|A210 : by Tony Garland |
I think we need to recognize that the truth of the Rapture (rather than its timing) is what is most important. There will always be some who see the timing differently than we do. Even those who agree that one of the purposes of the Rapture is to exempt the bride of Christ from God's wrath may disagree as to when the wrath of God begins to be poured out on the earth.
Having said that, I am not one who believes a retreat to the "pan-tribulational" (e.g., “It's complicated and I don't want to try to figure it out so all I care is that it will ‘all pan out’ in the end”) is God-honoring. Here's why: God was the One Who revealed that there would be a Rapture and has given us a large portion of Scripture with information pertaining to its overall relationship to the rest of prophesied events. Therefore, if He wrote it in the Scriptures and has seen to preserve it (often at the cost of the precious blood of His servants through history) then it isn't an option for us to merely throw up our hands and conveniently ignore the details because we can't be bothered or it takes hard work to understand or we don't like the fact that some may see things differently than we might.
Assuming I understand your second question, I don't see how a person could hold to both a post- and pre-tribulational Rapture position at one and the same time. An exception to that might be some sort of two-stage Rapture position where some are taking prior to the tribulation and others are taken afterward. Although there have been some who have held a partial Rapture viewa (only zealous believers get taken and the rest of the body of Christ is left), I don't think it is easily supported from Scripture as it would require rending the body of Christ into two. Also, it is my view that the purpose of the Rapture of the Church is more than just saving believers from God's direct wrath, but also has to do with the removal of the Restrainer (which I take to be the body of Christ—the entire Church, 2Th. 2:7) which opens the floodgate, if you will, for the full flowering of man's sinfulness eventually ushering in the events of the Day of the Lord.
Certainly, the fact of the Rapture (the taking of people, both dead and alive in a sudden resurrection event) is beyond question for those who take Scripture at face value (1Cor. 15:51-54; 1Th. 4:13-17). As to its timing, this is a much less important issue on which brothers and sisters in Christ may lovingly disagree without affecting our fellowship.
If a brother or sister insists on holding a “pan-tribulational” view, then I will usually try to point out why it is not really God-honoring and pray that the Holy Spirit will motivate them to study the Scriptures more closely—including the prophetic portions—to gain a better understanding of what God has revealed. It has been my observation that the “pan-tribulationalist” position often betrays disdain for the study of prophecy. In other words, a believer who chooses not to study prophecy at the same depth as other portions of Scripture because of the work involved and the mistaken notion it isn't important.