One of my faithful readers has pointed me to a great piece in the Huffington Post that was published yesterday (complete article can be found here), where Michele Bachmann helps to demonstrate the utter dangerousness of believing in the end-times theology so many of us grew up with.
One of the key problems with dispensational eschatology as popularized by John Nelson Darby, is that it breaks with the historically optimistic view of the future which was largely held by Christians prior to his teachings. As I’ve noted before, prior to Darby evangelicalism was actually a beautiful movement which focused on personal conversion followed by social usefulness (as preached revivalist by Charles Grandison Finney). Evangelicalism was something which held both orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the same hand, causing an entire movement of Christians who were actually socially useful. Instead of simply speaking the good news of Jesus in word, a movement spread across the globe which aimed to address cultural injustices, such as slavery, poverty, and other issues of the time, which hindered the forward progress of good.
However, all that changed after Darby, and Michele Bachmann is a great example of the impact this theology can have on your worldview.
In a lecture Darby gave in Geneva in 1840, he publicly stated:
“What we are about to consider will tend to show that, instead of permitting ourselves to hope for a continued progress of good, we must expect a progress of evil; and that the hope of the earth being filled with the knowledge of the Lord before the exercise of His judgment, and the consummation of his judgment on the earth, is delusive. We are to expect evil, until it becomes so flagrant that it will be necessary for the Lord to judge it…”
Unfortunately, the adoption of a worldview through the eyes of Darby, instead of the eyes of Jesus, causes us to rejoice over all the wrong stuff.
When we embrace fundamentalist end-times theology, we’re forced to celebrate bloodshed and violence, instead of celebrating the events which remind us that we serve the “Prince of Peace”. Every bomb that gets dropped in the middle east, every earthquake which kills thousands in Pakistan, every tsunami that wipes out countless lives in Asia, becomes a beautiful sign of the end– something Bachmann says we should “rejoice” over.
In reference to conflict in Syria, and an accusation that the President is now arming terrorists, Bachmann states in her interview with the program Understanding the Times:
“Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice, Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand…”
War and terrorism, according to Bachmann, ought to be something we celebrate.
Call me a heretic, but as a follower of Jesus– the nonviolent lover of enemies– I’d think that war and terrorism should be something our hearts lament over. I’d like to think that as people commanded to be peacemakers, we’d say, “this is horrible, we must find a path to peace.”
However, when we embrace end-times theology, the evil aspects of humanity and the devastation caused by natural disasters, become something that is a good sign– something we welcome, and celebrate. While Bachmann has often been painted as being a crazy lady who is out of touch with reality (which is true), the most tragic aspect of her worldview is that she’s actually not alone.
In recent research conducted by Lifeway, we see that one in three Americans view the conflict in Syria as part of the biblical plan for the end times, showing that Bachmann is not alone in her worldview.
“Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice…” becomes a view that far too many people in our tribe have and hold.
While I do believe that it takes serious, advanced degrees to actually understand what the Bible teaches on many matters, this one should be a no-brainer. If Jesus said that we can tell if a tree is good by looking at the fruit it produces, we can hands down declare as settled fact, that dispensational end-times theology produces bad, bad fruit.
The Bible teaches that Jesus came to save humanity, not to judge humanity and that he came to reconcile the world, not to destroy it. Yet, because of some new theology which has taken deep root in the last 150 years, we reject the optimistic view of the future taught by scripture and instead, we view war and violence as something we should rejoice over.
I have a hard time imagining Jesus jumping up off his throne and handing out high-fives every time a child gets her limbs blown off, or every time thousands are crushed by falling buildings during an earthquake. I’m quite sure that he doesn’t sit back and watch tsunamis wipe out entire communities, and yell out: “hey guys– don’t see this as negative, you should rejoice!”
And, well… if he’s not viewing the world that way, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that we shouldn’t either.
If you’re still struggling with letting go of the end-times nonsense you grew up with, let me encourage you to let go of it– if for no other reason– than it will poison your worldview and lead you to celebrate war, death, and destruction. Instead of rejoicing over these things, our hearts should lament, spurring us onto the call to be peacemakers and agents of reconciliation.
Rejoicing over conflict in the world? That’s not what peacemakers do. As followers of the Prince of Peace, it’s not what we should do either.
I’m thinking that when Jesus said “blessed are the peacemakers”, Michele must have heard him incorrectly:
Your point of view caught my eye and was very interesting. Thanks. I have a question for you.
A really interesting article as it gives more information but also personal experiences to a celebration we hear from in Spanish class…Having a specific celebration to remember and talk about our lost ones is so important. In my opinion, it is lacking in France!Thanks for sharing 🤗
Of course we could just take the words of Jesus he said in Matt 24:21,Matthew 24:21 KJV
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Thanks for writing this. It was about 10 years ago when I first heard a teaching on the four major interpretations of Revelation and Daniel prophecies – Preterism, Historicism, Idealism (or Spiritualism) and Futurism. After learning the truth about how the Futurist view came into existence, how it is by far the youngest of the interpretations, and how it sprang up in the US amidst a flurry of “end of the world” religious predictions from Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, etc., I was shocked that the futurist view had been blatantly portrayed as the only was to interpret these scriptures. When I asked the pastor teaching on this how it was that I had been a Christ Follower for over 20 years and had never heard any of that, he said to me, “You tell me how I graduated from a major seminary, took classes on eschatology, and never learned any of this.” Futurist views have for too long brought unnecessary fear into the church. Time to let light and truth shine through.
I just wanted to express my appreciation for your posts. Thanks!
I am not a big fan of dispensationalism. However, I would like to point out that a major competing end times view also has had disastrous consequences.
The postmillenialist belief is a key component of Christian Reconstructionism – a belief that is popular within a significant portion of fundamentalism these days.
At the risk of grave oversimplification, postmillenialists of this ilk believe that it is their duty to establish a worldwide theocracy (with full implementation of Old Testament laws). This theocracy will rule for a thousand years, after which Christ will return.
In many ways, it is the opposite idea, but it has very similar results. Because the point is to enforce Old Testament law, neither conversion nor social justice factor in at all. It’s much more important to stone the homosexuals and apostates. (Reason.com has an article entitled “Invitation to a Stoning” which is worth reading for background on this idea.) The counterpart to Bachman on that side would be Ron Paul, who has a decades long collaboration with prominent Reconstructionist Gary North.
So, my working theory? Maybe thinking about the end times isn’t healthy for one…
Well put R vogel. no doubt some fanatic will try to argue the point (and utterly fail in doing so) but I’ve realized the same. I don’t doubt there some who would want to bring about the end of the world like some 3rd rate B movie.
When it comes to end times stuff I have to look at the fact that, “Man has been predicting the end of time since the beginning of time. To date he has been 100% incorrect.”
“Truth is so obscured nowadays and lies [are] so well established that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it.” ~Blaise Pascal
And what is the truth? The Truth is a person named Jesus Christ.
Ginny bin laden you do not know Jesus or the truth if he came up to you in person & swatted your head with it. What you espouse is that we should praise disaster & war as things that bring about the end of the world. Such is sickening & revolting beyond words. The mere fact that you can even think of defending that is shocking.
You are one sick puppy!
Look it up. It comes out to the same thing: Praise The Lord.
You three are afflicted with mental WILLness that has turned into mental ILLness. In other words, you are not afforded right thinking and wisdom that only comes from Jesus.
And you afflicted with hubris.
I am not Christian. It makes Arrogant gits like you.
Right. In other words, throwing Jesus under the bus in our public square, abortion, sex trafficking and Islamic terrorism, among plenty of other evils of the day due to the rejection of Jesus, are insignificant issues, huh? The end will come and you will swallow……..your pride, as your kneecaps shatter when you fall fearfully to the ground, confessing “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
I can’t tell if you’re joking or not. Either way, you are utterly failing to address Mr. Calderone’s comment. He never said that today’s issues are “insignificant”, he’s just pointing out that much larger, paradigm-shifting events have happened in world history and those clearly weren’t signs of the end times.
The prideful person here is the one who is pretending that the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth has given them some special insight into the future.
Actually, the prideful one is the one who has rejected Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords! The prideful one is the one who thinks of him/herself as god.
Nobody here thinks they’re a god.
I’m a fool for Christ. Whose fool are you?
I don’t really consider myself a “fool for” anybody, though I am confused by your usage of the term.
For whom or what do you live, Sven? I have surrendered my allegiance to precious Jesus! The Bible talks about being fools for Christ’s sake.
What’s the benefit of being a fool, though? I’m content to be a thinker for the things I support.
Mankind is my business, the common welfare is my business, charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence are all my business.
Ginny doesn’t get it Sven. She’s proud of being foolish.
Ahh… Ginny Bain Allen. I was afraid that you had fallen ill or something since I hadn’t seen you harassing my readers lately.
What a blessing to know I was missed, Benjamin. 😉 One of my twin sons got married, and I am now blessed with a beautiful daughter-in-love who is zealous for Jesus! 🙂
Congratulations to your family. Peace and blessings be upon them.
I appreciate your thoughtfulness, Benjamin. 🙂 I shall pass on your kind sentiments to Joseph and Kala.
Wow, Benjamin, you remain silent when three of your illustrious readers down-vote my thankfulness to you? Precisely what are they down-voting – not liking – about my comment? Why is their heartlessness – soul-less-ness, not significant to you? It reminds me of when our only granddarling was born still at full-term and one of the men in my husband’s group at Verizon refused to sign his name to the thoughtful card they sent, as well as contribute money towards purchasing the lovely flower arrangement accompanying it to our grieving daughter. And people do not believe in evil???
I don’t get to see all the up and down voting that takes place, especially on old articles, so I hadn’t seen that. It’s unfortunate.
However, I’d encourage you to consider that how you say things is more of a message than what you say. I think the approach you typically take is an approach that puts people off– which leads them to down-vote a positive interaction when it occurs. I think if you simply tried to interact with the ideas and material in a way that shows you’re willing to listen, try to understand, and then contribute your own opinion for consideration, you’ll see people receive you differently. I’m not saying that to be unnecessarily critical, but I think it’s something you should consider if you’d like to be able to have meaningful discussions with some of the readers on here.
Don’t worry Ginny we miss you every chance we get!
I don’t worry for the Bible says, “Be anxious for nothing.” And Almighty God is in control, CJ!
Good one. Definately one for the “wish I’d thought of it” pile 😉
Ginny do you even realized that you’ve killed your own fallacious arguments right there? You’ve not only rejected what Jesus really said (which isn’t what you said) but put yourself in his place. the arrogance you display is apalling.
Ginny you’re raging delusions do far more damage & pose more risk than anything Gary said. Spreading fear as you do is no better than Christian terrorism.
The world and ourselves are not progressing…but are being brought to an end.
Even scientists say that one day the Sun will expand and explode. And take a drive down to your local cemetery and ask yourself whether or not you’ll be able to escape that end.
We have a real problem on our hands. We don’t need a tune-up. We need someone who can raise us from the dead.
That will happen in 5 to 10 billion years. Do you think you’ll be around by then? if you think you can predict what will even be going on by then theres a word for that, its not faith but delusion.
No one knows for sure. We could be hit by an asteroid tomorrow.
But I do know this much, you and I won’t be around in 75 years.
I abandoned dispensationalism in the mid-1980s and became an amillennialist. But I continued for decades in the company of dispensationalists. I believe dispensationalism is one of the seven most problematic baggage issues for believers today.
President Reagan really frightened me when he talked seriously about the coming war of Armageddon.