Chief Concern: The Lack of Preparation that Pretrib Engenders


 Earlier this year, arising from the 2015 release of the video documentary “Left Behind or Led Astray” which chronicled the history and origin of the Pretribulational Rapture Teaching; Pretrib Research Centre Director Dr Thomas Ice, on the Berean Call radio show, on the basis of his own interpretation of 2 Thess. 2:3, publicly challenged Pastor Joe Schimmel for the $10,000 offered in the documentary to anyone who could find a biblical text clearly supporting a pretribulational timing for the Rapture event. This challenge initiated an informal debate between pastor Joe Schimmel of Blessed Hope Chapel and himself concerning the subject of Dr Ice’s contention that the apostasia in 2 Thess. 2:3 refers not to a departure from the faith, but a spatial departure into Heaven, namely the Rapture.

Subsequent to this, Dr Ice issued a formal challenge to Pastor Schimmel to formally and publicly debate Pretrib history and origins at the upcoming Pretrib Research Group Prophecy Conference in December 2016. Dr Ice had already selected Dr Paul Wilkinson as a debate partner, and Pastor Schimmel chose bible expositor Jacob Prasch, while at the same time issuing a counter challenge that the scriptural basis for the Pretrib Rapture should also be debated as well. After negotiation it was agreed that there should be two debates: one to discuss Pretrib history and origins; and another to deal with the scriptural issues and concerns.

Dr Ice is one of the foremost and most zealous exponents of the Pretribulational Rapture teaching on the prophecy circuit today, he is also Director of the Pretrib Research Centre, an organisation devoted to defending and promoting the Pretribulational Rapture Teaching, so considering that his debate challenge was issued with such an air of confidence we were somewhat saddened and disappointed to receive a communication from Dr Ice shortly afterward stating the following:

“After prayer and consulting with my board of directors, we have decided to withdraw any debate offer and will not participate in any debates at all. We will deal with these issues in a different way.”

Dr Ice’s withdrawal from the very debate he himself proposed, and indeed his subsequent refusal to enter into any future such thing raises questions, but as pastors, bible expositors and concerned believers we see this refusal as part of an ongoing and ever-growing trend of concerns about the teachings and activities of the Pretribulational Rapture Movement and which are generating ever increasing alarm, and we present some of these below for prayerful consideration of the wider body of Christ.

Our Chief Concern: The Lack of Preparation that Pretrib Engenders.

The Pretrib Teaching Leaves Saints Unprepared For What is Coming And Disarms Them In The Face Of The Enemy.

The Lord Jesus and the Apostles warned in the most explicit manner of the distress that would come upon the world, particularly during the latter half of the Seventieth Week of Daniel, and what the ramifications of these things would be for His Church.

However, on the basis of a recent teaching, (that even their foremost scholars acknowledge of their own selves they are not able to find clearly taught anywhere in Scripture) pretribulational teachers seem willing to cast the unambiguous and explicit words of Jesus and the Apostles behind their back and instead proclaim that we should ” . . . . be at peace in the knowledge that the Lord has not destined us to endure any part of the Tribulation.” ii

As concerned believers in the Lord Jesus, in concert with the earliest historical witnesses in direct line from the Apostles, we recognise that these warnings were given as part of the Apostolic deposit of faith to the Church and intended for our instruction and as a most necessary warning from the Lord Himself to prepare His saints for what is to come. Now, especially in light of the ever darkening prophetic scenario, we must state above all our other concerns, that we believe the Pretribulational Rapture Teaching embodies a clear and present danger to the saints, for it sets aside these warnings as irrelevant for the Church and ultimately it will leave believers completely unprepared to face unprecedented spiritual deception, and a level of persecution not previously encountered in the history of the Church.

In the Olivet Discourse Jesus warns repeatedly of massive spiritual deception being perpetrated against the saints during and around the Tribulation period; a deception that will include miraculous signs and wonders, to deceive even the elect if they allow themselves to be vulnerable. This warning is reiterated also in many other places.iii The Pretribulational Rapture Teaching, by deriding any expectation of the saints possibly being present through the Seventieth Week, leaves its adherents ill-equipped to face a veritable avalanche of sign, wonder and miracle-backed spiritual deception and false prophets which will assail believers during that time. Not only so but leading Pretrib voices, Dr Thomas Ice, Dr Paul Wilkinson,iv Wayne House and others are even removing the notion that there will even be an end-time apostasy at all by promoting the idea that the word ἀποστασία in 2 Thess. 2:3, (“Let no man deceive you by any means, that day shall not come except there come the Apostasy first and the Man of Lawless be revealed the son of perdition.”) refers not to a falling away or departing from the faith, but to a departing to heaven.v 2 Thess. 2:3 is a clear corollary to Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse, particularly vv. 10-13. This notion is a serious false teaching, yet it was aired on Berean Call Radio, vi without any comment or demurring from host T. A. McMahon, either during the broadcast or since and it is now being promoted by Berean Call in their re-publication of Dr Wilkinson’s book.

The 70th Week is also described as a period where the Dragon will make his war on the saints. No soldier would wish to be sent into a combat zone without any training and with no idea of what to expect, yet this is the position in which the Pretrib Rapture teaching will place untold multitudes of God’s people.

Pretrib Engenders a False Hope.

The teaching that the Church will be absent from the Seventieth Week against the overwhelming testimony of Scripture, presents the precious flock of God with a false hope, a delusion that discourages the saints from preparing spiritually and mentally now for what may well come upon us even in our own generation as we accelerate towards the consummation of this age. We believe that in effect it casts a stumblingblock before thesaints of God which may cause many to fall when difficulties arise and this lying hope is shattered by 70th week realities. We are deeply concerned that on this basis the Pretribulational Rapture Teaching will actually be a contributory factor in the prophesied “falling away of many” during the 70th week. Dr Paul Wilkinson complains that non-Pretribulation teaching frightens the flock:

“I just 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 have to stand against the Antichrist, they have to face the Mark of the Beast. I have spoken at Churches in England where people have been in fear how they are going to get through the Tribulation, how their children are going to get through the Tribulation. Will they be strong enough to resist the Mark of the Beast when it comes. Praise God the Lord uses many of us to bring freedom and release from that kind of teaching..”

Our great concern about this statement, is that this kind of “release” this false hope, is only that of the drunk who uses alcohol to “make it all go away”, but the problems are still there the morning after. The Tribulation is still coming, ready or not. We believe that the only solution for the fear about the days that are coming upon us, is not the hallucinogenic of an escapist teaching, but to preach trust in our wonderful Almighty God whose grace is entirely sufficient and whose strength is made perfect in our weakness, and to preach a discipleship that counts everything loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and that exhorts us to seek God for gracenot to love our own lives unto the death, but to forsake all for Him.

The Elevation of the “teaching” and its Contribution to an Environment of Hostility

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