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Leaving Behind Left Behind: Pt. 4


In my last few posts, I have shown a variety of problems with and have offered a number of arguments against Dispensationalism or rapture theology. In this post, I want to offer one final critique of that ever so problematic belief system. Here, I want to mainly address the issue of prophecy. The proponents of rapture theology (a.k.a. LaHaye, Jenkins, Van Impe, etc.) seriously misread the Bible when it comes to this subject.

Basically, there are four sections of the Bible that when it comes to prophecy, they, like a broken record, play over and over and over (especially Van Impe): Mt. 24, Mk. 13, Lk. 18 and Revelation. For some reason (because they have a certain agenda), they treat these four sections of the Bible as futuristic “prediction” sections. In other words, when they read and teach from these passages, they do not read them in their ancient contexts (e.g. as seeing into the near future or immediate context back then). Instead they treat these passages like they were never written to or intended for the original, ancient audiences but rather that they were intended for people of modernity—21st century Americans. I must ask, what is this but the height of modern arrogance? For example, they tend to argue that Revelation was not written to call the early Christians to turn from idolatry and to worship the One True God, but rather it was written directly to us 21st centurions.

Often, the argument Dispensationalists use is: “If Revelation isn’t about the end of the world in our times, predicting events in our times, then why is it relevant?” Well, that is quite a silly question. The rest of the Bible never predicts anything specifically for our times today, does that render it all irrelevant? Of course not! Just because it isn’t predicting modern day wars and things does not mean it is irrelevant. Surely, John the Seer would not have told a number of first-century Mediterranean congregations, in code-like language, that in the future there would be flying scorpions that would come to be called helicopters. This is not only unthinkable but incredibly ridiculous and forcing the Bible to say something it never tried or intended to.

While I could go on all day about that, suffice it to say that as I’ve shown over the last few posts, this is just another way they twist the Scriptures and end up teaching falsehoods. One of the most trouble aspects about it all though, is that the rapture theologians are increasingly using their misinterpretations of the Bible to achieve political ends. For example, people like Tim Lahaye and John Hagee have tried repeatedly to become involved in the political affairs of Israel. Why? They want to usher in some imaginary Armageddon. They believe that once the Jews and the Temple are restored in Jerusalem, the final battle will start. And because they want Christ to return as soon as possible, they are trying to get the Temple rebuilt so the war will commence. I might add here, and you will know this if you keep up with politics, that the president of Iran has a very similar apocalyptic outlook. Doesn’t it frighten you when this sect of Christians is saying essentially the same things as fundamentalist Muslims? It should!

Because of their tangled up views of how to understand Biblical prophecy, rapture proponents are often war-bent. But why not, if they’re going to be raptured up and saved from it all; they have nothing to war about, so, bring on the war and kill as many people as you need to in order to get the Temple rebuilt!!! I should point out at this juncture that most rapture theologians also believe that there are 2 peoples of God: The Jews and The Christians. Indeed, many of them, such as John Hagee, teach that Jews are the only people in the world who do not have to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. In fact, they go even further and suggest that Jesus is not the only fulfiller of prophecy but the Jews are too. Now, I am by no means anti-Semitic but friends, this teaching is just about as un-Scriptural as it gets! All must accept Christ.

Finally, it should not be surprising that one of the most popular belief systems in America right now (funny how all over the rest of the world Left Behind really isn’t nearly as popular!) has duped so many people. This theology is a wolf in sheep’s clothing; it makes a mockery of God, of Christ, of how to understand prophecy and really, just the Scriptures in general! It is high time for Christians today to learn how to read the Bible and understand it correctly so that we can not only know these falsehoods when we see them but to lay them to rest so that they don’t lead the masses into violent and even heretical actions. Once and for all, let’s dispense with Dispensationalism and leave behind Left Behind.

3 comments

Kristoferian | June 29, 2007 at 12:32 PM

Michael,

I have enjoyed reading your blogs and while I have not yet had the time to "seriously" study the texts, I do find myself agreeing with you in general. However, as a staff member of a church in Florida, my challenge is to find ways to teach an alternative view to Dispensationalism to church attendees without hurting their faith. In the conversations that I have had with individuals regarding the Left Behind series and Dispensationalism, my experience has been that individuals become very upset when Dispensationalist theology is questioned. Now these individuals are upset not only because a teaching that they have been raised with is questioned, but also because they feel/believe that Dispensationalism is grounded in an accurate reading of the Bible. What do you think? By the way, the blogs are great! I will be in Wilmore July 9-15 for a class, are you up for lunch sometime?
Kris

T Michael W Halcomb | June 29, 2007 at 8:25 PM

Kristoferian,
(is this K. Atkinson?),

Thanks for reading the blog. Like you, I have encountered resistance from people on this teaching. Honestly, I think the best place to start is with Matthew 24. You can show them just how easy it is to understand that passage correctly (e.g. Noah's family was left behind and spared from judgment) and how it has been totally misconstrued!

From there, a lot of questions spring up; be ready because this is an excellent teaching moment. I think that the resistance I've met is not because the people who believe this have a strong biblical basis for it but rather because it is all they've ever heard; thus, they don't want to feel like they were lied to or misled. Probably, some of them fear that they will look stupid if they've beleived this all along; they may even feel guilty. When this is the case, reassuring them that their salvation doesn't depend on their understanding of this can go a long way.

From there, I would say that putting 1 Thess. in context is the next best place to go. Showing pictures of Thessaloniki (or having been there, which in a way automatically gives you some credibility), is helpful. The whole "walled city" thing is important.

Confronting such long held beliefs is never quite easy. But then again, as any minister or seminarian knows, there are a lot of long nights where you can't sleep because you just want your questions answered. Yet, in the end, that is what makes you search and what strengthens your faith. Why should we, who have experienced that, deny our parishoners that experience? They should have to wrestle just like we do!

I would also say that if they think they can prove Dispensationalism is accurate, tell them that you'll listen to them if they're also willing to listen to you.

As for lunch, I'd love to meet up with you. I have Hebrew 1 and 2 for the rest of the summer, so, I'll be in Wilmore a lot. Let me know when you want to get together. Hope I gave you some helpful answers above.

mom2 | July 18, 2007 at 10:04 PM

One of the most trouble aspects about it all though, is that the rapture theologians are increasingly using their misinterpretations of the Bible to achieve political ends. For example, people like Tim Lahaye and John Hagee have tried repeatedly to become involved in the political affairs of Israel. Why? They want to usher in some imaginary Armageddon. They believe that once the Jews and the Temple are restored in Jerusalem, the final battle will start. And because they want Christ to return as soon as possible, they are trying to get the Temple rebuilt so the war will commence. I might add here, and you will know this if you keep up with politics, that the president of Iran has a very similar apocalyptic outlook. Doesn’t it frighten you when this sect of Christians is saying essentially the same things as fundamentalist Muslims? It should!>

I'm just wondering if you have checked with these two men and have definite knowledge that this is a true assessment of their thoughts and feelings. I believe I heard that John Haggee was asked about the belief that Jews did not have to accept Jesus and denied that view.
I agree with most of your views, but since I am an older person, I hesitate to categorize these men in that way unless I am positive.

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