I was wondering if you can steer me to some books and/or websites that critically examine the Evangelical end times stuff. You know, the Hal Lindsay, Tim La Haye style end times doctrines about barcodes, microchips, The Beast, New World Order, etc. Whether it be liberal Christian or secular in origin, I want to see something that challenges this stuff. I need to deprogramme myself of this shit. Thanks. TROY
Thanks for writing. Hope these articles help:
How Do I Deal with the Multitude of Prophetic [End Times] Passages?
ARMAGEDDON NOW! The Premillenarian Response to Russia and Israel Since 1917
Also, some of my favorite stuff on the subject below.
According to the Gospels, the man from Nazareth virtually never used the word "church." There are no sayings of Jesus spoken in public that programmatically call for a community of the elect and for the founding of a church. Biblical critics are agreed on this point: Jesus did not proclaim a church, nor did he proclaim himself, but the kingdom of God. Governed by the awareness of living in an end time, Jesus wanted to announce God's imminent kingdom.
Hans Kung, The Catholic Church: A Short History
The whole of Jesus's work implied that the apocalypse was imminent; some of his sayings were quite explicit on the point. The prima facie view of the Jesus mission was that it was an immediate prelude to a Last Judgment. Hence the urgency of the pentecostal task, an urgency which Paul shared throughout his life ["...brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly..." 2 Thes 3:1], so that his final hope was to carry the good news, while there was still time, to Spain - - for him, "the ends of the earth."
Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity (New York: Atheneum, 1979), p.38.
This poor deluded lady believed "Jesus is coming soon", so earnestly, she had it printed on her car door -- but Jesus didn't come, and that picture was taken around 1940.
"Get Ready" the door boldly proclaims.
Jesus is not coming back.
EXCERPTS FROM "THE FALL OF FANATICISM" BY VOLTAIRE
(WITH ADDITIONAL VERSES AND COMMENTARY BY E.T.B.)
Jesus allegedly told the people of his generation:
The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven . Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
- Mark 13:24-27,30-31 (Compare the parallel verses in Matthew 24:29-31,34)
Luke echoed Mark and embellished the prophecy further:
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
- Luke 21:25-27,32
Generations passed, and if none of those things happened it is not my fault. When it was seen what a gross falsehood had been put forward, the Fathers of the Church asserted that Matthew, Mark and Luke had meant by these predictions the fall of Jerusalem. But what connection is there, I ask you, between the fall of Jerusalem, and Jesus coming in the clouds with great power and gathering his elect from the four winds?
The apostle Paul, like Mark, Matthew and Luke, indulged in equally gross falsehoods when he predicted:
The rulers of this age...are passing away ["will not last much longer"--Today's English Version]...Do not go on passing judgment before the time [i.e., "before the time" of final judgment], but wait until the Lord comes [i.e., the Lord will come soon enough to relieve the members of that church from having to "pass judgment"] who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts...The time has been shortened so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none . and those who use the world, as though they did not make use of it [i.e., Paul is warning his first-century brethren that the time has grown so "short" that they should no longer be overly concerned with marriage or buying or selling, but instead be preparing above all for the soon return of Christ]; for the form of this world is passing away ["This world, as it is now, will not last much longer"--Today's English Version]. These things were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Proclaim the Lord's death until he comes [i.e., Paul did not say, "Proclaim the Lord's death until the day you die," but rather, "until he comes," which means that he considered Christ's coming to be nearer than the time when the Christians he was addressing would all be dead, and he further emphasizes this by adding.] We [Paul and the first-century Christians being addressed] shall not all sleep. At the last trumpet. the dead will be raised. and we shall be changed [i.e., "we" included Paul and others whom he predicted would still be alive at Jesus's coming and hence not require "raising," but merely "changing"]. Maranatha [="Come Lord"]
- 1 Corinthians. 2:6; 4:5; 7:29-31; 10:11; 11:26; 15:51-52; 16:22
To the Philippians Paul wrote:
He who began a good work in you [the first-century Christians being addressed] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus [i.e., rather than saying "until the day you die," which Paul predicted was not going to happen to all of them as Paul pointed out in 1 Cor., "we shall not all sleep"]...In order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ [Compare 1 Tim 6:14, "Keep the commandment...until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ."]. We eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ...Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
- Philippians 1:6,10; 3:20; 4:5
To the believers in Rome Paul wrote:
The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is soon to be revealed to us...The whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now...We...groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed! The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand...The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
- Romans 8:18,22-23; 13:11-12; 16:20
Moreover, Paul's earliest known letters were written to Christians of Thessalonica who were growing increasingly concerned because some of their brethren had died already without seeing the "coming of the Lord." Paul wrote to reassure them that the Lord would return soon:
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord [i.e., Paul included himself as one who would be alive at the coming of the Lord]. shall be caught up together. in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 5:23
It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels [i.e., the Lord Jesus would be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels soon enough to recompense tribulation to whomever was troubling that first-century church!]. the mystery of iniquity doth already work. Brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7; 2:7; 3:1
Let each person ask himself here: could it be possible to see the stupidity of fanaticism pushed further? Not only has Jesus been introduced upon the scene predicting the end of the world in his own time but such was the fanaticism of all those who are called apostles and disciples. I have already mentioned the case of Paul. Let us look at the rest.
Peter in the First Epistle attributed to him says:
He [Jesus] was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times [or last days, or, end of times]...The end of all things is at hand . the glory that is soon to be revealed.
- 1 Peter 1:20; 4:7; 5:1
When Jesus did not return, the church had to deal with "mockers" who pointed to the false predictions of Jesus's soon return in the New Testament. In order to deal with such folks--who knew a false prophecy when they read one--a feeble attempt was made to explain Jesus's delay in a second letter attributed to the apostle Peter, which stated:
With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
- 2 Peter 3:8
But this feeble attempt to silence the "mockers" fails miserably. It is like admitting that when God "inspired" the writers of the New Testament to proclaim that they were living in the "last hour," in the "last days," and that it was only a "very little while" before "He who is coming will come" (Heb. 10:37), that God really meant "last hours" and "last days" and "very little whiles" that were "thousands" of years long. I wonder what such an explanation implies about God's inability to put words into his prophets' mouths that meant what He truly intended, instead of having to cover His tracks in a late-dated letter like 2nd Peter? In short, the statement in 2nd Peter contradicts 1st Peter, and other New Testament predictions that Jesus (or "the Son of Man") was to come soon and initiate the world's final judgment.
Even the author of 2nd Peter did not suspect that the end was far off, for he wrote:
God is not slack concerning his promise.what manner of persons ought you [the second-century Christians he was addressing] to be...looking for, and hastening the coming of God...we are looking for new heavens, and a new earth.
- 2 Peter 3:9-13
...in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers [the earliest Christian leaders] fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice...
- 2 Peter 3:3-5
Speaking of "escaping their notice" (sic), it often escapes the notice of Christians as they read the above verses that they apply to "mockers" who were disturbing the faithful at the time 2nd Peter was written. So if the warning was about "mockers" who will come "in the last days," such mockers had arrived as early as the second-century, and were already asking, "Where is the promise of his coming?"
The First Epistle attributed to John says:
The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining...The world is passing away ["This world, as it is now, will not last much longer" - Today's English Version]. Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that Antichrist is coming, even now many Antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour. [Notice the way the author emphasized the fact that not just a single Antichrist had arisen, but "many" Antichrists had already arisen, and pounded that point home to add weight to his prediction that "it is the last hour," and, "this world will not last much longer."]
- 1 John 2:17,18
The Epistle attributed to Jude, proclaims the same mania:
Certain persons have crept in unnoticed [i.e., they "have" already crept in, in Jude's own day], those who were long beforehand marked out for condemnation . about these [i.e., "these," refers to the people who have already crept in] Enoch prophesied saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment [i.e., the Lord was going to come soon with thousands of holy ones to execute judgment on people who had already crept into the church in Jude's day]."
- Jude 4,10-15
The Epistle of James speaks likewise:
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you [directed at the rich people living in James's own day]...It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure . Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord . for the coming of the Lord is at hand...behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.
- James 5:1,3,7-9
This ridiculous idea survived century after century. If the world did not end under the first Christian Emperor, Constantine, it had to end under Theodosius; if the end had not come under Theodosius, it had to occur under Attila the Hun. And up to the twelfth century this idea enriched the monasteries. A great many of the charters and donations to the monasteries began thus: "Christ reigning, the end of the world approaching, I, for the remedy of my soul, etc."
GIMME THAT OLD FALSE PREDICTION, IT'S GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME
The author of the letter to the Hebrews began his letter, "...in these last days," and argued on such a basis that, "He (Jesus) would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." With equal fervor he employed the phrase, "as you see the day drawing near."--and made the prediction, ".for yet a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay." (Heb. 1:2; 9:26; 10:25,37) Oops! There's been a sleight delay.
Even worse is the fact that "at the consummation" can also be translated, "at the end of the age." What does that phrase mean, "the end of the age?" A verse in the Gospel of Matthew defines it precisely: "At the end of the age...the Son of Man will send forth his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." (Mat.13:40-41 - the author evidently based his description of "the end of the age" on Daniel 12, which was a description of the final judgment of mankind) So that is exactly what the author of Matthew and the author of Hebrews predicted would happen in their day, i.e., the final judgment of mankind.
Also note the logic behind the argument in Hebrews 9:26. The author argued that continuous sinning "since the foundation of the world" required blood sacrifices "often." But God saw to it that Jesus's sacrifice occurred at a time when no further sacrifices would be required. That time could only be "at the consummation" or "at the end of the age" when the time of final judgment for all sinners had arrived. Thus he hoped to persuade his readers of God's wonderful plan in having Jesus sacrifice himself "in these last days," and that it was only a "very little while" before "he who is coming will come, and will not delay." It would appear even to the most dense that the prediction has failed. So, the author of Hebrews was a false prophet.
THERE'S NO REVELATION LIKE A FALSE REVELATION
The book of Revelation begins with this prediction, "The revelation...which God gave to show...the things which must [shortly] take place." (1:1) The author, having addressed his letter to several churches in Asia Minor, circa 65-95 A.D., continued, "He is coming with the clouds, and every eye shall see him, even those who pierced him. Repent therefore; or else I am coming to you (the church at Pergamum) quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth...(To the church at Thyatira) hold fast until I come. Because you (the church at Philadelphia) have kept the word of my perseverance, I will keep you from the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world. I am coming quickly...hold fast what you (Philadelphia) have." (1:7; 2:16; 2:25; 3:10-11)
In the final chapter of Revelation the author repeats his first chapter prediction of Jesus's soon coming, "...God. sent His angel to show...the things which must shortly take place...I am coming quickly...do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near...I am coming quickly, and my reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done [see the definition of the "end of the age" discussed above = the final judgment in Daniel and Matthew]...Yes, I am coming quickly...Come Lord Jesus." (22:6,7,10,12,20)
The idea of being either "sealed up" or "not sealed up" is something that the books of Revelation and Daniel both share. According to the author of the book of Daniel he was commanded to "seal up" his book "until the end of time": "Conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time. these words are concealed and sealed up until the end of time." (Daniel 12:4,9) The book of Daniel was composed from the alleged point of view of a Jew living in ancient Persia who had visions of "the end of time," or, "the end of the age," when all men would "rise again" and be judged. (12:2,13) "Seal up the book," he was commanded, or so the story goes.
But the author of Revelation was told, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book," adding that what is revealed in it "must shortly take place." The intent of the author of Revelation in alluding to the "non-sealing" of his book is obvious, the author believed and predicted that Jesus was about to "come" and judge the world "quickly." So, the author of Revelation was a false prophet. And, by the same token, so was the author of Daniel, since his book was "unsealed" long before "the end of time."
For 2000 years they've been saying Jesus is coming.
These poor folks sincerely believed "Prepare to meet thy God" -- but God never came.
Jesus is not coming back.
If Jesus and his apostles, for whatever motives, were mistaken in a matter of this consequence, how could I be certain that any one of them may not be mistaken in any other matter? If they were not inspired in what they said in their writings concerning the soon coming of Christ; how could they be inspired in those arguments they built on a foundation far from being so?
Matthew Tindal, Christianity as Old as Creation, A Republication of the Religion of Nature, 1730
ON THE KNOWLEDGE OF BIBLICAL PROPHETS
The Biblical prophets wrote book after book and epistle after epistle, yet never once hinted at the existence of a great continent on our side of the water; yet they must have know it was there, I should think.
- Mark Twain
Though Saint Augustine seemed inclined to yield in regard to the sphericity of the earth, he fought the idea that men exist on the other side of it, saying, "Scripture speaks of no such descendants of Adam." He insists that men could not be allowed by the Almighty to live there, since if they did they could not see Christ at his second coming descending through the air. But his most cogent appeal, one that we find echoed from theologian to theologian during a thousand years afterward, is to the nineteenth Psalm, and to its confirmation in the Epistle to the Romans; to the words, "Their line has [already] gone out through all the world, and their words to the ends of the earth." He dwells with great force on the fact that St. Paul based one of his most powerful arguments upon this declaration regarding the earliest preachers of the gospel (Rom. 10:18), and that, as those preachers did not go to the opposite side of the earth to preach the gospel, no people must exist there; hence those who believe such things, "give the lie direct to King David and to St. Paul, and therefore to the Holy Ghost." Thus the great bishop taught the whole world for over a thousand years that as there was no preaching of the gospel on the opposite side of the earth there could be no human beings there.
- A. D. White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, Vol. 1
THE NEW JERUSALEM
The last book of the Bible mentions a fabulous city called the "New Jerusalem":
And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth. twelve thousand furlongs [about 1500 miles according to most commentaries]. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
- Revelation 21:16
In other words the New Jerusalem is a gigantic cube and it is supposed to descend out of heaven. The author who wrote about the city apparently made it of such gargantuan proportions so that the length of just one of its sides was equal to the distance from Jerusalem to the capital and heart of the Roman Empire. Or perhaps the author had in mind that God meant to flatten Rome just as Rome had flattened God's holy temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.?
Other questions also come to mind: Wouldn't a cube that was 1500 miles on all sides simply see-saw on the earth's curved surface, since the earth is not flat, but a sphere? Even if it didn't see-saw and settled onto the surface of the earth gently, would not its sheer mass cause the earth's crust to buckle or crack beneath it, and initiate earthquakes or volcanic eruptions? Wouldn't it also cause a wobble in the earth's daily rotation? (Just try gluing a small cafeteria-sized carton of milk to a large bowling ball and spin the bowling ball to see what I mean.) How could a cube that was 1,500 miles on each side maintain its cubic shape since much smaller objects in space that are merely 400 miles in diameter, collapse into spherical shapes due to the force of their own gravity? And, what would prevent the city, after it landed, from growing as wide and flat as any mountain range due to its mutual attraction with the earth's own gravity?
And the New Jerusalem is so tall it would extend 1,300 miles further out into space than the International Space Station that is situated only about 200 miles above the earth. In fact the New Jerusalem would block jet streams in the upper atmosphere, and be pummeled by natural and man-made objects orbiting the earth, as well as its topmost floors being hit by solar winds and radiation. If you happen to live on any floor higher than merely the first 100 miles above sea level, I wouldn't suggest opening your windows without first donning a space suit.
Do the questions end there? No. Here's another: The author of the book of Revelation wrote that the "twelve gates" of the New Jerusalem are "twelve pearls; every gate is of one pearl." (Rev. 21:21) Hence the slang expression for heaven, "The pearly gates." But where can you find "one pearl" large enough to make a "gate" for a city that size? I'd pay money to see the oyster that popped those babies out! It must be bigger than one of the biggest animal of all time, the blue whale.
Of course some Evangelical apologists like Grant R. Jeffrey simply assume that the description of "The New Jerusalem" must be true without a doubt because "what reason would God have for describing such details so precisely unless they were true?" [Apocalypse: The Coming Judgment of the Nations (Bantam Books, Toronto, 1994), p.351] But then, who ever said "God" was the one describing such details? And who ever said that human writers didn't have imaginations capable of adding details to a story? Maybe the author of the book of Revelation assumed like most people of his day that the earth was flat [see NOTE], so a cube-shaped object would sit securely and squarely on it? He probably also made the New Jerusalem a cube because that's how the holy of holies of Solomon's temple was shaped. The author of Revelation, probably had no idea that the enormity of the city he had envisioned would raise scientific questions in the minds of 20th-century readers, especially since he probably assumed that the heavenly abode of God and angels existed not very far overhead, instead of that region being filled with orbiting bits of matter, solar radiation, and the vacuum of space? [See the section, THE HOLY HEAVENS OF THE HEBREWS] Finally, maybe Grant R. Jeffrey should cease making a career out of trying to anaesthetize the frontal lobes of people's brains, and embark on an expedition to find that oyster that pops out pearls as big as city gates? And he had better hurry and find that whale-sized oyster before King Kong enjoys it as an appetizer. (But where is Kong going to find a lemon large enough to squeeze on it?)
[NOTE] The author of the book of Revelation wrote in flat earth fashion: "I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth" (Rev. 7:1); and added elsewhere, "There was a great earthquake...and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts her figs when she is shaken of a mighty wind." (Rev. 6:12,13). "Stars of heaven falling to earth" after the earth below has been "shaken," mirrors the way that the sun, moon, and the stars are portrayed in the creation story in Genesis, being "made" and "fixed" above the earth. And just as those stars were "fixed" there, they would one day "fall to earth" like "figs" from a shaken tree after the earth below had experienced "a great earthquake," because to the ancient Hebrews the whole of creation consisted of a cosmos whose two halves were the earth below and the heavens above.
If "Christ is the Answer", what was the question?
I guess after telling people for 2000 years "Jesus is coming" and he never came, and people stopped believing -- the answer is get "bigger speakers" then they'll listen.
Jesus is not coming back.
Will Christ ever return? The New Testament is now older than the Old Testament was when the New Testament was written, and still no word from the God of the Bible. So, what's holding Jesus up? (Subtract two points if you answered, "The nails in his hands.")
Also consider that the alleged "end times" prophecy of Ezekiel, included his fears of "foes from the northern frontier" by the names of "Gog and Magog," and those names have been identified in ancient writings as referring to ancient Scythian tribes that existed back in Ezekiel's day, not ours. Ezekiel was focused on fears of his day, not ours. Ezekiel's prophecy about their weapons burning for "years" after that momentous "end times" battle only listed wooden weapons and not very advanced ones either, not even a crossbow is mentioned, nor gunpowder. And in Revelation, another alleged "end times vision" as interpreted by folks like LaHaye, Revelation mentions "servants=slaves" and "chariots" existing in "Babylon" when Jesus "comes quickly."