Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could tune in! In today’s program, Tom begins a two-part series with guest, Tommy Ice, as they address the question: Will the Antichrist Be a Muslim? Here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
T.A.: Thanks, Gary. The topic for this program and our next one is Islam, and in particular, a belief that is making its way around evangelical Christianity. The teaching is that the Antichrist will come out of the religion of Islam, and therefore Islamic religious leaders under the Antichrist will rule the world during the seven-year Great Tribulation, which precedes Christ’s return.
My guest to discuss this – whether or not this is biblically valid – is Tommy Ice. And Tommy is the executive director of the Pre-Trib Research Center, which produces a newsletter and hosts an annual conference that focuses primarily on biblical prophecy. Tommy, thanks for joining me on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Tommy: It’s good to be with you, Tom.
T.A.: Tommy, before we get to our main topic, tell our listeners about the Pre-Trib Study Group. What’s it about? Tell us why it got started.
Tommy: Well, it started in 1992. Tim LaHaye and I had met, and he had just come out…or, was coming out, with a book on the Rapture because he noticed that the Rapture doctrine – some people who used to believe in it didn’t anymore. And so we had our first meeting in December of ’92, and we invited people like Dave Hunt – there were about thirty-seven of us at the first one – and for the first few years you had to be invited to come, and then over time…now just about anybody can come, and we present papers, on the academic side, usually, defending the Pre-Trib Rapture and related Bible prophecy doctrines.
So we deal with the whole sphere of dispensationalism, Bible prophecy – but mainly defending…documenting, studying, proclaiming, and defending the Pre-Trib Rapture. We just had our twenty-fourth annual conference last month, and this year in December, we’ll have our 25th annual conference.
T.A.: You know, Tommy, one of the things – as I started attending with Dave – one of the things I really appreciated about it was that…and I know that this was your intent, you and Tim’s intent, was to put together the academics – you had a lot of the professors from Dallas Theological Seminary, and the popular writers, whether it be Hal Lindsay, or Dave Hunt, or whoever it might have been. And that made for some interesting discussions. And this was…this was not a conference like a normal prophecy conference, where you have the speakers and there might be a Q&A. But the thing I liked about it was that you had perspectives. You certainly had the academics that would zero in on a particular thing, but then their research or their biblical exegesis – whatever it might have been – whether it was written by Dave or yourself or Tim – getting it to the folks, us common folks, as I’d say, so we could kind of get a handle on it. But as I said, it was a study group. It was very different in that way, and I thought it was great.
Tommy: Yeah, in fact Judgment Day by Dave Hunt was…when I asked him to do a paper on that topic, he did the paper one year, and then expanded it into a book. And there are well over a hundred books that have been written as a result of interaction just from the Pre-Trib Study Group over the years.
T.A. The other thing about it: issues that I think were of value to the body of Christ. For example, I remember that one year you had…I don’t know if it was Charles Dyer at Dallas?
T.A.: He did one on…the perspective was that Babylon is really in the East. It’s in Iraq, the origins, or what the Bible was talking about related to that. So that was presented, but then the following year, you had Dave and… you talk about a book—Dave, in his book A Woman Rides the Beast, which pretty much laid out twelve points as to why Mystery Babylon was Rome, or at least a major part of it dealt with Rome.
But here, again, we have brothers in Christ, taking some perspectives, and then “the just shall live by faith.” You listen to these guys, and you be a Berean, you search the Scriptures to see whose perspective holds up according to the Scriptures.
Tommy: Right. We had variation of beliefs to some degree, but within our framework – Pre-Tribulationalism, Pre-Millennialism, Dispensationalism. For example, Dave and I differed on the Olivet Discourse. He believed the Rapture is there. I don’t. He believed that the first two verses up to verse nine or twelve, I think, refers to the age between the two comings – that includes the church age. I do not. But my view is probably the minority view.
But we’ve had guys over the years present views that I personally disagree with, because it is part of our discussion within our tradition.
T.A.: Right. Now, Tommy, you mentioned that from your observation, from your view, it’s pretty much why you and Tim decided to start the Pre-Trib Study Group – interest in the Rapture, support of the Rapture. Would you say it was on the wane then, and what’s the state of it right now in terms of your observation of the church?
Tommy: Well, I know that in academia, pre-tribulationalism has really gone down. There are many less people in the academic world that hold to pre-tribulationalism. But, on the other hand, for example, the Southern Baptists – I remember back in the seventies, I don’t know if there was any academics that were pre-Trib. Now, within their circles at the academic level there are probably 25-30 percent that believe in the pre-Trib Rapture. Within the circles that I come out of, Dallas Seminary and everything, well, it’s really gone downhill among our group, moving away.
But it’s hard to evaluate what people in general think, because of the Left Behind series. The Left Behind series really boosted a lot of average people coming to believe in the pre-Trib Rapture. But I’ll tell you this: we’ve never seen such attack on pre-Tribulationism as we see today. There are more organizations and individuals out there attacking our view as somehow being dangerous, and people aren’t going to be ready to face the Antichrist, and they’re going to lose their faith and all this kind of stuff – it’s gaining out there. And so I think it’s more of a polemical issue than it probably ever has been.
T.A.: Tommy, the last time you were on with me on Search the Scriptures 24/7 we were kind of talking about that. But I brought up the fact that coming out of Roman Catholicism, I had no clue as to prophecy – what that was about, and then the Rapture – I mean that was nonexistent within any of the teachings, except as a heresy.
T.A.: Saying that this was a heretical view. However, Tommy, I don’t know of anything, even till today, that I’ve been more excited about – learning about prophecy, learning about what the Bible says – not about…yeah, there are going to be different opinions, and so on within individuals, schools, and so on, but I’m still as excited today about not just prophecy but the coming of our Lord! The Rapture of the Church! Our blessed hope! And as we talked before (and I want to get on to our subject here) but, Tommy, is there anything more exciting?
Tommy: No! In fact…
T.A.: Absolutely not!
Tommy: …I grew up Southern Baptist, and I don’t remember ever hearing about the Rapture till I was 19 years old. I was in church nine months before I was born, every Sunday, and the pastors I had never talked about the Rapture, and I remember first learning about it when I was 19 years old. It just so happened it was 1970, and I asked, “Where can I learn more about it?” They said, well it’s in a book. The Late Great Planet Earth had just come out, so that was kind of my first introduction to all of this. But what a lot of people miss about pre-Tribulationalism is that it is motivated by a desire, as the Bride, to be with her Bridegroom. Any bride that loves her bridegroom wants to be with him! And that is our hope.
I remember in Orange County – I think it was 1989 – I was there with Dave Hunt and Hal Lindsay. At that time, they were probably the two best-selling authors in evangelicalism. And Dave was almost weeping about how people no longer long for the Lord’s return. And he was so right. And now it’s just something that some people want to argue about, rather than it being our hope. Just think! Seeing Jesus, whom we love and we’ve never seen, and the next moment [we’re] face to face! That is something to be excited about! And it’s a tremendous motivation. And the New Testament uses it that way as a motivation.
T.A.: Tommy, another Dave story here. Dave and I are in Vladimir, Russia, which is about 200 kilometers east of Moscow, and I remember Dave – this is a pastors’ conference, and these are young guys, and Dave is just leaning over the pulpit, and he’s saying, “You guys! You’re the bride! You know that there’s a wedding coming up!” You know how Dave could get really excited about things like that, and you can see these young guys – their faces lit up, they were really receiving what Dave said, and they were biblically astute, so they knew he was not just giving them his impression, or something like that. This was a reality from the Scripture.
One last thing before we move on, Tommy. Is there one specific thing, or something that you’re aware of, which would turn people away from this? This blessed hope? I don’t get it!
Tommy: Well, I mean, I don’t know if there’s one thing. There’s a lot of different reasons why, just everything from Post-millennialism: we’re in the Kingdom, and we’ve got to help advance the kingdom to…well, we have to suffer, and all of this. And they forget that the whole church age is a time of suffering for the church, and that’s the whole argument there. And Revelation:3:10 says that because we had gone through this time of testing during the Church Age, we’re not going to go through the time of God’s wrath in the Tribulation. And so, the thing I’m hearing from these people today is primarily that our teaching is a false teaching, and therefore the church is not going to be prepared to face the Antichrist and therefore our view is a dangerous view, because we’re not preparing people to face the Antichrist. Well, I’m not preparing people to face the Antichrist. I’m preparing people to meet Christ himself, and that’s what the New Testament emphasizes. Why would the New Testament emphasize all of this stuff about at any moment you could see Christ – and go through the Tribulation? That makes no sense whatsoever.
T.A.: Plus there’s another side. As you pointed out, there are many things here, but the one thing that really upsets me is that, “Oh, well you guys are just interested in a helicopter escapist kind of thing. You just want to get out of here.” Have they read the Scriptures? To me, the blessed hope, just as you’re pointing out, Tommy, it is a purifying thing. I’m getting ready to meet the Groom! And I want to be as pleasing to the Groom as I possibly can! And it isn’t just my own thoughts or my own feelings. This is what the Scripture says, isn’t it?
Tommy: Right. It sure does, and what can you do other than teach it? But, you know, I think the reason the pre-Trib Rapture is somewhat in decline today is because Bible teaching’s in decline. People are not taught the Bible anymore. They’re taught everything else but. And the pre-Trib Rapture flourished when Bible teaching was at its height. And it’s declining now that Bible teaching is in the decline in churches. And so, that’s a perfectly sane explanation as to why this is happening. And it could be that our theology actually is true – in other words that we’re seeing the end-time apostasy upon us.
T.A.: Well, 2 Timothy:4:3: prophecy! Here we go! “The time will come [prophecy] when they will not endure sound doctrine.” There goes Bible study, there goes being a Berean, there goes all of that, just right out the window. And then there’s vulnerability. There’s no basis for it.
But, Tommy, I want to add one thing to that. Sometimes when the abuses within Christendom – Christianity, some aspect of Christianity – become so overt, almost in billboard sense…what I’m referring to here is something like the word-faith, the prosperity, the healing stuff, the work of the Holy Spirit pushed to way beyond what the Scriptures teach, people react to that, and they overreact to that, so that they turn it off. Now within this, in an article that I read by you, you talk about something called “newspaper exegesis.” That’s a terrific idea, Tommy! It may not… a reality. A sad reality, a tragic reality, but explain to our listeners what you mean by “newspaper exegesis.”
Tommy: Well, it’s when you interpret the Bible based on current events, rather than studying the text and then looking at current events. And that’s what I think has happened with this Islamic Antichrist thing, because the Bible doesn’t talk about Islam. Islam didn’t develop until after the Bible was written. Now, certainly, God could have talked about or referred to Islam in some indirect way that would be clear, but I don’t know anybody who knows any passages or think that this is a reference to Islam in some hidden way. And so they see how dominant Islam is becoming, and so they then take the basic biblical view of the Tribulation and they Islamicize it. They say, “Well, they’re on the rise. Everybody else, you know, the Western cultures and society’s are in decline, which, of course, is true. Therefore, it looks like they are going to take over the world and not revive the Roman Empire, which is what I think the Bible teaches.
T.A.: Now, Tommy, the abuse – I mean, we’ve just been extolling prophecy because of the value of prophecy – there it is in scripture, what is it, more than one-third of the Scripture is prophecy? And that’s predictive prophecy. But there’s also just God’s Word! This is from the heart, the mind, of God. We have His scriptures right there. That’s prophetic insight – not necessarily predictive, but it’s just God’s Word, right?
T.A.: Now, here’s where I’m going with this. In terms of abusing that, which we’ve just mentioned, prophecy and prophecy ministries – there’s kind of an occupational hazard with that. And that is they want to be timely, they want to be ahead of the curve, and so on. So, your statement about newspaper exegesis – it really becomes eisegesis. In other words, these guys are putting their own ideas in a scriptural context, but it’s not in the Word of God. And it’s an occupational hazard, and this is what maybe gives a bad name to prophetic ministries. Some of them are terrific, but some of them, you know, as you say, they go by, “Oh, let’s pick up a newspaper, and…oh! Look at that!” They have to make it fit. I don’t care whether it’s the tsunami in Japan or whatever it might be. They have to apply it because that’s their M.O. That’s the way they go about things. But that’s eisegesis, isn’t it? Which is man imposing his ideas, his thoughts, his extrabiblical thoughts on the scriptures.
Tommy: It’s from the two Greek prepositions: “eis” meaning “into,” and “ek” [meaning] “out of.” So, exegesis means to lead out the meaning of the text from the text itself. And we believe in what is called “inductive exegesis.” In other words, you study the Bible first, and you find out what it’s saying in its context to its original readers, and then you can apply it and think about it and develop theology and conclusions from there. But you first have to properly interpret a passage. And so, these people are coming in and leaping, so to speak (because they get excited about some current event), and they’re leaping to conclusions that do not flow from an inductive exegesis of Scripture.
T.A.: Right. Now, again, for our listeners who’ve just joined us, our topic is Islam and the religion of the Antichrist, which some teachers, some authors within Christianity hold that it’s going to be Islam – that’s going to be the religion of the Antichrist, and the Antichrist himself, their claim is, that he will be a Muslim. Now, Tommy, I know you mentioned, “Find that in the Scripture.” Well, we’re going to get into questioning it on that basis, but let’s say one of our listeners has a friend who’s read one of the popular prophecy teachers who promotes this idea that I just described. How would you go about trying to correct the friend’s acceptance of such a – I believe, and you believe – an erroneous view. What counsel would you give him or her?
Tommy: Well, first, I would ask that person what is it that they understand they’re being taught about this Muslim Antichrist. I’d try to have them articulate what their view is, which oftentimes, people aren’t able to even do that. But, you know, they’ll just say, “Well, I just know he’s going to be…I heard so-and-so, and he convinced me that it’s going to be that.” Well, secondly, I would point out that a lot of this is based upon Islamic prophecies and such. In other words, they are kind of accepting some of the prophecies and beliefs of Islam to be true. I don’t do that at all! I don’t think anything about Islam is true. And then thirdly, I would show them where Scripture teaches about the Antichrist. And he’s going to come from the Roman Empire. And that’s how we know where he’s going to come from.
T.A.: Tommy, we’ve got just a couple of minutes left, but once again, what we’re seeing pretty much in videos and book form is just what you’ve been concerned about – what you mentioned with regard to newspaper exegesis. These are guys who are looking maybe not to what’s going on in Israel, or what’s going on…I mean, they’re certainly doing that, and then what’s going on in the East, but they’re also looking to these prophetic utterances by people that don’t know the Lord, that obviously this didn’t come to them – the prophecies of Islam, whether it be in Iran or Iraq or Syria, wherever it might be – these aren’t of the Lord. That should be clear to everybody. So why would you base or make your foundation a prophecy from somebody who doesn’t know the Lord? It’s obviously not true.
Tommy: Right. And they try to… you know, they end up changing history. For example, Joel Richardson is saying that when you look at the empires in Daniel – in other words, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and then the Roman Empire – he’s trying to argue that the divided Greek Empire is the final of those four empires, not Rome. And so, he then tries to argue from Daniel 8 that Antiochus Epiphanes, which happened in the past, who is a type of the Antichrist, does come from Syria, and so he tries to take that and either say that it’s a future prophecy or because Antiochus Epiphanes came from there, therefore the Antichrist is going to come from there.
And those are non sequiturs. The Book of Revelation – you go to chapter 17, it makes it very clear that John, who wrote the Book of Revelation in AD 95 – and even if he wrote it like the Preterists say in AD 65, it’s the same empire in control, and that was Rome. And it says, “One is, and one is coming,” you see. So, the “one” who is, is the Roman Empire. Everybody understands that that way, virtually. And therefore, this is one, and within Daniel’s framework of history in chapters 2 and 7 of his prophecy book, the first three kingdoms are overtaken by the following kingdoms. And no kingdom overtakes Rome, and then it just kind of dissipates, and it’s revived in the form of the Seat, or the Beast with Ten Horns in chapter 7. And eventually the “stone cut without hands” chapter 2 talks about is going to destroy that final revived Roman Empire, in other words, during the Tribulation of the Antichrist, etc., and there’s just no way to fit the Greeks in there in the future, you see.
T.A.: Now, we’re out of time for this segment, Tommy, but next week, the Lord willing, we want to cover in more detail, something that’s becoming popular among many Christians, and that is that the religion of the Antichrist, the Antichrist himself, the religion will be Islam and the Antichrist will be a Muslim. So we’re going to pick up with that next week.
Tommy, thanks for being my guest today on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Tommy: My privilege.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, Oregon 97708; call us at 800.937.6638; or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you can be here again next week! Until then, we encourage you to search the Scriptures 24/7.