Moses and Eliza

Fred Clark’s latest post in his ongoing review of Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist in the Left Behind series had me laughing out loud at one point.

Here is the entire section that includes the reason for the title of this post, which is itself pretty funny, but then a bit that is even more hilarious – if you saw the episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus it refers to:

I sympathize with Buck a bit here. He’s just trying to get a straight answer, but the Witnesses can’t give him one because they’re unable to speak except by quoting unrelated snippets of Bible verses. I’m starting to think that Eli isn’t short for Elijah, but for ELIZA — the early chatterbot computer program that recited lines from its scripts in a way that sometimes almost sort of mimicked human conversation. ELIZA was pretty crude, but it had a better shot at passing theTuring Test than Moses and Elijah do here as they mechanically repeat the handful of Bible passages the authors allow them to say.

In nimbler, more biblically literate hands, this device of speaking only in Bible quotations might have been effective. The problem here is that Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are dispensationalists — meaning they’ve “rightly divided the word of truth” in a way that allows them to focus only on the supposedly “prophecy” related parts that interest them. With such a limited segment of scripture to draw from, the authors wind up making their Two Witnesses sound like a 1960s computer program, or like tourists using an abridged, religious version of the Hungarian phrasebook from Monty Python.

Click through to read the whole thing. And in case you haven’t seen it, here’s part of the relevant Monty Python episode (which you should not watch if you are easily offended by rude humor):

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  • Russ Rossi

    Dr. McGrath, I am unclear on your position.
    Are you an atheist?

    • Not at all. I am a Christian. Would you not expect Christians to be in the forefront of challenging the sort of nonsense one finds in the Left Behind series?

    • No, Mr. McGrath isn’t really an atheist. He’s certainly never called himself one and his blog is a part of the Patheos “Progressive Christian Channel”.

    • newenglandsun

      Dr. McGrath has identified himself as a liberal Christian. So obviously, he isn’t going to be taking the Bible literally any time soon and does believe there are contradictions in certain places of it.

      This kind of Christianity really is older than many people think it is. It started with Origen. Possibly sooner.

  • Michael Wilson

    I like the way LaHaye tries to make the raptured end time preachers seem brilliant by making everyone in his book completely idiotic. I think it reflects his own world view where presumably the only reason most people don’t accept Christ clear teachings as LaHaye has is their iron clad commitment to Satan worship and pedophilia.