The following rapture debate was held on October 9, 1999 at Irving Bible Church, Irving, Texas. About 600 were in attendance. The moderator was Kerby Anderson.
My commentary on the debate is below.
The following are the four parts of the debate with a rebuttal period after each one. (The beginning of the first audio file has some poor quality but it soon improves).
A few observations of the debate:
1. Mal Couch’s pretrib presentation was actually not a presentation at all. He made assertions about Matthew 24 but with no support to back them up except for an odd reference to Deuteronomy, an inconsistency that Roger Best pointed out later.
In addition, rather than Couch arguing for his position during his time to do so, he became fixated on personalities such as Robert Van Kampen and Marvin Rosenthal, a recourse that reveals his vacuous position.
2. After Charles Cooper gave his lucid prewrath presentation, it was time for the rebuttal from the others participants. Mal Couch was the first to respond. Would he respond biblically in his rebuttal period? Nope. He completely fell apart. In his very first remark, Couch engaged in a personal attack on Cooper saying something along the lines of “he would make a good salesman.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, it gets worse for Couch.
Immediately after his ad hominem against Cooper, he began to respond in a conspicuous agitated-hostile manner. It was obvious that the success of Cooper’s prewrath presentation and the positive effect it had on the audience put Couch in this distressed posture.
At this point, in my opinion, the debate was over. But there was more.
3. In Part 3, toward the beginning of the post-trib presentation the speaker admitted that he is more prewrath than posttrib! Incidentally, this is why I really believe that many posttribs would become prewrath if they were shown a competent prewrath explanation.
4. Next, in the post-trib rebuttal, Cooper pointed out some important inconsistencies within the postrib view concerning the sheep and goats judgment and their timing of the rapture. In addition, toward the end of this rebuttal Cooper corrected the pretrib Mal Couch on his errors by demonstrating that the day of the Lord’s wrath is announced by the sixth-seal cosmic disturbances.
5. After the debate was over, Mal Couch unhappily exited the building choosing not to take questions–and Charles Cooper and Roger Best received applause and a warm welcome after the debate with people gathering around them wanting to learn more about the prewrath position (including a post-trib participant!).
6. I am convinced that when the prewrath and pretrib position is examined side-by-side, or they are cross-examined in a public moderated debate, the prewrath will be shown to be the biblical position. This is why pretribs are recalcitrant to debate prewrathers in public. This debate was 15 years ago! I wish I could post some recent debate audio, but sadly that is not the case. We’ll still waiting for pretrib teachers to take up our debate challenges, but all we have heard are crickets. This is a reason why pretribs are coming over to the prewrath camp in droves. They see who is willing to defend their position publicly. And those who are not willing.
I am not a big fan of multiple party debates, and though there was no formal cross-examination in this debate, I thought it went well given the amount of time with some important points that Cooper and Best made in support of key prewrath issues. In addition, I was pleased to listen to them demonstrate inconsistencies in the opposing views, in particular with the pretrib position.
I believe, however, that the most effective format for debate are two individuals with opposing views having time periods of an opening, rebuttals, cross-examination, and closing. Just to emphasize, you cannot have a real debate without cross-examination; it is the soul of the debate. Otherwise, all you will really have are two monologues, not a dialogue. Further, the moderator is very important to a debate in managing and enforcing the protocol.
I believe debate would be beneficial for God’s people since two theological positions are held accountable; i.e., assumptions and false claims cannot go unchallenged as they often do in print. And most of all, God is glorified in this effective manner of communication of seeking biblical truth.
“The first to state his case seems right, until his opponent begins to cross-examine him.” Proverbs 18:17