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We teach a pretribulation rapture of the church. Alan Hultberg defines it as, “The rapture is a theological term that refers to the ‘catching up’ of the church to meet the Lord in the air in association with his return and with the resurrection of believers.” [1] Debate exists among dispensationalists pertaining to the timing of the event. Pretribulation rapture proponents assert those in the church will be taken off the earth before the seven years of tribulation as described in Revelation (or Daniel’s seventieth week). We believe there are good arguments for this view (mainly 1 Thess 4:16-17 and 1 Cor 15:50ff).

However, we also believe there are some bad arguments from dispensationalists who defend the pretribulation rapture. Two leading arguments from pretribs are built on an argument from silence and a misinterpretation of John 14. Our challenge to dispensationalists is to argue from the text theological positions and represent our views with solid arguments not based on logical fallacies and bad interpretations.

Rapture Series Overview

There are four or five parts in this blog series. The first post will evaluate the argument from silence pertaining to Revelation 6-19. The second post will analyze John 14. Part three will evaluate 1 Thessalonians. Part four evaluates 1 Corinthians 15. A fifth part may come to fruition evaluating Revelation 3:10 (although Shawn hasn’t confirmed it yet–hint hint Shawn 🙂

Argument from silence

This argument states John never mentions the church when describing Daniel’s seventieth week in Revelation 6-19. Because the church is not mentioned and the focus is on Israel, the church is therefore absent from the scene and the Pretribulation Rapture accounts for this evidence. One author notes,

It is remarkable and totally unexpected that John would shift from detailed instructions for the church to absolute silence about the church for the fourteen chapters describing Daniel’s seventieth week (Rev. 6-19) if, in fact, the church continued into the tribulation. [2]

In order for this statement to support the pretrib view, the author needs to know the mind of John, the author of Revelation. He continues,

If the church will experience the tribulation of Daniel’s seventieth week, then surely the most detailed study of the tribulation events would include an account of the church’s role. But it doesn’t![3]

The problem here is this is an argument from silence. Chapter 6-19 says nothing about the rapture. The mid or post-trib proponent could argue the text says nothing about the rapture because John does not care to deal with it. The post-trib proponent could insist nothing is mentioned because the rapture doesn’t occur until the end of the tribulation. Both mid and post-tribers could assert, John writes Revelation to prepare the church for the coming destruction. Of course someone could argue there is no rapture because John does not mention it!

Criag Blaising says,

The problem we have in answering the question is that, as in the Olivet Discourse, there is no EXPLICIT mention of the rapture in the book of Revelation. This silence per se favors none of the tribulational positions presented in this book. All one can conclude is that an explicit discussion of the topic of the rapture was not in keeping with the purposes of the book or the purpose of the Lord in revealing these visions “[4]

Too often we argue from narrative what the narrative does not intend to teach. It is a bad argument to claim something exists because the narrative does not mention it. This assumes we know the mind of the author and why he chose to mention and not mention details. In reality all we can assert about the text is what the author told us. We know the author intended to communicate what he wrote down and his words need to be the focal point of our discussion. When we come across arguments from silence, it reveals the proponents presuppositions more than what the text actually says.

The argument from silence really means the presupposition needs to be evaluated. In order to assert a pre, mid, or post-tribulation view, advocates need to assert a positive argument for his or her position. Therefore the pre-trib view is best asserted by examining texts that deal with the rapture.


[1] Alan Hultberg, “Introduction,” Three Views on The Rapture, pg 11.

[2] Richard Mayhue, “Why a Pretribulation Rapture?,” Christ Prophetic Plans, 89.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Craig Blaising, “A Case for the Pretribulation Rapture,” Three Views on the Rapture, 61-2.