Research Update for the Rapture: My Personal Presuppositions


Now that I have a Master of Arts degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, I have decided to further some research and writing to develop my ministry in that direction. I have always believed that one of my strengths was writing, so this year (post degree) I focused on that effort. One of my articles has already been accepted for a January 2014 publication in the Evangelical Missions Quarterly. I'm also currently under assignment to write an article about military ministry and how to start it. I'm almost finished with that one.

With those two "notches" under my belt, so to speak, I wanted to focus my efforts on theology, as both of my other articles are more of a practical ministry slant. Without a PhD in theology, I may never get anywhere with my rapture article, but I have decided to really focus on the doctrine and discover what I really believe about it after my own careful research. In order to do that, I had to take into account my own presuppositions, as failing to deal with them could lead to fouling up the research.

To presuppose is to suppose beforehand, according to Miriam Webster. When it comes to the rapture and what it has always represented for me, I definitely had some beforehand supposing in my life. From the time I was a boy growing up on a farm in Kansas, I just assumed the rapture and dispensationalism was the only way to believe. I honestly didn’t even know there was any other way. I had never heard about reformed thought, Covenant theology, or ammelinialism. I didn’t know that people existed who thought that the rapture wouldn’t happen. I just assumed that everyone “knew” the truth.

No research can be conducted without understanding the researcher’s background, even though the researcher will uphold the strictest standards of academia. It is actually for this very reason that I chose to research the rapture. Finding a defensible position is paramount and if one does not exist, then the only real conclusion is to set the doctrine aside.

I don't want to get into too many specifics of my research at this time. I am finished with the third draft of the paper and just need to go back and format my sources before one last draft and then submission. As I said before, I may get nowhere with it publication-wise, but it has been an important journey for me as I seek to understand what I believe about the doctrine and whether my presuppositions can continue to direct my life. 

4 comments:

Greg Cope said...

We are all guilty of presuppositions, and removing them gets us a long way towars s truth.

Christopher Sanchez said...

I did an 8-part series on the Rapture back in 2010. I think you will really enjoy the research and thinking through this topic. Of course, it is going to be a lot of work but it is worth the effort. That series still receives a great deal of traffic on my site.

http://www.chris-sanchez.com/2010/01/differing-views-of-rapture-part-1.html

boilt frog said...

You can publish you paper here. I am sure the editor will accept it. I would love to read it.

Dan Smith said...

Greg: Removing them completely has an unfortunate side effect, don't you think? If I completely walk away from my presuppositions, then I become susceptible to someone else's! At least that would be the concern I think.

Chris: I am going to look into your writing. Thank you for posting this! Mind sharing your thesis?

BF: I expect to publish it as an e-book project within the next few months. When I first wrote it, it had nothing to do with the dispensations, and now I'm going back to try and remarry the concepts. I understand that some non-dispensationalists accept the idea of a rapture as well, but as dispensationalism is fundamental to many of the smaller American churches, I want to focus on that for this next research step.