2. No Faith in the Future?
The Destructive Impact of Futurism
A fundamental teaching within the Futurist school is that the contemporary church is largely destroyed amid great pain and suffering ('The Tribulation'), and that it is removed from this world to heaven: 'The Rapture'. The story goes as follows:
- 1. An 'Antichrist' figure gains prominence and eventually all nations of the world come under his control.
- 2. He takes control of all finance and requires all peoples to accept his mark on their hand or forehead to enable financial exchanges to take place. Those who accept the 'Mark of the Beast' are condemned by God to hell.
- 3. A 'Tribulation' breaks out against Christians and severe persecution follows.
- 4. A much-depleted Church is removed to heaven for its survival ('The Rapture' only 7,000 left after the Tribulation).
- 5. An ethnic Jewish church forms spontaneously from non-Christian Jews.
- 6. This new church completes the task of worldwide evangelisation in less than seven years.
- 7. Jesus returns and rules for 1,000 years with this new church from Jerusalem.
- 8. A final battle then takes place - Armageddon.
- 9. Jesus defeats the Antichrist and consolidates his authority over the earth.
The negative consequences of this teaching are:
- 1. Commitment to political and social action is undermined because the Antichrist 'is coming soon'. (Those who hold to this theology often engage in unproductive 'conspiracy theories' and speculations as to who, when and how?)
- 2. Commitment to economic betterment and personal advancement is undermined because no Christian one wants his money to get into the hands of the Antichrist.
- 3. Commitment to building relationships with our non-Christian neighbours is undermined since these may prove to be the very people who eventually betray us come the Tribulation.
- 4. Commitment to anything not covered above is undermined due to the 'imminent' return of Jesus to take us away.
- 5. Commitment to Jesus is undermined since he transfers his attentions to a new church. This idea is in contradiction to the teaching of scripture where God's 'predestined' plan is for one church to be formed by the 'in grafting' of gentiles, who are equally loved and treated in one united body in Christ. It is not the case that Jesus abandons his present 'bride' (the church) for a new one.
- 6. Commitment to worldwide evangelism in undermined since 'The Task' is to be completed by the 'new church' in a spectacularly short time.