Pastor Edwin Rideout of the Family Christian Center is three sermons into a sermon series that’ effectively dealing with the issue of the events of the end times, specifically those revolving around the kingdom of Christ coming. Throughout the sermon series he seeks to convey certain things, all through an understanding of what the eternal kingdom is, and the mechanisms of the final system that in its evil and rebellion will come against the kingdom, resulting in the events of the end time.
A bit more specifically, he delves into issues such as what the final system is, talking about the second coming, the antichrist, the tribulation. He spends a fair amount of time making the case that the system that will be used by God is the false, demonic religion known as Islam. That through the rise, spread, and propagation of Islam- and because of the enmity between Jacob and Esau that was foreshadowed in the scriptures, that the Muslims will play an integral role in the end times. We are told that the Koran is a demonic book, that Islam teaches evil and has evil intentions, and that more than likely, with the build up of the Muslim population in Russia, that Russia will arm the Middle East and the Muslim nations with weapons, who will then attack Israel in the battle of Armageddon. The Muslim and Islamic system is what Satan will use to destroy Israel, and one might say that the Lord is using Russia and the Muslim Middle-East nations as instruments of God’s judgment and wrath- against themselves.
While I am anxious to hear more of the matter, to see how this sermon series culminates, I don’t have much of a review to do perse, but I did want to share some thoughts, for a reason. Primarily to offer this as an example of an area where we can utterly and completely disagree, and it doesn’t mean it has to blow into some big thing. Because here’s the deal- I don’t have the same eschatological views as he does. I don’t care at all about end-time issues, partly because I don’t see what sort of benefit, relevance or impact having anything other than a broad understanding of it could possibly have on my life. Eschatology for me is a long, winding and confusing road, and I think this is probably one of those rare times when almost any interpretation could very well be valid.
If I had to classify myself, I would say that I am more than likely some form of quasi-partial preterist/ historicist, who believes that most of the book of revelation was fulfilled prior to 70AD. I don’t believe in a rapture [and in fact, would suggest that if we examine the biblical record, that as far as scenarios are reflected, that you WANT to be left behind. That is to say, throughout the context of the scriptures Jesus uses judgment language reminiscent of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of its inhabitants. Those who were taken away were the ones judged by God whereas those left behind were the remnant who received grace.]
That’s what I essentially believe, but I wouldn’t start a new church over it. Furthermore, unless it bled into the rest of their theology in some really destructive and sinister ways, I fully believe this is a tertiary issue that would not affect how I view a Church. I’m not going to write a post critiquing his use of scripture interpretation regarding this sort of thing. That is, in my mind, very unfruitful. I have my opinions, but I could very well be wrong. I hold eschatological ideas very loosely. Part of that comes from surveying the history of the world since the ascendancy of Christ. People say that we are in the end times, and I do believe that in a general sense- that Christ will return one day for his bride. Absolutely. But there is nothing about this time that stands apart or is unique from any other time in history. We are not more evil or more depraved. The world is not worse now that it has been at different epochs throughout history. Immorality is not more widespread that it has been in the past. Nothing about this time in 2011 would leave me to believe that we are anything special.
We don’t know what would be the geo-political situation if Christ should tarry for a few thousand years. Perhaps we’ll have had several world wars by then which will have essentially ravaged and scorched the earth. Perhaps North America will have become the new mecca and the new Muslim power. Perhaps we will be living on Mars and the population of the world will have been decimated to a few thousand people living in underground colonies. Perhaps Islam will have died out- gone the way of the ancient Greek gods and mythos, and a new world religion will reign that Islam will pale in comparison to.
Who knows. I don’t think I or anyone knows, nor do I think Pastor Edwin knows. For that reason I would caution him to frame his thoughts in terms of educated or probable guesses, possible interpretations instead of assured fact. But even if he wants to roll that way- that’s his prerogative. This is not something worth dividing about. This is not something worth parsing on my end. For that reason, in that context and approaching them with that mindset, I find these sermons to be informative, educational, and edifying. I certainly share his concerns over the Muslim faith and its increasing rise to prominence. I too consider the Koran to be a demonically inspired and don’t believe Allah to be Jehovah in any way shape or form. I pray for people trapped in Islam, that they might repent of their false religion and be forgiven of their sins so that they might have eternal life. I also find this to be an imminently courageous sermon to preach, and look forward to hearing the rest.