Does Bible Prophecy Produce Atheists?
Question: A common objection to prophecy is that prophecy produces atheists. Preterists are singing this song more than ever before. Supposedly, men like Bertrand Russell and Bart Ehrman have turned away from Christianity because Jesus said that He would come in His generation and He didn’t, so they conclude that He must have been a false teacher.
Answer: In his book The Apocalypse Code, preterist author Hank Hanegraaff writes about Bart Ehrman, a man who was raised as a fundamentalist Christian but who is now a fundamentalist atheist. Hanegraaff writes:
As we have seen, Ehrman correctly understands Jesus to be speaking about an apocalypse now—an apocalypse in this generation! However, he incorrectly charges Jesus with making a false prophecy by applying his prophecy to “the end of the world.” Ehrman’s solution of choice is to write Jesus off as a false prophet and retreat into the philosophically implausible world of atheism.
Another preterist, Gary DeMar, in his book Last Days Madness expresses similar sentiments about atheist Bertrand Russell:
The integrity of Scripture is at stake. Critics of the Bible have studied Jesus’ words in these passages and have concluded that He was wrong! Jesus predicted that He would return within a generation, as Matthew 24:34 clearly states, and he did not. The conclusion? The Bible cannot be trusted as a reliable book. It is filled with errors. The well-known atheist Bertrand Russell seized on what he perceived to be a mistake and concluded that the Bible was not trustworthy.
The substitutionary atonement, the Trinitarian nature of the Godhead, and many others, are all truths that come from Scripture, but they are also truths that have received the vehement attacks of agnostics, atheists, humanists, and secularists.
Down through the history of the church, non-believers have attacked the substitutionary atonement of Christ as “immoral” and “unfair.” Skeptics claim that is it unfair that one man would die for the sins of the world. Every doctrine of the Bible has been ridiculed. Some even claim that they don’t believe in God because of the Bible.
But does this lead us to deny the substitutionary atonement? Does the ridicule of Unitarians lead us to deny the Trinity? Why is it that when we come to prophecy we have to tailor our interpretation to suit non-believers?
Supposing someone reads a book written by a preterist and commits suicide. Should we blame preterism?
The whole notion that futurism is to blame for apostasy and atheism is wrong. A recent survey demonstrated that more than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread. Should we blame bread for violence?