As I state in my August-September print newsletter, I am troubled by the tone I am seeing among believers today and particularly between ministry leaders. I am seeing a lack of civility between ministries that is stunning as well as character assassination and even slander.
Yet I am mindful that we are to contend for the faith! I’m not certain that what I see is contending from a few. I see it crossing a line and becoming mean-spirited growling. Some men and women are caving to the fleshly desire to tear down rather than build up.
So when Gary DeMar came out a couple of weeks ago stating publicly that I host “a nonsense conference,” I felt I needed to respond. I trust I can do so in a manner that is kinder and gentler than his. And, by the way, he was kind and gentle when he called me six years ago and asked me to set up a debate for him here in the Twin Cities. I declined.
When DeMar hosts his Preterist conferences, I do not go online and call his efforts foolish or nonsensical even though some of the tenets of Preterism stretch the imagination. Nero was supposedly the Antichrist. The Tribulation took place in 70 AD with the sacking of Jerusalem. DeMar, R.C. Sproul and Hank Hanegraaff do not take their Preterism to the extreme and believe Christ returned in 70 AD as well. Many Full Preterists do teach that.
Prophecy: Looking in a Rear-View Mirror?
Moderate Preterists like R.C. Sproul, claim they still believe in a future Second Coming, but still insist on interpreting the Olivet Discourse and the Book of Revelation as already fulfilled in the past. As a result, they reject such basic concepts as: Rapture of the Church; literal seven year Tribulation period; literal Antichrist; conversion of Israel; battle of Armageddon; 1000-year Millennium. Oh, and we’re already in the Millennium, even though it is not literal.
Hank Hanegraaff has spread this theology as well with his vast radio audience. Hank continually slams people such as Tim LaHaye and Hal Lindsey. I am not sure why we cannot disagree without denigrating the other side. Again, if this isthe new standard in apologetics, God help us.
DeMar states in his article, “Prophetic predictions wouldn’t be much of a problem except that millions of people fall for the claims and the effect on our nation’s social, political, and moral landscape has been devastating.”
Really? How has the message of Christ’s imminent return and the coming hope of Heaven been devastating to people?? I never knew that the thought and belief that the King is coming, and soon, was a downer!
The Rapture Rescue Business
My critics insist that what I and other Dispensationalists believe is just stoking the fuel for a belief that rescues believers before the traumatic Tribulation or that it rescues them in the middle of the Tribulation or just prior to the outpouring of the wrath of God. In any case, God is going to bail out true believers and this is further “nonsense” to many, including DeMar. Since we just want to get out of Dodge before the Antichrist wrecks the earth, this kind of bait offered to unsuspecting Christians leads to DeMar’s claims about my “devastating results” I guess.
So DeMar states, “Once again, the usual suspects are gathering at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, MN, October 5, (for Jan Markell’s conference) to tell an eager and naïve audience that all the signs are aligned for an inevitable end-time event.”
Just throwing out the word “suspects” is denigrating, Gary. We are not guilty of a crime as such a word suggests.
In all honesty, we gather each year to “encourage one another,” Have you noticed the tide of our times? Everything is coming apart. There is little to no good news. So anywhere from three to five thousand followers of this ministry gather a couple times of year just outside Minneapolis to have like-minded fellowship. For that, we are mocked and made fun of. There are dozens of scriptural references admonishing us to encourage, and we can start with Hebrews 10:25.
Again, DeMar states, “I suspect the majority of attendees who will sit under Mark Hitchcock, Ron Rhodes, Jan Markell, Erwin Lutzer, and others, will not realize that only the names and events and dates have been changed. They will be hearing regurgitated speculation in the name of the Bible.”
The theology of my speakers and attendees does not make us an enemy; does not make us mentally off balance; does not make us heretics; does not make us morally debased; does not make us good candidates for a mental institution. But you would think all of those were true. We have a difference of opinion for Pete’s sake.
Yet in the world of apologetics today, those who hold to a different view are too often called everything short of demonic.And that may be next. At my events, we do not set dates. We do not share elaborate dreams and visions about the end of the world. We don’t even try to name the Antichrist! The most outlandish statement we might make is that Barack Obama ispaving the way for the Antichrist. We don’t promote global warming, nuclear disarmament, or redistributing the wealth.
I am hereby pleading with ministry leaders to have cooler heads and knock off the harsh rhetoric. No, not to stop contending for the faith, but to do it in such a manner that the above-mentioned style ceases. In Proverbs 6:16-19, “sowing discord among brothers” is right up there with the offense of murder in the eyes of the Lord. As Gary Kah said on my radio program on August 3, unsaved people are turned off to faith when they see Christians slamming and denigrating each other.
Here’s the line-up for some future “nonsense” events I am hosting. All events are free and are held in a suburb of Minneapolis. We look at current events, deception in the church, apologetics, and Bible prophecy.