Lamplighter Magazine



Why All the Sensationalist Huksterism?

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan
Founder & Director, Lamb & Lion Ministries

There are times when I am embarrassed to be a Bible prophecy teacher and preacher, and those times are becoming more frequent.

It's all because Bible prophecy is a playground for fanatics and sensationalists. One person has put it this way: "Bible prophecy is the National Enquirer branch of theology."

Why is it that rumor-mongering is so prevalent in the field of Bible prophecy? Well, for one thing, it sells books and tapes. Sensationalism appeals to the carnal nature of Man. People love to speculate about the future, and millions of others love to read the speculations.

Some of it is Satan inspired. Satan hates Bible prophecy. After all, it predicts his ultimate destruction and Jesus' ultimate triumph. So, Satan tries to undermine respect for Bible prophecy by motivating silly and hysterical speculations by Bible prophecy teachers.

These speculations then create the impression that Bible prophecy is nothing but a playground for fanatics. This motivates many Christians to wash their hands of the whole field and to turn their backs on God's Prophetic Word.

The Search for the New and Exciting

What is particularly distressing to me is that all the prophetic craziness over extra-biblical "prophecies" has become characteristic of people who claim to be Bible prophecy experts. They, of all people, should be watchmen on the wall, intent on warning people against giving any significance to such non-biblical, socalled prophecies. Evidently they feel that they must constantly be feeding the public something new and sensational in order to justify the existence of their ministries.

I actually had a person write me a letter along this line. He criticized me for "never coming up with anything new." He said my ministry was "boring" because I kept preaching "the same old message" of the Lord's soon return. I responded by telling him that the Bible is all we need and that the message of the Lord's soon return is anything except boring — it is an exciting message full of glorious hope for a sin-weary, war-torn earth.

Date-Setters and Antichrist Seekers

Two of the worst forms of sensationalism that give the field of Bible prophecy a bad name are the date-setters and those who are determined to identify the Antichrist.

I never cease to be amazed at the mental gymnastics of those obsessed with identifying the Antichrist. It has become a competitive intellectual sport. In my opinion, it ranks in irresponsibility right up there with attempts to establish the date of the Lord's return. Most of the attempts end up being nothing more than exercises in silliness.

In my book, The Man of Lawlessness: The Antichrist in the Tribulation, I devote an entire chapter to surveying different attempts to identify the Antichrist — all of which are fruitless since the Bible clearly teaches that we cannot know the identity of the Antichrist before the day of the Lord, which begins with the onset of the Tribulation (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).

The date-setters are the worst ones when it comes to giving Bible prophecy a black eye. They do more damage than all the sensationalists combined. That's because the press always focuses on them, and then, when the dates they have set come and pass without the Lord's return, the press mocks them and the whole field of Bible prophecy.

Satan loves date-setters because they discredit Bible prophecy, causing both seminaries and pastors to shy away from it. And ignoring Bible prophecy must delight Satan because he does not want anyone studying prophecy. Why? Because Bible prophecy clearly reveals that a day is coming when Satan will be totally defeated and Jesus will be totally triumphant.

But the fanatics who love to play with prophecy seem to never learn. Do you remember Edgar Whisenant? He was the man who published a pamphlet entitled "88 Reasons why the Rapture will be in 1988." He sold over 4 million copies of the pamphlet and created a national frenzy with it. And when nothing happened in 1988, he quickly published a new pamphlet which presented 89 reasons why Jesus would come in 1989!

The most recent example of this nonsense has been Harold Camping who owned one of the nation's largest Christian radio networks. He used that network to proclaim that Jesus would return in 1994. Did he learn his lesson? No! In 2010 he cranked up his prognosticating machine and once again set another date for May 21, 2011. And when nothing happened on that date, he proceeded unabashed to revise the date to October 21, 2011.

Responsible Bible Prophecy Teaching

I am glad to say that there are some very responsible Bible prophecy teachers on the scene today — men who do not traffic in speculations and sensationalism. I have in mind men like Andy Woods, Al Gist, Don McGee, Gary Fisher, Don Perkins, Gary Frazier, Nathan Jones, August Rosado and Ed Hindson.

One Bible prophecy expert who has exhibited consistent responsibility over the years is Mark Hitchcock. Mark is an attorney who became a pastor. He currently serves as the pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Mark is a prolific writer of excellent books about Bible prophecy. And every time he sees a new sensationalist fad come roaring down the highway, he puts up a road block in the form of a book on the subject — a book that is always level-headed, biblically based, and full of common sense. The field of Bible prophecy needs more like him.

The Value of Bible Prophecy

There is no doubt that Bible prophecy is a playground for fanatics. Tragically, what is usually overlooked is that it can also be green pastures for disciples.

Pastors often dismiss it to me out-of-hand with a comment like this: "It's all pie-in-sky, with no relevance to the present." I can understand their attitude in light of all the silly nonsense that goes on among Bible prophecy enthusiasts.

But the pastors are dead wrong, and I can easily prove it, for you can radically transform any congregation if you can convince them of two fundamental prophetic truths:

  1. Jesus really is coming back. Most Christian will confess a belief in this truth, but they believe it superficially with their minds and not truly with their hearts.
  2. Jesus could return at any moment. There is not one prophecy that must be fulfilled before Jesus can return for His Church in the Rapture.

If a pastor can ever get these two truths firmly established in the hearts of his congregation, they will be motivated to holiness and evangelism. What could be more down-to-earth and practical than that?

The time is long overdue for Christians to start exercising some discernment, first by testing everything by the Word, and second, by using some common sense.

Read further examples of
sensationalist prophecies!

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