November 20, 2017

Things I “Learned” from Rapture Theology

dispensations-bigI could see the conclusion of this week’s posts coming from a mile away. I spent the first 24 years of my life in Plymouth Brethren churches that were at the forefront of promoting Rapture Theology. Here are some of the things that I “learned”.

  1. The return of Christ is in God’s timing, so Satan has to have an Antichrist ready for every generation. Candidates have been…
    a) The Pope (whichever one was current)
    b) Hitler (more on this later)
    c) Walt Disney (more on this later)
  2. If A=101 and B = 102 and C = 103 etc., then Hitler adds up to 666. So does Disney
  3. Walt Disney believed in One World Government
  4. Rapture theologians needed more mathematicians in their midst. Disney adds up to 676
  5. The ten horns of the Beast in Revelation 17:12 are the ten members of the European Common Market
  6. The Whore of Babylon (Revelation 17) was the Roman Catholic Church (By the way, this view was also held by Luther, Knox, and Calvin)
  7. The fig tree of Luke 21 represented the Nation of Israel.
  8. The budding of the fig tree represented Israel becoming a nation again on March 14, 1948.
  9. It would less than one generation from the date of Israel becoming a nation until Christ returned.
  10. A generation was 40 years.
  11. Christ’s return could be “any minute”
  12. The alignment of the planets in 1984 meant that Christ was going to return in 1984.
  13. There were 88 Reasons why the Rapture will be in 1988
  14. Jack Van Impe can quote 14,000 verses including virtually the whole New Testament. (He had an end-times tape ministry to which my Father subscribed.)
  15. What’s Bible Camp, without a long banner showing the different “dispensations” running the length of the dining hall.
  16. Rapture Theology was the source of a very popular youth group song with catchy tune, and horrible lyrics.
  17. Airlines shouldn’t have both the pilot and co-pilot both be Christians. If the Rapture occurred there would be no one left to fly the plane.
  18. The Scofield Reference Bible in the King James Version was the only acceptable Bible for serious Christians.
  19. It is not very fun as a kid being ambushed in Sunday School when given an “opportunity” to share an apposing point of view.
  20. Disagree and you are not walking in God’s will.
  21. The Bahai hold similar theology, only in their case Christ returned to earth in the form of Bahá’u’lláh in 1800s. (The Bahai are to Islam what Islam is to Christianity, and Christianity is to Judaism.)

I am sure I have missed more than a few items here. What else have you experienced?

Comments

  1. Very good, Mike!

    But I have to tell you after years of observing him, that my brother- in-law Fred is definitely the Anti-Christ.

  2. Considering the times in which they lived, it’s unsurprising that many of the reformers concluded that the Roman church was the whore of Babylon, and the Pope the antichrist. It fits in with the “present prophecy” interpretation of Revelation that Rick mentioned in the last comment thread. I disagree with those who still claim that the Pope (or, as per LCMS doctrine, the office of the papacy) is the Antichrist, but it’s important to understand that the issue of justification is a big factor in the whole debate; and it must be admitted that there is definitely a substantial difference between Lutheran/Reformed churches and the RC church on this issue (insofar as we’re talking about official church doctrine and not the beliefs of individual Christians within those churches).

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > it must be admitted that there is definitely a substantial difference between Lutheran/Reformed
      > churches and the RC church on this issue

      No, I do not admit that. Because Luther and the reformers are splitting hairs and making distinctions-without-a-difference. I would have agreed with this statement once; I do not now. The reformation was primarily about heat, not light. The church then, as an institution, had serious egregious problems; that was what the contest was about, at least at first – that mixed in with societal, political, and economic mode shift.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification is quite revealing. The JDDJ itself is largely irrelevant: no one is doing anything he would otherwise not have done, or not doing anything he otherwise would have done, due to the content of the document. What matters is the mere existence of the document. It grants permission to stop the name calling to those who had already stopped the name calling. Those who still want to indulge in that particular recreation condemn the JDDJ before ignoring it.

        As for the content of the JDDJ, what is fascinating is how the two parties managed to hammer out a document in which they use identical language to pretend to agree, then give slightly different meanings to the words to ensure that they haven’t actually moved an inch in five hundred years. That they can pull this off nicely illustrates your point about how close the two sides were all along.

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

        Perhaps today you might have a point, but I think it would be very difficult for any student of the Reformation to come to that conclusion. The countless reformation articles are very pointed and precise in their disagreement with Rome on justification, and it is not insubstantial. In fact, I believe many of the Reformers were flirting with truth in claiming that they were an entirely different religion.

        • +1. When it comes down to it, there is a substantial and qualitative difference between “by grace through faith alone” and “by grace through faith and works.” Furthermore, if the reformers are the ones to blame for splitting hairs about justification (which they weren’t) then it’s hard to explain the backlash from the Roman Church over the issue. The Council of Trent quite explicitly condemns the Lutheran doctrine of justification.

          • I believe the correct Catholic terminology is “faith being made perfect through love.” But either way, this is hardly an insubstantial difference. One allows for the sale of indulgences.

    • Jacob, I too have made this journey. In studying the Peasants War and the English post-Reformation wars, I asked myself, “What do you get if you win?” I saw that the objective was high-level cronysim in which “Our Side” was able to exercise power and “Their Side” was relegated to some form of second-class citizenry.

      Religious war is an oxymoron. It is all about political power.

      IMO, saying a war is about religion is the equivalent of saying a football game is about the team mascots. Sure, they help you tell which side someone is on, but no one is playing for the mascot. Seriously, how many times has CM extolled the virtues of young urban bruins when discussing his team? Never. But could he ever talk about his beloved goat-hating team without referencing the mascot? Of course not. Religious wars are like that. It’s about bragging rights, not the religious issues. Religion is just a way of declaring whose side you’re on.

      • Agreed. And I think few people realize how much the reformation was tied up in secular politics. It’s strange for 21st century people sometimes to step back into a time in which there was no separation between church and state.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Religious war is an oxymoron. It is all about political power.

        “A cold Iron Throne
        Holds a boy barely grown;
        His crown based on lies —
        YOU WIN OR YOU DIE!
        Game of Thrones…”

      • cermak_rd says:

        Wasn’t that part of Marx’s class struggle view of history? While I tend to view Marx’s economic theory with a lot of skepticism, I tend to agree with him on historical interpretation.

        The only thing is, OK, the princes and their knights were with the Reformers because they would get more power (or same on the opp side with the Catholics) but what was the foot solider thinking? My guess, is they really thought they were fighting for their religion.

        • Well, they were; despite the politics involved in all of it, the Reformation would not have survived without the support of secular authorities and their armies.

  3. Vega Magnus says:

    I learned that there is a sub-group of bad movie fans who specialize in watching/analyzing Rapture flicks.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I sometimes feel almost disappointed I never got to see any. Were any of them any good? I see them mentioned in documentaries every now and then.

      • “Were any of them any good?” [Inserting “Airwolf” theme music for roflcopter launch. Also, said theme music drowns out “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” quite nicely.]

        On the up side, you probably had fewer sleepless nights as a child than did some of us.

      • The Mark IV “Thief In The Night” series – A Thief in the Night – A Distant Thunder (the first one I saw) – The Prodigal Planet – Image of the Beast – is actually pretty decent. Low budget, but some good acting (despite some of the scenes in this combined trailer):

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kd7m6NZammI

        You might be able to find them all online on YouTube.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        In the Seventies, there was this big-name Rapture flick called Thief in the Night. Heavy pressure to watch its screenings at various Born-Again Bible-Believing churches in my area. Already freaked out by steady diet of Hal Lindsay, I passed on it to preserve my sanity. Later found out it was mandatory for several Bible summer camps and youth groups, and caused a lot of freakouts.

        Many years later, three clips from it were featured in a PBS documentary about Religion in America. First time I saw any TitN footage. Here are my reactions, word-for-word:

        Clip 1) “That’s Thief in the Night? Looks more like Manos, Hands of Fate.”
        Clip 2) “Shouldn’t Joel and the Bots be at the bottom?”
        Clip 3) “AAAAAAUGH! WE HAVE MOVIE SIGN!!!”

  4. #16. Now you’ve gone and done it. You’ve got that horrible ear worm “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” going on and on in my head.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      You mean the one whose last two words gave the title to those 22-volumes (plus spinoffs) of bad fanfic?

      At least Larry Norman sang it as a tragic lament.

      These (Last) days, all too often you hear it sung in grinning triumph.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Trade ya for what’s been earworming me today:
      “Pinky and The Brain”.

  5. It all makes so much sense now…

    • Yes, if CM had just started the week with this fine summary, all our end-time questions would have been answered, without all those deep conundrums about the delays and what not. Speaking of delays, you can get a good indication of just how close the time is here:

      http://www.raptureready.com/rap2.html

      As you can see, we’re real close the all-time high, so that must be good news (or is it bad news? – I can never keep it straight).

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It all makes so much sense now…

      That’s what Screwball said when Discord got loose.

  6. Despite spending some years now reading the anti-evangelical blogs, such as this, I STILL believe in the imminent return of Christ, the Rapture of the Saints and the judgment of the World. I STILL think the nation Israel is a part of God’s plan for the end of the World. I also believe there are “anti-christs” and there will be The Anti-Christ.
    Increased tribulation is coming, I’d like to believe the followers of Jesus Christ are raptured BEFORE the 7 year trib, but the evidence in mixed.

    • I’d like to believe the followers of Jesus Christ are raptured BEFORE the 7 year trib, but the evidence in mixed.

      I’d say that’s what the Brits would call an “understatement”. 😉

      But seriously, there are what are called “pre-millenial post-tribulational” theologies (also called “historic premillenialism”) out there. This position is held by respectable theologians (George Ladd is a shining example), and is a viable option. I was one myself for awhile after abandoning dispensationalism.

      Now, I would argue for an amillenial position – but not *too* strongly. As I pointed out earlier this week, the track record of God’s people WRT second-guessing His plans for the future has been universally pretty bad. 😉

    • And this, Seneca, is why I’m convinced that if Jesus were to show up in person at church, sitting in a pew, that no one would believe he is who he actually is. Theire eschatology is so deeply entrenched that their only acceptable appearance of Our Lord is in the air, accompanied by trumpets and an angelic throng. In fact, they would not only reject a living, breathing, in-person Jesus Christ, they would actually persecute him to the degree possible established by law. They would silence his message as being deeply heretical and thoroughly dangerous. They would slander his name and do everything in their power to make sure no one listened to a word he had to say.

      Just like the first time he came.

      And for the same reason – he wouldn’t fit their eschatology.

      • Dan from Georgia says:

        Bingo. Right on rick!

      • cermak_rd says:

        Well sure, if some random dude just showed up and claimed to be an Incarnation of your deity wouldn’t you be a wee bit suspicious? Wouldn’t you want to behold at least a sign or a wonder (divine birth certificate signed by the Almighty, something?) before accepting the claim? Otherwise what is there to protect churchmembers from being conned by every 2 bit conman with delusions of being Messiah?

        • I believe Matthew 24 and the Six Seals in Revelation both warn against False Christs. But that’s not my point.

          I was asserting that even if the true Messiah showed up, proofs and all, Fundagelicals would still reject him because he doesn’t fit their eschatological scheme. In other words, no amount of proof would be sufficient to convince most of the people I know that Jesus had returned in the flesh.

          I remember watching the Hallmark movie “Joshua” with some friends who said it was a contrived plot because there is no way Jesus could come back like that. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0271582/ for pot synopsis. It was then that I realized for many of us, our blindness to the truth comes from our inability to see past what we believe and know for certain is true.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I remember “Joshua” the original book. Decent example of how to retell a Gospel narrative in a contemporary setting, paralleling but not obviously copying.

  7. You forgot my favorite all-time candidate for Antichrist… Jimmy Carter. (Google it. I’m serious.)

    Walt Disney would have been a more credible Antichrist than him. 😉

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Gorbachev! I mean, he had that birthmark and `everything`. And clearly being willing to sign a nuclear arms reduction treaty is a sign one is pure evil.

    • Hi Eeyore,
      My Dad was converted to Christianity by a guy who convinced him that Jimmy Carter was the antichrist. When this turned out to be wrong he sought answers from the nice JW couple who called on him and convinced him the antichrist was actually the Catholic Church.

      Thanks Dad.

    • You know, Jimmy’s not out of the running yet – he’s still around. Maybe a comeback is in the works. That might be what that head with a wound that was healed is all about . . .

    • Anybody remember Ronald (six letters) Wilson (six letters) Reagan (six letters)?

  8. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    There used to be a website called Bushisantichrist.com (or org). It wasn’t serious, but it linked to some sites that were. I was once accused of being behind the site which I wasn’t, but it did seem like the sort of thing I’d come up with.

    And don’t you guys know anything? President Obama is the anti-Christ! Everyone knows that! Geeeze! (That’s a joke, btw).

    You forgot that horrible move A Thief In The Night.

    In seriousness, Jesus said he would return at some point. Therefore I believe he will. But, I don’t think it’s something to be scared of. When my son was little and I left him at day care – I didn’t leave him there if he just happened to be being naughty when I arrived. He’s my son. I love him.

    And how I feel about people who run around looking for signs of the rapture all the time: Once upon a time, I was working at a telephone survey place. One day I was on a call and there was suddenly a lot of noise in the kitchen/break room. It was like there was a party happening in the kitchen. When I got off the call, I went to see what was going on. The boss had left! Nobody knew where she went or when she was coming back. She was just gone. About three of us kept trying to work while everyone else was screwing off with one person standing watch to look for signs of the boss’ return (her car turning onto our street). When they finally saw her coming back everyone jumped back to work. But, here’s the thing. The boss wasn’t fooled. They could tell how many times we dialed the phone in an hour.

    That’s what people who spend all their time looking for signs of the rapture remind me of: people who are screwing off when they should be working thinking they’ll be able to fool the boss if they jump back to work just as He returns.

    • Reminds me of a bumper sticker that said, “Jesus Is Coming – Everybody Look Busy.”

      • That Other Jean says:

        I’m slightly ashamed to say that my daughter has that one–in North Carolina, yet. I’m amazed that no one has ripped it off her bumper by now..

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And don’t you guys know anything? President Obama is the anti-Christ! Everyone knows that! Geeeze! (That’s a joke, btw).

      It’s no joke.
      Just listen to my sister-in-law and her Spiritual Warfare Expert.
      Or World Net Daily.

      In the words of the prophet Tim Curry:
      “Idi Amin and the Shah
      And al-Fatah is quite bizarre;
      I never could get the hang of I-de-o-lo-gy
      I do the Rock…”

  9. Faulty O-Ring says:

    And don’t forget the barcode thing.

    Are we quite sure the European Coal and Steel Community wasn’t involved in all the antichrist stuff? They, Euratom, and the “EEC / Common Market” were the three organizations created by the Treaties of Rome, which later joined together as the EU. Greece, the tenth member, must be the horn with the wound.

    I’m impressed that the Plymouth Brethren would have heard of the Baha’i religion, and can imagine how their one-world enthusiasms would be received in those circles. Incidentally, Baha’is claim Baha’u’llah to have fulfilled the messianic prophecies of all major religions, including those pertaining to the Second Coming of Christ, but in a metaphysical way–not as a literal return of the historical Jesus from heaven, or anything like that. They seem to have encountered German Adventists in Haifa, Palestine, who shared with them an interest in the year 1844 (although Baha’u’llah made his claims in the 1860s), and took this as evidence in their favor.

    • Oops, I meant to mention barcodes and social insurance numbers.

      My exposure the the Bahai came through friends at University. I mentioned it because 1. I was struck how similar it was to what I was being taught. 2. My knowledge of eschatology was the thing that stopped me from converting.

      • Faulty O-Ring says:

        It’s not as close as you might think. Baha’u’llah’s Kitab-i-Iqan (Book of Certitude) discusses the prophetic traditions of Christianity and Islam, with an eye to making them allude to events in the 19th century Ottoman Empire. For example, the fall of the stars from heaven refers to the refusal of religious leaders to recognize the appearance of the Madhi or the Messiah. There is little catastrophic imagery, but a lot more triumphalism.

        On the other hand, 19th century Baha’is seized upon Adventist interpretations of the Book of Daniel (?) indicating 1844 as the year Christ will appear. (The Baha’i calendar begins in 1844.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And don’t forget the barcode thing.

      Christian Urban Legend, circa 1974, reported by ALL the Anointed Christian sources:

      The IBM 3666 point-of-sale system, with provisions for scanning implanted chips and tattooed barcodes “on the Forehead and Right Hand”, mandatory by Federal Law starting 1984.

      • Faulty O-Ring says:

        Wouldn’t the antichrist use one of the European barcode systems?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Christian Urban Legends are not known for thinking things through.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Thing is, at the time IBM’s first-generation point-of-sale systems (including barcode scanners) WERE given 3600-series model numbers. So whoever started this one got that part plausible.

  10. Growing up Catholic I had not heard about the “rapture” but I got involved with an independent fundamentalist church and heard a lot there. I think there is something “charming” about the thought of all these people rising up off the earth to meet Jesus in the sky. Other parts of the whole scenario are not so charming. I have no idea what it will be like when Jesus returns to earth. I know Jesus said he is with us always, so we have a little “taste” of what having Jesus in our midst is like.

    Great list, Michael Bell!

  11. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    > If A=101 and B = 102 and C = 103 etc., then Hitler adds up to 666…

    A three digit integer is simply the worst code ever. St. John gets an “F” in cryptography. There is no way three digits contains enough data to resolve to anything, way to much data loss – it may be the worst most lossy compression scheme ever composed.

    I know that the book of Revelation’s prologue contains the phrase: ” Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy,”

    But I’ve read it, several times. I did not feel blessed by it.

    People I know who read it have certainly NOT been blessed – they’ve been led off down crazy disappointing bunny trails.

    A bible study group chooses Revelation as its topic. You will get to learn the paranoid fantasies and hidden [or not so hidden] bigotries of many of your classmates.

    Those who have had to sit through movies “inspired by” Revelation have rarely been blessed.

    Art “inspired by” Revelation is rarely a blessing – I live at the site of the world’s largest annual art fare/exhibit – Revelation art, of which there is some every year, usually involves piles of skulls and statistics about child soldiers in upper case block white letters on a sable background… such things – how profound… So you’re saying evil things are evil, and evil sucks. Got it. Walk away.

    Is there any text that can complete with Revelation for the amount of stupid it has yielded into the world? I know that Revelation was accepted into the canon long ago; it is very hard not to doubt the wisdom of that decision. This text explicitly promises a blessing which it does not deliver.

    • “I know that Revelation was accepted into the canon long ago; it is very hard not to doubt the wisdom of that decision. This text explicitly promises a blessing which it does not deliver.”

      The EO pushed back pretty hard at accepting The Apocalypse into the canon. I know that to this day it’s not a part of any service’s lectionary (though perhaps this is also true of the RCC??)

      • I was once told by an Easten Orthodox priest that the reason they don’t ever have the Apocolypse in their lectionaries is that their lectionaries pre-date its acceptance in the canon! I was looking in our daily Lectionary (1928 edition of the American Book of Common Prayer), and we open the church year with it! The evening NT readings for Advent all come from Revelation. I think it shows up as the Epistle reading in our Eucharistic Lectionary at times, but I don’t remember off hand.

        At any rate, I think a big key to being blessed by the Apocolypse is taking it on its own terms rather than trying to use it to interpret current events. I especially like the scenes before God’s throne in chapters four and five as well as the New Jerusalem scenes at the end. And the opening and closing ‘Alpha and Omega’ statements are some of the most explicit biblical cases for Christ’s divinity in the NT.

        • Exactly! We should not diminish the value of Revelation simply because of the nutty interpretations. It is a beautiful book and I am blessed (made happy) whenever I read it. Even if I don’t understand any of it past the fourth chapter it is clear that the Church triumphs in the end and sin, sickness and all that is evil is annihilated for all time. If that’s not a blessing, what is?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        It’s the one book NOT in the RCC lectionary cycle.

        Reason given (from the argument over whether it should even be in the canon some 1800 years ago) was it was too easy to go off the deep end with it.

        • Faulty O-Ring says:

          Silly them.

        • Interesting. I’d always wondered, HUG.

          Could one then posit that a major reason that Protestants are more comfortable with Revelation than are either the RCC or the EOC is that sola scriptura has had something of a leveling effect on the entire canon?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Sola Scriptura all too easily becomes a Party Line of “IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN!”

            That’s why liturgical churches also have a parallel Tradition as to how it’s to be interpreted, based on precedent and institutional memory going back centuries. Acts as a damper rod on the “IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN!” types.

          • Revelation is also the one book John Calvin never did a commentary on.

        • flatrocker says:

          HUG,
          Actually if you look at the full lectionary cycle, there are many times that Revelation is read. If you are referencing a Pre-Vatican II Roman Missal, then you are correct, Revelation doesn’t make the cut. However, in the current lectionary, about a third of Revelation is read. Full disclosure alert though – the two thirds that are left out do tend to be the more “beastly” verses.

          • Yes, the Catholic Lectionary uses the Book of Revelation. It is especially used during the Paschal Season. It can also be used at weddings and funerals.

            Regarding an earlier comment, the Catholic Church never approved the sale of indulgences–it was forbidden, but that doesn’t intimidate some Catholics (in the past some didn’t mind keeping slaves or selling indulgences even though it was forbidden; today many don’t mind using birth control but that does not mean the Church teaches it is okay to use birth control or sell indulgences). The Catholic view of justification fits with it’s teachings on indulgences but not the SALE of indulgences. Be careful when you try to be an expert on someone else’s faith.

    • “Is there any text that can complete with Revelation for the amount of stupid it has yielded into the world?”

      You win QUOTE of the DAY.

      Daniel and Joel also give Revelation a run for stupid…

      • cermak_rd says:

        The Book of Tobit. It’s just a run of the mill fairy story.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I don’t know about Joel, but back in the Gospel-According-to-Hal-Lindsay days Daniel was ALWAYS conjoined with Revelation. So was the “Nuclear War Chapter” of Ezekiel.

        The three formed a self-referential closed reference circle.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

          That’s not fair to Ezekiel. He was the first Ufologist, and also a bit, you know, crazy. Like cooking with poop and preaching in his Hanes crazy. Frankly, he is one of the all-time great prophets!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            My writing partner also figures Ezekiel was a crazy man. A prophet of God, but schizo. Maybe it took a crazy man for God to get through.

            And don’t forget Ezekiel had the dirtiest mouth of any of the prophets. That’s something that gets lost all the time in translation/bowdlerization.

      • flatrocker says:

        And how the so very stupid work so very hard to present themselves as the so very learned.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Art “inspired by” Revelation is rarely a blessing – I live at the site of the world’s largest annual art fare/exhibit – Revelation art, of which there is some every year, usually involves piles of skulls and statistics about child soldiers in upper case block white letters on a sable background… such things – how profound… So you’re saying evil things are evil, and evil sucks. Got it. Walk away.

      And from an artistic POV, Revelation has some of the wildest, trippiest, and most spectacular imagery you’re ever going to see. Mythic surrealism. If you filmed Revelation as-written and pulled-no-punches, you’d have one wild experience. Have to do it as an art film. though.

      So why when someone tries to film Revelation (or Christian Apocalyptic in general), it comes out Awful? A Rapture Ready checklist crossed with “Sharknado”? As Slacktivist said about the infamous Left Behind, in trying to make it “Tomorrow’s History Written in Advance” and “ripped from today’s headlines — It Could Happen Any Minute Now”, they removed all the power of Myth and ended up with a Bad Fanfic attempt at a Technothriller, Gary Stu Author Self-Inserts and all.

  12. My college roommate’s parents had a copy of 88 Reasons the Rapture will Happen in 1988 in their house. As recently as 2007.

    • I have that book, and a bunch of others, in my ‘failed prediction books’ collection. One suggests (they always suggest – nobody wants to go on record and be wrong, Harold Camping and the author of 88 Reasons excepted) that Anwar Sadat of Egypt was the anti-christ. But 88 Reasons was the most elaborate, based on lots of assumptions – like that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus were all born on Rash Hashana (if I remember correctly), and such silliness as that. What else would one expect from a NASA engineer? (No offense intended to any OTHER NASA engineers, living or dead.) I guess I need to start adding books by John Hagee to my collection, except that whenever I think about it I hear his voice.

      • Speaking of Hagee, I find it absolutely stunning that he is now flirting with astrology with his whole “Blood Moons” theme. This seems to go far beyond the usual dispensationalist esoterica.

        I also noticed in an earlier book (2010?) that among the Top Ten Reasons we’re living in the End Times, one that used to always feature in every such dispensationalist’s list was completely missing: “This Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to the ends of the earth.” More tellingly, absolutely nothing about the book even hinted that spreading the Gospel was even a priority in said End Times.

        • But apparently selling books is a priority.

          When I see one of those books I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Luke 21:8:

          And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying . . . ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them.”

        • cermak_rd says:

          Eegah! Is perhaps the worst movie ever made. Is it a coincidence that the title is an anagram of a certain preacher’s name?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            EEGAH! may be the worst CAVEMAN movie ever made, but it has a LOT of competition for Worst Movie Ever. Plan Nine from Outer Space is the flick usually cited as “Worst Ever”, but I’m sure some of the Estus Pirkle Christploitation flicks could give it serious competition. Or that one Terrorvision I saw on a B-movie crawl in the Eighties; that was the worst flick I’VE ever seen.

          • cermak_rd says:

            Somehow I’m envisioning a film festival put together by the internetmonk community. I think it would be terrifying on several different levels!

        • “Speaking of Hagee, I find it absolutely stunning that he is now flirting with astrology with his whole “Blood Moons” theme. This seems to go far beyond the usual dispensationalist esoterica.”

          I wrote a too-lengthy comment elsewhere where I described how I came to see Rapture theology as a “Christianized” version of astrology, with numerology as the key to the whole system. You look at any tabloid – there will be stories about how astrologers predict bad omens because of the position of the planets, a comet, the phase of the moon on a certain date, sunspots – you name it – some “respected” astrologer probably has some dire prediction. And you go to just about any “Bible believing” fundamentalist church and there is a good chance that the preacher will mention the same thing the tabloid astrologer wrote about – a comet, the moon, whatever, only it will be tied to the Rapture and you better make a decision for Christ. Not that I spend a lot of time perusing tabloids, but I noticed that whenever the astrology crowd starts to talk about some real or imagined astronomical event, the Rapture crowd will start talking about the exact same thing and take it as a “sign.”

      • Pretty sure it wasn’t a failed prediction collection, just a book they had never gotten rid of! We had a fun time reading through some of its more bizarre statements, though!

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

        Which reminds me of a general saw bandied about in the humanities in various forms. Things an engineer should never EVER do: interpret prophecy (or anything having to do with literature more complicated than 50 Shades of Grey).

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Do they have the sequel, 89 Reasons the Rapture WILL Happen in 1989?

      • The 89th reason is that it didn’t happen in 1988!

      • That’s the problem with End Times books. It’s hard to come up with a sequel.

        But there’s always remake possibilities. Can’t wait to see Nicholas Cage in the big-screen adaptation of “88 Reasons!”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Naah. It’s that “Third Eagle” guy with the keyboard, AKA “It’s Prophesied, It’s Prophesied”.

          “The 88” used to be a slang term for a piano keyboard.

        • Faulty O-Ring says:

          I think the world is ready for a big-budget “Omega Code.”

          The Omen has been rebooted several times, most recently as a cable series.

    • I still have a copy of that one on my bookcase; it makes for an interesting conversation piece.

  13. William Martin says:

    Anybody that says they know all about what is going to happen I ignore. I myself would not want to add to the book of Revelation or take away from it. Jesus said He didn’t know the time and I believe him. I have watch Hagee and frankly the man is a little scary. If you turn down the sound and watch his antics and then place it beside a Hitler speech with the sound down the similarities are disturbing. I have grown accustomed to speakers using control and manipulations. I tend not to join in. I still watch from time to time just to remind myself of what I don’t want. Then I have watched the discussions here. I have to say I have learned but not so much as I would have first thought. It is not so profitable to be in such judgement because I have the ability to be more intelligent and have honed my skills to sound that way. I listen to the Catholic radio station and I shake my head a lot and turn it off to try again later as I listen to rationalizations of all that they are doing. This is not to say there are not really good and sincere people within the organization. I listen Joel Osteen and I have turn the channel after five to ten minutes as I ask the Lord what is wrong. I haven’t heard yet but I keep asking. I know that as people we are all dealing with the things that our Lord is dealing with us about. In other words we are far from perfect and the flaws eventually reveal themselves as I have plenty to deal with myself. It occurs to me as I write about Hagee I begin doing the very thing I do not want to do and would rather not engage in. My biggest problem is trying to love people and I can not do this without his help. I have watched the discussions and realize that most here are included in that last statement. I then realize that intellect can get in the way and become a very big problem for so many people. I have read others and when he shows me the things to pray for I try to and in this I have compassion starting in my heart. I do appreciate scholars as I haven’t the time to study all that I might wish to. I would have to say that end times study seems to be a waste of time even though ideas of value might be expressed. I had a friend say the last days will be like the time of Noah. I said how could it not be. Noah was certainly looked upon as a nut and people continued doing all that they did. How could it be any different. I will continue doing what I do till he comes back and hopefully I will get better at loving him and all of you. Although that is subject to change as I am still of need. I just read a post on why people leave churches as this guy put back on everyone not legitimate reasons for leaving and I had to think what a bunch of hog wash. Put forth in such a forceful and all knowing way that it is believable. I wanted to comment but what would be the use.

  14. I haven’t seen that foldout chart in about 50 years. Clarence Larkin. I am tempted to print it so I can show my wife who was raised with no idea what this stuff was. When some Evangelicals act strange, I tell my wife that I am not surprised and I have seen worse. In the deep South this was connected not only to Catholicism but also civil rights and communism.

    • I think that in a 1000 years some archaeologist will dig up these charts (and a few books) and it will make headlines – ‘Another “lost” Christianity found, snuffed out by the male-dominated hierarchical church in league with the ruling powers’ (sorry, had a DaVinci Code flashback there).

  15. My son got a new Bible study leader last year and when a senior said he was interested in The Revelation of John, she suggested that they all read it before the next meeting. (Right before midterms.)

    My son scrambled through the house a few hours before their Bible study to find the “Brick New Testament” – the LEGO adaptation of the Bible. Yep – he went back having read that one. Was he ashamed? No! He was the only one who “read” the whole thing.

    The Bible study leader said that she started it. but that it got too hard after chapter 6 so she skipped to the last chapter and read that! (NOTE: we were extremely disappointed in the group leader, but our son was very loyal to the group and wouldn’t leave. Everyone graduated, so now he can find a better group.)

    Ahhhhh. Episcopalians. At least there is one sliver of Christendom not concerned about end times!

  16. I learned recently that there might be some indication that the mark of the beast is not 666, but rather, 616, according to some early documents that include the very earliest copy of the text known, apparently. You have Wikipedia and the prophets. Let the search begin anew….

    I should also note that 35 cents is a deeply eschatological chunk of change: a dime, dimes, and half a dime.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      616 is my area code! So your saying one of my neighbors is the anti-christ? Time to burn the ‘hood to the ground.

      • No, not the whole city, just the Abomination of Desolation, which I believe was part of some recent Grand Rapids urban renewal project.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          I assume you mean Calder plaza; but it won’t burn. It is just concrete and steel. Drats! Evil triumphs again. I always knew there was something Satanic about that hideous thing.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          But “Obamantion of Desolation” is such an obvious pun…

      • As I said before, the zip code of my hometown, Topeka, KS, starts with 666.

    • I think the important thing to remember about those numbers is that Greek and Hebrew used letters to indicate numbers – tav in Hebrew is 400, vav is 6, resh is 200, and heh is 5 (which is how Rabbi Simlai calculated the famous ‘613 commands’ the Pharisees supposedly followed, although Simlai did his calculations 200 years AFTER Jesus lived. ‘Torah’ is 611, but since the first 2 commandments came directly from God he added 2 to the number, probably to match his other mystical ‘numbers’, which didn’t come from actually counting commands). The original readers of Revelation (YES Revelation was written to encourage people in the first century, not to give a code book to people in the 21st century) clearly understood what (or who) they meant. To try to apply that to some current personality is to do violence to Scripture.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Somebody told me that figuring “The Number of a Name” was a common numerology-based puzzle of the day, sort of like a First-Century Sudoku.

    • Now they tell us! You mean, all those Left Behind books and movies were wrong?

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

        Dammit! And I thought I was safe getting that “616” barcode tattooed on my forehead.

    • Faulty O-Ring says:

      Friedrich Engels (Marx’s little buddy), of all people, wrote an essay on this.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Well, Marxism WAS Apocalyptic in its nature. What is “The Revolution” except an Armageddon sweeping away the present system and ushering in a Millenial Kingdom of True Communism?

    • petrushka1611 says:

      Trevis, that “35 cents” line is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time.

      There are times I’m glad I grew up KJV-only, and this is one of them.

  17. Kenneth B says:

    That the Antichrist was going to send out little golf carts with guillotines to execute Christians:

    Tribulation Golf Carts

    That’s a page from a Chick Tract titled The Beast. Bought that tract, along with a ton of others, and my fundamentalist Christian school’s bookstore when I was like 10 years old. My early theological education came almost entirely from Chick Tracts, but I managed to turn out relatively sane and normal. 🙂

    That particular tract is still in print, but in a condensed and updated format. I scanned all of those old Chick Tracts a few years ago. Here’s the full version of The Beast. Enjoy!

  18. Kenneth B says:

    Man, digging out that Chick Tract brought up a whole bunch of memories of growing up Dispensationalist in the 70s. Anyone else remember Salem Kirban. His so bad it was good book 666? I vividly remember one picture from that book: black-clad minions of the antichrist had this young woman bound and bent over the altar in a church. One of the minions had a hot "666" branding iron, and was preparing to brand the young woman’s forehead. And something about ruby laser rings.
    And every house had a copy of Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth sitting on the end table right next to their bible. I remember learning from Lindsey that the giant locusts in Revelation were really Russian attack helicopters.
    I remember worrying, as an adolescent boy, that I wouldn’t get to have sex before the Rapture. 🙂 Since the rapture was going to happen in 1987, 40 years after Israel was established as a nation in 1947, I’d only be 18 when Jesus returned.
    But those little golf carts with guillotines really got me. I remember having nightmares about those.
    Historian Paul Boyer wrote an excellent cultural history of prophecy belief and Dispensationalism in American culture: When Time Shall Be No More. I read it a few years go. Very informative and entertaining. It put into perspective some of the crazy beliefs I was taught and later rejected.

    Moderator note: Putting this many links in a comment is a sure fire way to make sure it gets held up for manual approval.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Salem Kirban.
      Author of the WORST Christian Apocalyptic novel of all time, the Plan Nine from Outer Space of Book of Revelation fanfics — plus a sequel. AND heavily plugged among the Rapture Ready fringies I was involved with during the Seventies.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRhovNlNck4

      After which, he got involved plugging Godly(TM) fad diets. Like one consisting ONLY of special whole-grain bread and nothing else; you had to calculate the weight and volume of everything you pooped out as part of the diet, and you could tell it was working because your eyes would glow with the Holy Spirit. (I am NOT making that up; one of my writing partners (the burned-out preacher) had someone in his family go on that Godly diet and he told me all about it.)

    • As a kid, my Baptist preacher dad kept “Revelation Visualized” around the house and I read through that a number of times. It didn’t help me understand Revelation at all, but it had so many cool stock photos and illustrations in bite-sized format that I think it occupied a permanent residence in the bathroom for years.

  19. ShalimarTheClown says:

    Upon my baptism at the age of 9, I was presented with a brand new, genuine leather, KJV Scofield Bible, so, I’m familiar with ALL of this. When I was in college, I was really getting into the end times stuff, reading everything I could trying to figure out what I believed, what label was I? PreTrib, PostTrib, No Rapture, A millennialist? What should I believe and what should be, well, Left Behind as it were.

    I went to an older pastor who I respected deeply, and asked him what he thought. He smiled, leaned in to me and said with a wink, “Son, honestly, I’m none of those things, I’m a Pan-Millennialist, I just trust God, and it’ll all pan out.”

    Well, I rolled my eyes and doubted his intellect and walked out. But the older I got, the more Pan Millennialist I’ve become.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Upon my baptism at the age of 9, I was presented with a brand new, genuine leather, KJV Scofield Bible, so, I’m familiar with ALL of this.

      With that Not-a-Church Fellowship that was always love-bombing me to move into their Compound away from the Heathen, it was the Dake’s Annotated Bible. Nobody I knew actually studied the KJV text in the center columns, only Dake’s psychotically-dense notes and commentary in the outer columns. Very Trippy.

      “What a long, strange trip it’s been…”
      — The Grateful Dead

  20. To anyone who grew up with Rapture theology: ever have the experience of being a kid playing by yourself, realizing that you haven’t heard anyone else make noise for a while, start looking for family members, and have a mild panic attack, thinking you’d been left behind, until you found someone else?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Everyone who not only grew up but got infected with Rapture theology has.

      It’s a characteristic symptom of Left Behind Fever.

    • I was going to post the same sort of thing but was afraid it would induce a seizure of some sort. Many a time in the grocery store I’d be fumbling with some candy or something, turn around, and my mother and sisters would just be gone….to Aisle 3, as it turned out.

      I’d usually rededicated my life to Christ by the time we reached the checkout line, though I probably _still_ wouldn’t get to have a candy bar.

    • Yes…numerous times…:( that and hearing sirens that for some reason completely filled you and your first thought was “trumpet!!!!” *and I’m not rising up…that must mean I’m left behind! NO!
      Don’t know if it was the air quality that served to amplify the siren or because I was doing something else with a low hum in background like mowing the lawn and then the siren overwhelmed that…I just know I was terrified.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        We had a Civil Defense siren within earshot that was tested once a month.

        This was the height of the Cold War, when the sirens would sound only for “a National Emergency”, i.e. Incoming Nukes.

        It wasn’t just Rapture Ready types who’d freak out when it cut loose.

    • “To anyone who grew up with Rapture theology: ever have the experience of being a kid playing by yourself, realizing that you haven’t heard anyone else make noise for a while, start looking for family members, and have a mild panic attack, thinking you’d been left behind, until you found someone else?”

      That’s funny. Reminds me of the summer I was 17, working in an isolated mining camp. Drinking till the wee hours of the morning with my brother and our Chef in his suite….putting them both to bed after 1 AM….then going to my bunkhouse room, laying there, watching the ceiling rotate around me….and thinking that the ‘rapture’ (or….as I now call it…the “Rupture”) could happen….and IF my brother and I were ‘left behind’….we might not even KNOW it had happened.

    • Kenneth B says:

      Your comment made me think of this article from Lark News a few years back:

      Left Behind VBS Fiasco Lingers

      🙂

      • Rick Ro. says:

        Brilliant!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Lark News is a joke site, but I’ve heard of similar happening for real, either as a prank or as a clueless Bible lesson. I think there’s even YouTube footage of some of the prank versions.

  21. I understand why the translators of the Geneva Bible commented that the papacy during the Reformation was the Beast of Revelation. In Revelation 17.9 it states that the seven heads of the Beast are seven mountains or hills. This is generally recognized to be Rome. In addition, the beast persecuted the saints. Add that up and you have the popes during the Reformation who were headquartered in Rome and persecuted the Protestants. QED.

    That’s the historicist perspective (unfolding view)). Preterists (past view) believe that the beast was Nero, who also resided in Rome and also persecuted Christians. Dispensationalists (future view) believe the Beast will be a future individual whose headquarters are in Rome and who will persecute Christians (those who are “left behind” or convert after the rapture.

    So, who’s right? My personal preference leans to historicism, but even here I claim less that 25% certainty (a number i just picked, by the way, because it’s less than 50%). I give preterism a 10% chance and dispensationalism less than a 1% chance.

    This is interesting… Back during the 80s some folks believed that President Reagan was the Beast, Antichrist, Man of Lawlessness, Mr. 666… The rationale was straightforward: His full name is Ronald Wilson Reagan, that six letters for each of his three names or “666”; what further proof do you need? I surmise that was a rumor started by the Democratic Party.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Actually, Reagan = Antichrist came from the fact that Reagan got a LOT of support from Born-Agains. What later became the Christianese Culture Warriors figured Reagan was Their Man who would Restore America The Christian Nation (and put the Born-Again Reverends on top; this was also a fear of the other side, that Reagan would establish a Christian Dictatorship).

      At his inauguration, Reagan announced that he was President of the entire US, not repeat NOT of any one faction within it.

      The first “RONALD WILSON REAGAN = 666!” posters surfaced a couple days later.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “A future individual whose HQ is in Rome”?

      Not Babylon, after bulldozing seven artificial hills so his New Babylon World Captital can sit on seven hills?

      P.S. Only a heavy-duty End Time Prophecy fanboy would name his new religion “Enigma Babylon One World Church”. I mean, if you were starting your own religion, wouldn’t you come up with a better name?

      • “Enigma Babylon One World Church” Yeah, that’s definitely a magnet phrase for folks on the fringes.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          But then, it’s Jerry “Buck” Jenkins, Greatest Christian Author of All Time (GCAAT), and he’s infamous for his tin ear for names. (Only made worse by his “See How Clever I Am?” school of naming characters. We had one notorious fanboy in local fandom who was into “See How Clever I Am?” in all of his Great Masterpieces he never got around to actually writing. After years having to put up with him, I have Zero Tolerance for “See How Clever I Am?”)

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

            I think it was Fred Clark who commented that male characters in the Left Behind series sound like porn star names…that one made me laugh, because it is so true.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Especially the two Author Self-Inserts.

            But then, Jenkins also did the “See How Clever I Am?” for some of the minor characters:

            * Stonagal = Stone-a-Gal = Rock-a-Feller, get it?
            * Guy Blaze = Flaming Gay, get it?
            * Viv Ivins = VI-VI-VIns = 666, get it?
            * Ms Zee (a Feminist bull dyke) = “MIssy”, get it?
            * Plus the 19th Century female names “Chloe” and “Hattie”, the latter being a common working name for 19th Century prostitutes, right up there with “Trixie”.

            And he carries this over to his other Chrstian Bestsellers, like the ones snarked at Heathen Critique:
            * Paul Stepola = Stepola = “Apostle” spelled sideways, get it?

      • Faulty O-Ring says:

        Amman, Jordan also sits on 7 hills.

    • President Reagan was actually “766” in Russian: ??????? ?????? ??????. Stupid myakii-snak letter, ruining it for everyone….

      • You’ll have to trust me.

        • The Russian soft sign that softens the letter that precedes it. I used to read Russian so-so but am out of practice. I have a Russian and an Old Church Slavonic Bible.

    • Some names I haven’t seen here (forgive me if I’ve missed them) are….
      Nero
      Napoleon
      Mussolini
      Aleister Crowley
      General Franco
      JFK
      Henry Kissinger
      Sun Myung Moon
      Yasser Arafat
      Maitreya
      And last but not least, old Bennie the sixteenth.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Ah, yes, “Lord Maitreya”.

        Courtesy of Benjamin Crimm, of Tara Foundation, a Theosophy offshoot active in the Eighties. Every so often, Crimm would stage a big media event to announce the Revelation of “Lord Maitreya, the Second Christ, the Seventh Avatar of Vishnu” who would be appearing soon to take over the world and lead it into Theosophical Enlightement. He’d claim that “Maitreya’s Earthly Vessel” was ready and only waiting to be revealed. Said “Maitreya” was described in terms straight out of End Time Prophecy types, to the point it had to be deliberate.

        And all the End Time Prophecy types would go wild — “THIS IS IT!!!!!! SIX-SIX-SIX!!!!!!! DON’T TAKE THE MARK!!!!!!!!” — and Crimm and his Foundation would be all over the Christian media for a month, nonstop. And the mainstream media would cover the hysteria in the Christian media. This would happen at intervals varying from six months to two years, all through the Eighties.

        Maitreya never surfaced. Looking back on it, the whole thing smells like a recurring publicity stunt for Crimm’s organization. No need to spend money on publicity; just put three sixes in a row to wind the Christians up, and let them go. Self-perpetuating media blitz with no expense beyond the initial press conference/media event.

        • Ah, this brings back memories of Dave Hunt and that whole crowd of Satan Hunters ready to do battle with the demon forces at a moment’s notice. Good times.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            My writing partner told me about a Spiritual Warfare fanboy he knew who was always Doing Battle with Demons. Until the day he ran into a REAL one.

            Anyone remember the Seven Sons of Sceva?

      • Faulty O-Ring says:

        Well Nero might well have been the intended reference.

  22. Then there is of course this movie (warning: some nudity and sexuality), which takes the Rapture quite seriously: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102757/?ref_=nv_sr_1

  23. Wow, what a trip down memory lane! The anxiety, the “Who’s the antichrist?” game, the movies, the songs… I think you all have it just about covered, but let me add a couple more:

    1. Henry Kissinger.
    2. “In case of rapture this car/t-shirt will be driverless/unworn”
    3. The painting. Anybody? Anybody? That painting?

    I’ve lived in Dallas all my life, and growing up we would often eat at the Circle Grill restaurant. They had what must have been a four foot wide version of that painting in the waiting area that used to terrify me to no end. The thing was, the skyline was my hometown! Those buildings were 5 minutes down the highway from the restaurant we were at!

    It took me a long time to get over some of that stuff.

    http://frontburner.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/dallas-rapture1.jpg

    • Dan from Georgia says:

      The plane crashing into the building on the left. Kind of prophetic to 2001.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      When you first said “the painting”, I asked “Which Painting? There were a LOT of them on the subject.”

      It took me 10+ years “to get over some of that stuff”. I still won’t look out of a kitchen window at the eastern sky.

      • Maybe it was a regional thing, but the one I linked to was THE rapture painting in my world. All other rapture paintings were wannabe rapture paintings. 🙂

        If you google [Dallas rapture painting] there are several links to stories about it. And I also found a website bbea dot org that still sells prints, postcards, and wait for it… wait for it… mousepads!

        (Kenton pulls his hair out.)

    • I remember the Henry Kissinger math went like this:
      If A=1, B=2, etc. then you add up the letters in KISSINGER, and then multiply by 6 = 666.
      A-HA!!!!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Actually, the formal term for it is “Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist.”

      “A lot of Christians are more interested in The Antichrist than they are in Christ.”
      — J Vernon Magee

      • “Pin-the-tail-on-the-antichrist”

        Greatness. I never knew. (17000+ hits on Google when in quotes.)

  24. I started out with Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God. Learned a lot, not all of it positive but all of it useful. He taught me how to read the Bible, not on purpose. I discovered you have to read what’s above and below what you’re supposed to read.

    Spent a lot of time with Hal Lindsey and friends. Learned a lot, not all of it positive but all of it useful. My training with Mr. Armstrong got me thru. Spent time with Pentecostals and Lutherans. Learned a lot, not all of it positive but all of it useful. My training with Mr. Armstrong got me here.

    I learn a lot here, not all of it positive but most of it useful. Read above, read below what you are supposed to read. Thanks, Mr. Armstrong. Hope your mansion in Heaven is as big as the one you had here.

    • CrazyChester says:

      “Read above, read below what you are supposed to read.”

      Well said. Thanks.

  25. Mike, we’ve both had a journey from the Plymouth Brethren to the C&MA (and beyond?), I’m sure with a lot in between for both of us. We need to meet one day!

  26. A few years ago a cemetery near me had a radio advertisement (like that’s not weird enough) that encouraged you, “When you hear that trumpet sound, look towards Bothell, WA, and watch the saints buried at Haven of Rest rise with you to meet The Lord!”

    Wow. Just wow.

    • While I’m sure the folks at Haven of Rest meant well, it’s probably not a good idea to take your eyes off Jesus while you’re being beamed up. Any distraction might cause a disruption in the dispensational particle flow and result in an imperfect or even incomplete tranformation/glorification. And no-one wants to be only partially raptured. That could be messy and very unpleasant.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I vaguely remember a radio program on Christian AM radio in the Seventies with the same title “Haven of Rest”. The intro had a nautical theme, with background sounds of seagulls and bells and creaking moorings while a deep-voiced choir sang some sort of hymn about “Haven of Rest… Haven of Rest…”

  27. The rapture days of the late seventies/early eighties are painful to recall. LaHaye seems a rank amateur in contrast to the early blending of Illuminate conspiracy theories. By the nineties, rapture theories were linked primarily to current events which provided enough objectivity for skepticism; the conspiratorial stuff had no anchor to reality and therefore was difficult to refute. It was the stuff of aluminum foil hats. Weird Al can make fun of it now; it sure wasn’t funny then.

  28. Christiane says:

    I have been reading Southern Baptist blogs for a few years (my grandmother was a Southern Baptist, I am Catholic),
    and I have noticed an up-tick in statements about Christians in America beginning to be persecuted by the government . . . these statements seem designed to engineer fear and also to maintain the SBC’s informal (?) coalition with the Republican Party’s agenda against government interference on the part of women’s rights and on the part of the government’s efforts for protection of those who lose out in the culture wars (economically and medically).

    It seems to work. They are genuinely concerned (fearful) and this of course makes people more easily led by those whose agendas are served by that fear.

    But the ONE thing I have for a very long time been concerned about is more pervasive among the far-right crowd, this: I am fearful of ANY crazy policies that might engender a cataclysmic ‘end-times’ war in the Middle East . . . a war that some ‘end-timers’ would love to see because they openly want to bring about the return of Christ through this violence . . . imagine how low Our Lord’s teaching has fallen for this kind of activity to be even remotely thought of as proper for a Christian people . . . I cannot. But there it is. It’s fringe. But it’s there. And I can’t laugh at it because the ‘crazies’ buy into all that mess a little too easily for comfort. Oh well, being fearful of the ‘fearful’ ought to cancel my worry out, but I think these folks are dangerous, if they ever come into political power. And yeah, I’ve got a politician or two in mind . . . yikes!!!!!

    Reassurance from less fearful minds among you would be appreciated muchly. 🙂

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The formal name for it is “Imminentizing the Eschaton.”
      The informal name is “Let’s Jump-start Armageddon!” — Kick off WW3 to Fulfill End Time Prophecy.

      In the Seventies, this attitude was very widespread; I called it “Christians For Nuclear War”. Especially dangerous when the going Rapture belief stated in so many words that God would beam you up just as the warheads were cutting atmo over your home city and starting the detonation sequence. It’s Prophesied, It’s Prophesied…

      And Christianity is not the only one prone to Imminentizing the Eschaton. Al-Qaeda carried out 9/11 as an Act of Faith to get Al’lah’s attention and jump-start the Islamic version of Armageddon. And the Twelfth Imam cult in Iran (which influences the religious dictatorship there — you know, the one trying to get nukes) is also as End Times Apocalyptic as anything you see out of Lindsay or Hagee — they’ve even paved a triumphal entry road from the well where the Twelfth Imam (a Shia Messiah figure) is supposed to emerge to Tehran, and dropped papers with professions of faith and loyalty to the prophecy into the well.

      • Christiane says:

        the parallels between extreme fundamentalist Christianity and extreme fundamentalist Islam in your description are not at all reassuring, HEADLESS . . . anyway, thanks for trying 🙂

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          That’s an occupational hazard of any religion or belief system with an Apocalyptic bent.

          (Even Communism — what is The Revolution except an Apocalypse taking down the present systems and ushering in its Millenial Kingdom of True Communism?)

  29. Don’t forget what fun Tolstoy had with this (yeah that’s right: I’ve read “War and Peace”. Yes. All of it. Commend me, dawgs!):

    “Writing the words L’Empereur Napoleon in numbers, it appears that the sum of them is 666, and that Napoleon was therefore the beast foretold in the Apocalypse. Moreover, by applying the same system to the words quarante-deux, * which was the term allowed to the beast that “spoke great things and blasphemies,” the same number 666 was obtained; from which it followed that the limit fixed for Napoleon’s power had come in the year 1812 when the French emperor was forty-two. This prophecy pleased Pierre very much and he often asked himself what would put an end to the power of the beast, that is, of Napoleon, and tried by the same system of using letters as numbers and adding them up, to find an answer to the question that engrossed him. He wrote the words L’Empereur Alexandre, La nation russe and added up their numbers, but the sums were either more or less than 666. Once when making such calculations he wrote down his own name in French, Comte Pierre Besouhoff, but the sum of the numbers did not come right.

    Then he changed the spelling, substituting a z for the s and adding de and the article le, still without obtaining the desired result. Then it occurred to him: if the answer to the question were contained in his name, his nationality would also be given in the answer. So he wrote Le russe Besuhof and adding up the numbers got 671. This was only five too much, and five was represented by e, the very letter elided from the article le before the word Empereur. By omitting the e, though incorrectly, Pierre got the answer he sought. L’russe Besuhof made 666. This discovery excited him. How, or by what means, he was connected with the great event foretold in the Apocalypse he did not know, but he did not doubt that connection for a moment. His love for Natasha, Antichrist, Napoleon, the invasion, the comet, 666, L’Empereur Napoleon, and L’russe Besuhof—all this had to mature and culminate, to lift him out of that spellbound, petty sphere of Moscow habits in which he felt himself held captive and lead him to a great achievement and great happiness.”

  30. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    There is a sound theological reason why The End will NOT come in the manner predicted by any End Time Prophecy expert.

    Think of what would happen if it DID. Can you imagine what the End Time Prophecy type who Got It Right would be like? Strutting around going “I WAS RIGHT! SEE? SEE? SEE?”

    Guy would be insufferable for all eternity.

    And that’s why God won’t bring The End according to any Predicted timetable or checklist, whether Count Bezhukov’s or Hal Lindsay’s.

    • Christiane says:

      I do get it from Our Lord’s parable of the Pharisee and the Publican that ‘smugness’ is not ‘in’ in the Kingdom of God. And I’m really counting on this to be true . . .

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

      Yeah, but that guy will probably be strutting his stuff in hell, so…

  31. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Does anybody else look at that elaborate End Times Choreography Diagram at the top and think “OCD”?

  32. The Wartburg Watch’s obsession with Mark Driscoll is just one of many reasons it is an unhealthy collective. The latest histrionic article and comments reads like an episode of Nancy Grace and Bill O’Reilly rolled into one manic/hysterical personality.

    That aside and to Mr. Driscoll. His neo-Calvinist charismatic theology is the real perpetrator of spiritual injury. His 14 years ago trolling and needless confession of it may be distasteful and juvenile but everyone objecting has engaged in the same or worse incognito or not, I suspect (the nasty and spiteful comments left at the various websites claiming to be offended by meanness are ironic to say the least). Worse, though, is MD conceding its inappropriateness and acknowledging the need to mature from that person 14 years ago simply isn’t enough for some. He must be punished by those who would be king.

    Again, his errant theology is the fundamental problem, this and other similar hot-button issues are symptoms. But then, many of those loudly reacting and over-reacting aren’t exactly known for doctrinal certitude.

    The problem with the left behind rapture complaint(s) is that it is heavy on the excesses and panders to those who can only rise to petty mockery. All schools of theology have their students and teachers of excess.

    As to Eagle’s story…I’ve read his comments and followed the process. He comes across as immature and a blamer with the naive view that utopian Christianity exists, if only he can find it. He reads like many who are victims of themselves as much as being a victim of other maladjusted people. However and ultimately, may his faith he enlarged and if he truly is in a more healthy place spiritually, amen.

  33. I am a recovering Plymouth Brethren. I believe there are many of us out there. Maybe we should have a reunion of sorts. Still love my sisters and brothers there, but not their doctrines. You should see the look on their faces and hear their comments when I tell them I go to the United Methodist Church. Priceless!

  34. curious how much Latin & English renderings (combined with western-think) have brought to aid eschatalogical musings — and madness, including more sects. Irony, how the antichrist RCC had pressed to keep the Sciptures from the language of the people? How Luther could not see himself as part of the same “antichrist” he didn’t intend to be put out from? Yet, antiChrist is a substituted Christ, and sunstitute or counterfeit Christ’s are everywhere to be found out.

  35. My favorite of the “88 Reasons the Rapture Will Be in 1988” was “‘We are now in the 100th Congress of the United States, and 1987 is the 212th birthday of the Constitution of the United States. Water boils at 100 degrees centigrade, and at 212 degrees fahrenheit.”

    How can one beat that sort of logic?

    • Without knowing anything about the author, after reading an argument like that, one would quickly conclude that the author must have been an engineer.

  36. I could almost swear that way back when I heard someone say that the original, Old Scofield Bible was inspired, while the New Scofield Bible was “compromised” somehow.