Over the past 22 years of teaching theology at a seminary, there are always questions that get asked year after year. One of these perennial questions has to do with the connection and correlation of Free Grace Theology and the pre-tribulation rapture. It is demonstrable that many of those who hold to a free grace theology are also dispensational and those who are dispensational are almost always pre-tribulational to some degree. However, it is possible to be amillennial and still hold to free grace or to be Post-tribulational rapture and be free grace, although both of these are not the norm.
That said, I have had a number of seminary students that are post-trib or mid-tribulational or pre-wrath rapture in their views and who also hold tenaciously to free grace theology. The more natural and normal formation of those who are free grace results in a dispensational theology that includes a pre-tribulational rapture. However, there are many skilled exegetes and theologians who proclaim the glorious grace of God’s free grace while holding to a variety of eschatological views.
This week the 24th National Pre-Trib Study Center Conference is being held in Dallas, Texas. This ministry was founded by Dr. Tim LaHaye in 1991 and is directed by Dr. Tom Ice. The purpose of this theological think-tank is to provide the church with the best and latest research based on exegetical and theological studies to provide insight and evidence for a defense of the pre-tribulation rapture view. In many ways, this conference is similar to the Bible and prophecy conferences held in America and England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that focused on dispensationalism and biblical prophecy. This year the keynote speaker is Joel Rosenberg, an evangelical Christian from an Orthodox Jewish heritage. He is the author of the best-seller Epicenter and many other books. He lives now in Jerusalem with his family.
Many who attend the Pre-Trib Conference are clearly free grace in their understanding of theology. Some are more reformed in their soteriology. However, the study center provides some wonderful resources for eschatological research. Visit their website to download some excellent papers on a variety of eschatological topics.
Always remember: the best theological system is the one that handles the most data with the fewest assumptions. The results will be a system that is consistent, congruent, cohesive, comprehensive and complete. It will also take some time to construct! If you happen to be going the conference, come see me at the Grace Theology Press booth.
Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, PhD
Grace Theology Press