I'm going to violate the terms of our debate in two ways. By violating terms I'm showing two things. First, I refuse to surrender. Second, I choose to remain free. Some of you might think that important, given what follows.
First I'm going beyond the word limit of 1500 words. This is about 3200. Second, I'm providing links to my own web pages. Note that in doing so, you can see that I have addressed and refuted each and every single one of Dan's arguments in both his opening statement, and in his other page as I will present below. To prove I'm paying very close attention to what Dan writes, I mimic his style, and address all his issues as I go along.
I didn't always believe that the rapture would happen before the tribulation, as I do today. In fact, I never really heard anything about the rapture or the tribulation until I abandoned the Jehovah's Witness religion of my mother when I was between the ages of 13 and 18, and started studying Bible Prophesy with the help of the Holy Spirit and the internet when I was about 27. But in the beginning it was difficult. While it was easy to see the gross errors of the Jehovah's Witnesses, I also saw many other errors in the views of others on both sides of the rapture timing debate.
I decided to hold off my judgment on the timing of the rapture, and to focus my area of study on what appeared to be the most direct, literal, and easy to understand prophecy in the Bible, about the mark of the beast, the 666, without which, no man will be able to buy or sell. I decided to find all the verses in the Bible on that topic, and to find as many web pages as I could on that subject, and to read everything I could on the topic, and organize the results and come to a conclusion. And so I did. I learned that most people understood the mark of the beast to be most likely to be fulfilled by a bio chip implant about the size of a grain of rice that would allow the trade of electronic credits to be used to buy and sell. I began my studies on that topic in March, 1998, and who knew that I would still be continuing my studies on that same topic today?
Today, I view all kinds of government force and economic sanctions and economic manipulations to be like prophetic precursors of the mark of the beast, wholly evil, totally destructive, and never good. Worship of government is the problem, as for many people who reject the King of Kings, instead worship the kings of the earth, which causes most of the problems of mankind today.
The opposite of the mark of the beast, when speaking of prophetic precursors, or themes, would then be complete economic freedom, according to all the principles of what I will call Biblical Capitalism. Some of these would be avoiding debt, which leads to slavery and the lack of freedom. Paying people their daily wages. Avoiding savings accounts. Owing silver and gold, instead of CD's or Treasury bonds. Avoiding futures contracts. Not trusting promises of payment in the future, but insisting upon payment in full.
While studying the mark of the beast in my first year of studies, in 1998, many people were writing to me, and some wanted to know what to do about the 666 mark. I mentioned that some people believed there would be a rapture before that time came, and I listed a few verses on the topic.
That's when the controversy began to explode. At least 20 times more people visited my 'mark of the beast' page, than the rapture page. And the rapture page was merely a list of verses, with the note 'some people believe "pre trib". And then the slander and attacks came. At least 20 times as many people attacked me for the rapture page, even though very few went there. Very interesting. They would curse me and lie about me to my face for teaching this "rapture lie." And I would have to reply, "I'm doing no such thing, I'm merely listing popularly quoted verses on the topic, in order to catalog and organize what the Bible says on the topic without the biased commentary by others, and pointing out what some people believe. What's wrong with that?"
But of course, questions from readers, and my own questions, lead me to seek out answers, and so I did. As my guide, I used the Bible only. No specific one man taught me, no college. Truth was my guide, as the Bible instructs. The Holy Spirit leads us into truth.
I discovered that where controversy abounds, truth is nearby. For if there are two hotly held views, one pro, the other con, something must be up.
The timing of the rapture, in relation to the tribulation is the most hotly debated and controversial subject in all of Bible prophecy, in my well researched opinion. No other issue seems to even come close, but rather, they are all lessor views, peripheral views, side issues. Yet, the study of this one issue, seems to help clarify all the others.
One of the unfortunate things about a controversy or mystery of God is that it appears that no one man can really understand all the mysteries about it. We can only "see through a glass darkly", as they wrote. Thus, most teachers I encountered on all sides of the debate seemed insufficient, although the Bible and the Holy Spirit, and now the internet, are all great guides.
In fact, popular teachers of the pre trib rapture were so insufficient, I eventually thought it would be wise to put together a small guide called Eight common ERRORS of popular pre-tribulation rapture teachers back in 2002. Dan, or others might wish to read that over, to see how my views differ from what you think I might believe.
I eventually learned that I need not defend another man's views or errors, but only express my own belief, and why I believe, as we are instructed, to be ready to meekly provide reasons for our faith.
Also, I eventually learned that nearly all "attacks" on the rapture are, to my own view, usually misunderstandings of what I actually believe the Bible teaches on the subject.
The most popular slander against the pre tribulation rapture view is that it leads people to believe that once they are saved, they are always saved, and thus, it leads to spiritual complacency.
But I see those as two different doctrines, not one. I refute "once saved always saved" as a doctrine, as Dan does, yet I believe the pre trib view, as Dan does not.
Some slander my position as if I'm only a "partial rapturist" since only "part" of the Church is worthy of the rapture in my view. But these fervently zealous Baptist Protestants often make no such allowance for Catholic believers, who are not even Christians in their view. Such hypocrites, they are partial rapturists themselves!
Some slander my position on the pre trib view as if the doctrine teaches that there will be no tribulation today before the rapture. But that is clearly incorrect, and not remotely a part of my view. Of course there is tribulation today, Christians die from persecution all over the world all the time, and always have since the beginning of the faith, but today's tribulation is unlike the tribulation to come, which is specifically stated to be a time unlike any other.
So, after long study, having developed a more clear view of the rapture than I've seen others express, I examined further, and wondered how my view could possibly be a deception in any way. Clearly, I understand that if you are deceived, you cannot know it, as that is the definition of deception. So, I looked to the warnings of others about how the pre trib view could be deceptive in any way.
Mostly, they warn that I would not be prepared for the mark of the beast if I'm not raptured! Isn't that interesting, since that was my primary area of study? As I can easily quip, 'tribulation' is my viewpoint's middle name! But besides, I don't believe the rapture is a guarantee, but only a hope for the worthy, which means I might well be left behind if I'm not careful about my walk with the Lord.
After examination of so much slander, I concluded that the actual Biblical presentation (or my understanding) of the rapture cannot deceive any Christian. The doctrine leads one only to holiness. This is not to say that I'm a perfectly Holy man, but as living proof, I'm working fervently on the most pressing issue of our day related to this subject, as a matter of business now, as I have advocated silver and gold for years, and now, just this year, I started to sell silver, hoping to be always be able to provide it to people most in need.
The mark of the beast is clearly economic oppression, it is force. It is not a 'cashless' system, but rather, a system without God's provision of gold and silver, which are to be used as honest weights and measures. And so, I advocate silver ownership, as economic protection, and as a source of freedom.
So, what is the Biblical evidence for why I believe the rapture will happen before the tribulation? I could list 100 or even 1000 verses. I have listed over 50 pages on this topic at my site. I list about 300 verses in my "introduction" page alone.
One of the most perplexing issues about studying prophecy is the wide diversity of views among men. Some men who believe the pre tribulation rapture believe this heresy of "once saved always saved", which clearly clouds their judgment and teaching on the rapture. While other men who properly refute "once saved always saved" deny the pre tribulation rapture. And here I am, believing pre trib, and refuting "once saved always saved. Three positions on two subjects, and there is a fourth, of course, too, but I've rarely encountered anyone who believed the 4th way, believing once saved always saved, and denying the pre tribulation rapture. And so it goes, with every new subject, the number of possible permutations of beliefs among men seems as if it should skyrocket. But it does not.
For example, here's another issue. Consider the timing of the invasion against Israel as described in Ezekiel 38-39 in relation to the 7 year tribulation. There are almost as many views on that as there are on the rapture. The invasion could be long before the tribulation, 7 years before the tribulation, a few years before the tribulation, at the same time as the start of the tribulation, half way into the tribulation, at the end of the tribulation, or well into the millennium, so that's 7 possible views! But most of the people I once asked in an online survey, about half, said they thought it would happen at the start of the tribulation. Interesting grouping! But that particular detail of the rapture is not commonly addressed, or even taught.
And so, it is always rather refreshing to meet Biblical Christians who believe 95% the same as I do, the same on at least 19 out of 20 different issues, which would almost seem a statistical impossibility, after all, 2 to the 20th power is over 1 in a million.
One of the most amazing men I've read online is Dan Corner of evangelical outreach. I discovered his teachings against the doctrine of "once saved always saved" about 8 years ago. I then saw his page against the rapture, which, of course, I initially found perplexing, given that I thought he could see so clearly on the other issue.
Around 2002, I refuted all ten of his arguments on his page called
"Pre-Trib Rapture Arguments Examined"
My refutations of each of his ten points are here:
I emailed him about it a few times, and I never heard back. So, I've waited 6 years for this debate now.
A few years later, I saw he wrote another article, titled, "The Exact Point of the Rapture".
By using the word "point", he meant "timing". But I decided to write my own article on "the point of the rapture", because that was the topic I was interested in, and this time, by "point" I meant "the reason for", and not the timing. The point is that even very common and simple words often have two meanings, and it's easy to get confused if you are not careful.
Finally, about a year later, in the fall of 2007, Dan challenged me to a rapture timing debate.
Unfortunately, I was evicted from my rental about a month later, and family concerns for where we would live became my new top priority for about the next 3 months, and I've been very busy since, and I simply forgot to reply until now. In the meantime, I wrote about 125 articles this year, trying to convince people of the moral superiority of honest money.
To address the points made in Dan's opening statement, none of them are new to me. For many years earlier, I have had entire pages devoted to exactly those topics, if only Dan would have bothered to read them, or the scriptures contained in them.
Does the pre tribulation rapture doctrine teach or mean that Christians will not suffer at all today, such as in a nuclear blast as suggested by Dan, or economic calamity? Of course not.
See "False Assumption #4" under:
(I wrote that in 2002).
But even if Christians die "unprepared for tribulation," the doctrine of the rapture is one of the resurrection. It is no fault of Christians to be martyred for the faith, that's the standard persecution in the world, and Christians can face such death in peace due to the resurrection hope!
For Dan to suggest that somehow Christians can be hurt by death goes to show that he has no understanding at all of the resurrection hope, which is the very first elementary teaching about the rapture.
1 Thess 4:13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
But, I agree with Dan, that if anyone feels that Christians cannot suffer tribulation today, that view is entirely unscriptural.
Dan also feels that the doctrine of the pre trib rapture is dangerous because if we are not raptured when we think, it will shake our faith. Of course! Certainly the Thessalonians had their faith shaken when they began to suffer persecution to death, as they thought they were in the tribulation, too, having missed the rapture, and Paul wrote them 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 to prove to them that the tribulation had not yet started, and he gave them signs so that they would know if it had started.
You can see my detailed commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2 here, which I wrote in 2003, after having read over 50 commentaries on the verses from many different viewpoints, pre and post rapture, and even other views.
Dan writes that the truth is hard to accept, and I agree. I actually did not want the pre trib view to be correct for quite a while, because it testified against my lifestyle for a while, as I knew inwardly that I was not worthy.
Dan also writes that teachers will teach things to appease their audiences. Not me. It was a bullfight to even mention the existence of people on earth who believed it to people who did nothing but slander me and lie about to my face, people who were angry, bitter, venomous, hateful, and worse.
Dan's next main point is that he thinks he was wrongly taught that the tribulation was the wrath of God.
Is the entire tribulation the wrath of God? Of course. Here's a list of at least 10 reasons why:
I think the strongest reason is the ones by definition, that the Day of the Lord and the tribulation are described by multiple words all having the same definition.
The next strongest reason is that the 70 weeks of Daniel that his people suffered in captivity were the direct wrath of God, a direct punishment, a direct prophesied punishment that was magnified by seven, according to Biblical, Levitical law, another 7 times, so that the 70 years became 70 weeks of years, and thus, the 70th week, the tribulation, is a part of that same punishment, judgment, and wrath of God. Ezra specifically describes the 70 years of captivity as wrath. If that wrath is multiplied by 7 times, how could that not be wrath too?!
(I wrote that in 2001.)
Dan does not disprove such a concept, but instead, launches into an old and completely fallacious argument based upon the trump of 1 Corinthians being a reference to a book that was not yet written at the time.
What about that "last trump" of Corinthians 15? Is it the seventh trumpet of Revelation 10-11?
Clearly, Paul was not referring his readers to a book that was not yet written, such as Revelation, which was written after all the other Apostles had already died. Instead, I believe Paul was referring to the Feast of Trumpets, as he referenced the Feast of Firstfruits in the same Chapter, referring to Christ's resurrection.
Yes, I do believe that the 7th Trumpet of Revelation might refer to the rapture. But that is no proof that the rapture is not pretribulation. It must be pointed out that other people used this 7th trumpet reference to support a mid trib rapture view as well, or a pre-wrath view of a late tribulation rapture, which shows that the reference is not entirely clear as to showing the timing of the rapture.
(I wrote that in 2002.)
I think it's important to mention at the start of a debate, that some people cannot and will not ever believe the pre tribulation rapture, for a very clear spiritual reason, as written in scripture. Some people cannot expect a rapture, when they must have an expectation of judgement and fire, instead.
Hebrews 10:26-27 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
I think it's also important to mention why we should debate, even if some will never be convinced. It may or may not be for Dan's sake. But it is definitely for the sake of our readers, as is explained here:
1 Corinthians 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
Dan, I apologize that it took me a year to respond. But after being ignored for about 6 years, I hope you will forgive me. This was an honor for me. Let's do it again anytime.
For the complete debate, click Jason Hommel vs. Dan Corner Rapture Debate.