Another Look at Rosenthal’s “Pre-Wrath Rapture” -- By: John A. McLean

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 148:592 (Oct 1991)
Article: Another Look at Rosenthal’s “Pre-Wrath Rapture”
Author: John A. McLean

Another Look at Rosenthal’s “Pre-Wrath Rapture”

John A. McLean

Associate Professor of Bible
Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Marvin Rosenthal’s book, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church,1 presents an unusual view of the sequence of events in the seven-year period preceding the millennium in relation to the rapture.2 Formerly he was a pretribulationist, defending and advocating the view that the rapture will occur before the seven-year tribulation. Now he has renounced that view and holds instead to a position that places the rapture within the tribulation. However, he says the rapture will occur toward the end of the seven-year period, just before the outpouring of God’s wrath (the day of the Lord) in the seven trumpet judgments. In this way he can say the rapture is “pre-wrath.” Yet in Rosenthal’s view the rapture is not pretribulational. He distinguishes God’s wrath from tribulation in the 70th week of Daniel.

Rosenthal relentlessly attacks pretribulationism. For example he writes, “Pretribulation rapturism is exegetically indefensible. Some of the best theological minds of the twentieth century have not been able to exegetically defend it.”3 “Pretribulation rapturism is once again mortally wounded, this time by an unstrained,

dispensational, premillennial, and literal interpretation of Paul’s teaching in 2 Thessalonians 2.”4

Rosenthal presents the following theses.

1. The Rapture of the church will occur immediately prior to the beginning of the Day of the Lord.

2. The Day of the Lord commences sometime within the second half of the seventieth week.

3. The cosmic disturbances associated with the sixth seal will signal the approach of the Day of the Lord.

4. The Day of the Lord will begin with the opening of the seventh seal (Rev 8:1).5

He adds, “It will also be demonstrated that the seventieth week of Daniel has three major, distinct, and identifiable periods of time: the ‘beginning of sorrows,’ the Great Tribulation, and the Day of the Lord—all found in the Olivet Discourse.”6

The following chart represents Rosenthal’s position.

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