An Evaluation of the New "Pre-Wrath" Rapture Theory

William Arnold III

Areas of Agreement · Major Areas of Problem

The new "Pre-Wrath" rapture theory was devised by Robert Van Kampen and has been popularized largely by Marvin Rosenthal. The major work on this subject has been Rosenthal's "The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church" (1990). However, Van Kampen has now published two of his own works, "The Sign" (1992) and "The Rapture Question Answered: Plain and Simple" (1997). The subtitle of Rosenthal's book reads: "A new understanding of the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the Second Coming." The word "new" is both in italics and in a different color than the rest of the type. This own self-acknowledgment of their view places them under the same condemnation as that of Pre-Tribulationism as not being part of the "faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3), but instead being a new innovation. According to Rosenthal's own assessment of himself, he is "in the technical sense . . . not a scholar," and he refers to Van Kampen simply as a "Christian businessman." This lack of scholarship is reflected in his book, which demonstrates a definite unfamiliarity with Biblical Greek.

Areas of Agreement

1. The wrath of God occurs only after the rapture (p. 61).

2. The Day of the Lord is a time of God's wrath (p. 35).

3. "The Rapture occurs on the very day the Day of the Lord begins" (p. 117).

4. On page 189 he states, "Those four words, 'at the last trump,' reveal in the clearest possible way the precise occasion when the Rapture of the church will occur."

5. According to his chart on page 61, the rapture occurs after the Great Tribulation. This is by definition the Post-Trib position.

6. He also argues very vigorously that there is only one coming (pp. 129, 222-224).

Major Areas of Problem

1. He proposes a strict sequential interpretation of the book of Revelation (p. 35, 112), which is crucial to his position. This has already been discussed in The Order of the Book of Revelation.

2. He divides the 70th week into three parts (p. 61), whereas the Bible routinely divides it only into two. He places the rapture and the beginning of the Day of the Lord somewhere in the middle of the second half (p. 61). He also states that the starting point of the Day of the Lord is crucial to his position (p. 117, 126), yet there is no biblical justification to place this starting point where he does.

3. In order to distinguish the rapture from what he calls the "return in glory," he has a rapture where Christ is not bodily present (p. 217-218). Compare this to the only rapture passage in the Bible which states that "the Lord Himself will descend from heaven" (1 Thess. 4:16).

4. If he can maintain a gap of up to several years between the rapture and the "return in glory" yet still claim that this is one event, then the only difference between his position and that of pre-tribulationism (seven years) is the duration of this gap.

For more discussion on the problems of the Pre-Wrath position, visit these two sites:

Dan Dudley and Ed Tarkowski.

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