September 29, 2020

An IM Must Read: The New Evangelical Scandal by Matthew Anderson

Readers of Internet are aware that my perspective on the future of evangelicalism is often controversial. The keepers of the flames of blogosphere orthodoxy often ridicule my choice of “post-evangelical” as an identifier, and my prediction that younger evangelicals are heading for the exits is often criticized as too dire and without basis.

Matthew Lee Anderson writes in the Winter 2008 edition of “The City,” a publication of Houston Baptist University, on “The New Evangelical Scandal.” It’s a comprehensive look at the future of evangelicalism through what we know about the emerging generation of younger evangelicals. It’s very long, but the second half in particular will be of interest to IM readers.

Anderson sees what I see. He’s more optimistic than I am, but this is an article that all evangelicals with concerns for the future will want to read. The times they are a-changin’. More importantly, evangelicals themselves are rapidly, significantly changing. While the movement will remain, what will it look like, and who won’t be around to see or care?

After reading, your pertinent comments are welcome:


  1. Arnold writes a a compelling and encouraging essay, one that I see played out in the younger generation of my own family.
    It’s a dangerous game though to presume that the democrats will hold younger evangelicals past this one election. Obama and the two democratic legislative bodies have yet to present their policies and their respective price tags. We yet to see how Obama’s liberalism will play out in social policy and whether he can make big government good government.
    The younger generation of evangelicals may come away from the next four years feeling both deceived and rejected.
    The larger question that Arnold poses is the possibility that the younger generation will add social justice to evangelicalism and not just throw over the past. My own experience is hopeful.

  2. (Regarding the alliance conservative evangelicals made with the Republican party in the time of Reagan:) [i]For younger evangelicals, this political alliance signaled an abdication of Biblical principles about poverty, race, and other issues of social justice, and constituted a subordination of the hope of the Gospel to the promise of politics. Evangelicals, the story goes, had gained political influence in exchange for their souls.[/i]

    There you go. And yet, later in the piece, he says we’ll do the same thing in another twenty years.

    [i]While younger evangelicals are pro-life, they are not pro-life in the same way as their parents. Rather than pursuing political solutions, younger evangelicals are more intent on engaging in a cultural ground war to change hearts and minds, which in practice ends up diminishing the political importance of abortion.[/i]

    Oh. I thought I was alone in this. I didn’t know I was part of a trend!

    The article goes on to imply Republicans have made great strides on the abortion front–but don’t adequately publicize that fact. I guess fear sells better than success.

    [i]Such conversions (of young evangelicals to Catholicism and etc.) belie, I think, evangelicalism’s failure to articulate its own theological distinctives and advantages and its rich intellectual and spiritual heritage.[/i]

    Hmm…where did I head that before? 🙂

    RE: cultural libertarianism and “faith-soaked libertines:” A point I heard on the radio just this morning: how has the erosion of our parents’ marriages and their frequent replacement of a permanent, mutually submissive relationship with “making do with what they have” affected how we see a permanent, submissive relationship with Christ?

    RE: the decline of eschatology: just, wow.

    [i]Its great hope and promise—both in the past and now—is its vibrant energy, missionary impulse, and its deep commitment to the authority of Scripture…The new evangelical ethos is marked by a desire to reform evangelicalism from within, to recover a sense of authenticity in our connections to God and each other. This is accompanied by a renewed desire to reach out beyond the confines of evangelicalism and meet people on their own terms.[/i]

    Yeah, I could go for that.

  3. I ended up with mixed feelings after reading the article. On the one hand, Mr. Arnold often seems to be saying that the new evangelicals do not really know what they are doing, have given in to the culture in a lot of ways, seek acceptance over truth, etc. He also had to toss in the obligatory baby boomer bashing, much of which we truly deserve.

    On the other hand, he then speaks about these young evangelicals as pushing social concern back into the evangelical arena, as being much more conscious of the world than the current evangelicals, etc. He finally expresses an opinion that almost sounds as though when they grow older they will, in a lot of ways, “return” to many of the behaviors they had left.

    And, so, I found myself wondering whether this article presents the typical stereotype of the younger generation which, when it grows older, will return safely back home, a type of slightly prodigal son.

    Nevertheless, good article. Most interesting analysis.

  4. I think he gets somewhere with his argument about the triumph of individualism among the neo-evangelical. Despite a movement toward tradition and community for some post-evangelicals, more often than not the move is toward an individualized, personal faith that is out of line with any form of tradition. It’s as if their postmodern desires lead them to become so individualized and opposed to authority that they actually fulfill the individualistic goal of modernism and the Enlightenment.

  5. By the way, that point about the triumph of personal and individualistic faiths goes right in line with the latest Barna research about Americans choosing their own faith from a mix of traditions.

  6. Man, what a great article. As a young evangelical, it was at times very painful to read. Some critiques “hit the nail on the head.” However, I quite vehemently disagree on the lack of a clear eschatology. While it is true that younger evangelicals are quite taken by the “already” of the Kingdom of God, the “not yet” is, at least in my circles, constantly discussed, dreamed about, and preached. There has been a shift in eschatology, but not a devaluing of eschatology.

    With that said, this is a much needed article. I am someone who is hopelessly optimistic about the future and about my brothers and sisters joining me in an evangelical faith. Too much optimism makes us blind to our flaws.

  7. 1. Yet until evangelical leaders educate their laity on the importance of the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, the role and depths of the evangelical tradition, the importance of the body to the spiritual life and disciplines, and the wonders and glories of the Triune God—and then reform their ecclesiastical life accordingly—it will be difficult to keep our best and brightest within the fold.
    Hasn’t that always been our job?
    2.I am unfamiliar with what definition of “inerrant” his institution uses.
    3.It is not just eschatology that is missing from CCM.

  8. Did the article mention NT Wright’s Surprised by Hope? That’s quite an influential eschatology.

  9. The article was great. The stuff about wanting to be authentic is dead-on. There is this great desire to be “different” just like everybody else. And yes I realize the irony of the statement. His discussion of the consumerism and media influence was very convicting to me. I don’t know how many times I have tried to justify watching or listening to something I knew was a bad influence in the name of understanding it so I could combat it as a youth pastor or pastor.

  10. The section of the article that deals with patriotism–how younger evangelicals love to point out American flaws that have to do with consumption and consumerism, and how younger evangelicals gain just enough experience of life outside of America (via short-term mission trips) to become disillusioned with the excesses of American culture and then settle right back into a lifestyle of enjoying those very same excesses while holding onto their cynicism–reminds me of C. S. Lewis’s “Dangers of National Repentance”. This is a short essay written by C. S. Lewis which critiques a sentiment which was trendy among young intellectuals of his day–that England ought to repent of its role in World War II. Here is a sample:

    “When a man over forty tries to repent the sins of England and to love her enemies, he is attempting something costly; for he was brought up with certain patriotic sentiments which cannot be mortified without a struggle. But an educated man who is now in his twenties usually has no such sentiment to mortify.”

    Change England to America, change from saying that England ought to repent of its participation in WWII to saying that America ought to repent of the excesses of its consumer-driven culture, and I think that “Dangers of National Repentance” would speak quite well to younger evangelicals today.

  11. Christopher Lake says

    I’m 35– does that make me a “younger” or “older” evangelical, in the terms of this essay? In some ways, I seem to be “younger.” I’m all for authenticity in the church (without the secular-psychology, therapeutic baggage). I don’t like the “must put on a happy face for church” syndrome– even as I admittedly participate it in at times, I don’t like it and am consciously striving to be more real with people in my church. I’m also all for the Schafferian vision of Christian engagement with the larger world of culture and art. In these ways and probably some others, I am apparently a “younger” evangelical.

    However, in other crucial ways, I am an “older” evangelical. I am *not* for the minimizing of theological absolutes (such as the Virgin Birth or the Trinity, a la Rob Bell in his book, Velvet Elvis), in the name of “being open” to new ways of “framing” the Christian faith. I am *not* for a sloppy, careless engagement with the culture that would have watching anything and everything, other than hardcore pornography, to be perfectly acceptable, or even “cool,” for Christians. I do *not* like the attitude about alcohol which I have sensed particularly in some younger Reformed evangelicals, i.e. “Cool Calvinists drink; Uncool Calvinists (or other Christians) who don’t drink must be stodgy, backward Southern Baptists.” (I write the latter as a Reformed Baptist Christian who does not think that the Bible prohibits all consumption of alcohol.)

    In a way, I think that dividing evangelicals by age can be a bit deceptive. Go to, and you will find a good number of “younger” evangelicals who are thoughtfully rejecting many of the more problematic tendencies ascribed to their age group in this essay. I’m one of them (well, maybe I am, at 35!). 🙂

  12. As a member of the sub-subgroup ‘trailing edge boomers’ I identify more with the positions of this next generation than the one I supposedly belong to. For example:

    – I’m embarassed by the combination of kooky eschatology and blatant consumerism that birthed the ‘Left Behind’ series, et al.

    – Change should be about winning (converting) hearts and minds rather than political solutions.

    – Criticism of rampant narcissistic individualism both inside and outside the church and a longing for a return to community.

    It seems every generation looks with skepticism at the one before and tries to correct its mistakes. My hope is that there won’t be as many babies thrown out with the bathwater in the next cycle of repudiation and remaking.

    If the current ‘young generation’ of evangelicals is like what Arnold says, I’d like to meet some. On second thought, maybe I have – my son brought home a college buddy who was surprisingly open to challenges to Arminianism and Left Behind eschatology. He had left the local
    conservative, evangelical Bible Church a true-blue youth groupie and come back a thoughtful young man. It gives me hope for the future of the church.

    But our hope is in Christ, not the next generation… our hope is in Christ working in and forming the next generation just as he has mine.

    A thought – maybe the swirl of ideas and compression of generations brought on by internet debate will help forge movements that contain the best of multiple generations merged together. Or the swirl may just cause more confusion – who knows…

  13. Christopher,

    After submitting my post I read yours and laughed -we were posting similar thoughts at the same time. And both up at 3:00 am when we should be in bed.

    Maybe we the ‘middle generation’ will have the opportunity to moderate the swing to the other side of the pendulum. We can at least pray for those opportunities.

  14. Several points; the article is in some ways compelling particularly as it highlights the idols that take over the lives of younger evangelicals.

    It’s less than coherent in some places – yes, the movement of ‘post evangelicalism’ is driven by individual choice, but not all segments are equally to be characterised by it. The same reasoning would see all of the Reformation (to pick a hyperbolic example) written off as a peasant protest movement. In the absence of a culture that values community, people chosing community will inevitably do so on an individual basis.

    Secondly, the only eschatology he alludes to is the dispensationalist premillenialist sort. It’s rather striking that the all young evangelical movements have generally moved away from this viewpoint – in fact this is very probably one of the attractions of the new-Reformed movements.

  15. One question I have is this: That is the theological definition of an “evangelical”?

    I believe that part of this confusion among “evangelicals” is that they are not held together by a common confession of the faith (common theology) but by social and moral issues. When the social and moral positions shift, as the writer states, that causes issues that he identifies. One can call themselves an “evangelical” and then assign any definition they wish to the term and that definition can run counter to another “evangelical’s” definition of the same world.

  16. Steve – one handy marker ‘evangelical’ (or at least one evangelical tribe) is the Lausanne Covenant.

  17. Steve may have hit on the crux of the issue. The term evangelical prior to Reagan was tied up in a series of doctrinal points. With Reagan it became largely, possibly even primarily identified with political, cultural, and social issues to the degree that people whose faith was formed from 1980 and on saw faith in terms increasingly divorced from that which had defined it previously. If say in 2004 a random sample of those calling themselves solidly “evangelical” were asked to define and summarize the essentials of what it means to be an evangelical, it would likely have looked very different from a similar definition given prior to 1980.

    Would it not be true to say that Biblical Theology is far less central in the world view of a modern “evangelical” than it was for the pre-1980 “evangelical”?

  18. Bob Sacamento says

    A few random thoughts.

    1) In general, an informative and thought provoking article.

    2) Young evangelicals are, like young people in all demographics, more liberal than their elders, and less intellgient. There. I said it. I and my friends were that way, too. Let them get out of college and see “FICA” on their paycheck for the first time, and the short journey to conservatism will begin. Happens every time. I too, think that evangelicalism is due for a major sea change, or outright crack-up. But it won’t be because of the idealistic sparkle in the youngesters’ eyes. (That will fade quickly as soon as they start having to pay their own heating bill.) It will be because the structures we now depend on — mega-churches, televangelism, Christian celebrity culture — aren’t sustainable.

    3) I haven’t had time to read through the comments this morning, but I hope someone who has criticized the Republican party for trying to rope in evangelicals with rhetoric and empty promises has leveled or will now level the same criticism at the Dems. “Interfaith forum” with “faith caucuses”? What, were we born yesterday? This is one reason young evangelicals are somewhat more willing to listen to the Dems. It’s all about memory. They see the Democrat “outreach” now, but they don’t remember the history of the … hmmm … “A” word, the history of the multitudinous efforts by the left to suppress religious speech in public places, etc.

  19. This was a very interesting article. Raised in a very godly, loving Southern Baptist home, the only evangelical eschatology I ever heard preached was mid-trib premillenialism. I am curious as to what eschatology is most predominant among those who describe themselves as new or post-evangelicals. While Catholic eschatology does not fit neatly into any of the standard evangelical eschatologies, it most nearly resembles amillenialism (no Rapture, Church present on earth during the Tribulation).

    IM, I check your blog out every day and enjoy it immensely. Thank you for your willingness to ask the hard questions about Christian discipleship. I pray that as I take your questions to heart and examine my own conscience, especially as they regard Christian unity and love of the brethren, I may know, love, and serve the Lord Jesus a little better each day.

  20. I think it is an overall positive outlook.

    Evangelicalism has been forced to live in the shadow of Roe vs. Wade. Every culture battle which followed has been lead with the charge, “never again”, as if evangelicalism could have stopped Roe vs. Wade in the first place, even if it had back then the enormous political war machines currently in its arsenal. Every battle has been a falling on our swords, a sparing with slippery-slope windmills, a cold-war-like battle of attrition, with evangelicalism’s battle lines growing thinner and thinner.

    Then along come Sara Miles, and I’m left wondering if much of the cultural wars was a mis-spent effort which diverted the church from its true call and tainted its image even more than the crusades. Yeah, yeah, yeah, probably an obvious point.

  21. I have two comments:

    1. I think many people are “evangelical” in the same way many of my friends are “catholic” – it is a cultural marker more than an agreement with others on a set of beliefs.

    2. There are millions of young people in this country who believe in Jesus and are routinely ignored by these discussions. I wish (maybe it should be me) that someone would write about black christians in america in the 20-35 age range and how they differ from their parents. This examination was done quite often with regard to Obama and his relationship with the civil rights leaders of the 60’s — would be nice to see it done with regard to african americans and christianity.

  22. iMonk,
    I don’t recall the article mentioning “Surprised by Hope”. When I got to the section about eschatology, I just about laughed out loud. Anderson can’t seem to see that what is being rejected is pre-/mid-trib millennialism, with its view of a destructive, vengeful god. The reason it seems today’s evangelicals don’t have an eschatologic sense is that they haven’t yet discovered an eschatology with which to replace the old one. My hope is they will be surprised by the real hope NT Wright lays out.

    The other thing that jumped out at me was the notion that younger evangelicals are more focused on cultural engagement and influence. ISTM that evangelicals have *always* been so focused, even back in more overtly pietistic times and groups. The recent forays into politics have been made precisely because they were seen by some as the way to have the greatest influence on culture.

    Otherwise, I agree with Fr. Ernesto’s assessment of the article overall.


  23. I am always skeptical of the sociological approach to spirituality. It’s the same as the science of “eschatology,” as far as I can see. I signed up for a sociology course as an undergraduate elective, but after the first class I wanted to change the famous Shakespearean quote about lawyers and solving the worlds problems to “First kill all the sociologists.” What Anderson is trying to do through most of the piece is to figure out what God is doing by what’s been done and said before. In Christendom as in prophecy — you can figure out where you are, but only God knows what we’re headed for.

    Faith needs uncertainty to flourish, doesn’t it?

  24. Bob Sacamento says

    Just re-read my own comment,

    I hope someone who has criticized the Republican party for trying to rope in evangelicals with rhetoric and empty promises has leveled or will now level the same criticism at the Dems.

    In case clarity is needed, I did not mean “someone” as in “I’m not going to mention your name, but you know who you are.” I just meant someone as in “someone among those who previously said …”

  25. Jeremiah Lawson says

    I thought Anderson made it clear he doesn’t consider Anglicans to be evangelical so he wouldn’t have mentioned Wright’s Surprised by Hope as something evangelicals could refer to as an alternative to dispensationalism. I see that as a huge category mistake but I may be misreading Anderson on that.

  26. I think the political aspect of things more or less comes from pragmatic considerations. Many people of the mindset that the article talks about (I know some people way older than myself 35 who are of the same mindset) just don’t think that the abortion issue can be “won”, but think that the other oft neglected or underemphasized issues can.

    I like to hope that there is an ever growing group of believers who are asking questions about the proper PLACE of goverment instead of just focusing on which causes we USE it for.

    As far as the authors comment:

    “Young evangelicals frequently care more about being ostracized than they do being correct.”

    I wonder how he is coming to this conclusion.

    Many of my friends are seminary trained MDivs. Who care very much about what is true they have just been brave enough to swim against the tide when they think the truth is up river.

    I believe we all have that tendency to care more about being ostracized than they do being correct and that it has KEPT as more people attatched to “mainstream” evangelical sentinments and beliefs as it has lead people away from them.

    The evangelical ghetto is a very safe and cozy place.

  27. As a professor who teaches them, Anderson’s assessment that the young evangelicals value “cool” (intellectually sophisticated, of course) over true or would rather be accepted than right seems to ring true. (NOTE: Dana’s comment above about rejecting pre/mid trib premillennialism’s “view of a destructive, vengeful God” sounds very “young evangelical” in Anderson’s sense.) Ironically, Anderson’s criticism sounds not unlike that of the fundamentalist Bob Jones, Sr.’s criticism of the 40s neo-evangelicals: he defined an evangelical (in that day) as “a fundamentalist who says to a liberal, ‘I’ll call you a Christian, if you will call me an intellectual.'”

  28. Maybe I’m misreading the tone of the article after a long day and long week, but it seemed to me that Anderson was implying that a lot of “traditional” evangelicalism is where his (and my) generation should be, albeit with better training from our leadership. While I can’t speak for Anderson or anyone else, I know that my rejection of many of the evangelical “givens” wasn’t because I was lured away by the culture, but was rather that I saw that many of those “givens” didn’t seem to be holding water. I.e. the metaphorical emperor had no clothes but everyone was pretending otherwise. In questioning the my own assumptions and those of my fellow evangelicals (such as dispensationalist eschatology) and examining them in light of Scripture, the evangelical “givens” often were much weaker than I had been lead to believe.

    Then again, I was raised apolitical and multi-denominational despite my parents tendancy to vote Republican and their preferance for the denominations of their youth. Though my parents raised us with an evangelical bent from a practical theology standpont, I was certainly not raised as an evangelical. So, this post-evangelical individualism may be part of my upbringing even if there was no such thing (to my knowledge) as post-evangelicalism in the 80’s and 90’s.

  29. Richard Hershberger says

    This non-evangelical’s reaction is that a lot of the developments Anderson seems to be decrying seem to me all to the good. Young evangelicals are moving away from conflating their church and their country? It’s about time! They are moving away from the taboo on alcohol? Perhaps they have started reading what the Bible says on the subject. They are embarrassed by Left Behind? I’m embarrassed by Left Behind, and I’m not evangelical: some non-Christians think that this represents Christian doctrine, and this is a great embarrassment. The worst, from my perspective, thing he has to say is that these young evangelicals are reaching these conclusions for the wrong reasons. Perhaps, but I tend to find pop sociology unconvincing. The ways of the Holy Spirit are often mysterious.

  30. As a younger evangelical who fits pretty well the description of the article, I felt like the author doesn’t really ‘get’ where we’re coming from. He identified the observable factors (political shifts, eschatalogical shifts, theological changes, etc…) but his analysis of the ‘whys’ behind those shifts seemed to miss some key aspects of our experiences growing up evangelical and then changing our views. I found this to be the case particularly in the eschatalogy section.

    “Yet I get the sense that for many of my young evangelical peers, the doctrine of eschatology is less important not because of careful reflection upon the Scriptures, but because of the political and cultural scorn the doctrine has earned. For most young evangelicals, eschatology is cringe inducing not because traditional formulations are wrong, but because they are weird. That all Christians would disappear in a flash will hardly earn Christians cultural acceptability—and cultural acceptance, today, is their paramount desire.”

    The major reason that I do not place much importance on detailed eschatalogy and feel uncomfortable with it altogether is because of how traumatized and scary much of my childhood religious beliefs were due to those teachings (as were many of my friends). After seeing the spiritual havoc wreaked in our lives growing up by strong beliefs in the imminent rapture and tribulation, I want nothing to do with putting that same fear into the hearts of others nor do I want to teach it to my own children. I would be very hesitant to let them read the Left Behind books – the harm it did to my spiritual life far outweighs any benefit IMO.

    I watched Thief in the Night as a young child (my mom had us watch it b/c she wanted us to be saved) – I spent the next ten years being scared every time I couldn’t find my family in the house that I had been ‘left behind’. Heck, I held my mother’s hand in public far longer than my friends b/c I figured that if the Rapture happened maybe I would be caught up with her via touch.

    Coupling fear of the Rapture with a heavy emphasis on decision theology (and a childlike understanding of it which meant my friends and I were continually asking Jesus into our hearts b/c we were afraid we hadn’t done it ‘right’ and didn’t want to go to hell or be left behind in the rapture) made for a very anxious spiritual life in childhood and a lot of reprogramming to be done as a teen and young adult.

    Heavy focus on premillenial evangelical eschatology produced nothing (and i mean NOTHING) positive that I could see in the lives of any who were focused on it (and even today those I know who are focused on it give me the heeby jeebies b/c of the baggage from my past).

    I am still in the same evangelical church in which I grew up, I feel called to stay in this tradition in spite of being post-evangelical, but I don’t understand why the author sees the traditional evangelical escatalogy as a GOOD thing – I reflect back and see so much fear and negative (and so much that is extra-bibilical or shoddy interpretation) that I run far from it for those reasons – not for wanting to be ‘accepted’.

  31. Insightful article. According to Mr. Anderson, young American evangelicals are becoming less beholden to a particular political party, are more internationally-minded, increasingly culturally literate, and less enraptured with eschatology. It sounds to me like young American evangelicals are gradually adopting a culture more in line with Canadian evangelicalism.

  32. “Authenticity in social settings is frequently an excuse for sharing sins and problems within a group of people who doubtlessly share the same sins and problems.”

    “Confess your sins one to another.” Oh, wait, Evangelicals are perfect, a true evangelical would have no problems or sins to confess.

    “Young evangelicals aspire to be urbane, sophisticated, and not appear judgmental or harsh—they want to be cool. And being cool means tossing aside the social mores that many of them grew up in, and transforming themselves into faith-soaked libertines.”

    A broad judgment of their motives. Is being cool really the motivation that drives all, or even most, young evangelicals?

    “A devalued eschatology lends itself to cultural engagement rather than the cultural escapism that has historically marked evangelicalism.”

    Right, cultural escapism is where it’s at.

    “Any casual trip through prominent evangelical hymns reveals an extraordinary emphasis on the next life: There is a Fountain, It is Well, How Great thou Art, Blessed Assurance, and Amazing Grace all see fit to acknowledge the work that is yet to be done. I can find no comparable thread in the new evangelical worship songs.”

    Days Of Elijah, I Can Only Imagine, Rend the Heavens, Sing To The King, There Is A Redeemer, We All Bow Down, We Bow Down, We Fall Down, All Heaven Declares, Be Unto Your Name, Bless The Lord, Come, Now Is The Time To Worship, Enough, How Great Is Our God, I See The Lord, In Christ Alone, Once Again, Knowing You, Revelation Song.

    [Moderator edited]

  33. Acknowledgment of life after death or personal judgement aren’t the eschatology Anderson is discussing.

  34. I think he aptly psychologizes the mass motivations of younger evangelicals. They are seeking power and influence much as their forerunners, only they seek such in the cultural, rather than political, arena. I also appreciate his insight about the young as consumers in their own right. I write these things as one who appreciates and identifies with much, if not most, of what is happening in/to evangelical belief and practice in these days. Our younger sisters and brothers will have to surrender (and grow into) themselves, just as all Christians in every age. There is no easy road to the cross and beyond. We follow Jesus, that’s it. All the rest is fashion.

  35. I’m a bit older than the “confused” younger evangelicals spoken of in the article but my experience with culture and eschatology is very similar. After spending more than a decade working with evangelicals, charismatics, Catholics and those of the previous evangelical generations I guess I, like many of my friends around the world have no home in the argument. The discussion is important. My prayer it doesn’t turn into an argument of ‘we’re better than you because we’re different than you’. Sometimes things sound and look different but time (maturity) seems to have a similar affect on cultures who look to be different than the one before them. Thoughtful article but again it sounded a bit critical of a generation that is working it’s way through the political excesses of current and former generations. Sounds very familiar to me.


    How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He is now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. Since Jesus must personally participate in the rapture, and since He can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends, the rapture therefore cannot take place before the end of the trib! Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) (which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening – Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who would be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54)! (Will death be ended before or during the trib?) If anyone wonders how long pretrib rapturism has been taught, he or she can Google “Pretrib Rapture Diehards.” Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 it was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” [“gathering”] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!). Other Google articles throwing light on long-covered-up facts about the 179-year-old pretrib rapture view include “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “X-Raying Margaret,” “Revisers of Pretrib Rapture History,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Desperados” and “Deceiving and Being Deceived” – all by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” which is available at Armageddon Books online. Just my two cents’ worth. Todd

  37. Famous Rapture Watchers – Addendum

    by Dave MacPherson

    (The statements in my “Famous Rapture Watchers” web article appeared in my 1983 book “The Great Rapture Hoax” and quoted only past leaders. Here are the other leaders who were quoted in that original printing.)

    Oswald J. Smith: “…I am absolutely convinced that there will be no rapture before the Tribulation, but that the Church will undoubtedly be called upon to face the Antichrist…” (Tribulation or Rapture – Which?, p. 2).

    Paul B. Smith: “You are perfectly free to quote me as believing rather emphatically in the post-tribulation teaching of the Bible” (letter dated June 9, 1976).

    S. I. McMillen: “…Christians will suffer in the Great Tribulation” (Discern These Times, p. 55).

    Norman F. Douty: “…all of the evidence of history runs one way – in favor of Post-tribulationism” (Has Christ’s Return Two Stages?, p. 113).

    Leonard Ravenhill: “There is a cowardly Christianity which…still comforts its fainting heart with the hope that there will be a rapture – perhaps today – to catch us away from coming tribulation” (Sodom Had No Bible, p. 94).

    William Hendriksen: “…the one and only second coming of Christ to judgment” (Israel in Prophecy, p. 29).

    Loraine Boettner: “Hence we conclude that nowhere in Scripture does it teach a secret or pre-tribulation Rapture” (The Millennium, p. 168).

    J. Sidlow Baxter: “…believers of the last days (there is only one small part of the total Church on earth at any given moment) will be on earth during the so-called ‘Great Tribulation’ ” (Explore the Book, Vol. 6, p. 345).

    Merrill C. Tenney: “There is no convincing reason why the seer’s being ‘in the Spirit’ and being called into heaven [Revelation 4:1-2] typifies the rapture of the church…” (Interpreting Revelation, p. 141).

    James R. Graham: “…there is not a line of the N.T. that declares a pre-tribulation rapture, so its advocates are compelled to read it into certain indeterminate texts…” (Watchman, What of the Night?, p. 79).

    Ralph Earle: “The teaching of a pre-tribulation rapture seems first to have been emphasized widely about 100 years ago by John Darby of the Plymouth Brethren” (Behold, I Come, p. 74).

    Clarence B. Bass: “…I most strongly believe dispensationalism to be a departure from the historic faith…” (Backgrounds to Dispensationalism, p. 155).

    William C. Thomas: “The return of Jesus Christ, described by parousia, revelation, and epiphany, is one single, glorious, triumphant event for which we all wait with great eagerness!” (The Blessed Hope in the Thessalonian Epistles of Paul, p. 42).

    Harold J. Ockenga: “No exegetical justification exists for the arbitrary separation of the ‘coming of Christ’ and the ‘day of the Lord.’ It is one ‘day of the Lord Jesus Christ’ ” (Christian Life, February, 1955).

    Duane Edward Spencer: “Paul makes it very clear that the Church will pass through the Great Tribulation” (“Rapture-Tribulation” cassette).

    J. C. Maris: “Nowhere the Bible teaches that the Church of Jesus Christ is heading for world dominion. On the contrary – there will be no place for her, save in ‘the wilderness,’ where God will take care of her (Rev. 12:13-17)” (I.C.C.C. leaflet “The Danger of the Ecumenical Movement,” p. 2).

    F. F. Bruce: “To meet the Lord [I Thessalonians 4:17]…on the final stage of…[Christ’s] journey…to the earth…” (New Bible Commentary: Revised, p. 1159).

    G. Christian Weiss: “Some people say that this [‘gospel of the kingdom’ in Matthew 24:14] is not the gospel of grace but is a special aspect of the gospel to be preached some time in the future. But there is nothing in the context to indicate this” (“Back to the Bible” broadcast, February 9, 1976).

    Pat Brooks: “Soon we, in the Body of Christ, will be confronted by millions of people disillusioned by such false teaching [Pre-Tribism]” (Hear, O Israel, p. 186).

    Herman Hoeksema: “…the time of Antichrist, when days so terrible are still to arrive for the church…” (Behold, He Cometh!, p. 131).

    Ray Summers: “Because they [Philadelphia] have been faithful, he promises his sustaining grace in the tribulation…” (Worthy Is the Lamb, p. 123).

    George E. Ladd: “[Pretribulationism] may be guilty of the positive danger of leaving the Church unprepared for tribulation when Antichrist appears…” (The Blessed Hope, p. 164).

    Peter Beyerhaus: “The Christian Church on earth [will face] the final, almost superhuman test of being confronted with the apocalyptical temptation by Antichrist” (Christianity Today, April 13, 1973).

    Leon Morris: “The early Christians…looked for the Christ to come as Judge” (Apocalyptic, p. 84).

    Dale Moody: “There is not a passage in the New Testament to support Scofield. The call to John to ‘come up hither’ has reference to mystical ecstasy, not to a pretribulation rapture” (Spirit of the Living God, p. 203).

    John R. W. Stott: “He would not spare them from the suffering [Revelation 3:10]; but He would uphold them in it” (What Christ Thinks of the Church, p. 104).

    G. R. Beasley-Murray: “…the woman, i.e., the Church…flees for refuge into the wilderness [Revelation 12:14]…” (The New Bible Commentary, p. 1184).

    Bernard L. Ramm: “…as the Church moves to meet her Lord at the parousia world history is also moving to meet its Judge at the same parousia” (Leo Eddleman’s Last Things, p. 41).

    J. Barton Payne: “…the twentieth century has indeed witnessed a progressively rising revolt against pre-tribulationism” (The Imminent Appearing of Christ, p. 38).

    Robert H. Gundry: “Divine wrath does not blanket the entire seventieth week…but concentrates at the close” (The Church and the Tribulation, p. 63).

    C. S. Lovett: “Frankly I favor a post-trib rapture…I no longer teach Christians that they will NOT have to go through the tribulation” (PC, January, 1974).

    Walter R. Martin: “Walter Martin finally said…’Yes, I’m a post-trib’ ” (Lovett’s PC, December, 1976).

    Jay Adams: “Today’s trend is…from pre- to posttribulationism” (The Time Is at Hand, p. 2).

    Jim McKeever: “Nowhere do the Scriptures say that the Rapture will precede the Tribulation” (Christians Will Go Through the Tribulation, p. 55).

    Arthur Katz: “I think it fair to tell you that I do not subscribe to the happy and convenient theology which says that God’s people are going to be raptured and lifted up when a time of tribulation and trial comes” (Reality, p. 8).

    Billy Graham: “Perhaps the Holy Spirit is getting His Church ready for a trial and tribulation such as the world has never known” (Sam Shoemaker’s Under New Management, p. 72).

    W. J. Grier: “The Scofield Bible makes a rather desperate effort…it tries to get in the ‘rapture’ of the saints before the appearing of Antichrist” (The Momentous Event, p. 58).

    Pat Robertson: “Jesus Christ is going to come back to earth again to deliver Israel and at the same time to rapture His Church; it’s going to be one moment, but it’s going to be a glorious time” (“700 Club” telecast, May 14, 1975).

    Ben Kinchlow: “Any wrath [during the Tribulation] that comes upon us – any difficulty – will not be induced by God, but it’ll be like the people are saying, ‘The cause of our problems are those Christians in our midst; we need to get rid of them’ ” (“700 Club” telecast, August 28, 1979).

    Daniel P. Fuller: “It is thus concluded that Dispensationalism fails to pass the test of an adequate system of Biblical Interpretation” (The Hermeneutics of Dispensationalism, p. 369).

    Corrie ten Boom: “The Bible prophesies that the time will come when we cannot buy or sell, unless we bear the sign of the Antichrist…” (Tramp for the Lord, p. 187).

    [The above fascinating quotes were recently observed on the web. Since the article was not copyrighted, I’m sharing it. Paul]