End Times Obsession

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The LA Times reported today that dispensationalist pastor John Hagee’s 2006 book, Jerusalem Countdown, has sold an amazing 1.1 million copies.

The fascination with such end-times speculation by the masses is absolutely stunning. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since it is the same type of phenomena that the Left Behind series generated and is consistent with the array of apocalyptic demagoguery that has plagued the Christian movement since the days of the early church. What’s so pathetic about this is that people who are supposedly so biblically committed would be tantalized by such useless guesswork.

The fact is that in every passage where Jesus describes the end times, he draws the same conclusion and admonishes us toward the same application: “Be about the Master’s business.” And he repeatedly cautions against trying to determine timetables or dates.

If only a percentage of the energy, time and resources that gets misplaced into such meaningless pursuits were really focused on “the Master’s business,” what a difference it would make in a hurting world!

It’s ironic and sadly revealing that a volume like Hagee’s has sold 1.1 million, and a volume like John Hayes’ excellent work, sub-merge: Living Deep in a Shallow World: Service, Justice and Contemplation among the Wo rld’s Poor, has sold about 4,000 since it was released last month. I have a strong bias about which one really encourages those who follow Jesus to be about the Master’s kingdom business. Those numbers alone are a dismal commentary on the state of western Christianity.

3 Responses to “End Times Obsession”

  1. Patrick Says:

    One of the most glaring differences between academic and popular theology is in this area. It’s shocking, not just because this kind of stuff is so entirely non-Christian in essence because it provokes fear and paranoia. It’s also shocking because a well-developed eschatology can be amazingly transformative in every area of ministry. It’s a subject of hope and renewal and thanksgiving in which we should be renewed each day in our tasks because of the fact Christ has already won the day. Heaven has entered into time and we can even now participate in the Kingdom.

    So much do I think this that I see one really important aspect of my own future ministry to help bring a renewed appreciation for genuine, Biblical eschatology. Not just by knocking aside the Hagees of this world but by finding a manner of expression that conveys the beauty of good theology without being weighed down by the lofty, alienating language.

    I think getting a renewed eschatology in the broader church could bring an aspect of renewal that would echo across the world.

  2. bryan mewhiney Says:

    howdy,

    in response to your post mentioning the left behind series, i’d just like to point out that personally, God used the left behind series to draw me to Christ.

    as a result of those books (and yes, i kept on reading the series, just about to get into the last one now…) i now have:

    (a) a real relationship with my Saviour, Jesus Christ
    (b) a story to tell, and
    (c) an appreciation that God can and does use any way possible to lead us to the truth

    please be careful about how you share your opinions of end-times literature. although (us) believers should look to the Word for spiritual growth etc, i would be careful not to turn someone (non-believer) away from reading something such as the left behind series, compared to some of the other ‘somewhat’ less Jesus-centered stuff out there…

  3. Sam Says:

    Bryan:

    I have no doubt that God can use whatever means he chooses to reach men and women and it is wonderful that he used this series to do that with you. I believe that is a evidence of God’s incredible accommodation and the power of the Spirit to act with sovereign design.

    But that does not change the fact that among Christians, a fascination with such literature can be a misplaced focus.

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