Harold Camping’s end of the world prediction and the confusion among some believers raises the question: are churches teaching about the end times effectively or at all?
Randy Frazee, senior minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, doesn’t think so.
“I don’t believe we teach on it and what we have taught on it generally comes from funerals as opposed to solid teaching,” Frazee told The Christian Post.
Because of the lack of teaching on end times and the afterlife, most American Christians are fearful, he said.
Eternal life is not what is depicted in movies, the megachurch pastor stressed. Christians are doing a disservice to themselves if they only believe what Hollywood films such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Armageddon” suggest. Eternal life is taking walks with God and living without the fear of death, he said.
Unfortunately, many pastors have avoided talking about the end times because it’s controversial, Frazee lamented.
Even though there is a lot of controversy, “the last two chapters in the Bible read exactly like the first two chapters in the Bible,” he pointed out, “and if anyone wants to know what the end times would be like, read the first two chapters of the Bible.”
Camping, 89, president of Family Radio, has been proclaiming that May 21, 2011, is the day of rapture. Beginning at 6 p.m. (in every time zone) earthquakes will rumble the world and those left behind will witness “horrible” destructive events until Oct. 21, when the world will be destroyed. Camping insists that the Bible guarantees it.
Prominent evangelicals have denounced Camping’s message as false teaching. But one thing Frazee is grateful for is the interest surrounding the rapture, and not just within the religious community.
He said the May 21 rapture prediction should count as a wakeup call to those preachers and teachers who have avoided the subject and left their flock fearful of the actual day of judgment.
If people were really knowledgeable on the subject, then they would be excited and ready for that day, he noted. “Believers should live with great anticipation knowing that today could be the day; it shouldn’t conjure up fear.”
Moreover, it should serve as motivation to know that “God has your future.”
And people wouldn’t be quitting their jobs if they understood that no man can establish a date of the rapture, he said.
For a long time, Frazee didn’t have the understanding that he has now. He recalls a time, 11 years ago, when his mom passed away from pancreatic cancer. He had been pastoring a megachurch since he was 28, but still had an underlining fear.
As a result, he went deeper in the Bible and was able to shift the anxiety and fear to hope in God.
“It really captured what God has really planned for us,” he said.
As Sunday approaches, Frazee is challenging pastors to ask their congregation how they felt about the rapture prediction, and if they say they were scared, that’s when pastors need to realize they have some “local work to do” because no Christian should be fearful, he emphasized.
Pastor Juan Sanchez, preaching pastor at High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, agrees that preachers should offer clear teaching on the subject of the end times.
“We [pastors] must speak clearly where He (Jesus) speaks clearly in the Bible, and we must be cautious when the Scripture does not give us information,” Sanchez said.
“We should be humble but we shouldn’t be lackadaisical,” he added, sharing that with eschatology teachings, there should be a sense of expectancy and humility, but not laziness in the approach of teaching.
While Sanchez knows that each Christian church does have varying viewpoints on the end times, he is certain that each church believes Jesus Christ is coming back.
“It’s to be expected. What that allows us to do is not to fight over the end times.”
Both Sanchez and Frazee agree that there should be a sense of hope.
“We are to set our hope on the revelation of Christ on that day. However, we are not going to fight about whether it’s this day or that day,” Sanchez said.
Meanwhile, the question Frazee wants to pose to Christians is “do we really know the big idea of what’s coming?” If so, said they should be able to stand boldly and the next time someone predicts the end times, they should say “bring it.”