Profiting from the Promulgation of End-Time CRI$I$ Scenarios
Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. (Jeremiah 10:2)
The evangelical world has been feasting on a constant diet of crisis for several decades now. Despite the relative peace and prosperity that Americans currently enjoy, fear is being marketed in every outlet. Fear of the future. It is big money for evangelical professional marketeers, many of whom act like false prophets continually prophesying doom and destruction. In fact, so much so, that many Christians now seem addicted to the adrenalin rush that comes via these dire predictions of disaster. It is a Pavlovian thing – spout the CRISIS, and fear-laden followers will respond by pushing the button to buy pre-packaged SOLUTIONS! This phenomena can best be described as prophecy-mongering, a term that has connotations of profiteering from promoting endtime crises.
Crisis-mongering is not a new thing. Chicken Little in the children’s folk tale went around crying, “The sky is falling!” This message has now become “a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.” Despite the moral of the Chicken Little story, dire predictions are becoming a way of life for many evangelicals. The more exotic, the more titillating, the more dramatic – the more people will get all worked up. It isn’t just fear. Many of these catastrophic endtime scenarios are also extremely evocative, even licentious. It is tough to remain sober-minded when constantly assaulted by horrifying and/or Hollywoodized images of the future. But being sober is exactly what a believer is supposed to do in these last days – “the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7).
Christian Right groups eagerly engage in their cries of “Woe is America!” on a daily basis and, quite frankly, each new dreadful episode of our country in crisis creates an opportunity to raise more support for their particular issue. Evangelicals love solutions that impose some new housecleaning campaign for America. It is easier to point out the sins of America than deal with the sins within the Church (Matthew 7:3). The solution to America’s crises is inevitably some type of Dominionism – trying to “save” our nation, transform the culture, and gain power and ascendancy over others in the process. But notice it is not by the transformation of the inner man as a result of receiving the Gospel of Salvation. In fact, many evangelical leaders believe that they can invent the future, envision the future, and actually change the future! Some even wanted to develop “alternative future scenarios” because they didn’t like what Bible prophecy really has to say.
Create the Crisis, Propose the Pre-determined Solution Professionally trained change agents have learned how to create crises and then propose a pre-planned solution. Ironically, some evangelical leaders have warned believers about these very tactics, particularly because it has been a common modus operandi of the political Left for a long time. Creating the crisis is done by things such as fomenting discord, agitating about issues, harping continually on what’s wrong, and even going so far as to create the actual problem. Often this is done via the media, which is a “partner” or “stakeholder” in the issue that is being drummed up. Once people accept that there is a problem/crisis, then the change agents come in with their pre-fabricated solution. This solution is usually onerous and intrusive, and in the political realm it usually means more government oversight and control with less personal freedom.
So, given the fact that many evangelicals already know about this clever and deceptive strategy – create the crisis, propose the solution – why are so many so gullible to crisis-mongering when it comes to believing horrific prophecy scenarios? The answer is two-fold. First, evangelicals all want to trust their “experts” – those leaders who appear in the public eye and state things authoritatively. But many trusted leaders are engaging in this very crisis-solution strategy! They claim to have elite information, intelligence secrets, hidden knowledge, scientific-sounding secrets, or even the ability to be able to decode supernatural things. Some are deemed to have such superior spiritual insights that they are called modern-day prophets! If these leaders were outsiders, or strangers to the evangelical world, wouldn’t skeptical questions be raised about their extravagant claims? People might request tangible proof, biblical documentation, and solid evidence before they believed their purported crisis. But because these prophecy-mongers are “in house,” hyped and marketed by other trusted leaders, they are assumed to hold superior information about whatever crisis they are promulgating. Even known cynics, critics who understand the whole crisis-solution manipulation strategy, don’t seem to raise an eyebrow when someone uses the same strategy wrapped up in endtime crisis guise.
Second, evangelicals are susceptible to prophecy-mongering because disaster is indeed imminent! We don’t know the day nor the hour (Matt. 24:36), but Jesus is going to return and before that happens Scripture states that things will wax worse and worse (2 Tim. 3:13). Believers are told to “discern the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3). There are plenty of “wars and rumours of wars” (Mark 13:7) and many other things to indicate that the time is getting close. In fact, potential disasters are a dime a dozen. Every day brings hundreds of new catastrophic scenarios that loom on the horizon. The Christian Right gets all worked up about the environmental crisis advocates’ claims of global warming, but they have their own calamitous commotions. Should Christians get all revved up about these things – even before they happen, IF they are going to happen? Jesus’s answer to this was very short and sweet: “see that ye be not troubled.” Why? Because “for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matt. 24:6).
One of the more troubling aspects of prophecy-mongering is that those who are creating the crises are proposing solutions for the future. First of all, without engaging in a lot of semantic twisting and decoding of penumbras, these inventive crises can’t be found anywhere in Scripture. But, worse, their solutions can’t be found in Scripture either. Their solutions often have to do with conducting spiritual warfare. Even real warfare. Some have twisted and distorted biblical eschatology into an endtime crisis that requires that the church defeat its enemies, subdue the earth, and restore paradise conditions. They teach that Jesus can’t come back until all of these other dreadful and scary extrabiblical things happen first – based on their own stories they made up, or extrapolated from occult sources. Question: since when is Satan a reliable expert about the endtimes? John 8:44 says that the devil is a liar and “there is no truth in him.” Yet these prophecy mongers rely heavily upon Satan’s literature, and his dark imagery and falsehoods heavily pervade their crisis scenarios.
What are the signs that believers should be watching for? They are listed specifically in the Bible. In fact, before one jumps on signs, there are explicit warnings to not get carried away. Jesus warned that there would be false men claiming to be “Christ” and “false prophets” who would have the ability to “shew great signs and wonders” to such a great extent, that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). In other words, signs can be treacherous and deceptive. So much so that Jesus warned that desiring signs showed a sign of lack of faith (John 4:48) and the Apostle Paul warned believers to beware because Satan can cause signs in order to deceive: “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9, 6-12).
At the very end there will be never-before-seen signs in the physical heavens, and a pronounced rise in terrifying things that happen on earth (earthquakes, famines, pestilences), both which Jesus treats in a matter-of-fact manner in Luke 21. They’re going to happen. Scary? Yes! Should we react in fear? No! Our reaction should be joy! “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
What should be the response of believers to all of this crisis-mongering? Christians don’t need to be scouring ancient pagan myths, borrowing from the occult or studying the Kabbalah. They don’t need to be overcome by fearful conspiracy theories, stories of government cover-ups, or exotic tales of science fiction-like monsters invading the planet. Jesus specifically states that He has told His children all they need to know about the endtimes in one very profound and brief statement: “Behold, I have told you before” (Matthew 24:25).
That’s it! “I have told you before!” Jesus has told us everything we need to know about the last days ahead of time in His Word. Period. End of crisis! We need no longer be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14). If everyone stood on this verse the prophecy-mongers would go out of business!
Perhaps if Christians weren’t so gullible about prophecy-mongering, those racketeering and profiteering from crisis prophecy schemes would suffer an economic shortfall and have to close up shop. But endtime crisis prophecy is very alluring. It puts vivid images in the head, and tells wild tales with elaborate and complicated storylines. Like a good fiction series, always developing new twists in the plot to make readers want to read the next chapter, endtime crisis hooks the avid reader/listener. What’s next? What can happen worse? Notice how many times it requires paying money to find out what’s next. Prophecy mongering isn’t for free. The whole point of keeping captive audiences is so that they’ll buy the next new installment in the thrilling chilling story!
The Real Crisis and the Real Solution
- QUESTION: what is the WORST CRISIS facing humanity?
- ANSWER: The lost, the unsaved who will go to Hell if they don’t hear the SOLUTION of the Gospel message of Salvation and accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
Christian – If this CRISIS with its truthful SOLUTION is not your primary FOCUS in life, then you need to search plain Scripture and re-discover the simplicity of the Gospel.
A good believer is one who seeks to obey Jesus Christ and His Word. A sincere Christian must stop and ask if all this prophecy-mongering is edifying – or terrifying. Is the storyline about Jesus Christ? Is HE the main character? Or is it full of dark tales about demonic things? Is the Bible becoming all mixed up in your mind and blurred with wild tales of creepy creatures and nightmarish monsters? What is all of this imagination and future-forecasting doing to your thought life? Are you focused on praying for the lost and leading the unsaved to the Lord? Or are you hungering for the latest tidbit of pending calamity? Is all of this endtime hype leading you away from your first love (Rev. 2:4) and simple devotion to Jesus Christ Who died on the cross for your salvation? Are you living your life in holiness and purity? Or are you wandering after sensations and stimulations?
The Apostle Paul concludes his lengthy discussion about the endtimes in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 by exhorting believers to stand fast, to have hope, to be comforted, and to be established in the Word and holy living. This does not sound like people overcome by catastrophic crises and waves of fear. It sounds like the sober-minded believer who is looking forward to that “blessed hope” of Jesus’s soon return (Titus 2:13).