Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In Review: Last Days Madness

I am finding pretty much all the books I am reading as of late could be thrown in the "controversial" category.  I am fine with that because it is stretching me and challenging me.  This particular book challenged me to better grasp what I have been learning these past few years, to better articulate the why.

As to the the why: why I am no longer a "dispensationalist" or "pre-millennialist" and etc.  More than slapping a new label on me (because I am still learning about new labels, ok?) I have come to understand this underlying principle: a realized millennium verses an unrealized millennium.  Why do I believe in a "realized" millennium?  One major reason is because I am better understanding biblical prophecy and how it works.  I am learning about different hermenuetics and the implications thereof (mind boggling).  One thing I should note is that I am epistimologically aware of my eschatology and hermenutical procedures whereas in the past I was pretty clueless and didn't even know I fell under any sort of label (i.e. dispensational).

As to Gary Demar's Last Day's Madness, I found it to be an incredible wealth of knowledge.  I was a bit shocked at the extremes within some of the modern day "prophecy experts".  I will admit, I read both the adult and kid "Left Behind" series voraciously and could not get enough of them.  But I was also a bit petrified and mystified by it all.  I was standoff ish yet wanted to know more.  It's funny, I never read any other end times books except those fictional books yet I could tell you all about the rapture, anti-christ, 1,000 year reign, 7 year tribulation, treaty with Israel, abomination in the temple, the mark of the beast etc.  And I had absolutely no idea where in scripture it taught these things (I thought it was just me).  I just thought the book of Revelation was this monstrous, confusing, terrifying book that I could not possibly understand... so I pretty much skipped it.  I knew it had the answer, but I could not make sense of the strange language.  So I just trusted what I heard in church and those Left Behind books as gospel truth.  That being said, I did not even begin to scratch the surface of understanding the prophecy pundits and what they teach!  And I will also admit, I had no idea that there were Christians who did NOT believe in the rapture! Shocking, right?

Gary Demar does a fantastic job at unpacking all of the confusing end times talk of our day.  The first time I picked up this book it didn't draw me in so well, but when I started it again last month, I was hooked.  This is a fascinating book full of so much information about prophecy, biblical interpretation, modern day Christian thinking, doctrine, ethics, morals, coherency, exposing inconsistency, history and so much more.  He tackles such topics as the newly created state of Israel, signs in the heavens, temple of doom, abomination of desolation, what the sun, moon, and stars (especially that blood red moon) means, the return of Christ, rapture, who/what is meant by the anti-christ, the mark of the beast, to name a few things.  With each of these things he addresses his main argument is that we read what scripture says of these things, interpret scripture with scripture, and see if these things have been fulfilled.

For example, when dissecting Daniel's 70 weeks, Matthew 24, and Revelation, he explains how to see if the prophecies have been fulfilled.  The biggest spearhead into a future unfulfilled prophecy is the fact that Jesus said "This generation will not pass away" and Demar stresses this to the point that you can't get away from it throughout the entire 400+ pages.

I feel I cannot even begin to explain what this book contains.  So let me cut to some the main points in no particular order: 1) Dispensationalists claim to interpret the bible literally, yet Demar shows over and over again how far they stray from this principle and actually do not abide by their own hermenuetic; 2) The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 fulfills so much prophecy you cannot ignore it; 3)  When Jesus says "this generation will not pass away" He actually means it literally, yet the literalists do not literally believe that; 4)  There is no clear scripture to prove a rapture theology 5) So much modern prophecy keeps changing due to things not coming to pass what was said: reprints of books, changing dates but not theology, etc; 5)  Just how far you have to stretch and do violence to scripture to fit within certain frameworks of end times theology (so it wasn't just me not understanding after all); 6) That the New Testament prophecy sounds like Old Testament prophecy using similar and in some cases identical language. (This one really got to me, and as I have been reading through the scriptures I see this so clearly it's almost ridiculous I never saw it before, remind me why I was scared of Revelation again?!... might have something to do with the thinking that the O.T. no longer applies and I never read much of it before... but that's another blog post for another day.)

This is an excellent resource, to say in the least.  This is a book you will want on your bookshelf to reference time and again.  However, as strong as this book is, I found one glaring weakness interwoven through out its entirety.  Gary Demar is a bit demeaning towards those and that system of eschatology he is refuting. While it makes for a few chuckles for someone like me who is no longer a dispensationalist and wanting to learn more, I found myself thinking this might be a little offensive and rub people the wrong way who are very much in the middle of rapture thinking.  I would hesitate to recommend it to someone for this purpose.  If I knew of person seriously studying and totally willing and ready to scrutinize their own thinking and eschatology/theology biblically, I would feel safe.  But there are many in my acquaintance who I would love to hear and read this information, but would be concerned they would dismiss the message due to the delivery of it.  Maybe that was just my impression of Demar's writing and it is not as strong as I felt it to be.  The only way to know for sure would be to hand this into someone's hands who believes in the rapture as gospel truth (like I once did) and see what happens. Any body volunteering? Anyone? Bueller?  Bueller?

This book receives 4 stars from me.  I would be more inclined to give it a 5 star but for the reason just given.

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