Note: This is a summary article, condensing 15 pages of notes, of the Steeling the Mind Bible Conference in the enchanting lake city of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, on October 21, 2006.
Conservative evangelicals can intersect with professing Christian fundamentalists at various points. Years ago, Chuck Missler thought there ought to be an annual conference developed with the name, “Surviving the 90’s.” But Bill Perkins’s wife, thinking of Proverbs 27:17, thought of a conference name more captivating and enduring, “Steeling the Mind.” Because all the sessions are cram-packed into one day, any conference attendee probably wishes he possessed a fresh, steel mind to carry him through 12-plus hours of Bible concentration. Frankly, we need more of this among God’s people with an even greater and more passionate intellectual gaze upon God. I feel like a mushy Idaho spud in the shadow of what I have read concerning the content shared in past Bible conferences offered for the layman and pastor alike.
The Press (Oct. 21, 2006), a local newspaper, reported, “Bill Perkins is about to pull off what to many might seem nothing short of a miracle. He’s going to bring 1,000 people together all day to study the Bible. And they’re even going to pay him $59 each to do it. ‘There’s not a lot of fluff,’ Perkins said, ‘We bring in the top speakers from the U.S. and let it rip. We deal with some subjects that are difficult.’”
The last couple of years, the flyer mailed to me has ended up in the wastepaper basket. But Bill, founder and executive director of Compass International, finally attracted me to attend the conference, hosted by Coeur d’ Alene Bible Church. Chuck Missler was closing the conference with Ezekiel 38-39. That was the hook (not to be confused with God’s hook for Gog) that drew me. I had been fastidiously studying those two chapters for a month with brothers and sisters on a Wednesday night inductive study.
The young guitarist worship leader, Andy Day, welcomed the audience of baby boomers. A lot of gray hairs were sprinkled throughout the rows of pews, ready to engage in iron sharpening iron. Lyrics of songs–“Come, Now Is the Time to Worship,” “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” “Shout to the Lord,” and “How Great Thou Art”–appeared on big screens. Some closed their eyes as they sang, and others lifted their arms high in worship.
Evangelist Mike Gendron started the sessions of the day by asking the audience, “How many of you go to a Bible-driven church?” Almost everyone raised his hand. The second question provoked greater thought. “How many of you know what characterizes a Bible-driven church?” Hardly any hands shot into the air.
Favorably quoting David Wells and A.W. Tozer and grievously highlighting Brian McClaren and Joel Osteen in his introduction, Gendron then proceeded through his PowerPoint presentation to explain nine characteristics of the Bible-driven church: fulfills God’s purpose, follows God’s blueprint, lives on God’s Word, gets the Gospel right (not simply repeating a prayer or walking an aisle), devoted to prayer, observes ordinances, exercises two types of discipline, contends for the faith, and expresses mutual love for one another.
Get the DVD of this session; I highly recommend it. It is exactly what SI has been discussing since its inception. I plan on showing the DVD to my own church family to positively strengthen our brothers and sisters in right philosophy of ministry.
White House correspondent, Bill Koenig of Koenig’s International News took the floor after Mike. I had never met Bill, but I was familiar with his passion, especially after reading his latest book, Eye to Eye: Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel (Alexandria: About Him Publishing, 2004) that I had purchased at a Calvary Chapel Bookstore in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Many who move to the nation’s capitol are often asked, “Why go to Washington?” Bill’s answer is direct, “Stand by Israel,” contrary to those he considers blinded by replacement theology. “The error of Replacement Theology is like a cancer in the Church that has not only caused it to violate God’s Word concerning the Jewish people and Israel, but it made us into instruments of hate, not love in God’s Name” (Eye to Eye, p. 323).
From the KJV Bible, Koenig defended in his lecture his dispensational position from Genesis, Zechariah, and Joel. Arousing alarm in the congregation, Koenig noted, “Today, 100 million American church attendees have no understanding of Bible prophecy.” Referencing Chuck Colson (a friend), John Piper, Hank Hanegraaff, and James Kennedy, Bill queried, “Can’t they see what is happening right now?”
Out of the eight Christian correspondents to the White House whom Koenig is aware of, six go to replacement theology churches. In fact, he writes in his book, Eye to Eye, “Sixty-one percent of the members of Congress attend replacement theology churches and seven percent attend Jewish synagogues. This sixty eight percent favor peace using Israel’s land, as long as there are peace and security guarantees” (p. 242). Keonig considers it his mission to be a watchman for Israel in the political arena.
Unfortunately, throughout most of his book and lecture, I interpreted Koenig’s application of Old Testament passages in the realm of simplistic, fortune telling. Here is Bill’s main contention: every chief political officer, whether Middle East leader, Israeli Prime Minister, or American president, who wrongly “intervened” in the occupation of God’s land has “played a dear, political price” or experienced real, personal loss. I perceive Bill to be just as prophetically audacious as Jerry Falwell in some of his political proclamations. But without missing a beat, Bill continues to thunder to the White House, “God does not want covenant land to be occupied by anyone but Israel!” I wonder what he would have said to Jeremiah or Ezekiel, two Jews who sharply contrasted at times with patriotic Zionism. What happened to Egypt in helping rebellious Israel maintain her land?
Bill concluded that the President has made wise choices in 2006, even though he is mixed up in the replacement theology branch of the church. “Keep praying for the President!” (Big round of applause from the congregation.)
Dave Reagan immediately endeared his audience to his warm Texan personality. His ministry, Lamb & Lion Ministries, is headquartered in Princeton, Texas, incidentally an area of Texas experiencing a bad drought. The rumors are that the Baptists are considering sprinkling; the Methodists might use damp, wash clothes; and the Presbyterians are issuing rain checks. Even the Catholics are praying that their wine turns into water.
He then made a startling statement. “One hundred years ago today, there was no objective sign that we were living in the end times.” But then came the Balfour Declaration, the liberation of Jerusalem under General Allenby, the F.B. Meyer Manifesto, and the creation of the Prophetic Witness movement.
Reagan outlined what he perceives as fulfilled prophecies concerning Israel, past and present: dispersion (Deut. 28:58-64), persecution (Deut. 28:65-66), desolation (Deut. 29:22-27), preservation (Jer. 30:11, 31:35-37; 2 Sam. 7:24), the regathering of Jews (Isa. 11:10-12), the reestablishment of the state of Israel (Isa. 66:7-8), the reclamation of the land (Ez. 36:33-35), the revival of the language (Zeph. 3:9, Jer. 31:23), the resurgence of the military (Zech. 12:6), the reoccupation of Jerusalem (Luke 21:24), and the refocusing of the world’s attention against Israel (Zech. 12:2-3).
The prophecies for national Israel yet to be fulfilled are placed by Dave in this sequence: a second holocaust (Zech. 13:8-9), a great salvation (Zech 12:10; Matt. 23:39), a regathering in belief (Deut. 30:1-4), and a primacy among the nations (Zech. 8:22-23). Reagan ended his message, “We are on the threshold of the Tribulation. The Rapture can occur at any moment. Are you ready? Maranatha! Maranatha! Maranatha!”
In the afternoon, Andy Day led us in some more worship songs: “God of Wonders” and “I Exalt Thee.” And after Bill Perkins’s homeschooled daughter, Taylor, sang to the accompaniment of projected pictures of Israel and the soundtrack of “Take Me to the Cross,” Paul Van Hoy of Candlelight Christian Fellowship in Hayden, Idaho, preached on “Biblical Dispensations.” Blazing through 91 PowerPoint slides, Paul covered the definition of dispensationalism, nine Bible colors and their meanings, eight Bible numbers and their meanings, seven divine-worldwide judgments, and eight dispensations.
Compass International has produced a bookmark that visually delivers to you the Van Noy Model. You can also easily access the picture on Candlelight’s website. Notice this: If you fold the bookmark in half, the dispensations are a mirror image of each other.
Van Noy answers the question—what is the point of all this? “We need to understand the true gospel. The water is muddied when people mingle the law and the gospel. Any human effort designed to attain or maintain righteousness is an assault to the sufficiency of the cross. Also, we need to understand the distinction between Israel and the church. When we fail to see the distinction, things get blurred. (And by the way, it is not mid or post; it is all pre and spelled out very clearly in the Bible!) Study … think … pray. Blessings to you in Jesus’ name.”
When Mike Riddle stepped on stage, he humorously told us to repent if we had never heard of Answers in Genesis or the building of the new AiG Creation Museum, projected to open in 2007.
My 10-year old son, Joshua, enjoyed the free pack of creation cards handed to him at the AiG display table and loved the presentation of this former Microsoft executive and decathlon champion, as Mike reiterated over and over how evolutionary education is trying to rob us and our children. With many jokes, Riddle worked his way through the Piltdown Man, the Nebraska Man, Ramapithecus, Neanderthals, Lucy, and finally, Baby Lucy brought to the public limelight in September 2006. Riddle concluded with this challenge. Answers in Genesis is offering a $50,000 scholarship to Liberty University for the best 2007 research paper on creation. Wow!
Neil Lightfoot of Abilene Christian University, aged and bespectacled, carefully stepped behind the pulpit. His lecture was based on his book, How We Got Our Bible? For the next hour and half, he showed us slide after slide of early Bible manuscripts (much more magnificent than even the paintings that I oohed and awed over in the local Painter’s Chair Fine Art Gallery), many that he had personally seen or handled in his travels around the world. I was spellbound, wishing that I had been on this lifetime Bible journey with Dr. Lightfoot. Some of the places containing historical documents I have visited, such as the British Museum in London all the way to St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt. But I have never personally handled what Dr. Lightfoot has studied. In respect, I tip my hat to him for his reverence and lifetime love for the Scriptures.
Favoring the critical text apparatus, he discussed textual variants, the canon, and modern Bible translations. And in the end, he skewered the Gnostic gospels. He encouraged everyone to read the Gnostic gospels because their “fanciful tales” will cause you to “come hurrying back to your Bible.” He lovingly urged us all, “Follow Christ and the apostles.”
After dinner, Andy Day led us in some more songs: “Come Thou Fount,” “All Creation,” “I Stand in Awe,” and “Arise Go Forth” (this last song written by Andy). Then the Amazing Grace Dance Team danced (ballet) to the song, “God of Wonders,” a new experience for me. Following this live performance of color in movement, we watched on DVD the best of Frank Peretti’s Compass presentations over the years. I have read a number of Peretti’s books; but this is the first time I have ever heard the man speak. What can I say? The man is simply hilarious. My wife and I were almost in tears. After the video, Bill Perkins presented to Frank on stage the special “3B” award for achieving 3 billion frames of distribution.
And last of all, Chuck Missler, director of Koinonia International Fellowship, containing Koinonia House and Koinonia Institute, wrapped up the conference with his message, “The Magog Invasion.” I could go on for 10 more pages on the sundry interpretations of phrases and Hebrew words in Ezekiel 38-39. But I will end my summary of the conference here. For those interested, I can wax eloquently on the topic in the comment section because these chapters are the loudest buzz in popular, conservative dispensationalism today. Period. Chuck challenged everyone at the end, “It is not what Chuck Missler says. You need to get in the Bible and find out what is going on.” And that was a chief statement in his message when I delivered a hearty amen.
Todd Wood is pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He received his B.A. in Missions, M.A. in Theology, and M.Div. from Bob Jones University. But more than anything he hungers for the A.I.G. degree affixed to Apelles (Rom. 16:10).