From purpose driven lives to unscheduled visits to heaven, Christians and churches too often seem to be racing from fad to fad. Someone sent me a link to the above video last week with the question, “Is it really this bad?” My response? It may be worse. These days, with propaganda on the newest “Christian” fads readily available on “Christian television” and the internet, faithful pastors and church leaders who want to keep their flocks from being misled are in rather difficult straits. If “the latest thing” is promoted (and sold) on “Christian” TV, it must be true, mustn’t it? No. With the sorry state of Christian programming, if you hear excited babble about a new teaching – especially one that no one in history has ever found in the Bible before now – it’s highly likely to be FALSE! Unfortunately, so called “Christian” publishers and media are in fact, profit seeking business ventures which far too often sacrifice sound biblical teaching at the altar of the almighty dollar. New faddish ideas keep their viewers excited and coming back for more. Not only are people fleeced, but many lives are destroyed. Back in the 1990s, Christians borrowed a Psychology based fad from the culture, which taught that people with eating disorders or other normal problems of living were in fact victims of ritualistic satanic cults. These cults supposedly impregnated young children and then sacrificed the resulting babies on altars in church basements. Under hypnosis, it was “discovered” that the leaders of these cults were none other than the victim’s own family members and pastors, and of course, day care workers. Many false accusations were made against parents, siblings and day care centers, which often resulted in prison sentences for the bewildered accused. This dark fad has largely receded now, but not without destroying lives and families. Christians should never have taken part in this travesty.
Other popular fads involve various end times scenarios, where novel teachings pop up seemingly out of nowhere and gain a large following amongst the faithful. The teachers who bring these popular new teachings are viewed as superstars, at least until the new teaching is discredited when the awaited calamity does not happen. We believe that eschatology is an important subject for discussion in the church, but it takes discernment to weed out the true from the fad.
In the 1980s, a former NASA engineer published 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. But the rapture did not occur in 1988, so he followed up with The final shout: Rapture report 1989. Still, no rapture! Undeterred by utter failure, he did a repeat performance in 1993 with, 23 reasons why a pre-tribulation rapture looks like it will occur on Rosh-Hashanah 1993. 1993 came and went – still no rapture – which of course led to a new understanding, causing him to write the insightful And now the earth’s destruction by fire, nuclear bomb fire which he predicted would take place in 1994. Oy! In 1992 Harold Camping published, 1994?, calling for THE END in, of course, 1994. We received calls from some “backslidden” Christians who wondered if they needed to get back to church in case Camping’s predictions turned out to be true. Later in the 1990s, Christian leaders and publishers jumped on the very profitable Y2K bandwagon. In our Spring 1999 MCOI Journal we published “Y2K: Genuine Crisis or Over-Hyped Circus?” As a result of our stand, we lost support for a time from people who were sold on the Y2K disaster idea. But this particular teaching quickly lost support when, except for some spectacular fireworks displays heralding the new century, nothing at all happened. Boo.
Meanwhile, when Y2K didn’t end it all, Harold Camping made another appearance on the fad circuit, calling for the FINAL END on May 21, 2011. Many of his followers sold homes, businesses and went on the road proclaiming the false date to an increasingly scoffing world. When it didn’t occur, Camping claimed it was fulfilled invisibly but would happen visibly on October 21, 2011. We wrote about his latest false prophecy before it didn’t happen in “Harold Camping: Anatomy of a False Prophet.”
The ball was then picked up by others – Christian and non-Christian –who speculated that the end of the Mayan Calendar meant that THE END would occur in 2012 (“Why Are You Looking Forward to 2012?” Winter/Spring 2009). The date passed – the world went on as blithely as ever.
Not everyone is aware that we just dodged another prophesied calamity as Jonathan Cahn’s Shemitah year passed on September 13th of this year without the awaited financial collapse of America. (The Mystery of the Shemitah: The 3,000-Year-Old Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future) However, we should not rest easy, as many are claiming that a large asteroid is on track to destroy us on September 23rd. NASA denies this, but we all know how they lie. There are many other calamities slated to destroy us this month – just check out September 2015 on YouTube. To clarify our position, we are not saying that a large asteroid will not hit on the 23rd, but we do have some doubts. Nor do we deny that our economy is likely to crash at some point, possibly in the very near future, for all we know. Our nation is so under water financially that it seems foolish to imagine that it can continue on this way forever. We just doubt that Jonathan Cahn really has special insight from God as to when it might happen. In any case, the Shemitah year has passed.
We are not opposed to THE END. The Bible teaches us that judgment will come on this world, and it won’t be pretty. But fad teachers just don’t add anything to our understanding and only puts the whole field of eschatology in disrepute with their many public failures.
Even so, Bible prophecy is fascinating, and since much of the Bible concerns things to come, God clearly expects Christians to read and understand it to the best of their ability. Thankfully, there are very good eschatological Bible teachers, who rely on the Word of God, and not hidden mysteries that only they can interpret. ALL of the events written will come to pass, on God’s schedule. The very fact that the Bible has been 100% accurate in the many predicted events which have already been fulfilled is one way to prove that the Bible is God’s Word. Bible prophecy is something that becomes clearer as it unfolds. A thousand years ago, Christians probably scratched their heads concerning the prophesied return of the Jews to their homeland in the last days, because at that time it would’ve seemed impossible! Yet God did not see fit to enlighten them with the exact timing of these events. As far as we know, there is still no exact timetable known to man for coming events to occur. Maybe we should avoid fad teachers and teachings, know the scriptures as best we can, stay calm – and watch.