A grand whirlwind has recently made its mark within the bride of Christ, and though it could be said that this is only the beginning it’s our earnest prayer that such is not the case. We sincerely hope this latest stir would merely be an opportunity for the church to grow in true unity for the sake of the lost, the body of Christ, and for the sake of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the only true Head of the church.
The reason we’ve chosen to write this article is because we believe there is an urgent need to respond to both the manner and overarching message espoused through the recent DVD by Good Fight Ministries entitled, “Left Behind or Led Astray? (Also referred to here as LBLA). Over the last few months we have seen a tactical diversion of Scripture and factual evidence leading to great confusion, and frankly some serious accusations devoid of proper context. This has mostly been due, we believe, to the sensational manner in which the message within the DVD has been produced and promoted. We believe there is a need to provide a reasonable response in love and in truth, to Good Fight Ministries along with those supporting and endorsing “Left Behind or Led Astray?”. We understand other individuals, as well as ministries, have also taken time to address this, and we are grateful and encouraged to see the body of Christ stand up for both His bride and His Word. (Note: Our desire is to simply recognize and point out the claims and accusations being made in the LBLA trailer, plus some of the quotations and comments supporting the DVD. We intend on making a more in depth video discussing the specific aspects of the DVD at a later time.)
It’s our heart and goal at Once Lost Ministries (and as individual believers) to share the Gospel everywhere we go; to spread the undefiled, undiluted message that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be our curse upon the cross for the sake of purchasing us back to Himself, and then rose from the dead to grant us new life in Him. (John 3:16-17, Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 15:1, 2 Corinthians 5:21) Since this glorious Gospel is our foundation and true belief, our desire to be obedient and serve Him should produce a strong and loving motivation to both share the truth of God’s Word, as well as shed light on the lies of the enemy and of man. Though we often fall far short, that is truly our longing. We do not have any personal malice toward anyone at Good Fight Ministries or those featured in the DVD. The truth is we are all rotten and in desperate need of the Savior. This is something every believer should agree on. Sadly, we are living in compromising times, and yet compromise within the church is not exactly new (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Man foolishly fouls things up and continues seeking to devise his own way (Proverbs 14:12). Praise God we have God’s Word and His indwelling Holy Spirit to be the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path! (Psalm 119:105)
Before going any further, we’d also like to be clear that the intent of this article is neither to debate nor exhaustively express the different eschatological (end times) views or argue our own beliefs. For the sake of clarity however, let us say we, at Once Lost, do adhere to a pre-tribulation rapture, believing that Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), will indeed catch up His bride from this earth before the seven year Tribulation, before the time of Jacob’s Trouble, and before the Antichrist is revealed.(Isaiah 26::19-21, Daniel 9:24-27, 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, 2 Timothy 4:8, Titus 2:13).
One of the most reiterated arguments being made from those involved with LBLA is that pre-tribulation believers cannot biblically demonstrate where their beliefs originated, and therefore will be forced to resort to ad hominem accusations of those post-tribulationists who can provide Scriptural “proof text” for their doctrine. We expect that some who read and critique this article will accuse us of doing the same thing. However, due to the nature of the issues, we have intentionally chosen to break our response into two articles. This first article is meant to demonstrate our heartfelt concerns with the overarching message and promotional methods of the DVD. Lord willing, we plan to publish a second article to address the biblical credibility of the pre-tribulation rapture, as well as the Scriptural problems with the teaching of the post-tribulation rapture.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a growing wave of posts and comments throughout social media accusing certain pre-tribulation believers and brothers in the Lord such as T.A. McMahon, Paul Wilkinson, and Tommy Ice as being divisive, slanderous, and even heretical. One such example is a recent letter posted online to T.A. McMahon, of The Berean Call, entitled, An Open Letter to T.A. McMahon. The author, Scott Pruit, takes T.A. to task for allowing Paul Wilkinson to supposedly “accuse” Joe Schimmel (and others) during this year’s Berean Call Bible conference. Scott says it was Paul who made many unsubstantiated accusations, yet Scott himself chose not to explain much of the context to readers. He accuses Paul of making false accusations, yet he does so without adding much in the way of proof. If, as the author mentions, the Berean Call has been such a valuable ministry over the years, perhaps it might at least behoove him to investigate a little more thoroughly the reasons as to why they’ve chosen to take the position they have regarding Good Fight Ministry’s LBLA DVD.
A few brief points to the letter itself. Early on, Scott Pruitt asks T.A. McMahon why the timing of what he perceived as Paul’s questioning of Joe Schimmel’s character. First of all, this question, in and of itself, asserts that Paul is most undoubtedly attacking Joe’s character, which we would disagree with altogether. Scott then assumes that the reason for the timing of this so-called “personal attack” is because Joe chose to make a DVD against the pre-tribulation rapture. We would agree that the timing was due to the DVD, however we would disagree that it was mainly due to the subject matter.
Although Joe’s “open letter” conclusion might seem reasonable at first glance, in reality there could be any number of reasons for the timing of Paul Wilkinson’s talk. It’s like saying the reason I don’t like vanilla ice cream is because it’s white. Since vanilla ice cream is white, one might agree with the claims, but there are actually plenty of other reasons I might not like vanilla ice cream. We believe the reason this DVD is being discussed has less to do with their belief in the timing in the rapture and more to do with the way the DVD itself vilifies believers who disagree with their ideas. We also believe the manner in which it is being promoted is more in the vein of propaganda than creditable promotion. (Some of this will be discussed later.)
Secondly, the letter states that Paul’s claims are “unsubstantiated,” however, if one listens to his talk, Paul does a fairly thorough job in a short amount of time of providing both historical facts, as well as biblical reasonings for his claims. Although one might disagree with what was said, the points were nonetheless clearly substantiated.
Scott Pruitt seems to take issue with Paul calling the mid-tribulation/post-tribulation beliefs heretical, saying that this is akin to attacking one’s character. Again, we would lovingly disagree. Paul does not call any of these men heretics; rather he says their teachings regarding the timing of the rapture are heretical. For clarity, the word heretical is generally defined as, “Relating to, or characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards.” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heretical) If a person earnestly believes the pre-tribulation teaching of the rapture to be the Scriptural standard, then it is not unreasonable to say all other teachings are heretical. It’s also worth pointing out since the DVD itself claims the pre-tribulation doctrine more than likely originated, at least in part, from the occult, would not Good Fight be presuming that it is heretical?
Lastly, the author says, “All that Joe Schimmel, Jacob Prasch and Joel Richardson have done is to encourage the body of Christ to do the same thing that you are asking them to do; be Bereans.” While this is the author’s opinion, it is not validated in his letter. We would strongly disagree that this is “all they’ve done.” Again, those involved with the DVD have made some very audacious claims both in the trailer and throughout the video, some of which will be discussed in more detail below.
We attended this year’s Berean Call conference (2015) and were quite aware of the context of the things being said. At the beginning of his second teaching on Israel, Paul Wilkinson made mention (see the video below for context) of LBLA. We cannot claim to know Paul’s heart, but taken in context, we did not hear any of what he said as a personal attack. Rather, we believe what was said was done so with trepidation, yet needful honesty in hopes of exposing the unbiblical manner with which this DVD was produced and promoted. We also believe it was done so to help address some of the factual and biblical misinformation.
What Paul shared was necessary for the church. Not once did he belittle or browbeat anyone into believing what he said. As with all the messages during the conference, listeners were given room to be Bereans (Acts 17:11) for themselves. This is not often the case in today’s market-driven church which is truly a sad fact of the times in which we live. Ministries are not monopolies. We should all be encouraging others to examine us on a personal level and as public ministries. If we are not open to biblical and factual scrutiny, then we are failing as servants in the body of Christ and should quickly repent.
As stated earlier, we have chosen not to make this response a debate regarding eschatological viewpoints, but do wish to address some of the accusations and claims being made from the makers and endorsers of the DVD. There is also the issue of why it has been so necessary for those at Once Lost Ministries to take a clear and open stand even to the point of choosing not to share a podium (at this time) with those involved with this DVD. We understand this might sound harsh, after all we agree that the timing of the rapture should not be an issue which we divide over. This particular case, however, is just not that simple. We hope that the remainder of this article will help to add more light to our decisions.
There are a few reasons specifically as to why we feel so strongly concerning this particular ministry and this particular DVD. First, there is the issue we call “cloak and dagger.” To help clarify this, here’s a little story.
Let’s say there is a child on the playground wanting others to play a game of catch with a ball from home. He invites others to play, telling them he wants to have a nice game of catch. Several of his classmates come around and the game begins. It starts out fun, however each time the boy passes the ball, he tosses it harder and faster. Soon he starts hitting kids in the chest and head. It’s not too long before the game is out of control. His classmates get tired of the ball being hurled at them, yet the boy responds with confusion, reminding everyone that he said he just wanted to have a nice game of catch.
Pretty soon he gathers another group of kids and the same thing happens again. This time one of his classmates decides to toss the ball with equal speed and force, but instead of aiming at his head, the classmate throws it just above him. Because of the speed, the boy cannot catch it and is called out. Not happy about the call, he gets angry, accusing his classmates of unfair play, saying it’s their fault for ruining the game, not his. After all, he promised he would play nicely. Soon a teacher is called over and the boy begins to make his case by telling the grown up that he has no idea why everyone is playing so unfairly. He reasons it’s because they just don’t like him and that perhaps they’re jealous of his ball. He tells the teacher that he said he just tried to play a nice game of catch and has no idea why everyone is not letting him continue to play the way he wants.
This illustration hopefully makes it easy to see that even though the boy said he wanted to play a nice game of catch, that’s not really what happened. The boy “cloaked” his intentions of using the ball like a “dagger”. He started out with a false declaration, using his words to cover up what was actually being done. As we all know, it’s not enough to claim to play nice. Everything that followed actually revealed what was really going on. Understandably, this is a very simplistic story, but we hope it helps to illustrate what has occurred in the recent months regarding the discussion over LBLA.
Joe Schimmel and the proponents of the DVD have repeatedly said that this is not an issue the church should divide over. This would be considered the “cloak.” They have continued to maintain they do not desire division over the message and manner by which this DVD is being promulgated, however, in our opinion, this is a very strategic and arguably intentional decision by Good Fight Ministries. By stating this as their overarching desire, anyone choosing to expose their errors appears to be causing the division, not them. After all, if division is occurring and Good Fight’s proponents say they don’t want division, then it must be others causing it. I could kick my friend in the leg, all the while telling him it is not my intention to cause him pain, but in the end it is my foot, not his leg, that is at fault.
The boy claiming to play fairly, yet very obviously proving the contrary, cannot excuse his actions simply because of his original declaration. How much more so for Christians and ministries claiming to glorify Jesus both in word and deed?
Although Joe Schimmel, Joel Richardson, etc. have continued to maintain they do not want division over the timing of the rapture, many of their statements are quite the contrary. Below are a few examples taken from the LBLA trailer highlighting their promotional approach to the DVD.
- “What if millions become part of the great falling away when the rapture doesn’t happen when they expect?” – Joe Schimmel
- “What if millions who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture become part of the great falling away that Jesus warned would take place at that time?” – DVD Intro
- If you’re a pastor that’s not preparing his people to face potentially the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation in that hour simply because your denomination teaches it [the pre-tribulation rapture], personally I feel like you’re failing in your role as a shepherd and a pastor.” – Joel Richardson, DVD
- “You will be amazed as we look into admissions by pre-tribulation leaders who admit that the theory is without clear biblical and historical merit.” – DVD Description
At first glance, these questions/remarks may seem harmless enough, but each one is filled with implications. The first two, for example, are not just asking “what if”. They are more than implying that supposedly “millions” of pre-tribulation believers will more than likely lose their salvation based solely on their trust in the timing of Jesus’ return for His bride. Nowhere in Scripture is there any reasonable connection between the dangerous and growing worldwide apostasy and the belief in the pre-tribulation rapture.
This would at best be non sequitur, that is to say, “it does not follow”. Even if those believing in the pre-tribulation rapture were on earth during the revealing of the Antichrist and a portion of the Tribulation, there is no biblical or logical reason for assuming this would then lead most, if not all of them to fall away from the faith.
It is our opinion that this assertion made by Joe Schimmel and clearly supported by all those participating in the DVD, more than any other, is THE most dangerous and frankly absurd idea promoted in LBLA. We must wonder what would cause any Christian ministry to make such a fallacious argument. And then to attempt to “cloak” themselves behind saying it’s just a question is simply not honest. This “what if” is most certainly and intentionally leading and filled with implications. To be clear, this is not a personal attack on Joe or anyone else, rather a response to their original audacious and unfounded assertion.
With regards to the issue of persecution leading to apostasy, it is worth considering all the Christians suffering persecutions, arrests, executions, etc. in many third world countries today, as well as throughout the centuries since Christ’s ascension. The persecution experienced during the first century was horrific, but still many spoke of Christ’s return as if it could be at any moment. We read nothing of a great falling away due to Jesus not rapturing them out of such terrible suffering.
Joel Richardson’s featured comment in the trailer is also quite loaded. Are we really to conclude that pastors who have otherwise been godly shepherds, faithfully warning, preaching, and teaching their flocks for decades are now, according to Joel, “failing in their role” simply because they believe in and teach the pre-tribulation rapture? This is quite an accusation, libeling many humble, godly pastors throughout time. Joel might try getting out of his assertion by saying he qualified this as his personal opinion; however this would not be fair. Since he is featured as one of the main contributors of the DVD, viewers will naturally assume his authority as a teacher, lending credibility to his conclusions, regardless of how he qualifies them.
Specific to the oft made “preparation” argument, if a post-tribulation rapture is what’s to occur, what would we really need to do differently than what Christians should already be doing every day in every generation? What have the faithful saints in past centuries done? What about those suffering now? They pray, read God’s Word, walk in the Spirit, stand on the Word, disciple one another, bear one another’s burdens, put on the whole armor of God, and preach the Gospel. In other words we need to love the Lord and love our neighbor. That is precisely what we are prescribed to do regardless of the century we live in. So accusing pastors of “failing to prepare the church” is really a nonsensical point. Yet this argument is featured as one of the most prominent arguments against the pre-tribulation rapture. Again, we must ask why.
The final quote above is also a powerful and amazingly ostentatious assertion. To say that leading teachers of the pre-tribulation rapture admit “that the theory is without clear biblical and historical merit” is to actually say they are deliberately lying to the flock of God. It is one thing to say that teachers are incorrect in their beliefs, but it is a whole other thing to say teachers are knowingly and deliberately teaching falsehood.
They are also implying:
- That these “leaders” are the authority on the matter. They are not. The Bible is.
- Pre-tribulation believers have blindly believed what these “leaders” teach without having searched the Scriptures for themselves.
- These leaders actually believe that there is not one verse or phrase that teaches the pre-tribulation timing of the rapture. If those making LBLA choose to highlight a five-second clip from a one-on-one interview, we can hardly be “Bereans” since we are missing the actual context of the statements being made.
These are just a few of the quotes Good Fight Ministries chose to feature as the introduction in hopes of whetting viewers’ appetite in what they dub as a “fascinating journey… examining the shocking origins of the secret, pre-tribulation rapture doctrine.”
Again, although they have continually attempted to cloak their claims by saying this is an “in-house debate” not worthy of dividing over, in light of their “dagger-like” accusations and strong implications, it is no wonder there is such a stir over the claims made in this trailer and DVD.
A Few Other Concerns
Other than the actual timing of the rapture, which we will address in a later article, there are a few additional areas we would like to point out to readers. The first is the use of the early church fathers to substantiate the proposed falsehood of the pre-tribulation rapture.
On the Left Behind, Led Astray website, Joe Schimmel responds to this concern in an article attempting to answer critics. In it he says,
“Those familiar with Good Fight Ministries know that we hold tenaciously to Sola Scriptura and make it clear in our Left Behind or Led Astray? DVD that the early church fathers are in no way to be held on par with Scripture, which is authoritative and binding on all issues of faith and practice. While the early church fathers provide us insight into the convictions of the early church and often times are reflective of what we read in God’s Word, their teachings are always to be tested in light of Holy Scripture. It just so happens that, in respect to the rapture of the church, the early church fathers, whenever they spoke of timing, held to the post-trib position taught… While this is a good indication that pre-tribs should, at the very least, call the new fangled theory into question, it is Scripture itself that decides the matter!” (http://www.leftbehindorledastray.com/use-of-the-early-church-fathers-and-a-jesuit-conspiracy/#more-240)
Regardless of their reputation on previous projects, this is just not the case for LBLA. Good Fight Ministries has uploaded an almost 10 minute excerpt from the DVD on You Tube entirely devoted to some of the so-called early church fathers that held to something other than a pre-tribulation rapture. We would wholeheartedly agree with Good Fight’s statement above when Joe says, “Their teachings are always to be tested in light of Holy Scripture.”
In light of Joe’s statement and even more so, the instruction and warning from the Lord through Paul and the whole of Scripture (Acts 20:29, Galatians 1:8), we believe spending much, if any time on what the ‘early church fathers’ thought and taught is irrelevant.
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” Acts 20:29.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8.
Why spend any time pointing back to these men unless perhaps at some level you are looking to lend credibility to the teachings you espouse? Just because men lived 1,500+ years ago doesn’t mean they knew any more about God’s Word than those studying it ‘on their knees’ in the 21st Century. After all, we all have the same Holy Spirit and the same Scriptures. God’s Word continually warns us of the snare of loving/fearing man.
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8.
“The fear of man brings a snare: but whoever puts his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” Proverbs 29:25.
The next concern is that of the factual basis of some of the historical claims in the DVD. This area is one we will be sharing more on as information comes out. From the little we are hearing and researching right now, we at least believe there may be some questionable facts within the DVD, statements said to be historical which might not be so.
During his second talk (featured below), Paul Wilkinson does a good job of pointing out a couple of these discrepancies. One worth mentioning at this time is an error brought to light by Paul. This is the discrepancy involving the so-called prophecy from a 15 year old girl named Margaret MacDonald. Paul points out that the DVD shows both John Darby and his associate, Benjamin Newton investigating Margaret at her house. The issue with this is that based on history, Benjamin Newton was not with Darby during his observation of Margaret MacDonald in 1830.
Recently Joe Schimmel and Jacob Prasch sat down for an almost two-hour roundtable rebuttal/discussion designed to correct Paul Wilkinson for his second TBC Bible conference talk. During the roundtable rebuttal, Joe adamantly claims they never intended to portray Benjamin Wills Newton, Darby’s associate, as one of the men in the room observing Margaret in 1830. Joe also explains that the actor in the video standing next to John Nelson Darby while they’re in Margaret Macdonald’s room just happens to be the same actor who plays Benjamin Wills Newton in a later scene. His implication is that this actor is just an extra in the scene with Margaret MacDonald and Darby and never intended for it to be Newton even though this actor is the only other person in her room and standing right next to Darby when the narration mentions both Darby and Newton. (00:08:53 –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiNjDYsHfh4) Perhaps this is actually the case, but we must conclude this is quite a coincidence.
Joe points out that the DVD narration does not say that Newton was actually there. But why does any of this matter? It matters because historically speaking, Newton wasn’t there and the claim made by Good Fight is that this DVD is one of the most thoroughly researched and historically accurate films on this subject. Granted the narration is careful to say it was only Darby who was there, but the visual depiction is sloppy at best and deceptive at worst.
Furthermore, during the same roundtable rebuttal, Joe attempts to correct Paul by saying the video never says that Good Fight actually believes Margaret MacDonald’s vision/professed prophecy teaches a pre-tribulation rapture. (There are those within a variety of alternative second coming camps who purport that Margaret MacDonald’s vision/professed prophecy was the source of Darby and others’ discovery and belief in the pre-tribulation timing of the rapture.) MacDonald’s vision was recorded and later published in 1840. When read, it very clearly does NOT teach a pre-tribulation rapture. (Interestingly, her vision does sound very similar to what is commonly understood as the post-tribulation rapture.)
Again, the narration clearly says that Good Fight does not believe her vision actually taught a pre-tribulation rapture, however the video does take ample time to mention several different theories capitalizing on Margaret and her so-called vision, theories in favor of Margaret MacDonald being the inventor of the pre-tribulation rapture. Although Good Fight says they don’t believe this, they never denounce the alternative theories they themselves decided to present in the DVD. Regardless of what they say they believe, including these theories definitely adds credibility to the notion that the pre-tribulation rapture is somehow connected to the mystic experience of a 15 year old Scottish girl.
Tactics like this are often employed when wanting to cause someone to move his thinking in a certain direction without actually being the one to say what needs to be said to do the moving. Although Good Fight says they don’t hold to the connection between Margaret and the origination of the pre-tribulation rapture, they are more than willing to introduce several who do and then never dispel them. Note: This same approach is also used when the video covers the supposed connections between the Jesuits and the pre-tribulation rapture.
Another point worth mentioning… Although Joe says Good Fight does not believe Margaret can be credited with the development of the pre-tribulation rapture, they do believe she most definitely was the one who started the idea of a “secret” rapture. This is also stated in the DVD. Personally, we have read Margaret’s vision/prophecy several times and cannot find one place where someone could ever think she was espousing a “secret” rapture. (Due to the possible connection to the demonic, we have chosen not post a link here to any of her recorded visions. They can be found by simply searching online.) And even if she did, she would not have been the first to share such an idea. The secret rapture is clearly taught in Scripture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and also shared by faithful saints way before the 1800s. (See a few example quotes below.)
Margaret’s visions do in fact speak of a post-tribulation rapture. In her supposed revealed scenario, the church must go through the entire time of the tribulation which will serve as a purifying agent to the church. Interestingly, Joe, as well as others in the post-tribulation camp also believe the Great Tribulation will serve as a purifying agent, cleansing the bride of Christ, making her ready for Jesus’ return. Consider a brief section of Margaret’s so-called prophecy in reference to the Great Tribulation:
“This is the fiery trial which is to try us. – It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus; but Oh it will be a fiery trial. Every soul will he shaken to the very centre. The enemy will try to shake in every thing we have believed – but the trial of real faith will be found to honour and praise and glory. The Spirit must and will be poured out on the church, that she may be purified and filled with God.” –Margaret MacDonald, The first account of MacDonald’s utterance was published in 1840 in Norton’s Memoirs pp. 171–76, and the second account in 1861 in The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets pp. 15–18. The two accounts were conflated by MacPherson in his book The Incredible Cover-up p. 151–54. The bold text above is from the first account.
To be clear, we are not saying that those who believe in a pre-wrath, mid or post-tribulation rapture hold to doctrines of devils, however it is at least interesting to note that one of the people LBLA (and others) feature in hopes of ruining the credibility of the pre-tribulation rapture actually had a vision, which incidentally Darby and many others believed was demonic, that would be much more in line with Joe Schimmel and many in the post-tribulation camp.
Again, each of us needs to do our homework regarding the so-called history of any topic, especially those areas involving the church. Just because something is said authoritatively and creatively does not make it historically sound.
Regarding John Nelson Darby and the many accusations made against him by Jacob Prasch, the entire trailer, and the narrative throughout LBLA, it’s our prayer that people would look a little further into what is so commonly taught concerning this man. The Berean Call has been a great resource, helping to add light to many popular misconceptions over the years. In our opinion, TBC has been and will continue being used to help clarify the characterization of John Darby so commonly taught and embraced. An audio discussion between T.A. McMahon and Paul Wilkinson dealing with the truth of John Nelson Darby can be found by clicking on the following link: https://www.thebereancall.org/content/t-mcmahon-paul-wilkinson-part-1.
The last area of concern might be considered more of an opinion and we understand some may disagree with our decision to critique Good Fight’s marketing and promotional choices. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t say anyting about the manner in which they’ve chosen to promote this DVD and their ministry. Our goal here is to challenge ourselves as much as others to remain above reproach in every area of our lives, both personally and ministry wise. Early on in this article we stated that the techniques chosen to promote LBLA are borderline propaganda and although marketing and promotion can sometimes be deemed preference, in this case we believe we are not just stating an opinion. The decision to sensationalize and aggrandize the content of this DVD are arguably intentional and demonstrated both in the dramatic music used in the trailer, as well as the incendiary verbiage throughout.
Unfortunately, since we now live in a post market-driven church age, we have all come to expect the visually stunning and intensely narrated documentary style often employed by the world and church alike. One thing most disconcerting, to Good Fight Ministry’s shame, is the obvious way in which they have chosen to lift themselves and the content of the DVD up in the eyes of the viewers. Granted, one might attempt to argue that the content is so worthwhile that the ends justify the means, however we believe there is no means worth manipulating in order to draw attention to one’s message. Again, this might sound extreme and appear to readers like we’re being pedantic, that is to say, straining at a gnat, but before disagreeing and labeling our comments as hateful, please prayerfully and thoughtfully consider the examples below.
Readers are more than welcome to disagree with anything we’ve written, however, it’s truly our goal to see us all continue growing in the grace and the truth of our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Often this means not only examining the message we share, but also the methods we employ to do so. We’ve prayed often concerning the way in which we express our concerns to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and hope that what is written here (and in every article and video) is done so both with grace and in truth empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. We are confident we have not always done so to the best of our ability, however our heart’s desire is to let Jesus have His way. And we truly desire to see the same spirit of God’s grace and truth be afforded to all Bible-believing ministries, especially in light of the times in which we live.
A Few Examples of the Promotional Concerns
The Attitude Expressed: The word choices used throughout the trailer often come across as accusatory and belittling. There are many presupposed assertions made regarding those that believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. For example, to say that Charles Nelson Darby was basically the one who invented the pre-tribulation idea and then to so clearly label him as a cult leader (as Jacob does) is to conclude that those believing in the pre-tribulation rapture are holding to a “cultic teaching”. This is most definitely tantamount to libel and sadly erroneous.
Questionable, Dishonest, and Manipulative Word Choices
Here are several examples of word choices used within the trailer:
“Take a fascinating journey with us as we examine the shocking origins of the secret, pre-tribulation rapture doctrine. You will be amazed as we look into admissions by pre-tribulation leaders who admit that the theory is without clear biblical and historical merit. Join us as we discover the origins of this relatively new doctrine, explore its possible origins among mystics, Jesuits and theologians, and how this doctrine was ultimately disseminated…” [Emphasis ours] Good Fight Ministries’ description of the DVD
Stating that the pre-tribulation rapture is a “relatively new doctrine” and that it possibly originated “among mystics, Jesuits”:
1. Can be said about many biblical doctrines (e.g. many have made similar claims regarding the doctrine of the Trinity). Saying it “possibly originated” is an admission that they do not know, but then the narrator continues to invite people to “join us as we discover the origins”. This is claiming they DO in fact know, yet then state it was “possibly” originated from mystics and Jesuits. All this does is create doubt; not reproof, not correction, not instruction in righteousness according to the Word of God, but doubt based on the opinions of men. These are questionable tactics at best.
2. Simply makes no sense. To say the Roman Catholic church in any way, shape, or form had any connection with the origination of the teaching of a pre-tribulation rapture is not logical. Rome has consistently withheld any teaching on the rapture, focusing solely on the second coming of Christ. Understandably, any religion which believes we must take this world over by building its power and authority would not look highly upon the idea of Jesus coming to remove all power from the church when He brings them home to Him. The rapture, especially a pre-tribulation one, is actually the greatest enemy to the Roman Catholic Church. This will most likely be addressed further in our follow-up article examining the biblical foundation for the pre-tribulation rapture.
They claim the video is being “hailed as one of the most compelling and thoroughly researched projects examining the origins of the secret pre-tribulation rapture doctrine”, yet do not give testimonials from anyone who has made such claims. Perhaps they do elsewhere or will at a later time, however it gives the appearance of simply pointing viewers to the praises of men in what we can only assume is an attempt to bolster their credibility in the eyes of others.
They also claim the pre-tribulation teaching is a “new doctrine”. This is either based on poor and incomplete research or is simply dishonest. Here is a brief list of a few men that held to a pre-tribulation rapture long before John Darby:
- Irenaeus (130 A.D. – 202 AD) was a bishop of the church in Lyons, France: Against Heresies 5.29 “Those nations however, who did not of themselves raise up their eyes unto heaven, nor returned thanks to their Maker, nor wished to behold the light of truth, but who were like blind mice concealed in the depths of ignorance, the word justly reckons “as waste water from a sink, and as the turning-weight of a balance — in fact, as nothing;”(1) so far useful and serviceable to the just, as stubble conduces towards the growth of the wheat, and its straw, by means of combustion, serves for working gold. And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, “There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.”(2) For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption.”
- Cyprian (200 AD – 258 AD) – Cyprian was Bishop of the church in Carthage: Treatises of Cyprian “We who see that terrible things have begun, and know that still more terrible things are imminent, may regard it as the greatest advantage to depart from it as quickly as possible. Do you not give God thanks, do you not congratulate yourself, that by an early departure you are taken away, and delivered from the shipwrecks and disasters that are imminent? Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us hence, and sets us free from the snares of the world and restores us to paradise and the kingdom.”
- Ephraim (306 AD – 373 AD) was made a deacon in the church in Syria in 338 and later became the bishop of Nisibis: On The Last Times: “Or do you not believe unless you see with your eyes? See to it that this sentence be not fulfilled among you of the prophet who declares: “Woe to those who desire to see the day of the Lord!” For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins. And so, brothers most dear to me, it is the eleventh hour, and the end of the world comes to the harvest, and angels, armed and prepared, hold sickles in their hands, awaiting the empire of the Lord.”
(We credit UKapologeticslibrary.net with comprising this list.)
More Attempts to Add Credibility Using the Praises of Men
The trailer makes a point of using testimonies about Joe Schimmel from both Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, neither of whom are actually in the DVD. We can only surmise that they were included in the trailer to further attempt to add credibility to Joe Schimmel and LBLA’s message. We cannot think of any other reason to tie Kirk and Ray with this DVD, neither of whom are known for their teachings on eschatology or prophecy.
Other Fanfare Phrases and Decisions in the Trailer
First, the implication of mass deception:
- “What if the end of the world isn’t as so many have portrayed it…”
- “What if the church is not raptured to heaven before the great tribulation as many are teaching…”
- “What if the church has been ill-prepared…”
- “What if millions who have been led astray by the pre-trib teaching become part of the great falling away…”
Even though they say the pre-tribulation rapture belief was nowhere to be found for 1,900 years, apparently there are now millions who believe in it. Are there really millions upon millions today that believe in a pre-tribulation rapture? And even if there are, we are left wondering how they arrived at “millions” in the first place.
Are millions really being ill-prepared because they believe the Lord could come to take them to their eternal home in Heaven? Is it really unbiblical to encourage the saints to remain eternal in their perspective? Are we not seeing more and more in the church being swept away with doctrines of building our kingdom on earth? Whether we’re told to make the world ready for Jesus to return or taught how to have our best life now, it seems to us that the real message of the enemy is to forget about the eternal and focus on the temporal. Despite the accusation herolded by Good Fight Ministries, a pre-tribulation rapture actually best prepares the saints of every generation to be about the Father’s business; to properly endure through the “light and momentary afflictions” that will soon pass away.
“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Here are several more questionable examples from the trailer:
- “Vital end time insights…”
- “One of the premier pastoral issues…”
- Declaratively and repeatedly refers to the pre-tribulation rapture as a “New doctrine” (Addressed above)
- They offer $10,000 dollars for Christians to produce one verse or passage indicating a pre-tribulation rapture.
- Intentionally editing at least one interview, making it appear to viewers of the trailer as if Colin Le Noury agrees with their accusations. (Originally pointed out in Paul Wilkinson’s talk featured above in this article. NOTE: Joe Schimmel attempts to address this in the roundtable rebuttal mentioned above. Here Joe indicates that he is trying to be fair to Colin in the actual DVD because he states that Colin brought up other verses, but after watching the DVD clip of the interview, it’s really no better than the trailer. The DVD doesn’t include any of the Bible verses or rationale that Colin shared during the interview. It only has Joe’s narration stating that Colin “went on to attempt to support the idea by claiming that you could find pre-trib in the Bible, but only bypiecing certain Scriptures together. He then attempted to do this with some not-so-clear Scriptures, some of which we will examine when we look at the so-called pre-trib proof texts in a subsequent video.” 1:18:00 of the roundtable discussion-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiNjDYsHfh4. I guess we’ll have to take Joe’s word for it that Colin’s Scriptural references were “not-so-clear”, at least until Good Fight make their next DVD.)
- “The church for 19 centuries never heard this doctrine, never believed it, and never preached it.”
- “Darby was a cult leader… a cult founder, a confused man!” –Jacob Prasch
- “What role did Roman Catholic Jesuit priest, Manuel Diaz Lacunza, have in the formation of this doctrine?”
- “What role did the defrocked charismatic pastor, Edward Irving have to do with the origin and propagation of this theory?”
- “…Propagating this theory throughout America.”
- “…to preorder this eye-popping video expose’…”
- “And brace yourself to see how the church is being set up for a mass deception of cosmic proportions.”
Jacob Prasch’s Curious Connection
We cannot help but wonder why Jacob Prasch, who himself is an ardent pre-wrath proponent, has chosen to align himself with a DVD produced by a ministry which so strongly advocates for a post-tribulation rapture. Perhaps the phrase “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” rings true in this instance. If Jacob is so strongly against any and all false timings of the rapture, then why hasn’t he addressed these concerns regarding Good Fight Ministries? He has had ample opportunities, especially during the recent two hour roundtable rebuttal. Why contain his debate demands to Paul Wilkinson? Why not debate Joe Schimmel and Joel Richardson as well?
Jacob’s endorsement of the DVD:
“The content was excellent and well presented and it is indeed an effective tool for addressing Pre-Trib preachers and authors themselves…What you have is good and effective for challenging Thomas Ice, Paul Wilkinson, etc. directly…The body of evidence you present in ‘Left Behind or Led Astray’ is insurmountable and forcefully presented and it will knock the Pre-Trib camp for the proverbial six.” – Jacob Prasch
His quote endorsing the DVD seems to imply this was an opportunity, not to humbly and biblically reprove a false doctrine in meekness and fear,(Galatians 6:1; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 4:2), but to tear down brothers and sisters in Christ who hold to this view. For us Americans, the phrase “knocked for a six” originated as a sports term referring to the highest scoring action in the game of Cricket. It means to “completely devastate”.
So are we to assume Jacob approves of the message of the DVD not simply for its biblical content and correction, but because it has the apparent potential to completely devastate brothers and sisters who believe in and teach that the pre-tribulation rapture is biblical and honoring to our Lord and Savior? While we cannot claim to know the intent behind his words in the endorsement (and throughout the DVD), the words themselves are bombastic at best.
We write this article to point out that the “attack”, if you will, is not one of character or even solely based on doctrinal differences, but rather based on the overarching message and methods shown forth in this DVD. In reality, the original “attack” has really been launched by Good Fight Ministries and sadly those who are now willing to speak out are being vilified as biblically illiterate “haters” and “obstructionists”.
We have prayerfully chosen to write this response, not in an effort to attack anyone, but rather to point out the dangerous and perceived prideful manner in which Joe Schimmel, Good Fight Ministries, and those associated with them have chosen to ostensibly malign and vilify anyone holding to the belief in the pre-tribulation rapture.
We believe many today are ripe to receive false doctrines concerning the end times and strongly warn the Church to carefully search the Scriptures, not to simply adhere to any ministry’s form of doctrine, no matter how much fanfare is attached to it. Many in this generation of Christianity have not been well trained to understand God’s Word, nor has correct prophecy been a focal point in many churches which instead seek to build their kingdoms here on earth. Sadly, much of this is due to those like Rick Warren, who teach that prophecy is not a beneficial area of study for the modern body of Christ.
We hope this new whirlwind, instead of shaking people’s faith and trust in God’s Word, will cause many to stand up and speak out. Perhaps many for the first time will begin studying what God’s Word, not Joe Schimmel, Jacob Prasch, Once Lost Ministries, TBC, etc. have to say, but what God’s Word actually says concerning the soon return of Jesus Christ for His bride.
May we humbly bow before our Maker, allowing Jesus Christ alone to be our King, our Lord, and our Living Head. All men are fallible and can easily falter. God’s Word is the solid Rock in which we must stand, immovable and abounding with thanksgiving for our great God and Savior! We are rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, not the Church, and certainly not in any person’s ministry. Let us be followers of Jesus and Him alone; loving one another enough to speak the truth, praying for one another and humbly bearing one another’s burdens. Time is truly drawing short. May we agree with the Maranatha cry of the Holy Spirit, ”Come quickly Lord Jesus, Come!”
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. He which testifies these things says, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Revelation 22:17,20-21