Pet Peeve : Fear Mongering

coronavirus

I don’t know how many of your recall the book entitled “The Late Great Planet Earth” that was authored by Hal Lindsey back in the 1970’s but I recall the sensation it became quite vividly, especially in the Evangelical Christian circles that I frequented.

That’s almost 50 years ago. In the book, Hal Lindsey compared end-time prophecies in the Bible with then-current events in an attempt to predict future scenarios resulting in the rapture of believers before the tribulation and Second Coming of Christ to establish his thousand-year (i.e. millennial) Kingdom on Earth.

Unfortunately, at that time, I did not possess the biblical understanding I now have with regard to Christ’s return and the difference between the end times and the last days (Christian Eschatology). The end times of course covers a broader period of time while the last days gets down to specific years with notable occurrences being foretold that will take place.

Guess what? I’m seeing what happened with Hal Lindsey’s book “The Late Great Planet Earth” happen all over again with the coronavirus that we are currently experiencing. Conspiracy Theories abound and if I believed a good number of videos and posts that are readily available on YouTube and various other multimedia venues, Jesus is returning VERY soon.

Do I believe that we are in the end times or last age? Yes I do, but we’ve been in the end times for a considerable amount of time. Do I believe that Jesus is returning soon? Yes I do but soon to me doesn’t mean this year, or probably the next. I’d have a tendency to say that we are looking at approximately a decade, maybe more. Do I believe that we are in the last days? Not yet, we’re getting there but there are still a good number of specific events that need to come into place before we enter the last days.

The purpose of this post is NOT to define or spell out the varying schools of thought on Christian Eschatology but rather to address the apparent fear mongering tactics that I see being utilized by some well meaning Christians to persuade unsaved people that Jesus’ return is imminent and they had better get in line with God now before it’s too late.

Do I believe that we have an earnest and heartfelt responsibility to tell people about who Jesus is and why they need to give their lives to Him? Yes I do but fear mongering tactics where we are pointing to earthquakes, locust infestations, fish and bird dies and all sorts of other calamities that are happening all over the world, not to mention this latest coronavirus pandemic, as the motivating factor in moving them towards their acceptance of Jesus is not, in my opinion, the way to further God’s Kingdom.

Motivating people by fear does nothing to change people’s hearts. 

No, I am not saying that we should not have a “healthy respect” for God. God is God and quite candidly, one doesn’t mess around with God. He is patient, long suffering and merciful but there is a limit. So in that respect, yes, I do fear God but when I came to ask Him to be my Lord, it was not fear that drew me to Him.

Are the escalating earthquakes, famines, pestilence etc not signs of the coming conclusion of the end times? Yes they are but they were increasing back in the 1970’s also. Did I mention that that was almost 50 years ago? This over reaction to pandemics and other world calamities by some Christians is not new, it happens quite often but that still does not make it right.

Are pandemics new? Nope. Almost every century in history you can find at least one and some are worse than others.

Time and time again I see statements or postings of videos being made by Christians, that originate from questionable or unreliable sources with unconfirmed or false accusations being made that throw the credibility of the Christian person who is quoting this misinformation into question, needlessly. I am grieved by it. It hits close to home because what we end up doing is flushing our own collective credibility down the toilet. We tarnish the credibility of our witness. And who wins there?

If the information we propagate is unsound or proven to be incorrect, how does that foster our credibility to the people we are preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to? If you wouldn’t buy a car for a used car salesman because you can’t trust what he says, why would you believe his witness to the reality that Jesus is the Son of God?

Credibility is important, value it, spend the time and effort that is required to maintain it. 

Some who disseminate this continual stream of misinformation might say to me that I am not seriously focusing on the return of Christ. I would respond that it is not I that do not take His return seriously, but rather they. We have been given the responsibility of the Great Commission, not spread fear or misinformation to supposedly persuade.

Misinformation is rampant, source verification is not an option. And no, just because it’s on the Internet does NOT necessarily mean that it is true.

If you are going to speak or post information on Christian Eschatology, please take the time and effort to become conversant with all of the various aspects via the scriptures.

Read Matthew 24 again, note all of the things that Jesus indicates and in particular note verse 33 where Jesus states “when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” Jesus didn’t say some, He said ALL. 

2 Timothy 2:15 NASB  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 comments

  1. Much needed post. And about the end times… it’s there isn’t it? Ok a decade, but it’s there, getting closer. The writing on the wall, the sky, the times, is more legible than ever before. (What’s your opinion Bro Bruce on Nostradamus’ word on The Italy Plague… he gives details down to Lombhardy and the River T. )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately it is a needed post and it grieves me that it is so. Nostradamus – he was not a prophet of our God that I am aware of and there is some evidence that he indulged in the occult so I put no weight on his prophecies. Blessings to you and yours Rayla.

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  2. Great post, Bruce. I agree that it is disheartening that you needed to write this but I am glad you did! I am praying for you and your wife’s health and strength. Sending warm smiles and love to you and yours!

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  3. Wow, Bruce, your broad brush rant against so many others seems a little overbearing. I admit I am not a theologian and not well-studied on end times, but I know there are opposing views in both that can be supported Scripturally. Also, the vast majority of us operate with limited and biased information, so we are not in any position to be judge over others who differ with us in many areas where we feel certain we are right.

    Surely there are those on both sides who are off base regarding what is going on at this time. But where is the actual line? How can you or I be so sure about what is going on with this virus, if it exists, where it came from, what agendas might be in place either from man or even God? I can’t. Neither can the rest of us who are out of the loop from closed door meetings of people in power making decisions that effect our future. But we can use common sense, and we can look into the Bible and ask God and follow what he says.

    One foundation of your argument came from the article you linked in your post, so I comment on that briefly here. Many folks I respect believe in the pretribulation rapture of the church. I see no clear scriptural evidence of that timing nor any historical evidence that God has chosen to exempt believers from our century living in North America from suffering. We already know throughout the rest of the world today Christians are suffering for their faith and God has not raptured them out of it. I’m not saying God won’t rapture his church before the tribulation, because I don’t know when he will and neither does anyone else. Yes, we can look at the signs you quoted from that other site, but the first sign assumes the pretrib rapture. If that is wrong, can we trust the other interpretations or timing? So much of the descriptions of end times events are symbolic. What if we have some of them wrong? That could change the timelines dramatically and we could be setting people up for a huge fall.

    Frankly, I get tired of hearing people assign a dunce cap to people they have decided are conspiracy-theory nuts. There have been many conspiracies over the centuries, but not everything is a conspiracy. How can any of us be so cock-sure which are which? At best we can look at the evidence before us and make our best guess unless we were present at some event and personally saw what happened. Seeing something on TV or Youtube or on the internet, or even in history books proves nothing – all of that can be faked, and some of it is – both ways.

    While I appreciate your passion to tamp down all the sensationalism being tossed about during this time and to point folks to the Bible to interpret events as much as possible, I can’t help but wonder what the real truth is in all this. The vast majority of our worldly input is coming from habitual liars with agendas serving those in real power, and surely those folks are building towards the end times structures and events as described in the Bible. What if God is intending at this time to shake up his people through this event and we are silent and do not warn them because some parts of it don’t fit our current theology? And what if, as Gamaliel said regarding the early apostles, as we are trying to silence the words of those who are warning others of their need to repent now and trust in Christ as savior and Lord, we ourselves end up fighting against what God is doing in the process?

    I offer my thoughts in love and respect, and welcome your feedback on this brother.

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    • Hi Rick, the main thrust of my post had to do with disseminating unsubstantiated information and using fear tactics to try to persuade non-believers to get right with God. I also specifically indicated that I was not addressing the different schools of thought with regard to the end times and the last days. However there are a number of events (irrespective of the sequence) identified and Jesus did indicate when you see ALL of them to know that He is at the door. I am assuming that you chose your words carefully so when you use the words “rant” and “overbearing” I am assuming that you mean exactly what you say. Not sure how that fits in with expressing your thoughts with love and respect but I’ll take your word for it. I don’t recall, at any time, in this post or elsewhere, indicating that we should stop speaking to non-believers about Jesus or their need to repent for their sins. What I did object to was using unsubstantiated references and fear tactics of near immediate doom to accomplish this goal because in far too many cases, it ends up eroding the credibility of our witness. If you disagree with me Rick, that’s obviously your call and I will respect your holding a differing opinion. Blessings.

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    • I can understand that Beverly but having unsaved family members I have mixed feelings. I want Jesus to return but also hope that before He does my unsaved family members will come to know Him as their Saviour and Lord. It’s not always an easy decision. Blessings.

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  4. Yesterday morning while pondering I resolved that my perspective on the current pandemic would be based on my surroundings and observations as in reality, that’s what affects me. It’s not stopping me from praying for those affected by this current situation but as you Bruce, I can’t get caught up in the theories or conspiracy theories going around.
    Where it came has no effect on me here in Edmonton Alberta. What its purpose is? Perhaps it’s sinister, perhaps it’ just another virus.
    What I do know is that it’s here, governments have made decisions to deal with it and I don’t want to panic anyone or make anyone sick.
    It once again it proves to me that the Only One I can Truly Trust IS Jesus Christ.
    I am thankful as I’m still working, I have food for my family, there is more food if I run out at the grocery store and should the food run out, I trust Jesus will provide.
    I also hope that Jesus will lead me to help those who are in need.
    This will pass, and as a matter of fact, it will be the last day for those who’s spirit leave their body today, as there were some yesterday and will be tomorrow.

    Much Peace and Love with a side of good health to you and yours Bruce.

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  5. As you say, we were given the Great Commission, and it is true that Jesus could be back for any one of us at any moment. When someone dies, that’s the “last day” for him/her. Our urgency to preach the gospel should be based on the general fact that each of us will die someday, and we don’t know when. As for using the Corona virus to scare people – not necessary. People are already scared. So let’s keep calm and share the gospel confidently.

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  6. I’m also not for sensational end times making people wild up. Worst than this are those who are faith healers conning people with fears right now…

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  7. Hi Bruce,
    Please do not take offense at the word rant – it carries the same magnitude as pet peeve – to me the expression of a pet peeve is a rant – expressing with passion why something bugs you. Pet peeve was your title, so I followed your lead, nothing more.

    As far as the phrase “seems a little overbearing”, when you paint your peeve with a broad brush as you did, it can be taken to include anyone who might suggest any sort of conspiracy, not just those who are saying crazy stuff and deliberately scaring others. In essence, you thrust everyone not buying the government party line into one big batch of nuts, whether that was your intention or not. While I am not certain of what is going on, as I clearly stated in my response, I believe it is likely we are being lied to by the government and their motives are not all sweetness as so many seem to think.

    I’m fine if we don’t agree on these matters in some areas – I still deeply respect you and love you as a brother. You know a lot more than I do. But when your broad-brush rant appears to be taking some of us to task for our reasonable concerns over what is going on with this virus scare, rather than just saying you disagree, your response comes across badly, and the loving thing to do is to bring it to your attention. That is what I did, but I myself was out of line for assuming what you meant without asking and calling you out as I did. Making wrong assumptions is one of my biggest battles.

    To be honest, since these posts I have learned more about the kinds of stuff folks are saying – I had no idea how prevalent or severe they were, because I am barely connected online and away from all social media. Now I understand better what you were talking about, though I’ve not ventured into any of those videos.

    My brief tangent into the end times theology was not to start a discussion there, which you were clear you did not want either, but to point out that after saying that you proceeded to link to a specific school of thinking and use that as fact (rather than one view of eschatology) to prove your point. How we view eschatology, its definitions, its timing, its events, and its characters can have a huge bearing on how we interpret what is going on now. Those who believe Jesus could come at any time should feel an urgency to share the gospel that others might not. And since so few churches are discipling rather than entertaining, many have no idea how to share the gospel or even what it is.

    Finally, I guess it concerned me that in your efforts to override the negative effects of those you identified as “disseminating unsubstantiated information and using fear tactics to try to persuade non-believers to get right with God”, you stated in your authoritative words that Jesus will not be returning this year or next, and probably not for ten years or longer. What if you’re wrong? You’ve just told those non-believers they have plenty of time and removed the urgency of “today is the day of salvation”. Perhaps I was a little overbearing when I used the Gamaliel example, but God may in fact be using some of those outlandish videos to get the attention of a few unbelievers. If we tell them they have at least another ten years, could we be working against what God is doing in their hearts?

    God has one gospel, but he uses all kinds of people and methods to open blind eyes. I strongly believe you would not knowingly do something to go against what God is doing to bring people to Christ – I have seen that part of your heart. I would not either. Let’s walk together as friends and brothers as we help each other walk closer to the Lord. I am very grateful for your support in my life and your faithful prayers for Sue and me!

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    • Hi Rick, the points you raised are valid, it was the opening tone that they conveyed but in like manner I could be accused of doing the same thing so short story, no problem, I understand what you are saying. With regard to conspiracy theories, especially as they relate to the government lying to us, it’s pretty well documented that it has happened in the past and I’m sure that there are instances when it happens now and will happen again in the future. I understand that, the broad strokes aspect is where some have a tendency to think that everything is a conspiracy, so I guess I was talking about a matter of degrees or a general tendency. But, as you indicated, what I said could also be misconstrued, so you have a valid point there also. Anyway, not to worry, I hear and understand what you are saying so no offence taken and I hope you will not be offended by anything that I said. There, that’s out of the way.

      Actually there’s one more, about assumptions, I don’t think any of us are immune from making false assumptions so you’re not alone there either, and that specifically includes me. And about me knowing more than you, not necessarily so, I’m pretty sure we all have areas of expertise in different areas and there is plenty of room for crossover. As a general rule of thumb, for me, I find that the more I learn about someone, especially when they are trying to be honest, the more I have a tendency to identify with them, sore spots and all and that is what I think you and I are doing now. Basically getting to know one another. It takes time to break down some of the defensive walls we have around us and that includes me too.

      You’re on a roll here, your point about the link I provided with regard to specific events as per a school of thinking, could also have been articulated better by me. I could have used Sue’s proofreading skills, she is really good at covering all the angles. And I agree with your observations about what some churches do or do not teach.

      I know Sue follows the leading of the Holy Spirit when she writes her posts and I do the same thing. Sometimes God brings something to my awareness and I ask for His guidance to write on it and then I do but sometimes there can be a bit too much of me in the article. I’m guilty there too. None of us are perfect, not even close.

      Your observations about my tentative forecast of when Jesus will return are also valid, I should have covered that aspect better also. As per the scriptures, today is the acceptable day, always, I just forgot to mention it because I knew that was my perspective, I just didn’t mention it. My post is quickly moving from what I presumed as a B+ to a B-.

      What is truly bothersome is that there is so much garbage out there and so many people never make the effort of getting an overview of the level of reliability that is associated with a particular individual, they just grab onto what he or she says without looking at their background and books or comments that they have authored. A good case in point is David Icke. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Icke He has a lot of videos out now on YouTube that far too many Christians are latching onto regarding the end times and the last days without checking into the source of where I believe they are coming from. And this is not hearsay, these are documented interviews and excerpts from his books. Scary stuff. I’m pretty sure that God does not use “doctrines of demons” to get the attention of a few unbelievers. The short story is that there has to be some kind of standard and when I look for that standard, it’s God’s word that I use and it simply is not even in question. If you take the time to read the lengthy overview I provided on David Icke’s history and published books, it is a sea of red flags and that is not an understatement. And he is just one. Satan is pulling out all stops now and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being bombarded with false gospels virtually everywhere you look.

      I understand that God uses all kinds of people and various methods but He hasn’t changed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The way that Sue writes is not the way that I write and that is OK. I got slapped on the wrist by God about that initially when Sue and I first exchanged dialogue. It was I that needed my attitude to be adjusted, not Sue. Styles are different but we speak from the same Gospel. I understand that better now. She is my sister in Christ. I respect and care for Sue. David Icke and I are NOT brothers, not even remotely close. The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement and their “Apostles” are additional cases in point.

      I understand that your standard of acceptance may be different from mine. That’s between you and God. We’re not always going to agree. I understand that too. God is teaching me about the necessity of balance and I am still learning. I’m pretty sure I will continue to learn until the day I leave this world. Jesus and God’s Holy Spirit and His Word are my benchmarks. I’m not anywhere close to being perfect. But through this journey that He has brought me on is a oneness with Him that is so very precious and it is there that I must remain. I blow it Rick like all of us do from time to time, normally not intentionally but I can still easily blow it. I can always do better because my source is perfect and I am not. He is my standard. The fact that He puts up with me is what boggles my mind. There is no question that you and I are brothers. I’m here for you if you need me and I am grateful that God allowed you and your wife’s path and mine to cross. Both of you are in my prayers daily. My wife’s name is Peggy, please keep us in yours.

      There are an awful lot of things that I don’t understand. God’s grace is a big one. I’ve stood in the presence of God, His love for us is utterly overwhelming. There is no way to describe it and that love is personified in the person of His Son, Jesus. I’ve made an awful lot of mistakes in my life Rick, and yet, through all of this, through God’s grace, I am here where I am now. I’ve never done anything to deserve what God has given me, nothing, absolutely nothing. Less than nothing. He knows me like no other and yet He still loves me. I experience that, even when I mess up. That’s why I cherish God. That’s why I must remain close to Him. A few months ago I began to see the need to daily rely on God like Adam did in the Garden of Eden before the fall. I started asking Jesus to grant me grace to keep my hand in His. I need to hold onto Him. I need to trust Him. I need to rely on Him. It’s not easy. But there is no other hand that I want to hold onto to. It’s that personal. No lies, no deception, no untruths remain untouched when you place your hand in His.

      You and I are good Rick. I’m looking forward to other conversations. Touch base with me anytime you want and I will do likewise.

      May God’s grace, peace and blessings surround you and yours.

      Bruce

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