What is apostasy?
Most of us have an idea of what apostasy means even if we can’t provide a dictionary definition. In a Biblical sense as explained by popular Christian authors Mark Hitchcock and Jeff Kinley in their new book, – “Christian apostasy in its broadest terms is defection or departure from the truth of Scripture.”
To be sure sometimes this departure is can be an overt act of rebellion but often it is a simple and gradual process over time which takes you to a destination which at the beginning of your journey you would not have thought possible.
Here is how the authors explain it: “Apostasy represents an abandonment of faith, and it can happen over time without a person realizing it.”
They go on to explain that there is a flip side to this coin of apostasy. “In fact, just the opposite may occur, as pride mixed with false doctrine leads to an attitude of superiority, complacency, and self-righteousness.”
As Hitchcock and Kinley soberly access, Christianity as it understood by many in western culture today has indeed crossed the threshold of apostasy and taken up residence in the home of rebellion. Rebellion that is against the moral absolutes of Scripture. I must admit it was both challenging and refreshing to read a book which did not apologize for using the “law” of God as guide to moral conduct. In today’s increasingly hyper-grace environment, charges of legalism are more often than not used as a cloak for lawlessness. Hitchcock and Kinley make it clear that salvation is in fact by the grace of YHWH through faith in Yeshua’s atoning blood but once saved we as believers should not abuse that grace by living in a manner which is contrary to the Bible. This is how they explain it:
“Some today argue, “What difference does it make what you believe as long as you love God and others? Aren’t those the greatest commandments?” yes, those are the greatest commandments, but if that were the sum total of all God wanted us to know, believe, and do, the sixty-six books of the Bible would be reduced to two verses. There is a greatest commandment, but it in no way diminishes our responsibility to all the others. “
In ten well written chapters Hitchcock and Kinley explore the devastation apostasy has wrought in the Christian church of our generation. But they don’t leave you without hope nor practical Scriptural advice to counter this evil. Here is a sample of the topics included in this book:
• Chapter 1: God and Ghost Ships
• Chapter 2: The Fifth Column
• Chapter 3: Faith of Our Fathers
• Chapter 4: Culture of Compromise
• Chapter 5: When Tolerance Is Intolerable
• Chapter 6: Moral Freefall
• Chapter 7: The Watershed Moment for the Church
• Chapter 8: Will the Real Jesus Stand Up?
• Chapter 9: Acts of the Apostates
• Chapters 10: Surviving the Last Days of Apostasy
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For clarities sake there were a couple of place where I would like to have a better understanding of the Scriptural basis for the authors interpretation:
Chapter 2 (Kindle loc. 373) the authors describe the ratification of a peace treaty between Israel and the Anti-Christ. This eschatological belief is based upon an interpretation of Daniel 9 which has as it basis a “commandment to restore and build Jerusalem” given by the Persian king Longimanus. In order for this interpretation to work though, Hitchcock and Kinley must stretch the chronology of 2nd temple era by nearly 60 years.
In their new book Charting the Bible Chronologically: A Visual Guide to God’s Unfolding Plan, Hindson and Ice explain that after the flood mankind was subject to an exponential decay curve which lowered the lifespan mankind to about 70-80 years. Yet implied in their interpretation, Hitchcock and Kinley’s must maintain a lifespan for Ezra and many of the priests and Levites which is nearly a quarter century older than Moses. This requires some chronological gymnastics regarding the chronology as described in Ezra 1-7, and Nehemiah. I would like to better understand the authors reasoning for the incongruous approach to the 2nd temple era. Hopefully in some future publication they will address this important subject as it has profound implications for our view of the coming tribulation and the return of Yeshua.
In Chapter 1 & 2 (Kindle loc. 142 & 382) the authors briefly describe what may be the precursor to the predicted invasion of Israel by Russia (Gog & Magog). In the authors investigation of the subject I would like to better understand how they arrived at the conclusion that Israel’s dwelling safely (yashab betach) is a condition of Israel which proceeds the Millennial reign of Yeshua.
According to Levitcus 25 & 26 the original promise of Israel dwelling safely (yashab betach) is a promise contingent upon obedience to the Torah. As the Scripture is clear, Israel will not fully turn back to the ways of YHWH until just before the 2nd coming when they acknowledge “blessed is He who comes in the name of YHWH.” (Matt. 23:39) Further Jeremiah 32, Ezekiel 28, 34, and Zech. 14 all congruently describe this yashab betach as taking place during the Millennial reign of Yeshua. Not to be ignored is Rev. 20 where it describes the future millennial reign of Yeshua and Israel dwelling safely in the land. At that time Gog and Magog come up against Jerusalem as described in Ezekiel 38 & 39.
I would like better understand the reasoning the authors use to conclude that Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38 & 39 refers not to the millennial reign of Yeshua as congruently described throughout the Biblical text, but instead to a period of time preceding the 2nd coming for which there seems to be no clear contextual justification.
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In summary my questions notwithstanding, this book is a much needed exploration of apostasy in the church today. Its sobering message and more importantly its Scriptural solutions are a must read for believers. I’d encourage every Berean to read this book and then open your Bible’s and see if these things be so. In conclusion I leave you with some valuable advice from Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. Kinley:
“When you look at the sources of our faith and why we choose to embrace a certain doctrine or truth as our own, it becomes clear that only one source is 100 percent reliable. The bottom line of any belief is that if it can’t be backed up by Scripture, it’s nothing more than wishful thinking, speculation, or theory.”
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Author: Mark Hitchcock & Jeff Kinley
Book Title: The Coming Apostasy: Exposing the Sabotage of Christianity from Within
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse