A Thousand Tiny Cuts By Pete Garcia The late Tom Clancy (military-political author) published one…
Divergent Doctrines – Part 1
Divergent Doctrines – Part 1
By Pete Garcia
I asked Jack Kinsella a couple of years ago in the Members Forum, about something that had been really bothering me. How can a person, who claims to be a Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit (who is supposed to guide you into all truth), be a Preterist? How could a person who has the same Holy Spirit as I do, be so utterly wrong and yet still be a Christian?
I suppose you could take that same question, and apply it to any number of different doctrinal positions that have divided Christianity over the millennia. But Jack’s response really cemented in stone for me the why, of why we are so divided on so many topics…yet remain part of the same body of Christ that has existed these last 2,000 years since Pentecost. He says…
“About the only Christian doctrine upon which there is more or less universal agreement is that we are saved by grace through faith in the shed Blood and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. BUT, that is the only doctrine, in the final analysis, which really and truly bears eternal consequences. Preterists that trust Jesus for their salvation will meet up in heaven with futurists who trusted Jesus, who will fellowship with pre-tribbers, midtribbers, and post-tribbers, who will fellowship with Calvinists and Arminians together. Because if you trust Jesus Christ for your salvation, then you will go to heaven. That is the central message of the Gospel. The rest is the product of our longing to know God and know the things of God, while blinded by the limitations imposed on us by our earthly perspective. As the Apostle Paul put it, seeing the things of God ‘through a glass, darkly’. Paul says we know only ‘in part’ but the part that we all agree on is the only part that really counts. Salvation by faith. In the story of the Tower of Babel, God explains how the various ethnic nations came to be.”
“And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” – Genesis 11:6-7
“By scattering man ‘among the nations’ and removing the common bond of language and ethnicity, God ensured that no one man could ever again rule all men, as Nimrod did until the construction of the Tower of Babel. It prevented any one culture or worldview to dominate all mankind. That diversity is what allowed Christianity to flourish at the point when it was introduced into history. The reason is that Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ, rather than a commonly accepted cultural duty.
God built that same diversity into the Church, which accounts for how and why sincere Christians can read the same Scriptures and come up with such widely divergent doctrines as preterist historicism and pretribulation futurism. It prevents any one teacher from becoming the only accepted source of information on the things of God. If everybody agreed on every point of doctrine, then the guy who articulates it the best becomes the Great Oracle of God. (And what if he was wrong?) So we have diversity of understanding, but the same Scripture. And we have a diversity of teachings, but share the same salvation by grace through faith. And we are equally sincere because we share the same awesome responsibility of accountability before the Lord.
In the end, we will be judged by how we used the doctrine God delivered to us to lead others to salvation in Christ. The necessity of diversity of understanding in the Church Age is adequately demonstrated by a peek across the divide into the coming ‘Time of Jacob’s Trouble’ after the Church Age is concluded. During the Tribulation, that diversity of understanding is replaced by a universal religion imposed by the false prophet and directed toward the worship of the antichrist.” – (Jack Kinsella, Letting God Sort it Out)
I didn’t intend to quote the whole section on it, but he made so many good points and so worded it perfectly, that it was hard to decide where to end. But I, like how Jack did before me, came to the realization, that no matter how hard you try, you will never (or probably never) convince anyone about doctrinal truths, until they are ready for the Holy Spirit to really guide them into said truth.
Thus, it is not my job to convince people, but the Holy Spirit’s. All I can do is lay out some facts about what the Holy Spirit has shown me, and let you pray on it and decide whether what I say, is true. I decided to address three areas that seem to be the most hotly contested in our common faith, and share why I understand them the way I do. The first is the Rapture of the Church, the second is the Triune nature of God (i.e…the Trinity), and the last is our Ordinances that Christ instructed us to keep until He returns. Although they seem unrelated to Bible prophecy, they are very much related. We see in the Ordinances that are instructed to maintain and keep until He returns for us. For example:
1. We are to make disciples of all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…even until the end of the age. (Matt. 28:18-20)
2. We are to keep the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance of His sacrifice, proclaiming His death until He returns. (1 Cor. 11:26)
3. We see in the Rapture, the threefold role that the Godhead plays in that event.
a. Only God the Father knows the time of it (Matt. 24:36)
b. God the Son will come and retrieve us because we are His Bride (1 Thess. 4:16)
c. Only those sealed by God the Holy Spirit, will be removed at the Rapture, thus removing His ministry of restraint over the world by removing the vessels He indwells (2 Thess. 2:7)
The Rapture of the Church is one that has spurned much debate since the Apostle Paul’s day. In fact, 2 Thessalonians was written primarily to address the false view that the ‘Day of the Lord’ had already begun. Paul explains to them that two things had to happen first; 1) the ‘falling away’ must occur, and 2) the Restrainer must be removed, so that the Man of Sin can be revealed to the world. The order that Paul lays out here fits perfectly into what the Apostle John would record some 45 years later, in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and the loosening of the first judgment, ‘the rider on the white horse’.
Now, it was to Paul who was given the mystery of the Rapture, and according to his own testimony as found in Galatians 1-2, because he was taught by none other than Christ Himself, in the three years he spent in the Arabian Desert. Paul was also shown the third heaven, which if you back up the 14 years he mentions in 2 Corinthians 12:1-6, puts him in Lystra, where he was stoned by an angry mob and left for dead. In describing the event he experienced, Paul chooses to use the Greek word ‘harpazo’ which matches several other places in his epistles that speak to the very act of physical removal itself (1 Thess. 4:17; 2 Cor. 12:2). It is also used in other sections of the New Testament that conveys the same effect: Acts 8:39, 4; Rev. 12:5.
The Greek word ‘harpazo’ is where we get the English phrase ‘caught up’. The act of ‘catching up’ or ‘snatching up’ is the actual process of how the Lord removes us. In other words, we (and those Scriptural examples) are supernaturally moved from one place (earth) to another place (heaven) by God. The word rapture itself comes from the Latin translation of ‘harpazo’, which gets transliterated from raptus, rapio, or rapiēmur, to the English word rapture. So, any argument that begins its premise that the Rapture event isn’t valid because the word ‘Rapture’ isn’t in the Bible, is one founded on both laziness and ignorance. Nevertheless, if there has to be any disagreement (divergence) on the issue of the Rapture, it should never be about whether it will happen or not, but when.
Thankfully, having the correct eschatological position isn’t a prerequisite to one’s eternal salvation (i.e., justification = one-time event). However, having an incorrect eschatological position (i.e. preterism, pre-wrath, post-trib, etc.) will most certainly mess up your salvation (sanctification = life-long event) as you begin to mature (or not) in the faith. Having an incorrect eschatology, as opposed to other doctrines, is even more troubling seeing as it ties in with every other biblical doctrine. Ergo, if you deny the Rapture will ever take place, you literally have to deny numerous passages that speak directly about it: 1 Thess 4:13-18; Rev 3:10; John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:51-56, etc.
Furthermore, to deny a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, means you are confused about who and what the “Church” is exactly. Therefore, your problem is more ecclesiological (the theological study of the Church), rather than eschatological (the theological study of the end times). Errant views bring on issues with Supersessionism, Replacement Theology, Dominionism, and Anti-Semitism…which seem to be a growing trend amongst the Reformed and mainline denominations.
If you can remember one thing, it is this; the Church is not Israel, nor Israel the Church.
Israel traces its roots back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…while the Church can only link to Abraham by faith in Christ. In other words, we are connected to ethnic Israel by faith in a Jewish Messiah. That faith neither replaces the ethnic Jews as a real people group nor diminishes their biblical importance with regard to covenants and prophecy.
The Rapture is a biblical concept, and it will happen at some future point unknown to us. It has to happen prior to the Tribulation, because the Church is not Israel, and has no biblical basis for going through that specified period of time known as “the 70th Week of Daniel.” Since the Church wasn’t in the first 69 Weeks, neither will we be in the 70th. Furthermore, the second half of the 70th Week is known specifically as the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’. If you recall, Jacob had his name changed by God to the name of Israel. Thus we can rightly call it, ‘the time of Israel’s trouble.’ Those seven years are mapped out for two specific groups; the Christ-rejecting world (who are destroyed), and Israel (who are disciplined). (See also Jer. 30:7-11; Dan 9:24-27; Matt. 24:15-22; John 14:1-3; 1 Thess 1:10, 5:9; Rev. 3:10).
Author’s Note: I originally published this article back in 2014 back with the Omega Letter, but for some reason, didn’t bring it over to the domain change on this new platform. So I’ll be publishing Parts 1-3 in the coming days.