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.
“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: