Posttribulationism Today: Part II: Classic Posttribulational Interpretation -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 132:526 (Apr 1975)
Article: Posttribulationism Today: Part II: Classic Posttribulational Interpretation
Author: John F. Walvoord


Posttribulationism Today:
Part II:
Classic Posttribulational Interpretation

John F. Walvoord

[John F. Walvoord, President, Dallas Theological Seminary, Editor, Bibliotheca Sacra.]

Contemporary Varieties of Posttribulationism

Although posttribulationism unites in refutation of pretribulationism, midtribulationism, and the partial rapture view, within posttribulationism itself at least four distinct schools of thought have emerged in the twentieth century. Although it is difficult to name them accurately they can be denominated: (1) classic posttribulationism; (2) semiclassic posttribulationism; (3) futuristic posttribulationism; (4) dispensational posttribulationism. Because classic posttribulationism is rooted most deeply in the history of the church and depends in large degree on the validity of the eschatology of the early church, it is the natural starting point in considering the varied and somewhat contradictory approaches to posttribulationism that are being advanced today.

Probably the most vocal, scholarly, and effective exponent of classic posttribulationism is J. Barton Payne. His recent major work, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy,1 has been considered by some a major contribution to contemporary prophetic interpretation. His earlier work, The Imminent Appearing of Christ,2 delineates in specific form his concept of classic posttribulationism. Payne reacts specifically against George Ladd’s concept of a future tribulation presented in Ladd’s The Blessed Hope3 and this author’s

The Rapture Question4 which defends pretribulationism. Although in the main a refutation of pretribulationism, his conclusions in large measure depend on his definition, support, and defense of classic posttribulationism. His point of view may be summarized under four propositions which will form the basis of this discussion: (1) the imminency of the second coming; (2) the posttribulational second coming; (3) a nonliteral tribulation preceding the second coming; (4) a literal millennium following the second coming.

The Second Coming as an Imminent Event

As indicated in the title of Payne’s volume, the imminency of Christ’s return is his major contribution to posttribulationism. By “imminency” he means that the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ to the earth could occur any day at any moment. He summarizes his view in these words:

Finally, the “blessed hope,” as it...

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