In this course, I advocate for a premillennial pre-wrath rapture view of future prophetic events.
While there are always going to be debatable details of end times doctrines and interpretations, I believe the basic framework of this view is extremely compelling and the most straightforward with key texts. The greatest strength of this view is its treatment of “The Day of the Lord.” In the Old Testament, the Day of the Lord is a major theme among the prophets that consistently points to a specific future time-period on earth when salvation will come to God’s people even as God’s manifest presence is unleashed on the wicked in direct, supernatural, wrathful judgments. The New Testament continues this theme under the banner of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the salvation of God’s people that will come at the rapture. The pre-wrath view does not over generalize that Day, nor does it over-simplify it. I believe the pre-wrath focus resonates best with the chord struck throughout the Bible concerning this major eschatological event. It teaches that Christians will be called to endure the Great Tribulation under the persecution of the Antichrist but will be rescued from God’s direct wrath through rapture prior to a complex series of terrifying, divine judgments on earth.
I contend that while this specific view is relatively new, it is actually a more mature version of historic premillennialism (the oldest view in church history). In fact, all the modern formulations of premillennialism (pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, pre-wrath) are relatively new in church history, but I believe that the pre-wrath view has developed as the ripened fruit of the premillennial rapture debates over recent centuries.
Below is a timeline that I have put together to represent the pre-wrath view. I do not consider every detail equally certain, but this timeline does give an overarching picture that I think is quite formidable. I simply offer it here as my attempt to depict the view.
The three top resources that I recommend for an introduction to this view are:
Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord by Alan Kurschner. This is the best introduction to the pre-wrath view that I have found. Kurschner’s style is concise, clear, and careful, so his work is very accessible to a lay reader, but it is not simplistic and without substance. By the end of the book, the view is set forth fairly completely and quite compellingly. As I read Kurschner’s book, I am struck by how much it reflects my own approach to prophetic texts. I like to think that if I had written an introduction to the pre-wrath view, it would have been very much like this work in tone, style, and content. He has also published Prewrath: A Very Short Introduction to the Great Tribulation, Rapture, and Day of the Lord which I have not read but take to be simply a shortened version of the book I recommend.
The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthal. For decades, Rosenthal was a leading figure among pre-trib dispensationalists. When he was won over to the pre-wrath view, it came at tremendous personal cost, but he found the scriptural evidence for the pre-wrath view so compelling that he was conscience bound. Due to his background, this book has a bit of a feisty, polemical tone that some may not appreciate. It also comes from a dispensational perspective that I do not believe necessary of the pre-wrath view. Nevertheless, this book does a good job of introducing the reader to the basic framework of the pre-wrath view. When I first encountered this book, I found the interpretations and the synthesis of Rosenthal so compelling that it solidified for me the pre-wrath view on the rapture. Prior to taking in this book, I had never felt solid on any of the other rapture views. I believe to digest this book properly, you need to be able to separate surface from substance. While it has some surface flaws, the substance is very powerful.
Three Views on the Rapture: Pretribulation, Prewrath, or Posttribulation by Craig Blaising (pre-trib), Alan Hultberg (pre-wrath), and Douglas Moo (post-trib). This book is very congenial because the authors presenting the three views speak with such appropriate respect and esteem for one another. As such, it is a wonderful example of keeping Christian differences over the rapture in perspective by recognizing this issue as a tertiary matter that should not define our fellowship and certainly should not lead to harsh condemnations. Having said that, I don’t believe the three views are even close in terms of quality. In my view Hultberg’s explanations of the key texts are drastically better than those of Blaising and Moo. To me the difference is striking.
This sheet “Strengths of the Pre-Wrath View” was the focus of week 2 and the first part of week 3 of my course.
This audio picks up with week 3 of my course. This is not a bad place to start because in week 1, we just did an overview of the premillennial pre-wrath timeline (above). And in week 2, we started the sheet “Strengths of the Pre-Wrath View” (above). In week 3, this sheet was briefly reviewed and finished before moving on to the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24.