Life Goes On

“If the Devil’s Time were above a thousand years ago, pronounced short, what may we suppose it now in our Time? Surely we are not a thousand years distant from those happy thousand years of rest and peace and (which is better) Holiness reserved for the People of God in the latter days; and if we are not a thousand years yet short of that Golden Age, there is cause to think, that we are not an hundred.”

—Cotton Mather, The Wonders of the Invisible World, 1692

In every era since the beginning of recorded history, prophets and mystics have predicted the imminent end of the world, some with dread and foreboding, others with glee. The desperate and downtrodden bereft of earthly hope have prayed for God to come and give them succor, reigning with justice and creating a paradise free from suffering and want. Others, acting from baser motives, viewed the world as hopelessly evil and sinful and longed for the apocalypse so that they, the righteous, would be exalted and their enemies would be delivered to the flames of damnation. Often, these motives could be found in combination.

But whether hopeful or vengeful, all the seers and prophets of the apocalypse have had this in common: they were all wrong. Their prophecies failed; their deadlines came and went and the world did not end; and life went on, just as it always has.

One would think that this lengthy and unbroken record of failure exhibited by past prophets of doom would give the believing masses pause, and perhaps a measure of skepticism, when it comes to the latest apocalyptic excitements. But if you thought that, you would be underestimating humanity’s near-limitless capacity for self-delusion. Those who are dedicated followers of prophecy have always been able to find some conjunction of world events which they believe heralds the end. Their scenarios have identified a bewildering variety of historical figures and events as antichrists, messiahs, final battles, false prophets, omens, portents, and signs from heaven. In Robert Price’s The Paperback Apocalypse, there is a cross-section:

The current crisis is always identified as a sign of the end, whether it was the Russo-Japanese War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Palestine War, the Suez Crisis, the June War, or the Yom Kippur War. The revival of the Roman Empire has been identified variously as Mussolini’s empire, the League of Nations, the United Nations, the European Defense Community, the Common Market and NATO. Speculation on the Antichrist has included Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, and Henry Kissinger. The northern confederation was supposedly formed by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Rapallo Treaty, the Nazi-Soviet Pact, and then the Soviet Bloc. The “kings of the east” have been variously the Turks, the lost tribes of Israel, Japan, India, and China. [p.153]

In fact, the only thing that remains constant about all these end-times frenzies is how many people eagerly flock to the next one, and how many preachers recycle the same warnings without a hint of awareness that this is what they are doing. Just as Cotton Mather predicted the imminent end of the world in 1692, Christians are still doing it today, and this passage is a perfect example:

But if there are no signs for the Rapture itself, what are the legitimate grounds for believing that the Rapture could be especially near of this generation? The answer is not found in any prophetic events predicted before the Rapture but in understanding the events that will follow the Rapture. Just as history was prepared for Christ’s first coming, in a similar way history is preparing for the events leading up to His Second Coming…. If this is the case, it leads to the inevitable conclusion that the Rapture may be excitingly near.

Ironically, although this text is approvingly quoted in a 2009 essay by Thomas Ice, it was originally written in 1973 by John Walvoord, in Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis. That book was then revised and reissued in 1991 (why on earth would a prophetic book need to be revised?). And as Rapture Ready’s biography of Walvoord says, without a glimmer of self-awareness:

I am sure that, were Walvoord still alive, he would be ready to revise once again!

Indeed, Walvoord, who is now deceased, churned out books on the Rapture throughout the twentieth century. Again from Rapture Ready, here’s a partial bibliography – see if you can spot the increasing desperation of the titles:

The Return of the Lord (1955)
The Rapture Question (1957, 1979)
Israel in Prophecy (1962)
The Church in Prophecy (1964)
The Nations in Prophecy (1967)
Daniel, the Key to Prophetic Revelation (1971)
The Holy Spirit at Work Today (1973)
The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation (1976)
The Millennial Kingdom (1983)
The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook (1990 — retitled in 1999 as Every Prophecy of the Bible)
Major Bible Prophecies: 37 Crucial Prophecies That Affect You Today (1991)
The Final Drama: 14 Keys to Understanding the Prophetic Scriptures (1993, 1997)
End Times: An Explanation of World Events in Biblical Prophecy (1998)

And just when you think he’d finally given up, the cycle starts all over again with:

Prophecy in the New Millennium: A Fresh Look at Future Events (2001)

In the end, Walvoord had the same destiny as Cotton Mather and all other apocalyptic prophets: he died of natural causes, his predictions went unfulfilled, and life went on. This is as it has always been, and always will be – and life on Earth will continue its complex, winding, glorious course, untroubled by the fulminatings of apocalyptic prophets. They may preach however they will; the sun will rise the next day, regardless. And when their words have faded to silence and their bodies to dust, our planet will continue, revolving on its grand and stately path through space. Disasters will happen, and trouble will be with us again, but we will survive and life will endure.

In fact, I recommend it as an experiment. Search the internet for a near-future date when the world is predicted to end. (You’ll have no trouble finding one.) Then, on the morning of that date, step out of your front door and take a look around. You’ll find that the earth did not rise in upheaval, the seas did not turn to blood, and the sky did not turn dark as sackcloth. Instead, you’ll see golden sunrises, trees putting forth new leaves, waves crashing gently on the shore, and soft rains quenching the land. Life will go on, just as it always has and always will. Think on this, and reflect, the next time your serenity is disturbed by another in the never-ending parade of heralds of imaginary doom.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Pi Guy

    My girlfriend, her co-worker, and I were talking about my lack of faith (friend strictly Catholic) and she just couldn’t believe that, in light of current world events, that I didn’t believe that the end is nigh. She’s convinced that Armageddon is right around the corner and, Adam noted in the post, she’s seemingly rather excited about it!

    I showed her this site but, as is the case with all Chicken Littles who pray and expect answers, she’s completely impervious to reason. *sigh*

  • Alex, FCD

    When I hear prophets of doom, I always think of the English lit class where I learned that many of the authors of the earliest writings in that language were of the opinion that the world was old and was about to die. There’s a poem which conveys the sentiment quite well, but unfortunately I can’t remember the title and I don’t have any of my English textbooks handy.

    By coincidence, I’m reading a book by P. B. Medawar (The Art of the Soluble), and he argues in the introduction that:

    “The greatest liberation of thought achieved by the scientific revolution was to have given human beings a sense of a future in this world. The idea that the world has a virtually indeterminate future is a comparatively new one. Much of the philosophic speculation of three hundred years ago was clouded over by the thought that the world had run its course and was coming shortly to an end.
    [...]
    Outer space did not put into people’s minds then, as it does into ours now, the idea of a tremendous endeavor only just beginning

  • Paul S

    I remember when I was a kid, maybe 10 or 11 years old (around 1979-80) and part of a Baptist household, our church showed us kids a movie about the Rapture. It was actually about what would happen to those “left behind.” I don’t remember much about most of the movie, but I do have a vivid recollection of a scene where those who converted or refused to deny Christ were lined up to be guillotined. That scared the living shit out of me at the time and still resonates with me today. As the parent of a 4 year old myself, I cannot imagine subjecting him to that sort of psychological abuse (and I do consider the Christian teachings to children of an eternity in hell as psychological abuse). It’s amazing when I see how protective and reactionary Christians are to the sex and violence portrayed in popular culture, but at the same time have no qualms about teaching their own children how intrinsically evil humanity is through a book filled with many stories of sexual depravity and untold numbers of slaughter and pillage done in the name of God.

    Sorry if I went off on a tangent, but this “armageddon end of the world” crap makes me sick to my stomach.

  • Polly

    My mother’s constant refrain is “we’re so close, we’re so close.” She’s oblivious to the fact that she’s been saying it for damn near 30 years, now. I did agree that if a “rapture” occured a la Kirk Cameron’s movies, that would be sufficient evidence for me to reject the mark of the Beast, get guillotined, and go to Heaven.

    off-topic: Recently I tried to explain to her why omniscience about the future is contradictory to free will. She just couldn’t see it. She kept referring to the (allegorical) videotape of the world from beginning to end. But if we’re acting out a replay of a vid, then we still have no free-will.

    @Paul S,

    I don’t remember much about most of the movie, but I do have a vivid recollection of a scene where those who converted or refused to deny Christ were lined up to be guillotined. That scared the living shit out of me at the time and still resonates with me today….(and I do consider the Christian teachings to children of an eternity in hell as psychological abuse).

    SAME HERE! I bet that was the same !@#%$ing movie I saw, too!

    -Paul A

  • nfpendleton

    @Paul S:

    They did the same thing to us with the same film (I was raised Baptist as well-it must be in the manual). I recall vividly one kid having to leave the screening because of a panic attack and my grandmother (one of the teachers) had to talk him down. We were like 12,13 years old. I’d like to believe it a cynical indoctrination technique, but the reality was that the adults who subjected us to that stuff believed it just as much as we eventually did. I have noticed (and probably stated this here before) that since those many years without a rapture or end of the world, she’s become mute on the subject.

    @All:
    Regarding this subject, I recommend Jonathan Kirsch’s book *A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization*. He not only catalog’s the US religious obsession with End Times, but illuminates the time and place and author of the book known to xians as John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ.

  • Johan

    “In fact, I recommend it as an experiment. Search the internet for a near-future date when the world is predicted to end. (You’ll have no trouble finding one.) Then, on the morning of that date, step out of your front door and take a look around. You’ll find that the earth did not rise in upheaval, the seas did not turn to blood, and the sky did not turn dark as sackcloth. Instead, you’ll see golden sunrises, trees putting forth new leaves, waves crashing gently on the shore, and soft rains quenching the land.”

    I think according to Mayan mythology, the world will end in 2012. So if it’s all fine Januray 1 2013, then it is wrong.

    I’ve never really been bothered about those crappy prophecies anyways.

    “Life will go on, just as it always has and always will.”

    No, one day it really will end:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_extinction
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_fate_of_the_universe
    http://www.exitmundi.nl

    If you think about it, it’s sorta fascinating in some weird sense (at least for me) that far, far in the future, everything from the pyramids to the White House, to any possible human colonies in space will be gone. We better live our only lives well.

    This is what many followers of Epicurus had on the grave stones: “I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”. It’s eventually going to be true for all of us.

  • Nes

    My favorite end of the world website has to be A Brief History of the Apocalypse, though Exit Mundi, as mentioned by Johan, is rather entertaining as well. My favorite example from ABHOTA has to be the Assyrian clay tablet from nearly 5,000 years ago claiming that moral decay is a sign of the end of the world… gee, where have we heard that before?

  • Snoof

    I quite like this site as a reference for a huge number of failed doomsday prophets.

  • http://millennialthoughts.wordpress.com/ ChristineS

    Johan: According to the History Channel (which has become obsessed with the 2012 thing, a fact which saddens me greatly), the Mayans predicted the end of the world on 12/23/2012. So you won’t have to wait until January 1st– you can celebrate the non-end of the world on Christmas Eve!

    One wonders what the History Channel and all the others who’ve jumped on the 2012 bandwagon will do once the year/date passes and the world has failed to end. Probably decide that god intervened or something…

    Also, Nes, thanks for that link. I’m going to waste so much time on there…

  • Shawn Smith

    I swear, if I weren’t married, I would have no problem giving a person who thinks the world will end in 2012 $5,000.00 now if they then give me $50,000.00 on Jan. 1, 2013, assuming we’re both here. Ebonmuse mentioned a site for something like this a few months ago.

  • Tim Walker

    I can appreciate your view, however I find this particular scripture rather pointed:

    First, knowing this, that there will come in the last days scoffers walking according to their own lusts and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. For this is hidden from them by their willing it, that the heavens were of old, and the earth out of the water, and through water, being held together by the Word of God, through which the world that then was, being flooded by water, perished. But the present heavens and the earth being kept in store by the same Word, are being kept for fire until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But, beloved, let not this one thing be hidden from you, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
    (2Pe 3:3-8)

    Here is the key, we consider our lives long, we consider three or four hundred years a long time, yet what is this amount of time compared to eternity, or the age of the earth? I agree that many Christians have misread the times, however, look at what the book of Daniel says about the end times:

    Dan 12:4 But you, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

    Notice that this verse implies that as we near the time of the end, the knowledge of the prophecies (understanding) will increase. Has mankind ever had such an explosive increase of knowledge than in our day?

  • abusedbypenguins

    I’m not married and I wager $20,000 for $200,000 on 1/1/2013. Any takers? Oh, yeah I want it in $9,000 bundles of unmarked bills.

  • Brock

    ChristineS–
    “One wonders what the History Channel and all the others who’ve jumped on the 2012 bandwagon will do once the year/date passes and the world has failed to end.”

    They’ll do the same thing they did after Y2K failed to materialize. They’ll go right on to the next predicted apocalypse without missing a beat. Look at the history of the Millerites (now Seventh Day Adventists) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The aftermath of a failed apocalypse is always first rationalization, and then a re-calculation of the end.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Notice that this verse implies that as we near the time of the end, the knowledge of the prophecies (understanding) will increase. Has mankind ever had such an explosive increase of knowledge than in our day?

    So, the world’s gonna end any day now? Where have I heard that before?

  • http://happyapatheist.blogspot.com David

    @PaulS: I suspect you may be referring to this film and its sequels. It might be called a predecessor to the Left Behind novels. I was subjected to this on VHS in high school in the early ’90s, and I mostly recall amusement at the ’70s styles and the vaguely-interesting sci-fi concepts of an “apocalypse.” Of course, my church youth leader saw the “world government” aspect of the film–called UNITE (United Nations Imperium for Total Emergency)–prescient of the “new world order” that was all the rage around 1992.

    Last time I checked, the New World Order has not required us all to get bar code tattoos. Unless I missed the memo….

  • mikespeir

    Tim,

    So, to God a thousand years is like a day and a day is like a thousand years? Have you considered how absurdly open-ended that makes biblical prophecy? Why, AD 1,000,000 is only a thousand days to the Lord: not even three years! Now, I know perfectly well that “Peter” was only saying that to God time is meaningless. There’s nothing literal about “a thousand years” and so forth. But why is it that there can never be a time when we can say, “Okay, it didn’t pan out. Now let’s move on to something else”?

    You know, if I had cooked up a religion and my prophecies weren’t coming to pass, I think I’d make up something much like what “Peter” did to smooth things over and keep myself employed, so to speak.

    And about our blossoming knowledge. What kind of sophistry are you trying to push on us here? The Daniel passage, contrary to conservative views, was probably written during the Hellenistic age, a time when knowledge was increasing like it never had before. It was a time when many Jews rebelled against the Greeks imposing their new realms of knowledge. This is exactly the kind of thing you might expect a Jew of the second century BC, feeling oppressed by the Hellenists, to write, convinced that the end was approaching, a day when his God would set things right.

    But there have been explosions of knowledge throughout human history. It hasn’t been a steady upward climb, but the general trend across time has been in that direction. It’s true that we are learning like never before. In 100 years, barring some worldwide calamity, we’ll be moving even faster. So what? How do you think you can take this little scrap of Daniel and link it reliably to our increasing knowledge today? Show me your chain of reasoning. Show me that our day and age is what Daniel was talking about.

  • velkyn

    I think that movie about the end of the world may have been “The Late Great Planet Earth” which was also a book by Hal Lindsey http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Late,_Great_Planet_Earth. It “predicted” that the second coming would be in the 80′s. I remember my whole church going to see it at a local theatre. It was stupid even to me as young as I was. It was likely the first time I really wondered about how a “good” deity could damn anyone for being born at the wrong place/time.

    So many Christians want to be the important generation that God finally comes back for. However, so many of them don’t even get that their God, after a millenium of peace where Jesus reigns and all evil people have been killed, *intentionally* lets Satan loose again to corrupt more people and cause more havoc. EAch sect has its own version of the order of events because they are trying to make sense out of pure nonsense.

    I do enjoy the claims made by Christians like Tim Walker who don’t understand that each generation is quite sure that the Bible’s words “really” mean them. Each increase in the dispersement and gaining of knowledge is claimed to be a sign that god is a-comin’! If a day is like a thousand years and Jesus claimed to return within a generation, then Jesus is coming back about 7 miillionn years from now. So much for trying to play equivalency games in the Bible and hoping that no one sees that you pick and choose what “evidence” to use to support your claim.

  • Polly

    What II-Peter tells me is that he was responding to the same objections to his doomsday prophecies, of “any day, now” when any day kept getting put off just like all those who came after him for the next 2,000 years.

    They really thought JC would be back in their day, but he didn’t show up. So, they built in a psycholigical trap: reference the perfectly logical response of skepticism to their claim as a sign of one’s own doom so you they could say, “see? We told you that’s what you’d say.”

    No one wants to face their mortality. Each generation wants ot be the “special” one (as Velkyn noted) that gets to live forever without “falling asleep in Christ.”

  • Brock

    Just to add my two cents to what others have already implied, the letter of 2 Peter was written in response to the realization that the second coming had not occurred, despite the fact that Jesus and Paul both predicted it within the first generation of believers. This helps us to date 2 Peter to the second generation of believers, who were wondering what went wrong, which also tells us that whoever wrote it–in highly literate Greek– the illiterate Aramaic speaking fisherman to whom it was ascribed was long dead. As for Daniel, if it was “shut up to the end of time” yet was available in the first century BC, that implies that the world should have ended before Jesus was born. The nmoral of course is that you can’t rely on what the Bible says.

  • mikespeir

    Polly:

    Yep. When one prophecy fails, predict that people will point it out. That way at least one will be fulfilled; and in the prophesying business, 50-percent ain’t half bad!

  • Andrew

    I really do wish people would realize that the so-called ‘end of times’ occured in the first century.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    And Revelation was descriptive?

  • Andrew

    Yes and no. Revelation is one of the most(if not THE most) symbolic laiden books in the Bible.

    Part of the problem with the American-evangelitical view of prophecy is the instance that “The Bible must be taken literally.” And yet nobody I know who holds to that mantra believes the anti-Christ will be a 7 headed beast coming out of the sea…

  • Alex, FCD

    And yet nobody I know who holds to that mantra believes the anti-Christ will be a 7 headed beast coming out of the sea…

    Clearly you are unfamiliar with the works of the Prophet H.P. Lovecraft.

  • Andrew

    I’v read some lovecraft, but not much.

  • Alex, FCD

    That was actually a joke.

  • Andrew

    ah I’m laughing now that I didnt get it.

    My point is that even the people who want to take the Bible ‘literally’ are selective about which parts should be literal, and which parts should be figurative. And there’s not apparent criteria to determine which parts are which. LaHay for example doesnt believe the anti-christ will be a 10 headed beast, but DOES believe God will send literal demonic locustists and sulfer breathing horsemen to tourture/kill people.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Mine was a joke too, BTW.

    If the end times already occurred, what in the world does it mean for us living today? Why was it not recorded? Etc.

    Here’s one thing we definitely agree on though:

    …the people who want to take the Bible ‘literally’ are selective about which parts should be literal, and which parts should be figurative.

  • Andrew

    If the end times already occurred, what in the world does it mean for us living today?

    I means we should be living to build God’s Kingdom on earth, rather than sitting around waiting for God to do it for us.

    Why was it not recorded?

    It was. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Roman’s completely demolishing the temple in Jerusalem. Or maybe the fall of the Roman Empire(which I beleive some of the prophecies refer to).

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    I means we should be living to build God’s Kingdom on earth, rather than sitting around waiting for God to do it for us.

    And you base that on?

    It was. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Roman’s completely demolishing the temple in Jerusalem. Or maybe the fall of the Roman Empire(which I beleive some of the prophecies refer to).

    Sorry, but the Roman Empire didn’t fall in the first century BC. And, I highly doubt that the sacking of the temple in Jerusalem was the extent of the “end times.”

  • Andrew

    Sorry, but the Roman Empire didn’t fall in the first century BC.

    You’re correct. I made a mistake in saying ALL the prophecy had been fullfilled in the first century.

    And, I highly doubt that the sacking of the temple in Jerusalem was the extent of the “end times.”

    Strictly speaking it wasnt. It was a symbol of the end of the Jewish age, when God made his Covenante through the Jewish people, and then beginning of the age of the Messiah when God made his covenant with indviduals.

  • nfpendleton

    @velkyn:

    My old man made me read that book, too (a few years after all the prophesies were supposed to have come true, strangely enough).

    I’m pretty sure the film I saw was this one, from a series from the late 70s/early 80s: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080915/ .

    I think there are clips from them on YouTube.

  • Leum

    What Andrew is talking about is called Preterism, the belief that some or all of the prophecies recorded in the Gospels and Apocalypse have already taken place.

  • Wedge

    Preterism: the belief that Jesus exaggerated so much that his followers were left saying, “What, was that it? Couldn’t have been…”

  • Brock

    What many people don’t realize is that the Resurrection of the Dead took place at the time of the crucifixion as referred to in Matthew 27, v 52-53: ” the graves opened and many of god’s saints were raised from sleep; and coming out of their graves after his resurrection they entered the Holy City, where many saw them.” Everybody who missed this event is damned to hell automatically. These so-called saints still walk among us (because they have already died once and were raised, they live forever), and the only thing we can do is seek them out and kill them. They probably won’t die, but we have nothing to lose by trying, besides, we are vile corrupt and completely evil, so they are our natural prey.

  • Brock

    That includes you, Andrew.

  • Andrew

    What Andrew is talking about is called Preterism, the belief that some or all of the prophecies recorded in the Gospels and Apocalypse have already taken place.

    Yep I fit into the ‘partial’ preterist catagory.

  • ex machina

    Andrew, this isn’t really an objective question, but, do you feel satisfied with that interpretation?

    If you accept that Jesus fulfills the old testament prophecies, Revelations foretelling ancient middle-eastern and European politics is a little seems incongruous. The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ was an event of a kind of eternal and infinite spiritual nature: Now and forever he cleansed humanity of all it’s sins. Even in the long run, that’s a big deal. So why would revelations only go so far as to talk about the end of the roman empire? It’s kind of a big deal, but nowhere near the salvation of mankind for all eternity. The scope seems inappropriately small.

  • Andrew

    Andrew, this isn’t really an objective question, but, do you feel satisfied with that interpretation?

    Yes. Every other interpertaion I’v heard makes no sense to me.

    If you accept that Jesus fulfills the old testament prophecies, Revelations foretelling ancient middle-eastern and European politics is a little seems incongruous. The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ was an event of a kind of eternal and infinite spiritual nature: Now and forever he cleansed humanity of all it’s sins. Even in the long run, that’s a big deal. So why would revelations only go so far as to talk about the end of the roman empire? It’s kind of a big deal, but nowhere near the salvation of mankind for all eternity. The scope seems inappropriately small.

    Actuall as a partial preterist I think that Revelation does briefly deal with a final ressurection and a new revived earth. But it doesnt give a timestamp for it, so its pointless to worry about trying to predict when it will happen.

    in any case, the focus of Revelations(and ‘end of times’ prophecy in general) is actually NOT on the temporal events, but on the continueing work of Jesus. Specificly on him asscending the throne in Heaven, ending the old covenant and ushering in the New(the destrucion of Temple was a symbol of these things).

    Furthermore, it actually makes more sense to me to think that the Bible would focus mostly on things the earliest Christians would have known and care about. To me it seems really bizzarre to think God would go to such lenghs to try and describe events involving technology, nations and political/economic instutions that wouldnt exist for millinia to people who couldnt even begin to comprehend them.

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    ex machina “The scope seems inappropriately small.”
    Well, as God said to Job, “How dare you! Look at all the other things I do! Can you do those things? I rest my case! Moo ha-ha!*” Granted, that was His answer to the Problem of Evil, but you’d be surprised how well that rant caps other subjects.

    *Note that the “Moo ha-ha!” is apocryphal. He really laughs like a little girl. True story.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    As I’ve said in the past, both preterism and premillennialism face up to, and fail to deal with, the biblical passages about the apocalypse in a way that makes them mirror images of each other. Premillennialism recognizes that these passages refer to the true end of the world, but falsely assumes they were meant to apply to the future rather than the past. Preterism understands that the only possible window of fulfillment was in the past, but fails to recognize that they really were referring to Jesus’ second coming and the end of the world, not just a local event.

    Matthew 24:22 states that God has mercifully shortened the tribulation period, and if he had not, “there should no flesh be saved”. Obviously, there would be no danger of a local conflict killing everyone on the planet no matter how long it lasted. Matthew 24:30 likewise states that “all the tribes of the earth” will be able to see the Son of Man’s coming in the clouds when it occurs, which only makes sense if what is being described is a global event. (source)

  • nfpendleton

    @Andrew: “Yes. Every other interpertaion I’v heard makes no sense to me.”

    Argument From Personal Incredulity is nothing to hang your hat on.

  • Andrew

    Matthew 24:22 states that God has mercifully shortened the tribulation period, and if he had not, “there should no flesh be saved”. Obviously, there would be no danger of a local conflict killing everyone on the planet no matter how long it lasted.

    Unless of course, hes not refering to the whole world, but Jerusalem and the surrounding area. I think the fact that Jesus starts the Olivet Discorse with the destruction of the temple and never once says he’s talking about anything else makes this likely.

    Matthew 24:30 likewise states that “all the tribes of the earth” will be able to see the Son of Man’s coming in the clouds when it occurs, which only makes sense if what is being described is a global event

    Sorry but ‘tribes of the earth’ is an idiom for the Jewish people. Matthew even uses it as such elsewhere. I imagine the Jewish people(collectivly, not every one of them at once) would notice if the center of their religious life was destroyed.

  • Leum

    Ebon, have you blogged about Preterism before, or just mentioned it in passing? I don’t recall any posts on it.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    I haven’t devoted a whole post to preterism on DA, although I did discuss it in my essay “2000 Years Late“.

    Matthew 24:30 likewise states that “all the tribes of the earth” will be able to see the Son of Man’s coming in the clouds when it occurs, which only makes sense if what is being described is a global event

    Sorry but ‘tribes of the earth’ is an idiom for the Jewish people.

    Andrew: Even if I grant this, when did anyone see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory? When did he send his angels to gather the elect from the uttermost parts of the earth, as he said he would (and doesn’t that also indicate a global event)?

  • velkyn

    Andrew said “Strictly speaking it wasnt. It was a symbol of the end of the Jewish age, when God made his Covenante through the Jewish people, and then beginning of the age of the Messiah when God made his covenant with indviduals.”

    I do love how Christians consistently forget that Jesus himself said that the Law wasn’t abrogated (heaven and earth certainly haven’t passed, have they? And I missed it?) This supposed “covenant with individuals” has little support and is the wishful thinking of those Christians who wish their religion was a “relationship” so they could disassociate themselves from those acts by their religion that their God evidently had no problem with but they do.

  • Andrew

    Even if I grant this, when did anyone see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory?

    The ‘coming’ here is a very poor translation. A better translation is ‘vindicated,’ this is another refernce to the temple’s destruction as a symbol of the ending of the covenant.

    Furthermore, the destruction would act as proof that Jesus fullfilled the Deutronomy test for a prophet. If the temple hadnt been destroyed within a generation of his lifetime(as he predicted) the he would have been a liar/fraud.

    When did he send his angels to gather the elect from the uttermost parts of the earth, as he said he would (and doesn’t that also indicate a global event)?

    Interestingly the word ‘angel’ doesnt necessary suggest a divine being. The Greek aggelos literally translates ‘messanger’ and was used of both divine beings, but also of humans, including Jesus’s Diciples. There’s no indication that the ‘gathering’ has to refer to a physical place. Jesus here is simply re-iterating what he already said earlier, that before the end of the age his ‘messangers’ would preach the Gospel and gather believers from all over the Roman Empire.

    This supposed “covenant with individuals” has little support and is the wishful thinking of those Christians who wish their religion was a “relationship” so they could disassociate themselves from those acts by their religion that their God evidently had no problem with but they do.

    Actually the ‘its not a religion its a relationship line’ makes me gag. But the idea of a covenant with indvidual believers is in fact found throughout the Bible, and is the entire point of most of Paul’s letters.

  • mikespeir

    The ‘coming’ here is a very poor translation. A better translation is ‘vindicated,’ this is another refernce to the temple’s destruction as a symbol of the ending of the covenant.

    Andrew:

    I’d like to see a defense of that. Can you name a translation that puts it that way? If not, why not? Why does neither Strong’s nor Thayer support “vindicated’?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    The ‘coming’ here is a very poor translation. A better translation is ‘vindicated,’ this is another refernce to the temple’s destruction as a symbol of the ending of the covenant.

    I would really love to hear how you defend this claim. The Greek word is erchomai: it means “to come, to arrive, to show oneself”. It has no meaning that’s anything like what you want to give it. The word for “vindicated” would probably be dikaioo, which is not used in these passages.

  • Lori

    FOR PRETRIB RAPTURE REPEATERS

    Congratulations! You are now fulfilling the Bible which says “Come now, and let us repeat together.”
    Be sure to repeat what Walvoord, Lindsey, LaHaye, Ice etc. repeat what their own teachers repeat what their own teachers repeat etc. etc. etc.!
    Repeat that Christ’s return is imminent because we’re told to “watch” (Matt. 24, 25) for it. So is the “day of God” (II Pet. 3:12) – which you admit is at least 1000 years ahead – also imminent because we’re told to be “looking for” it?
    Also repeat the pretrib myths about the “Jewish wedding stages” and “Jewish feasts” (where’s your “church/Israel dichotomy” now?) even though Christ and Paul knew nothing about a “pretrib stage” and neither did any official theological creed or organized church before 1830!
    You should read “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” on the “Powered by Christ Ministries” site to find out why you shouldn’t repeat everything your pretrib teachers repeat.
    Do I have to repeat this?


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