Is Pre-Tribulation a Dangerous Doctrine?
There is a quote by Corrie Ten Boom circling the internet stating the pre-tribulation rapture of the church is a dangerous doctrine. Here is part of her quote; the rest is available online.
“There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution.
In China, the Christians were told, “Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly,
“We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution, rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes, to stand and not faint.”
I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it. We are next.”
There are a number of problems with Corrie Ten Boom’s conclusions.
- She uses “the tribulation” in a general way, not specifically referring to a single period. If her conclusion is correct then the tribulation happens country by country and is not worldwide.
- She interchanges “the tribulation” with persecution. No serious Bible student would deny that Christians would suffer in some way. The type of suffering and persecution differs from place to place. For the large part it has been non-existent in the Western world. The Lord Jesus promised us tribulation, John 16:33, in this world. Paul said it was our privilege to believe in Christ, Philippians 1:29, and to suffer for His sake.
- Corrie says sixty percent of the Church has already entered into the tribulation. This defies the chronology of Daniel 9 and the repeated emphasis on a specific time of unparalleled tribulation and the appearance of the beasts of Revelation 13.
- There is step in logic that escapes me. How could the teaching of the rapture be dangerous to those who die before “the tribulation” begins? There will be a terminal generation, which possibly could go into “the tribulation”. Believers in the West need to be alert to the possibility of persecution and tribulation.
- The teaching of Scripture is that Christians are waiting for the return of God’s Son, “even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come”. Darby renders it “Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath”. The NIV says, “Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath”. Thomas Constable says about the last phrase, “The word translated “from” means that Christians are kept from it, not taken out of it”. The Thessalonians were persecuted, 2:14, so Paul’s use of “the coming wrath” must refer to a future event.
- The translation of 2 Thessalonians 2:2 in the KJV has caused some confusion to this subject. The RV, NIV, ESV translates the “day of Christ” as “the day of the Lord”, (as do Darby, Robertson, and Alford). The ESV has “to the effect that the day of the Lord has come”, (not, “is at hand”). The implication of the phrase is that some were saying the Tribulation (day of the Lord) had already started.
Paul states in the next verse, “For that day will not come (T.W. Smith – inserts “will not have come”) unless the rebellion (“the apostasy” in Greek) comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction” (ESV). The Greek is ambiguous as the text is not explicit and in Greek, the sentence is not complete, (according to R. Thomas, Expositor’s Bible Commentary). “The Apostasy” is a particular event, worldwide and associated with the day of the Lord.
All Christians should prepare for tribulation, persecution, and the hatred of the world. If there were a doctrine that is counter-productive, it would be the health and wealth gospel permeating much of North America. This anti-Biblical teaching seeks to assure Believers that God intends them to experience the “American Dream”.
Teaching on the Rapture has the effect of turning hearts toward home. The eager waiting for the return of Christ is the hope that inspires Believers to greater exertions of faith and love, (see Colossians 1:4, 5).
Editorial Note. Neither the author nor assemblyHUB wish to criticize Corrie Ten Boom on her the faithfulness, character or devotion to the Lord. We admire her in many ways but felt it right to use her name to be fair to the quote.