Why I Am Not An "Apocalyptic Fundamentalist"

Yes, I believe Jesus is coming back and I believe His return is imminent. Yes, I believe the earth will experience great cataclysm and chaos in the future. But no, I do not believe that what is happening today in America—or even in other parts of the world—means Jesus must be or needs to be coming back any day now. In my opinion, the past decade has seen a resurgence in what one might call “apocalyptic fundamentalism,” that is, a belief that the world is getting so bad and natural disasters are occurring so often and the culture is becoming so wicked and the professing church is so corrupt and unregenerate that the end is certainly near—that Jesus must be returning at any moment. Many Christians today seem to want to see the world and our nation erupt into a wave of anarchy. They revel in the “bad news” that seems to permeate the media. They thrive on the geopolitical maneuvers occurring in the Middle East. They marvel at the fact that earthquakes and other natural disasters seem to be increasing. They read the headlines, look at their Bibles (almost always at references to the seven-year tribulation taken out of context), and declare that these “signs” point to the end—to the return of Jesus Christ.

Sadly, many godly, Bible-believing fundamentalist Christians have made this mistake before. We only need to turn back the clock 100 years to see the world in chaos, the Middle East at the center of attention, and rampant unbelief passed off as Christianity. In fact, the turn of the twentieth century was marked by the permeation of Modernism (religious liberalism) in the United States followed by two world wars that turned the world upside down. Many of our fundamentalist forefathers believed the 1930s and 1940s signaled the “end of times” as the world was engaged in war and the nation of Israel regained the center of attention. A number of these men, due to their false speculations, soiled the reputation of biblical fundamentalism as being a fringe movement of backward speculators with an eschatology that, according to our critics, has “proven” to be false because Jesus did not return as they had predicted.

The fact of the matter is this: The heart of man is wicked, and this present evil world is ruled by a ruthless dictator (the “god of this world,” Satan himself). We do not know when Jesus Christ will return for His saints. The rapture of the church is a “signless” event!  Jesus may return today, or He may return hundreds of years from now (or at any time in between). Our role and focus as Christians in this age is not to forecast the end of time or to get caught up in looking for “signs of the end times” in the Middle East or elsewhere but to use the time He has given us on this earth to be a testimony of His love and saving grace. I, for one, will continue to focus my attention not upon the geopolitical news but upon preaching the gospel, teaching the Word, and contending for the faith until He returns—which could be at any moment!

— By Pastor Matt Costella. Reproduced from Foundation magaine, Volume 37, Issue 4.