October 19, 2019

Riffs/iMonk 101: Wilkerson Warns/iMonk Rants

UPDATE: John Piper takes a look at Wilkerson’s prophecy and responds rightly.

David Wilkerson (Cross and the Switchblade, Times Square Church) is predicting a world changing disaster, and advises that you dust off those cans of Spam you still have from Y2k. It’s getting serious coverage by the unhinged conservative media.

I wrote about Evangelical anxiety about the end of the world in the “Evangelical Anxieties” series in February of 07. Not only have I not changed my mind, I’m more bothered by this than ever.

If eschatology were a multiple choice question, with answers like this:

a) be Christ centered
b) proclaim the Gospel
c) do missions and evangelism
d) look forward to the new heaven and the new earth
e) be idiots

…guess what a large chunk of Evangelicalism would choose?

Evangelicals really can’t get enough of this stuff. Wilkerson- and a thousand other end times prophets like Kim CLement- have predicted similar events before. The “end of the world” section of the bookstore is only the front end of the “end of the world warehouse” that stores all the books that have been predicting the end of the world as long as evangelical authors could find a pen.

In no other area of Christian belief are Evangelicals more irresponsible and bizarrely repetitive. If doing the same thing, over and over and over again with no result, qualifies as a form of mental illness, then we can fill up an entire chain of hospitals. We’re talking about people who will take their eschatology and turn it into a VIDEO GAME here.

The Bible is obviously too simple for Evangelicals at this point. The instincts of some Christians tell them that it never can just mean what it says. So when Jesus says “no one knows, not even the Son,” or “don’t believe people who say they know,” it actually means “Oh yeah, we can know ALL about future events. Just get the right teacher with a big chart and you’re in there.”

Maybe it’s the fact that weird eschatology is the closest thing Christianity has to the kind of material that shows up on the Sci-Fi channel late at night. Bad acting. Cheap special effects. Teenagers caught having sex. Maybe rapture anxiety just plays like a bad B-movie, so Evangelicals get it.

The history of Christian apocalyticism is a story in and of itself. I recommend Jason Boyett’s Pocket Guide To The Apocalypse. Seriously. Get it. Good book with lots of humor and even more information.

I am never more envious of Catholics/Orthodox than on the subjects of evolution and eschatology. Catholics simply don’t lose their minds over this sort of thing. The catechism is calm. If the pope has anything to say about the end of the world, it must be edited out. You’d never hear Benedict going on like Tim Lahaye. (Too bad Art Bell isn’t on Christian radio.)

I’m sure Catholics and Orthodox have their hysterical eschatology committees like every other religion, and I’m sure Fr. So and So is out there in the road with a placard proclaiming the end, but you just get the impression that Catholics are in the “it will all work out” camp, and they aren’t going to get in the bunker with Ned Flanders. Have a beer. Go to a Barbeque. Don’t start screaming. No one likes a religion with people screaming.

Evangelicals don’t seem to blink when they realize that the business of various apocalyptic scenarios is making millions of dollars for people convinced it’s all about to be over. They don’t mind that the people making these prophecies either abuse, don’t use, or no longer need to use a Bible. No, from Thief in the Night to 89 Reasons Christ Will Return in 1989, we just keep on keepin’ on.

My evangelical students read Left Behind with far more interest than they read scripture. If everyone who read Left Behind read ONE other decent Christian book, a Great Awakening would arrive. My students also assume that all Christians buy into this approach to the future. I haven’t met one yet, in 17 years, that has a pastor who even sent clue one that we might not be on the verge of the great tribulation because the stock market is zonked. Judgment house. Hell house. Rapture house. We really need an amusement park to get the whole show together.

Does it occur to most Evangelicals that their brothers and sisters around the world sort of LIVE in the Apocalypse? If we have a Columbine or a Katrina, John Hagee is n TV the next night with a chart so big you can see it behind him. Meanwhile, in Sudan, it’s all just another day at the office.

Americans are afraid of the end. They are afraid of losing their life here. They don’t want II Thessalonians 1 to happen. They want to keep running up their credit cards and driving the leased SUV.

Kingdom? New world? End of old world? Resurrection? Christ all in all?

Missional hope? Reach the nations? Gospel to every people group? Bible in every language?

Don’t be bothered by earthquakes, rumors of wars, bank collapses, elections, etc?

Nah. Put in the next Left Behind movie. The one where Kirk Cameron sings “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” to Carpathia.

[Comment ideas: 1) Catholics and Orthodox are allowed one comment to make fun of evangelicals. 2) What’s your best story about Evangelicals and Apocalypse fever?]

Comments

  1. I agree with your assessment of the rapture, end of the world literature in evangelicalism. But I do not believe Dave Wilkerson is coming from that perspective. He is simply saying he believes difficult times are ahead for the USA in it’s inner cities resulting in riots,looting and fires. He has not said anything about the end of the world.Is this of the Lord? Well I do not despise prophecies but test them. Is the probability of his “vision” happening in a deep and serious economic collapse in cities where people may get most desperate?? Is it beyond possibility that one of the countries groups that hate us successfully pull off some type of terrorist attacks aginst us? I have no question that America is experiencing the consequences of its own sins destroying it as Israel it is called judgment. This is not end time fear mongering to sell books and trinkets.

  2. You can put Lutherans in with the non-hysterical end times outlook. I didn’t know that any of the tribulation stuff even existed until I went to college in Texas and the left behind stuff had gotten big.

    I once worked during the summer, while I was attending Seminary, with a guy who was “training to become a baptist youth minister.” We had a lot of interesting conversations. One day something about Israel came up and I remarked that I doubted that peace would ever exist in that part of the world. He then said something about the 7 year treaty, which led to him being totally shocked that I didn’t believe in a pre-trip theology.

    He had never heard of anything different.

    Eventually I convinced him that spending all of that time trying to decipher what God would eventually cause to happen anyway didn’t make a lot of sense. We need to be focused on Christ and proclaiming Christ’s message rather than figuring out what God might do next.

  3. Somebody other than me read Salem Kirban?!! wow. Fortunately, Jesus heals all scar(e)s!8D

    While disappointed to hear that the “sandwich” story was false, at least WWN’s editor added a statement to that effect. Which meant that DW’s church officially corrected the story. Honesty prevailed. Plus, as I understand it, intercession DID occur before 9/11. One of things I remember about 9/11 was the amazement that the usual number of people were NOT there. Perhaps a direct result of DW and his church’s intercession? Now he is feeling something similar. Plus a need to store food, etc. that would last 30 days. Are they interceeding again? Maybe this intercession will also limit or stop the actual event from happening. DW will look bad and open to the accusation of “false prophet” but rather that than people burning.

    To be honest, I don’t agree with everything he says but I think in some ways our immediate response to DW is telling. Were we offended and rolled our eyes, or did we pray first? Maybe just a tiny bit of fear hit our hearts and we reacted accordingly. I’m not trying to be religious but I know the knee-jerk reactions I’ve had before to things like this and deeply regretted later. So to all this I just say we need to pray and ask God calmly what’s up. We may be surprised. 8)

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Somebody other than me read Salem Kirban?!! wow. — Risa

    I did, years ago. I CAN’T UNREAD IT! AAAAAAGH! AAAAAAGH!

    If LaHaye & Jenkins’ Left Behind is the Eragon of Christian Apocalyptic Fiction, Kirban’s 666 is its “Eye of Argon”. I have NEVER read such awful writing, and I’ve encountered a lot of bad writing in my time in fandom.

  5. GratefulForGraces says

    I can’t remember the details, but some time ago I know I heard a program on Focus on the Family on this topic. Dr. Dobson was interviewing someone discussing how we should all be preparing for appropriate careers and ministries in the 1000-year reign of Christ after He comes again.

    I can remember thinking, “Wha???”

    There are many, many reasons I’m glad I’m a Catholic. Not having to pay attention to all of this craziness is one of them. (However, it’s quite entertaining to read about.)

  6. As I thought, no one can cite examples to support Alan’s crazy assertion (09 Mar 2009 at 3:42 pm) that “Whatever, we all know that Obama is the antiChrist and the world will end shortly after 2012–at least, Focus on the Family claims that, and we all know Dobson is inspired.”

    Why do people make up crazy stuff to discredit those with whom they disagree? If you don’t like Dobson, at least use his actual positions in your arguments, not straw men.

    I don’t keep track that well of what Dobson does or says, but I would be astounded if he said what Alan claims he said. The times I have heard Dobson, he sounded reasonable and rational. I’m sure there are areas where I disagree with Dobson (I am a Catholic, and thus an amilenialst), but I don’t think he’s a crazy man.

    Let’s stick with facts, not the fevered speculations of an overworked imagination.

    Thanks,

    Bill

  7. In my enthrallment with Hal Lindsey as a youngster, I had to share this information with my mom. I was a little bit floored (but not that floored, because at the time I found his book very convincing) when she told me that as a child she had heard many sermons about that same thing. I couldn’t quite figure that out, and so put it out of my mind.

    I do think public figures have some responsibility to try to retract false or misleading information, esp. concerning widely publicized sensationalism. And how else could that book be described? I have looked at Lindsey’s current website, and it looks more political than religious (or some mish-mash). More power to him. But the only prophecy I’m interested in any more is the one that’s already been fulfilled, in Jesus Christ.

    I am sort of sad about all the end times stuff, and how much this one thing has separated and disenchanted Christians. I personally never give it any thought anymore, seeing it cycle this way and that for 40 years. Like many of your readers, I find today to be the most important day to live for Christ.

  8. Still waiting for Alan to man up and admit that his message of 09 Mar 2009 at 3:42 pm accusing Dobson of predicting the end of the world in 2012 and calling Obama the antichrist was completely false.

    As I have said before, I have my disagreements with Dobson.

    Alan, why don’t you admit that you made a mistake on this one?

    Can someone else get Alan off the hook by finding the alleged Dobson quote to which Alan pretended he was reacting?

    Thanks,

    Bill