By Roger Oakland
Many who were once looking for the return of Jesus have fallen asleep. We now live in a period of time where numerous prominent Christian leaders are telling the Christian masses that paying attention to the signs of our times in light of the Bible is a waste of time. And many of them take it a step further and accuse those who believe what Bible prophecy says about the end of the age of being negative and self-centered.
In the Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren was actually laying ground work for the emerging church’s new reformation, a reformation that rejects thinking about the return of Christ and works more at convincing the multitudes that Christ is already in them as a global christ-consciousness. As you will see in the following documentation, Warren has a low regard for Bible prophecy. Perhaps this helps explain why so many who once were anticipating the return of the Lord have become occupied with worldly ambitions. Warren writes:
When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission in the world. He said in essence, “The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that!” (PDL, p. 285)
I find it simply astounding that a statement of this sort would be in a New York Times best-seller in the present-day Christian book market. Jesus was telling the disciples they could not know the day or the hour, but nowhere does Jesus ever indicate that “the details of my return are none of your business.” Rather than quickly changing the subject, we find in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 two of the longest passages in Scripture quoting Jesus’ own words, and what’s more, where He details the signs of His coming. In essence, Jesus was saying, because you cannot know the day and hour of my return, you need to educate yourself in Bible prophecy and take heed of my words about the end times. Later on, one of those disciples, John, was given an entire book to write on the details of Jesus’ coming. Jesus continually said to be alert and ready for when He returns. In both parables and straightforward talk, he spoke of this. In Luke 12:35-40, Jesus emphasized that it is essential to be prepared for His return:
Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching:… And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
And Jesus frequently referred to the Old Testament prophecies. Those prophecies became the evidence that Jesus Christ was indeed whom He said He was–“Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
But Rick Warren tells readers to think about something other than Bible prophecy: “If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy.”
Warren ends this section of his book by stating that Satan would have you “sidetracked from your mission” and by quoting Jesus out of context, saying, “Anyone who lets himself be distracted [by studying Bible prophecy] from the work I plan for him is not fit for the kingdom of God” (Living Bible). But Jesus was not referring to His return when He made that statement, which in the King James Version says: “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). The Purpose Driven kingdom of God leaves no room for Bible prophecy, and in fact, condemns those who study it. The apostle Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, had a different view. He writes:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19)
Christians are called to witness and be watchmen. No Scripture exists that tells us to ignore the events that have been pointed out as signposts indicating the return of Jesus. If we do, we might be like the foolish virgins who fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13).
In light of Rick Warren’s end-time views [and his steady embracing of contemplative authors], what does he think of the emerging church? This statement he made in the foreword of Dan Kimball’s book, The Emerging Church, answers that question. Warren notes:
Today seekers are hungry for symbols and metaphors and experiences and stories that reveal the greatness of God. Because seekers are constantly changing, we must be sensitive to them like Jesus was; we must be willing to meet them on their own turf and speak to them in ways they understand. (p. 8)
Rick Warren is enthusiastic about the emerging church because he believes it is the church of the future. And … the emerging church is equally fond of Warren’s view of Bible prophecy, or the omission thereof, and of his plan to usher in the kingdom of God. (From Faith Undone, Roger Oakland, pp. 154-157)
The following quotes are by those who promote contemplative and/or emerging spirituality and share similar views on the return of Christ:
If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy. (Rick Warren, PDL, pp. 285-286)
Tony Campolo says that Christians who “make a big thing of their claim that we are now living in the final stage of church history prior to the second coming of Christ” have been the cause of “extremely detrimental” consequences. They “discount the Sermon on the Mount,” they don’t care about the needy, and they have had such a negative “impact on geopolitics,” which Campolo says “can lead only to war.” Basically, according to Campolo they are the reason the world is in such a mess, and they are holding back progress of a more emerging spirituality. (Faith Undone, p. 160, quoting Campolo, Speaking My Mind)
It is time that the church woke up to its true mission, which is to materialize the kingdom of God on earth, today, here and now…. People are no longer interested in a possible heavenly state or a probable hell. They need to learn that the kingdom is here, and must express itself on earth … The way into that kingdom is the way that Christ trod. It involves the sacrifice of the personal self for the good of the world, and the service of humanity …(Occultist, Alice Bailey)
Robert Schuller’s advice to young church leaders would seem to apply to new apostolic Christians: “Don’t let eschatology stifle your long-term thinking.” (C. P. Wagner, quoted in False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care?
We are not eschatological Theonomists or Classic Dispensationalists (e.g. Scofield) and believe that divisive and dogmatic certainty surrounding particular details of Jesus Second Coming are unprofitable speculation, because the timing and exact details of His return are unclear to us. (Mark Driscoll, Acts 29 Network
Former New Age follower, Warren Smith explains what happened to him and how he came to understand the significance of Bible prophecy in light of Christ’s return:
Coming out of New Age teachings, I had learned in a very personal way that the details of Jesus’ return are definitely our business. Understanding the events surrounding His return was critical to understanding how badly I had been deceived by my New Age teachings. I had learned from reading the Bible that there is a false Christ on the horizon and that for a number of years I had unknowingly been one of his followers. Because the Bible’s clear authoritative teachings about the real Jesus and His true return had been brought to my attention, I was able to see how deceived I was. By understanding that there is a false Christ trying to counterfeit the true Christ’s return, I was able to renounce the false Christ I had been following and commit my life to the true Jesus Christ. (from Deceived on Purpose, p. 147)
In the Bible in the Book of Revelation, it says that Satan will deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9). The emerging church movement has three essential elements that are consistent throughout the movement that may help this great deception to occur:
1. The embracing of mysticism
2. The belief that the kingdom of God will be established on earth BEFORE Christ returns.
3. The rejection of eschatology (the study of the end-times and Bible prophecy relating to it).
The combination of these three things could help to bring about the great falling away of which the Bible speaks. We pray that every Bible-believing Christian will be able to comprehend these things and warn their families and loved ones.
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” (II Thessalonians 2:3)
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” (I Timothy 4:1)