How did I come out of pre-trib rapture doctrine?
(1) I started reading Jesus' own words in the Bible where he (the ultimate expert on the subject) explicitly stated the "tribulation," the "coming of the Son of Man," the timing ("after"), and the rapture ("sent forth his angels to gather the elect... from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven") to meet him ("in the clouds," "in the air").
All the quotes are Jesus' own words. This is direct evidence.
It took me one full year to read just the two major passages over and over and over. Those passages speaking directly to the topic, in the context, giving explicit details and facts on the tribulation, Second Coming, rapture, and timing absolutely blew me away. I was in shock!
How could my beloved elders and pastors whom I'm sure were born again Christians be teaching a doctrine that was in direct contradiction to the explicitly stated words of Jesus himself on the topic?
I asked them.
Can you please show me a verse in the Bible that gives direct evidence on the pre-trib rapture?
Head teaching elder working 40 years in a church with the pre-trib doctrine in the church's statement of faith responded, "Well, that's a problem because there isn't one."
Pastor with a Rev. Dr. Dr. (two doctorates from two seminaries) responded, "I'll give you a paper." He gave me Charles Ryrie's (professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and president of Cairn's University Bible college) paper. Ryrie gave no direct evidence.
I compared Ryrie's paper on pre-trib to another chapter in his textbook on his rules of hermeneutics (how to accurately interpret Scripture).
His pre-trib paper broke every one of his own rules over and over (18 times).
I wrote a paper on Ryrie's pre-trib "support" and sent it back to the Rev. Dr. Dr. and the elders of the church; they never responded. How could they? Their jobs were on the line if they went against the statement of faith in their church, but they had not one verse of direct support for the pre-trib doctrine.
(2) On and on over the years, I asked high authorities in churches, "Please, can you show me a verse in the Bible that directly states the pre-trib doctrine." Not one could -- There are no verses that state two comings or two parts to the Second Coming, a secret/silent/invisible coming, no trumpets/shouting/voice, no one "seeing" the coming, the Rapture BEFORE the tribulation, no angels used, back to heaven, 7-year gap, then another coming . . . not one verse in the Bible ever explicitly states any of the main tenets of the pre-trib doctrine.
These great men in great churches from great seminaries were in direct contradiction to the words of Jesus himself in the Bible.
I then asked the question, Where did they get this doctrine?
The pre-trib doctrine comes out of dispensationalism (strongly taught by Dallas Theological Seminary, the home of most Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.) which was developed as a system from the teachings of John Nelson Darby, considered by some to be the father of dispensationalism (1800–82), who strongly influenced the Plymouth Brethren of the 1830s in Ireland and England.
Darby, a powerful and influential speaker, brought the pre-Trib rapture doctrine to America in his six visits between 1859 and 1874; his system of prophetic interpretation was eagerly adopted, especially pre-Trib, that is until some went back to the Bible. His doctrine is not found in the church before that. Early church fathers who referred to the post-Trib view included Didache and Barnabas (both first quarter of 2nd century), the Shepherd of Hermas (A.D. 150); Justin Martyr (A.D. 150), Irenaeus (late 2nd century), Tertullian (late 2nd to 3rd century) etc.
How could great Christian seminaries and churches adopt a doctrine that has no direct evidence from the Bible?
Regarding apologetics on eschatological issues (like pre-Trib), they developed a system of thought that adds words to Scripture, takes away words from Scripture, changes words, takes words out of context…, plus fire pastors or professors who do not hold to the pre-Trib doctrine.
I choose a process that uses the biblical Laws of Truth (direct evidence from the primary source) that states facts, quotes from the Bible on the topic and in the context, references,... summarized in a literal-historical hermeneutic.
Jesus said, “AFTER that tribulation… the Son of Man (will come).” (Mark 13:24-27; Matt 24:29-31)
Jesus never said, “Before.”
Jesus is the paramount expert.
It is important because we either "build our arks" (post-trib) or eat-drink-be-merry (pre-trib) before Jesus' Second Coming.
"The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah...
you also must be ready." (Matt 24:37, 44)
It is critical because it shows the process of thinking, even in good churches.
Post-trib simply collects the facts of Scripture to form a conclusion.
Pre-trib is a black box of labyrinthine assumptions infused into Scripture.
One Christian professor (a FB friend) urged me to watch another seminary president's lecture opposing post-trib and supporting pre-trib.
His one-hour lecture took me 11 hours to investigate continually asking this question hundreds of times, "Where did he get this idea, because it's not stated in Scripture?" I then analyzed this president's method of interpretation which broke every major, sound hermeneutical rule over and over. His thinking was compartmentalized: (1) using good hermeneutics for soteriology but (2) discarding good hermeneutics for eschatology.
Since the tenets of pre-trib are not found directly in Scripture, heavy indoctrination is required for seminary students who become pastors that indoctrinate their congregations--The doctrine is learned by trusting authority figures above the clear, direct words of Scripture.
It is this underlying process of thinking being taught to good churches that is the most troubling. If we cannot think clearly in small things (like discerning truth from error in post- or pre-trib), how will we ever think clearly in big things (like when the most deceptive man in history, the Antichrist, arrives)?
We won't. (Luke 16:10)