Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Rapture and Corrie Ten Boom

In A History of the Early Church & Post-Tribulation Doctrine, author Richard Perry presents his defense for the post-tribulation eschatology, and buttresses his arguments with the opinions of the late Corrie Ten Boom.

First things first - if the pre-tribulation rapture is true, then it would be wrong to withhold it from Christians, to label it as false, or to marginalize it or vilify those who proclaim it. If it is true, it is God's truth, and God's truth -- ALL of it -- belongs to ALL of God's people.

Let's be clear on what it is that we believe: that there is a prophesied specific time of extreme tribulation that will affect the entire earth during the very last years before Christ's visible return to establish His Kingdom and begin to reign on the throne of David, and that Christians who are alive when this particular period of tribulation begins will be removed from the earth beforehand.

THAT is the pre-trib rapture position, and to attempt to make it apply to ALL hardship and ALL tribulation throughout the entire "church age" is to misrepresent the eschatology. Yes, Christians will be persecuted ... but to a point. The church has endured persecution and tribulation since Jesus left. All we're saying is that the final seven years of tribulation are not for the church.

That being said, let us consider for the sake of the argument that Christians will NOT be spared. Let's say they must prepare themselves spiritually for end-time tribulation. Just what does this "preparation" look like? How should the Christian proceed?

I would suggest that, first of all, the Christian deal with all known sin. Repent! When appropriate and possible, make restitution! Clean up your life - identify and discard every bad habit, every evil vice. Get all the garbage out of your home and out of your life. Get your prayer life on track; live by faith. If you are facing hardship, and especially hardship directed at you by an anti-Christian world that wants to destroy your faith, it would seem that your optimal preparations would be quite clear. You need to get your faith established. If you are being persecuted, you sure don't want sin in your life to get between you and God.

BUT - if you look at my suggested activities, you will see that they are exactly the same as I recommend for those anticipating the rapture. In other words, whether we live or whether we leave, we are the Lord's. Preparing for the rapture also prepares you for hardship.

The problem is that the professional clergy does not prepare the saints for ANYTHING. Many "believers" have such a casual view of sin that they see no need to deal with it; they think the rapture is a come-as-you-are party, and that spots and wrinkles, or even the total absence of a wedding garment, are nothing to be concerned about. "Jesus loves me so much that sin doesn't matter! Let's party down!!" I personally know people who consider themselves Christians who refuse to believe in the imminent rapture ... and also refuse to believe in imminent tribulation! They think things are gonna stay about the same, or eventually get better again.

I think Miss Corrie mis-identified the problem. At least she's correct in stating that there is a problem. But the problem is not Pre-trib eschatology, but American ecclesiology. The American way of "doing church" doesn't prepare anyone for much of anything. Going to a building and having someone lecture you for 45 minutes every Sunday morning is not the abundant Christian life. Singing hymns only equips you to sing hymns. Listening to "professional" Christians equips you to listen. Participating in the "Christian" youth group equips you to play video games or go to a theme park. Practically NONE of the Christian busy-work in American-style churches equips the saints for the hard work of living for Christ in a world that hates Him. Instead, we have embraced "Pagan Christianity." Most of the folks who I know who ARE equipped grew up at home on their own. They started their own small group, did their own Bible study or otherwise started taking their Lord very seriously. Very few are equipped or even encouraged by their "church leadership."

And Corrie allowed herself to become part of the problem. She has allowed herself (may she rest in peace) to become a "Christian celebrity." That's how we "do church" here. Most of us just spectate. Christianity, for many, is just another item on the "To Do" list that is checked off on Sunday morning. We want celebrities: the big name preachers and the big name musicians and the notorious sinners who got saved ... or the concentration camp survivors. The thing that gets left out is God's grace. Corrie endured the camp by grace; the same grace that holds my life together. But we prefer celebrities ... just like the world.

I agree that most American Christians are unprepared for either rapture or tribulation. The problem is not with the eschatology, however. It's with a liturgical, organizational (rather than organic) religionized Christianity that does not allow for the equipping of the saints, mainly because it strips Christ of His proper headship and replaces Him with Christian celebrities and professional clergy.

Final thought: Pre-trib rapture belief is not a heresy. Heresies mis-represent God and replace God-centered priorities with man-centered ones. Much "prosperity theology" is heretical because it posits that the comfort of man is paramount to holiness. "Family-centered" ministries also err in placing the "needs" of the family before our duty to love and serve God. Most of the pre-tribbers I know love God first and foremost; many have lost relationships with family members because they love the Lord first. The real heresy in this argument is the heresy that the body of Christ is an organization run by professionals, rather than an organism headed by Christ.

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