Bad Eschatology Corrupts Good Intentions

Your eschatology influences your ministry.  Some may hold the view that what you believe about the end times really doesn’t affect the here and now.  That’s simply not the case.  What you believe will happen in the future affects the way you are currently living.  If you believe there will be a future judgement, you live accordingly.  If you believe there will be no future judgement, that this life is all there is, then you live accordingly.  That over-simplifying things, but you can see the point.
It started out by reading an article by Cal Thomas. 
Not a whole lot of eschatology is included in this article.  But if you read between the lines, perhaps some eschatological errors have influenced these folks into believing that political activism can impact our world for Jesus Christ.  Isn’t Christ going to physically take authority over the kingdoms of this world at His glorious appearing?  Did they (Coral Ridge) actually believe that politics could reverse the moral slide in the United States?  I was encouraged by this comment from Cal Thomas regarding Dr. D. James Kennedy’s ministry:
Brian Fisher, executive vice president of Coral Ridge Ministries, told the Miami Herald, "We believe that by streamlining the operations we will be able to return to our core focus." One hopes that will be preaching the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ, unencumbered by the allures of the political kingdoms of this world, because that is where the greatest power lies to transform lives and ultimately nations.
Cal Thomas continues with criticism for those who enter the realm of politics since it always involves compromise, while the message of the church is simply about truth.  If we believe that Christ will slowly change the governments of this world through the influence of Christians instead of through the gospel, we can fall into the same trap.
Then it progressed to reading a post on "In Earnest Expectation", a blog I recently discovered. 
What intrigued me was the inclusion of both eschatological beliefs by the emergent church, and the view of Preterism.  The writer is critical of both (of which I am as well) and proceeds to label the teachings as "dangerous doctrines of demons" as he quotes Brian McLaren.  I was pleasantly surprised at the candidness of the writer as he shared how dominion theology (post-mill), the abandonment view (pre-trib), and Preterism all contribute to bad theology in our present circumstances even though they are beliefs about the end.  What you believe about the future affects how you live in the present.  I especially enjoyed this comment:
Correct eschatology fuels the heart and equips the mind. Im convinced that social activism will function as it should when we get gripped with the reality of the judgments of God at the end of the age and the Great Reversal that takes place when He returns as He sets the poor and the weak on earthly thrones and removes the proud the haughty the powerful and the wicked. Why? Because that affects what you do now and why you do it because you KNOW that it carries over into the next life in the coming age.
Since bad eschatology corrupts good intentions, then good eschatology aids us in focusing our ministries in a way that does not stray from the mark.  The writer of this post has touched on a powerful truth.
The last stop on this tour is at "Possessing the Treasure". 
This is another blog that I started reading.  I really haven’t got a handle on the all the stances that Mike Ratliff holds, but there is some good reading there.  Although I would still hold to Rosenthal’s view that the apostasy can very easily be equated with the covenant with death (read about it here), I think that there is much insight into viewing the passages such as I Timothy 4:1-3 which talk about departing from the faith in the latter days.  While the apostasy may be Israel forsaking the law of Moses in an official covenant, it is obvious from other scriptures that the "church visible" will become more corrupt and morally bankrupt as we see the day approaching.  Here is the quote that caught my eye:
I read “THE EMERGENT CHURCH: IMAGINE AN INCLUSIVE NEW EVANGELICAL GLOBAL FAITH WHERE EVERYONE’S ALREADY SAVED” today at Apprising Ministries and watched the video at the end. It was from this that I knew that I must write about the Great Apostasy this evening. I pray that you do watch the video because I believe you will agree with me that the drive to unite all religions into one is becoming very strong, well defined, and more generally accepted by the majority of professing Christians than we ever thought possible. It is one of the most deceiving messages I have ever seen. I believe God showed me through this and my study of Eschatology that we are seeing the pieces come together for the Falling Away.
Note the mention of the emergent church again.  If we know that the scriptures teach that many will depart from the faith when they embrace doctrines that depart from the scriptures (I Timothy 4:1-3), and we know that many will have a form of godliness while living their lives in an ungodly way (II Timothy 3:1-7), and we know that wolves will enter into the flocks (Acts 20:28-30), why would we want to allow ourselves to be united with those who only confess Jesus with their mouth, but do not follow Him with their lives?  I’m not saying that all those who are in the emergent movement are ungodly, what I am saying is that we need to be careful in light of what our eschatology teaches us right from the pages of our Bibles.
If more and more people are going to confess Jesus in one big loving embrace with a big "hurrah", then let’s unite the world religions.  However, that’s not what scripture teaches.  The gospel will be preached throughout the entire world as God calls out a people from among the Gentiles to be called after His name.  These Gentiles will provoke Israel to jealousy and repentance in the midst of the Great Persecution.  When Israel repents, then the LORD will be jealous for His people Israel and begin acting on their behalf.  This will be the time when the LORD comes, resurrects the righteous, judges the nations, establishes His earthly Kingdom, restores Israel to her place of prominence over the nations, and the saints will inherit the kingdom.  Maybe this is a lot to throw in here at the end of my post, but we need to realize that it is not through social work, the uniting of world religions, or through Christians in politics that the kingdom is going to come.  We need to patiently work the work of Christ until the kingdom does come, though.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman
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2 Responses to Bad Eschatology Corrupts Good Intentions

  1. Jim says:

    Nice post Darrin. What we think about the end has a huge impact on how we live now. Let me say right now that I agree with almost everything in the post, I just have the following comments:
    I think it might be a bit unfair to say pre-trib\’s have an "abandonment view." That may be true for many pre-tribbers, but not all. I always think it\’s interesting when someone characterizes all views–other than their own–in negative terms.
    Secondly, doesn\’t the work of Christ (the work Christ is doing through the church and individual Christians) include–but is not limited to–social work and politics? I believe Jesus was active socially and–while not necessarily a political figure–He intentionally made statements political in nature. Politicians and those involved in social justice can be Christians, right? The end of your post seems to make these things mutually exclusive. Now I believe whole-heartedly that social work and politics will not bring about the Kingdom of God, but I–as a citizen of the Kingdom–may be called to participate in these things; just like I\’m called to be a quality engineer or you\’re called to be a mailman. Neither one of those "jobs" will bring about the Kingdom of God, but that doens\’t mean we abandon them. We are faithful to God wherever he\’s called us to be.
    I also want to challenge you with the whole emergent church criticism. We need to be careful–very careful–with doctrines and those calling on the name of Christ. But not just with emergent. We also need to be careful with Baptists and other evangelicals. We need to recognize that there is no one emergent church. There are emergent movements within many circles–both liberal and conservative–and one emergent voice (i.e. preterism) does not speak for all emergent voices (or even a majority–it may just be the loudest voice). One of the most conservative–albiet charismatic–pastors that is considered emergent is Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill in Seattle, WA). He would not fit into the criticisms you list regarding emergent; nor does Scot McKnight. It\’s kind of like the term evangelical–the umbrella covers so many people that it becomes an almost meaningless adjective. That said, I think your post is pretty clear about which parts of emergent you\’re criticizing. I would criticize them as well.
    Shouldn\’t we be having this conversation around my dining room table during a game of euchre in which you and Kristy get stomped by Michelle and I?

  2. Darrin says:

    Hey Jim-  Thanks for the comments.  I didn\’t really back up the assertion made by the author that PreTrib is an abandonment view.  But I do think there is some legitimacy to the term.  Many times as I\’m talking eschatology with people I hear the phrase, "Well we\’re not even going to be here so I\’m not too concerned with that."  You know my view and I believe that the call for the church to be faithful in the midst of persecution will be intensified as we reach the final hour.  Many PreTribs are prepared either way.  Some are not.  If we have an end times doctrine that causes us to simply "write off" any responsibility we may have during that time period, that could be considered "abandonment".  It is a negative term, and I don\’t use it.  But I felt it was appropriate to quote this writer.
    On that second point, I agree in part.  I appreciated the comment at "In Earnest Expectation" on how social activism will find its proper place when we have a correct perspective on future events.  It\’s not that it has NO place, it has just been thrust to the forefront in front of the gospel itself (in some movements).  The work of Christ does include a social aspect as we are baptized into the body of Christ and find our place to minister there.  Our ministry is not unto ourselves, but unto the LORD and unto others.  The work of Christ does include a relationship with the government according to scripture.  Are we called to try to change the governments?  Maybe.  Are we called to preach the gospel which has the power to change people\’s hearts and lives?  Definitely!
    On the emergent issue, I\’m still sitting back and watching for the most part.  I respect Scot McKnight\’s views very much.  But the minute we become ignorant concerning the fact that the kingdom of God in its present form consists of wheat and tares mingled together (awaiting a final separation), we can commit some great errors.  I hate to write it, but there are some people who are members of churches who are just not serious about their faith.  And once in a while, I have come across a bad apple right in the midst of what I would consider to be the faithful few in a congregation.
    But I would agree that we need to be careful with criticism.  I would hate to meet a very godly emergent person who took offense at my post, not understanding what I was trying to convey.  Hopefully it would cause them to search their eschatological doctrines to see if what I\’m writing is true about them or if they have a proper perspective.
    Thanks for the critique.  It\’s a good thing you posted it now instead of waiting for a night when you and Michelle are winning at euchre since we would be waiting for quite some time.  But I\’m sure the subject will come up long before then.  And I\’m SURE there will be some stimulating conversation.
    Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
    -The Orange Mailman

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