Archive | Eschatology

Why I am No Longer a Dispensationalist

My Dispensational Upbringing

I have been taught Dispensationalism from my mother’s womb. I was born in a dispensational environment. It was assumed at my church to be a part of the Gospel. There was never another option presented. It made sense. It helped me put together the Scriptures in a way that cleared up so much confusion. And, to be honest, the emphasis on the coming tribulation, current events that prove the Bible’s prophecy, the fear that the Antichrist may be alive today (who is he?) was all quite exciting. But what might be the biggest attraction for me is the charts! Oh how I love charts. I think in charts. And dispensationalism is a theology of charts!

Making Fun of Dispensationalism

The first time I came across someone who was not a Dispensationalist was in 1999. I am not kidding. It was the first time! I don’t think I even knew if there was another view. It was when I was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary (the bastion of Dispensationalism) and I was swimming with some guys who were at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Once they discovered I was a dispensationalist, they giggled and snickered. They made fun of the rapture, the sacrificial system during the millennium, and the mark of the beast (which, at that time, was some type of barcode). It was as if they patted me on the head and said “It’s okay . . . nice little dispensationalist.” I was so angry. I was humiliated. I was a second-rate theologian. They were “Covenantalists” (whatever that was). But they were the cool guys who believed in the historic Christian faith and I was the cultural Christian, believing in novel ideas.

The Novelty of Dispensationalism

This made me mad enough to start studying with great passion. And you know what I came to find out? Dispensationalism was a novel idea. It did not really catch on until the 19th century and was popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible (the standard Dispensational Sword of Truth—oh, and always in the NAS). This disturbed me. But what disturbed me most is that so many of the great theologians and personalities made fun of it. The Left Behind series was in full swing at this time. I think I was on the third book eagerly waiting for the fourth. But when I listened to a popular Reformed radio personality make jokes about the books, using them as foils and examples of how radical Christians can get, I stopped reading them. I was embarrassed to even have them on my shelf.

I was very conflicted. Dispensationalism still made a lot of sense, but I did not like the fact that it was new and my reformed crowd distanced themselves far from it. I remained a dispensationalist through seminary, but I tried to keep it a secret. Continue Reading →

Should We Trust People’s Near-Death Experiences?

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There is hardly a more popular genre of religious literature today than that of Near Death Experience (NDEs). I often tell people that if they want to become a millionaire, all they have to do is die, come back to life, and then write about what they saw (if Kiefer Sutherland and Julia Roberts could do it in Flatliners, why not?).

The fascination with this subject is certainly understandable.  After all, we are talking about people who assert that they have had first hand experience with the afterlife. Their testimony, were it to be true, could overturn atheism and give us the most insider information that we have had since the Apostle John (so long as they saw something). Who wouldn’t want such confirmation. After all, for most of us, our experience of God is filtered through so many events that are hard to interpret and, frequently, over-interpreted. How many of us haven’t asked God to do something for us personally that breaks through the often boring mundane, in order to show Himself and His will to us in a definite experiential way? I know I have.

In come NDEs (of others) to the rescue. From the claims of a  little  four-year-old boy’s meetings with John the Baptist and explanations of the Trinity to a neurosurgeon’s personal Journey to the Afterlife, we can’t miss a demographic here (although the first is not technically an NDE). We now even have anthologies of this stuff.

Many devoted Christians have begun to see the light (pardon the pun) as more and more of these stories surface. At the very least, we are left scratching our heads, slowly developing a love-hate relationship with NDEs. While most of the NDE stories come from either Christian, or atheists, who are encouraged to become Christian, we do have others joining the conversation. As of 2005, close to 95% of the cultures of the world have documented some sort of near-death experience (The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences [yes, they have a handbook on these things] pp. 1–16). But more significant than this (to me) are the conflicting testimonies of Christians and/or converts who describe the afterlife. While there are some common elements in their stories (discussed below), the details are more difficult to reconcile. Continue Reading →

Apocalypse – What is it? Should We Be Afraid?

What is the Apocalypse

This is the fifth of six Credo Clips about Revelation and eschatology.

In this short video, Dr. Mark Hitchcock (of Faith Bible Church) explains to us his definition of apocalypse.

Credo Clips with Mark Hitchcock

Video Transcript

Well the word apocalypse is the Greek word, it’s basically just transliterated, it’s apokalupsis (ἀποκάλυψις) in the Greek.

It’s the beginning there in the book of Revelation. It’s the apokalupsis or the unveiling of Jesus Christ. That’s what the word means, apocalypse, it means to take the veil off of something or to take the cover off.

Continue Reading →

What is the Rapture? A Simple Definition

What is the Rapture? A Simple Definition

This is the fourth in what will be a collection of seven Credo Clips about Revelation and eschatology.

In this short video, Dr. Mark Hitchcock (of Faith Bible Church) gives us his definition for the concept of the rapture.

You can catch up on the other videos in this series:

Video Transcript

Yea, the rapture is a word that is not found in the Bible, it’s that english word. And that bothers a lot of people who say, “The word rapture isn’t even in the Bible.” Continue Reading →

The Mark of the Beast – What Does the Bible Say?

The Mark of the Beast

Dr. Mark Hitchcock (of Faith Bible Church) recently stopped by the Credo House to teach a course on the book of Revelation. Because Dr. Hitchcock’s class was a 27-part seminary-level course he talked a lot about every facet of Revelation, including defining some crucial terms for us.

This is the third in a series of videos where Dr Hitchcock helps us get a basic understanding of some of the special terminology associated with Revelation. In his previous two videos Mark addressed: What is Eschatology, What is Armageddon.

Video Transcript

Well the Mark of the Beast, probably people who don’t know anything about Bible prophecy, that’s probably the one thing they’ve heard of before.

It’s associated with the number 666.

It’s mentioned in Revelation chapter 13 verses 16-18, the Mark of the Beast.

And the Mark there it says is the number of a man’s name.

Continue Reading →

Armageddon – What is it? Mark Hitchcock Gives the Definition

What Is “Armageddon”?

Dr. Mark Hitchcock (of Faith Bible Church) recently stopped by the Credo House to teach a course on the book of Revelation. Because Dr. Hitchcock’s class was a 27-part seminary-level course he talked a lot about  every facet of Revelation, including defining some crucial terms for us.

This is the second in a series of videos where Dr Hitchcock helps us get a basic understanding of some of the special terminology associated with Revelation.

Watch Dr. Hitchcock’s first video where he defines the word eschatology in less than a minute.Dr. Mark Hitchcock Teaching About Armageddon

Video Transcript

Yea, Armageddon, again, is one of those words… probably most  people that don’t know anything about prophecy have heard the word Armageddon.

In our popular culture today it just kind of means something devastating, a disaster.

You know there’ll be a terrible hurricane and someone will just say it was Armageddon.

They kind of use it in that way.

But Armageddon is an actual place. It’s a geographical location up in the northern part of Israel.

The word “har” (Ἁρμ) in Hebrew means “mound” or “hill”. And, so it means “mount Megiddo” or the “hill of Megiddo”.

And that’s a location up in northern Israel that overlooks what’s called the Jezreel valley.

The Jezreel valley is about 20 miles long, about 14  miles wide.

Napoleon himself said it was the ideal battlefield on the earth.

And the Bible says that at the end of time and the end times that all the armies of the world are going to be gathered there to this place called Armageddon in the land of Israel.

The Bible doesn’t tell us why they’re gathered there. So we don’t know for sure.

But that will be the place where armies are gathered when Jesus Christ returns at His second coming.

So Armageddon and the second coming of Jesus are the two events really that culminate this current age.

Disclaimer: The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Credo House, Credo Courses, or any of our sponsors.

Eschatology – What Does it Mean? A Simple Definition

What Does “Eschatology” Mean Anyway?

Dr. Mark Hitchcock recently stopped by the Credo House to teach a course on the book of Revelation. Because Dr. Hitchcock’s class was a 27-part seminary-level course he talked a lot about  every facet of Revelation, including eschatology.

We asked Dr. Hitchcock some basic questions on camera and we’ll be releasing these videos over the coming weeks.

Dr. Hitchcock is the author of over 20 books on the topic of Revelation and Bible prophecy. He’s appeared on MSNBC, Fox, CNN, and hundreds of radio programs. He’s the pastor at Faith Bible Church in Edmond OK and teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary.

If you’re looking for more of an overview of this topic check out The End Times in a Nutshell.

Continue Reading →

Five Reasons I Reject the Doctrine of Transubstantiation

The doctrine of Transubstantiation is the belief that the elements of the Lord’s table (bread and wine) supernaturally transform into the body and blood of Christ during the Mass. This is uniquely held by Roman Catholics but some form of a “Real Presence” view is held by Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, and some Anglicans. The Calvinist/Reformed tradition believes in a real spiritual presence but not one of substance. Most of the remaining Protestant traditions (myself included) don’t believe in any real presence, either spiritual or physical, but believe that the Eucharist is a memorial and a proclamation of Christ’s work on the cross (this is often called Zwinglianism). The Roman Catholic Council of Trent (1545-1563) defined Transubstantiation this way:

By the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation” (Session XIII, chapter IV)

As well, there is an abiding curse (anathema) placed on all Christians who deny this doctrine:

If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist are contained truly, really and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ,[42] but says that He is in it only as in a sign, or figure or force, let him be anathema. (Session XII, Canon I)

It is very important to note that Roman Catholics not only believe that taking the Eucharist in the right manner is essential for salvation, but that belief in the doctrine is just as essential.

Here are the five primary reasons why I reject the doctrine of Transubstantiation:

1. It takes Christ too literally

There does not seem to be any reason to take Christ literally when he institutes the Eucharist with the words, “This is my body” and “This is my blood” (Matt. 26:26-28, et al). Christ often used metaphor in order to communicate a point. For example, he says “I am the door,” “I am the vine,” “You are the salt of the earth,” and “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14) but people know that we don’t take such statement literally. After all, who believes that Christ is literally a door swinging on a hinge? Continue Reading →