Is there cause for alarm with a new Pope? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
At the start, let me state that I am a Protestant. Furthermore, I am an orthodox Preterist in my eschatology, so if you asked me if the new Pope was the Antichrist, I would say he is obviously not. Whether he is antichrist (With a little a) or not is a different matter, but no. I do not see him as a great end-times figure.
Yet now that he has been declared the new Pope, much is being made of him in light of the prophecy of Malachy. Malachy supposedly predicted the last Popes and this one is supposed to be it. Add in that this is the first Pope that is a Jesuit and now all the conspiracy theories are coming out.
I find it fascinating that most of these are all supposed to take place within our lifetime. Generation after generation considers themselves to be the chosen generation. Despite how many end times predictions have been shown to be false and thus an embarrassment to the Christian faith, the guessing still goes on.
It’s also part of our present fixation. We must live in the time. We must be the chosen ones. Okay. You’re partially right. You are the chosen ones. It does not mean you are the chosen ones to be the last generation. It means you are the chosen ones to inherit the Kingdom of God. How you were chosen I will leave for others who actually really care about the whole Calvinism/Arminianism debate.
So while you are chosen to serve in the Kingdom and you should take that task seriously, it does not mean that you are in a time that is necessarily privileged. For the sake of argument, you could live in that time. It could be Christ will return in this generation. If He does, it will not happen because it was your generation. It will not happen because of you. It will be because of Him.
Could this be a symptom of our great fixation on ourselves? For instance, when we are growing up, many of us have a belief that somehow, we will never die. Could that be changed into the idea that God Himself will intervene with the rapture or the return of Christ so He can make sure that we never die? Of course, He could do that, but if done, it isn’t just because God wants to help you avoid some discomfort.
The great danger with the latest in modern end-times hysteria is that those who do this based on a prophecy are then saying that the prophecy is from God. If the prophecy does not come true, what is the conclusion? Whatever it is, and there are several possibilities, it does not bode well for God.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are one of those groups that has had several end-times predictions. When they have failed, people have left the Watchtower organization. Okay. That’s good. Unfortunately, a lot of them do not become Christians but rather atheists and agnostics. When Christians make failed predictions, a lot of people will leave Christianity seeing as God is shown to not be reliable.
Also, fundy atheists online will have a heyday with such a thing. Already, I receive countless reminders that there’s a group called Westboro Baptist Church. (No! Really?!) Bart Ehrman makes much of false predictions in “Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.” Of course, I think the big problem is how he interpreters prophetic passages.
Now if you are a futurist, you have the freedom to believe this Pope is the Antichrist. By all means go ahead, just be careful about making a prediction based on it. Why? Because that is to claim what God is saying and if you say “God says” when God has not said, it is an action He takes very seriously. How seriously? Well in the Old Covenant, you could get put to death for it. That’s quite serious.
Remember, according to James 3:1, if you are a teacher, you will be held to greater accountability. As for bringing about the end times, I only know of one passage that can be read that way and that’s in 2 Peter 3.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives
12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
What I gather from this is that if you want to bring about the return of Christ, then live holy and godly lives. This is what you should be doing anyway. It’s my thinking that if we want Christ to return, then we need to do what He told us to do. That is to fulfill the Great Commission. We are not told to breed red cows or build temples or study medieval prophets. We are told to live holy and godly lives. We are told to do the Great Commission.
Why not do what we’re told instead of doing what we’re not told to do?