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After last week’s article, “American Vision’s Vision”; I was brought up on charges by “Jim,” a fellow Christian. Here’s a slightly edited account of his criticism:
I agreed with most of the article, but being Reformed in theology and former member of a Presbyterian church, your criticism of those of us who believe in the premillennial return of Christ is objectionable and an insult to the many Reformed Baptists (and Presbyterians) who maintain their faith in the biblical teaching of premillennialism. Your lack of spiritual sensitivity is appalling. It violates the teaching of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 8 which urges all born-again believers to exercise love toward those with whom we disagree. You are well aware that there is disagreement between the pre- and post-mill camps, yet both hold to the fundamentals of the faith once delivered to the saints. In a day in which these two sides must present a united front against the assault of those inside the “Church” who deny God’s authority, either by doctrine or by conduct, your use of the term “rapture-driven” has contributed to more strife and division in the Body of Christ. I believe you have sinned against many Christian brothers by allowing your personal beliefs to enter into this discussion. I implore you to prayerfully consider your statement in the light of Proverbs 6:16–19. Grace and peace to you, brother.
I’m always saddened when folks cling to the biblically unsupportable, man-made theory of dispensationalism (DP) which is not a synonym for premillennialism; especially given that it’s brought so much provable damage to the Church. DP didn’t exist before 1830, so it couldn’t have been a “fundamental of the faith” before then. Rather, it turned into “faith” that helped foster a pietistic movement here and in Europe that had already gained significant ground by the late nineteenth century.
Beyond just abetting a Church-enfeebling pietism, DP’s chief effect was to coat the entire twentieth century with cultural pessimistic, “we lose in history and in culture.” This happens via its robotically disavowed but nevertheless underlying operational motive of escapism. The well-known “rapture rescue” is escapism’s exhibit A, and this frank yearning is also evident amid its insistence that the Church—in spite of the Cultural Mandate’s and the Great Commission’s clear victory inferences—only “gains by losing.” That is, per DP theory, the Church “wins” only by being swept off the earth short of victory in culture.
DP has paralyzed, or at a minimum, neutralized the willingness of everyday Christians to push hard for victory before Christ returns. It squelches the desire to defeat humanism whether enemy attacks are launched from inside or outside the churches. No matter how we slice it we’re getting beaten up, and it’s time for the Davids and Gideons out there to mobilize and turn the tide. But DP says, “Don’t do it. It’s against God’s plan. We inevitably lose in history and any countering efforts means you’re defying His will.”
But scholarly research by American Vision and others of allied conviction (which takes my own “personal beliefs” off the table) skillfully exposes the biblically untenable DP of J. N. Darby, Scofield, John MacArthur, Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, Norm Geisler, et al. AV’s facts, refutations, and unassailable conclusions are published in such detail and in such breadth that only stubborn, purposeful refusal could possibly explain why some would choose to see it otherwise.
Jim’s Proverbs 6:19 reference warns against sowing discord among the brethren. But revealing the errors of dispensationalism is, in the final analysis, accord-, not discord-advancing. Mention of 1 Corinthians 8 is off the mark, as well, because Paul’s concern was not for world Christendom, merely about one congregation’s intramural dispute over food, Christian liberty, and the “weaker brother.” When a house, a bedroom, and a brother I love are all burning, the burnee can expect a rude, emergency-based arousal from sleep, probably by a garden hose watering him down while also being pulled roughly out of bed to safety. Spiritually insensitive? Actually, it’s the best thing to do. Paul’s concern then was not, as with DP’s global threat today, at all similar to AV’s unifying, church-preserving, victory-motivating response to the vicious attacks from ravenous wolves outside church walls…walls currently weakened and tottering thanks to a bad theory.
Since the above explanation is old news to many AV readers, some might ask why I would bother to review it again. It’s just as an extra reminder to many that the good news of the Gospel is much more than the knowledge that a person can acquire “fire and life insurance” in advance of their journey to the other side. Nearly equally glad tidings is that those who will can help bequeath to Christians alive and as yet unborn an obedience-based action plan for daily living in these turbulent times that is exciting, fulfilling, depression-defeating, victory-in-culture-guaranteeing and God-honoring. Yes, obedience to God is our top priority in all things, but a daily reason to arise from slumber, to go out and make a difference for Him in visible, measurable ways is something that changes lives. DP undermines the potential existence of this life-enhancing alternative no matter how solemn the DP protests saying “we pray for Him to come today but act as though it won’t be for a thousand years.” So far, this inspiring phrase is more act than actual.
Another plus from Jim’s letter is the opportunity it offers to share a handy acronym. I “discovered” it while studying AV material. When chatting with a friend on whom DP may be exerting undue influence, it’ll help to think of the TRAILS memory device. It refers to six of the key pillar fundamentals of DP. These end times pillars are so vital that the New Testament should literally be bursting with references to them. Yet, they’re not there as pertaining to DP theory. Try as you might, you won’t find them. They are:
TR number one: Temple Rebuilt. Not a word!
TR: number two. Tribulation conjoined directly to a Rapture. Not there.
R2: Christ’s literal, physical Return to Rule on literal planet earth.
A: An empire-ruling Antichrist. (“Beast” and antichrist are not synonyms. Nero was the Beast. The antichrist was a religious figure alive in John’s day: 1 John 2:18, 22; 1 John 7)
IL: Refers to In the Land, as in a return of the nation Israel to the land. Not there.
S: The word Seven. Seven does appear in Revelation many times but never as “seven years” or the sum of two, 3.5-year periods (there are five of them).
With dispensationalism the theory came first followed by snippets of verses cut out from here and there to validate it. Next time you read through the entire New Testament keep TRAILS in mind. It’s worth your time.
I thank Jim for writing and for his gracious close. My somewhat hard-nosed remarks may not sound as kind, but they are surely meant to be kindly as I hope the burning building analogy proves.