Quill and writing

The Contemporary Church is E – Escapist

As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man (Pr 27:19)

At the time of writing, we have just lived through three years of global tyranny which has laid bare deep-rooted corruption in most/all branches of the ‘establishment.’  Alas, the propaganda and lies of Big Gov’t and mainstream media during the so called ‘pandemic’ have been all but winked at by the Christian Church which has been too easily deceived (Matt 24:24) and readily bewitched (Gal 3:1) unlike the men of Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel ought to do (1Chron 12:32).

Happily, God quickly drew me into the fellowship of a community of ‘awake’ brothers and sisters out there who were at least discerning enough to comprehend the mass formation psychosis being rolled out.  But it quickly began to feel like I’d been rescued from the frying pan only to tumble into the waiting fire!  Why?  Because the great majority of my new acquaintances had pseudo-Christian worldview spectacles cemented onto their heads which had been there for decades.  The central falsehood of their eschatological paradigm was ‘the rapture’ which they collectively assumed was now imminently approaching.  Thankfully, having researched Dispensationalism years ago, I was prepared. 

But I was yet to learn Greg Bahnsen’s important lesson: ‘Some bears need more than one bullet before they lay down and die.’  The tenacity with which folk hold onto faulty doctrines is nowhere more apparent than with the (evangelical) Church’s alliance with this school of thought which arose around two hundred years ago from the pen of JN Darby (Plymouth Brethren) and which was then popularised over future generations by the Schofield Reference Bible. Dallas Theological Seminary, Tim Lahaye, Hal Lindsay and many others continued to promote such Christian ‘Zionism’ refusing to see that in Scripture (i) the NT Church effectively replaces OT Israel (see Eph 2:11-21 & Rom 11); (ii) the OT is Christian not Jewish!; (iii) there is but ONE Covenant of Grace progressively revealed and consistently exhibited throughout redemptive history; (iv) the victory of Christ is now being progressively advanced throughout the cosmos and (v) resurrection on a renewed Earth is the climax in view not an immaterial Heaven in the clouds!

Central to the faulty – but astoundingly popular – Premillennialism is the Secret Rapture theory.  Accordingly, during an alleged future epoch of Great Tribulation, faithful Christians will be ‘helicoptered out’ of the burning wreckage of rebellious creaturely culture and ushered into Heaven by an invisible partial return of Jesus.  Thereafter, several years of worsening chaos will ensue during which God’s redemptive focus will return, from the Church) to the nation of Israel.  A third Temple will be rebuilt in which priestly ceremonies and animal sacrifices will recommence climaxing in the rise of Antichrist – a religious/political figure feigning to effect salvation for the whole world.  Various candidates have been mooted over the years: Pope, Napoleon, Trump, Putin, Hitler, etc, etc!

How prolific is all of this ‘out there?’  Try googling any aspect of it! Try pursuing your own enquiry online.  Ask Alexa about the Second Coming of Christ; ask Siri whether the Rapture will be (a) pre-tribulation, (b) mid-tribulation, (c) post-tribulation, etc. With this issue, the Devil isn’t so much in the details but rather, like the trees, tends to obscure the wood!  Painful experience over three years of vigorous Zoom meetings, Telegram chatter and engagement on social media has proven that this hot topic is a favourite among ‘Bible-believers’ notwithstanding thorough & exhaustive efforts made by opponents to refute it – see for example Robert Reymond’s excellent work ‘Ninety-Five Theses Against Dispensationalism’ or Brian Schwertley’s excellent monograph ‘The Premillennial Deception: Chiliasm Examined in the Light of Scripture.’ 

But the main point to make here is this: that all of this has fomented a posture of Escapism among evangelicals.  Since, they say, (a) the kingdom of God is only to be realised in some distant future and therefore (b) since the nations of the world will persist in seeking to build Babylon (i.e., a humanistic empire) the only logical response of the Christian Church is

  • Batten down the hatches & wait for the storm to pass
  • Preach a limited ‘Gospel’ of personal/soul salvation
  • Avoid engagement with the culture/politics

…all of which can be summarised as ‘Don’t polish brass on a sinking ship.’  And to underscore the point, they love to rehearse with us their favourite text: Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ (Jn 18:36)

Now, notwithstanding the incongruous thinking of a few, many premillenarians do seek to ameliorate the culture, recognising that they are commanded to do so (Matt 5:13-16).  But, the more obvious conclusion to be drawn is, ‘Why bother?’  And so the great constituency of believers – called to be salt and light in their generations – sits back and allows that proverb to be fulfilled: ‘all that’s needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.’ 

I must close.  RJ Rushdoony encountered this ‘Christian Escapism’ a great deal during the course of his ministry.  He would listen patiently to the appeal of wannabee escapees before replying, ‘I have just one objection to your Rapture theory – it’s not in the Bible.’  [You may laugh; I did!]  To conclude, let me briefly explain the enigma of its origin/popularity.  First, it’s necessary to point out that many (most?) NT passages referencing the ‘coming of the Lord’ were fulfilled in AD70 – the Destruction of Jerusalem.  This significant historical event is in view in much of Jesus’ teaching (e.g. Matt 24; Mark 13; Luke 19, etc.).  Alas, it is greatly overlooked today.  The two principal passages used as ‘proof texts’ in support of a secret rapture are 1Thess 4:13-18 and 1Cor 15:51-52.  Both passages describe the final event of history – the second coming of Christ.  In 1Cor 15, the crucial verses are these,

“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” (vs 24-26)

St Paul is expounding Ps 110 and explains that (i) Christ is NOW reigning, (ii) all things (His enemies) are being gradually subdued according to Matt 28:18 & 2Cor 10:5 therefore (iii) we may expect to see the steady growth (three steps forwards, two steps backwards, etc) throughout history until only one enemy remains – death itself! (iv) Finally, perhaps hundreds of years hence the whole earth will be ready to receive its king.  Resurrection, rapture, and return will then occur sequentially in the blink of an eye.  Hallelujah!