This article gives a strong warning. It’s worth reading whatever your theological view. By the way, I am not a preterist. ~EW
Life and Death and the Last Days, or Why Eschatology Matters
By Joel McDurmon | Published: May 27, 2011
Christian parents wonder today why the majority of their children today leave the church when they become teenagers and never come back. I’ll tell you why. A big part is due to the nonsensical hounding upon Rapture …A big part is due to the nonsensical hounding upon Rapture and End Times by most Christian pastors, teachers, and parents. You’ve heard the phrase, “The economy, stupid.” The modern Christian equivalent should be “The eschatology, stupid.”
Your eschatology matters. What you believe about the future will determine much of how you live your life, and will affect much of your character.
In times of crisis, this truth is magnified. True believers will take action based upon their beliefs without a second thought. This can have detrimental, even tragic, consequences.
A recent and tragic example of this is Lyn Benedetto, a 47-year old California woman who tried to kill her children to spare them from going through the Great Tribulation. She believed Harold Camping’s prediction that the Rapture would take place on May 21, 2011, and apparently feared she or her daughters would miss it. She slit the throats and wrists of her 11 and 14 year-old daughters, and then her own.
Your eschatology matters.
Instead of a possible future Tribulation, the children got immediate tribulation. Instead of facing global catastrophe, they got local, personal tragedy. Instead of some fictional “Antichrist” and beheading by guillotine, they got attacked by their own mother with a box cutter and a paring knife. Instead of heaven, they went to a hospital. Instead of heaven, the mother got caught away to the earthly symbol of hell: jail. This, mainly because she believed bad eschatology.
Your eschatology matters.
And Benedetto was not alone. Armetta Foster of Louisville, KY allegedly was so highly stressed by Camping’s prediction that she decided she needed immediately to rush home from Florida to her family. She stole a car to do so. En route with her 6 and 10 year-old children, the car broke down. She and her children started walking along the interstate. A sheriff’s deputy pulled up and stepped out. She pulled a knife on him, slashed at him, and stole his patrol car. Whether right or wrong by that time (she was already in his car and beginning to drive off, according to the article) he pulled his gun and shot her dead.
Your eschatology matters.
These extreme examples show how some people can crack and misbehave under the influence of bad eschatology. Sure, there were a lot of problems beneath the surface as well, but would they have surfaced apart from this “last days madness”-induced crisis?
These instances also show how the overemphasis on end times in churches and Christian media has led to a de-emphasis on Christian ethics—simple things like “don’t steal” and “don’t murder.” Indeed, eschatology matters—sometimes too much.
Now it is probably correct that Foster suffered from more than just rapture fever—she probably was mentally ill. Pulling a knife on a cop and stealing his car is not the type of thing sound minds do—let alone sound Christian minds. But while we now cannot know the truth about her mental state, it also seems to have been triggered by something unusual. Her untimely death, it appears, can largely be blamed on bad eschatology.
These instances are exceptional only in their degree of tragedy. One news station in Australia reported that some believers were preparing for the rapture by “meeting with their children for tearful last lunches.”
I suppose they later met back up with those same children for an awkward next meal. It’s time to change eschatology.
Many other Christians fall prey to the same bad eschatological delusions and act accordingly. They may not necessarily become violent, but rather irrelevant to society. Some become violent in a different way: they support the military in its aggressions in the Arab world—not because they have any idea of a doctrine of just war, or anything like that, but because they think it’s somehow linked to prophecies about the end times. We gotta kill some ragheads for Jesus! You know those Iranians just want nuclear power so they can make a bomb and bomb Israel! Some Christians have joined the military out of just such a powerful zeal to speed the return of Christ.
This is the point that is so important: eschatology has very real and profound effects on your lifestyle. How you view the future determines how you plan and work both now and in regard to the next generation. If you believe the Rapture will occur in your lifetime—indeed, very soon in your lifetime—then there is no need to engage in any long-term plans, especially for peace and prosperity.
Waiting for Armageddon
Examples of this abound much more than you think. Christians everywhere are paralyzed by fear regarding a soon-coming Rapture and Tribulation. A great example appears in the documentary Waiting for Armageddon. One of the people interviewed was a mother, Devonna Edwards. She adamantly states that the rapture would be coming so soon her teenage daughter will never be married. She says, “Do I believe that I will hold a grandchild? No. No. I just don’t think we have that much time left.”
Bad eschatology breeds bad parenting, at least, and poor planning in general.
Her children display obvious skepticism. As she sits trying to persuade them that the Rapture will indeed happen any day now, one daughter responds sheepishly, “Well, it could happen.” She is rebuffed immediately: “It will happen. There’s no ‘could’ to it.”
In a later private session, the daughter, Kristin, says she does believe but hopes the Rapture happens later: “I always wanted to be a part of it, but I wanted to be like 85.” In other words, she wants to live her life and not be pressured into forgoing perfectly biblical desires for marriage and motherhood because of the threat of imminent rapture.
Her sister, Ashley, then expresses a more biblical view of Christianity than her mother’s Rapture-centrism: “It scares me. Like Kristie feels, I kind of wish that I knew that I had time. I really want to get married and I want to have kids, and raise a family, and work, and do all that.”
Kristin adds, “It doesn’t seem fair. Your grandparents have lived these long lives and have all these stories to tell you, and they’ve kind of adjusted to the fact that, you know, they’re not going to live terribly much longer. And so you’ve grown up hearing all these stories . . . and you want to live these experiences yourself; and if you’re done at 24, there’s only so many experiences you get to have.”
Both of these young ladies have a more biblical view of Christianity than their parents. They want to live in the kingdom of God (as He instituted it), get married (as He instituted it), have children (as He instituted it), work (as He instituted it), and experience all He has for them to experience. In short, they want to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
But they are thrust beneath the dictatorial fear-mongering of their parents who can say nothing but “you’re not going to graduate,” “you’re not going to get married,” “you’re not going to have children.” The only thing that matters is Rapture, Rapture, Rapture. The children’s response to their parents’ view is, “It scares me.” Indeed! It scares them because the Rapture view is constant fear-mongering and denial of Christian duty on earth.
The children know better.
And Christians today wonder why their teenagers are leaving the church in droves. Your answer is right here: eschatology. They have a better worldview than their parents, and yet have never been taught how to express the correct worldview via the Bible.
They’ve been taught all their lives that the Bible goes against the long-term, family centered, ethics-centered worldview: that the Bible teaches a quick end to their lives and voids all need to plan beyond the Rapture. The parents and pastors have hounded these kids with a false message of what the Church and the Bible are, and what is expected of them. The children sense that the “fear the Rapture” message is inherently wrong, and they rightly desire to flee from it. But they have been wrongly taught that this is the message of the Bible. So, they flee from Church and the Bible completely as soon as they get a chance.
Along with this, they also flee the Republican Party (not that I support it), which their parents have also exalted as God’s will on earth, especially in regard to foreign policy. Some leave the faith altogether. We end up with a generation of leftist atheists who are just relieved to be out from under the oppressive fear-mongering, and whose behaviors are now fueled by negative emotions harbored against all things conservative and church-oriented.
And what’s even scarier than the fear-mongering itself is the fact that the people and the parents promoting the Rapture know that the children know better. Instead of learning from their children’s more biblical view—who could expect them to stoop so low as to learn like a little child?—they redouble their efforts.
The girls’ father, Tony rationalizes that the younger people are the less inclined they are to believe the prophecy, for “you’ve got your life ahead of you and you don’t want to let go of that.” So of course (!) the whippersnappers will be skeptical, they’re self-interested! But the serious believer must have an adult’s-eye view and see things as they are—about to end! We must prepare our children to be raptured, not waste time caring for the things of this world. We need escape, not dominion. And escape, of course, is not self-interested at all.
But, getting married, raising children, planning businesses, making homes, saving money—these are the silly desires of children. Put that out of your mind child! We must prepare for escape.
And this is just one family. There are millions. Read more…