Wednesday, August 23, 2006

At least I would buy less gifts...

I was raised in a pre-millennium, pre-tribulation Christian world.

As fundamentalists, we were not provided too many exciting topics. No drinking, no card-playing, no movies, no smoking, and certainly no controversial or spine-tingling subjects. There were two exceptions.

Once in a great while we were allowed to discuss demons and Satanists. We salivated over tales of rituals (all hinting of various stages of undress) and horror including drinking blood, cannibalism and kidnapping unknowing strangers. The other exception was discussion about end-times, and all the various sins that would be committed and the explicitly described gory judgments rendered upon those miscreants, whilst we watched from heaven, munching our popcorn.

For those that don’t know their eschatology (a word meaning, “Look at me! I use big words for ‘end-times’ that dramatically increases the listener’s respect for what I am talking about”) many Christians hold to a 1000-year period of peace, in which Jesus and various Christians run the government. Hence the word “millennium.”

As Christians seem to create more issues than resolutions among themselves, it comes as no surprise that the Millennium is no different. Some argue that Jesus will return prior to the Millennium, some argued that he would return after, and some argue that the Millennium is not an actual 1000-year period.

Those that hold to Jesus returning before (Pre-Millennium,) most often also believe that there will be seven years of very bad times immediately prior to Jesus coming, and term this “The Tribulation.” And since the Millennium has controversy, there is no reason that the Tribulation can’t have some controversy, either.

Those that hold to a Tribulation also believe there will be an event in which Jesus calls up, in some way, the then-living Christians in what is termed “The Rapture.” Some believe that The Rapture will happen right before The Tribulation, some hold it will happen in the middle of The Tribulation, and some at the end of The Tribulation.

If you followed me thus far, you may see that we believed in The Rapture, (“Pre-Tribulation”) followed by The Tribulation, then Jesus comes, (“Pre-Millennium”) then The Millennium. Since the words were too long to say (‘cept “eschatology”) we shortened them to “Pre-Trib” or “Pre-Mil.”

This allowed us to say fun sentences such as “That fellow is a Post-Mil, so they could never be a Mid-Trib, but she is a Pre-Trib, which makes her better than a Post-Trib and much better than an A-mil.” See?

(I always wondered why we didn’t shorten other words. I was a Calvinist Baptist, Nicene Creed, Inerrantist, Literalist. Or a Cal Bap Nick In Lit. I guess it does sound like a cell phone going through a tunnel, eh?)

All of which is to say I was raised in a home that thought one day all the living Christians would vanish in some way.

We did not have the particulars worked out in this regard. Although we did not need to take our clothes, the thought of any more nakedicity in the world, through God’s divine plan, was more than we could bear, so we envisioned that the clothes would go with us. Exchanged in some private changing room and discarded once we arrived, of course. (We secretly thought that Heaven was to be as modest as Earth, with an occasional guilty passing thought that it might be nudist, after which we began to confess our sins thinking about WHO might make it heaven or not.)

And, to our shame, we had little sympathy for the lives that would be impacted. In fact, we had more than a little guilty pleasure. In these rousing sessions about end-times there would always be a mention of what happens to a plane if both the pilot and co-pilot were Christians with a dismissive shrug and self-righteous justification that any passengers going down in a ball of flame shouldn’t have been non-Christians. They had their chance and biffed it.

Hey, if my car swerves off at 65 mph and slams into another car, killing a two-year-old child, she wouldn’t have BEEN in that car, if she was a Christian, right? She would have been floating up in the air with me.

Technically, we didn’t think that the Christians would actually float up in the air. That would be too-much of a give away that something was happening. We figured we would disappear and perhaps re-appear once far enough off the ground that no one could see us. Or maybe gather in space somewhere.

Seriously.

In the back of our mind, we were always aware that there must be some people who thought they were Christians, and were not taken up. As a child, on more than one occasion when my family was not immediately available, and I thought they should be, I was concerned that the Rapture happened without me!

And we never quite knew how those that knew of the Rapture would not be immediately convinced, and become Christians on the spot. (Too late for the Rapture, of course, but plenty of time for the return pick-up.) It was a matter of fun speculation in which numerous theories could be proposed, and who could say that it was not possible?

Take me for example. My family is all Christian. Pre-Trib, Pre-Mil. I can’t help wonder what they think I would do, if the Rapture happened like they think it would. Understand, when I say my family is ALL Christian, I mean ALL. My father and his wife are. My brothers and sister are. My step-brother and step-sisters are. All of their spouses are. All of their children, my nieces and nephews, are. All of the current boyfriends/girlfriends of the nieces and nephews are. My wife is. My children are.

At the next Christmas gathering when it is just me and more than 40 people are MIA, do ya think I [b]might[/b] just start scratching my head? I am a skeptic, remember? What tale could the government spin, what would I buy that would convince me that my entire family just disappeared? Alien invasion? I don’t believe in aliens. Skeptic, remember? Disease? I don’t trust my government’s claims NOW about disease, why would my entire family’s disappearance make any difference?

I would think, while I am looking at the ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls and pie enough to feed a troop, the thought, “Gee, I wonder if the Rapture occurred?” could possibly cross my mind.

In reading across the internet, there are 1000’s, maybe 10’s of 1000’s of deconverts from Christianity, just like me. Who have heard of the rapture, just like me. Who would become believers on the spot, just like me. It would make Christianity the No. 1 religion overnight!

I would pity the fool who attempted to consolidate this religion or a government after that!

“I will lead the Christians into a unified one-world church.”
“Ahhhh! The Anti-Christ! The Anti-Christ! Kill! Kill! Kill! We don’t want to have THE TRIBULATION.”

“I want you to have this mark on your hand—“
“Or my forehead! Oh, oh! You are the Beast! Come everybody, see the Beast! See the mark! Avoid it at all costs. Kill! Kill! Kill! We don’t want to have THE TRIBULATION.”

The only way that I could see for the Tribulation to occur, what with the proliferation of the Bible, and the belief of the Rapture expounded in numerous media forums, is for God to deliberate deceive those that are left. Even LaHaye’s “Left Behind” series would have to disappear off the shelves. Too many secrets revealed.

Is that what my family proposes? That God must deceive me, so that in some way I believe they all disappeared and it makes perfectly logical sense?

Funny, at the moment they propose that Satan is deceiving me by logic and reason, and that is a bad thing. Apparently when God does it after the Rapture, it will be a good thing.

Frankly, I would prefer they both be more up-front and stop playing these games. Or perhaps neither exists, and this is one more item in a long laundry list that, upon inspection, makes no sense.

8 comments:

  1. This post brings back memories.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello all,

    I pose to you and others that the context and meaning of these ancient texts have been lost on those confused by the assertions of religious leaders and founders. Ancient wisdom has been purposely recast and obfuscated into religion and mysticism. Consequently, the interpretations presented about the sources and meaning of these texts and the philosophy and cosmology of ancient Hebrew sages is completely wrong. Before you scoff and write me off, you should understand that I speak from personal experience...

    The symbolism of seven years (tribulation, etc.) refers to seven 360-year cycles on the Hebrew calendar. Ezekiel 39.9 is referring to the 10th to 16th cycles inclusive, while the Apocalypse symbolizes the 11th cycle (second temple period) until now, the beginning of the 17th cycle (seventh angel/star/seal, etc.). Greece (Alexander the Great) conquered the Persian Empire and Judea during the 10th cycle and Rome did so again during the 11th cycle. Both Ezekiel and the Apocalypse are symbolizing an overlapping period of time that starts during ancient Judea and ends now. Gog refers to Greco-Romans (...from the "isles"), which means Magog is Eurasia and the "army" that besets "Israel" for seven "years" refers to the activities of the nations of the Greco-Roman/Vatican Empire over the previous two-plus millennia.

    It is completely wrong to interpret any of these prophecies as literal timelines and events. Unlike Christian assertions, they symbolize long periods of time, pivotal situations, and the flow of activities during that period. Remember, they were written by ancient Hebrew sages, not Romans or other Europeans, and Revelation is the most symbolic of all prophecies. Consequently, in this context, "years" and "times" are symbols for 360-year cycles on the Hebrew calendar and days symbolize literal years. Therefore "Judgement Day," "Great Day" and "in that day" all refer to a year-long period. Accordingly, the so-called "Seven Years Tribulation" began in ancient Judea and is now nearing its end, not starting. The nations and followers of all three faiths of Abraham have been thoroughly deceived by Rome during the previous age, which ended in year 2000 (5760). A new age began in 2001 (5761) and now the seventh angel has begun to sound!

    Understanding the Fatal Flaws in Judeo-Christian-Islamic Prophecy

    Remember the saying that "the truth will set you (and others) free?" How does "opening one's eyes to the truth" relate to "making the blind see again" or "shining the light" or "illuminating a subject?" Notice the inherent symbolism associated with this supposed New Testament "miracle?"

    As certain world leaders strive to instigate a fabricated "battle of Armageddon," it is vital to understand and spread the truth about these ancient texts to help bring about an end to such abominable evil. You can never expect philosophies based on lies and great error to lead to peace and harmony. How many more millennia of terrible proof is necessary before humanity finally gets a clue that most have been utterly deceived by the very concept of religion.

    Without it, Bush, the Neo-Cons, and their cohorts could never have gained and retained political power by manipulating an already deluded and susceptible constituency. Likewise, their thinly veiled partners in crime, Bin Laden and his ilk, could never have succeeded in their roles in this centuries-old Vatican-led grand deception.

    We are all trapped by a web of deception formed by money, religion, and politics. The great evils that bedevil us all will never cease until humanity finally awakens, shakes off these strong delusions, and forges a new path to the future.

    Here is Wisdom...

    Peace...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dagoods,
    Funny, I find myself in a similar boat, i.e., all my family including wife and 2 kids are Christians. I am not as far along as you, my wife knows about me but I'm waiting for God to show the kids (they're 25 and 27).

    A thought about the 2 year old killed in a crash during the rapture. I come from similar roots, did y'all have the little caveat "age of accountability?" If I recall, that was set at 5 or 7? So maybe the world will also be childless after the rapture? Hmmm.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi seven star hand,

    Theosophy? Been awhile since I've looked at that. I do have the latest translation of the dead sea scrolls and am slowly reading it. I've read quite a bit of Krishnamurti. Skeptic doesn't equal scoff, but you are starting in the middle, not at the beginning. If you wish to communicate, you may want to build a foundation under your comments other than "personal experience."

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you, seven star hand, for your interesting view point. You remind us that in the field of “end-times” there are numerous entertaining possibilities.

    I am aware of the claim of the 360 day “prophetic year.” Usually used to fit Daniel’s 70-week prophecy into the time of Jesus. I am aware of the Hebrew Calendar. I am aware of the 19-year cycle of the Hebrew Calendar.

    But I have never heard of a 360-year cycle on a Hebrew Calendar. Google turned up…..articles all written by you.

    So I read some. You DO know that Katrina was the 12th storm, or the 5th Hurricane, and likewise Rita was the 18th? And that “Dennis” and “Wilma” were also retired names. Kinda kills the uniqueness of “11” and “17,” eh?

    I enjoyed your articles, if nothing else but to see a different view of the world for a moment.

    ReplyDelete
  6. paul, my view on the myth of the age of accountability was exploded in the 8th Grade. Kinda humorous.

    I attended a Christian school. In the Eighth grade we were given an assignment (by the Health Class teacher, of all things) to find certain numbers in the Bible. Tribes of Israel, Disciples, Years of Solomon’s reign—that sort of thing. And give verse citations. An exercise in “How to look things up.”

    Apparently, this teacher, like so many Christians, had heard of certain concepts in Christianity, but had never investigated them himself. Presumed they were true. And one of the items he listed (as you have guessed) was “Age of Accountability.” He assumed it must be there somewhere, and we all knew it was 12. (That was the age we used.)

    Having come from a Christian family, and attended church (and Christian school) all my life, the assignment was an easy one. Hit a few commentaries, and Strong’s, next to the other study guides we had, and I quickly completed the assignment. (In my particular idiom, citing many more verses than necessary to demonstrate how well-versed I was!) (Pun intended.)

    And I hit a sticky wicket. “Age of accountability” Nothing. Oh, I found Jesus turning 12 (Luke 2:42) and the prophecy of knowing right from wrong (Isaiah 7:16) but no clear verse that says, “This is the age of accountability.” Worse, I had just complied a list that when asked for a certain number, I could find verses (even more than one) that gave a specific answer.

    The next day, I (and other bright classmates) pounded our teacher about the answer. (I included Luke and Isaiah, ‘cause I figured if nothing else, they would probably be considered correct.) We asked “What is the answer?” After a moment of extreme embarrassment, and a cough, it became obvious to us—he hadn’t looked up any of these answers himself! There WAS no answer key! Immediately evident he had always been taught certain things, and presumed they were in the Bible somewhere, and had given us busy-work, with no actual answer.

    The question was scratched from the assignment.

    From that moment on, I never held to the principle of “Age of accountability.” I have seen the arguments for it. I was not convinced as a Christian, I certainly would not be convinced now.

    This was also one of the many points of impetus that resulted in thousands of situations of:

    Sunday School Teacher: “The Bible says _____.”
    Me: “Where?”
    SS Teacher: “Uhhh…”

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey Dagoods, great post. Hadn't checked out your blog in a while but its good to see you are still producing quality writing like this.

    I like your technique of discussing christianity in terms of its many contradictions and hypocracies, which implicitly challenges most of its stated objectively true concepts. After all, how can a religion be so contradicting if it were the byproduct of a perfect being like God?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yikes! No wonder you bailed from Christianity. I would too if I thought that was the real deal. Personally, I managed to largely bypass this corner of Christianity -- basically went from liberalism to not-much-of-anythingism to classical Christianity.

    Interestingly, most stories I hear of de-converted Christian atheists have the ex coming out of something like what you describe, a charismatic church, or Roman Catholicism. I'd expect to see more atheists exiting liberal churches, but I don't hear of that too often. Perhaps it's because a liberal church doesn't give them much to react to and so they're not as sour on religion, and thus not vocal enough to catch my attention. As for me, my brush with liberalism leaves me with a grudge against it!

    ReplyDelete