Excellent Question If you read the Bible with no preconceived notions...what kind of reasoning would lead you to believe...? It would be great if everyone who came to the Table of discussion (on any subject) could come without any
"preconceived notions." And then let the facts determine the logical conclusions. This would be the ultimate in discovery of truth from scratch.
However, in the real world NOBODY comes to the Table without a lot of baggage---a suitcase full of preconceptions and assumptions. That is why reason dictates that there be guidelines, and rules of logic, for interpreting another author's writings. When approaching the Bible we call these rule of HERMENEUTICS. And most scholars agree on the major principles of Hermeneutics. (e.g. consideration of context, culture, historical background, original Greek definitions, scripture interpreting scripture, law of non-contradiction, avoidance of fallacies of logic, etc.) These are stipulated, and are non-negotiables.
Rapture Rules Since no one comes to the topic of eschatology without assumptions, or preconceived schema, it is important to see if those schema are valid in helping interpret scriptures...if they do not violate basic rules of hermeneutics...if they engage in faulty eisegesis instead of legitimate exegesis.
So when we come to the writings (and interpretations) of pretribbers (believers in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture) we find that they believe in, what they call, the Golden Rule of Interpretation: When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense, but take every word at its primary, literal meaning unless the immediate context clearly indicate otherwise. (Tim LaHaye, No Fear of the Storm, p. 240)
Mr. LaHaye expanded on this by listing two major Keys for interpreting: (1) Take the Bible literally if you can (even the prophetic passages of scripture), (2) Ask, does he draw a distinction between Israel and the Church? (Op cit., p. 247) This second rule plays heavily in Pre-trib. interpretations!
Actual Exposition When, however, we encounter Pre-trib. commentaries pushing the Pre-tribulation Rapture we are shocked to find many verses treated in "isolation," and out of context. For example, prophecies said and fulfilled in the O.T. are treated as if their fulfilments are way off in the N.T. era in the future. Eisegesis proliferates, with the Dispensational theory used as a overlay. Greek syntax is ignored. Etc.
Examples REVELATION 4:1--The voice T had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, 'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this. Mr. Scofield, in his Dispensational Reference Bible in the footnote here stated that this call seems clearly to indicate the fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. That is he claimed it was a reference to the Rapture interpretation of Thess.!
But the angel spoke ONLY to John here in Revelation; and made no reference to the whole alleged "church rapture." The angel is giving a vision to John, not a summons to a group of people. There really is NO pre-trib. rapture as a topic. But such is the fallacious exposition,
DANIEL 9:27--He will confirm a Covenant with many for one "heptad", In the middle of the Heptad he will put an end to sacrifice and offering... This final "week" (7 years) is the only place in the Bible where a "prophetic" seven years is mentioned (different from the agricultural 7 years of the Law). And it is here where Tribbers of all sorts do their foundational beginnings. It is here where an alleged Rapture is to exit the Gentile Church, a Covenant is made between Jews and Antichrist for 3 and 1/2 years...where horrible tribulation occurs after the breaking of a covenant, and at the end of which Jesus is suppose to come and set up a physical Kingdom.
The nasty problem is that this is all make-believe! There is a "Christ" (anointed One) mentioned in chapter 9, but NO anti-Christ at all. Traditional interpretation has Christ making a covenant with the "many." (This is My blood of the covenant which is poured out for many. (Mark 14:24) Not a covenant with some anti-Christ. And the desolation to come was a reference to the Destruction of Judea, confirmed by Jesus interpretation (Matthew 24:15). The topics of pre-tribbers, mid-tribbers, and post-tribbers are not mentioned here! Exposition from scratch doesn't produce them. It's all eisegesis.
1THESSALONIANS 4:16-17 -Secret pre-trib. Rapture? This verse is used to apply to a secret snatching away of the Church. But notice all the accompanying sounds: loud shout, voice of archangel, trumpet call. Compare the events surrounding the End listed in 2 Peter 3:10; and notice that that Day of the Lord is applied to the saints Peter is writing to. (what kind of people ought YOU to be) So Christians are still on earth at this mentioned Coming.
TITUS 2:13- Tim LaHaye stated that both the Rapture and the separate Glorious Appearing (as two events) are mentioned here. But to separate this phrase here, We wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of out great God and Savior..., this Pre-tribber must ignore the Granville Sharp rule of Greek syntax. The NIV translation is accurate in its translation: the blessed hope---the glorious appearing,linking the two phrases as one event (just as "God and Savior are linked as one, by the same application of the rule.) There is really just one Second Coming---not a Second, then a Third...
ACTS 15:13-18-Perhaps the most egregious abuse of hermeneutical rules is by pre-tribbers is Scofield's treatment of this passage in Acts. We quote him:
Dispensationally, this is the most important passage in the N.T.. It gives the divine purpose for this age, and for the beginning of the next. (1) The taking out from among the Gentiles of a people for His Name (the Church)...(2)After this (viz. the out-calling) I will return. [The final regathering of Israel] (3)"I will build again the tabernacle of David [reestablish the Davidic rule over Israel.] (4) "That the residue of men [Israelites] may seek after the Lord" (5) "And all the Gentiles" Reference Bible, 1945, p. 1169-1170)
Scofield does not treat the prophecy of Amos as being fulfilled right then, but instead uses it as an outline of future Israeli times at a Return of Jesus. But the Apostles used it to justify the entrance of Gentiles into the church right then in the first century. "The residue of men" is misinterpreted to mean Israelis, but the Greek word is simply anthropos. And the "rebuilding of the Tent of David" has to do with Gentile worship, not an establishment of a Jewish nation!
If this is "the most important passage in the N.T. for Pre-trib Dispensationalism, then that schema is a house built on sand. It cannot stand hermeneutical reasoning. And a reasonable person---if they could start from scratch---would never end up with such a preposterous conclusion!
It should be pointed out that much of Darby's Dispensationalism was influenced by Mr. Tweedy's insistence that Jews and Gentiles have a different destiny in God's plans. (Tim LaHaye, No Fear of the Storm) The wall of separation that Jesus took great pains to tear down, was re-erected by Darby! (Ephesians 2:14-16) So Dispensationalism was not derived from the scriptures "from scratch" but it was plopped down upon the scriptures by outside schemers!
By What Reason? Actually, no reason, or logical exposition, could ever come up with a Pre-Tribulation Dispensational presentation of a Rapture of the Church to make way for an Israeli world domination.
I sincerely wish all eyes of understanding would be open to this, and there would be a return to an expectation of the one BLESSED HOPE--the Appearing of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.