The Purveyors of ‘Peace and Safety’ :: By Paul J. Scharf

The Purveyors of ‘Peace and Safety’ :: By Paul J. Scharf

To me, one of the strangest oddities of the year 2020 was the call for safety in the face of COVID-19.

“Stay safe,” we were cautioned. Here in Wisconsin, our governor even issued an order titled “Safer at Home.”

This seemed to me to be an extraordinary choice of wording—because COVID-19 results from a virus. I’m sure that experts disagree on the best methodologies for warding off infection from a virus. But one thing that you certainly cannot do to escape it is to stay safe. Your only hope is to stay healthy.

So, the expression itself was bizarre but yielded little public scrutiny. I wondered from the beginning if it was setting us up for some future use of safety as a new cultural buzzword.

I share all that to illustrate—not necessarily form a connection with—the fact that the Bible tells us of a time when the universal catchphrase will indeed be “Peace and safety!” (1 Thess. 5:3). It seems to me that we are seeing a precursor to that even now.

Since the events of Oct. 7, 2023, when Israel was attacked by Hamas terrorists, Bible prophecy teachers of all stripes have been on high alert.

Being a dispensational premillennialist who loves Bible prophecy, I have certainly tried to do my part to warn and teach that I believe we are witnessing what Jesus called “the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3). I believe that such signs (of His second coming, and of future prophetic fulfillment in the tribulation) are intensifying as never before, and I am certainly not alone in that view. Many pretribulationists are on the very same track.

I’ve noticed that those who hold other eschatological views have also been turning up their own volume in response. Postmillennialism seems to be on the march once again. Amillennialism remains popular in many realms. These camps often present a more sophisticated appeal than we dispensationalists seem to be able to muster. And our theological opponents are very quick to seize on those kinds of advantages—and sometimes disrespect our views in a manner that borders on mockery.

Granted, some of this criticism is deserved. We certainly have some within our broader pretribulational prophetic circles who have devoted their ministries to speculation and sensationalism—including far-out subjects, wild predictions, spiritualizing the text of Scripture, engaging in unbiblical date-setting, and sometimes just offering nonsense.

But this is not the dispensationalism that I have received, nor that which I preach. Every time I speak, I attempt to handle the Word of God reverently and responsibly, emulating the scholarship which has been bequeathed to me by “faithful men” (2 Tim. 2:2).

Sadly, dispensationalists have not always done a great job of policing their own. The temptation is always to accommodate those who might be considered borderline even in their faithfulness to Christian orthodoxy—if we feel we might benefit from reaching their audiences. But transgressions committed by those on the outer edge of the movement do not warrant throwing the baby out with the bathwater. No matter where you’ve been or what view you hold, the ultimate issue is the literal, clear meaning of the text of Scripture.

To those brethren who disagree with my prophetic position, I would simply state that I was raised in an amillennial environment and understand that system quite thoroughly. I have been involved in ministry contexts where varying end-time views had to be respected. I have read and listened to—and certainly benefited from—many great Reformed teachers who embrace a different understanding of eschatology. While I disagree with them, I deeply respect them and would never malign their motives.

So, I would also throw out a caution to the men in these other camps: Feel free to engage with dispensationalism—and even to criticize it. But, in your criticisms, watch out so that your voices do not begin to meld, to the undiscerning ear, with those of the outright skeptics, even atheists, who have nothing but utter disdain for a pretribulational rapture. Beware that you do not begin, like them, to offer a baseless hope of “Peace and safety!” (1 Thess. 5:3), almost as if to cry sneeringly, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Pet. 3:4).

Of course, such contempt only leaves me wondering if the signs are intensifying even more.

I close with a plea to my dispensational brethren: We must do a better job of representing the cause of Christ and heralding His imminent return with integrity and valor.

This is our time to explain to the world that what lies ahead will be anything but “Peace and safety!” (1 Thess. 5:3).


Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, based in Columbus, WI, and serving in the Midwest. For more information on his ministry, visit or, or email

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.

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