Did Adam lose the world to the devil?

(c) Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D. 2016

Some misguided Christians today think that Satan is now the ruler of this world, and that it is not for Christians to have dominion on earth. Perhaps that could be possible when Jesus returns, but not now. They cite such passages as Satan is the “god of this world.” Yet the expression that Satan is the “god of this world” does not mean he is lord of lords, but that he is the god of this world in the sense that many worship him—not that he is almighty. His work is primarily in blinding the minds of people to the Gospel (2 Cor. 4:4; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Eph. 2:2; 1 John 5:19), but even that blindness is stripped away when the mighty grace of Jesus brings one to belief in Himself (Matt. 11:27; Acts 13:48; 16:14; Phil. 1:29).

Furthermore, that Satan is called by the Lord Jesus “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30) does not mean that there is not a Ruler above him, Who is Ruler of the universe and the Ruler of all rulers. Because there is a governor of Tennessee, do we conclude that there is not also a President of the United States who has greater authority than the governor? Besides, the Lord also stated: “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31). What else does the expression “Lord of lords” mean except that Jesus is the ultimate Ruler and that NOW?

And was it not true that during the temptation when Jesus commanded Satan to leave Him in Matthew 4:10-11 that Satan did so immediately without a word? Did not the demons obey the Lord every time He commanded them and without hesitation? Where do the health and wealth people get the idea that Satan owns this world? Here is how Frederick K. C. Price reasons.[1] God gave Adam dominion over the earth. This dominion was a legal dominion, much like we would deed someone property. The earth was deeded to Adam by God; it was his [Adam’s] to do with as he pleased. This dominion included not only the animals but also the mineral rights so that he owned all the gold, silver, diamonds, oil, and so forth. When Adam sinned, he gave his property to Satan, and God no longer had a legal right to the earth. Now the planet is Satan’s, and even God must honor this agreement. Redeemed man can reclaim his original inheritance and be rich. Capps agrees: “It’s illegal for God to come to earth and destroy the work of the devil with His divine Godhead powers.”[2]

Yet the truth is that though Adam came under Satan’s dominion to some extent, primarily Adam was under God’s curse for sinning. God never indicated that the land or earth at that time was not His. Indeed, He cursed it to bring forth thorns, but he never gave it up. Kenneth Hagin says: “If God is running everything, He does have things in a mess.”[3] Fred Price is even more blatant:

“God can’t legally do anything in this earth realm except what we allow Him to do.” He also says, “God does not have physical possession of the earth, Satan does,” and “If God came here, He would be arrested as a trespasser.” Price goes on to condition his audience to accept these blasphemies with such statements as these:

“Evangelicals consider this heresy, and they would never say this.” “Tradition and theology reject this.” “I hope you don’t think God is running this world, evangelicals think that.” “If this is an example of how God runs things, I don’t want to go to heaven.” They distance themselves from the evangelical community with such statements (“we” versus the “evangelicals”), thereby separating themselves from the body of Christ, and establishing themselves as a cult.

Price uses two other passages to promote the idea that the world is Satan’s: Luke 4:1-8 and Matthew 9:35-38. The major passage for Price is: “And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish’” (Luke 4:6).

Our first response must be that Satan is a liar (John 8:44). Price says that Satan is telling the truth since Jesus did not rebuke him, which is also a common dispensational argument from this passage. But it is an argument from silence that leads Price to the deafening conclusion that Satan was for once telling the truth. But even if the Lord had not answered the devil, the inference is not valid. In the most elementary logic class one learns that he can conclude anything or nothing from what is not stated. But the Lord did answer Satan: “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (v. 8). The Lord answered the real point behind Satan’s pseudo-offer: worship reveals Who the real God is, and we are to worship the Triune God only. If the Lord had said the kingdoms did not belong to Satan, He would not have been confronting the point of the offer, admitting perhaps he was right. Observe also that Satan instantly obeyed the Lord when He commanded him to leave, which showed Who was really in authority.

Secondly, God the Father made the same offer to Christ. Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm, using the name “Messiah” in verse two (sometimes translated “anointed”) and the word “Son” in verse twelve. In verse seven the Son quotes the Father:

“I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’”

This verse is quoted several times in the New Testament of the resurrection of Jesus. The Father raised Him from the dead, and, to the consternation of the nations (vv. 1-3), He made Jesus King of kings. In other words, even though the nations did not want Him ruling over them, and even though they sought to cast off His “bonds” (vv. 1-3; bonds=His law, see Jer. 2:20; 5:5), the Father laughed and made Him King over them anyway. In light of this, the Father says to His only Son: “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession” (v. 8).

Now who has made the genuine offer of the world to Jesus, the Father or Satan? Who is the liar, God the Father or the devil? Who really owns the world and could offer it to Jesus, the Father or Satan? In the verses that follow the Father’s offer, it is obvious that the Son did ask and the Father gave Him the nations, for He shall rule them with a rod of iron (v. 9), and the rulers must repent (vv. 10, 11) or perish under the Son’s wrath (v. 12). The Lord Jesus emphatically stated that “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” at the resurrection (Matt. 28:18; see also Dan. 7:14).24 Of course, all these things are speaking of Christ in His Messianic office, not in His essence. In His essence as God, He has always had dominion over the earth (Ps. 24:1).

We Christians have already won, now let’s face down our ancient foe in the NAME of our eternal Savior who rules by omnipotent power not only inherent in Himself but also inherent in the words of the Gospel. AMEN.

[1] 04/27/92 broadcast, WPTY-TV Memphis, TN, 12 p. m.

[2] Charles Capps, God’s Image of You (Tulsa: Harrison House, 1985), p. 50.

[3] Kenneth E. Hagin, The Interceding Christian (Tulsa: Faith Publication Library, 1991), p. 13

Our Lion

We’ve all heard the hymn: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness”. This time of the year (as well as the whole liturgical year), reminds us of Hebrews 10:9-13:

9 Then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.He takes away the first [covenant] that He may establish the second [covenant]. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”  (Heb. 10:9-14 NKJ)

Some years ago I heard a Roman Catholic Priest from Rome, Italy, testify to a group of Protestant ministers say something like this, after hearing that passage read in their worship service: “If that is in the Bible, we just got put out of business.” Three times Hebrews emphasizes the finality of the death of Jesus. (See the bold print above.)

One of the things that separates us from Rome is these verses from Hebrews 10, where not only the necessity but also the sufficiency of His completed work on the Cross is given. In these trying times, we are tempted to want to bail out of the Christian life. The Middle East is a powder keg, hundreds of thousands of Christians are being murdered, young girls raped to death as their parents are forced to watch, liberalism is destroying our country from the inside as “laws” are passed by the Supreme Court promoting the murder of the unborn (Roe v. Wade in January 1973), the states try to make laws more difficult for the baby killers (and sometimes we win, such as Texas in recent years), Marijuana has become legal, wholesale theft through terrible tax laws and health laws, the Supreme Court continues to destroy the families with its LGBT “laws.” We are tempted to give up, throw up our hands and say something like, “We know things must get worse before the Lord returns.” Really? What do the verses above in quotes say?

The Lion is not defeated but delivers to His Father a conquered kingdom (1 Cor. 15:22-26). The Gospel is not defeated, but heaven and earth belong to Him and us (Matt. 28:18-20). The Lion crushes the head of the serpent and so do we (Rom. 16:20). The Lion rules and so do we (Rev. 2:26-29). We must stop bearing fearful, for the fear of man is a snare; the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7; 29:25). The Lord is getting things arranged, disciplining a recalcitrant Church, so when suffering comes, we’ll win by His sovereign grace, His sovereign Gospel, and His sovereign judgments that He is bringing on the world.

We have victory not only in His “once for all” death on the cross but also in His bodily resurrection (also once for all), and in His ascension and thus enthronement. But also in these dark times of our world, or in these light times of opportunity, we must make Him known. We need to be reminded who rules and why—Jesus rules BECAUSE of His victorious death, punctuated by His bodily resurrection, as His trickle down kingdom has been forming a tsunami through His gospel to envelop the world. He is not the meek, weak, milquetoast kitty cat who meows (click it) and crawls back to his lair with His tail between His legs, but the LION (click it) of the tribe of Judah, who roars with majesty, sovereignty, and power such that the earth trembles under His omnipotent breath. As C. S. Lewis put it, “He is not a tame lion”. Indeed, sir. Let us bow willingly now or by force later to the glory of the Father. The choice is His. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LION’S ROAR:

Outstanding poem, as usual. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness”. It is a joy to read your poems, especially this one, that gives us not only the necessity but also the sufficiency of His completed work on the Cross, in His bodily resurrection (also once for all), and His ascension and thus enthronement. In these dark times of our world, or also, in these times light times of opportunity to make Him known, we need to be reminded who rules and why–Jesus rules BECAUSE of His victorious death, punctuated by His bodily resurrection, as His trickle down kingdom forms a tsunami through His gospel to envelop the world. He is not the meek, weak, milquetoast kitty cat who meows and crawls back to his lair with His tail between His legs, but the LION  of the tribe of Judah, who roars with majesty, sovereignty, and power such that the earth trembles under His omnipotent breath. As C. S. Lewis put it, “He is not a tame lion”. Indeed, sir. Let us bow willingly now or by force later to the glory of the Father. The choice is His. Amen.

Israel, the Land, and the Middle East (Part 2)

(by The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.M., Th.D.)

(6 Sep 2014)

(my forthcoming update of my book on dispensationalism will cover these matters in more detail.)

Last blog I wrote about the definition of “Israel,” which is taken for granted. We saw that there are many biblical and contemporary approaches to “Israel.” “Israel”  could be the Northern ten tribes that were taken captive in 722 BC by Assyria; or it could be those living in Palestine when the Lord came the first time; or it could be the elect Spiritual “Israel” (John 8:39-44; Gal. 6:16; Rom. 9:6); or it could be one person, Jacob; and so on. Paul stated that the true Jew was not the one by physical birth nor by circumcision but one of the heart who loved the covenant Lord:

28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Rom. 2:28-29).

The interesting thing is that current dispensationalists think that the true Jew is the one outwardly, just by physical birth. Likewise in Romans 9:6, the great apostle to the Gentiles said, “they are not all Israel who are of Israel.”

Then in John 8:39-44 the Lord Himself stated that though the Jews He was speaking to were Abraham’s seed, nevertheless they were of their father the devil. Being of Abraham’s physical seed was a step in the right direction, but they must also be believers in the Lord of Glory who came to fulfill the covenant.

Here is a good summary of what I was saying two blogs ago, written by the brilliant evangelical Anglican scholar, Gerald Bray, in his systematic theology, titled God Is Love (p. 557). Dr. Bray has traveled worldwide, and speaks many languages. My comments on his material are in brackets ([]).

. . . the church is deeply divided about what the prospects for the Jewish people are. [I disagree with this statement. From the early church until Darby in the mid-1800s, the church was united that the hope of the “Jews” was in Messiah, belief in Jesus. It has only been in the last 100+ years that such has been challenged. The dispensationalists are, was, and always have been in the minority. They are primarily a USA phenomenon, and have only existed from the mid-1800s. Virtually all Christians are creedal (especially the Nicene Creed that states we believe “in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church,” which means not two peoples of God. The Nicene Creed is the most universal one, being held to by all three branches of Christianity, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodoxy, and most Protestants.] At one end of the spectrum are those who believe that, in restoring an independent Jewish state in Palestine, God has fulfilled the promise made to Abraham that his descendants would possess the land. They believe that the ingathering of Israel has already begun and that when it is complete—about a third of the world’s Jewish population now lives there—Christ the Messiah will return. It is important to understand that, although this view is clearly “pro-Israeli,” it is not held by any significant body of Jewish opinion, nor is it official policy of the state of Israel. In other words, pro-Israeli Christians do not correspond to any significant group within the Jewish community itself [today], even if elements of what they believe can be found among different (and often mutually antagonistic) Jewish circles.

At the other end of the spectrum are those Christians, historically the vast majority, who claim that although Jews may have some advantage over Gentiles, they cannot inherit the promises made to Abraham in any way other than by having faith in Christ because he is the fulfillment of those promises. . . . The end result is the same. In the final analysis, Jewish Christians are saved on the same basis and in the same way as anyone else” (p. 558).

Here is a summary of the fulfillment of the types and shadows of the Old Testament to the New Testament, showing bud (Old Testament) to flower (New Testament) fulfillment, and Christ is the fulfiller of all things:

From Ephesians 2:11ff:

Notice here that we have both covenants and promise used and in the sense of fulfillment of the Old Testament, thereby demonstrating continuity. Observe that the Gentiles are now included:

Gentiles from OT to NT in Ephesians 2:11ff

Formerly (v. 12) Now
Separate from Christ Brought near by Christ (v. 13)
Not citizens of Israel Fellow citizens with Israel (v. 19)
Strangers to the promises No longer strangers (v. 19)
No hope Hope (v. 16)
Without God With God (v. 18)

Results: The New Israel

  1. Both groups (Jews and Gentiles) now made into ONE new body (v. 14).
  2. The two made into ONE new man (v. 15).
  3. Reconciled both in ONE body to God (v. 16).
  4. Gentiles are fellow citizens with the saints (the true Jews), and are of God’s ONE household (v. 19).

Who is Israel according to Paul here? Israel existed before (Eph. 2:12, 19) but continues today (Eph. 2:13-21) in a different form: Jews and Gentiles are on an equal ba­sis in the same body. But Paul emphasizes that the Gentiles are now members of God’s true Israel (vv. 12, 19).

As we begin to summarize the Old Testament fulfillments even more, let us recall what Leonhard Goppelt said in his most excellent study of Old Testament fulfillment in the New Testament, titled Typos. In his Introduction, he says that fulfillment has basically two elements: historical continuity and escalation. In other words, there is a historical connection between the Old Testament type and the New Testament fulfillment, such as the Passover, veil in the temple and Christ’s flesh; but there is also escalation, which means that the fulfillment is much greater than the type. To continue the example, Jesus was the lamb of God who took away the sin of the world, and because of who He was, His sacrifice was once for all. There can never be another sacrifice without demeaning what the Son of God did. We can never go back and offer the Old Testament sacrifices again, which is what would happen if the “Jews” rebuilt the temple. Some might say that would just be memorials, symbolic, not effectual signs of the covenant, to which I say, that is all they ever were. Thus, when Jesus sent His Roman general Titus to destroy Israel, Jerusalem, and the temple, it indicated that God was judging them for rejecting His fulfillments in Christ. Now that the old covenant is fulfilled in the new covenant, we do not go back to the types and shadows, which is the message of the whole book of Hebrews. The point of the Bible is not the fulfillment of one man (Abraham), his seed, and one piece of real estate, but the fulfillment of mankind, the seed of the woman beginning with Adam (Gen. 3:15), going to Christ, who brings everything together. Consider this chart:

Fulfillment of Old Covenant by Christ as the New Covenant Head:

Adam                  Sabbath

Noah                    Sabbath                              Rainbow

Abraham            Sabbath                              Rainbow                            Circum

Moses                  Sabbath                              Rainbow                            Circum                Passover

David                  Sabbath                              Rainbow                            Circum                 Passover                              nation/kingdom

Fulfillment of all:

Christ                  Heb 3-4                             Christ judged                    baptism                Lord’s Supper                    Church

Col 2:16-17                         1 Peter 3:21                       Col. 2:11-12        1 Cor 5:7                            1 Pe 2:9

Let’s put this another way. The great symbols of God’s covenant with Old Testament “Israel” were these (in no certain order):

  1. Circumcision, fulfilled by Christ who was circumcised. Now baptism fulfills this without blood (Col. 2:11-12). Both indicate a joining with the people of God.
  2. Passover, now fulfilled by “Christ, our Passover, who was sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7)
  3. Tabernacle and temple with all the sacrifices that prefigured Jesus, who by His once for all sacrifice fulfilled the tabernacle, temple, and all the sacrifices. Indeed, when Jesus from the cross cried out with a loud voice “it is finished” (John 19:30), the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. There could never again be a temple and sacrifices that were acceptable to God. Hebrews 10:19-22 gives us the reason:

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Moreover, this offering was once for all as is clearly stated in Hebrews 10:10-14.

  1. Pentecost was the firstfruits harvest of the Old Testament crops, and in Acts 2 was the firstfruits harvest of those coming to faith in Christ, including both Jews and Gentiles. Furthermore, the Old Testament put a curse on those at the tower of Babel, turning one language into many, while the New Testament fulfillment reversed the curse by the power of the gospel, turning many languages into one. There can never be another Pentecost.
  2. Another huge sign of the covenant was the land promise. When the Old Testament body of covenant people called Israel were in favor with Yahweh, they had good worship (tabernacle/ temple), good sacrifices, and dwelt peacefully in their promised land. When Israel was under judgment for their sins, God destroyed the temple and removed them from the land. That happened in 722 BC when the Assyrians took the northern 10 tribes of Israel from their land, never to be heard from again. They had no temple. About 150 years later when the southern two tribes turned away from their covenant, they were taken to Babylon (586 BC), out of their land, and the temple destroyed. When their judgment was over, they went back to the land, restored the law, rebuilt the temple, and rebuilt City of Jerusalem with the covenant blessing of Yahweh.
  3. We have not only the temple and land, but also Jerusalem that was destroyed. Now we are not to think of that city as the ultimate one because the Church is the city, as Scripture clearly teaches:

22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar– 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children– 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all (Gal. 4:22-26).

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel (Heb. 12:22-24).

We see that our new city is Mt. Zion, the new and heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10). All God’s people from Adam to the last one saved will be one, not two peoples of God. Christ is not a bigamist with two brides, an Old Testament Jewish one and a New Testament Gentile one. Moreover, as we read in Hebrews 11:39:

And speaking of the Old Testament saints, of whom the author of Hebrew spent his longest chapter on from Abel to Abraham, and so, concludes that the New Testament saints to whom he is writing are included in that one people of God:

37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented–38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they [Old Testament saints] should not be made perfect apart from us [New Testament saints]. (Heb. 11:37-40).

 

Notice these comparisons and contrasts between the first and last parts of the Bible:

Genesis 1-3
Revelation 21-22
Creation of heaven and earth New heaven/new earth (first past away; 2 Peter 3:1-13)
Fall into sin, cast out of garden No more sin, new garden
Cannot eat of the tree of life May eat the tree of life (22:2)
Curse on the earth and on man “No more curse” (22:3; see Rom 8:19ff)
All nations cursed Healing of the nations (22:2)
Seed of the woman promised for salvation The Lamb is the promised seed

To put it this way:

We move from one man Adam who failed to the one Man Jesus who succeeded

We move from the sin of the one man to God’s judgment on the garden and the earth to the Last Adam, who removed the curse

We move from one nation to many nations as the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, not from one nation, to many nations, and back to one nation, which would be a reversal (Rom. 4:17-18).

We move from the small parcel of land in the mid-East that is not even what the original “Israel” held, to the whole world: “or the promise that Abraham would be the heir of the world [kosmos] was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Rom. 4:13).  Again, Jesus said at His Ascension,

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matt. 28:18-20).

“Heaven and earth” remind us of the creation in Genesis 1:1 so what we are to understand here is the same that was created and fell is the same that is being redeemed, a new creation. In other words, the land promise has been extended to the church so that we are heirs of the world. Christ has all authority for us to evangelize the whole world, not just Palestine. Jesus said “the meek shall inherit the earth,” not just a few square miles. The word for “earth” is gη (pronounced “gay”, γῆ), which can mean “land” though that is rare. It is translated “earth” by every English translation I checked on Matthew 5:5. Furthermore, if you recall what God said to His people in the Old Testament, that everywhere their foot trod, that land was given to them. In Matthew 28:18-20, we have the same promise; namely, that everywhere the church goes, that land belongs to use. At every point, we win. Our gospel wins, not Satan’s false teachings. Our atonement wins and so we conquer by its power. The cross wins, and in that sign we conquer (as Constantine in the early 300s). When things are bad—as they are now for the church around the world—we must repent, look up, for persecution strengthens the church. The church is like a gas fire: stomp it, and it spreads; leave I alone, and it dies out.

 

We may summarize where we are:

Comparison: Old Covenant (“Israel”)                      New Covenant (Church)

Circumcision                                                                                fulfilled in Christ (Col. 2:11-12)

Passover                                                                                        fulfilled in Christ (1 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 10:10-14)

Tabernacle/temple                                                                     Christ is now the temple (John 2:20-22), and the

                                                                                                                     Church is the temple (Eph. 2:19-21)

Pentecost                                                                                       Jesus poured out His Spirit to begin formally

                                                                                                                 Building His kingdom (Acts 2)

Given the land of Palestine                                                      Church given the whole world

The one nation Israel                                                                  Now the Abrahamic covenant has been

                                                                                                                   Fulfilled in MANY nations.

We don’t return to circumcision. We don’t return to Passover. We don’t return to the tabernacle or the temple and its fulfilled sacrifices. We don’t return to Pentecost. We don’t return to the land. And we don’t return to the one nation but go on to the many nations. In each case, the type has been fulfilled and has escalated to something so much greater!

(TO SEE A SUMMARY OF THE ISSUES THAT REALLY MATTER REGARDING DISPENSATIONALISM, GO HERE.

AMEN. Ώ

Israel, the Land, and the Middle East (Part 1)

(by The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.M., Th.D.)

(5 Sep 2014)

(my forthcoming update of my book on dispensationalism will cover these matters in more detail.)

One famous Christian person recently said: “As I read the news, I can’t help but wonder if we’re in last hours.” I have great respect and appreciation for what this man is doing for the gospel and for helping the poor around the world. What is an embarrassment to Christians, however, is the end time date setting we hear so much about in some circles, and nearly always dispensational circles. So far they have been 100% wrong.

The dispensationists were jumping for joy when the state of Israel was established in 1948. They had long said that a generation in the Bible was 40 years; add that to 1948, and we have the Second Coming in 1988. In fact, one man wrote a book titled 88 Reasons for the Rapture in 1988, which, of course, did not happen. Then the date was shifted to 1989. Harold Camping put the date at 2011, and on we go. It is virtually never creedal Christians who engage in such speculation and embarrass everyone but those who think they can interpret the Bible apart from 2,000 years of church history. This new doctrine is only 100 years old, but the old gospel goes back to the Apostles; indeed, to Adam and Eve with Genesis 3:15.

Let me quickly add that it is the popularizers who set dates with their predictions, those who are not well educated theologically, not the dispensational scholars. Some popularizers are Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, John Hagee, etc. The scholars who teach at such places as Dallas Theological Seminary generally do not engage in such speculation. When I was a student there in the early 1970s, Dr. John Walvoord, the president of the seminary, said in chapel that we should not say this was the end and fulfillment of the land promise to the Jews because they may be taken out of the land only to return again at some future point. Unfortunately, he seemed to change his mind later when he wrote the popular book Armageddon: Oil and the Middle East Crisis, 1974.

I want to challenge one point taken for granted by these prophets of doom, which is the definition of Israel. I’ve been challenging their understanding of Israel and of the Church since 1985, but now there are two professors at Dallas Theological Seminary, the Mecca of dispensationalism, who are issuing the challenge. Everyone takes for granted that the “Jews” in the nation called Israel today are the Jews of biblical prophecy, but let us pursue this further.

As one professor at DTS recently stated: “Since Paul asserts that ‘not all Israel is Israel,’ (Rom. 9:6), it behooves us to know what ‘Israel,’ we mean when we ask if there remains a future for Israel.” Romans 9:1-5 indicates that Paul had great concern for his brethren according to the flesh, but then in 9:6 he adds “they are not all Israel who are Israel,” which obviously means that just because one was a Jew according to the flesh did not mean he was really an Israelite by the Spirit. So who is the real Jew? Today in the state of Israel, one can be considered a Jew if he was born of a Jewish mother (but what is a “Jewish” mother) or one who converts to Judaism. Some “Jews” in the state of Israel are atheists; are they true Jews? Moreover, Reform Judaism “views Jews who convert to another religion as non-Jews” such as “anyone who claims Jesus as his savior.” Consider this summary as given by these two professors at Dallas Seminary:

1.      Was Abraham a Jew, when he was a Gentile who was called out of the Gentile city Ur?

2.      Do we mean the people who were in the land of “Israel” during the time of Paul’s writing prior to being dispersed by the Roman General Titus in A.D. 70 and by Hadrian in A.D. 135?

3.      By “Jews” do we mean those ethnically tied to “Israel” during Paul’s time who did not accept Jesus as Messiah?

4.      By “Jews” do we mean those ethnically tied to “Israel” during Paul’s time who did accept Jesus as Messiah, and therefore who are “neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

5.      Do we mean “Jews” tied to ancient “Israel” by lineage dispersed among the nations?

6.      If 5 is yes, how would they confirm their lineage to be considered among the remnant (Rom. 9:27)?

7.      What about those who cannot be sure of their ethnic ties to “Israel”?

8.      What about those of “Israel” who have died before the future restoration of “Israel” by God?

9.      Are “Jews” the people in the nation of “Israel” created in 1948 by the UN?

10.   Do they need to be orthodox “Jews” living in the state of “Israel” to be considered “Israel”?

11.   If the majority of the population in the state of “Israel” today are not orthodox (and they aren’t) according to the Old Testament law, is it still “Israel”?

12.   Does “Israel” need to expand its borders to include the entire land grant to Abraham to be considered “Israel”?

13.   Is not a true Jew one who is spiritual, not one who is physical, as Paul explicitly states (Rom. 2:26-29; 9:6) and as the Lord Jesus stated (John 8:37-44)?

14.   All who have faith in Christ and are baptized in Him are the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:26-28) and are the true “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), the true circumcision is of the heart (Rom. 2:27-29), and baptism takes the place of circumcision (Col. 2:11-12).

15.   Is not “Israel” merely the political state in the middle East?

Will the real “Israel” please stand up? Indeed, these popularizers engage in replacement theology, which they accuse us of doing. They replace the “Israel” of Paul’s day with the church, and the church is said to be a parenthesis in God’s program until it is removed, and then the church is replaced with “Israel.”

On the contrary, Christians from the early church until now have seen the church in the New Testament era as the fulfillment of “Israel” of the Old Testament era, like planting a bud that blossoms into a flower. This is continuity, as we see in Romans 11 where there is one—not two—olive trees, and both Jews and Gentiles are in the one covenant tree. So who is “Israel” and who is the true Jew? We don’t have to guess:

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:26-29).

28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God (Rom. 2:28-29).

Paul calls the church the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). How can we possibly say that those going to the land of the State of Israel today in the mid-East are God’s chosen people when they sometimes persecute Christians and especially do not believe in Jesus as their Messiah? They will perish in hell when they die. Moreover, many of them are atheists and yet are considered good Jews. Talk about racism! Some dispensational Christians are saying these modern Jews are God’s people simply by physical birth! That was never the case, even under the old covenant, as St. Paul states in Romans 9:1-6, especially in v. 6: “not all Israel is Israel.” (See also 1 Cor. 10:1-13.)

And what is really disheartening is that many ministries are defined by their view of antichrist, not Christ. They have successfully produced a whole generation of Christians who think more about the Man of sin, antichrist than Christ. For example, I heard R. C. Sproul say he could not give away his book on the person of Christ, but books on antichrist are sold by the millions. We would not be so pessimistic about the future if we had a clear view of the majesty of the Son of God. Go to your favorite Christian bookstore and see how books proclaim Christ and how many sensationalize the devil and his alleged power. We must promote Him, not the 666.

It would not hurt my theology if the state of Israel is removed out of the land or stays in it, for they do not constitute any biblical concept of who “Israel” is.

AMEN. Ώ

Why I Am No Longer Dispensational

© Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw 2001, 2010

(please do not sell)

(This is a personal letter to one of my past dispensational Bible College professors who wanted to know why I had left dispensationalism after I graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary.  I have rewritten some of the letter for broader distribution.  In particular, some of the harder hitting points, such as the section on repentance, were not in the original letter, though they were in the book (Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow,) I wrote that I sent him.)

Also, the issue of repentance and Lordship I have addressed in my book, Lordship Salvation: The Only Kind There Is, available at www.footstoolpublications.com.  My other books may be found there also, though the site still needs a lot of work.).  The book on dispensationalism just mentioned is due out again soon in its fourth revision and seventh printing; please check the same site for it.

Dear Dr.  . . . ,

You asked me about my ecclesiology (doctrine of the Church); you have asked me about it previously.  I have deliberately not pursued it with you as I do not want that to come between us.  I did not want to debate you about it at lunch recently but to enjoy the fellowship in the Gospel.  Indeed, the ecclesiology issue is an “in house” debate among evangelicals.  The basic theology I learned at Mid-South Bible College (MSBC, was Crichton College and changed names again to Victory University) and from my mother and grandmother (2 Tim. 1:5 applies to me) I have never laid aside but adhere to it tenaciously.  The Trinity, hypostatic union, Virgin Birth (actually virgin conception, as Dr. Crichton rightly stated)—in short, the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, Chalcedon on the Person of Christ, are what the Church has defined as evangelical orthodoxy for centuries, with justification by faith alone in Christ alone added during the Reformation as a necessary implication of the Apostolic faith.  Cranmer quotes many early fathers who held to “faith alone,” even using those very words.  Our doctrinal statement here at Cranmer Theological House is the Thirty-Nine Articles, which you would find quite satisfying in most points.

But regarding my ecclesiology, I have enclosed my part of a book that Grover Gunn and I wrote in 1984, Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow.  I graduated from DTS; and Gunn finished all the courses, but they would not allow him to graduate because of his change of theology, which seems to me both illegal and immoral.  Most of your questions regarding my ecclesiology will be answered in the pages from the book you now have.  But I shall give you my personal history.

When I went to Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) in 1972 (as the first MSBC student with an accredited degree), I was convinced of dispensationalism.  The first year there I had no doubts, but mid-way through the second year I was in rapid Greek reading when a professor (Dr. Ed. Blum) stated that there were two views of sanctification on campus.  (The question was raised from the passage we were “Greeking,” as we used to say.)  We were told that there was the Walvoord/Ryrie/Pentecost view, which was Arminian, carnal Christian, and higher life without perseverance, denying the lordship of Christ in salvation, and then there was the perseverance or Calvinistic view.  Naturally, I told myself that I was of the former view since I had been taught that at MSBC.  But the seed Blum planted stayed with me, causing me later to question my assumptions regarding grace and later the assumptions of dispensationalism itself. (For the 11 1/2 pages that go into theological reasons why I left dispensationalism, please click here.)

Predicting the End Without Predicting the End

Review of John Hagee, Can America Survive?

(Also, regarding Harold Camping, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye)

(Free to disseminate: Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.M., Th.D.)

(click here to get the free pdf file of the whole article if you want to send it to someone.)

There are various ways Christians have to predict the end of the world.  First, there is the absolute nut, Harold Camping, who says May 21st, 2011 will be the end of the world with judgments, especially earthquakes.  I’m not sure how many times he has predicted and been wrong (more than once), but May 21st is just three days from now.  He is an embarrassment to all Christians.  We rightly distance ourselves from him.  Even the end time guru and popular writer of the Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye, rejects Camping’s nonsense.  He says:

Is Harold Camping Right This Time?  [He has the] well advertised claim that Jesus Christ will come to rapture believers on May 21, 2011―this is not only wrong but dangerous.  [He] also claims that God will destroy this world on October 21, 2011―this is not only bizarre but 100% wrong!

Our Lord Jesus Himself said of the time when He will return to rapture His church to Heaven “. . . that no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36).  These words were preceded with verse 35, when He also said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (from:

http://www.leftbehind.com/05_news/is_harold_camping_right_this_time.asp).

Yet, LaHaye also predicts the end.  On the same web page just given, LaHaye has this advertizement: Three Signs of the End, by himself and his popular co-writer Jerry Jenkins.  LaHaye goes on to say: “In our book Are We Living in the End Times? we list many of the signs of the times apparent in our generation. We believe that while no one knows the day or the hour when Christ will return, we have more reason to believe He could come in our lifetime than any generation before us.”

In one sense, every generation could say that it has “more reason to believe He could come in our lifetime than any generation” because we’re one generation closer to His return.  But LaHaye is doing what I call predicting the end without predicting the end.  He and Jenkins hype things up, talk about all the so-called prophecies about the end, sell millions of books, and then make a disclaimer, once in a while.  The only difference between Camping and LaHaye when it comes to prophecy is that LaHaye is not as specific on the date of His return―Camping says it will be in three days, May 21, 2011, and LaHaye says in our lifetimes.  Both are date setters.

Prior to both Camping and LaHaye is Hal Lindsey who wrote Late Great Planet Earth.  In his last chapter of the book, “Polishing the Crystal Ball,” he quoted Daniel 12:9 and interpreted it to mean that prophecy would be shut up until the “last days”.  There is now a great interest in prophecy, which means we’re in the last days.  So how do we know we’re in the last days? Because there is a lot of interest in prophecy.  How do we know there won’t be more interest in another generation, say in another 1,000 years when people hype another millennium?  Given their understanding of Daniel 12:9―which I don’t―one can only say the interest in prophecy in our generation is the greatest of all generations if we know in advance the posture of all generations.  Moreover, it strikes me as a circular to say, “Hyped interest in prophecy indicates the last days, and in the last days there will be hyped interest in prophecy.”  They become the cause of one another: last days because of hyped interest in prophecy, and hyped interest in prophecy because we’re in the last days.

But what does “last days” means, or its equivalent.  It is interesting to me that few of the doomsdayers have checked the Bible’s usage regarding the term “last days” or its equivalent to see what it means.  Here are most of the places where these terms are used and what they mean in context:

  • Gen. 49:1―Jacob was describing the events that would happen in the lives of his sons and in the history of the tribes of Israel in the Old Testament
  • Num. 24:14―a prediction of the first coming with the star out of Jacob and the scepter from Israel
  • Deut. 4:30―judgments of the exiles of Israel to Assyria and Judah to Babylon (need more study on this one)
  • Isa. 2:2―In light of Isaiah 11:4 that echoes this passage and also 2:4, it would seem that this is the Messianic age, between the two comings
  • Jer. 23:20; 30:24; 48:47; 49:39; Ezekiel 38:16; Daniel 2:28―(this last verse is clearly not the absolute end as Daniel says the prophecy applies to the king and also the four world empires, the fifth being Christ and His kingdom at His incarnation; Daniel 10:14 may be the same thing); Micah 4:1 is most likely the Messianic age also, for in the imagery of Scripture “mountain of the Lord” often refers to God’s people, the church, to the Lord and His place of refuge (Isa. 2:3; Deut. 1:41; 5:22; Ps. 48:1; 11:9; Isa 25:6; 30:29; 65:11; 66:20; Jer. 26:18; 21:23; Ez. 20:40; Micah 4:2).  At least we are seeing how the Bible uses these terms, not just using our imaginations and the newspaper
  • Acts 2:17 Peter quoted Joel 2:28-32 on Pentecost “in the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.”  This was fulfilled as he spoke, and the rest of the quote indicates that “last days” was applied to the Messianic age, between the two comings.  Likewise with 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1; Heb. 1:2 (especially here: “God has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things; James 5:3; 1 Peter 1:20 (“He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,” obviously meaning the current age); 2 Peter 3:3; 1 John 2:18 (by the many anti-christis already in the world, we know that it IS, present tense, right now, the last hour)

John Hagee’s Book: Can America Survive?

Instead of interpreting the Bible from within, by seeing how terms are used in the Bible, Hagee and others interpret the Bible from without: they read into it today’s news, and they have an active imagination in doing so.  Anytime anything happens in the Mid-East, one of these writers produces a new book about the terminal generation, such as John Hagee’s recent book, Can American Survive―10 Prophetic Signs That We Are the Terminal Generation.  The subtitle on the book cover is 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are the Terminal Generation, but only one chapter mentions them. The rest of the book is fluff, irrelevant.  Later, I will do a longer review of this book and also of his In Defense of Israel, a most horrendous book in its view of salvation, but for now here is Hagee’s introduction to his 10 signs of the end (chapter 9 in his book):

“In this chapter, we will look at ten prophetic signs that clearly indicate that we are the terminal generation and that we are well on our way on the road to Armageddon.  If you listen closely, you can hear the hoof beats of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, racing toward the battle” (Can American Survive, chapter 9, p. 182).

Here are his ten signs that our kids will never live to give us grandkids:

  1. Oil―He quotes Ezekiel 38:4 where God says to invading armies that He would put “hooks into your jaws,” and Hagee says Ezekiel “is referring to oil.”  That’s all the exegesis you’re going to get!  A bare assertion that “hooks” is oil. If there was ever a case of theology in search of a text, this is it.  There is no competent Hebrew scholar that would say “hooks” is oil. The Hebrew (HaHîm) just means something literal, as a physical device in an animal, or something non-literal that controls another.  Of course, Hagee does not mean “hooks” is literally oil but that oil is the hook in some nations’ mouths.  But there is nothing in the context to connect this with the 21st century or with oil.  I’m sorry, but his bare assertion is not enough.  He engages in all kinds of newspaper gymnastics to show who controls the oil, wanting us to read that back into Ezekiel. We would have to identify “Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” of verse two with nations in the middle east, which cannot be done and is too involved for this short review.
  2. Knowledge explosion―Hagee quotes Daniel 12:4 where Daniel is told to “shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”  The end of what time?  The absolute end of time just prior to the Second Coming (as Hagee assumes) or the end of an age, as in the Old Testament age, the Old Covenant ending and the New Covenant beginning?  Moreover, we have the same circular fallacy as mentioned above.  There is now an alleged increase knowledge, which means we’re in the last days.  So how do we know we’re in the last days? Because there is an alleged increase knowledge.  How do we know there won’t be more knowledge in another generation, say in another 1,000 years when people hype another millennium?  Also, what kind of knowledge did Daniel have in view?  Was it our information age, was it about God through more insights into Holy Scripture, or what?
  3. Massive radiation blast―Hagee quotes Zechariah 14:12-15 about “their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets” and concludes that this is a nuclear bomb of some kind, but Zechariah says this is a “plague.”  I know of no place in Old Testament Hebrew where plague means bomb; it always refers to some kind of disease or plague.  Hagee is engaging in allegory, or something.  This is a belief in search of a text, reading into Zechariah from our 21st century culture.  Of course, that is not to say it will not happen.  If the apocalyptic leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has his way, he’ll do it.
  4. Rebirth of Israel―Does it not occur to anyone that we are in the second generation since Israel became a nation again in 1948?  I thought the Second Coming was to occur by 1988, one generation from their renewal in the Middle East.  When I was a dispensationalists, I was taught that one generation was 40 years.  Thus 40 + 1948 = 1988, the year of the Second Coming.  One man, Edgar Whisenant wrote 88 Reasons for the Rapture in 88, then corrected himself for 89 reasons for the rapture in 89, and was wrong, of course, both times.  Moreover, as Dr. John Walvoord said to the student body in chapel when I was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, “Men, do not say this is the fulfillment of prophecy for Israel to be back in the land.  We don’t know.  They may be taken out of the land only to return 1,000 years later.”  For people to say this is a fulfillment of prophecy is to assume that can see all the way to Second Coming, that we will not have a repeat.  Also, as I’ll document in the next version of my book, Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow (will be the seventh printing and fourth edition), there is no such prophecy for Israel to go back to the land.  Every prophecy the end time fanatics give from the Old Testament is a prophecy that has already fulfilled with the return under Ezra and Nehemiah from the dispersion.  Then I also ask the question, who is Israel?  The twelve tribes are gone so how would we recognize them?  There has been 2,000 years of inter-marrying.  We have no genealogical roles of the tribes.  Here is what one current professor at one prominent dispensational seminary has said about the definition of Israel, and it is significant since he believes in a future for “Israel” in the land:

There are these “Israels” in the Bible and one extra:

1. Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.

2. Jacob’s biological descendents.

3. Jacob’s biological descendents who share(d) his faith.

4. The nation constituted by Jacob’s descendents.

5. The nation constituted by Jacob’s descendents and others not biologically descended from Jacob.

6. Those within the nation that shared the faith of Jacob.

7. Jesus

8. The land between the rivers inhabited by the seed of Abraham eschatologically.

9. [This one is not in the Bible] The secular, political, anti-Christian state in the Middle East today.

I reject number 8 because I see the land as now the whole world, but the others seem legitimate to me.  The point is how do we determine who Israel is?  But the man who gave this list is an honest scholar who believes in a future of “Israel” in the land, and recognizes that we have a problem in the definition.  Hagee seems to assume that anyone who claims to be a Jew is legitimate.  But is that a blood claim?  If so, where are the twelve tribes and the genealogies?  If it includes faith, then anyone can make a legitimate claim to be a Jew, so what’s the point?

5. Exodus II―The Russian Jews return to Israel.  Hagee quotes Jeremiah 23:7-8 about the tribes of Israel and Judah returning from the “north,” but that has been fulfilled under Nehemiah and the Bible never mentions Russia; that is read into the text.  The nations to the north where the Lord drove them were Babylon, Assyria, and such, and they came back under Nehemiah.

6. Jerusalem no longer under Gentile rule―According to Hagee, the Gentiles had control of Jerusalem from A.D. 70 to the Six Day War of 1967, and that this fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy that it would be “trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).  (If that is true, by the way, President Obama just announced that Israel should give that up.)   Assuming this has anything to do with today, it is difficult to say we have seen the fulfillment of the verse.  As noted above, it may come around again in 1,000 years; we just don’t know what the end will look like.  It appears the Gentiles still have a lot of control over Jerusalem, especially with the masque on the dome of the rock, the traditional temple site, and many in Jerusalem being Muslims.

7. Worldwide Television―This would be funny if it were not so ridiculous.  He quotes Revelation 11:9: “Then thosefrom the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days” and concludes that the whole world, “at the same time,” “at one time,” will be able to see the two witnesses. But it does not say “at the same time.”  John the Apostle says they will see the dead bodies for three and a half days, not “at the same time.”  John says “those” from peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see them, which is a Greek expression that means “some” will see them, not all.  Even if we supply the word “those,” as most translations do, still the idea is not “all.”  The Greek preposition ek followed by the genitive means “some,” not “all.”  This is definitely a belief in search of a text, and highly imaginative.

8. Days of deception―Hagee quotes Matthew 24:4 that deception is going to come on the terminal generation.  Of course, we have had heretics since the Apostles and the early church as witness the New Testament and the early fathers.  Once again he goes to our culture to find secular humanism, neopaganism, ignoring debt, and mocking the Bible as fulfillments.  I can add to the list of heresies, not the least of which is the word-faith one that says the Son of God gave up His divine powers while on earth and only functioned as a man.  (There went the Trinity, incarnation by deicide, and condemned at the Council of Ephesus, AD 431.)  I’m not saying Hagee is word-faith (or that he’s not), but others are saying he is.  These heresies have been around in some form for hundreds of years, and some for thousands.

9. Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes―Hagee took this from Matthew 24:7 where Jesus said: “there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places,” but that has been fulfilled in A.D. 70 and before.  Of course, it is true in every age, and he interprets “pestilence” to mean an “incurable disease,” which is not a necessary meaning in Greek or English.  Once again, he goes to culture to interpret the text and mentions AIDS, cancer, and other incurable diseases, none of which has anything necessarily to do with Matthew 24:7.

10. As in the days of Noah―This connection is even more tenuous than the others, if possible.  Jesus said that in the days of Noah, they “did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:39).  So?  He feels the pungency of “they did not know” so his comment about Jesus saying no one would know “the day nor the hour” is this: “This is a statement of a twenty-four hour period,” apparently meaning we might not know the exact hour of the day, but other than that, we can know, which is just so much twisting of Scripture.  The standard Greek lexicon (BDAG) defines “hour” and “day” as an “undefined period of time” in this passage, not to be taken literally.

The next chapter is titled “What’s Going to Happen Next?”, which, of course, is the rapture.  Surprise!  We get out of all the judgments by being taken away seven years before they occur.  This is a theology of pessimism to the extreme, on the one hand, and of escapism, on the other hand.  Is it any wonder that people buy these books when they are being told they will escape?  There is nothing but doom awaiting the world, but we Christians get out of it.  Actually, I agree with some of his events that he said may happen, such as financial ruin, nuclear bomb, EMP (electromatic magnetic pulse), and so forth, but we don’t get out of them.  Christians all over the world have suffered terribly in the last 100 years, so why should Christians in the USA be delivered?  That is arrogance exponential.  We Christians in the USA have no theology of suffering; He shall teach us.  Recently I heard Jim Daly, new head of Focus on the Family since James Dobson retired, on Huckabee say that he had visited pastors in China.  As he was leaving to embark on an airplane, they said something like, “We’ll be praying for you.”  Daly asked: “What will you pray for?”  They responded, “For your persecution.  You have it too soft in the USA.”  They are right.  And with the word-faith movement telling USA Christians that they can make their own providence by speaking good words into the air, we are ripe for judgment.  I strongly agree with Hagee’s (and the others) that judgment is coming, but the implication they are saying is that it is not already here.  Indeed, judgment is already here if we have eyes to see.  Read my book that details the judgments and solutions we have in the USA regarding the Triune God and judgment in the West, and His moral law, NOT Ten Suggestions, and another one I wrote on the word-faith movement, Man as God: The Word of Faith Movement.

Is it any wonder that we Christians have been impotent in bringing God’s morality to bear when we believe there is no use in it?  The devil wins by disobedience to God’s law, and we lose by obedience.  What is wrong with that picture?  Of course, true obedience to God’s law is only a product of faith in Messiah, for “faith without works is dead.”  No one can be perfectly obedient to God’s commandments, but if we confess our sins, trusting in the death and resurrection of Messiah, we shall be forgiven, and the obedience that follows from that will change the culture.

At each point, Hagee looks for something different or unique or wrong in our culture, and then looks for a text in the Bible that will support this thing.  At all points he has a theology in search of a text, reading the culture back into the Bible, embarrassing all Christians with his predicting the end without predicting the exact end.  (Is too much to say that if he predicted the exact end as Camping has done, the book selling would be up once the date came and went?  Better to keep the readers hanging on for one more book with a few more clues.)

Hagee begins his book with the story of the Titanic with all the doomsday emphasis he can muster, not because he says that was in prophecy, but because it lends credence to his book with its doomsday predictions.  It makes the rest of the prophecies in the book seem real if you prepare for possible sensationalism with actual sensationalism.  I will also point out that Hagee is extremely caustic toward anyone who disagrees with him, especially Christians.  The bitterness he accuses Christians of having toward Jews is not as bad as the vitriolic spirit he has towards early Christians, Martin Luther, and modern Christians who do not take his view.  He is not able to say anything civil about us, but I get the impression he had just as soon see us miss the so-called rapture.  He has so emotionally charged his following that I doubt that any could seriously entertain what has been the Church’s view for 2,000 years.  He has already poisoned the wells by quoting (out of context) early fathers who were not pro Jewish and castigated them, and has done the same with modern scholars.  Anyone who denies his view is engaging in “replacement theology” while he engages in dual covenants and two ways of salvation, as I’ll demonstrate next time.  We are written off as of the devil―period.  I will explore this more in the larger reviews of his In Defense of Israel, which he had to rewrite because it was heretical on Jesus as Messiah, basically saying Moses was the Messiah of the Jews and Jesus the Messiah of the Gentiles.  But that is for next time.

It is a commentary on American culture where the rapture generation exists and virtually nowhere else in the world, that such nonsense could be so popular.  As John Hannah, the head of the church history department at Dallas Theological Seminary, has recently stated about dispensationalism, it is primarily a USA phenomenon (John Hannah, An Uncommon Union, p. 20).  In my limited travels, and in talking to others outside the USA, especially those in seminaries and church leadership positions (Germany, England, Australia, Canada, etc), I’m told that the rapture doctrine all but disappears once outside the USA.  That is rather ironic sense it began with Darby in England in the mid 1800s, but now is basically dead there; indeed, Christianity is dead there.  Our version of evangelical Christianity here is barely recognizable.  From the mid 1800s on back, the rapture doctrine completely disappears from church history, not a whiff.  Even today, if we take all of Christianity, Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestant, there is only a small number of evangelicals, and those residing in the USA, who hold it, but they are very vocal and think you do not believe the Bible if you don’t believe their way.

It is a commentary on our Christian culture that so many people would buy into predicting the end without predicting the end.  How gullible can we be?  How can Christian people think that Hagee’s connections from the culture to the Bible are really exegesis (lifting out of the text its meaning) and not eisegesis (reading into the text)?  He makes bare assertions without proof.  It seems clear that he has no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew and yet claims to be a Bible scholar.  Lord have mercy on him to show him a better way.

There may be an anti-Christ at the end whom the Lord may slay with the breath of His mouth (2 Thess. 2:8), or perhaps my reading of that could be improved.  John speaks of a coming anti-Christ and that many are anti-Christs are already in the world (1 John 2:18).  But the one who denies the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation of the Son of God who remained and functioned as God on earth, is both the anti-Christ and the spirit of anti-Christ (1 John 4:1-3), not in the future, but now.

What is wrong with this picture?  One can sell millions of books about the anti-Christ (Camping, Lindsey, LaHaye, Hagee), but one cannot give away books on the person of Christ.  I hope to write a book on the person of Christ, but from what others have said (such as R. C. Sproul who also wrote one on Christ), it will not sell.  What is wrong with those Christians who prefer to have their curiosities tickled about the “end times,” who want to know who the anti-Christ is, and what will happen at the end, but do not want to hear about the glories of Christ?  This is a sick church.

I haven’t said anything about supporting Israel in the Mid-East, but I will in the larger review of Hagee’s works and in my work on dispensationalism that I hope to have out again.  Only I’ll say this much.  I’m in favor of supporting Israel politically because they are a great ally to the USA in the Mid-East, but religiously they are still Christ-haters, denying that Jesus is the Messiah, persecuting Christians there, which puts them outside the Christian faith and thus non-Christians.  We owe them a huge debt of love for giving us the Gospel and the Old Testament, and we must give them the Gospel as we would Muslims.  There is only one faith, the Christian faith, and there are several Christian heresies: Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, and perhaps some others.  All these have copied Christianity to some extent (Judaism has reacted and changed its Old Testament understanding since Christ came) but changed its essence.  We are indebted to all, but especially to the Jews to whom Christ first came, if we can determine who a Jew is; otherwise, we just give everyone the Gospel.

I believe in the infallibility of Holy Scripture, but not in the infallibility of so-called modern day prophets or their predictions.  I believe in the Nicene Creed, that talks about the Second Coming, the same Creed that goes back to Nicaea (325) and Chalcedon (451), the same one Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants all believe.  It gives us the Holy Trinity, creation, Incarnation, resurrection, Ascension, the Church, and the Second Coming, without defining the details of that coming.  If the “Jews” are taken out of the land again, it would not in the least affect my theology or my belief in the infallibility of the Bible.  I cannot delve into what the Church and the Bible has historically said about these things here, but I will later.  So what do I think about the Second Coming?  I’ll be safe and infallible: Jesus will return.  That is safe, and because our Lord said it, it is infallible.  Also, another infallible statement: I don’t know when He’ll come, which is what He said (Mark 13:32), but I’d better be ready.  So had you.  AMEN.

(click here to get the free pdf file of the whole article if you want to send it to someone.)