Are you pre-millennial or post- millennial. . .

. . . or not a dispensationalist at all?

John Nelson Darby. You, too, can invent a theology.

John Nelson Darby. You, too, can invent a theology.

On one of the rare Sundays in the early `60s when my father was not traveling for his work (he directed the Christian Education program of the Nebraska Baptist [not Southern] Convention) and went to church with us—it must have been on a Sunday evening because I had my own organist job and would not have been there in the morning—he and my organ teacher, the organist of the big church of which we were members, had a conversation that completely baffled me and which I remember to this day.

My teacher asked my father if he were a pre-millennial or post- millennial dispensationalist. (What?) My father answered that he tried to base his theology on the Bible, not on John Darby. The organist was not amused.

I asked what that meant, and my father said he’d explain when we were alone.

He did. What I remember is a nonsensical (to me) numerological theory that had to do with whether the “tribulation” would happen a thousand years before the Second Coming of Christ and then Jesus would fix the whole mess, or the tribulation would happen a thousand years after the Second Coming and Jesus would lead the warfare that would finally bring an end to the world. Armageddon.

Of course, in the middle of all of this my father had to explain the “rapture” because I had never heard of it. In all my years growing up in Baptist churches I never heard the word. Neither my father nor any other Baptist preacher I knew taught about it. Because they thought it to be nonsense.

What I didn’t know then, and came to understand only about 15 years ago, is that the “rapture” and pre-and-post- millennial theology determine American foreign policy to a degree that ought to shock and repel anyone who does not believe in those concepts made up—invented—by John Darby in the 1830s that have nothing to do with Christian theology or any other traditional worldview.

One in four Americans believe in the “rapture” and some form of “dispensationalist” theology, and in its concomitant tenant that the founding of Israel in 1948 was the first salvo in the Tribulation that will eventually bring about the Kingdom of God (either before or after Armageddon, depending on how you count numbers scattered throughout the Bible).

That’s why the United States can never broker peace between Israel and its neighbors. To do so would be, according to a very vocal quarter of our citizens, an attempt to thwart the Will of God to bring about His Kingdom on Earth.

Secretary of State Kerry cannot compete with that mass of bizarre belief. Sorry, John, your efforts are doomed to failure before you begin.

Mi casa es tu casa?

Mi casa es tu casa?

Founded in 2006 by John Hagee [founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a non-denominational megachurch with more than 20,000 members] Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is a highly organized and mobilized political organization. . . CUFI’s policy recommendations stand within CUFI’s larger policy perspective on Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The stated purpose of CUFI is to support Israel in matters related to our understanding of the Bible,” James Hutchens, a CUFI regional leader, has said. “The implications of that include the fact that we do not support a two-state solution; we do not support ‘land for peace.’”

. . .  During a dinner [meeting of the CUFI] addressed by the Israeli ambassador to the United States during Israel’s 2006 bombardment of Lebanon (precipitated by Hezbollah missile attacks), Hagee said the conflict was  “a battle of good and evil” and reminded his audience that American support for the State of Israel was “God’s foreign policy.”

. . . In the right context, calling support for Israel “God’s foreign policy” can sound quaint. Doing so while holding conferences addressed by sitting United States senators (including Joseph Lieberman, Rick Santorum, and Sam Brownback), addressed by Israeli political leaders like Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu, and featuring a “Middle East Briefing” presented  by former CIA director James Woolsey and former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon, indicates a movement with potentially far-reaching implications for global well-being.

. . . [After Hagee’s endorsement of John McCain in the 2008 election campaign] the controversy prompted journalists to dig further into Hagee’s statements and beliefs. McCain repudiated Hagee’s endorsement only after video recordings showed Hagee preaching that God used the Holocaust to drive European Jews into Israel. Theology that excluded Catholics while accommodating the Holocaust [was not helpful to McCain].

Colossal images: Clarence Larkin's graphic depictions of dispensationalist thought, such as this one of the image of the Beast, or "Colossus of World Kingdoms" (Dan. 2:31-45), helped to popularize the philosophy. A former mechanical engineer, manufacturer, and teacher of the blind, Larkin (1850-1924) believed "drawings and specifications" were necessary for biblical interpretation, and his charts are still popular among dispensationalists.

Colossal images: Clarence Larkin’s graphic depictions of dispensationalist thought, such as this one of the image of the Beast, or “Colossus of World Kingdoms” (Dan. 2:31-45), helped to popularize the philosophy. A former mechanical engineer, manufacturer, and teacher of the blind, Larkin (1850-1924) believed “drawings and specifications” were necessary for biblical interpretation, and his charts are still popular among dispensationalists.

(The above from:  Smith, Robert O. More Desired than Our Owne Salvation: The Roots of Christian Zionism. New York: Oxford University Press, USA (July 5, 2013). Pages 34-36.)

God engineered the Holocaust to drive European Jews to Israel?

This is “God’s foreign policy?”

This is supposed to be a blog in which I write about the humorous aspects of my increasing awareness that I am in my senescence and that mortality is right around the corner. That the United States is beholden to the likes of John Hagee for our foreign policy is, I suppose, humorous. Unless you think about the fact that the Bin Laden family owned a house in Jerusalem. How do little facts like that muddy the waters?

O my god! I’ve really gone off the deep end now.
Don’t take my word for any of this. Here’s a bibliography.

Chapman, G. Clarke. “What God Can Help? Trinity and Pop Religions of Crisis.” Cross Currents 44.3 (1994): 316.

Haija, Rannny M. “The Armageddon Lobby: Dispensationalist Christian Zionism and the Shaping of US Policy Towards Israel-Palestine.” Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal (Edinburgh University Press) 5.1 (2006): 75-95.

Ice, Thomas. “John Nelson Darby and the Rapture.” Journal of Ministry & Theology 17.1 (2013): 99-119.

Megoran, Nick. “Towards a Geography of Peace: Pacific Geopolitics and Evangelical Christian Crusade Apologies.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 35.3 (2010): 382-398.

Salleh, Mohd Afandi, and Hafiz Zakariya. “The American Evangelical Christians and the U.S. Middle East Policy: A Case Study of the Christians United For Israel (CUFI).” Intellectual Discourse 20.2 (2012): 139-163.

Smith, Roberto O. “Between Restoration and Liberation: Theopolitical Contributions and Responses to U.S. Foreign Policy in Israel/Palestine.” Journal of Church & State 46.4 (2004): 833-860.

Smith, Robert O. “Toward A Lutheran Response to Christian Zionism.” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 48.3 (2009): 279-291.

Weber, Timothy. “The Dispensationalist Era.” Christian History 18.1 (1999): 34. (You can read this article here.)

About Harold Knight
Retired English prof, SMU. Old man. Musician. Passionate about justice, equality, freedom. Therefore, I am a fervent supporter of and advocate for the Palestinian People as they struggle to survive genocide. That also means, of course, I have no use for US 45.

One Response to Are you pre-millennial or post- millennial. . .

  1. Irv says:

    Just wondering if Dr. Patterson and other dispy SBC leaders have ever Googled “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Pretrib Rapture Pride,” and “Pretrib Rapture Stealth.” The last item has enough passages from Acts etc. to blow the pretrib rapture all the way back to 1830 and to the doorstep in Scotland of Margaret Macdonald!

    [Yo Harold. Thought you might like to see the above item which I found on the exciting web.]

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