“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” begins the Dickens’ classic, The Tale of Two Cities. For many End-Times preachers, these are the worst of times. This idea is reinforced repeatedly by many Christians who feel that the world is indeed getting worse and worse. When I have lectured on Ethics or Eschatology both here and abroad, I have been challenged by students who despair that Christians can not hope to have a godly influence on society since the Bible apparently says that the last days will be dark and full of rampant evil. I have generally responded to these claims by asking if there was another time in history in which they would rather have lived? When students think about it, they usually conclude that there is no better time to be alive than now. But this presents a dilemma for those Christians who have bought into the idea that these are the “worst of times”, because the evidence suggests that these are the best of times.
I’m a Preterist. I’m not a Futurist. This means that I consider the Bible needs to read and understood as it was intended. I consider this to be taking the Bible “literally”. This kind of literalism distinguishs between a metaphor, an allegory, poetic parallelism, narrative, and didactic prescriptions. I therefore regard Christ’s statements about His coming and the Kingdom of God being “near” and “at hand” as being intended to convey the idea that His coming and the Kingdom of God on earth was about to commence within the life-time of Christ’s original audience.
Who is the man identified in The Book of Revelation with the number, “666”? This article sheds light on this controversial question. I grew up in a church where regular Bible-prophecy teachers hinted that they knew the identity of the coming ‘Antichrist’. This man, was, according to these teachers, also referred to in Scripture as “the Beast” and “the man of lawlessness”. It wasn’t until I started to realise that these teachers were not only guessing about this Antichrist, but pretty much everything else they taught was a guess as well, that I began to understand what the Bible really says about these things.
The Bible is uniquely prophetic. No other religious or holy book makes predictions of the future like the Bible does. This phenomenon has led some Bible teachers to over-emphasise the Bible’s ability to predict the future. The rise in claims of the Bible’s prophetic detail coincided with its increased availability. When medieval scribes increased production of Bible copies the number of prophetic speculations also increased. When the Gutenberg Bible revolutionised the way Bibles were produced from the 1500s, there was similarly a marked increase in the number and variety of prophetic speculations.
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.
Some Fundamentalist Christians make wild claims about certain predictions they claim the Bible makes. Here’s what the Bible doesn’t predict!