Question: Sam Harris (one of "The Four Horsemen" leading the "New Atheists") writes: "According to the most common interpretation of biblical prophecy, Jesus will return only after things have gone horribly awry....It is therefore not an exaggeration to say that if the city of New York were suddenly replaced by a ball of fire, some significant percentage of the American population would see a silver lining in the subsequent mushroom cloud, as it would suggest to them that the best thing that is ever going to happen was about to happen: the return of Christ." Why would Jesus have to use some huge catastrophe in order to make his appearance on earth? And why would Christians rejoice over such a tragedy, with complete disregard for the lives lost?
Response: In more than 50 years of speaking at prophecy conferences and both reading and writing many bestselling prophecy books, I have never encountered Harris's bizarre idea. He displays the grossest ignorance of the Bible I have ever seen, especially from someone who claims to know it and who dares to ridicule it.
Where did Harris get this "most common interpretation of biblical prophecy"? It contradicts the Bible and maligns God's character and that of Christians!
A tiny fringe group of Christians may hold such an unbiblical and God-dishonoring view. No Christian would rejoice at the destruction of New York or any other city. Statements like these erode any confidence one might have otherwise had in the accuracy of Harris's accusations. Could his books be worth reading?
A major mistake is his failure to distinguish between the Rapture (which occurs during a time of false peace and prosperity and takes true Christians to heaven) and the Second Coming (when Christ rescues Israel at Armageddon and destroys those who are attacking to destroy her). The Great Tribulation ends in the siege of Jerusalem. At that time there could be a nuclear exchange. This is not, however, a necessary condition for the Second Coming.