The Rapture is When?

A Critique of The Rapture Question Answered Plain and Simple
by Robert Van Kampen

by Darrel Cline

Problems in Chapter Two Continued

So far in our critique, we have noted that Jesus Himself taught the psychological importance of not saying "My Lord tarries..."; that there often exists a reason in the person (a quirk of personality) for the conclusions he draws from the words of Scripture that actually contradict or twist the meaning of the very Scriptures he quotes; that there are significant problems with the notion that the Scriptures are "plain and simple"; that there are significant problems with the claim that a "face-value" hermeneutic will solve everything; and that the issue of the importance of the Church having its eager expectation of the coming of the Christ replaced by the dreadful possibility of the onset of the seventieth week of Daniel is tied up with the teaching of the prophetic ministry of the two prophets of Revelation 11.

Now, we continue with our examination of Van Kampen's arguments in chapter two of The Rapture Question Answered.

The Face-Value Hermeneutic Revisited [Briefly]

On page 45 Van Kampen quotes Dr. Richard Mayhue as having written these words: "...perhaps the position of pretribulationism is correct although its proof at times has been logically invalid or at least unconvincing." Then, on page 46 he wrote "I agreed with Mayhue that the pretribulation position was 'logically invalid or at least unconvincing,' and therefore found myself leaning toward the posttribulation position because of the clear teaching of Christ in Matthew 24..."

My references to these two quotes is for this reason: Mayhue's words do not say that the pretribulation position is "logically invalid or at least unconvincing." What Mayhue said was that some of the arguments put forward by men as proof of pretribulationism had logical fallacies, or that they were not convincing to him. He did not say that the position was illogical or unconvincing -- just that some of the men who had argued it's case had not done a good job. But, just one page further, Van Kampen says that Mayhue was saying that the position itself was logically invalid or at least unconvincing. My point? So much for "face-value interpretation!" If Van Kampen can't even read Mayhue with understanding, how is it that he thinks we should believe he can read Scripture any better? Remember, Van Kampen's entire argument of "plain and simple" meaning is based upon the ease of "face-value interpretation". But, as with his misuse of 2 Corinthians 1:13, Van Kampen's further misuse of Mayhue's words only undercuts his thesis that words are easy to understand.

I am, again, not simply being nit-picky. Rather, I am trying to show the fallacy of claiming this issue is so "plain and simple" that only the deliberately obtuse and immoral would reject it.

The Concordance Fallacy

On page 47 Van Kampen writes,

"I picked up my concordance and...within a few hours of comparing Scripture with Scripture, I realized that, by God's grace, I had found the common denominator that made the biblical truths of both pretribulationism and posttribulationism come together perfectly, without contradiction, inconsistency, or unreconciled passages...the solution was so incredibly simple!"
This is a fallacious claim on two fronts.

The first front is what I am going to call the concordance fallacy. Multitudes of people think that the way to find out what the Bible says about a given subject is to get a concordance and go through all the references the Bible makes to a given subject by looking at the references to the same words, or groups of words. When this faulty method of study is linked together with a simplistic confidence in a "face-value hermeneutic", almost anything can result. I have a book in my study called by its followers The Make-Sure Book. In it there are all kinds of heretical statements made with verses of Scripture given as "proof". The "proof" is simply that the verses use the same words and the assumption is that they address the same issues. The result has been the cult known as The Jehovah's Witnesses. This kind of argument is based upon concordance study and weaving texts together so that they support a thesis. Van Kampen's method is exactly the same method.

What is the real problem here? This: without doing the diligent study of the movement of an author's thought through the context of his words, there is no way a person can be sure that he understands what a given segment of those words mean. What will happen is that the one doing the concordance study will believe in his own facility of understanding words without doing the prior study and giving proper diligence to set the verses in their real context. Then, having believed in his own facility, logical analysis, and other superior mental abilities, he will place his own meaning on the words of the author and never know what he has done! He will think that his meaning is the author's meaning and be impervious to persuasion because he does not believe he could be wrong. By Van Kampen's own admission, he only spent "a few hours" and he covered Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts and Revelation. Thus, by his own admission, Van Kampen did not do his homework until after he had solidified his thesis. With the thesis in place, he claims to have read all the commentaries and other books and discovered that no one could invalidate his thesis. But, is this the case? The thesis was not generated by legitimate procedure; so how can we tell if it was validated by legitimate procedure? Once a thesis is fixed in mind, it is difficult to see the contrary evidence. Thus, on the first front, Van Kampen has exalted the concordance fallacy and thinks he has validated his position by reading commentaries and arguing his case with others. But has he?

And then on the second front, Van Kampen came up with a thesis that is completely contrary to biblical revelation. His thesis begins with this: "the persecution by Antichrist during the great tribulation will be the wrath of Satan (Revelation 12:12), not the wrath of God." This could be true within certain limits. But, the twist he puts on it is this: the expression of the two divergent kinds of wrath [Satan's and God's] cannot occupy the same time frame and cannot exist within the same set of events. In other words, Satan is to be allowed to pour out his wrath against the saints; then, God will remove those saints from his reach and will commence pouring out His wrath against the ungodly. In this scenario of Van Kampen's, nothing that Satan does can also be an expression of divine wrath, and nothing God does can also be an expression of Satanic wrath, nor can God be expressing His wrath while Satan is expressing his and nor can Satan be expressing his wrath while God is expressing His.

This thesis cannot stand the general scrutiny of Scripture, and thus becomes suspect as the foundation for a new view of the timing of the Rapture.

God's Wrath Expressed Through Satan's Wrath

There are multiple examples in the Scriptures of the fact that the very same incidents express both God's and Satan's purposes. Sometimes they have contrary purposes and sometimes they have similar purposes. In other words, sometimes God is presented in Scripture as having a purpose for an action when that very same action is being stimulated by Satan with either the same, or a different, purpose.

Our first example will be very general. When the wrath of God is executed upon the wicked so that they are cast into eternal fire, what is Satan's attitude? Does he not exult in the destruction of the wicked as a part of his plan of rebellion against God and the destruction of His creatures? The same action reveals a shared antagonism by God and Satan toward the wicked. Satan hates them because they are God's creatures, and God hates them because they have embraced the attitude and actions of the devil.

Our second example comes from 1 Chronicles 21:1. There we are told "And Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to number Israel." However, when we go back to 2 Samuel 24:1 we are told "And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, 'Go, number Israel and Judah'." Here we have a single time frame, a single activity, and three sponsors. God sponsored David's decision; Satan sponsored David's decision; and David sponsored his own decision. Thus, David's decision was backed by the antagonism of Satan, the anger of God, and the pride of David. Point? There does not have to be a separation of time or event in order for a thing to be attributable to both God and Satan.

Joseph recognized this reality when he told his brethren that though they intended their actions for evil, God intended the same actions for good. Thus, two opposing intentions created the same events and experiences.

Balaam recognized this same reality when he counseled Balak to get the men of Israel to sin against God. He could not pronounce a curse against Israel, but he could get Israel to bring one on itself. Satan's objective was a curse; God's objective, once Israel embraced Satan's plans, was a curse; and the people of Israel experienced a curse. Same event, different players, same objective.

And God's use of Babylon as a tool for the destruction of Israel and Jerusalem is well known. But it is equally well known that Babylon was seeking to destroy Israel as a consequence of following its own demon over-lords (agents of Satan). Thus, the same events once again dovetail behind two different sponsors who share some of the same objectives.

Again, in Romans 1 we are told that the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against men who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. Paul goes on to tell us that God's wrath is manifest in that He turns them over to their lusts. This is in harmony with Paul's instruction to the Corinthians to turn the immoral man over to Satan. In other words, part of the wrath of God is to turn people over to their deepest desires. In this way, God's turning the world over to Satan is an expression of His wrath. Therefore, it is impossible to claim that God's wrath and Satan's wrath do not sometimes overlap or co-exist in the same events. In the same way, Peter, in Acts 2:22-23, said that Jesus was delivered up by the predetermined plan of God and then blamed the men of Jerusalem for nailing Him to the Cross. The wrath of Satan, expressed through the men of Jerusalem, resulted in Jesus being nailed to the cross; and the wrath of God against sin resulted in Jesus being nailed to the cross. Same event; two different sponsors.

Thus, to claim that Satan's wrath cannot share the same time frame as God's wrath, and to claim that God's wrath cannot be expressed through Satan's wrath is not a biblically sound claim. Thus, if it is to be established that they do not share a common time-frame, it will have to be established on some other basis than making a distinction between the wrath of Satan and the wrath of God. And it will have to explain how the judgments poured out by the Two Witnesses is not an expression of the wrath of God.

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