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Dispensationalism: Being Left Behind

By Gary DeMar
President - American Vision
http://www.americanvision.org/

Gary DeMar Study Archive | Norman Geisler and "This Generation" | Norman Geisler, "You," & "Zechariah the Son of Berechiah" | Biblical Minimalism and the "History of Preterism" | Thomas Ice and the Time Texts | Will the Real Anti-Prophets Please Stand Up? | Time's Puff Piece: The Devil is in the Details | Dispensationalism : Being Left Behind | Zechariah 14 and the Coming of Christ | Defending the Indefensible | No Fear of the Text | The Passing Away of Heaven and Earth | Who or what is the Antichrist | Rapture Fever: Why Dispensationalism is Paralyzed | Identifying Antichrist | On Thin Ice | Using the Bible to Interpret the Bible | DeMar Articles

 

Armageddon Books listed the following titles as "December's Bestsellers":

 
1. Christ Clone Trilogy: 3 Novels by James BeauSeigneur
2. Video-Revelation: The Movie
3. Chart-Revelation of the Word
4. Charts on Revelation by Salem Kirban
5. Before Jerusalem Fell by Kenneth Gentry
6. Mark of the New World Order by Terry Cook
7. Last Days Madness by Gary DeMar
8. Are We Living in the End Times? by LaHaye & Jenkins
9. Video-Vanished...In the Twinkling of an Eye
10. The Parousia by James S. Russell

Three of the top-ten books are by preterist authors (5, 7, 10). Actually, fifty percent of the books on the list are by preterist authors (3 out of 6 books) since the other selections are videos and charts. One selection is fiction (1). Of the five non-fiction books, two are published by American Vision (5, 7). The third preterist book's cover was designed by American Vision (10). What's even more astounding is that Last Days Madness outsold Tim LaHaye's latest non-fiction prophecy book (8). Bible prophecy is about to undergo a radical metamorphosis. It was Jerry Falwell who said in a December 1992 broadcast that he would not live to see a new century. LaHaye warned his readers that it is "possible for the Antichrist or his emissaries . . . to dominate the world commercially until it is destroyed." As Y2K got closer, LaHaye backed off from his earlier prediction. "We [LaHaye and Jenkins] regret having talked about it."

None of this has stopped LaHaye and Jenkins from writing fanciful novels about the end times. To compliment their fictional series, they've teamed up to write a non-fiction prophetic work: Are We Living in the End Times?

Are We Living in the End Times? is just as much a work of fiction as the "Left Behind" series. First, its dispensational story-line is similar to comic book writing where the fictional superheroes are made to interact with the real world. Second, there is no interaction with preterism. I opened this article with a "Best-Seller List" where three of the five non-fiction books on the list are preterist. How can these two authors ignore the subject of preterism when the publisher claims that the authors "will clarify, magnify, and maybe even rectify your thoughts on a critical theme of God's written word: prophecy"? Zondervan, Kregel, and Baker have published high-profile books that deal with preterism. Three are in a debate-style format. LaHaye and Jenkin's failure to deal with preterism makes this book a work of fiction. It would be like writing a history of the cola wars while leaving out either Coke or Pepsi. Third, the authors weave their fictional "Left Behind" series throughout the narrative. This is very distracting.

Don't think LaHaye is unaware of the debate between futurists and preterists. We at American Vision have tried to set up a debate with him. A number of letters have been exchanged. I met Dr. LaHaye in Atlanta a few years ago at the Christian Booksellers Association Convention. He knows that I have debated Thomas Ice and Dave Hunt. He just doesn't want his readers to know the that there is a view that is a worthy challenger to dispensationalism.

LaHaye's approach is similar to that of Catherine S. Manegold's In Glory's Shadow: Shannon Faulkner, the Citadel, and a Changing America. An advanced copy of the manuscript was sent to Pat Conroy for review. Conroy, author of The Lords of Disciple and The Boo, is a Citadel graduate and "played an active and vital role in the entire Shannon Faulkner passion play." Conroy, writing in the January 2000 issue of Atlanta Magazine (64), continues: "Before I began reading the book, I made a bet with my wife, Sandra, that my name would not be mentioned in the book.'Impossible,' she said, but I'm a long-time student of The Citadel, and I have seen its strange mystique incapacitate the judgment of feminist writers on other occasions." I made the same bet with my wife when I got LaHaye's book. Her response? "More than probable."

I won't spend a lot of time dealing with this book. It's pretty standard stuff: the world's a mess (earthquakes, wars, and famines), Jesus comes to "rapture" His church, the temple is rebuilt, anti-christ is revealed and then turns on the Jews plunging them and the world into a "great tribulation" that escalates into armageddon, then Jesus returns again to rescue the remnant of Jews who survive anti-christ's onslaught, all in seven years. Nowhere do LaHaye and Jenkins deal with the crucial time texts. For example, promotional copy on the dust jacket tells us that "noted scholar Tim LaHaye lays out twenty reasons for believing that the Rapture and Tribulation could occur during our generation." We are told that Jesus is "coming soon." The Bible said the same thing 2000 years ago? Is LaHaye's definition of soon different from the Bible's definition?

Tim LaHaye Says/Gary DeMar Responds

Properly taught, prophecy emphasizes the "imminent" return of Christ-that He could come at any moment (6).

Contrary to what LaHaye writes, Bible prophecy teaches that Jesus' coming was "near," that is, near to those who first heard the prophetic word. Scripture does not say that Jesus "could come at any moment." He promised that He would come before that first-century generation passed away (Matt. 24:34); before the last apostle died (Matt. 16:27-28); to those who "pierced Him" (John 19:37; Rev. 1:7); to those who sentenced Him to death (Matt. 26:64). The Bible is so clear on this point that liberals have been sticking the point in the eye of futurists for more than a hundred years.

In 1 John [2:18] the apostle speaks of "the last hour." He is referring here to the new economy of God's grace, warning that even in this church age there would be "many antichrists . . . by which we know that it is the last hour" (17).

Curious. Did you notice that LaHaye left something out? John begins with, "Children, it is the last hour. . . ." And how did these first-century "children" know this? "Because many antichrists have arisen, from this we know that it is the last hour." Earlier, David L. Cooper is quoted in what LaHaye says is the "golden rule of biblical interpretation" (5):

When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense, but take every word at its primary, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context clearly indicate otherwise.

It's too bad that he doesn't follow it. LaHaye writes, "if you ignore it, you will always be in error" (6). That's why he is in error on so many points. The "plain sense" of 1 John 2:18 is quite clear until words are left out. This allows LaHaye to insert his interpretation into what was the "plain sense" of the text. There is no mention of "the new economy of God's grace" or "this church age." It makes me wonder why LaHaye did not quote the verse in its entirety. It does not say what he wants it to mean.

Signs are like time clocks (27).

Why aren't clocks like clocks? That is, why aren't words describing when an event will take place the true time clocks? Since wars, earthquakes, famines, comets, apostasy, and false christs have been common signs for nearly twothousand years, isn't it more logical to determine the time frame that encapsulates the signs? Instead, LaHaye turns to Daniel 12:4 as a sign marker: "But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time. Many will go back and forth and knowledge will increase."

Most futurists use this verse, especially the second phrase, as the ultimate end-time indicator. We have super libraries, super highways, and super-sonic jets. To say that going "back and forth" and increased knowledge only describe our time forces the text to say more than it does. The Romans were far more advanced than the Babylonians, the Medes and Persians, and the Greeks. Furthermore, Daniel is told to "seal up the book until the end of time," or the "time of the end." This means, according to LaHaye, the book is still sealed. But John is told, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book for the time is near" (Rev. 22:10). Do you see the problem? Daniel is describing events in the fairly distant future, about 600 years before the birth of Christ. John received a vision that is to unfold in the near future. That's why Revelation is to remain open. John's Revelation is Daniel's book opened. It's the "time of the end," that is, the end of the Jewish economy that took place in A.D. 70. LaHaye believes that both books describe the same period of time which is still future. But Revelation says "the time is near," that the events are to take place "shortly" (1:1, 3).

Can "last days" and "end of time" be interpreted to mean something other than the end? Most certainly! John Walvoord, who is described by LaHaye as the "dean of all living prophecy experts" (47) and "the most knowledgeable living prophecy scholar in the world today" (364), says so as does Thomas Ice, who is LaHaye's "colleague in the Pre-Trib Research Center" (16). Ice writes:

Sometimes Christians read in the Bible about the "last days," "end times," etc., and tend to think that all of these phrases all of the time refer to the same thing. This is not the case. Just as in our own lives, there are many endings. . . . Just because the word "end" is used does not mean that it always refers to the same time. . . . So it is in the Bible, that "end times" may refer to the end of the current church age or it may refer to other times (16).

So what "end" could Daniel have had in mind? It's the end described by Jesus in Matthew 24:13, that is, the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem that took place in A.D 70 as He promised it would. What about the increase in knowledge and travel described by Daniel? It fits the first-century very well. Have we forgotten the Roman roads? In addition, there is a "great tribulation" (12:1; Matt. 24:21), a "rescue" (12:1; Matt. 24:16), and a "resurrection" (12:2), either physical (Matt. 27:52) or spiritual (Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:11; 3:1) prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

History records that our Lord's words [in Matthew 24:1-2] were fulfilled to the letter in A.D. 70. In that year the Roman army under the command of Titus destroyed the city of Jerusalem. . . . And so Jesus' prophecy was fulfilled literally; not one stone was left upon another (31).

This is a remarkable admission. This is exactly what preterists claim. Of course, when Jesus says, "This generation will not pass away until all these things take place" (Matt. 24:34), LaHaye reinterprets this to say "some of these things." In fact, he has to add words to the Bible in order to make his interpretation fit his system.

Now we are ready to examine the key to the timing of this whole passage and answer the disciples's question of Matthew 24:3, "When will these things be?" The key is found in verse 34. Jesus said, "This generation will by no means pass away till all these things [the second "things"] are fulfilled" (58).

LaHaye reinterprets the Olivet Discourse by adding the words "the second 'things'" to the text. Some things refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 while other things refer to our future. And how does he interpret "this generation"? Not by using the Bible to interpret "this generation." Once again he makes up his own definition. "In Greek, the demonstrative pronoun haute (this) always refers to the person or thing mentioned immediatly before it. The thing mentioned just before 'generation' involves those who see the sign of Israel as she either becomes a recognized nation or when she takes possession of most of Jerusalem" (58). This is pure fiction! Where does LaHaye find any of this in the text? "This generation" always means, without exception, the generation of people alive at that time. The Bible could not be any more clear on this point. Once again, Tim LaHaye rejects his own interpretive golden rule.

A lot more could be said about this book. To say that it is poorly argued is an understatement. Dispensationalism needs to be left behind.

What do YOU think ?

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Date: 27 Aug 2006
Time: 13:58:22

Comments0:

Good evaluation of dispensationism. I once had a hugh library full of dispensational writings at great value. When I received a revelation of the falsehood of this system I dumped all the books and went back to the bible and began studying how the kingdom of God works in every age. Found some interesting answers to questions that I have been asking for a long time. I can now say in truth that the prayer is Jesus was right on.... "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth..."
It is amazing to me how we can hang on to a system so falsely founded. Also burned my Scofield bible!
Thanks you Lord


Date: 27 Aug 2006
Time: 14:08:26

Comments0:

What about the real true sign of the return of Jesus Christ? That is Mathew 24:14 "When this gospel of the kingdom is preached in all the world, then shall the end come." Seems to me we have a ways to go. With 15,900 known dialects in the world according to the Joshua project, 6,700 still have not heard the gospel one time. That's about 30% or 2 billion people. Maybe we should spend some money and time completing that task. Only 1/2 of one penny of mission dollars is spent to reach that 30%. Help!


Date: 27 Aug 2006
Time: 13:58:22

Comments0:

Good evaluation of dispensationism. I once had a hugh library full of dispensational writings at great value. When I received a revelation of the falsehood of this system I dumped all the books and went back to the bible and began studying how the kingdom of God works in every age. Found some interesting answers to questions that I have been asking for a long time. I can now say in truth that the prayer is Jesus was right on.... "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth..."
It is amazing to me how we can hang on to a system so falsely founded. Also burned my Scofield bible!
Thanks you Lord


Date: 27 Aug 2006
Time: 14:08:26

Comments0:

What about the real true sign of the return of Jesus Christ? That is Mathew 24:14 "When this gospel of the kingdom is preached in all the world, then shall the end come." Seems to me we have a ways to go. With 15,900 known dialects in the world according to the Joshua project, 6,700 still have not heard the gospel one time. That's about 30% or 2 billion people. Maybe we should spend some money and time completing that task. Only 1/2 of one penny of mission dollars is spent to reach that 30%. Help!


Date: 07 May 2007
Time: 08:46:27

Comments0:

As always, I have yet to find a Preterist who has the courage
to quote Tim La Haye or Tommy Ice, word for word, accurately
and completely. It’s a bit daunting isn’t it.
Your brand of eschatology/theology has people burning their
Bibles. Has that made you stop and think?
Dr. T.M. Wallace @ Wallywrld7@AOL.com


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