This is in no way a critique on one’s salvation or a judgment of how the institutional “church” should look. I am simply offering observations and injecting my own personal opinions in the process. It comes from a place of great concern. I have been labeled a “Watchmen” by some fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and this post would certainly fall under this category as a “warning” of the signs of the time.
I came to know the Lord through the church I am currently employed at. In the last 5 years, I have grown from a skeptic, criticizing of anyone who held to “religious” worldviews, to someone sold out for the Lord Jesus Christ and want nothing more than for everyone to set their passion for Jesus on fire. Of course I know this looks different from person to person, but something that my home church has lacked is the study or mention of bible prophecy. Our senior pastor is the son of a Baptist pastor who actually does speak on bible prophecy. He has one class a week which is the only class I know of that speaks into prophetic text. Ironically, it has caused an almost cult-like following for this man’s view and interpretation of bible prophecy are very particular. But nevertheless, it’s nice to see someone talking about it. But as I have been trying to ask around for several weeks trying to organize a Prophecy Conference here on the beautiful grounds of my home church, I’ve come to realize very quickly, the amount of prophetic agnosticism that permeates the staff, pastors, and people of this congregation.
What do I mean by Prophetic Agnostics? In essence, it is the complete ignoring or indifference of all things prophecy or eschatology, or end times, found in the bible. This was a response I received from a pastor here at my church upon asking about finding someone to help sponsor a prophecy conference on our campus: “I can tell that you defiantly have some passion and energy to see this type of conference happen. Unfortunately I am not sure how much help I will be…I can see if anyone else is interested but I don’t think I’m going to find any takers. To be honest I am not really the right person for this kind of discussion. I tend to disagree that this is a needed discussion, and I also find that I tend to vary theologically from some of the ideas and emphasis that are usually at the center of discussions similar to what I think you are talking about”
Is it really discussion that doesn’t need to happen? I wholeheartedly disagree. Part of the glory of God is that He wrote history before it happens. By denying prophetic text, you are not only ignoring 1/3 of the bible, but you’re also in some ways, blaspheming God. I get these are tough words, and who am I to say such things with conviction? But I hope it at least makes you think. What I have often heard from people in my church leadership is that, because there are so many disagreements and positions regarding prophecy, we tend not to teach on these matters. They confirm that this is how this institutional thread of church can label itself, “non-denominational.” Great! That’s stellar and I am glad we don’t shove one form of theology down people’s throats. However, the conversation should be there, and the knowledge of the many views should be there as well. I have found that many people have a tremendous interest in the topic of bible prophecy, but don’t really have the passion to dig into it because they are afraid they will shut people out in doing so. I personally don’t see anything wrong with theological disagreements. I actually think it serves a reason for great conversation amongst the body of Christ. Yet, my church avoids it like the plague.
Another pastor told me that even though they have particular views of biblical prophecy and even some points of theology that he is in disagreement with the church, he said he would never teach on them. Upon asking why, the pastor told me it was because we have to let people figure things out for themselves and that everyone is at a different point in their spiritual walk. Again, I might come off as a crazy radical “fundie” but I disagree with his second point. I am in full agreement with this pastor saying that we are all at different points in our spiritual walk. This is certainly true. But why the fear of teaching on a theological point, even if it’s in disagreement with the church? Perhaps showing how one came to a certain theological point will help others investigate deeper into the topic or at least inspire them to do so. In other words, fire borthers and sisters in Christ to actually read the bible and study it! There is a level of political correctness and fear of being labeled “closed minded” or “radical” within the church community. So in light of these fears, we stick to the surface issues and talk about how bold we are when we discuss the likes of homosexuality and sex (our church began a series on sex, relationship,and God for young people). Is the topic of homosexuality and sex in general an important topic that church has ignored? Absolutely. And I am happy to see our church tackle this issue. But to me it’s simply the church playing “catch up to culture” and labeling it “cutting edge.”
My third example is yet another conversation I had with a fellow brother and leader for the high school ministry. His take was basically that after going to a Christ centered University, he saw how unfruitful the discussions were regarding prophecy. He mentioned how the opinions of smart people who have studied the topic for years to disagree on small issues is silly. He also brought up a graph that showed the importance factors represented by concentric circles. The center being salvation, and from there spreading out in levels of importance. Again, I am in complete agreement with salvation being the main crucial key to all of what is called “Christianity.” However, I would like to see every Christian know the various positions of biblical prophecy, even if they don’t hold to a particular view. In the latter part of the conversation, I mentioned how I would love to discuss the topic of transhumanism in church, in some sort of setting to raise awareness of this growing movement. Now this person hadn’t heard of transhumanism (I’ve come across one person who has and our church is 3,000+ strong) but his response upon me describing the issue was, “well, I’m sure the church will tackle it when it becomes more popular, but you need an audience before you tackle a subject.” (sigh). This really made me doubt, “Am I wasting my time? Am I just a radical, crazy, non-traditional so called Christian who has no idea what he’s talking about because he didn’t grow up Christian, and didn’t go to a Christian University and doesn’t work in the faculties of institutional ministry?” I can’t help but feel the deep yearning for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to have the same passion I do for such topics. But I know I am asking for too much. And I know I am simply operating a different thread for the Kingdom of God. And it’s a thread that is not popular, not “important” in the eyes of many, and apparently according to some, “unfruitfull.”
The ironic thing about all of this is that we preach acceptance and openness of all different walks of life, faith, etc. But when it comes to issues in house like prophecy, it’s hush hush, no openness, and no acceptance. “We don’t want to impose our beliefs on people.” We don’t have to! I simply don’t understand the excuses I hear. There is a world out there quickly moving into a time that the bible speaks more about than almost any other topic, and the church is asleep at the wheel getting dragged by culture, trying to tackle issues the public have already shaped and guided. My senior pastor, the same one who ignores prophecy, spoke recently about “living boldly,” What’s more bold than to profess the Gospel by taking it to a world in need of answers to the most pressing questions about where we are headed as a human race?
In Acts 2, Peter addresses a crowd of skeptics after some were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. As many were filled with the Spirit, some mocked them and said they were merely drunk. But then Peter said to the crowd, “Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel..” (Acts 4:14-16) Peter knew it was prophetic scripture being fulfilled. In the same way, when events begin to happen in our own time, how many of us will know and be able to declare, “this is that which was spoken”? If we aren’t searching the scriptures daily, not only for the benefit of our own lives, but also to be of diligent stewards of the Word so that we will know when things happen, how many people will fall away? There are plenty of warnings on this issue. Hosea 4:6 it says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” In 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 it states, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” And of course Matthew 24:24 where Jesus states, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
We must as a body of Christ recognize that we are living in a time the prophets of the bible could only dream to be alive in. There are plenty of signs that indicate our approach to end times events as described in the bible are becoming more and more plausible. The fear also is in regards to the rapture of the church. I’m sure you’ve heard the, “no concern for all of this since us Christians will be pulled out before any of it goes down.” Is that true? Is the pre-tribulation rapture accurate biblically? That’s a whole different topic, but the point is, what if it’s not? Will these brothers and sisters in Christ be ready spiritually if they see the Antichrist? Will they be ready if we are not raptured and we see the Abomination of Desolation? Are we ready as the body of Christ to face persecution and trust in our Lord that no matter what happens, He will remain faithful and His Word will live true?
The bottom line for me is this. The topic of prophecy might be one of the most important, and largely ignored platform for evangelism and bringing people to know Christ. We live in a world that is chaotic, sinister, and evil. We see earthquakes more than ever, fish dying, birds falling out of the sky, UFO’s, alien abductions, government conspiracies, satanic rituals with our world leaders, pagan worship on our tv shows, entertainment media and sporting events, the advent of World War III, and more! There are people who are lost out there that need to hear the Gospel message! The world we are living in is accelerating into the world that was described as the end times thousands of years ago. What better way to speak to these people than biblical prophecy?