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When Interpretting Bible Prophecy Becomes Fortune-Telling...
Prominent Fundamentalists, Dispensational, and Word-of-Faith Preachers, such as Kenneth Copeland, John Hagee, Benny Hinn, have all declared when Christ would return. These dates have ranged from 1988 through to the present day. Some of these teachers have publicly declared that the return of Christ is now only months away!
The study of Bible Prophecy is referred to as "Eschatology". While this is an extremely important field of Bible study, since it affects how the West formulates foreign policy in regards to the Middle East in particular, it is really a secondary issue to something far more important: how we read and interpret the Bible.
Over the past century Western Evangelicals have been conditioned into thinking that Bible prophecy is 'more accurate in describing today's events than modern newspapers!' Novice Christians have been swept along in the tide of teaching that the Bible is written to us (rather than for us) and that it describes our time (not the times of its original audiences). This has led to Prophecy Teachers using the Bible to make their predictions rather than reading and interpretting what the Bible is saying. Below is a table of just some of the embarrassing predictions made by some of these pop-preachers of Bible Prophecy-
Charles Taylor revises his first guess about the Rapture to this year. (Abanes p.99)
Charles Taylor revises his second guess about the Rapture to this year. (Abanes p.99)
Charles Taylor revises his third guess about the Rapture to this year. (Abanes p.99)
Charles Taylor revises his fourth guess about the Rapture to this year. (Abanes p.99)
In the late '70s, Pat Robertson predicted the end of the world would occur in the fall of 1982. "I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world," he said in a May, 1980 broadcast of the 700 Club. (Boyer p.138)
Charles Taylor revises his fifth guess about the Rapture to this year. (Abanes p.99)
The end of the world according to Lester Sumrall in his book "I Predict 1985". (Abanes p.99, 341)
Charles Taylor revises his sixth guess about the Rapture to this year. (Abanes p.99)
Charles Taylor revises his seventh guess about the Rapture to this year. (Abanes p.99)
Charles Taylor revises his eighth guess about the Rapture to this year. (Abanes p.99)
Hal Lindsey's bestseller, "The Late, Great Planet Earth", suggested that the Rapture would take place in 1988, reasoning that it was 40 years (one Biblical generation) after Israel gained statehood. (Abanes p.85)
Charles Taylor revises his nineth guess about the Rapture to this year. (Abanes p.99)
Edgar C. Whisenant lightened the wallets of many a believer with his best-selling book "88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988". He predicted the Rapture between September 11 and 13 (Rosh Hashanah). After his prediction failed, he released another book: "The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989". (Kyle p.121, Abanes p.93)
Charles Taylor revises his tenth guess about the Rapture to this year. (Abanes p.99)
Charles Taylor revises his eleventh guess about the Rapture to this year. (Abanes p.99)
On April 26, 1989, prophecy buff, Doug Clark announced on Trinity Broadcasting Network's show Praise the Lord that World War III would begin within 3 years. (Abanes p.92)
Charles Taylor revises his twelfth guess about the Rapture to this year. (Abanes p.99)
Kenneth Hagin declared the Rapture would occur this year.*
Begin of Jesus' reign from Jerusalem; Lester Sumerall; Book: "I Predict 2000 AD"; "I predict the absolute fullness of man's operation on planet Earth by the year 2000 AD. Then Jesus Christ shall reign from Jerusalem for 1000 years." (99 Reasons Why No One Knows When Christ Will Return, by B J Oropeza, Foreward by Hank Hanegraaff, IVP publishing, 1994)
Rapture; Implied in Hal Lindsay's revision. 1st said 1948+40=1988; Later Israel did not have land until 1967 War; 1967+40=2007; Rapture seven years earlier.
Timothy LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, authors of the bestselling Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, expected the Y2K bug to trigger global economic chaos, which the Antichrist would use to rise to power. As the big day approached, they, like other doomsayers, they backpedalled. (Source: Washington Post)
On his broadcast on the morning of Feburary 7, 2000, televangelist Kenneth Copeland claimed that a group of scientists and scholars (he gave no specifics) studied the Bible in great detail and determined that Feb 11 would be the last day of the 6000th year since Creation, a date when the Apocalypse would presumably happen. Copeland did not imply he believed this to be accurate, though, but he went on to say that the Rapture will come soon.
Jack Van Impe Ministries sponsors the largest Evangelical Christian program devoted to end-time prophecy. In his home page, he discusses his book "On the Edge of Eternity" in which he predicts that the year 2001 will "usher in international chaos such as we've never seen in our history." He predicts that in 2001, and the years following, the world will experience "drought, war, malaria, and hunger afflicting entire populations throughout the [African] continent...By the year 2001, there will be global chaos." Islam will become much larger than Christianity. (That would take a sudden growth spurt; Islam is currently followed by 19% of the world's population vs 33% for Christianity). A one-world church will emerge; it will be "controlled by demonic hosts." Temple rituals (presumably including animal sacrifice) will resume in Israel.
Beginning of the Millennium, not the end of the world, 1000yrs yet to go. Jack Van Impe; TV show: JVI Presents week of 1-15-1995; Rather Vague but cites Jewish, Catholic and Christians as well as Notradamus to support his claims.
Arnie Stanton noted on 1997-SEP-16 that that evening was the fourth Jewish festival since 1996-APR-3 on which a lunar eclipse occurred. (7) He quotes Luke 21:25-26 which mentions "signs in the sun, in the moon and in the stars and on the earth distress of nations" He believes that "these recent lunar eclipses are the last known astronomical signs that will preceed a 7 year (360 day/year) countdown to Armageddon/Christ's return to the Earth." He expects that Christ's return will occur within a few months of 2004-SEP-29 when Asteroid Toutatis will make a very close approach to the Earth - perhaps even a collision!
End of world; Implied in Hal Lindsay's revision. 1st said 1948+40=1988; Later Israel did not have land until 1967 War; 1967+40=2007; Rapture seven years earlier. Also now says generation from 60-80 yrs. Puts it also at 2040, 2047
Jerry Falwell- In a speech about the concern people have over the new millennium, the Rev. Jerry Falwell said, "The Antichrist is probably alive today and is a male Jew." Falwell also told about 1,500 people at a conference in Kingsport, Tenn., that he believes the second coming of Christ probably will be within 10 years. (Williamsburg, Va., Associated Press, January 15, 1999; Falwell: Antichrist May Be Alive)
SECRET RAPTURE THEOLOGY IS A RECENT INVENTION...
Most of the above predictions pertain to a "Secret Rapture". But the idea that there even is a secret rapture is only a fairly recent theological invention! It is associated with the teaching that God has two groups of people: The Church, and Israel. It claims that God must rapture the Church out of the world in order to reinstitute His program for Israel. But this is not what the Scriptures teach and those of us who dare to point that this out (by showing that God only has one Covenant with one group of redeemed people, "Covenant Theology") to these highly commercialised preachers of the Rapture are often savaged by verbal attacks from these televangelists. According to one of several websites, "John Hagee calls Covenant Theologians heretics, because they do not make a distinction between the church and Israel in the New Testament. Branding them as the 'carriers of Hitler's annointing'" *.
But the Scriptures encourages readers to "test all things". Whenever a prophetic utterance is made, it encourages us to 'judge' these utterances. A quick examination of the above table will reveal that all of these predictions were and are wrong. The result is a public discrediting of Scripture since it presents the Bible as vague, subject to wild speculation, and even wrong!
I'm on a mission to counter this discrediting of Scripture. It is my mission to help reverse Biblical illiteracy rates and produce resources to help readers understand what they are reading and how to correctly interpret the Scriptures. I opened this article by saying that the issue of eschatology is secondary to how we read and interpret the Scriptures (Hermeneutics). That's why I've made my eBook- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible available for an immediate download. Thousands of people around the world have now read this eBook and many have written to me thanking me and others for promoting a more sound method for reading and interpretting the Bible. I encourage you to download this eBook and read for yourself an alternate view to End Times than the one presented by many of these pop-preachers. When I first released this eBook several years ago I was a bit of a lone voice. But now some big ministries are beginning to say the same things. Most notably is Hank Hanegraaff's latest book, Unlocking The Apocalypse Code, where he now makes the same assertions. I predict that in the days, weeks, months, years to come, Jesus Christ will be Lord and His Word will be found true and reliable.