Predictions for the End of the World

Predictions for the End of the World May 27, 2013

I’m still elated that we dodged an end-times bullet last week. The earth should be a smoking cinder by now, at least according to a couple of prophecies, but God stayed his savage hand. Or maybe he doesn’t exist at all, and these end-times predictions are all nonsense.

The much-edited parchment above shows just some of the Christian end-times predictions that have come and gone in the last 2000 years, and it’s already out of date.

At the top, it takes us back to the mother of all failed predictions:

Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God (Mark 9:1, Matt. 16:28, Luke 9:27).

Apologists will argue that the prediction actually did come true because seeing “the kingdom of God” turns out to be not as big a deal as you might imagine. It’s the destruction of the Temple, for example, or it’s some sort of new age. But if that prediction was fulfilled, where is the prediction of the second coming of Jesus? A single prediction can’t be both fulfilled in the first century and also unfulfilled by an any-day-now second coming.

More to the point, it’s harder to handwave away the stars falling from the sky and the other cosmic calamities (Mark 13:24–31) and the comparison of the end times with Noah’s flood, where the unworthy are swept away unexpectedly and the master “will cut [them] to pieces and assign [them] a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 24:36–51).

It’s been close to 2000 years since those “standing here” reportedly heard those words. Whoops!

Faith is just gullibility dressed up in its Sunday best.
— machineintelligence

The artwork above was created by the talented Kyle Hepworth, who also did the cover of my Cross Examined.

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  • Y. A. Warren

    Maybe the Second Coming is in each individual’s heart at the time at which each is open to it.

    • Rick

      This is more in line with the understanding of most followers of Jesus’ teachings today. The Kingdom is a spiritual dimension that was ushered in when Jesus was resurrected, and was confirmed at Pentecost to the Apostles and the thousands of witnesses to the events that followed.

      Bob doesn’t accept this as a legitimate understanding, so he mocks instead. It’s just his way of being humorous. And his fan club loves to cheer rather than seeking a deeper understanding of what sincere Christians actually believe.

      • Cafeeine

        Of course this is not the current understanding of Christians today! It would be impossible to hold this belief in light of the fact that the world is still here, wouldn’t it? That’s the point.

        The sincerity of your beliefs is not in question, the truth value of them is.

      • Y. A. Warren

        If we all stop attempting to find differences in the history of humanity’s progression to enlightenment, we may actually come to some understanding of our same journey toward a world of peace, at least for our progeny.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        The Kingdom is a spiritual dimension…

        This is the kind of worthless statement losers make when they lose. Have you ever heard an athlete, after losing the big match, claim he made a moral victory? Yeah, that’s exactly the same kind of BS.

      • Greg G.

        So why didn’t anybody tell Paul this when he wrote to the Thessalonians two decades later?

        1 Thessalonians 4:14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

        He thought it hadn’t happened yet.

      • Rick: So the “you will see the kingdom of God” prophecies were all fulfilled. So they don’t refer to the second coming of Jesus.

        Where do you see that prophecy?

      • Y. A. Warren

        I don’t care how Jesus’ body came to be in Mary’s womb. I don’t care whether he was crucified or whether his body rose from the dead. What I do believe is that the example of ministry that Jesus set on earth is a good path to peace with other people. I also care that the spirit that he exemplified with his life still lives in those who choose to embrace it.

        • Y: What supernatural elements of the gospel story do you believe in?

        • Y. A. Warren

          I believe that The Sacred Spirit which humanity has access to embodying is as supernatural as I need to accept. I believe that The Sacred Spirit has been seen by many in many different manifestations, all real to those witnessing this manifestation. I believe that we can each embrace and embody The Sacred Spirit, and that the life of Jesus, whether mythical or not, is a path to peace on earth.

        • Y: Is there evidence that this Sacred Spirit exists that the rest of us could access? Or is it more of a feeling for you?

          It sounds like you choose to believe, not that you’re compelled to believe because of the evidence.

        • Y. A. Warren

          I simply see evidence in places other than those which each religion has accepted as their own sacred scriptures. I do believe that the eyes are windows to The Sacred Spirit, as well as to evil (the absence of a living Sacred Spirit) in another person.

          I believe that all responsibly compassionate action is inspired by The indwelling Sacred Spirit that is a gift offered to humanity in great abundance throughout history and throughout the universe.

          I see in the eyes of others the affects of stealing of The Scared Spirit through fostering fear, anger, greed. I see the killing of The Sacred Spirit in the eyes of those who have despaired, especially in the eyes of drug and otherwise addicted individuals.

          I believe we are to embody and share the breath of The Sacred Spirit on earth. These are observations that I have made in my lifetime. Does that make them any less sacred than the codified sacred religious texts? I don’t know. Does this mean they are simply feelings? I can’t answer that either, but I can show others some of The Sacred Spirit at work in others.

        • Machintelligence

          May the Force be with you. But beware the darkside.

        • Y. A. Warren

          Thank you.

          I come from a family and religion of physical, emotional, and any other abuse you care to name. I am well aware of the darkside. I feel blessed by many who have The Force to spare and share their spirits with me.

        • Greg G.

          People are capable of doing good things or bad things. You could use Sacred Spirit as a metaphor but you seem to have swallowed the concept. Try the metaphor of having a good dog and a bad dog inside you. Do you know which one wins? The one you feed the most. It explains behavior just as well but doesn’t need magic.

        • Greg G.

          Hi YA

          If Jesus had a ministry, surely the epistles would have mentioned it at least tangentially. If he had taught anything worth remembering, the epistle writers would have quoted it and cited him instead of only quoting the Old Testament. Paul does give a hat tip to Rabbi Hillel in Galatians but not Jesus. James refutes that interpretation but never cites Jesus. Either one could have won their debate with a good Jesus quote. If Jesus had existed, the epistle writers could have said more about him than what they read in the OT. If believers were affected by a real Jesus, nobody would need the weekly pep talks.

        • Y. A. Warren

          I don’t care whether there was actually a man called Jesus who walked the earth. What I do resonate to is the apparent attempt at that time in Jewish history to create a concept of compassion toward other humans, and the inclusion of women and children in the sense of the sacred capacity in all of us. Up until that point, it seems that religions all relied on nothing but otherworldly influences. I see the NT as bringing the sacred down to earth.

        • Greg G.

          I think the rejection of religion ethics and morality goes back to Socrates and was apparently brought to Jerusalem through Hellenization. A century before the Christian era, Rabbi Hillel said, “What you yourself hate, don’t do to your neighbor. This is the whole law; the rest is commentary. Go and study.” He anticipated the Golden Rule that was put into Jesus’ mouth. Paul follows him with:

          Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

          James, however, maintains the old party line with:

          James 2:8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

          The “Love your neighbor as yourself” comes from Leviticus 19:18, BTW.

        • Y. A. Warren

          This wisdom has been stated by many in many ages; when will we humans listen?

        • Greg G.

          It’s not a matter of listening or looking for a Sacred Spirit, it’s all about taking personal responsibility and doing it. If we want the world to be a better place to live, then we should make it a better place to live instead of praying for it to be better.

        • Greg: I’ll add that Paul’s famous 1 Cor. 15 creed is exactly that–a creed that was just believed, not a sober summary of historical facts. That doesn’t prove that these things didn’t happen; it’s just that we should interpret it for what it is: a summary of what Paul believed (and encouraged on his disciples), not necessarily history.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t think it says what most people read into it. Paul never says anything about his conversion being like the Acts tall tales. His is more like insights he got according to Romans 16 25-26. He saw out of context verses as being about Jesus – pretty much the same ones Christians call fulfilled prophecy because Paul quoted them as history and the gospels made up a story to fit them. He uses the same word for the others seeing as he uses for himself – “optanomai“. I don’t think anybody yet thought that Jesus was a first century figure.

          It might have been a creed or a slogan Paul used in his preaching. The “optanomai” just refers to insights, not an apparition or a zombie.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      Maybe the Second Coming is in each individual’s heart at the time at which each is open to it.

      Maybe pigs will fly.
      The text of the Gospels certainly doesn’t say that, it would be just your interpretation. Is there some reason I should believe your wishful thinking interpretation carries any weight?

      • Y. A. Warren

        Maybe pigs will fly. At least this is what people said about my team, The New Orleans Saints, possibility of ever winning the Super Bowl.

        I have long-since seen the “sacred” scriptures of the “bible” as allegorical and cautionary. I believe we are still writing experiences that may be relevant to the progression of responsible compassion in what I call humanity.

        I am only attempting to contribute to the conversation with sharing my personal experiences and the stories of those who have shared their experiences with me. I know that they are all anecdotal, but, in the end, that is all we humans have as our history.

    • SparklingMoon

      Maybe the Second Coming is in each individual’s heart at the time at which each is open to it.
      No doubt, the second coming of a prophet is always a spiritual one but to fulfill this purpose an other prophet is always appointed by God in whom the spirituality of that prophet incarnates to reform his followers.It is explained by the Reformer of the time :” It is one of the Divine mysteries that when the law which is brought by a Prophet is corrupted after his death, his true teaching and guidance are perverted and absurdities are attributed to him, and all this misguidance is attributed to the Prophet himself, the soul of that Prophet is greatly moved for the removal of all the corruption that are attributed to him, and then his soul demands that a substitute of his should appear on earth.

      The soul of Jesus (peace be upon him) had two occasions to demand a substitute. The first was six hundred years after his death. This was
      when the Jews insisted more than ever that he was an impostor and a
      liar and that his birth was illegitimate and that is why he died on the cross. While the Christians on the other hand proclaimed that he was the son of God and even God himself, and that had laid down his life on the cross for the salvation of mankind.
      It was then that the soul of Jesus was moved and demanded to be
      exonerated from all these charges and beseeched God for a substitute. Thereupon the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) was raised, one of the many purposes of whose advent was to clear Jesus of all the false charges made against him and to bear witness on his behalf. Jesus had talked about it: ” when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth….He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you….” (John chapter 16)
      It is said by Prophet of Islam(peace be upon him): ‘I have a strong resemblance to Jesus; my being is joined to his being.’ This sayings of the prophet of Islam confirms the statement of Jesus and completed all the incomplete works of Jesus of Nazareth, and bore witness to his truth and cleared him of the calumnies which the Jews and the Christians had heaped upon him,and thus provided comfort for the soul of Jesus.

      The second time when the soul of Jesus was agitated was(at this time) when the Christians completely assumed the qualities of Antichrist, and, as predicted, the Antichrist was to lay claim to both Prophethood and Godhood, this is exactly what these people did. They claimed Prophethood by interfering with the Divine word and framing regulations and carrying out changes that were the functions of a Prophet. They established what they wished, and invented doctrines and modes of worship and intervened so freely as if they had been commanded to do so by Divine revelation. Such unwarranted interference with Divine scriptures amount to claiming Prophethood.
      And they claimed Godhead in the sense that their philosophers and thinkers designed to assume all the functions of Godhead…They think that whatever is attributed to God Almighty is because previously the natural causation of everything had not been discovered and man’s extreme frustration was named God or God’s decree. According to them, when the system of physical causation is completely understood these ‘false’ notions would automatically disappear.
      Thus in this age the soul of Jesus was agitated a second time and longed for his substitute to appear in the world. When this desire reached its climax, God Almighty raised one who was his spiritual reflection to defeat the Antichrist of this age. That substitute is called the Promised Messiah, inasmuch as the reality of the Messiah is incarnated in him, i.e., the reality of the Messiah was united with him and he appeared in consequence of the demand of the soul of Jesus(as). That reality is reflected in him like a reflection in a mirror.( Ruhani Khaza’in,by Mirza Ghulam Ahmed vol. 5, pp. 341-346)

      • Y. A. Warren

        Is the Prophet of Islam Muhammad? Who is the Promised Prophet? Do either of these prophets sanction killing as a form of conversion?

        • SparklingMoon

          Is the Prophet of Islam Muhammad?
          You are right that the name of the Prophet of Islam is Mohammed. There are many prophcies about him in the Bible. one of them is: “And he said, the Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came with ten thousand saints; from right hand went a fiery law for them.” (Deuteronomy 33:2)
          Coming from Sinai refers to the appearance of Moses and rising up from Seir alludes that of Jesus. The prophet who shone forth from Mount Paran could be no other than the Holy Prophet of Arabia, as Paran is the ancient name of the part of Arabia where the children of Ishmael, the ancestors of Prophet Muhammad, settled.The Arabic form of the word Paran is Faran or Pharan. Jacut’s Geograph- ishes Worterbuch (F. Westenfielt, Leipzig,1862, Vol. III, P834) says that Faran is a name of Mecca. The word Faran means two refugees. It appears that the place took the name from Hager and Ishmaelas, who came there as refugees. What unmistakably points to the identity of Hadhrat Muhammad is the phrase: “he came with ten thousands of saints” and “from his right hand went a fiery law for them.” At the time of the conquest of Mecca,ten thousand holy men followed at his heels and he was the bearer of the law of the Quran. Hence, the prophecy has been wonderfully fulfilled in the person of Prophet of Islam.

          The Quran that was revealed to Prophet of Islam is the final Law of God in the series of those messages that had been revealed in different parts of the world from the time of Adam. In the Quran God Almighty had assembled all previous teachings in their correct form and had added some new teachings to complete His law for human guidance. Prophet of Islam had explained the position of this final Law by saying:
          ”My position in relation to the other prophets is like this: ”A man built a house, completing it and adorning it well except for a place of one brick. When the people entered the house, they marvelled at its beauty and said, But for the place of this one brick (how much more splendid the house will be) (Bukhari, bab khatim al-nabiyyin)

          Quran speaks about previous revelations and certifies their truths:”We revealed to Noah and the prophets who came after him. And We revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Descendants,Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon. And We gave David the Psalm.” (Quran4: 163)

          The principle that the Holy Prophet Muhammad testifies to the truth of all previous revelations, furnishes a strong foundation for harmony between the various religions of the world, as well as for the unity of the human race

        • Y. A. Warren

          Thank you for this answer. I asked two related questions. I am hoping for further answers from you. Who is the Promised Prophet? Do either of these prophets sanction killing as a form of conversion?

        • SparklingMoon

          Who is the Promised Prophet?
          It is claimed by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(1835-1908)in India: ”The light that illuminates the hearts also descends from heaven. Ever since God created man, He has ordained that, to unite mankind, He shall bestow the light of His awareness upon one of them at every time of need, and shall speak to him, and make him drink the cup of His love, and show him His chosen path, and grant him the eagerness to invite others towards the light, love and insight that has been given to him, so that they, too, may become part of him, and guard themselves against sin, and share his awareness, and attain the heights of piety and purity.

          In accordance with this time-honoured law, God has already foretold through His Prophets that, at the end of the sixth millennium after Adam-when a great darkness would envelope the earth, and the deluge of sin would inundate the land,and hearts would become devoid of love for God-He will breathe into a man the spirit of truth and love and awareness, just like in the case of Adam, without resorting to any physical means. And this man will also be called the Messiah because God shall Himself anoint his soul with His love.Let it be known that I am that Messiah. Let him who will, accept me.

          ”The actual mission for which God has appointed me is to remove the estrangement that has come between man and his Creator and re-establish a relationship of love and sincerity between him and his Lord.He has also appointed me to put a stop to religious wars by proclaiming the truth, to create religious harmony, to reveal the religious truths that have long remained hidden from mortal eyes, and to display the true spirituality that lies submerged under the darkness of selfish passions.”

          ”I am not of this world. But those, whose souls are akin to the next world,do and will accept me. He who withdraws from me withdraws from Him who has sent me. He who joins me joins Him from Whom I come. I hold a light in my hand. Those who come to me must receive their share of
          this light.”(Lecture Lahore by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian India.)

        • Y. A. Warren

          From the little bit of research that I’ve done, I’m encouraged by this man’s teaching that violence is not the path to enlightenment or peace.

        • SparklingMoon

          Do either of these prophets sanction killing as a form of conversion?
          Conversion to a religion brings a change in a heart and mind of a person and use of physical force plays no role in this matter and for that’s reasos no prophet in the world had used force to spread the message of God.Religious history shows that it is not prophets but actually their opponants who had always used physical force to silent their voice or it is used sometimes later by their so called followers who in their holy name tried to introduce force devices to fulfill their wishes.

          For example, Jesus had claimed in Gospels that he had come to maintain Mosaic Law(Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am come not to destroy, but to fulfill.(MATHEW 5.17) and in Gospels we find his whole massage is kindness and love, contrary to some hard teachings of Old Testament.We find many example in Gospels that present a contraditin between the practice of Jesus and the teachings of Old Testament. For example, it states in Old Testament that stoning or death is a punishment for adultery but Jesus had not maintained this law to a woman in an adultery case. It does not mean by this practice of Jesus that he had changed the Mosaic Law against his mission but actually he had maitained the Mosaic Law in its original form as it was revealed to prophet Moses.He was bestowed by God the real teachings of Mosaic Law and with a heavenly wisdom and love to infuse them in a society. This and many other examples in Gospels shows that the teachings of Torah had been changed by the holder of these scriptures as in those days it was not available to all followers and common people had no personal knowledge except few Jews scholars

          The same case is at this time with the Prophet of Islam.His teachings are also misrepresented otherwise he is called by God ”a blessing for the people of whole world because of the teachings God has given him. His mission is described by God in the Quran :”We have sent to you a messenger from among you,who recites Our verses/signs to you,and purifies you,and teaches you the Book and
          wisdom, and teaches you that which you knew not.” (Quran 2: 152) He was ordered by God: ”O Messenger! Convey to the people what has been revealed to thee from thy Lord;(Qur’an 5:68) But with a guidance rule:’ ‘It is not thy responsibility to make them follow the right path; (Qur’an 2:273) He was warned:”And We have not made thee a keeper over them nor art thou over them a
          guardian.” (Qur’an 6:108)The guideline given by God was:”if they dispute with thee,say,‘I have submitted myself to Allah, and also those who follow me.’ And say to those who have been given the Book and to the unlearned, Have you submitted?’ If they submit, then they will surely be guided; but if they turn back, then thy duty is only to convey the message. And Allah is Watchful of His
          servants.” (Qur’an 3:21)

          It was not possible for Muslim to change the Words of the revelation of Quran but in explanation of some verses

          people had made mistakes and one of them is the use of force and killing for the sake of Islam. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had raised a voice against this vice also that had been prevailed among Muslim Clergies who incite other innocent people for bloodshed people of other faith. He had written many times in his books, against it to realize Muslims for their mistake. His book ”British Government and Jihad by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad” is free online to read.There is a better answer for your question ”Do either of these prophets sanction killing as a form of conversion?”

        • Y. A. Warren

          Thank you. I will download and read it.

  • natsera

    I absolutely guarantee you that the world will end. But not as the Christians foresee it; probably more like when the sun exhausts its hydrogen and becomes a red giant and engulfs the planet. And I pretty much guarantee you that no one alive today is going to witness that. How’s THAT for prediction? Hee hee!

    • Cafeeine

      That’s not the world, that’s just our solar system.

      • natsera

        Of course it’s the world. The word “world” refers to our planet, not the universe. The end of the universe will be later than the end of our world. And there WILL be a surviving remnant of our solar system when the sun goes red giant — the outer planets will survive. In what form, I don’t know, because much of their gas may be blown away, but I’ll leave that for the scientists to figure out.

        • Cafeeine

          It most definitely doesn’t refer just to our planet. It refers to whatever space we as humans inhabit, which may or may not extend beyond the solar system by the time the sun goes commie ( 😛 )

        • natsera

          Well, then it would be the end of the WORLDS, which would be a lot harder to accomplish on Christian terms, LOL!

    • SparklingMoon

      I absolutely guarantee you that the world will end.
      No doubt, every physical objects of our universe have an end as after getting a stage of perfection (that is decided by God Almighty for every thing), there always begins a decay according to the prevailed laws of nature. But here in this article the End Time, in reference of Jesus and of his Second Coming, has no relation to the end of solar or universe system. This End Time is actually relate to religious evolution of seven thousand years of human beings. According to all Divine scriptures, the seven millenniums have been further divided as follows:

      ”First millennium: for the spread of guidance and virtue. Second millennium: for dominance of Satan. Third millennium: for the spread of guidance and virtue.( As in the middle of this millennium Prophet Moses appeared for guidance.) Fourth millennium: for the dominance of Satan. Fifth millennium:for the spread of virtue (this was the millennium in which Prophet of Islam appeared for the reformation of mankind ). Sixth millennium: for the release and dominance of Satan This millennium extends from the end of the third century of the Islamic era to the beginning of the fourteenth.( from 950 C.E to1850 C.E ) Seventh millennium: for the supremacy of God and His Messiah, spread of virtue and faith and righteousness, establishment of the Unity of God and Divine worship, and dominance of every virtue.”(Lecture Lahore by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(Qadian) of India.P—48)

      There is a decided time by God of seven thusand years of evolution for religion. This circle or period of evolution on earth repeats itself. This period begins by the time of prophet Adam who after having revelation keep the foundation of human progress as brings people out of their caves and jungles to live togather. We are at this time in the beginning of seventh millenium as it has begun after 1850.CE.A great revolution in genetic systems in different fields of life will turn this world soon into a worldly paradise as there will be no hunger no illness ,no war etc.( approximatly for one thousand year)

      In the end of seventh millennium (more or less some years ) there will be again a decay in religion and a great destruction in worldly progress .This worldly destruction will bring our generation to zero again and the rest people have to take shelter in caves. This destruction will be the result of tasting the forbidden tree and that forbidden tree is ”human’s creation.” As God has forbidden in religious book to make a change in human generation and also has warned that this interference will bring fatal result on earth ( but curiosity and to get a life for ever on earth will compel human beings in future to interfere in and to change human creation and this paradise on earth will be finished by their own hands)

      • Greg G.

        You are using out of date, abrogated texts. The seventh millennium is when humans discover that religious mumbojumbo is superstitious nonsense..


      • natsera

        Well, we very well could be destroying our world, and the survivors of the destruction, if any, may well have to take shelter in caves, but that has exactly nothing to do with any millennium or with Satan. It has more to do with our gross overpopulation, and our consequent destruction of the biosphere in which we live. If we could figure out a way to get our population down rapidly without bloody warfare over increasingly scarce resources, we wouldn’t need to go through this. Has nothing to do with any religious concepts, just science and ecology.

  • JohnH2

    So 2008 was probably 40 years from the retaking of Jerusalem. I have no idea what some of the other dates are. I believe there is a 2018 prediction based on the “this generation” referring to the generation that saw the creation of Israel and it being 70 years from that date. Obviously there is 2030 being 2000 years (+/- a few years) from the start of Christ’s teaching, 2033 being ~2000 years from Crucifixion, 2037 being 70 years from the retaking of Jerusalem, 2048 being 100 years from the start of the nation of Israel, 2067 being 120 years from Israel and 100 years from Jerusalem (after which point one can safely say that Israel being refounded was not what was meant (excluding life extension technology happening before that point)) and 2087 being 120 years from the retaking of Jerusalem.

    • John: I was just talking myself down after that last scare. And now I’ve got a bunch more end-times bullets to dodge. Thanks! 🙁

      • Greg G.
      • JohnH2

        Those are just the ones that I find theologically interesting enough to know about, not that I think any of them are correct.

        I am sure there are plenty of other ones. I know there are quite a few asteroid and comets that have various people hopeful. I was just reading something on the change in Fed Chairmen leading to the complete economic collapse of the Western World.

        The end of the world seems to be growing into a decently big business; I doubt those employed in that business manufacture the predictions, there seem to be more than enough to keep them employed, but they certainly help inform people of the prediction.

  • RichardSRussell

    You may have heard of Ernest L. Boyer, an American educator who most notably served as Chancellor of the State University of New York, United States Commissioner of Education, and President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

    Chances are dimmer that you’ve ever heard of his younger brother Paul, tho he was well known here in Madison, Wisconsin, where he served as Merle Curti professor of history and director of the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

    Ironically, despite his being on the faculty at UW, his book When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture, was published by Harvard Belknap Press. (Oh, well, that’s where he earned his doctorate.) He also wrote Urban Masses and Moral Order in America, 1820–1920 and co-authored Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft. He is, in short, a serious scholar.

    His end-times study involved immersive participation in various apocalyptic cults. My own reaction to the book was that Boyer retained his scholarly objectivity thruout his time in the trenches but nonetheless exhibited enormous empathy for the True Believers. He was particularly struck by their optimism, which is not necessarily a character trait you associate with people who sincerely believe the world is coming to an end any minute now.

    He also made quite a point of their unshakability. As Bob points out, history is littered with a trail of failed eschatological predictions, but many (if not most) of the adherents of those predictions seem to have been unfazed by their utter failures — some to the point of claiming that they were actually successes!

    As Harvard Press states on their blurb for Boyer’s book, “Boyer shows how impressive feats of exegesis have incorporated all of these in the popular imagination in terms of the Bible’s apocalyptic works.”

    The book was written in 1992 — just as the TBs were gearing up for their next big “the end is coming” push centered around the rollover of the Big Odometer in the Sky for Y2K — and in reopening it for purposes of this comment, I ran across a couple of clippings from 1993 that I’d tucked inside the front cover. One was a “Vox Pop” feature from Time asking “Will the second coming of Jesus Christ occur sometime around the year 2000?”. A national phone poll (internet had just barely started in 1993) with a sampling error of ±3%, the results were 20% yes, 49% no, and 31% not sure.

    The other clipping was a paid ad run in the local paper and paid for by Werner and Lee Goers (tho signed only by Werner) of Altamont, IL. It’s headlined “The Truth Is In The Word” and subheaded “Christ’s Return Is Near; Don’t Miss It For the World”. If Bob’s amenable, I’ll see if I can scan it and ship it to him for reproduction here.

    Anyway, the book’s a good read — more sociology than history, really, and way more people than politics or religion — and I commend it to you. ISBN 0-674-95128-X

    • Yes, please pass along a scan. I believe I’ve heard of Boyer’s book before–I’ve certainly heard of some book that took a sympathetic look at end-times cults from the inside. Fascinating stuff.

  • avalon

    “Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs
    that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and
    corruption are common.”

    Anyone care to guess when these words were written?

    For the answer:

  • Machintelligence

    Faith is just gullibility dressed up in its Sunday best.— machineintelligence

    I am honored by your using my quote, but the blogonym is spelled wrong. I was going to use that spelling, but someone had already taken it. 🙂

  • busterggi

    Still, it must be admitted that stars have been falling since John Wilkes Booth took that tumble out of the balcony at Ford’s Theater.

  • SparklingMoon

    Apologists will argue that the prediction actually did come true because seeing
    “the kingdom of God” ….But if that prediction was fulfilled, where is the prediction of the second coming of Jesus?

    This prophecy of Jesus about his second coming in these End Days is also fulfilled by God exactly on its time . This promise of his second coming is fulfilled in that form as was planed by God and explained by Jesus (not in that form as are considered and described in human made stories ). ”Second Coming” of a prophet is a religious term and the explanation of a prophet is th best source to understand its meanings. Jesus had explained the meanings of ”second coming” in his teachings and explanation is a guideline for his followers to understand the meanings of his ‘second coming’ at this time.

    Jews people in Jerusalem had not accepted Jesus as a Messia two thousands years ago, as they had expectation, according to the descriptions of their holy scriptures,the resurrection (second coming) of a prophet ,Elijah, before the advent of Messiah( and it was considered by them that the same Elijah, who had passed away many centuries ago, would resurect to this world again from heaven before the advent of Messiah(Jesus).

    As Elijah Prophet had made a prophecy of his second coming (resurrection) before the appearance of the Messiah in old testament therefore When Jesus had claimed to be the Messiah of his time, Jews had just rejected him by saying that Prophet Elijah ,according to his prophecy had not physically appeared till that time among them. At this objection Jesus had made this explained them:
    “Most certainly I tell you, among those who are born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptizer; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptizer until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.* 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 If you are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”( Matthew 11:11-15)

    Jesus had told in these lines that the prophecy of Elijah about his second coming (resurrection) is fulfilled in the person of John the Baptise.He had made them understand that ‘second coming’ of a prophet does not mean the coming of that same prophet but the coming of his attributes in the person of an other one to reform his followers. Jesus told that the spirituality of Ellijah prophet is incarnated in the person of John the Baptise to guide the children of Isreal of that time to clean their hearts and to prepare them for the message of Messiah.

    The people of his time among the Jews who had understood him, had recognized him as a Messiah sent by God but the other one among Jews who had not accepted his explanation had neither accepted Elijah nor Jesus. People among Jews still are in wait of the second coming of that Elijah prophet from sky with his physical body (that afterward the Messiah could be descended by God) But two thousand years had been passed but Elijah Prophet had not resurrected physically from sky according to human made explanations and wishes of Jews people)

    The same case is with the prophecy of Jesus about his ”second coming” at this end time. It is considered by some people that Jesus is sitting with God in heaven with his physical body and the same Jesus, who had appeared about two thousand years ago, will come down again with the physical body to fulfil his prophecy.

    The followers of this faith had made a fundamentle mistake in understanding the meanings of heaven.Heaven is not a physical place but actually the name of spiritual world that this ethereal spiritual realm exists inside of this physical world and nobody can enter in that realm with his physical body . God’s heaven is the highest height of the His sanctity of spirituality and human’s heaven is the spiritual height of his nature.

  • Monte Harris

    Hi Bob. Monte here. The Mark 13 passage and its friend passages in Matthew and Luke, if taken to be what Jesus legitimately said, are some of the most intellectually damning words ever spoken by a religious founder about his own teachings. I ignored this the first time I was faced with it by Bertrand Russell. Now…

  • SparklingMoon

    where is the prediction of the second coming of Jesus? A single prediction can’t be both fulfilled in the first century and also unfulfilled by an any-day-now second coming.
    It is not only Jesus but many other prophets like Lord Krishna, Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius ,Lao-tzu etc. also had made prophcies for their second coming or re-advent and on the other hand Muslim people also have a wait for a Massiah Mehdi according to the prophecy of Prophet of Islam in these later days.

    As all major religions promise the advent of a Divine personage who would usher in a new era of hope for mankind and unite them under one Divine flag. This is the meeting point of the hopes of all religions and this too, becomes the parting of their ways. They are unanimous in their belief that one Divine personage will certainly come as the saviour of the human race, but when it comes to his identity they could not disagree more with each other. Will he be Lord Krishna or
    Jesus Christ? Will he be Zoroaster or Buddha, or Confucius or Lao-tzu for that matter? Each is expecting a different person, under a different name and title; each is expecting him to belong exclusively to their own religious order.

    It is here that the gates one finds left open for the advent of the saviour begin to be shut again. They are seen shut from the vantage point of those who consider all other religions to be false except their own.The only gate they see open is their own; while their gate, as seen by others, is also shut. Either saviour must somehow materialize out of their dreams, or they will accept none other. Alas, the latter is the only fate which they have carved for themselves.

    The only rational inference that can be drawn is that the Promised Reformer has to be a single person, embodying the advent of all. Otherwise, the literal fulfilment of all such prophecies is impossible because of the supernatural element intertwined with all of them. The promise of the simultaneous advent of so many reformers could only be metaphorical and not corporeal. It was exactly in this sense that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in India at the end of eigteenth century, after having the revelation of God had claimed that in his person have fulfilled the advent of Jesus and the Mahdi as one person and also the advents of all others like Buddha, Krishna and other promised reformers awaited anywhere on earth.
    He claimed ” God Almighty has called me:”The Messenger of God in the mantles of all the Prophetsas.’This revelation means that I have been bestowed a portion of the particular circumstances or attributes of all the Prophets from Adam onwards (may peace be on them) who have come into the world from God Almighty, whether they are from among the Israelites or otherwise.There has not been a single Prophet of whose characteristics or circumstances I have not partaken to a degree. My nature bears the imprint of the nature of every Prophet. This is what God has told me.”(Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 21, pp. 112-118)