Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"The Rapture Question Answered: Plain and Simple" by Robert Van Kampen

I read a lot of books, almost entirely of the non-fiction, technology, theology or philosophy genre. Currently, I am reading several books on welcoming people to church, but for my leisure reading I am going through "The Rapture Question Answered: Plain and Simple" by Robert Van Kampen.

Based on what little I have read, I think Van Kampen believes in a "Pre-Wrath" rapture. I read The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin J. Rosenthal and I'm not sure I agree with Van Kampen at this point. Nonetheless, I think this read will help me clarify my own position as I just have not taken a stand on eschatology just yet.

As I finish chapters I'll post a comment here to continue my thoughts. This will be an interesting experiment in using my blog for more than static postings.


  1. Chapter 1 is really an extended introduction. RVK merely explains his methodology and stresses some Bible study methods.

  2. Chapter 2 explains the major positions (Pre/Post-trib) and why RVK found them insufficient. He also relates his very frequent debates with others. RVK feel his position is the only one to take the Scripture at face value.

  3. Chapter 2 also contained a few interesting passages. First, RVK has strong ties with Rosenthal. Second, RVK seems to indicate that the answer becomes clear when you search for the sign of the sun, moon, and stars in the Old Testament. Third, RVK claims the answer came in a matter of hours one afternoon in the mid 1980s, and he was surprised nobody else had discovered it before.

  4. Chapter 3 is mostly about RVK's objections to the Pre-Trib position. He spends a good deal of time criticizing an argument which relates the Tribulation period with the Flood. I hadn't heard that argument before, although RVK claims it is a common Pre-Trib position.

    RVK also defines God's Wrath as being different from the events of the Tribulation. Even the Great Tribulation is not yet "God's Wrath". Also, the Rapture must occur immediately prior to God's Wrath, according to RVK.

    I am having difficulties understanding his definition of "wrath" at this point.

  5. Chapters 4 through 8 involve Van Kampen producing an entire series of straw-man attacks on Pre-tribulationists. He begins to argue more against Pre-trib than for the Pre-Wrath position.

    For the remainder of the book, Van Kampen frames the Pre-Wrath position in terms of “Pre-trib is wrong”. In other words, instead of building on the merits of the Pre-Wrath position, Van Kampen spend more than 1/2 of this book attacking Pre-tribulationists.

    Van Kampen begins wrapping up the book with a grossly simplified Greek lesson and word studies that essentially says, “any view that disagrees with me is a distortion of Scripture.”

    He finishes with a chapter on the evils of Pre-tribulationists and how converting away from a Pre-trib view can get you fired. By the time you reach chapter 8, all you hear is "Pre-trib is evil." Van Kampen essentially abandons any pretense of building a case for Pre-Wrath and instead launches a smear campaign. Ick.

  6. Evaluation: In terms of a personal evaluation, I was never happier to get to the last page of a book.

    I started the book genuinely interested in understanding the Pre-Wrath position, but by the end of the book I cannot stomach the idea of it. This type of person does not seek to glorify Christ but to divide His Church.

    I realize this is a logical fallacy, but Van Kampen has definitely poisoned the well against his position for me. I am not the better for having spent time with this book, which is a shame.

    Conclusion: don't waste your time with this book. I'm sure there are better works that actually advance a Pre-Wrath view on its merits.