Earlier today I received an email from a woman asking my opinion about a blog she had read. She attached the link so I could read it too. Her note opened with the line, “Did you hear that Obama is going to run for a third term?” Later in her cover note she wrote, “Obama is an evil man. . . ” and that, “I have studied End Times for a number of years and I believe that we are living in the last days.”
When I opened the link to the blog at nowtheendbegins.com, I immediately saw the headline: “Democrats Introduce Bill ‘HJ RES 15’ to Give Obama A Third Term.” I called the lady who sent it to me and told her I didn’t believe it. Then I told her I wanted to make an agreement with her: If it turns out to be true, I would give her $1,000, but if it was false, she would agree to stop sending things like this to others. She said she would think about it.
Then I called the office of our local congressman, Doug Lamborn, to ask about the bill. The aide who answered Lamborn’s phone said that the bill had, in fact, been introduced, but that it had been introduced annually by the same congressman for the last ten years or so, but had never gotten out of committee. His expectation was that the bill would not get out of committee this time either. He pointed out that the congressman had introduced it multiple times regardless of the party of the person in office. And based on that fact, his thought was that the congressman wanted to remove the constitutional limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President as a matter of principle, not exclusively for the benefit of the current President.
I was so glad the woman hadn’t accepted my deal! But I was embarrassed that I had jumped to the wrong conclusion. The truth was the bill had been introduced, but the impression from the headline was misleading, and the woman’s fear of Obama and her looming concern about end times events was fueled. I don’t remember any headlines saying “Democrats Introduce Bill to Give Bush A Third Term” when a similar bill was repeatedly introduced during the Bush presidency.
Do you remember hearing that Madeline Murray O’hare was working to get Christian radio kicked off the airwaves? She wasn’t, it never happened. But rumors kept well meaning Christians calling the FCC for 10 years on that one.
We do have to be careful. It’s true, we are in the end times, but we have been in the end times for over 2,000 years.
I appreciate eschatology and those who promote the necessity of being prepared. Eventually those who believe current events are proof that the second coming is imminent will be right. But I’ve been reading apocalyptic materials closely since The Late Great Plant Earth was published in the 70’s, and little of it has hit the mark thus far. But eventually it will, so we all need to watch and be ready for Christ’s wonderful return.
I apologized to the lady who wrote me, and she was very gracious. But when she wrote, “I have lived here (in Colorado Springs) since 2004 and have never found a church that will teach End Times Prophecy and there are so many that have no idea what is about to happen,” it made me think. There are approximately 350 churches in our fair city. The majority of the pastors here are thoughtful and committed Bible teachers. I think she may be wise to wonder why none of those pastors accept her view. I do agree, however, that there may be many who have no idea what is about to happen. Sadly that group includes many of those who think they understand end time prophecy.
When we become aggressive advocates of a product or idea, the temptation to edit or distort facts in order to be persuasive is powerful. But that methodology is counterproductive in the long term. Communicating facts, maintaining context, and undergirding the overall truth builds trust in our hearers. People need to know that what the church says is trustworthy. For too long, too many of the things we’ve heard about the second coming of Christ have not turned out to be true.
For the teachers of end time prophecy, it might be wise to be cautious about:
– changing the meanings of words in the Bible,
– presuming to have revelation about types, shadows, and symbols in the Bible,
– making too many predictions,
– acting like no one remembers when previous predictions did not come true,
– and stretching, distorting, and editing facts to demonstrate preconceived conclusions.
I think we would all be wise to live as if Christ were coming back today, but plan as if he’s not coming back in our lifetimes.
Stay steady. Watch and pray. We can be confident, Jesus is coming again.