After each author presents his case for the rapture, the other two have the opportunity to critique the position that has been presented. They are termed responses, but critique is probably the better word while rebuttal would be going too far. Of course each author is going to point to his primary essay that he has written. Some additional insight can be gleaned from reading the responses because it is here that we see how each position “stacks up” against the others.
Alan Hultberg writes from a Prewrath perspective. He is in agreement with Blaising’s first thesis, namely that the church will be raptured before the Day of the LORD and the coming wrath of God which is associated with it. However, he disagrees that the Day of the LORD is coextensive with Daniel’s 70th week. Hultberg points out to readers in specific verses that Blaising has cited that these references do not necessarily mean that the entire seven year period is the time of the end. Further, the use of the word “wrath” in Daniel does not refer to God’s eschatological wrath during the Day of the LORD, but rather to the wrath of Gentile kings against God and His people (Daniel 11:30 which shows the context of Daniel 11:36 which Blaising has cited in his essay).
My estimation of Blaising’s position was that he built his foundation on Daniel, and then moved to the Olivet Discourse. Hultberg states that the lynchpin of Blaising’s argument is found in his conclusions on the Olivet Discourse, so that is where he spends the majority of his time in his rebuttal. Hultberg points out that the labor pains within Matthew 24:4-14 are distanced from the end by verse 8. So instead of these introducing the Day of the LORD, they are distinguished from it. While Blaising has not asserted in such terms, Hultberg points out that what Blaising has subtly done is present a two stage coming of Christ. He comes once at the beginning of the Day of the LORD to rapture the church, and then again at the end of the great tribulation in power and glory. Perhaps the reason why Blaising used the terminology of “complex event” in application to the Day of the LORD is that Hultberg himself as Prewrather holds to somewhat of the same view. So Hultberg needs to bring out this refinement in order to distinguish between the two positions.
Hultberg notes the agreement with Blaising that the Thessalonian epistles present the same coming as described in the Olivet Discourse. On this basis, Hultberg notes the weaknesses in Blaising’s case. Moving to Revelation, Hultberg gets specific in Revelation 6 concerning the timing of the arrival of the Day of the LORD. The parallel between the first five seals and the birthpangs in the Olivet Discourse is conceded, but as noted above, Hultberg has placed these in the category of being distinguished from the Day of the LORD. In classic Prewrath style, Hultberg points out that the recognition of the Day of the LORD at the sixth seal is not retroactive, but adequately positioned right at the sixth seal. Hultberg will have much more to say on the chronology of Revelation in his primary essay.
Douglas Moo writes from a posttribulational perspective. Moo approaches his response from somewhat of a Historicist viewpoint. Moo points out that the time of tribulation in Daniel is focused on the second half of the week. He states that Blaising never explains why his pattern is not that of a 3 1/2 year pattern rather than a 7 year pattern. He shows that much in Daniel is occupied with the Maccabean events which have been fulfilled historically. He also suggests that Daniel’s 70th week is being fulfilled in the last days which are occurring throughout the Christian era. Then Moo gets specific in citing references in Revelation which designate a 3 1/2 year period. For Moo, this provides support that Blaising has built his initial foundation of a 7 year future period known as the Day of the LORD on shaky ground.
Moo also spends a bit of time focusing on the Olivet Discourse. He lays a bit of groundwork by exhorting the readers to take seriously some aspects of inaugurated eschatology. The last days were brought in by the appearance of Christ, which leads to many fulfilled prophecies in relation to the ministry of Christ and the ongoing ministry of the church. Moo’s main point is that Blaising’s distinction between an event (the rapture) which precedes this end times complex of events and the glorious coming is completely unwarranted. For Moo, there is only one second coming of Christ and it occurs after the great tribulation. All references to the coming will point back to Matthew 24:29-35 where the coming is a posttribulational event.
Moo concludes his response by focusing on the Thessalonians letters. He points out that the translation that Blaising suggests for II Thessalonians 2:3 is on shaky ground. But for Moo, the translation doesn’t affect his view. As long as the word “first” is in the passage, there is a sequence intended. Therefore the idea is that the Day of the LORD can come with certain events before it, not necessarily as a signless event. Since this was a significant part of Blaising’s thesis, Moo can not agree with his conclusions.
Blaising gets a rejoinder at the end in which he tries to address the critique’s of his fellow contributors. It is obvious that he understands what they have said but still holds to his conclusions. For those who have followed thus far, you will want to purchase this book to stay abreast of how the differing views of eschatology are currently represented. If you are wondering what the difference between Prewrath and Posttrib are, stay tuned. Each will have their chance at an essay with a critique by the other.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman