The 2010 Pre-Trib Study Group Conference
Dr. Thomas Ice
The 2010 Pre-Trib Study Group Conference was another great conference. Our nineteenth annual meeting took place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. The highlight for many was the banquet that featured Dr. David Larsen and his thoughtful challenge to take more seriously the implications of our Lord’s any-moment return. Larsen stirred our spirits as he laid out the practical features of the Blessed Hope. About half the papers dealt with the issue of Replacement Theology. Here is an overview of what took place at the conference.
Dr. Tim LaHaye opened the conference by welcoming all to the conference. Dr. David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries gave a rousing paper: “An Evaluation of the Muslim Antichrist Theory.” Reagan refuted a recent notion that the Antichrist will be a Muslim by laying out the clear biblical evidence that he will be from the Revived Roman Empire. The Bible does not specifically anticipate Islam or a Muslim Antichrist.
Dr. Mike Vlach, Assistant Professor of Theology at The Master’s Seminary in California was our second presenter on Monday. His paper was on “An Analysis of Neo-Replacement Theology.” Vlach, who is a specialist on replacement theology, having written his PhD dissertation on the subject, dealt with the increasing trend of Evangelicals who articulate replacement theology but deny that they hold such views. He concluded the following: “I remain convinced that while a full range of terms should be used, the titles ‘Replacement Theology’ and ‘Supersessionism’ are still appropriate titles for the view that the church is the new or true Israel” (p. 12).
Monday afternoon’s papers started with Dr. H. Wayne House and his paper, “Premillennialism in the Ante-Nicene Church: Why the Divide in the Early Church on Chiliasm?” Dr. House demonstrates in his paper that the source for anti-premillennialism came from Alexandria in North Africa, the clear source of allegorical interpretation. However, in Asia Minor, the place where the Apostle John received the Revelation, there was virtually no dissent from Premillennialism for the first few centuries of the church. “While the Church looked to the Scriptures and the apostolic word, it remained true to the premillennial understanding of eschatology,” notes House. “But when its eyes strayed to philosophies contrary to Scripture, as well as social and cultural events and changes, it strayed. The same can be said for us today” (p. 17)!
Monday’s final paper was delivered by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum on “Replacement Theology and the Epistle of 1 Peter.” Since 1 Peter has a number of references from the Old Testament that refer to Israel and they are used in 1 Peter, many Evangelicals argue that such terminology means that the church has become the New Israel in the New Testament. Fruchtenbaum demonstrates that all of the General Epistles were written to Jewish Believers, who are the Remnant from the Old Testament during the Church Age. Thus, the use of Old Testament Jewish terminology in 1 Peter does not mean that the church has replaced Israel, instead it is a reference to Jewish believers within the New Testament Church. 1 Peter teaches that New Testament Jewish believers have received the fullness of what the Old Testament promises in Christ.
Our Monday evening banquet was a wonderful time for all attending. Music for the evening was provided by Jerry Williams of EPIC (Exiles Pardoned In Christ) Ministries located in Houston, Texas. Williams was well-received by the audience. Dr. Thomas Ice served as the master of ceremonies.
What many considered to be the highlight of the entire conference was the elegant challenge from Dr. David Larsen of Trinity Divinity School of Chicago. Dr. Larsen spoke of the contemporary attacks on pretribulationism within Evangelicalism and encouraged us to remain strong under these assaults and to counter them with verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible. Pretribulationism has always flourished under when Bible exposition is practiced. Dr. Larsen charged our group to continue to proclaim the great Blessed Hope that Christ has given us until we hear His shout.
Tuesday morning began with a devotional message from Dr. Stan Toussaint, a professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary. He challenged us with a message about living for the Lord in light of His possible return at any-moment.
The first presenter of the day was Dr. Paul Wilkinson, a British scholar from England who spoke about “Prophets Who Prophesy Lies in My Name: Christian Palestinianism and the anti-Israel Crusade.” Dr. Wilkinson provided evidence about a growing movement within liberal Christian circles of those who are not only replacing Israel with the church, but are replacing Israel with pro-Palestinianism. Many of these advocates are found in America, Great Britain, and ministers in many churches in Israel. These people espouse some of the strongest anti-Israel rhetoric as they attempt to defame Christians who support Israel.
Dr. Andy Woods was the second presenter on Tuesday morning and his paper was entitled, “A Futurist Response to the Preterist Interpretation of Babylon in Revelation 17—18.” Dr. Woods, who wrote his PhD dissertation on this topic, rebutted the false preterist notion that Babylon referred to Jerusalem in the first century a.d. As throughout the Bible hundreds of times, Babylon means Babylon, even in Revelation. Dr. Woods handled specific arguments put forth by preterists by demonstrating that the biblical text contradicts their views. Dr. Woods concluded that, “the preterist Jerusalem position is fraught with so many difficulties that it remains the least preferable or least probable option in comparison to the remaining competing positions” (p. 40).
The third presentation of the day was by our banquet speaker Dr. David Larsen who spoke on “The Critical Nexus of the Two-Stage Parousia.” Dr. Larsen said, “My objective this afternoon is to advance the evidence and argue the case for a two-stage Parousia” (p. 1). Dr. Larsen demonstrated the need for a two-phased return of Christ—the rapture before the tribulation and Christ’s return to the earth after the tribulation. Dr. Larsen also emphasized the ethical implications that are tied to the any-moment rapture, which links godly living with the prospect of His sudden call.
The last presentation for Tuesday was by Dr. Mike Stallard of Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, PA on “The Certainty of Prophetic Language.” This presentation was designed to counter the ever-growing belief within Evangelical academia that prophetic portions of Scripture employ a special kind of language that is less clear than other sections of the Bible. Dr. Stallard admonished us as follows: “We should follow our literal hermeneutic and let God lead us where He wants us to go, even when interpretation is difficult. In the end, we will find that meaning is more certain than many want to admit, even when God’s sovereignly designed end-time events are in view” (p. 13).
We then had our traditional Tuesday evening session dealing with current events and Bible prophecy. This time included some excellent information about what is going on in this world as we are moving toward the time of the tribulation at a dizzying pace. The four presenters were Dr. Jimmy DeYoung of Prophecy Today Ministry (www.jimmydeyoung.gospelcom.net/pp), Dr. Randall Price of Liberty University and World of the Bible Ministries (www.worldofthebible.com), Dr. David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries, and Bill Koenig, a White House correspondent and head of World Watch International news agency (www.watch.org).
These men provided their take on various aspects of geo-political trends, especially those impacting Israel. This year the focus was primarily on the amazing free-fall of our nation into socialism, or more accurately fascism since it refers to when the private sector owns things, but the government controls the economy. The other major concern relates to relates to when will Israel likely have to bomb Iran and the fall-out from that event. Dr. Price gave an interesting presentation on his efforts to find Noah’s Ark, which would be the greatest archeological find in the history of the world.
The final two presentations of the conference took place on Wednesday morning. Dr. Barry Horner spoke on “Territorial Supercessionism: A Response to Gary Burge.” Burge teaches at Wheaton College and is typical of a current Evangelical trend to say that somehow in the New Testament Jesus fulfills the land promises given to Israel in the Old Testament, even though there is not one shred of the New Testament that actually says that. Dr. Horner concludes as follows: “Not only in the consummate future will Israel be saved as a nation, but as a consequence the Jewish people will dwell safely in the land under the righteous reign of Messiah (Rom. 11:26; cf. Is. 60:21; 61:7; Ezek. 34:11-16; 36:22-36; 37:11-14, 21-25; Amos 9:13-15; Zech. 14:9-11)” (p. 39).
Our last presentation was delivered by Dr. Manfred Kober on “No Tri-centennial for America?” Dr. Kober’s presentation was primarily an overview of what the future holds for Americans and the rest of the world. Dr. Kober summarized the biblical teaching on the rapture, the tribulation, the second coming, the millennium, the great White throne judgement, and the eternal state. His paper was a great conclusion to a great conference.
One can download a form to purchase a MP3 audio CD or DVD videos of the entire conference at our Pre-Trib website. Next year’s conference is scheduled for the Dallas/Fort Worth area, December 5–7, 2011, unless the rapture occurs first. Maranatha!
 Dr. Reagan’s web site: www.lamblion.com. His paper is at http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/an-evaluation-of-the-muslim-antichrist-theory.
 Michael J. Vlach, Has The Church Replaced Israel? A Theological Evaluation (Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2010).
 Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s web site: www.ariel.org. His paper is at http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/replacement-theology-and-the-epistle-of-peter.
 Dr. Larsen’s website: http://www.tiu.edu/divinity/academics/faculty/larsen.
 Dr. Toussaint’s website: http://www.dts.edu/about/profiles/Stanley_D_Toussaint.
 Dr. Wilkinson does not have a website, nor did he provide a paper. He did a PowerPoint presentation, which cannot be posted on the internet.
 Dr. Larsen’s paper is at http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/the-critical-nexus-of-the-two-stage-parousia.