I was asked by a pastor friend what my thoughts were on Michael Brown and Craig Keener’s Not Afraid of the Antichrist: Why We Don’t Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture (Chosen Books, 2019). For the record, I understand that the Fellowship with which I am ordained holds to “The Blessed Hope” as one of our doctrine and that this has traditionally been read as indicating only Pre-Tribulation Rapture (despite that it is also widely known that the original author of our Statement, D.W. Kerr, held to another view, but wanted some allowance for diversity on this*). This doctrinal statement seems more accurate biblically to point to a broader reference to Jesus’ soon bodily return for His Church to be gathered to Him and the world to be made His (and our) inheritance as His kingdom reigns in all things at the resurrection.
Here was my short response to him:
“I read it just before it came out for the general market. Overall it offers a decent basic discussion of the biblical texts involved in the debates about the rapture. While there are times it is ironic, at others it comes across in a way that some will find demeaning.”
“I think their basic premise is correct: that one simply would not come up with a doctrine of Pre-Tribulation Rapture directly from reading the texts of Scripture, but must presume it theologically to read select Scriptures through such a filter. They do not, however, reject the idea of Premillennialism, nor of the idea of being “caught up” as Jesus returns. They are simply contending that the Dispensational system necessary for a Pre-Trib Rapture reading should not be forced onto Scripture, but Scripture itself best offers how we might interpret it.”
“As to several potential weaknesses…(1) I did not find the discussion of the debated texts from Daniel to be sufficiently engaged. While many of the NT texts were engaged, Daniel was very nearly avoided in the discussion and simply presumed to be self-understood. However, Daniel 7 (in particular, and the chapters that follow) are particularly difficult for interpreters. I’m not sure why it was not more discussed, but wish it had been.”
“(2) It is written at a more popular level. This is both a strength and weakness. For general consumption this volume may prove convincing and/or helpful. For those who seem to really care about such discussions, I’m guessing this more popular level writing will simply not address the issues they believe must be addressed.”
“It is a book I would personally endorse for taking a small group through as a pastor. It would spur on discussions about the texts involved (even if people do not agree with the book’s proposals). If I did that I would use the book to guide the conversations as a starter, but would put the emphasis on looking carefully through the pertinent texts of Scripture as a group.”
Have you had a chance to read it yet? What are your thoughts?
* See the helpful discussion in Glen Menzies and Gordon L. Anderson, “D.W. Kerr and Eschatological Diversity in the Assemblies of God,” Paraclete (1993): 8-16.
1. Need to rewrite your jumbled first paragraph.
2. I’m guessing that “…While there are times it is ironic…” should be (“… is irenic”).
3. Quibbling about not getting much into the Daniel texts is one of those critiques that almost suggests they should have written a different book. Probably never their aim to get into Daniel and Revelation so much as to focus on Paul and Revelation?
Thanks for the comments Dale. My autocorrection made “irenic” read “ironic”. That is now fixed. I know my first paragraph is a long and “jumbled” (perhaps it is the German influences coming out). As the “quibbling” over their discussion of Daniel, it is considered one of the key texts. So any skirting around it without explanation simply won’t do. I was not looking for any extensive discussions of Daniel, but more than the scant amount written. I am guessing that chapter was Michael. Craig’s work on Paul and even the Revelation were much better.
Your first paragraph is visually easy to read. The later part where you quote what you wrote to your pastor friend is in such a light font that it was more difficult visually. The change in font size and to italics would have been sufficient to set it off from your introduction, without lightening the font.
As to the book, I found it to be a good non-technical presentation of a historic premil approach. I had it preordered since last year, and dropped all other reading to plow through it as soon as it arrived.
It is a weird feature of the WordPress app that changes the “quoted” materials to a softer font. I also find it harder to read. I should likely just put my words in quotations to indicate them set off. My guess is that the “quote” setting is more intended for a very short highlight from the actual text rather than for the text proper when quoted. The older version used to simply block it off with formatting to indicate it as a quotation.
I think your assessment of the book is spot on. I actually received a copy just before it hit the general market and read it on my flights home from D.C.
Thanks to your comment, Brian, I went ahead and removed the style that softened the text. I’ll just use quotation marks in the future. 🙂
I got it right before it was released for review. I do not know the other author but I have much respect for Dr. Brown. However, I completely disagree with him on the doctrine he put forwards here. Scripture clears puts to the removal of the church at the end of the gentile revival and the beginning of the Jewish revival or what some know as the “Tribulation.”
However, I do not question the scholarship of the work.