Johan Malan, Mossel Bay, South Africa (April 2014)
In Psalm 11, King David describes a time when evil people will reject all biblical standards and by violent means obtain control over society. However, the Lord will intervene to save the righteous and judge the perpetrators of evil: “When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright” (Ps. 11:3-7; the Amplified Bible says, “... the upright shall behold His face”).
This situation occurred on a limited scale during Old Testament times but in the end-time it will materialise all over the world. According to the description in Psalm 11, the righteous will be tested and purified while the foundations of righteousness, godliness, and orderly government are destroyed. At a certain stage, the righteous will be delivered and removed to a place of safety where they will see the face of the Lord. After that, the wicked will be judged in the great tribulation.
The end of the church age is characterised by radical changes of this nature. The foundations of the Christian civilisation are destroyed as part of a falling away from the truth, which serves the purpose of paving the way towards an antichristian new world order. In Psalm 2, David says: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us” (Ps. 2:2-3).
The result of this rebellion against the kingdom of heaven is the rejection of God’s supremacy, as well as the authority of His Word and the promised reign of peace under the rule of His Son. The boundaries which the Lord determined between sovereign nations (Acts 17:26) are rendered irrelevant in order to make room for a global government which will have the final authority over all nations. According to the Bible, the Antichrist will gain control over this future world government, which means that he will have power over every tribe, tongue and nation. He will force all people to worship him alone, thereby forbidding the worship of the true God (Rev. 13:1-18).
We are presently in a situation in which the foundations of the Christian civilisation are being destroyed while wicked people are implementing antichristian reforms. To believers it is a time of testing in order to reveal those who will remain true to their spiritual principles and convictions of faith in the midst of all the changes. At a given moment during the end-time falling away the Lord will take away the righteous to see His face; but the wicked will be judged during the ensuing tribulation period.
During the present time of testing before the beginning of divine judgements, true children of the Lord should not become passive but act as withholders against the spirit of the Antichrist. Although they will be unable to avert evil reforms in society they should at least ensure that they do not become part of the problem. We are now in the time when the Lord separates true believers from those who only have a form of godliness: “... He will thoroughly purge His threshing-floor [the church on earth], and gather the wheat into His barn [the catching away of believers] but the chaff [the wicked in the great tribulation] He will burn with unquenchable fire” (Luke 3:17).
In this article, attention will not be given to the destruction of political, moral, and economic foundations, but only to the spiritual foundations upon which true Christianity is based. Biblical Christianity is a stumbling-block in the way of antichristian reforms as it does not inclusively accommodate other faiths and lifestyles. It stands in the way of the appearance of a common multireligious messiah who will aim to unite the world under his banner of globalism. In the pursuance of this objective the last few decades have seen a growing movement to undermine and destroy the foundations of the Christian faith.
In every country the transformation process assumes a different form, depending upon the nature of churches and Christian institutions in that country. However, the following five Christian foundations are all targeted, and in the following review it will be shown how some or all of them have already fallen in many of the churches and theological seminaries in South Africa.
One of the foundations of evangelical Christianity is faith in the Bible as the inspired and inerrant Word of God. The Bible is interpreted literally, in accordance with the grammatical-historical method, and in this approach of interpreting Scripture even symbols have a literal antitype, e.g. the beast of Revelation which refers to the Antichrist, the dragon which alludes to Satan, and the Lamb of God which is a description of Jesus Christ. The Bible is therefore not deprived of its basic meaning by way of spiritualising and allegorising.
However, when people start reading other meanings into Scripture, the literal interpretation of prophecies is the first foundation to be destroyed. Spiritualising theologians do not believe that a literal thousand-year reign of peace will be instituted on earth after the second coming of Christ. They are not “millennialists”, which is a term derived from the Latin word for a thousand (the term “chiliasts” is derived from the corresponding Greek word for a thousand). Millennialists (or chiliasts) believe that Christ will return before the millennial reign and that we are consequently not now in the millennium, or reign of peace. For that reason they are further qualified as premillennialists.
Amillennialists, however, believe that in a spiritual sense we are now living in the thousand years of peace and that the devil, according to Revelation 20:1-3, has already been bound in a pit. Because of this premise they elevate the status of the church by ascribing to it kingdom powers. They use initiatives such as the ecumenical movement and the transformations movement to artificially increase the power and influence of the church, thereby encouraging its leaders to rule as kings and princes of peace. They do not consider end-time prophecies on a great falling away, since apostasy does not fit in with their scenario on an illustrious future for the church.
The rejection of the literal fulfilment of biblical prophecies also means that amillennialists do not believe in the physical restoration of Israel as they see themselves as the spiritual Israel of the New Testament (replacement theology). In keeping with this subjective approach to the Bible, they do not believe in the rapture or a personal Antichrist who will reign over the earth during a period of seven years – or in the judgements of God which will be poured out upon the world during this time, culminating in the battle of Armageddon. These end-time prophecies are either spiritualised or applied to historical times (preterism), by stating – for example – that the first century reign of terror by the Roman Emperor Nero was the fulfilment of prophecies on the tribulation period.
The rejection of the premillennial interpretation of biblical prophecies had far-reaching implications for the authority of Scripture in the church. The fall of this foundation of the Christian faith also promoted the destruction of further foundations since the spiritualising, changing or denial of biblical pronouncements did not confine itself to revised ideas on biblical prophecies. Soon, various other biblical doctrines would be interpreted metaphorically, thus abandoning literal concepts such as heaven, hell, and Satan – and even the virgin birth and deity of the Lord Jesus. The Bible itself would lose its integrity as an authentic revelation of God to humanity, and eventually this adapted and reinterpreted form of Christianity would become an empty doctrine without any spiritual substance.
When biblical prophecies are shrouded by denying their primary meaning, the way has been opened to also degrade and undermine other biblical principles. In this way, man takes the liberty to enforce his own ideas on the Bible in order to avoid unpleasant realities, invent an easier way of salvation, adopt a more tolerant approach to sin, thereby effectively deviating from the narrow way of the Lord and joining the broad way of sin. In this manner, self-justifying man establishes his own kingdom and does not look forward to the future kingdom of Christ which will be revealed after His second coming.
Spiritually, there were better times in South Africa when the premillennial interpretation of biblical prophecies was fully honoured in reformed theology. The founders of the theological seminary in Stellenbosch were all premillennialists. One of their students, Dr. D.R. Snyman, a former Dutch Reformed Church (DRC; Afrikaans NG Kerk) pastor in Stellenbosch, was a well-known author on eschatology. In 1940 he published the book, “The Coming Christ and the Coming Crisis”, in which he discusses the signs of the times, the restoration of Israel, the rapture, the appearance of the Antichrist, and the millennial reign of Christ after His second coming. In the preface to his book, Dr. Snyman says: “It is with gratitude that we remember the investigation of biblical prophecies by authors such as the late Prof. N.J. Hofmeyr, Rev. G.W.A. van der Lingen, Rev. S.J. du Toit [the father of Totius], Prof. C.F.J. Muller and Prof. J.I. Marais. The latter dedicated himself to the study of prophecies during the last part of his life.”
In a discussion with Jaco Scholtz of Durbanville, who obtained an M.Th. degree in theology at the University of Stellenbosch in December 2013, the fact was mentioned that during the first 75 years since its inception the theological seminary in Stellenbosch was strongly committed to premillennialism and in fact played a major role to establish this doctrine in South Africa. He said that Prof J.I. Marais lectured at this seminary from 1877 to 1919. In the “Gereformeerde Maandblad” (“Reformed Monthly”) of 1917 Marais said: “It is evident that the second coming of Christ before the millennial kingdom was the common view held by the church throughout the centuries.”
Dr. J.D. Kestell, an outspoken premillennialist, was moderator of the Free State synod of the DRC for three consecutive terms, and also one of the translators of the first Afrikaans Bible. In 1919, in his capacity as editor of “Die Kerkbode” (official organ of the DRC), he suggested that a separate magazine concerning the fulfilment of biblical prophecies be established. This premillennial magazine, “Ziet Hij Komt” (“Behold, He Comes”) regularly appeared since 1920. Its editor during the first 20 years up to 1940, was Rev. A.G. du Toit of Cape Town. He was succeeded by Dr. D.R. Snyman, who acted in this capacity for the subsequent nine years until 1949. A large number of ministers and missionaries of the DRC subscribed to this magazine. It also contained various articles that were taken over from “Het Zoeklicht”, a premillennial magazine in the Netherlands.
However, during the period after the Second World War theological thinking in South Africa passed through a phase of rapid change. The historical-critical method of Bible interpretation was adopted by European universities, and particularly also by the Free University of Amsterdam. South African theologians who enrolled at European Universities for their postgraduate studies – mostly in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany – were responsible for introducing the new doctrine to South Africa.
The historical-critical method is based on rational thinking emanating from a scientific worldview. As such it is sceptical about supernatural phenomena such as the creation account, the Flood, as well as many other miracles which are described in the Bible. Those who adopted this approach are also negatively inclined towards the literal fulfilment of biblical prophecies, as they argue that it is humanly impossible to make inerrant prophecies many centuries before their fulfilment. Because of this disposition they question the authorship and date of prophetic books such as Daniel. These critics would explain a prophetic book such as Revelation in its first century historical context, thereby refuting its futuristic fulfilment.
While the new, amillennial approach started gaining ground in South Africa during the middle of the 20th century, premillennial teachings were increasingly removed from syllabi on eschatology, and preachers soon stopped preaching on this “controversial” subject. The turning-point was reached at a meeting of the DRC’s general synod in 1962, when a submission by Dr. J.A. Heyns in favour of amillennialism was accepted. During that year, the foundation of the premillennial interpretation of biblical prophecies was officially destroyed in the DRC. The new theological views were confirmed in 1963 through the publication by the Dutch Reformed Publishers of Dr. Heyns’ book, “Die chiliasme of duisendjarige ryk” (“Millennialism or the thousand-year reign”). It resonated with books from Europe in which, among others, strong resentment was expressed against prophecies on the literal restoration of Israel in their own land as a prelude to the millennial reign of the Messiah.
This unfortunate change of direction introduced a dark period of increased theological decline in the DRC, as the spiritualising and allegorising of other parts of Scripture gave rise to a continued deviation form biblical truths. During the remainder of the 20th century more of the basic foundations of the Christian faith would be denied, thus depriving the Bible of most of its spiritual significance.
In spite of these far-reaching changes, there were always a few men who were not involved with the abandoning of views on the prophetic word. One of them was Rev. W.H.M. Oosthuizen who, in 1963, published a book titled, “Die wegname van die gemeente” (“The rapture of the church”). On page 84 he says: “The rejection of the doctrine on the pretribulation rapture is closely tied up to the rejection of the doctrine of a future reign of peace on earth. The idea that we are already living in the thousand-year reign of peace, in which Satan is allegedly bound since the crucifixion, is unacceptable because it clearly contradicts pronouncements that are made in Revelation 20. This subject is more elaborately dealt with in my other book, ‘As die Seun van die mens kom’ (‘When the Son of Man comes’). In this book I indicated that many reformed theologians are trying to find an untenable midway between Israel and the millennial reign, in that they agree to the restoration of Israel but refuse to admit that there will be a future reign of peace. Dr. Berkhof makes a clear statement in this regard: ‘Both subjects are closely related, in such a way that the restoration of Israel guides our thoughts towards a future reign of peace’ (‘Christus de Zin der Geschiedenis’, p. 144).”
However, sermons and books of this nature soon became a rare phenomenon in reformed churches, with the exception of the Evangelical Reformed Church which still officially holds the premillennial point of view. An entire new generation of preachers were trained by the three major reformed churches since 1962; consequently, views on the restoration of Israel, Christ’s secret coming at the rapture, the revelation of a personal Antichrist, the seven-year tribulation period, and the restoration of the throne of David in Jerusalem after the premillennial coming of Christ on the Mount of Olives, are regarded as unbiblical and sectarian speculation – and all that despite the fact that these things are part of Bible-based theological teachings that were established in South Africa during the course of many years by the DRC itself!
It is indeed ironical that the church who played the major role in establishing premillennial eschatology in South Africa, has taken the lead in efforts to discredit and eradicate this doctrine. The reason for this turn of events is not hard to find. As indicated earlier, the practical outcome of the new, critical views on theology is that the Bible is subjected to the authority and judgement of theologians who take the liberty to interpret and apply it according to their own liking. They accept or reject biblical statements as they please, since they no longer regard themselves as being unconditionally subjected to the authority of Scripture.
The biblical doctrine on sanctification is the next Christian foundation which is destroyed during the process of apostatising. The concepts of justification and sanctification are no longer clearly distinguished from each other because a life of self-mortification, filling with the Holy Spirit, and the observing of strict moral standards is not acceptable to the modern, self-centred believer who wants to freely give expression to all his desires and lusts.
However, the Lord does not want us to remain confined to the infant stage of our life of faith, and for that reason he commanded His disciples to be filled with the Holy Spirit before engaging in the Great Commission of evangelisation (Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8). Christians in the various congregations received the equally important command to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18), to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), to pursue holiness in their personal lives (1 Thess. 4:3, 7), to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit (2 Cor. 7:1), to intimately identify with the cross of Christ (Gal. 6:14), to put down the old man of carnality (Luke 9:23; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:8-10), and to grow up towards spiritual maturity (Eph. 4:13-14).
Through clear messages on sanctification, half-hearted, lukewarm, prayerless, and worldly-minded Christians who are often still slaves of certain sins are called to higher levels of dedication to the Lord. Should they fail to submit to this calling they limit themselves to a spiritually fruitless life of fleshliness (1 Cor. 3:1-3), which prohibits them from becoming witnesses to Christ (Heb. 5:12-14) as they are caught up in a spiritual checkmate situation: “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Gal. 5:17).
Sanctification was the important message during revival times, since revival refers to new life where life already exists. Preaching on repentance was followed up by preaching on sanctification, and that made a tremendous difference in the lives of believers. During the late 19th and early 20th century revival also occurred in South Africa under the preaching of pastors such as Andrew Murray. Most of Murray’s books and sermons were focused on the subject of sanctification. The church in South Africa should therefore be able to appreciate the great value of believers who are filled with the Holy Spirit. In the early church, only such believers were selected to officiate in the congregation (Acts 6:3). Are these standards still observed?
The foundation of sanctification has largely been destroyed by leading churches in South Africa. Justification and sanctification are offered to believers as a single package, regardless of whether their lives testify to these truths or not. Sanctification as a second work of grace is labelled as “Methodism” and rejected (referring to John Wesley’s views on this subject), with the result that Andrew Murray’s books are also rejected and no longer reprinted in large volumes. There were even pastors who wanted to get rid of the whole set of Murray’s books by offering them free of charge to anyone who would care to take them.
When the foundations of premillennialism and sanctification have been overturned, only a limited number of Christian teachings remain to be proclaimed. A situation of this nature has been prevailing for a considerable length of time in congregations where repentance is still proclaimed, but without emphasising the need for sanctification and without any preaching on biblical prophecies. Under circumstances such as these Christians do not have a clear future expectation – neither the power nor the motivation to overcome sin, fleshliness and worldliness. No wonder that many of the members, particularly the youth, are losing interest in the church and then start drifting away from the truth even further.
It is heartening if the need for repentance and rebirth is still proclaimed, but if it is not clearly and convincingly followed up by holiness preaching no spiritual growth will take place. A ministry of this nature does not yield lasting results – not even when thousands of people are called to repentance during mass meetings. If they are not confirmed in a life of holiness, no growth to spiritual maturity will occur.
In churches where the prophetic word in the Bible is not highly regarded, and where the command towards holiness is not seriously considered and actively proclaimed, a situation is created which is conducive to the fall of the following Christian foundation, i.e. the command to repent and be born again. That is precisely what is happening today on a large scale.
In many churches, false foundations of salvation are offered to people. These foundations vary from a good life to baptism, confirmation, church membership and tithing. The deceptive premise is made that all elected people are destined to heaven since their birth, and therefore do not need to take a conscious decision to pass from spiritual darkness to the marvellous light of Christ’s salvation. They should only ritually be incorporated into a denomination, thus becoming a member of the body of Christ (e.g. the doctrine of baptismal regeneration).
When a situation of this nature prevails, a congregation apostatises to the level of a spiritually empty organisation characterised only by an outer form of godliness. They pretend to be spiritually alive but have denied the quickening power of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:5). Such people regard themselves as Christians but have no testimony of having been born again when the Lord changed their lives. They are doctrinally convinced in the church about supposedly being born again, but they do not have the witness of the Holy Spirit in their hearts that they are indeed saved (Rom. 8:16).
In this situation of spiritual darkness, members are readily susceptible to the destruction of the most basic foundations of the Christian faith, i.e. the authority of the Bible as God’s Word as well as the deity and atoning death of the Lord Jesus.
Unsaved church members do not enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit in their hearts as He alone can give them enlightened eyes of the mind to understand the mystery of the gospel (Eph. 1:18). Most of them are victims of the theology of spiritualising and distorting God’s Word because they do not accept biblical statements on face value. Their obvious lack of rebirth and sanctification renders them unable to comprehend biblical truths which are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).
Because of this situation, members of severely backslidden churches are not able to resist and refute postmodern criticism against the Bible. They are easy targets of allegations by the New Reformers that the Bible was only written by fallible people in accordance with the primitive worldview of their time; that it contains many mistakes and contradictions; and that it is furthermore full of mythology and symbolism which should not be seriously regarded. To them, the Bible is on the same level as the holy books of other faiths such as Buddhism and Islam, and therefore not a unique revelation of God to humanity.
Under such circumstances there is no notion of Scriptural authority, with the result that apostatised Christians of the end-time regard themselves as completely free to determine their own standards of living and to observe their own moral rules. To them, a good life is all that is needed to be irreproachable, and everything that could be described as evangelical or fundamental is rejected as an unacceptable form of narrow-mindedness. The Bible is merely seen as a collection of myths and stories which may be used to make moral applications. These norms are open to various interpretations, and people can decide for themselves which of the moral principles are acceptable and binding to them.
The fifth and most important foundation of the Christian faith is the Rock, Jesus Christ, with full recognition of biblical facts on His virgin birth, deity, atoning death, bodily resurrection, and ascension. He is the incarnated Word – God who became flesh and dwelt among us. When the Bible is no longer recognised as the inspired Word of God it stands to reason that Jesus Christ will also not be regarded as the perfect God-man. Consequently, Christianity will no longer be perceived as unique and will be relegated to a position of equality with the other world religions.
It is important to determine how far the rejection of the biblical Jesus has already taken place within backslidden churches, and how members react to these views. It undeniably amounts to treason against the true Christ if confessing members remain within a church in which these serious errors are condoned and accepted without protest. The Lord Jesus says that if we deny Him He will also deny us: “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:33).
Nobody will get away with spiritual treason of this nature without incurring eternal damage to his soul, while at the same time deceiving many other people. When people turn away from the true Jesus, “another Jesus” is proclaimed to them under the guidance of the spirit of error (2 Cor. 11:2-4), and in this way people are conditioned to accept the Antichrist instead of the true Christ. The warning of Jesus in Matthew 24:4-5 refers to the seriousness of this form of deception.
It is in the interest of all of us to determine to what extent this important foundation of the Lord Jesus as the only Saviour of the world is either honoured or questioned in the circles in which we move (cf. Acts 4:12). An unambiguous choice should be made between the Jesus of the Bible and the so-called “historical Jesus” who is presented to us by agnostic theologians. The true Jesus is the eternal, self-existent Son of God who was conceived by the Holy Spirit when He was incarnated. The “other Jesus” is the product of critical theological thinking and dubious historical interpretations. According to this way of reasoning He was an ordinary man who was not supernaturally conceived, was not God, did not die to atone for our sins, and did not rise from the dead.
The end-time attack against the central Person of our life of faith gained considerable momentum since the establishment of the Jesus Seminar in the USA in 1985 by 150 critical theologians under the leadership of Robert Funk. According to their findings the Bible is not credible as it presents us with an imaginary Jesus who is far removed from the Jesus who really lived on earth. They maintain that the historical Jesus was not God and had no supernatural attributes. The Jesus Seminar does not only attack biblical views on Jesus but also completely rejects the doctrine on the Trinity. What they promote will, if widely accepted, bring about the end of the Christian faith as described in the Bible. The following are a few of their statements:
· The doctrine of the atonement – the claim that God killed his own son in order to satisfy his thirst for satisfaction – is subrational and subethical. This monstrous doctrine is the stepchild of a primitive sacrificial system in which the gods had to be appeased by offering them some special gift, such as a child or an animal.
· The resurrection of Jesus did not involve the resuscitation of a corpse. Jesus did not rise from the dead, except perhaps in some metaphorical sense.
· Prayer is meaningless when understood as requests addressed to an external God for favour or forgiveness as God does not interfere with the laws of nature. Prayer as praise is a remnant of the age of kingship in the ancient Near East and is beneath the dignity of deity. Prayer should be understood principally as meditation – as listening rather than talking – and as paying attention to the needs of one’s neighbour.
· The Bible does not contain fixed, objective standards of behavior that should govern human behavior for all time.
The Jesus Seminar also exerted tremendous influence on theological thinking in South Africa. Some of the Seminar’s leaders visited theological faculties at South African universities, where they were welcomed with honour and high acclaim for their work. Their research did not only give rise to the initiation of a New Reformation in South Africa, but also to an active debate on the historical Jesus in the mainstream of reformed theology. Various books with unbiblical presentations of Jesus have already been published, while theological syllabi in most of the theological seminaries (particularly those attached to universities) were drastically revised.
The active phase of this debate in South Africa started in 2001 with the publication of the book Fatherless in Galilee by Prof. Andries van Aarde of the University of Pretoria. Van Aarde describes the Jesus of the Bible as the Jesus of faith, the kerygmatic Jesus (that is the Jesus of the gospel), and also as the cultic Jesus. According to him, the disciples and apostles subjectively decided to declare Jesus to be God and Messiah, but the real (historical) Jesus never made such claims. Van Aarde alleges that the followers of Jesus rendered the Christian faith a cult, and that the significance which they attached to the cross and the resurrection of Christ was merely their own idea. The author simply depicts the historical Jesus as the son of Mary – much in the same way in which the Koran presents Isa. Van Aarde mentions the possibility that Jesus was an illegitimate child who grew up fatherless, and because of that he fantasised about a heavenly Father.
Another publication which caused great shock waves in South Africa and abroad is the book by Prof. Pieter Craffert: The Life of a Galilean Shaman – Jesus of Nazareth in anthropological perspective (2008). Prof. Craffert resorted to cultural anthropology to radically reinterpret the image of the biblical Jesus. According to him, reality is determined within the social and cultural framework of a nation, and for that reason Jesus had to fulfil a socially acceptable role, namely that of a shaman who is a traditional healer and diviner, commonly referred to as a witchdoctor (p. 420). According to this author, the actions of Jesus should be considered in the context of the worldview entertained by first century shamans. He says that Moses and Elisha fulfilled similar roles as shamans during the earlier history of Israel.
Prof. R.J. Miller (Juniata College, Pennsylvania, USA) says in his review of this book: “Part Three, Jesus and the shamanic complex, argues that Jesus can plausibly be seen as a shamanic figure because he (and his group) often experienced altered states of consciousness, such as various visions (e.g., Jesus’ transfiguration and his walking on the sea) and his experiences at his baptism and temptation. Jesus was thought to be possessed by ancestral spirits. ... Jesus’ healings, exorcisms, nature miracles (i.e., control of the spirits of nature), and resurrections (recoveries of the spirits of the dead) can all be understood as shamanic activities and thus suggest that Jesus was a shamanic holy man.”
Despite the glaring weaknesses of the historical method used by Craffert to construct the historical Jesus, and also in spite of the blasphemous statements made about the biblical Jesus by the author, the reviewer still finds enough reason to express his admiration for this book. Miller says: “Craffert acknowledges that his method cannot distinguish (and Craffert seems uninterested in making the distinction) between culturally plausible reports of events about Jesus that objectively happened in time and space and culturally plausible stories invented by Christian tradents. The inability to tell historical fact from historical fiction surely reduces the power of any historical method. I register these objections within the larger context of my admiration and gratitude for Craffert’s achievement. This book is required reading for all interested in the historical Jesus. It has the potential to reshape the field.”
Any person who agrees with fictitious and speculative ideas of this nature is instrumental in the destruction of the final and most important foundation of the Christian faith, namely Jesus Christ Himself. Such a person can no longer call himself a Christian, even if he still vaguely identifies with Jesus by regarding Him as a moral role model on how to love your neighbour and to assist the poor and the oppressed. An association of this nature has no spiritual content.
The final objective with the destruction of Christian foundations is the same everywhere in the world, namely a demon-inspired strategy for the establishment of an antichristian new world order. In summary, the views and strategies of these postmodern reformers are as follows:
· A Christian future expectation should be replaced by a humanly-conceived plan for the unifying of the whole world under one government, one religion, and one economic system. Peace, not a tribulation and the judgements of God, should be pursued at all cost. A manmade peace and unity will be achieved under the rule of the Antichrist, to such an extent that the whole world will follow him in amazement (Rev. 13:3).
· Biblical sanctification should be regarded as an unacceptable form of moralising by which man is deprived of the liberty to live as he pleases. Sanctification is too rigid and prescriptive, and it should be substituted by unlimited human freedom, including a person’s cultural identity and sexual orientation. This permissive lifestyle will be realised under the leadership of the man of sin (2 Thess. 2:3).
· Rebirth should be discounted as an unnecessary experience as man is regarded to be inherently good since his birth, and therefore do not need one or other spiritual experience to change him into a better person. The best people today, who do the most to alleviate the plight of needy people, are humanists who do not have any fixed religious convictions. Man is the master of his own destiny.
· The Bible is a human book that should not be recognised on a higher level than the holy books of other religions. The Bible anyway is an historical book which was not written for modern man, and can therefore not be applied to our time in its existing form. Efforts should be made to identify something good in all religions on a moral level, and to pursue these values (multireligious thinking).
· Jesus Christ was only an ordinary human being, and one of many prophets. He was a mortal man and will not return to earth. His office and Messianic title will be applied to the cosmic christ of all faiths. This impostor will also claim the messianic titles of all other religions; therefore, apart from being the Christ to Christians and Jews, he will also be the fifth Buddha to the Buddhists, Krishna to the Hindus, and the Imam Mahdi to the Muslims.
The five basic foundations of the Christian faith have already fallen in many countries, a large number of churches and also in the lives of many individuals. The time is now ripe for the appearance of the false christ of all faiths, as the world is in such an advanced stage of delusion that the vast majority of people will follow him in amazement and also worship him (Rev. 13:3-4, 8).
However, before that will happen, the true Christ will secretly come as the heavenly Bridegroom to catch away His bride to heaven (1 Thess. 4:16-18). These believers were not involved with the destruction of the foundations of the Christian faith, and for that reason Christ will say to them: “You have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Rev. 3:8). Because they have accepted the Lord Jesus with the full recognition of His divine attributes and the great significance of His crucifixion, and have honoured the Bible as the inerrant and inspired Word of God, they have seriously regarded the command to be born again and also trusted the Lord for the further work of grace to be filled with His holy Spirit. In this spiritual state they eagerly look forward to the second coming of Christ. This is a sanctifying hope, as “everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).
We are now very close to the time of separation when the followers of the true Jesus, who are acting as withholders of the Antichrist, will be taken away – and then the lawless one will be revealed to institute his reign of terror on earth. He and his followers will be destroyed by Christ after seven years, at the end of the great tribulation, when He returns to earth at His second coming (Rev. 19:19-21).
Make very sure who of the two christs you are following – the true Christ of the Bible or the false, ecumenical christ of all faiths. Your eternal destiny will be determined by virtue of your allegiance to the true Jesus, as no one comes to the Father except through the Son (John 14:6).