UPDATE: John Piper takes a look at Wilkerson’s prophecy and responds rightly.
David Wilkerson (Cross and the Switchblade, Times Square Church) is predicting a world changing disaster, and advises that you dust off those cans of Spam you still have from Y2k. It’s getting serious coverage by the unhinged conservative media.
I wrote about Evangelical anxiety about the end of the world in the “Evangelical Anxieties” series in February of 07. Not only have I not changed my mind, I’m more bothered by this than ever.
If eschatology were a multiple choice question, with answers like this:
a) be Christ centered
b) proclaim the Gospel
c) do missions and evangelism
d) look forward to the new heaven and the new earth
e) be idiots
…guess what a large chunk of Evangelicalism would choose?
Evangelicals really can’t get enough of this stuff. Wilkerson- and a thousand other end times prophets like Kim CLement- have predicted similar events before. The “end of the world” section of the bookstore is only the front end of the “end of the world warehouse” that stores all the books that have been predicting the end of the world as long as evangelical authors could find a pen.
In no other area of Christian belief are Evangelicals more irresponsible and bizarrely repetitive. If doing the same thing, over and over and over again with no result, qualifies as a form of mental illness, then we can fill up an entire chain of hospitals. We’re talking about people who will take their eschatology and turn it into a VIDEO GAME here.
The Bible is obviously too simple for Evangelicals at this point. The instincts of some Christians tell them that it never can just mean what it says. So when Jesus says “no one knows, not even the Son,” or “don’t believe people who say they know,” it actually means “Oh yeah, we can know ALL about future events. Just get the right teacher with a big chart and you’re in there.”
Maybe it’s the fact that weird eschatology is the closest thing Christianity has to the kind of material that shows up on the Sci-Fi channel late at night. Bad acting. Cheap special effects. Teenagers caught having sex. Maybe rapture anxiety just plays like a bad B-movie, so Evangelicals get it.
The history of Christian apocalyticism is a story in and of itself. I recommend Jason Boyett’s Pocket Guide To The Apocalypse. Seriously. Get it. Good book with lots of humor and even more information.
I am never more envious of Catholics/Orthodox than on the subjects of evolution and eschatology. Catholics simply don’t lose their minds over this sort of thing. The catechism is calm. If the pope has anything to say about the end of the world, it must be edited out. You’d never hear Benedict going on like Tim Lahaye. (Too bad Art Bell isn’t on Christian radio.)
I’m sure Catholics and Orthodox have their hysterical eschatology committees like every other religion, and I’m sure Fr. So and So is out there in the road with a placard proclaiming the end, but you just get the impression that Catholics are in the “it will all work out” camp, and they aren’t going to get in the bunker with Ned Flanders. Have a beer. Go to a Barbeque. Don’t start screaming. No one likes a religion with people screaming.
Evangelicals don’t seem to blink when they realize that the business of various apocalyptic scenarios is making millions of dollars for people convinced it’s all about to be over. They don’t mind that the people making these prophecies either abuse, don’t use, or no longer need to use a Bible. No, from Thief in the Night to 89 Reasons Christ Will Return in 1989, we just keep on keepin’ on.
My evangelical students read Left Behind with far more interest than they read scripture. If everyone who read Left Behind read ONE other decent Christian book, a Great Awakening would arrive. My students also assume that all Christians buy into this approach to the future. I haven’t met one yet, in 17 years, that has a pastor who even sent clue one that we might not be on the verge of the great tribulation because the stock market is zonked. Judgment house. Hell house. Rapture house. We really need an amusement park to get the whole show together.
Does it occur to most Evangelicals that their brothers and sisters around the world sort of LIVE in the Apocalypse? If we have a Columbine or a Katrina, John Hagee is n TV the next night with a chart so big you can see it behind him. Meanwhile, in Sudan, it’s all just another day at the office.
Americans are afraid of the end. They are afraid of losing their life here. They don’t want II Thessalonians 1 to happen. They want to keep running up their credit cards and driving the leased SUV.
Kingdom? New world? End of old world? Resurrection? Christ all in all?
Missional hope? Reach the nations? Gospel to every people group? Bible in every language?
Don’t be bothered by earthquakes, rumors of wars, bank collapses, elections, etc?
Nah. Put in the next Left Behind movie. The one where Kirk Cameron sings “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” to Carpathia.
[Comment ideas: 1) Catholics and Orthodox are allowed one comment to make fun of evangelicals. 2) What's your best story about Evangelicals and Apocalypse fever?]