Well, the wild-eyed end-times prophecy pundits and their blind devotees are at again! Those who believe that Satan eventually defeats the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ in history, are again all-wound-up, stirring-up a new wave of self-defeatist eschatology. (To get more people in the pews? — To sell more books?)
Part of their falsely derived narrative in “dispensational eschatology,” is that in the ‘last days’ or ‘end-times,’ Satan eventually outsmarts and defeats; God’s Gospel of Jesus Christ — the Holy Spirit — and God’s Spirit-empowered people. Apparently, in the complex twisted prophetic outlook of dispensationalism; God’s plan of salvation — Jesus Christ’s conquering death on the cross — and Christ Jesus sending the Holy Spirit to empower believers — is insufficient to the wiles, cleverness, and power of Satan and his hell-bound band of fallen-angels.
When the end-times Church, is about to be faced with entering an all-encompassing Satan-inspired ‘tribulation period’ — Christ, in a last-minute intervention, suddenly snatches believers off the face of the earth in a “secret rapture.” Later, after a seven-year period of ‘hell-on-earth,’ called “The Tribulation,” Jesus Christ returns again (the Second Coming) to rescue a ‘remnant band of defeated believers’ – who, have come to believe the Gospel after the secret-rapture incident, and realizing the true identity of the Anti-Christ.
This contrived scenario sounds very exciting, but does it make any sense, Biblically? Does this really sound like a Christ-conquering gospel message? Didn’t the Christian era begin with Jesus Christ’s death, conquering Satan on the cross? So, Christ conquers Satan on the cross but then a couple of thousand years (or so) later, Satan defeats the Holy-Spirit Gospel-Empowered Church, with some chump the Devil empowers called the Antichrist? Did Christ really set-up and empower His Church (His Bride) to be defeated by Satan? Was this actually God’s supernatural plan from the beginning of the world?
It sounds a bit pitiful for believers to go-forth, spread the gospel and teach all nations; just to prepare for ultimate defeat? If that is the future outcome of the Church, why should believers bother teaching nations the ways of God? There seems to be some conflicting messages here in how we perceive the work and power of Christ: what He expects to accomplish through His new covenant Church; and how God’s “will” is going to be accomplished for the future of mankind.
This ill-conceived error-ridden Dispensational view of eschatology captured the minds of certain Christians just prior to the 20th century, and began to take hold with the publication of the Scofield Bible early in the 20th century (1909 & 1917). By the 1960s and 70s the dispensational view had become the most popular view of eschatology in America, especially with the publication of Hal Lindsey’s, The Late Great Planet Earth (1970-1).
The dispensational ‘futurist’ view in eschatology has a somewhat nefarious history. It was initially created by Catholic Jesuits during the counter-reformation period. For Two hundred thirty years, it was not taught outside of the Catholic church.
In early Victorian England, it was not likely that a protestant would even bother to read a prophecy book written by a Catholic Jesuit. The ‘Jesuit Order,’ in particular, was held in wide contempt at that time in Europe. In 1773 ‘the Order’ had been disbanded by the Pope himself for its treachery. The term ‘Jesuit’ became synonymous with terms like deceit, chicanery, infiltration and intrigue.
The Jesuits managed to get a foothold for their counter-interpretation in England by having a Jesuit named Lacunza publish an interpretation of The Book of Revelation under the name of a Jewish rabbi, Ben-Ezra. After that, Edward Irving, and then, John Nelson Darby initially got the Jesuit teaching brought into Protestantism.
Dispensational futurism was popularized through a network of Jesuits and Rabbi’s, using C.I. Scofield, as a front. Scofield credits Dr. Fenton John Anthony Hort and Bishop Brook Foss Westcott on the second page of the introduction of his Bible for their influence. A little historical research indicates these men (Hort and Westcott) were not only Jesuit plants within the Church of England but also members of various occult and séance movements of the day. This was the protestant beginnings of dispensational eschatology.
More recently, in the last several decades, many Christians have viewed certain world-wide events as the prophetic ‘end-times’ scenario and the anticipated return of Jesus Christ. Historically, nearly every generation of believers since the time of the apostles believed they were at the cusp of the’ last days.’ In recent times, many popular Bible expositors have identified the last-days ‘one-world government’ as: The United Nations, the European Union, and even the North American union between America, Canada, and Mexico. As we see alliances formed and reformed on different continents we will likely hear more re-adjusted prophecies predicted.
In dispensational pop-eschatology, the nation of Israel is the foundational key for God’s timeline and the return of Jesus Christ. As a result, many prophecy pundits have stated that the ‘generation’ which sees the return and rebirth of the nation of Israel, would be the same generation to experience the ‘rapture’ of the church, just prior to the ‘Great Tribulation.’ (Some others believe the rapture occurs mid-way in the Tribulation and some believe at the end).
However, there is a problem with the whole dispensational view. A ‘generation’ in Biblical terms is said to be either 25 years, or some say 40 years. Israel became a nation in 1948. So, the Rapture/Tribulation should have happened in 1973 or 1988 respectively. But, 1988 came and went and prophetic Bible predictions went out the window. In order to try and save face, dispensational prophecy pundits then postulated that the year 1967 was the true birth of the nation of Israel, as it acquired more land in the 1967 six-day war. If that newly adjusted time frame was correct, that means the Rapture/Tribulation prophecy prediction should have materialized around 1993 or 2007.
That was ‘ten’ years ago and there seems to be no sign of a ‘Great Tribulation,’ or an ‘Anti-Christ’ world leader. Yes, we have many troubles around the world, but we have always had troubles throughout Christianity’s history. Many, far worse than what we experience today.
Although the Dispensational version of eschatology has been theologically debunked many times over, it remains the most prominent and popular view of biblical eschatology in the minds of most Americans. America, however, was born under the Puritan ‘Postmillennial’ view of eschatology and in recent years, that view is beginning to get another serious look. The Postmillennial view reflects a ‘victorious Gospel of Christ.’ As some believers are beginning to recognize; the errors, false predictions, incorrect projections, and the ultimate ‘implosion’ of Premillennial Dispensational eschatology, is happening before their eyes. They are therefore rethinking their presuppositions and what they previously thought, or were taught about Biblical eschatology.