Archive for the ‘Info’ Category
In that first two-line email to Jimmy DeYoung in June, 2008, I had mentioned the “Pre-Trib Study Group.”
The Pre-Trib Study Group (now the Pre-Trib Research Center – www.pre-trib.org) was started in 1992 by Tim LaHaye and Tommy Ice out of a concern that they were witnessing a broad departure away from Pretribulational Premillennialism within evangelicalism. Premillennialism is the belief that Christ will return prior to a literal 1000-year (millennium) during which time He will rule as the earth’s sovereign king from the Throne of David in Jerusalem.
This is distinguished from Amillennialism – meaning “no millennium” – which teaches that Christ is already ruling in a spiritual way from heaven and in the hearts of believers and that there will be no literal earthly kingdom. Perhaps, the major defining characteristic of the Amillennial view is the idea that the Church has replaced national Israel in God’s program and therefore, all the promises made by God to Israel will only have some sort of spiritual fulfillment. The problem is that to arrive at such a conclusion requires one to allegorize whole sections of the Old Testament and also claim that virtually all of Revelation should only be understood in some sort of symbolic way (except for the part about Satan being bound, which is said to be true during this present age).
In contrast, Premillennialism teaches that Israel and the Church are distinct groups in God’s program and that national Israel still has a future because there are many sure promises made by God to Israel that have not yet been fulfilled. A significant part of this fulfillment means that Israel will literally occupy the land promised and guaranteed to her by God in the Abrahamic covenant (found in Genesis). This fulfillment will be during the millennium (the 1000-year reign of Christ on the earth).
Pretribulational Premillennialism further holds that when certain passages, particularly in Daniel, Matthew, 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Revelation are taken together in a synthesized, consistent and unified way, it becomes clear that Christ’s return (His Glorious Appearing) will be preceded by a seven-year period of time known as the Tribulation or Daniel’s 70th week. During that time, God will pour out His wrath upon the earth in fulfillment of the promised judgments against both Israel and the nations for their wickedness and rejection of God through the ages. However, because God has promised to preserve His people, the Bride of Christ, the Church from the wrath to come, He will catch up or rapture his church (all believers in Christ, living and dead) away from the earth to meet Christ in the air prior to the onset of the Tribulation period. This is most clearly stated in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. And because there are no more prophecies yet to be fulfilled prior to the Rapture, it is said to be “imminent” – it could happen at any moment.
Although Pretribulational Premillennialism has historically been the prevalent view within conservative evangelicalism over the last 100+ years, the Pre-Trib Study Group was formed because more and more were abandoning this in favor of Amillennialism or some significantly modified form of the historic Pre-Trib view. Since its beginnings with about 30 men in 1992, the Pre-Trib Study group has grown such that it at its annual meeting at Dallas in December, 2008, a record number (over 500) were in attendance. The purpose of the meetings are to encourage people to remain faithful to this biblical view and to also provide them with the biblical resources necessary to defend this view from various “attacks” and temptations to abandon it for a more broadly acceptable and popular view. Each year some of the world’s top evangelical scholars present relevant articles and discuss related issues from a thoroughly biblical and historical perspective.
This is the background for my question about whether there might be a need for a similar group that would serve a similar function with regard to historic, conservative evangelicalism. As I watched what was happening in the American church, as I was reading books, articles and blogs, it became apparent to me that things were quickly changing and that there was a growing tendency away from the theological moorings that had held classic evangelicalism in place as a foundation for conservative, biblical Christianity.
As I mentioned earlier, we sensed that there was a broad shift in the world-view of the average person in evangelical churches and they were being drawn away from their biblical roots in vast numbers. These shifts seemed to be to especially affecting more and more churches, particularly some of the larger influential ones and then in a ripple-effect, many smaller churches that adopted the larger churches as their models for ministry were also being affected. In talking with many Christian educators and other Christian leaders, I sensed that this move away from solid biblical-teaching and expositional teaching was also beginning to take place in some historically evangelical schools – or at least in some departments within those schools. More and more was being written and taught by those who were challenging the biblical views of heaven, hell, salvation, the atonement and even the very nature of God. And with the instantaneous nature of the internet, the spread of these new ideas was quickly becoming “viral” – and reaching levels of influence that in previous generations could take multiple decades to achieve.
It is interesting, that it seemed that the Lord had used our entire time in Hungary to prepare me to ask this question. I had taught Bible Study Methods and Expository preaching for twelve years. The very heart of my ministry was specifically centered around teaching others to handle the Word of God correctly. My interests and passions also developed along the lines of apologetics – and biblically evaluating teachings, trends and movements in light of clear biblical teaching. For many years and in a number of different schools (both in and outside of Hungary) I had taught courses on Apologetics, Creationism, Critique of the Charismatic Movement and Understanding Roman Catholicism.
Within 48 hours of sending that email to Jimmy DeYoung, I was on the phone with him, preparing for an interview on his national weekly radio program. We would be discussing the results of the survey I mentioned in the last two posts and the concern we shared for what seems to be happening in the evangelical world regarding the departure from biblical truth . From that point things began to move very quickly.
Stay tuned for “Part IV.”
Even though our decision to move back to the U.S. and start a new ministry probably seemed very sudden to many, it was actually the culmination of a long process of preparation through which the Lord had taken us.
I wrapped up the previous post with: This prompted me to write a simple two-line email to Jimmy DeYoung (a long-time friend and Founding Director of Prophecy Today), asking the question: “Is there a need for an organization, something like the Pre-Trib Study Group, to help hold the line on historical, conservative evangelicalism?”
As I mentioned, I wrote this email because of the results of a survey that had just been published (in June, 2008) concerning beliefs among those who self-identified as “Evangelicals.” As a missionary, it was very disconcerting to read that 57% indicated they believed other religions could lead to eternal life.
On the other hand, these results weren’t a complete surprise. In fact, for several years I had been suggesting that I would not be surprised if as many as 70% of those in Evangelical churches did not really believe that “the heathen are lost.” Up until the Pew Study results were published, I didn’t really have anything concrete upon which to base my “gut feeling.”
However, this whole issue had been a concern to such a degree that for each of the past three furloughs (2004, 2006, 2008), I had been preaching exclusively about this from Romans 10:9-15 whenever I had the opportunity. (And there had been an overwhelming response, especially from older believers, as their attention was drawn to the Lord’s perspective on the question of “What about those who haven’t heard?”)
In December, 2005, I had the privilege of speaking in chapel at Dallas Theological Seminary and again I preached from Romans 10. I was stunned when after the message, Howard Hendricks came up to me and said, “Thank you. I’m glad someone finally had the courage to say this.” I thought to myself, “How could this be coming from a professor at DTS?”
(If you would like to hear this message, it is still available on the DTS website: “Are the Heathen Lost?”)
For several years, many of us on the mission field were becoming increasingly concerned about the broad decline in the emphasis on missions, the struggle churches were having in even maintaining their financial commitments to missions, how fewer and fewer believers were moving into vocational missions, and how it was becoming increasingly difficult for missionary candidates to actually get to the field. Missions conferences were and are almost a thing of the past. For various reasons, very few people in any given church know any missionaries very well. And, because more and more churches only have one service a week with preaching from the pulpit, most congregations never hear missionary speakers as many pastors are understandably reluctant to relinquish that one opportunity they have each week to speak to the entire church.
What was happening within Evangelical churches? And more importantly, why?
I was beginning to conclude that ultimately there must be a theological reason behind this. I was sensing that a dramatic shift was occurring with more and more evangelicals becoming “practical universalists,”even though I knew most would theoretically agree that “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.” Again, the Pew Study only served to confirm this conclusion.
This theological shift could only mean one thing: Either people were no longer being grounded in the Word through clear expositional teaching and preaching or what evangelicals believed about the Bible and the way they were handling the Word of God was changing – or both. If this were true, then the foundations upon which “classic” evangelicalism rested were being quickly eroded and the future of historic, conservative evangelicalism was at stake. At the same time, I was sure that there must be a significant number of evangelical leaders who were seeing the same thing and shared the burden to keep the church faithful to the Lord and his Word.
It was this thought that prompted the email to Jimmy DeYoung and it was this concern that became one of the main catalysts in the formation of The Alliance for Biblical Integrity.
Please “stay tuned” for Part III in the next few days.
ABI Ministry Coordinator
I’m sure many have wondered about the details of our transition from being with Word of Life in Hungary for 16 years to returning to the States to be involved with launching the new ministry of The Alliance for Biblical Integrity. Now that a year has passed since we first began thinking about the transition, I am now in a position to look back over the last several years and especially the last twelve months and give a fairly coherent summary of exactly what has happened and why we are so excited about this new phase in our lives.
For most of us, much of our lives is characterized by fairly predictable routine even when we are doing the Lord’s work and we are confident we are in His will. However, occasionally, and especially when the Lord begins to take us into a new phase of life and on a new path in our journey it’s not a lot different than riding a “mean” roller coaster in the dark. Things often get very unpredictable and about all you can do is hang on while making the wisest decisions you can at each unforeseen turn, drop and corkscrew. That is very much what the last year has been like for us.
To continue the analogy, looking back, I can see that we had been in line to get on the roller coaster for a couple of years. As early as August 2006, we had begun to sense that we had largely completed the task the Lord had given us when we went to Hungary. Although each year brought new challenges and tremendous ministry opportunities, the Bible School was well-established. The curriculum was in place. Week after week, some of the most well-known and gifted Bible teachers of this generation gave of their time, talent and resources to minister to our staff and students as guest lecturers. The resident faculty was stable and doing a great job. And most of the Bible school staff (as well as the entire WOL ministry staff) was comprised of Hungarian men and women who had been discipled and trained through the Bible School ministry. The Lord had truly given us the desires of our heart. But then there began to be an inexplicable restlessness (which often seems to be the first indication that something is about to change.)
Then last summer, in June, we were on furlough, when the results of a survey of over 30,000 church-goers in the United States was published. Of those, over 9,000 were self-identified evangelicals. The results of the survey included some alarming statistics: 57% had responded that they believed that “many religions can lead to eternal life;” 36% didn’t believe that the Bible is literally true, including 7% who believe the Bible is not the Word of God and written by men alone.
(To see these and other statistics from the study: http://religions.pewforum.org/portraits, then click on “Select a Tradition – Evangelical Churches” on the under “Beliefs and Practices.” You can also see that 83% of those in “mainline” churches believe that other religions can lead to eternal life – click on the “Portraits of” menu.)
These statistics seemed to reflect a major shift away from the evangelicalism that we knew when we left for the mission field in 1992. But, unfortunately they seemed consistent with what we had sensed as missionaries, especially over the last five years – that the worldview and theological perspective of the average church-goer was changing to such a degree that it was beginning to have a major impact on the interest and focus on world missions and the need to take the gospel to those who haven’t heard.
This prompted me to write a simple two-line email to Jimmy DeYoung (a long-time friend and Founding Director of Prophecy Today), asking the question: “Is there a need for an organization, something like the Pre-Trib Study Group, to help hold the line on historical, conservative evangelicalism?”
I could not have anticipated the chain of events that this simple question would trigger.
In a couple of days I will post Part II of “The Beginnings of ABI.” Please “stay tuned.”
The Alliance for Biblical Integrity
Thanks for visiting!
This is the first blog posting for The Alliance for Biblical Integrity.
I hope to post several times a week, discussing various issues involving biblical hermeneutics and the current theological trends which are causing doubt and confusion concerning God and His Word. I also hope to regularly post blogs from guest writers, as well as link to other blogs on relevant topics at various sites across the web.
The ABI blog and the ABI website are both under ongoing development and there should significant progress on both in the coming weeks.
Please check back often and sign up (to the left) for new blog alerts via email. (If you subscribe, you will also have the opportunity to later unsubscribe if you wish.)
The Alliance for Biblical Integrity
Who We Are
The Alliance for Biblical Integrity is an association of individual believers, churches, educational institutions and organizations that are committed to the authoritative inerrant Word of God, an historical, grammatical interpretation of the Bible and the historically accepted fundamentals of the faith. We believe that the consistent application of a biblical hermeneutic necessarily leads to a classic dispensational view of the outworking of God’s program in history.
The Purpose of ABI
The Alliance for Biblical Integrity seeks to equip believers to be faithful to the Lord and His Word by teaching and promoting a biblical hermeneutic and worldview, while exposing and responding to unbiblical theology, practices, trends and movements.