In Search Of The Origins Of The Pretrib Doctrine:
Part 8: Is The Pretribber In Danger Of Accepting A New Age Christ?
In "Jerome's Apology In Answer To Rufinus--Book III" (AD 402) from the writings of the early Church fathers, Jerome wrote,
Yet it behoves us to know that the enemy is wont to counterfeit this salutary advent of Christ with cunning fraud in order to deceive the faithful, and in the place of the Son of Man, Who is looked for as coming in the majesty of His Father, to prepare the Son of Perdition with prodigies and lying signs, that instead of Christ he may introduce Antichrist into the world; of whom the Lord Himself warned the Jews beforehand in the Gospels, "Because I am come in My Father's Name, and ye received Me not, another will come in his own name, and him ye will receive." And again, "When ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, standing in the holy place, let him that readeth understand." Daniel, therefore, in his visions speaks very fully and amply of the coming of that delusion: but it is not worth while to cite instances, for we have enlarged enough already; we therefore refer any one who may wish to know more concerning these matters to the visions themselves. The Apostle also himself says, "Let no than 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, who opposeth and exalteth himself above everything that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as though himself were God." And soon afterwards, "Then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders." And again, shortly afterwards, "And therefore the Lord shall send unto them strong delusion, that they may believe a lie, that all may be judged who have not believed the truth."' For this reason, therefore, is this "delusion" foretold unto us by the words of Prophets, Evangelists, and Apostles, lest any one should mistake the coming of Antichrist for the coming of Christ. But as the Lord Himself says, "When they shall say unto you, lo, here is Christ, or lo, He is there, believe it not. For many false Christs and false prophets shall come and shall seduce many." But let us see how He hath pointed out the judgment of the true Christ: "As the lightning shineth from the east unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be."
Jerome warned of a coming of the antichrist being mistaken for the coming of Christ. Today many debate whether the Pretribulation doctrine is dangerous, that whether or not Christians could be deceived into following this false Christ. I believe it is, because
- It tells Christians to look for Christ to come at a time when He will not come, opening the door to a false "Christ" to be followed
- It tells Christians that when this "Christ" comes, he will take them somewhere by means of a spiritual experience
The Pretrib belief in immanency - that there is nothing else to be fulfilled before Jesus comes - opens the door for this deception because He can now come at any time, even today or tomorrow. In Posttribulationism, Christ can only be immanent when we reach the end of the tribulation period when the events of the sixth seal will take place.
Some Pretribbers show the uncertainty of their belief in the doctrine by saying that if Jesus does not come just before or at the inception of the Tribulation, they wouldn't be deceived. But, I say, some do not know the power of deception. They've already fallen for a false doctrine, the seeds of which came from spirits not of God. Many in the Church today have fallen for the current apostasy after centuries of being warned that such an event will definitely happen. Deception is a very possible thing in the Church, especially in this day and age. Is there such a strong deception ahead that Christians will fall for a false "Christ" coming at a different time? I believe the strong possibility is there. In spite of the tremendous amount of evidence coming forth regarding Ribera, Lacunza, Macdonald, Irving, Kelly and Darby, not to mention the Pretribbers being presented excellent Scriptural evidence there is no Pretrib rapture, the vast majority of Pretribulationists refuse to turn from their error. In fact, it seems any debate only hardens their heart all the more.
In Jesus' own description of His overwhelmingly visible parousia that occurs "immediately after the tribulation," He warned of deceit several times:
Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Matthew 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Note - these are warnings from the Lord Himself against DECEIT: "Take heed," "shall deceive many," and "if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect . . . Behold, I have told you before . . . believe it not." Jesus wasn't just blowing off steam. He was the Son delivering a message of warning and danger from His heavenly Father concerning the culmination of all that God had been doing since time began.
Of special interest is Jesus' statement concerning false prophets in verses 10 and 11, where the prophets instigate an apparently successful apostasy, turning many from the faith. As a result, love among God's people grows cold, and is replaced by hate. Whenever true and deceptive messages are mixed, there is division resulting in visible apostasy and a change in ultimate vision. All that is needed to start this process is one small change in the truth. From then on, it is just a matter of letting the weed grow to fruition.
The devil's goal is unity in the world and apostasy in the Church, for the purpose of leading the Church into that world through spiritual deception to a false Christ. How deep can such deception go? We believe it is this deep: the devil has most likely set up the coming of a false Christ to mimic the parousia anticipated in pretribulationism (and other isms, except posttribulationism - I will deal only with pretribulationism here). Heirs to the belief that only Christians will see Jesus' coming for the Church before the tribulation, either visibly or invisibly, pretribbers are most likely one of the targets for the New Age occult (meaning "secret") "leap into the heavens" I will now describe.
In the prologue of his book, "Inside The New Age Nightmare" (pp.89-91), Randall Baer writes that he was involved in Eastern mysticism since his teenage years, eventually becoming an international New Age teacher on the national teaching circuit. The reason he wrote this book was because he became a Christian. He said "I want you to know exactly what the New Age Movement is about."
Baer discusses two major schools of New Age thought concerning humanity:
- The first is transformational, in which all men reach a state of consciousness that enables them to see that heaven has been here on earth all the time, and they finally reach a point where they can see it.
- The second school of thought, labeled the "Quantum Leap of Consciousness," has a strong similarity to Pretribulationism. This Quantum Leap into the heavens is typified in Baer's quote from a New Age Center's literature:
"We are on the brink of a new age, a whole new world. In the twinkling of an eye, mankind's awareness, our collective consciousness, is going to make an instantaneous quantum leap into the heavens. Everything will change in a flash of divine Light. Get ready. Your heavenly heritage awaits. Come on in; the water's fine . . . He who hesitates is lost . . . . He who chooses life is found" (From promotional material from "The Center for New Age Light.")
Terminology borrowed from scripture, no doubt. Baer sums up the above quote with the statement that some factions of the New Age believe that "Earth and humanity will literally leap in a flash of light into the heavens above."
He goes on to say that this Quantum Leap model "is directly tied to some form of divine intervention. Though there are a rich variety of concepts about the nature and form of this divine intervention, essentially a sovereign and omnipotent celestial force is said to deliver Earth into the heavens above. Various groups attribute this intervention to various sources."
Baer closes this section with the statement that the Quantum Leap view contains within itself predominant themes that "lie much more towards mediumship, spiritism, witchcraft, psychic powers, and sorceries in myriad shapes and forms." He attributes increased levels of demonic forces in the world today to this branch of the New Age belief system.
The New Age has long expected such an experience of change, promoted through New Age philosophers such as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (Omega Point) and Matthew Fox's Creation Spirituality (Quantum Leap).
Could Christians be deceived to the point of accepting the coming of "a [supposed] sovereign and omnipotent celestial force" masquerading as Christ? I believe the seeds of such an acceptance are viable. Hints of the "mediumship, spiritism, witchcraft, psychic powers, and sorceries in myriad shapes and forms" are evident in the origins of the pretribulation doctrine. For instance, we've already looked at Margaret Macdonald's spiritistic vision concerning the second coming which was delivered by a spirit not of God, and it draws very close to what some New Agers describe as "The Second Coming.".
So, is there a hint of evidence that Christians can be deceived? Look at the apostasy. Look at the phenomena from New Age spirits that invaded the Church that were "transformed" into "Christian" experiences. Look at the appearances of "Jesus" in meetings, even in fire at times. People are seeing "Him" in visions, and also "angels" that actually minister to people. We know the visions and promises of Benny Hinn regarding "Christ" appearing in meetings. We are already hearing of "mediumship, spiritism, witchcraft, psychic powers, and sorceries in myriad shapes and forms" being taken as Christian practices and events on which the whole agenda of the modern day "Church" hinges. Put these together with seeing "Jesus" and "angels" in the spirit in so many forms and fashions, and see the strong possibility that the stage is being set for a deceptive "Second Coming of Christ" at a time foreign to Scripture, i.e., the Pretibulaiton doctrine. Even the language of the "revival" is basic Barbara Marx Hubbard doctrine, who also believes in a Quantum Leap where man changes from Homo Sapien to Homo Universalis (corporate, universal human). If you don't believe me, look at the comparisons I have done between New Age and the "revival" at PART IV: Laughing: Deeper Realities and Part Five: The Preparation Of The Corporate Child. If Irving bought into Macdonald's vision to use the idea of it in his "secret coming" and brought that spirit into the Church, why do we believe Pretribbers when they say they won't be deceived if their is a false "rapture"? If the "revival" brought the New Age agenda into the Church - lock, stock and barrel - as described in the two files I referenced above, why do we think Pretribbers won't buy into a false New Age experience of a "rapture"? These are two major deceptions that have deeply deceived people who responded to the gospel at one time. What in heavens name do we think will stop the deception short of a fake rapture before the tribulation?
I don't know how the devil will work his deceitful "leap into the heavens" in a counterfeit coming of "Christ" as far as the Christian is concerned, but we know he will. Deceptions are rampant now, and it is not even logical to think that the adversary would ignore the premier event of our time and work his deceptions around it. I am basically saying "let the buyer beware" because there is already a false "Christ" appearing in the "Church" with signs and wonders, and some Christians have fallen and are falling for it. We've drained our energies warning people about Pretribulationism and a false revival, but to what avail? And yet we give the Pretribulationist the benefit of the doubt that he won't be deceived when the culmination of its promised rapture arrives. We call the "revival" and the apostasy the delusion God has sent, and I am believing more and more that pretribulationism is a part of that.