Emergent Church Eschatology

The Emergent/Emerging Church Movement’s (ECM) focus on redeeming and restoring the earth through its “Social Gospel” of being “missional” is already well documented. What seems to have received less attention is the ECM’s eschatology (End-Times teaching). I suspect this is in part because End-Times teaching is a “NO-GO” area for most churches nowadays, irrespective of whether the church is “Emergent” or not. However, teaching on the End-Times is important, so taking a closer look at the ECM’s eschatology provides a very helpful insight into just how wrong a direction the movement is going.

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Bearing in mind that the ECM’s gospel is “earth- centred”, then it at least (perhaps) makes logical sense, from a human perspective (but not a biblical one) to have an eschatology that does the same. The ECM’s teaching on the End-Times is an unholy gluing together of postmillennial “Dominionism” and New Age environmentalism (of which the 2014 movie, Noah, is an example). It is a doctrine very much driven by Emergent leader Brian McLaren, who is without doubt regarded as the unofficial spiritual and theological leader of the ECM. That is not just my opinion. For example, in an article in the Criswell Theological Review titled, A Pastoral Perspective on the Emergent Church, Mark Driscoll (who was pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle, since helping start it in 1996, until his resignation in October 2014. Mars Hill Church is to be disbanded, effective 1 January 2015, resulting in all associated Mars Hill satellite churches to be dissolved into independent congregations) gives a potted history of the ECM, which highlights McLaren’s prominent role within it:

In the mid-1990s I was a young church planter trying to establish a church in the city of Seattle when I got a call to speak at my first conference. It was hosted by Leadership Network and focused on the subject of Generation X... Out of that conference a small team was formed to continue conversing about post-modernism...

By this time Leadership Network hired Doug Pagitt to lead the team and organise events. He began growing the team and it soon included Brian McLaren... Pagitt, McLaren, and others such as Chris Seay, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, and Andrew Jones stayed together and continued speaking and writing together as friends...

McLaren, a very gifted writer, rose to team leader in part because he had an established family and church, which allowed him to devote a lot of time to the team. That team eventually morphed into what is now known as Emergent.

McLaren is indeed a gifted writer, but he uses his gift to obscure his false doctrines behind eloquent prose and what appears to be impressive intellectual logic. When reading McLaren’s writings I am reminded of Proverbs 14:12:

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. [1]

For example, in the book, A Is For Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church, by Brian McLaren and New-Ager Leonard Sweet, the authors speak of a “new eschatology” (page 14), and in McLaren’s book, The Secret Message of Jesus – Uncovering the truth that could change everything, he proposes “an alternative approach” to Revelation that is thoroughly consistent with the New Age teachings of Barbara Marx Hubbard (President of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution), who writes in her book, The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millennium:

In the book of Revelation, John the Divine saw what will happen if self-centered consciousness continues... In the Book of Co-Creation we see what will happen instead if the critical mass joins spiritually in love. We will experience the Gentle Path to the New Jerusalem.

In the alternative to Armageddon we shall be in the upper room of our consciousness together, linked by a common thought, which will activate the God within each of us. [2]

Incredibly, in Doug Pagitt’s book, Church Re-imagined, he uses the very same language by saying God invites us to “join the work of God and be co-(re)creators”.

Barbara Marx Hubbard is co-founder of the World Future Society[3], for which Brian McLaren was a featured speaker at their 2008 conference.

The “alternative approach” spoken of by McLaren is indeed far more New Age than biblical, because the biblical teaching on the End-Times is considered just too negative for the ECM. It has been replaced by what Tony Jones describes as an “eschatology of hope” in, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope[4]. In McLaren’s book, Everything Must Change, he writes:

The Jesus of one reading of the Apocalypse brings us to a grim resignation: the world will get worse and worse, and finally this jihadist Jesus will return to use force, domination, violence, and even torture – the ultimate imperial tools – to vanquish evil and bring peace.[5]

He then goes on to declare:

The Jesus of the emerging reading we have considered in the preceding chapters tells us the opposite: that good will prevail by peace, love, truth, faithfulness, and courageous endurance of suffering, and that domination, violence, and torture are among the things that will be overcome.

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According to ECM eschatology God will repay the wicked with peace, love, truth and faithfulness, whereas Paul says the opposite:

...which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. – 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10.

Another example is Jude writing of Enoch, seventh from Adam and the earliest Prophet recorded in Scripture, prophesying about the Lord’s return:

Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. – Jude 14-15.

In an article printed in Relevant magazine in 2008 Rob Bell claims the church has been guilty of:

Preaching horrible messages about being left behind and that this place is going to burn – absolutely toxic messages that are against the teaching of Scripture.

Compare this claim by Bell to what Peter says:

But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men... But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. – 2 Peter 3:7, 10.

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The “evangelical” interpretation of the End-Times does not end how McLaren, Bell, Warren, et al., want, so they deconstruct the Scriptures in accordance with their preconceived ideas (through a method called Abductive Reasoning), and justify them by then “borrowing” ideas and doctrines from sources beyond the Word of God; in other words, the words of men. Isaiah spoke of such men:

Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honour Me with their lips but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men. – Isaiah 29:13.

The Wrong Jesus

The ECM’s eschatology is deeply flawed because it is looking for the wrong Jesus. It is a mistake Israel made with terrible consequences for them; the vast majority of Jews missed Christ’s First Coming because they were looking the wrong way, and I fear the vast majority of the church will miss – or at least not be expecting – Christ’s Second Coming because more and more of the church is looking the wrong way. This leaves so much of the church open to deception.

There are two themes of prophecy in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah:

  1. The Suffering Servant – Typified by Isaiah 53:1-9
  2. The Conquering King – Typified by Isaiah 9:6-7

Israel could not reconcile these two seemingly contradictory lines of Old Testament prophecy regarding the coming Messiah, so tended to ignore the line they did not like the sound of – the Suffering Servant – and just focused on the line they wanted to hear about – the Conquering King. They concentrated on looking for a Messiah who would be a mighty warrior king who would deliver them from their oppressors (who were of course the Romans at the time of Christ’s First Coming). The Jews did not understand that the Old Testament prophecies spoke of two separate comings of the one Messiah, who must first come as the Suffering Servant (Messiah ben Joseph[6]) and then come again as the Conquering King (Messiah ben David[7]).

Jesus is the fulfilment of both lines of prophecy; His first coming was as the Suffering Servant to pay the price for our sins, but His Second Coming will be as Conquering King to judge those who have remained in rebellion and not accepted His gift of forgiveness and eternal life through His death and resurrection.

I fear the ECM is in real danger of making the same mistake with Christ’s Second Coming as Israel did with His first, because the ECM is still looking for the Suffering Servant, Jesus meek and mild, when Scripture clearly teaches that Jesus will return as the Conquering King to judge the world.

The mindset of Israel was so strong in its expectation of the Conquering King Messiah that John the Baptist initially even doubted Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 11:1-6), and His own disciples were still looking for Jesus to deliver Israel at His First Coming (Acts 1:1-8).

The final consequence of Israel missing the First Coming of their Messiah was their killing of Jesus.

Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53:1-9 during His first time on earth:

  • Verse 3: He was despised and rejected.
  • Verse 6: He died for our sins according to God’s will.
  • Verse 7: He was quiet like a lamb when being tried.
  • Verse 9: he died with other criminals, but was buried in a rich man’s tomb.

Luke tells us of Jesus Himself reading and claiming to fulfil a Messianic prophecy from Isaiah 61.

So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” – Luke 4:16-21.

Where Jesus stopped reading is not where the Messianic passage in Isaiah 61 ends. Jesus read only up to the part that His first coming fulfilled (“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”). Jesus did not continue to read the next passage in the Isaiah prophecy, which read:

And the day of vengeance of our God – Isaiah 61:2b.

Jesus will fulfil this part of the Isaiah Messianic prophecy at His Second Coming.

Whilst on earth Jesus spent time teaching His disciples how he would fulfil both prophetic lines. In John 14:1-3 Jesus provides a word of explanation and comfort to His disciples regarding His going away and return. This was completely new to the Jewish mindset of His disciples so Jesus deliberately framed it in the context of the Jewish marriage ceremony as a way of helping them understand what he was telling them.

In Matthew 25:14:30 Jesus explained more about His Second Coming in the form of a parable, meaning that what He was teaching was meant to be understood only by His disciples. Jesus also provided further explanation on His Second Coming in Mark 13.

Jesus is coming the second time to judge the nations (Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 17:31), but the ECM continues to look for a Messiah that has much more in common with the expected coming New Age Messiah than the Second Coming of Jesus as described in the Bible. For example, prominent and influential New Age organization Share International Foundation (headed up by Benjamin Creme) describes its own messiah as one who will not come to judge, but will:

Create a brilliant new civilization that will guarantee a peaceful and prosperous future for humanity... Inspiring humanity to see itself as one interdependent family...

Share International Foundation goes on to say:

...another top priority will be saving, protecting, and healing the environment.

It says its New Age messiah:

Has been expected for generations by all the major religions under different names – as the Christ by Christians, Krishna by Hindus, the Imam Mahdi by Muslims, the Messiah by the Jews, Maitreya Buddha by Buddhists. His coming fulfils each of their prophecies...[8]

This is where religious pluralism and interfaith dialogue leads to – demonic deception.

The ECM’s eschatology is one that could be described as being “over-realised” in that it brings heaven to earth by confusing heaven with the Millennial Kingdom of Christ on earth. This is why the ECM is so earth-centred in its gospel message and mission. Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan is so very representative of this mindset, as is his attitude towards Bible prophecy. The only way of getting the Bible to say that the church will end up triumphant in this age is to take Old Testament prophecies about Israel’s restoration in the Millennial Kingdom ruled by Jesus on earth (i.e. after His return as Messiah) and applying them to the church at the end of this age (i.e. before Jesus returns). But then “replacement theology” does go hand-in-hand with the over-realised eschatology of “Dominionist” theology.

There are two keys to unlocking a correct understanding of biblical End-Times prophecy:

  1. Israel and the Church are not one and the same; they are distinct and separate, with God having different plans and purposes for each. (Though this is not to say that Jewish believers in Messiah Jesus are not a part of His Body, the Church).
  2. Unless the context of a passage clearly indicates otherwise, we are to treat it literally, not figuratively.

These simple principles are missed by a country mile by the ECM. For example, in his book, The Secret Message of Jesus, Brian McLaren has a chapter, titled The Future of the Kingdom, in which he writes:

The book of Revelation is an example of popular literary genre of ancient Judaism, known today as Jewish Apocalyptic. Trying to read it without understanding its genre would be like watching Star Trek or some other science fiction show thinking it was a historical documentary, or watching a sitcom as if it were a religious parable, or reading a satire as if it were a biography – or like thinking you knew all about lions because you watched one pacing on a concrete slab one afternoon...

Instead of being a book about distant future, it becomes a way of talking about the challenges of the immediate present. It becomes a book of warnings and promises (pages 175-176).

Adding further scorn to the book of Revelation being the prophetic book it claims to be, he writes further:

If Revelation were a blueprint of a distant future, it would have been unintelligible for its original readers, as well as the readers of all succeeding generations, and would only become truly relevant for one generation – the one who happened to live in one period of time it is prognosticating [prophesying a future event] about.

But if Revelation is instead an example of the literature of the oppressed, full of ever-relevant warnings and promises, it presents each generation with needed inspiration and wisdom and encouragement. In this light, Revelation becomes a powerful book about the kingdom of God here and now, available to all[9].

It is clear that for McLaren the book of Revelation is not about the future, but about “the kingdom of God here and now” and therefore Jesus must have nothing to say about a period of actual catastrophic judgement. He writes:

Other readers will be thinking of long passages in the Gospels that seem to be full of prognostication [prophecy] from the lips of Jesus himself – prognostications that seem to relate to the end of the world. What are we to make of these passages, such as Matthew 24-25?

Since Jewish apocalyptic was a popular genre in Jesus’ day, we would expect him to be influenced by it and use its language and metaphors... against the backdrop of Jewish apocalyptic, we discover that phrases that sound like they’re about the destruction of the world – like “the moon will turn to blood” or “the stars will fall from the sky” are actually rather typical stock phrases in Jewish apocalyptic. They are no more to be taken literally than phrases we might read in the paper today[10].

The book of Revelation opens with the following:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. – Revelation 1:1-3.

The introduction to the whole book of Revelation makes plain the content and intended context; Authorial Intent is very obvious. It is a word of prophecy about literal future events revealed to John by direct revelation from Jesus in the late 90s AD; a God-given vision cataloguing the end of the world, describing heavenly things in earthly terms. Verse 3 states that there is a blessing for those who read the book of Revelation and hear and understand its words of prophecy.

The Secret Message of Jesus

The basis for McLaren’s argument (as outlined in his book, The Secret Message of Jesus) that the book of Revelation (and other End-Times teaching) should not be interpreted literally, is his claim that John wrote the book of Revelation using a particular style of writing called “Jewish apocalyptic”, which McLaren claims was all about using figures of speech, metaphors and poetic language rather than having a literal meaning. McLaren claims that John’s use of this genre of writing makes clear (to anyone who really knows) that he did not intend for his writing to be interpreted literally. In fact, people who do interpret Revelation as describing literal future events are viewed as being really quite stupid and are likened by McLaren to those who would watch Star Trek and treat it like a historical documentary.

As McLaren hangs so much of his argument on what his understanding of “Jewish apocalyptic” writing means, that we should perhaps look more closely at just what this so-called “genre” of Jewish writing is. A straightforward look at the meaning of words will disprove McLaren’s claim.

The English word apocalypse comes from the Greek word apokalupsis, meaning:

Disclosure, appearing, coming, lighten , manifestation, revealed , revelation.

“Jewish Apocalyptic” (apokalupsis) writing is not all about using figures of speech, poetic language and metaphor. It is an “unveiling” or “uncovering” of things to the elect that were already contained in the Word of God (see Daniel 12:4).

This is not to be confused with Gnosticism. Apocalyptic writing highlights a clearer understanding of what has already been revealed, whereas Gnosticism claims new revelation, or the revealing of a lost truth that contradicts what is already revealed in the Word of God. I would most definitely put McLaren’s claims in the category of Gnosticism; you only have to look at the title of his book to see proof of that: The Secret Message of Jesus – uncovering the truth that could change everything.

Arrogantly demoting Revelation (and other End-Times passages of Scripture such as Matthew 24 and 25) to nothing more than (his understanding of) “Jewish apocalyptic” figures of speech, denies the Authorial Intent of Jesus, resulting in McLaren and his followers preaching and looking for another (wrong) Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4). For example, Revelation 1:12-18 describes the coming Jesus not as gentle Jesus meek and mild! Revelation 19 describes Jesus as the Conquering King:

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. – Revelation 19:11-13.

Jewish prophecy is about pattern, not necessarily just the fulfilment of a one-off event. The Jewish understanding is that a prophecy can be fulfilled more than once; a series of partial fulfilments leading up to a final fulfilment. People like McLaren miss this completely and treat Revelation having already been fulfilled in history, thus meaning any future application is regarded as figurative rather than literal, and can be made to mean anything the reader wants through deconstruction of Authorial Intent.

As far as End-Times prophecy having already been fulfilled is concerned, McLaren would be correct in part because, for example, the ‘abomination of desolation’ Jesus refers to in Matthew 24:15, as prophesied by Daniel (see Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11), was fulfilled in part in 168BC by Antiochus Epiphanes, who sacrificed a pig in the Temple and was subsequently defeated by Judas Maccabeus. The defeat of Antiochus by Maccabeus is still remembered by Jews today with the Festival of Hanukkah (which Jesus celebrated in John 10:22). But in Matthew 24 Jesus said it would happen again (which it did, in the first century by the Romans), and Revelation 13 (revealed to John by Jesus and written in the late 90s AD) therefore describes the Antichrist doing again in the Last Days one last and final time what Antiochus did in 168BC. Jesus spoke of something that had already happened as a way of explaining how it would happen again.

Jesus spoke about what will happen in the Last Days in the same breath as speaking about events that would happen sooner (and did occur in 70AD) – multiple fulfilments of the same prophecy. For example, when Jesus told people (believers) to flee when they saw Jerusalem surrounded in Luke 21:20-22, this was fulfilled in 70AD, but Jesus was also saying it would happen again in the Last Days.

What Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24 and 25, Luke 21 and Mark 13 was partially fulfilled in 70AD, but not fully (the pattern of prophecy was not complete), because not only did Jesus not return in 70AD to give people their eternal rewards based on their talents (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28), Jesus also made it very clear that nothing as bad as the Great Tribulation (as described in Revelation) would ever happen again, and as bad as the events of 70AD were, much worse has happened to the Jews (and the church) since. For example, Jewish historian Josephus records that 1.2 million Jews were killed during the events of 70AD, whereas over six million Jews were exterminated during the Second World War.

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Returning to Revelation 1:3, the Greek context to the special blessing mentioned is the continuous tense; it is a blessing for those who continue to read the words of prophecy contained in Revelation. If Revelation has already been fulfilled (with all meaning now being figurative) there can be no blessing, and Jesus is a liar!

Relegating Matthew 24 and 25 to mere figurative speech by Jesus completely denies how Jesus will return. For example, Matthew 24:29-30 describes how Jesus will come visibly through the sky displaying His Shekinah Glory. Matthew 25:31 explains Jesus will be accompanied by His angels (and Jude 14 also says He will come with His Saints). Matthew 25:31-46 tells us that Jesus will judge the nations; this is when Jesus will fulfil the remaining part of the Isaiah 61 prophecy (“the day of vengeance of our God”).

The Jesus expected by Brian McLaren has far more in common with the Jesus expected by the New Age Movement. For example, Share International Foundation says the following about their coming New Age messiah:

For a time, it may be that very orthodox Christians – in particular Fundamentalists – will reject both Maitreya and the Master Jesus...

He has not come ‘on a cloud at the end of the world’ as they expect, nor does He have holes in His hands and feet. But gradually, many Christians will find it easier to accept the Master Jesus as the returned Christ...[11] (emphasis added).

Not coming on a cloud at the end of the world is a direct reference and defiance to the prophecies in Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7, denying the literal interpretation of these passages, just like McLaren.

McLaren goes on to describe the kingdom of God he sees being set up with his Jesus:

Sadly, for centuries at a time in too many places to count, the Christian religion has downplayed, misconstrued, or forgotten the secret message of Jesus entirely [thank goodness then that God has revealed it after 2000 years to good old Brian!].

Instead of being about the kingdom of God coming to earth, the Christian religion has too often been preoccupied with abandoning or escaping the earth and going to heaven...

We have betrayed the message that the kingdom of God is available for all, beginning with the least and last and the lost – and have instead believed and taught that the kingdom of God is available for the elite, beginning with the correct and the clean and the powerful[12]

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McLaren (and the wider ECM) completely misses the correct Jesus in his eschatology and completely misses the whole point of what Jesus actually said about the kingdom of God. McLaren is talking about a kingdom of God that is more of a communal kind of utopia on earth that focuses on social justice as opposed to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Of this earth Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) and when He said “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21) He was speaking of the [the Kingdom where God is King and Lord, thanks to the indwelling of the] Holy Spirit inside those who receive Him by faith. The ECM is looking for the wrong Jesus and the wrong kingdom. The Messiah expected by the ECM is not coming to judge the world for its rebellion and sin, which is why there is so little emphasis on the issue of sin and the need for repentance from sin in the ECM “missional” gospel. This leads the ECM to preach a distorted image of God, because they miss out a key aspect to His character – His justice and wrath.

Missing - The Wrath of God

The ECM fails to acknowledge or teach a key aspect of God’s character – His wrath. Yes, God is love, which incorporates His holiness and righteousness. God is just and holy and it is His righteousness, justice and holiness that give the context for both His love and wrath.

The matter of God’s wrath is essentially missing from ECM teaching. This is in spite of the fact that if you looked up in a Bible concordance all the references to God’s wrath, anger, or severity, you would find that these far outnumber the references to God’s love, graciousness, or tenderness. A proper study of God’s Word can never be complete unless consideration and acknowledgment are given to the fact that God is not only a God of love, but also a God of wrath and righteous anger. People like McLaren and Bell refuse to accept this fact, so blacken God’s name by calling Him “jihadist” and describe clear biblical teaching on the End-Times as being “absolutely toxic messages that are against the teaching of Scripture”.

Arthur W. Pink describes the wrath of God as the:

Eternal detestation of all unrighteousness... the displeasure and indignation of divine equity against evil... the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin.

Contrary to the attitude displayed by Emergents like McLaren and Bell, we do not have the right to view the wrath of God as a blemish on His character and we cannot deconstruct His Word to rub out the parts of God’s character we may find hard to comprehend or accept.

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McLaren outlines his view on Jesus’ Second Coming very clearly in his book, Everything Must Change:

The phrase “the Second Coming of Christ” never actually appears in the Bible... If we believe that Jesus came in peace the first time, but that wasn’t his “real” and decisive coming – it was just a kind of warm-up for the real thing – then we leave the door open to envisioning a Second Coming that will be characterized by violence, killing, domination, and eternal torture.

This vision reflects a deconversion, a return to trust in the power of Pilate, not the unarmed truth that stood before Pilate, refusing to fight. This eschatological understanding of a violent Second Coming leads us to believe that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion...

If we remain charmed by this kind of eschatology, we will be forced to see the nonviolence of the Jesus of the Gospels as a kind of strategic fake out, like a feigned retreat in war, to be followed up by a crushing blow of so-called redemptive violence in the end.

The gentle Jesus of the First Coming becomes a kind of trick Jesus, a fake-me-out Messiah, to be replaced by the true jihadist Jesus of a violent Second Coming. This is why I believe that many of our current eschatologies, intoxicated by dubious interpretations of John’s Apocalypse [the book of Revelation], are not only ignorant and wrong, but dangerous and immoral (page 144).

There is no ambiguity in the Gospel of John over what fate awaits those who refuse the gift of eternal life from God:

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. – John 3:36.

John 5 makes clear that it is God the Father who has given God the Son authority to judge:

For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son... My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. – John 5:22, 30.

Acts 17:31 confirms God has ordained Jesus to judge on His appointed day:

He [God the Father] has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.

Revelation 19:15-16 tells us when Jesus will execute God’s wrath?

Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Brian McLaren, and much of the ECM, denies the wrath of God and denies a coming Jesus who has been given authority to judge and pour out God’s wrath on the world. McLaren is looking for a different Jesus, the wrong Jesus...

Endnotes

[1] All Bible verse taken from NKJV.
[2] The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millennium, page 86.
[3] World Future Society – a non-profit educational and scientific organization in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., founded in 1966. The Society investigates how social, economic and technological developments are shaping the future. It helps individuals, organizations, and communities observe, understand and respond to social change appropriately and investigates the benign effects of applying anticipatory thinking to society. See http://www.wfs.org.
[4] An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, page 130.
[5] Everything Must Change, page 146.
[6] Meaning Messiah the son of Joseph.
[7] Meaning Messiah the son of David.
[8] All quotes taken from http://www.share-international.org
[9] The Secret Message of Jesus, pages 176-177.
[10] The Secret Message of Jesus, pages 177-178.
[11] Quote taken from http://www.share-international.org
[12] The Secret Message of Jesus, pages 78-79.

James SmithABOUT THE AUTHOR

James (Jamie) Smith is a financial adviser who gives specialist advice to doctors and dentists based in Sheffield, England, where he was born in 1970. He was raised in a Christian family and became a believer in his childhood. Jamie is married to Emma. They have two young daughters, Holly and Heidi, and are members of a small independent evangelical church in Sheffield. Jamie writes on various matters of the Christian faith with the aim of encouraging and equipping fellow believers to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3) by being able “to give an answer to everyone who asks a reason for the hope within us” (1 Peter 3:15).

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