There’s nothing like a natural or man-made disaster to bring the fundamentalist Christians out of the woodwork, claiming that Biblical prophecy predicted what happened. The present economic meltdown in the US and the world is no exception. The Contra Costa Times of the Bay Area reports on a Biblical prophecy conference whose attendees reached this conclusion:

Today marks the last of the three-day Southern California Prophecy Conference at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, where thousands of evangelicals have gathered to get the Biblical scoop on breaking news from around the world.

“This book is as relevant, and in fact moreso, than anything you read on any intelligence report in this country,” said Orange County-based Bible teacher David Hocking. …

The conference wraps up today with a lecture by Tim LaHaye, co-author of the ”Left Behind” series, a best-selling collection of books that turned terrifying prophecies into palatable fiction for those seeking to escape earth’s final destruction.

The Bible calls it the ”Great Tribulation,” a time of devastating world war, famine, pestilences and religious persecution, according to LaHaye.

”We’re closer than we’ve ever been,” he said Wednesday. ”I’m trying to rescue people to Christ before it’s too late.”

First, and most obviously, I’d like to note the candid and earnest glee with which LaHaye announces this news (and here’s my paraphrase: “Worldwide disaster is coming! Hallelujah! It means we can ‘rescue people to Christ’!”) The man — and many of his fundamentalist Christian sheep — are actually jubilant over the years of misery, pain, anguish, and death which will be visited on billions of people and over the whole planet.

Second, there are some basic factual problems with their contention that the Bible predicted everything that’s happened. I’m not aware, for example, that “mortgage-backed securities,” “subprime mortgages,” or “credit default swaps” were mentioned in the Bible. Chapter and verse, guys? Nor does the Bible mention the United States or any entity like it … Biblical prophecy, if you can call it that, is focused on the Near East and — in the case of the New Testament — the Greco-Roman world. Nothing is said of any place outside this sphere.

LaHaye and company are, of course, using these scare tactics to keep their sheep in line; the article cites another religious thinker who sees them for what they are:

While some evangelicals say i’s the end of the world, others say it’s the end of the world again.

“They’re like the boy who cries wolf,” said Bible teacher Steve Gregg. “Someday, Jesus will return and nobody will take them seriously because they cried wolf too much.” …

“It seems like an endless task of nervously keeping their followers on board,” Gregg said. “It must be a nervous ministry, because history keeps throwing us curves. We keep getting new data.”

He recalled how Sept. 11 reaped a crop of doomsday theories unrivalled since [fundamentalist doomsaying author Hal] Lindsey’s works lathered up churches from coast to coast.

“Christians are certainly provincial in their outlook, so if we’re losing ground, the end of the world is here,” Gregg said. “People who teach so are abusing the Bible.”

It’s nice to see that not all fundamentalist believers are so caught up in “Biblical prophecy” that they can’t see these lies and distortions for what they are. Still, the “Bible prophets” like LaHaye are unreprentant, as the article shows:

Despite criticism from their theological opponents, those leading the conference say they are the most faithful to what the Bible teaches about the end of days.

“All these things Jesus spoke about in Matthew 24,” Hibbs said. “If people are realizing it or not, it’s Biblically based. People are coming and looking for answers and that’s pretty cool.”

Once again, note the cheery, offhand way of accepting imminent worldwide disaster — it’s “pretty cool.” Also note the mindless repetition of the assertion that the Bible predicted everything. They base this assumption on circular reasoning: The Bible is prophecy so it must be predicting the future; we look at the Bible and see events vaguely and loosely represented (in metaphors or indirect references); so that must be proof that the Bible predicted the future; so we continue to claim the Bible predicted it; and on it goes.

Lastly, I find it ironic that Hibbs quotes Matthew 24 as being Jesus’ description of the future; because within that verse, Jesus makes it clear that “the End” will be completely unpredictable:

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Mt 24:36)

Anyone who claims to be able to predict “the End” — as LaHaye and company do so often — are clearly contradicting this verse! Interesting they would do that, no? (Contradict Jesus, that is? And do so in his name and in order to “rescue people to Christ.”) Hypocrites all!

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  • bob

    But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Mt 24:36)…………….Oh so true,however.We are commanded by God to know the season. (general time frame)but then you already know that?Hum I wonder?there is a difference between

    non belief and denying God. I think you are of the latter type so Good luck with that. as for my prediction………………………… soon

  • PsiCop

    Bob,

    Thanks for the comment.

    You ended with "as for my prediction………………………… soon." Interesting. People have been predicting the world would end … and a lot of those have said it would be "soon" … but curiously, it's never come about.

    For information on the miserable failure of such predictions, see the following:

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/end_wrl2.htm

    http://www.randi.org/encyclopedia/appendix3.html

    Does it make you feel good to go around predicting the end of the world and telling people it will come "soon" … as a kind of threat? If so, all you're doing is confirming the reprehensible nature of fundamentalist Christianity. No ethical or moral person reacts to an imminent disaster with glee; they react, instead, with horror.