NRMs are characterized by a number of shared traits…they offer innovative religious responses to the conditions of the modern world, despite the fact that most NRMs represent themselves as rooted in ancient traditions. NRMs are also usually regarded as “countercultural”; that is, they are perceived (by others and by themselves) to be alternatives to the mainstream religions of Western society, especially Christianity in its normative forms…The new movement is usually founded by a charismatic and sometimes highly authoritarian leader who is thought to have extraordinary…insights. Many NRMs…often make great demands on the loyalty and commitment of their followers and sometimes establish themselves as substitutes for the family and other conventional social groupings…They are also products of and responses to modernity, pluralism, and the scientific worldview.
In the 1970s an ordained Methodist minister named Jim Jones (1931–78) moved his congregation (called the Peoples Temple) from the United States to the jungles of Guyana, where he attempted to create…“apostolic socialism,” a version of Christianity that was influenced by contemporary Marxistliberation theology. Jones, an increasingly authoritative and paranoid personality, warned his followers that a devastating thermonuclear war was impending. In 1978, after a group of concerned family members (led by a U.S. congressman) visited the group’s commune, Jones and his followers (913 persons in all) committed what Jones called “revolutionary suicide” rather than submit to what they thought would be an attempt to compromise their community…
A similar tragedy befell the Branch Davidians…an offshoot of the Seventh-day Adventist church, first settled near Waco in 1935…Vernon Howell, who later assumed the name David Koresh…taught a highly apocalyptic Christianity and identified himself with the Lamb of Revelation 5, which is traditionally associated with Christ. Allegations of child abuse and the launching of a retail gun business attracted the attention of the authorities, which led to a long standoff with the FBI and a tragic fire that killed Koresh and some 80 members of the group.
Today rapture theology has enormous influence in American politics through the close relationship between Christian fundamentalists and the Republican Right. Rapture theology shaped both domestic and foreign policies in recent Republican administrations.
For instance, policies concerning the environment are increasingly effected by a theology that hopes for a rapturing away from a doomed earth. Reagan-era Secretary of the Interior James Watt told US senators that we are living at the brink of the end times and implied that this justifies clearcutting the nation’s forests and other unsustainable environmental policies. When he was asked about preserving the environment for future generations, Watt told his Senate confirmation hearing, “I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns.”
This confluence of theology and ideology is truly disturbing. But what is even more frightening is the impact on foreign policy in the Middle East…
Time magazine’s July 1, 2002 cover story on “The Bible and the Apocalypse,” reports that 36% of Americans polled who support Israel “say they do so because they believe in biblical prophecies that Jews must control Israel before Christ will come again.” This leads them to support a particular Middle East political scenario, including U.S. military and political aid to Israel, and expansion of Israel’s settlements into the West Bank.
Christian Zionism is a relatively recent expression of rapture theology, growing in importance and influence since the 1990s. It sees the modern state of Israel as the fulfillment of Biblical “prophecy” and thus deserving of political, financial and religious support…They support Israeli expansion and the relocation of Palestinians to Arab nations. Christian Zionists are hostile toward Palestinian Christians and generally detest Muslims as evil forces worshiping another God…
Where are the Bible passages for [Dispensationalism]?…take a look for yourself. The most popular Bible references are John 14:2–3; 1 Corinthians 15:49–55; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-7. The best thing to do is read the passages in their context and you will clearly see for yourself what they say…
the book, Jesus Is Coming by evangelist William Blackstone…sold more than one million copies…in 1957, when respected Theologian from Dallas Seminary, Dr. John Walvoord, wrote a book called, “The Rapture Question”…it seems he did not check his facts and read into the passage a presumption he saw as fact because it was in his favorite work, Scofield Study Bible. But he did not declare it a dogmatic fact, but left it open for further research and debate…Then, the rapture gets popular with the publication of Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth, which sold over 15 million copies;
The Late, Great Planet Earth is a best-selling 1970 book by Hal Lindsey with Carole C. Carlson, and first published by Zondervan. The New York Times declared it to be the bestselling nonfiction book of the 1970s. [Emphasis added.] The book was first featured on a prime time television special featuring Hal Lindsey in 1974 to 1975 with an audience of 17,000,000…it was adapted…during 1976 into a film narrated by Orson Welles…Lindsey and Carlson later published several sequels, including Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth and The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon.
The Late, Great Planet Earth is a treatment of dispensational eschatology. As such, it compared end-time prophecies in the Bible with then-current events in an attempt to predict future scenarios resulting in the rapture of believers before the tribulation and Second Coming of Christ to establish his thousand-year (i.e. millennial) Kingdom on Earth. Emphasizing various passages in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation, Lindsey originally suggested the possibility that these climactic events might occur during the 1980s,
foretold a Soviet invasion of Israel (War of Gog and Magog)
Lindsey also predicted that...the European Union, was destined (according to Biblical prophecy)…to become a “Revived Roman Empire” ruled by the Antichrist…
America would not be a major geopolitical power by the time the tribulations of the end times arrived…
It is now 2020 and America is still the world’s major geopolitical power.
the Tribulation or the Rapture would occur no later than 1988.
According to the Bible’s judgement on prophets, Hal Lindsey is a false prophet. But he’s still going strong, because he and other rapture teachers like him give a false hope of evading suffering.
And what is it that the Church — or all true believers — is watching and preparing for? The “Blessed Hope” that the Apostle Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.
When we read that passage we find resurrection of the dead and transformation of the living, AKA the rapture, but where is the description of this as the “Blessed Hope”?
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)
When we look up “Blessed Hope” we discover the following passage
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13)
OK, so the blessed hope is the resurrection of the dead in The Promised One / Messiah / Christ at his appearing on earth, but does it prove the claim that, for the first and only time in history, believers will not experience tribulation?
Not according to the Bible.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also…and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:1-5)
“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints;” (Romans 12:12)
“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you…For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel…to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel…whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:” (Colossians 1:1-24)
“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father…And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad…how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (I Thessalonians 1:3-10)
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? (II Thessalonians 2:2-5)
Someday soon, Jesus Christ is going to leave heaven and call for those who are watching for His return to leave this earth and meet Him in the air. This even includes those who have died during this Church Age…
Those who are left behind will be the ones who experience the “Day of the Lord,” which begins with the great Tribulation. You don’t want anyone you know or love to be in that number…
And how do you make certain you’re ready to experience the “Blessed Hope” and miss the “Day of the Lord?” Simple. [Emphasis added.]
Recognize that you’re a sinner who has fallen short of the standard that God has set. (Every human being has!) Confess your sinfulness and ask God to forgive you. Accept the free gift of pardon that Jesus Christ purchased for you with His atoning death on the Cross. Believe God’s promise (“…whosoever believes in Him shall not die but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16) and receive His pardon in your heart. Then ask God to make of you what He wants you to be. Thank Him for giving you eternal life with Him.
You are now a part of God’s forever family and have just changed your eternal destiny. Now, you are one of those watching for the “Blessed Hope.”
Hal Lindsey’s use of the “Sinner’s Prayer” as a legitimate means of salvation without crucifying the flesh is 100% on par with his anti-biblical promise that Christians are promised a soft life.
The following passage is used by Dispensationalists as proof of a pre-tribulation physical removal of believers with their resident Holy Spirit.
- “…be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled…as that the day of Messiah / Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come
- a falling away / apostasia: defection, revolt first,
- and that man of sin be revealed / apokaluptó: to uncover, reveal, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (II Thessalonians 2:1-4)
The fact that apostasia most likely has the meaning of physical departure is a clear support for pretribulationism. If this is true, (Dr. Tim LaHaye and I believe that it is), then it means that…Paul teaches…that the rapture will occur first, before the Day of the Lord commences. It is not until after the beginning of the Day of the Lord that the Antichrist is released…This is the only interpretation that provides hope for a discomforted people. Maranatha!
For starters, these teachers have got the Day of the Lord all mixed up with the Reign of Antichrist, which in itself tells us just unqualified they are to teach anything about either event. The reign of antichrist has to occur prior to the Day of the Lord’s Christ.
Secondly, a basic investigation of how apostasia is translated reveals that the claim that this word has the meaning of a physical departure is just a flat out lie. This Greek word is only used one other time, and that in absolutely a spiritual context.
- Original Word: ἀποστασία, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Phonetic Spelling: (ap-os-tas-ee’-ah)
Definition: defection, revolt
Usage: defection, apostasy, revolt.
Acts 21:21: they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
This one investigation into the pre-tribulation rapture teaching should shock us into awareness of “because they received not the love of the truth…God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Even human armies execute soldiers for desertion. Should God shrug it off when eternal life for the people his son died to save is at stake?
The argument of the passage itself does not allow a pre-tribulation rapture interpretation. Paul is assuring Gentile converts that the sight of Antichrist in the temple is a sign that Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus will shortly return to rescue them. Ergo, believers must be on earth to see it.
Moreover, using one verse to prove one’s private interpretation is a violation of the scriptural – and legal -requirements for at least two witnesses to establish truth. Anyone who cares at least as much about the truth as police investigators or psychiatric providers determining a course of action in this life can extend their investigation of the veracity of the pretribulation rapture doctrine to the other witnesses provided in scripture.
What we find is that the other passages describing the climax of human history unquestionably direct the action of falling away with the faith, defecting to the enemy whose lies they choose to believe.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (I Timothy 4:1-2)
Phonetic Spelling: (af-is’-tay-mee)
Definition: to lead away, to depart from
Usage: make to stand away, draw away, repel, take up a position away from, withdraw from, leave, abstain from.
Luke 2:37: she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
Luke 4:13: when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
Luke 8:13: They on the rock are they, which, for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
Luke 13:24-28: Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able….shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
Acts 5:34-37: stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up…Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
Acts 15:37-38: Barnabas determined to take with them John…But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
Acts 19:8-9: he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly…persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples,
Acts 22:28-29: Paul said…I was free born. Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
II Corinthians 12:7-10: there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me…For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
II Timothy 2:15-19: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker…and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
Hebrews 3:12-13: Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God…lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
II Peter 3:15-17: “…account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.”
- Original Word: ἐκπίπτω
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (ek-pip’-to)
Definition: to leap out
Usage: I fall out, fall off, fall away; hence in nautical language: I fall off from the straight course; of flowers: I fade away, wither away; I fall from, lose, forfeit; I am cast ashore; I am fruitless.
Romans 9:6: Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.
Galatians 5:4: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.