News of the surrender traveled quickly. On May 28th, 1940, the last of Belgiums armies, one of the last indigenous forces holding out against Hitler in Europe, capitulated. What was left of the Allied Armies was in full rout as Hitlers mechanized units outflanked the French resistance. Britain's only army was caught between the sea and the thrust of Hitler's tank units. On the beaches of Dunkirk, the British, with some French and Dutch units, stood almost helpless. What was left of the Royal Air Force tried to hold off the German planes as they rained death down from the sky. Over 360,000 Allies faced certain annihilation as Hitlers final assault began. Then, in what is remembered as the most miraculous rescue in history, an armada of small merchant and pleasure craft appeared off the coast. Boats of all sizes and shapes made the daring trip across the channel from England to Dunkirk, facing heavy artillery fire from the Germans, and began to pluck soldiers of the beaches. Over the course of just a few days, all of the allies were rescued.
Dunkirk stands as an incredibly dramatic story of the heroism of the people of England in time of severe crisis. Although one could not dispute that the event marks the salvation of a large portion of the Allied armies, we cannot overlook the true significance of Dunkirk. It is the advent of Hitlers completed conquest of the European continent. For several years afterwards, Europe was "Fortress Europe", the exclusive domain of the Nazis. Hitler had succeeded in pushing the Allies into the sea. It was not until D-Day on June 6th, 1944, that the Allies reversed the effects of Dunkirk. On D-Day, again an armada of ships from England appeared off of the coast of Nazi-controlled Europe. This time, however, it was Allies advancing against Hitler, instead of retreating from Hitler. D-Day was a frontal assault on the reign of the Third Reich. It was a slow, bloody, but ultimately successful campaign to slowly push Hitler back.
The reason why I bring up these two radically different events is because they provide an excellent comparison between contemporary evangelical theology and the Biblical, Apostolic view of the Second Coming of Christ. Most evangelicals have a "Dunkirk" viewpoint. The Antichrist is closing in. Defeat is inevitable. Our only hope is to get secretly plucked off the planet before the devil gets control of everything. Quite frankly, there is no evidence that anyone believed this before the early 19th century. It is a distinctively pessimistic viewpoint. The "D-Day" view on the other hand, sees Gods Kingdom (and by extension, the Church) in a state of advance. Sometimes the advance is slow and arduous, and sometimes there are even temporary set-backs, but nevertheless, Gods Kingdom is coming! The Bible says regarding the church that "The gates of hell shall not prevail against thee" (Matthew 16:18). The implication is clear that the church would push even to the gates (ie. seat of authority) of hell. The most frequently cited verse in the Bible about the Second Coming of Christ declares "The Lord said to my Lord, sit here until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet". (Psalm 110:1). It is also found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and alluded to in Hebrews and 1 Corinthians. It tells us that Christ will remain in heaven, seated at Gods right hand, until his enemies are subdued beneath his feet (ie. The Church). Why then are we so desperate to retreat? Why are we running scared from the devil, whom we are supposed to be displacing? The fact is that Gods Kingdom worldwide is advancing. Not only are there more Born-again Christians today then ever before, but there is also a higher percentage of Christians in the world, and Christianity is growing at three times the world population growth rate: (Lausanne Statistics Task Force, Christianity Today, November 1992, pg. 64). If there was ever a time that we could capitalize on our forward momentum, it is now. Unfortunately, we have become preoccupied with what the devil may do, and every headline somehow now (at least according to the "Dunkirkites") confirms that all is lost. What then shall we do? We know that from the day of Pentecost on, the church has represented Gods invasion force on "Fortress Earth". We have had our own reversals, our own "Battle of the Bulge", which was the period of the Dark Ages, where superstition and false doctrine ruled the Church. Even this was prophesied by the Apostle Paul, who said that the "apostasy must come first" (II Thess. 2:3). Nevertheless, we stand today with guns pointed towards Berlin, and the enemy knows his time is short. Our only problem is that many of troops are panicked and suddenly think that it is time to go back to the beaches, hunker down and hope for a rescue. This aint Dunkirk! This is the execution of Gods plan to take the land and drive out the (demonic) inhabitants. The Dunkirk viewpoint (known theologically as Dispensationalism) believes in the "ruin of the church" as a formal doctrine. Dont believe that for a second. God has a providential plan, and that will succeed, regardless of how bad the public schools get, how depraved TV is, or how liberal seminaries become. Face the enemy and push ahead. Dont prepare for failure. When we embrace the "D-Day" view of the church, we are then gearing to win. Jesus is coming soon to consummate the victory. Maranatha.