A Review of “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church” -- By: Gerald B. Stanton

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 148:589 (Jan 1991)
Article: A Review of “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church”
Author: Gerald B. Stanton

A Review of “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church”

Gerald B. Stanton

President, Ambassadors International
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Recently there has emerged a strong frontal attack against the pretribulational return of Christ, written by one who claims to have held that view and preached it with conviction for some 35 years. It is entitled The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church1 and is written by Marvin Rosenthal, former executive director of Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. His 317-page book is generally well written and is attractively published, with 25 charts to clarify the various millennial and tribulational views, plus his own unique and somewhat complex position on the timing of the rapture.

Rosenthal is clearly a Bible-believing, conservative, and premillennial servant of Jesus Christ. He calls himself a “biblicist” who, though “not a scholar,” has invested his life in the preaching of the “whole counsel of God.” Under the prodding of a friend he began to reexamine his view of the rapture, particularly in its relationship to the coming Tribulation. The view he now espouses is no longer pretribulationalism nor is it midtribulationalism or posttribulationalism, but one he calls “Pre-wrath Rapturism.” Though it is radically different from standard viewpoints, Rosenthal predicts that within 5 years it will be a “recognized position,” and in 15 years “a major position of the believing church.”2 This reviewer sincerely questions the validity of that ambition and the necessity of adding a fifth position to an already overcrowded rapture debate.

The primary thrust of the book is that the church of Jesus Christ will be removed from the earth by the rapture before the outpouring of the “wrath of God,” and that the correct timing of the rapture places it just before the fourth quarter of the “70th week of Daniel.” Speaking of God’s “final wrath on an unbelieving world,” he declares that “God’s children will be delivered from that day. That is the ‘blessed hope.’“3 Such a change of emphasis is unfortunate, for it moves the “blessed hope” of the believer away from the expectation and joy of being in the presence of Christ to the more human desire of escaping outpoured wrath in the coming judgment.

Nor does this “pre-wrath” emphasis contribute anything particularly new. Rosenthal freely admits that all pretribulationists and midtribulationists expect to be caught up by the rapture before the outpoured wrath of God in the coming Tribulation. He points ou...

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