Posts Tagged “biblical prophecy”

89 - Cry Baby!The nation’s Christianists have been whining and fuming for the last 5 years about Barack Obama’s election as president. They’ve made numerous accusations about him … such as that he’s a Kenyan citizen and not American, he’s a Marxist, a “secret Muslim,” a minion of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that he’s the Antichrist.

Although some Religious Right figures are willing to make statements of this sort openly, a lot have been more circumspect about it. They prefer to wink in the direction of such ideas rather than espouse them explicitly. It’s a kind of triangulation that maintains their appeal among angry, militant Rightists who genuinely believe in one of those insane Obama hypotheses, without appearing nutty, themselves, to the rest of us.

One Religious Rightist who recently decided to engage in this sort of triangulation, as the Religion News Service reports, is famed Texas megapastor Robert Jeffress (WebCite cached article):

Already no stranger to controversy, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, is coming out with a book that claims President Barack Obama is clearing the way for the Antichrist.

Jeffress, head of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, writes in his book “Perfect Ending” that he does not believe Obama is the Antichrist, yet he links Obama’s support of gay marriage to the coming of the Antichrist. Many Christians believe Jesus’ Second Coming will feature a confrontation with an enemy called the Antichrist, based on interpretation of passages 1 John and 2 John.…

“While I am not suggesting that President Obama is the Antichrist, the fact that he was able to propose such a sweeping change in God’s law and still win reelection by a comfortable margin illustrates how a future world leader will be able to oppose God’s laws without any repercussions.”…

Jeffress wasn’t claiming that Obama is the Antichrist, and said he was not questioning the president’s faith. “But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”

Jeffress’s crybaby gripes center around the two current bogeymen of the R.R.: gay marriage and the contraception mandate. While it’s true he explicitly said he doesn’t think Obama is the Antichrist, that he connected Obama with this terrifying figure out of Christian legend can only be a potential appeal to other hateful Christianists who view the president as being in league with Satan.

The RNS article mentions the word “antichrist” was coined by the author of the Johannine epistles (specifically, it’s found in 1 Jn 2:18, 22; 1 Jn 4:3; and 2 Jn 1:7). But it’s not clear it refers to a single person or spirit. 1 Jn 2:18 reads:

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.

Clearly the Johannine author is saying there are many “antichrists”; but all the other mentions of “antichrist” are in the singular, and appear to refer only to a singular being. So which is it? Your guess is as good as mine. Although most fundamentalist Christians view “the Antichrist” as some future person, and connect him/her with “the Beast” of Revelation, the Bible itself makes no such connection, and 1 Jn 2:18 certainly contradicts that (since it mentions more than one Antichrist, contemporaneous with its author to boot).

The RNS story also mentions another stupid thing Jeffress said:

In his book, Jeffress makes his case that Christians should study prophecy more closely. “Evangelist Billy Graham once observed that ‘the most neglected teaching in the church today is the second coming of Jesus Christ,’” he said.

This is idiotic on two counts: First, because all Biblical prophecy — every last stinking bit of it — is pure, unfiltered, 100% grade-A bullshit. Simple as that. Second, that Biblical prophecy is somehow “neglected” is a flat-out lie. For the last few decades there’s been endless “End Times” talk streaming out of Christian fundamentalism. The success of the Left Behind publishing empire all by itself thoroughly disproves Jeffress’s (and by extension, Graham’s) contention that Christian prophecy is being ignored.

Photo credit: eyeliam, via Flickr.

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The End is Not NearI recently blogged about how fundamentalist Christians are leaping for joy and rubbing their hands over the possibility that the US might attack Syria, as the so-called “Biblical prophecy” in Isaiah 17 coming true — a development that, they further think, will trigger “Armaggedon” and Jesus’ return. They are, as I explained then, absolutely fucking wrong about that: First, because any chance there had ever been of all of Isaiah 17 ever coming true, has already gone by, long ago; and because all Biblical prophecy is bullshit in the first place.

This hasn’t stopped the Religious Right from stomping around, declaring that the “prediction” of Isaiah 17 is about to come true — even though the proposed attack on Syria may not even materialize. They just can’t seem to let go of it. In fact, as the Raw Story explains, Neil Cavuto, of Fox News and Fox Business Channel has weighed in and is shilling for this bogus proposition (locally-cached article):

Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto on Monday devoted an entire segment to the possibility that a United States attack on Syria could be a sign of the End Times, a period in which Christians believe that Jesus Christ will return to face the emergence of the Antichrist.

“This Syria stuff is way old,” Cavuto explained. “I mean Old Testament old. That’s how old I’m talking about. Don’t laugh. Some biblical scholars say it’s all there in black and white.”

The Fox News host invited author Joel Rosenberg to weigh in on the link between the Syrian conflict and the Bible passages, which he said were “uncanny” and “kind of scary.”

“These are prophecies more than 2,700 years old, some of them, but they have not actually been fulfilled,” Rosenberg said. “But this prophecy, as you just pointed out, talks about the complete and utter destruction of Damascus. That’s an End Times or eschatological prophecy.”

“It’s a very sobering thought to think that a judgment of a city or a country could happen in which an entire city could be wiped out, but that is, in fact, what the Bible is predicting,” he added. “I think it’s wrong for people who teach Bible prophecies to guess — I mean, in a sense try to say for certain it’s going to happen now.”

The Raw Story helpfully provides video of this little exchange:

I’d have thought someone like Cavuto would have better things to do … like scream and rant and whine and cry that Barack Obama and the other Democrats dare remain in office, insolently thwarting corporations’ efforts to disband the government, eliminate taxes on businesses and the wealthy, and relegate most of the country to indentured servitude … but like most of the rest of the folks on the Right, he seems committed to this erroneous “End Times” theology. Sigh.

Hat tip: Michael Shermer, via Twitter.

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The Jupiter temple in DamascusThe Bible is a rather large collection of documents. There’s a lot of material there, and if one cares to do so, one can easily sift out of it things that, on the surface, might appear to have been ancient predictions of subsequent events, or “prophecies.” As I’ve explained before, though, this approach to the Bible is invalid, because it contains a number of predictions that have utterly failed and literally can never come true. Even so, fundamentalist Christians continue acting as though the Bible is full of “prophecy.”

Most recently, as Time reports, fundamentalists are viewing the US’s imminent attack on Syria as yet another example of Biblical prophecy coming true (WebCite cached article):

“See, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins. Her towns will be deserted forever.”

That’s a prophetic passage from the Biblical book of Isaiah, chapter 17, and now some fundamentalist Christian blogs are buzzing with the belief that the escalating violence in Syria means the ancient text may soon be fulfilled. ”The long prophesied end days are here,” one blog announces [cached]. “With the terrorist groups that operate out of Damascus building up arms caches on the border of Israel in anticipation of another war in the near future, it may not be long before this prophecy from Isaiah 17 becomes history,” another group awaiting Jesus Christ’s return predicts [cached].

Nearly all Biblical scholars, however, argue that such a literalist interpretation of the text is highly problematic. The passage was written more than 2,500 years ago, and it condemns Jerusalem’s enemies around the time of the Assyrian invasion. The prophetic oracles, as that section of Isaiah is called, name not just Syria but numerous ancient nations, including Moab, Babylon, Egypt, and Tyre, that threatened the Jewish people at the time.

Isaiah 17 indeed refers to the apparent destruction of Damascus, and the district or country to which it belonged, Aram. But it also mentions lots of other places and things. For example, Aroer, whose location is unknown but which may have been any of several settlements or cities that have long been ruins. It mentions “Ephraim,” probably meaning the district in which the tribe of Ephraim lived, but they, too, are ancient history. Verse 4 says that “the glory of Jacob will fade,” but that probably means Israel which doesn’t appear to be going anywhere just now. It also mentions “the valley of Rephaim,” which refers to a valley outside ancient Jerusalem, now part of the modern city. I’m not sure what that, in particular, could have to do with an attack on Syria. It mentions humanity forsaking “Asherim,” most likely Asherah poles, but those haven’t been used since classical times. Incense stands, however, are mentioned as being forgotten along with the “Asherim,” but they are still used in Catholic and Orthodox churches.

The bottom line is that, while Isaiah 17 does literally mention the defeat of Damascus, it also mentions other places and things which can no longer be read literally, either because they don’t exist, or because if one does read them literally, there are conflicts (such as the Asherah poles that haven’t been used in centuries and incense which has been). The appearance of a “prophecy” works only if one reads some parts of this section literally and others metaphorically, and willfully mixes ancient and modern places and practices together as though they’re all present at the same moment.

When one does this, the only thing one can produce, is nonsense.

As I said, I’ve explained why all Biblical prophecy — and I do mean ALL of it! — is bullshit. You see, the Bible contains specific, explicit predictions, given by none other than Jesus himself, which have failed to come true and by now cannot ever come true (emphasis mine):

“Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mt 16:28)

“But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:27)

All of these first century people who were present to hear Jesus say these words, are dead, and have been for nearly 2,000 years. Yet, Jesus never returned during their lifetimes. Thus, Jesus’ prediction failed completely.

Fundamentalist Christians really need to grow up and get over their Bible-worship. Their ideas about the Bible force them to lie about it, which is simply unacceptable. It needs to fucking stop already.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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The End is Not NearI’ve blogged for well over a year about the cadaverous Bible scholar religionist crank Harold Camping and his two-pronged doomsday scenario, which failed spectacularly as of this past weekend, in spite of his insistence that it would, in fact, play out as he’d predicted. He and his organization, Family Radio, have been running silent for the last few days, in the face of that failure. But finally, the Christian Post reports, he or they have finally managed to tacitly admit that he’d been wrong (WebCite cached article):

For the past five months, Harold Camping‘s Family Radio website had posted on its main page an “explanation” of why the world did not end on May 21 and why it would truly end on Oct. 21. Four days after Camping’s failed doomsday date, however, that explanation has been removed, suggesting that Family Radio may be out of the rapture prediction business.

The move comes soon after Brandon Tauszik, a documentarian who has been attending Camping’s Oakland, Calif., church for eight months, confirmed with The Christian Post in an exclusive interview [cached] that the Bible preacher has informed those close to him that he will effectively retire.

It would have been more courageous of Camping to have overtly admitted having been wrong, rather than stealthily just deleting content from his Web site in the hope that no one will recall what he’d said. But that’s still better than what he did after the first part of his doomsday prediction (i.e. that Christ would return this past May 21) failed, when he insisted that Christ had, in fact, returned “spiritually” rather than violently in the wake of a vast, globe-spanning earthquake.

Oddly, though, the Christian Post proceeds to provide something of an apologia for the failed prophet:

Additionally, Tauszik told CP that Camping has changed his views about the possibility that one can know the exact date of the end of the world, a notion that Camping has maintained for at least 20 years; the doomsday prophet made his first public end of the world prediction in 1992, claiming the world would end in 1994.

There has been evidence of a “softer” apocalypse message from Family Radio, with more emphasis placed on perpetual readiness for judgment from God rather than a specific date on a calendar to prepare for.

Readers of this blog know that this is not true; far from “softening” his message, in the days leading up to his promised October 21, 2011 apocalypse, Camping insisted it woud still take place. I have no idea why the C.P. would choose to mischaracterize Harold Camping and his group, but they are.

Lastly, I’d like to say that I take no pleasure in the fact that Camping suffered a stroke this summer and has been forced to retire. I may find his apocalyptic religionism laughable, but don’t consider his ailment funny at all.

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Harold Camping is seen reading the Bible in his office at Family Stations Inc. offices in Oakland, California in this still image from video May 16, 2011. Credit: Reuters/Reuters TelevisionIt’s a bit after half past 9 pm where I am, which means that “the End of the World” — for me, according to the cadaverous Bible scholar religionist crank Harold S. Camping — is less than 2½ hours away. What’s more, as Reuters explains, it seems he’s trotted off somewhere in order to get himself ready for “the Big Event” (WebCite cached article):

An evangelical broadcaster whose end-of-the-world prophecy earlier this year stirred a global media frenzy has vanished from the public eye and airwaves ahead of his recalibrated doomsday date, set for Friday. …

Reached by telephone on Thursday, network spokesman Tom Evans declined to comment on Camping or his prophecies, except to say that he had “retired” as a radio host but remained chairman of the board of Family Stations Inc.

Although Camping himself and his organization has claimed to be confident that “the End” will soon be here, I’m even more confident that I will be around tomorrow just as always and that nothing will have changed all that much from tonight. I’m declaring — in advance! — that Camping will end up being proven a failed prophet. Of course, that should be news to no sane person. After all, all Biblical prophecy is 100% pure bullshit. It always was, and always will be.

Update: Hey Harold — it’s now just after midnight on the 22nd where I am. No Armageddon. You missed again!

Photo credit: Reuters / Reuters Television.

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an epic mistranslationI have to give the guy credit for being tenacious. Even in the face of the spectacular failure of his May 21, 2011Second-Coming of Jesus” prediction, Bible scholar religionist crank Harold S. Camping remains unshaken in his claim that his “prophecy” will ultimately come to pass. His had always been a two-part prediction: That Jesus Christ would return on May 21, 2011 — ushered in by a vast globe-spanning earthquake, among other “signs” — followed 6 months later, on October 21, 2011, by an even more catastrophic “End of the World.”

Obviously the events he predicted would happen this past May never took place, but afterward Camping rationalized away his failure. WIth his promised “End of the World” coming up in just a few days, as LiveScience reports, Camping remains firmly and irrationally committed to his (already-demonstrably false) crankish scenario (WebCite cached article):

The radio preacher who predicted Judgment Day on May 21 has not backed down from his claims that the end of the world is near, despite the lack of a Rapture or world-devastating earthquakes leading up to the doomsday.

In an announcement on his Family Radio Network website, Harold Camping stands by his earlier predictions that the world will end on Friday, Oct. 21. Originally, Camping had predicted hourly earthquakes and God’s judgment on May 21, to be followed by months of torment on Earth for those individuals left behind. Using numerical codes extracted from the Bible, Camping set the date for the end of everything for Oct. 21.

The article briefly explains how — in typical crankish manner — Camping redefined both the events of this past May 21, and his own prediction about it, so as to make himself still look “correct” even though he most certainly was not:

When May 21 came and went without fanfare, Camping revised his story. The “earthquakes” he had predicted did occur, he writes on his website in a post titled “What Happened on May 21?” — only instead of shaking the Earth, God shook mankind “with fear.” Likewise, although no one was raptured, God is no longer saving souls, Camping writes.

“What really happened this past May 21st?” Camping wrote. “What really happened is that God accomplished exactly what He wanted to happen.”

I’m really not surprised at the screaming irrationality that Camping exhibits. He’s invested a lot of his time and money into his doomsday predictions (including a prior one that failed to come true back in 1994). For him to just throw up his hands — after all these years and after all these predictions — and just ‘fess up to having been wrong, would obviate all of that … not to mention it would call into question whether he should consider returning the millions of dollars in donations he and his organization have collected over the past couple years, from his sheep who believed in his obviously-wrong predictions. Simple economics and personal pride, then, all but force him to insist that “the End of the World” will take place this coming Friday, October 21, 2011. He just can’t help himself. Even if the rest of us know better.

Finally, for the record, I’d like to point out something that is also demonstrable, and that is that all Biblical prophecy is bullshit. A putrid, steaming load scooped right out of the back of the barn. All “Biblical prophecies” are false! Every stinking last one of them. Every time. All the time. And it will always and forever be so, because the very words of the Bible prove it, beyond the shadow of any possible doubt. It’s not up for debate or interpretation or number-crunching or anything else — it simply is. Period.

Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker.

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The End is Near sign at Sweet Melissa's, SavannahI’ve blogged a number of times about Bible scholar religionist crank Harold Camping of Family Radio and his wingnut prophecy that Jesus is going to return on May 21, 2011 (this Saturday! hallelujah!) and that the world will end five months later, in October. It’s obvious the guy’s theories are whacked. But what I find amusing are all the other Christians out there who are trying to angle away from Camping and his sheep. Just one example of this is Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who penned a whine for the CNN Belief blog about how Camping makes Christianity look bad (WebCite cached article):

What harm is there in an 89-year-old preacher making prognostications about the end of the world?

First, such predictions give non-Christians one more reason to discount the Bible.

There are plenty more examples I could cite, but this one is enough to make the point that a lot of evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christians are tripping over themselves trying to get away from the lunatic Camping and his “prediction.” The problem is that their religion is inherently predisposed to such predictions! Christians through the millennia have repeatedly predicted death, doom and destruction, based on any number of suppositions and extrapolations, only to be proven wrong eventually (cached). In fact, the founder of Christianity — none other than Jesus Christ himself! — made some very clear and explicit “End of the World” predictions, which likewise failed to come true:

“Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mt 16:28)

“But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:27)

Those are not the only such predictions Jesus made, but they’re enough to make the point: No Christian can really be a Christian without believing in a Doomsday, and without believing in Doomsday predictions. To condemn Camping for making such a prediction, and triangulate away from him because he did so, is laughable. Selectively veering away from the more ridiculous aspects of their religion only makes Christians look like “fair weather” believers … eager to trumpet their metaphysics when they think it makes them look good to do so, but equally eager to get out of the way of the follies which are part and parcel of Christianity.

In case anyone isn’t already clear on the matter … all Biblical prophecy is bullshit. All of it. All the time. Forever and ever.

Photo credit: mmwm.

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