A divide is developing between adherents to each of your positions, and that does not please our heavenly Father. So I implore you to bear with me as I address some concerns with you. For those of you who do not know me, I am not a come-lately to this debate. I am 77-years of age, and have known the Lord for over 52 years, having published Media Spotlight: A Biblical Analysis of Religious and Secular Media for almost 39 of those years. I know Tom and Jacob, although not intimately, and I can say that I hold both in very high regard. I also knew Dave Hunt, and, although we have had our disagreements concerning eternal security and eschatology, our ministry has carried his books for sale to our readers for many years, and continues to do so.
I feel qualified to address this dispute because I am not in agreement with either of your sides on the issue of eschatology. After studying end-time prophecy for over 25 years, I came to the conclusion that much (but not all) of what is taught on both sides of the pre-trib/post-trib issue has been arrived at via eisegetical reasoning rather than the clear teaching of the Word of God. At this point I will merely say that I am not a preterist; I know the Lord will return bodily to establish His millennial Kingdom. Nor am I mid-trib, at least according to the erroneous understanding to which most mid-trib proponents hold. So please put your minds at ease about that. Just know that my concern is for the Lord and for the brethren who may be adversely affected by this dispute.
My initial concern was raised when I viewed Paul Wilkinson’s message, Israel Betrayed - Part II. I was somewhat shocked by the harsh language that you, Paul, had used toward the men involved in Left Behind or Led Astray? As you recall, I e-mailed you concerning your accusations of heresy, and your use of the term “abominable” for those who disagree with your pre-trib position. Your response was kind, but firm that you stand by the term “heresy,” but perhaps the use of “abominable” was over the top.
In view of Paul’s passionate response to Left Behind or Led Astray? I was concerned that perhaps the message in that video was unloving and harsh as well, and deserved such a strong response. So I purchased the video (agonizing over having to not only watch four-and-a-half hours, but take accurate notes, which would add at least twice the time to watching it uninterrupted). I also re-viewed Israel Betrayed, read Paul’s “rebuttal,” and watched the hour-and-three-quarter response by Joe and Jacob to Israel Betrayed. I’ve done my homework, and now I am asking you to put in much less time to consider what I have to say in this somewhat lengthy letter. I will thank all of you in advance for your kind consideration. Please know that I have prayed earnestly for the Lord to give me the words that would touch your hearts— words of grace, kindness, gentleness, humility and above all, love. If you detect anything other than these, please let me know. I only ask that you not take hard words and directness of phrase as anything other than these. In any case, please keep in mind the words of the Psalmist: “The wounds of a friend are faithful, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
I realize this is a lengthy treatise, so if you think it too long or unworthy of your time, please at least after this section jump to the Conclusion toward the end. If you wish (and I suggest you do), you may at any time read my detailed analysis of the specific points that have exacerbated this dispute. My hope is that you will consider the details because you may not realize or recall everything that has been said.
One point: I do not like the term “rapture.” It is taken from the Latin Vulgate’s raptura. In English the word “rapture” connotes feelings of ecstasy and is subjective. It is rightly ridiculed by those who don’t believe in a literal catching up bodily to meet the Lord in the air. It has nothing to do with being bodily snatched up. Rather, the Greek harpazo should be translated “caught up” or something similar. Even so, to acquiesce to your common usage of the term “rapture,” I will use it here, but with quote marks.
Left Behind or Led Astray? Concerning Left Behind or Led Astray? I found, generally, that Joe Schimmel’s and Joel Richardson’s tone was pretty subdued. Although, of all the men’s statements, I view the most pejorative was Joe calling Thomas Ice “Tim La Haye’s bulldog.” That was totally unnecessary, and could be construed as unloving. Jacob was much more animated, and some might think him angry. But that’s Jacob; he often comes across that way, but I also know that he has a heart for truth and his ministry is one of love to the brethren. Even so, he said nothing unkind about anyone other than Darby and Irving, although he did indict pre-trib proponents with statements such as
Joel Richardson’s comments were relatively benign. There was nothing in what he said that would cause any consternation.
Joe Schimmel’s statement that if post-tribulationists are wrong they’re in a better position than pretribulationists if they are wrong, is unsound, and I can understand why Paul pointed to that as reflecting uncertainty on the part of Joe. Joe’s explanation in his rebuttal of Paul’s comment doesn’t do anything to lessen the impression that he seems uncertain of his position. It’s really not a valid argument anyway. It would have been better not to state such a thing. This may seem minor, and because I disagree with Joe’s post-trib position in the first place, it shouldn’t really concern me. But again, my concern is for the brethren and for the Lord’s truth. An otherwise excellent exposé of the pre-trib position was weakened by that statement. Joe’s interview with Colin Le Noury understandably drew Paul’s ire, considering that the portion was omitted where Colin added that the pre-trib position is drawn from a number of Scriptures. This gave good reason to suspect that Colin’s statement was presented out of context. Joe responded by pointing out that he, himself, stated that Colin made that additional statement. But, Joe, inasmuch as you suspected that omitting Colin’s statement on camera could cause a problem, I believe it would have been wise to have included it. Viewers would not necessarily make the connection between your reference to Colin’s added comments and his comment made seemingly out of context. Evidently Paul didn’t make the connection, so it’s virtually certain that many others didn’t as well. Also, according to Paul, Colin tried over a period of time to demand that you not use the segments that included his comments. If it was in your power to acquiesce to Colin’s demand, I believe you should have done so out of love for the brother. I don’t think your presentation would have suffered for lack of his statements. You could have justifiably said in the video that after being interviewed Colin demanded you not use it, then stated what Colin said, including his qualification that there are other Scriptures to support his position.
That said, Paul, so far no one on the pre-trib side of the issue has produced any of the “other” Scriptures that would prove unequivocally the pre-trib position. That is a weakness on the pre-trib side. Concerning Manuel de Lacunza, the video gives the impression that Lacunza was being deceptive by adopting the name Ephraem [Pseudo-Ephraem]. It does not take into consideration that Lacunza, being a Jesuit priest, might have been risking his frock, if not his life, by challenging the Roman Catholic amillennial eschatology. It’s understandable that he wouldn’t want his real name attached to the document. Even so, Lacunza’s teaching isn’t clearly pre-trib. I consider Lacunza’s writing somewhat cryptic and unreliable for proving any connection to a pre-trib secret rapture. In truth, some familiar with his work describe him as technically “futurist post-tribulational.” Lacunza was primarily concerned with dispelling replacement theology, arguing for a restoration of the Jews to their homeland. In the process he addressed the “rapture,” but primarily to dispel postmillennialism. It would have been better to ignore Lacunza and focus on the important point, often made by Joe Schimmel, et al, that there is no scriptural proof for a pretribulational “rapture.”
It is understandable that Paul would be upset that Joe linked Paul’s pre-trib position with Lacunza. (Joe, you stated that Lacunza wrote in the 19th century, but Lacunza [1731-1801] wrote in the late 18th century [1700s]. Just an aside in case you are challenged on that later in an attempt to discredit your scholarship.)
Also, I don’t believe Joe made a clear connection between Lacunza’s writing and Edward Irving. But he is correct that Irving’s pre-trib teachings preceded Darby, and considering Darby’s early association with Irving, it may reasonably be deduced that Darby learned the pre-trib “rapture” from Irving.
The Roundtable Discussion
One of Paul’s strenuous objections concerned the portrayal of Benjamin Newton with John Darby in the presence of Margaret Macdonald while she was having an ecstatic experience. In the Roundtable Discussion rebuttal to Paul’s message, Jacob took umbrage with Paul, stating that “the film does not say he was there. It doesn’t even state he was present. It just simply states he agreed with Darby that there was something wrong with what this woman was teaching.”
Actually, Paul didn’t say the video said (verbally) that Newton was present, but that the video portrayed Newton present with Darby, which it does. Paul can’t be blamed for pointing that out.
Joe’s explanation of Newton being in the scene with Darby and Macdonald is acceptable, but he should have insisted that the scene be reshot without that extra in there, especially since he suspected that it would cause a problem. He cannot expect viewers to pick up on every nuance about what is said vs. what is portrayed. It is completely understandable that Paul would point out the discrepancy. How was Paul or any of us to know it was an error of casting? Again, Joe’s judgment was lax in allowing the scene to remain as it was after having the discrepancy pointed out to him, as he says in the Roundtable Discussion. There was no need to show anyone with Darby, let alone the same actor who portrayed Newton.
Of more concern is Jacob’s response, continued: “But on that basis—amplifying something the film doesn’t even say—as a basis to discredit us, dishonest and lies, is stupid. He’d be laughed out of any secular court, and out of any serious academic forum.”
Considering Paul’s was an honest response made before hearing Joe’s explanation, I think this was harsh. The word “stupid” even in reference to Paul’s statement, and not Paul himself, is almost as pejorative as Paul’s use of the words “heresy” and “abominable” are in reference to post-trib proponents.
Jacob also made a judgment about Paul that needs to be addressed. Jacob was absolutely correct in saying “Love requires truth” and pointing out that love and truth are not mutually exclusive. But when he added, “And he [Paul] doesn’t have any,” I think it was an overstatement. It’s the same accusation Paul made about Joe, Jacob, and Joel. Certainly Paul and you three have love (although it’s difficult to detect in this debate) and Paul does have truth, but just not in holding so intractably to the pre-trib “rapture” position. I’m sure that’s what Jacob meant to say, but some might misconstrue otherwise.
Jacob challenged Paul to a public debate. I would advise against it. Rather, meet in private, at least at first, with neutral brothers, and present all the Scriptures you have to support your positions. Better yet, drop the argument and embrace each other in love and genuine fellowship, and admit to the brethren at large that you both overreacted to each other’s words because of misunderstandings.
After stating opposition to those who deny the truth of the “rapture” and the common beliefs held by both pre- and post-tribulationists, Jacob asks Paul, “Why are you attacking us?”
It’s obvious why, even if wrongly done so in such a harsh manner. Paul took the video as a personal attack against him and his contemporaries who hold to the pre-trib position. I do believe Paul overreacted and used some inflammatory language that is far more than that of which he accused Joe, Jacob, and Joel. I’d ask Joe, Jacob, and Joel to extend grace to Paul for his overreaction, knowing that the video was a dagger in his heart.
Jacob, your reference to how Jerry Falwell and other pre-trib proponents welcomed Sun Myung Moon with open arms at Liberty Institute was spot on! I recall that event, and wrote a strong article in Media Spotlight about it when it happened. Your warning to pre-tribbers about accepting an anti-Christ, let alone the antiChrist, was also right on. Thanks for reminding us of that. But considering what I know of the mistaken understanding of Scripture that both pre-trib and post-trib proponents hold, the same could be said of posttribbers perhaps to a lesser degree.
Betraying Israel Part II
Paul, I’m afraid my most difficult task is addressing your message. In my e-mail to you I cited only two things: the use of the words “heresy” and “abominable.” But there is much more that concerned me. To begin, you state, “This DVD is damaging, destructive, dangerous, and it is thoroughly dishonest. And it is one of the most abominable Christian DVDs I’ve ever sat through.…It is full of false accusations, unsubstantiated myths, and lies. And you’ve seen the men that are behind this production daring to say that you and I, and the Berean Call, and my home church Hazel Grove, and many ministries in many churches are leading millions of believers into apostasy by preparing the church to meet the Lord Jesus Christ at any moment.”
The DVD is not “thoroughly dishonest.” There were some issues in it with which I take exception as well, but to accuse three good brothers of dishonesty, making false accusations, presenting unsubstantiated myths, and speaking lies, is serious error, especially in view of the fact that you offered no concrete evidence for your claim. The only problems with the video that I can agree with you on concern those I mentioned above. But they do not constitute dishonesty, myths, and lies. Nor were any false accusations made against you or your contemporaries. Almost everything they said in the video about the origins of the pre-trib “rapture” theory, other than what they said about Irving’s alleged connection to Lacunza, can be substantiated. It truly bothers me that you would use such inflammatory language against brothers in Christ. Also, they aren’t accusing you of leading the brethren into apostasy. At the most they contend that the pretrib position leaves the pre-trib brethren open to the possibility of falling into apostasy because such brethren may be confused when confronted by the anti-Christ and begin to suffer tribulation. That’s not an indictment against you or your pre-trib contemporaries.
You also said, “the origin of the pre-tribulation rapture—the belief that the Lord Jesus Christ will come for us His church before the seven-year tribulation begins is found right here in the Word of God. Not with Scofield, not with Darby, not with any historical church leader; right here in the Word of God.” But Paul, you never offered a single verse to substantiate a pre-trib claim. I used to believe in the pre-trib “rapture” when I was a new believer because that was what I learned from brethren I knew at the time. I even bought Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth in bulk and gave them away to people because I thought it was the truth. Then I began studying the Scriptures for myself and I realized that I couldn’t substantiate the pre-trib “rapture,” let alone a secret pre-trib “rapture.”
You said, “The basic premise [of Left Behind or Led Astray?] is that the doctrine of the pre-tribulation ‘rapture’ can be traced back to the so-called prophetic utterance of a 15-year-old Scottish lass called Margaret MacDonald in March, 1830, and that the man that developed that doctrine of the rapture—Edward Irving, John Nelson Darby were present and witnessed Margaret Macdonald giving such an utterance. Number one, the prophetic utterance, so-called, that she gave bears no resemblance whatsoever to a pretribulation rapture.”
Neither Joe, Jacob, Joel, nor anyone they interviewed said that the pre-trib doctrine came from Macdonald. They merely pointed to her as the origin of the secret “rapture” which happens to be held almost exclusively by pre-trib proponents. By adopting the idea of a secret “rapture,” pre-tribbers (inadvertently?) link themselves to Macdonald. This is because there is nothing in Scripture or history prior to her that suggests a secret catching up of the saints.
You were correct that Newton was not in Scotland at the time Nelson was with Macdonald. I hope that Joe’s explanation helps assuage your concern about that. One of your harshest statements was this, regarding the error of showing in the scene an extra who also portrayed Newton: “That fact alone completely undermines the whole credibility of this project because he has not done his research.”
In four-and-a-half hours, I found that there is much valid documentation, some of which I have considered myself in the past. One scene in which a partial view of “Newton’s” beard is evident, and not much more, does not undermine the whole credibility of the video, let alone completely. That overstatement should put your adherents on alert.
You continued with your credentials on Darby, and repeatedly accused the brothers of “outright lies,” “false accusations,” “dishonesty,” “unsubstantiated myths.” Those are serious accusations. You did not prove any o f them, but went on to list the accusations of posttribbers against the pre-trib position. You said that all their claims are not valid. But (and this is a huge “but”) you offered nothing to prove them invalid.
After not giving any evidence to show they were wrong in their assessment of the pre-trib doctrine, you said:
“But there’s other points that I want to bring out because the post-tribulation belief that Joe Schimmel espouses, Joel Richardson, the pre-wrath view that Jacob Prasch espouses: these are heretical views. To teach that the church is going to go through any part of the tribulation period is an abominable thing to teach because it robs believers of the blessedness of the blessed hope. It doesn’t fill believers with joy, and expectancy, and longing; it fills them with fear, it fills them with a kind of militancy—that they’re going to stand against the anti-Christ; they’re going to face the mark of the beast.”
As a non-pre-tribber (and non-post-tribber), I can tell you that I do not live in fear; I am filled with joy and expectancy; I still hold to my blessed hope, which is resurrection in Christ (some, as do the “Three J’s,” say it is Jesus Himself, and I can go with that). You are basing your conclusion on what you have experienced from some weak, unknowledgeable Christians. Those of us who know the Word of God and expect that the Body of Christ will go through tribulation in this world (as promised by our Lord) also expect that the Holy Spirit will be given in such measure that He will cause us to stand. There is no need to fear.
But what about those who learn from you that any teaching that believers will experience any part of the tribulation period is heresy? When great tribulation comes upon them, what will they do? Your message works well in the United States and Canada, but look what’s developing in Europe today, and is already making inroads into the North American continent.
I continue with your message, with my comments interspersed in brackets:
You also state: “This is not a period of time that has been decreed for the church. This is like an inverted form of replacement theology where now the church is being placed in the judgment passages that are for Israel and the nations of the world. What this teaching does is cause the church to pass through a Protestant form of purgatory [That’s reaching]. Because Joe Schimmel will say in this documentary that the church is going to be purified during this tribulation period so that she is ready to meet the bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s a lie. There is nothing in Scripture that supports that claim. Now is the time to get ready. [Agreed] The Lord Jesus Christ has taken the wrath that was upon us, Paul writes in Ephesians 2. If “that’s a lie,” then the apostle Paul lied when he said Jesus would present to Himself an ecclesia without spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Eph 5:27). The context is holy living and submission to one another in love and sound doctrine (the washing with the water of the Word). The spots and wrinkles in the ecclesia are the false brethren, false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, who would lead us into false doctrine and works of the flesh:
These are spots in your feasts of charity when they eat with you, feeding themselves without fear. They are clouds without water, carried around by winds; trees whose fruit withers; without fruit; twice dead; plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea foaming out their own shame; wandering stars to whom the blackness of darkness is reserved forever. (Jude 12-13).
But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they do not understand, and shall utterly perish in their own corruption, and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasurable to riot in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, reveling themselves with their own deceiving while they feast with you—having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: a heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children that have forsaken the right way, and have gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness but was rebuked for his iniquity, the mute donkey speaking with a man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a storm, to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. (2 Pe 2:12-17)
[Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ has taken the wrath that was upon us. But tribulation is not wrath; it is testing and purifying, not destructive. He has taken upon Himself our wrath individually, but the Body of Christ corporately must be purified of the spots and wrinkles and all imperfection in order to be presented to Him as a chaste member (along with the faithful Israelites and their proselytes prior to Christ’s first coming) of the Bride (New Jerusalem). The Body of Christ is likened to a bride in some Scriptures, but it is not the Bride of the Lamb; it will be part of the Bride. Cleansing comes through persecution, and it’s only fitting that the final cleansing comes through persecution by the final anti-Christ. But again, He will give us grace to endure if we must.]
No, today, right now, we’re being encouraged to long for His appearing: the bride making herself ready. Why should—and my pastor’s wife has made this statement; wonderful wisdom from the Lord—why should the final generation of the church have to pass through a period of time that the church of 2000 years has not had to pass through in order to be purified?
[The Body of Christ throughout history has suffered tribulation. Jesus promised us tribulation and suffering if our faith is genuine; there is no promise of escape from these things. There is only the promise that He will make a way through them, and/or we may be able to flee from them (if by His will we are not destined for the sword).]
The church is the church of all ages. Why should this generation—if we’re the last generation— why should we have to pass through this particular period and face this unique testing? [It’s not unique except in its timing and the source of the persecution.] No, our brothers and sisters in Christ are being tested right now in the most unbelievable, horrific circumstances in parts of this world. Not so much here in the United States, and not in the United Kingdo
[Wait; Islam is coming for you.]
But finally, most seriously, this teaching that puts the church through part or all of the tribulation period robs Almighty God of His glory. For He alone will be the Savior of Israel; He is not going to get a helping hand from the church. [Who says He is?] And that’s what many post-tribulationists teach. “We’ve got to be there for Israel.”
No, we’re here for Israel right now with the Gospel when we have opportunity, and in our prayers, and in our faithful exposition of God’s Word. We will not have our fingerprints—as my pastor says—on God’s glory.
[Nobody is saying we will have our fingerprints on God’s glory. But God does use men to advance His purposes, and lauds the faithful. That’s what His rewards are about.] Post-tribulationism, any form of tribulationism that places the church in that period of God’s wrath being outpoured upon the earth is a terrible heresy in the church.
[Again with the “heresy” accusation.]
The Lord Jesus is longing to be with His Bride. And therefore He expects that the Bride in turn will be longing to be with the Bridegroom…. A few years ago, on this platform, I sh ared a message entitled “The Spirit and the Bride say ‘come’.” And that’s how the Bible ends, with the Spirit—the Holy Spirit—and the Bride—the church—saying to the Lord Jesus, “Come.” [You quote the Revelation passage that reve als New Jerusalem as the Bride of the Lamb, but then apply it to the “church.” There is no such thing as “the church.” There is only Israel into which the gentiles have been grafted through faith in Israel’s Messiah. Jesus made His New Covenant with Judah and Israel–not with “the church.”]
Joe Schimmel, and those alongside him who are involved in that production, that’s not what’s coming out of their heart.
[You are judging their hearts? Dear brother, that’s a serious error (dare I call it “sin”?). Say you believe that’s not what’s coming across by their words. But don’t say that’s not what’s coming out of their hearts.] That’s not what you’re hearing throughout this documentary. It’s all about what we must do in readiness, not for the Lord Jesus Christ, but for the anti-Christ.
[You make it sound as if they are longing for the anti-Christ rather than for Jesus. You know that’s not true. These are careless words that I hope you didn’t mean.]
And it’s a terrible deception. And it puts fear in people—creates confusion, robs the Bride of Christ in part of her joy, takes, steals the hope of the Blessed Hope, and causes, ultimately, many in the church not to be ready for that most glorious day.…You will not hear these men talk about their love for Jesus. You’ll not see the tears fall down their cheeks. They will speak of the coming of the Lord very academically and very intellectually, but where’s the heart?
[Again judging their hearts. Their message was academic, yes, but have you never spoken academically or at times without shedding tears?]
Where is the love; where is the longing? You see, it’s not there. And one of the reasons it’s not there is because they’re not pastors. They’ve not been called to take care of the flock.
[Joe Schimmel has been a pastor for years. Jacob does oversee a number of assemblies. But even so, do you think that only pastors care for God’s people? Only pastors of establishment churches care for the body of Christ? How is that going, today? Neither was Dave Hunt a pastor, but you accept that he cared for the Body of Christ. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think Tom MacMahon is a pastor?]
Tom, you didn’t have much to say at the end, but I am concerned about some of what you did say: You know, we’ve been talking about this. Those who have not a love of the truth—Second Thessalonians—God will send strong delusion. You just wonder why, when it should be so obvious from the clear teaching of Scripture. But once you have an agenda—once you begin to impose your own ideas, your own views—God says, “Okay, but you’re not going to produce fruit. And it’s going to lead to more problems, self-destruction, all of the above.
[You have accused these three good brothers of not having a love of the truth, citing a Scripture that is clearly aimed at false brothers. What is obvious from the clear teaching of Scripture—the pre-trib “rapture”? With all the objections to this video, no one has shown any clear teaching of Scripture to refute it or to prove the pre-trib “rapture.” Do you think, Tom, that you, Paul and other pre-trib proponents might have your own agenda?
[You intractably cling even to the secret aspect of the theory. I believe these men have produced much good fruit. Of course the Lord is the ultimate judge, but knowing what I do of them I would count them as true, not false, brothers. I would say the same about you, Tom. I love you, and am concerned that Berean Call will be harmed by such an intractable stance, especially utilizing such unkind, harsh words against the Lord’s servants.]
[I see that in the current The Berean Call you reprinted an article by Dave affirming his belief in the pre-trib “rapture.” At the end you included testimonials by various respected brothers to bolster that position. Dave’s understanding of the so-called Great Tribulation is Dispensationalist, and I don’t fault him for misunderstanding just what the Great Tribulation really is. I asked that you read my book, The Day of Yahweh, but you indicated to me that you do not wish to do so. Thus, I will leave it at that. Only know that you are missing something vital, and are harshly judging brothers who do not agree with you. As far as testimonials go, they are men’s opinions. There are testimonials to back every kind of belief, true and false. Testimonials do not hold the weight of Scripture, which, in spite of the harsh condemnation of these posttrib brothers, pre-trib proponents seem incapable of providing to unequivocally prove their point.]
Brothers, if you have read through my detailed analysis of the dispute, I fear I may have gone beyond the limits of your patience. I don’t think it’s necessary to address Paul’s “rebuttal” (there’s nothing sufficiently different from his message at the Berean Call conference to warrant more of your time), other than to say that denial is not “rebuttal.” A true rebuttal at least attempts to prove one’s position as being right and/or the opposing position in error. I saw no such attempt, Paul. All you did was deny what was presented in the video.
In summary of the detailed analysis, please consider the following (I will remind you that I disagree with much of both your positions):
I saw in Left Behind or Led Astray? nothing unloving or harsh toward those true brothers who hold the pretribulational “rapture” position. The harsh words were for Irving, Darby, and Macdonald, but in addressing the major proponents of pre-trib such as La Haye, Lindsey, et al, assertions and facts were stated with little or no emotion, and many of those assertions are proved true by much documented evidence. The only hint of harshness on the part of the post-trib brothers was Jacob’s use of the term “stupid” to describe Paul’s reaction to Left Behind or Led Astray? and accusing Paul of not having any truth or love in reaction to Paul’s same accusations against Joe, Jacob, and Joel.
Paul, you gave some of the best information on the portions of Israel Betrayed that I have heard anyone give regarding that subject. Bravo! But I believe you overreacted to the video, using terms that can only be described as unloving, accusing the brothers of “outright” lying, deceit, heresy, and misrepresentation, among other things. You also (first) accused them of not having any truth or love, while judging their hearts and demeaning their scholarship. (Not that I consider scholarship any great shakes; scholars disagree on everything depending on where they learned what they came to believe.) All this was done without offering any definitive proof from Scripture or history to defend your position.
There were parts of Left Behind or Led Astray? That can legitimately be challenged, and Joe erred in how he handled four specific things: 1) the portrayal of the actor who played the part of Benjamin Newton in the scene with the actor who played the part of John Darby observing Margaret Macdonald’s ecstatic utterances; 2) the attempt to link Irving to Lacunza was weak at best, and not really conclusive, thus better left out; 3) the inclusion of Colin Le Noury’s interview, which Colin requested not be included; 4) the omitting of Colin’s statement that the pre-trib position is drawn from many Scriptures (although Joe did mention that he said words to that effect).
Tom, your defense of Paul’s attack against these brothers saddens me. You also accused them of not having a love of the truth and for that reason God will send them “strong delusion.” That suggests that God will damn them. Why? Because they don’t agree with your pre-trib position. Think about that. Is that not cultic? Only those who believe in a pre-trib “rapture” will be saved? Now, I know you don’t believe that, but that’s how your words came across. You also charged them with not producing fruit. This, too, was not only unloving, but a patent falsehood.
The detailed analysis above covers many, but not all, of my concerns, and this conclusion is purposely abbreviated. I could say much more.
I’m sticking out my neck for all of you who are so passionate about your positions by suggesting that both pre-trib and post-trib proponents misunderstand some important Scriptural truths. I do so in order to convince you that I am truly objective in my assessment of your dispute.
One misunderstanding concerns Matthew 24:40-41 (one will be taken and one left). This is not referring to the “rapture.” The context is judgment
“But as the days of Noah were, so also shall be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away. So also the coming of the Son of Man shall be.
“Then two will be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
“Watch therefore, because you do not know what hour your Lord will come.
At the very least, one cannot be dogmatic that this is a reference to the “rapture.”
The other common mistake is calling the “church” the Bride of Christ, especially when referencing Rev. 19. The Bride of Christ is not “the church.” The Bride is New Jerusalem, and she will not be made ready until after the Millennium. Pastors don’t prepare the Bride; the Father does. You all rightly denounce replacement theology, but you believe there is something other than Israel called “the church.” I will remind you that the Body of Christ is made up of ancient and future faithful Israelites and Gentiles, the latter grafted into Israel via the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood, made with Judah and Israel (Jer 33:33; Heb 8:8). The word “church” is an invalid, hierarchically invented term for the Greek ecclesia—“called out.” You all know this. But by believing there is something other than Israel, called “the church” during this time of the Gentiles (the time for them to be brought into Israel before Jesus restores the nation), both of your eschatologies suffer. You cannot truly understand eschatology without first understanding the truth that the New Covenant was made only with Israel and Judah
Another common mistake has to do with the term “great tribulation.” To deal with this took almost a chapter in my book, so I’ll just say that there is no such thing called “THE” Great Tribulation. Jesus spoke of “great tribulation” twice. Matthew 24:21 had to do with Jacob’s Trouble which began in AD 67 and ended in AD 70, to commence again at the end of the age of the Gentiles for the second half of Daniel’s 70th “seven.” Revelation 2:22 was a warning to the assembly in Thyatira that those who committed adultery with Jezebel would be cast into great tribulation. This may be a type of what will happen to believers in the last days who love the world more than Christ, but it was first specific to Thyatira at that time.
Revelation 7:14 addresses “people of all nations, kindreds, people, and languages, who have come out of great tribulation and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” These are not just Jews during the time of Jacob’s Trouble, which comes later.
There is no specific time frame for the “great tribulation” of which Jesus spoke. It is assumed by both preand post-tribbers that “great tribulation” means the last “week” of Daniel’s 70 “weeks” (more properly “sevens”), and that all seven years are still future. They are not one and the same except for Matthew 24 where Jesus was warning His disciples of what was coming upon Jerusalem and the temple in which they were standing at the time. He was warning of the first half of Daniel’s 70th “seven” which would end with the taking away of the sacrifices in AD 70. He was speaking prophetically, not historically chronologically when He said He would come “immediately” after the tribulation of those days.” He will come for His saints in the “rapture” before the second half of Daniel’s 70th 7 commences.
You would have to read my book to fully understand what I am saying, and I would be blessed to send it to all of you if you’d care to read it.
Finally, let me share with you something the Lord showed me when I was compiling my book, The Day of Yahweh: A Biblical Eschatology with a Study in the Book of Revelation. I’m sure at least some of you are aware of these, but may need reminding.
1) There is a difference between prophetic history and chronological human history. For example, we know there is a gap in time between Daniel’s 69th “seven” when Messiah was killed, and the 70th “seven” that begins Jacob’s Trouble. Prophecy centers on Israel, and particularly Jerusalem. Yet Daniel’s prophecy reads as a continuous fulfillment. A clue: There is a gap between the first half of Daniel’s 70th “seven” when the sacrifices are cut off, and the second half which will end with the Lord delivering Israel out of suffering under the anti-Christ (Romans 11:25-26). That gap is the time for the Gentiles to be grafted into Israel; it is not part of Daniel’s prophecy.
2) When Scripture speaks of princes and kings of nations involved with Israel, it is not merely referring to men, but primarily to spiritual principalities over those men and nations. That’s why we cannot assume that prophetic history concerning these kings and princes is chronological according to human history. It rests on prophetic history. That is why it seems as if the same person is active across centuries.
3) Many events that both post- and pre-tribbers are expecting to occur as signs of anti-Christ and the return of Christ are in the past, many are in the future. Preterists have correctly identified some things as in the past, but they err in assuming that this means nothing—especially in the Book of Revelation—is yet future. A correct understanding can be achieved only by men setting aside their presuppositions based on the particular theological disciplines they have learned, and being willing to look at things in a new light, totally surrendered to the Lord and unconcerned with how they will be looked upon by the vast majority of misguided adherents to the popular eschatologies of the day.
I fully realize that you are all heavily invested in your teachings, and I would be amazed if any of you were willing to turn away from the eschatology you hold, even if you see the truth in what I have written. That’s between you and our Lord. I make no demands (nor can I; who am I to do so?). I would be blessed just to have you consider what I have to say as possibly true.
Now, please bear with me as I reveal a bit more about myself, as I feel this may be important to whether or not you consider my opinion of any worth.
When I first formed Media Spotlight Ministries in 1977, I asked a trusted and good friend if he thought I should go to Bible school or seminary and work toward a doctorate in order to enhance my credibility. He holds both a PhD and a ThD, and was at the time a professor at a Christian College. His advice was not to do so because I would become frustrated by the insistence that I hold the views of the particular school or fail. I would end up compromising my integrity in order to succeed, or drop out from that frustration. That good friend is Dr. Bob Simonds who founded Citizens for Excellence in Education and National Association of Christian Educators, with the intent of influencing public schools with a biblical ethic. His years of labor had many successes, but overall we know that public education is Satan’s playground. He is now 90-years of age and no longer active in those organizations. And here’s something important: he is a dispensationalist.
In spite of that disagreement we love each other and speak kindly to one another. I can say the same of Jay Grimstead the founder of Coalition on Revival, which has leanings (although not fully in the camp) towards Christian Reconstruction (which came out of Reformed Theology and amillennialism). Jay is not, to my knowledge amillennial himself, but has worked to instill a biblical ethic within society. Bob, Jay, and I are at odds on some things that I consider very serious, but we genuinely love each other and would never treat one another in the manner I have observed in this pre-trib/post-trib dispute. In spite of my even having published a strong criticism of Coalition on Revival, Jay Grimstead has always been gracious toward me.
Today I am thankful that Bob Simonds dissuaded me from seeking a theological degree, and that the Lord has taught me from His Word. Over many years He has allowed me to fellowship with other good brothers from whom I have learned as well, yet testing all things by God’s Word. So I will tell you now that I hold no degrees after my name except HSD.
You can figure that out for yourselves. And you can take or leave anything or everything I’ve said in this lengthy letter. But my prayer is that you will be touched in your hearts to apologize to one another (even if you feel you have done nothing wrong, but have been misjudged), in order to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. And by all means, make your apologies public without trying to defend your positions. Remembering what 1 Cor 13 is all about, the first one of you to issue a public apology—regardless of how the others respond—will be most favored by our precious Lord.
I humbly submit this request to you in the love of Jesus Christ, our Great Redeemer, and I beg your forgiveness if I have inadvertently injured you by my difficult words.
In Jesus’ love,
Albert James Dager (Just plain Al to you)
Editor & Publisher