I am deeply concerned and grieved that some of our nation’s most prominent Christian leaders just can’t get it right when it comes to issues of Bible prophecy or Israel. Equally troubling is the fact that eschatology has vanished from our pulpits some 15 – 20 years ago because it is “divisive,” “confusing,” and might drive away today’s “seekers.” I cannot figure out why the message that “the King is coming” doesn’t fit in to today’s “feel good” theology.
The Bible says in II Thessalonians that there will be a great “falling away” from sound doctrine in the last days. Perhaps that explains the surge of the trendy theology called “Preterism” which teaches that all or most of prophecy is history. It took place in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem. The Tribulation was the persecution of the saints. Nero was the antichrist most likely, though he died in 68 AD by suicide.
There are Full and Partial Preterists. A Partial Preterist would consider a Full Preterist heretical, for a Full Preterist teaches that Jesus even returned in 70 AD, although only “in spirit.” But all Preterists believe there is no future antichrist, Tribulation, Millennium, or role for national Israel present orfuture. They do believe in the Second Coming of Christ and the resurrection of believers, but not in a Rapture.
The theology came along in the 1600’s but wasn’t made trendy until 20thCentury teachers like Ken Gentry, R.C. Sproul, Gary DeMar, and “The Bible Answerman” Hank Hanegraaff started heralding it. Hanegraaff clearly never met a Dispensationalist he didn’t address in a demeaning manner. He uses his powerful international radio microphone to denounce Tim Lahaye, Hal Lindsey, and many more, on a weekly basis.
Hank or his guests weekly plead the cause of the persecuted and “occupied” Palestinians with distorted Scripture and historical revisionism, yet his books and radio show make him one of the most powerful men in the forefront of Christianity.
But even more respected is Rick Warren, the man trying to give us all “purpose” while at the same time telling his readers to stay away from Bible prophecy. While I know that many have grown from the whole “purpose-driven phenomenon,” I am grieved that this powerful Christian leader says on pages 285-286 of his book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” that Jesus told his disciples, “The details of my return are none of your business.”Rick, give us chapter and verse for that! We are to focus on our “mission” which isn’t Bible prophecy. We are to preach the gospel to every nation and then the end will come says Rick, but that happens in the Tribulation. He suggests that prophecy is a “diversion of the devil” and then implies that those who do not focus on the work God has planned for us—from which prophecy diverts us—is not fit for the Kingdom of God.
He doesn’t get it that two thirds of the Bible is prophecy and that Jesus tells us to “watch and pray” for His return. In Matthew 16, He chastises the Pharisees for knowing the signs of the weather but not the signs of the times. Rick robs of us our “blessed hope” and our “purpose” could in no way have anything to do with sounding an alarm to the lateness of the hour which would fit into Rick’s evangelistic plan. Bible prophecy and evangelism fit like a hand in a glove!
The misunderstanding or abuse of prophecy goes all the way to the top. Many of us campaigned for George W. Bush praying that by his second term he would be reached by men with sound theology to better shape his Middle Eastgoals. But he remains blinded by his Replacement Theology background—that is, the Church is the new Israel so we can pressure Israel to carve up her land until the cows come home and there will be no consequences. Most of his staff falls into the same camp, but they all put America at risk. If they only had been taught sound eschatology, this might not be the case. I am not a Bush-basher so I urge you to pray for our president.
I conclude that you can have an international platform, sell millions of books, and even rise to high political office with little consequences if you have indifference towards prophecy or skewed eschatological theology, and have Israel not much more relevant than the Canary Islands.
The bottom line is this: Millions of prophecy books including “The Late-Great Planet Earth” and the “Left Behind” series have won untold numbers for Eternity. The hour is much too late to have these theologies torn apart and ridiculed when we need to use such teachings to win the lost while we have time!
How convenient of the enemy to blur the sound theology behind true Dispensationalist teaching and get people wondering if all prophecy is history, the Church is Israel, and we are deluded if we think our “purpose” is to believe sound prophecy teaching when that is but a diversion.
I’m frustrated and I wonder if God isn’t weeping.
(Jan Markell is founder/director of Olive Tree Ministries. For more information, her e-mail alerts, or to sign up for her print newsletter, visit her Web site, www.olivetreeviews.org.)