Despite the popular belief that Christians will be raptured before the start of the Tribulation, Scripture paints a very different picture. Nowhere does the Bible promise that believers will escape the revelation of the Antichrist and his war on the saints. In fact, God tells His people to expect tribulation–and to persevere through it.
In this eye-opening text, acclaimed scholars and authors Michael Brown and Craig Keener offer encouragement and hope for the approaching dark times. Together they walk you through an intensive study of Bible passages, helping you gain a better understanding of what the future holds. Through it all, there is no need to fear; God has a plan. He will not abandon His people in the terrible days ahead.
Take comfort in the words of Jesus: He has overcome the world. Even in the midst of great sorrows on the earth, we live in Jesus’ victory until He returns at the end of the age.
“Filled with hard-hitting, thought-provoking information on what the Bible says about the end times, this book will challenge and encourage you to understand what the future holds for believers.”–MIKE BICKLE, founder, International House of Prayer
Michael L. Brown (Ph.D., New York University) is the founder and president of FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, North Carolina, and has served as a visiting or adjunct professor at seven seminaries. He is host of the nationally syndicated daily talk radio and TV show The Line of Fire and has written more than 30 books.
Craig S. Keener (Ph.D., Duke University) is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is the bestselling author of 24 books. Craig and his wife, Médine, live near Wilmore, Kentucky.
I was asked by a pastor friend what my thoughts were on Michael Brown and Craig Keener’s Not Afraid of the Antichrist: Why We Don’t Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture (Chosen Books, 2019). For the record, I understand that the Fellowship with which I am ordained holds to “The Blessed Hope” as one of our doctrine and that this has traditionally been read as indicating only Pre-Tribulation Rapture (despite that it is also widely known that the original author of our Statement, D.W. Kerr, held to another view, but wanted some allowance for diversity on this*). This doctrinal statement seems more accurate biblically to point to a broader reference to Jesus’ soon bodily return for His Church to be gathered to Him and the world to be made His (and our) inheritance as His kingdom reigns in all things at the resurrection.
Here was my short response to him:
“I read it just before it came out for the general market. Overall it offers a decent basic discussion of the biblical texts involved in the debates about the rapture. While there are times it is ironic, at others it comes across in a way that some will find demeaning.”
“I think their basic premise is correct: that one simply would not come up with a doctrine of Pre-Tribulation Rapture directly from reading the texts of Scripture, but must presume it theologically to read select Scriptures through such a filter. They do not, however, reject the idea of Premillennialism, nor of the idea of being “caught up” as Jesus returns. They are simply contending that the Dispensational system necessary for a Pre-Trib Rapture reading should not be forced onto Scripture, but Scripture itself best offers how we might interpret it.”
“As to several potential weaknesses…(1) I did not find the discussion of the debated texts from Daniel to be sufficiently engaged. While many of the NT texts were engaged, Daniel was very nearly avoided in the discussion and simply presumed to be self-understood. However, Daniel 7 (in particular, and the chapters that follow) are particularly difficult for interpreters. I’m not sure why it was not more discussed, but wish it had been.”
“(2) It is written at a more popular level. This is both a strength and weakness. For general consumption this volume may prove convincing and/or helpful. For those who seem to really care about such discussions, I’m guessing this more popular level writing will simply not address the issues they believe must be addressed.”
“It is a book I would personally endorse for taking a small group through as a pastor. It would spur on discussions about the texts involved (even if people do not agree with the book’s proposals). If I did that I would use the book to guide the conversations as a starter, but would put the emphasis on looking carefully through the pertinent texts of Scripture as a group.”
Have you had a chance to read it yet? What are your thoughts?
My previously pretrib family has recently changed our position on the timing of the rapture (because of studies my dad [a pastor] has done on Matthew 24). We had been quite staunchly pretribulationalists before, but had always had some doubts and questions about certain implications and assumptions of the position. In our study through the book of Mathew at our church, we were forced to change our position, as it was not biblical.
I was curious at what Brown and Craig had to say about the topic in their book “Not Afraid of Antichrist”. Both authors believed in a pretribulation rapture, and then changed their mind after a closer look at the Scriptures. They do a pretty good job of showing the unbiblicalness of the position, and demonstrate from various passages of Scripture that ‘pretribbers’ are connecting dots that should not be connected.
They explain that there is no significant difference between the various mentions of the coming of the Lord. They all contain similar details (even if all do not say every single detail every time they are mentioned).
They also attack the notion that saved Israel is not a part of the Church/body of Christ. I really appreciated that, as that was one of the things that really held me in the Pre-trib position. As Brown and Craig point out, ethnic Israelites can be a part of the church and still be used uniquely as an ethnic group, by God, and distinguished from Christians of other ethnicities, within the body of Christ.
While there were several points that I agreed with that are brought up in the book, there several things that I didn’t really like about it.
Let me go into some detail: First, one, or both of the author’s take’s issue with Clarence Larkin’s assertion that, Christianity, overall, has failed to keep pace with heathenism, had failed to convert the world and that Larkin assumed that converting the whole world was therefore not God’s purpose. The author writing that chapter seemed to think that that was absurd. But I don’t see how, biblically, that is absurd, because we are told that the way to salvation is narrow, and that few find it, or follow it. And even Christ asked if He would find faith on the earth when He comes (Luke 18:8).
But here’s a weird thought that just occurred to me: Maybe there will be the greatest amount of saved people, more than any previous era, DURING the Great Tribulation age. We remember that Revelation 7 talks about a multitude that no one can number, from every tribe, tongue and nation. That multitude came out of, and apparently passed through, the Great Tribulation. Sounds like a huge (and I mean, HUGE) number of Gentiles saved during the tribulation. A multitude of saved Gentiles will be on the earth during the tribulation….Which really is another point against the “There’s no church mentioned during the tribulation” argument. Anyway, so perhaps, while there may not be great Evangelistic success before the tribulation…perhaps there will during it? And during the Millennium (It sounds as though whole nations come to Christ then). But I still have a problem with how one’s thinking that the majority of people will not come to Christ could be thought an unbiblical idea.
Another problem I had was that one, or both of the authors, think that the seventieth week of Daniel is not future. I don’t quite understand how they could think that. “The idea that a whole church age must be inserted between the 69th and 70th week of years is a perfect illustration of how the Pre-Trib reading of Scripture must be imposed on the text rather than read out from the text.” Though I agree that there is no evidence of the Scripture dividing the 2nd coming of Christ into two parts (Thus making 3 comings of Christ altogether), I would argue that the passage of Daniel itself divides the 69th and 70th week, and that it doesn’t take a lot of juggling to think there might be a gap in there.. The ” to the end desolations (or wars?) are decreed” part sort of hints to me at an indeterminate period of time. Besides, it sounds like the same King who will end the sacrifices and offerings, “exalt himself above every other god” (the abomination – see (See Daniel 8, 11-12,), and this King, Christ (Matt 24:15-on), and His Apostle Paul (2 Thess 2), both directed us to view as a man yet to come, an abomination yet to happen. And Christ specifically referred back to the books of Daniel. I don’t see why we would divide the Lawless One, the Abomination of desolation into many parts/people even thought their details seem to make them the same person/abomination. That seems mighty close to what we ex-pretribbers did when we divided the 2nd Coming of Christ even though it appeared to be the same event.
This book also expresses uncertainty as to whether the Man of Lawlessness, whom Paul speaks of in 2nd Thessalonians, is a historical figure or a future one. They lean toward him being the future Antichrist. But I don’t know why they have any doubts at all. Neither Antiochus Epiphanes nor Titus (Or Vespasian, or the Romans standards..etc.) fit the description of the the Man of Lawlessness/ Abomination of Desolation. I don’t remember recorded history saying that they exalted themselves ABOVE EVERY OTHER GOD, nor did they claim to be God(the God of the Old and New Testaments) Himself as the lawless one does (perhaps by declaring himself to be Jesus Christ). Perhaps they declared themselves as gods over some of the other ‘gods’, but, if I remember correctly, they still worshiped other gods. But, regardless of what or who they did or didn’t worship, I know for certain that NONE of them were the Abomination/Man of Lawlessness because Paul tells us that that man will be killed by “breath of His (Jesus’)mouth” when He comes again (2 Thes 2:8). The Lawless One has not come and gone because our Lord Jesus Christ has not yet returned to kill him, nor has He gathered us to Himself to meet Him in the air along with our resurrected bretheren (1 Thess 4). The Lawless One is not yet history, he is still yet to come.
I’m probably rambling on too much. I’ll end with one last point: One of their main arguments is that tribulation is supposed to be a norm for Christian, something they ought not fear. Tribulation is something that the church is, pretty much, promised. So why would we think that “GREAT” tribulation would be something we could not face?
While I agreed with those arguments, as someone who recently came out of the pretrib rapture position myself, I didn’t feel that those arguments would have moved me at all. I would have said something like, “We don’t fear the great tribulation, but we do fear the wrath of God! We don’t want to be on earth while it is being poured out”. Now, the authors do address this later on, but most of their argument seemed to assume that Pre-trib rapture folks fear the AntiChrist (and the tribulation), which is probably why the book was given the name that it has. That premise/title would probably have made me turn away from the book because I would have thought they were missing my whole point. But, as Brown and Craig were Pretribbers themselves, they probably know other Pretribbers who are afraid of the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation, and that may have been how they themselves thought.
Perhaps I would have found the book more compelling if it were more along the lines of “Not Afraid of the Wrath of God”…but that could give the wrong impression, how about, “Not Destined for Wrath: Why the Church will be on earth during the Great Tribulation”. That would certainly make me look twice!
It was okay, and has several points that would probably give pretribbers pause, but not necessarily a book that I would recommend. This was an interesting read as I had very different expectations for what the book would cover. The book is aimed at dispelling beliefs about a rapture (i.e. escapist doctrine), and does so by considering the scriptures that have been used to suggest one. In this regard it functions like a systematic eschatology/theology.
Unfortunately there were points where I couldn’t tell the difference between one of the author’s views and the dispensationalist views that he was critiquing.
In the book Not Afraid of the Antichrist, authors Michael L. Brown and Craig S. Keener try to convince people that the rapture of the church won’t happen until the end of the tribulation. I find it interesting that their change of doctrinal theology was not spurred by Biblical discovery but by their interaction and first-handed experience with the persecuted church. This is their starting point. So I wonder what is next. They prayed for people that have not been healed The writers are Bible scholars and very competent. The topic is a good one. It answered many questions for me. I read it with an open mind as I know it can be a controversial subject but I have to agree with many of their points. It is well worth a good read and one should not pass judgment until the end.
I expected so much more from these two. I have a number of books by both, and their scholarship is usually close to impeccable. I’ve been around the block a few times, and i realize that every author has an agenda. Everyone does. We wake each day with an agenda. I also realize that no one can possibly be totally objective. What i didn’t expect was the straw man caricatures that were recycled here. I mean, if you make up your opponents position out of whole cloth, then of course they are easy to knock down. Brown and Keener are better than this. If you want a good rapture book, then get one where three authors with pre-trib, mid-trib (or pre-wrath), and post-trib debate back and forth, make their arguments, and respond to each other. They seem somewhat obsessed with LaHaye and Jenkins, and their left behind books and viewpoints, or maybe grab a Walvoord viewpoint here and there. There is much better scholarship out their, and viewpoints continuously change or are refined. And what’s with the title??!! Are they suggesting that those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture and “afraid” of the anti-christ? The title should have been a warning. When your title becomes an ad-hominem attack on an opposing view, then what follows will surely disappoint. I myself used to be post-tribulation, but changed over the years. Their attacks on verses used in a pre-trib argument are casually and carelessly dealt with, and often involved stretched redefining of greek words or grabbing ahold of the least used meaning of a word to make their point. Their handling of Rev. 3:10 is an example. It’s a quite vacuous argument and doesn’t even deal with the key word “out of” effectively and simple interprets “hour” as a vague, let it mean what you want it to, redefinition. This is only an example. Argue against caricatures, and redefine strong points and words. Like i said, I’ve read a number of their books so I was really expecting some heavy lifting. And truthfully ( a confession here from my previous belief), I’ve come to wonder whether those who prefer the PT viewpoint aren’t in some way a little bit spiritually masochistic, as in, “hey, I’m willing to suffer” or even “I want to suffer and prove myself” tribulationists. A great deal of their argument is that christians suffer all the time all over the world so why should tribulation saints be spared. I don’t disagree with the first part of their argument, but the second part doesn’t seem to acknowledge the specific purpose of the tribulation period itself. It isn’t just a “same old program” compared to the time of the gentiles. This is especially puzzling seeing as how Brown is a messianic Jew! So give it a shot if you want to, but if you are thoroughly grounded in whatever viewpoint you prefer, you won’t find anything here to change your mind. Only those with surface beliefs may be tempted to be swayed by their arguments, or find support for theirs.
If you currently believe in the pre-Tribulation teaching, but have an open mind – you need to read this book. Much of the Christian Church seems to have fallen for the deception that is the pre-Tribulation rapture teaching. Jesus warned us to watch out that no one deceived us (Matthew 24:4). Yet we see that many Christians may be left unprepared to face the coming tribulation, because they are caught up in the belief that Christians will be caught up in a secret rapture, prior to the Tribulation and the appearance of the Antichrist.
Brown and Keener begin by describing their personal journeys from this belief to their understanding of what the Bible actually teaches about the return of Jesus. They explain that proponents of the pre-tribulation theory have to add to the scriptures to make it say what they claim – that no Bible verses explicitly state their claims. Whereas, plain reading of the scriptures states that the rapture only occurs when Jesus returns in the Second Coming and that we are caught up in the clouds to meet Him, as He approaches the earth, with all the tribes of Earth able to see His approach. Brown and Keener also explain that Christians in many countries have already been seeing persecution and even martyrdom and they contrast that with the Western Church expecting to be rescued before serious persecution comes to the Western Church.