Define “Imminent”

Lately I have heard (and read) the words of different Christians who are trying to motivate other believers to be involved in changing our nation through applying Biblical principles in their lives, careers, and through politics. And all of these seem to always refer to a time in which the church seemed utterly frozen. The time between the fifties and the eighties in which so much “end times” preaching was being taught and so many Christians were erroneously taught that Christ’s Kingdom is “not of this world”. Christians were taught to not be involved in the things of earth because Christ would be returning any minute.

Here we are in 2007. Many of the pretribulationists (“futurists”, “Left Behindists”, whatever) have stopped their date setting. Mostly because every attempt to nail down when the so-called Rapture would be has been wrong. The starting point for figuring this out was the re-founding of Israel as a nation in 1948 (a misinterpretation of Matthew 24:32). They also misinterpret Matthew 24:34 and figure a generation to be about 40 years and so they arrive at or around 1988. In fact there was a book that stated that the “rapture” would occur in 1988. That book was likewise wrong. Yet Jack Van Impe, Hal Lindsey, and the like march on and on spouting their doctrines of doom and gloom.

Tonight I happened upon a program entitled “Pulpit Classics”, hosted by Jerry Falwell, which broadcasts many of today’s preachers and their sermons from back in the day. Tonight’s episode of “Pulpit Classics” featured Jack Van Impe. You may know him. He’s the big-haired, fast-talkin’ end times preacher who seems to have the entire Bible memorized (though he often quotes scriptures out of context). This particular sermon featured on “Pulpit Classics” was entitled (as if you couldn’t guess) “Troublesome Times”. His first sentence was “We are living…in troublesome times.” He further stated that the terrible events going on in the world leave him convinced that Christ’s return is imminent.

Webster defines the word imminent as “ready to take place”; “hanging threateningly over one’s head.” This sermon that was being broadcast on the “Pulpit Classics” program was originally delivered in 1974. It is now 2007. It has been 33 years since Mr. Van Impe made that statement. We have seen Webster’s definition of imminent. I wonder how Jack Van Impe would define the word. The twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew is a chapter that is often thought to refer to the so-called end times. Yet Jesus states in verse 34 of that chapter that “this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” Which generation? Why, the generation to whom he was speaking of course. That is the reason why he used the demonstrative pronoun “this”. So who is right? Jesus or Jack Van Impe? Van Impe uses Matthew 24 to refer to things yet to come. Jesus, when he spoke Matthew 24, said that it would happen in the lifetime of those living at the same time as him (i.e. “this generation”). Who is right? I think you all know the answer to that one.

I think it is time for us all to reconsider what we’ve been told concerning end times. Describing in detail my point of view on the subject is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to get people to stop just accepting what some Bible teachers are out there proclaiming even when it clearly doesn’t make sense when you look at scripture. You may think that it’s just their opinion or that it doesn’t really matter. The way in which you view the future greatly affects the way you live in the present. Would you buy a house now, if you knew you were going to lose your job in 6 months? Probably not. Would you try to end abortion, protect traditional marriage, attend seminary so as to be a preacher of the gospel if you knew it would all end tomorrow? Probably not. You may think that Bible prophecy is above your head or that Revelation is just too hard to understand. It often doesn’t make sense to people because they approach it with ideas in their heads that they gained from listening to the likes of Jack Van Impe. They are taught that Revelation teaches “this” and when they don’t see it people think to themselves “Well, I guess I’m just not smart enough to understand Bible prophecy. I’m no Jack Van Impe.” That’s because it doesn’t teach what futurists say it teaches. They have an idea of how the end times saga will go down and then they force that preconception on the scriptures. Give yourself a chance to hear God on the matter and perhaps He may just revolutionize how you view the future, as well as the present.

Josh H.

PS: On a somewhat related note, there is an article on the TimeMagazine blog claiming Jesus Found Dead In His Grave. Disturbing.

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