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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Gary McBride


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    Thank-you for making these distinctions, Gary. To claim that Christians have or will enter the Great Tribulation is to claim that Christians will suffer God’s wrath. An important question to ask is, “Who is causing it, who is affected?” Christians are persecuted by unbelievers whereas the great tribulation is the “wrath of the Lamb” against unbelievers on earth (Revelation 6:16-17). Therefore, the church will be delivered from God’s wrath (1 Thess. 5:9).


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    Thank you Gary for writing this. I have seen that quote floating around for awhile and never clicked to read, mostly because after all the horror and persecution of the Holocaust that Corrie must have witnessed and endured, I was willing to give her a pass on getting it wrong. However, it’s still important to correct error and I’m glad that you’ve done it here.


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    Very good distinction Gary. However, Corrie’s comments do remind me of something Joe Reese said at our assembly a few years ago… to paraphrase, he said ‘why is it that when persecution happens we start crying “WHEN’S THE LORD GONNA COME” ?’ His point was that we are so afraid of suffering for Christ that we fail to be used for Christ. In that respect, I agree with what that Chinese bishop had to say – that we need to be prepared for persecution and not expect to be removed from any sort of pain. But I would agree that it is separate from the Great Tribulation and it is not a case that eliminates a pre-trib view.


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    Robert Vaillancourt

    Thank you Gary.Hopefully this will put to rest this nonsense that has been floating around . Christians have always gone through tribulation, since this is a part of dedicated Christian living (John 15:18–27; 16:33). Persecution,physical,verbal assaults,imprisonment , even death our Lord told us of these things This is a given .
    John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
    The purpose of this discourse with the disciples was that they might have peace. When they would be hated, pursued, persecuted, falsely condemned, and even tortured, they could have peace in Him. He overcame the world at the cross of Calvary. In spite of their tribulations, they could rest assured that they were on the winning side.
    1Th 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
    Let us encourage each other with Christ’s words ,all of us who have….. Titus 2:13 ” waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”
    We will not be left behind


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    I can see where Corrie Ten Boom is coming from. As I understand it, the extrapolation of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching is that the reason God would prevent us from having to experience The Tribulation is that The Tribulation will be so terrible. Then when people go through tribulation (lower case “T”) they wonder why God didn’t save them from that tribulation if He is interested in saving from The Tribulation. It’s easy, as Christians, to end up setting our hope on the escape from The Tribulation instead of on Jesus’ salvation of us in the midst of our trouble, which He does even through all of life.

    Is her statement doctrinally accurate? No. Is the problem she’s addressing real? I think so.

    In reply to point number 5…
    One problem I have with what many teachers of the PTR say is that they confuse The Tribulation with the Wrath of God. God promises to save us from His wrath, not the wrath, persecution, trouble of man during The Tribulation. I haven’t seen much evidence in the Bible that “the time of tribulation such as the world has not seen” is God’s Wrath.

    It also seems a very weak argument to hang so much about the timing of the resurrection (or, The Rapture) on the subtlety of one preposition. God saved Noah from the wrath of God; He saved Lot from the wrath of God; and their salvation was manifested at the same time as the judgment on the wicked. This illustrates that God can save men from the wrath of God at the same time as the wrath comes. This seems to be a stronger argument for a later-than-pre-tribulation Rapture than the interpretation of a single preposition is for the pre-tribulation Rapture.


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    Would love to get your analysis of several Google articles I found, namely, “Famous Rapture Watchers” (how the greatest NT scholars have interpreted Rev. 3:10 etc.), “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” and “Pretrib Rapture Stealth.” God bless.


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    To equate the great tribulation with the wrath of God is a common error. How do we know that the tribulation is going to last for seven years? This isn’t taught in the bible. You quote John Nelson Darby but he never taught that the tribulation would last no longer than 42 months /3.5 years. The tribulation is described in revelation chapter 13, but there’s no evidence of the rapture prior to it. The great tribulation is Satan’s war against the saints. THE Day of the Lord is God’s wrath being poured out on this world after the rapture. First Thessalonians 5:1-3,9; 2nd Peter 3:3-13. We aren’t appointed unto God’s wrath, but the book of revelation clearly demonstrates that the tribulation is not the wrath of God.


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    The problem is confusing tribulation with the wrath of God. The Bible is clear that we are not appointed unto Wrath, but Jesus very plainly stated that we will suffer persecution and tribulation. And another problem that arises from that error is the separation of the Second Coming and the gathering together of those who remain. Paul calls both events “that day” in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2. If you study it with those two things in mind as well as a clear understanding of who the New Testament considers the Elect, and paying close attention to all the befores and afters in Matthew chapter 24 what Cory Ten Boon says is 100% Biblical.


  9. Gary McBride

    I would suggest Renald Showers book – “Maranatha, The Lord Comes – a definitive look at the rapture of the Church.” A very thorough study of the above topic.


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