Christianity Today is a great magazine, and it has an outstanding managing editor, Harold Smith. He does not Just manage, he writes things like you see below:
No Time for End Times
Yet it was only a decade or so ago that evangelicals were actively reading the signs of the end times÷ attending prophecy conferences and feverishly calculating the true meaning of 666. Times were tough and "blessed hope" enthusiasm was often excessive÷ sometimes even embarrassing. Too often these "rapture-bound" believers gladly adopted an other-world view that tragically left problems such as war, hunger, and poverty the sole responsibility of secular man.
But with the quiet passing of predicted Armageddons and a new fascination with political clout, the church's eternal perspective has grown strangely dim: The culmination of human history has little if any bearing on the way we live. Like everyone else, we live for today.
This increasingly temporal view of life does little to encourage those seeking a future hope to look our way. And people are looking.
Witness the growing New Age movement and the recent media hubbub over the so-called harmonic convergence. No less than the Wall Street Journal gave front-page treatment to those thousands of curious New Agers "resonating" for a better world to come.
In contrast, by avoiding the question of Christ's return we give the world a less than complete gospel÷ a story of hope with interesting characters but no plot.
While not advising a return to those "date-setting days" of the 1970s, we would do well not to ignore or downplay the pivotal truth of Christ's return. It is the reality of the Second Coming that gives meaning to our daily walk and witness.
Ironically, an obviously unorthodox remark by one New Ager quoted in the Journal hints at the value of a theology of the future: "If all these Second Coming scenarios are nothing but metaphorical spurs to get us to live as though they are true, they can be an inspiration to get our act together."
How much more is that inspiration when we know unequivocally that God in Christ will one day return, and thus achieve his goals for humankind÷goals from which he has never deviated from the beginning of time.
The editorial above is a remarkable piece. Last month on this same page I noted that China has recently forbidden all three thousand "official" churches to speak of the return of Christ. Apparently the Chinese have other plans.
So do most American evangelicals. So much so that our government would not even need to prohibit reference to the Return of Christ, were it concerned about the possibility.
How can a whole nation, so Biblically literate, relatively speaking, be so unaware of what is happening all around the world? It is the Eastern bloc of nations, too, where the Return of Christ is the question burning in peoples hearts everywhere.
Harold Smith points out that the millions of Americans caught up in the New Age movement have somehow a perverse sense of reality in this respect, though they are looking in the wrong direction!
Little noted, the meeting of two dozen people in Dallas a few days ago, led by the Southern Baptist Convention, but collecting together representatives of many different groups÷asking how they might work together to complete the task of global evangelization, a task which is within our reach today as never before.
Bill Bright has asked the just retired chief executive officer of World Vision USA (Ted Engstrom) to assist him in a global collaboration effort (with Billy Graham as honorary chairman) endeavoring to coordinate to some extent all evangelical bodies all around the world. Ted will pull together 1,000 leaders as an advisory committee.
AIMS (see page 7) aims to serve 80.000 churches, the SFM's meeting was quadruple the attendance of last year÷see pp4-6. On and on!