Book Write-Up: The Rapture, the Tribulation, and Beyond, by B.D. Hyman

B.D. Hyman. The Rapture, the Tribulation, and Beyond. 2002. See here to buy the book.

B.D. Hyman is the daughter of actress Bette Davis. Hyman is a Christian minister. I first learned of her from the 2017 miniseries Feud, which is about the conflict between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. After watching Feud, I went through Hyman’s testimony on her YouTube channel as well as several of her teaching videos.

I cannot say that I found her teaching videos to be uplifting. They seemed to be saying that unless one is a Christian as she defines it, one is susceptible to demons and the disaster that demons can bring. Hyman also argued that a person should not fellowship with non-Christians, and that tithing only brings divine blessing if it goes to a church that fully teaches the word of God (by implication, her church, though she may deny that she is saying that). Hyman also appeared to suggest that one needed to believe the exact right things to be saved: believing that the church is the body of Christ rather than the bride of Christ seemed to be more than a question about theological accuracy, for her. Rather, it was a salvation issue.

Yet, there were elements of her teaching that intrigued me. She said that there are seven raptures. She claimed that the demons are not the fallen angels but the souls of those who perished in the Flood, desperately seeking bodies to inhabit. She embraced the gap theory and argued that passages in Isaiah depict the pre-Adamic world that had dinosaurs and mammoths. What is more, while one might think that she teaches that one either believes her way or goes to hell, her eschatological scenario seemed more complex than that, as it posited more categories than “saved” and “lost.” There were also the millennial nations and the eternal nations. I was curious to learn more, but several of her prophecy videos made the same points over and over and advertised this book. I figured that I should read her book to get a fuller picture of what she believes.

Here are some points:

A. Hyman argues that Christians should not fellowship with non-Christians, but she fails in this book to define fellowship. Is she suggesting that Christians should have nothing to do with non-Christians? She has said things to the contrary. In her videos, she assumes that Christians in her audience will have non-Christian relatives in their lives. In the book, she affirms that Christians are to be kind to all people, non-believers included. Is she saying that Christians should keep their relationships with non-Christians at a distant or superficial level? Indeed, Paul in II Corinthians 6:14 discourages believers from having fellowship with darkness or being unequally yoked with non-believers. At the same time, Paul in I Corinthians 7 instructs Christians with non-believing spouses to remain married to their non-believing spouses. I Peter 3:1 does the same. If intimacy with non-believers attracts demons, why would Paul and Peter permit it in these cases?

B. Hyman argues on the basis of Mark 16:17-18 that true believers speak in tongues and heal people miraculously. One problem with this argument, of course, is that Mark 16:17-18 is probably not authentic to the Gospel of Mark but is a later addition. Another problem is that it contradicts what Scripture says elsewhere. Paul in I Corinthians 12:30 states: “Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” (KJV). His point is “no”: the Spirit gifts different Christians in different ways.

C. Hyman promotes a sort of prosperity Gospel. She applies to Christians Old Testament statements about the eschatological prosperity of Israel. God prospers Christians in terms of wealth and health, and Christians use that wealth to help fellow Christians and outsiders. They can give people their cloaks, a la Matthew 5:30 and Luke 6:29, because they have plenty, through God’s provision. Their health and their wealth attract outsiders to them and encourage outsiders to follow God. Hyman acknowledges that believers may still encounter struggles; her testimony videos talk candidly about her own hard times. But she is emphatic that God is not the one causing those struggles, for it is the enemy who seeks to destroy (John 10:10). Believers can triumph over their adversity through obedience to God and resistance to demons. On the one hand, one can cite Scriptures in favor of such a message. Jesus healed people when he was on earth, James 5:14-15 presents a healing ritual, and II Corinthians 9:8 appears to suggest that God will provide enough for believers to help others. On the other hand, there is an acknowledgement that Christians can be materially poor (II Corinthians 8:2; James 2:5; Revelation 2:9), or even sick (Philippians 2:26-27; II Timothy 4:20).

D. There is a “name-it-claim-it” or “Word of Faith” dimension to Hyman’s teaching. The reason that she insists that Christians regard the church as Christ’s body, not his bride, is that their words of confession are important. She remarks that Christians who believe the saints will go through the Great Tribulation will receive according to their words. Did not Jesus stress the efficacy of one’s words (e.g., Matthew 12:37)? Hyman sees the “church as body, not bride” issue as crucial. For Hyman, Christ is marrying the New Jerusalem, not the church. What exactly is at stake here is not entirely clear, for Hyman acknowledges that the church will inhabit the New Jerusalem. In II Corinthians 11:2, Paul talks about presenting the Corinthian church as a chaste virgin to Christ, her one husband. Hyman could respond that this is a metaphor, but she seems to hyper-literalize the church being Christ’s body and Christ’s bride, as if the two are utterly irreconcilable.

E. Her argument for seven raptures is effective, overall. Not all of the raptures are eschatological, for they include the translation of Enoch to heaven. But she contends that there will be a pre-tribulational rapture, but also a later rapture of the 144,000. That conclusion is reasonable, for John beholds the 144,000 standing with the Lamb (Revelation 14:1ff.).

F. Hyman believes that Christ will return soon after the year 2000. There were 2,000 years from Adam to Abraham, and 2,000 years from Abraham to Jesus. She thinks there will be 2,000 years between Jesus’s first and second comings. She also bases her timetable on typology: events in Scripture foreshadow the end. She argues, for example, that Jesus’s residence on earth for forty days between his resurrection and ascension foreshadows that Christians will have glorified bodies (i.e., walking through walls) on earth for forty days before their pre-tribulational rapture to heaven. They will testify to the unsaved before their rapture, walking through walls to show that they have the truth of God. Such calculations are interesting, but there have been so many through the years by other Christians, and they have failed.

G. Hyman argues that not believing in the charismatic gifts is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. If there is a healing, it can only be from God, or from the devil. If one denies it is from God, one is saying it is from the devil. For Hyman, those who say those gifts are from the devil are like the Pharisees who attributed Christ’s works to Satan. That is an interesting point, but does she accept every miracle or miracle claim as divine in origin? She is critical of several charismatic leaders (though she mentions no names). Another observation: she seems ambivalent about whether blasphemers against the Holy Spirit will go to hell. On the one hand, she says they are eternally condemned. On the other hand, she denies that the Lake of Fire is their necessary destination.

H. Hyman raises interesting points about there being more categories than “saved” and “lost,” but she is unclear about how her scenario holds together consistently. On the one hand, the tone of her book is that people need to believe like her, or they are damned. That means they need to be true believers, baptized with the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, she acknowledges that heaven will include believers who were not baptized with the Holy Spirit, albeit they will not be glorified. On the one hand, she states that the millennium will be a time of peace and the worship of God: the millennial nations, even the unrighteous ones, will worship God at an earthly sanctuary. On the other hand, she contends that the unrighteous in the millennium are those who hold on to their sins (i.e., idolatry, murder, sorcery) and are thus barred from the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:5). Are idolatry, sorcery, and murder present in the millennium or not? She is unclear about whether righteous people in the millennial nations will be saved: she seems to say that they will be, yet she also places them in the “eternal nations,” who are righteous but not exactly “saved.” She says that the millennial nations will include those who did not receive the Mark of the Beast yet are unsaved: they are survivalists, among the people who hide in mountains and rocks (Revelation 6:15-16). How would she address the claim of Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 that those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will worship the Beast? Could one say that those who worship the Beast are those whose names are absent from the Book of Life, but not everyone absent from the Book of Life will worship the Beast?

I. Hyman is critical of Harry Potter and Disney movies because they desensitize people to magic and the occult. She is also critical of martial arts. I tend to recoil from this sort of perspective, since I prefer a Christianity that engages art. Still, Hyman may have a point: Satan tries to influence people through what is pleasing, not always what is obviously ugly.

J. The format of this book was pesher-like. Hyman would quote a verse and comment on it. In some cases, the connection between her interpretation and the verse was unclear: how was she getting from here to there? In certain cases, she perhaps could have made a stronger case for the point she was making. She claimed that the Antichrist will be a homosexual, for example, yet she failed to cite Daniel 11:37, which states that the wicked king will lack a desire for women. I am not saying Daniel 11:37 means that the Antichrist will be a homosexual, for the point there is that the wicked king will be consumed with his own glory, not sexual desire. Still, if Hyman wanted to make the case that she did, one would think that Daniel 11:37 would be cited.

I am giving this book four stars on account of its intriguing interpretations of the Bible, and also because its prose is fairly clear. It could have done a better job, however, in presenting Hyman’s prophetic scenario in a cohesive manner.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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