Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Not Afraid of AntiChrist - By Michael Brown and Craig S. Keener




My previously pretrib family has recently changed our position on the timing of the rapture (because of studies my dad [a pastor] has done on Matthew 24).  We had been quite staunchly pretribulationalists before, but had always had some doubts and questions about certain implications and assumptions of the position. In our study through the book of Mathew at our church, we were forced to change our position, as it was not biblical.


I was curious at what Brown and Craig had to say about the topic in their book "Not Afraid of Antichrist".  Both authors believed in a pretribulation rapture, and then changed their mind after a closer look at the Scriptures.  They do a pretty good job of showing the unbiblicalness of the position, and demonstrate from various passages of Scripture that 'pretribbers' are connecting dots that should not be connected.  

They explain that there is no significant difference between the various mentions of the coming of the Lord.  They all contain similar details (even if all do not say every single detail every time they are mentioned).  

They also attack the notion that saved Israel is not a part of the Church/body of Christ.  I really appreciated that, as that was one of the things that really held me in the Pre-trib position.  As Brown and Craig point out, ethnic Israelites can be a part of the church and still be used uniquely as an ethnic group, by God, and distinguished from Christians of other ethnicities, within the body of Christ.  

While there were several points that I agreed with that are brought up in the book, there several things that I didn't really like about it.  

Let me go into some detail:  First, one, or both of the author's take's issue with Clarence Larkin's assertion that, Christianity, overall, has failed to keep pace with heathenism, had failed to convert the world and that Larkin assumed that converting the whole world was therefore not God's purpose.  The author writing that chapter seemed to think that that was absurd.  But I don't see how, biblically, that is absurd, because we are told that the way to salvation is narrow, and that few find it, or follow it. And even Christ asked if He would find faith on the earth when He comes (Luke 18:8).    
But here's a weird thought that just occurred to me:  Maybe there will be the greatest amount of saved people, more than any previous era, DURING the Great Tribulation age.  We remember that Revelation 7 talks about a multitude that no one can number, from every tribe, tongue and nation.  That multitude came out of, and apparently passed through, the Great Tribulation.  Sounds like a huge (and I mean, HUGE) number of Gentiles saved during the tribulation. A multitude of saved Gentiles will be on the earth during the tribulation….Which really is another point against the "There's no church mentioned during the tribulation" argument.  Anyway, so perhaps, while there may not be great Evangelistic success before the tribulation…perhaps there will during it? And during the Millennium (It sounds as though whole nations come to Christ then). But I still have a problem with how one's thinking that the majority of people will not come to Christ could be thought an unbiblical idea.

Another problem I had was that one, or both of the authors,  think that the seventieth week of Daniel is not future.  I don't quite understand how they could think that.  "The idea that a whole church age must be inserted between the 69th and 70th week of years is a perfect illustration of how the Pre-Trib reading of Scripture must be imposed on the text rather than read out from the text." Though I agree that there is no evidence of the Scripture dividing the 2nd coming of Christ into two parts (Thus making 3 comings of Christ altogether), I would argue that the passage of Daniel itself divides the 69th and 70th week, and that it doesn't take a lot of juggling to think there might be a gap in there.. The " to the end desolations (or wars?) are decreed" part sort of hints to me at an indeterminate period of time.  Besides, it sounds like the same King who will end the sacrifices and offerings, "exalt himself above every other god" (the abomination - see  (See Daniel 8, 11-12,), and this King, Christ (Matt 24:15-on), and His Apostle Paul (2 Thess 2), both directed us to view as a man yet to come, an abomination yet to happen. And Christ specifically referred back to the books of Daniel.  I don't see why we would divide the Lawless One, the Abomination of desolation into many parts/people even thought their details seem to make them the same person/abomination.  That seems mighty close to what we ex-pretribbers did when we divided the 2nd Coming of Christ even though it appeared to be the same event.  

This book also expresses uncertainty as to whether the Man of Lawlessness, whom Paul speaks of in 2nd Thessalonians, is a historical figure or a future one.  They lean toward him being the future Antichrist.  But I don't know why they have any doubts at all.  Neither Antiochus Epiphanes nor Titus (Or Vespasian, or the Romans standards..etc.)  fit the description of the the Man of Lawlessness/ Abomination of Desolation. I don't remember recorded history saying that they exalted themselves ABOVE EVERY OTHER GOD, nor did they claim to be God(the God of the Old and New Testaments) Himself as the lawless one does (perhaps by declaring himself to be Jesus Christ).  Perhaps they declared themselves as gods over some of the other 'gods', but, if I remember correctly, they still worshiped other gods.   But, regardless of what or who they did or didn't worship, I know for certain that NONE of them were the Abomination/Man of Lawlessness because Paul tells us that that man will be killed by "breath of His (Jesus')mouth" when He comes again (2 Thes 2:8).  The Lawless One has not come and gone because our Lord Jesus Christ has not yet returned to kill him, nor has He gathered us to Himself to meet Him in the air along with our resurrected bretheren (1 Thess 4). The Lawless One is not yet history, he is still yet to come. 

I'm probably rambling on too much.  I'll end with one last point:  One of their main arguments is that tribulation is supposed to be a norm for Christian, something they ought not fear.  Tribulation is something that the church is, pretty much, promised.  So why would we think that "GREAT" tribulation would be something we could not face?  

While I agreed with those arguments, as someone who recently came out of the pretrib rapture position myself, I didn't feel that those arguments would have moved me at all.  I would have said something like, "We don't fear the great tribulation, but we do fear the wrath of God!  We don't want to be on earth while it is being poured out".  Now, the authors do address this later on, but most of their argument seemed to assume that Pre-trib rapture folks fear the AntiChrist (and the tribulation), which is probably why the book was given the name that it has.  That premise/title would probably have made me turn away from the book because I would have thought they were missing my whole point.  But, as Brown and Craig were Pretribbers themselves, they probably know  other Pretribbers who are afraid of the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation, and that may have been how they themselves thought.  

Perhaps I would have found the book more compelling if it were more along the lines of "Not Afraid of the Wrath of God"…but that could give the wrong impression, how about, "Not Destined for Wrath: Why the Church will be on earth during the Great Tribulation".  That would certainly make me look twice!

It was okay, and has several points that would probably give pretribbers pause, but not necessarily a book that I would recommend.


Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a free advanced review copy of this book(therefore, some of the content in the final publication may change)! My review did not have to be favorable.

My Rating:  3 out of 5 Stars
***

This book is not yet released.  It may be preordered at Amazon.com



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