End times, rapture and Antichrist focus of new study of 1,000 pastors by LifeWay


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) – Most Protestant pastors believe Jesus will return in the future. But few agree about the details of the apocalypse, a new study shows.

A third of America's Protestant pastors expect Christians to be raptured – or taken up in the sky to meet Jesus – as the end times begin. About half think a false messiah known as the Antichrist will appear sometime in the future. A surprising number think the Antichrist has already been here or isn't on his way at all.

Those are among the findings of a new telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors and their views on end-times theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, sponsored by Charisma House Book Group.

End-times theology remains popular with churchgoers, says Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research. But it's not an easy topic to preach about.

"Most people want their pastor to preach about the Book of Revelation and the end of the world," he said. "But that's a complicated task. Pastors and the scholars they cite often disagree about how the end times will unfold."

No consensus about the rapture

Researchers found widely varying views about three aspects of end-times theology:

- The timing of the rapture (see 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and Matthew 24)

- The nature of the Antichrist (found in 1 John and 2 John and other texts)

- The millennial kingdom, when Jesus reigns for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-10)

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The advantages of digital Bible study 

There's a 50/50 chance that you are reading this post via some sort of digital device that you have with you most of the time.

Smartphones, tablets and the such have come a long way from the days of pagers, Blackberry's and Palms.

As such, resources for Bible reading and study are now literally at our fingertips at all times, providing a profound advantage over toting a physical Bible and study materials around.

So do you use digital Bible reading and study apps? If so, how? Are they an advantage to the study of God's Word or a distraction?

The last decade has seen both an avalanche of digital innovation and a responding flood of discussion about the ways that innovation is improving — or degrading — our lives. You’ve probably read or participated in plenty of discussions about whether or not ebooks are “better” than print books. As an employee of a book publishing company, I’ve seen publishers struggle, not always successfully, to identify which book-related behaviors can be replicated (or even improved) in a digital context.

But nowhere does this discussion about the usefulness of digital technology mean more than when we discuss the Bible.

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Martin Luther King's advice to pastors called key to revival today

Martin Luther King Jr. preached in Southern Seminary chapel in 1961.MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP) – Sixty years ago, the Montgomery Bus Boycott famously catapulted Martin Luther King Jr. to national leadership of the civil rights movement and led to the end of segregated public transportation in Alabama. Less commonly known is that the boycott occasioned advice to pastors by King that some Southern Baptists say they still take to heart.

King, in this 1958 book "Stride Toward Freedom," recounted the struggle in Montgomery, then asked, "Where do we go from here?" Pastors, he concluded, were an important part of the answer.

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Arkansas Baptist minister saves weekly newspaper

Larry Killian outside the offices of the South Arkansas Sun in Hampton. Killian, worship and discipleship pastor at Parkers Chapel First Baptist Church, El Dorado, bought the newspaper after it closed its doors in August.Jessica Vanderpool
Arkansas Baptist News

HAMPTON – One week the South Arkansas Sun was on people’s porches. The next week, it was not. That’s how abruptly the publication of Calhoun County’s only newspaper stopped.

Larry Killian, worship and discipleship pastor at Parkers Chapel First Baptist Church, El Dorado, remembers reading a notice in an August edition of the weekly newspaper stating it would be the last issue and thinking, “Wait, we’ve got to have a newspaper.”

“Somebody’s got to do it,” he thought. “I know we’ve only got 5,000 people in the county, but … we need a paper!”
So the 53-year-old minister with no prior newspaper experience found a solution – he bought the newspaper for $12,000, along with a building on Hampton’s Main Street to house the business.

Now, as publisher and editor of the Sun, he is deep in the midst of learning the newspaper business.

Killian, a Ouachita Baptist University graduate, said some of his experiences at the church have helped him develop skills that have been useful at the newspaper. For example, he has helped with church newsletters and bulletins, so laying out the newspaper is not a huge obstacle. Neither is writing.

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2016 Arkansas Baptist News Holy Land tour to bring Bible to life

Christian and Jewish worshippers pray at the Wailing Wall located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.Jessica Vanderpool
Arkansas Baptist News

HARRISON – Royce Sweatman, former associational missionary for North Arkansas Baptist Association, knows what it’s like to walk where Jesus walked, and he has experienced the difference a trip to Israel can make in the life of a minister. Now, he will be leading a tour for fellow Arkansas Baptists who want to experience the Holy Land for themselves.

The 10-day Holy Land tour, set for March 7-16, is being coordinated by the Arkansas Baptist News (ABN) and Sweatman, in conjunction with Friends Tours and Travel. A three-day extension to Egypt is available.

“I believe everyone who goes will never read the Bible the same way,” said Sweatman, who has led many pastors to Israel in the past. “Each time they open the Word, it will be like pop-ups come shouting out of the Bible as they think back about what they have seen. They will walk where Jesus walked and experience the culture, the sights and sounds of Israel. Pastors’ preaching will go to a whole new level. Personally, going to Israel has given me a great love for the Word and for the Israeli people.”

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