I just returned from the Mid-America Prophecy Conference, seeing many dear friends. The conversations alone were salve for a tired soul.
The very language I just used hearkens back to the “old time religion” that is largely gone from our society today. That has changed even in media. We’ve gone from Barney and Andy leaving the Mayberry Community Church and sitting on the front porch for the afternoon, to films depicting clergy that are depraved.
Besides great speakers David Reagan, Mark Hitchcock, Charlie Bing, Tommy Ice, and Daymond Duck, we were treated to wonderful dinner conversations and catching-up with friends not seen for a year.
I also spoke to some of the top Bible prophecy experts in the world, and one theme kept returning: Apathy.
“We are witnessing an incredible, daily fulfillment of Bible prophecy, and yet more and more people are not paying attention,” said one.
Another spoke of the weariness some feel when confronted with a daily diet of bad news around the world. Overlay that with prophetic teaching, and it’s easy to see why people just want it all to go away. People want their heads buried in the sand.
Daymond Duck at the Mid-America Prophecy Conference.
Honestly? The prophecy community over the last four or five decades deserves some criticism here. Almost countless affirmations that Jesus “is returning soon!” have left the masses no longer listening.
However…I think the larger problem with apathy about fulfilled prophecy is the critics. Critics in this area can range from secular media to leaders in the Church. It is this latter group that is guilty of marginalizing one of the great truths of Scripture: God keeps His promises through His prophetic declarations about the future.
“And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:6-8)
This rhetorical question from Jesus Himself tells us clearly that when He returns, there will be a dearth of true faith, worldwide.
I believe much of the blame for this can be laid at the feet of the current crop of shepherds in America, specifically, evangelical leadership that for the most part holds Bible prophecy teaching in contempt. Paul encouraged Timothy (and all pastors who would come after him) to simply preach the Gospel. That he had to remind Timothy indicates lack of focus on this single issue would become a problem:
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)
Interestingly, some of the best-known Christian pastors today in America defy this command. Although it raises the ire of many to point it out, Andy Stanley is one of the biggest offenders.
His mocking of plain Bible preaching, and his own personal story of tossing-over doctrine and scriptural truths when he first went to college, are clear examples that Andy Stanley believes modern methodology in the Church trumps Scripture. In the link, you can see what Stanley believes about the historicity of Scripture; the transcript of the exchange is as follows:
Host: I’ve heard you do this a lot. When you talk about Adam and Eve and you kind of address, Hey, you may not believe in Adam and Eve, but you unpack it by going back to Jesus. Can you give us…I think that’s a good example.
AS: Yeah, well if I can take a step back, and tell me if I’m not answering your question…I think we have done previous generations, especially children and high school students a terrible disservice by the way we talk about the Bible.
I remember my freshman English class at Georgia State University. We were talking about literature, it was a literature class, and one of the pieces of literature was the Bible. And my teacher was not an anti-religious person, but began to talk about the myth, the Creation Myth—other creation myths. And without meaning to, began to slowly dismantle the faith of every single person in there who’d grown up in church.
When she was finished, all of us were convinced that there are many creation myths: the story of Adam and Eve is a creation myth, it’s one of many…let’s move on to the next topic.
Well, because of the way the Scripture had been presented to me, and probably everybody in that class, it’s a house of cards. So as soon as you pull out one piece of the Bible to say, well, this is a myth, then immediately it’s like, Well, what else in there is myth?
The foundation of our faith is not the scripture, the foundation of our faith is not the infallibility of the Bible. The foundation of our faith is something that happened in history. And the issue is always, Who is Jesus? That’s always the issue. The Scripture is simply a collection of ancient documents that tells us that story. So when we talk about the scriptures and especially the reliability of the scriptures, I think any time we can tie the Old Testament especially back to Jesus, we have done everybody — Christians and non-Christians alike an incredible service by letting them know, you know what? You can believe the Adam and Eve story is a creation myth…so what? Who is Jesus?
And then to your point, when I deal with Adam and Eve, I’m quick to say, hey, this is one of those odd stories. This is one those stories you heard growing up, about two naked people running around in a garden. And who can believe that? And there are many creation myths. But here’s why I believe this actually happened: not because the Bible says so, but because of the gospels, Jesus talks about Adam and Eve. And it appears to me that He believed they were actual historical figures, and if He believed they were historical, I believe they were historical, because anybody that can predict their own death and resurrection and can pull it off…I just believe anything they say.
So what have I communicated? What I’ve communicated is that even though we’re going to talk about Genesis and the Garden of Eden, the issue is, Who is Jesus? And I think that any time we can weave that small little apologetic into our teaching and preaching, it helps our high school students, and it helps our college students understand, the foundation of my faith is not an infallible Bible; it’s something that happened in history. Jesus came into the world, walked on the earth, represented God, was God, and rose from the dead. And that’s a very, very important piece of the, uh, a very, very important part of our approach to the Scripture every single week.
This is astonishing. Stanley says clearly that, “all of us were convinced” that the Adam and Eve account is a myth!
The Creation Museum in Kentucky.
This has inevitably led to Stanley (and his other pragmatic ministry friends) diminishing the importance of the Bible. Is it any wonder the Church Growth/Mega Church Movement has been partly responsible for the plague of biblical illiteracy in the U.S. churches?
It follows that the attempt to erase teaching about the Old Testament (or, when it is brought up, it is taken out of context) marginalizes and diminishes the importance of Bible prophecy in today’s culture. This itself was prophesied:
“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation. But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” (2 Peter 3:3-6)
Bible prophecy has never been more relevant. Yet apathy has set in. Ironically, Relevant magazine publisher Cameron Strang writes a “Reject Apathy” column regularly, yet his magazine (targeting Millennials) serves as a mocker of what I’d call traditional Bible prophecy. This contributes mightily to apathy among people who profess to be the Body of Christ, the Church! Mocking quacks like Harold Camping and lumping him in with other prophecy teachers is shoddy journalism.
Although I am often marginalized as a “critic” or a “troll” or some other epithet when I point these things out, I am also convinced that a coordinated effort to erase true Bible teaching in the West has been underway for quite some time. Again, it’s ironic that the Bible predicts this.
This in part explains why Christians and non-Christians alike know very little about the Bible. What is taught for the most part in mega churches is self-help (relationships, child-rearing, finances). The biggest ministry leaders also appear to be most interested in building and maintaining their own brands. Teaching the whole counsel of God (2 Timothy 4) is out of fashion in the American Church.
Ultimately, when Bible prophecy is not taught, along with the whole counsel of God, the people cannot discern what is going on in our world.
That is a profound shame, and will go down as a stain on Church history.