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Gamaliel's Desk
Friday, September 20, 2002
 
End Times Theology
Normally I don’t use these columns to share my own personal doubts and misgivings but there is an issue that I feel I must get off my chest. Please bear with me as I share my deeply felt ambivalence. My greatest fear, as you know, is that of making a mistake. While I have no documentation that I have actually been wrong about any Christian doctrine, I fear that I may be holding at least one truth in error and this causes me grave concern.

What is the basis for such a fear? It is the phenomenal popularity of the Left Behind series of books. This series of books represents a conflict between two of my most deeply held beliefs. The first belief I hold to be true is that of Dispensational Premillennialism including the existence of a pre-Tribulation rapture. The second belief is that if a doctrine is popular, it must be by definition in error. I operate under the dictum that if it is Truth it is not popular and if it is popular it is not Truth.

I suppose I can draw consolation from the fact that the truth of Dispensational Premillennialism was not discovered and made popular until the publications of John Darby and the C. I. Schofield Reference Bible. That means that the truth had remained hidden for nearly 1800 years and wasn’t discovered until fairly recently. Prior to that, no one believed anything close to what we believe today about the Tribulation, Rapture and Millennium. So I suppose I can rest assured that even though it is wildly popular today, it is a recent popularity rather than a sustained popular error. An example of the latter would be the belief that all the redeemed are part of the true church. This is clearly a long-standing popular error.

On the other hand, the widespread popularity of Dispensational Premillennialism causes me a significant amount of discomfort. I am instinctively inclined to mistrust anything that has popular appeal. Generally the masses cannot be trusted to believe the truth because they are so easily deluded. The implication of this fact is that I have been duped along with the masses into believing something that isn’t true. While this is highly improbable, it nevertheless does cause me concern.

My only hope is that since it is possible to be correct on Dispensational Premillennialism and still not be correct on matters essential to salvation, then Satan is perfectly content to let people believe the truth regarding the Lord’s return since they aren’t going to be in the rapture anyway. Otherwise I would be forced to conclude that I am wrong about my beliefs about the Rapture, Tribulation and the Millennium and I know that can’t possibly be the case. After all, the signs of the times don’t lie.

Gamaliel/RJP

You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.
Matthew 16:3-4(NIV)

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