As I have stated several times, my intention in this book is not to make predictions, but to be alert to how the biblical text relates to the world around me. And in doing that, to present to the Church a possible scenario for the coming days that will hopefully act as a map through some dangerous territory.
It should come as no surprise that my biggest concern is that our Western Church is currently not sober, but is instead intoxicated by the responsibilities, worries and attractions of this temporal world. My fear is that multitudes of today’s confessing Christians are going to spiritually crumble when they realize that what they thought was the Christian experience was nothing more than a cultural delusion.
The days are on the horizon when our “relevant” Western theology and the application of our “self-help” Christian faith will no longer be sufficient for our reality. When that happens I anticipate that the members of the seeker-friendly-mega-church model will flee Christianity. Multitudes will rebel against the Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ when:
Probably the greatest of all outside challenges the [church] must face today is Muslim extremism. In many parts of the world Christians are under siege….For many Muslims there can be no distinction between religion and politics, between private faith and public law and order…Muslims like to present themselves as peaceful in places where they are in the minority, such as America. Things are quite different in places where Islam is in the majority. Consider:Indonesia: Muslim officials can find countless ways to block building permits for new churches.Saudi Arabia: Foreigners cannot legally conduct Bible study or Christian worship even in their own homes.Sudan: The air force of the Islamic regime mounts bombing raids that deliberately target Christian hospitals, schools, and even churches during worship.Northern provinces of Nigeria: There is a determined effort to force Islamic law on everybody, Muslim or not, including penalties such as stoning, beheading, or cutting off a hand.Pakistan: A Christian’s testimony counts half as much as a Muslim’s testimony in a court of law. If the Christian is female, divide that by half again into fourths. Thus, if a Muslim man were accused of raping a Christian woman, it would take the eyewitness testimony of four Christian women to convict him. (282)
Most American Muslims are concentrated in the larger metropolitan centers…85 percent of American converts to Islam are African American. White Christian America has not been as impacted by the phenomenon nearly as much as black Christian America has. Islam is absolutely sweeping through the inner cities…One Muslim authority estimates that by the year 2020 most American urban centers will be predominantly Muslim. (6)
Obviously, the Roman Empire came and went hundreds of years ago. Rather than fracturing into ten kingdoms, the Roman Empire continuously shrank over the centuries as it lost territory to invaders. Nobody today can argue that it was the last world empire. The Turkish Empire [Muslim] that conquered New Rome (Constantinople) in 1453 was an empire no less powerful than Rome was at its height. Moreover, the only ‘Antichrist’ to appear at the Eastern Empire’s demise was Sultan Mehmet II, who marched triumphantly into Hagia Sophia, the main church of the empire in Constantinople, and claimed it as a Turkish mosque.Although the patristic interpretation of Daniel is similar in some respect to dispensationalists, there is a significant difference: the Fathers of the Church did not picture the ten kingdoms as a resurrected empire appearing hundreds of years after Rome’s fall. Nor, we might add, did they see the Roman Empire as merely a ‘unified’ Western Europe. In fact, Western Europe was the backwater of the empire. The Eastern Mediterranean was where the strength of the empire actually lay, and this is why the Roman emperors allowed the Western Empire to fall to barbarian invaders while they consolidated their power in the East. The ten kingdoms of Daniel’s prophecy would certainly have included the Eastern Empire in the thinking of the Fathers. (A Second Look at the Second Coming, Conciliar Press, Ben Lomond, CA, 1999, 196)
Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime. …The Islamic State, by contrast, requires territory to remain legitimate…The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. … But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam…Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls…’the Prophetic methodology,’ which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail…The Islamic State awaits the army of ‘Rome,’ whose defeat at Dabiq, Syria, will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse…Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, ‘embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion’ that neglects ‘what their religion has historically and legally required.’ Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an ‘interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition’…when the Islamic State began enslaving people, even some of its supporters balked. Nonetheless, the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. ‘We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,’ Adnani, the spokesman, promised in one of his periodic valentines to the West. ‘If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market’…Social-media posts from the Islamic State suggest that executions happen more or less continually…The Islamic State differs from nearly every other current jihadist movement in believing that it is written into God’s script as a central character…’Bin Laden and Zawahiri are from elite Sunni families who look down on this kind of speculation and think it’s something the masses engage in,’ says Will McCants of the Brookings Institution, who is writing a book about the Islamic State’s apocalyptic thought…During the last years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Islamic State’s immediate founding fathers, by contrast, saw signs of the end times everywhere. They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi—a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world. McCants says a prominent Islamist in Iraq approached bin Laden in 2008 to warn him that the group was being led by millenarians who were ‘talking all the time about the Mahdi and making strategic decisions’ based on when they thought the Mahdi was going to arrive. ‘Al-Qaeda had to write to [these leaders] to say ‘Cut it out.’ ’…Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet. “The only principled ground that the Islamic State’s opponents could take is to say that certain core texts and traditional teachings of Islam are no longer valid,” Bernard Haykel says. That really would be an act of apostasy. (full article)