The Open Challenge

In the midst of all of the world turmoil that now seems to dominate the daily news cycles, many across the Body of Christ are trying to understand what all of these things mean. Where are world events leading and what should we expect to happen next? The burden of helping the Church to understand what the Bible says about these things falls upon those who have been called not only to understand, but also to teach the Church what the Bible says about these things.

Over the past thirty years, the Body of Christ has seen an explosion of interest in and an emphasis on Biblical prophecy. During this time, there have arisen many very excellent teachers of this subject. In recent years, a debate has arisen among prophecy teachers that now seems to be coming to a head. The question that is arising is regarding what the Bible actually says about the nature, the characteristics, and the location from which the Antichrist, his empire and his religion will emerge. Throughout the history of the Church, the majority position has been that the Antichrist would come forth from the Roman Empire. Today, that belief has popularly been narrowed down into a European specific emphasis. Other teachers however are now pointing to numerous passages throughout the Bible as proof that the Antichrist will come from the surrounding nations that are today the Islamic neighbors of Israel. Various leading voices have emerged in this camp who are effectively communicating this position to the Church and many are embracing this Middle Eastern End Time Paradigm. In recent months, in smaller forums, some from among the European End Time camp have begun to openly challenge the proponents of the Middle Eastern position. As one of the leading voices in the Middle Eastern camp, I have attempted to address this debate by personally asking a handful of well-known leading voices from the European camp to join with me in co-authoring a book whereby we could openly discuss the various Scriptural supports for our respective positions. To date, I have personally invited such well-known teachers as Mark Hitchcock, Dr. Tommy Ice, Dr. Randall Price and Dr. David Reagan to join me in such a project. I am confident that such a work would greatly benefit the Body Of Christ and help the Church to sort through the various strengths and weaknesses of each position. Surely in an age of growing global radical Islam, such a volume would be very timely and edifying to the Body of Christ. I have received an overflow of e-mails excited about such a project. Yet to date, none have accepted the invitation. Beyond this, both Dr. Reagan and one of his students, Bill Salus are both quite openly writing negative articles about the Middle Eastern End Time Paradigm and those who espouse it, yet they have also both refused to debate the issue publicly. Also, just recently, I spoke with both Dr. Tommy Ice and Dr. Randall Price about this issue. It was a very disappointing conversation to say the least. First I extended the invitation to Dr. Tommy to co-author a book as mentioned above. Dr. Tommyӳ response was both surprising and very saddening. He claimed that because he has written several books arguing for the European perspective, he could never change his position. Not wanting to push the implications of such a statement, I agreed to his decline. ԁnd besides, you are just plain wrong anyway.ԠHe added. Which of course gave me a chuckle. So, on one hand, you are unwilling to step into the ring, but you are still willing to throw jabs behind the scenes? Needless to say, I took the bait. I asked Dr. Ice if the Roman Empire had ever crushed the Persian Empire (a feat that would be required to Scripturally fulfill the biblical criteria for the fourth kingdom per Daniel 2:40). Dr. Ice immediately responded, ԁbsolutely it did.Ԡ I reminded Dr. Ice that if one were to simply look at a map, that it is quite clear that the Roman Empire never came close to reachingخever mind ԣrushingԗthe Persian Empire. In fact, it was the Parthian Empire that stood as the Roman Empireӳ greatest unbeatable foe to the East. To that, Dr. Tommy switched up his approach and decided that the phrase Էill crush all the othersԠ(Dan 2:40) does not really mean ԡllԮ Reminding Dr. Ice that there are only three other empires, I asked how many qualify as ԡllԻ one or two? To which Dr. Tommy then again switched his approach and decided that ԡllԠdid mean all afterall, but that the passage should not be taken literally. Despite the fact that it says that the fourth empire would ԣrush all of the othersԠ(Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece), it was only inferring that through conquering Greece, Rome had in fact conquered all three of the others. To this I reminded Dr. Ice that although I once held to this view, it is simply not what the verse is sayingخot a small problem for the position. And beyond this, it is also entirely illogical. If the Cardinals beat the Colts who beat the Ravens, who once beat the Patriots, this in no way infers that the Cardinals beat the Patriots. The Roman Empire may have succeeded the Greek Empire but it simply did not conquer the majority of its holdings to the East. It simply could never take Persia. Not even close. Lost for a reply at this point, Tommy simply retreated to his original comment and declared, ԗell, you are just wrong.Ԡ Obviously frustrated, Dr. Tommy then handed the phone over the Dr. Randall Price who he said could better help straighten out my errors. Sadly, my conversation with Dr. Price followed a similar pattern as that which took place with Dr. Ice. Hanging up the phone, I was genuinely saddened that these teachers were so closed to the simple historical facts as well as the clear meaning of Scripture. I was also saddened that behind the scenes these men are all too at ease to boldly declare that the Islamic End Time Paradigm is unscriptural but are unwilling to publicly lay their cases out before the Church to examine. That said, I want to humbly, and yet very directly (on the 15th of February, 2009), extend an open challenge and invitation to any well-known leader or leaders from among the European End Time camp to join myself (Joel Richardson), Walid Shoebat and Chuck Missler in an open and televised round table discussion or debate. We have secured a few Christian TV stations and shows that have agreed to air any such discussion or debates. All we need now are a few qualified leaders who will step forward to defend their positions publicly. The Return of Christ is quickly approaching; the Body of Christ needs solid answers. The predominance of Islam in the earth and the overwhelming emphasis on Islamic Nations throughout the Scriptures is no longer an issue that can simply be ignored by the Church. A revolution is taking place within the world of Biblical prophecy, and the time for this discussion has come. We will be awaiting a response. Feel free to send any replies to [email protected]

Bless you,

Joel Richardson

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