“And then, in a fit of rage, his other hand shot the contents of that glass into the air, everywhere—on people, table, walls, chairs.”
I receive prewrath stories all the time, but the one that you are about to read rivals with the best of them. When the Prewrath position came out around 1990 the responses from Pretribulational teachers were (and still continues today) personal attacks on prewrath authors, dishonest caricatures of the Prewrath position, and everything else possible to avoid engaging meaningful Prewrath Biblical argumentation. These blunders by Pretibulational teachers has only encouraged untold numbers of ex-pretribbers to come over to the Prewrath camp.
When noted Pretribulational author and teacher Dr. Herman A. Hoyt was asked about the Prewrath position by an individual striving to be a Berean, Hoyt’s behavior demonstrated that Pretribulationism lacks a Biblical response to the Prewrath position, as you will learn in the following story:
During my teenage years in the late 70’s/early 80’s, my dad and I would spend hours examining the system of pretribulationsm. We were loyal pretribulationists, to be sure, and my dad was infectiously interested in the Second Coming of Christ. We attended special preaching services by James Boyer, Herman Hoyt, Nathan Meyer, John Whitcomb—a host of popular dispensational preachers of the 1970’s. We just wanted to understand how it all fit together. Many details remained persistently inconsistent, but our efforts to interpret those problems within the framework of pretribulationsm prevented us from answering our own questions.
After these preaching services, the attendees would ask questions. I noticed, even as a teenager, that the replies rarely seemed to actually “answer” the questions being asked. I also remember those questions seemed to deal most often with Matthew 24 and the Second Coming. Christians I knew could not help but connect 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 with the Second Coming. But we were taught that Paul’s reference to the Second Coming was supposed to be incompatible with the Second Coming of Matthew 24. The explanations were vague—never clear and conclusive. “That’s Jewish time” or “I won’t want to be here then, and neither will you!” were the shallow and unbiblical answers we often heard regarding Matthew 24.
In June, 1990, my dad called on the phone—audibly enthused. “Have you read, The Prewrath Rapture of the Church?” “No,” I answered. “I think it might answer the questions we have been asking.”
Within a day, I had a copy of the book from the local Christian bookseller. Within 7 hours I had read the book, shocked that pretribulationism had been dismantled. In two weeks, the book binding was ruined from reading and re-reading. I bought eight more copies and handed out six at church, and one to my dad.
The interest spread in our local Grace Brethren church. We did not want to be duped, and this was so compelling of an argument that we wanted to have an earnest discussion with an “authority.” So, men with connections to Grace Seminary summoned Dr. Herman Hoyt, former president of the seminary and distinguished professor of “everything,” to come and visit with us on October 5, 1990 at 7:00pm in the living room of Mr. and Mrs. Dale Denlinger. We had no idea that being Bereans (i.e., searching the Scripture to see whether these things were so) was about to cause an eruption, literally.
The evening was attended by several men and their wives, including mine. My dad was there. After introductions, Dr. Hoyt launched into a speech which explained the whole impetus behind The Prewrath Rapture of the Church: money. Marvin Rosenthal was making money off a book. That was his whole reason why we should not agree with him. But we had read the book, and that was, of course, a non-answer. Our pastor brought the focus back to the question at-hand: “Was the system accurate? What are the specific problems?” Dr. Hoyt gave an answer that my dad and I joke about to this day. His one word answer, for the remainder of the evening, was “Gobbledygook.”
“It’s all just gobbledygook,” he would repeat. That is exactly the word and the extent of the answer we received, from this esteemed Th.D. of one of the foremost evangelical seminaries in the nation at that time.
Sitting across from Dr. Hoyt, eager with all ears tuned in, I was more than disappointed. I wondered if the wrong questions were being asked, since the only answer he could muster was “gobbledygook.” So, hearkening back to my own questions about the Second Coming and Matthew 24, I supposed that Dr. Hoyt might discuss the issue of the word parousia. I asked a simple question, “What does the word parousia mean, and how does that support pretribulationism better than prewrath?”
At that moment, the sun went dark, the moon turned to blood and stars fell from heaven.
Well, not quite.
What happened next was startling. Dr. Hoyt used his left hand to point directly at me, while his right hand held a full glass of water. He sat forward, and bellowed (this is a quote), “I know the Greek! Who does he think he is asking me? The problem with you is that you have not studied what I have!” And then, in a fit of rage, his other hand shot the contents of that glass into the air, everywhere&—on people, table, walls, chairs. I sat there, momentarily stunned, and then embarrassingly amused (which didn’t help) while Dr. Hoyt became so animated that his sweet wife had to hold him down in the chair while screeching to him, “Dear! Dear!”
As the hostess began to clean up the mess, Dr. Hoyt informed her, and the rest of us sitting in awkward silence, that he didn’t need that glass of water anyway because he makes enough spit of his own.
This story is true. It is both funny and sad at the same time. So many Bible students, simply wanting to have clear, biblical explanations, have been on the receiving end of shallow and barking responses, instead of being instructed “with great patience” as Paul commanded Timothy. The fabric of God’s Word is woven without frayed ends. We must diligently study the Word of God to know it personally, showing ourselves approved unto God.
by David Mohler