Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question:
“Dear Dave and T.A.: I’m confused about the views I’ve been hearing about what God is supposedly doing throughout the world today. Christian futurist James Rutz, the author of Mega-Shift, says that God is pouring out His Spirit on people around the world, resulting in millions coming to Christ through miraculous signs and wonders. He concludes that Christianity will be the dominant religion in the next quarter-century. Rick Warren believes that his global PEACE plan will bring about about a worldwide revival and reformation as it solves many of the major problems facing the world today. My question is how do these beliefs square with what the Bible says about the last days before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?”
Tom: I think there’s a couple of ways to look at this. I’ve read Mega-Shift by James Rutz, and when he talks about people coming to Christ, they’re through ministries like Reinhard Bonnke, in which supposedly a million Africans are going forward—they’re drawn by supposed signs and wonders. The people that he mentions, people like Yonggi Cho and so on—people that we’ve always been concerned about with regard to their theology, their positive confession, word-faith teachings, and so on, which are contrary to what the Bible…
So I don’t know how you could say these people are truly becoming Christians when many of these people are teaching false things. They’re teaching false doctrines—false Christs in many cases.
Dave: Mm-hmm. Well, Tom, I’ve been saying for years I just base it upon the Bible that a false Christianity will take over the world. The Antichrist, I believe, will pretend to be Christ. Now, there are those who think that Islam will take over the world. I don’t think so, but certainly the Bible indicates the church of the last days [will be] rich and increased with goods, in need of nothing, so it could grow larger and larger, and certainly Rick Warren has unprecedented success in rallying thousands of churches. In his PEACE plan he’s going to mobilize churches, so I wouldn’t put Rick Warren by any means in the category of Yonggi Cho or Reinhard Bonnke or Kenneth Copeland, people like this.
Tom: Mm-hmm. But, Dave, what about his goal? What about his objective? As I’ve read Rick—certainly Purpose Driven Life—and followed his ministry, there seems to be (in my opinion, at least) a lack of discernment with regard to prophecy, with regard to what the Bible says about the last days. He rarely, if ever, issues warnings about false teachers, false doctrines, and he’s trying to put together a game plan to solve the world’s problems. I don’t see that in Scripture.
Dave: Right. So that would be one of my major concerns with Rick. Paul writes to Timothy that in the last days, “they will not endure sound doctrine. Therefore,” he says, “preach the word. Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” I don’t get doctrine from Rick. I don’t get reproof and rebuke. He doesn’t seem to be concerned about errors there in the church. He seems to be quite comfortable with ecumenism, working with Catholics or whomever…
Tom: Even Muslims, Dave, with regard to his global PEACE plan. If a Muslim—and this is what he says: If a Muslim is the spiritual leader in a village, you’ve got to work with them. Now, that’s ecumenism to the point of being so contrary to what the Bible teaches…I don’t know why he doesn’t understand that.
Dave: Work with the spiritual leader, the Muslim, to do what?
Tom: To solve the problems: poverty, AIDS, whatever the situation might be.
Dave: Tom, we’ve been pointing that out for many years: that is the problem with these social political action groups. If I’m joined with Hindus, and Buddhists, who are very peaceful, and Mormons, and Catholics in opposition to abortion and we’re picketing abortion clinics or whatever together, I dare not tell them the truth. I can’t! My lips are sealed. I can’t tell them the gospel—that would break up our coalition!
So if Rick is going to have this worldwide coalition, and he’s going to use spiritual leaders no matter what their beliefs are, then he’s not going to be able to tell them the gospel. He cannot obey what Jesus Himself said: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” How can you preach the gospel to a Muslim whom you are recognizing as a spiritual leader?
Tom: Mm-hmm. And, Dave, but somebody might argue, “Wait a minute, you don’t know that these are the last days. God could be giving a window of opportunity, a revival, and so on to draw many to Himself.”
But my response to that is: Well, okay, let’s look at—call it a methodology—let’s look at the approach. Let’s look at what doctrines are either being avoided or false doctrines that are being promoted. Wouldn’t that indicate that there are some problems here?
Dave: Well, Tom, what you said certain people say is ridiculous. Oh, He’s giving us a window of opportunity to do what? What are we going to do? Just continue on our ecumenical path?
Dave: This ecumenism—encouraging a Muslim spiritual leader to believe that you recognize him as legitimate, now when is that going to open the window of opportunity to tell him he’s on his way to hell? To tell him the contradictions—total contradictions—between Islam and the biblical gospel; between the Isa of Islam and the Jesus of the Bible; between Allah of Islam and Yahweh of the Bible? They are diametrically opposed. Yahweh is the true God. Allah claims to be the true God, or Muslims claim for him that he is the true God, but he is absolutely opposed to everything that Yahweh stands for.
Now, you’re opening a window of opportunity. You’re going to get his confidence, and then one day you’re going to be able to tell him that what he believes is wrong, and that you have acknowledged his leadership over a false religion, and you have cooperated with him; and now suddenly you’re going to try to tell him he’s on his way to hell unless he repents and believes in the true Jesus Christ, not of Islam, but of the Bible? Tom, it doesn’t make any sense. You’re going down the wrong path.