I take no pleasure in writing this.
There are false prophets right now among us preaching that the world is ending. Ignore them. They are distracting from the truth. Worse, those who pay attention to them may be led astray. Jesus taught us to be wary of such individuals because “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).
Consider these six things.
1. Only God the Father, Not Even Jesus, Knows When the End Will Be
Jesus taught plainly, “But of that day and hour [when the end will come] knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36, emphasis added).
Anyone claiming to know when the end is nigh is claiming to be God the Father. They are to be ignored.
2. Follow the prophet
Are God’s chosen leaders preaching doom and gloom? Are they preaching panic? Is the purpose and focus of their message the end times? No. They are preaching love, kindness, faith in Jesus Christ, and the spreading of the gospel message. Anyone claiming to speak for the brethren, especially on predicting the end times, should be ignored. Anyone picking and choosing a few phrases here and there from Church leaders to convince others about when the world is going to end, should be ignored. They are practicing false prophecy and are inappropriately speaking for the Brethren.
3. The Scriptures Do Not Teach Us To Fear
What do the scriptures teach? Of all the revealed scriptures, less than 1% focuses on the end times! We know these are the last days. It’s in our name “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” We need not interpret every event in the world as though the sky will fall now. God has restored the truth so that we can be at peace in Him now! The gospel is one of peace, not of fear and fear mongering.
4. Christians Have a Tendency to Be Led Away by False Prophesying
Since the resurrection of Jesus, one of the most consistent things among Christians is their propensity to falsely predict the return of Jesus. All of these predictions have been wrong. Worse, these false predictions have distracted and led many away from the most important doctrines of the kingdom.
“[Take the] example [of] American Edgar Whisenant, who, based on his interpretation of various biblical passages and modern historical events, predicted in 1988 that the world would end that very year.
Though not to be detained by the full details of his fantastic predictions (or of any of the predictions of the [false prophets] reviewed here), in essence, Whisenant claimed that a Soviet invasion of Israel would precipitate a cataclysmic World War Three—in the year 1988. Was he right?
As of 2020, he was demonstrably wrong.
A decade earlier, American Hal Lindsey predicted that the world would end in nuclear holocaust by the 1980s because of conflict between Russians, Chinese, Arabs, Israelis, and Europe. Was he right?
At the time of writing this article (March 2020), no!
Despite his failed prophecy, Lindsey became a multimillionaire and still commands a large following of believers.
Then there was the 19th century American William Miller who in the 1820s believed that, according to his reading of the Bible, the world would end by 1843. So convincing were his claims that mass rallies were held, some people gave up their possession or let their farms turn to ruin so that they could await the end times. When his prediction did not materialize he changed his prediction by a year. He was wrong again.
Lest we think that apocalyptic readings of the Bible are an American phenomenon we need only go to the European continent to find examples. One of the most destructive and egregious examples is 16th century German Thomas Müntzer, a failed religious reformer, originally inspired by his contemporary Martin Luther, but then later turned far more radical.
Müntzer convinced German peasants and miners in the area of Mühlhausen to rise in revolt against the ruling class. Müntzer promised that this represented Armageddon, that God would vanquish their foes while ―he [Müntzer] would “catch all the bullets of the enemy in the sleeve of his coat.”
Heinously, thousands of peasants were cut down in battle. The opposing army captured and tortured Müntzer, decapitated him, and displayed his mangled body as warning to other revolutionaries. Another apocalyptic preacher proved wrong.
Stepping back another fourteen hundred years and moving Southeast from Germany, Monatus, who lived in the 2nd century an area that is now encompassed by the modern state of Turkey, predicted the world would end in his lifetime. He coupled his charismatic predictions with a particular moral reasoning that did attract some adherents, including for a time Tertullian, who later become one of the most influential early Christian writers. Yet again we see that the apocalyptic reasoning and prediction making was historically incorrect.
The world still stands.
With such a long tradition of apocalyptic thinking, it is no wonder that many Christians today cling to some form of [an end times] mindset.
However, such thinking can be problematic for peaceful civilization to flourish.” (Pg. 85 of my article “Ancient Israelite Zion Theology, Judeo-Christian Apocalypticism, And Biblical (Mis)Interpretation: Potential Implications for the Stability of the Modern Middle East.”)
5. LDS Members Have Engaged in Preaching and Believing False Prophecy
Even recently, the Church excommunicated Julie Rowe for false prophecy. Hundreds of thousands of members of the Church listened in earnest to her false prophecies and got riled up. Many unnecessarily believed her and supported and promoted her false prophecies and teachings. Many encouraged others to believe and follow her. Confusion was rampant. But she was preaching her own gospel, not the gospel revealed by God and definitely not the messages we’ve been hearing from the Brethren.
The same pattern is happening again. Otherwise and apparently sincere members of the Church are being distracted and misled by those who are practicing false prophecies about the end times. Ignore these false prophets, especially if they are asking for money or materially benefiting from their false prophesying!
Follow the true prophets.
Even the primary kids know better! Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, he knows the way! (Children’s Songbook Hymn 110.)
So whenever anyone starts trying to interpret the signs of the times, either ignore them or gently remind them that it is only the role of God’s prophets to interpret the signs for us. And more importantly, we are not to preach or spread fear. We should teach the peace that is found in Jesus Christ, in faith, in repentance, in forgiveness.
6. What We Can Do in Times of Distress
Instead of spending our time listening to the false claims of other members of the Church about when the world will end, I wonder what would happen if we spent our time:
- Becoming more humble
- Spreading kindness
- Expressing gratitude
- Listening to what God’s modern prophets are teaching
- Faith in Jesus Christ
- Living our covenants
- Serving others
- Sharing the message of hope and glad tidings
- Preaching the gospel which is good news not doom and gloom!
I am confident I will get hate mail because of my message here.
But I also know that Jesus Christ is the prince of peace, the author of order and love, the exemplar of humility, the foundation of stability.
We should seek to be like Him in all ways!