The future fascinates us, and throughout the ages mankind has utilized everything from the bizarre to the sacred to try to ascertain what the future holds. We want to know that the travails we experience on earth today aren’t the end of it all. We want to know that something better awaits us. And we want to know when that time will come.
With Mayan calendars and end time prophecy books littering the landscape, one can’t help but wonder… is this that time? Have we reached the end of the world as we know it?
Off The Grid Radio
Released: March 9, 2012
Bill: And welcome everybody. It’s Bill Heid and my good friend and pastor, Jeff Harlow. Jeff, welcome to the show today.
Jeff: Thank you, Bill. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Bill: Today we have a guest that has been on the show before and it’s Gary De Mar from American Vision. Gary is the president of American Vision and also the author of Last Days Madness. And I want to talk a little bit about the rapture, end times and just 2012 as a year. Because I think, guys, what we’re going to see—There’s going to be a little bit of an event this year. There may be some… We talk about continuity and discontinuity. There may be something that may appear to be discontinuitous. Or it may not appear to be. It may actually be discontinuitous. And I think a lot of our listeners are going to be tempted to fall into the end times scenario that’s made a small fortune for a lot of guys through the years. So I’ve asked Gary to come on the show. And Jeff actually preached a sermon Sunday, very close to this, which tied in quite nicely. So Gary, welcome.
Gary: Well Bill, thanks for having me.
Bill: You bet. Let’s talk a little bit about just the end times. And let’s talk about the perception. In front of Jeff right now, is sitting a book that you all published at American Vision called The Day and the Hour. And let’s talk about, first before we proceed, about this fascination and how every generation kind of thinks that they’re the terminal generation, do they not?
Gary: Yeah, that is true. Frank Gumerlock wrote that book and it’s a 2000-year history of date setting. Some of it very specific in pointing out that this particular person was the antichrist or this particular nation was a fulfillment of this particular prophecy or this event was a fulfillment of this prophetic text. And a lot of people who read something in the newspaper or hear somebody on the radio talking about how this Bible passage is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy—Their ears perk up and because they’re not familiar with the history of prophetic speculation and not real familiar with the Bible, think that somebody has found something that gives them assurance that we’re living in the last days.
And I’ve had debates with people all the time where they continually point out this particular prophecy or this particular prophecy and this event and that event. And I said, “Well you know, Oswald J. Smith wrote a book in 1926 pointing out all the verses that you’re giving me today. He said that that was Mussolini. I have the book in my library.” There’s just a lot of ignorance out there, as to the history of all this and prophetic speculation and how more and more books keep coming out and they say the same thing. They just change the names and the dates.
Bill: Years ago, you were affected personally, by Hal Lindsey. I’ve come across this article in The Berean Call called “Is Your Eschatology Showing?” And Gary, it’s kind of funny because I know a little about your past. And as I read this piece by TA McMahon and it said, “When I became a believer, the most important, popular Christian book of the day was Late Great Planet Earth, written by Hal Lindsey. It stimulated a great deal of interest in Biblical prophecy and particularly the doctrine of the rapture…” and so on and so forth. He talks about how, “As I grew in my understanding of the scriptures, I began to get very excited about this doctrine.” So isn’t that kind of your…? I thought, “This is kind of Gary’s story as well. And it’s like a tale of two eschatologies.” In this article, he’s kind of basically saying you really shouldn’t… You should wait for Christ and that’s kind of what you should do. And you really shouldn’t be a Kingdom builder. So I think he’s kind of picking up on Dave Hunt’s previous attack on you for saying, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done” and so forth.
Gary: Well I became a Christian in 1973 and the catalyst for it was a fellow who sat down with me in Ann Arbor Michigan in a pub and was sharing with me particulars of a book Hal Lindsey had written, called Late Great Planet Earth, which was published in 1970. I was raised Roman Catholic and didn’t know a whole lot. Didn’t know much about the Bible. My father had a little, I think, a Gideon New Testament that he had gotten when he was in World War II and that was about all I knew, being raised Roman Catholic. You really worked out of a missal rather than the actual Bible. So I was fascinated the Bible talked about these things.
And so I started delving into it more and studying it more and started to find some books. I had a good friend in college who said, “Well Gary, you know this has been done before.” I didn’t know any of this. I started actually reading the Bible and kept coming across passages I could not reconcile with this end time theology that Lindsey and others were pushing. So I went into a different direction. I became skeptical of the way people were reading prophetic texts. At the same time, still keeping my belief that the Bible was the inspired Word of God. And there is no way that you can make the Bible say these types of things if you’re consistent with the Bible’s message.
And so as I began to study a little bit more, I began to see that no, we’re supposed to be faithful in the here and now and apply the Bible to every area of life. And we aren’t supposed to be waiting for this thing called a rapture, which everybody admits there’s really no passage in scripture that says that Jesus is going to come back and take the Church off the Earth prior to a seven year period in which the antichrist is going to reign and rebuild the temple and etc., etc. I know lots of people believe that and I’ve always tested people and challenged people to show me one verse in the Bible that says that Jesus is going to come back and take the Church off the Earth prior to a seven year tribulation period.
Bill: But hey Gary, what’s the passage that you normally get?
Gary: I usually get 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. In fact, I debated Dave Hunt on that and on the radio show he pointed to that text and I said, “Dave, that text does not say what you want it to say.” The text does not say that the Church is going to be taken off the Earth prior to a seven-year tribulation period. So that text has always been used as the general resurrection, when Jesus returns at the end of history; which by the way, there are no signs attached to that. You need a passage that says that the Church is going to be taken off the Earth prior to a seven-year tribulation period. And Paul says—if you read the whole passage—it says, “And thus we will be ever with the Lord.”
According to the dispensational system, Church is going to be raptured off the Earth. It’s going to be staying up in Heaven with Jesus for seven years and then it’s going to come back, defeat the antichrist and then set up a millennial Kingdom. Well, none of that is found in 1 Thessalonians 4. You have to go to other places and essentially string various Bible verses together and to weave them in such a way as to create this picture, of this tapestry of prophetic events. But when you analyze those particular prophetic texts one by one, they don’t say what these guys need them to say.
Bill: Let’s talk a little bit about just making money with this idea and this idea of end times prophets. I think we all—Jeff, you probably remember too—Do you remember Jack Van Impe? Gary? Do you remember Jack Van Impe? Years ago—This would have been… We would have all been young men. I remember Kim and I just got married and there was Jack. It was in the late ‘70s, right? He was saying the same thing that he’s saying now. I’m talking about an imminent return.
Jeff: That’s right. That’s right.
Bill: And he’s saying the same thing. And he’s taken in a fortune and wouldn’t you say, Gary, whether it’s John Walford—All these guys have made a fortune writing books. But not only that—writing books and then changing the cover and re-releasing the same books under different newspaper exegesis… under different situations.
Gary: Here’s the funny thing. I’m in my library right now and I have a very, very large library of about 25,000 volumes. And I’ve got tons of books on Bible prophecy because it’s an area of specialty for me. I am holding in my hand a record—a long-playing record. Now a lot of your listeners may not know what a record is. It’s a piece of pressed vinyl with a groove that circles all the way around. You put a needle on it and you used to play it on a record player. Young people today probably haven’t even seen one of these.
But I’m looking at one here. It’s by Jack Van Impe, “The Coming War With Russia According to the Bible: Where? When? Why?” And this was probably done in the late 1960s. I think it was done in 1969. And here we are. This is 2012 and everything that Jack Van Impe said on this record album from 1969 no longer applies now. But yet Jack Van Impe is using the same Bible verses that he used in 1969 and he’s just changing the emphasis of this and he sells a whole bunch of videos today. And then I go to John Walford. John Walford wrote a book back in 1974 here and I’m looking for it down here.
Bill: The oil book. The Mid East one.
Gary: Yeah, yeah. I have the original volume of this, which was back in 1974, called Armageddon Oil and the Middle East Crisis. This book, of course, was about the supposed… the war for oil in the Middle East. And then he came out with another edition of it. And then, when George Bush I went to… did the Iraq war, I’m looking now at the revised Armageddon Oil and the Middle East Crisis. And this book sold, I think, close to a million copies. I’m looking at the copyright—1974, 1976 and 1990. Not to be undone, even after John Walford died, John Walford’s son with Mark Hitchcock came out with another edition called Armageddon Oil and Terror. And so what they did is they redid this book, taking the shell of what John Walford had done in ’74, ’76 and ’90 and remade this thing in what was happening in terms of Islamic terrorism. And this book has sold over… this whole series—over two million sold, New York Times Bestseller, now revised and updated.
So this is a huge industry. And I suspect that a lot of people who buy these books do not know this type of history that ‘s out there. And like I say, I collect these books and they go back decades. Even the Left Behind series, the fictional end time novels by Tim LaHaye, when that was originally conceived, it was supposed to be three volumes. But the thing proved so successful that they stretched this thing out over 12 volumes and then they added an additional four volumes to it, so 16 volumes. And they have got comic books and so forth and so on. Well, I did a little more research and found out that these end time novels have a 100-year history. The guys had done this before. So none of this is new. It is a huge industry. And it’s just what it is. And again, a lot of Christians get sucked into this because it’s very sensationalistic. They think the Bible teaches this stuff. And it does make a lot of money for these authors and also for the publishing companies that publish these books.
Bill: Well think about it guys. And Pastor Jeff, maybe you want to comment on this as well. If you have… And Gary, you’re an author so you know. If you’re going to pick a book and you’re going to say, “I need to make some money to pay the rent and you’ve got a choice. The choice is, “I’m going to write an end times sensationalist book or I’m going to write a book about being faithful, covenantally faithful through my life and the next generation and trying to sort of inculcate this idea.” Jeff, which book would you pick? Now remember, you’ve got to pay your rent. Or you need a new Mercedes or whatever it is that you need.
Jeff: That’s right. Well I have a lifetime of bad decisions, economically. So I don’t think I’m the guy to ask.
Bill: You’d write the end times book, wouldn’t you?
Jeff: I suppose so. And Gary, I wonder if you could speak to the question of what is it that is so attractive about this… you called it “sensationalism?”
Gary: Well I think it’s like anything else. It’s like horoscopes and I certainly don’t want to put Bible prophecy in the realm of horoscopes but the way it’s dealt with today, it’s very, very similar to that. But everybody would like to know what the future holds for them. If I came to you and said—since we’re talking about economics—and I sat down with you and I told you how I made money on five different stocks and how I’m living on Easy Street right now and I don’t have to work and I vacation all the time and so forth and so on, you would sit there and be a little irritated because that’s all well and good how you made money on stocks. But I want to know how to make money on stocks. So you’re going to have to tell me something about stocks that I will make money in the future. That’s much more appealing to somebody than telling people what took place in the past.
And I think it’s the same thing with Bible prophecy. Some guy gets up there and he pulls a bunch of newspaper clippings together and pulls out a bunch of Bible passages. And he lays out this scenario for people and how the Bible is being fulfilled today and we need to be ready for the rapture and so forth. And people are excited about that. It’s right out of the Bible. The guy is teaching it right out of the Bible. You can’t get any more interesting with people by telling them, “I’m going to tell you what the future is.” That is so within the boundaries of interest with people that there’s no other topic you could talk about.
Bill: Gary, would you say too, it’s almost like they’re making an application of the Bible toward something in the real world. So it’s no longer an abstraction. They’re saying, “Look. Here’s the antichrist.” And you just got this book and there’s all these “pick your antichrist,” depending on when you grew up. There’s been preachers have been and theologians have been and choosing their own… They should come up with an antichrist app for my iPhone and every week it could be a different antichrist, depending on what… It could be the head of Syria one week and whatever it would be. But don’t you think they’re kind of making an application? And I think people want applications so if the Bible becomes almost this pietistic monastic thing on one side and people want to know how the Bible applies to the real world, right?
Gary: Well they do. And I think there’s another aspect to this and that is, is that when you get out there and start talking about Bible prophecy, especially as it relates to the pre-tribulational rapture, where you’re going up there and telling how absolutely horrible things are going to be—but it’s going to be absolutely horrible for other people and if you’re somebody who has not committed your life to Jesus Christ, then you’re going to be one of those horrible people who are going to go through this great tribulation. So you need to come to Jesus right now. And a lot of people are literally… the hell is scared out of them and they embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
And so this prophetic talk is a double-edged sword. It’s supposed to get people into the Kingdom and at the same time, it absolves them of any cultural impact. They can’t do anything to change this world. They can breathe a sigh of relief by saying, “We’re not going to be here. This is all a prophetic inevitability and so what we’re seeing in the Middle East and what we’re seeing politically and so forth—There’s nothing we can do about it but I can rest assured that Jesus is coming back soon, probably in my lifetime, and He’s going to rapture me out of here.” So there are a lot of attractive elements related to this type of prophetic speculation.
Bill: But a caution to listeners—Don’t do evangelism this way. I know Gary, you’ve probably seen a lot of the examples I have where throughout the years, people have said, even in my own family I’ve had people come in to lesser believers and say in the family and say, “Christ is returning and here’s what’s lining up in the Middle East or whatever and here’s why you need to get saved now.” And then of course, that time comes and goes. They deliver some date of sorts and that time comes and goes. And the faith ends up becoming a mockery to that individual that was the recipient of the message, rather than something enduring and that has applications for his life. I’m sure you guys have both seen examples of that as well.
Gary: Well I’ll give you a good example is Bart Ehrman. Bart Ehrman is a New Testament critic, critic of Christianity, a critic of the Bible. And he went to a Christian college and he was enamored with Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye and so forth. And then as he started studying this—kind of like I did—and said, “These guys…” Because he became a real scholar of the New Testament and then he said, “The Bible really doesn’t teach this. These guys really have to manipulate texts and stretch this verse here and pull this verse here.” He essentially abandoned the faith because as he studied this, he began to see you can’t make the Bible say what these guys say it says.
Now again, I came to the New Testament with the same type of approach but mine was different. I said, “Look. The Bible is God’s Word. You can’t make it say what you want it to say. You have to just go with what it actually states. And there are lots of things in the Bible that say that Jesus was going to return and judge but before that, a generation passed away.” Everybody knows that’s what the New Testament teaches but there are lots of people who say, “Well, we can’t say that that’s what this is all about. It’s not sensationalistic enough.” So he became a skeptic. I became much more of a firm believer in the Bible than I’d ever been before because the Bible does, in fact, fit. There are no errors in the Bible.
There are no mistakes in the Bible. When Jesus said he was going to come before that generation passed away, sure enough, He did. He came in judgment, just like many times in the Old Testament; God came in judgment against Israel and other nations. Jesus promised to come in judgment against Jerusalem before that generation passed away. And that’s what the text says. It says, “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” Every time this generation occurs in the gospels, it always refers to the generation to whom Jesus is speaking. When Bart Ehrman saw that and he said, “These people like Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye were trying to make that verse say something completely different,” he ended up abandoning the faith. I didn’t. I said, “Jesus said just exactly what He said He was going to do and He in fact, did do what He said He was going to do.”
Bill: Go ahead Jeff.
Jeff: I think Gary… This is Jeff here. I’m sure you know that the guys that are being called the “new atheists” have really picked up on that. I think it was probably Bertrand Russell that said it first. He would point to those passages where either you’ve got Jesus and the apostles, indicating that they really—in a face reading of it—really expected these events to happen in their own lifetime. And then concluded from that, that if they were wrong about that, then they could be wrong about everything else. And so this is something that if we’re going to contend against these new atheists, we have to have an answer to.
Gary: Well in fact, it’s interesting you bring that up. Bertrand Russell wrote a book called Why I Am Not a Christian and he did bring up the passage in Matthew 16:27-28 and Matthew 24:34. In the debate that Doug Wilson had with Christopher Hitchens—Christopher Hitchens was one of the four atheist horsemen out there. And he just died last year of esophageal cancer. And Christopher Hitchens debated Doug Wilson and that very issue came up in the debate with Hitchens and Doug. And Hitchens brought it up and said, “Doug, here is Jesus makes the statement in Matthew 24 about coming back before the generation passed away, etc., etc.” And Doug Wilson said, “Oh Christopher, that’s not at all what’s being talked about here. Jesus was talking about coming back in judgment before that generation passed away. And Jesus said, ‘This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.’
It fits perfectly with what Jesus said in the historical events, with the destruction of Jerusalem which took place within a generation.” Well, Hitchens had nothing to say after that. Christopher Hitchens isn’t one to be quiet for long. He was quiet. He couldn’t answer it because he had never heard that before. But that is a common belief in the Church, going back centuries. I’m in the process of reviving that. And we had dinner with… I was involved in this film project called Collision, which is a debate between Hitchens and Doug Wilson that had that scene in it. We talked about that with him and he was completely unaware of interpreting the Bible that way because this sensationalistic approach is the popular approach and it is the approach that sells lots of books.
Bill: Gary, let’s go backwards. You talked to him off camera during this—you and I assume Doug Wilson. And it was shocking to him that that wasn’t what the Bible said, right? Is that what you’re saying? So he just was thinking that. What if that would have affected his whole life? What if he went down this path his whole life—and I think that’s what you’re saying—as a result of this misinterpretation?
Gary: Well that was one passage. He grew up in the Church. His brother is, in fact, a Christian. So he grew up in the Church. And almost everybody who reads the Bible reads these particular texts as end time texts and there certainly are some of them that are end time texts but the majority of the ones in the New Testament have nothing to do with the end of the world. They have to do with the end of Israel’s world and that was the destruction of the temple, which in fact took place before that generation passed away. Just like Jesus said, “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” The word generation can’t be translated race. There is a completely different word for race. It doesn’t mean some future generation that seems to be signed. That way, you’ve got to add all these different words to the text. This generation, Jesus was talking about the generation that was right then and there. That’s why Jesus used the word this. This is a near demonstrative. It tells you what generation it was and it was that particular generation.
Bill: The common… Go ahead Gary, I’m sorry.
Gary: Every Bible commentary you pick up, they will say this verse seems to indicate that Jesus was going to come back before that generation passed away. But it really can’t mean that. Well if that’s what the text says, then you’ve got to read the text in exactly the way it’s said and then you go back and look at the Old Testament and you see this “coming on the clouds of Heaven” in Isaiah 19, they’re talking about the destruction of Egypt. It says that “God comes on the cloud.” He comes to Egypt and “all the idols tremble at His presence.” Well God didn’t physically come down on a cloud and get off it and the idols tremble. It’s figurative language and Jesus uses that same type of language in Matthew 24:27.
I’ve dealt with this in my book Last Days Madness. I’m like these other guys. I don’t get any royalties. I don’t get paid from the books I write. But this is an old interpretation. It’s been around for centuries. It goes all the way back to the New Testament but the early Church writers—They took those passages to refer to events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem which took place in AD 70. Once you read the Bible that way, the Bible starts coming together as a cohesive whole rather than a speculative, prophetic novel that each and every generation believes that they are, in fact, the final generation. And so you have to keep doing this over and over and over again.
Hal Lindsey predicted that it was all going to come apart before 1988 because he said that Israel became a nation in 1948. That’s supposedly prophetically significant. A generation is 40 years. You add 40 to 1948 and you get 1988. The rapture is supposed to take place before that generation passes away. Therefore, any time before 1988, the rapture should have taken place. Well here we are, 2012 and people are still buying into the same prophetic plan that Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye and Mark Hitchcock and Ron Rhodes and all these other guys continually push it. It’s the same hermeneutic. It’s the same interpretative model. And you’d think that they’d give up on it now but most people just don’t know any better.
Bill: But triggers work. And if you go to the grocery store and you look at magazines and you look at Cosmo or whatever it is… And Helen Gurley Brown writes the same… I think that’s the only thing that she does left with the magazine but I’ll use Cosmo as an example. Three things he’ll like tonight or whatever goofy thing it is. Every week or whatever it is, you go to the grocery store, the supermarket. And you go there and there’s the same little phrase or the same little marketing phrases and it just keeps working over and over and over. Maxim would be the same thing. They have their own little thing that appeals to young men, I suppose, of whatever. And it seems like among Christians especially, these triggers just keep… They seem to just be operative. You just change Oil Armageddon… And if we’re writing a book now, Gary, who is your favorite antichrist? If we’re going to do it… Who is your favorite antichrist today? If you were going to be a writer—If I said, “Hey, I’ve got this big deal for you. I’m going to pay you a million dollars to write this book,” what would you do?
Gary: What I’m beginning to see is—and traditional dispensationalists are arguing against this—but Joel Richardson wrote a book and he says there is an Islamic antichrist.
Bill: All right. Very good.
Gary: So what happens is as political changes take place, the identity of the antichrist changes. And so when Mussolini was in power, Mussolini was a perfect candidate because he came out of Rome and supposedly there’s supposed to be this revived Roman Empire and so Mussolini fit all the characteristics of the antichrist. That’s what Oswald J. Smith wrote. And of course, Adolf Hitler was another perfect example because of the way he dealt with the Jews and so forth. Ronald Reagan, for just a short period of time, because Ronald Wilson Reagan—You got 666. Gorbachev with the birthmark on his forehead. Henry Kissinger was another one. King Carlos of Spain. It depends on what the political situation is of the day, that determines who the antichrist is going to be. And right now, there is speculation that it’s going to be a Muslim antichrist and this is the view of Joel Richardson.
Bill: So that’s a pretty good speculation, I would say, for a book because you’re going to have a lot of the… You probably get a grant from the Pentagon with that one. You could probably get money from… And just think how easy your book tour would be. Fox would have you everywhere, promoting this. This would be great. You should maybe write this book under another name.
Gary: Yeah, I could probably make some money writing that and I know their system backwards and forwards but…
Bill: Of course we’re just joking. We’re not advocating sensationalism. We’re trying to really convey the idea to everybody how crazy this has been and just what it does, not only to individual Christians but to a culture. And if we can kind of change chat rooms a little bit, I guess I want to talk about the mentality behind this and the mentality behind especially—You were attacked years ago. I think it was in ’88 that you were debating with Dave Hunt, someone that held to this same view. And Dave’s been writing these books the same way and Tommy Ice—He tried Christian reconstruction or something for a while and couldn’t make any money there. So he went over to the dark side, as it were, in terms of promoting sensationalism as well.
But there’s an insidious side that I see, compared to what our founders believed about being faithful. You were attacked during that period of time because your belief about just that all of faith, for all of the Bible for all of life. And so it seems to me that this business of having an end times view doesn’t sit by itself. That there’s always this idea where eventually people get mad at you for Kingdom building. So if you decide to do something like build a church or a school or start something that Dave Hunt or someone like this believes, it becomes kind of… You become the antichrist because you want to build God’s Kingdom. You want to help in God’s Kingdom. I know you lift weights and you try to do things but you’re not bringing in God’s Kingdom single-handedly Gary, no matter how many protein shakes you drink, are you?
Gary: Yeah. No, that’s the thing. We’re already living in God’s Kingdom. You’re either a Kingdom keeper or a Kingdom breaker. There is no bringing in the Kingdom. We already exist in God’s Kingdom. That was even true before Jesus came. Whose domain was the Earth when Nebuchadnezzar was in power? Well, it was God’s domain. Nebuchadnezzar was a ruler under God’s thumb. In fact, in Daniel 4, when Nebuchadnezzar goes out and he says, “Oh look at this great kingdom I built for myself.” Man, God slapped him down pretty quickly. The same thing happened in the book of Acts when Herod proclaimed himself almost to be a god. God struck him down and he was eaten by worms.
We’re in God’s Kingdom. What we need to be is faithful servants within God’s Kingdom and there are covenant breakers in that kingdom and there are covenant keepers in that kingdom. Dave Hunt’s position has been that the Kingdom has been postponed. That this is Satan’s kingdom right now. How can this be satan’s kingdom? They’ll go to a passage where it says, “satan is the god of this world.” But you read the passage and the original language is that satan is the god of this age. And when you read the whole thing, you begin to see that people choose him to be their god. He’s not really a god. He doesn’t have any authority down here. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you,” the Bible says. Jesus said, “I saw satan fall from Heaven like lightning.”
So we have got to fully put this in perspective. And unfortunately, this postponement of the Kingdom—One of the reasons I think the world is in a mess today is because Christians have bought into this idea. And I’ll give you a good example of somebody who’s made this transition out of the old way of looking at things and into a more Biblical way. And that’s Kirk Cameron. Kirk Cameron is coming out with a film called Monumental. It will be out in March. Kirk made a comment to me. He says, “If our founding fathers had held to the end time position that is so popular today, there never would have been an America. They would have seen things as a prophetic inevitability. They would have been sitting around waiting for the rapture to take place. When persecution came, they would have said, ‘this is our lot in life.’”
It would be the height of triumphalism if we asserted our Christian faith beyond the individual, the family and the Church. And he’s made this dramatic shift in eschatological philosophy because he saw how this was potentially impacting his own family. And so he’s involved in the legacy aspect of all of this and he saw that eschatology was a part of this. And there are many, many, many more people out there who are like that. There are a couple of videos online. Just look up “Monumental, Kirk Cameron” and watch the trailer to what he says about all this. It is amazing to watch a person’s worldview change dramatically, once they see a shift in eschatology.
Bill: When you start to abandon though, I think you think that that is the predominant…
That’s what the Bible says is to abandon. And I remember your debate with Dave, Gary. He saw… His blueprint or his thing for everything was the rapture. So he would say Lot got raptured out of his situation. For the Pilgrims, I suppose, who didn’t believe anything that Hunt believed or they never would have come here—According to him, they would have been raptured out of their situation. And so he sees every event probably geological shifting as rapture. But you can’t just take that concept and print it everywhere.
The Pilgrims certainly didn’t believe that they were leaving this Earth. They came here thinking there was something to do, right? They were going to build a city on the hill. And I think that’s the philosophy that we want to inculcate and tell people, “We don’t know when Christ is going to come back.” So like Stonewall Jackson who said, “Duty is ours. Consequences are God’s.” You don’t get the second half of that deal because that’s not your pay grade. The first half of that transaction is yours, right?
Gary: If you read the early documents of the founders, the Pilgrim founders, they saw this as the stepping-stones for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. That was there language. And the first thing that they did, when they came here, of course is they built homes and they built churches and they build educational institutions. Dave Hunt’s view of a rapture is you’re raptured out of the responsibility of being involved in this Earth. If you want to say what they were involved in was a rapture, it’s a kind of a rapture I’ve never heard of because no one took them out of the situation. This was their initiative. This was something they did in the face of great persecution, leaving everything behind in order to build something greater. And that is so contrary to anything Dave Hunt believes. If he were in the 17th century and someone had proposed this sort of thing, he would have said, “No, no, no, no, no. You’re being presumptive. You’re trying to force God’s Kingdom in this world. You’re trying to bring in the Kingdom.”
Bill: Well Gary, think about this. Think about this. What if Dave would have been around and would have been one of Constantine’s advisors? And Constantine said, “You know, I think we should legalize Christianity.” Well, what would Dave have said to him? “Of course you don’t want a kingdom built. You’re just falling into the hands of the devil.” Now folks, Christianity used to be illegal in Rome. And Peter Lighheart’s written a beautiful book on Constantine, defending Constantine. But do you think we’re like spoiled brats, where we kind of don’t see what the world used to be like and so now we kind of want to kick that ladder… We crawl up the ladder of these freedoms and these ideas and these theological concepts, with theology progressing over time. Then we kick the ladder back off saying, “We don’t need that.”
Gary: Yes, they’re living off… They’re like the secularists who deny God and yet, then take the morality of Christianity and turn it back on Christians and saying, “Look the way the world is and how can there be a God with all of this immorality that’s taking place?” I always say, “Wait a minute. If there is no God, there is no immorality.” You are borrowing moral categories from Christianity and then turning it around and evaluating Christianity. You can’t have those types of things. You can’t account for those types of things, given your atheistic assumptions. Well Dave Hunt does the same thing. He’s living in a culture that was developed and created by people of a completely different eschatological view and he’s taking advantage of it. He’s living in terms of the freedoms of it.
I read an article a few weeks ago that Phil Johnson had written. It was this idea that Christians really shouldn’t be… That being salt and light in the world isn’t a comprehensive applicational Christian worldview idea. And I said, “Your church is living off of the blood, sweat and tears of men and women who laid down their lives in order to build a system, a worldview system that included your freedoms for religious expression and freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and so forth.” And I said, “You couldn’t develop that within your worldview. You’re being critical of people being involved in that today, of getting involved politically in order to try to save our nation, and yet it was the people hundreds of years ago that created a system that allows your church—at least right now—to have the freedoms to get up in the pulpit and talk about essentially anything they want to talk about. It’s really a shame. We could turn this nation around pretty quickly if Christians would, in fact, apply the Bible to every area of life.
Jeff: This is Jeff again, Gary. Here is an example. I’m going through the book of 1 Thessalonians with my church and come across chapter 5 and it opens with that famous statement that “the day of the Lord is going to come as a thief in the night.” And then we’re told that Paul’s counsel to the Thessalonians is not to run up on a hill and hide therefore, but rather to be children of light. And one of the things that he encourages them to do is to arm themselves for battle, to put on the breastplate of faith and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. And again, that just doesn’t seem like something that you would do if you were told that the day of the Lord is going to be unexpected. And of course, in 1 Thessalonians 5, it’s only unexpected for the unbelievers. The believers, in fact, are not going to be caught off guard by it. That’s not the same as naming the date though, is it? Living in preparation, living as children of light, putting on your armor—Again, would you speak to that? That seems like a very different agenda than that which Hunt and others are putting forward.
Gary: Yes. If you think about it, if 2000 years ago people had taken the political philosophy of modern day prophecy writers, the world would be way, way different from the way it is today. I think my battery may be about to die on my phone here.
Bill: Gary, as we close up, let’s close up. You can still hope that Christ will return. The object of this radio show is not to try to get people to say that we shouldn’t hope for that. Of course we should. But that’s not our pay grade. That’s out of our control. That’s in God’s control. So how then shall we live? What does God require of us in 2012, as we move into probably what could be a little tougher year—maybe more discontinuitous events? What does God require of us, Gary?
Gary: God requires us to be faithful. I call it the circles of responsibility. You’ve got your smallest circle is yourself. You are responsible under God, in terms of self-government. And then the second one is your family. That’s the next circle of responsibility—your children, the way you raise your children. You’re responsible for your children. Not the state. Not even the school. Not even the Church. You and your wife are responsible for your children and the way you bring them up. The next circle is probably your business and your Church. The circles just keep getting broader and broader and broader. But we are not going to affect the larger circles until we take control and govern the smaller circles. And too often Christians get involved in all of this and the critics come in and say, “You think you can change things politically.” We don’t believe that at all. We just believe that right now, politically, there is a tyranny—a political tyranny that is making it difficult for us as individuals and as family members and churches and businesses and so forth, to fulfill the responsibilities of our circles of responsibility. And so it’s incrementalism and it’s taking on the responsibilities God has put right in front of us.
Bill: It’s in your Bible and we’re required to read our Bible and know what our responsibilities are, as you said, Gary—from family, all the way through, in these different spheres of responsibility. People can read more about your work obviously, Gary, tomorrow at www.AmericanVision.com. It’s a site I go to all the time.
Bill: www.AmericanVision.org and you can get a copy of Last Days Madness there, which is a must read, as well as this book The Day and the Hour because that is just a compendium of all of the people throughout history that thought they had it pegged and it goes on and on. So Gary thanks so much for spending time with us. I really appreciate your work.
Gary: Thank you Bill and Jeff. I appreciate it. Thanks.
Bill: And thank you, our listeners, for taking the time to spend with us. We know that your time is very valuable and we really appreciate you. Thanks again.