In Part 1, I attempted to show how I/we get taken in by cleverly crafted hoaxes. I ended by opening up a conversation that would normally lead to my excommunication, firing, abrupt dismissal or forced retirement if my situation were different. Since I am beholden to no one but God for my existence, I can open up discussion on how the majority of Bible-believing Christian leaders and churches have come to adopt, without some serious questioning, a theory about the Pre-tribulational rapture of the church; all without one solid verse of Scripture to back it up.  

The reasoning is circular and therefore, illogical. How do we know the teaching that Christ’s coming precedes a seven-year time of tribulation is the correct interpretation of the Bible’s prophecy? We agree with that position because it coincides with most of the preaching we hear and the lion’s share of books on the subject. In the footnotes, our Study Bible even says the rapture precedes the tribulation. The popular fiction series on “the tribulation” confirms it. All are in one accord. These credible sources from those who maintain the authority of the Word of God could not be wrong- or could they?

“What if there is another answer to the timing of the rapture question? Do we dare disturb the status quo? Is it wrong simply because it rocks the boat or is not as popular a view?”

It reminds me of how I was taken in by the giant skeleton pictures forwarded to me.  This being said, I am not pointing fingers at our teachers or their teachers. Like I did with the giant cadavers, we forward messages we believe. It fits our biases and plays to our momentum. But what if we have been spoofed?

What if there is another answer to the timing of the rapture question? Do we dare disturb the status quo? Is it wrong simply because it rocks the boat and is not as popular a view? What if every Christian living on the planet is headed for a specific period of great tribulation and suffering? What if that is the supported position in prophecy? Shouldn”t it be fairly examined if the truth is in the Word of God to prepare us for the time of unprecedented world-wide evil?

I swallowed twelve to sixteen foot skeletons, hook, line and sinker. But once I found out I was deceived what steps did I take? I have no interest in being part of the deception. If I pass on something that is false, I attribute it to my lack of discernment, not duplicity. It is far worse if I am taken in, then realize it and do nothing or– worse yet– refuse to let Biblical evidence interfere with my doctrine.

“Most don’t know what questions to ask.”

For years I proclaimed Jesus would return at any moment because I believed what I was taught. I was wrong!  I took the bait. Later, I found the “Pre-Tribulational Rapture of the Church” position omitted and ignored vital Biblical evidence found easily in the Scriptures. No one from a literalist perspective asked the hard questions. (It is something like the news media’s “softball questions” to a politician who shares their ideology. Objectivity goes out the window.) Saying, “I was duped,” is a pride-swallowing experience.

Most don’t know what questions to ask. Try asking this one to a proponent of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture of the Church position: “Where is the clear Scripture teaching that Jesus’ coming is imminent (i.e. without any preceding signs)?” Get ready to really listen for the answer. If Christ’s first coming was accompanied by nearly a hundred clear, literal prophetic signs, wouldn’t Christ’s return be preceded by literal signs also? Unless one’s mind is already made up, Jesus’ words in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 serve as a direct answer to his disciples’ request for signs.

Discussing this question with my son Jeremy elicited one of the most common responses. His church teaches that since Israel has become a nation all preceding signs have been fulfilled. So, Jesus’ coming can now be at any moment (imminent) where it really wasn’t before the United Nations resolution of May 1948 that gave statehood to the Jews.

Sounds good, perhaps, but there’s a slight problem: The keystone “Doctrine of Imminence” has been taught ever since a Keswick-type Convention nearly one hundred thirty years ago. Israel’s sovereignty was established only sixty-two years ago. Look at this picture again. Was Jesus’ return imminent before and after the sign of Israel’s nationhood?

What other matter related to Biblical evidence is not being asked? Prophecies in Daniel and the Gospels, regarding the end of this age, reveal God’s saints will be handed over to an evil ruler to be persecuted and put to death and hated by all nations. Advocates of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture of the Church position say we will be taken up (raptured) at Christ’s sudden return before the Tribulation begins. Sounds like the Church will not have to endure severe hardship, doesn’t it? “No,” we are told, “this prophecy is for Israel and the Jews, not for Christian believers.” Though we want to believe this, might something start to smell a bit fishy here? Could this be what we want to hear, therefore, might we be already predisposed to believing it is true?

Let us take this doctrinal position on Christ’s return to Iraq where Christians were singled out to be slaughtered.  What about the suffering of our fellow believers in the Indian state of Orissa where Hindu fanatics burned churches. What about the fifty some other countries where “imminent” corresponds to “any moment” torture, loss, imprisonment or death? What credibility would this weakly supported doctrine have in places of Christian tribulation if it was just being introduced? If it does not stand up to scrutiny everywhere on the globe, how can it be true?

“If you notice a sudden coldness and glazing of the eyes when you question a leader’s position on the timing of the rapture, you may want to save your breath. If they are excited to discuss the subject, jump in.”

In many American pulpits the train is too far down the Pre-Tribulation rapture tracks. Even if asked a few questions, some minds are too rigid to fairly examine the above questions. If you notice a sudden coldness and glazing of the eyes when you question a leader’s position on the timing of the rapture, you may want to save your breath. If they are excited to discuss the subject, jump in. By asking, you may have put yourself on the trouble-makers list and off the deacon’s list.

What makes me credible on the subject of Bible prophecy or the book I have written, “The People of God: Finding the Future in Your Bible” credible? I make no claim to be a scholar or an expert– far from it. All I do is shed valuable light on the truth so the open-minded reader can decide based on the facts. Scriptures are brought out that hold the partially-hidden keys to understanding prophecy. The book raises questions that few dare to raise in our so-called Christian culture.

What if you’ve been duped? Not long ago a family friend that served as a missionary in Indonesia for more than fifty years sent out an apology. She had errantly forwarded a deceptive “come on” to those on her email list. She pledged more caution the next time. It is all we can do.

The Pre-tribulation rapture scenario is plausible but so were the giants’ skeletons and the Noah’s Ark discovery. For over a century, children have been hoodwinked into believing in Santa Claus, reindeer, the sleigh, the North Pole, elves in the toy workshop, and the rest. Do you know why? It is because Mom, Dad, grandparents, teachers, the shopping malls, aunts and uncles and other sources that the kids believe, reinforced the myth.

This is another reason that I am thankful to my mother. She refused to feed me the fiction of Santa. Neither did my wife, Leslie, and I perpetuate the Santa Claus fraud with our children. It was the least we could do. I may be duped more often than I like, but I have no intention of knowingly and willingly betraying a trust. I may be dumb but I’m not stupid! By the way, is there really such a thing as the tooth fairy?