Apocalypse & End Times

Arthur's Journal on God & Politics
What Does It Mean to be Christian in America?
A God of War
Apocalypse & End Times
Biblical Literalism
Christ Path
Conformity & Orthodoxy
Fear, Shame & Guilt
God & Politics
Goodness, Morality & Sin
Heresy & Heretics
History, Mystery & Doubt
Kindergarten Religion
Mental Spiritual Constructs
Mystical Christianity
Mythical Proportions
Passion of The Christ ...
Someone Else's Magic
Forcing them to attempt to prove themselves right will be more effective.

The "reality-context" from which most evangelicals in politics labor is a reality that assumes the End Times theology so imaginatively portrayed and taught to millions of Christians by Tim LaHaye in the Left Behind novels.

Without the context of the immediacy of the coming End Times as initiated by 19th-Century charismatics, Robertson, Falwell and all those who insist that the Christian gospel requires an agressive activism against evil (including a supposed spiritual duty to discern and label who is evil and who is not) have no other framework.

What we are seeing - when the curtain is drawn back and the booming voice is revealed to be mere mortal - is the unspoken insistence that these modern advocates are standing in for Jesus, albeit temporarily. They are in fact implying that Jesus was and is one of them and will validate what they do when he returns again to take up their burden.

And although up to now they haven't had to prove it, the rest of us absolutely must force them to prove it - and require that they do so by means other than cherry-picking Bible verses and insisting in loud bluster and sheer volume that their interpretations are THE interpretations ...

... that Jesus has already made these pseudo-truths known to them.

... that rest of us only need to catch up with them or be left behind.

Proving them wrong is not the primary tipping point. Forcing them to attempt to prove themselves right will be more effective.

For Biblicists, one could conclude that the biggest fear is the fear of being wrong.

Read it in their context and accompanying quotes. There's a very obvious obsession with being afraid of riding the wrong horse, in the wrong direction, to the wrong place with the wrong consequences.

The fear of being wrong implies a powerful acceptance of the notion that God will hold all accountable for being "right" or being "wrong," elevating that single separation entirely out of proportion in degree of importance.

I personally do not think God is in the watching for "right" and "Wrong". Rather, He's watching for growth and maturity beyond issues of right, wrong and a liberation from any need for justification.

how and when God will deal with the arch-villains of history
Oh I think that there is and will be accountability for our actions and that in our own pursuit of goodness most of us have avoided the kinds of lives of persons you've listed here.

I firmly believe in justice and - in the spirit of what you just wrote - am asking the same questions of our contemporary villains who have initiated war, murder, rapine, destruction, ignored the poor, ignored genocide all the while chasing money , lying and pretending to be Christian.

If I am not to judge that I be not judged then I am left to leave judgement to God. Furthermore, I do not see "avenging" as part of what God is. The fundamenalist construct is a God of War, Wrath, and Punishment with a major emphasis on what God hates and how vindictive God can be. It's a construct full of negativity.

The lives you've listed remain a problem. I just disagree with how you've expressed it. When you think about it, your last sentence essentially says, "God, if you don't whack the evil-doers in the way I believe and according to my own mental image, then I won't praise you."

If God's thoughts are not my thoughts and higher than my thoughts, I trust God to deal with those folks. I don't see that we have time to waste worrying about them when the realities of our own lives include those kinds of evil. We ourselves may not possess those tendencies but we are part of humanity and - aware of the hindsight that asks for example how Germans could look the other way and do nothing about Hitler - God expects us to do something different.

It is far more important to be anxiously engaged in seeking the highest good than to sit around worrying about how and when God will deal with the arch-villains of history.

eye-twinkling the morally self-righteous
I've said this before and do so again.

A change in attitude and behavior is necessary in order for Christianity to maintain a strong and positive influence in the world. Emphasis is on positive.

Where the loudest Christian mouths have brought us is to being equated to that extremely inaccurate parody of Islam that stokes flames of hate where none need exist.

When the rose-colored glasses are removed, one can see very little difference between the Talibans in Afghanistan and our American Pharisee's who not only preach equivalent judgmentalism, but use the same tactics ... mostly verbal now. But let those big mouths and their elected Republican lackeys create a one-party state and that which Spong is working against will become quite obvious.

Though not in agreement with Bishop Spong who stated that "Christianity must change or die," (without a change in direction Christianity still might not die, but will surely be deserving of some kind of diminishment or demise), I am in harmony with his understanding that literalist Christians may very well literalize themselves into inconsequential roles, or worse, becoming the cause of highly negative national and global consequences.

And unlike those who are doing so, I'm not counting on any apocolyptic end times to interrupt our social corruption. I'm not giving up, shrugging off humanity or buying into moral hubris thinking that Jesus will have to clean up the messes being made after eye-twinkling the morally self-righteous.

Who will be taken? I agree with Ben ...
Beliefnet writer, Ben Witherington:

"Neither Jesus nor Paul would have been pleased with the current "Left Behind" craze. Let’s look at the notion of the pre-tribulation rapture. Don’t both Jesus and Paul, and even John of Patmos (the author of Revelation), speak of this concept? The answer is no. Indeed, no Christian interpreters seem to have come up with such an idea before the 19th century. Here is a good rule of thumb—if no Christian commentator understood the NT to refer to a pre-tribulation rapture during the first 1800 years of church history, there must be a good reason why not.

Let's consider first the famous “one is taken, one left behind” examples from the Gospels. First let us bear in mind that Jesus warned that his followers would be subject to being handed over to the authorities, being persecuted, prosecuted, and potentially even executed (see Mt. 24.9).

This discussion precedes the famous passage in Mt. 24.40-41, which also has as its immediate contextual setting a discussion about a previous judgment on the earth, the flood, in which some were “taken away,” indeed all were swept away except those who entered the ark. Notice the language of Mt. 24.39—“the flood came and took them all away.”

The language of being taken away refers to those who were judged, not those who were rescued. The same applies to the saying that follows: “Two will be in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding with a handmill, one will be taken and the other left.”

It is perfectly clear from the context that “being taken” means being taken away by or for judgment. It says nothing about being raptured into heaven. Indeed, it is those left behind who are the fortunate ones, because they were not taken away to face the judgment! "

God's displeased list?
I've referred many times on this site to how I feel about Falwell and Robertson and their post-9/11 declarations that “God has withdrawn his protection from this country because of its wickedness." Acceptance of Pat and Jerry's opinion then generates the logic that God punished 3,000 Christians and non-Christians with death because he is displeased with our national morality.

The next conclusion would have to be that Israel, Palestine, Iraq, and any other country where terrorism goes on must also be on God's displeased list. And how can Israel, upon which every Left Behinder is pinning his hopes, be on God's displeased list?

One of Bush's axis-of-evil members, Iran recently suffered an earthquake among other disasters. So Iran must be on God's displeased list. What about North Korea, no major recent tragedies. Just the usual famine and economic depression. But there's lost of countries with those troubles who don't seem to be on God's displeased list.

Pat and Jerry's logic suggests that God is not sufficiently angry with North Korea....... unless a saber-rattling sword-wielding Republican presidential Christian Crusader right out of the 12th century mold smites them on behalf of God.


It Doesn't Work That Way

Prophecy & the End Times

Familiar Spirits, Diviners & The Rapture
The superstitious part of our world is full of the results of Christian kindergarten divination.

These are the Rapture proclaimers who have “divined” the meanings of the Book of Revelation and other Bible passages so they can pretend they know the mind and will of God.

The Rapture is a fairy tale. It was written on the blackboard of Christian Kindergarten by human beings who think they know.

True divination is communion between God and human beings without the help of a book.
Divination is the essence of promptings by a Holy Spiritual connection between humans and God.

The book is not necessary.

There may be something in the book that will help you know what God knows, but you are supposed to learn that for yourself ... in your own way ... God will not punish you if you don't get there in your own way.

God does not punish ...

... except in the imaginations of Kindergarten Christians who are afraid of all teachers except those who teach kindergarten stuff.

... except in the imaginations of Kindergarten Christian teachers.
They and their pupils are being left behind even as you read this.

The Theistic God and disasters: A view from the far right side
This is not formal theology, but when proclaimed publicly by prominent evangelicals, I wonder the impact on how the theistic god is perceived by those who believe in and accept as gospel the words of celebrities within Christian leadership:

After Orlando, Florida, city officials voted in 1998 to fly rainbow flags from city lampposts during the annual Gay Days event at Disney World, Pat Robertson issued the city a warning:

"I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you. ... [A] condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It'll bring about terrorist bombs, it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor."

Robertson claimed that his prayers to God helped steer Hurricane Gloria in 1985 and Hurricane Felix in 1995 away from Hampton Roads, Virginia, the headquarters of Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, according to The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA) on June 10, 1998. The Virginian-Pilot further noted that "Robertson also believes that various natural disasters are signs of God's will and that the world will suffer more of them before the arrival of 'the end of the age.'"

And yet, this particular "prophet" who has not hesitated to announce things that God has told him about elections, presidents and judges confuses the perception of God with this sort of backtrack:

From the May 1 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, Reverend Robertson, the God you describe is taking a very active, direct role in our lives. One of the earlier clips we showed said you had him saying, "I am removing justices from the Supreme Court," and I'm just wondering why does a God who is so involved in our daily life, so directly involved, allow something like a tsunami to kill several hundred thousand people in Asia?

ROBERTSON:I don't think He [God] reverses the laws of nature. The reason for that tsunami was the shifting of tectonic plates in the Indian Ocean. I don't think he changes the magma in volcanoes and I don't think he changes the wind currents to bring about hurricanes. So, I don't attribute that to God, or his lack, or otherwise.

For Robertson, however he may be confused about whether or not God interferes with nature, he assures the faithful that their political prayers are and will be answered

"But in terms of human affairs, I do think he answers prayer and I think there have been literally millions of people praying for a change in the Supreme Court. The people of faith in this country feel they're on a tyranny and they see their liberties taken away from them and they've been beseeching God, fasting, and praying for years. So, I think he hears and answers their prayers."

This brings to mind the point made by Mark Twain in his War Prayer the meaning of which goes beyond the evils of war. Praying to the theistic god for a desired blessing is praying for an outcome desired that must include the highest good of all concerned.

A faithful congregation in an area suffering a drought is praying for water. Into the community comes a powerful traveling revival preacher who tells his faithful to pray for sunshine in order that all may attend the two-week revival. He exercises the faith of a Robertson in praying to God for dry warm weather.

Warm dry weather would prolong the drought causing the local congregation prolonged suffering.

The local congregation exercises the faith of a Robertson in praying to God for rain. Two weeks more without rain and all the crops are burnt up.

What's a theistic God to do? One man's prayer objective is another man's curse.

The theistic God could apportion the rain I suppose, but when literalistics on prayer get to specifics, the only answers to prayer would be the ones that support the theology.

Any other interpretations are subject to a matter of whose truth is most powerfully projected.

according to Mel’s movie
Robertson and Falwell regardless of how much they recanted in September, 2001, revealed their own long-held but very foolish literal thinking when they publicly declared that God had removed his arm of protection from the U.S. because of our societal sinfulness.

Their view, in my opinion, exaggerates a general fundamentalist view of the End Times - a view that is not as radically accepted generally by those to whom you referred.

As much as I disagree with Bishop Spong, his point about an imperial Christianity believing it possesses exclusive tickets to heaven is a point well-taken. We may not buy into that imperial notion, but too many of us who disagree remain silent when such stuff is spouted.

And like Gibson, who uses graphic brutality to make his point, all the while making no acknowledgement of what followed the crucifixion in terms of torture and persecution, I have emphasized what I believe is a strong point at the risk of de-emphasizing the goodness and spirituality or more moderate fundamentalists.

In my opinion, we, as a Christian society are strongly impacted by our own internal imagery - imagery that began for many of us in childhood. Many of us, as Dr. Marcus Borg has written, have never gotten away from our pre-critical naiveté, despite the fact that we were able to figure out while still quite young that Santa Claus is not real.

Among many of us in our generation we tend to imagine that Moses looked like Charlton Heston and that the good versus evil portrayals in Exodus portrayed by Edward G. Robinson, Debra Padgett and Yul Brynner were what it was really like: That 600,000 Israelites walked away from Egypt on a grand camp-out trek.

I’m concerned that Mel has given us a new image of Christ in a film that devotes 30 seconds at the end to the Resurrection after 2 hours of graphic brutality portraying the death of Christ. Last night, my son, who belongs to a thriving Church in Portland, saw the movie as a sneak-preview after his church bought thousands of tickets and rented a major Portland theater for the showing. This sort of thing went on all over the country and evangelists are ecstatic.

I wonder about our children – especially those who are allowed to view this R-rated movie in theaters. Do you not think that after seeing the film, future images of Christ in their minds will be 2 hours of graphic violence – something they can already see in TV cartoons and video games – and 30 seconds of the Resurrection?

“Christ died for our sins,” according to Mel’s movie, may no longer evoke the understanding of resurrection that informs our understanding of a Redeeming Savior. We’ll have to ask our children ten years from now.

many theologians seem to be worried that God is not worried

I watched Dateline last night revist the DaVinci Code in the hour before the debut of "Revelations" (NBC's effort to tap into the fun pretenses of the Left Behinders).

Conclusion after watching is that many are protesting too much.

Given the admissions that DaVinci Code is successful fiction based on speculation and recycling of long-time conspiracy lore, what hot button seems to be stuck in the "ON" position with all these formal rebuttals including aggressive official rebutting by the Catholic Church?

Doubt ... who to trust ... defend the faith ... from what?

God doesn't seem to be worried ... but many theologians are and they seem to be worried that God is not worried.

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