Paul Benson – A Bottomless Bucket (Part 1)
A Critique of Paul Benson’s book, “A Bucket Full of Holes: Solid Proof The Pre-Trib Rapture Theory is False”
Discerning The World regularly has to contend with comments of people who have a natural inborn animosity for the Pretribulation Rapture position. Some comments are well-versed and demonstrate not only a keen interest in the subject but also an attentiveness for the need to thoroughly research the subject. Unfortunately, many of the research is based on books and articles that seem to make a lot of sense but usually fail to endure the fiery test of biblical discernment.
There are mainly two very important criteria that facilitate proper exegetical and hermeneutical discernment. The one is context and the other is that the truths explained in one passage of Scripture must always complement another passage or passages. Hence the maxim “scripture explains scripture.” They cannot and may not contradict one another in the very slightest.
If we accept and believe the fact “. . . that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21), then we dare not deter from the fact the “scripture explains scripture.”
These are the two criteria Discernment Ministries have always endeavored to stick to at all times. Yes, of course, there were times when DTW has not been so accurate in its discernment but has always been prepared to rectify its mistakes when proved wrong from Scripture. Please note, I said from Scripture and not any book, article or seminary paper written by men.
My wife is an avid antique lover who likes to collect old things her friends or our family members no longer want or need. I have been waiting for years for someone to give her a priceless painting without them knowing what it’s worth, but we haven’t been so lucky, at least not yet.
Old rusty bottomless buckets are one of her specialties. In typical self-opinionated male ignorance, I once asked her, “What in the world are you going to do with those ugly buckets?” She calmly said, “Oh those? All they need are some good soil, a good deal of compost and a few beautiful flowers to change them into something magical.”
I was introduced to a book by Paul Benson not so long ago who has made it his life’s work to thoroughly rebuke the myth of the Pretribulation Rapture which he aims to hit “soundly from about 50 different points of concern.” (Page 5). He has baptized his book in the water seeping through the holes of his proverbial bucket “A BUCKET FULL OF HOLES! SOLID PROOF THE PRE-TRIB RAPTURE IS FALSE.”
Having read it, I am convinced that it should rather have been called “A BOTTOMLESS BUCKET THAT CANNOT HOLD ANY WATER!” I have rarely come across literature with so many statements and innuendos that contradict one another so profusely as Paul Benson’s “BUCKET FULL OF HOLES.”
Nevertheless, he steadfastly holds up his bottomless bucket with outstretched arms above his head and says, “This is solid proof that the Pre-trib Rapture theory is false.” And what a better way to do it than to make his readers believe that what he had written and deposited into his “bottomless bucket” is the truth and nothing but the truth. In the very first paragraph in the preface to his book, he affirms in solid Benson fashion that his book was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
“A love for the truth is not an option for the believer! If you are taking the time to read this book it is obvious you have a desire to get to the truth of the matter under discussion. I commend you for that. And I pray your understanding would be greatly increased through this effort. Please proceed prayerfully. Words of truth only truly become words of life when the wind of the Spirit blows upon them.”
“The result is what I consider a pretty thorough rebuke of that myth that hits it soundly from about 50 different points of concern.” (Page 5. Emphasis added)
Certainly, the truth is what all believers should aspire to pursue with all their heart, and also to know with all their mind (John 16:13). Benson, on the other hand, includes several disclaimers in his book, stating that he is merely speculating or “I am not dogmatic on that idea,” or “I am definitely fallible; but God’s Word is not,” as if that is a new truism only he discovered recently.
Bold statements demand bold and truthful corroborates, and may I add, the Holy Spirit never, never speculates or presumes things whenever major doctrines need to be verified. Imagine for one second the Holy Spirit having speculated about the doctrine of salvation . . . and, may I add, that the Pretribulation Rapture is part and parcel of God’s plan for the final fulfillment of the salvation for his Bride.
Paul Benson’s Art of Speculation
The things unbelievers often say are more prudent and noteworthy than the dictums of believers. No wonder God commended the unjust steward in Luke 16 because he had done wisely “for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” (Luke 16:8). Sir Julian Huxley who was a British evolutionary biologist, eugenicist and internationalist (1887-1975) defined the art of speculation as follows:
“To speculate without facts is to attempt to enter a house of which one has not the key, by wandering aimlessly round and round, searching the walls and now and then peeping through the windows. Facts are the key.”
Paul Benson seems to have no qualms to speculate about major or key doctrines in Scripture, one of which is the Rapture. He says on page 64.
“Many others feel this restrainer is the Archangel Michael. And as I have heard some very convincing arguments in favor of that idea I am open to the possibility. All in all, we do not have enough Scriptural input upon which to base a firm statement as to who this restrainer is. All we can do is speculate.”
Speculative truth is no truth. When does speculation creep into one’s doctrinal views? It usually begins to creep in ever so stealthily when you bellicosely and rebelliously refuse to acknowledge the truth at hand and try to exchange it for something else that may possibly seem to be true.
Paul Benson doggedly refuses to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is the Restrainer but must of necessity make amends because he cannot deny that the Bible plainly talks about someone withholding someone or something else.
So, the only option open to him is to speculate, which is no truth at all, that the archangel Michael may be the Restrainer. Still, he boasts that his love for the truth is no option. Any Bible believing Christian will tell you that “THE” truth is called “THE” truth because there is no other truth besides “THE” truth.
Lo and behold, Paul Benson, although he aspires to say nothing but “the” TRUTH, dares to introduce to his readers “A” speculative truth and very subtly suggests that it is “THE” truth. But is it?
Let’s face it. If God alone (the Holy Spirit) has the magnanimous power to quicken a spiritually dead sinner and breath into his soul eternal life through the forgiveness of sins and the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ, then surely, He alone must have the power to restrain the man of sin, the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
Even Paul Benson who so matter-of-factly allows his mind to wander off in a maze of speculations and possibilities, admits that the Holy Spirit restrains sin. On page 60 he writes:
“The Holy Spirit truly restrains sin in the life of one who is submitted to that influence.” (There’s that disclaimer again). (Parenthesis added).
Nonetheless, he denies that the Holy Spirit is the Restrainer of the man of sin. His speculative mindset leads him to believe that the angel Michael has a far better chance to restrain the man of sin than God Himself. Michael alone, according to Benson, can restrain someone who is not submitted to the influence of the restraining power of the Holy Spirit.
We may as well say; The Holy Spirit is quite capable of restraining sin but completely powerless to restrain the man of sin because he will by no means submit to his influence. Enter Chuck Norris. Why Chuck Norris? Because the angel Michael cannot restrain sin, let alone the man of sin, any more than Chuck Norris – zero, zilch, nada.
The archangel Michael cannot restrain sin for the simple reason that he does not live or abide in the spirit of the believers. Had he lived in the believers’ spirit Jesus would have had to extoll him as the one who empowers the saints to overcome Satan since they have the One indwelling them who is greater than the one in the world (1 John 4:4).
Moreover, Michael would then also have been the one who empowers them to be the salt and light of the world. (Matthew 5:13).
It follows quite logically that the Holy Spirit’s restraining office as the Restrainer of sin and of the man of sin will be removed when the Church (Bride of Christ; Body of Christ) is removed at the Pretribulation Rapture.
Mere speculation that someone or something else is the Restrainer of the man of sin, is the kind of borderline blasphemies you expose yourself to when you start gambling with the truth. It is very dangerous. Pure logical thinking is often enough to disprove speculative thinking.
Paul Benson’s Verse/Passage Isolative Exegeses
Paul Benson does not only indulge in speculative thinking but also has a benign resolve to separate doctrinal truths where they are intended to complement one another. He does so by implementing an age-old deceptive tool which I like to call “verse/passage isolative exegeses.” I suppose it is another way of explaining “context wrenching.” Be that as it may, Paul Benson often quotes a single verse, isolates it from the rest of a passage, and says, “See, I told you so.”
A proof positive is his reference to 1 Thessalonians 4:18, ” . . . comfort one another with these words” in the introduction to his book (page 7), in his effort to isolate the Resurrection of the Dead from the Rapture, or at least to create the impression that the doctrine of the Resurrection completely overshadows the Rapture doctrine.
In Section One: Finding A Bible Based Focus Part 1. Rapture Versus Resurrection, He writes:
“I can’t help but notice a trend in today’s preaching that does not mirror a ratio of emphasis we see in the Bible. What I mean by that is: How many times do the Scriptures mention the ‘catching away’ of the Church? Not many. One clear description we find in 1Thessalonians 4 and a few not so clear references to it elsewhere. But the coming Resurrection of the Dead and the transformation of the living Saints, which is going to be such an indescribably awesome phenomenon, is either vividly described or plainly referred to dozens of times in the Bible. It is a theme thoroughly woven into the fabric of Scripture.” (Page 9)
Note how he stretches his speculative thinking even farther in the use of the bizarre header “Rapture Versus Resurrection” as if they stand in opposition to one another. Paul’s words ” . . . comfort one another with these words” does not only refer to the resurrection but also the catching away (harpazo) of the saints (Body of Christ).
If, as Benson says in the very beginning of his book “A love for the truth is not an option for the believer” he would never have opted for one of the oldest methods of deceptions in the book. Whilst he sanctimoniously blames the Pretribulationists of context wrenching, he happily and unashamedly does exactly just that. He writes:
“A thorough application of critical examination leads to an understanding that every passage used to teach the pre-trib rapture is either stolen away from context dealing with the Second Coming of Christ or are benign passages which have a presupposed notion read in to them. I am talking about passages which would in no way give you a certain understanding if you had not come to the text with that preconceived notion in hand.”
The saints’ blessed hope is not just the resurrection. When Jesus comforted his disciples in John 14 with a reminder of his coming, He did not even mention the resurrection. It was not necessary because his disciples were already familiar with the resurrection of the dead.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” (John 14:1-4).
The term “Blessed Hope” is mentioned only once in the New Testament and relates specifically to “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13). Why did the Holy Spirit leave out any mention of the resurrection in the only place the “Blessed Hope” is mentioned? Because every Bible-believing Christian who does not resort to a maze of speculative thinking knows and believes that the resurrection and the catching up of the saints to meet our Lord in the air is inseparable.
In fact, the resurrection is the means whereby the saints are caught up at the Pretribulation Rapture. No resurrection equals no Rapture. They are inseparable. That’s precisely why Paul wrote:
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
On page 11 Paul Benson continues his diatribe against the Pretribulation Rapture.
“So I ask again, why all this modern day focus on the ‘caught up to meet him’ aspect of Christ’s Coming? Does the Bible put the emphasis there? If you stop and think about it the ‘caught away’ part of what we experience that day is relatively minor compared to what we will experience in the Resurrection! How did things get so turned around to the point where a brief journey upwards overshadows what transpires in the Resurrection?
The dead awake with the image of Christ. The mortal has put on immortality (1Corinthians 15:54). No more sickness, disease, or dying! We’ve carried the earnest (down-payment) of our inheritance all these years and now we have the fullness of that promise in our resurrection. We have now entered eternity in a glorified body, and death can never touch us. Why minimize that and maximize being carried up into the sky? Could that be a proper focus?
I realize pre-trib rapture folk believe that the Resurrection and the ‘catching away’ all take place in the same micro-second (a false belief discussed later). But my point is: Why carry on and on about the catching away and say so very little, or often nothing at all, about our resurrection and transformation, and the glory that shall be revealed in us? You might hear it mentioned in the reading of a text, but the pre-trib preachers rarely focus on it.
Usually, the brunt of the message deals with avoiding the time of great tribulation; which they incorrectly state is the wrath of God (a false notion we will also discuss later).”
The author’s efforts to deemphasize the importance of the catching away of the saints and to overemphasize the Resurrection of the Dead, by implying that the Rapture is cited far less in Scripture than the Resurrection of the Dead, is rather unfortunate and exposes his misreading and, therefore, mismanagement of the truth.
What he seems to overlook is that the catching away of the saints in 1 Thessalonians 4 does not only narrate the “harpazo” or catching away of the saints but also describes a deeper expansion of the meaning of the resurrection of the saints. Hence, Paul’s unequivocal statement in 1 Corinthians 15:51, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (1 Corinthians 15:51).
It destroys the author’s efforts to prove that knowledge of the Resurrection of the Dead is much older and even calls for Job to be a witness to his claims. The fact that Paul’s description of the catching away of the saints is rather meagrely discussed in the New Testament does not give one the leeway to minimize its relevance and importance.
His words “I shew you a mystery” clearly stresses the truth that God intended to bring the Rapture doctrine to fruition from the beginning of time and decided to make it known to the saints in his own time. As a matter of fact, the word “mystery” (“Musterion”) expresses the idea of something being unknown (or secret) until such time when it is revealed.
God chose Paul to reveal this mystery to the church when the time had come for it to be made known. As such, it has always been uppermost in God’s mind in the same degree the Resurrection of the Dead had been in his mind from the very beginning of time. That makes the doctrine of the Rapture just as old as the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead.
I find it rather odd that Paul Benson is prepared to stake his life on “cognitive scaffolding” in languages and yet denies the authenticity of a Pretribulation Rapture just because it is allegedly not so old as the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead. On page 58 he writes:
“In language studies there is a term called ‘cognitive scaffolding’ which simply means that in literature we receive a progression of understanding as each new sentence adds information to the previous ones. The fullness of meaning in any verse of Scripture is not found only in that verse itself, but also in the contributing information of the verses around it.”
The “cognitive scaffolding” for the doctrine of the catching away of the saints was already in place and a fait accomplis in God’s mind before the beginning of time, but its final blueprint was only made known when Paul revealed the mystery to the church, when the veil covering the “cognitive scaffolding” in God’s mind was finally removed by his servant Paul.
Paul Benson’s incongruous remarks clearly demonstrate his deliberate undermining of the spreading of the Rapture message among believers and to “take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, . . .” (Revelation 22:19). Has he never read these passages:
“And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live“. (Deuteronomy 8:3).
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4).
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. (Proverbs 30:5).
The above few quotes from Scripture make Paul Benson’s affirmation “I can’t help but notice a trend in today’s preaching that does not mirror a ratio of emphasis we see in the Bible. What I mean by that is: How many times do the Scriptures mention the ‘catching away’ of the Church? Not many,” look rather silly. A single word from God’s mouth, as Jesus affirmed, is enough to confirm its irrefutability because He is the essence of Truth.
OK, Mr Pre-trib-Buster, here’s a question for you. You lament the fact that today’s preaching does not mirror the ratio of emphasis the Bible supposedly reflects, and that the “catching away” is sparsely mentioned. Yet you have taken the mammoth task upon your shoulders to write a book of nearly 200 pages to prove a relatively minor doctrine in the Bible to be the only acceptable one for the Church, i.e. the Post-tribulation rapture that allegedly occurs simultaneously with the Second Coming of Christ. What’s good for the goose (in this case the Pretribulation Rapture) must be good for the gander (in this case the Post-tribulation Rapture).
You cannot divorce the catching away of the saints from the Resurrection of the Dead. It’s impossible. Consequently, Paul Benson’s failure to see any noticeable emphasis placed on the ‘catching away’ may be attributed to his poor reverence for sparsely mentioned doctrines in the Bible.
If we were to accept Paul Benson’s downplay of briefly mentioned doctrines in the Bible as criteria to evaluate their worth, we would have to talk down other very important doctrines as well. Consider for instance the command “Honour thy father and thy mother” which occurs only once in the Bible (Exodus 20:12) and subsequently in four reminders of the same command (Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 19:19; Mark 7:10 and Luke 18:20).
In Ephesians 6:2 it is singled out as a command with a promise annexed to it, namely that those who obey it will be blessed with a long life. Surely the promise of a long life is exceptionally important, even though it is a doctrine hidden, as it were, in a small corner of the Bible.
Very little is known about the following persons because their names appear only in a few verses in of the Old Testament.
- Enos (Genesis 4:26; 5:6, 7, 9, 10 -11).
- Cainan (Genesis 5:9-10; 12-14).
- Mahalaleel (Genesis 5:12-17).
- Jared (Genesis 5:15-16; 18-20).
- Enoch (Genesis 5:18-19; 21-24).
- Methuselah (Genesis 5:21-22; 25-27).
There are many other persons who are mentioned but a few times in Scripture but these will suffice for our purpose. If we were to accept Paul Benson’s reasoning that the importance of these persons is relatively minor compared to people like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who are mentioned and discussed far more in Scripture, then we will have to conclude that they also had a relatively minor position in Jesus Christ’s ancestral genealogy.
All the above-mentioned names appear together with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Luke 3:23-38 proving they are just as important, despite their sparsely mentioned names in Scripture. Enoch, for instance, is only mentioned in passing in Hebrews 11:5 and Jude 1:14. However, the context in which his name appears is so magnanimously important that we dare not regard his name as relatively minor compared to those of others.
In fact, both these verses are a prophecy related to the Pretribulation Rapture. Like Enoch who was translated alive by God, the church (Body of Christ) will also be caught up alive to meet Jesus Christ in the air. So too does Jude 1:14-15 attest to a Pretribulation Rapture, for it clearly says that the saints will return with Him to earth to execute judgment on the nations.
How can they return with Him unless they had been translated (“harpazo” caught up) by Him at some stage earlier? It proves that Paul Benson’s argument is flawed and somewhat illiterate and, therefore, cannot be used to refute the Pretribulation Rapture.
Paul Benson concludes Section One: Finding A Bible Based Focus Part 1. Rapture Versus Resurrection with these flowered words:
“It is my firm belief the Bible does teach neither two resurrections of the believers nor two ‘catchings away’ of the Church; one before the great tribulation in addition to the one clearly taught at the Second Coming. Though many don’t realize it pre-trib theory demands two of each! Since I do not believe the teachings of a ‘pre-tribulation rapture’ are portraying the same event the Bible describes, I will be referring to those teachings as the ‘pre-trib rapture theory’; and the genuine event which transpires at Christ’s Return after the tribulation as the ‘catching away’.
I will show many examples of why I say the pre-trib rapture theory is a deceiving and damaging false doctrine; and has been fabricated from Stolen Snippets, Deceiving Distractions, Unbiblical Concepts, and Outright Lies. It is a man-made fable resting solely upon Scripture stolen out of context and notions which completely lack any foundation in the Word of God. This is a bold accusation, and will likely offend many, but as they say: ‘The proof is in the pudding!’ I hope you will consider what is written here prayerfully and with an open Bible. May the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth.” (Page 12).
The Pretribulationists do not believe that there are two separate catching aways of the Church (Body of Christ), one prior to the seven-year tribulation and one at the Second Coming, which again proves Benson’s ignorance of what they believe.
No one will deny that the proof is in the pudding. Benson’s pudding, as we’ve seen up to now, is inundated with false innuendos, outright lies, and corrupt exegeses. His bottomless bucket and pudding contain the same ingredients — inaccuracies in the extreme.