Please Stop Buying Books On Prophecy

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.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Eschatological Insanity

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve decided I’m going to write again on the recent rapture talk with a look at what it is that the atheistic community is saying as well as looking at what Camping himself has said about his predictions and see what it is that can be learned.

Consider this one first from Atlanta. What does the writer tell us?

The argument from my reading is that the idea of Christ returning is just patently absurd and that we all want to go to a Disneyland with no sex, booze, or anything fun.

Yes indeed. We all want to sign up for that one. It’s bad enough that the author thinks he’s made a real representation of the story, but then he says that the problem is falsifiability. Yes readers. You read that right. Christians are afraid to test their belief. Therefore, all that needs to be done is set a date for the rapture. If it does not happen on X date, then it is false and will never happen.

Let us hope that the author never takes bets on professional sports.

The problem is not that Camping has an eschatology. Everyone does. The problem with setting dates is the idea from Matthew 24:36 that only the Father would know the date. As is the case of course, this is only a little detail that is overlooked. Such an attitude of setting a date and not seeing it happen could lead to a number of odd conclusions.

We will have flying cars by September 30, 2015. If we do not have them then, we will never have them.

We will be invaded by aliens on July 6, 2034. If we are not invaded then, we will never be invaded.

Israel and Palestine will put an end to the land war on April 22, 2029. If they do not do so then, they will never do so.

Science is a great tool, but one cannot deal with the past and the future using just the scientific idea of falsifiability. All that we have had falsified is that the rapture did not happen on the date Camping predicted. We do not have a falsification of the belief that Christ will ever return.

Next we have P.Z. Myers here.

Ah yes. This is what religion fosters. Just have examples of people believing crazy things and you can see what it does.

Fair enough….

Could it be anything like saying without evidence that Jared Loughner was a Republican who listened to talk radio despite even all the evidence coming in to the contrary and jumping on a screen shot without even investigating it to prove to the rest of the world that you were right only to find out that that shot was not accurate?

All something Myers did by the way.

No. The problem is not religion. The problem is just that a lot of people don’t know how to think and they add religion into the mix. The same can happen with any belief. Now I agree with what Myers wants in the end to happen to Camping. However, Myers is taking the sensational and making it the typical, instead of realizing that 99.9% of Christians around the world condemn this nonsense.

Far be it for Myers to actually deal with a sane position on eschatology….

Finally, we come to Mr. Camping himself. What does he have to say? Let’s take a look.

And here we have just a humble Bible teacher who says he makes no apology. Never mind that he’s made a laughingstock of the church leading those of us who condemned what he said into embarrassment as we are inevitably seen as thinking the world was going to come to an end that day simply because we’re Christians.

There is nothing humble about Camping. It is only arrogance to think that you can know something that Christ Himself said He did not know. Now Camping has gone to a spiritual understanding saying that Judgment Day did come and that the world will be destroyed on October 21st and it will not be spiritual, but he himself is not selling his possessions before then.

How convenient….

Family Radio is paid for by donations. No one at this point should donate a penny to such a cause. The church has been mocked as a result of what Camping has done. There are far better ministries out there that can be supported and many of them are from Christians who really do think about the issues and can help defend the faith against adversaries today.

It is a shame that eschatological insanity rests on all sides. That someone like Camping even has a platform shows how much the American church has fallen.

Eschatological Sanity

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Back on May 4th, I wrote on the supposed Judgment Day being today. Interestingly, I haven’t been able to connect to the Family Radio web site of Harold Camping since last night and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when he’s shown to be wrong yet again.

Now we have all laughed about matters some. There has been no major earthquake in New Zealand that has started moving across the planet. I have no doubt that I’ll be sleeping next to my wife in my bed tonight. If you post on Facebook, you see a lot of people having a good laugh over that and I honestly understand that. We’ve told our own jokes on the matter in our household.

At the same time when we pray at night, we pray about the people who have been hurt by this. My wife will ask me “What’s going to happen to the people who spent their life savings?” I don’t know. I can’t know. I do know that they will be hurt however. They would have placed all their trust in a man and found that that man was not reliable. The sad reality is many of them will transfer that over to the Bible. After all, if the Bible guaranteed it and that which it guaranteed was false, then the Bible must be false.

Many of us have seen people like this. They become very angry apostates a lot of times. The same mentality is there unfortunately. It is the cult thought entirely. These people have been hurt. What the solution is for now is us to develop some eschatological sanity. After all, most of us will be just fine when the sun rises on May 22nd, but some people won’t be.

Starting off, know the Scriptures. If you have a view of eschatology, be able to defend it. If you’re a dispensationalist, be ready to defend that. If you’re a preterist, be ready to defend that. However, realize there are extremes. For the preterist, to be a hyper-preterist as they are called is to go into the heresy of denying the bodily resurrection. For the dispensationalist, teaching like that of Camping can be the problem.

That anyone took Camping seriously is a problem. These people are counting on someone else to be their interpreter of Scripture. I have no problem with going to other teachers and getting their opinion on matters. Many of you read this blog for that reason. When the day comes however that someone takes what is in this blog as infallible then I will have a problem. Please check out what I say elsewhere.

A good friend of mine wrote that Camping’s problem with dating is extreme hubris on his part, and I agree. It can seem that with eschatology, so many of us are so busy trying to figure out when it is that we don’t live like we ought to. Peter told us in 2 Peter 3 that since the end is coming, we ought to live holy and godly lives. Are we doing that?

In many ways, we ought to be living like the end could come today. We ought to be living as if our Lord could come back and surprise us at any moment. Do we want to be caught unaware? However, we are not told that we can KNOW when that time will be. The house owner does not know when a thief is coming, but if he KNOWS one is coming, he will be preparing himself.

Folks. There’s been a 100% failure rate with prophecy predictions by doomsayers on when the end is coming. This is nothing new. Let me state what we are 100% certain of. Jesus will physically return one day. We will have our loved ones rise up and if we are dead, we ourselves will rise. Now we can talk about signs and such and think the end is near, and some do that, but Christ did not set dates and neither should we.

Pray for the people who have been hurt by this and pray for Camping as well. He too is in the image of God. Let us hope he repents also and that those who have been hurt can somehow be compensated.

Judgment Day?!

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Recently, my wife and I were traveling out of town and on the way there, we happened to pass by a billboard obviously put up by Harold Camping who runs Family Radio stating that Judgment Day is May 21.

There are two things at least I’m certain of.

Judgment Day will not be May 21, 2011.

Harold Camping will still have faithful followers on May 22, 2011.

For the first one, I will definitely say I could not prove that, but based on the way I approach eschatology, I just don’t see it as happening. For the second one, it has happened before as Camping has stated when the end will come before and as we can tell from a new statement, it’s been wrong before.

Yet still, people are sending in the donations and keeping this going on. Let us keep in mind that in the Old Testament, if someone had made such a claim and that claim was false, they would have been killed for it. God takes it very seriously when people claim to speak for Him and even those of us who are teachers should be cautious. While it would not be normative to claim special revelation personally on our part, we are handling the revelation God has already given of Himself and people will take how we interpret that very seriously.

Regardless of what your eschatology is, the actions of Camping should be condemned by all Christians. From preterist to futurist, everyone should disagree with this. If you’re a futurist looking forward to the rapture, you should condemn it since there is no basis for setting an exact date on when it will occur. If you’re a preterist just waiting for judgment day alone and not believing in the rapture, then you should still condemn it not because it’s a futurist idea, but because it explicitly goes against what the Bible teaches. Now of course the Bible cannot both teach and not teach the rapture, but that’s also a point Christian can disagree on. What they should agree on however is that God’s name is to be taken seriously and especially on those who claim to speak for Him.

My other concern with this event also is with the way we look to the non-Christian world. I care about it in the sense that it is people like this that will be seen as what Christianity is like on a normative basis. Of course, this is entirely unfair to us, but to an audience with itching ears, it’s what they want to hear. For instance, Sam Harris talks about a Christian group in “The Moral Landscape”, not bothering to note that this so-called Christian group is actually a cult that would be condemned by Christians. Who cares? The audience who doesn’t bother researching the material will accept it as just ordinary Christians.

What’s the response of the church then at this point? Call sin sin. If someone is out there setting dates for judgment, don’t support them. Pray for them? Sure. Support for them simply encourages this behavior to go on. It also points to a lack of biblical awareness on our part and how in a nation where Christians have no excuse for not being able to educate themselves on their faith, that so many are not doing so and are simply following someone blindly, and yes, it is blindly considering how many false predictions have been made in the past.

The church needs to do better. That someone like Camping has such a following is revealing. We are to be a light to the world, but we need to clean up our own side as well. If a group acts like one of us and goes against us, then call them out. After all, the little false teachings of today could be the major heresies for our children.