The Church’s role in America’s Culture War
America is currently engaged in the longest Religious War since the Reformation, a war between Biblical Christianity and secular Humanism. Make no mistake about it; we are in the midst of a very grim war in which only one side can triumph, a war waged, not with bullets and bombs but with ideas and reason; A war that few Americans recognize and even fewer understand the serious consequences for the loser. The battlefields are our churches, our courts, our schools, our legislatures, and our political institutions. At stake are our Republic and the traditional American Culture left to us by our forefathers.
Although the struggle between good and evil began in the Garden of Eden, the religious war in America started in the latter part of the colonial period during the “Unitarian controversy”, the first major political assault in modern times was launched in the Presidential campaign of 1912 when four political parties vied for the office of President. All four nominated progressive (American Socialist) candidates, leaving the American people to select between the lesser of four evils. The party platforms on which the candidates ran were all slightly different, but all contained the most important planks of the then defunct Peoples Party; a graduated national income tax; the popular election of Senators, and protective tariffs, among other things.
Eugene Debs was nominated by the Socialist Party, Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt by the Progressive Party, Woodrow Wilson by the Democratic Party and incumbent President William Howard Taft by the Republican Party. Taft and Roosevelt split the Republican vote giving the Presidency to Woodrow Wilson. In 1913, the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments to the Constitution were ratified, paving the way for the Socialist’s primary goals of income redistribution and a consolidated national government. The Seventeenth Amendment providing for the popular election of Senators weakened the protection of the Tenth Amendment making the consolidation of national government all but certain. Since that time, successions of Progressive Presidents and Congresses have waged a relentless attack on the institutions of American Society.
It is only since the election of socialist Barack Obama and the rise of the patriot movement, known collectively as the Tea Party Movement, that many Americans have become aware of the battle raging around them and the possible devastating consequences of its outcome. However, of those who are now paying attention to what is going on, few recognize the real nature of the conflict. Most see it as a political struggle for control of government and the enemy as the socialists in the progressive Democrat party, when in reality it is a conflict between two worldviews for control of the American culture. The real enemy is the progressive religion of Humanism that has become the Official religion of government, political progressives and the Democrat Party, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12)
The identity of a nation is determined by the nature of its three primary components, its form of government, its economic system, and its common culture. In America, the form of government is drawn from the principles set forth in our Declaration of Independence and codified in our Constitution. The Constitution contains the rules and limitations placed on the federal government, but deals only tangentially with the culture and the economy. American Socialists are determined to destroy all three components of American society and replace them with the institutions of socialism based on the progressive-socialist religion of Humanism. For the most part, they have been successful in shredding the Constitution and corrupting our culture and economic system without the American people fully understanding what is happening.
The American Culture
The American culture is built on the foundation of our Christian principles; not the denominational doctrines quibbled over among America’s nine hundred self-identified Christian denominations, but the principles set forth in the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible. Our Founders recognized the necessity of a religious foundation for our culture in order for the Constitution to fulfill the purpose for which it was created. John Adams, our second President, stated plainly that, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
George Washington reminded the American people of the importance of religious principles in connection with governance in his Farewell Address when he said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.”
“Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”(1796)
The wisdom of President Washington has become evident over the past few generations with the left’s determination to cast out the moral values on which our culture is built. Along with the efforts of American Socialists (progressives) to purge Christianity from our culture and replace it with the modern religion of Humanism, we have witnessed a steady decline in the moral foundations of our politics and economy as well. We marvel at the equanimity of our elected officials as they look directly into the lens of the TV camera and lie to us with a sanguine belief that the American people will believe their fabricated assertions in spite of the evidence of experience and common sense; unfortunately too many of us do.
Our economic system rests on the centuries old principles of free market capitalism where individuals make their own economic decisions based on their perception as to what is in their own and their family’s best interest. The system worked fine in the days when “a man’s word was his bond”, and deals were sealed with a handshake. However, the corrupting influence of the continuous, incremental successes of American Socialism has replaced free market capitalism with an amoral, and often immoral, “crony capitalism” and is moving us ever closer to the centrally planned economy coveted by socialists the world over.
Both our political and economic well-being is dependent on the moral character of the culture that gave it birth. As Benjamin Franklin Observed on the final day of the Philadelphia Convention, “I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”
As we continue to move further into the twenty-first century we have to make a national decision; we must decide which course we will follow. One leads to a return to liberty and prosperity, the other to poverty, misery and servitude to the state. There can be no middle ground. We cannot compromise with an enemy whose objective is to destroy our way of life. It must be defeated. Have we, as Franklin mused, become so corrupt as a nation that we can only be ruled by despotism? Are we so lacking in character that we prefer the false security promised by American Socialism, or are we willing to take the risk proposed by a growing number of Patriots and battle for liberty, freedom and a return of the blessings of God, settling for nothing less?
Church And State
Of all the institutions in America that affect our culture, there are none more important than the Church. And yet, for the most part the modern Church has remained on the sidelines as our culture continues to decline and we move ever closer to a point of no return. In fact, many churches give “aid and comfort” to the enemy by embracing many of the Humanist religious doctrines espoused by progressives. There are many reasons why churches do not become publicly involved in the political and cultural controversies of the day. Perhaps the most prominent one is the doctrine of “separation of church and state”.
It should be pointed out however, that this is neither a constitutional doctrine nor a Biblical doctrine. It is taken wholly from a metaphorical clause in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1801 in reply to a letter from the Danbury, Connecticut Baptist Association, seeking assurance that Jefferson, as President, would respect “freedom of conscience”. In his reply Jefferson writes, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
The first clause of the First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” This clause actually establishes the independence of religion from the legislative and judicial powers of the federal government, not separation. It also prohibits the federal government from regulating or otherwise interfering with any form of worship or expression of religious faith, publicly or privately. Over time, this “first principle” of religious liberty has morphed into religious toleration only, applying mostly to Christianity. In practice, Christianity is heavily regulated by all levels of government today. Christian worship or expression is limited to places of worship, religious gatherings or among willing acquaintances. It is prohibited in virtually all public venues and events.
As Christianity is forced out of our public institutions by law and popular opinion, it has created a vacuum of faith that has been filled with the progressive religion of Humanism. Anthropogenic climate change, environmentalism, LGBT equality, internationalism, “reproductive rights” (abortion), multi-culturism, and sodomite marriage, are all Humanist religious doctrines supported and promoted by government through legislation, the courts and bureaucratic rule making. These same Humanist doctrines are taught in all our educational institutions and propagandized through the popular media.
Humanist religious doctrine is presented and defended as being based on “settled science”. It represents logical conclusions drawn from the acceptance of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution popularized at the turn of the twentieth century. Evolution is the accepted science of our day, but it is by no means “settled science”. Most people are surprised to learn that there are over a thousand scientists, every bit as credentialed as those who teach evolution, who oppose evolution theory. Creation science is a fairly new scientific discipline that has experienced rapid growth and increasing acceptance over the past two or three generations. The reader can type the term “creation science” into an internet search engine and find a plethora of scholarly websites, white papers, theses, articles, books and video presentations on the subjects of creation science.
Both the evolution scientists and the creation scientists are usually educated in the standard scientific disciplines of physics, anthropology, geology, astronomy, astrophysics, quantum mechanics, etc., but they often arrive at completely opposite conclusions from the same data. Beginning with a preconceived hypothesis that the theory of evolution explains the origin of all things, the evolution scientist concludes that, “the universe [is] self-existing and not created…that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process [of evolution]”. The creation scientist begins with a preconceived hypothesis that the Bible story of creation is the true explanation of the origin of the universe and all life, and he finds ample support for the faith-based belief that, “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,” (Exodus 20:11)
Evolution Science and Creation Science generally agree on those things that can be studied and tested in the physical world using scientific methods. It is when Evolution Science leaves the world of science in the here and now and speculates about events before secularly recorded history that the diversity of opinion arises. All the confirmed findings of real science are consistent with claims of Creation Science that the universe and all its life forms could have come into existence as described in the creation story recorded in the Book of Genesis.
On the other hand, Evolution Science has a number of problems with both science and reason; matter evolving from nothing and life evolving from inanimate objects are two of the most obvious. According to evolutionism, in the beginning there was nothing. Over time, this “nothing” gathered itself into a highly charged ball of energy, possibly no larger than the period at the end of this sentence. At an unspecified point in time, billions of years ago, the ball of energy spontaneously exploded (the Big Bang), its fragments creating the universe. A tiny part of that exploding universe, Earth, just happened to end up at precisely the right location, and with just the right amount and types of resources to support life. A molecule of these resources eventually evolved into a living cell that grew, divided and multiplied, gradually evolving into all the living things on earth.
Evolution was presented by Charles Darwin in 1859 as a theory: “an idea of or belief about something arrived at through speculation or conjecture.” (Encarta), not a theorem: “a proposition or formula in mathematics or logic that is provable from a set of axioms and basic assumptions.” It was routinely referred to by writers of science textbooks as “Evolution Theory” until fairly recently. It was not until sometime around the middle of the twentieth century that it started to be accepted by the academic science community as “settled science”. The speculative claims of Evolution Science about how the Universe, earth and mankind came into existence still have to be accepted by faith without objective scientific proof of their validity. For that reason, evolution should be considered as a religious doctrine not a system of scientific facts.
Of course, the same thing could be said of creationism; however Creation Science does not claim to prove the creation story. It only claims to show that proven scientific facts do not contradict any of the events or circumstances recorded in the Book of Genesis, possibly by eyewitnesses to those events, during man’s first 1700 years on earth. Christians readily admit to accepting the Biblical record on faith alone. While the findings of Creation Science may strengthen the Christian’s belief in the accuracy of the Biblical record, they are irrelevant to his faith.
The Bible And Politics
Christians often give as their reason for not being involved in the culture war politically as a belief that the New Testament teaches we should “suffer evil”, “turn the other cheek”, and “submit to all the laws of government”. Their usual authority for this is Matt. 5:39 “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” And, I Pet. 2: 13-14 “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” In the quote from Matthew, Jesus is warning against the very human desire for personal revenge and “getting even”. In I Peter, Peter is encouraging good citizenship as a testimony to the Gentiles.
At the time of Christ and the founding of the Church, Rome had consolidated its authority over the entire civilized world and was generally at peace. It had a pagan, idolatrous culture with many different religions and gods. Because of the many and varied religions practiced in Rome, for the most part, religious freedom was permitted and citizens could practice whatever religion they wished. The persecution of Jesus and the early Church came, not from the Roman Government, but from the Jewish religious leaders of that day. Due to the short period of history covered by the New Testament and the fact that whatever political strife that existed within the Roman Empire at the time did not substantially affect the ministry of Christ or the Church there is not a lot of guidance in the New Testament for the modern Christian to determine how we should deal with the apostasy and political animosity prevalent in America today. For answers we need to look to the Old Testament.
Some might object that the Old Testament does not apply to the Church and that we should seek answers only in the New Testament. However, in 2 Timothy 3:16 the Apostle Paul reminds the young preacher Timothy that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” At the time Paul wrote this, the New Testament was not complete and the New Testament canon had not been firmly established; Paul was referring to the Old Testament Scriptures.
There is certainly no shortage of Old Testament teachings and examples of God’s dealings with nations and governments that would apply to conditions in America today. We can open the Old Testament randomly at any page, and the chances are good that before we have read more than a few pages we will learn something about God’s standard for dealing with nations, governments, cultures and leaders. The Old Testament is a history of God addressing the apostasy and idolatry that was rampant throughout the history of Israel.
Two lessons stand out about God’s relations with men and nations. First, God usually works through people to carry out his will. Second, God routinely uses nations and governments to chastise and punish His people for disobedience, apostasy and idolatry. One of the most familiar stories in the Old Testament of God using a nation and its ruler to punish his people is the story of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, who God sent to punish Judah for the iniquity that took place under King Manasseh. Parts of the story are found in two historical books and five prophetic books in the Old Testament. The most important parts are found in 2 Kings and the Book of Daniel.
2 Kings 21, records the reign of Manasseh over the Kingdom of Judah, 2“And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.”
As a result of the idolatry that permeated the culture of Judea during the reign of Manasseh, God pronounced judgment on the land through His prophets.
11” Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: 12 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.”
Even here, however, we see the longsuffering and mercy of God. After the death of Manasseh, his son Josiah took the throne. Josiah, after rediscovering the Books of the law, led a revival in Judah. The idols were destroyed and the groves were burned. The people returned to the worship of the Lord. It was not until the reign of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah that God brought the judgment prophesied against Judah.
24:1“In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him. 2 And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets. 3Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;”
From these and hundreds of other passages in the Old Testament we can see that God punishes and chastises his people when they turn their back on Him and reject his commandments. Perhaps not as dramatic as the founding of Israel, but nevertheless, just as certain, America was founded as a Christian nation. It was not until after a series of Supreme Court decisions in 1962 and 1963 that America officially rejected God in our national public life. (Engel v. Vitale, 1962, Murray v. Curlett, 1963, and Abington Township School District v. Schempp, 1963); dissenting Justice Potter Stewart criticized the Court’s ruling saying, “It led not to true neutrality with respect to religion, but to the establishment of a religion of secularism.”(Humanism)
A statement by Thomas Jefferson in his Notes on the State of Virginia is certainly appropriate here, “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever..;
Events over the past dozen or so years, when viewed in the light of history and Scripture, can easily be seen as the beginning of God’s judgment on America. The Church today (in the institutional sense) is much like the Church at Laodicea described by Jesus in Revelation 3; “15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:”
Today’s “Laodicean” Church of provides a mixture of psychology, philosophy, entertainment, clichés, and platitudes, with an occasional Bible reference thrown in to give it a Christian flavor. It watches with equanimity as our culture, our political system, and our economy collapse. It is neither Christian nor pagan, embracing many of the Humanist’s doctrines so as not to appear staid or old fashioned. It values inclusivity with little or no standards for church fellowship. It strives for self-aggrandizement and worldly success rather than the glory of God. The “Laodicean” Church has become as “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal”. (1 Cor. 13)
The Last Days
False prophets are one of Satan’s favorite tools for misleading the Children of God. Prophesy was not given by God that we might be able to predict the future, but that when prophesied events take place we might understand and glorify God. “And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations,” (Deut. 30:1) Since the desire to predict the future is a part of human nature, Bible prophesies concerning the last days are fertile ground for false prophets. Much mischief has come to the Church from attempting to establish the prophetic chronology of events prophesied in the Bible concerning the Return of Jesus Christ to earth. The nineteenth century witnessed the rise of several new “Christian” denominations inspired by false prophets who believed they had determined the time when Christ would return for his saints.
In 1822 William Miller, a Baptist lay preacher, produced a twenty-point document in which he wrote the following; “I believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ is near, even at the door, even within twenty-one years,—on or before 1843”. Miller began publicly proclaiming his new doctrine, based primarily on the book of Daniel, in 1831. By 1840 Miller’s beliefs had become a national movement. By 1844 over a million copies of his writings were in circulation. Several dates were proposed for the return of Christ, with the final date being set as October 22, 1844.
When Christ failed to return on the expected date, many of Miller’s followers became discouraged and left the movement, returning to the Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Campbellite churches from whence they came. Others stayed true to the faith, and after some adjustments in prophetic doctrine formed into what is today, the seventeen million members strong, Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Around 1870, Charles Taze Russell, combining some of the teaching of the Adventist movement with the Pyramidology of Charles Smyth and Joseph Seiss, began developing a new prophetic chronology for Christ’s second coming. Russell and his associates later formed the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society. Russell was succeeded in 1917 by Joseph F. Rutherford who, in 1931, introduced the name of Jehovah’s Witnesses to distinguish his group from other groups associated with the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society. Today this group claims a worldwide membership of over seven and three-quarter millions followers.
Another prophetic doctrine that was popularized during the “Second Great Awakening”, not quite as radical, yet very important in the days in which we live, is the doctrine of the Rapture. Many born-again evangelical Christians are aware of the corruption in our government and culture. They see the immorality and lasciviousness in our entertainment industries, and the licentiousness creeping into our civil laws; yet they fail to see the seriousness and urgency of these changes in our culture in relation to themselves.
Rather than actively resisting the evils in society, their attitude seems to be, “we know that in the last days there is to be a great falling away and a time of troubles, but our duty is to hold fast to the faith and to look and pray for the coming of the Lord.” They know that tribulations are coming but are persuaded that the Rapture will rescue them from having to endure it. There are many New Testament passages that seem to support this belief. 2 Peter 3, and 2 Timothy chapters 3 and 4 are perhaps the two best examples.
For more than ten years in my early Christian life I wholly believed in the doctrine of a secret Rapture; my church taught it and my Pastor preached it. As a new Christian, whatever my Pastor taught, I accepted as Biblical truth. Later I surrendered to the ministry and enrolled in Bible College. One day, our hermeneutics professor assigned our class the task of substantiating a pre-tribulation Rapture, using the Bible only. I, of course, was certain this would be an easy assignment. I still recall the anguish of soul, as I diligently and daily searched the Scriptures, slowly beginning to realize that what I had previously believed so strongly may be different from what the Bible actually taught.
It is easy to find proof in the Bible for that which we already believe. I often think of an event that occurred during the third visit of Jesus with the disciples after His resurrection, recorded in John, chapter 21. Jesus had just charged Peter to feed His lambs and His sheep as a sign of his love for Christ, He then tells Peter, “18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, follow me.”
20 “Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? 21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.”
23” Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?”
We could easily speculate from this exchange that Peter harbored some jealousy toward John because of his relationship with Jesus. That may be true; however, that is not what the passage is about. We could also speculate that Peter started the rumor mentioned in verse 23, but again, the passage does not support that. The valuable lesson we learn from this passage is to never base our belief on what we think the Bible means but rather, on what it actually says. A belief based on an implied meaning we find in a text must always give way to a clearly written contradiction elsewhere.
At another time our hermeneutics professor asked us to explain the meaning of Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;” It was utterly amazing to listen to the speculation of the class as to what message Mark was attempting to convey. Some related it to Genesis 1:1, others to the ministry of John the Baptist as the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Still others focused on Jesus as the Son of God. The lesson the Professor was trying to get across to his aspiring students was not to read more into a passage than was actually there.
With that thought in mind. Let us consider the doctrine of the secret Rapture and how it relates to the Church in the twenty-first century.
The word “Rapture” is not found in the Bible, although the idea is found throughout the New Testament. Its meaning is to be “caught up” or “taken away”. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 the Greek verb form ρπαγησόμεθα (harpagisometha), is used, which in the KJV is translated, “caught up”. The word “Rapture” is believed to have been coined by John Nelson Darby sometime around 1830 from the Latin word, “raptus” which means “a carrying off”.
Darby was ordained as an Anglican priest in the Church of Ireland in 1826. While recuperating from a serious injury he sustained in a fall from his horse in 1827, he spent his time studying Bible prophesy and revising his theological views, particularly in eschatology (Bible Prophesy). During this time he began meeting with an interdenominational Bible Study group who simply called themselves, “The Brethren”. In 1831 he separated from the Church of Ireland and a year later presented his beliefs concerning dispensationalism and a pre-tribulation Rapture at a prophetic Bible Conference held at the Powerscourt estate near Enniskerry, Ireland. Darby is considered to be the father of dispensationalism.
The Bible study group Darby was associated with eventually became known as the Plymouth Brethren. In addition to its teaching on dispensationalism and a pre-tribulation Rapture, Plymouth Brethren also objected to the use of clergy, insisting that the Holy Spirit could speak through any member of the assembly. Darby traveled extensively throughout Europe and Britain, eventually arousing the ire of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
In the June 1869 issue of Sword and the Trowel, Spurgeon commented on a treatise by a Mr. Grant; “Mr. Grant has done real service to the churches by his treatise on ‘the heresies of the Plymouth Brethren’, which we trust he will publish in a separate form. It is almost impossible for even his heavy hand to press too severely upon this malignant power, whose secret but rapid growth is among the darkest signs of the times.”
The teachings of John Darby were widely disseminated in America during the twentieth century through the popularity of the Schofield Reference Bible published in 1909 by Cyrus Schofield, Bible Colleges such as the Dallas Theological Seminary and two bestselling authors, Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye.
Hal Lindsey graduated from the Dallas Theological Seminary in 1958 earning a Master of Theology degree. After working with Campus Crusade for Christ for several years Lindsey published his bestselling book, The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970. After selling several million copies in hard cover, the book was republished by Bantam Books as a paperback, selling over 28 million copies by 1994. It was also made into a popular 1979 movie, starring Orson Wells. The book featured the dispensational eschatology of Darby including the pre-tribulation Rapture.
The most widely known author of “Rapture” literature is Tim LaHaye, the writer of more than fifty books, both fiction and non-fiction. The most popular of his books were the “Left Behind” series of apocalyptic fiction depicting life on earth after the Rapture. Between 1995 and 2007 LaHaye published a total of 12 titles in the series, selling over 65 million copies.
By the end of the twentieth century virtually all of the fundamental, evangelical denominations had accepted the doctrine of a pre-tribulation Rapture. Lay Christians and Ministers were heavily influenced by Schofield’s comments on the Rapture found in his study notes. Nominal Christians and many un-Churched of all persuasions were persuaded by the books of Lindsey and LaHaye.
What someone believes about a secret Rapture and the chronological sequence of events accompanying it is not essential to the gospel message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and should not be a test of Christian fellowship. However, it is a stumbling block for many Churches, Pastors and Christians, excusing them from defending the faith against the continuous onslaughts of Humanism and the corruption of our culture as they patiently wait for the Rapture and the hoped-for deliverance from the troubles prophesied for the end of the Church Age.
For this reason alone we should learn and teach as much as we can concerning what the Bible actually teaches about the second coming of Christ. There are more than thirty passages in the New Testament that refer to Jesus returning to gather up his Church, most of them unequivocal and not open to speculation. For example, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2, 3)
The passage most often quoted by pre-tribulationists is I Thessalonians 4:13 – 5:16;
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
5 1But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night .3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
A common misperception among New Testament Christians was that the return of Jesus was imminent. That idea still persists today among pre-tribulationists. The saints at Thessalonica were becoming concerned because some of their brothers and sisters were dying and Jesus had not yet returned. Paul wrote this passage to comfort the loved ones of those who had died. (Verse 18) Jesus and the New Testament writers did not teach an imminent return. In fact, there are many prophesies given in the New Testament that are to be fulfilled before Christ’s return. The phrase that fosters the belief of an eminent return is, “as a thief in the night” used by Paul in verse 2, Chapter 5 above. Peter uses the same phrase in 2 Pet. 3:10. These are the only two places in the New Testament were the phrase is used.
Jesus uses the word “thief” in the same sense in the parable of the unfaithful servant in Matt. 24:43, and Luke 12:39. He also uses it in Rev. 3:3 as a warning to the Church at Sardis, and in Rev. 16:15 as a general warning. In all of these passages where Christ is pictured as coming unexpectedly as a thief, it is as a warning to non-believers and unfaithful Christians, but as Paul says in verse 4 above, “ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” Notice the usage of pronouns in verses 3, 4, 5 and 6.
This passage also calls into question the idea of a “secret Rapture”. Verse 16 says Jesus will return, “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:” Couple this with the descriptions of the Rapture in Matthew 24:40, 41 and Luke 17:34, 35, “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left,” and it is difficult to understand how the Rapture could be in secret without someone noticing. Certainly if a family was sitting at dinner and mom or dad, or one or two of the kids suddenly disappeared, someone would notice and tell others.
Paul continues to address the expectation of the Thessalonians for an imminent return of Christ in 2 Thess. 2:1-12 where Paul beseeches, “2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”
“3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
The “man of sin” in verses 3 and 4 evidently is a reference to the “Beast” of Revelation 13, and “the abomination of desolation” in Matt. 24:15, and Mark 13:14, foretold by Daniel the prophet.
None of the many passages in the New Testament concerning the return of Christ for His Church reveal a definite sequence of events as they relate to the great tribulation, with the exception of two, Matthew 24 and Mark 13. In Matthew 24 we read;
“24 1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
“3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
Mark identifies the disciples who spoke privately with Jesus as John, Peter, Andrew, and James. (Mark 13:3) Note that the disciples asked three questions, (1) when shall these things be; the destruction of the temple? (2) What will be the sign of Jesus’ coming? (3) What will be the sign of the end of the world (age)?
Most Bible commentators relate this passage to the destruction of the Temple by the Roman general Titus in 70 A.D. That is speculation on their part and may or may not be true. It is also possible that Jesus chose not to answer the first question, instead giving a summation of the entire Church age up to the time of his return in verses 29 – 31, including the Great Tribulation in verses 15 – 22.
Matt. 24: “4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows”. (Run-up to the Tribulation? Sounds like the twentieth century)
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
“14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come”. (Also see Rev. 14:6)
The phrase “gospel of the kingdom” is used only three times in the Book of Matthew — here, and in Matt. 4:23, and 9:35. However, the phrases “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Kingdom of God”, which appear to be synonymous, are used 86 times in the four Gospels and is the central theme of Christ’s preaching throughout the New Testament. Jesus continues…
“15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand)”
(Daniel 11:31, “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” Daniel 12:11, “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.”)
Matt:24 “16 Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
From the description given in verses 21 and 22, this could not be the tribulation brought about by Titus. It is said to be worse than any in the four thousand years preceding, including those of the Egyptian Pharaohs, Babylon, the Medes and Persians, Greece and Rome (“since the beginning of the world to this time”); and worse than any since, including those of the Dark Ages, the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land, The Holy Roman Empire, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. (“nor ever shall be”) This passage can only be referring to The Great Tribulation.
Matt 24: 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
This passage and the parallel passage in Mark 13: 24-27 are the only two passages in the New Testament that clearly gives a time sequence connecting the Tribulation and the Rapture. In order to establish either a pre-tribulation Rapture or a mid-tribulation Rapture we have to explain away the phrases “immediately after the tribulation” in verse 29 and “after that tribulation” in Mark 13:24.
Our purpose is not to proselytize for a post-tribulation Rapture, although if we have piqued your interest and your independent study of Scripture with the aid of the Holy Spirit convinces you, so be it. Our purpose here is to show the very real possibility that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation, the necessity of preparation, both spiritually and mentally, and to encourage pastors and laymen alike to take a more pro-active role in resisting the evils of Humanism that permeates our culture.
Everywhere, when Christ or the Apostles warn us about the end times or the Return of Christ for his Church we are exhorted to watch. But, what are we to watch for? I have heard more than once from the pulpit, “Jesus could come before this service ends.” If that should happen, I fear there would be more stripes given out than rewards. (Luke 12:42-48) The command to watch is a warning not to slack off in our devotion to Christ, especially as we see the day approaching. One such warning is found in Luke 21: 34-36.
“34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
Pre-tribulationists often read the words in verse 36 as implying that Christians will be taken out of the world before “these things that shall come to pass”. Matthew uses a similar phrase in Chapter 24:13, 13 “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” A synonym for the word saved is “rescued”. Since this passage is talking about the Tribulation, Jesus is saying that those who endure to the end of the tribulation will be rescued; by the Rapture.
Just what we are to be watching for is found in the parable of the fig tree. “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors”. (Matt: 24: 32, 33) Jesus is talking here about the signs He has just given to the four disciples who asked. The most important sign is the “abomination of desolation” in verse 15, which ushers in the most severe part of the tribulation that “except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved”. It is this sign that gives hope to those Christians that are found watching that they may endure to the end and be rescued. They know they only have to hold out for a short time until Jesus returns to rescue them.
When we are dealing with Bible prophesy, we need to be careful that we teach only that which is revealed in the scriptures. We know from history the damage and destruction that can be brought about by false prophets, and we are not prophets, false or otherwise. God makes it clear in Deuteronomy 29: 29 that, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” There is no need for prophets today because everything we need to know is revealed in the Scriptures by prophets of the past.
There is certainly enough revealed in the Bible concerning how God deals with cultures and nations who defy him that we do not need to claim the gift of prophesy to know that the hand of God that was once the source of so many blessing for America, is now a hand of judgment. We need only look at the changes that have transpired over the past century in our culture, our politics, and our churches, and realize that God’s longsuffering and mercy cannot last forever, to recognize that America is in danger of His wrath and in fact, may be experiencing it already.
Awareness of these facts should make the responsibility of the Church, its Pastors and its Teachers clear. The Churches are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Pastors and teachers are the watchmen for the Church. The warning given by the Prophet Ezekiel should be heeded by our Church leaders of today.
Ezekiel 33:2-11; 2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: 3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; 4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.
7 So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. 8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
9 Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
10 Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? 11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Remember, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” This passage is certainly appropriate for the churches of the twenty-first century as we see the doctrines of Humanism crowding the doctrines of God out of our culture daily. The satanic doctrines of Humanism; abortion, sodomy, and environmentalism (Earth worship), promoted by our public institutions, that defy the authority of God and even question His very existence, can no longer be ignored by the churches.
There are several things in this passage that should be profitable for us today. First of all, we see that the sword is brought upon the land by God himself in response to the iniquity of its culture. Second, note the three-fold audience to whom this message is addressed, the watchman, the entire culture, and the individual. Third, the end goal of the message is that they “turn from their way and live”. Fourth, the watchman is selected by “the people of the land”. In the Church that would be the Pastors and teachers. If America is to avoid the wrath of God, there must be a national repentance and a return to God with an acknowledgement of His sovereignty over all the affairs of nations. If the people will not hear because, as Franklin said, “the people [have] become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other”, the church will have done its duty and the blood of the land will be on the heads of those who promote America’s official religion, secular Humanism.