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Many Conservative Christians Resisting Last Days Scenarios

By Jim Remsen
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Knight Ridder Newspapers


In the distance, beyond the pounding bombs and mortal strife -- are those the sounds of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, hoofbeats thundering closer?

Indeed they are, according to millions of conservative Christians. Apocalyptic thinking holds great currency in fundamentalist, Pentecostal, evangelical and other Bible-based communities, particularly as the millennium draws near. Legions of preachers and prophecy teachers are out and about, warning that world events point toward the Last Days.

"Premillennialist" speakers lead the way. Through books, conferences and media ministries, they describe intense scenarios unfolding that will include the Great Tribulation, the Rapture of the saved, the emergence of the Antichrist, Jesus' Second Coming, Armageddon and judgment day.

The general public and even moderate Christians may deride such visions as fear-mongering folderol. What may not be known, though, is that the scenarios are being fiercely resisted by thousands of conservative Christians as well.

These internal critics parse the same prophetic verses as end-timers and find a fundamentally different message. Their message, simply put: Calm down; Bible prophecy points to events already fulfilled in history; Jesus came again and has established His kingdom of grace, a spiritual kingdom; and the "futurists" are frightening people without cause.

These critics go by the names "preterists" and "historicists." Preterism (pronounced "predderism" and meaning past time) holds that all the prophetic events -- even the resurrection of the dead -- spiritually came to pass with the sacking of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. (which preterists consider the Great Tribulation). Historicism also says those events triggered prophetic fulfillment but holds that it continues to unfold and that Christians are now living in grace in the Gospel Age prophesied.

"We say the `end time' often cited in Daniel actually is `the time of the end,' the end of the old covenant (of Israel) and the beginning of the new," said the Rev. Timothy King, president of Living Presence, a 30-year-old preterist ministry near Cleveland. "The new began on Pentecost and was completed in A.D. 70."

This was the theology that many early church leaders taught, the critics say, and it was only in the last two centuries that premillennialists have "muddied the waters" and steered believers off-course.

Bearing upbeat messages, the critics have formed fellowships and programs to counter futurism. Weston Bible Ministries, of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., generates books and speakers to "navigate people away from the alarmism and shoddy literalism of the futurists and back toward a theology that focuses on spiritual, not physical life."

It's risky work, they argue. Several spokesmen said preterists are scattered through most Bible churches but have to stay closeted. Though the movement recently gained a prominent supporter, Reformed scholar R.C. Sproul, other preachers have been dismissed and professors reprimanded for advocating preterism, King said. One, the Rev. Joseph Lewis, said he got such official grief that he disassociated from his Baptist denomination and started a "full-preterist home church," the Fulfilled Bible Fellowship Church in Pennsauken, N.J.

Lewis said he was a quick convert to preterism. "I saw we were clearly in error in looking for a return of the Lord," he said. "Jesus clearly told His followers that He'd return before they passed away." Because he avowed that, he said, his superiors "treated me as though I were a heretic."

"Pastors have told us, `Gee, it's really scriptural but if it goes against the creeds we could lose our jobs," said Joanne Gerety, who runs the preterist Holy Ground Ministries in Riverside, N.J. "Some of the premillennial creeds have seven points (including) the literal, physical Second Coming and the literal, physical resurrection of the body."

The premillennialists and other futurists hold firm to their creeds and fire back at the critics. One retort, as posed by Elwood McQuaid of the Deptford, Pa.-based Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, is simple: "If Christ is reigning now, why is there still evil?"

King's response is equally pointed.

"You have to have a world of both good and evil to have a world of free-will choice," he said. "For those who choose to come into the government of Christ, they come into the New Jerusalem where there is no sin."



Distributed by The Associated Press (AP)

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Date: 29 Sep 2005
Time: 23:01:20

Comments:

Thank You very much for this info...I shall study it
very thoroughly.

I HAD TO!! leave my old church because of the End Times/Conspiracy Theory(Illuminati, Bildeburger, Trilateral, ad nauseam) teachings there. They were literally driving me insane. It did not help that the Branch Davidian BBQ at Waco had just occurred.
It did not help AT ALL that before the End-Times garbage was spoken of--I was taught a very strong, patriotic, pro-America set of lessons.

To be taught to !LOVE! your country and your troops--and THEN to be told your country has been set up and controlled by an evil, elitist, malevolent "secret society" since its beginning--well, go ahead and call me gullible.
But--NO ONE ELSE at that church picked up the severe dissonance between these two concepts!!

Only I did. And I ran like Hell was after me!!
'cause it was!!!!

Well, it's time for me to feed my cat...
Thanks for letting me ramble a bit.

<shadowprince@gmail.com>
 


Date: 20 Dec 2010
Time: 13:13:38

Your Comments:

When has this happened?

"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1Corinthians 15:51-52

I don't remember anyone disappearing yet......
 


Date: 20 Dec 2010
Time: 13:13:38

Your Comments:

When has this happened?

"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1Corinthians 15:51-52

I don't remember anyone disappearing yet......

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