In these last days, Satan has launched a fresh assault on Bible prophecy, mainly because he does not want anyone to realize that we are living in the season of the Lord's return.
Particularly disturbing to me are the attacks on Bible Prophecy that are coming today from so-called Evangelicals. As disturbing as this may be, I see this development as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Consider, for example the following prophecy by the Apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:3-4):
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."
In other words, there will be those in the end times who will mock God's Prophetic Word. I used to think this referred to non-believers, and, of course it does. But they are not the ones who are outspoken because they could care less. The sad and tragic thing is that most of the open scoffing today is coming from Christian leaders, causing much confusion within Christendom at large. Consider:
1) Rick Warren
In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, he mocks Bible prophecy when he states: "If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy." He goes on to characterize prophecy as a "distraction" and says that anyone who lets himself get involved in distractions like studying prophecy "is not fit for the kingdom of God."4
2) Tony Campolo
In his book, Speaking My Mind, he attacks believers in Bible prophecy with these words: "Rigid Christians who believe in the possibility of Jesus' soon return are a real problem for the whole world." He then proceeds to blame them for wars and a host of other evils.5
3) Bill Moyers
He is the PBS journalist who is a Baptist seminary graduate. He gave a speech in 2005 in which he denounced Tim LaHaye as a "religious warrior who subscribes to a fantastical theology." He then claimed that those who believe in Bible prophecy desire environmental disaster "as a sign of the coming apocalypse."6
4) The National Council of Churches
In December of 2008 the National Council of Churches joined the chorus of scoffers by issuing a denunciation of all those "who consider the state of Israel to be divinely ordained and scripturally determined, with a central role in ushering in the end of history..."7
5) Rob Bell
He is one of the leaders of the Emergent Church Movement. Here is one of his many put-downs of Bible prophecy:8
I would argue that in the last couple hundred years, disconnection has been the dominant way people have understood reality. And the Church has contributed to that disconnection by preaching horrible messages about being left behind and that this place is going to burn — absolutely toxic messages that are against the teachings of Scripture, which state that we are connected to God, we are connected to the earth, we are connected to each other.
6) Brian McLaren
He is the leading spokesman of the Emergent Church Movement. Writing in Sojourners magazine in April of 2009 he stated that any theology that stresses a special end time role for Israel is: "Terrible... deadly... distorted... biblically unfaithful... and morally and ethically harmful."9
He further stated that those who take the end time prophecies about Israel seriously, "use a bogus end-of-the-world scenario to create a kind of death wish for World War III, which — unless it is confronted more robustly by the rest of us — could too easily create a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Or consider this incredible statement from his book, Everything Must Change:10
The phrase "the Second Coming of Christ" never actually appears in the Bible [Hebrews 9:28??] . . If we believe that Jesus came in peace the first time, but that wasn't His "real" and decisive coming — it was just a kind of warm-up for the real thing — then we leave the door open to envisioning a Second Coming that will be characterized by violence, killing, domination, and eternal torture.
This vision reflects a deconversion, a return to trust in the power of Pilate, not the unarmed truth that stood before Pilate, refusing to fight. This eschatological understanding of a violent Second Coming leads us to believe that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion...
If we remain charmed by this kind of eschatology, we will be forced to see the nonviolence of the Jesus of the Gospels as a kind of strategic fake-out, like a feigned retreat in war, to be followed up by a crushing blow of so-called redemptive violence in the end.
The gentle Jesus of the First Coming becomes a kind of trick Jesus, a fake-me-out Messiah, to be replaced by the true jihadist Jesus of a violent Second Coming. This is why I believe that many of our current eschatologies, intoxicated by dubious interpretations of John's Apocalypse, are not only ignorant and wrong, but dangerous and immoral.
His reference to "the gentle Jesus of the First Coming" in this quote immediately reminded me of the words of Jesus in Revelation 2 where He speaks a strong word of warning to the church at Thyatira for tolerating a false prophetess in their midst. Speaking of her, Jesus says (Revelation 2:22-23):
Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.
That statement alone should be sufficient to dispel the myth of the supposedly "gentle Jesus of the First Coming."
McLaren also ridicules the teaching of the Rapture and the Millennial rule of Jesus, and he dismisses Dispensational teachings about the end time as 'pop-Evangelical eschatology." Yet Dallas Theological Seminary (a Dispensational school) recently invited him to speak to all their students!
In the last part of this series looking at the abuse of Bible prophecy, we'll see how the old liberal Social Gospel together with Dominion Theology are hijacking the message of Jesus' soon return.
4) Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), page 286.
5) Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004).
6) StarTribune of Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 30, 2005, "Bill Moyers: "There is no tomorrow."
7) National Council of Churches, "Dangers of 'Christian Zionism' are cited in new NCC brochure," www.ncccusa.org/news/081202christianzionismbrochure.html, 2008.
8) Relevant magazine, "Rob Bell tells it like it is," January/ February edition, 2008.
9) Sojourners magazine, "Four Points Toward Peace in the Middle East" by Brian McLaren, April 16, 2009, http://blog.sojo.net/blogs/2009/04/16/four-points-toward-peace-middle-east.
10) Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2nd edition, 2007).