Friday, July 17, 2009

Are Some People Drunk on the Millenium?

Have you ever noticed how many people seem to be metaphorically drunk on the millennium? You go back to the early 1800s and you have a broad range of people that are seeking to time the approaching terror and the turmoil of the tribulation correlated with the Second Coming by correlating current events with biblical prophecy. They’re forever trying to “pin the tail on the Anti-Christ.” [1]

On the cultic fringe you have people like Mormon founder Joseph Smith, who was propagating that notion that his generation was living in the very shadow of Christ’s return. Joseph Smith alleged that God told him the return of Christ would take place before he—Joseph Smith—was 85 years of age. Of course, that didn’t happen.

In more main stream millennial circles, the gifted Baptist orator William Miller was circulating the conclusion that his generation was living on the very edge of the millennium. In fact, in 1831 he publicly identified the year of Christ return as 1843. How did he do it? Well, he used millennial mathematics. He calculated a day in prophetic parlance as equivalent to year in prophetic history, and so according to Daniel 8, exactly 2,300 days after Artaxerxes’ decree the millennium would commence. Does this sound a little bit like Jack Van Impe today?

Nineteenth-century Historic Premillennialists used millennial mathematics not only to date the time of Christ’s descent but to determine details like the time of Anti-Christ’s demise. Then in 1831 you have [John Nelson] Darby, who adds a unique twist to the dating game by introducing the concept of a secret coming, seven years prior to a second coming. He said that one can determine the time of Christ’s Second Coming after the time of Christ’s secret coming.

Later dispensationalists like [Tim] LaHaye found a variety of new rules to ensure that the dating game could be played on and on. He demonstrated this idea of forwarding the notion that the “generation” who heard the Austrian Declaration of World War I in 1914 would not pass away before Christ’s Second Coming. [2]

So you have the people in the past content to be spectators to unfolding events and timing the events, but today’s brand bent on ensuring that these events become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The problem is if the evangelical death march toward the end time of Armageddon can be subverted, it’s going to be because believers recommit themselves to faithful illumination.

In other words, what I’m saying is, it will be because believers recommit themselves to faithful exegesis—which is to mine what the Spirit has breathed into Scripture as opposed to reading our own predilections into the text. Look, sudden flashes of intuition or inspiration are poor substitutes for the scrupulous study of the Word of God.

We must pray that the Holy Spirit gives us clear minds and open hearts as we dig into his Word. That means a willingness to sacrifice treasured traditions on the altar of biblical fidelity. It means learning to read the Bible for all its worth. Ultimately, it means turning away for sensationalism and marching undeterred toward reading the Bible, studying the Bible, and being intoxicated with the Word of God again, instead of turning on the television and being titillated by the sensationalists. We are dragging Christ’s name through the mud and we need to get back to the Bible, it is critical.


[1] Principles sources for the following discussion of Smith, Miller, and Darby are Timothy P. Weber, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming: American Premillennialsim, 1875-1982 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983, ed), Timothy P. Weber, On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), Ernest R. Sandeen The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism 1800-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), and George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956).

[2] Tim Lahaye, The Beginning of the End (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1972), 38-39; also see the whole of chapter 3, “The First Sign of the End,” and Chapter 15, “Is This the Last Generation?” LaHaye argued that World War 1 uniquely fulfilled the prophecy of Matthew 24:7, which in his mind was the sign to indicate “the beginning of the end.” In 1999 Lahaye coauthored with Jerry B Jenkins Are We Living in the End Times? (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1999) in which he had not yet ruled out the possibility that the generation that saw World War 1 would not pass away until the Lord returns, saying that scenario, “should not be ruled out for another five years or so” (59).


Jonathan said...

Thanks for the post. Interesting you mention Jack Van Impe; he is constantly changing his calculations.

It seems like some people just cannot get their hands off control. The Bible clearly tells us that no one will know; in fact, it is not for us to know (demonstrated by Jesus, Mark 13:32). But is seems as though having control over these things can give people a pretty good reputation in some circles. Why else would we have Word of Faith teachers if there were no element of control? After all, faith is the absence of control, is it not?

Anonymous said...

"Why else would we have Word of Faith teachers if there were no element of control? After all, faith is the absence of control, is it not?"

I'm not sure I understand what you mean here. Are you trying to argue that Word of faith teachers focus on control? Control of what? Word of faith teachers and adherents know God is in control, but they also know God keeps His word and His promises. The Word of faith movement is not (despite what Mr. Hanegraaff thinks) about controlling God but about recognition of His promises, which necessarily REQUIRES an indepth knowledge of God's Word.

John Tucker said...

Very well said, Hank.

Anonymous poster, I recommend that you read "Christianity in Crisis." It is what opened my eyes to the heresy and perversion that is the "Word of Faith" teaching.

Anonymous said...


I recommend you read "Christianity not in Crisis." It's what opened my eyes to Hank's heresy-hunting distortions, out-of-context wordplay, and reliance on old, dead, man-made religious theology.

He has a theology which holds that the Word in the New Covenant only applies to our eternal lives, not our temporal lives as well. Jesus didn't make that distinction. Nor should we. The blessings promised us in the Word are for yesterday, today, and forever, because JESUS is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Mr. Tucker, get your eyes checked, then put down Hank's books and read the BIBLE!! Because if you believe Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, how can you reconcile Hank's teachings of Preterism and Ceassationism? Also, how can you reconcile Mark 11:23-25 with Hank's teaching?

Here's a fact: The Word of Faith or full Gospel movement has been extremely successful. How does that reconcile with 2 Peter 2? The fledgling group is, in fact, CRI! I don't wish for Hank's failure because he has helped many find Jesus, but his heresy hunting is bringing on his own demise.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Anyone who enters a religious debate saying "Read the Bible" needs a large does of humility. EVERY Christian reads the New Testament. Most Christians, and all Jews, read the Tanach (Old Testament), and somehow, we end up with all kinds of doctrines and denominations, for which we all cite the same Bible as authority. Obviously, something is wrong with some of our understandings, at least the ones that say everyone else is wrong.

Millenialists have to change their calculations, because time goes by and Jesus doesn't come back at their command. Miller changed his many times, and the Seventh Day Adventist Church (which grew out of his revivals) openly admits that. Here is a good number to me: the sun has enough hydrogen to continue its present process of nuclear fusion for about five billion years. I assume God knew what he was doing when he set it up that way. After all, its only the blink of an eye to God.

Anonymous said...

"EVERY Christian reads the New Testament."

If only that were true!! Bible literacy is terrible in the U.S., and worse over seas,

Another statistic (a sales statistic) shows that Bible-based book sales (secondary sources) total more than 6 billion dollars annually and growing, while actual bible sales are decreasing and bible literacy is terribly poor.

What this demonstrates is that more people are not taking any steps to become biblically literate, and many who are, are relying TOO MUCH on secondary sources (i.e. Hank's books). This is a problem. The Bible is sufficient on its own. It can/should be interpreted by itself. These trends are a problem for the every Christian community, especially the EVANGELICAL community.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I will agree that I don't spend much time reading books which "explain" what the Bible REALLY means, and that includes Hank's books. It also includes T.D. Jakes, it also includes every "Word Faith" author ever. I do find Hank's broadcasts and postings interesting and challenging. He draws conclusions I don't, but he does a good job of offering WHY he thinks as he does, which is all I can ask of anyone who is not perfect. It is true that many people are Bible illiterate. If you are talking to someone who is illiterate, it does no good to tell them to read -- you have to offer some insight into what you believe and why. If you are talking to someone literate, don't tell them to read, tell them what you read, and what it means to you, and why. Then we have a basis for mature discussion.

Anonymous said...

But see, you're assuming that someone who is or says he is Bible literate-but is truly ONLY THEOLOGY literate-doesn't still need to read the Word to see if what you, or I, are saying is correct.

You say you don't read what Word of Faith teachers posit. Then how do you know that what Hank says about them on his show is correct and, more importantly, in context?

Most all Word of Faith teachers' writings begin by saying what they believe; then laying out the Scripture in full context; then usually offering a testimony or other illustrative as real life evidence. This is a mainstream, logical, effective way of discerning the truth. But you wouldn't know that because you have made up your mind that it's heresy. Who's having the mature discussion?

John Tucker said...

Anonymous (I wish I could address you by your name), what is it about the WOF doctrine that causes you to defend it so vehemently, to the point of taking shots at those of us who speak against it? How long have you been a student of it? I encourage you to step into the light and embrace the expository teachings of John MacArthur, Tony Evans, Alister Begg, David Jeremiah, John Piper, Chuck Swindoll, et al, for these men preach and teach the pure Word of God.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

There is some basis to ask how I can question Word of Faith doctrine without reading whole books of it. I have seen just enough reference to it, to be certain it badly conflicts with what I understand from my reading of the Bible. There are more books in the world today than I could read in a lifetime. I have to make some value judgment of which ones to spend time reading. As I said, I don't read much of anyone trying to tell me what God is trying to say in the Bible. As I routinely tell evangelists offering tracts on the street "Thank you, I prefer to read the original for myself." I can summarize why I don't buy Word of Faith: "How come in order for you to be blessed, the first thing is for you to bless them with your money?" My pastor taught a very illuminating sermon on the subject. Likewise, when Jesus said it is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, he wasn't talking about some city gate, he was talking about the eye of a needle. Finally, if Jesus had so much money, why did his treasurer find it worthwhile to sell him out for thirty pieces of silver? Why didn't he just take the bag of money and run?

Anonymous said...

"How come in order for you to be blessed, the first thing is for you to bless them with your money?"

You show me one successful "Word of Faith" teacher who has said to receive ANY blessing from the Lord you must first give THEM your money.

The fact is, however, that the law of giving and receiving is well-established in the Bible. Here is one example, but if you want more I can readily provide them as I have on here before.

This is the best example of what I am talking about although Luke 6:38is another good one: From Phillipians 4:

"13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."

Where you are mistaken about so-called "Word of Faith" teachers is that you assume they seek the fruit that abounds to their account and not that which abounds to the giver (thankfully the Phillipians didn't think this about Paul although I'm sure they face similar arguments in their day). I guess you can make that assumption if you are able to judge their hearts (I would first read Luke 6:37), but if that were the case why do they continue to give more and more even when they are already receiving?

I personally saw the tax forms of a very popular "Word of Faith" teacher (I prepared them which is part of the reason I first went to his church). He gave nearly 40% of his $400,000 pre-tax income to other churches and charities, missions and schools. How do you explain then that this particular man is still ridiculed by the likes of Hank Hanegraaff, who doesn't even know him or his heart?

One common refrain I hear in "Word of Faith" circles is: "God doesn't need your money to be a blessing on this earth. The point of the tythe is not for God to get your money, but to see if He can trust you with His." I would read Malachi 3 and other chapters on tything before you judge that statement.

"Finally, if Jesus had so much money, why did his treasurer find it worthwhile to sell him out for thirty pieces of silver? Why didn't he just take the bag of money and run?"

You should know this answer. Do you want another shot? Ok, I'll just tell you that the 30 pieces of silver was PROPHESIED. Thus, it had to happen. Seriously, I thought you said you have read the Bible? Also, the bible says Judas was stealing from the treasury the whole time and still had more than enough for Jesus to give generously to the poor.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who you are, annonymous, but thank you for giving me some food for thought. I have been reading the Bible a lot lately and comparing it to what some of the poeple Mr. Hank doesn't much care for. What I am finding is that fundamentaly the WoF people seem to be right about their assertions. Where Hank may or may not be right is about theology and the hearts of the WoF people. But, I guess, we can't really know their hearts (like you imply) and theology differs among groups and is largely man's findings and agreements.

So I guess what I'm saying is thanks for being another voice in the market of ideas.

Also, what do you think about the end-times people?

Anonymous said...

You're welcome. But I encourage you not to stop your Bible-based research. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."

Here is more food for you:

Ephesians 1

15 "Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come."

This is a great part ". . . the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; . . ."

Paul wanted us to receive revelation in the knowledge of Him, but acknowledged that we could only do that through faith, and faith comes by (and through) the Word of God.

My only hope in posting on this site has been that I could help some lift the veil of theological obfuscation and read the Word with an eye toward revelation. Now I don't mean revelation in the same way Mormons or some Gnostics mean it. I mean it the same way I do anything you digest intellectually. It means more and becomes more, the more you live and breathe it.

Anyway, I'm glad I have been of some help.

About end-times. I am not a preterist like Mr. Hanegraaff. I don't believe the endtime prophecies took place nearly 2000 years ago. I believe Jesus will return and “. . . The dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air . . .” (1 Thess. 4:16–17).

I have spent years listening to numerous Word of Faith teachers and have never heard them dwell on this topic. I suppose that's because if you are born again into the family of God, the end times will take care of themselves.

When I was a child I always worried about the tribulation, but I think we will be called home before the Great tribulation. But a few places you can look would be Matthew 24 and 1 Thess. 4.

Fred Butler said...

I don't necessarily care for Jack Van Impe either, but he is an easy target. You need to engage some serious dispensationalists and premillennialists. I have a full range of names I can shoot your way.

I do find it strange that you would castigate dispensationalism as being some novel doctrine that is merely 150 years old, when you embrace preterism, a system of hermeneutics first articulated by Jesuit Luis Alcazar in the the earlier 1600s. That's just 400 years ago. So I think this argument that how old one's theology is doesn't really wash. I mean, JWs could easily argue that Arianism predated Nicea.

Anonymous said...

For a pre-Halloween shock I invite everyone to read "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" on the "Powered by Christ Ministries" site. Even well-read Hank will be flabbergasted at the uncovered facts in it. For example, the school that gave Tommy Ice his Ph.D was fined by Texas for illegally issuing degrees, and Ice left out 48 words (which changed the meaning) when he reproduced Macdonald's 1830 pre-Antichrist revelation account - the same 48 words LaHaye left out when he reproduced it three years later! The same article also points to the "scholars" involved in massive plagiarism including Darby, Bullinger, Lindsey, Unger, Ryrie, LaHaye, Missler, and many others! Thanks, Hank, for going after devious dispies! Howard

Boris said...

The prophets of doom have always had one thing in common ... they never predict an end of the world a hundred years on.

Every failed prophet in history – no matter how gloomy or delighted -- tells of impending 'rapture' within his own lifetime. And, of course, the prophet has a ticket to heaven while those who turn a deaf ear to his rants are doomed to be the main course at some infernal and eternal barbecue.

How bloody arrogant!

The great danger of today's apocalyptic thought is its utter abdication of responsibility for tomorrow's world.

Bush might have been be less inclined to send soldiers to their deaths if he wasn't so sure of a Christian heaven for them to go to. That's how stupid the most powerful man in the world is. Suicide murderers are likewise assured of a free pass to their own bordello-in-the-sky paradise. Jewish militants righteously squat in foreign lands, confident that some Bronze Age book of make-believe gives them a divine right. Hey, God -- you promised, already!

Baker said...

Boris, what EVERY prophet are you talking about? People can call themselves prophets and make predictions and obviously be wrong--just like, incidentally you're wrong with 99% of the dribble that masquerades as intellect coming from your demented mind. But if you're talking about God-appointed prophets from the Bible, not ONE of them has been wrong in their predictions, and YOU KNOW IT!! I am laughing out loud because I know you cannot disprove me and you already know I am right and will present no evidence to refute it. So the argument has now been irrefutably won in your face. I wonder why you continue to show yourself here, since all you do is give everyone else a great theraputic laugh. Surely that wasn't your intention.

karateka said...

>>"cultic fringe"

Nice piece of hate speech there.

Unfortunately, your anti-Mormon rant has no backing in reality as Joseph Smith clearly taught that he was given no answer as to when the end of times would come.

Boris said...

But if you're talking about God-appointed prophets from the Bible, not ONE of them has been wrong in their predictions, and YOU KNOW IT!! I am laughing out loud because I know you cannot disprove me and you already know I am right and will present no evidence to refute it.

Boris says: Prove that later writers did not fabricate fictional stories that made it seem like earlier prophecies had actually come to pass.

I’ll use an analogy I saw on the Internet once that describes how people are fooled by the prophecy hoaxers. A traveler sees an archer in the woods and notices five arrows in five trees each one right dead center in the middle of a white circle. The traveler approaches the archer and asks, “How did you ever become such a great shot? How did you get all those arrows so perfectly in the middle of those circles?” “Easy,” said the archer, ‘”First I shot the arrows and then I painted the circles around them.”

Now most of us know this is how the Bible was written. I think it’s really pathetic that there are grown people who can be duped so easily by such a obvious hoax. And there you have it. The entire hoax about prophecy and with it the Bible debunked in one neat little package.

Checkmate. You lose.

Boris said...

In Evidence That Demands a Verdict, written three decades ago, Josh McDowell lists sixty-one Old Testament prophecies that he claims precisely foretold the coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah. For example, consider Prophecy 1 (all these are exact quotations):

PROPHECY: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel (Gen 3:15, Revised Standard Version)
FULFILLMENT: But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law (Gal 4:4, Revised Standard Version).

I am not sure what the prediction is here; that Jesus was to be born of a woman? McDowell often repeats himself. In prophecies 14 and 32 he regards the statements in Luke 2:11, Matthew 22:43-45, Hebrews 1:3, Mark 16:19, and Acts 2:34-35 in which Jesus sits down on the right hand of God as a fulfillment of: "The Lord says to my lord: "Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool'" (Ps. 110:1, Revised Standard Version). McDowell certainly views biblical prophecy as something different than simple scientific prediction. I would not be too far off base to note that Jesus sitting on God's right hand has not been verified scientifically.

Each of the prophecies listed by McDowell is confirmed in no other place except in the Bible. We have no independent evidence that events actually took place as described - especially the ones happening in heaven. Before making the extraordinary claim that something supernatural occurred, simple common sense tells us that we must rule out the ordinary, far more plausible account that the events are fictional, written so as to conform to biblical prophecies. –Victor Stenger

Boris said...

“Rapture is imminent, when Christ will return to allow born-again evangelicals to share with him in divine governance of the universe. Hollywood finds the flagellation of Jesus a bigger turn-on than the female orgasm. The Rapture books in the Left Behind series… outsell Harry Potter.” – David Boulton

“The evaporation of four million [people] who believe in this crap [Christian Rapture, or Crapture] would leave the world a better place.” – Andrei Codrescu

“God wants us, if the happily bleak and decidedly nasty interpretation of the Bible verse currently extolled by the rabid evangelical mind-set now mauling the American political and social landscape is to be believed, to use up the Earth however we see fit and stomp all over this pointless ecological blob with our macho SUVs and manly tanks and badass army boots because it’s all just one giant disposable sandbox o’ fun anyway, right?… The environment does not matter because the Earth does not matter… all that does matter is the imminent return of the bloody Christ…” – Mark Morford

Anonymous said...

John MacArthur & Pretrib Rapture

Who knows, maybe John (Reformedispy) MacArthur is right and the greatest Greek scholars (Google "Famous Rapture Watchers"), who uniformly said that Rev. 3:10 means PRESERVATION THROUGH, were wrong. But John has a conflict. On the one hand, since he knows that all Christian theology and organized churches before 1830 believed the church would be on earth during the tribulation, he would like to be seen as one who stands with the great Reformers. On the other hand, if John has a warehouse of unsold pretrib rapture material, and if he wants to have "security" for his retirement years and hopes that the big California quake won't louse up his plans, he has a decided conflict of interest. Maybe the Lord will have to help strip off the layers of his seared conscience which have grown for years in order to please his parents and his supporters - who knows? One thing is for sure: pretrib is truly a house of cards and is so fragile that if a person removes just one card from the TOP of the pile, the whole thing can collapse. Which is why pretrib teachers don't dare to even suggest they could be wrong on even one little subpoint! Don't you feel sorry for the straitjacket they are in? While you're mulling all this over, Google "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" for a rare behind-the-scenes look at the same 180-year-old fantasy.

[just saw the above on the worldwide net - Sophie]