Email I received about Hank Hanegraaff teaching against premillennial rapture theology.
I first would like to thank you for your very informative and skillfully created website. I find it a very useful tool for defending the faith. I live in Wisconsin in the Milwaukee county area and can listen to Hank Hannegraff radio show on my drive home from work. I find him palatable when he is not talking about the End Times. Unfortunately today (4/17/07) he was promoting another new book on his Preterist views. I was about to change the station when he began telling a story about a man in South Carolina that gave up his faith because he believed Jesus was a false Prophet based on the prophecy that this Generation will not pass away. I believe that Mr. Hannegraff is using this story as a new tactic to help raise doubt in the minds of Rapture believing Christians that our time is running out and we will soon be proven all wrong. He is trying to create a shelf life for believing in the Rapture making it appear as no more than a fad that has run its course. If he is successful in building momentum with the belief that the prophesied Generation has passed away and know Rapture has taken place, could be a major catalyst on the falling away that is to come. I would be very interested Mr. Koenig in what would be the best way to defend against this new tactic since we know the Generation has not yet past away.
Thanks for your very encouraging comments on my The Prophetic Years website.
I am sure Hank Hanegraaff thinks people have lost their faith because of his own straw man argument that this generation has passed away. However, he does not really know how that passage should be interpreted because the generation Jesus was talking about may not have even begun yet. Even if we assume like some dispensationalists that it started when Israel became a state again in 1948 we know that this generation has not yet died off.
One could argue that the interpretation of the fig tree parable used by some dispensationalists means the last generation started at the time the state of Israel was reborn or it started when Israel captured Jerusalem and made it her capitol. These generations certainly have not yet passed away. So if Hanegraaff wants to use the argument that some dispensationalists claim, he ought to at least wait until that generation actually dies off.
Even if he quotes dispensationalists who use the 1948 date Hanegraaff should wait until about 2028, so he can be absolutely sure that the bulk of this generation has passed away before he claims their interpretation of the fig tree parable is wrong.
Lets face it, the parable of the fig tree interpretation that some dispensationalists use is conjecture anyway because no one knows for sure what the leaves represent on the fig tree. The context of the discourse by Jesus apart from the parable of the fig tree would imply that Jesus was talking about the generation that started seeing the signs that Jesus just spoke about and that this is the generation that would not pass away until all is fulfilled.
So Hanegraaff puts up a straw man argument and then knocks the straw man down with fringe dispensationalist arguments that most dispensationalists have never dogmatically claimed. He then implies that people are losing their faith in Jesus because they believed a fringe dispensationalist interpretation of the passage that a generation would be 40 or 50 years from the birth of the new state of Israel. The passage actually says nothing about the length of that generation, it just says that the generation seeing these things will not pass away until all is fulfilled.
You say Hanegraaff claims a story about a man loosing his faith because apparently he believed the rapture was coming and it did not come within the time that this man allotted. So obviously this man's faith was never based on belief that Jesus is the Messiah. It was based on his assumption that if Jesus was the Messiah He would fulfill his own view of when Jesus would return. The man obviously was not saved. There is no conditional faith in Jesus. Either you believe or you do not. People are saved when they believe in Jesus not when they presume Jesus will return.
In the days when premillennial theology was on its ascendancy and when they were the majority of his listeners I did not hear Hank Hanegraaff taking a preterist stand on eschatology. I believe he generally took the position that he was not convinced on any eschatology. Now that the postmodern seeker friendly churches have downplayed Bible prophecy Hank is apparently going with the majority flow and taking a position against premillennial theology. I believe he can get away with taking this position because thanks to people like Rick Warren the church is now very much dumbed down on premillennial Bible prophecy doctrine. The majority amillennial denominations combined with the preterists and the postmillennial are now the vast majority of his audience. Like any opportunist he is giving his audience what they want and he is profiting from it.
The Bible tells us that scoffers would come in the last days mocking those who are teaching the imminent and soon return of Jesus Christ. Hank Hanegraaff and many like him are fulfilling this prophecy made to the Church. We should not be surprised that people in the last days will not endure sound doctrine because that also was foretold (2Ti4:3).
Having said all that, I do not think true Christians will fall away from the faith because people like Hank Hanegraaff discount the soon return of Jesus Christ and any literal future fulfillment of prophetic passages.
Some may fall away from Christian identity because they only identified with the concepts, but any true believer can not deny the Spirit within. The Holy Spirit Himself witnesses to true Christians that the return of Jesus is very soon. Any astute person in Christ can see that the world cannot go on much longer on its present course. We see Sodom and antichrist views rising in the world and we know that judgment must soon come. All signs and world trends now point in that direction.
Frankly, most amillennial and post-millennial believers seem much more interested in setting up their own little kingdom right here on earth right now without Jesus.
The best way we can defend against those who teach against premillennial rapture theology is by using clear biblical doctrine. Those who have ears to hear will hear. Those who are sleeping or are caught up with the affairs of this world will not know the time of His coming and they will get what they really wanted anyway. That is, they will get more time to live in their flesh on earth.