“The Church and the Tribulation”: A Review -- By: Charles C. Ryrie

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 131:522 (Apr 1974)
Article: “The Church and the Tribulation”: A Review
Author: Charles C. Ryrie

“The Church and the Tribulation”:
A Review

Charles C. Ryrie

[Charles C. Ryrie, Professor of Systematic Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

Though posttribulationalism has many advocates, it has not had many published scholarly defenses. In 1956 George E. Ladd published The Blessed Hope; in 1962 The Imminent Appearing of Christ by J. Barton Payne appeared; and the book under review, The Church and the Tribulation by Robert H. Gundry, was released late in 1973. Dr. Ladd’s book was popularly slanted; the thesis of Dr. Payne’s was never widely accepted (and is severely criticized by Dr. Gundry in an addendum); while the book under review by the chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at Westmont College attempts to be more exegetically based.

The competence of the author is unquestioned. Having been reared and widely read in the pretribulational view, he presents it accurately though he occasionally succumbs to the temptation to argue overmuch details not widely held by pretribulationalists. He is, of course, entirely capable of doing accurate exegesis.

This exegetical approach of the book tends to make it more like a maze than a guide. The discussion is overly intricate and will be difficult for many readers to analyze. Caught in this maze, some may be content to assume that they have been persuaded of the validity of posttribulationalism rather than endeavoring to cut through to the heart of the arguments to test their accuracy. In other words, in reading this book one could easily become so overwhelmed by details that he could easily get himself into a position whereby he is unable to discern the validity of the conclusions.

The thesis of the book is threefold: “(1) direct, unquestioned statements of Scripture that Jesus Christ will return after the tribulation

and that the first resurrection will occur after the tribulation, coupled with the absence of statements placing similar events before the tribulation, make it natural to place the rapture of the Church after the tribulation; (2) the theological and exegetical grounds for pretribulationalism rest on insufficient evidence, non sequitur reasoning, and faulty exegesis; (3) positive indications of a posttribulational rapture arise out of a proper exegesis of relevant Scripture passages and derive support from the history of the doctrine” (p. 10). We shall examine these in reverse order.

It is acknowledged by pretribulationalists that a detailed theology of pretribulationalism is not found in the Fathers, yet it is not conceded by all posttribulationalists that imminence was not in the teachings of the early c...

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