The Debate Debate
By Jack Kinsella
I regularly get emails from people asking me for advice on how to disabuse someone of a particular notion or heresy that they have decided to champion. Most often, its the timing of the Rapture, but not exclusively.
There are all kinds of ‘debates’ out there, from the war in Iraq to global warming to the identity of the antichrist, but the one thing they all share is how passionately their proponents will fight for to win them — even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Several years ago, the Weather Channel issued an official position paper on global warming:
“Over the past few years, The Weather Channel has evolved its position on global warming in an effort to objectively represent what the state of the science is,” said Dr. Heidi Cullen, recently appointed Climate Expert for The Weather Channel.
“In regard to the role that people play in influencing our climate, we recognize and respect that there will be those who disagree with us, but our position is consistent with that of the majority of climate scientists.”
Despite expressions of ‘respect’ for those who disagree, Dr. Cullen answered her critics by saying that any scientist who disagreed with her position should be stripped of their credentials by the American Meteorological Society.
Her ‘objective’ evaluation of the ‘state of meteorological science’ is that it is infallible, even when it is wrong. Anybody who has ever planned a wedding or a picnic based on the weather forecast knows how infallible weather forecasting really is.
Indeed, in the same position paper that stated ‘global warming is real’ and the science is ‘settled’, Dr. Cullen admitted, “the future remains uncertain.”
But, admitting the future remains uncertain, SHE is certain, based on the fact that “odds are now leaning toward increased frequency and intensity of heat waves in the warm season and warm spells in the cold season in parts of the world, as well as reduced frequency of low temperature extremes.”
In this one paper, she argues her ‘objectivity’ is based on the predictions of ‘settled science’ that forecasts an ‘uncertain future’ that she categorically states will be ‘catastrophic’.
In the same breath, she admits she is betting on the ‘odds’.
Those who have taken a position against the war in Iraq are just as ‘objective’. The discovery of boxes of documents detailing Saddam’s nuclear weapons program are dismissed out-of-hand.
The historical use of weapons of mass destruction by Saddam against both the Iraqi Kurds and the Iranians is irrelevant to the claim he didn’t have any. So was the discovery of Saddam-era sarin gas artillery shells rigged by terrorists as IED’s.
Memos detailing meetings between Saddam’s officials and Osama bin-Laden in the mid-90’s is insufficient evidence of a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.
The assumption that ‘Bush lied’ to justify the Iraq war when there is no logical way he could have known otherwise has no bearing on that argument.
The debate becomes its own logic.
Among Christians, there are endless debates about the identity of the antichrist or the timing of the Rapture. Endless, and pointless.
It is pointless because identifying the antichrist is impossible. Even the antichrist doesn’t know who he is.
And, supposing we could identify him, what purpose would it serve? If he IS the antichrist, then there isn’t a whole lot anybody could do about it.
The same applies to the debate about the timing of the Rapture. Nobody is saved because of their position on the Rapture, so why argue over it?
I am regularly accused of being a ‘false prophet’ because I believe the Scriptures teach a pre-Tribulation Rapture, and, in so doing, do a disservice to the Church because they will be ill-prepared to cope with the antichrist.
Exactly HOW one could prepare to cope with the antichrist escapes me. But my critics say that because I teach the Church won’t be here for the Tribulation, Christians won’t know to stock up on desiccated food, have adequate weapon stashes or prepare underground shelters.
I am not preparing them for survival, they say.
Survival? Let’s see if we can sort this out. We are talking about a future event forecast by Scripture. We believe that the Tribulation is coming based on our faith in the truth of Scripture. The same Scriptures that promise eternal salvation by faith.
But somehow, that faith doesn’t extend to temporal survival in the here-and-now. In the here-and-now, we will be be physically saved from the antichrist by our own resourcefulness, plus adequate supplies of food, shelter and weapons.
We have faith that God can keep and preserve our eternal souls, but our physical existence is something else altogether. For that, we place our faith in ourselves. (After all, God will be pretty busy during the Tribulation. Maybe too busy to worry about us?)
So, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the Rapture is NOT pre-Trib. Christians prepare adequate food, shelter and weapons for the Tribulation.
And THEN what happens?
If you truly believe the Bible, then you would also believe that heaven is where our eternal citizenship lies, because that’s what the Bible says.
You believe that Jesus meant it when He said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it.” (Matthew 10:39, 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33, John 12:25)
The Bible records that statement SIX different times, all directly attributed to Jesus Christ. So how does that square with preaching the need to make survivalist preparations for the Tribulation Period?
Pretribulationism is dismissed as ‘The Great Escape Theory’ but its critics find no logical disconnect in preaching the need to prepare to save ourselves from Divine judgment.
Is the Tribulation Period a time of Divine judgment on the whole world, or is it not? If the Church is to be judged along with the Christ-rejecting world, are they advocating fighting against God’s decree?
If it ISN’T God’s decree that the Church share in that judgment, then why would the Church be there? A Divine oversight? Did God forget? If it IS God’s decree, then what good is desiccated food, a stockpile of weapons and an underground shelter?
If the Church is going to face the choice between accepting the Mark of the Beast (and eternal damnation) or being martyred for Christ, how will my warning against taking it carry more weight that God’s warning?
It defies logic.
Debating it is even less logical. The Rapture is the only conclusive signal of the onset of the Tribulation.
The antichrist will not announce he is the antichrist. Barring a pre-Trib Rapture, how will anybody know if they are in the Tribulation or not?
What does the Mark look like? Does it look different than a Nazi Party pin? In Nazi Germany, devout Nazis said grace before meals to Adolf Hitler. Children said bedtime prayers to Adolf Hitler. Those outside of Hitler’s system were interned in concentration camps. Millions were murdered.
Hitler was both revered as the political leader and worshipped as a god. But Hitler wasn’t the antichrist. We know that because Hitler is dead and the Nazi era is past.
How will we be able to tell the difference between the antichrist and a new Hitler? There is no logical way to know. Yet people will argue against logic, once they’ve staked out their position.
Therefore, there is little point in debating it.