Cut Me a Break, Please.
by Rev. Dennis Hartman
Published July 8, 2010
II Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Just recently I was painfully remind of an idea that I have come to avoid. I am not one to buy into the Pre-millennial Dispensationalism theory of Bible prophecy. Most who hold to this model of propphecy are so arrogant as to say that is what the Bible teaches. To me there is more hope in Christ then that. This hope breeds optimism that Christ is still working with a generation who is largely secular in their philosophy. A hope that the whole world could be save. Still, while this hope burns eternal, it must be tampered with a dose of reality too.
As any real Christian realizes, this nation is facing some terrible times if things do not change politically. Not only politically but also if the American Church - all denominations and independents alike, don't wake up soon it will be too late. That is the problem - time - to late. The American church in belief have talked themselves into the end time with their Pre-millennial Dispensational view of prophecy. In a very chesty fashion they proclaim this view as the only view taught in the Bible. Well, it may have something to do with the Bible, but it certainly is not the only prophetic view that the Bible teaches. This view is very negative. They cry and prognosticate that the end time is here because of all their conspiracies theories, secert codes and the news paper bibles. Every time I turn around another new conspiracy emerges as well as a new method of telling the end. It is like a new wart on the witches nose and is just ugly and as hard to deny.
Recently a friend returned form a third world country. In his email note to our accountability group he cited the follow. "By 2025, one in four Christians will live in Africa. By 2100 Nigeria will be the epicenter of Christianity." This prediciton is nothing more then a storm blowing garbage through the air and about as useless. I heard a missionary say that there are third world countries sending missionaries to the United States. If Christians here can not turn the hearts of America to Christ, I am not sure how a missionary from the third world can do any better.
The first statement about Africa was based in a sense of optimism, and he says research. The second about missionaries from a third world country was base on a sense of despair. What do we make of it?
The American Church, and I consider all Christian denominations and independents in this classification, has contributed millions over the years to world missions. At least a million missionaries typify the commitment to missions of the American Churches. Hospitals, schools, colleges, digging of wells, and etc seal their oath to follow Jesus. An uncountable number of souls have entered heavens beautiful shores because of their labor of love. Recently I read an article that showed that the United States still gives more to charity then any other country in the world. This too is the result of the gospel. While there is a tapering off of missionaries from America to other countries, we still send more then most.
Now the above is a general statement of fact. This conflicts nicely with the idea of missionaries being sent to America from third world countries. If this is the case, it sounds like the pastors here are not doing their jobs. Perhaps their jam session on Sunday morning called a "worship service" is failing them. Perhaps their "high powered" and "high energy" approach to worship is not doing the job spiritually. But even with this criticism of the contemporary approach to worship, there are still countless churches who do it right. The gospel message is going out to America. Why then this prideful boast of missionaries coming here? While it may be true, and if it is true, then we have ourselves to blame and not some sort of prophetic system or secret codes that tell us this will happen in the end times. Perhpas we need to admit that God is not moving his Spirit to work conviction in the hearts of the lost.
Equally disturbing is the claim that "by 2100 Nigeria will be the epicenter of Christianity." This is most optimistic. Strangely I do not share this view, though in the flesh it would be desirable. First off, there are some real problems with Islam in that Nigeria. Many nit witted Christians are trying to reach out to create a better understanding between Islam and Christianity in that country. This will never work according to Islamic law. Historically, Islam only tolerates Christianity, and taxes them heavily after they take control of a country. Second, politically there is a sort of 50 50 deal between these religious groups at this time. Once Islam out populates the Christians, the idea of getting along will die a fast death. This is a matter of fact and history. There are no records of an Islamic take over of a country where there is no attempt to destory the Church, Jews and all who oppose them.
But beyond this Islam vs Christianity thing there is this other claim. That "by 2025, one in four Christians will live in Africa." Question? Who counted all the noses of the Christians in Africa or the world for that matter? It would seem to me that Christianity in China could make an equal claim even though they are persecuted. What is the base line for calling a person a Christian anyways?
In all this I feel that we have to soon written off the United States. That the United States is now a mission field. That the United States is now fallen - finished. Where is God in all this? Where? I get tired of every one slamming the country I love and denying that God can do anything about.
We have became a nation of spiritual wimp's! We have now become the victims of our own prophetic positions even though we may not be right. It is time for the American Church to grow up. It is time to start living the life, walking the walk, and talk the talk. IT IS TIME FOR MORE OF THE PETER CARTWRIGHTS STYLE OF CHRISTIANITY IN METHODISM AND THE AMERICAN CHURCH, AND LESS REACHING OUT. Maybe this is the real reason for the Spirits lack of working in our Churches. We have lost Christian Character.
Ao let's ask the question. 2 Chron. 7:14 says that God will bless those who turn to him. This blessing we have generally taken to mean as cleaning up our political's as well as our economics. Right? Never is it under stood to mean to only clean up the Church while our county falls a part both politically and economically. If this is the case then we should expect to see many of these African nations grow more stable politically and economically. But this is not happening at all. Instead chaos reigns almost every where there, including Nigeria. The nations that are currently stable will become unstable as time goes by. This has been the case for years. If there Africa does not see such stability in the very near future, either our understanding of 2 Chorn. is wrong, or God does not mean what he says!
So in conclusion we might ask, why the optimism for Africa and the pessimism for America? If there is a spiritual awaking in Africa, then am I wrong to expect 2 Chron to include economic and political stability? I think not. After all, God is a God of order and not chaos. And Africa by any one's standard is a place of general chaos. Even as I write, South Africa is struggling to stay united. This does not mean that God can not move or is moving is some respect, but I currently see no proof in this dish of pudding that either postulation is all that correct.
Pastor Hartman has been in the ministry for thirty seven years. He graduated from the Institute of Christian Service of Bob Jones University. He also holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Columbus State University and did post grad work at the same school. He has taught in the public school system for fifteen years, and is currently working with a small private academy. He has traveled once to Russia, three times to the Ukraine, twice to England in a humble effort to help the missionaries spread the Gospel of Christ. After resigning form his pastorate in 2005, he does supply work for other pastors in the community. While he is Independent Methodist, he is currently attending a neat conservative Church. If you wish to contact Pastor Hartman, please feel free to do so.