By Michael Martin, AIA Research Associate, © 1995
Eschatology is an important part of Christian history and doctrine (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Titus 2:13). The resurrection of the just and the unjust and the Second Coming of Christ are held by all Christians and are confirmed by the scriptures (John 11:25; John 5; Daniel 12) and codified in the creeds. However, throughout the history of the church, the paradigms that link these events have been disputed. Where, when, and how are secondary issues of dispute in the Church. The identity of the Beast or the Antichrist have no bearing on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Many teachers and lay persons in the Church today are linking a possibly fallacious eschatology with a true gospel. This particular evangelical method could have devastating effects on new converts who have come to Christ based on a belief that they were “absolutely” living in that generation that would see Christ’s return — the “terminal” generation. The number of books written with this point of view are too numerous to mention and crowd the shelves of many Christian bookstores. Many contemporary Christian radio and television programs regularly teach that we are in that generation spoken of by Christ in Matthew 24.
A disturbing aspect of this is that only one out of a possible four or five legitimate views is being vigorously presented as a matter of fact. Holy, inspired, God-breathed scripture is supported with newspaper exegesis. The Word of God cannot change, but the headlines do all the time! Many are also claiming that certain events in the last 47 years are the fulfillment of prophecy, thereby proving the Bible to be the Word of God. How amazing, that one’s presupposed interpretation could prove God’s Word to be true. How do they come up with such an inerrant end times exegesis? Imagine, something possibly false verifying something absolutely true. Excuse me — do we have a logic problem here?
General eschatology and soteriology are two different aspects of theology and they should not be confused when we are preaching the gospel to unbelievers. Paul gives us a clear definition of what and how to preach the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and Acts 17:21-31. His emphasis to the unbeliever is always the cross and the empty tomb, not the rapture, tribulation, or Anti-Christ. The proof that Christianity is the true religion is the person and work of Jesus Christ and his resurrection (John 11:25; John 20:31).
Jesus Christ is said to be the stumbling stone and the rock of offense to those who don’t believe, but the foundation rock, the cornerstone to those who believe and are saved (Rom. 9:33; Ps. 118:22; 1 Co. 1:23; 1 Peter 2:8). He alone is the one we preach — not an end time theory mixed in. If people are to come into the kingdom, they must come through truth, not by newspaper prophets with their continually revised prophecies.