The recent vitriol Paul Wilkinson displayed at the Berean Call Conference against the film Left Behind or Led Astray by Good Fight Ministries is an appalling attempt to discredit three dear brothers in Christ who reject the pre-tribulation rapture theory and who variously hold to a post-tribulation or intra-seal (pre-wrath) position!
The Berean Call Conference did not live up to its name - in reality they are anything but Bereans (Acts 17:11). Instead of providing us with a reasoned argument supported by the scriptures, Paul Wilkinson tore into Joe Schimmel, Jacob Prasch and Joel Richardson like a savage wolf. I have rarely witnessed such an arrogant and abusive outburst against respected Bible expositors, infinitely better qualified to minister to the body of Christ than himself, men who rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Paul Wilkinson: "This DVD is damaging, it's destructive, it's dangerous, and it is thoroughly dishonest, and it is one of the most abominable Christian DVD's I have ever sat through. .....it is full of false accusations, unsubstantiated myths and lies."
Paul Wilkinson: "The origin of the pre-tribulation rapture..... is found right here in the word of God" (waving his Bible in the air), though he did not care to specify where exactly!
The Bible teaches us to gently warn our opponents (assuming of course that we are right - 2 Timothy 2:25; see also 1 Timothy 5:1-2). It is a pity that Wilkinson could not extend the same grace that Joe Schimmel and Jacob Prasch extend to their brothers in Christ who hold a pre-tribulation rapture view. Certainly Jacob Prasch has always maintained that the timing of the rapture should not be a divisive issue. His previous respect towards, and friendship with those holding a pre-tribulation view, such as Dave Hunt, bears witness to this. Joel Richardson also came under fire from Wilkinson for daring to express his view without being "a pastor of the flock of Jesus Christ." Wilkinson is outraged that Joel Richardson "would DARE........ to say that pastors are leading the flock astray." Joel Richardson is an expert on biblical prophecy, an evangelist and a respected author and speaker; just because he is not "a pastor" does not disqualify him from having a view on the matter as Wilkinson infers! Are we back in the Dark Ages? MY QUESTION: How DARE Wilkinson preclude ANYONE, let alone a man of Joel Richardson's calibre, from speaking out and expressing his/her concerns about this critical debate of our time? Wilkinson seems to put greater emphasis on the position of "pastor" (a superior being whom we should bow down and do blind obeisance to apparently) and worldly qualifications that glorify men more than the word of God (Galatians 6:3; 1 Peter 5:3). He has insidiously voiced his own toxic opinion on this matter thereby predisposing his hearers into accepting it without providing any evidence to support it from the scriptures. In the process he has maliciously attempted to harm the good reputation and character of godly men, global experts in their field, who are spiritually and academically head and shoulders above himself. Apparently Wilkinson's "thorough rebuttal" will follow - but this is not the right way of doing things! There is clearly something very wrong here.
Instead of referring to the scriptures, Wilkinson made much of the supposed misinformation put out by Joe Schimmel in this DVD. Wilkinson insisted that Benjamin Wills Newton was NOT present with John Nelson Darby at Margaret McDonald's so called "revelations" in Glasgow. For someone who constantly brags about his own integrity, Wilkinson has blatantly contradicted his own research, as demonstrated below!!!!
"John Nelson Darby and Benjamin Wills Newton, whom the Brethren sent on their behalf to investigate, came to the conclusion that these displays were demonic."
Wilkinson, Paul Richard (2007). For Zion's Sake: Christian Zionism and the Role of John Nelson Darby. Paternoster. p. 192–93.
The connection that Joe Schimmel makes between Margaret McDonald and John Nelson Darby is that she uttered revelations about the rapture prior to the Second Coming, which apparently was a novel idea at that time. What Wilkinson fails to point out is that there are different editions of McDonald's utterance. Apparently the earlier version has at least nineteen instances where the account adds a significant amount of words not found in the more condensed later edition. The link below does in fact show that McDonald's utterance bears some relevance to the pre-tribulation theory, and in this sense she IS part of the history. If there were any doubts about Joe Schimmel's meaning, surely most self respecting Christians would have had the grace to ask him for clarification before accusing him of dishonesty and vilifying him publicly!
Joe Schimmel: "Darby spent several days listening to Margaret McDonald's prophetic utterances about a secret second coming of Christ, which he and Newton came to believe were demonic in origin. However not long afterwards, DARBY HIMSELF WOULD FORMULATE HIS OWN NOVEL VIEWS ABOUT A SECRET COMING OF CHRIST."
It appears that Joe Schimmel IS correct in saying that Edward Irving got the idea of a secret rapture from a Jesuit, and that Irving DID have occult connections.
"For years the subject of prophecy had occupied much of his (Edward Irving's) thoughts, and his belief in the near approach of the second advent had received such wonderful corroboration by the perusal of the work of a Jesuit priest, Manuel Lacunza, writing under the assumed Jewish name of Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra, that in 1827 he published a translation of it....."
We should be very careful about calling anyone "A LIAR" (James 4:11). There are some very serious anomalies associated with Wilkinson's attack against Joe Schimmel, and I think we should question the motivation behind his vicious outburst!!!
"Paul Wilkinson is the Associate Minister at Hazel Grove Full Gospel Church in Stockport, England. He was converted to Christ in February 1990 whilst studying Mathematics and Statistics at the University of York. He has a BSc in Mathematics and Statistics, a BA and MA in Theology, and a PhD in Religions and Theology. He has also studied at the International School of Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. In 2007 his PhD thesis was published by Paternoster Press entitled, For Zion’s Sake: Christian Zionism and the Role of John Nelson Darby.
Paul Wilkinson is a member of the Council of Prophetic Witness Movement International in the UK, and a member of the Pre-Trib Research Center in Lynchburg, Virginia."
Now that we have got that out of the way and are suitably impressed, let us get on to the subject in hand i.e. the pre-tribulation rapture theory which does not have one shred of evidence in the scriptures! Inconceivably, Wilkinson credits Darby with "restoring this precious truth" .....where did Darby restore it from exactly? Wilkinson cannot argue against the fact that the pre-tribulation rapture was unheard of prior to 1830. To insist upon a theory that no-one in the Christian world recognized until it was invented by Darby?* in the 1830's is to compromise ones spiritual and academic integrity. Wilkinson accuses Joe Schimmel and his guests of propagating "myths", yet ironically there is no greater myth than the secret rapture theory!
Wilkinson must be completely delusional if he really thinks that he can refute the following statements JUST BECAUSE HE SAYS SO, WITHOUT ONCE REFERRING TO THE SCRIPTURES! His behavior is just like that of his despotic hero John Nelson Darby!
- A pre-trib rapture cannot be proven from the Bible. Wilkinson: "YES IT CAN!."
- Pre-trib pastors are failing in their role as pastors. Wilkinson: "NO THEY ARE NOT!"
- It's history is sordid and scandalous. Wilkinson: "NO IT IS NOT!"
- Its origins are occultic and demonic. Wilkinson: "NO THEY ARE NOT!"
- The "theory" can be traced in some form to the Jesuits. Wilkinson: "NO IT CANNOT!"
"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book....." (Revelation 22:18 see also Deuteronomy 4:2).
Error breeds error, and of course the pre-tribulation theory stands in tandem with the error of imminency which is another derived doctrine not explicitly stated in the scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15; Galatians 5:9).
The main verses that support a post tribulation/pre-wrath rapture are:
Immediately AFTER THE TRIBULATION of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. The Lesson of the Fig Tree “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. (Matthew 24:29-33, 36, emphasis added).
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
The dead in Christ rise FIRST on the LAST DAY preceding the rapture:
"This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at THE LAST DAY." (John 6:39, emphasis added)
"And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at THE LAST DAY." (John 6:40)
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at THE LAST DAY." (John 6:44)
"Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at THE LAST DAY" (John 6:54)
1 Thessalonians 4 is similar to what Paul says in two other passages, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and Philippians 3:20-21. At Jesus’ “coming” or “appearing” those who are still alive will be “changed” or “transformed” so that their mortal bodies will become incorruptible, deathless.
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
There are numerous proof texts and passages that support a post tribulation/pre-wrath rapture.
The awful accusations Wilkinson levels at Joe Schimmel and Jacob Prasch are unsubstantiated, they are scripturally deficient, academically devoid of integrity and spiritually toxic. He is embarrassingly guilty of the very accusations he levels at them i.e. dishonesty, false accusations, unsubstantiated myths and lies. We should not be surprised when Wilkinson's false words come back to bite him (Galatians 6:7).
If Paul Wilkinson is so very confident about the pre-tribulation theory, then he should claim the $10,000 offered by Joe Schimmel to anyone who can show him ONE CLEAR VERSE in the Bible that teaches a pre-tribulation rapture!
For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; it shall yield no flour; if it were to yield, strangers would devour it. (Hosea 8:7)
* Edward Irving published pre-tribulation teachings prior to Darby in his journal "The Morning Watch" (1830). It therefore appears that Darby was a plagiarist, and not the originator of the pre-tribulation theory.
A Roundtable Discussion Answering Dr. Paul Wilkinson & The Berean Call
Joe Schimmel, Jacob Prasch and John Haller:
The Sordid History of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Deception: