Prophecy Matters: The Real Eschatology of Abandonment

Taking our eyes off of Scripture will lead us further away from true prophecy.

Jim Fletcher 88 224 (photo credit: )
Jim Fletcher 88 224
(photo credit: )
Is Brian McLaren correct when he labels proponents of Bible prophecy as followers of an "eschatology of abandonment"? By that he means that those of us who are expecting the soon appearance of the Messiah are escapists who really don't care about the world's resources, the hungry, or those suffering in a host of ways. Of course I reject his categorization. McLaren, a key member of what has been labeled the Emergent Community, has an agenda to marginalize teachers and students of Bible prophecy. Although McLaren focuses on several agendas, one of the most significant is the drive to marginalize Bible-believing Christians. A key component of this campaign is to throw water on the fires of predictive prophecy. A tragic outcome of this campaign is the disconnection of Israel and the Jews from American Christians. An outgrowth of the heretical teaching known as Replacement Theology - the idea that God has replaced Israel with the Church - the campaign is active on many fronts. For some Christians, Jesus was a "Palestinian." In point of obvious fact, the Jewish Redeemer was no more a Palestinian than Sammy Davis Jr. was a Harlem Globetrotter. Yet the label has stuck with too many. This big lie, popularized by Yasser Arafat and the PLO, has found traction with many mainline church denominations. That first-century Jews in Judea would have had no understanding of a "Palestine" should be elementary. But it isn't in this age of sophisticated propaganda. Another effort has come from otherwise solid ministries. From Hank Hanegraaff (the "Bible Answer Man") to Gary DeMar, Preterism has made inroads. Preterism says that most of the prophecies Christians have hoped for were in fact fulfilled in the first-century, notably in the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. While one can certainly have dialogue with preterists, it is the disconnect it causes in the minds of the laity that is most troubling. It stresses that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land in this generation is not overly significant. But it is the campaign to label Bible prophecy proponents as practicing an "eschatology of abandonment" that is perhaps most troubling. At a time when young people are becoming increasingly bored with traditional church, smooth spokesmen like McLaren appear reasonable, authoritative, and relevant. Nothing could be further from the truth. Predictive prophecy is supremely relevant today, for the simple fact that so much of it is happening before our eyes. Jerusalem is a bugaboo for the international community. Israel is reborn. The moves toward both a one-world economy and a one-world religion are aboard the Silver Streak Express. History is being ushered to its conclusion by the Lord of History. If people aren't ready for that reality, they will be susceptible to every false philosophy out there. In that setting, the failure to recognize the True God will prove fatal. How irresponsible of teachers like Brian McLaren to minimize the marvelous truths of Bible prophecy! Every Bible prophecy teacher I know - and I know many of them - are responsible, people-loving servants of the Lord. Teachers like McLaren like to paint them as foolish (even dangerous!) escapists. His charge is false. The late David Lewis was a pioneer in Arab-Israeli dialogue, worked tirelessly to feed the hungry, and was a soft-touch for every downtrodden person he encountered. This Assemblies of God evangelist was a prophet in a way that McLaren, Jim Wallis, and John Spong will never be. He is not alone. Superb men like David Reagan, Don Perkins, Tommy Ice, Terry James, Thomas Sharp, and many, many others are front-line soldiers in the spiritual war that rages all around us. McLaren's spiritual fathers were men like Harry Emerson Fosdick and Karl Barth. C.H. Dodd, director of the committee for the New English Bible, said in 1962: "It is impossible to think of Doomsday as a coming event in history." Why? Because C.H. Dodd said so. Notice here a key thing. The bias of leaders like McLaren, Dodd, Fosdick, etc. is often presented as reasoned, "careful thinking." It is nothing of the sort. It is heresy that is sweeping millions into a cold void, where hope has been extinguished. If the apostle Paul taught that the Day of the Lord was a future event and the hope of the Christian, was he practicing an eschatology of abandonment? Do you think Paul obsessed about the environment? Was he Green? Did he value religious pluralism? Of course not. He was looking up, as were all the original church leaders. How sad that the opinions of men began to seep into the Church soon after; this spiritual arrogance stretched-out its tentacles then and has become rampant now. This bitter fruit has corrupted everything it's touched. In his book, Principles of Organic Evolution, Arthur Ward Lindsey had this to say: "During this period it is significant that several of the church fathers expressed ideas of organic evolution even though the trend of ecclesiastical thought led more readily into other lines of reasoning. St. Gregory of Nyssa (331-396 A.D.), St. Basil (331-379 A.D.), St. Augustine (353-430 A.D.), and St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 A.D.) expressed belief in the symbolic nature of the Biblical story of creation and in their comments made statements clearly related to the concept of evolution." Do you understand? The early church fathers left reliance on God's Word alone and began to embrace the philosophies of men, such as Greek thinkers. The philosophy of naturalism is a worldview python that squeezes to death the hope of desperate men and women everywhere, who are groping about for Truth. It is no accident that today, the Emergent leaders and mainline apostates are calling for a return to the teachings of Augustine, Aquinas, and others. These spiritualizers of Scripture are alive and well in 2009, operating in blogs, pulpits, books, and multi-media settings. They are spreading the false view that Bible prophecy and its adherents are crackpots and dangerous. The true danger lies in taking our eyes off Scripture alone as our guide for life. The true eschatology of abandonment is the diabolical desire to marginalize Bible prophecy at a time when our world most needs to understand it. I publicly challenge Brian McLaren to a debate on the validity of Bible prophecy, anytime, anywhere. Jim Fletcher is director of Prophecy Matters ( He is the co-author of 'The Last War' (2001, New Leaf Press) and his new book, 'It's the End of the World As We Know It,' will be released by Strang Communications in March, 2009. 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