways, and nowhere seen in the prophecy of the Old Testament?  Pretribulationalists believe that when the expression “last days” is used, and the Church is in view, that these are the last days for the Church, and that when Israel is in view, that these are the last days for Israel.  This is the normal, unstrained interpretation of the phrase.  To further substantiate his point, Reese cites Bullinger – of whom he says in the following chapter: “Into the wild dispensational theories of Dr. Bullinger it is not my intention to enter; one must draw the line somewhere in investigating the labyrinth of prophetic fads and theories.”[53]  But that is in chapter 4; here in chapter 3, Bullinger is the authority as Reese records:

The true sense of the phrase “the last day” is also given by Bullinger in his Apocalypse: “Martha expressed her belief in the resurrection ‘at the last day’ (John xi.24); i.e., the last day, at the end of the present age, and immediately before the introduction of the new age of the thousand years.”[54]

The second premise of the argument is quickly drawn, that “all Darbyists agree” that the resurrection of Church saints will be “years or decades” before the Day of the Lord:

In other words, does it indicate that the resurrection of the saints is to occur several years or decades before the Day of the Lord, as Darbyists insist? … On his theory the resurrection belongs in time to “this present age,” a decade or a generation before the Day of the Lord begins.[55]

Therefore, it is concluded, “Darbyists” are in error when they speak of a resurrection of Church saints prior to the Day of the Lord.

If we adhere to the simple terminology of our Lord and Paul about “the last day,” “the present Age,” and “the coming Age,” all will be plain, and we shall be saved at the very outset from the danger of getting lost in a labyrinth of dispensational traditions, which lose nothing by comparison with the refinements of the Rabbis.[56]

Once again, a fallacy is introduced into the argument by taking all the views of Darby and the earlier Brethren as the absolute norm for pretribulationalism.  It has been demonstrated in chapter 4 of this investigation that the Day of the Lord is not the final day of the age, but a period which incorporates the Tribulation and, very probably, the Millennial age also.  Reese has seen this, for he says:

Some may object that the expression “last day” refers not to a literal day, but to the last period of God’s dealings with me in time; that is, to the age of the kingdom, which follows this present age, and will extend to the Last Judgment, when the rest of the dead are raised.  Something might be said in favour of this, for Peter has a saying that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years; and the Day of the Lord in the O. and N. Testaments sometimes refers, not only to the day when Messiah comes in glory, but also to the period of His Reign.  But even this admission does not help the objector, for on his theory the resurrection belongs in time to “this present age,” a decade or a generation before the Day of the Lord begins.[57]

So he dismisses the Day of the Lord as a period of time solely on the grounds of Darby’s position, that the Day of the Lord is the day of the revelation of Christ.  But the Day of the Lord, seen as a period including the Tribulation, makes unwarranted the claim that a decade comes between it and the rapture.

As in the previous argument, the second premise is taken for granted, just because Reese and Darby happen to agree at that point.  The logical conclusion of the argument is not that there is no prior resurrection of the Church, but merely that Darby – like Reese – was wrong in making the Day of the Lord a single day, thus necessitating an interval between it and the rapture.  In fact, in this particular argument, Reese’s major and minor premises are both in error, making the chance of drawing any accurate and acceptable conclusions very slim indeed.

Before proceeding further with Reese’s argument on the resurrection, some wise words from the conclusion of his own book may be considered with profit:

Careless readers and others who believe what pleases their fancy, are misled by specious reasoning, since they do not stop to examine it and test its validity.  In one of the greatest controversial masterpieces of our language … a great theologian and mathematician expresses himself thus on the art of presenting a bad case:

“It is a common rhetorical artifice with a man who has to command a false conclusion deduced from a syllogism of which one premise is true, and the other false, to spend an immensity of time in proving the premise which nobody denies.  If he devotes a sufficient amount of argument and declamation to this topic, the chances are that his hearers will never ask for proof of the other premise” [Provost Salmon, Infallibility of the Church, p. 63].

. . . By brilliant argument and declamation the major premise, which no one disputed, was easily demonstrated; the minor premise was dismissed with a wave of the hand and a casual remark that its truth was “self-evident”; the conclusion was then pressed home with easy success, for most people are easily persuaded into believing what they want to believe.[58]

All of this, Reese goes on to apply to pretribulational argument, particularly as it concerns escaping the Tribulation:

But, even at the risk of seeming irksome or slow-witted, we wish to remind them of something that has escaped their notice.  Why not give some attention to the minor premise, and prove to us that the Great Tribulation is the wrath of God?  This, however, is the last thing that Darbyists can be brought to do.  Scores of tracts pass it by.  And naturally, because that part of their syllogism which they adroitly hurry over is completely false.  It is a blunder that the Great Tribulation consists in God’s wrath; their conclusion, therefore, that the Church will escape the Great Tribulation, is false, since if falsity attaches to one of the premises, it attaches to the conclusion.[59]

Reese may well have pondered this truth of his own writing!

It is most doubtful if pretribulationalists so studiously avoid proving that the Great Tribulation consists of God’s wrath.  The Scriptures are all on their side, as has been demonstrated in some detail in chapter 2.  Nevertheless, false reasoning is an error into which any author may slip, particularly one overly zealous to prove his case, and Reese is no exception.  He assumes that the Day of the Lord is a point in time.  He assumes that it is equivalent to the day of Christ’s revealing.  He assumes that the Old Testament saints are raised with the Church, particularly since Darby said so.  And “if falsity attaches to one of the premises, it attaches to the conclusion.”  With this we agree.

Readers of Reese will be stimulated to make a fresh study of the Scriptures, particularly if they have accepted pretribulational positions solely on the basis of the research of others rather than from their own labors.  Such a study and re-evaluation can be immensely profitable.  However, this word of caution must be added to those who may unwittingly channel their thoughts after the pattern of Reese’s argument.  Watch for false premises!  Often they appear on the very first page or two of a chapter, and if lightly accepted, the reader runs the risk of being led whithersoever the author will.

After arguing from “the last day” of John 6, Reese turns his attention to three other passages, all from the synoptics and all largely Jewish in content.  For instance,  the context of Luke 14:14, 15 finds Jesus answering Jewish lawyers and Pharisees, and the subject under discussion is that of healing on the Sabbath, and that in its relationship to Mosaic law.  Hardly the setting for Church truth, unless the assumption is granted that Israel and the Church are identical and are raised on the same day!  As to Matthew 13:43, it is sufficient to note that the kingdom in its mystery form is that which it takes during the absence of the King.  It goes on through the Tribulation and includes, but is not coextensive with, this present age of the Church.

Passing on to Reese’s discussion of “The resurrection of the saints in St. Paul’s epistles,” the argument is pressed from four chief Scriptures: Romans 11:15; I Corinthians 15:50-54; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; and I Corinthians 15:21-26.  Since the second and third of these passages are cardinal, and also receive the most attention by Reese, the discussion will be limited to these.  The gist of the argument from the Corinthian passage is as follows:

Paul not only describes the resurrection and transfiguration of the saints: he emphatically indicates the time for the fulfillment of these wonderful events.  Here are his words: “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (v. 54).

Nothing could be clearer than the Apostle’s argument here.  The resurrection and transfiguration of the faithful dead will take place in fulfillment of an O. T. prophecy.  This occurs in Isaiah xxv.8….  The resurrection of the saints, and the victory over death, synchronise with the inauguration of the Theocratic Kingdom, the Coming of Jehovah, and the conversion of living Israel.[60]

Paul is obviously writing of the Church in I Corinthians 15; he then cites an Old Testament passage to emphasize that resurrection brings victory over the enemy, Death; this passage in Isaiah has for its context entrance into the kingdom age.  To Reese, it is transparently clear that Paul “emphatically indicates the time for the fulfillment of these wonderful events.”  However, there are weak links in this chain of thought.  So much is made to depend on the demonstrative verb then (τότε).  Primarily an adverb of time, it may also be used in the sense of the Hebrew waw consecutive, thus simply continuing the narrative.  Even when used in the temporal sense, it does not necessarily mean “at that moment,” or “without intervening events,” as in John 8:28, “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he.”  Rather than the apostle’s using this Old Testament quotation to set the time of the resurrection in its relationship to the kingdom, it would seem that he is merely setting forth the simple and obvious relationship between the future resurrection and the present reign of Death.  Since the victory of Christ over death at His resurrection, Death has been a defeated enemy, although still having a sting until that time when the Christian puts on his resurrection body.  Then, when this occurs and not before, Death will lose its sting.  The relationship of this event to the time of the kingdom is hardly in view.  If it were, and if it is as obvious as Reese seems to think, the fact that so many of the finest commentators overlooked the entire matter is surely a cause for wonder.

It is always precarious in prophetic Scriptures to assume that two events, seen side by side, of necessity occur together.  If Isaiah 25:8 proves from its context that resurrection is associated with the bringing in of the kingdom, then on the same basis, and much more clearly, is it possible to prove that the resurrection of Isaiah 26:19-21 precedes the Tribulation, for after saying to Israel: “Thy dead shall live,” the prophet continues: “Hide thyself … until the indignation be overpast, For, behold, he Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.”  All of these difficulties argue against Reese’s conclusion, but there are yet three others:

(1)             Revelation 21:4 cites the same Old Testament prophecy, but the setting now is past the kingdom age, entering into the eternal state after the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.  If there is any temporal significance to the allusion to resurrection in Isaiah 25:8, at what time does the resurrection occur in the light of Revelation 21:4?

(2)             It is manifestly impossible to date Church events by Old Testament Scripture.  Final victory over death may be seen, but the Church herself, as also the manner of her resurrection and rapture, are mysteries not revealed until the New Testament.

(3)             It is highly disputed if I Corinthians 15:54 alludes to Isaiah 25:8 at all; most commentators find this to be an allusion to Hosea 13:14, which is a closer parallel – and where the difficulty raised by Reese is avoided.  Yet Reese chooses to make the teaching of these two passages in question a “grave discrepancy” with “the new scheme of the End,” continuing: “So far as I am aware, no Darbyist writer has ever honestly faced the question.”[61]  Perhaps it was not the argument was considered unanswerable, but that it was not considered necessary to answer an argument that reveals so many difficulties.

The second main argument from the Pauline Epistles concerns the familiar passage, I Thessalonians 4:13-18.  Reese says that the passage furnishes no evidence for the time of the rapture, although, having made so much of the order of events in the context of Isaiah 25:8, he should have noted that the context here in I Thessalonians 4 is “study to be quiet” (v. 11) before the passage (hardly a Tribulational setting) and “the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief” after the passage – a perfect pretribulational order of events.  But hear our author’s reason for introducing this passage:

Darbyists themselves furnish us with reasons that smash their central position.  They all admit, in the first place, that this resurrection in I Thess. iv. includes the resurrection of all the righteous dead since Abel; this is a fundamental point in the scheme.[62]

Here is the false premise, the same in substance with that previously introduced in the study of the resurrection in the Old Testament.  Pretribulationalists do not particularly relish being called so constantly “Darbyists” (elsewhere, Darbyists and Sadducees), but in good humor may overlook the intended stigma.  But they will not, for the most part, “admit” that all of the righteous dead since Abel are raised at the rapture.  Far be this from being a fundamental point of pretribulationalism; it is considered by many to be inconsistent with the Scriptures and is therefore rejected.

Daniel 12:1, 2 is outstanding among Old Testament passages on the subject of resurrection, and here the unprecedented time of Tribulation sorrow precedes the awakening and resurrection of Israel’s dead from the dust of the earth.  Similarly, in verse thirteen of Daniel 12, the prophet’s own resurrection is identified with the end days of the Tribulation following the unmasking of Antichrist and the abomination of his rule.  In Isaiah 25:8, when death will be swallowed up in victory, then the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.  The implication seems plain that Israel’s resurrection is associated with the glory and comfort of Christ’s appearing, for it would hardly follow that all tears shall be wiped away before “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7).  Rather than synchronize the resurrection of Israel’s righteous dead with the rapture of the Church, an entirely different group with a separate eschatology, it would seem far more in keeping with the prophetic Word to synchronize it with the sound of the trumpet which shall gather the elect of God from the four winds and from one end of heaven to the other (Matt. 24:31), and this occurs “after the tribulation of those days.”

Again, Revelation 11:18 and its immediate context is best explained if it is seen that “the time of the dead” when saints and prophets shall be judged and rewarded refers to Israel’s resurrection at the end of the Tribulation and not to some small and unidentified remnant of the end time.  It is not without reason that many pretribulationalists must part company with Darby on this particular point of the time of Israel’s resurrection, and it is most foolish for one to make Darby’s view not only the norm, but also the touchstone for all pretribulationalism.  However, Reese builds his entire case at this point upon Darby’s view:

Very well then, this means that I Thess. iv. synchronises with the resurrection in Isaiah xxv. 8, xxvi. 19, Dan. xii. 1-3, 12-13 [etc.].  And we have already proved that these passages clearly locate the resurrection of the saints in Israel at the commencement of the Messianic Kingdom when Antichrist is destroyed, and Israel is converted by the appearing of Jehovah.[63]

Nor is this second premise without its difficulties, but we press on to the conclusion of the argument:

The whole Darbyist case collapses, therefore, before their admission that I Thess. iv. includes the raising of the O. T. saints.[64]

Once more a false conclusion has arisen from a false premise.  The true conclusion should be that Darby was wrong in respect to the time of Israel’s resurrection – that, and nothing more.  Yet Darby was right about so many other things, even his case does not collapse over one or two inconsistencies, and even though it did, normal pretribulationalism which makes no such concession is not weakened in the least.  By the failure of the pretribulationalist to agree with Darby at this particular point, it is the argument of the opposition which undergoes collapse.

Reese concludes his sixty page argument concerning the time of the resurrection with a discussion of “The resurrection of the saints in the Apocalypse,” the discussion revolving around the two disputed and difficult chapters, the eleventh and the twentieth.

The first passage considered is Revelation 11:15-18, bringing up the familiar matter of the seventh trumpet.  Immediately, there is an uncertain premise:

And here in Rev. xi. 15, we have these very events under the seventh or last trumpet, which also blows at the Day of the Lord.  The conclusion is inevitable, therefore, that the Last Trumpet of John are one and the same.  We are right, therefore, in inferring the resurrection from Rev. xi. 15-18.[65]

Reese attempts to bolster his argument a little, but avoids the fact that the seventh trumpet cannot fall on what he calls the Day of the Lord because it is followed by yet seven vials of wrath upon the earth before the Tribulation period is terminated.  There is great difficulty resident in any view which lumps together in one day the Day of the Lord, the Day of Christ, the revelation of the Son of God, and other events which Scripture takes pains to separate.  Yet the seventh trumpet “finishes the mystery of God, and heralds the introduction of the Kingdom of Christ and of God, the resurrection, judgment, and rewarding of the saints, and the Coming of the Lord.”[66]  Included also is the marriage of the Lamb and the Marriage Supper, and all on one day!  Other difficulties with identifying the seventh trumpet and the “last trump” have been discussed in the last chapter (where with equal determination, it was argued that the seventh trumpet marks the exact midpoint of the week) and so need not detain us here.

Next follows Reese’s attack upon the view that the Church is represented in Revelation 4 by the twenty-four elders.  This also has been discussed under the consideration of the midtribulation rapture view.  Reese does point out the inconsistency of Kelly and others, who held that the elders represent the Old Testament saints as well as the Church, but such a difficulty is obviated when it is seen that the elders represent the Church alone.  Were the Old Testament saints to be raised together with the Church, then the elders might represent both, but it is here contended that Israel is raised at the end of the Tribulation, thus avoiding their inclusion with the elders and also explaining the rewarding of certain saints in Revelation 11:18.  The terminology, “thy servants the prophets,” is likewise more suitable for Israel than for the Church, for the Church is seen at the time of these events as the glorious bride of Christ.  Reese states: “Inasmuch, therefore, as Rev. xi. 18 depicts the giving of rewards to the whole company of the redeemed, we may be sure that this also is the time of resurrection of the just.”[67]  Were he speaking of Israel alone, we would agree, but as he includes the Church, we can not.  There is not contradiction in Revelation 11 to the view which sees the Church raptured and rewarded before the Tribulation and Old Testament saints raised and rewarded at its close.  Both here and elsewhere, difficulties occur only when Israel and her prophetic program is confused with the Church and her own distinct eschatology.

A more pressing problem arises with the consideration of Revelation 20:4-6.  Reese wisely limits the discussion, accepting two literal resurrections according to the normal premillennial pattern, and counting it unnecessary to enter into the millenarian controversy which has raged over the passage.  He sets the stage for the present disputation in the following manner.

What conclusion can we draw from the vision in Rev. xx. 1-6?  Just this, that here we have the clearest refutation possible of the Darbyist system; for, according to those theories, the first resurrection is to take place at least seven years before the Day of the Lord and the millennium: some time even before the rise of Antichrist: according to this vision of the Apocalypse, the first resurrection takes place in immediate association with the destruction of Antichrist, and the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom.  Thus we have exactly the same teaching as in all the earlier Scriptures.[68]

It is the position of pretribulationalism that the resurrection of the saints occurs at a point earlier than the vision here recorded in Revelation 20.  To this, Reese has two objections, namely, that John records no earlier resurrection, nor could there be a resurrection prior to that which is called the first.  In his own language:

Not a word is said by John in the whole of Revelation of any such resurrection.  Nothing can be found of an earlier one, either here or in any other part of the Word of God.  If such a prior resurrection was known to John – as the theory presupposes – then how is it conceivable that he would call this resurrection the first? … But that he wrote first resurrection will be proof to all candid readers that he knew of none before it.[69]

Since this is the heart of Reese’s argument, and since he makes this “the clearest refutation possible of the Darbyist system,” it should suffice to answer him on these two points.  The first objection, that John records no earlier resurrection, is easy to refute.  Reese is depending upon the familiar and untrustworthy argument from silence.  Unless there is something with which to back up an argument drawn from silence, it is better to argue from what the text does say rather than from it fails to say.  The most extended and complete passage in all the gospels on the subject of the Tribulation and the return of Christ to earth is that of Matthew 24.  Yet, in his consideration of the resurrection of the saints in the gospels, Reese chooses to allude to other passages.  Can the reason be that Matthew 24 maintains silence as to any resurrection, and that Reese insists that where the resurrection is, there will the rapture be?  IF the argument from silence is valid, this absence of resurrection in Matthew 24 is most striking.  As to John’s failure to mention the resurrection of the dead in Christ, such mention is hardly to be expected in a book which foresees the Church in glory and deals with God’s judgment upon the earth, and not primarily with His mercy toward saints already in heaven.  As to the notion that “not a word is said by John” of any prior resurrection, what then of the resurrection of the two witnesses in 11:11, 12, and what of the great multitude from all nations, clothed in white and standing before the throne, in 7:9-17?  These are resurrected saints and are identified as “they which have come out of great tribulation.”  Pretribulationalists believe that the rapture occurs, chronologically, in 4:1.  What then of the twenty-four elders, representative of the Church and seen in glory far in advance of Revelation 20?  Are not these suggestive of a prior resurrection?

This, however, anticipates the answer to Reese’s second objection, that there can be no prior resurrection because that of Revelation 20:5 is termed “the first.”  Is an earlier resurrection as impossible as Reese presumes?

All Premillenarians are agreed that there are two resurrections, the first being the resurrection of the righteous dead before the millennial kingdom, and the second being the resurrection of the wicked dead one thousand years later at the great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).  The first resurrection is that of the just; the second that of the unjust.  All who have part in the first resurrection are saved; all who are raised to stand before the great white throne are lost.  Two resurrections are in view – and two classes of men.

This alone indicates that the important distinguishing feature between the two is the kind of resurrection, rather than the time of resurrection.  Pretribulationalists believe that the term “first resurrection” indicates that those raised are the first in kind, and that such a distinction is far more important than the time factor involved.  They believe that the first resurrection speaks, not necessarily of an event, but rather of an order of resurrection.  It may occur in several successive stages, but all the saved are in the resurrection designated first in distinction from those in the second, who are lost.  Nor is this concept without Scriptural warrant:

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming (I Cor. 15:22, 23).

Even as the gathering of the firstfruits becomes the token and assurance of the completed harvest, so Christ was first raised and forms the pattern for the resurrection of those who believe in Him.  As He lives, so shall we live in His presence; as His body was raised incorruptible, so shall we also be raised incorruptible.  “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (I Cor. 15:49).  The resurrection of Christ is the seal and the assurance of the resurrection of those that are His.

But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain … ye are yet in your sins.  Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (I Cor. 15:13-19).

Here, then is an order of harvest: Christ the firstfruits, and after Him, “every man in his own order.”  Christ had part in the “first resurrection,” and indicates that other “orders” are to make up the completed harvest.  What may some of these other orders be?

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many (Matt. 27:51-53).

For the Lord himself shall descent from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first (I Thess. 4:16).

After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands….  And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:9, 14).

And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves….  And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.  And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither.  And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them (Rev. 11:9, 11, 12).

There shall be at a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered every one that shall be found written in the book.  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life….  (Dan. 12:1, 2).

It is most apparent that here are different orders of harvest: Christ, the firstfruits; the saints who were raised after His resurrection, probably taken to heaven when Christ ascended to His Father; the dead in Christ at the rapture, before the Tribulation; the martyred saints of the Tribulation period; the two witnesses; and the Old Testament saints at the close of the Tribulation.  None of these are in the resurrection of the unjust; therefore, all of them must have part in the resurrection of the righteous, which is termed “the first resurrection.”  Each is raised, but in his own order.  The word translated “order” is a military term meaning a band, brigade, or division of an army.  Christ catches home the army of the redeemed of all ages, but they arrive in different bands.  Yet all are in the one resurrection of the redeemed.  There is no difficulty here, except for those who gloss over every indication of resurrection prior to Revelation 20 in order to protect the theory that there can be no rapture prior to the Tribulation.

Admittedly, there is no clear indication of various stages of resurrection in the words, “This is the first resurrection,” but a doctrine is never built upon one verse of Scripture when there are others on the same subject which call for consideration.  It is also quite characteristic of prophetic Scriptures that the time element involved is not always clearly stated.  In some cases, events placed side by side in prophecy actually find their fulfillment hundreds of years apart.  A familiar example is found in Isaiah 61:1, 2, in which both advents of Christ are seen side by side.  When the Lord read these verses in the synagogue at Nazareth, He “closed the book” in the middle of the second verse of Isaiah 61, saying: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:16-21).  The rest of the verse, concerning “the day of vengeance of our God,” will not reach its fulfillment until the second advent, yet Isaiah sees both advents in one view and records them side by side in a single verse.  John 5:28, 29 may be cited as another illustration of the same principle:

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

In this passage, there is not the slightest hint that the resurrection of life will differ in point of time from the resurrection of damnation.  Other Scriptures make it obvious that the entire kingdom age of one thousand years intervenes between the two, but the passage in John deals with the fact of thee resurrections and not with the time element involved.  Who could foresee, without searching other Scriptures, that “the hour” of which John speaks actually includes an interval of one thousand years?  Fallacy arises when it is assumed that two events mentioned side by side must of necessity fall together.  On that basis, on might gather that Christmas falls on December 31 from statements linking Christmas and New Year together, or connecting both with the end of the year.

Moreover, in Revelation 20:14 is recorded:  “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death,” but in Revelation 19:20, speaking of Antichrist and his false prophet, John records: “These both were cast alive into a lake of fire. …”  Yet, the former is after the millennium, the latter, preceding it.  If the “second death” embraces two judgments separated by a thousand years, who can rightfully deny successive stages in the “first resurrection”?  The terminology of 20:14 is exactly the same as that of 20:5: “This is the second death,” “This is the first resurrection.”

Reese remarks that on pretribulational grounds “John ought to have written: ‘this is the second resurrection: blessed and holy is he that hath part in the second resurrection.”[70]  With the same line of reasoning, John should have written: “This is the third death,” but of course he did not.  McPherson writes that having a “first” before a “first” is a riddle, and that to include earlier resurrections in the first resurrection is a “mathematical nightmare.”[71]  However, the “riddle” is readily answered when it is seen that “first” is an order of resurrection referring to all the redeemed, and this in harmony with other Scriptures where the fact, and not the time, of an event is being stressed.  Posttribulationalists have yet to explain the fact of previous resurrections, if Revelation 20:5 were actually first in point of time.

Reese’s further arguments from the resurrection of the saints in the Apocalypse are of little consequence and need not detain us long.  He touches upon the seventh trumpet, and goes into some detail as to whom the twenty-four elders are not, but these matters have been adequately discussed in the previous chapter.  He argues that the twenty-four thrones of Revelation 4 were empty, on the basis of 20:4, where it says: “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them.”  To Reese, this proves that John sees them as “a company in the very act of sitting down on their thrones,”[72] but this is slender evidence upon which to build a doctrine.  He asks: “If the Twenty-four Elders represent the raptured saints in heaven before the Seventieth Week, why do we not see the saints themselves instead of twenty-four symbols?”[73]  Aside from the fact that the elders are individuals rather than symbols, it is just as reasonable to ask why Christ is seen throughout as a Lamb.  It is argued: “If no mention is made in the Apocalypse of the Rapture, surely it is the part of a careful student to enquire whether the Christian hope is not portrayed under different imagery and expressions.”[74]  That being an acceptable principle, there is everything to favor the Church being seen in heaven prior to the Tribulation under the imagery of the elders.  Yet Reese fails to deal with the principle evidence which determines the identity of the elders, seems to be unaware of the textual support for the old reading for the song of the elders, calls them “angelic lords” despite the fact that they are always differentiated from angels, and takes comfort in the fact that Bullinger agrees with him as to their identity!

The chapter presents no ordered principle for interpreting the book of Revelation, and mere criticism of the views of others is an empty shell without something genuine and conclusive to offer in their place.  The problem of the resurrection is Reese’s main emphasis and argument, and one leaves it with an awareness that he has not substantiated his position, that he has left much unsaid, and that much of what has been said by way of ridicule was entirely unnecessary.

IV.          Additional Posttribulational Arguments
Since every chapter previous to this (with the possible exception of chapter 8) contributes one or more answers to some phase of the posttribulational argument, it is not necessary here to give additional space to the same consideration.  In the words of another: “One must draw the line somewhere in investigating the labyrinth of prophetic fads and theories.”  Yet, lest it be said that many posttribulational arguments were omitted in a chapter given over to an examination of that theory, other leading points of posttribulationalism should at least be stated and the chapters mentioned where a fuller discussion may be found.

A.      The Wheat and the Tares
The argument is that the parables of Matthew 13 describe the mystery form of the kingdom of God, setting forth the course of this present age.  Just as the wheat and the tares grow side by side until the harvest, so Christians and unbelievers exist together until the “end time,” identified by Matthew 24:31 as at the revelation of Christ.  Therefore, Christians are on earth until the final judgment, and the rapture is said to be posttribulational.

In answer, the chapter describes the mystery form of the kingdom of heaven – the form the kingdom is to assume during the absence of the King – which period includes both the Church Age and the Tribulation.  The opposing argument is beside the point since Matthew 13 and the Church Age are entirely co-extensive; the mystery form continues after the Church is removed.  The parable of the wheat and the tares simply illustrates the presence of the righteous and the unrighteous, side by side upon the earth.  God is patient in His dealings with unregenerate men, but nevertheless, the tares are steadily ripening for the harvest and certain judgment.  To make the parable a proof for posttribulationalism is unwarranted, for, even according to this view, at the revelation of Christ, He will first take out His Church – while the parable insists “first the tares.”  Nor do angels gather the Church at the rapture, but Christ Himself.  Nor is it entirely certain that the parable has the Church in view at all, for in Matthew 8:1-13, it is Israel that is called “children of the kingdom.”  Moreover, there is no resurrection in the parable.  Instead of straining to find therein proof for the time of the rapture, is it not reasonable to limit its teaching to that which is more obvious, even God’s present patience with the unrighteous and their certain ripening toward judgment?

B.      The Parousia of Christ
It is the position of Reese that the parousia of Christ (discussed in chapter 1) “far from being a prolonged period, is a single crisis breaking with the utmost suddenness.”[75]  He insists that the proper translation of the word is “arrival,” rather than “presence,” and speaks of it as a “kingly word.”  Thus, he seeks to make parousia a technical word for a kingly visit, characterized as a sudden crisis, for in so doing, his theory of the rapture is strengthened.  However, parousia is quite an ordinary word for coming, used for instance of the coming of Stephanas (I Cor. 16:17; cf. II Cor. 7:6) and in a very unkingly sense in II Corinthians 10:10: “his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”  This last verse, together with Philippians 1:26, 2:12, and many others, illustrates the use of parousia in the sense of presence.  In II Corinthians 7:6, 7, it was not merely the arrival of Titus which comforted Paul, but rather his continued presence with him subsequent to that arrival.  Even o, the importance of Christ’s parousia lies not so much in the sudden splendor of His appearings as it does in the fact that the Christian shall be with Him where He is.

There is an excellent summary of the verses where parousia is used, together with the doctrinal implications thereof, in The Church and the Tribulation, by Hogg and Vine.  C. F. Hoff has concluded his discussion by saying:

But enough of the word, which, as Mr. Reese recognises, is a key to the understanding of the end times.  Let that be my apology for devoting so much space to it.  I think it may be claimed that his witnesses, under cross-examination, fail to support him in his contention that “the humblest in the first century knew that the word meant the triumphant arrival of Messiah to put down all authority, and then to reign.”  And Mr. Reese himself makes no better showing.  He seeks to impress his uncritical readers with a mass of undigested quotations, many of the from doubtful sources, calculated to confuse the mind of those who are not in a position to estimate the true value of the formidable array of “authorities” who, for the most part, have only opinions to offer, not facts.[76]

C.      The Church Promised Tribulation
Through much tribulation, believers must enter into the kingdom of God.  To shirk suffering for Christ is a sign of degeneracy in the Christian life.  Pretribulationalists accept their doctrine through cowardice, or an obsessive desire for worldly ease – these are the postulates of posttribulationalism.  The true nature of Christians suffering, the distinction between persecution and wrath, the nature and source of the Tribulation to come, the fact that Revelation 6-19 is all characterized as wrath, and some of the express promises of the Word that the Church will be spared the wrath to come – these, and kindred themes, are found in chapter 2 of this investigation.

D.      Do Christ and Paul Agree?
Matthew 24:29 places the coming of Christ “after the tribulation of those days.”  It is argued that if the rapture of I Thessalonians 4 is before the Tribulation, then Paul is made to disagree with Christ.  But this is to assume that there is no rapture separate from the appearing, which is the fallacy of arguing in a circle.  Chapter 3 sets forth some of the basic distinctions between Christianity and Judaism and proves that posttribulationalism is largely founded upon Scriptures given directly to Israel.  A comparison of Matthew 24 with I Thessalonians 4 reveals some similarities, but primarily it yields striking and convincing contrasts.

E.      The Day of the Lord
According to Reese, “that day,” “the Day of the Lord,” and “the Day of Christ” are all synonymous expressions for the day of the parousia, which closes the present age and ushers in the age to come.  Posttribulationalists make some headway showing the inconsistencies of Darby’s position on the Day of the Lord, but when this Day is seen as a period including the Tribulation, as demonstrated in chapter 4, their argument falls to pieces.

F.      The Restrainer of II Thessalonians 2
Reese identifies the restrainer as the Roman Empire, a magnificent system of law and justice, surviving in the Papacy, “the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire”!  Other posttribulationalists are divided in their opinion, one accepting the identification of the Holy Spirit, another identifying the restrainer with Satan.  While pretribulationalism does not hinge upon identifying the restrainer as the Spirit, chapter 5 presents reasons why this is thought to be the most reasonable and acceptable view.  If this thesis can be sustained, it gives a devastating blow to the posttribulation rapture theory.

G.     The Doctrine of Imminency
Posttribulationalists are the violent opponents of the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ, for they deny that the Christian attitude is to be that of momentarily expecting God’s Son from heaven.  Their argument is drawn from certain New Testament predictions as they are applied to the first century Church, which objections are answered in chapter 6.  Early Christians were obviously looking for the return of the Saviour and were encouraged to do so, and the normal Christian attitude has ever been to watch and to wait for His coming.  Posttribulationalism robs the Church of a doctrine which has long been a primary source of blessing and comfort, as well as one of her chief incentives to holiness and service.  Newell writes:

Who have been the teachers and preachers of Christ’s imminent coming?  We have such men as John Darby, who was probably the greatest interpreter of Scripture since Paul, with such early Brethren as C. H. Mackintosh, J. G. Bellett, Wm. Kelly, and the rest, a marvelous coterie.  Then you have C. H. Spurgeon.  It is idle to claim that he was not looking for Christ’s coming.  He split no hairs such as the posttribulationalists do, but boldly and constantly proclaimed the second coming of Christ as an actual and a daily possibility.  D. L. Moody was a wonderful witness to any truth God revealed to him; and his sermon on “The Second Coming of Christ” is a classic.  H was looking for the Lord’s coming.  George C. Needham, beloved Irishman; Wm. E. Blackstone, whose life has been to look for his Lord; James H. Brookes, a mighty warrior, now with the Lord; A. B. Simpson, of whom Moody said, “Everything he says reaches my heart.”  All these were looking for Christ’s appearing.  It was the hope of their lives.  H. M. Parsons, of Toronto, and Dr. Weston … faithful witnesses alike.  Grand old I. M. Haldeman, of New York, as well as J. Wilbur Chapman, now with Christ.  A. T. Pierson, of wonderful penetration in the meaning of Scripture; A. J. Gordon; George E. Guille … devoted, gentle, sane, yet a contender for Christ’s imminent coming; our Brother Ironside, whose praise is among the real churches of Christ; Lewis Sperry Chafer at Dallas; A. C. Gaebelein, of New York, editor of Our Hope, perhaps the most persistent, faithful witness for over fifty years to the imminent return of our Lord … James M. Gray, late President of the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago … a host of faithful witnesses to Christ’s imminent coming, in Great Britain, Scandinavia, the mission fields, and Australia.[77]

H.      The Rapture and the Revelation
Posttribulationalists argue that “to meet the Lord in the air” means to meet the Lord and quickly return with Him to the earth, all in a single crisis.  They claim further that the rapture cannot be separated in point of time from the revelation of Christ and that the rapture is but an insignificant detail in the downward sweep of the Lord to earth at His glorious appearing.  For all of these contentions there is clear proof to the contrary.  Some of this evidence has already been given, while the following chapter will take up in particular the distinctions between the rapture of the Church and the revelation of the Lord to the earth.  It hardly needs to be said, that if rapture and revelation can be distinguished the one from the other, on that ground alone the posttribulational argument is lost.

V.      A Word in Conclusion
It is never a welcome responsibility to oppose the views of men who are brethren in Christ, particularly concerning issues over which even premillennial men are divided.  While there is wisdom in the words of Bishop Butler: “A truth being established, objections are nothing; the one is founded upon our knowledge, the other upon our ignorance,”[78] yet the establishment of a doctrine is not complete until at least basic tenets of the opposing views have been dealt with.  Particularly is this true when one of the opponents argues as voluminously and as vociferously as does Reese – such a voice cannot be ignored.  In the words of another, who writes of Reese’s book: “If there were a little more good will, less argument, and more chastened enquiry, how much we might learn together!”[79]

It is the belief of this investigator that by the close of the following chapter the main views and the chief objections of the posttribulational system will have been fully and fairly met.  To touch upon all the details would be to prolong the analysis to a tedious length, for it is more or less irksome to be overly persuaded on points concerning which there is very little doubt in the first place.

Posttribulationalism has been met and answered on its own ground, particularly on the three issues which are often called unanswerable:  the argument that pretribulationalism is new and novel, the argument as to the time of the resurrection, and the argument against the possibility of Christ’s return being imminent.  Among the leading weaknesses of posttribulationalism, aside from the intolerant attitude of many of its advocates, is the tendency to depart from the fundamental principle of literal interpretation, the failure to comprehend that the Tribulation is essentially a time of divine retribution, the tendency to take ordinary words of Scripture and force them into the mold of technical usage, the refusal to recognize the truth and appreciate the value of an imminent return, a steadfast refusal to accept Paul as the primary revelator to the Church of God, and a lingering legalism combined with a failure to grasp the real character and scope of divine grace.


[1] George H. Fromow, Will The Church Pass Through the Tribulation?, p. 4.
[2] Alexander Reese, The Approaching Advent of Christ, pp. 142, 207.
[3] John J. Scruby, The Great Tribulation: The Church’s Supreme Test, p. 19.
[4] Hogg and Vine, The Church and the Tribulation, pp. 9, 10.
[5] Ibid., pp. 10, 11.
[6] Reese, op. cit., p. 222.
[7] Ibid., p. 211.
[8] Ibid., p. xlv.
[9] McPherson, a close follower of Reese, speaks of himself in like manner as “making no profession of being either a scholar or theologian,” although he shows considerably better spirit but no bibliography.  Norman S. McPherson, Triumph Through Tribulation, p. 4.
[10] William R. Newell, The Book of the Revelation, p. 399.
[11] F. W. Pitt, “The Great Tribulation,” Our Hope, XLI (October, 1934), pp. 240, 241.
[12] Ibid., p. 238.
[13] F. J. Miles, The Friend of Russia, cited by A. J. Pollock, Will the Church Go Through the Great Tribulation, p. 7.
[14] Pollock, loc. cit.
[15] Reese, op. cit., p. 94.
[16] Ibid., p. 94.
[17] Ibid., p. 253.
[18] F. W. Pitt, Advent Witness, cited by Pollock, op. cit., p. 6.
[19] Pollock, loc. cit.
[20] Reese, op. cit., p. 72.
[21] Ibid., pp. 28, 183.
[22] Ibid., p. 41.
[23] Ibid., p. 19.
[24] Ibid., p. 60.
[25] Ibid., p. 316, identified on p. 174 as Mr. Tweedy.
[26] S. P. Tregelles, The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming, p. 35.  On the same page, an interesting concession is made: “But when the theory of a secret coming of Christ was first brought forward (about the year 1832), it was adopted with eagerness; it suited certain preconceived opinions.”
[27] George L. Rose, Tribulation Till Translation, p. 245.
[28] Scruby, op. cit., p. 78.
[29] Citation by A. C. Gaebelein, “The Attempted Revival of an Unscriptural Theory,” Our Hope, XLI (July, 1934), 19.
[30] Reese, op. cit., p. 174.
[31] Cited by Gaebelein, op. cit., p. 24.  In this article, Gaebelein examines the writings of Irving, and finds that the prophetic teachings of Irving are rather hazy,” but without reference to women prophets who invented an imminent return of Christ, or the other teachings attributed to him.
[32] Robert Cameron, Scriptural Truth About the Lord’s Return, pp. 72, 73.
[33] Sir Robert Anderson, Forgotten Truths, pp. 68, 69.
[34] T. G. Crippen, History of Doctrine, p. 231.
[35] Henry C. Thiessen, “Will the Church Pass Through the Tribulation?” Bibliotheca Sacra, XCII (April-June, 19335), pp. 189-90.  This article has an excellent digest of the expectation of the Ante-Nicene Fathers.
[36] Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, I, 11.
[37] Cited by Silver, The Lord’s Return, p. 59.
[38] Roberts and Donaldson, op. cit., VII, 382.
[39] Ibid., II, 18.
[40] Cited by Silver, op. cit., pp. 67. 68.
[41] Reese, op. cit., p. 29.
[42] Cameron, op. cit., p. 138.
[43] Ibid., p. 150.  Italics added.
[44] James Orr, The Progress of Dogma, pp. 21-31.  Italics in the original.
[45] Reese, op. cit., p. 316.
[46] McPherson, op. cit., p. 41.
[47] Reese, op. cit., pp. 44, 45, 46.
[48] Ibid., p. 34.
[49] Ibid., p. 42.
[50] Ibid., p. 49.
[51] Ibid., pp. 52-54.
[52] Ibid., pp. 53, 55.
[53] Ibid., p. 71.
[54] Ibid., p. 53.
[55] Ibid., p. 71.
[56] Ibid., p. 56.
[57] Ibid., p. 55.
[58] Ibid., p. 283.  Italics added.
[59] Ibid., p. 283.  Italics added.
[60] Ibid., p. 63.  Italics in the original.
[61] Ibid., p. 65.
[62] Ibid., p. 68.
[63] Loc. cit.
[64] Loc. cit.
[65] Ibid., pp. 73, 74.  So also, p. 78.
[66] Ibid., p. 75.
[67] Ibid., p. 77.
[68] Ibid., p. 81.
[69] Reese, loc. cit.
[70] Ibid., p. 81.
[71] McPherson, op. cit., p. 40.
[72] Ibid., p. 83.
[73] Ibid., p. 87.
[74] Ibid., p. 89.
[75] Ibid., p. 152.
[76] C. F. Hogg and W. E. Vine, The Church and the Tribulation (a review of the book entitled the Approaching Advent of Christ), pp. 27, 28.
[77] William R. Newell, The Book of the Revelation, pp. 400, 401.
[78] Cited by Reese, op. cit., p. 225.
[79] Hogg and Vine, op. cit., p. 15.