War of the Words

war_of_the_worlds“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?” (Luke 10:25-26)

The world is coming to an end. At least that is what they believed on the notorious night of October 30, 1938. As their radios aired a newscast about a Martian invasion, thousands of people responded by jamming roadways, hiding in cellars, grabbing guns and ammo, and wrapping wet towels around their heads to protect against poisonous gas. All this pandemonium came by way of a dramatized radio rendition of the science fiction novel The War of the Worlds. Orson Welles and his talented group of actors and actresses performed the program. Some time after their broadcast, Dorothy Thompson of the New York Tribune surmised this event by writing: “All unwittingly, Mr. Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater of the Air have made one of the most fascinating and important demonstrations of all time. They have proved that a few effective voices, accompanied by sound effects, can convince masses of people of a totally unreasonable, completely fantastic proposition as to create a nation-wide panic.” She went on to say, “Hitler managed to scare all of Europe to its knees a month ago, but he at least had an army and an air force to back up his shrieking words.  But Mr. Welles scared thousands into demoralization with nothing at all.”

The type scare tactics used by Welles is not too dissimilar to those used by today’s Dispensational prophecy teachers. By aligning the modern gadgetry of our “information age” with their theories on Bible prophecy, these teachers convince their followers that their futurist teachings are in fact biblical truths about the “end time.” This they do with little more than a polished delivery and a sampling of newspaper and magazine articles that – they claim – prove their particular eschatology. Dispensationalists have replaced Welles’ Martians with a fanatical one-world leader they call “the antichrist.” Welles’ futuristic outer-space weaponry is now computer chip identification, which these prophecy spinsters claim to be the Bible’s “mark of the beast” and “666.” None-the-less, their stories have stirred up as much sensationalism (or maybe I should say, “dispenSENsationalism”) today as did Mercury Theater’s War of the Worlds in 1938. The difference is Welles’ program had one message that lasted only a few hours, while dispensational teachers have many theories and those keep changing as the old ones are proven to be inaccurate with changing times.

If Dispensationalists are to claim that their theories are “God’s Word,” they should have biblical passages, which give the scriptural legitimacy needed to prove their teachings to be ‘biblical fact.’ Herein lay the two-edged problem: first, the dispensational eschatological theory has not been unable to produce the scriptural evidences needed to support its claims. Second, many of its teachers remain unwilling to admit this all important omission of biblical evidence.

The Bible Challenge

Can a teaching be called “biblical” if it has no passages that actually speak of its claims? Of course it cannot.  Yet many doctrines today that are claimed to be in the Bible have no passages that actually mention their particular position. How does one remedy this? Jesus gave us the key. He once had a lawyer ask, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” What a novel idea! Jesus simply suggested that this man find his answer from the Bible. Not that this is something new, but when it comes to Bible prophecy, many Futurist teachings are taught as fact though they have no Bible for proof. Often a Futurist will quote things they have read from their study Bible’s notes rather than what the scriptures actually record. Sadly, these study notes are often given as authoritative as the scriptures they are claimed to explain. This should never be the case since these notes are man-inspired and not inspired of God.

Regardless of the eschatological position (Fulfilled Eschatology, Historicism, Dispensationalism, or whatever view), a person should read what the Bible actually says to evaluate whether a prophecy teaching is actually found in God’s Word. No child of Jesus Christ should ever follow a false teacher or false teaching regardless how popular it may be. Unlike Dispensationalism, fulfilled eschatology has many scriptural evidences that prove its legitimacy. This solid biblical confirmation is what makes it such a powerful eschatological view and what gives its adherents a sure foundation on which to place their eschatological beliefs.

Fact or Fiction?

Orson Welles’ broadcast caused a national scandal. Radio broadcasts airing real newscasts reported the real panic that this fictional broadcast generated. Later, many concerned citizens contacted authorities demanding that they regulate the airwaves to insure that this type deception never is allowed to happen again. But the real victims were those who were scandalized by the reaction of fear and dread caused by Welles’ message. They were taken in by trusting what they heard only to later discover they were given wrong information. I have seen these types of victims before. Some of these were found back in 1988 when Edgar C. Whisenant told them of his 88 reasons why the world was soon to end and that Jesus would come back in 1988. Some bought into Whisenant’s message and sold personal possessions. Others purchased items they’d normally never buy because they thought they would never have to pay for them due to the impending rapture. Many churches saw an increase in attendance and membership of people who were afraid they would miss this soon coming 1988 rapture of the Church. But this influx of numbers diminished when Whisenant’s prophesied deadline came and went. Whisenant gave 88 reasons why Jesus was coming back. He was wrong. The way in which he interpreted the Bible was wrong. The end message of what he believed the Bible taught was wrong. Those who bought into his claims could have saved heart ache if they’d have looked into their Bibles to see is his claims were found there, but many did not. Whisenant’s error – sadly – left many people with a feeling that they no longer could trust their preachers and they also began to doubt the validity of the inerrancy of God’s Word.

Whisenant is only one example of the many, many fabrications Dispensational teachers have taught since their doctrine’s inception in 1830. Remember, dispensationalists claim their teachings are literally taught in their Bible, but to date, when these teachers are pressed to provide scriptural evidence for their claims they fail miserably.

There is no way of knowing on this side of glory what affect dispensationalism’s unbiblical teachings have had on those who followed its unbiblical postulations. Some of the teachers claim that no one can know for sure the true meanings of the Bible’s prophecies, so, no one can teach them without some degree of error. In effort to describe their position, many of these teachers call themselves “pan-tribulationalists” because they are going to wait to see how all of these prophecies “pan” out. Claiming the Bible’s prophecies are too confusing to understand would make God an author of confusion, which the Bible says is impossible (1 Corinthians 14:33). The Bible and its prophecies are given to the Church to properly lead them in the ways of God. To take the position that a portion of God’s inspired Word is too confusing for the Church goes against what the Bible says about its prophetic teachings. Please, remember the Bible promises a blessing to those who both read and keep the pure Word of Jesus Christ (See Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; John 8:31-32; Revelation 1:3, Revelation 22:7). The Bible clearly declares that it is God’s Will for His children to know the truths because His truth is what makes them free (John 8:32).

A contemporary of Orson Welles was Adolph Hitler. He is credited saying, “What luck for the rulers that men do not think.” Welles capitalized on that premise and rode it into radio history. Dispensationalists have exploited this as well. The difference is they have ridden it all the way from the bookstore to satellite transmitted television shows. As believers in Jesus Christ, we must not be led astray by whimsical doctrines, traditions, or opinions of man. Jesus calls us to study our Bibles, for from its pages we find the assurance that we are accurately handling the Word of God

Today the war of words within the Church is not one viewpoint of prophecy pitted against another. Instead it is a battle between man’s fiction and God’s truth; between the inspiration of man and the inspiration of God; between man’s opinions and God’s facts. We aren’t talking about science fiction here; we’re talking about what must be done to properly determine biblical truth. So, the real question isn’t what does a believer do about Bible prophecy. Instead – and more importantly – it is about how do they know for sure that what they claim to be biblical fact is literally taught in the Bible? No matter how popular a particular teaching may or may not be, never trade what the Bible clearly says for something you wish it to say.


Copyright © 2004 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.


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