By George C. Stewart
Many of the congregations among the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ are captivated by the so-called “prophetic ministry” of David Reagan. He is welcomed into the pulpits of some of our largest congregations. One Christian church preacher admitted that neither he nor his congregation knew anything about Bible prophecy, but he invited Reagan to speak because he had heard Reagan elsewhere and he “sounded convincing.” The people fill the pews and accept his brand of biblical interpretation as the standard. The purpose of this epistle is to issue a warning to those who
“have ears to hear.”
The Bible teaches us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). We are also instructed, that rather than be silent, we are to “expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness” (Ephesians
It is the firm conviction of this writer that there are two fundamental errors in the teachings of David Reagan which must be refuted. These concern God’s revealed terms of salvation and the subject of our Lord’s Return (Eschatology).
Reagan’s False Teachings on Salvation
David Reagan grew up in an a cappella Church of Christ—which he now maligns. He falsely accuses them of believing that the Holy Spirit is “an inanimate object—namely the Bible itself” (Lamplighter, March, 1997). He also accuses these brethren of believing and teaching “baptismal regeneration” (Ibid.). Reagan even makes the preposterous charge that the ministers he heard
as a youth would invite hearers to “be baptized again and again—just to make sure they had ‘got it right’” (Ibid.).
Then he claims that 1 Corinthians 1:17 was “anathema” to these churches (Ibid.). Any student of the word knows that Paul (in that text) is not minimizing the importance of baptism, but rather dealing with the divisions in Corinth. Reagan’s bias shows through clearly. Anyone who knows anything about our a cappella brethren know that these accusations are totally false. And this writer believes that Reagan also knows that they are false. Yet our Independent
Christian churches continue to hold him in high esteem.
This writer attended a meeting of Christian Church ministers in 1996 where Reagan was the guest speaker. His subject was Christian Unity. But it was obvious that he did not want unity with anyone who insisted that God’s instructions for Christian baptism be followed. With great joy he related how he had studied himself out of that early childhood teaching. And he was cheered by at least 95% of the ministers in attendance!
Reagan’s position on Christian baptism is evident in his publicity of a tape produced by his ministry on the so-called “rapture.” He states: “The tape concludes with a testimony by one of the ministry’s trustees, Bob Birchler. Bob tells how the Lord transformed his life. He then invites the listener to experience the same transformation by praying a salvation prayer with him” (Lamplighter, November, 1995, emphasis added).
About ten years ago a minister of a large Christian church—where Reagan is considered the epitome of scholarship—expressed to me his concern about Reagan’s position on baptism. This writer believes it would be reasonable to assume that many ministers who host Reagan “Revivals” or “Prophetic” meetings have the same suspicions as that preacher. Yet the demand for him to speak to our people has not diminished.
David Reagan’s theology of salvation fits that of those in the charismatic movement. He convinced this writer of this truth when he read the July, 1994 Lamplighter. There Reagan states: “Perhaps I should emphasize at this point that I believe in all the gifts of the Spirit, including prophecy,
and I believe those gifts are fully active in the church today (where they are allowed to be active). In 1 Corinthians 1:7 we are told that the church will
not lack any of the gifts as it awaits the return of Jesus.” (My Bible doesn’t say that. But then, what does Paul know?)
Can anyone explain why Christian churches continue to invite this false prophet into their pulpits?
Reagan’s False Teachings on Eschatology
On November 18, 1996, this writer attended a revival service in one of the largest Christian churches in the Lexington, Kentucky, area. David Reagan, who has spoken in a number of churches in that area, was the speaker. Reagan drew a very large crowd—but so do the Kentucky Wildcats. He started well. He condemned those who set dates for our Lord’s return. Then he ended up doing the same thing! He read Scriptures which state that no one can know when the Lord will return—then proceeded to tell us that he knows.
Referring to the Flood of Noah’s day, and reading from First Thessalonians 4 and 5, Reagan said those outside of Noah’s family did not know when the Flood would come because they were in “darkness.” Likewise, he said, the wicked will not know the time of our Lord’s return—but Christians can, because they are not in darkness. However, when the Scriptures say no one will know, they do not distinguish between Christians and non-Christians.
One example of Reagan’s twisting of Scripture took place when he misused Hebrews 10:25. He claims that the encouragement not to forsake the assembly, “and all the more, as you see the day drawing near” refers to the Lord’s Second Coming. He placed special emphasis on “see,” claiming that this is proof that Christians will have “signs” of the Lord’s return. One does not have to be a theologian to see the error here. What encouragement would it be for first century Christians to look for “signs” that were at least 1,940 years
away? Was God deceiving them? Was Paul mistaken?
Reagan said that if God does not give warnings (signs) of His impending wrath He would violate His nature. Therefore, he says, God is presently giving signs to all the world of His impending wrath at Christ’s return. Reagan seems to forget that God has been warning man for thousands of years already. God even said that those wicked of the first century were “without excuse” (Romans 1:20). This position of Reagan’s is also inconsistent with his earlier statement that the wicked cannot know of Christ’s return because they are in “darkness.”
In this same “sermon” Reagan took sections of Scripture like Romans one and transferred them to the “end times.” This wrests the word of God from its historical and grammatical context, and allows anyone to make whatever they like from the Bible. This would mean that the Word had no relevance for the first century Christians. In fact, he said, no one could understand Revelation 11 until 1957, when the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik. He said no one could understand the “Mark of the Beast” (Revelation 13) until modern technology made possible the bar code. If this
were true then much of the New Testament had no value until the twentieth century. How wrong can one “prophet” be?
The title of Reagan’s series of messages in that 1996 meeting was, “Jesus is Coming Soon.” This sounds like date-setting (which he condemned), but the audience had to wait to the end to learn of his definition of “soon.” His definition confirmed our suspicions. In an audience
of adults (over 20) he concluded by saying, “Some of you are going to live to see the coming of the Lord. I truly believe that!” that would be seventy-five years. He condemns himself!
In 1986, and again in 1991, this writer had a series of written exchanges with David Reagan on the subject of our Lord’s return. Reagan finally ended the correspondence by stating that he knew the amillennial view “inside and out” and had “studied my way out of it.”
This hardly agrees with his statement in his March 1997Lamplighter that he didn’t really know the Bible until he was given a Phillips paraphrase of the New Testament during his senior year of college. This would indicate that he knew neither the Bible nor the amillennial view while growing up in an a cappella congregation. You can’t study yourself out of a position which you don’t understand. Of course, consistency is not a Reagan trademark.
David Reagan holds to the dispensational view that the Church is not foretold in the Old Testament, and that Christ came to establish an earthly reign over national Israel, but was unable to do so because of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah. Consequently, the Church was established as an “afterthought.” According to this theory the Church will be “raptured” before a period of “tribulation” and the Lord’s return to rule on earth for one thousand years. This theory has many followers as well as many errors. The fundamental error is that of viewing national Israel as the center of God’s activity—rather than Christ.
In an attempt to defend their erroneous theory, the dispensationalists (including David Reagan) must twist Scriptures beyond recognition. They accuse those who disagree with them of “spiritualizing” the Bible, even when this “spiritualizing” is confirmed by the New Testament writers.
The following are only a few examples of how David Reagan twists God’s word and condemns himself as a false prophet.
In the February/March, 1986 issue of the Lamplighter, Reagan attempted to show that there will be “at least four” resurrections. His main Scripture used as “proof” was 1 Corinthians 15:20-24. It takes a lot of imagination to see more than one resurrection from this text. Instead, the Bible teaches that the spiritual resurrection of the believer takes place at baptism (Romans 6:4-7). These have no fear of
the second death (hell, Revelation 20). The bodily resurrection of the righteous and the wicked will take place together when Christ returns (1
Corinthians 15:20-24). “For an hour is coming, an which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good to a
resurrection of life, those who committed the evil to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29).
Binding of Satan
David Reagan—as with all dispensationalists--deny that the victorious death and resurrection of Christ has limited (bound) Satan. Reagan wrote (October, 1986 Lamplighter): “I do not believe that Satan is currently bound.” Of course we know that Satan is still our adversary who “prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But the New Testament indicates that Satan is limited and cannot reach beyond the length of his “chain.” After the seventy returned from their missionary trip, they reported to the Lord: “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name” (Luke 10:17). In anticipation of what He would accomplish, Jesus replied, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightening” (Luke 10:18). After the accomplished fact, Paul wrote that Christ shared in flesh and blood, “that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). At Christ’s return the devil will be cast into hell (Revelation 20:10).
Because of Reagan’s dispensational mindset he refuses to accept the clear teaching of this chapter. Concerning Matthew 24 and the destruction of Jerusalem, he says, “I believe it was prefilled in type in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and is therefore yet to be fulfilled in history” (Lamplighter, October, 1987. Emphasis added.) No supporting evidence is provided, nor is any
explanation given for what “prefilled” means. Matthew 24:4-33 is a prediction of the historical fall of Jerusalem in AD 70—including the signs. Jesus said in verse 34 that that would happen in that generation. No future fulfillment is even hinted. Beginning in verse 36 Jesus tells of His second coming—without anysigns. Those like Reagan who use the first part of Matthew 24 to predict events of the future are using
1900-year-old completed history for their speculations. That is not biblical interpretation but soothsaying.
In this chapter the Apostles and elders conclude that the Gentiles do not have to become Jews in order to become Christians. This conclusion is based upon Peter’s experience with the household of Cornelius, the experiences of Barnabas and Paul among the Gentiles, and the words of the Prophets (vv. 7-15). Then James uses a prophecy from Amos as an example of what all the Prophets taught (vv. 16-18). The Prophets taught that the rebuilt tabernacle of David is the Church, composed of Jews and Gentiles. Concerning this passage, David Reagan says:
This usage of the prophecy has historically led to the conclusion that the term, “the tabernacle of David,” refers to the Church. And
it does, symbolically. But the context of the passage in the book of Amos makes clear that the prophecy will find its ultimate fulfillment in something other
than the establishment of the Church (Lamplighter, November/December, 1987).
Because of his false notions about national Israel as God’s eternal “Chosen People,” Reagan places himself in opposition to the inspired interpretation of Amos. While it is clear that James is proclaiming the only fulfillment of the Amos prophecy to be the Church, Reagan claims its “ultimate” fulfillment had to wait until “this century” (Ibid.). Why did James not know this? Reagan’s false method of interpretation is clearly reversed when he interprets the New Testament in light of the Old Testament. Beware of false prophets!
The Nation of Israel
Christian dispensationalists—just like the Judaizers of the first century and the Orthodox Jews of today—contend that God’s promises to the nation of Israel were irrevocable (forever). This is in spite of the clear conditional nature of those promises. God said Israel “broke the everlasting covenant” (Isaiah 24:5). Even though it is called “everlasting,” God said it still was broken! That settles it in my mind—but not in the minds of those like David Reagan.
Reagan claims that “The Bible says that the Jewish people will continue to serve as the Chosen People in the future, for when Jesus returns, a remnant of the Jews who have put their faith in Him will be established as the prime nation of the world” (Lamplighter, January, 1991). The Bible
does not teach this!
In Reagan’s February, 1991 newsletter he expresses the opinion that the Persian Gulf War was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah 50:9. He thinks that was the beginning of a process that would result in the conversion of national Israel. An objective look at Jeremiah 50 shows it to be a prophecy of the Medes and Persians conquering Babylon in 539 BC, resulting in the physical return of the Jews to their land. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the so-called “end times.” We are now in the year 2005 and there are still no signs of a mass conversion of national Israel.
The dispensationalism of those like Reagan, places national Israel, rather than Christ, as the focus of all history. Reagan says, “when Jesus returns, the Jews will receive what they have been promised—salvation and primacy” (Lamplighter, July, 1993). One obvious question would be why the
Jews cannot receive salvation now? The New Testament says the Gospel is for both Jews and Gentiles now (Romans 1:16).
Like all dispensationalists, Reagan holds to an Israel-centered theology, while the Bible is Christ-centered. He claims that “the sign of Israel” is the most important of all, as relates to the Lord’s return. This theology minimizes the significance
of the redemptive work of Christ, places the Church in the category of an “afterthought,” and twists the Word of God to suit the sensationalism that
brings crowds and sells books. But it does not honor God!
David Reagan claims that Zechariah 12:10 is a promise that “a remnant of the Jewish nation” will repent and accept Christ as Lord. He says he knows that this will happen “one day very soon” (Lamplighter, April, 1992). Of course he never defines “very soon.” What Reagan fails to acknowledge is that this promise was fulfilled in the first century, as confirmed by the Word of God. When the soldiers pierced the side of the Crucified Savior, we are told that this was a fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy (John 19:37). If you choose to believe Reagan you must reject the words of John. The choice should be easy.
David Reagan has published a booklet entitled, Psalm 2: The King is Coming! The promotional says this booklet “is a detailed exposition of
Psalm 2, which Dr. Reagan considers to be one of the most important passages in the Bible regarding the Lord’s return.” However, it seems clear that the New Testament writers understood Psalm 2 to be a prophecy of Christ’s first coming and His work of
redemption. Consider the following comparison.
1-3: Gentiles Rage
4-6: I have installed My King
Acts 13:30-37; Phil. 2:9-11
7: My Son--Begotten today
Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5
8-9: Inheritance among Gentiles
Matt. 28:16-20; Eph. 2:13-16; Col 1:6,23
10-12: Exhortation to submit to the Lord
Acts 4:12; 17:30-31
In 1995, when this writer pointed this out to Reagan, his reply was, “All I can say in response is that if Jesus is currently reigning over all the nations of the earth, He is doing a terrible job of it.” This is just another example of a literalistic mindset that refuses to allow the New Testament to
interpret the Old Testament.
Signs of the Times
Reagan writes: “We do not believe it is possible to know the date when Jesus will return. But we do believe it is possible to know the season of the Lord’s return, and it is our conviction that we are living in that season” (Lamplighter, June, 1991). This is as dull as any old saw the dispensationalist can find. It wouldn’t cut hot butter. For Reagan—and his ilk—never explains how long a “season” is. In his February, 1993 newsletter he says, “By season, I don’t mean a three month period of time like Spring or Fall. I’m talking about a general time period.” Then he adds, “I personally believe we have been in the season of the Lord’s return for 80 years—ever since the beginning of World War I in 1914.” With such a use of the English language one can make a “season” to mean any period of time. Such unsupported generalities do not enhance the credibility of a “prophecy expert.”
Reagan appeals to 2 Timothy 3:1-5 for support of his false notion that “Scriptures make it very clear that evil will greatly multiply the closer we get to the Lord’s return” (Lamplighter, July, 1994). Second Timothy 3:1-5 teaches something very contrary to Reagan’s dispensationalism. Paul’s Epistle is a pastoral letter to Timothy to help him in his current ministry. If it referred only
to the twentieth century it was of no value to Timothy—or any Christian since. Rather than pointing to a time nearly 2,000 years later, Paul
confirms that the “last days” had begun when he wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:1).
Reagan lifts texts from their contexts to support their pretexts. Reagan writes, “And remember Jesus’ words that society will be like it was in the days of Noah when He returns (Matthew 24:37). That means society will be wallowing in violence and immorality” (Lamplighter, July, 1994). If this is what this Scripture means then Jesus did not know it. For Jesus explains that He means that life will be going along normally: eating, drinking and marrying (Matthew 24:38). Which means, Jesus says, that—like in the days of Noah—we will not know when “the coming of the Son of Man” shall be
(Matthew 24:39). This writer is inclined to accept the explanation of Jesus.
In the March/April, 1996 Lamplighter Reagan claims that “The acceleration of Life” is a “signal that Jesus is returning soon.” He says that the accelerated growth of our population, power, transportation, communication, computers, knowledge and violence are among the examples which are signs of Jesus’ soon return. He reaches this conclusion without any valid biblical support. He concludes: “Now, the point is that the Bible indicates that the exponential curve will be one of the signs of the end times, and my thesis is that we are living in the midst of the exponential curve. Therefore, we are living in the end times.” (Is the “exponential curve” in your concordance?) These non-biblical speculations
have been around for centuries. Because of the rapid changes and violence of his time, Martin Luther concluded that Christ would come within forty years of
his lifetime. Why should we believe Reagan any more than the hundreds of others who have made false predictions in the past?
Again, in the June, 1997 issue of the Lamplighter, Reagan discusses more “Modern Day Signs of the Times.” These are no more convincing
than any others. One so-called “sign” he proposes is very revealing. He says, “Even the phenomenal success of Hal Lindsay’s (sic) book, The Late Great Planet Earth, is a unique sign of the times. Keep in mind that this book was the number one best seller in the world, with the sole
exception of the Bible, for ten consecutive years, from 1970 to 1980.” The large number of sales for this book proves only the gullibility of those who
want to walk by sight rather than by faith. According to Lindsey’s predictions the so-called “rapture” of the Church should have taken place in 1981, and Christ should have returned to rule on earth in 1988. Did Reagan learn his eschatology from the Bible or from Hal Lindsey? The fact that these two were on the same program at a Dallas “prophecy conference” in 1995 indicates a common view of prophecy. “Birds of a
Reagan—like all dispensationalists—is locked into a literalistic and carnal interpretation of Scripture. And he stays with this hermeneutic even when it is in obvious conflict with the New Testament writers. A twin to Reagan’s hermeneutic is his national Israel fixation. This is also in conflict with New Testament teaching. In a letter to this writer (June 10, 1991) Reagan states that “
is still Israel” and that Romans 9-11 teaches that “the Jews are still the Chosen People of God.” The truth is, Romans 9-11 teaches just the opposite. Romans (as well as the whole of the NT) teaches that “there is no partiality with God” (2:11), that “they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” (9:6), that it is the “remnant” that will be saved from among both Jews and Gentiles (9:24-28), that “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all” (10:12), and thus the “all Israel” of 11:25 who will be saved is the spiritual Israel, the Lord’s Church.
Reagan’s method of interpretation is so literalistic that he believes the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant is in heaven. He uses Revelation 11:19 as support, which is another example of denying symbolism. But his real reason for this conjecture is his national Israel fixation. For, he says, “Personally, I cannot imagine the Lord allowing anyone to destroy the Ark which was the symbol of His presence” (Lamplighter,
May, 1995). God allowed the temple to be destroyed. Why not the Ark?
David Reagan even believes that the New Jerusalem is the physical city of Jerusalem. He writes: “There is no other city on the face of the earth as important as the city of Jerusalem.... (for) Jerusalem is where God Himself will come to reside eternally with the Redeemed” (Lamplighter,
October, 1995). Doesn’t this greatly restrict the Almighty God?
One of the most recent positions taken by Reagan, which fully reveals his radical methods of interpretation, involves the so-called “Bible Code.” Those who promote such nonsense, relying upon Jewish cabbalism, claim to find such things encoded in the Bible as Napoleon’s name alongside “France,” and “Waterloo,” as well as Shakespeare’s name with “Hamlet” and “Macbeth.” One would have to wonder what God was up to if He did such things. After a lengthy discussion of the “Bible Code,” (from Lamb and Lion website, May 27, 2004) Reagan
says, “I am convinced that the Code is legitimate. Because of that conclusion, I believe it is one more piece of evidence that substantiates the supernatural origin of the Bible.” Is Reagan not aware that God already confirmed the biblical message through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and “many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3)? Wasn’t the message confirmed through the miracles of the Apostles (2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:2-4)? Referring to another supporter of the “Code,” Reagan writes: “Drosnin says he considers the Code to be a ‘time-lock’ that has been waiting on the advent of the computer age. I think he is probably right in that conclusion.” Does this mean that all of the Christians who lived before “the computer age” did not understand the Bible? Always looking for “signs” of Christ’s return, Reagan declares: “I think the timing of the Code's revelation is significant in another respect. I see it as just one more sign of the soon return of the Lord. As that day approaches, God the Father is providing us with fresh evidence that the Bible is what it claims to be the Word of the one and only true God.” Maybe the answer given to the rich man in Hades is in need of consideration here: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
David Reagan claims there are over five hundred prophecies in the Old Testament about the secondcoming of Christ. This writer has failed to find even one! The New Testament writers unanimously proclaim the truth that the Old Testament was pointing to the firstcoming of Christ. If one believes that the Bible is the inspired Word of God they must accept the New Testament interpretation of the Old Testament. When we do we will rejoice in what a wonderful thing God has done in Christ. And we will not be caught up in date-setting. And rather than being focused on what God supposedly is doing with national Israel, we will be focused on what God is doing in the Christ-indwelt Church.
It seems to this writer that the Judaizers of the first century and the dispensationalists like David Reagan—by their dogmatic insistence that the nation of Israel is God’s chosen people forever—are blinded to the New Testament writer’s affirmation that prophecy is fulfilled in Christ and His Church. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:22-24. See Matthew 21:42-46; 1 Peter 2:4-10).
Note: all Scripture quotations by author are from the NASB.
Books and videos by author—and obtained from author (Seminars on eschatology are also conducted by this author.)
1. Christ--The Focus of All History, published 1994 ( $5.00, plus $1.50 s & h)
2. Our Reigning King and Returning Lord, published 1998 ($15.00, plus $3.00 s & h)
3. Set of five videos, covering over eight hours of lecture ($65 per set, including s & h)
3. Corinth—And Our Current Culture, published 2004 ($30.00, plus $5.00 s & h)