Over the years, American Vision has had an impact on Christians from all over the world. It’s humbling to learn that your life’s work has meaning for other people. It’s especially gratifying and encouraging to learn that fellow Christians have gained a greater purpose because of the work of American Vision. The following is an email American Vision received. I’ve asked Neil if it would be OK to publish it. I believe you will find it encouraging as well. – Gary DeMar
Gary DeMar and American Vision,
I want to let you know that your teaching on eschatology makes a lot of sense and has helped me connect many pieces of the puzzle of theology.
A little history of my journey: I did not grow up in a church-going home as a child, but both of my grandmothers took me to church whenever they could. My dad’s mother was pulled out of school in the fifth grade. Her dad was a lay preacher, who believed the rapture would happen at any moment. She died in 2000 at age 88 with only a fifth-grade education. She used to guilt me with this statement, “you better not be doing something you wouldn’t want the Lord to see, because he could come back any time.”
In my teen years, my dad remarried, and my stepmom instituted church attendance. The denomination was rapture-focused. The main preaching was pretty much “you’d better straighten up, hell awaits!” I remember reading some of Paul’s letters in youth group and thinking that they seemed very different than what I heard from the pulpit.
I was a rebel without a cause. As a young adult, I couldn’t cope with the guilt and shame of trying to be perfect to appease an angry God. Eventually, I gave up and tried to consider God less and turned to the world, the flesh, and the devil for comfort, but they tried to kill me.
Fast forward to my early 30s. Through pain and sorrow, God reached me. A coworker shared some tapes. The preacher shared the love and grace of God as written by the Apostle Paul. This gospel seemed too good to be true, so I started reading the Bible to confirm.
I was so blown away by what the Bible actually said. I wanted to go to seminary to learn more and share what I was learning. Without a college education and a family to provide for this did not work out. I enrolled in Bible College at a local Calvary Chapel. I joined Gideons and began going into jails and prisons with them and another Prison ministry.
I met an elderly widower at a bookstore, and he invited me to his house for “Bible study”. Out of compassion I started going to his house weekly. His Bible study turned out to be watching these prophecy teachers, that he had recorded from TV. There was Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe, John Hagge, etc. Of course, I had been exposed to Chuck Smith’s prophetic ideas. Although I was a part of Calvary Chapel and took about 8 semesters of Bible college there, I never fully considered myself a part of it and did not embrace the familiar co-mingling of covenants.
I focused on the New Testament and grace. I didn’t really understand prophecy and the imagery, but I knew what most people believed and assumed they knew. I just said that I didn’t know, but I had placed my life in the hands of Jesus, and I was confident that He, being full of Grace and Truth, would sustain me, pre-trib, post-trib, or whatever was in God’s eschatology.
My dad had really liked David Jeremiah and as someone who had been in the tutelage of many Dallas Theological Seminary graduates, I was on board. I’ve listened to “Escape the Coming Night” audio series at least 10 times and shared it. I agreed that Rome was the city on seven hills. I also agreed that the apostate religion housed in Rome had apocalyptic ties.
My understanding of theology has caused me some conflict with mainstream religion for many years. My stance on living in the New Covenant age has closed many, maybe all doors that were opened to me. For the past several years I’ve checked out. I gave up studying theology but maintained my Christianity. I think I have a more liberal (not Democrat) worldview. I’ve realized that some of the dogma I was steeped in is not loving and not contributing to the greater good of society. I figured I would just do my part in my small bubble until death or the rapture. Either way, I wanted out. I had been trained to give up and quit and pray Maranatha (Lord what are you waiting for?)
Present-day: for the past few years, I’ve been exposed to Christian ideas that are not fully outside of my own view but have confirmed it and opened my eyes to different views. One guy, who I may have thought was a heretic 20 years ago, has made me reconsider eternal torment, death, and the Resurrection. Not something I am ready to grip dogmatically but considering.
I still have a lot of Facebook friends who post apocalyptic memes or stories, but I shake my head and say to myself “they don’t know.”
One day scrolling through Facebook, an acquaintance from a previous church shared one of your posts about a differing view than David Jeremiah about Gog and Magog. This was after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Out of curiosity, I read the article. I started following you. I started looking online about preterism. Then I saw something on your thread about Kirk Cameron. I had been entertained by the Left Behind series, but also knew that Tim LaHaye was not God’s sole prophet on the subject. I ordered your series “Basic Training for Understanding Bible Prophecy.”
Basic Training for Understanding Bible Prophecy
In this authoritative 12-part video series, Gary DeMar clears the haze regarding end-times themes by explaining in clear language the interpretation of the time texts, The Olivet Discourse, Daniel's Seventy Weeks, The Book of Revelation, and more!Buy Now
The “Olivet Discourse” was one of those passages that confused me, but I had been so indoctrinated in the futurist ideas I just said “Okay, I don’t understand. I’ll just skip that.” I had come to believe that much of the “Gospels” and Acts were historic books and full of ambiguity. There was enough plain language in the Epistles about the New Covenant and Good News, that I did not refer much nor revere the Gospels as relevant. Jesus was born under the Old Covenant and taught within those constraints, but did foretell of the coming New Covenant, so I just jumped over there.
Your ideology and teaching on this subject have opened up the Scriptures for me. As a New Covenant believer, I can embrace that the destruction of the temple was the final nail, making the Old Covenant obsolete. It is no longer vanishing and passing away. It has vanished—passed away.
You also take away the give-up, ambiguous, escape plan. I have personal experience with that. I had a job that I could not stand, a lowly job, while I was at the height of doing ministry (I had a big head). I decided that I had to share the Gospel with everyone there (the ends of the job, if you will) and then God would open the doors of paid ministry and I’d live happily ever after. So, I recorded a CD of me basically reading Gospel (good news) passages, in context. I gave every coworker, my boss, his boss, and family member a copy for Christmas. Then I had to live it out for the next few years in front of those people, there was no escape.
Without the rapture, there is no escape. It is a call to action, to live out the gospel. To be compelled by the love of God. To realize that there is hope and that we can change the future. There are so many Old Testament examples of God “turning away from wrath and judgment”. Righteousness and interceding can redeem. As Tolkien wrote “…that it is the small everyday deed of ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay.” We have been saved for good works and should walk in them.
I’ll wrap up by encouraging you to continue. As someone who has been a rebel and looks to rebels (Jesus and the early church), swimming against the mainstream, I know it can be tough and lonely. I know so-called children of God can be non-Christ-like when their ideology is challenged. Keep the faith and finish the race. These biblical doctrines are good and true. They impact us and therefore impact our culture and civilization. There has never been more need for Christians to be salt and light in the present, just like in the past and the future.
The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation
Since the national reestablishment of Israel in 1948, countless books and pamphlets have been written defending the doctrine assuring readers that the rapture could happen at any moment. Some prophecy writers claimed it would take place before 1988. We are far removed from that date. Where are we in God’s prophetic timetable?Buy Now