Are we hurting the church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I was going to do a book plunge today, but other events showed up in my own personal life and I had to talk about those. Yesterday at church, I hear some of the ladies in the row behind me talking about a book with such an excitement. Would that it was N.T. Wright or Mike Licona or Edward Feser or William Lane Craig or someone like that. Nope. It was the Harbinger.
I’m a member of Nextdoor, an online chat site where you chat with others in your community. Someone posted Jeremiah 29:11 for a new year and as we know, posting something from the Bible never stirs up controversy. In the thread, someone else recommends the Harbinger saying it is very prophetic.
Now I have reviewed the book here and definitely recommend David James’s excellent response to it here. (For those interested, James comes from the dispensationalist perspective and still has a problem with the book.) It’s an awful book and not only is it bad theology, it’s bad writing period. The Da Vinci Code was a load of nonsense, but at least it had an interesting story to it. The reporter in The Harbinger makes the staff at the Daily Planet look like Einsteins.
I don’t know if someone has happened recently to get people talking about this book again, but they are.
So what I want to say again to people is PLEASE STOP BUYING BOOKS ON PROPHECY! I would really love to see a day come when doctrines like the resurrection or the Trinity or the virgin birth (Which I do affirm) are taken as seriously as prophecy. Would that one day churchgoers would have discussion before church about various theories of the atonement instead of trying to figure out who the antichrist is.
The reality is, we’ve all been through it before. How many people were taking people like Hal Lindsey and Edgar Whisenant super seriously? How many people gave up all they had for Harold Camping? How many people bought into the Four Blood Moons material? How much of that material has lasted?
We rightly would hold a pastor accountable if they had a major moral failing, such as having an affair. Should we not do the same thing if they have a failing such as trying to claim God says X in prophecy and it doesn’t happen? This is why James 3:1 tells us few will should be teachers because they will be held to a greater accountability.
Honestly, being a prophecy expert would be a great position to have in Christianity. You are an expert just because you say you are and you write books and hold seminars that everyone takes seriously. Within your own lifetime often, you are shown to be wrong, but you wait a few years and publish another book with another interpretation and you’re still held to be an expert.
How many books are gathering dust in the back of Christian bookshelves for claiming XYZ is the antichrist and that person is dead now? There have been people who have claimed Trump was the antichrist. Some people claimed Obama was. No doubt, some people will claim Biden is or that Kamala Harris is. As the hype spreads, the rest of the world looks on and thinks we’re nuts.
They already think that. We don’t need to give them more ammunition.
Not only that, but we miss the real messages of Scripture. We become focused on ourselves and think that Jesus is coming for us because, well, we’re just such a special generation. The fact that Jesus is going to return someday should give us joy, but it should also give us some degree of terror and urgency. What are we doing to spread the message? What kind of lives are we living?
I don’t know how many times I have to answer atheists who insist that Jesus said He would return soon and they use all the same texts to argue it. They insist, like everywhere else, on a hyper-fundamentalism that not even the most fundamentalist Christian I know of would accept. As I started Bart Ehrman’s book on Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet, I made a prediction that he would never once mention Orthodox Preterism in his book. I wish I had made a public bet beforehand because my prediction was entirely accurate.
Folks. There are other doctrines in Christianity besides prophecy and considering how many people with a dispensationalist hermeneutic have got the interpretations wrong, you first off have to wonder why you should take this next guy doing it seriously. I would like you to go a step further. Why should you take the hermeneutic and even the mindset behind it seriously?
I’m not saying you have to jump immediately into the Orthodox Preterist camp, but please at least consider abandoning a bad prophecy hermeneutic today.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)