SERMON. WHY DO SOME CHRISTIANS BELIEVE UNBIBLICAL THINGS?
Sincere Christians in the last month have spent $100 million advertising the end of the world would end on May 21st, with Christians being caught up in the rapture and millions of unbelievers perishing. The Rapture Doomsday Prediction of Harold Camping did not occur any more than the famous predictions at Balmoral Beach Sydney in 1923. The Star Amphitheatre was founded to teach the works of Krishnamurti promoted by the Theosophical Society. It was intended as a platform for lectures by the expected ‘World Teacher’. Many people believed it was built in anticipation of the second coming, when Jesus Christ could return walking across the water between Sydney Heads.
Today , non-believers ridicule Harold Camping, but his followers and many professing Christians defend him as doing good reminding people of the coming judgment and rapture. Camping and his followers claimed to receive personal revelations through the Holy Spirit about the end times. If God leads us to some kind of insight it will never be opposite to what the Word of God states. Independent prophecies as presented by some Christians today always teach more than the Bible states.
Camping estimates only three per cent of the world’s population will be raptured while the rest will be dammed, and the world will come to an end. Last Monday an unapologetic Harold Camping made a new prediction: the rapture is actually on Oct. 21, not May 21 as he originally proclaimed due to a mathematical error in the number of days calculated since the Crucifixion.
WHERE DID THIS UNBIBLICAL TEACHING COME FROM?
In 1843, in USA thousands of people sold their homes and businesses and went about the country preaching the imminent return of Christ. They were the followers of William Miller, a farmer and self-taught bible scholar from New York. Miller understood the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 to refer to the number of years until the return of Christ in his day. Because the “sevens” in Daniel 9 were translated “weeks” in the King James Bible, Miller assumed all prophecies referring to days must mean years. Adding 2300 years to the time of Daniel’s prophecy gave Miller a date between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844.
Despite the great excitement, March 21, 1844, came and went without the return of Christ. Miller was devastated, but one of his followers went back through the calculations and found what he believed to be the error. A new date was set of October 22, 1844.
When even 1844 did not work, some of the followers abandoned the movement. Many however tried to find a new explanation. Ellen G. White eventually led the Seventh-Day Adventists to the conclusion that Jesus had returned invisibly in 1844, and that He would soon make His presence known. Another group that tried to hold to the 1844 date was led by Jonas Swendahl who believed that 1844 marked not the date of Jesus’ return, but of the beginning of the last generation. Swendahl taught that Jesus would therefore return in 1874.
One of Swendahl’s followers was a former Presbyterian named Charles Taze Russell. When 1874 came and went, he concluded 30 years was not long enough for a generation. So he added 70 years to 1844 and concluded that Jesus would return in 1914. This and other differences led him to split from the Second Adventists and launch Zion’s Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. His followers became known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The date of 1914 was changed to 1925, 1941, and 1975.
In 1992, Harold Camping published 1994. Like Miller, he rejected the historic understanding of Daniel 8. The prophecy clearly describes the rise of the kingdom of Greece under Alexander the Great, and the division of his empire among four others. But instead of seeing the prophecy as fulfilled then, Camping transports its fulfilment to our own day. Like the Adventists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, he focuses on the “hidden” meanings of texts, seeing pointers towards 1994 in the number of swine drowned in the Sea of Galilee or in the number of servants in Abraham’s house. Camping was wrong. September 6, 1994 came and went. Then he re-set the date to May 21ST 2011, then after that to October 2011.
Apocalyptic thinking has always been part of American religious life and popular culture. It has flowed to areas where American missionaries and Bible teachers have travelled. Teachings about the end of the world vary dramatically about how they will occur. The overwhelming majority of Christians reject the idea that the exact date or time of Jesus Christ’s return can be predicted. Jesus told us that “of that day and hour no-one knows”. (Matthew 24:36) We do not excuse them because they are sincere, for they are sincerely wrong!
There is a whole outline of dodgy doctrines believed by some Christians. Many of them are based on Dispensationalism, a Protestant evangelical and Pentecostal tradition based on a biblical hermeneutic that sees a series of chronologically successive periods in history in which God relates to human beings in different ways. Over the next five weeks we will examine them from a Biblical perspective.
As a system, dispensationalism is rooted in the writings of John Nelson Darby (1800–1882) and the Brethren Movement. The theology of dispensationalism consists of a distinctive eschatological “end times” perspective, as all dispensationalists hold to premillennialism and most hold to a pretribulation rapture. Dispensationalists believe that God has yet to fulfill His promises to the political nation of Israel, created by the United Nations in 1948 as God’s chosen people of Biblical times. These promises include the land promises, which in the future result in a millennial kingdom where Christ, upon His return, will rule the world from Jerusalem for a thousand years. Such believers are opposed to Palestinian land claims today, and support massive financial aid to Israel to fight surrounding countries of the Middle East.
ISRAEL OWES MORE TO ONE CHRISTIAN THAN ANY OTHER PERSON.
In the late 1890’s in both UK and USA a new political group was formed called Zionism, designed to restore Israel to the land of Palestine. With the extremely generous support of Jewish businessmen this political movement would forever change the course of Christianity and history even though most Christians did not know it at this time. The man chosen to promote Zionism in the Christian churches was a Civil War veteran by the name of C. I. Scofield. To this day biographies of this influential Christian are not sold in Christian bookshops intentionally, but a simple internet search can confirm what I write.
His first biography was, The Incredible Scofield, The Man and His Book” by Joseph Canfield. His story is indeed incredible, the kind of story they make movies about. Here are just a few of his highlights. His greatest talent was in the forging of documents. He produced his own law diploma, that made him a lawyer. Amazingly he became Attorney General of Kansas. After that he left Kansas, leaving his wife and two daughters destitute. After leaving Kansas he was later arrested for forgery involving a railroad. He then served prison time for criminal forgery and for stealing his mother’s life savings.
Upon release he produced documents concerning his degrees in Divinity and Ordination. He then became Dr C.I. Scofield D.D. and pastor of a large Baptist Church in Dallas. He knew little about the Bible. At this time, he came to the attention of Samuel Untermeyer, a wealthy New York attorney, as well as an agent of the Rothschilds and one of the top Zionists in the country. They knew then that they had found the man that could present Zionism to the Christians.
Dr Schofield and his new lady left their church in Dallas to live in the exclusive Lotus Club in New York City, where they resided for the next twenty years. All their expenses were picked up by their new Jewish friends who also funded his many trips to Oxford, England. He met with the top Zionists there to help him compile his “notes.” He was known for his lavish life-style.
Scofield compiled ideas from Darby, Miller, White, Swendahl, Russell and other Millennialists, and added interpretations from his Zionist friends to form his Scofield Notes on the Bible. This was like eschatological fluff caught on theological Velcro.With the completion of the notes, he persuaded the Oxford University Press, to print for the first time a King James Version Bible that included his notes. Linked to the 1611 King James Version, bound in black leather, the marketing gave the notes and illustrations an authoritative air. With the help of English Zionists, thousands of copies were sent free to clergymen, another marketing sensation. Clergymen preached from it to their congregations and members purchased their own copies. It didn’t take long for it to become the best-selling Bible in the world, so OUP established a New York office in 1909 to publish the Scofield Bible for American churches with free copies being sent to clergymen.
Thousands of pastors started using them without asking the obvious questions. “Who is this man?”- “Where did he come from?” – “What is his complete background?” – “What happened to his wife and daughters?” and “Why would Jews invest so much money in a book to help bring “truth” to the Christians?’
It was the greatest investment the Zionists ever made. They created a theory known as dispensationalism. These doctrines or beliefs were never found by real theologians from any denomination before, and they do not accept them as Bible truth today. These beliefs are not accepted by Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox or most other Protestant denominations. But in the USA, Scofield’s notes, portraying a time line of what God was doing in each dispensation, and what will happen in the future became the standard teaching of Brethren, Pentecostal, Southern Baptist and Fundamentalist churches and Bible colleges. Their members and pastors became the enthusiastic evangelists, missionaries and Bible College teachers that went to every country of their world. They in turn influenced others so that every radio evangelist, crusade evangelist from DL Moody on, and almost every Bible College in the world perpetuated this teaching.
In USA this included the Republican Party, the Moral Majority, and even Presidents. Political analyst Richard Allen Greene has argued that dispensationalism has had a major influence on the foreign policy of the United States including support for the state of Israel. Political commentator Kevin Phillips points out in his book American Theocracy (2006) how dispensationalists and other fundamentalist Christians, together with the oil lobby, have provided political support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, without approval of the United Nations.
This teaching still determines the US budget’s allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars every day to Israel. It has encouraged two US Presidents to put their fingers on the button that would fire nuclear weapons.
Over the next month I will give further historical information, look at some of the involved doctrines such as the Rapture, The Left Behind books and films, the most notable exponents and colleges, the End Times prophecies, Premillennialism, Post Millennialism, Amillennialism The Great Tribulation, the Beast, and the rest. Much that is believed here is unbiblical. This will also lead into the inspiration and authority of the Bible as God’s word. Even raising these issues will cause some people to close their ears and eyes, but I encourage you to continue as Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life in spite of what Harold Camping, Cyrus Scofield and others may teach.