December 3, 2012

In passing, we should note this curious mark of our own age: the only absolute allowed is the absolute insistence that there is no absolute.
--Francis Schaeffer

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth,...
(Revelation 20:7-8a ESV)

 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
(2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 ESV)

I believe we are at the end of time.

No I am not advancing a belief that the Mayans correctly predicted the end of the world, set for December 21 of this year. Nor, am I predicting that the so-called "Rapture" or secret appearing of Jesus Christ to take the Church out of the world, is imminent in the next few weeks or months.

As I have extensively written back in 2009, my view of eschatology (the end of time) is very different from the prevailing belief in most of today's evangelical Christian churches. Most believers hold that there will be a mysterious rapture, a great disappearance of all Christians in a blink of an eye. Bumper stickers cover the cars of many Christians saying if the rapture occurs, "grab the wheel or this car will be driverless."

The concept of a "secret" second coming of Christ, preceding a 7 year period of tribulation and a visual second (third) coming of Christ to establish His millennial kingdom on earth, is a relatively new interpretation of the Bible. Conceived in the mind of 14-year old Scottish lassie Margaret McDonald back in the 1820's, this view found its growth in popularity and acceptance through London Presbyterian preacher Edward Irving and John Nelson Darby's Plymouth Brethren congregations in Great Britain. It made its way to American through Darby and became popular among the followers of William Miller, from whose influence came the Seventh Day Adventists and later C.I. Scofield and his famous Scofield Reference Bible.

The rest, as they say, is history.

My own view of the end of times goes farther back than the 1820s. In fact, Amillennialism can be traced back to the second century but was the accepted view from Augustine to the late 18th century.

What is Amilliennialism? To answer this as succinctly as I can: Christians are already in it. It is not a literal thousand years with defined borders and in a static state. The millennium is dynamic. It is the place over which (i.e. person over whom) Christ reigns.

"What about Satan being bound?" you ask.

To the Christian, Satan has no hold over him, or her. True, he speaks from behind the "bars," of his prison, but he does not control the citizen of God's Kingdom, the Christian.

Now, back to the original intent of this article: I believe we are at the end of the millennial kingdom.

The Christian influence is all but gone in Europe. It is dwindling in America and Canada, and only some third world countries are open to the Christian gospel, but it is often watered down with the mysticism or syncretism of each culture.

In Spain, less that 35 percent of the population identifies itself as Christian (99 percent being Roman Catholic), but less than one percent of the population attend a worship or mass with any regularity.

In France, less than 20 percent is Christian and only a handful of churches are open on Sunday and the average attendance of each is unsurprisingly under 10.

All throughout Europe, churches stand empty. Many church buildings have been converted into museums, libraries, activities centers, and the like.

Across the Atlantic, in the United States, we are starting to witness the increase in the number of empty church buildings. In Vermont, two out of every three church buildings are used for anything other than worship. In Massachusetts, less than 13 percent of the population attends a worship service or mass on a regular basis.

On the left coast, with the exception of a few mega-churches with an evangelical emphasis, most of Christendom hides under the cloak of the social gospel and political correctness, wherein denominations and sects are formed to meet the needs of special interest classes such as gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals, New Agers, Satanists, Hedonists and a host of cultic offshoots of the syncretistic society.

According to a 2011 Pew Research poll on the Christian "religion" the number of active church attenders has declined 65 percent since 1975. The age of the average church attender has increased almost with the number of years surveyed since 1975, from 33 to 64. 

The number of college aged students who identify themselves as Christian has decreased from 72 percent in 1965 to 13 percent in 2011. The average thirty-something, with children living in the house hasn't attended church more than ten times since leaving home for college.

Aside from all of these statistics, we note the Christian influence has declined tremendously in the socio-economic and cultural spheres of our country. This was most notoriously demonstrated in the recent Presidential campaign and the resulting election.

Revelation chapter 20, verses 7 and 8 states that at the end of the "thousand years" (the millennium) Satan will be released from his constraints and all hell breaks loose on earth.

The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonian Christians that at the end of time, the so-called "Man of Lawlessness" (literally "the lawless one"), who has been restrained, will be released when the Christian consensus is gone. He will present "signs" and "wonders" to cause people to be amazed at his wisdom and ability to address the problems of the world.

But Paul also says that the 'Lawless One" harnesses his power by the ability to make lies seem wonderful and trustworthy. His ability to deceive is driven by the secular worldview that there are no moral absolutes. To come to this state, a person has to deny absolute truth. When this happens, Paul's prophecy that they will refuse to "love the truth so as to be saved" will prevail.

Our American culture is now dangerously close to ultimate condemnation. The eleventh and twelfth verse of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 says: Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The election of Barack Obama, in the midst of one of the worse economies and with the worst assault of traditional and moral cultures ever known in civilization, serves as proof that we are headed for some sort of demise. Despite the fact that Republicans were not waging war on women, immigrants, blacks, gays, and a host of other so-called wars, the Democrats are and will continue to wage a war on moral absolutes.

The late Christian philosopher and theologian Francis Schaffer noted back in 1976 that the "curious mark of our age" is that now the only absolute allowed in our culture is the absolute insistence that there is no absolute. If there are no absolutes, then everything is relative and anyone or anything insisting otherwise is a threat. And to the moral relativist, those who see differently (i.e. Christians) either need to be marginalize, silenced or made to disappear.

That which seems to be disappearing from the stage today is Christianity. It may be a dying "religion" but that may be the mark of the end of the Millennium.

The death of absolutes in the world today means there is no absolute right or wrong, there is no absolute truth or lie, and therefore there can be no eternal God.

The rejection of absolutes cedes all power to the opinion of mankind and the randomness of the universe. The death of absolutes in the world is the death of God in the world.

In this case it becomes obvious that the opinion of mankind is absolutely wrong.

The denial of any absolute is the heart of most ills in the world today.

No, I do not believe that there will be a secret rapture of the church into the air, leaving the rest of the world to battle with a tribulation, the likes of which would make World War II look like a nursery full of toys and games. But I do believe that the Christian community is slowly leaving the earth. Perhaps by the end of the next generation, there will be no church, no Christian worldview anywhere to be found and the "rapture" will be complete, leaving behind a world of decadence, decay and death.

In 1982, Francis Schaeffer gave an address at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL on the death of the Christian consensus and what it will mean to America and the world. I close with these three paragraphs with the fervent prayer that it opens your minds to some startling truths:

Christians, in the last 80 years or so, have only been seeing things as bits and pieces which have gradually begun to trouble them and others, instead of understanding that they are the natural outcome of a change from a Christian World View to a Humanistic one; things such as overpermissiveness, pornography, the problem of the public schools, the breakdown of the family, abortion, infanticide (the killing of newborn babies), increased emphasis upon the euthanasia of the old and many, many other things.

All of these things and many more are only the results. We may be troubled with the individual thing, but in reality we are missing the whole thing if we do not see each of these things and many more as only symptoms of the deeper problem. And that is the change in our society, a change in our country, a change in the Western world from a Judeo-Christian consensus to a Humanistic one. That is, instead of the final reality that exists being the infinite creator God; instead of that which is the basis of all reality being such a creator God, now largely, all else is seen as only material or energy which has existed forever in some form, shaped into its present complex form only by pure chance.

I want to say to you, those of you who are Christians or even if you are not a Christian and you are troubled about the direction that our society is going in, that we must not concentrate merely on the bits and pieces. But we must understand that all of these dilemmas come on the basis of moving from the Judeo-Christian world view -- that the final reality is an infinite creator God -- over into this other reality which is that the final reality is only energy or material in some mixture or form which has existed forever and which has taken its present shape by pure chance.

Is this the end of the Millennium? Time will tell. And time is coming to past!

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