[quote]When the subject of the "end-times" comes up, many Christians and non-Christians don’t want to talk about it. Some Christians, annoyed with all the competing theories and terminology just say, "What difference does it make? Jesus is coming back and I just need to be ready." Non-Christians just assume that since Christianity isn’t true, then the whole issue doesn’t matter. Well, actually, it does matter. I will submit that the popular doctrines of the Left Behind series pose very real threats not only to Christianity, but also to the wider culture.
Probably most conservative Protestants (though not all of us) believe that humanity is certainly in the final generation of life on earth as we currently know it. Not that we "could be," but that "we must be." That’s a big distinction. They believe this because of their views on a couple key Biblical texts. The first is the Olivet Discourse. This discourse by Jesus about the "end of the age" can be found in Mark 13, Matthew 24, and Luke 21. Dispensationalists – a group that believes God has two separate prophetic programs for Israel and the Church and generally believes that Christians will be removed from the earth before a final tribulation – see all of the events or signs spoken of by Jesus as referring to events that are happening now or going to happen very soon. Never mind that Jesus was first and foremost referring to events that would occur within his own disciples’ lifetime (Matthew 24:34). They believe that nothing past chapter 3 in the book of Revelation has occurred yet. It is all in the future, and all relates to the tribulation period, which true Christians will avoid.
Another key text is Daniel 9:27. It is from this verse alone that we get the idea of a "seven-year tribulation" during the end times. But the New Testament says nothing about a seven-year tribulation. The book of Revelation refers to a 3.5–year period – five different times. They are most likely referring to the same time period. Dispensationalists believe by prophetic necessity a number of things. First, they assume that the world must get worse in just about all ways. Second, they assume that Daniel 9:27 calls for the rebuilding of a Third Jewish Temple at the site of the Dome of the Rock. Therefore, prophetic necessity demands that the current Islamic al-Aqsa mosque must be torn down to build this new Jewish Temple. Halfway through the tribulation period, the antichrist will come and exalt himself in the new Jewish Temple, stop sacrifices in the Temple, break a peace treaty he had earlier made with Israel, and proclaim himself to be God. They get all this from cutting and pasting Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:4 together and then associating those passages with everything that will be going on in Revelation 4–19.
There are all sorts of problems with these interpretations. First of all, the New Testament says nothing about a "pretribulational rapture." To see how bankrupt that position is, read my offering on the subject here. The evidence for a "pre-trib" rapture is not just weak, it is non-existent. Regarding the key verse of Daniel 9:27, see my refutation of the dispensationalist position here. Read those, especially if you are a dispensationalist who already presupposes that I’m wrong.
Once you begin thinking of the implications involved, you begin to see why this doctrine is so dangerous to everybody. Dispensationalists seem to have a preoccupation with war. In fact, right now, dispensationalist mega-church pastor John Hagee is preaching that a war with Iran is not only the right thing to do, but is prophetically inevitable. Apparently, Bible prophecy demands a showdown with Iran. You see, if you aren’t on the side of war, then you aren’t on the side of God. Talk of peace now becomes irrelevant. It’s God’s will that we be militarists. In fairness, not all dispensationalists are militarists. Our own Laurence Vance is an example. But they are in a definite minority. The prevailing worldview of dispensationalism glorifies war, militarism, and the State.[/quote]
This is a really long article, but I urge everyone to read it. It really explains so many things I have tried to say about the Christians who want so badly to continue war in the Middle East....