Messianic Apologetics

Addressing the Theological and Spiritual Issues of the Broad Messianic Movement

J.K. McKee

Before one can examine what the death expectations of the Apostolic Scriptures are, it is commonly argued that the Ancient Jews, the Pharisees in particular, picked up the idea of a disembodied afterlife from their interactions with the Greeks and not their reading of the Tanach Scriptures. For many of today’s Messianic Believers, all that needs to be said is “Belief in the afterlife is Greek!” and that is reason enough for many to reject the concept that born again Believers who have died are in the presence of the Lord, awaiting the resurrection (or for that same matter, many other Biblical doctrines). As I have far too frequently encountered, while a hyped-up fear of Hellenism or the Ancient Greeks are invoked by Messianic psychopannychists, I have never witnessed a single Messianic teacher actually quote the classical philosophers and what they believed—much less engage with such philosophers’ opinions!

Issues involving men and women in the Body of Messiah, are not too frequently discussed in today’s Messianic movement, unless they are from a relatively strict complementarian viewpoint. John McKee of Messianic Apologetics approaches the subject of men and women from an egalitarian perspective. In this episode, a number of topics are reviewed: men and women in religious vs. secular life, spiritual lessons involved with celibate singleness, and the ongoing debate of men and women in evangelical Protestantism.

The following is a list of twelve common reasons why many people believe in the pre-tribulation rapture. These reasons are those which have been most commonly given to us by website readers over the years who are pre-tribulationists. Their order primarily indicates the frequency of us hearing these arguments. As you should notice, some of the reasons listed seem somewhat absurd, some pose legitimate theological questions, and others pose some serious concern regarding the character of our Heavenly Father as He is perceived by some people.

“For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten. Indeed their love, their hate and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun. Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.”

The issues surrounding what many call “the rapture” and its timing have caused much unnecessary debate, slander, and criticism over the years in evangelical Christianity. People from all the various views surrounding the gathering of the Lord’s own unto Himself have at times slandered one another, and in many cases, have given eschatology, or the study of end things, an overall bad name. To those of us who believe in reasoned discussion rather than fierce debate, this is of some concern. While in mainstream and popular Christianity, the pre-tribulation rapture position is often overwhelmingly represented in comparison to post-tribulationism, the numbers are much more even in the Messianic movement. We should strive for an ample position so that we might examine this subject fairly, rationally, and above all Scripturally.

“I said to myself concerning the sons of men, ‘God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts.’ For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth? I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities, for that is his lot. For who will bring him to see what will occur after him?”

As we have tried to answer the critical question “When will the Messiah return?” on various levels, we have to recognize that there are many Believers today who are not really asking this question, or at least thinking it through fully. Many today are looking for a pre-tribulation rapture escape to Heaven prior to the Seventieth Week of Israel. They do not consider themselves a part of the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-13) or the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), or that God’s Torah is relevant instruction for their lives. Of those who do enter into the emerging Messianic community are many theological and doctrinal questions which often do not relate to the eschatology. Those who do address prophecy, often address it in a sensationalistic fashion, and do not examine things as objectively as they should.