Tag Archives: Dispensationalism

Weird and Wacky Theology 3: Armageddon out of here

John Hagee wrote to me again today. He writes most days. Today he wrote to remind me, “As Christians we have a Biblical obligation to defend Israel and the Jewish people in their time of need. Israel’s time of need is now. There is a new Hitler in the Middle East –President Ahmadinejad of Iran — who has threatened to wipe out Israel and America and is rapidly acquiring the nuclear technology to make good on his threat. Tragically, 2008 has been a year of steady progress for President Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambitions.”

In case I missed it, John’s email contained not one but two requests for money – in between the paragraphs so I would not miss it, like I’m doing here, except you don’t need to send me any money.

Then John went on to warn me, “As Iran gets steadily closer to obtaining nuclear weapons, we get that much closer to the possibility of a second Holocaust. The risk that Israel and her six million Jews might be “wiped off the map” is too great for us to sit silently by as the world does nothing. As 2008 ends and 2009 begins, we must redouble our efforts to stop Iran. In particular, we must combine fervent prayer with urgent action.”

How John, how?

“In addition to prayer, we must also act to make sure that our fellow citizens and our government recognize the urgency of this threat. Christians United for Israel is determined to focus intensely on the issue of Iran in 2009. We plan to educate Christians across America about the threat of a nuclear Iran. We intend to help our members speak out in their communities and churches to raise awareness on this issue. We plan to communicate the urgency of this issue to our leaders in Washington and demand that they act with greater resolve to stop this threat to America and Israel.”

I knew prayer wouldn’t be enough. If that was all John was asking for I certainly wouldn’t have written this piece, and you wouldn’t be bothering to read it either, but you are and that’s because you know by now that John has other ideas of how to ‘stop Iran’ and being the pastor of an 18,000 member church he doesn’t need to beat around the bush.

At the July 19th, 2006 Washington DC inaugural event for Christians United for Israel, after recorded greeting from George W. Bush, and in the presence of four US Senators as well as the Israeli ambassador to the US, John stated :”The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West… a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ.”

Well that’s everything isn’t it? The whole caboodle as we say in O’l Blighty. Now I don’t want to see anyone ‘wiped off the face of the earth’ least of all my Jewish friends, but bombing Iran back to the stone age won’t win us any friends in the Middle East, John. Trust me, I’ve asked them.

Your friend Ann Coulter suggested something similar after the tragedy of 9/11. She said, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.”

We tried it a thousand years ago. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. John, I’m struggling a bit with your theology. I’ve read the Bible a few times over the years but I just can’t find that verse you must have in mind that says this is our ‘biblical obligation.’ I thought our ‘biblical obligation’ was to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-48). Paul said our ‘obligation’ is to tell them about the love of God found in Jesus (Romans 1:14; John 3:16-17). Maybe I’m just reading the wrong translation.

Grace Halsell put her finger on it when she wrote: “Convinced that a nuclear Armageddon is an inevitable event within the divine scheme of things, many evangelical dispensationalists have committed themselves to a course for Israel that, by their own admission, will lead directly to a holocaust indescribably more savage and widespread than any vision of carnage that could have generated in Adolf Hitler’s criminal mind.”

She is right isn’t she? Such a fatalistic view of the future, with its prewritten script, is inherently suspicious and pessimistic about anything international, ecumenical, or involving the European Community or United Nations. Efforts to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East are spurned as counterfeit and a satanic ploy to beguile Israel. Such paranoia might be deemed a sick joke were it not so pervasive and influential, it seems, in shaping US foreign policy with its perpetual war against the ‘Axis of Evil’. Its greatest danger is surely that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Maybe to call it ‘weird and wacky’ is a little understated.

For further examples of wacky theology see:

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Weird and Wacky Theology 1: Israel and the Church

As a taster for my new book on the use and abuse of the Bible in relation to Israel and the Church, I plan to highlight examples of eccentric interpretation that lead, at best, to dubious theology, and at worst, to heresy.

Jacob Prasch is a good example. Described as an “authentic Messianic teacher” on the anonymous Seismic Shock blog, Prasch uses the story of Rachel and Leah from Genesis to teach that Jesus did not desire the Church as his bride.

“Jacob came for a bride from his own people. He desired Rachel, but he did not get Rachel at first, but Leah. After he learned to love Leah as much as he did Rachel, he got Rachel as well. In the beginning Leah had all the babies, her womb was most fruitful. But then Rachel conceives. Israel shall be a fruitful vine. Jesus came for Israel. He wanted to marry Israel, but He did not get Israel. He ends up with the bride He did not desire at first, the Gentile church. After He learns to love the Gentile church, then He gets Israel. In the beginning, the church has all the babies. But in the end, Israel becomes a fruitful vine.” (Jacob Prasch)

You can read the context here.

Here’s another example from John Wilkinson, Founder and Director of the Mildmay Mission

“ … the Jewish nation as such is shunted to a siding until the times of the Gentiles run out, to allow the express train to pass, stopping here and there to pick up the Church, and then the Jewish nation will take her place on the main line of the Divine Plan, stop at all stations and take on the world.” (Israel my Glory, 1893, p.134).

As Kevin Daly observes, “In other words what Jesus failed to do by pouring out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Jews will succeed in doing much better once the church is taken out of the way.” Gilbert Bilezikian rightly characterizes this theology as turning the Church into the ‘concubine of Christ‘.

David Brickner, revives J.N. Darby’s eccentric dispensational scheme, suggesting the last two thousand years history of the Church is merely ‘a parenthesis’ to God’s future plans for the Jews, who remain his ‘chosen people’. (see Future Hope, p. 18, 130; J. N. Darby, ‘The Character of Office in The Present Dispensation’ Collected Writings., Eccl. I, Vol. I, p. 94).

By contrast, the Apostle Paul describes the extent of Jesus’ love for the Church in Ephesians 5:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Jesus himself said, ” Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:13-14).

Just before he washed his disciples feet, the Apostle John writes so movingly, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” (John 13:1)

Why was Jesus willing to die? The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2 that Jesus died to reconcile both Jews and Gentiles to God the Father.

“His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:15-18)

The Lord Jesus has broken down the barrier between Jews and Gentiles who recognise him as their Lord and Saviour. It is tragic when some of his followers, Like Prasch, it seems want to focus on that barrier.

Perhaps just as revealing, is the fact that the anonymous author of Seismic Shock, who calls himself the Maverick, regards Prasch as an “authentic Messianic teacher”. He must therefore be a Messianic believer himself (i.e. a Jew who believes in Jesus). No secular Jew would describe a Christian leader in this way. If true, I find this very, very sad, that so-called followers of Jesus would choose to use an anonymous blog to to discredit other followers of Jesus in this way. The Apostle Paul insists,

“Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2)

It seems sad that their love of Zionism appears greater than their love of Jesus.

For further examples of wacky theology see:

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Messianic Good News (and the Perils of Dispensationalism)



Yesterday I returned from Johannesburg, South Africa, where I was attending the Messianic Good News Conference,’Israel in the Last Days

Messianic Good News was founded in 1950 for the purpose of proclaiming the good news of salvation in Jesus the Messiah to Jews and Gentiles primarily through the written format. They publish and distribute tracts and books for outreach as well as the quarterly, “Messianic Good News,” through which we aim to encourage and equip readers with a deeper understanding of the faith. The ministry originated in Hamburg, Germany in the late 1800’s with the conversion of a young Jew named Arnold Frank. Frank had a burden to share the good news of salvation with the many Jewish emigrants who were passing through Germany hoping to find a better life in the new world. He published and distributed gospel literature and he also responded to their dire physical needs by organising a soup kitchen, a hospital staffed with compassionate Christian nurses and the Mission House, “Jerusalem” to accommodate and disciple the many young Jewish enquirers who were responding to the gospel.

In 1938, at the age of 79 he was forced to flee to Ireland to escape arrest by the Nazis. The mission property was confiscated but Frank continued to minister in Ireland for a further 26 years until his death at the age of 106. Although the Nazis tried to destroy the work he had dedicated his life to, his legacy lives on through the labours of those whom he led to the Saviour.

One of those young men was John Düring, who fled to South Africa in 1938. In 1950, Düring, with Frank’s support and blessing, established the “Good News Missionary Society” primarily as a literary outreach to Jewish people. Düring established a strong witness to the Jewish people through the excellent literature produced by the society. In 2000 the society was renamed “Messianic Good News” and continues to publish and distribute literature proclaiming the good news about the Messiah. They have an office in Johannesburg, South Africa, as well as in America and their literature is also translated into Spanish and German.

It was heartening to meet many Messianic believers at the conference with a passion for the gospel, with a love for Jewish people and a desire to introduce Jesus to them, while at the same time repudiating the false gospel of dispensationalism and Christian Zionism.

One of the speakers at the conference was Kevin Daly, In his talk entitled, ‘The Good News to Israel and the Nations’ he exposed the dangers of dispensational teaching that insists God has a separate plan for the Jewish people apart from the Church. Daly illustrated this error with a quote from ‘Hebrew Roots’ teacher Jacob Prasch. Prasch uses the story of Rachel and Leah from Genesis to teach that Jesus did not desire the Church as his bride.

“Jacob came for a bride from his own people. He desired Rachel, but he did not get Rachel at first, but Leah. After he learned to love Leah as much as he did Rachel, he got Rachel as well. In the beginning Leah had all the babies, her womb was most fruitful. But then Rachel conceives. Israel shall be a fruitful vine. Jesus came for Israel. He wanted to marry Israel, but He did not get Israel. He ends up with the bride He did not desire at first, the Gentile church. After He learns to love the Gentile church, then He gets Israel. In the beginning, the church has all the babies. But in the end, Israel becomes a fruitful vine.” Jacob Prasch

You can read the context for this erroneous theology here. Daly highlights the dangers of this false teaching,

“The Gentile Church was unforeseen, and somewhat of a disappointment and a second prize. Because of God’s failure to get the Bride he always wanted, he extended his favour to the Gentiles. By contrast, Jesus taught that flesh gives birth to flesh and counts for nothing. The NT states clearly concerning the unbelieving Jews: “They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for.” (1 Peter 2:8)

Does God’s plan depend on Man, or does Man depend on God’s Plan? The God-centred view is that God’s purposes prevail and unfaithful individuals disqualify themselves from participation. The humanistic, Judo-centric view which Prasch advocates is that God’s purpose was unfortunately frustrated by the non-participation of the Jews. The NT states further that salvation was always part of the Plan contained in the Abrahamic promise, and presents the Church as the fulfilment of God’s “eternal purpose”. The true worshipper, and the type that God desires, is the one that worships Him ‘in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:23-24).” (Kevin Daly)

I’ll share more about the conference in later postings.

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