Use of the Early Church Fathers and a Jesuit Conspiracy

By Joe Schimmel

An article critical of our new DVD Left Behind or Led Astray? posted by Miguel Hayworth for UK Apologetics Library begins friendly enough, with a statement in the beginning paragraph, “I will say that many people have said that the work that Joe Schimmel produced on the Satanic Agenda in Hollywood and the music industry to be commendable and the work he did on gay rights.”

However, most of the article deals with two main criticisms of the DVD: (1) “not all the early church fathers are listed in the film due to its content on one subject, what the film omits is that there are some of early Church Fathers are listed the Great Fathers … who were also called the “Eight Doctors of the Church” are regarded as the basis for the what was later to be recognized as the formation of the Roman Catholic Church, it eventually led later to the formation of Vatican 1…” and (2) “Joe Schimmel is promoting the idea that a Jesuit who is often seen to be representative of RCC had an agenda to push the Pre-trib view…”

Our response to the first charge is simple; the reason we do not quote from the fathers of the Roman Catholic Church is because at that point in the video we are focusing on the early church or Ante Nicene Fathers who preceded the formation of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Council of Nicaea. We make it clear that a consensus in the patristic or early church fathers prior to the formation of the RCC is most likely to reflect the teachings of Jesus and the apostles and thus a good gauge to understand the eschatology of the early church.

We also document several quotes from pre-trib leaders admitting that the early church fathers were post-trib. However, when quoting Augustine later in the DVD, it is strictly and clearly academic, as we do so only to illustrate that pre-trib was still not in existence after the early church fathers. Our quotations of various leaders is to demonstrate the prevailing thought of the times as we move through our 2,000-year timeline in search of the pre-trib origins and in no way endorses any specific teacher post Nicaea. In fact, if we were to quote the bevy of Roman Catholic fathers Miguel Hayworth lists in his article, we would find again and again that even they did not hold to a pre-trib rapture! The article also presents an erroneous and offensive criticism that implies that we hold the early church fathers to be as authoritative as the Scripture itself, stating:

“You cannot treat the early fathers on par with the scriptures or the Apostles even if there is a direct link, it maybe the case that some of the teachings may have agreed with scripture it is my position that as long as the scripture is placed above the early fathers we use the bible as a means to discern correctly.” –Miguel Hayworth, “Left Behind or Led Astray? [Official Trailer] Review” (UK Apologetics Library)

Those familiar with Good Fight Ministries know that we hold tenaciously to Sola Scriptura and make it clear in our Left Behind or Led Astray? DVD that the early church fathers are in no way to be held on par with Scripture, which is authoritative and binding on all issues of faith and practice. While the early church fathers provide us insight into the convictions of the early church and often times are reflective of what we read in God’s Word, their teachings are always to be tested in light of Holy Scripture. It just so happens that, in respect to the rapture of the church, the early church fathers, whenever they spoke of timing, held to the post-trib position taught by Jesus (Matthew 24:29-31) and the apostles (2 Thessalonians 1:6-11; 2:1-4). While this is a good indication that pre-tribs should, at the very least, call the new fangled theory into question, it is Scripture itself that decides the matter!

Now we turn to the second main criticism:

“…Joe Schimmel is promoting the idea that a Jesuit who is often seen to be representative of RCC had an agenda to push the Pre-trib view…” –Ibid

Perhaps this erroneous charge is due to the fact that this reviewer’s comments appear to be based on the trailer promoting the DVD and part of a clip from our Left Behind or Led Astray? DVD on the early church fathers, and not on the DVD itself. In the trailer we state that we will explore the different views of the origins of the pre-trib view, including the view that pre-trib originated with Jesuits involved in the Counter Reformation. In the video we do point out that the Jesuits engaged in a Counter Reformation movement, which no one disputes (just read the Council of Trent).

In our documentary we also document that that the Jesuit Emanuel de Lacunza was an undeniable influence on Edward Irving and the Irvingites, who turn out to be the first pre-tribs in the 19th century and the first to disseminate pre-trib among the churches. We document that Irving not only translated the Jesuit Lacunza’s book on the second coming titled The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty into English and published it, but that he introduced his teachings into the Albury Conferences, which happens to be the place from which Darby’s closest associate, Benjamin Wills Newton, states that pre-trib was first taught! We also document that Irving and the Irvingites were the first to publicly move from a pre-conflagration rapture (which was taught by Lacunza) to pre-trib, as we thoroughly document via their Morning Watch quarterly journal and other sources.

Having said this, we never once claim that Lacunza taught pre-trib but that he separated the rapture from the Second Coming of Christ in glory by 45 days. Thus, Lacunza’s position, while evidently inspiring Irving and some of those at the Albury Conferences to separate the rapture from the second coming in glory, was at the most seminal to the formation of the pre-rib theory and not pre-trib. So, we never once state or even imply that Lacunza (or even Francisco Ribera for that matter) were pre-trib. However, it is an inescapable conclusion that the Jesuit Lacunza’s separation of the rapture from the second coming had an influence on Irving, who later extended that separation to include the duration of the tribulation period. While the apostle Paul strongly warned that their would be spiritual deceptions claiming the rapture would precede the falling away and the revelation of Antichrist in the temple (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4), as to all of this being part of a Counter Reformation conspiracy by the Roman Catholic Church and the Jesuits, we never dogmatically draw such a conclusion and leave that to the viewer to decide.

We are sad to see that our critics, in their unmitigated desire to hold to pre-trib theory, must resort to faulty arguments to seek to discredit our Left Behind or Led Astray? DVD. On the other hand, we are happy that such a tactic demonstrates their lack of any real arguments and further demonstrates that the case we have made on pre-trib origins, by the grace of God, is quite solid! However, our critics should also be careful not to disregard truth because it does not fit into their theological or eschatological construct. When God’s Word and history contradict our theology, it is always better to change our theology rather than change the meaning of God’s Word or revise history.

Also, those who review our Left Behind or Led Astray? DVD should do so with humility on the basis of what we actually say and not use straw man arguments to poison the well. They should remember that one of the Lord’s commandments is “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).

Please help us get our new DVD out! The time is getting shorter, the church is not at all prepared to face tribulation and needs to see the truth on the issue of the timing of the rapture relative to the tribulation before things heat up even more. Pray for our brothers and sisters who are being beheaded by ISIS and martyred in various parts of the world. Pray that Jesus would prepare the church to face the coming great tribulation period before the falling away He prophesied comes to pass. Pray that the church would take Jesus’ admonition seriously, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” May we be faithful to warn the churches with the same apostolic message that the apostles brought to the early church:

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

May the Lord richly bless you as you seek to know Him and make Him known!

In Jesus’ Service,

Pastor Joe Schimmel

[Editor’s Note] Neither Ray Comfort nor Kirk Cameron appear in our DVD Left Behind or Led Astray?. They appear in our trailer simply as an endorsement to our ministry in general. In his review, Miguel Hayworth (wrongly) assumes that these two are featured in our film. They are not in the film.

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6 comments

  1. [I recently saw this item on the net, for what it may be worth.]

    THE REAL MANUEL LACUNZA

    by Dave MacPherson

    John Bray’s 1982 booklet “The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching” claimed that 18th century Jesuit priest Manuel Lacunza originated the pretrib rapture in his 1812 work “The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty.” Bray stated Lacunza saw a 45-day period between a rapture and Christ’s touchdown on earth – a 45-day period Bray viewed as “tribulation” days.
    But Lacunza was only saying that the posttrib “day of the Lord” would be at least 45 days long – the difference between the 1290 days and the 1335 days in Dan. 12. Somehow Bray failed to note that those 45 days could not begin until the tribulation days were “concluded” (Vol. II, p. 250)!
    In Vol. I (p. 83) Lacunza writes that “the nineteenth chapter [of Revelation] speaks of the coming of the Lord in glory and majesty, which Christians with one consent do wait for.”
    On pp. 99-100, after quoting I Thess. 4:13-18, Lacunza quotes Matt. 24:30 and then comments: “If you compare this text with that of St. Paul, you shall find no other difference than this, that those who are to arise on the coming of the Lord, the apostle nameth those who are dead in Christ, who sleep in Jesus; and the Lord nameth them his elect.”
    And in Vol. I (p. 113) Lacunza again quotes I Thess. 4 and Matt. 24 like this: “…He shall descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive, &c. and it appears to me, that you will find St. Paul and the Gospel speaking one and the same thing: He shall send his angels and they shall gather his elect from the four winds; who can be no other than those very ones who are in Christ, who sleep in Jesus.”
    Interestingly, even Tim LaHaye’s 1992 book “No Fear of the Storm” admits on p. 169 that “Lacunza never taught a pre-Trib Rapture!”
    For more on Bray and his other groundless claims, Google “Is John Bray a PINO?,” “Morgan Edwards’ Rapture View,” “Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture,” “John Darby Did NOT Invent the Rapture,” “Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart,” “Edward Irving Vs. John Darby,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.”
    Finally, since the earliest pretrib rapture promoters were overwhelmingly anti-Catholic, it’s not likely they would have adopted anything from a Catholic!

    • Thank you for this insight from Dave MacPherson. While we at Good Fight Ministries include Manuel Lacunza in our video, it is only for the purposes of showing the first instance (that we are aware of) where the rapture and Jesus’ second coming is separated by a period of time (in this case, 45 days). We believe this heavily influenced Edward Irving and others in further formulating the pre-trib theory in part, however, we do not believe that Manuel Lacunza was the originator of the pre-trib rapture theory, he was only a small piece of a much larger puzzle.

  2. Dan Nickel

    So how much food will you need?
    Will you need guns to protect your food once your neighbors know that you are not loosing weight?

    Why was Paul looking forward to the catching up in 1 Thess. 4?

    We call it the bless hope/ the rapture.

    Why should we allow the anti Christ to control us when Paul said we were to live for Christ?

    • Matthew 6: “…do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. … Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ … But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness … So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself…”

      Regarding 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul is telling us not to be uninformed about those who are asleep in Christ. We should not mourn the loss of loved ones in Christ the way the world mourns their own. We are to comfort one another with this hope. And those who are alive at the time of the rapture will not precede those who are asleep at the coming of the Lord.

      Lastly, a pre-trib rapture is NOT the blessed hope (spoken of in Titus 2:13). Our blessed hope is Jesus’ glorious appearing at His second coming and believers spending eternity with Him. THAT is our blessed hope. The blessed hope spoken of in Titus 2:13 is “the appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (See the Granville Sharp Rule as applied to this passage.) The blessed hope is the glorious appearing at the end of the age (not 7 years prior in a pre-trib rapture). This scripture actually confirms the post-tribulation view.

      Read what Tim LaHaye himself stated:
      “It should also be noted that there is no reference of a rapture in connection with the glorious appearing. Again, if the post-tribulationists had such a verse, it would end the argument.” (Tim LaHaye, The Rapture (Harvest House Publishers: Eugene Oregon), 2002, p. 104).

      Well, we DO have that verse! If Tim LaHaye could admit what almost all other pre-tribulationists and Greek scholars understand – that the Glanville Sharp Rule demonstrates that the Blessed Hope and the Glorious Appearing are speaking of the same event – then LaHaye would have to aknowledge, based upon his own argument (above), that the Rapture/Blessed Hope takes place at the Glorious Appearing/Second Coming (post-tribulation) and “it would end the argument.”

  3. I believe that Miguel’s critique was not leveled against the DVD but the Trailer. I would also point out that Miguel does not hold to the Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine. I am concerned the unwelcome trend amongst believers to condemn others for holding to a differing interpretation of the timing of the “Rapture”to their own. One respected teacher seems to think that all Pre-Tribbers are Gnostics. Another Baptist Pastor denounces Pre-Tribbers as outright heretics, whilst he, himself, is a Holocaust denier.

    I remember denounced as a Heretic by one lady because I dared to challenge her Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine. Another church elder was insisting that the Pre-Trib view was the only truly Biblical stance. These are not issues that ought to divide us. I believe that the resurrection of the dead in Christ happens first, then the Catching up of the saints will occur when the Lord returns “immediately after the Tribulation of those days” according to Matthew 24. But I could be wrong.

    One thing is for certain none of us knows when these events are going to happen, and I’m pretty sure that Christ will not be returning this year. What can happen, and what we all need to be preparing for is that at any time (day or night) our souls may be required of us and if we are not prepared for this then it won’t matter what timing of the Rapture any of us holds to.

    The main focus we, as believers, should have is to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. Christ is coming back to Judge the living and the dead and unless people are not believers they will not be saved.

    The fact that we seem to be living in the Generation that will witness the second coming should spur believers to evangelism. Sadly the Lord’s own words remain true even now, “The labourers are few!”

    Rather than fight over eschatology we should “fight the good fight of faith”! When will the Rapture occur? When God wills it. Will it be Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib or Post-Trib (pre-wrath)? Well I know which I would prefer but I’m not counting on it. I know that living through tribulation is part of our calling as believers. I also know that the history of the Church has been one of intense hardship and persecution, so why should I believe that Christ would remove His saints out of the world during the Great Tribulation?

    Another issue is the timing of the Great Tribulation. Some affirm that it begins at the beginning of the Seventieth Week of Daniel, whist others believe that it occurs mid way during the last 42 months of the Son of Perdition’s after he kicks the Jews out of their Temple and the Mark is then imposed upon the people.

    All I know is that before Christ returns there must first come the Great Apostasy after which will come the Son of Perdition who will sit in the Temple in Jerusalem as if he were God even claiming that he is God! Then will the nations be made to either submit to him as the only god by receiving his mark or else be executed.

    This will test Christians as to the reality of their faith, many will fall during this time, and others will simply fall from the faith and give in rather than die!

    I believe that amongst those that fall away during this period there will be some who appeared to be Great examples of Faith, whilst those that fall to martyrdom will be people that we wouldn’t have even expected to be people of God.

    “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed ) in that day.”
    (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10)

    • Well said!

      What troubles me are the number of believers who mock those who feel it wise to prepare on some level. If they choose to get ‘survival food’, which lasts 20 years, doesn’t seem so unwise, as based on the convergence of signs, the tribulation can’t be too far off. Even if we were to be raptured sooner rather than later, someone would benefit from that preparedness. My stuff will also have teachings with it as to why it’s there for them, and to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.