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Text Sermons : Art Katz : Critiquing the Visions of the Last Days

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It is only with some reluctance that we are responding to a request (2004) to give an evaluation of two videos we have been given to consider that have to do with an End Time vision of judgment upon America - given by prominent American ministers of the gospel.

The purpose of the vision and its elaboration was to bring an urgent ‘wake up’ call to the Church, and alert it to the Lord’s Second Coming. In all the overflowing verbiage in the several telecasts, we were never told what it was we were to wake up to. Nor were we told what this urgency should set in motion. The very comfortable setting of an idyllic living room, whose window opened to a pleasant country view, seemed in contradiction to the urgency to which we were being urged. It appeared rather as a novelty that would provide the repeated subject matter for ongoing TV broadcasts.

The lightness that pervaded the discussion seemed to again contradict the very urgency for which the vision had purportedly been given - stated though it was in sonorous, pontifical tones to give it an appropriate dignity. These participants seem to be occupying a world of their own, which they comfortably enjoy, and are sincerely persuaded that what they are about is the ‘cutting edge’ of God - though it did not appear that any radicalization of their own life style was required.

“And then God said to me…and then God said to me” was expressed with equal equanimity and self-assurance. The fact that Scripture could be quoted and aggressively stated would appear to validate the entire scenario to those viewers who themselves inhabit worlds of their own making, though, for me, the unmistakable stamp of reality that marks the truth of God was absent. There was no real exposition of any of the verses cited, no opening of the word, no revelatory insight, but only those human comments as unaided man’s intelligence itself provides. These were buttressed with political observations to which most of us would agree, but added nothing to which we should be alerted as urgent, only vague generalizations with which no one would take issue or fault. That America stands in danger of imminent judgment we all would agree.

For myself, far from being gripped by these presentations, I found them wearisome and spirit-draining. The men seemed to exhibit a hubris of self-satisfaction relative to their place in this especial fraternity of self-appointed prophets who endorse and validate each other. What was lacking, among other things, is the distinctive trembling or brokenness one might rightly expect in those who have been given such apocalyptic seeing. In its stead is a certain theatricality of a showy and ostentatious kind by those who are supremely self-assured, and are not unduly affected by the tragic implications of their own visions. Is this another instance of the ‘chaff’ being fed to millions who love what is sensational and have little disposition for the radical and requiring truth of God. Such would feed upon carnal visions of a dubious kind, more imagined than real, overworked by redundant commentary that no more illumines what we have already been given in Scripture, even by the Lord Himself in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 concerning the perils of the last days and the Lord’s coming.

Far from a warning to ‘wake up,’ the Lord may be using these programs as a reality-check for those who can be so easily impressed by them. Dear viewer, what is in you that finds these presentations impressive? Do you inhabit an unreality of your own making and choosing that makes you amenable to theirs? Ought you not to have been rather chafed by the human pride and near arrogance displayed? What has been affected in you in receiving this as an urgent ‘wake up’ call? How much more are you anticipating the Lord’s soon return because of it? The greatest threat of deception is the employment of partial truth or the turning of eschatological urgencies into entertaining truisms. The practitioners of the same will have their reward in a fear now presently absent as they confidently fill the air with platitudes and presumption of prophetic kinds for which they have no authority or anointed witness. It is man in the driver’s seat having a ball at the easy invocation of supposed visions elaborated by the employment of Scripture - substituting, at will, for anointing, a ‘mannish’ vigor and bravado in making its supposed point.





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