The 2011 Pre-Trib Study Group Conference
Dr. Thomas Ice
The 2011 Pre-Trib Study Group Conference was our 20th conference, which focused solely on our Lord’s coming for His Church, was a tremendous occasion. Our anniversary meeting took place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. The highlight for many was the banquet that featured Dr. Ed Hindson and his rousing charge concerning our Lord’s any-moment return. Even though Dr. Tim LaHaye was not able to attend, the Lord blessed us with a good turnout and a splendid time of fellowship. Here is an overview of what took place at the conference.
Dr. Thomas Ice opened the conference by welcoming all to the conference and had the members introduce themselves, their ministry and where they were from. Dr. Ice of the Pre-Trib Research Ministry and also newly called as Pastor-Teacher, Church Planter at Community Bible Church of Omaha, NE gave a paper entitled: “An Overview of The Rapture in Church History.” Even though it is enough that the Bible teaches pretribulationism, Ice provided evidence of a number of rapture advocates before the nineteenth century. He told how a few more advocates were found in the last year or so.
Dr. John Hart, Professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago was our second presenter Monday morning. His paper was on “A Defense of the Rapture in the Olivet Discourse.” Dr. Hart, who had written his PhD dissertation on this subject at Grace Theological Seminary in the 1980s, did an excellent job stating and defending his views on this matter. Even though I do not agree with this position, it is nevertheless a widely held view within the pre-trib community and needed to be addressed. A spirited discussion was engaged in during the Q and A session. Our gathering appears to be about half for this view and half opposed.
Monday afternoon’s papers started with Dr. Paul Wilkinson, a British scholar from the Manchester, England area who spoke about “The Rapture and Evangelism.” Dr. Wilkinson demonstrated the connection between belief in pretribulationism and a zeal for evangelism of the lost. Dr. Wilkinson included the amazing story of how God’s grace, proclaimed through the evangelical chaplain (Henry Gerechke) during the Nuremberg trial of many Nazi leaders, led to the last-minute conversion of war criminal Joachim von Ribbentrop. Dr. Wilkinson pressed upon us the biblical urgency to proclaim the gospel in light of Christ’s imminent return.
Monday’s final paper was delivered by Dr. Timothy Demy on “The History of American Pretribulationism.” Dr. Demy’s presentation was a tour de force of great Americana. He documented the early trips by J. N. Darby and other brethren and their influence upon American evangelical leaders like James Hall Brookes in relation to the spread of the pre-trib rapture. While such a paper was too short to include every source and influence, I thought one of the most enlightening sections was on the Jesus Movement of the 1970s and their music. Looking back as one who participated in some of those events, the rapture was a prominent doctrine and hope that was believed strongly and sung about frequently during those days. If you lived through those days who can forget the late Larry Norman and “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”?
The Monday evening banquet was an exciting time for all attending. Music for the evening was provided by Chuck Girard, former lead singer of one of the first Jesus Rock groups of the early ‘70s called Love Song. Girard sang some of that rapture music from the 70s as we all realized that even in the 21st century Christ is our Blessed Hope. Dr. Ice served as the master of ceremonies as we commemorated our 20th anniversary.
A highlight was the bestowment of the John F. Walvoord award upon Dr. Robert Thomas, retired professor from The Master’s Seminary and, for the first time, upon an organization, Harvest House Publishing Company. Bob Hawkins, Jr., the head of Harvest House was present to receive the award. The award read as follows: “In recognition of a lifetime of faithfulness to God by engaging in the study, proclamation and defense of His prophetic word.” Both are well deserving of this award.
Dr. Ed Hindson distinguished professor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA and the speaker on “The King is Coming” television show was our keynote speaker for the evening. Dr. Hindson spoke on “Will The Pre-trib Rapture Survive The 21st Century.” He encouraged us to be engaged and active on behalf of the Lord until he takes us home or takes us to be with Him.
Tuesday morning began with a devotional message from Dr. Mark Bailey, a professor of Bible Exposition and the President at Dallas Theological Seminary. He demonstrated God’s amazing providence in the oversight of when and where Jesus the Messiah was born. Dr. Bailey’s message was a great way to start Tuesday morning.
The first presenter on Tuesday morning was Dr. David Hocking of Hope for Today Ministry. He spoke on the topic of “The Rapture in the Book of Revelation.” He spoke primarily about the 24 elders and how they support pretribulationism.
Dr. Andy Woods was the second presenter on Tuesday morning and his paper was entitled, “Jesus and the Rapture.” Dr. Woods did a great job showing that John 14:1-3 is a reference to the rapture. If the rapture, then this is where Christ unveils His plan for the church which the later Epistles built upon. Dr. Robert Dean, pastor of West Houston Bible Church spoke on “The Three Major Rapture Passages,” which are John 14:1-3, 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, and 1 Corinthians 15:50–58. Dr. Dean focused on the latter two passages, which help us understand the nature and timing of this great event.
Dr. H. Wayne House and his paper, “A Defense of the Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.” Dr. House demonstrates in his paper that the English rendering of “apostasy” is a transliteration of the Greek noun that clearly should be translated “departure.” He believes that when translated departure, then one must figure out, based upon the context, whether Paul had in mind a physical departure or an abstract one. If a physical sense is meant, then Paul speaks of “disappearance” and the pre-trib rapture would clearly have been in mind. The problem began when the King James translators broke with the previous translations of “departure” and transliterated the word instead of translating it. This poisoned the well for subsequent English readers against the accurate meaning of the passage that should have been departure.
We 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 three 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), 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 on the amazing speed in which the world is moving into place in preparation for the events that will take place after the rapture, which we call the tribulation. There was great concern expressed about whether Israel and even the United States will 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. Dr. Price believes that his team has located two pieces of the Ark with radar equipment but failed to reach it this year. He hopes to uncover the Ark this summer.
On Wednesday morning, Dr. Mark Hitchcock, a leading prophecy author and pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, OK provided a summary of pre-trib arguments in his presentation entitled “An Overview of Pretribulational Arguments.” Dr. Hitchcock did a masterful job of providing an overview and summary of much of the material that other presenters provided in depth. He tied the various New Testament passages into a clear topical survey demonstrating that indeed our blessed hope is pretribulational.
Dr. Ice was the final speaker for the entire conference as he spoke on “John Nelson Darby and the Rapture.” In this presentation, Dr. Ice provided background on Darby, including events and his mindset that led to discovery through Bible study during a convalescence period of both dispensationalism and the pre-trib rapture in December 1827 or January 1828. Further, he showed that Edward Irving and the Irvingites never held to pretribulationism, so that they could not have been a source from which Darby got his views on these matters. This material undercuts the many theories by anti-pretribulationists that our view comes from a demonic or spurious source.
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 3–5, 2012, unless the rapture occurs first. Next year’s topic will focus on the issue of last days apostasy in the church. Maranatha!
 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, however, you can e-mail him for a copy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Dr. Demy does not have a web site. His paper is at http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Demy-TheHistoryofAmerican.pdf.
 Dr. Hindson’s website: http://www.thekingiscoming.com.
 Dr. Bailey’s website: http://www.dts.edu/about/faculty/mbailey.
 Dr. Hitchcock’s website: www.edmondfaithbible.com. His paper is at http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Hitchcock-AnOverviewofPretribu.pdf.
 Dr. Ice’s paper is at http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-JohnNelsonDarbyandth.pdf.