Appendix 11: The Faith Factor
Secular Chronology Confirmation
How current trends corroborate the Bible’s revealed timeline
THE FAITH FACTOR
We all “believe” something we can’t empirically prove. It has always been that way. The phenomenon of faith has permeated human society since the dawn of history. I’m not talking about “religion” in the commonly understood sense, necessarily, but merely a worldview, a philosophical or cultural outlook based not on real, demonstrable circumstances, but rather on a shared opinion of “how things are” in matters beyond our experiential knowledge.
“What we believe” can be right or wrong, true or false, but as long as a society is relatively homogenous in its beliefs, things within that society tend to run smoothly, all other things being equal. For example, there was a time (I’m told) when “everybody” in Europe believed the sun revolved around the Earth. They were wrong, but as long as nobody challenged this assertion, society (at least as far as astronomical opinions and their philosophical ramifications were concerned) remained peaceful. Then, in 1543, Copernicus suggested that Earth and the other planets actually circled the sun. The powerful Roman Catholic church, which had been pushing the terra-centric model for centuries (due to their own philosophical proclivities, not because of anything they’d found in Scripture) angrily forbade his book and suppressed his arguments. Their belief system had been challenged, and they found it uncomfortable and threatening, even though they were wrong.
An insightful commentary on unfounded belief systems was included in Jonathan Swift’s satire, Gulliver’s Travels. The hero, Gulliver, finds himself in the land of Lilliput (where everyone is much smaller than he is—in a lot of ways). There he encounters a raging controversy concerning which end of a soft-boiled egg should be broken into. The Big-Endians (those “traditionalists” who believe the egg should be approached from the big end) are at war with the Little-Endians (whose “reformed” belief dictates that eggs must be broken instead on the pointy end). The Lilliputian religion, meanwhile, only says that an egg should be broken on the convenient end. It’s all a tongue-in-cheek satirical commentary on the practically non-existent doctrinal differences between the warring Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church of England in the 18th century.
We all tend to “believe” what our society accepts as true—at least at first. But there are two prophetic texts that come to mind that point out why the “faith factor” will become so significant during the Last Days. First is what was revealed to Daniel. “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4) And in the Olivet Discourse, Yahshua says, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:6-7) Why are there to be wars and rumors of war (more than usual)? It’s because people are becoming more mobile—“running to and fro.” That is to say, their belief systems are no longer contained and compartmentalized. Instead, they’re rubbing up against each other, causing friction and strife.
Please note: I still haven’t said anything about who’s right and who’s not. I am merely exploring what happens when worlds collide—when previously insulated cultures (united by a common belief system, more or less) are compelled to confront each other. As our world becomes more connected, more mobile, and more aware (as Daniel’s prophecy predicted), the differences between cultures (for better or for worse) will be exacerbated. If we all believed exactly the same thing, even if it were wrong, the world might be a more peaceful place. But then again, since we are creatures endowed with free will, a completely uniform culture is impossible to maintain in the long term. I’ll offer a couple of examples:
(1) Two hundred years ago America was a somewhat homogeneous society—nominally Christian in its traditions and conservative in its political outlook. Liberty, opportunity, and optimism were what united us (given a few blind spots, like slavery and monetary policy). Today, however, half a dozen “cultures” exist side by side in our land—opportunists, parasites, hedonists, and narcissists live side by side with patriots, entrepreneurs, and the Judeo-Christian faithful. (These categories are not mutually exclusive, of course, nor is the list remotely comprehensive.) Because the points of friction are unsettling, our personal societies tend to grow smaller and more restricted as the world we perceive grows larger. We no longer know everybody in town (as we might have two hundred years ago). Rather, our personal circle of contacts is extremely limited—and it’s usually based on our shared belief systems, not our physical proximity to others. That is, people of faith tend to congregate with one another, as do gang bangers, liberal-progressives, bikers, yuppies, sports fans, nerds—you get the picture. Even within artificial social constructs like the workplace, school, or neighborhoods, we all tend to seek out like minded companions.
(2) Seventh century Islam ran roughshod over the land of its birth, the Arabian Peninsula. Then, over the next century, it set about the religious conquest of North Africa, the Middle East, and India. At the point of the sword (okay, scimitar) they offered everyone they met three choices: convert to Islam, pay the onerous jizya tax, or die. But eventually the movement degenerated into a belligerent habit, less about spreading Islam and more about merely grabbing land and booty, in the mode of Atilla the Hun or Genghis Kahn. Why? Because Muhammad had forbidden his jihadists to take the Qur’an with them. Booty and blood lust are motivations common to unregenerate man. Without a basis of faith—the Qur’an—the Islamic belief system (i.e., forcing people to convert to Islam at the point of a sword, and killing or enslaving everyone who stood in your way) could not be maintained. There were always Muslim pirates and warlords, but they were driven more by their common sinful human natures than by their religious beliefs, though Islam gave them “cover.” And the peoples they subjugated tended to fall into “hypocritical” (i.e., conscience based) modes of religious practice, not bloodthirsty jihadism.
So until the Qur’an was (like the Bible) given wider exposure with the advent of the printing press, and especially since it was “rediscovered” in the early 20th century, Islam was a stagnant religion, not unlike the paganism it had replaced in Arabia. But today, with Muslims fleeing their cesspool homelands in droves (because, ironically enough, Qur’an-sanctioned murder, rape, cruelty, plunder, inbreeding, and sloth are endemic there—as are the poverty and misery that inevitably follow), they are once again creating friction (like #20 grit sandpaper) against everyone with whom they come in contact—even other Muslims with whom they don’t agree about every nuance of Islamic doctrine and practice. Their very proximity to people of other belief systems causes strife, fear, and bad blood, so they tend to congregate together, refusing to assimilate into the societies to which they’ve fled, repelled by their belief system like the south end of a magnet. The fact that their birth rates are several times that of Europeans and North Americans only complicates (and accelerates) the problem.
The glue that holds our “micro-societies” together, then, is what we believe. And in this day and age, physical proximity is only marginally significant. I have cyber-friends in Nigeria and Brazil with whom I have more in common (and talk with more frequently) than I do my next door neighbor here in Virginia. One could argue that common interest is what attracts us to one another, but (for myself) I find those bonds to be less than compelling. For example, I’m a lifelong musician, but the only musicians I find myself wanting to play with are those who share my belief system. (The reason I didn’t “turn pro” in my early twenties was basically that I didn’t like smoky bars—where many musicians’ livelihoods must be earned.) Meanwhile, my neighbor is a car buff, with a garage full of beautifully restored classic Corvettes, and I too am a car enthusiast of sorts (to the extent I can afford to be—which isn’t much). But since we share no core beliefs (that I know of) our relationship is confined to trading cordial “hellos” when we happen to see each other.
But where do these beliefs come from? I would love to be able to tell you that they emerge from thoughtful consideration of a range of philosophical options, or from careful study of competing foundational documents (ranging from the Communist or Illuminati Manifestoes to the American Constitution, or from the Qur’an or Rig Veda to the Bible). But it’s just not true. Most people—the vast majority—simply pick up on what their parents, peers, and professors seem to believe and swallow it whole, never straying very far from where they began. We tend to think the same way our families and friends do, eat the same kind of food, vote the same party, and worship the same god. The apple doesn’t usually fall too far from the tree, and when it rolls, it rolls downhill, toward the lowest common denominator.
Why? Because reassessing our foundational beliefs requires serious thought, and rejecting our traditions can be a painful endeavor. (I speak from experience.) If we’re honest with ourselves, something fundamentally wrong can usually be found within them—something either blatantly false or fatally flawed. So most of us deflect, rationalize, make excuses, or simply ignore those nagging and uncomfortable components of our cultural fabric that we once “believed in.” In the end, we simply disregard the uncomfortable bits—until our beliefs can best be stated in phrases like, “I believe I’ll have another beer.”
But not everyone wallows forever in lukewarm mediocrity. Some of us awaken from our cultural stupor to discover (or at least conclude) that what our parents and peers “believe in” is—to one extent or another—nothing more than groundless tradition. This can be either a good thing or a bad one, depending upon the real basis (and not the mere cultural lowest common denominator) of one’s belief system.
This “basis of belief” is the subject of this appendix. What we believe determines what we do, how we act, what we defend or attack, and who we consider allies or adversaries. The faith factor—not what we know, but what we believe to be true (or merely wish to be true)—separates the world into warring factions. Formal religious differences are only the tip of the iceberg, however—mere outward manifestations of more fundamental philosophical proclivities, often built on generations of cultural conditioning.
My guess is that there is one issue that underpins everyone’s belief system (whatever it is). It is the one thing no man can, in any empirical sense, explain, explore, or escape. I’m speaking, of course, of death. We must all face it, sooner or later, whether or not we want to, and whether or not we’re prepared for it. And what we come to believe about death will have a visceral impact on how we live our lives. Is there an afterlife? If so, what is it like? Is there a heaven and/or a hell? Could there be a Muslim-style paradise populated with amorous virgins, flowing with rivers of wine—contrasted with hell-fire, whose denizens are roasted “alive” on a spit turned by god himself, who are given thorns to eat and boiling water to drink? If there is an afterlife, how may one enter the blessed state and avoid the cursed one? Is there such a thing as a ghost—the disembodied spirit of the departed walking among us? Do our souls get recycled—forcing us to “come back” as something else? Or is there simply nothing after we die—as John Lennon hopefully put it, “No hell below us, above us only sky”?
Whether or not we realize it, our personal answers to these questions affect everything we do, to one extent or another. Law and culturally imposed morality tend to temper our responses to life’s curve balls, of course. But what would we do in the face of danger, disappointment, or injustice, were we not hampered by conscience and custom (or the threat of incarceration)? Whatever it is must be shaped by what we believe about death and its potential aftermath. And logic would suggest that belief in an afterlife presupposes belief in a deity of some sort—Someone who is eligible and worthy to make judgment calls about how we have lived our lives, Someone competent to define good and evil.
That, in turn, raises the issue of salvation, of atonement for sin. If a Creator-Deity exists who is qualified to assess the moral performance of men, and if He has decreed the existence of an afterlife of one sort or another, then what must one do to attain a “good” afterlife (“heaven,” so to speak) or be saved from a bad one (what we might call “hell”)? It should be apparent, of course, that that’s what it would take: a divine decree. Conversely, if God does not exist, there can be no afterlife (good or bad), nor objective moral standards, nor any rational basis for law or justice. But if there is no God, it’s awfully hard to account for the human conscience, our innate, universal knowledge that there actually is such a thing as right and wrong. For that matter, life itself—never mind the afterlife—is impossible to adequately explain without recourse to a holy (not to mention intelligent) God—that is, One who is external to, and separate from, His own creation, the prototypical “First Cause.”
The bottom line is that what we believe, whether or not it’s true, shapes how we behave in this world. So think beyond the Christian conception of heaven and hell. Most of the world does not relate to whatever it is that motivates us. They respond to entirely different kinds of “carrots” and “sticks.”
It’s a moving target. Two thousand years ago, much of the world was pagan, of one stripe or another. That is, the remnants of the original Babylonian mystery religion of Nimrod, Semiramis, and Tammuz were still very much in evidence, assuming different forms, rites, and nomenclature in widely scattered places. Today, those religious traditions have largely gone underground, buried (in very different ways) mostly within Catholic-style Christianity, Hinduism, and their respective cultural spinoffs. It should also be noted that much of Islam’s religious ritual practice was lifted wholesale from the Arabian pagan culture in which Muhammad was raised, notwithstanding their claims of monotheism. The worship of the black stone, circumambulating the Ka’aba, ritually stoning the devil, the crescent moon symbol (see Judges 8:21, 26), Ashura Day mutilation, and much more are pagan practices. It is abundantly clear why Yahweh made a point of separating Israel from the rest of the world, evicting the pagans from the Land of Promise so His Messiah could enter the world in a culture that wasn’t completely overrun by satanic counterfeit religion.
Today, the religious makeup of the world is considerably more splintered. It would appear that the “broad highway that leads to destruction” has more “lanes” than it used to. Instead of wall-to-wall paganism (including polytheism and pantheism), both Christianity and Islam have made considerable inroads. PewForum.org (December 18, 2012) provides the stats on “The Global Religious Landscape.” They report, “Worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group. A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.” Although the stats are a few years old now, they scale up pretty well as percentages.
“The demographic study—based on analysis of more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers—finds 2.2 billion Christians (32% of the world’s population), 1.6 billion Muslims (23%), 1 billion Hindus (15%), nearly 500 million Buddhists (7%) and 14 million Jews (0.2%) around the world as of 2010.” Jews? It’s amazing that so few Jews could cast such a large shadow over the religious landscape of the earth (or it would be, were it not for Yahweh’s involvement and promises). There are more Mormons (15 million) or Sikhs (24 million) than Jews worldwide, yet their “significance quotient” is dwarfed by Israel’s. “In addition, more than 400 million people (6%) practice various folk or traditional religions, including African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, Native American religions and Australian aboriginal religions. An estimated 58 million people—slightly less than 1% of the global population—belong to other religions, including the Baha’i faith, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Tenrikyo, Wicca and Zoroastrianism, to mention just a few.”
The study “also finds that roughly one-in-six people around the globe (1.1 billion, or 16%) have no religious affiliation. This makes the unaffiliated the third-largest religious group worldwide, behind Christians and Muslims, and about equal in size to the world’s Catholic population. Surveys indicate that many of the unaffiliated hold some religious or spiritual beliefs (such as belief in God or a universal spirit) even though they do not identify with a particular faith.”
But labels are clumsy tools. The way I see it, the religions of the world are now divided (very roughly) into five separate groups—four of them in a virtual dead heat for the demographic lead. Using the CIA’s World Factbook as a guide (which roughly parallels the findings of the Pew Forum), we can perceive that these four broad “religious traditions” each comprise about 21-22% of the world’s populace. I have grouped these four (painting with a very broad brush) according to their significant defining characteristics. That is, they share a great deal in common, though they may be called by different names, and though strife and suspicion are commonplace within each group.
They are: (1) Eastern religious philosophies—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Shinto, Confucianism, Baha’i, Zoroastrianism, etc. (2) Atheism, Agnosticism, Secular Humanism, and non-religious people (whose beliefs define them as a faith-based group, despite their intentions). (3) Islam—Sunni (including Wahabism), Shia (including the Druze), Sufi, Ahmadiyya, Kharijite, and other sects. And (4) Religious (i.e., liturgical) Christianity—Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox churches, Anglicans, etc. The fifth category (perhaps 14% of the world’s population) is a catch-all of everyone who’s left—Evangelical (fundamentalist) Christianity, mainline Protestant Denominations (apostate or otherwise), quasi-Christian cults/sects, Judaism (including Messianic Judaism), folk religions (African, Native American, Asian, Australian Aboriginal, etc.), Satanists, pagans, and Wicca, etc.
One interesting fact that emerges when we look at the data is that most religious traditions are localized. That is, they tend to remain (or disperse from) where the religion began, the largest of these “localities” being Islam, which now dominates the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of South Asia. For all the noise and pain they cause, they are still minorities—though rapidly growing—in much of the rest of the world. Recent projections see them dominating Europe by about 2030, due to a far higher birth rate than the peoples they are displacing. (If nothing else, the timeframe should catch our attention.) “Eastern” religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.) tend to remain concentrated in the Far East—India and Southern and Eastern Asia. But two groups (and only two) are spread rather homogeneously throughout the world—Christians and Jews. (It’s worth noting that being Jewish is not a religion per se, but almost everyone who practices the religion of Judaism is Jewish—that is, a biological descendant of Israel. A significant number of biological Jews are actually practicing atheists.)
The Pew Forum article cited above reports: “The geographic distribution of religious groups varies considerably. Several religious groups are heavily concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region, including the vast majority of Hindus (99%), Buddhists (99%), adherents of folk or traditional religions (90%) and members of other world religions (89%). Three-quarters of the religiously unaffiliated (76%) also live in the massive and populous Asia-Pacific region. Indeed, the number of religiously unaffiliated people in China alone (about 700 million) is more than twice the total population of the United States. The Asia-Pacific region also is home to most of the world’s Muslims (62%). About 20% of Muslims live in the Middle East and North Africa, and nearly 16% reside in sub-Saharan Africa. Of the major religious groups covered in this study, Christians are the most evenly dispersed. Roughly equal numbers of Christians live in Europe (26%), Latin America and the Caribbean (24%) and sub-Saharan Africa (24%).”
In the case of Jewish demographics, this worldwide scattering is a grim but inevitable fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. Yahweh had promised Israel, “And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury…. I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you.” (Leviticus 26:27-28, 33) But He also promised to bring them back to the Land (a process that has already begun) when His purpose suited Him: “Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’” (Nehemiah 1:8-9) So scattered they are, though their oft-promised repatriation has begun.
But Christianity wasn’t driven abroad by God’s wrath (as much as we had it coming on occasion), nor was it spread throughout the world via the sword of conquest, as was Islam. (The possible exception to that rule was the Roman Catholic role in conquering Latin America—a corollary to the Spanish and Portuguese lust for gold.) But mostly, the Gospel proliferated simply because truth and love are attractive, given an honest chance to take root. Ironically, the Church tends to spread the fastest when it is suffering persecution, and it loses its power as a force for good when it becomes politically strong.
Let us, then, explore the predominant belief systems of our present world (whether “religious” or not), with an eye toward discovering what (if any) effect their doctrines, practices, and core beliefs might have on the timetable of the Last Days. (That is, after all, the overarching subject of all of these appendices—exploring what is happening in today’s world that seems to have a bearing upon the revealed Biblical timeline.) What motivates their adherents? How can their views on sin, atonement, death, and the afterlife be expected to shape their actions—especially with regard to people of other faiths or proclivities? Is it conceivable that shifting religious demographics might be capable of threatening the very stability of planet Earth? Could increasing friction between leading belief systems result in a scenario in which the prophesied Antichrist (and his vaunted one-world religion) could rise to world dominance by popular acclaim?
Remember, our “working theory” is that Christ’s Millennial kingdom—the “seventh day” fulfilling Yahweh’s Sabbath Principle—has been scheduled by God to begin on the Feast of Tabernacles, 2033. That means that the Tribulation, Israel’s seventieth seven-year period as outlined in the remarkable Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy, will commence in the fall of 2026. If the world’s population continues to grow at its present pace—a billion souls being added every twelve years or so—we can expect our numbers to reach about nine billion by that time, putting serious stress on the environment, food and water supplies, and scores of other factors we’ve already explored—and one we haven’t: the collective patience of the human race. The faith factor, to my mind, could be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.
The remainder of this appendix will be organized along the lines of the pattern of belief-system demographics I noted above. To recap, four general categories of faith-based observance (even if there is no overt “religious ritual” involved) are rather evenly divided in today’s world—each of them comprising 21-22% of the total world’s population. They are, categorized in broad terms, (1) eastern religious philosophies, (2) godless belief systems, (3) Islam, and (4) “liturgical” Christianity. The only other numerically significant group is (5) Evangelical (Bible-reliant) Christianity, whose population (together with its ally, Judaism) I would estimate at somewhat less than half of the world’s remaining 14%—but still adding up to hundreds of millions of us.
Forgive the overly broad brush, but I would characterize these five “faiths” (in the order listed) as the Religions of (1) Despair, (2) Denial, (3) Death, (4) Compromise, and (5) Hope. When the dust has cleared, they will all be revealed for what they are: some as villains, and some as victims. Only one “faith” will be vindicated and victorious—the one that reveres Yahweh, the true and living God.
The Religion of Despair
Eastern religions (or in most cases, religious philosophies) would probably be horrified to find themselves all lumped together like I’m doing here, because they disagree about so much. They range from pantheistic to polytheistic to monotheistic to atheistic. Those originating in India have historic roots that seem to lie mostly within Hinduism, one of the oldest religions on earth, but like a plethora of Christian denominations, they have one by one spun off into separate and distinct entities in response to one or more issues that their founders found unacceptable in the “parent” faith.
There are also a number of smaller sects roughly categorized as “East Asian religions,” focused on the concept of “Tao,” the flow of the universe—not “God” in the Judeo-Christian sense, but a nebulous “force” behind the natural order, the primordial essence or fundamental nature of the universe. The one thing all these religious philosophies have in common is an unwavering emphasis on human works to attain spiritual “salvation” (itself a vague and ill-defined concept). Variously described as “the way,” “the path,” or “the route,” the Tao is “the understanding or intuitive knowing of ‘life’ or present awareness which cannot be grasped full-heartedly as just a concept but known nonetheless.” (Wikipedia) And no, I don’t have the faintest clue what that means. Something tells me its practitioners don’t either.
In any case, it is not my purpose here to catalog and explain the thinking behind each and every eastern religion. I merely want to explore, in broad strokes, how the major eastern religions approach the issues of sin, death, and salvation, hoping to shed some light on how these beliefs might affect their roles in the coming decades.
Let us begin with the soteriological strategies of the largest and oldest of these faiths, Hinduism, whose history may extend (depending upon whom you consult) almost as far back as the age of Abraham. Hindus are aware of the sin/guilt issue, but human effort and the appeasement of the gods (and there are as many as 330 million of them) are the only tactics they have in order to achieve “spiritual success.” Their idea of progress is rather pathetic: it’s coming back (i.e., being “reincarnated”) in another life as something better, farther up the food chain, so to speak. Success, on the other hand, is defined as not coming back at all.
Evangelical.us boils the Hindu concept of salvation to its essentials for us: “Salvation for a Hindu is called Moksha. Moksha is when an enlightened human being is freed from the cycle of life-and-death (the endless cycle of death and reincarnation) and comes into a state of completeness. He then becomes one with God. There are four ways to Moksha: 1. The Way of Action: This involves carrying out certain religious ceremonies, duties and rites. The objective is to perform works without regard for personal gain. 2. The Way of Knowledge: This requires using your mind and philosophy to come to a complete comprehension of the universe. 3. The Way of Devotion: Salvation is reached through acts of worship, based upon the love for a God (there are thousands of gods in Hinduism). 4. The Royal Road: The use of meditation and yoga techniques. This method of reaching salvation is typically only used by wandering monks. Each of these ways to salvation in Hinduism requires that a person do certain things. Salvation is through what a Hindu does. It is through human works.”
You’ll note that it’s also through human thought: none of their many “gods” actually prescribed these methods; they are merely guesses as to what the gods may find sufficient to appease them. “Becoming one with God” is a virtually meaningless concept—it sounds wonderful, but the concept of “deity” in Hinduism is so diffuse and ill-defined, the process can have no objective reality.
It seems to me that, as with so many other religious systems, what a Hindu does is generally beneficial. Altruism, knowledge, devotion, and meditation are in themselves all good things. It’s why they’re being done that keeps him in bondage: man is trying to elevate himself—if for no other reason than his gods have failed to tell him what they require, leaving him to speculate. It’s ironic in the extreme that the greatest blessing a Hindu can be granted (presumably by his god) is to be released from the endless cycle of birth, death, and reincarnation—in effect, freeing him from the responsibility of worshiping that very god.
In the meantime, who decides whether you’ll “come back” as a cockroach or a wealthy and powerful Brahmin? Perhaps it doesn’t matter, for these transitions (reincarnations from one kind of creature into another) can be neither proven nor disproven—it’s purely a matter of faith, though the faith has no object, no evidence, and no authority to support it. It is merely “what they believe.” (For that matter, Christianity is the only belief system with an historical, objective basis for its faith in an afterlife—the eyewitness-documented resurrection of Yahshua.)
Jacob N. Kinnard (patheos.com) writes, “In the earliest strata of Hinduism, the Vedas, there is very little discussion of the afterlife, and really only a vague notion of salvation. Some texts, such as the Rig Veda, suggest that different people go to different places after they die, but there is little detail regarding the matter. This was simply not the focus of the religion. Rather, the concern was the proper performance of rituals that would keep the gods satisfied, and thus keep the cosmos in order….” Remarkable, isn’t it? The responsibility for “keeping the cosmos in order” falls ultimately on the shoulders of Hindu worshipers, since failure to sufficiently appease the gods with rituals and sacrifices will presumably result either in the gods proactively punishing them, or worse, losing focus and forgetting to do whatever it is such gods are supposed to be doing to keep the universe running smoothly. It’s totally backward (though by no means unique): the gods are dependent on their people.
Later Hindus recognized this fatal flaw, and changed their approach. Kinnard continues: “Some in the Vedic world eventually rejected this sacrificial emphasis and set out to find a new path, a path that would lead to eternal salvation. This path is among the focus of the Upanishads. In these texts, there is much discussion of what happens after death. In a famous passage from the Katha Upanishad, a sage named Nachiketas wins a boon from the god of death, Yama, and asks the god what happens to humans after they die. Yama at first refuses to answer, and then, after Nachiketas persists, tells the sage that if he wishes to know the answer to this question, he must study the nature of the self, and in the process he will be able to leave both joy and sorrow behind.”
In other words, they don’t have a clue. Their scriptures don’t actually say, and they don’t bear divine authority anyway. But because Hindus believe there are 330 million gods, there must be something after death. Otherwise, what’s the point of trying to appease them in life, since they offer no earthly benefit this side of the grave? My heart aches for a people whose idea of “heaven” is “to leave both joy and sorrow behind.” It sounds to me like a recipe for clinical depression—despair on steroids. But since there is so little plausible (or even comprehensible) data to go on, the typical Hindu merely orders his life according to custom and conscience—hoping by so doing to end up positioned better in the next life. If you think about it, it’s the ultimate form of selfishness: the welfare of others is never addressed except as a ploy to elevate one’s own status in some future life.
Buddhism, a sixth-century B.C. spin-off of Hindusim, prescribes a slightly different path. For the basics, we again consult with Evangelical.us. “For a Buddhist, salvation is reaching Nirvana. Nirvana is a transcendental, blissful, spiritual state of nothingness—you become a Buddha.” If you’re lucky. These are exceedingly rare individuals: there have purportedly been only 28 of them, Guatama Buddha (born sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries B.C.) being the most recent. Most of the others are said to be from “previous universes.” (And no, I’m not making this stuff up.)
“To reach Nirvana you must follow the Noble Eightfold Path: 1. Right Understanding: accepting the Four Noble Truths. (The existence of suffering; the cause of suffering; the end of suffering; and the end of pain.) 2. Right Resolve: renounce the pleasures of the body. Change your lifestyle so that you harm no living creatures and have kind thoughts for everyone. 3. Right Speech: do not gossip, lie or slander anyone. 4. Right Action: do not kill, steal or engage in an unlawful sexual act.” The Vinaya (a 4th century BC Buddhist text), states that male monks are explicitly forbidden from having sexual relations with any of the four genders: male, female, ubhatovyanjañaka (hermaphrodites) and paṇḍaka (transvestite prostitutes)! “5. Right Occupation: avoid working at any job that could harm someone. 6. Right Effort: heroically work to eliminate evil from your life. Through your own effort develop good conduct and a clean mind. 7. Right Contemplation: make yourself aware of your deeds, words and thoughts so that you can be free of desire and sorrow. 8. Right Meditation: train your mind to focus on a single object without wavering so as to develop a calm mind capable of concentration. Following the Noble Eightfold Path requires that a person do the above eight things. Salvation [as in Hinduism] is through what a Buddhist does. It is through human works.”
Nirvana is a really depressing goal, if you ask me: escape from life is the best you can hope for. The Eightfold Path is a strange mixture of pessimism, fatalism, following one’s conscience, and becoming obsessively self-centered. Basically, Buddhism is sort of like Hinduism for atheists with OCD. As with Hinduism, there is quite a bit of overlap with the Biblical concept of what is right and wrong, though in Buddhism there is no god to define these terms. One simply follows his conscience, doing what seems right in his own eyes. Despite the pacifistic veneer, the Buddhist concept of self-denial is not founded on love for one’s fellow man. It is simply a pain-avoidance technique. Whereas the Bible advocates that we self-sacrificially invest ourselves in the welfare of others out of a spirit of love, the Buddhist’s self-denial is merely designed to enhance his own “enlightenment.” It’s pure, concentrated self-worship.
Another Hindu spin-off from the Indian subcontinent is Jainism, which is a bit like a very strict variant of Buddhism (though it may be even older). As in Buddhism, no Creator deity is recognized. “Godliness,” rather, is defined as the state of having freed one’s soul from karma through the attainment of enlightenment (Nirvana). A “god” in Jainism is one who has achieved this state: a Tirthankara, of whom there have been quite a few. So “Jainism can be defined as polytheist, monotheist, nontheist, transtheist or atheist, depending on one’s definition of God.”
“Jainism is the religion of the followers of Mahavira. He is said to be the 24th Tirthankara, or the 24th in a line of teachers espousing Jain principles. Jains reject the Vedas and highlight the practice of austerity. Jain faith states that the jiva, or soul, can escape the cycle of rebirth and death through strict ethical behavior. When nothing remains but the purity of the jiva, that person is called a jina, or winner, which is the origin of the term ‘Jain.’ Karma is viewed as an accumulation that burdens the soul, causing attachment and suffering. Ahimsa, or non-violence, is central to Jain faith and practice. It is interpreted very strictly as prohibiting all forms of harm to other living beings. Due to this, Jainism requires a strict vegetarian lifestyle. Ahimsa also applies to speaking, as one’s words can cause harm and suffering.”—Wikipedia.
Once again, Jains recognize the awkward disconnect between the perfect ideal and the human condition, dealing with it through human effort—asceticism, nonviolence, and self-control. And once again, their ideal spiritual goal is permanent death—freedom from the presumed cycle of reincarnation. Their numbers are few—only about six million—partially because their peace-loving religion made them sitting ducks for the inroads of Islam, whose belligerent philosophy is exactly the opposite of Jainism.
Sikhism, being monotheistic, is unique as eastern religions go, though it too is a derivative of Hinduism. Wikipedia describes it thus: “Sikhism…is founded on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev…. His views rejected the traditional worship and caste [system] of the Hindu faith. Freedom from reincarnation [the hold-over from Hinduism that is common to all these religions] is tied to remembrance and repetition on one universal God. God is formless and simultaneously in every form. Sikhs believe that there is one universal God who is the ultimate creator, sustainer, and destroyer…. Rituals, religious ceremonies or empty worship are considered of little use, and Sikhs are discouraged from fasting or going on pilgrimages. The tenets of Sikhism include (1) honest living/earning (2) tithing and giving alms, and (3) chanting on God. Sikhism also has a strong warrior tradition [in contrast to the Jains] which arose in defense of religious freedom and human rights from a tyrannical Moghul [i.e., Islamic] occupation of India.”
Sikhism strikes me (as an outside observer) as the sort of belief system that could be derived from what Paul described: “What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” (Romans 1:19-20) I could be wrong about this, but it seems to me that Sikhism is the purely naturalistic reverence for a God they know nothing about except through observation of the glory of His creation. They see God as having no gender, as being beyond time and space, and without form. Nanak Dev speculated that there could be many worlds upon which God created life. He also opined that God’s nature, though beyond human comprehension, is not altogether unknowable. God must be perceived through “the inward eye” (what we’d call the heart of man), and meditation will permit communication between God and man—something we’d call prayer.
Sikhs (literally, “disciples”) believe: “There is but one God, and truth is its name! It exists in all creation; it does not fear; it does not hate; it is timeless and universal and self-existent, by the grace of knowledge.” A subtle but significant difference between this divine concept and that of the God of the Bible is that Yahweh is not “in creation.” He is beyond, outside, external to and separate from it—in a word, holy. Other than that, the Sikh God and that of Judeo-Christianity sound very similar indeed—hence my unbounded empathy for them. From what I’ve seen, the Sikhs seem to be worshiping Yahweh—not some god of their own imagination—albeit in total ignorance of His written revelation.
But for all its raw honesty and insight, there is an undercurrent of naiveté here. Sewa Singh Kalsi writes that in Sikhism, “All religious traditions are equally valid and capable of enlightening their followers.” Taken to its logical conclusion, this would destroy the very basis of their concept of God, for most religions (especially Islam and Hinduism) worship gods of a completely different nature and description than the one the Sikhs serve—in a word, “Truth.” And what about the afterlife? In the absence of divine revelation, Sikhs have come to the conclusion that being in Satsang (“True Company”—i.e., the company of the highest truth, a guru, or an assembly of truth seekers) is one of the keys to achieving liberation from the cycles of reincarnation. Despite these fundamental errors, however, I can’t help but feel a warm kinship with the Sikhs. They seem to me (for what it’s worth) to be honest seekers after the one true God, and like the Jews, just one small epiphany away from having a real relationship with Yahweh. I pray that Yahweh will open their eyes and bridge that gap during these Last Days.
East Asian religious philosophies (who together number about half a billion adherents, mostly in the Far East) share the concept of Tao—meaning the “way” or “path,” or as a practical description, “doctrine” or “principle.” Tao is described (with typical Eastern religious obfuscation) as “the primordial essence or fundamental nature of the universe…. Tao is not a ‘name’ for a ‘thing’ but the underlying natural order of the universe whose ultimate essence is difficult to circumscribe and is likened to silence. The Tao is ‘eternally nameless’…and to be distinguished from the countless ‘named’ things which are considered to be its manifestations, the reality of life before its descriptions of it…. The object of spiritual practice is to ‘become one with the Tao’ (Tao Te Ching) or to harmonize one’s will with Nature in order to achieve ‘effortless action’ (Wu wei). This involves meditative and moral practices. Important in this respect is the Taoist concept of De (virtue).”—Wikipedia. Well, I’m glad we got that cleared up.
As usual, Tao-centered belief systems are based (whether they realize it or not) on the collective conscience Yahweh built into the human race—the innate knowledge that some things are just “right” and some are “wrong,” without reference to law, authority, or custom. (This is the universal knowledge that secular humanists try so hard to deny through their mantra of moral relativism.) In that it is external to, though responsible for, the fundamental nature of the universe and the things within it, the Tao concept is, in some ways, descriptive of Yahweh Himself (or at least reverence for Him)—a fact pointed out by C.S. Lewis, one of the most insightful Christian thinkers of the twentieth century. The difference, of course, is that Yahweh presents Himself as a personality, not “eternally nameless,” but eternally self-existent—with a name He repeated seven thousand times in the Hebrew Scriptures so we’d never forget it. (Pity our English translations edit it out every single time—sigh.) But if one substitutes Tao with the self-revealed name of God, the goals sound quite familiar to Christians—to become one with Yahweh through His Messiah, to be with Him, of Him, and in Him: Yahweh Te Ching, so to speak.
The Tao, like the god of the Sikhs, seems to be a bit like what you get if you observe nature, deduce through its glory that there must be a Creator God, and build your own religion around your findings—or feelings. Wikipedia reports (without really explaining): “Taoist propriety and ethics places an emphasis on the Three Jewels of the Tao; love, moderation, humility. Taoist theology focuses on doctrines of wu wei (‘non-action’), spontaneity, humanism, relativism, and emptiness…. Most traditional Chinese Taoists are polytheistic. There are disagreements regarding the proper composition of this pantheon. Popular Taoism typically presents the Jade Emperor as the head deity. Intellectual, or ‘elite,’ Taoism usually presents Laozi and the Three Pure Ones at the top of the pantheon. Nature and ancestor spirits are common in popular Taoism. But this sort of shamanism is eschewed for an emphasis on internal alchemy among the ‘elite’ Taoists. Tao itself is rarely an object of worship, being treated more like the Central Asian concept of atman” (the spiritual life principle of the universe, especially when regarded as inherent in the real self of the individual, i.e., a person’s soul).
One popular variant on the Taoist theme is Shinto, an animistic folk religion from Japan, considered a Buddhist sect. Shinto literally means “the way of the gods.” Its reverence for nature and emphasis on self-mastery reveal its Taoist influence. Another permutation is Confucianism, a complex system of moral, social and political thought, based on the prolific writings of Confucius (551-479 BC), a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher, whose ethical system focused on familial duty, loyalty, and being humane—once again, little more than a codification of what Yahweh placed within each one of us in the form of a conscience—the innate sense of right and wrong.
Taoists, then, seem to sense that—based on what they observe in nature and feel in their souls—there must be a God of some sort. They don’t know who He is, what He has done, or what He requires of us, and they disagree as to His fundamental nature. And yet their recognition of His existence encourages them to heed their consciences, preferring love to hatred, moderation to excess, humility to pride, peace to war, and harmony with nature to environmental rapine. Their incomplete knowledge of God, however, leads them into error and inconsistency, and it makes them vulnerable to the aggression of Islam and the encroachment of Atheism.
Whichever one of these myriad forms of Eastern religious philosophy one embraces, the bottom line is the same: though you are assured that an afterlife exists, there is no real hope for you beyond this life. At one level or another, these religions are all founded upon the instinctive realization that some actions and behaviors are intrinsically right and good, while others are wrong and evil—even if you admit to no “god” in your philosophy who is qualified tell you what to do. The problem is, although every honest person acknowledges that he has at some point violated his own conscience, there is no reliable mechanism for the atonement of sin. To paraphrase Paul, “All have sinned: we have all fallen short of what we know is blameless behavior.” So there’s no nirvana for you guys. Better luck next time.
It is inevitable: the closer one adheres to the core tenets of any Eastern religion, the more despair and hopelessness he will experience. The ancestor worship endemic in Taoist thought presents a miserable scenario—there is an afterlife, but no such thing as being forgiven for your sins. And saddled with the error of reincarnation, the Hindu-based religions offer only the most forlorn of hopes—that even if you’re perfect in this life (though everyone knows he is not) the best you can hope for is to die when you die—to escape at last from the cycle of sorrow common to all men (as far as they know).
Mind you, there is nothing good about this sought-after state of release from reincarnation—it’s not “heaven.” There is no joy, no satisfaction, no pleasure, no fellowship with God (or anybody else), no peace, and no life. On the other hand, there is no pain, frustration, sorrow, or despair, either. There is only nothing. If you’ll recall our discussion of the Bible’s portrayal of the afterlife in Chapter 29 (The Three Doors) the Hindu ideal is what the Bible portrays as something unimaginably horrible when compared to Yahweh’s plan of salvation. Let’s face it: nirvana describes destruction, annihilation, and permanent, irrevocable death. The only thing worse (and it’s infinitely worse) is the eternal living hell promised to those who wilfully receive Satan’s corrupt but immortal spirit.
What Last Days role can we expect these varied Eastern religious philosophies to play in the coming decades, as the world as we know it begins to collapse under the weight of its sins? When faced with the demographic pressures of a shrinking planet, how will their doctrines, practices, and core beliefs affect their place in the world? Will they turn out to be villains, victors, or victims? Bear in mind that the “Religion of Despair” is concentrated in one sweeping geographical area—southern and eastern Asia, a swath extending from India and Southeast Asia to China, the Pacific Islands, and Japan. It is a land characterized in the Bible, in the broadest possible terms, as “beyond (i.e., east of) the Euphrates River.” Today, this is some of the most densely populated territory in the world, shared in many places with Islam and Atheism. Their future, I’m afraid, looks bleak.
If you’ll recall our established Tribulation scenario, the Antichrist will arise in the West (that is, from the territories of both the Grecian and Roman empires, which overlapped to some extent, but not east of the Euphrates). His messianic aspirations will underpin his “covenant with many” (Daniel 9:27) between Israel and the Islamic world, the event that by definition will kick off the 70th “week” of the Daniel 9 prophecy—a.k.a., the Tribulation. His defense of that covenant will embroil him in a war against Middle Eastern Islam (the War of Magog—Ezekiel 38-39, Daniel 11, Psalm 83) which will escalate into all-out nuclear war (World War III), as predicted in the first Trumpet Judgment (Revelation 8:6-7). This war will decimate Europe, Russia, and the United States (not to mention the Islamic Middle East), burning one third of the Earth’s land surface and killing—between the war and the resulting disease and famine (Revelation 6:8)—a quarter of its inhabitants. In what will doubtless be mistaken for “post-Apocalyptic” conditions (though the real Battle of Armageddon still lies in the future), the whole world will acclaim the Antichrist as their hope and savior—their Messiah—granting him unlimited authority to rein in the madness and anarchy of the times.
This war probably won’t touch the lands inhabited by the “Religion of Despair,” the home of the Eastern religions we’ve been discussing. But they’re not out of the woods. The Antichrist will become dictator of Earth by popular acclaim about three and a half years after his “covenant with many” is implemented (which is, ironically, the very event that precipitated this most devastating war in the history of mankind). But the next great war will happen on his watch—that is, during the forty-two months of his tenure as world dictator/demigod. It is described as the sixth Trumpet Judgment (Revelation 9:13-21), in which a 200-million-man army from China (if the colors of their flag and a half-century of preparation are any indication) will run rampant over the entire Far East, killing one third of the earth’s remaining population (which works out to the same number of lives lost in the western war—another two billion-plus souls, if the world’s population continues growing at its present rate until then).
Bearing in mind that everyone (more or less) will have pledged his allegiance to the Antichrist (a.k.a. the beast) and his “god” Satan by this time (see Revelation 13:7-8), we need to sort out who are the victims, and who are the perpetrators, in this great Far Eastern genocidal war. Given the general philosophy of pacifism or non-violence endemic in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, it would appear that the 200,000,000 Chinese aggressors are not being driven by their traditional Taoist proclivities, but rather by either (1) the state religion of China since the mid-20th century—atheistic secular humanism, or (2) its kissing cousin, the worship of the “ultimate human,” the Antichrist. The genocidal horror in the Far East will be perpetrated with his knowledge, blessing, and support.
This means that the targets of the genocidal Far Eastern war (something I have referred to as “World War IV”—the sixth Trumpet judgment) will primarily be those who are today adherents of what I’ve labelled the “Religion of Despair”—Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, and their various derivatives. (And I imagine a great number of Far Eastern Muslims will perish with them—Indonesia is the world’s most populous Islamic nation, and even China hosts over 25 million Muslims.) It is not in the nature of Hinduism or Buddhism to instigate such wars, for they operate (as we have seen) primarily on raw conscience: they know there is something wrong with attacking your neighbor without cause or provocation. Atheists know no such thing.
This leaves me to speculate as to why the Antichrist is seen blessing the genocide in the Far East, as he must, if “Authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation,” and if “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Revelation 13:7-8) The obvious answer, of course, is that the Chinese hordes will have made a “deal with the devil,” so to speak, to obtain new territory in which to grow food for their desperate and starving population. After all, just because they were not nuked during the recent World War III (the war in the west), the effects of the oft-predicted “nuclear winter” have not left them untouched: the sunlight has been blocked by one third (see the Fourth Trumpet judgment, Revelation 8:12), crops are taking much longer to grow, and people are starving.
But could there be another factor? Could it be that vast numbers of (now former) Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, and Sikhs will have heard and heeded the angelic admonition (Revelation 14:6-11), deciding to reject both the beast and Babylon in favor of the One True God? Yes, they’ve been blind for millennia to His plan, purpose, and identity. Yes, they’ve missed the rapture, having remained willingly ignorant of Yahweh’s plan of redemption until far too late. And yes, their fate as mortals—according to the unbreakable word of Yahweh’s prophecy—is sealed: they will be slaughtered by the hundreds of millions. But now that the choice has at last been made clear, now that everyone’s cards are on the table, could they not follow their God-given consciences one last time, leave despair in the shadows, and step into the light? There is an infinite difference between being a victim and being a martyr.
Well, I can dream, can’t I?
The Religion of Denial
One way to sidestep (at least in theory) the whole “what happens after you die” question is to posit that there is no God, no Creator to whom we owe our existence, hence no divine moral standard to which we are held accountable in life—something that might impact our status in some presumed afterlife. If there is no God, then we are free to ignore the constraints of conscience, which we take to be a mere anthropological artifact, a cultural phenomenon we imposed upon our own societies as they evolved in order to ensure the survival of the tribe. But now that the “tribe” has apparently outgrown any danger of extinction, the conscience is nothing but a hindrance to the primary driving principle—survival of the fittest individual.
Atheistic secular humanism, then, is a belief system that begins with the premise that the evidence we see of a Divine Intelligence in creation (excuse me—in the cosmos) is an illusion. Their mythos is that it all happened accidentally, by chance, through fortuitous happenstance that resulted in what we see before us today—a universe of vast proportions in which life exists in dizzying variety, despite the astronomical odds against such a thing happening.
I speculated above about how certain Eastern religions (like Sikhism, for example) seem to me to be naturalistic reactions to man’s observation of the glory of God as revealed in nature. I must admit, I judiciously edited Paul’s quote on the subject, remarking only upon that to which these “natural worshipers” may have been responding—the “attributes of God.” But although God can be seen in nature, the apostle’s primary point was that despite the evidence of His nature and presence, some people chose not to receive Him. The results of their disbelief needed to be revealed.
So allow me now to quote the passage at length and in context. After pointing out (just as Yahshua had in John 6:29) that faith is the key to salvation, Paul delivers the bad news: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them….” It’s bad enough to miss the obvious natural clues to the reality of God; it’s infinitely worse to “suppress the truth” so others may not discover it. This is what earns someone the “wrath of God.” What he’s describing is spiritual murder.
The evidence is there. We have only to open our eyes: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened….” He says, quite rightly, that “the things that are made” (i.e., the things Yahweh has created) are sufficient evidence to be assured of the existence of a Creator God. As the Psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse of the sky displays His handiwork.” Modern astronomical discoveries have made this more obviously true than ever before. Call it a coincidence if you must, but our solar system is perfectly positioned within our galaxy to give us a spectacular vista of the starry sky from our planet. You can’t actually see the Milky Way from just anywhere within it, but you can from Earth.
“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man.” This is the heart of secular humanist heresy: that the real object of their worship is they themselves. The humanists have declared humanity to be their god, though humans are corrupt, foolish, inept and venal—and they know it. But Paul also mentioned that it can get even sillier than this: “—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things….” Nature worship goes beyond traditional pantheistic paganism. It is also a subset of modern atheistic secular humanism, as we shall see in a moment—the religion of earth worship: environmentalism. The basic idea is, “There is no god, so it is up to man to protect and preserve nature.” A fine sentiment, to be sure, but one that is arrogant, ignorant, and doomed to failure if pursued without deference to the God who created nature in the first place.
What is to be done with people who purposely substitute Yahweh with themselves in their affections? We still live in the age of grace, of free will and personal choice, so Yahweh cannot (without violating His own purpose) force them to believe, or even behave themselves. All He can really do without breaking character in this age is let them follow the dictates of their hearts: they have declared humanity to be the product of evolution, and man to be nothing but a very smart ape. You think you’re an animal? So be it: “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen….” The “truth of God” is that we humans were, uniquely in creation, made in the image and likeness of God—with the capacity of hosting an immortal Spirit within our souls. We were made, in short, to worship Yahweh, to honor Him, and to enjoy a loving relationship with Him—all things that require (at the very least) belief in His existence. The “lie” that has been exchanged for this truth is that God does not exist, and that man is just an accidental animal, amoral and guiltless, driven by lust, instinct, and self-interest, and accountable to no one.
Is it any wonder, then, that “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Believe it or not, this is not (strictly speaking) a rant against homosexuality. (God did that elsewhere, e.g. Leviticus 18:22; 20:13.) This, rather, is a warning that a desire for homosexuality would be the result of turning one’s back on the truth of God in favor of the lies of man. In other words, if you reject your Creator, though you may still experience carnal pleasure (like any animal), you are inviting the “penalty” for your error—such things as AIDS—to take up residence within you. In the end, you will become unfruitful, barren, and unproductive. And no, I’m not just talking about human reproduction. I’m talking about one’s entire life.
It is no coincidence that secular humanists are the only proponents of homosexuality, gay marriage, and the trans-gender nonsense that has made such inroads into our apostate society today. (People who worship God—any god, even false ones like Allah—tend to find such things detestable.) A rejection of Yahweh leads inevitably to a repudiation of God’s attributes, such things as creativity, fecundity, progress, and permanent relationships. Homosexuality is a spiritual metaphor for incompetence, infertility, stagnation, and egocentricity.
Homosexuality, of course, is only the beginning—only a symbolic harbinger of the humanist’s pitiable condition. Not every secular humanist, in point of fact, longs to use his own sexual apparatus in ways God never intended. So Paul now gets more specific about what sorts of things atheistic secular humanists can expect to find evidenced in their lives: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:18-32)
What? Atheists “know the righteous judgment of God?” Well, not from scripture. The word translated “know” is the Greek epiginosko, which Thayer defines as “to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly; to know accurately; to recognize a thing to be what it really is; to find out, ascertain; or to understand.” In other words, it’s that inconvenient conscience again—that little voice within all of us that tells us, “This is evil—don’t do it,” even if we sincerely believe that there is no one in heaven or on earth who could call us to account for our actions. Oh, they know, alright.
Paul has gone out of his way here to condemn those who not only engage in these sinful behaviors, but encourage them in others. So for example, while looting and burning are bad, incitement to riot is worse; impure sexual thoughts are harmful, but producing pornography is grounds for God’s wrath; getting high on drugs is self-destructive, but making, smuggling, or dealing them is a whole different category of evil; ignoring God’s word and will is a tragedy, but suppressing it so that other people might not become familiar with it is tantamount to mass murder…. You get the idea. Yahshua told His disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1-2)
Secular humanists make a contact sport out of “offending the little ones.” The question is why. Why should they care what other people think or say? Why do they want to sue you if you pray in public? Why would they rather you said “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas”? (I’m not saying Christ was born in December you understand, but because atheists attack Christmas, I’m inclined to defend it.) Why do they boycott and picket a restaurant chain merely because its founder says traditional marriage between a man and a woman is a good thing? Why do they invariably (and irrationally) support Muslim causes (even those linked to terrorism), but condemn Israel? The answer may be that they’re terrified that God actually does exist, and that if people are free to honor Him, they will become irrelevant laughing stocks, the object of scorn or pity in the world. It’s revealing, however, that they seldom attack religions like Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism, only Christians and Jews. And among Christians, the ones singled out for scorn are the Evangelical, fundamentalist types, while they usually give the Vatican some degree of respect. You can virtually identify who God is by observing who the atheists hate (or fear) the most.
One of the atheists’ most effective tactics in America for the past few years has been to sue cash-strapped organizations and municipalities to force them to de-Christianize their public personae, in the name of “separation of church and state.” Acquiescence is presumed to be more practical than being forced to fight costly and protracted legal battles in the courts: their targets could easily win the battle only to lose the war to bankruptcy. Never mind that “separation of church and state” is not a legal principle per se: the only Constitutional requirement is that government doesn’t interfere with the establishment of religion (which is, if you think about it, precisely the opposite of the atheists’ premise). But to fight Satan in court these days, one must have deep pockets.
One of the more active atheist aggressors these days is named, ironically enough, the Freedom From Religion Foundation. That’s ironic because atheism itself is actually a religion (unlike true Christianity, which is merely a relationship between a believer and his Savior). Atheists hold to a belief system based on a shared world view, a philosophical mindset founded not on established facts, but simply on what its adherents wish to be true. Like most religions, atheistic secular humanism actively proselytizes, seeking converts among the captive audiences in institutions of public and higher education—where it goes virtually unchallenged these days. Indeed, in America, secular humanism has become the very thing we originally set out to avoid: the state-sanctioned religion. It even has its own “scriptures,” so to speak, which sound swell until you scratch one micron beneath the surface. They include this summary statement of beliefs from the Humanist Manifesto:
“Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.”
It doesn’t help to “observe” the world if you aren’t prepared to accept what you see. Humanists speak as if to be a Christian, one has to check his brain at the door. But the data of science and the truth of scripture are in perfect agreement. (Note that I didn’t say the conclusions of scientists and the traditions of religion: those things couldn’t be further apart.) If scientists were infallible or wise, we wouldn’t be faced with half the doomsday scenarios I’ve written about in these past few hundred pages—GMO poison masquerading as food, world-ending weapons, unstoppable diseases, artificial intelligence, transhumanism, etc. The fact is, without divine guidance, man has very limited perception of what he needs or what he should be doing to meet those needs.
“Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.”
Every shred of scientific evidence ever collected refutes the idea of progress through “unguided evolutionary change.” And as far as we have ever witnessed, life comes only from life. It does not—and indeed, cannot—arise spontaneously from non-life. Nor do life-forms become something else, something more complex or advanced, simply by accident. When a living genome changes, it is always in the direction of greater specialization. In other words, genetic data and organization is lost over time, not gained (just as predicted by the Second Law of Thermodynamics). What we see in nature is not evolution; it is devolution.
Moreover, the conditions for life on this planet are balanced on a razor’s edge—an impossibly complex and unlikely set of circumstances, weighed against an impossibly short time frame, make the humanist position on the origin and spread of life on Earth mathematically indefensible. Humanists do not “accept our life as all and enough.” Their scientists are forever trying to fix what’s broken—while botching the job at every turn. Oh, and by the way, the only thing that’s “self-existing” is Yahweh—whose self-revealed name, not coincidentally, means “I Am,” in other words, “Self-Existing.”
“Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.”
If this weren’t so sad (and misleading), it would be hilarious. The entire humanist endeavor depends on situational ethics—moral relativism (as opposed to moral absolutism in which there is an unconditional, unchanging standard of right and wrong). Humanists try to circumvent the whole “morality” issue by theorizing that there is no God, hence no such thing as sin—no absolute standard of right and wrong. (Individual humanists tend to hold this philosophy until they get mugged and left for dead, after which time their absolute faith in moral relativism tends to waver a bit.)
With less than altruistic motives, the humanist viewpoint endeavors to make everyone equal at the finish line—instead of at the starting blocks. It results in an economic system called socialism, in which self-appointed elites steal from the productive in order to level the playing field, never noticing that the system never actually works in practice. It may seem kind and merciful at first, and it does tend to endear politicians to the voting public for a little while. But in the end, it merely sucks the vitality and motivation out of a society, leaving the parasitic majority feasting on a dead host, slaves to their own greed and sloth.
For all their protestations of interest in human welfare and dignity, we must never forget that twentieth century secular humanists were responsible for more lives lost than in all the religious wars in history. Dr. R. J. Rummel (who coined the term democide—death by government) calculates that Communism (founded on atheistic secular humanist principles) was responsible for the deaths of approximately 110,286,000 individuals (his mid-level estimate) between 1917 and 1987. Another notable secular humanist episode was the French Revolution, in which Robespierre’s Reign of Terror took the lives of 297,000 middle- or lower-class French citizens (along with about 3,000 royals). And not to beat a dead horse, but consider the ghastly death toll of abortion—forty-five million souls lost to secular humanist principles every year for at least the past half century. That’s over two billion lives. And need I remind you of the humanist dream (or is that “plan”?) of killing 90% of the world’s present population with Ebola or starvation in order to “save the planet” from humanity? So much for “treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity.” Secular humanism is a death machine the likes of which the world has never before experienced.
“Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.”
Since the entire humanist experience mocks that incomprehensible paragraph, allow me to translate it into English: “We are scared spitless that we might be wrong about the whole God-death-afterlife thing, so we do what we can to beat our consciences into submission by immersing ourselves in politically correct feel-good causes. Since our real agenda—survival of the fittest—violates conscience at every turn, we busy our days with activities designed to minimize the guilt we feel about our hatreds, jealousies, and ambitions. But we never give a sucker an even break, and we never ever let a crisis go to waste.”
“Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.”
Spouting Christian virtues as your ideal, while simultaneously denying them with every move you make, doesn’t fool anybody. Humanists love to ride the coattails of such luminaries as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., but these men were Christians, whose quests for peace, unity, and liberty were Christian ideals, derived naturally from deep reverence for the Almighty. (Both of them were assassinated by humanists, by the way). Humanists love free speech, opportunity, and “individuality with interdependence” for themselves, while constantly working to deny such things to others. Societies (like Stalinist Russia or Maoist China) that have been run according to real humanist ideals invariably prove the claims of the Humanist Manifesto to be bald-faced lies that mock the pain of their victims. But humanists are ideologues, to whom historical facts are not nearly as compelling as social theories and wishful thinking.
“Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature's resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.”
Again, history begs to differ. “Progressive cultures” have never freed anyone, reduced suffering, or improved anything in the long run. “Minimizing inequities” is doublespeak for stealing from the productive and bribing the poor with trinkets designed to keep them subservient and dependent. A “just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort” simply means that what the wealthy have must be taken from them and given to those of lesser means.
It is presumed that wealth is evidence of wrongdoing, something “social justice” seeks to correct. It never occurs to the humanist that affluence can also result from hard work, insight, taking risks calculated to reap rewards, and even (gasp!) blessing from God. Nor do they factor in that poverty can often be the result of sin, self-indulgence (e.g. substance abuse), or sloth. I’m not saying that all wealth is well-deserved, nor that poverty is always the poor’s fault; I’m merely noting that it is not the humanists’ job to play Robin Hood. The God in whom they don’t believe will call everyone to account in His own good time.
“Humanists are concerned for the well-being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.”
Translation: We might defend your position, but only if you agree with us. We love “diversity,” because it keeps people divided and suspicious of each other. “Human rights” and “civil liberties” are great ways to justify rampant and open sin against God and man. An “open secular society” has no room for reminders of God’s existence or plan. The “democratic process” is essential for facilitating the godless majority’s perceived need to trample the rights of the godly minority. And nature worship is the perfect “cover” for our loathing of the Creator.
“Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.”—The Humanist Manifesto III
Again, only utter ignorance of the lessons of history could lead a humanist to actually believe that “humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals.” Humanism has only ever resulted in misery, poverty, hatred, war, and/or death for the vast majority—while enriching a handful of elite rulers at the top who through stealth or treachery have managed to “survive” where others less fit have fallen.
But they did get one thing right. Man is responsible for the state of the world in which he lives: it is his choices, his policies, and his attitudes that determine whether mankind and nature will thrive or wither—not because there is no God, but because Yahweh put us in charge of Planet Earth. We are its stewards, answerable to God for the condition of the world He has left in our trust. Something tells me the human race is about to get fired.
Atheists have a problem. If (as they insist) there is no God—no external intelligence responsible for having created the universe, including us—and if we are here on Earth with a myriad of other life forms (which we obviously are), then we must have arisen purely by accident, by chance, by the serendipitous confluence of thousands of unlikely factors to arrive at what we see today. For all their claims of scientific consensus, the odds against such a thing are beyond astronomical, something so irrational no one would believe it if they didn’t have a psychological (or financial) motive for doing so. But we’re not dealing with rational thought here, we’re dealing with a belief system: the Religion of Evolution—denial of the Creator’s role in our existence.
So with admirable adroitness, evolutionist atheists attempt to pull off a bit of sleight of hand, a little misdirection, something essential to any good magic trick. While any normal person would be trying to figure out what the basis for their irrational belief in the concept of life arising from non-life might be, they tell us, “No, no. Those issues are ‘settled science.’ Everybody knows there is no Creator-God, no ‘first cause.’ And since life arose spontaneously here, it must have done so elsewhere as well. It must be easier than it looks—perhaps even inevitable—for life to pop into being and begin evolving into ever more complex forms on any planet with liquid water on it. And we don’t care how much of your money we have to spend trying to prove our theory.”
This agenda was promulgated decades ago by such pop-cultural scientific icons as Carl Sagan, and it has been taught as gospel truth in the media and the state-run schools ever since. So the following report by Benjamin Fearnow, published by CBS Connecticut (July 15, 2014) is far from unique—except for one thing: their projected date of ultimate vindication. The article is entitled: “NASA: Humans Will Prove ‘We Are Not Alone in the Universe’ within 20 Years.” That puts their “put-up-or-shut-up” moment within the same time frame as dozens of doomsday factors we have already examined—the fourth decade of the twenty-first century. It’s as if they’ve declared, “We will soon prove there is no God,” while God has said, “Well, give it a try if you feel you must, but work fast—I’m on a schedule here.”
For the atheists, it’s a numbers game. “NASA predicts that 100 million worlds in our own Milky Way galaxy may host alien life, and space program scientists estimate that humans will be able to find life within two decades. Speaking at NASA’s Washington headquarters, the space agency outlined a plan to search for alien life using current telescope technology, and announced the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017. The NASA administrators and scientists estimate that humans will be able to locate alien life within the next 20 years.” It may be helpful to remember that “we” have been using radio telescopes trying to find evidence of intelligent alien life since 1960, with the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) program, on which we have been spending $2.5 million per year for the past half century—with no results whatsoever. But hope springs eternal within the atheist breast: they’re thinking, “If we find something out there, it will prove that nothing created it.” Sigh.
“‘Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over—the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe,’ said Matt Mountain, director and Webb telescope scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018. ‘What we didn’t know five years ago is that perhaps 10 to 20 per cent of stars around us have Earth-size planets in the habitable zone,’ added Mountain. ‘It’s within our grasp to pull off a discovery that will change the world forever.’” It is so ironic: they desperately hope not “to be alone in the universe,” yet they would be horrified if they somehow stumbled across evidence of the existence of the Living God out there.
“Describing their own estimates as ‘conservative,’ the NASA planet hunters calculate that 100 million worlds within the Milky Way galaxy are able to sustain complex alien life forms. The estimate accounts for the 17 billion Earth-sized worlds that scientists believe to be orbiting the galaxy’s 100 billion stars. The NASA panel says that ground-based and space-based technology—including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Kepler Space Telescope, and the Spitzer Space Telescope—will be able to determine the presence of liquid water, an essential sign of potential alien life.” Really? Water (H2O) is the second most prevalent molecule in the universe (after carbon monoxide), so it would be a miracle if they found a planet in the habitable zone (the right distance from its star to allow for liquid water on the surface) that didn’t have any (at least at one time). But it is a long, long jump from finding water to discovering non-created life.
“‘I think in the next 20 years we will find out we are not alone in the universe,’ said NASA astronomer Kevin Hand, who suggested that alien life may exist on Jupiter’s Europa moon. ‘Do we believe there is life beyond Earth?’ asked former astronaut and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. ‘I would venture to say that most of my colleagues here today say it is improbable that in the limitless vastness of the universe we humans stand alone.’” Well, that settles it, I guess: “We all believe it, so it must be true.” Never mind the fact that your funding—your very livelihood—depends on you holding that opinion.
“The NASA panel said efforts are focused on finding signs of alien life on planets on other stars outside of our solar system. ‘Sometime in the near future, people will be able to point to a star and say, “that star has a planet like Earth,”’ said Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. ‘Astronomers think it is very likely that every single star in our Milky Way galaxy has at least one planet.’” Did you catch the string of unwarranted leaps of logic there? (1) Life must have arisen spontaneously from non-life on Earth. (2) This happened on Earth only because it has liquid water. (3) There are lots of stars in our galaxy. (4) All of these stars must have planets circling them. (5) Many of these planets must be just like Earth. (6) So life must have arisen on every Earth-like planet in the galaxy. The naiveté is enough to make your head swim.
The “reasoning” is completely circular. The assumption that life on Earth happened spontaneously, completely by chance, is posited as proof that life must arise the same way anywhere in which the conditions are similar. Because the idea of an “Intelligent Designer” behind it all suggests the existence of Something or Someone qualified to define good and evil, it is rejected out of hand. Such a thing, they say, “reeks of religion,” and is therefore “unscientific.” Truth (or even fact) never enters into the equation. The atheist’s point of view is driven entirely by what they wish to be true—it’s a belief system, a religion without a god.
It would appear that the scientists hoping to “disprove” the existence of God by the fourth decade of the twenty-first century by discovering life on other planets may have underestimated several factors that conspire to make Earth absolutely unique in its ability to host life. It takes a whole lot more than an Earth-sized planet orbiting in the “habitable zone” of its star. Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee (both evolutionists, by the way) in their book Rare Earth, have cataloged a number of other factors found on Earth that seem to be essential for the existence of animal life to exist on a planet—though they are all extremely unlikely by their very nature.
They point out that (1) the planet’s star has to be big enough to have enough nuclear fuel to “burn long enough to let evolution work its wonders.” Most (over 95%) are too small and dim, meaning candidate planets would have to orbit closely, often causing “tidal lock,” in which (as with our moon orbiting the earth) one side always faces the star (or the revolutions are extremely slow, as with Mercury and Venus). (2) A large moon (like ours) seems to be a requirement, causing tidal fluctuations and providing orbital stability. The chances of such a large moon forming (and happening early enough in the planet’s development) are vanishingly small. (3) The planet’s orbit must be approximately circular, not elliptical, as is often the case. (4) There must be a gas giant (like our Saturn and Jupiter) in the solar system to sweep up planet-killing asteroids, but not orbiting too close to the candidate planet or its star, a condition that would create a magnetic hell. (5) The star must be unusually metal-rich, as is our sun.
And what about the planet itself? (6) There must be a spinning metal core, which would create (as it does on Earth) a magnetic field about the planet, deflecting the solar wind. (7) The planet must feature plate tectonics, necessary in replenishing the nutrition that primitive life forms live on, helping to generate a magnetic field by convection of Earth’s partially molten core, and recycling atmospheric CO2. (8) There must be neither too much water nor not enough. If Earth’s proportions of land to sea were reversed, life would be impossible. (9) The primeval seas must have abundant shallows in order for carbonates (limestone) to form, allowing CO2 drawdown. Without this, a runaway greenhouse effect would eventually raise the global temperature above the 40°C mark—the upper limit for sustained animal life. (If the temperature rose above 100°C, of course, the oceans would boil off, forming a vapor canopy around the planet.) (10) The seas must have precisely the right degree of salinity and acid/alkaline balance (pH). Fresh water is not suitable, nor is an acidic aqueous environment.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Even if you are an evolutionist who rejects the idea of a Creator God on philosophical grounds, you must still admit that there is more to life than just finding a little liquid water on a planet’s surface. Your planet must be Goldilocks on steroids—a hundred extremely unlikely things need to be just right, or your theory isn’t plausible, much less likely. It seems to me that evolution is a religion for people with bad math skills. Finding life on one of the hundred million presumed planets in our galaxy would be like winning the lottery twenty times in a row—and it still wouldn’t disprove God. As for me, I’ll take His word for it: “Thus says Yahweh, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: I am Yahweh, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:18)
Is life without an Intelligent Designer even possible? Dr. Jay L. Wile reports on a fascinating exercise that was run by some researchers at Stanford. He writes, “The simplest genome belongs to a bacterium known as Carsonella ruddii. It has 159,662 base pairs in its genome, which is thought to contain 182 genes. However, it is not considered a real living organism, as it cannot perform all the functions of life without the help of cells found in jumping plant lice. The bacterium known as Pelagibacter ubique has the smallest genome of any truly free-living organism. It weighs in at 1,308,759 base pairs and 1,354 genes. However, there is something in between these two bacteria that might qualify as a real living organism. It is the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium. Its genome has 582,970 base pairs and 525 genes. While it is a parasite, it performs all the standard functions of life on its own. It just uses other organisms (people as well as animals of the order Primates) for food and housing. Thus, while it cannot exist without other organisms, it might be the best indicator of how ‘simple’ life can get.”
He describes how a group of scientists produced a computer simulation of this ultra-simple bacterium’s functions. “Their work, which seems truly marvelous, gives us deep insight into how complex the ‘simplest’ living organism really is….” It modeled all the inputs and outputs of the bacterium’s 525 genes throughout a single cell cycle. In other words, it simulated how the genome produces proteins, how those proteins interact with other proteins, and how the entire system is regulated. It followed these processes through all the events leading up to and including the cell reproducing itself…. They looked at over 900 different scientific papers that had been produced on the inner workings of Mycoplasma genitalium, and they identified 1,900 specific parameters that seem to govern how the cell operates. There were several discrepancies that were found among the papers involved, and as a result, a lot of reconciliation had to be done. The details of this reconciliation and other matters are found in a 120-page supplement to the 12-page scientific paper.
“Once the reconciliation of these studies was accomplished, the essential workings of the cell were split into 28 separate modules that each governed specific functions of the cell. For example, one module dealt with metabolism, while another dealt with the activation of proteins once they were produced. Once each module was built and tested individually, the modules were then joined by looking at what they produced every second. If the products of one module were the kinds of chemicals used by a second module, those products were then treated as inputs to the second module for the next second of computation. The computation proceeded like this (checking the inputs and outputs of each module) for about 10 hours, which is roughly the time it takes a real Mycoplasma genitalium to reproduce….”
The goal of the study was to “accelerate biological discovery and bioengineering by facilitating experimental design and interpretation…using whole-cell models to enable computer-aided rational design of novel microorganisms.” Basically, the idea was to learn how to “play god” with the goal of engineering new life forms. (Sure. What could possibly go wrong?) What the team inadvertently accomplished, however, was to provide proof that even the simplest living microorganism is far too complex to have arisen by chance. There has to be an external intelligence behind it.
Dr. Wile concludes, “We need to pull back for a moment and think about the direct implications of this computer simulation. It simulated, in very basic terms, the molecular interactions that occur in a cell that might be a good analog for the simplest possible life form. It skipped over a lot of details, of course, so it is not a complete simulation by any means. Nevertheless, it is a great first step towards understanding how a living system really works.
“Now let’s look at this in very practical terms. In order to be able to match the speed at which the organism operates, this less-than-complete simulation required a cluster of 128 computers to get the job done. Think about that for a moment. In order to simulate most (but not all) of the processes that take place in an analog for what might be the simplest possible living organism, the authors needed the power of 128 computers running together! That should tell us something very clearly: there is no such thing as a ‘simple’ living organism. The more we understand life, the more clear it becomes that even the ‘simplest’ version of it has to be the result of design.”
So all we’ve really established is that if they do find evidence of life in other solar systems by the fourth decade of the twenty-first century, then an Intelligent Creator placed it there, just as He did here.
An honest atheist reading this (yeah, picture that) might be tempted to say, “Okay, so the math doesn’t add up. But you Christians believe some pretty unbelievable stuff too. Your Bible says the universe was created in six days—about six thousand years ago—and we have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that it actually goes back about 13.7 billion years, to the ‘big bang,’ the singularity from which everything that exists emerged. You people are idiots.”
While there are some inaccuracies in that statement, our hypothetical atheist spokesman has a point. Due to the way Yahweh delivered the creation account (introducing the six-plus-one pattern that would subsequently be found throughout scripture), we Christians have got (in the immortal words of Ricky Ricardo) “some ’splainin’ to do.” But the real “idiots” here are the Muslims, whose scriptures state: “When Allah wanted to create the creation, He brought forth smoke from the water. The smoke hovered loftily over it. He called it ‘heaven.’ Then He dried out the water and made it earth. He split it and made it seven earths on Sunday. He created the earth upon a big fish, that being the fish mentioned in the Qur’an. By the Pen, the fish was in the water. The water was upon the back of a small rock. The rock was on the back of an angel. The angel was on a big rock. The big rock was in the wind. The fish became agitated. As a result, the earth quaked, so Allah anchored the mountains and made it stable. This is why the Qur’an says, ‘Allah made for the earth firmly anchored mountains, lest it shake you up.’”—Tabari, Book I:219. I think we can safely dismiss Islam as a source of scientific rationality.
But I’ll admit, at first glance, the Bible’s creation account doesn’t look terribly “scientific” either. That, of course, is because it was written the way it was to teach living spiritual truth, not inert scientific fact. But that doesn’t let it off the hook: if our God is truth, the creation account should still hold up under scrutiny, compared against the data we have observed from nature, despite its poetic language. And it does.
“Day one” looks like this: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2) The first sentence describes, in the most cryptic of terms, the creation of time, space, and matter—in an event scientists now describe as the “big bang,” something God is said to have accomplished purposely (i.e., not by accident or chance). Then the state of the infant universe is described—dark and unformed.
Light did not appear until enough primordial hydrogen and helium were pulled together by gravity to coalesce into the “clumps” of nuclear fusion we see today—stars. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day [literally, day one].” (Genesis 1:3-5) The eventual collapse of those first-generation stars would produce the heavier elements that comprise the rest of the universe. It’s worth noting (again) that water, made of hydrogen and oxygen, is one of the most prevalent molecules in the universe—and because of its role in our mortal existence, of special interest to the Spirit of God as far back as “day one.”
The account goes on to describe a creation process that took place over “six days.” The order of events is basically the way our scientific observations picture things—with a few wrinkles thrown in to make spiritual points that wouldn’t be fully understood for millennia after Moses recorded what God described to him. We see God separating atmospheric water vapor from liquid surface water as the newly formed planet cooled, and then making dry land appear. (Ward and Brownlee, in the work Rare Earth cited above, report that “Don Lowe of Stanford University has estimated that before 3 billion years ago, less than 5% of the surface was land.” It is now 29%.) Then plant life appeared, after which the sun and moon became visible in the sky (though light had showed up on day one)—indicating a clearing of the atmosphere through the addition of oxygen and the drawdown of CO2 through photosynthesis. Scripture states that life began in the seas. “Birds” are mentioned early on, but the Hebrew word (uwph) simply means “flying creatures.” It’s pretty clear that insects, not birds, are in view. Land animals were introduced next, and finally man.
The fossil record supports all of this. And it is pretty much as any standard evolutionary textbook would lay it out (with the exception, of course, of who was responsible for it all—an Intelligent, motivated God, not blind chance). As I said, the data of science is completely compatible with the revelation of Yahweh’s scriptures.
The “six days” thing, though, is still something of a problem for Christians. It is obvious (at least to me) that the reason Yahweh described it this way was to introduce the Sabbath principle, one of the most fundamental and ubiquitous prophetic themes in all of scripture. The idea is that fallen man would have six thousand-year “days” to “work out his salvation with fear and trembling,” as Paul put it, or to “do the work of God by believing in the One whom He sent,” as Yahshua described it. It’s all the same thing: mankind must choose whether or not to trust Yahweh for the remedy to our sin—and we have to do it before the “Sabbath,” the deadline that was revealed by God here at the very beginning—even before man sinned. On the Sabbath, the physical presence of God walking in glory among us will render faith redundant: we will then walk by sight.
And in case you haven’t noticed, the whole point of this series of appendices is to demonstrate that this Sabbath deadline is quickly approaching (the Feast of Tabernacles, October 8, 2033, if my theory is correct). We must prepare for it now or suffer the unthinkable consequences.
There are any number of “young-earth creationists,” whose take on Genesis 1, along with a tenuous chronological link of the “creation week” to the presence of man upon the earth, convinces them that the universe is literally only six thousand years (or so) old. This position, not surprisingly, makes Christianity in general the laughing stock of the scientific community—and through them the rest of the world. Mind you, I have no problem with being ridiculed by godless atheists: they know not what they do. And I applaud the young-earth creationists’ stand for what they see as unvarnished Biblical truth. But as one who is in the habit of looking for what Yahweh meant for us to know (as opposed to merely what He said in plain Hebrew), I have serious doubts that God really intended to teach us only that the universe He created is only a few thousand years old. Scientific matters are mentioned in scripture only to reveal the glory or plan of God. The mundane facts of physics or astronomy are never the point. For this reason, there is invariably a heavy-handed symbolic component to their presentation, even though the “facts” too invariably hold up under scrutiny.
What do I believe? That we will have precisely six thousand years between the fall of Adam into sin (the reason for Yahweh’s plan of redemption) and the ascension of King Yahshua to the throne of planet Earth (the culmination of that plan). It has nothing at all to do with the age of the universe (which, let’s face it, was described by Yahweh as being “very good” until Adam screwed it up). The actual date of creation is beside the point for God’s redemptive purposes.
That being said, I have always had a problem with the “six literal 24-hour days of creation” theory. There is no scriptural indication that our solar system even existed before the third day of creation. How can you define a “day” without recourse to a planet rotating on its axis in the presence of a nearby star? I also find the physical evidence of an older universe quite compelling—especially red-shift analysis and cosmic microwave background radiation. “The CMB is ‘noise’ leftover from the creation of the Universe. The microwave radiation is only 3 degrees above Absolute Zero, or -270 degrees C, and is uniformly perceptible from all directions. Its presence demonstrates that that our universe began in an extremely hot and violent explosion, called the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.”—American Physical Society.
For these reasons (and others) I would describe myself as an “old-earth creationist.” In other words, I believe that Yahweh took eons of time to bring about His “six days.” But is our God really that sloppy? Is He in the habit of “telling lies” in order to communicate a larger truth? No, He isn’t. How can one reconcile six literal days with 13.7 billion years? Can it even be done? Actually, it can, though nobody in the scientific community had a clue what was going on until Albert Einstein figured it out for us. It all has to do with Relativity.
I’m not qualified to explain this, of course. But Gerald Schroeder is. Steeped in both science and scripture, Dr. Schroeder received his PhD in nuclear physics and earth and planetary sciences in 1965 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, after which he spent five years on the staff of the MIT physics department. (In other words, he’s no lightweight.) He was also a member of the United States Atomic Energy Commission before he emigrated to Israel in 1971, after which he worked as a researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Volcani Research Institute, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He currently teaches at Aish HaTorah College of Jewish Studies. This lengthy but revealing quote is from his personal website, GeraldSchroeder.com. Hold onto your hat.
The Flexible flow of time and the stretching of space.
“Einstein taught the world that time is relative—that in regions of high velocity or high gravity time actually passes more slowly relative to regions of lower gravity or lower velocity (one system relative to another, hence the name, the laws of relativity). This is now proven fact. Time actually stretches out. Wherever you are, time is normal for you because your biology is part of that local system.
“That is Einstein—gravity and velocity. But there is a third aspect of the universe that changes the perception of time, beyond gravity and velocity. That is the stretching of space. The universe started as a minuscule speck, perhaps not larger that a grain of mustard, and stretched out from there. The effect of the stretching of space produces the effect that when observing an event that took place far from our galaxy, as the light from that event travels through space and the sequence of events travels through space, the information is actually stretched out. (In The Science of God, I give the logic in detail in simple easy to understand terms.)” I’ll refer to this most fascinating of books a bit later.
The Creation of Time
“Each day of creation is numbered. Yet Nahmanides [a famed thirteenth-century Jewish scholar, Catalan Sephardic rabbi, philosopher, physician, and Biblical commentator] points out that there is discontinuity in the way the days are numbered. The verse says: ‘There is evening and morning, Day One.’ But the second day doesn’t say ‘evening and morning, Day Two.’ Rather, it says ‘evening and morning, a second day.’ And the Torah continues with this pattern: ‘Evening and morning, a third day... a fourth day... a fifth day... the sixth day.’ Only on the first day does the text use a different form: not ‘first day,’ but ‘Day One’ (‘Yom Echad’). Many English translations make the mistake of writing ‘a first day,’ because editors want things to be nice and consistent. But [in doing so] they throw out the cosmic message in the text!
“That message, as Nahmanides points out, is that there is a qualitative difference between ‘one’ and ‘first.’ ‘One’ is absolute; ‘first’ is comparative. The Torah could not write ‘a first day’ on the first day because there had not yet been a second day relative to it. Had the perspective of the Bible for the first six days been from Sinai looking back, the Torah would have written ‘a first day.’ By the time the Torah was given on Sinai there had been hundreds of thousands of ‘second days.’ The perspective of the Bible for the six days of Genesis is thus from the only time in the history of time when there had not been a second day. And that is the first day. From the creation of the universe to the creation of the soul of Adam, the Torah views time from near the beginning looking forward.” When he writes “near the beginning,” he means very near—about 1/100,000 of a second after the process began, as we shall soon see. “At the creation of Adam and Eve, the soul of humanity, the Bible perspective switches to earth-based time. And therefore, the biblical description of time changed.” Confused yet?
How We Perceive Time
“We look at the universe, and say, ‘How old is the universe? Looking back in time, the universe is approximately 15 billion years old.’ That’s our view of time. But what is the Bible’s view of time looking from the beginning? How does it see time?
“Nahmanides taught that although the days [of the creation record] are 24 hours each, they contain ‘kol yemot ha-olam’—all the ages and all the secrets of the world. Nahmanides says that before the universe, there was nothing...but then suddenly the entire creation appeared as a minuscule speck. He gives a description for the speck: something very tiny, smaller than a grain of mustard…. In that speck was all the raw material that would be used for making everything else. Nahmanides describes the substance as ‘dak me’od, ein bo mamash’—very thin, no substance to it. And as this speck expanded out, this substance, so thin that it has no material substance, turned into matter as we know it.” This is precisely the way modern scientists describe the creation of our universe.
“Nahmanides further writes: ‘Misheyesh, yitfos bo zman’—from the moment that matter formed from this substance-less substance, time grabs hold. Time is created at the beginning. But time ‘grabs hold’ when matter condenses from the substance-less substance of the big bang creation. When matter condenses, congeals, coalesces, out of this substance so thin it has no material substance, that’s when the biblical clock starts.” Schroeder is saying something quite remarkable here—that Nahmanides, a thirteenth century rabbi, was able to perceive the ramifications of the big bang from Scripture—even without the benefit of Einstein’s insight.
“Science has shown that there’s only one ‘substanceless substance’ that can change into matter. And that’s energy. Einstein’s famous equation, E=MC2, tells us that energy can change form and take on the form of matter. And once it changes into matter, time grabs hold…. We know that energy—light beams, radio waves, gamma rays, x-rays—all travel at the speed of light, 300 million meters per second. At the speed of light, time does not pass. The universe was aging, time was passing, but time only ‘grabs hold’ when matter is present. This moment of time before the clock of the Bible begins lasted less than 1/100,000 of a second. A miniscule time, but in that time, the universe expanded from a tiny speck to about the size of our Solar System. From that moment on we have matter, and biblical time flows forward. The Biblical clock begins here.
Day One and Not a First Day: Seeing Time from the Beginning
“Now the fact that the Bible tells us there is ‘evening and morning, Day One,’ comes to teach us time from a Biblical perspective, from near the beginning looking forward…. We look back in time and say, ‘the universe is 15 billion years old.’ But as every scientist knows, there’s another half of the sentence that we rarely bother to say: the universe is 15 billion years old as seen from the time-space coordinates of the earth.
“The key is that the Torah looks forward in time, from very different time-space coordinates [i.e., from the Creator’s point of view], when the universe was small. Since then, the universe has expanded. Space stretches, and that stretching of space totally changes the perception of time. Imagine in your mind going back billions of years to the beginning of time. Now pretend way back at the beginning of time, when time grabs hold, there’s an intelligent community. (It’s totally fictitious, of course.) Imagine that the intelligent community has a laser, and it’s going to shoot out a blast of light every second. Every second—Pulse. Pulse. Pulse. And imagine that on each pulse of light the following information is printed: ‘I’m sending you a pulse every second.’ Billions of years later, far down the time line, we here on Earth have a big satellite dish antenna and we receive that pulse of light. And on that pulse of light we read ‘I’m sending you a pulse every second.’
“Light travels 300 million meters per second. So at the beginning, the two light pulses are separated by a second of travel or 300 million meters. Now they travel through space for billions of years until they reach the Earth. But wait a minute. Is the universe static? No. The universe is expanding…. Space is stretching. What’s happening to these pulses? The space between them is also stretching. So the pulses get further and further apart. Billions of years later, when the first pulse arrives, we read on it ‘I’m sending you a pulse every second.’ A message from outer space. You call all your friends, and you wait for the next pulse to arrive. Does it arrive second later? No! A year later? Maybe not. Perhaps it won’t arrive until billions of years later, because the amount of time this pulse of light has traveled through space will determine the amount of space stretching that has occurred—how much space (and therefore how much time) there will be between the arrival of the pulses [though they were only one second apart when they were sent out]. That’s standard cosmology.
15 Billion Years or Six Days?
“Today, we look back in time and we see approximately 15 billion years of history. But looking forward from when the universe is very small—billions of times smaller—the Torah says ‘six days.’ In truth, they can both be correct. What’s exciting about the last few years in cosmology is we now have quantified the data to know the relationship of the ‘view of time’ from the beginning of stable matter, the threshold energy of protons and neutrons (their ‘nucleosynthesis’), relative to the ‘view of time’ today. It’s not science fiction any longer. A dozen physics textbooks all bring the same number. The general relationship between nucleosynthesis—that time near the beginning at the threshold energy of protons and neutrons when matter formed—and time today is a million million. That’s a 1 with 12 zeros after it. So when a view from the beginning looking forward says ‘I’m sending you a pulse every second,’ would we see a pulse every second? No. We’d see it every million million seconds, because of the stretching effect of the expansion of the universe.
“The Talmud tells us that the soul of Adam was created at five and a half days after the beginning of the six days. That is a half day before the termination of the sixth day. At that moment the cosmic calendar ceases and an earth based calendar starts. How would we see those days if stretched by a million million? Five and a half days times a million million, gives us five and a half million million days. Dividing that by 365 days in a year, that comes out to be 15 billion years. NASA gives a value of about 14 billion years. Considering the many approximations [involved in the calculation], and that the Bible works with only six periods of time, the agreement to within a few percent is extraordinary. The universe is billions of years old from one perspective [looking back from our day], and a mere six days old from another [looking forward from God’s perspective at creation]. And both are correct!” Note also that it works out to six days (just as the Bible required), not two, or nine, or eighty-seven. A Genesis-1 “day” is not an unspecified “age,” not just “a long, undetermined period of time.” Yahweh is very precise—and He never lies.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple. “The six days of Genesis are not of equal duration. Each time the universe doubles in size, the perception of time halves as we project that time back toward the beginning of the universe. The rate of doubling, that is, the fractional rate of change, is very rapid at the beginning and decreases with time, simply because as the universe gets larger and larger, even though the actual expansion rate is approximately constant, it takes longer and longer for the overall size to double. Because of this, the earliest of the six days have most of the 15 billion years sequestered with them. For the duration of each day and the details of how that matches with the measured history of the universe and the earth, see The Science of God.”
Yes, let’s do that. In this fascinating and seminal work (The Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 1997) Schroeder spends two entire chapters (3 and 4) discussing how science’s “fifteen billion years” actually equates to the Bible’s “six days,” explaining things in far more detail than his website did. He included a chart (on p. 67) that aligns the scientific description and schedule with the Biblical revelation in light of the theory of relativity, as discussed above. Here are his conclusions:
Day One began 15,750,000,000 years before the present, and ended 7,750,000,000 years ago. The Bible, he says, described this as “the creation of the universe; light separates from darkness (Genesis 1:1-5).” The scientific description is that “the big bang marks the creation of the universe; light literally breaks free as electrons bond to atomic nuclei; galaxies start to form.” (You’ll note that his starting point in 1997 was slightly further back than the 13.7 to 14 billion years that comprise the current “best guess” for the age of the universe. In a moment, I’ll discuss what Schroeder noticed in 2011 that fine-tuned his dates downward.)
The Second Day happened between 7,750,000,000 and 3,750,000,000 years ago from our perspective. The Bible described it as “the heavenly firmament forms (Genesis 1:6-8),” and science says, “the disk of the Milky Way forms; the sun, a main sequence star, forms.”
The Third Day: 3,750,000,000 to 1,750,000,000 years ago. Bible: “Oceans and dry land appear; the first life, plants, appear. (Genesis 1:9-13)” Science: “The earth has cooled and liquid water appears 3.8 billion years ago, followed almost immediately by the first forms of life: bacteria and photosynthetic algae.” If you’ll recall, in Appendix 5 we determined that a mere 400 million years (or less) passed between the “ball of molten rock” stage and the first fossil evidence of the appearance of life on Earth—a blink of an eye as these things go.
The Fourth Day: 1,750,000,000 to 750,000,000 years ago. Bible: “Sun, moon, and stars become visible in the heavens (Genesis 1:14-19).” Science: “Earth’s atmosphere becomes transparent; photosynthesis produces oxygen-rich atmosphere.”
The Fifth Day: 750,000,000 to 250,000,000 years ago. Bible: “First animal life swarms abundantly in waters; followed by reptiles and winged animals (Genesis 1:20-23). Science: “First multicellular animals; waters swarm with animal life having the basic body plans of all future animals; winged insects appear.”
The Sixth Day: 250,000,000 to approximately 6,000 years ago. (I would suggest that the “sixth day” of creation may actually still be proceeding, and will end only when “God rests”—either at the beginning of Christ’s kingdom age, or more likely, at the commencement of the eternal state with the introduction of God’s “New Heavens and New Earth.” But I’m nitpicking; it doesn’t really matter.) Bible: “Land animals; mammals; humankind (Genesis 1:24-31).” Science: “Massive extinction destroys over 90% of life; land is repopulated; hominids and then humans.”
And what about the slightly older universe pictured by Schroeder in 1997, as compared to the 13.7 to 14 billion year age NASA and others are estimating today? On his website, Dr. Schroeder writes, “Following a talk I gave at Azuza Pacific University in February 2011, a participant noted that when calculating the expansion ratio of space (that is, by what fraction space had stretched) from the era of nucleosynthesis to our current time, I had neglected to correct for the effect that the increase in the rate of universal expansion has on the current cosmic microwave radiation background. This increase introduces a non-linear effect. (That is, the rate of expansion is not constant; rather, the rate is increasing.) The correction is in the order of 10%. Had the expansion been linear (and not super-linear resulting from the increased rate), the CMRB would be not the currently observed 2.76°K, but 3.03°K. Introducing this correction into the exponential equation that details the duration of the six 24-hour days of Genesis Chapter One results in an age of the universe from our perspective of 14 billion years. From the Bible’s perspective of time for those six evocative days of Genesis, the number of our years held compressed within each of those six 24-hour days of Genesis, starting with Day One, would be 7.1 billion years; 3.6 billion; 1.8 billion; 0.89 billion; 0.45 billion; and 0.23 billion.”
So the Biblical text describing the origins of the universe and the development of what we find within it agrees with the scientific data available to us. This fact does two things: (1) It makes scientists who insist that there is no God look like idiots, and (2) it makes Christians who refuse to factor the character and will of God into their doctrine appear naïve and shortsighted. Faith is one thing; willful ignorance based on presumption is something else entirely.
Okay, I got a little sidetracked there. We were exploring “the Religion of Denial,” (a.k.a. atheistic secular humanism)—what they put their faith in, and how their beliefs might be expected to affect their actions in the Last Days. Since no “god” is allowed, something must take its/his place, for man is a religious creature—even when he desperately longs not to be. That is, he instinctively seeks for meaning, for order, for higher purpose in his life—something completely lacking (as far as we can tell) in the lives of animals. Christians would call this “being made in the image and likeness of God,” something unique to the human race. But because atheists consider humans to be nothing but high-functioning animals, alternative explanations for their yearnings must be proposed.
The first of these “explanations,” as we have seen, is the idea of evolution—of inexorable though undirected upward progress. The circular argument is, “There is no god, but order obviously exists; therefore order must emerge spontaneously from chaos. Life springs from non-life. And chance mutations alone account for an ever more complex biosphere.” Never mind that everything we know about nature—as expressed in the proven laws of thermodynamics (and especially the Second Law, that of increasing entropy)—portrays a universe (including the life within it) that is running down, deteriorating, and falling apart.
Evolution, then, is the first “cult” we’ve looked at within the Religion of Denial. It requires a complete suspension of reason, the presumption of a creation without a Creator, and abysmal math skills (since the odds against our present world emerging by accident are beyond astronomical). Ironically, the patron saint of the cult of evolution, Charles Darwin (whose only earned academic degree was in theology, not science), wasn’t entirely convinced that it was true. At the end of His book On the Origin of Species, he attributed the flow of life to “the several powers having been originally breathed by the Creator in a few [life] forms, or into one.” Darwin merely wanted to explain the mechanism of what we now call “microevolution” in response to those who (based on a misreading of Genesis 1) presumed that God had invented each and every species independently. However, the Bible speaks not of species at all, but of “kinds” of animals, the boundary lines between which have (according to the fossil record) never been breached. It was Darwin’s adherents—notably Thomas Henry Huxley (aptly nicknamed “Darwin’s bulldog”)—who took the ball and ran with it, evicting God (as if such a thing were possible) from His own Creation. (Tellingly, the phrase “by the Creator” in the quote above was edited out of the text sometime after the sixth edition of Origin—that is, after Darwin’s death.)
The second “cult” that has arisen within the Religion of Denial is that of environmentalism. It’s a natural outgrowth, it would seem, of the philosophy of atheistic evolution—the idea that without a god to guide things, the top species in the food chain is responsible for saving “Mother Nature.” Once again, fallen man has set up a false god, only to find that god incapable of survival without his help. And for all his intelligence, he is too ignorant to see the irony in that.
Joel Garreau’s essay, “Environmentalism as Religion,” (The New Atlantis, Summer, 2010), examines the trend. Noting the decline in traditional Judeo-Christian religious practice in Europe and America, he writes, “The rejection of traditional religion in these quarters has created a vacuum unlikely to go unfilled; human nature seems to demand a search for order and meaning, and nowadays there is no shortage of options on the menu of belief. Some searchers syncretize Judeo-Christian theology with Eastern or New Age spiritualism. Others seek through science the ultimate answers of our origins, or dream of high-tech transcendence by merging with machines—either approach depending not on rationalism alone but on a faith in the goodness of what rationalism can offer.” This describes the Western world we’ve come to know in these Last Days: apostate Christianity finds the God they’ve rejected to be insufficient, and the quintessential secular humanist mindset puts its faith in such desperate measures as transhumanism and artificial intelligence. It’s the problem with following religious tradition instead of God Himself—one’s beliefs become untenable, based as they are on the shadow, rather than the One casting it.
“For some individuals and societies, the role of religion seems increasingly to be filled by environmentalism. It has become ‘the religion of choice for urban atheists,’ according to Michael Crichton, the late science fiction writer (and climate change skeptic). In a widely quoted 2003 speech, Crichton outlined the ways that environmentalism ‘remaps’ Judeo-Christian beliefs: ‘There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.’” Crichton’s insight reveals environmentalism to be one more example of Satan’s favorite ploy—the plausible counterfeit.
“In parts of northern Europe, this new faith is now the mainstream. ‘Denmark and Sweden float along like small, content, durable dinghies of secular life, where most people are nonreligious and don’t worship Jesus or Vishnu, don’t revere sacred texts, don’t pray, and don’t give much credence to the essential dogmas of the world’s great faiths,’ observes Phil Zuckerman in his 2008 book Society without God. Instead, he writes, these places have become ‘clean and green.’ This new faith has very concrete policy implications; the countries where it has the most purchase tend also to have instituted policies that climate activists endorse….” Don’t look now, Phil, but trading the God of the Bible for the deity of Environment has also made these countries vulnerable targets for the inroads of the plague of Islam. But that’s a subject we’ll have to save for a bit.
From Theology to Ecotheology
“…The Judeo-Christian teachings about the natural world begin with the beginning: there is but one God, which means that there is a knowable order to nature; He created man in His image, which gives man an elevated place in that order; and He gave man mastery over the natural world: ‘And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food.’ (Genesis 1:28-29)
“In his seminal essay ‘The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,’ published in Science magazine in 1967, historian Lynn Townsend White, Jr. argues that those Biblical precepts made Christianity, ‘especially in its Western form,’ the ‘most anthropocentric religion the world has seen.’ In stark contrast to pagan animism, Christianity posited ‘a dualism of man and nature’ and ‘insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.’ Whereas older pagan creeds gave a cyclical account of time, Christianity presumed a teleological direction to history, and with it the possibility of progress. This belief in progress was inherent in modern science, which, wedded to technology, made possible the Industrial Revolution. Thus was the power to control nature achieved by a civilization that had inherited the license to exploit it…. Christianity, writes White, ‘bears a huge burden of guilt’ for the destruction of the environment.”
I might interject here that although the greatest scientific advancements man ever made were indeed made by believers in God (men like Copernicus, Bacon, Galileo, Descarte, Newton, Boyle, Faraday, Kepler, Pascal, Mendel, Kelvin, Pasteur, Planck, Einstein, Heisenberg, and Schrödinger) White’s conclusion represents a gross oversimplification and misinterpretation of the Bible’s actual mandate—which is not to say Christians have never made the same mistake. Yes, God put man “in charge” of the natural world, but as its steward and caretaker, not its master—and certainly not its rapist. Adam’s “job” in Eden was to “name” each animal (Genesis 2:19), a concept that in Hebrew implies discovering its nature, its individual character and attributes, through observation and insight. Adam was the world’s first research biologist, naturalist, and taxonomist. It was sin that got him “fired” from this job. Still, man was apparently on reasonably good terms with nature until the flood of Noah’s day—when sin again precipitated an adversarial relationship that persists to this day (see Genesis 9:2). In other words, the problem is not Christianity—it’s the sin of man: the very thing Christianity is designed to overcome. The Judeo-Christian scriptures reveal the source of the problem—and the solution, one the earth-worshipers are loath to except: reverence for the Creator.
Garreau continues. “White believed that science and technology could not solve the ecological problems they had created; our anthropocentric Christian heritage is too deeply ingrained.” He bemoaned the fact that Christians see humans as “special” creatures, made as we are in the image of God: “‘We are not, in our hearts, part of the natural process. We are superior to nature, contemptuous of it, willing to use it for our slightest whim….’” That, however, is a leap one cannot logically make. Reverence for, and humility before, the living God does not result in contempt for nature, nor does the special place and plan God intended for mankind give us the right to plunder the planet. On the contrary, it is arrogance before God, or desperation in the face of nature, that compels fallen man to treat the environment with disrespect. For example, we Americans labor under a carefully crafted narrative of the Native American tribes’ reverence for nature and their harmonious state of balance within it, and we are told we must return to this sustainable posture if we hope to survive. What we are not told is that in the days before Europeans brought horses to the plains, the indigenous peoples were known to drive entire herds of bison off cliffs, using the only crude and inefficient tools they had (such as prairie fires): I’ve got a family to feed—the environment be damned. No, a return to stone-age paganism is not the answer.
The Greening of Christianity
“From today’s vantage, it seems that White’s counsel [sort of an ecological “Doctrine of Balaam” so to speak—to see man as merely part of nature, and not the whole point of God’s Creation] has been heeded far and wide. Ecotheologies loosely based on concepts lifted from Hinduism or Buddhism have become popular in some Baby Boomer circles. Neo-pagans cheerfully accept the ‘tree-hugger’ designation and say they were born ‘green.’ And, most strikingly, Christianity has begun to accept environmentalism. Theologians now speak routinely of ‘stewardship’—a doctrine of human responsibility for the natural world that unites interpretations of Biblical passages with contemporary teachings about social justice….” Now? On the contrary, Christians have always known that faithful stewardship of God’s gifts and generosity of spirit are godly virtues. But these things are a long, long way from nature worship and socialist economic theory. Religious environmentalism and “social justice” are symptoms of an apostate church trying desperately to fill the gap left by the absence of the God they no longer consider relevant.
Roman Catholics, who have always held a rather loose grip on the sovereignty of Yahweh, were the first “Christians” to jump on the environmental band wagon. And more recently, “[Liberal] American Protestantism, too, has gone green. Numerous congregations are constructing “green churches”—choosing to glorify God not by erecting soaring sanctuaries but by building more energy-efficient houses of worship. In some denominations, programs for recycling or carpooling seem as common as food drives. Church-sponsored Earth Day celebrations are widespread….” Excuse me, but God has never been glorified through building magnificent structures in which to worship Him. By His own word, we are to worship Him in spirit and in truth: buildings are optional. His idea of a meeting place was the symbol-rich but absurdly modest wilderness tabernacle—a dull, gray box no bigger than your average double-wide mobile home plunked out in the middle of the desert. Soaring cathedrals were man’s idea.
“Beyond influencing—one might even say colonizing—Christianity, the ecological movement can increasingly be seen as something of a religion in and of itself. It is quasi-religious in character…generating its own set of moral values. Freeman Dyson, the brilliant and contrarian octogenarian physicist…described environmentalism as ‘a worldwide secular religion’ that has ‘replaced socialism as the leading secular religion.’ This religion holds ‘that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible.’
“The ethics of this new religion, he continued, ‘are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world.... And the ethics of environmentalism are fundamentally sound. Scientists and economists can agree with Buddhist monks and Christian activists that ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil, and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good. The worldwide community of environmentalists—most of whom are not scientists—holds the moral high ground, and is guiding human societies toward a hopeful future. Environmentalism, as a religion of hope and respect for nature, is here to stay. This is a religion that we can all share, whether or not we believe that global warming is harmful….’” Its broad goals, perhaps; its “god,” absolutely not. The Christian is commanded to love, and preserving the world for future generations to live in is consistent with that—but it’s not remotely the point. The fact is, the same people who embrace environmentalism usually support the idea of abortion on demand as well—since “the fewer people plaguing the earth, the better off we are.” This is hardly a “religion of hope and respect for nature.”
“William P. Alston outlined in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy what he considered the essential characteristics of religions. They include a distinction between sacred and profane objects; ritual acts focused upon sacred objects; a moral code; feelings of awe, mystery, and guilt; adoration in the presence of sacred objects and during rituals; a worldview that includes a notion of where the individual fits; and a cohesive social group of the likeminded.” Yes, and that explains why so many Christians reject the concept, seeing their faith as nothing more complicated than a familial relationship with their Heavenly Father. Religion, on the other hand, looks like just another Satanic counterfeit.
“Environmentalism lines up pretty readily with this account of religion. As climate change literally transforms the heavens above us [or would, if it were real], faith-based environmentalism increasingly sports saints, sins, prophets, predictions, heretics, demons, sacraments, and rituals. Chief among its holy men is Al Gore—who, according to his supporters, was crucified in the 2000 election, then rose from the political dead and ascended to heaven twice—not only as a Nobel deity, but an Academy Awards angel. He speaks of ‘Creation care’ and cites the Bible in hopes of appealing to evangelicals.” Yes, and then he flies from one speaking venue to another in a large personal Gulfstream jet that spews out more CO2 than a small volcano. If environmentalism is a religion, then Al Gore is one of those hypocritical white-shoe TV evangelists interested only in getting rich by fleecing the flock.
“Selling indulgences is out of fashion these days. But you can now assuage your guilt by buying carbon offsets. Fire and brimstone, too, are much in vogue—accompanied by an unmistakable whiff of authoritarianism: ‘A professor writing in the Medical Journal of Australia calls on the Australian government to impose a carbon charge of $5,000 on every birth, annual carbon fees of $800 per child, and provide a carbon credit for sterilization,’ writes Braden R. Allenby, an Arizona State University professor of environmental engineering, ethics, and law. An ‘article in the New Scientist suggests that the problem with obesity is the additional carbon load it imposes on the environment; others that a major social cost of divorce is the additional carbon burden resulting from splitting up families.’
“Allenby, writing in a 2008 article on GreenBiz.com, continues: ‘A recent study from the Swedish Ministry of Sustainable Development argues that males have a disproportionately larger impact on global warming (“women cause considerably fewer carbon dioxide emissions than men and thus considerably less climate change”). The chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that those who suggest that climate change is not a catastrophic challenge are no different than Hitler.... E.O. Wilson calls such people parasites. Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman writes that “global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers.”’ The sheer volume of vicious language employed to recast social and cultural trends in terms of their carbon footprint suggests the rise of what Allenby calls a dangerous new ‘carbon fundamentalism….’”
The whole thing would be hilarious if we didn’t know they were serious. The only reason the religion of environmentalism considers CO2 an anathema is that it is supposed to be warming the earth, melting the ice caps, raising the oceans, and so forth. But although world CO2 levels are rising (mostly because of nations who “get a pass” from the environmentalists—like India and China), average global temperatures are not: the theory is blatantly false. So if CO2 isn’t warming the planet, is it still a villain? No. In fact, it promotes more vigorous plant growth—a good thing in everybody’s book. It’s as if we’re back at the Salem witch trials: the good citizens of the town are so righteously terrified about witches, they won’t be happy until they burn somebody at the stake, evidence or no evidence.
Garreau points out that “many of those making the case that environmentalism has become a religion throw around the word ‘religion’ as a pejorative.” Like me, for instance. “This disdain is rooted in an uncontroversial proposition: You cannot reason your way to faith. That’s the idea behind the ‘leap of faith’—or the leap to faith, in Kierkegaard’s original formulation: the act of believing in something without, or in spite of, empirical evidence. Kierkegaard argued that if we choose faith, we must suspend our reason in order to believe in something higher than reason.” Kierkegaard was wrong, of course, at least as regards Biblical Christianity. I have found that faith and reason are by no means incompatible, though reason in the absence of faith can easily lead us astray. But if we begin with an informed faith (in the true and living God, that is), then reason—born of a plethora of evidence—naturally follows. However (and this is important), our faith must be in Yahweh’s actual truth, not our own extrapolations and interpretations (or hallucinations) of it, however well-reasoned we think they are. If we begin putting words in His mouth, we’ll again find ourselves telling Copernicus to sit down, shut up, and keep his opinions to himself.
“So those on the right side of the political spectrum who portray environmentalism as a religion do so because, if faith is inherently not achievable through rationality and if environmentalism is a religion, then environmentalism is utterly irrational and must be discredited and ignored. That is the essence of Michael Crichton’s 2003 speech. ‘Increasingly,’ he said, ‘it seems facts aren’t necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief.’ Environmentalism, he argued, has become totally divorced from science. ‘It’s about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.’”
Garreau has a lot more to say, but I think we get the idea: one’s beliefs regarding the natural world, if formed regardless of the evidence available, are religion, not science. The funny thing is, Garreau himself seems genuinely convinced of the “catastrophic potential of global warming,” which as we have seen is not supported by empirical evidence at all, but has been invented out of whole cloth by people hoping to sell carbon credits and redistribute the world’s wealth—and is then propped up via fraudulent computer models and academic blackmail. Environmentalism in this regard isn’t so much a religion as it is a scam foisted on the unsuspecting by the charlatans of this world. (But of course, that’s another accurate—albeit cynical—definition of religion, isn’t it?)
In conclusion, Larry Spargimino, in the anthology Blood on the Altar, identifies five myths about Judeo-Christianity that serve as the foundation of the religion of environmentalism.
1. “The Judeo-Christian belief that God assigned man to rule over the earth and have dominion has caused the exploitation and misuse of the planet.” The truth is that neither Jews nor real Christians have ever been numerous enough to exploit anything of consequence, nor do their scriptures authorize any such thing.
2. “Monotheism has separated humans from their natural connection to the earth. To reverse this trend, artists, authors and educators must revive earth-centered myths that elevate goddess Mother Earth.” The truth is that our “natural connection to the earth” was severed when our sin separated us from nature’s Creator. Monotheism (and in reality, only one permutation of it: reverence for Yahweh, who is separate from His creation) stands in contrast with pantheism, in which “god” is “in everything,” which is to say, he (or she) has no sentience, personality, or plan. And worse, since “Mother Earth” has proven so vulnerable to the thoughtlessness and incompetence of man, she makes a really poor excuse for a god.
3. “The diversity of species enriches the earth. Healthy, flourishing diversity can only be maintained if there is a substantial decrease in the human population and its interference with nature’s benevolent and wise processes.” The truth is that the “diversity of species” is merely evidence of the depth of the gene pool of the original “kinds” of animals that Yahweh introduced into the biosphere over the course of the fifth and sixth days of creation. 99.9% of the species that ever inhabited the earth were long extinct before man even arrived. (This is not to downplay the alarming rate of extinction that is currently plaguing our fallen world.) Ironically though, God’s word predicts a “substantial decrease in the human population,” and sooner rather than later—not to mention the total death of the world’s oceans. But, ironically or not, these people who worship the creation, believing that “the ends justify the means,” are destined to play a huge role in the destruction of the planet during the Tribulation, and they will suffer destruction themselves as a result. See Revelation 11:18.
4. “Heavenly-minded Christians care little for what they see as a temporary earth that will soon be burned up.” The truth is—well, that one actually is true, more or less. But until it happens, we also see the earth as a precious gift from God—one we are charged with taking care of, managing, and preserving, not destroying through avarice, arrogance, or thoughtlessness. Just because we don’t worship the Earth, it doesn’t mean we don’t care about its well-being. A good workman takes care of his tools.
5. “By resisting the return to earth-centered religions, and by relegating them to the category of rank paganism, Christians are blocking the global movement toward the one-world religion needed to unify people and to save our planet from pollution, global warming, and thermonuclear war.” I don’t know whether to laugh or vomit. The truth is that the liberal pipe dream of a unity under a one-world religion (something that’s flatly prophesied in the Bible—and not as a good thing) will be the very crisis that finally brings the world to its ecological knees. On their watch (i.e., after the Christians have been raptured) the seas will die, the air will become so polluted only two thirds of the sunlight will penetrate it, one third of the earth’s surface will burn, and the vast majority of the human population will die.
Therefore, this time of trial the world is about to endure will be limited by God to seven years; and the reign of Satan’s Antichrist—the focus of the one-world religion so dear to the heart of the environmentalists—will occupy only the latter half of that, a mere 42 months. Any longer than this, and there would be no “environment” left to preserve (see Matthew 24:22). The Christians will be gone years before this worldwide religion is established. After the rapture, we will no longer be in a position to “block” anything, as much as we’d like to continue warning people of the impending danger. Even then, God is not quite done with the earth: He’s going to need it for at least another thousand years. And according to God’s word, this final millennium will be characterized by the healing of the earth, environmental restoration, peace among men, reverence for God, and ecological fecundity the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since the days of Eden.
One final subset of the Religion of Denial needs to be explored—the cult of power that endeavors to run the world today, either from upon the throne or (more likely) from behind it. Power, however, is but one third of an unholy trinity of treachery that when combined precipitates misery and woe upon mankind. The other two ingredients are wealth and pride.
Neither power nor wealth are evil in themselves (though they’re always potentially dangerous, both to those who possess them and those who do not). They are, rather, spiritually neutral. They can be the result of God’s blessing as easily as the fruit of greed and lust; they can both be used for either good or evil in this world. It is that third component—pride—that makes power and wealth a force for wickedness.
“Power” in scripture is usually spoken of in spiritual terms—the strength of God as manifested in the life of Christ or wielded vicariously through His followers through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Upon reflection, I get the feeling that wielding authority over one’s fellow man in this life is invariably a usurpation of Yahweh’s prerogative to some extent—He alone has the right to rule. We, on the other hand, are to use whatever “power” (the ability to accomplish things) we’ve been given to serve our brothers in love. Moses is the model—though he wielded the very power of God during the exodus, he led Israel; he did not rule over it.
Although all power in this universe flows ultimately from its Creator Yahweh, we find that Satan wields power (of sorts) as well—the ability to oppress and tempt mankind, to the extent that God allows. As inconvenient as it is for us, this is apparently necessarily in order for us to exercise the free will Yahweh bestowed upon us. In other words, we have been given a choice as to whose influence to submit to—God’s or our adversary’s. Without the option of choosing evil, choosing good is meaningless. At the same time, God has given some people the leadership ability, organizational skills, or charisma needed to direct or govern society. How they use these gifts says a lot about the choices they’ve made. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” It’s one thing to have power thrust upon you, receiving it as a mandate for service; it’s something else entirely to covet it, lust after it, and to use it to elevate yourself above your peers.
Wealth too presents an opportunity to show one’s true colors—to reveal what choices he has made. Solomon (one of the wealthiest men of his age, thanks to the legacy left him by his father David) says this of wealth gained by honest labor: “It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life [a reference to a clear conscience], because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20) Solomon was renowned for his wisdom, but it appears he wasn’t much of a socialist.
Agur, son of Jakeh (who was presumably in a bit better position to be objective about money), asks this of God: “Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with the food allotted to me, lest I be full and deny You, and say, ‘Who is Yahweh?’ Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8-9) Although some are gifted with great riches and although we will always have the poor among us (see Mark 14:7), God’s ideal society seems to entail a disproportionately large middle class, which perhaps explains why godless societies tend to end up with a huge disparity between the few elites at the top and the vast majority of poor at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder—with very few people in between.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Yahweh promised Israel that if they faithfully kept the Law of the Sabbatical Year (something they subsequently failed to do), poverty would virtually disappear in the Land: “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because Yahweh's release has been proclaimed. Of a foreigner you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release. But there will be no poor among you; for Yahweh will bless you in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess—if only you will strictly obey the voice of Yahweh your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. For Yahweh your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.” (Deuteronomy 15:1-6)
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with wealth, provided we come by it honestly—through hard work, innovation, and insight (or even the old-fashioned way: through dumb luck). Wise investing is encouraged, but predatory business practices are tantamount to stealing—and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. Blessed is the man who is able to pass a financial legacy down to his children; cursed is he who built that legacy by exploiting the poor. Wealth is a test: even if we come by it honestly, it is to be seen as a gift, the blessing of God—whom we are expected to honor by using those riches to demonstrate His love. We are not to desire wealth for its own sake, but rather receive it (if it comes) as a challenge, a dare of sorts from God to use it wisely. If it does not come, remember that there’s no shame in being poor (though it’s no great honor, either). And we should always remain aware that wealth is relative: there will always be someone richer, and someone poorer. We are to remain content and faithful in whatever state we find ourselves, working to improve our lot if and when the opportunity arises. But always remember the Tenth Commandment: we are not to covet what belongs to someone else.
Power and wealth, then, are both spiritually impartial. It is only when the third ingredient, pride, is added that we know for sure we’re in trouble, for pride betrays a lack of reverence for Yahweh, and it reveals a lack of love for one’s fellow man—making both power and wealth lethal weapons. Indeed, the danger with wealth and power is that they can encourage pride in those who wield them. As Agur noted above, wealth and power can tend to makes us forget our utter dependence on Yahweh. I am reminded that God gave the richest, most powerful monarch of his day, Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon, a seven-year object lesson teaching him that very thing. If I were a rich and powerful man, I would find it extremely instructive to read and ponder the fourth chapter of the Book of Daniel at least once a month.
You know the story: this “king of kings” (see Daniel 2:37) was humbled by God, who warned him that he would lose his sanity for seven years. A few salient passages bear repeating to this day. After identifying the king as the subject of his own terrifying vision, Daniel says, “Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.” (Daniel 4:27) A year passed and nothing happened, so Nebuchadnezzar once again let his pride sneak up on him: “The king spoke, saying, ‘Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?’” (v. 30)
It was at that moment that the dream came true. He immediately lost his mind, and was driven from power, having been told by God that “seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.” (v. 32) After seven years had passed, he regained his sanity, and (even more miraculously, to my mind) was restored to his former state of honor, wealth, and power—along with a new-found sense of humility. And he recorded this for our edification: “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing. He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’…Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” (vs. 34-35, 37) Oh, how I’d love to hear the president of the United States talk like that!
Note that God did not begrudge Nebuchadnezzar his wealth and power. In fact, we have every reason to believe that He had bestowed these things upon him in the first place so he could fulfill the role Yahweh had ordained for him concerning apostate Judah—including destroying the temple of Solomon. It was the pride of the king with which God took issue.
We have no way of statistically measuring pride, of course. We’ll leave that one up to God to sort out. But Forbes Magazine does keep track of wealth and power. Their 2014 lists of the world’s ten most wealthy and powerful individuals are revealing—but not terribly surprising—educating us on what it takes to attain wealth and power these days.
The ten richest individuals (they didn’t track multi-generational family fortunes for this list) are as follows: #10. Jim Walton (of Walmart Stores, $34.7 billion). #9. Christy Walton (widow of John Walton of Walmart, $36.7 billion). #8. Sheldon Adelson (Las Vegas Sands Corp., $38 billion). #7. David Koch (Koch Industries, $40 billion). #6. Charles Koch (Koch Industries manufacturing, energy, etc., $40 billion). #5. Larry Ellison (Oracle software, $48 billion). #4. Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway investments, $58.2 billion). #3. Amancio Ortega (Inditex clothing, $64 billion). #2. Carlos Slim Helu (Telmex, America Movil, $73.2 billion). And #1. Bill Gates (Microsoft, $76 billion.)
In very rough terms, then, the ten richest people in the world got that way through successes in a wide range of endeavors—computer technology, telecommunications, apparel, investments, manufacturing, petrochemicals, hospitality and gaming, and retail sales (though most of them have fingers in many and varied pies). Every single person on the list is famous for his or her philanthropy—though again, the recipients of their generosity vary widely.
Let us compare all that to the Forbes ten-most-powerful list for 2014. #10. Larry Page (Google). #9. Sergey Brin (Google). #8. Mario Draghi (European Central Bank). #7. Bill Gates (Microsoft). #6. Janet Yellen (Federal Reserve Bank). #5. Angela Merkel (Chancellor of Germany). #4. Pope Francis (leader of the Roman Catholic Church). #3. Xi Jinping (President of China, General Secretary of its Communist Party, and Chairman of the Chinese military). #2. Barack Obama (President of the United States). And #1. Vladimir Putin (President of Russia).
Here the measure of power is not what you own, but who you control (or at least influence). Not surprisingly, political leaders of the most influential nations top the list, along with the leader of the world’s number-one religious splinter group. The world’s two largest central banks are represented because of the golden rule (“He who has the gold gets to make the rules”). And the rest are technology mavens who, one way or another, manipulate the flow of data we in the “information age” can’t seem to live without.
In former years, the American president would “automatically” have garnered the top spot, but under Mr. Obama’s disastrous tenure, we have lost so much international prestige, political influence, military ability, economic clout, and moral authority, that we find ourselves plunging headlong toward our new status—if the trend continues—as a second-tier has-been nation. The Psalmist writes, “Yahweh brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of Yahweh stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is Yahweh, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” (Psalm 33:10-12) Too bad we forgot that. But then again, America’s temporary demise was prophesied in Isaiah 18. (See Chapter 11 of this book, “The Gap,” for the details.)
You’ll note that only one person, Bill Gates (founder and CEO of Microsoft) made both lists. According to Forbes, he is not only the world’s richest man, but is also the seventh most powerful person on earth. So perhaps it would be instructive to briefly study how he uses his money to wield power, since he doesn’t run a government or central bank. An article appearing in the Catholic lay periodical Crisis Magazine entitled “The Ambitions of Bill and Melinda Gates: Controlling Population and Public Education” (by Anne Hendershott, March 25, 2013) hits the high spots. Her thesis, in a nutshell, is that Bill Gates has bought into the global warming myth to such an extent that he feels it his duty to stop all anthropomorphic CO2 emissions by reducing the world’s population. His complex, almost megalomaniacal, scheme for accomplishing this goal includes imposing an ultra-liberal curriculum in our schools (effectively robbing America’s youth of the ability to think for themselves), third-world vaccination programs (population control measures cleverly disguised as health care), and so forth. And they are perfectly willing to spend billions of their own dollars to achieve their dubious goals. Some highlights:
“Continuing their commitment to controlling global population growth through artificial contraception, sterilization, and abortion initiatives, Microsoft founder and philanthropist, Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, self-described ‘practicing’ Catholics, are now attempting to control the curriculum of the nation’s public schools. Subsidizing the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed more than $76 million to support teachers in implementing the Common Core—a standardized national curriculum…” in which “‘Fact-based’ books on climate change are replacing classic works of literature because they are viewed as offering students an opportunity to learn ‘science.’ Freakonomics—a book that has already been a favorite of public school teachers—is preferable to Poe because students will learn about the positive effects of abortion on reducing crime rates by reducing the population of those more likely to commit crime.” In other words, it’s Sangeresque race-based genocide in a suit and tie. It’s no wonder Catholics are alarmed about Gates’ agenda, though I’d imagine the idea of saving the human race by killing off the humans (beginning with poor blacks) probably doesn’t make much sense to Protestants, either.
“Bill Gates revealed his own population goals in February, 2010, at the invitation-only Technology, Entertainment and Design Conference in Long Beach, California, when he gave his keynote speech on global warming: “Innovating to Zero!”… Gates stated that CO2 emissions must be reduced to zero by 2050 and advised those in attendance that population had much to do with the increase in CO2.” He must realize, of course, that he himself exhales carbon dioxide. But if you’ll recall, in a previous appendix we established that although CO2 rates are indeed climbing worldwide, average global temperature is not—rendering the whole premise of Gates’ scheme fallacious.
“Claiming that each individual on the planet puts out an average of about five tons of CO2 per year, Gates stated that ‘Somehow we have to make changes that will bring that down to zero…. It has been constantly going up. It’s only various economic changes that have even flattened it at all.’ To illustrate, Gates presented the following equation: CO2 (total population-emitted CO2 per year) = P (people) x S (services per person) x E (average energy per service) x C (average CO2 emitted per unit of energy). Gates told the audience that ‘probably one of these numbers is going to have to get pretty near to zero. That’s a fact from high school algebra.’ For Gates, the P (population) portion of the equation is the most important: ‘If we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, and reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.’” Note: vaccines are no longer a health care strategy but a cash cow for big pharma—in which Gates has invested heavily; and “reproductive health services” is actually a sick euphemism for easy access to abortion, beginning with minorities, the poor, and the teeming populations of the third world.
“Gates maintains that improvements in health care—including an expansion of the administration of vaccinations—will encourage families to reduce the number of children they desire to have. And, in an ongoing attempt to expand the types of birth control, Gates has spent millions of dollars on research and development. According to Christian Voice, a few years ago the Gates Foundation awarded a grant of $100,000 to researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, to develop a new type of ultrasound described as a ‘non-invasive form of birth control for men’ which would make a man infertile for up to six months….” On the bright side, he’s willing to spend his own money to destroy the human race—a refreshing change from the usual practice of using my hard earned tax dollars without my knowledge or consent.
“On May 17, 2002, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had purchased shares in nine of the largest pharmaceutical companies valued at nearly $205 million. Acquiring shares in Merck, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson Wyeth, Abbott Labs, and others, the Gates Foundation continues a financial interest in common with the makers of AIDS drugs [which don’t cure AIDS, you understand, but do keep the afflicted alive longer—creating obscene profits in the process], diagnostic tools, vaccines, and contraceptives. But, the commitment to global population control goes well beyond financial interests. It is likely that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will continue its commitment to global population control, and now, curriculum creation in the nation’s schools because they truly believe that they know better than anyone else how we all should live….”
I might interject at this point that Gates is also committed to another Last Days objective as well—a cashless society, one of the keys to making the prophesied “mark of the beast” a functional reality. Kit Daniels (Infowars.com, January 22, 2015) writes, “Bill Gates is now promoting ‘digital currency’ in third-world countries, which will make the poor even more dependent on central banks while also turning them into guinea pigs for the development of a ‘cashless society’ in the U.S. and Europe…. ‘The key to this will be mobile phones,’ he wrote. ‘Already, in the developing countries with the right regulatory framework, people are storing money digitally on their phones and using their phones to make purchases, as if they were debit cards. By 2030, two billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payments with their phones.’ But this will only enslave the poor into an electronic monetary system they don’t control, allowing central banks and the government unparalleled ability to confiscate money at will through taxes and ‘bail-ins.’” 2030. Interesting target date, Bill.
But I digress. Back to Anne Hendershott’s article: “This commitment to a distorted definition of social justice by Melinda and Bill Gates will likely continue because they have been led to believe that such control is what is best for people. The Core Curriculum is really just another component of population control—it is used to help teach children the ‘facts’ about climate change and problems of over-population. Indeed, the population agenda is a trap that many wealthy, highly intelligent people have fallen into in the past. From the wealthy eugenics supporters of Planned Parenthood’s Founder Margaret Sanger, to the Rockefeller family and their population control initiatives, this work continues today through their heirs—heirs like David Rockefeller—an ally of Bill and Melinda Gates.”
The Gates agenda is well documented and easily researched, though the holders of older, more entrenched family fortunes tend to hold their cards a bit closer to the vest. David Rockefeller is something of an exception. He is known to hold the same quasi-genocidal ideals as Bill Gates—all in the name of “saving the planet,” of course. But he is better known for his tireless efforts on behalf of the so-called “New World Order,” a system of governance in which the whole world is run by a single central ruling body—the super elite (sometimes referred to as the Illuminati). It’s wealth plus power plus pride again.
In an address to a Trilateral Commission meeting in June of 1991, Rockefeller declared, “We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected the promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world-government [like lemmings toward a cliff, I’m thinking]. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the National autodetermination practiced in past centuries.” He also noted that he had been accused of “conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure—One World, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”
The Rockefellers, heirs to the vast Standard Oil fortune built by John D. Rockefeller, are no longer listed among the world’s wealthiest families, due largely to a program of aggressive philanthropy begun during John’s later years, and to the American tradition of dividing family fortunes between heirs (in contrast to the European system of primogeniture, in which the eldest son inherited the lion’s share). His fortune was once valued at the equivalent of $336 billion (adjusted for inflation in 2007 dollars), according to Forbes. “According to some methods of wealth calculation, Rockefeller’s net worth over the last decades of his life would easily place him as the wealthiest known person in recent history. As a percentage of the United States’ GDP, no other American fortune—including those of Bill Gates or Sam Walton—would even come close.”—Wikipedia. John D. Rockefeller was both a Christian and a robber baron (or so he was characterized)—a study in contrasts.
But apparently, the apple had rolled some distance from the tree by the turn of the twenty-first century. Something tells me John D. wouldn’t remotely recognize his grandson’s Illuminati agenda. Although the wealth (though still considerable) isn’t what it used to be, its presence has been more than compensated for by a lust for power and a sense of arrogant entitlement rivaled by few in this world. PhilanthropyRoundtable.org reports, “No country in the history of the world has created so much wealth as has the United States. Nor has any country created so many fortunes of legendary size. The names are still household words: Vanderbilt, Astor, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan, Gould, Mellon, Harriman, Frick, Huntington, Crocker, Flagler, Duke, and Hearst. And yet none of those names are among the great American fortunes of today. Indeed, only three of those names—Rockefeller, Hearst, and Mellon—make the Forbes list of today’s 400 largest fortunes, and not one is near the top….
“While John D. Rockefeller Sr. was worth perhaps $2 billion in 1915 (a year when the federal government spent only $746 million), his grandson David Rockefeller stands at 147 on the Forbes list. By far the wealthiest living Rockefeller—largely on account of a long, successful career in finance—David in 2009 had a net worth of $2.2 billion, about what his grandfather was worth in nominal terms a century ago. Taking inflation into account, however, his fortune is only about 10 percent the size of his grandfather’s.”
The key to understanding David Rockefeller’s pride-driven agenda is in that little phrase, “successful career in finance.” As we have seen, two of the “most powerful people on earth” are deemed so because they head the central banks of the United States (i.e., the Federal Reserve Bank) and the European Union. When one ponders the immense amount of debt owed by nations large and small in today’s world, the question of who, precisely, is owed all this money eventually presents itself. If you’ll recall, we addressed this issue in our two chapters on Babylon (14 and 20) and Appendix 8, on Geopolitics. Central banks are not owned by their respective governments, but are privately held corporations, formed with the express purposes of creating wealth out of thin air and wishful thinking—and loaning it at interest to world governments. These loans are never expected to be paid off (and at this late date, never could be anyway), so the interest piles up forever (in theory, at least) until the owners of the central banks own virtually everything on planet Earth.
The most entrenched international-banking family in the world, however, is not the Rockefellers, but the Rothschilds. TheRichest.com informs us that, “You can browse through Forbes’ extensive rich list and not find a single mention of the name ‘Rothschild’ in their list of the 500 wealthiest people on Earth. This is because the Rothschild’s wealth has been distributed amongst hundreds of heirs throughout the years, and has therefore diluted each individual’s personal fortune. With this being said, it is estimated that the Rothschild Family as a whole still possess in the region of $350 billion USD in assets throughout the world. Bear in mind that this is a low estimation. Due to their great secrecy, the sheer amount of assets they hold, and the scale of their operations, it is difficult to estimate exactly how much the Rothschild Family are worth. Higher estimates have placed it in the region of $1 trillion USD, making them by far the wealthiest family on Earth.” Some of the more “hysterical” sources (who shall remain unnamed) peg their wealth at as much as $500 trillion!
“Despite the dilution of the Rothschild Family’s wealth, there are still a number of extraordinarily wealthy individuals bearing the Rothschild surname. The largest of these fortunes belongs to the British financier Jacob Rothschild, who is worth around $50 billion USD, whilst another British financier, Sir Evelyn De Rothschild, has a fortune of $20 billion USD.” But as I said, unlike Bill Gates and David Rockefeller, the Rothschilds prefer to keep their resources and agenda a secret, for their goal (with that of other international bankers) is to end up owning (and thus controlling) the whole world.
I realize I’ve quoted from this passage before, but it bears repeating loud and clear in these Last Days: Yahweh is not unaware of these behind-the-scenes power grabs. When the time is right, He will right all wrongs and settle all debts. So the prophet Habakkuk writes: “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. Wealth is treacherous, and the arrogant are never at rest. They open their mouths as wide as the grave, and like death, they are never satisfied. In their greed they have gathered up many nations and swallowed many peoples....
“But soon their captives will taunt them. They will mock them, saying, ‘What sorrow awaits you thieves! Now you will get what you deserve! You’ve become rich by extortion, but how much longer can this go on?’ Suddenly, your debtors will take action. They will turn on you and take all you have, while you stand trembling and helpless. Because you have plundered many nations, now all the survivors will plunder you. You committed murder throughout the countryside and filled the towns with violence....” As far as “murder” is concerned, think beyond crime and pointless war. As for me, I’m thinking about some two billion children aborted in the womb over the past century—with the assistance and encouragement of the secular humanist death machine.
“What sorrow awaits you who build big houses with money gained dishonestly! You believe your wealth will buy security, putting your family’s nest beyond the reach of danger. But by the murders you committed, you have shamed your name and forfeited your lives. The very stones in the walls cry out against you, and the beams in the ceilings echo the complaint. What sorrow awaits you who build cities with money gained through murder and corruption! Has not Yahweh of Heaven’s Armies promised that the wealth of nations will turn to ashes? They work so hard, but all in vain! For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of Yahweh.” (Habakkuk 2:4-14 NLT)
Secular humanists, of course, are counting on that not happening. And it would appear that they are terrifyingly close to realizing their dream of a one-world government controlled by their own puppets. Perhaps the most telling indicator is that of fiat currency—a nation’s “opportunity” to saddle itself with vast sums of unrepayable debt, ostensibly enabling it to live beyond its means, while in reality enslaving itself to the holders of such debt. So let’s “follow the money,” with an eye toward discovering how close we actually are to total world bondage, achieved with the chain of crushing national debt.
As of the year 2000, there were only seven nations left in the entire world that did not have a Rothschild-controlled central bank. They were, not surprisingly, the planet’s “bad boys,” the rebels, the rogues: Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Cuba, North Korea, and Iran. They’re all considered “uncivilized,” and they’re all, you’ll note, either Islamic or Communist states of the “worst” sort—that is, run either by dictators or ideologies that are out of step with world peace and security. They “don’t play the game.”
I’m not saying these seven nations are anything other than what they seem—the home of tyranny and institutionalized oppression. But in the context of the growing power of the “one-world” movement, they are the coal-mine canaries tasked with telling the rest of the world just how close we are to being swallowed whole in Habakkuk 2-style financial aggression. By 2003 (in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001), two of these rogue nations had been invaded in righteous indignation. And Iraq and Afghanistan were subsequently crossed off the shrinking list of countries without Rothschild-controlled central banks. It’s enough to turn someone into a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.
By 2011 (i.e., in the wake of the “Arab Spring”), two more Islamic rogue states, got crossed off the central bankers’ bucket list. Libya and the Sudan (in regions known as Phut and Cush respectively in Biblical terminology—see Ezekiel 38:5) all of a sudden got Rothschild religion. At the time of this writing, then, there are only three nations left without a Rothschild-backed central bank: Cuba, Iran, and North Korea. Call me crazy, but could this explain Mr. Obama’s sudden and inexplicable “warming” toward both Cuba and Iran—two nations who have for decades on end been the implacable enemies of the U.S. (you know, the nation the president swore to defend)? And if I may don my amateur-prophet propeller beanie for a moment, don’t be surprised if relations between North Korea and the western world warm up considerably during the remaining couple of years of Mr. Obama’s presidential term. (Oops. I didn’t even get this posted before he made the first overture. I just hate it when I’m right all the time.)
If I didn’t know better (and actually, I don’t) I’d say the behind-the-scenes strings are being pulled by the central banking consortium (something the Bible suggests is part of “Babylon”)—and that sometime before the fourth decade of the twenty-first century, the entire world will find itself under the thumb of an increasingly powerful central government—one up to its ears in hock to the House of Rothschild and their allies. And it will have been the atheistic secular humanists who put us there.
Recalling our prophetic scripture study, however, you know it doesn’t end there. Putting the puzzle pieces together, it appears that the bankers of Babylon will make the worst possible tactical error in elevating their intended puppet, the charismatic European political leader identified in scripture as the Man of Sin, a.k.a. the Antichrist, to the position of ultimate world authority—assuming they can control and manipulate him as they have practically every other national leader on earth for the past century.
They’ve finally met their match. The Antichrist will betray them, destroy them, and take over their whole one-world scheme as a going concern. As it was shown to John, “The ten horns which you saw on the beast [i.e., the allies of the Antichrist], these will hate the harlot [Babylon—including the central banks represented by the Rothschilds], make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast [the Antichrist], until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman whom you saw is that great city [Greek polis—read: “system”] which reigns over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:16-18)
It’s the height of irony, if you think about it. In their enthusiasm for controlling and owning the Earth, the secular humanists will be instrumental in putting in power the one man on earth who is capable of destroying them. He is described in scripture like this: “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law.” (Daniel 7:25) “A king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power. He shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive. He shall destroy the mighty [oops], and also the holy people.” Note that the “mighty” people and the holy (set apart) people are two different groups. “Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule.” (Daniel 8:23-25) “The king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all.” (Daniel 11:36-37) Can they not see that the ambitions of such a man cannot be contained?
With his profile judiciously edited like this, of course, the Antichrist (called here “the king who shall arise”) may sound like just the kind of guy the atheists are looking for to front their one-world scheme. He’ll be charismatic, ruthless, and shrewd, not impressed with any god, and he might even be a homosexual. Bonus! But the larger context of each of these passages reveals that the Antichrist can’t be trusted to toe Babylon’s line: he’s got his own agenda, and it involves the most stunning betrayal since Judas Iscariot: Satan’s “man of sin” throwing his own powerful secular humanist stooges (Babylon, including the international bankers) under the bus of human history. As so often happens, evil is evil’s worst enemy. Read on:
“Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his [the Antichrist’s] dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.” (Daniel 7:25-27) That’s right, you Illuminati schemers: your boy is a loser. He’ll only get three and a half years in power (less time than the worst American presidents), and then he’s toast. You guys are nothing but this parasite’s host, just as you yourselves feasted on the carcass of world productivity and freedom for so long: “And he [the Antichrist] shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes, but he shall be broken without human means.” (Daniel 8:25) Who do you think these “prosperous” people whom the Antichrist will destroy might be? Now that you Rothschild types finally own everything, do the math: it’s you. The Beast is the son of the father of lies. You’d be a fool to trust him to toe your line, but trust him you shall.
“But in their place [i.e., in place of the gods not worshiped by the Antichrist] he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses [including the international bankers who control the planet] with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain.” (Daniel 11:38-38) The secular humanists will (at first) love the idea that the Antichrist is irreligious—neither a nominal Christian, Muslim, Hindu, nor Jew, following no god they’ve ever heard of, real or imagined. No, he honors a “foreign god,” Satan himself—the one whose plan they’ve been unwittingly implementing for centuries. For some reason, they’ll never figure any of this out until it’s far too late to save themselves, or their riches.
John explains: “All the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’ And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months [just as Daniel had described him]. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven [the raptured saints, whom he can’t touch, so he’s reduced to bad-mouthing them]. It was granted to him to make war with the saints [the belatedly redeemed, those who had been left behind at the rapture—both newly repentant Jews and “Laodicean” Christians] and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:4-8) Once the Antichrist achieves authority borne of popular acclaim—something beyond what the powers behind the scene gave to him, just as they had countless rulers before him—he will turn on them, destroy them, and rule the entire world himself in their stead. It’s what the Hindus would call karma, I guess.
The atheists, in the end, will be proven wrong. They will not enjoy the victory they’d coveted right up until their bloody and ignominious end. Rather, the God they say doesn’t exist will reign upon the earth personally (in the form of the glorified Messiah-King, Yahshua) for a thousand years. Ironically, the atheists’ denial concerning spiritual realities will leave them vulnerable not only to God’s wrath, but also to Satan’s schemes (though God Himself won’t proactively attack them—His “wrath” will mostly consist of stepping out of the way for a time and allowing men to reap what they’ve sown). They’re thinking, if God doesn’t exist, neither does the devil, right? As it turns out, what you don’t know can hurt you.
As the Tribulation begins, however, they will be rubbing their hands together in gleeful anticipation of their final triumph over free will and what they regard as the superstitious nonsense that has held the world back from its glorious destiny under their rule for so long: religion, faith, conscience, and those inconvenient moral absolutes. They’ll be following John Lennon’s playbook: “Imagine there’s no heaven; it’s easy if you try; no hell below us; above us only sky….” No God, no guilt, no problem.
Their strategy will involve elevating “their man” to the status of diplomatic miracle worker as he introduces—and pushes through to fruition—a plan to create “permanent peace” in the Middle East. The Jews are promised secure borders and a temple in Jerusalem as a symbol of good faith; and the Muslims are given the West Bank as a “Palestinian state.” As Neville Chamberlin put it (right before World War II broke out in Europe), it’s “peace in our time.” Of course, nobody who knew anything about Islam would have guessed that the peace would hold. But it will hold—for about a year, anyway, enough time for the Jews to build a magnificent new temple on the temple mount. By the time the Muslims actually do attack, the vaunted diplomat will have achieved unprecedented international popularity. In order to maintain that reputation, however, he will be forced to defend the skinny new Israel against the invading Islamist hordes—something only an atheist couldn’t have seen coming.
As the Muslims invade Israel from the north and threaten from the south, several unexpected things will happen in quick succession. (1) God—Yahweh—will annihilate the forces of Islam within Israel through unmistakably miraculous means. (2) In order to salvage his reputation (and obfuscate God’s role), the diplomat—the one we know as the Antichrist—will initiate a massive thermonuclear attack against Magog—i.e., the homelands of the invading Islamic forces. (3) This will precipitate an escalation of war throughout the western world. And now that nukes have been introduced, all pretense of restraint is dropped: it’s all-out nuclear war involving one third of the earth’s land surface—the Middle East, Europe, Russia, North Africa, and America. The war, with the resulting disease and famine that will inevitably follow, will kill one quarter of the earth’s population. (4) Grasping what looks like a golden post-apocalyptic opportunity, the Antichrist will make his move toward “Messiah” status—seizing the assets of all of the international bankers who put him in power (along with what’s left of dar al-Islam’s and the Vatican’s vast wealth as well). He will then arrange to have himself crowned as the “Emperor of Earth,” the undisputed leader of the one-world government the atheistic secular humanists always said they wanted. But he will leave them with nothing: no wealth, no power, and no influence (and unless I miss my guess, no life, either).
That’s it in a nutshell—my take on the Last Days role and fate of the Religion of Denial. It’s not a pretty sight. Having spent the past couple of centuries as villains—doing everything they could to separate people from their Creator—the atheists and secular humanists will end up victims in (and of) the world system they themselves created. It’s the ultimate answer to Sun Tsu’s well-worn mythical maxim—that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The atheists had concluded that they could side with Satan on every issue that came along (assuming that if the God they hated didn’t exist, then Satan must not either), only to discover in the end that Satan is real, powerful, and willing to betray absolutely anyone—even his closest and most valuable allies. Assuming the Adversary to be a “religious myth” can be a miscalculation of catastrophic proportions.
Since faith is required in order to have a relationship with God, the atheists never tired of gleefully calling Him the believers’ “imaginary friend.” Eventually, they will experience the magnitude of that blunder as well. I’ll grant you, putting one’s faith in Yahshua can seem counterintuitive—no mere human would have invented a system of salvation like this, for folks don’t tend to believe what they can’t see. But Yahshua said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” (Matthew 16:26-27) Only an atheist would throw away his own soul in an attempt to “gain the whole world.” But perhaps only a God with an overdeveloped penchant for patience would allow him to come within sight of that goal, only to see it snatched away at the last possible moment.
The Religion of Death
The third of the four demographically matched religious traditions in today’s world is Islam. Of course, it’s just as divided as the splintered hodgepodge of Eastern religions we reviewed, and it’s even more dangerous and destructive than the Religion of Denial—atheistic secular humanism—that we just visited. Like the fourth group (liturgical Christianity) it is supposed to be a religion based on what “god” told its “prophets” and “apostles,” (though in reality, Islam has but one). Each of these four broad religious traditions, you’ll recall, now claims 21-22% of the world’s population (leaving Evangelical Christianity, Judaism, and a number of miscellaneous cults and sects sharing the remaining fourteen percent).
Although it’s definitely a “belief system” (based, like secular humanism, on things that must be taken on faith if at all) Islam in its “pure” form is best described as a political doctrine with religious trappings—sort of like Nazism under Hitler. It began early in the seventh century A.D. in Mecca, a backwater town in the Arabian Peninsula, home of the Ka’aba, a pagan worship center which was then little more than a simple, unroofed stone enclosure housing several hundred pagan idols, including the black meteorite supposedly inhabited by Allah). Muhammad, the boy-toy husband of a wealthy woman named Khadija, often sought solitude in a nearby cave, and began seeing terrifying dreams when he went there. He was convinced he had been visited by a jinn (that is, a demon), and was, logically enough, contemplating suicide.
But Khadija smelled an opportunity: she would get the respect she craved by presenting her young husband to the community as a prophet—a seer of mystic visions. Ishaq (No. 155) states, “Khadija was the first to believe in Allah and His Apostle. By her Allah lightened the burden on His Prophet. Whenever he met with contradiction and charges of falsehood he was comforted by her when he went home. She strengthened him and belittled the opposition.” Thus it was actually Muhammad’s wife who created the religion of Islam, and the first to single out Allah as the go-to god. He himself wanted nothing to do with it—until he realized it could be the key to attaining power, sex, and money. As far as I can tell, Khadija was the first—and last—woman who ever got any respect from Muhammad, if only temporarily. In a very real sense, she is personally responsible for the enslavement of every woman in the Muslim world ever since.
The Hadith of Bukhari (Vol. 1, Book 1, No. 3) relates the inciting incident: “The commencement of divine inspiration to Allah’s Messenger was in the form of dreams that came true like a bright light. The Prophet loved the seclusion of a cave in Hira. The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ The Prophet added, ‘Then the angel caught me forcefully and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He released me and asked me to read. I replied, “I do not know how to read.” Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me till I could not bear it any more. He asked me to read but I replied, “I do not know how to read or what shall I read?” Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, “Read in the name of your Lord who has created man from a clot. Read! Your Lord is the most generous.” Then the Apostle returned from that experience; the muscles between his neck and shoulders were trembling, and his heart beating severely. He went to Khadija and cried, ‘Cover me! Cover me!’ She did until his fear subsided. He said, ‘What’s wrong with me? I am afraid that something bad has happened to me.’ Khadija replied, ‘Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you….’”
The Sunnah (Tabari, Vol. 1, No. 67) reports the event like this: “The Prophet said, ‘I had been standing, but fell to my knees; and crawled away, my shoulders trembling. I went to Khadija and said, “Wrap me up!” When the terror had left me, he came to me and said, “Muhammad, you are the Messenger of Allah.”’ Muhammad said, ‘I had been thinking of hurling myself down from a mountain crag, but he appeared to me as I was thinking about this and said, “I am Gabriel and you are the Messenger.” Then he said, “Recite!” I said, “What shall I recite?” He took me and pressed me three times. I told Khadija, “I fear for my life.” She said, “Rejoice, for Allah will never put you to shame.”’”
I have reported this in so much detail because it is important for us to understand that this is the entire foundation of Islam. There is but one prophet, Muhammad, through which “god’s word” was supposedly transmitted. And how did Muhammad receive his revelations? Although they’d like you to believe that the “angel Gabriel” told him what to say (mind you, Muhammad couldn’t write—he was illiterate), it’s just not true, according to their own scriptures. Muhammad got most of his material from his own mind—and not even from “hearing voices” like any normal schizophrenic, but from non-verbal ringing noises he heard in his head and later “interpreted.”
His child-wife Aisha (who was six years old when they were married, when he was fifty) reported the following conversation (related by al-Bukhari: Vol. 1, Book 1, No. 2): “‘Allah’s Messenger! How is the Divine Inspiration revealed to you?’ He replied, ‘Sometimes it is like the ringing of a bell. This form of inspiration is the hardest of all and then this state passes off after I have grasped what is inspired. Sometimes the angel comes in the form of a man and talks to me and I grasp whatever he says.’” An angel? In Vol. 6, Bukhari reports Aisha’s assertion that “Whoever tells you that Muhammad saw his Lord is a liar…and the Prophet only saw Gabriel twice.” This, of course, begs the question: if the Hadith says that Muhammad saw Gabriel on only two occasions, how reliable (cough, choke) was the “bell” method, apparently used to transmit the remaining 112 surahs? The Qur’an is supposedly the very word of god (i.e., Allah), but its provenance is sketchy at best.
And then there’s the little matter of inconsistency (or outright self-contradiction). The Qur’an has some “let’s play nice verses” and some “go kill all the infidels” verses. And it explains that Allah sometimes changed his mind, but when he abrogated a verse, he replaced it with a “better one.” (Qur’an 2:106) That means that the later surahs (chronologically, not numerically) are the final word. It’s a big job, but it is possible (by comparing events portrayed in the Hadith and Sunnah to the corresponding situations in the Qur’an) to determine which surahs came first, and which came last. Unfortunately for the world, Allah apparently got grumpier and more murderous as Muhammad grew older, and especially after Kadijah died. In the end, all of the “let’s-get-along-with-the-People-of-the-Book” verses were done away with, replaced with jihad, hatred, greed, lust, and genocide—along with threats of hell fire for any Muslim reluctant to participate in the mayhem.
Islam claims to be monotheistic, but the identity of its deity tended to shift as Muhammad got more comfortable in his role as a “prophet.” At first, his god was a generic “Lord,” and later he was identified by name: ar-Rahman (a bloodthirsty pagan deity worshiped not in Mecca, but far to the south in Yemen—a god whose name, ironically enough, means “the Merciful”). It wasn’t until Kadijah was dead and Muhammad had been run out of Mecca as a public nuisance, finding shelter among the gullible Arabs in the city of Yathrib (now known as Medina), that he began openly calling upon the name of Allah—associated, you’ll recall, with one of the three hundred rock idols kept in the Ka’aba at Mecca. Muhammad scrupulously avoided calling on “local” gods (who could presumably be “consulted” by others) until he had gained political dominance.
Political Islam began in Yathrib (the town to which Muhammad fled in 622—an event called the hijra, the year from which the Muslim calendar is dated), and this is where his irrational hatred for Jews developed. Three of the five tribes in Yathrib were Jewish, and Muhammad learned just enough to be dangerous about Jewish lore from their recountings from the Talmud—which is based (all too loosely) on the Tanakh. He learned enough about Biblical “heroes” like Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Lot to build their stories into his own “scriptural narrative.” The lesson was always the same: obey the “prophet” or suffer the wrath of God. Muhammad liked the Jewish “Messiah” concept so well, he decided he must be the One, at which point the Jews of Yathrib began ridiculing him just as the pagans of Mecca had.
When the Meccans had exiled Muhammad in 622, he had taken a handful of followers with him, finding shelter and charity in Yathrib, now called Medina, about 200 miles north of Mecca. Then as now, the Muslims didn’t assimilate into their new surroundings, but lived off “welfare” (such as it was) for as long as they could. Eventually they became professional criminals, raiding passing caravans. When that ploy didn’t yield enough booty for them, they turned on their hosts—the three Jewish tribes of Yathrib, the Beni Qainuqa, the Beni al Nadheer, and the Beni Quraidha. One by one, they robbed them of everything they owned, exiled or murdered their men, and took (or sold) their wives and children as slaves. The profits weren’t used to improve their lot in life, however. They were used to purchase weapons to make them more formidable warriors in the next battle. Muhammad, as the exalted “prophet,” took his 20% cut of the profits off the top, whether he personally participated in the bloodshed or not.
Islam had found its “place” in the world: as long as there were victims to exploit and enslave, the “religion” spread. And spread it did for the next century—westward across Africa as far as the Atlantic Ocean, and eastward across South Asia—as long as there was anybody left who remembered what the Qur’an had commanded Muslims to do: fight unrelenting holy war against the infidels.
A Peaceful Religion?
So why in the world do we keep hearing from a gullible (or treasonous) press that “Islam is a peaceful religion”? If Islam-dominated OPEC didn’t control 40% of the world’s oil supply, would anybody believe it for a nanosecond? For a decade after 9/11, it was still hard to find anybody who was willing to admit the truth—that Islam itself is evil. Now, it appears, some folks are finally beginning to wake up to the truth, but the PC gene is still dominant in the western world—and it makes whole populations incapable of rational thought.
It all goes back to how one defines “peace.” To the average guy, it means “the normal, non-warring condition of a nation, group of nations, or the world…. a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations…. freedom from civil commotion and violence of a community; public order and security…. freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquility; serenity.”—Dictionary.com. The Hebrew concept of shalom broadens the concept: “completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, and the absence of agitation or discord.”—Strong’s.
But in Islam, it means something entirely removed from these sanguine ideas: “peace” to them is the state of affairs that exists when the entire world has been forced to submit to “Allah and his messenger.” The problem is perpetuated by the structure of Islam itself. Islam has no plausible method for the atonement of sin, suggesting instead that Allah might be bribed by committing acts of unspeakable viciousness against infidels (something called Jihad) to ensure one’s entrance into “paradise.” There is no mechanism in Islam for removing sin other than the ludicrous claim that “Allah is merciful.” It’s the height of irony: Muslims are commanded by their supposedly “merciful” god to show no mercy.
That may be an unpopular thing to say, given the Muslims’ incessant claim that “Islam is a peaceful religion” (something we now know to be nothing more than a semantic prevarication). So let us consult with Islam’s “holiest” scriptures: the Qur’an (supposedly the very words of Allah), the Hadith (that is, the “Sayings of the Prophet”) recorded by al-Bukhari, and the Sunnah (or “Example”) collected by the likes of ibn-Ishaq, ibn-Hisham, and al-Tabari. They consistently reveal that Islam requires warfare, not peace, against all who would not submit to “Allah and his Apostle.” I have chosen these few examples almost at random. There are literally hundreds of suitable “proof texts” available in the Muslim scriptures:
Ishaq (No. 326): “If they ask you for peace on the basis of Islam (submission), make peace on that basis.” According to Islam, unless and until we all believe (or at least pretend) that “there is no god except Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger,” there will be no peace on earth.
Tabari (Vol. 8, No.104): “Peace to whoever follows the right guidance! To proceed; Submit yourself, and you shall be safe.’” In the long run, either Islam must be eradicated from the earth, or everybody else must be: there is no middle ground.
In the afterlife, the only rewards in Islam are promised exclusively to those who fight, while making peace will earn you the hottest fires of hell…
Bukhari (Vol. 4, Book 52, No. 48): “The people said, ‘Allah’s Apostle! Acquaint the people with the good news.’ He said, ‘Paradise has one hundred grades which Allah has reserved for the Mujahidin [i.e., jihadists] who fight in His Cause.’” Paradise is reserved for the fighters, and apparently, the most murderous among them get the best rewards.
Qur’an 9:111: “Allah has purchased the believers, their lives and their goods. For them is Paradise. They fight in Allah’s Cause, and they slay and are slain; they kill and are killed.” Life is bad. Death is good. Peace is unthinkable. And it appears that Allah would prefer both believers and infidels to die.
Tabari (Vol. 2, No. 55): “Allah’s Messenger went out to his men and incited them to fight. He promised, ‘Every man may keep all the booty he takes.’ Then Muhammad said, ‘By Allah, if any man fights today and is killed fighting aggressively, going forward and not retreating, Allah will cause him to enter Paradise.’” Living peaceably is not an option. One must fight aggressively, never letting up. The motivation is to steal everything you can, and if you get killed for your trouble, Allah promises to give you scores of virgins to abuse and rivers of wine to keep you inebriated—things that were forbidden in life. The more greedy, lust-driven and lethal you are, the better Allah likes it.
Bukhari (Vol. 4, Book 52, No. 80): “Muhammad said, ‘Allah welcomes two men with a smile; one of whom kills the other and both of them enter Paradise. One fights in Allah’s Cause and gets killed. Later on Allah forgives the killer who also get martyred in Allah’s Cause.’” As long as people are killing each other or dying in the attempt, Allah is happy. (Or he would be, if he were real.)
Qur’an 8:15: “Believers, when you meet unbelieving infidels in battle while you are marching for war, never turn your backs to them. If any turns his back on such a day, unless it be in a stratagem of war, a maneuver to rally his side, he draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and his abode is Hell, an evil refuge!” Retreating or retiring from the battle is forbidden. One must keep fighting until he is dead, for Allah wills it. I don’t think your god likes you very much, guys.
Forgive me for being blunt, but only an idiot or a liar would call this “a religion of peace.” Or even sane. Muslims must take the word of one man, Muhammad, as truth. Islam requires one’s willingness to die for the cause, even though nothing he said (whether historical or prophetic, scientific or theological) can be verified with empirical evidence. Remember: a belief system is defined not by what the majority of its adherents want to do, but by what its scriptures declare. Islam’s agenda—armed conquest—is the absolute antithesis of the Judeo-Christian requirement of love.
There are over a billion and a half Muslims living in the world today. Many them would prefer to live quietly in their cultural cocoons, peaceful and comfortable in their mindless religious traditions—observing the five “pillars” of Islam (the shahada (confession of faith), salat (prayer), zakat (almsgiving), sawm (fasting, especially during the month of Ramadan), and hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca). To them, this is Islam. But more and more Muslims are waking up to the fact that it isn’t, not really. Rather, Sharia law—the legal code derived from the sayings and example of Muhammad (though it has little basis in the Qur’an)—demands a lifestyle that forbids peace and precipitates unending conflict and bitterness. It begins at home, with a war on women in which anyone without a Y chromosome is nothing but property, something a man may beat, rape, and even kill if she displeases him. It ends out in the world, where jihad (the Islamic war of conquest) is waged against any and all who will not submit to Islam.
Muslim apologists would have us believe that jihad is nothing but “spiritual struggle,” but allow me to reprise the way it is defined by the Fahd Foundation’s official English translation of the Qur’an. It’s a bit more candid: “Jihad is holy fighting in Allah’s Cause with full force of numbers and weaponry. It is given the utmost importance in Islam and is one of its pillars. By Jihad, Islam is established, Allah’s Word is made superior (which means only Allah has the right to be worshiped), and Islam is propagated. By abandoning Jihad, Islam is destroyed and Muslims fall into an inferior position; their honor is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish. Jihad is an obligatory duty in Islam on every Muslim. He who tries to escape from this duty, dies with one of the qualities of a hypocrite.” (Noble Qur’an, margin note on surah 2:190.) As you can see, real jihad has nothing to do with religious observance or soul searching, and everything to do with the political and military ascendancy of Islam—that which Muhammad coveted with every fiber of his being. And this “pillar,” unlike the other five, is included—no fewer than 164 times—in the Qur’an itself, supposedly the very word of Allah.
So if and when a Muslim “wakes up” to what his religion actually requires, he becomes a nasty, belligerent person, ready to kill or be killed for “the cause.” It “helps,” of course, to be assured by one’s imam that the goal is booty in this world if you are successful in jihad, or unending carnal lust in paradise if you manage to get yourself killed. For the true believer, there is no apparent downside: if the imams are right, even though you have nothing to live for, you’ve still got something to die for. The bottom line, then, is that the closer a Muslim adheres to the teachings of his religion, the worse a human being he will be: frustrated, miserable, unfulfilled, hateful, selfish, and potentially lethal to anyone he meets.
The logical question we must ask is, how can Muslims be so out of touch with reality? I can understand why they don’t leave Islam: to do so can bring a death sentence down upon one’s head. (What kind of religion can only keep its faithful by threatening to kill them if they leave?) But how can they continue to insist that “Islam is a religion of peace,” when it is in fact precisely the opposite—a manifesto demanding war against all men until Islam is universal and Allah is all-powerful? Tim Burton, writing for BrennerBrief.com, explains: “If a Muslim cannot achieve a permissible goal (such as promoting Islam in the eyes of non-Muslims, or preventing its denigration in the eyes of non-Muslims) by telling the truth, then he is actually obliged—not just permitted, but divinely commanded—to lie in order to achieve that goal. This is in direct contrast to the moral and ethical values of our Judeo-Christian civilization, where lying under any circumstances is considered to be a sin. People do lie, of course, for all sorts of reasons, but they know that they are committing a sin by doing so, and there is never any circumstance under which a lie may be given divine sanction.”
IslamExposed.org describes the intricacies of purposeful Islamic deception: “Islam is an inherently subversive ideology. It even uses ignorant Muslims to give the Kafir (a derogatory term for non-believers) the illusion of assimilation. Islam is Jihad, as Muhammad stated that it is the moral duty of devout Muslims to engage in Jihad of the sword and the pen (war and war propaganda) (Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 2, No. 26). In the words of Mohammad, ‘War is deceit.’ (Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 52, No. 269).”
Islamic deceit is a highly developed art form, as revealed by the extensive vocabulary employed to describe its many facets:
“Taqiyya (Shia) or Muda’rat (Sunni): tactical deceit for the purposes of spreading Islam.
“Kitman: deceit by omission.
“Tawriya: deceit by ambiguity.
“Taysir: deceit through facilitation (not having to observe all the tenets of Sharia).
“Darura: deceit through necessity (to engage in something ‘Haram’ or forbidden).
“Muruna: the temporary suspension of Sharia in order that Muslim immigrants appear ‘moderate.’ So through the principle of Hijra (Muslim immigration), the early Muslims are a ‘red herring’ or a Trojan Horse. The Kafir (or Kuffar) community gets the false sense that the early immigrants are not a threat, at least until the Muslim community has gained strength.”
Other important Islamic terms shed light on how Muslims are expected to infiltrate infidel society through deceit and deception:
“Al-Wara’ Wal-Bara: This requires Muslims to help Muslims against non-Muslims, which could include sheltering terrorists, etc., and to shun, oppose, hate, and make jihad—including war—on non-Muslims.
“Hudna: a temporary truce (often portrayed as ‘peace’ to the kafir), which the Muslims can break at any time when strategically advantageous. It is usually for the purposes of rearming and regrouping.
“Hijra: Muslim immigration in order to peacefully populate and gain strength in a Kafir country. This can be used in combination with Muruna.” (This of course was the tactic Muhammad himself used in Yathrib/Medina after having been run out of Mecca.)
“Conditional Behavior: Following Mohammad’s example (i.e., Mecca vs. Medina), the principle of: when weak, preach peace; when strong, wage war.
“Dualist logic: When the Qur’an contains conflicting statements, they are still both true since they are the words of Allah. Under Western logic, if there are two conflicting statements (e.g., ‘There is no compulsion in religion’ and ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him’), only one can be true and the other is false. This dualist logic allows the faithful to use whichever verse will propel the spread Islam (usually the peaceful verse repeated in English for the kafir and the violent verse repeated in Arabic to the faithful).
“Abrogation (‘Naskh’): When there are two conflicting statements, the ‘truer,’ authoritative statement is the later, more violent one, which takes precedence over the earlier peaceful statement in regards to the course of action a devout Muslim should take to further the spread of Islam.” As I have noted, if compared against the events recorded in the Hadith and Sunnah, the Qur’an’s chronological order can be worked out, proving that the more recent “nasty” verses take precedence over the older “nice” ones.
“Alternate Definitions: The Islamic definitions of the words ‘peace,’ ‘tolerance,’ ‘freedom,’ and ‘equality’ are different than the West’s definitions. The Islamic definitions are compatible with Jihad and Islamic intolerance.
“Haram vs. Halal: Even the actions that Muslims claim are against Sharia Law (i.e., Haram or forbidden) can be acceptable (i.e., Halal or permissible) in order to spread Islam. For example, under Sharia Law, homosexuality is Haram, and homosexuals are to be killed. Yet, an Imam issued a Fatwa (a religious legal pronouncement and decree) allowing for sodomy between two males in order for the suicide bomber’s anus to be stretched to accommodate explosives. So what is Halal and what is Haram is based on the intention (‘Niyya’) of the actor. In the West we call this ‘the ends justifies the means.’”
The really terrifying epiphany for me is that there seems to be very little difference between the deceit of Islam and that of liberal American politics.
Considering the purposeful campaign of deception that the Islamic scriptures demand in order to advance this insidious “religion,” it shouldn’t be terribly surprising to discover how much progress they’ve made in spreading the Religion of Death into non-Muslim societies. And yet, I (for one) find myself utterly flabbergasted at the inroads they’ve made. I mean, their lies are so absurdly transparent, one would have to be utterly naïve, stupid, or morally adrift to give them any credence at all. And we’re not all that naïve or stupid.
So I think “door number three” here is the key to creeping Sharia: the world has largely left behind whatever grounding it once had in the Word of Yahweh. As Paul noted, “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man.” (Romans 1:21-23) It’s the same trap the atheistic secular humanists fell into, but this time, the “corruptible man” in question is Muhammad—the very personification of corruption. Is it just my imagination, or does it seem like the only people left who are totally immune to the deceptions of Islam are evangelical, fundamentalist Christians—and perhaps the occasional patriot or political conservative (though these groups can overlap to a great extent, especially in America).
But for some inexplicable reason, everybody else seems to be falling all over themselves trying to find a reason to justify or excuse Islam, a way to compromise with it, or a strategy for living peaceably with it. We Americans decry acts of terrorism in foreign lands—all of which are perpetrated by Muslims—only to turn around and allow (nay, encourage) the immigration of thousands upon thousands of them onto our shores, numbly chanting the fallacious mantra, “Islam is a peaceful religion” over and over. And then we’re shocked when somebody we’ve welcomed with open arms in the name of political correctness detonates a bomb in a public place or guns down a group of innocent people in the name of jihad. It’s insane.
Mind you, I have nothing against immigration per se: the “melting pot” is what ideally keeps any nation (though obviously, I’m thinking primarily about America) vibrant and growing. But with Islam, all too often, things don’t “melt” at all—Muslims don’t integrate, don’t assimilate, and don’t become part of the society to which they’ve come. In both Europe and North America, there are now “no-go zones,” hundreds of them, in which Sharia law takes precedence over the law of the land. Police don’t enter these areas, or attempt to enforce the law: they have become like foreign enclaves.
Our 26th President had some brilliant observations on the subject—which now, over a hundred years later, have become a scathing indictment of Islamic immigration without assimilation: “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American.... There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag.... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”—Theodore Roosevelt, 1907. I, personally, would take the whole process back a notch, and observe that America was founded by Christians on Christian principles—Biblical principles—and anyone who comes here from a foreign land should be prepared to respect that fact. But apparently, that’s asking too much.
Sharia law—the Muslim-enclave replacement for Judeo-Christian-based English Common Law—is based not on the inalienable rights of humanity, but on the wishful thinking of Muhammad. It begins with the inhumane treatment of women. Nonie Darwish (born into a Muslim family in Egypt), in a piece sarcastically entitled “Joys of Muslim Women,” writes, “In the Muslim faith a Muslim man can marry a child as young as one year old and have sexual intimacy with this child, consummating the marriage by nine. The dowry is given to the family in exchange for the woman (who becomes his slave) and for the purchase of the private parts of the woman, to use her as a toy.
“Even though a woman is abused she cannot obtain a divorce. To prove rape, the woman must have four male witnesses. Often after a woman has been raped, she is returned to her family and the family must return the dowry. The family has the right to execute her (an honor killing) to restore the honor of the family. A husband can beat his wives ‘at will’ and he does not have to say why he has beaten her. The husband is permitted to have four wives, and a temporary wife for an hour (a prostitute) at his discretion.
“The Sharia Muslim law controls the private as well as the public life of the woman. In the Western World (Canada, Australia, United States and Britain) Muslim men are starting to demand Shariah Law so the wife cannot obtain a divorce and he can have full and complete control of her. It is amazing and alarming how many of our sisters and daughters attending American, Canadian, Universities and British Universities are now marrying Muslim men and submitting themselves and their children unsuspectingly to the Shariah law….
“While Westerners tend to think that all religions encourage some form of the golden rule, Sharia teaches two systems of ethics—one for Muslims and another for non-Muslims. Building on tribal practices of the seventh century, Sharia encourages the side of humanity that wants to take from and subjugate others. While Westerners tend to think in terms of religious people developing a personal understanding of and relationship with God, Shariah advocates executing people who ask difficult questions that could be interpreted as criticism. It’s hard to imagine that in this day and age, Islamic scholars agree that those who criticize Islam or choose to stop being Muslim should be executed. Sadly, while talk of an Islamic reformation is common and even assumed by many in the West, such murmurings in the Middle East are silenced through intimidation.”
Those familiar with the Islamic scriptures recognize this tactic immediately. I call it: “WWMD” (What Would Muhammad Do?). The Hadith makes no effort to hide the prophet’s paranoia and narcissism, boasting of the summary execution of his critics while their children looked on. “Reform” in Islam is nothing more than a retreat to the shelter of conscience—what Muhammad called “hypocrisy,” attempting to practice the Muslim religion’s rites and rituals without violating one’s inner moral compass by engaging in jihad.
Paradise and Hell-Fire
What about the Islamic concept of heaven and hell? If you’ve been paying attention for the past couple of decades, you will have noticed that Islam marches to the beat of an entirely different drummer. Their goals, motivations, and concepts of right and wrong are completely antithetical to those of Christians and Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, and even atheists and agnostics. We’ve established the Qur’an-based principle that the only thing to which their god responds positively (if we can take his word for it) is jihad—fighting in the cause of Allah and his prophet until the whole world either submits or succumbs. (Yes, the “five pillars” of Islam are commanded of Muslims, but rewards in the afterlife are linked exclusively to jihad.)
So we know why serious Muslims are so bloodthirsty and brutal: jihad is mandatory. But we will never fully understand what motivates Muslims to violate their own consciences until we examine what their “scriptures” teach concerning death and its aftermath.
First, let us determine who is destined for which fate. Al-Bukhari (Vol. 4, Book 51, No. 72) wrote, “Our Prophet told us about the message of our Lord: ‘Whoever amongst us is killed will go to Paradise.’ Umar asked the Prophet, ‘Is it true that our men who are killed will go to Paradise and the Pagans will go to the Hell Fire?’ The Prophet said, ‘Yes.’” Pagans (polytheists) won’t be the only ones consigned to hell, however: Qur’an 4:140 notes, “Indeed, Allah will collect the Hypocrites and Infidels together and put them all in Hell.” As we’ve seen, a “hypocrite” in Islamic parlance is a nominal Muslim who is reluctant to fight in a war of jihad or support such violence with his financial means—in other words, a “peaceful Muslim.” And an “infidel” is anyone who does not submit to Allah and his messenger.
Oh, and ladies? There is no hope for you at all in Islam—alive or dead. The Hadith (Bukhari Vol. 1, Book 22, No. 28) says, “The Prophet said: ‘I was shown the Hell Fire and the majority of its dwellers were women who are disbelievers or ungrateful.’ When asked what they were ungrateful for, the Prophet answered, ‘All the favors done for them by their husbands.’” You know, like beating them, raping them, mutilating them, and treating them like cattle. From the Sunnah (Imam Muslim, Book 1, No. 142): “‘O womenfolk, you should ask for forgiveness, for I saw you in bulk amongst the dwellers of Hell.’ A wise lady said: Why is it, Allah’s Apostle, that women comprise the bulk of the inhabitants of Hell? The Prophet observed: ‘You curse too much and are ungrateful to your spouses.’” Kadijah, something tells me you created a monster when you tried to rein in your boy-toy. “‘You lack common sense, fail in religion and rob the wisdom of the wise.’ Upon this the woman remarked: ‘What is wrong with our common sense?’ The Prophet replied, ‘Your lack of common sense can be determined from the fact that the evidence of two women is equal to one man. That is a proof.’” Oh, okay. Makes perfect sense when you put it that way. Not.
Only male jihad fighters, then, can enter the Muslim Paradise. The jury is still out on whether they actually have to get killed in battle, or merely have to make everybody else’s lives miserable. Let us examine what the Islamic scriptures have to say about this side of the afterlife:
Qur’an (56:13): “A multitude… (will be) on couch-like thrones woven with gold and precious stones. Reclining, facing each other. Round about them will serve boys of perpetual freshness, of never ending bloom… [Is it just me, or do you too detect an undercurrent of Muslim lust for boys as well as girls here?] with goblets, jugs, and cups filled with sparkling wine. No aching of the head will they receive, nor suffer any madness, nor exhaustion.” Gee, Muhammad, what’s the point of getting drunk in paradise if you can’t do stupid things you’ll regret in the morning, or wake up with a hangover? “And with fruits, any that they may select; and the flesh of fowls, any they may desire. And (there will be) Hur (fair females) with big eyes, lovely and pure, beautiful ones, like unto hidden pearls, well-guarded in their shells. A reward for the deeds.”
Qur’an (56:33): “Unending, and unforbidden, exalted beds, and maidens incomparable. We have formed them in a distinctive fashion and made them virgins, loving companions matched in age [another poke at Kadijah?], for the sake of those of the right hand.” That “right hand” reference points to something that destroys the “Paradise for jihad fighters” theory: Allah is said to have predestined everyone’s eternal fate by rubbing Adam’s back. Those few who came from his right hand would go to Paradise, while the vast majority, the fruit of his left hand, were predestined to hell fire, no matter what they did in life.
Hmmm. Does this imply that Allah is left-handed? Somebody didn’t think this through.
Note that free will has no place in Islam. Qur’an (33:36): “It is not fitting for a Muslim man or woman to have any choice in their affairs when a matter has been decided for them by Allah and His Messenger. They have no option.”
Qur’an (37:40): “Fruits, Delights; they will be honored in the Gardens of Pleasure, on thrones facing one another. Round them will be passed a cup of pure white wine, delicious to the drinkers, free from ghoul (hurt), nor shall you be made mad or exhausted thereby. And with them will be Qasirat-at-Tarf (virgin females), restraining their glances (desiring none but you), with big, beautiful eyes. As if they were (sheltered) eggs, preserved.” Booze and babes—the stuff Muhammad couldn’t get enough of. Are you sure this is the word of Allah? For a “god,” he sure seems to be attuned to carnal male lusts.
Qur’an (88:12): “Therein will be a bubbling spring, raised throne-like couches, drinking cups ready placed, cushions set in rows, and rich silken carpets all spread out.” The Islamic paradise is described as a place of worldly luxuries, not heavenly (i.e., spiritual) delights, where the inhabitants live like pampered sultans, and Allah is nowhere in evidence.
Bukhari (Vol. 4, Book 55, No. 544): “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘The first group who will enter Paradise will be glittering like the moon and those who will follow will glitter like the most brilliant star. They will not urinate, relieve nature, spit, or have any nasal secretions. Their combs will be gold and their sweat will smell like musk. Their companions will be houris [virgins]. All of them will look alike and will be sixty cubits (90 feet) tall.’” Tell me: how does one keep a 90-foot-tall virgin happy?
Qur’an (78:31): “Verily for those who follow Us [presumably, Allah and Muhammad], there will be a fulfillment of your desires: enclosed Gardens, grapevines, voluptuous full-breasted maidens of equal age, and a cup full to the brim of wine. There they never hear vain discourse nor lying—a gift in payment—a reward from your Lord.” What, did you think Allah would procure scrawny, flat-chested virgins for his heroic warriors? Not a chance.
We must understand that the things Muhammad (excuse me, Allah) promised his “insurgents” in death were the very things that he forbade in life. Frustration was part of the formula. Under Muhammad’s rule, if the Muslims wanted to satiate their lusts (or merely enjoy a pleasant, comfortable life), they’d have to die for the cause. Bukhari (Vol. 7, Book 69, No. 494) explains: “I heard the Prophet saying, ‘From among my followers there will be some who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, to be lawful. Allah will destroy them during the night and will let mountains fall on them. He will transform the rest into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Doom.’” In other words, if you find any pleasure in this life, you can look forward to spending eternity in hell. That goes a long way toward explaining the jihadist’s misery, thwarted desire, and pent-up resentment toward his fellow man.
I have speculated on how many Christians might participate in the rapture, as living saints caught up out of the world, that is. Innumerable multitudes of post-rapture neo-believers will “live and reign with Christ for a thousand years” as well—whether as living mortals or resurrected saints. Considering the fact that “Whosoever will may come” (Revelation 22:17), and that God wishes no one to perish, but for all to come to repentance (II Peter 3:9), the door to salvation is wide open (though comparatively few among the earth’s billions of inhabitants will choose the “narrow gate” that leads to it). Even so, I expect the numbers of living saved taken in the rapture worldwide to be in the “nine-figure” range—hundreds of millions. And the total capacity of “heaven” is unlimited.
How does that compare to the Islamic scriptures’ description of the capacity of paradise? Bukhari (Vol. 8, Book 76, No. 550) reports: “I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘From my followers there will be a crowd of 70,000 in number who will enter Paradise.’” My guess is that there have been perhaps three billion Muslims throughout history, over half of whom are alive today. That means that according to Muhammad himself, one’s chances of entering paradise are only 1 in 43,000—and that’s if you’re a Muslim! Everyone else will go to hell. If I were a Muslim, I’d rethink my strategy (and my god), based on that statistic alone.
But perhaps you’re thinking, “Maybe the Islamic hell isn’t so bad. Maybe it’s like John Lennon’s pipe dream, ‘No hell below us, above us only sky’ (which is roughly tantamount to Hindu Heaven, if you think about it). No, sorry. The Islamic scriptures’ descriptions of “Hell Fire” are more vivid, nasty, and numerous than you might imagine. They make Dante’s Inferno look like a mildly stressful Monday morning. It would appear that Muhammad needed something really scary to motivate the troops to go out and fight for him. As we saw with Islam’s descriptions of Paradise, these descriptions (and my list could have gone on for dozens of pages) are decidedly carnal in nature—physical torments designed to intimidate people living in physical bodies. If you really believed these things, you’d do anything to avoid being sent there:
Qur’an 37:63: “For We have truly made it as a trial to torment the disbelievers. Zaqqum is a horrible thorn tree that grows in Hell. The shoots of its fruit-stalks are like the heads of devils. Truly they [non-believers] will eat it and fill their bellies with it. On top of that they will be given a mixture made of boiling water to drink especially prepared. Then they shall be returned to the Blazing Fire.” And in hell, Allah himself is the caterer. He doesn’t go anywhere near paradise. (Perhaps that’s why they call it paradise.)
Bukhari (Vol. 4, Book 54, No. 487): “The Prophet said, ‘The Hell Fire is 69 times hotter than ordinary worldly fires.’” Ordinary fire is apparently not a scary enough motivator. By the way, that would make hell fire run about 125,000° F. The surface of the sun is “only” about 10,000°F.
Qur’an 74:26: “Soon will I fling them into the burning Hell Fire! And what will explain what Hell Fire is? It permits nothing to endure, and nothing does it spare! It darkens and changes the color of man, burning the skin! It shrivels and scorches men.” Is it my imagination, or is Muhammad projecting his own worst nightmares onto “Allah’s” description of hell?
Qur’an 67:7: “We have prepared the doom of Hell and the penalty of torment in the most intense Blazing Fire. For those who reject their Lord is the punishment of Hell: Evil, it is such a wretched destination. When they are flung therein, they will hear the terrible drawing in of their breath and loud moaning even as the flame blazes forth, roaring with rage as it boils up, bursting with fury.” There’s nothing “spiritual” about this. All of the Qur’an’s portrayals of hell are calculated to be terrifying to mortal man in living, physical bodies.
Qur’an 88:1, 6: “Has the narration reached you of the overwhelming calamity? Some faces (all disbelievers, Jews and Christians) that Day, will be humiliated, downcast, scorched by the burning fire, while they are made to drink from a boiling hot spring…. They shall have no food but a poisonous plant with bitter thorns, which will neither nourish nor satisfy hunger.” According to the Hadith, Muhammad was abandoned and abused as a child. Is it possible that these depictions of “hell” are extrapolations or exaggerations of the deprivations he himself suffered? Just a theory.
As I noted, only jihad fighters are qualified for paradise (and precious few of them, as it turns out). Qur’an 4:97: “Verily, when angels take the souls of those who die wronging themselves (by staying home from the battle), they say: ‘In what plight or engagement were you?’ They reply: ‘Weak on the earth.’ Such men will find their abode in Hell, an evil resort!” Muhammad hated Jews and envied Christians, but he positively loathed “nominal” Muslims who wouldn’t lift a finger to go out and steal some booty or kidnap a woman for him.
Qur’an 9:67-68: “The Hypocrites enjoin what is forbidden, and forbid what Islam commands. They withhold their hands (from spending in Allah’s Cause [i.e., Jihad]). They have forgotten Allah so He has forgotten them. Verily the Hypocrites are oblivious, rebellious and perverse. Allah has promised the Hypocrites, both men and women, and the disbelievers the Fire of Hell for their abode: Therein shall they dwell. It will suffice them. On them is the curse of Allah, and an enduring punishment, a lasting torment.” The Bible teaches that Yahweh is love; the Qur’an makes a pretty good case that Allah is hatred personified.
Qur’an 70:10, 12: “The Mujrim (disbeliever) desires to free himself from the Punishment by sacrificing his children as a ransom to save himself from the torment…. He would sacrifice his wife and his brother, and his kin who sheltered him, and all that is on earth to deliver himself from the Doom. By no means! For them it is the Fire of Hell! Plucking apart his body right to the skull! Taking away the head skin. Eager to roast; dragged by the head, hell shall claim all who flee.” Sacrificing his children? Is this not precisely what Muslim parents are doing when they encourage their offspring to become suicide bombers? Is this not what Hamas Katyusha teams do when they launch their rockets toward Israel from Gaza using women and children as human shields? This is just another thinly disguised exercise in projecting one’s faults upon his enemy—accusing him of what you yourself are doing.
One revealing aspect about all of this is that Allah seems impotent to defend his own interests. Rather, he feels he must threaten his captives (excuse me—followers) with eternal torment in order to induce them to violate and suppress the consciences crying out within them, begging them to seek peace and love mercy. Allah is apparently incapable of doing any of his own “wet-work.” (Not coincidentally, this is the same way the Bible depicts Satan.) Where the Judeo-Christian God insists, “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says Yahweh,” (Romans 12:19; Deuteronomy 32:35) and then patiently gives men their entire lifetimes to repent, Allah wants the disbelievers and Muslim hypocrites to be slain by his jihadists now—and not only killed, but robbed, and their dependents enslaved, imprisoned, and/or raped.
And where is the booty to go? To his sole “prophet,” who died in 632 A.D. It’s interesting that no subsequent scripture was ever revealed saying who was supposed to get rich after Muhammad was toes up (prophecies of the coming Mahdi not withstanding). Allah apparently never gave a second thought as to who was to lead Islam or profit by it after the prophet’s death—an “oversight” which divides dar al-Islam between Sunnis and Shiites to this day. It’s remarkable, considering how often Allah’s story changed during Muhammad’s lifetime, that he would say (in Qur’an 33:36), “No Muslim has any choice after Allah and His Apostle have decided a matter.” I guess Allah sort of lost interest in dispensing divine revelation after Muhammad croaked at the age of 62.
I’m being silly, of course. “Allah” was just a black rock that Muhammad recruited to deceive gullible Arabs into doing his bidding and enabling his lusts. I can’t believe it ever worked—but especially after he was dead. On the other hand, the whole scam borders on brilliance (in a twisted sort of way): Muhammad gave fallen, corrupt men license to loot, plunder, rape, and murder—to give their sinful natures free rein—all with “divine” blessing and encouragement.
Along with his well-documented lust and greed, the Islamic scriptures reveal that Muhammad was extremely thin-skinned, ready to lash out at any real or perceived slight, insult, or offense. He was by all accounts (mind you, the only accounts we have are Islamic scriptural sources) one of the most narcissistic, self-absorbed men who ever lived. The words the prophet put in Allah’s mouth bear this out. Qur’an 33:56: “Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. So believers, send your blessings on him, and salute him with all respect—a worthy salutation. Those who annoy Allah and His Messenger and speak evil things of them—Allah has cursed them and prepared a humiliating torment.” It’s amazing the way Allah and Muhammad always seem to be speaking in the same voice, like a dummy controlling his ventriloquist. Qur’an 33:57: “Those who speak negatively of Allah and His Apostle shall be cursed.” How convenient. Qur’an 108:3: “For he who insults you (Muhammad) will be cut off.” To this day, Islamists get incensed when people scoff at the ridicule-worthy antics perpetrated in the name of Allah and his apostle. The road apples don’t fall far from the camel, I guess.
Islamic Boys’ Clubs
One of my pet peeves is the mainstream media’s annoying habit of blaming all Islamic terrorism on al-Qaeda, as if nobody is a real terrorist if they aren’t in some way affiliated with this group, founded by Osama Bin Laden in the late 1980s. Since 9/11, we’ve all become aware of a few likeminded organizations, like the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, and of course the Muslim Brotherhood (the granddaddy of them all), but the news media have been consistently reticent to report the obvious—that these terrorist boys’ clubs are united and motivated by only one thing: Islam—the Religion of Death.
For the longest time, in fact, the news media insisted on describing these groups as “insurgents,” “rebels,” “belligerents,” “enemy combatants,” “militants,” or my personal favorite, “freedom fighters.” When it finally became impossible to hide the fact that Islam had something to do with their terrorism, it was assumed that these fanatics were a tiny minority who had somehow “twisted their religion” into something it was not; they had “hijacked” Islam, transforming it from a “religion of peace” into something less benign. So they were then called “radicals,” “extremists,” or the slippery description “Islamists.”
What they are almost never called in the press is what they actually are: Islamic fundamentalists—people who embrace the fundamentals, the core principles, the basic foundational tenets of Islam. A “fundamentalist” is by definition not a radical or extremist. He is, rather, simply doing what his belief system requires—unhindered by the diluting or polluting influences of tradition or convention. The only way to identify what these things are is to consult their scriptures (as we have done). This is true of any religion or belief system—but especially one whose scriptures are purported to be the very word of God. And there are only two of these in existence: the Bible and the Qur’an.
The Bible’s foundational premise can be boiled down to one thing: love, first for God and then for your fellow man. (See Luke 10:25-28.) In contrast, the Qur’an’s can be stated like this: “Fight them until there is no more disbelief, and religion is only for Allah.” (Qur’an 2:193) Both scriptural traditions spend an inordinate amount of time “fleshing out” these opposing directives. Both insist that their God alone is worthy of worship. And both groups are confident in the prospect of their vindication in the end.
But their methods and tactics are polar opposites. Christianity respects and celebrates free will: the choice of whom to serve is the prerogative of the individual. Christianity invites; it teaches; it reasons; it offers salvation from our fallen state through grace—the unmerited favor showered upon us by a holy but loving God who desires to share an intimate relationship with us for eternity. (Note: if your religion doesn’t look like that, it’s not really Christianity.) “Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17) By definition, you can’t force someone to receive Christ’s grace.
Islam, on the other hand, relies on force, compulsion, threats of violence in this world and hell fire in the next, to make people submit to a life of pointless ritual and spiritual poverty that offers no chance of salvation or forgiveness from one’s sins. Fighting—jihad—is the only way to earn the singular reward Allah offers to the select few: the carnal pleasures of eternal debauchery in paradise.
So whereas Christian fundamentalists love, Islamic fundamentalists fight. If I as a Christian don’t love you (notice: I didn’t say agree with you), I am rightly labeled a hypocrite—technically, a pretender. But the same distinction applies to Muslims: if they do not fight against you with the goal of either forcing you to submit to Allah and his messenger or killing you for non-compliance, then they are rightly described as hypocrites—and the Qur’an does that very thing. In short, if a “Christian” does not love, he is not really a follower of Christ (see I John 4:7-8.) But if a Muslim does not fight—if he does not participate in jihad against the hated infidels with his life and/or resources—then he is not really a follower of Muhammad, but is destined for the hottest fires of Allah’s hell.
But wait. We are incessantly assured (by the same media who insist that Muslim terrorists are “radical extremists”) that these Islamic fundamentalists—those who favor Sharia law, the rule of the Islamic scriptures over any other authority—are a tiny minority, only a few percent of the total Muslim population. This may have been the case a hundred years ago, but it’s not today. There are currently about 1.6 billion Muslims in this world, and at least forty-six nations in which they comprise the ruling majority. The question is, “Is radicalism in the Muslim world a tiny minority phenomenon, or are the fundamentalists actually in the majority?”
A 2009 Pew Research study set out to determine how many of these Muslims hold “radical” (i.e., fundamentalist) views. We’re not trying to pin down the number of actual “blood-on-your-hands” terrorists, you understand, but rather how many people there are whose belief system aligns with them. After all, terrorists need financial support to do what they do, and Muhammad declared that one who equips and facilitates jihad is as “good” as the one who actually swings the scimitar. Not all of the countries they polled were ruled by Muslims, and they didn’t offer survey results for every Islamic nation, but their findings are significant nonetheless—and perhaps a little surprising.
The nations reported on are as follows. Indonesia: out of a total Muslim population of 205 million there are 143 million “radicalized” (i.e., fundamentalist) Muslims. Egypt: 55.2 million radicals (out of 80 million Muslims). Pakistan: 135.4 million radicals (out of 179 million Muslims). Bangladesh: 121.9 million radicals. Nigeria 53.7 million. Iran: 62.1 million. Turkey: 23.9 million. Morocco: 24.6 million. Iraq: 24.3 million. Afghanistan: 24 million. Jordan: 3.8 million. Palestinian-controlled areas: 3.8 million. And in the West? France: 1.6 million radical Muslims. Great Britain: 2.2 million. United States: about 500,000. That totals up to 680,030,000 radical, extremist, fundamentalist (whatever you want to call them) Muslims, out of a total survey population of 942.3 million Muslims, in eleven Muslim-majority nations (out of 46 candidates) plus three nations where they’re in the minority. That’s a pretty good cross-section, I’d say.
Let those statistics sink in. 72% of the Muslims who were surveyed—in nations large and small, both moderate and radical in reputation, whether in the majority or the minority—want Sharia law to be imposed worldwide. I think that’s a large enough sample to reasonably extrapolate the trend out over the entire Muslim world—including places that weren’t studied, like Somalia, Libya, Syria, the Sudan, and Algeria. 72% of 1.6 billion total Muslims in the world today comes out to 1,152,000,000 people on earth today who would like to see your butt in the air five times a day in prayer to a false god, and who would, if push came to shove, prefer to see you dead than in your current state of infidelity.
So if, as so many pundits suggest, you expect the “moderate” peaceful Muslims to convince the “radicals” to lay down their arms or stop funding jihad, I’ve got some bad news for you. Almost three quarters of the Muslims on this earth agree with them (and their scriptures)—even if they haven’t yet taken up arms in order to try to force your conversion. If the statistics mean anything at all, they indicate that it’s far more likely that the “radicals” will convince the “moderates” to join them in actively supporting Muhammad’s insane dream of world domination. After all, the Islamic scriptures support the jihadists.
So there’s not much point in blaming boys’ clubs like al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood for all the bad behavior in the world. Yes, these organizations have been identified and singled out as “terrorist groups” by the world’s various governments (even Muslim ones). But there is only one unifying factor among them: Islam. They all take it seriously; they all believe and act upon what Muhammad put forth as the truth.
Today, the world seems to be trying to awaken from its politically correct self-induced coma concerning the Muslim menace. And the knee-jerk reaction (to some) is to put a big military coalition together to root out and destroy these five organizations. But does this make sense? Not really. The problem, you see, is by no means unique to them. Wikipedia offers a long list of the world’s “official” terrorist organizations. There are a smattering of Communists groups of course, a few Irish-Catholic terrorist clubs, and the odd separatist movement—Basques, Kurds, Tamils, etc. But the overwhelming majority of recognized terrorist organizations are driven by one thing and one thing only: Islam.
It’s not just ten or twelve crazy clubs, either. Here’s the list (restricted to Muslim terrorists, but without the “big five”): Abdullah Azzam Brigades, Abu Nidal Organization, Abu Sayyaf, Aden-Abyan Islamic Army, Akhil Bharat Nepali Ekta Samaj, al-Aqsa Foundation, al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Al-Badr, al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Al Ghurabaa, al-Haramain Foundation, Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, Al-Mourabitoun, Al-Nusra Front, Al-Shabaab, Al-Umar-Mujahideen, All Tripura Tiger Force, Ansar al-Sharia, Ansar al-Islam, Jamaat Ansar al-Sunna, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, Ansar Dine, Ansaru, Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, Army of Islam, Osbat al-Ansar, Aum Shinrikyo, Babbar Khalsa, Balochistan Liberation Army, Caucasus Emirate, Comite’ de Blenfaisance et de Solidarite’ avec la Plestine, Deendar Anjuman, East Turkestan Islamic Movement, East Turkestan Liberation Organization, Ergenekon, Force 17, Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front, Haqqani network, Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, Harkat-al-Jihad al-Islami, Harakat-Ul-Mujahideen, Harakat Sham al-Islam, Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Hizbul Mujahideen, Hofstad Network, Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Houthis, Indian Mujahideen, Islamic Jihad, Jamaat Mujahideen, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, Jamaat Ul-Furquan, Jamiat al-Islah al-Idzhtimai, Jamiat ul-Ansar, Jamiat-e Islami, Jemaah Islamiyah, Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid, Jund al-Sham, Kata'ib Hezbollah, Khalistan Commando Force, Khuddam ul-Islam, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, Mujahideen Shura Council, Palestine al-muslima, Palestine Liberation Front, Palestinian Relief Development Fund, People's Mujahedin of Iran, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Quds Force, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage, Stichting Al Aqsa, Students Islamic Movement of India, Supreme Military Majlis ul-Shura of the United Mujahideen Forces of Caucasus, Takfir wal-Hijra, and let us not forget the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi. Did I miss anybody? Probably.
One of these (the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”) stands out as an up-and-comer in recent times, not because there’s anything unique shaping their goals or world view, but because their tactics adhere a bit closer than usual to Muhammad’s original modus operandi. They are famous for one thing: publically beheading or burning their captives in order to strike fear into their adversaries. As Muhammad said, “I have been made victorious through terror.” Ishaq No.580 reports, “Our strong warriors obey his orders to the letter. By us Allah’s religion is undeniably strong. You would think when our horses gallop with bits in their mouths that the sounds of demons are among them. [Well, that’s true enough.] The day we trod down the unbelievers there was no deviation or turning from the Apostle’s order. During the battle the people heard our exhortations to fight and the smashing of skulls by swords that sent heads flying. We severed necks with a warrior’s blow. Often we have left the slain cut to pieces and a widow crying alas over her mutilated husband. ’Tis Allah, not man, we seek to please.” Yes, I’m sure that if Allah were real, he’d be quite proud of you for killing everybody in sight.
But other tactics also mimic Muhammad’s methods quite closely: they fund their operation through the theft of money and armaments (not primarily through donations from Islamist sympathizers, as most terror groups are supported). And they reward and motivate their fighters by giving them female captives as sex slaves to rape at will. It is exactly what “the prophet” did in order to gather a following after his exile to Yathrib (Medina). Qur’an 33:50: “O Prophet! We have made lawful to you all the wives to whom you have paid dowers; and those whom your hands possess out of the prisoners of war spoils whom Allah has assigned to you.” Ishaq, No.511: “The women of Khaybar were distributed among the Muslims.” Khaybar was an oasis Muhammad attacked in 629—the place to which the Jewish Banu Nadir tribe (whom he had robbed and exiled from Yathrib) had fled.
This newish terrorist group is called a variety of names. Wikipedia’s list uses the one they themselves prefer—the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. Mind you, there is no “Islamic State.” They have merely announced a caliphate, chosen a leader, and plundered their way to victory throughout large swaths of Syria and Iraq, killing Christians, Kurds, other minorities, and even other Muslims by the thousands. They are a Sunni terrorist group, which automatically places them in opposition to nearby Shia Iran (though they have no problem killing other Sunnis). Tellingly, the Obama administration prefers to use the ISIL title because its incorporation of the designation “Levant” (a broad description of the entire area due east of the Mediterranean Sea) would imply that Israel is destined to be swallowed up by this Islamic state. Israel, like so many nations who ought to be considered allies of the United States, receives no respect from Mr. Obama’s White House.
Most in the Western media call them ISIS—the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—or simply IS—“the Islamic State.” Another designation for the same group is “Daesh” or “Da’ish.” The Guardian reports, “Daesh is an acronym for an Arabic variation of the group’s name: al-Dawla al-Islamyia fil Iraq wa’al Sham. Most of the Middle East and many Muslims abroad use Daesh, saying that although the jihadists have declared the nebulous region they control a caliphate, they neither adhere to Islam [i.e., in its traditional quasi-hypocritical form] nor control a real state.... Supporters of ISIS dislike ‘Daesh’ because it...has become a pejorative in Arabic. Describing the word’s history, the Guardian’s Middle East editor Ian Black wrote in September that ‘Daesh’ has taken on a meaning beyond the jihadists’ control: “in the plural form—‘daw’aish’—it means ‘bigots who impose their views on others.’”
While Mr. Obama generally favors the Islamic cause in general (having been raised in Indonesia as a Muslim), he doesn’t know quite what to do with ISIS. They’re a political embarrassment. Their public brutality has made them an anathema worldwide—even among most Muslims. So although he has generally withdrawn most American forces from the region, he feels compelled to bomb ISIS strongholds from the air—making a show of “doing something” without actually engaging the enemy.
An interesting op-ed piece published on YnetNews.com (by Shoula Romano Horing, September 21, 2014) warns, “Iran is much more dangerous than ISIS. U.S. President Barack Obama must be careful not to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS in Iraq and Syria to the point of helping Iran and its axis of evil step into the vacuum that would be created and establish its own Islamic Shiite caliphate spreading from Lebanon through Syria and Iraq to Iran itself. This would be a serious threat to the moderate Sunni countries like Jordan, and the Persian Gulf states, and eventually to Israel and the West. Replacing the threat of a radical Islamic Sunni caliphate with the threat of a radical Islamic Shiite caliphate is shortsighted and could be a catastrophic strategic mistake to be regretted for generations to come.
“While ISIS is beheading Shiites, Yazidis, and Christians, the Syrian government, with the help of the Shiite Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah terrorists, has been using air attacks, tanks, and chemical weapons to kill thousands of its own Syrian people, mostly Sunni civilians, in the last three years of the civil war. The only difference is that while ISIS uses social media, including YouTube and Twitter, to record and publicize their murderous and barbaric acts, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah hide and deny their brutality and try to deceive the gullible world into believing that they are civilized.”
We should address the historic animosity between Sunni Muslims and Shiites, for both sects are powerful in the region from which “Gog of the land of Magog” shall arise. Gog is the Islamic leader who will invade Israel during the first half of the Tribulation, as prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39. This future battle is extremely significant, for it will be the fuse that ignites World War III—a nuclear war involving dar al-Islam, Russia, Europe, and America—the second Seal (Revelation 6:3-4) and first Trumpet judgment (Revelation 8:6-7).
The Shiites, whose power base is in Iran, comprise only 10-15 percent of Islam, most of the rest adhering to the Sunni denomination. Both sects are devoted to Allah and his messenger, of course, and both follow the Qur’an—which makes them both dangerous. They are as close doctrinally as, say, Roman Catholics are to Lutherans—who have also fought bloody wars against each other for no apparent reason.
Wikipedia explains the split: “The historic background of the Sunni–Shia split lies in the schism that occurred when the Islamic prophet Muhammad died in the year 632, leading to a dispute over succession to Muhammad as a caliph of the Islamic community spread across various parts of the world, which led to the Battle of Siffin. The dispute intensified greatly after the Battle of Karbala, in which Hussein ibn Ali and his household were killed by the ruling Umayyad Caliph Yazid I, and the outcry for revenge divided the early Islamic community. Today, there are differences in religious practice, traditions, and customs, often related to jurisprudence. Although all Muslim groups consider the Qur’an to be divine, Sunni and Shia have [slightly] different opinions on hadith….
“Sunnis believe that Abu Bakr, the father of Muhammad’s child-wife Aisha, was Muhammad’s rightful successor and that the method of choosing or electing leaders (Shura) endorsed by the Qur’an is the consensus of the Ummah (the Muslim community).
“Shias believe that Muhammad divinely ordained his cousin and son-in-law Ali Ibn Abi Talib (the father of his grandsons Hasan ibn Ali and Hussein ibn Ali) in accordance with the command of God to be the next caliph, making Ali and his direct descendants Muhammad’s successors.”
What are the Last-Days ramifications of this historic Muslim rift—virtually as old as Islam itself? It is my theory (one I can’t prove yet, of course) that for one brief moment in time, the Shiites and Sunnis will put aside their petty differences in the interests of uniting to destroy Israel once and for all. This will happen in the wake of the Antichrist’s vaunted “covenant with many” (see Daniel 9:27) that will ostensibly bring “peace” to the Middle East—getting everyone to drop their guard. (Remember: “War is deceit.”) The charismatic Islamic leader the Bible calls Gog (perhaps “the Mahdi” of Islamic prophecy or new caliph, maybe both) will unite Islamists from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, the “-Stans,” and Africa. (Notably missing from Ezekiel’s list: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan—i.e., the Arab contingent. I’ll address the Bible’s Last Days Gog-Magog prophecy in a bit.)
So the rise of ISIS/Daesh is potentially of great prophetic import, though how it will all play out is still a matter of speculation. All I know for sure is that the Magog federation, though vastly superior in numbers, will be destroyed through miraculous means by Yahweh Himself—but not until they actually invade the Land of Israel. (By the way, if my chronological observations prove correct, this will all take place in late 2027 or early 2028, escalating into full-blown nuclear war by the spring of 2029.)
Islamic Eschatology: Mahdi Fever
We Christians are often ridiculed for ordering our lives according to Biblical prophecy—you know: expectantly waiting for the return of our Messiah-King, laying up “treasures in heaven,” counting on Yahweh (and not ourselves) to execute vengeance upon a rebellious earth in His own good time, and so forth. These prophecies are so ubiquitous in scripture, it took me 900 pages to “briefly” touch on all of them in The End of the Beginning (to which this present work is one of several appendices). But we are encouraged and made confident by the five hundred or so prophecies already fulfilled (many of them in mind-bendingly unexpected ways) in the life, death, and resurrection of the historical Yahshua. Only a fool could believe in a risen Christ without giving heed to what scripture reveals about events yet to come—especially as we see the end of the age approaching.
But we should be aware that the Muslim scriptures make prophetic predictions as well. Mind you, Muhammad never prophesied anything that can be historically verified, and never uttered a single prediction that has been specifically fulfilled. But he talked incessantly about a “Day of Doom” in which Islam would triumph, the earth would be destroyed (two virtually synonymous events, ironically enough), and all infidels and hypocrites would taste hell fire. He even pinned down the timing—which he got wrong.
Basically, he envisioned a creation that would endure only seven “days”—that is, seven thousand years. (If this sounds familiar, remember that Muhammad got all of his “raw theological data” from the rabbis of Yathrib—who were working from the Talmud, which in turn is based, more or less, on the Tanakh, the Hebrew scriptures. Judaism figured out Yahweh’s seven thousand year timeline as far back as the second temple era.) So the Sunnah records the teaching of Muhammad: “Each day of the six in which He created corresponds to a thousand years. The conclusion is that the time elapsed from when Allah first began creating His creatures to when He finished is 7,000 years…. There is a duration of 7,000 years from the time when our Lord finished to the moment of the annihilation.” (Tabari Book I, No. 224) The “Day of Doom,” then, is to happen at the end of the 7,000 years.
And when is that? “The Prophet said, ‘I was sent immediately before the coming of the Day of Doom. I preceded it like this one preceding that one’—referring to his index and middle finger.” In other words, side-by-side—close together. “He said: ‘Allah will not make this nation [i.e., Islam] incapable of lasting half a day—a day being a thousand years.’ …Consequently, based upon the Prophet’s authority, what remained of time was half a day, of the days of which one is a thousand years. The conclusion is that the time that had elapsed to the Prophet’s statement corresponds to 6,500 years.” (Tabari Book I, No. 181, 182) That is, “half a day,” or 500 years, will be the elapsed time between the coming of the last prophet (Muhammad) and the end of days. His “ministry” began in 610 A.D., so the Day of Doom is scheduled for 1110 A.D.
Oops. We missed that one by just a tad—900 years now, and counting. Even if you begin your “half day” at the hijra (622) or even Muhammad’s death (632), the deadline of doom has long since passed. Okay, but could this “Day of Doom” have taken place without anyone noticing (you know, sort of like the fuzzy theology of preterists or amillennialists in Christianity)? Not really. Allah himself is reported to have said, “When the inevitable Event befalls abasing, there will be no denying…. Bringing low. Exalting. The earth shall be shaken with a terrible shaking, and the mountains shall be made to crumble with crumbling, so that they become powdered dust, floating particles.” (Qur’an 56:1, 3) It’s pretty hard to talk your way out of this one.
The bottom line is, neither Muhammad nor Allah can be relied upon to be trustworthy in their prophetic prognostications. But that doesn’t prevent Muslims of all stripes from killing us (and each other) in anticipation of their fulfillments. In truth, the Islamic scriptures are so obtuse and esoteric, almost any teaching can be circumvented through the use of other, “friendlier” scriptures and fancy theological footwork. It’s called tawriya: deceit by ambiguity. The imams do this all day long, finding support in the Sunnah, Hadith, and Qur’an for pretty much any doctrine or agenda they want to push at the moment.
One such doctrine—universal (though with slight variations) in both Sunni and Shia scriptural traditions—is that of the coming “Muslim Messiah” known as the Mahdi. I’ll defer to Joel Richardson (Answering-Islam.org) to reveal what Muslims believe concerning this long-anticipated figure, in an article entitled “The Mahdi: Islam’s Awaited Messiah.”
“Among the Major Signs, the most anticipated and central sign that Muslims are awaiting is the coming of a man known as, ‘The Mahdi.’ In Arabic, al-Mahdi means, ‘The Guided One’ He is also sometimes referred to by Shia Muslims as Sahib Al-Zaman or Al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar, which translated mean ‘The Lord of the Age’ and ‘The Guided/Awaited One.’ The Mahdi is the first of the Major Signs. This is confirmed by Ibn Kathir, the renowned Muslim scholar from the eighth century: ‘After the lesser signs of the Hour appear and increase, mankind will have reached a stage of great suffering. Then the awaited Mahdi will appear; He is the first of the greater clear signs of the Hour.’
“The coming of the Mahdi is the central crowning element of all Islamic end-time narratives. So central to Islamic eschatological expectations is the coming of the Mahdi, that some Muslim scholars do not even refer to ‘the Minor Signs’ as such, but instead, refer to them as, ‘The signs accompanying the Mahdi.’ While there are some variations of belief between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam and while certain quarters of Sunnis reject him altogether, general belief in the Mahdi is not a sectarian issue within Islam, but is universal among most Muslims. According to Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America: ‘The coming of the Mahdi is established doctrine for both Sunni and Shia Muslims, and indeed for all humanity.’
“Ayatullah Baqir al-Sadr and Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari, both Shia Muslim scholars, in their book The Awaited Savior, describe the Mahdi this way: ‘A figure more legendary than that of the Mahdi, the Awaited Savior, has not been seen in the history of mankind. The threads of the world events have woven many a fine design in human life but the pattern of the Mahdi stands high above every other pattern. He has been the vision of the visionaries in history. He has been the dream of all the dreamers of the world. For the ultimate salvation of mankind he is the Pole Star of hope on which the gaze of humanity is fixed…. In this quest for the truth about the Mahdi there is no distinction of any caste, creed, or country. The quest is universal, exactly in the same way as the Mahdi himself is universal. He stands resplendent high above the narrow walls in which humanity is cut up and divided. He belongs to everybody….’”
Gee, Ayatullahs, that’s quite a man-crush you’ve got going there. Of course, I must admit that my enthusiasm for the return of Yahshua, the (real) Messiah, is no less passionate. But then again, it was Yahshua who informed us, “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.” (Matthew 24:23-25) In a word, we’ve been warned that people like the Mahdi—and the “prophets” who shill for them—will appear during the Last Days. Notice that it’s plural—false “christs.” Some folks these days are laboring under the illusion that all of the evil of the times will be manifested in the Antichrist—and that consequently, he and the Mahdi must be one and the same. Unfortunately, the dynamic of devastation in the Last Days will be a lot more complex: there’s room for more than one villain in this plot—and Christ has promised to deal with all of them.
Richardson continues: “In the simplest of terms, the Mahdi is Islam’s Messiah, or Savior. While the actual terms “Messiah” and “Messianism” very clearly have Judeo-Christian roots, University of Virginia Professor Abdulaziz Abdulhussein Sachedina agrees that these terms are appropriately used in an Islamic context when referring to the Mahdi. In his scholarly work on the subject, Islamic Messianism, Sachedina elaborates thusly: ‘The term “messianism” in the Islamic context is frequently used to translate the important concept of an eschatological figure, the Mahdi, who as the foreordained leader ‘will rise’ to launch a great social transformation in order to restore and adjust all things under divine guidance. The Islamic messiah, thus, embodies the aspirations of his followers in the restoration of the purity of the Faith which will bring true and uncorrupted guidance to all mankind, creating a just social order and a world free from oppression in which the Islamic revelation will be the norm for all nations.’
“Thus it is fair to say that the ‘rising’ of the Mahdi is to the majority of Muslims what the return of Jesus is to Christians. While Christians await the return of Jesus the Messiah to fulfill all of God’s prophetic promises to the people of God, Muslims await the appearance of the Mahdi, to fulfill these purposes....” Technically, of course, Messiah (Hebrew: mashiach) simply means “anointed one,” denoting someone (usually a king or priest) who is consecrated and set apart for a special role in God’s plan. The Torah goes to great lengths to describe the process of priestly anointing—right down to the symbol-rich recipe for the anointing oil.
The Mahdi’s lineage is prophesied: he is supposed to be from Muhammad’s own family: “The first and most often cited Islamic belief with regard to the Mahdi is the tradition which states that the Mahdi will descend from the family of Muhammad and will bear Muhammad’s name: ‘The world will not come to pass until a man from among my family, whose name will be my name, rules over the Arabs.’—Tirmidhi Sahih.” It’s no coincidence that the most popular boy’s name on earth today is Muhammad or Mohammed. “‘The Prophet said: The Mahdi will be of my family, of the descendants of Fatimah [Muhammad’s daughter].’—Sunan Abu Dawud.” Yahshua’s human lineage was prophesied, too. In His case, there were extant genealogical records to back up His Messianic credentials (see Matthew 1 and Luke 3). But the Muslim Mahdi will have no such documents with which to make his case: he’s going to have to simply make his claims and hope people believe him. But there is no shortage of gullibility in Islam.
He is prophesied to become a universal leader for all Muslims, Shia and Sunni alike. “Throughout the Islamic world today there is a call for the restoration of the Islamic Caliphate. The Caliph (Khalifa) in Islam may be viewed somewhat as the Pope of the Muslims. The Caliph is viewed as the Vice-regent for Allah on the earth. It is important to understand that when Muslims call for the restoration of the Caliphate, it is ultimately the Mahdi that they are calling for, for the Mahdi is the awaited final Caliph of Islam. As such, Muslims everywhere will be obligated to follow the Mahdi. ‘If you see him, go and give him your allegiance, even if you have to crawl over ice, because he is the Vice-regent of Allah, the Mahdi.’—Ibn Maja. ‘He will pave the way for and establish the government of the family [or community] of Muhammad… Every believer will be obligated to support him.’—Sunan Abu Dawud.”
“The Mahdi is believed to be a future Muslim world leader who will not only rule over the Islamic world, but the non-Muslim world as well. The Mahdi is said to lead a world revolution that will establish a new Islamic world order throughout the entire earth: ‘The Mahdi will establish right and justice in the world and eliminate evil and corruption. He will fight against the enemies of the Muslims who would be victorious.’—Sideeque M.A. Veliankode. ‘He will reappear on the appointed day, and then he will fight against the forces of evil, lead a world revolution and set up a new world order [interesting phrase, no?] based on justice, righteousness and virtue…. Ultimately the righteous will take the world administration in their hands and Islam will be victorious over all the religions.’—Al-Sadr and Mutahhari. ‘He is the precursor of the victory of the Truth and the fall of all tyrants. He heralds the end of injustice and oppression and the beginning of the final rising of the sun of Islam which will never again set and which will ensure happiness and the elevation of mankind…. The Mahdi is one of Allah’s clear signs which will soon be made evident to everyone.’—Izzat and Arif.” If purple prose alone could get the job done, the Mahdi would be the greatest thing since sliced bread. But rhetoric won’t help you win a war if Yahweh is against you (see Ezekiel 38:3).
It’s worth noting that saying “the sun of Islam…will never again set” after the advent of the Mahdi isn’t exactly what the Hadith claims (not that sorting out Islamic eschatology is remotely a straightforward endeavor). Wikipedia’s article on the subject lists a number of things that are predicted to happen after the appearance of the Mahdi—and most of them look like bad news for Muslims:
“(1) A Black flag army will appear from Greater Khorasan. (2) The false messiah, Masih ad-Dajjal, shall appear with huge powers as a one eyed man with the other eye blind and deformed like a grape. He will claim to be God and to hold keys to heaven and hell and lead many astray, although believers will not be deceived. His heaven is the believers’ hell, and his hell is the believers’ heaven. (3) Medina will be deserted, with true believers going to follow Mahdi and sinners following Dajjal. (4) Isa [supposedly “Jesus”] returns from the second sky to kill Dajjal and wipe out all falsehood and religions other than Islam. He will then rule the world until he dies. (5) Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj (Gog and Magog), two tribes of vicious beings which had been imprisoned by Dhul-Qarnayn [Alexander the Great] will break out. They will ravage the earth, drink all the water of Lake Tiberias [a.k.a. Galilee—which will be quite a trick, because the fresh water in this lake sits atop a layer of salt water], and kill all believers in their way. Isa, Imam Al-Mahdi, and the believers with them will go to the top of a mountain and pray for the destruction of Gog and Magog. Allah will eventually send disease and worms to wipe them out. (6) Mecca will be attacked and the Ka’aba will be destroyed. (7) A pleasant breeze will blow from the south that shall cause all believers to die peacefully. (8) Qur’an will be forgotten and no one will recall its verses. (9) All Islamic knowledge will be lost to the extent where people will not say ‘There is no god but Allah,’ but instead old people will babble without understanding, ‘Allah, Allah.’ (10) Dabbat al-ard, or the Beast, will come out of the ground to talk to people. (11) People will fornicate in the streets ‘like donkeys.’ (12) A huge black smoke cloud will cover the earth. (13) The sun will rise from the west. (14) The first trumpet blow will be sounded by Israfil, and all that is in heavens and earth will be stunned and die except what God wills; silence envelops everything for an undetermined period of time. And (15) the second trumpet blow will be sounded, the dead will return to life and a fire will start that shall gather all to Mahshar Al Qiy'amah (The Gathering for Judgment).”
Well, I’m glad we got that sorted out.
Back to Joel Richardson’s treatise: “The Mahdi’s means and method of accomplishing this world revolution will include multiple military campaigns or holy wars (jihad). While some Muslims believe that most of the non-Muslims of the world will convert to Islam peaceably during the reign of the Mahdi, most traditions picture the non-Muslim world coming to Islam as a result of being conquered by the Mahdi. Abduallrahman Kelani, author of The Last Apocalypse, describes the many battles of the Mahdi: ‘Al-Mahdi will receive a pledge of allegiance as a caliph for Muslims. He will lead Muslims in many battles of jihad. His reign will be a caliphate that follows the guidance of the Prophet. Many battles will ensue between Muslims and the disbelievers during the Mahdi’s reign….’” This means that in order to be received as the Mahdi, the candidate will have to have a lot of blood on his hands.
“The Mahdi’s ascendancy to power is said to be preceded by an army from the east who will be carrying black flags or banners of war. Sheikh Kabbani states: ‘Hadith indicate that black flags coming from the area of Khorasan will signify the appearance of the Mahdi is nigh. Khorasan is in today’s Iran, and some scholars have said that this hadith means when the black flags appear from Central Asia, i.e. in the direction of Khorasan, then the appearance of the Mahdi is imminent.’ Another tradition states that: ‘The Messenger of Allah said: The black banners will come from the East and their hearts will be as firm as iron. Whoever hears of them should join them and give allegiance, even if it means crawling across snow….’—Abu Nu’aym and As-Suyuti.”
This brings up a factor of which we should all be cognizant when it comes to Islamic eschatology: self-fulfilling prophecies. Whoever wishes to appear to be the fulfillment of Muhammad’s prophecies needs only to show up in the right places at the right times, doing the right things with the right accoutrements (such as the black flag), and somebody will follow him. Do you think it’s a coincidence that ISIS/Daesh carries a black flag into battle with them? No—they want to be recognized as the long awaited Caliphate (the Islamic State), so they do what the Muslim scriptures have led the faithful to expect.
“Islamic tradition pictures the Mahdi as joining with the army of Muslim warriors carrying black flags. The Mahdi will then lead this army to Israel and re-conquer it for Islam. The Jews will be slaughtered until very few remain and Jerusalem will become the location of the Mahdi’s rule over the Earth.” This particular self-fulfilling prophecy will get the Mahdi into trouble, as we shall see in a moment. “Rasulullah [Muhammad] said: ‘Armies carrying black flags will come from Khurasan. No power will be able to stop them and they will finally reach Eela (Baitul Maqdas in Jerusalem) where they will erect their flags.’ It is important to note here the reference above to ‘Baitul Maqdas.’ In Arabic this means ‘the holy house.’ This is referring to the Dome of the Rock Mosque [technically, a shrine] and is located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem….”
Thus the Mahdi will be compelled to invade Israel—it’s not optional if he wants to be taken seriously. But this move will be his undoing—and ultimately, Islam’s. Two Old Testament passages conspire to inform us of what will really happen (if Yahweh is God, and not Allah, that is. I think you know where I stand on that issue). Daniel 9:24-27 tells us that a treaty will be signed between Israel and “many” others (of necessity including their Islamic foes) that will allow them to rebuild their temple on the Temple Mount in exchange for something the Muslims say they want. The Mahdi will, of logistical necessity, sign the covenant—but only because he (and the rest of the Muslim world) know all too well that with Islam, war is deceit: you may lie all you like if it gives you a tactical advantage. Remember: tactical deceit known as taqiyya (Shia) or muda’rat (Sunni) are required for spreading Islam.
What tactical advantage? The second passage—Ezekiel 38 and 39—describes Israel at this time as “a land of unwalled villages.” That is, as a result of the “covenant with many,” they have turned over their defense to the group who ratified the treaty—in all likelihood, the United Nations. It would be my guess that the “West Bank” will have been surrendered under the terms of the agreement to provide a homeland for the “Palestinians,” leaving Israel only nine miles wide at its narrowest point. In other words, it’s a sitting duck, but for a treaty that any self-respecting jihadist knows isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
Ezekiel’s prophecy centers on a figure named “Gog,” who is a perfect fit for the Muslims’ expected Mahdi. Gog hails from a place called “Magog” (named after a man mentioned in the Genesis 10 “Table of Nations”), a territory once known as the Scythian empire, stretching across southern Eurasia from Turkey and the Caucasus region through southern Russia, northern Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and on into India. This is in alignment (for what it’s worth) with the Islamic requirement that the Mahdi (or at least some of his armies) will come from “Khorasan,” that is, in Iran.
Because the Islamic prophecy insists that the Mahdi (the Bible’s Gog) must invade Israel, we can count on anyone aspiring to the title to attempt that very thing. But Ezekiel explains that it is Yahweh who is drawing him to his doom. Here are a few snippets from Ezekiel 38 and 39: “Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I am against you, O Gog…. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army…. On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan. You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, to take plunder and to take booty’…. “You will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses [i.e., they’re a well-equipped fighting force], a great company and a mighty army. You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes….
“I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all My mountains,” says the Lord Yahweh. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am Yahweh…. “I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand. You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. You shall fall on the open field; for I have spoken, says the Lord Yahweh. And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands.” (For a detailed analysis of this whole episode, see Chapters 15-17 of this work.)
The gauntlet, it would appear, has been thrown. The battle itself is prophesied in both the Islamic and Judeo-Christian scriptures, but the predicted outcomes are polar opposites. Make no mistake: this is a “prophets’ duel” the likes of which we haven’t seen since Elijah vs. the prophets of Ba’al on Mt. Carmel (I Kings 18), but this time, the fallout will affect the entire planet. If the Mahdi’s Islamic forces take and hold Jerusalem, then Yahweh will have been proved a liar, and Allah will be vindicated. But if things transpire as Ezekiel prophesied, then the Mahdi and his invading hordes will be killed through miraculous means, Yahweh will be proved (again) to be God, and Allah will be worshiped no more—following Ba’al into the trash heap of history.
And note one more thing: the Mahdi cannot be the Antichrist (as some commentators suggest) because he (i.e., Gog) is seen here being killed in battle “upon the mountains of Israel,” not cast alive into the lake of fire, as is revealed in Revelation 19:20. You can’t have it both ways, just because both of them “need killing.”
But notice the last sentence I quoted: “And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands.” (Ezekiel 39:6) Just as Assyria’s Sennacherib and Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar were tools in the hands of God to chastise apostate Israel and Judah, the Antichrist himself will be the “torch” Yahweh uses to “send fire” (i.e., nuclear war) upon dar al-Islam and “the coastlands” (apparently, Europe, Russia, and America, at the very least). The first four Seal judgments (whose death toll is recorded under the Fourth Seal as “a fourth of the earth”—see Revelation 6:1-8) and the First Trumpet judgment (Revelation 8:7) make it clear that this nuclear war will come as a direct result of the Antichrist’s influence and policy. This sort of genocidal thermonuclear foolishness has been a distinct possibility since the 1950s, but the Holy Spirit’s power in restraining evil has kept a lid on it—and will continue to do so until after the rapture (see I Thessalonians 2:7). But after the harvest, the chaff will be hauled off to the furnace: World War III.
Richardson next explores the prophesied duration of the Mahdi’s reign. “While there is more than one tradition regarding the nature and timing of the Mahdi’s ascendancy to power, there is one particular hadith that places this event at the time of a final peace agreement between the Arabs and the Romans (‘Romans’ should be interpreted as referring to Christians, or more generally, the West). Although this peace agreement is made with the ‘Romans,’ it is said to be mediated specifically through a Jew from the priestly lineage of Aaron. The peace agreement will be made for a period of seven years….”
Once again, we see a remarkable (or is that “planted”) parallel between the Islamic scriptures and the Bible. The Daniel 9 prophecy (v. 27) states that the “covenant with many,” put forth by the “Prince who is to come” (the Antichrist, identified as being of the people who “shall destroy the city and the sanctuary,” i.e., the Romans) will be “confirmed for one week” (literally, a “seven”—that is, a seven-year period). So it’s clear that the Mahdi will lead the Islamic world in agreeing to the “peace” being proposed by “the Roman,” the Antichrist—or at least pretend to in order to gain a military advantage and the element of surprise.
And what was that about a Jewish priest’s involvement? As it turns out, the Antichrist is prophesied to have his own “John the Baptist”-style forerunner and associate, identified in Revelation 13:11 as “the beast coming up out of the earth” (in contrast to the Antichrist, called the “beast from the sea”). Whereas the “sea” is a common Biblical metaphor for the gentile world, the land or the earth usually means Israel. So it seems reasonable to conclude that this “false prophet” (as he’s also known) will be Jewish. The Bible doesn’t say anything about him being of the line of Aaron, but the temple and its service are once again in view (as Daniel 9:27 intimates in the very next sentence), after a hiatus of almost two thousand years—so who knows?
Richardson’s treatise on the Mahdi concludes with this summary of what is prophesied of him: (1) “The Mahdi is Islam’s primary messiah figure. (2) He will be a descendant of Muhammad and will bear Muhammad’s name (Muhammad bin Abdullah). (3) He will be a very devout Muslim. (4) He will be an unparalleled spiritual, political and military world leader. (5) He will emerge after a period of great turmoil and suffering upon the earth. (6) He will establish justice and righteousness throughout the world and eradicate tyranny and oppression. (7) He will be the Caliph and Imam (vice-regent and leader) of Muslims worldwide. (8) He will lead a world revolution and establish a new world order. (9) He will lead military action against all those who oppose him. (10) He will invade many countries. (11) He will make a seven year peace treaty with a Jew of priestly lineage. (12) He will conquer Israel for Islam and lead the ‘faithful Muslims’ in a final slaughter/battle against Jews. (13) He will establish the new Islamic world headquarters in Jerusalem. (14) He will rule for seven years (possibly as many as eight or nine). (15) He will cause Islam to be the only religion practiced on the earth. (16) He will appear riding a white horse (possibly symbolic). (17) He will discover some previously undiscovered biblical manuscripts that he will use to argue with the Jews and cause some Jews to convert to Islam. (18) He will also re-discover the Ark of the Covenant from the Sea of Galilee, which he will bring to Jerusalem. (19) He will have supernatural power from Allah over the wind and the rain and crops. (20) He will possess and distribute enormous amounts of wealth. (21) He will be loved by all the people of the earth.” Be still, my heart.
There are any number of recent developments that Islamic theologians tout as indicators that the Mahdi’s arrival is near. They point out the ramifications presented by the transition of power required by the death of an aged king in oil-rich Saudi Arabia. They recognize the importance of certain strategic victories gained by ISIS, like the taking of the prophetically significant city of Dabiq. Meanwhile, individual Muslims worldwide are gaining the confidence to attack the hated infidels in their own homes—or die trying, “knowing” that paradise awaits the martyrs. They are increasing in numbers, in wealth, in political presence, and in their ability to intimidate with impunity. Islam, in short, is on a roll. Their final triumph is almost at hand, or so it would seem.
Of course, the same thing could be said of secular humanism, couldn’t it?
How will Islam fare during the Last Days? Will they be victors, villains, or victims? They themselves smell the scent of conquest in the air, though people in their path are apt to see them as a plague. The Bible portrays them as transitioning suddenly and unexpectedly from victorious villains into victims. Their own scripture-based expectations and strategies will be the catalyst that transforms the world’s geopolitical reality from its present state of shaky equilibrium into one of utter chaos—the sort of anarchic environment that simply begs for an all-powerful one-world government to rein in the madness. In short, without the Muslim menace, the “need” for a world dictator like the Antichrist might never become universally apparent.
The world, in the end, is too small for both Islam and any other belief system. One way or another, either it must be destroyed, or everything else must be. But as I said, the earth’s religious demographics today are very evenly divided between the religions of despair, denial, death, and compromise—with only a tiny minority truly desiring that Yahweh’s will would “be done in earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Everyone else is looking for their own “will” to be done on earth, whether or not they think heaven even exists.
There is, in fact, a feeling in the air among many people of faith these days—one of expectation, hope, excitement, and anticipation. The object of this feeling depends, of course, on who (or what) one believes “god” to be. Christians, even those who know very little about prophecy, are somehow awakening to the prospect of Christ’s seemingly imminent return. Religious Jews share a distinct impression that their Messiah’s coming could be very near. Their restored presence in the Land of Israel has reawakened Messianic longings suppressed for millennia. Even atheists can almost taste their final victory, something they perceive to be just around the corner: a New World Order in which anarchy, superstition, and fuzzy thinking will be vanquished under the rule of an enlightened elite operating under benign humanist principles destined to transform the world into a utopian paradise—no matter how much the human herd must be “thinned.” And Muslims tingle with anticipation at the rapidly approaching dawning of a new Islamic golden age under the Twelfth Imam of legend, the blessed Mahdi, who will bathe the hated Jews and Christians (and everybody else) in blood while ruling in Islamic “peace” from Jerusalem.
It should be obvious by now that Judeo-Christian hopes, the schemes of secular humanists, and the dreams of the Muslim faithful cannot coexist—no matter what the bumper stickers advocate. It matters not that the “signs” anticipated by each rival faction are rapidly coming to pass, just as expected. To an impartial outside observer (something I admittedly am not), it should be clear that we are on a collision course with destiny. The tension cannot continue to build indefinitely. But since Christians (and to some extent Jews) are content to wait patiently on God’s perfect timing, the inevitable violent encounter on the world’s present track will most assuredly pit atheism against Islam.
For those alarmed at the sudden rise of Islamic fundamentalism in places previously dominated by Judeo-Christian values, I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news. The bad news is that Islamic terror in the West cannot be stopped short of genocide; and it can’t even be slowed short of the mass deportation (call it exile if you like) of all Muslims to their countries of ethnic origin—citizenship be damned. But no sane or compassionate person is prepared to do either thing. Morals almost always trump patriotism. Christians in particular are forbidden by their God from murdering people in cold blood just because they’re a threat. They’re lost, after all, in need of a Savior, just as we once were. Our job is to introduce them to Christ—or die trying. (Atheists, of course, labor under no such qualms.)
The good news is that the rise of fundamentalist (i.e., terrorist) Islam coupled with the immense financial clout of the secular humanist money machine mean that the return of our Savior for His church can’t be all that far off. Once Islam reaches majority status in the world—meaning growing (whether through conquest or by prodigious breeding) from today’s almost a quarter of the world’s population to half, something that could happen in a generation—religious freedom in the world will be a thing of the past: Christians and Jews will be hunted down and murdered in the streets. And it won’t help that the secular humanists don’t like us any better than the Muslims do: given a free hand, they would outlaw Christianity and persecute the church to within an inch of its life.
But Christ promised us that the “gates of sheol” would not prevail against his church. And remember: the church of the rapture—Philadelphia—was described as people who still “have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Revelation 3:8), whereas the Great Tribulation is described as a time in which “the power of the holy people has been completely shattered.” (Daniel 12:7) I take all that as a virtual guarantee that His Last-Days program, beginning with the rapture of the church and the sequestering of the Jewish remnant, will commence shortly—before the forces of Islam or atheism can grow strong enough to snuff out the light of liberty and truth from the earth.
Islam’s ascendency is just one more of the scores of factors we’ve seen, conspiring to inform us that the Messiah’s Millennial Kingdom will begin in the fourth decade of the twenty-first century. How many more of these harbingers will it take for the world to wake up?
The Religion of Compromise.
I am going to be walking on eggshells for the next few pages, for the subject of this section is a religion that purports to embrace the same God I serve. Unlike Hindus, atheists, or Muslims, I cannot automatically assume that individual adherents of this religion are “lost.” Indeed, my chance encounters with these folks begin (on my part) with the supposition of brotherhood, of agreement about the basic tenets of our shared faith.
The belief system to which I refer is (for lack of a better description) “Liturgical Christianity.” It’s Christianity as a religion, set in contrast to the sort of faith described in the New Testament: a simple relationship with Yahweh, achieved through our Savior Yahshua the Messiah (a.k.a. Jesus Christ), resulting in fellowship and mutual love among the faithful. I fully realize that there is (or can be) a great deal of overlap between the two things. But liturgical, institutional, religious Christianity all too often becomes—whether by accident or design—the object of worship in the experience of the faithful, not the conduit of faith it should have been.
Labels are clumsy tools, but clear communication sometimes demands their use: I’m talking here primarily about the Roman Catholic Church and its historic spin-offs, such as the various Eastern Orthodox churches (though some of them actually predate the Roman system), Protestant denominations (like the Church of England) that were formed for political (not scriptural) reasons, and other variants of “Catholicism Lite” in which the apple didn’t fall all that far from the tree. Together, these institutions comprise 21-22% of the earth’s current population.
To put things in perspective, Roman Catholicism and Sunni Islam are in a dead heat for the title of the world’s number one religious splinter group. There are far more Catholics in the world than any other “flavor” of Christian. Unfortunately (for them) there is no correlation between popularity and truth. Quite the contrary, in fact. Yahshua said: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Of course, one could argue that Christianity in its broadest sense is still a minority in this world, so we need to be careful about who we perceive as “following the way that leads to destruction.”
In the strictest sense, a relationship with Yahweh is defined by one thing: the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. Without it, one is by definition on the “broad way that leads to destruction.” Christ explained it all to Nicodemus: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again [literally: from above], he cannot see the kingdom of God…. Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born [from above].’” We are the products of our parentage: as our mortal bodies are a composite of the DNA of our fathers and mothers, our eternal potential can only be realized through our souls’ “birth” to eternal parents (so to speak)—Yahweh and His Holy Spirit. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit….” The point here is that the Spirit’s indwelling can only be discerned by the evidence of a transformed life.
And what is the mechanism through which the Holy Spirit comes to indwell a person’s soul? It is belief—faith: the conscious decision to place one’s trust in the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ, the Son of God, and nothing else. It was all foretold (symbolically, anyway) in the Torah. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God….” That seems simple enough: he who believes/trusts/relies upon the sacrificial death and resurrection of Yahshua has eternal life—the result of Yahweh’s eternal Spirit dwelling within him. No belief, no salvation.
Thus the default—the state into which we’re born—is “condemnation,” which is a somewhat misleading translation. The Greek word is krino: the state of having been separated, judged, or having had our worthiness determined by judicial decision or decree, as in a court of law. (We tend to read “condemnation” into that because we know we’re unworthy before God.) Belief in—reliance upon—Christ’s atoning sacrifice extricates us from this unfortunate condition. Good works (though “good”) have absolutely nothing to do with it. “And this is the condemnation [i.e., the thing that separates us from God, the issue upon which we’re judged], that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:3, 5-8, 14-21) This is where it gets sticky. All of us have done “evil deeds.” It is part and parcel of being human. What separates the redeemed/saved/truthful person from the lost/condemned/evil one is his desire to live in “the light,” honest and transparent about our sinful condition and our subsequent need for a Savior. This light, then, is the trusting realization that Christ’s sacrifice achieves what the best of our works cannot: reconciliation with God.
The problem (potentially) with Christianity as a religion is that it can take the place of “the light” in the life of the believer. Whether or not it was intended, that can be the effect of imposing doctrine (beyond what is plainly taught in scripture), ritual, tradition, and a hierarchy of human authority upon the assembly of believers. It is this issue—whether scripture or man has the final authority to “speak for God”—that precipitated the Protestant Reformation.
The issue is called Sola Scriptura (Latin: “by Scripture alone”). It is “the Protestant Christian doctrine that the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. Sola Scriptura does not deny that other authorities govern Christian life and devotion, but sees them all as subordinate to and corrected by the written word of God.”—Wikipedia.
Kenneth R. Samples, writing for the Christian Research Institute (Equip.org) gives us more information, in an article entitled “Protestant Understanding of Sola Scriptura.” He writes, “By Sola Scriptura Protestants mean that Scripture alone is the primary and absolute source for all doctrine and practice (faith and morals). Sola Scriptura implies several things. First, the Bible is a direct revelation from God. As such, it has divine authority, for what the Bible says, God says….
“Second, the Bible is sufficient: it is all that is necessary for faith and practice. For Protestants ‘the Bible alone’ means ‘the Bible only’ is the final authority for our faith…” the assumption being that the Bible actually is the Word of God, and therefore supersedes all human opinion or logic.
“Third, the Scriptures not only have sufficiency but they also possess final authority. They are the final court of appeal on all doctrinal and moral matters. However good they may be in giving guidance, all the fathers, Popes, and Councils are fallible. Only the Bible is infallible….
“Fourth, the Bible is perspicuous (clear). The perspicuity of Scripture does not mean that everything in the Bible is perfectly clear, but rather the essential teachings are. Popularly put, ‘in the Bible the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things.’ This does not mean—as Catholics often assume—that Protestants obtain no help from the fathers and early Councils. Indeed, Protestants accept the great theological and Christological pronouncements of the first four ecumenical Councils. What is more, most Protestants have high regard for the teachings of the early fathers, though obviously they do not believe they are infallible. So this is not to say there is no usefulness to Christian tradition, but only that it is of secondary importance….
“Fifth, Scripture interprets Scripture. This is known as the analogy of faith principle. When we have difficulty in understanding an unclear text of Scripture, we turn to other biblical texts, for the Bible is the best interpreter of the Bible. In the Scriptures, clear texts should be used to interpret the unclear ones.”
Again, there is an assumption involved: if the Bible is the Word of God, then properly understood, it will be internally consistent. The truth may be presented in many different ways, but it will always agree with itself. Thus if we seem to have encountered a contradiction, it automatically means that we have misinterpreted one (or both) of the passages in question.
The ultimate example (for me, anyway) is the topic of this book, The End of the Beginning. Bible prophecy is a complex, often mysterious subject, and there are many “schools of thought” out there. But when you put all of the puzzle pieces on the table (as I have attempted to do) the seeming contradictions sort themselves out, to the point that a remarkably cohesive story is presented, with no inconsistency and very little ambiguity. As you may have noticed, I pretty much live by the rule of Sola Scriptura (though I tend to give far less credence to the teaching of the Early Fathers than Mr. Samples would suggest). In the study of prophecy in particular, one can get hopelessly lost if he doesn’t allow scripture alone (as illuminated by the Holy Spirit within us) to shape our understanding of scripture.
But there is one caveat. Our English translations (or presumably any other language) sometimes fail to accurately convey what the original Hebrew and Greek scriptures say. It could be the fault of cultural baggage being lost in translation, shifting word usage, assumptions based on man-made theological traditions (which explains my reluctance to rely too heavily on the church Fathers), errant punctuation, textual transmission inconsistencies, innocent mistakes, or even out-and-out fraud. (I’m sure you’ve noticed my constant harping on the fact that God’s Self-revealed name, Yahweh, has been fraudulently edited out of the Old Testament texts by the translators some seven thousand times, and replaced with a relatively anemic title, “the Lord.” You may even have noticed that I’ve restored the divine name in my scriptural quotes where it appeared in the original text.)
Fortunately, it is possible today for anyone with an Internet connection to gain valuable insight into what God’s apostles and prophets really meant to say. Dozens—perhaps hundreds—of great English language Bible-study resources are offered free online. Personally, I also find that an extensive library (gathered over the past forty years) and some really cool Bible software are also of immeasurable help in getting to the bottom of what Yahweh’s Word is talking about by explaining what the words—their nuance and innuendo—actually mean in the original languages. We who live in the English-speaking world in the twenty-first century are blessed with tools our forefathers couldn’t have imagined. Just remember: to whom much is given, much is required.
So I, with millions of others, find Sola Scriptura an essential, eminently logical principle. Many Catholics, however, would beg to differ. For example, Patrick Madrid (ewtn.com) calls Sola Scriptura “a blueprint for anarchy.” He writes, “Catholics need to realize just how untenable Sola Scriptura is and simply ask that it be proven from the Bible. Instead of allowing himself to be put on the defensive when purgatory, the Real Presence, or some other Catholic doctrine is challenged by a demand that it be proven from Scripture [because they can’t be], the Catholic should ask, ‘Where does the Bible teach Sola Scriptura?’” It’s the classic “deflection” ploy: if you can’t answer a question, ask one of your own, based on your own world view. So, did Noah or Abraham rely on the scriptures? No, of course not. So obviously, “The Catholic case against Sola Scriptura may be summarized by saying that Sola Scriptura is unhistorical, unbiblical and unworkable.…”
You think Sola Scriptura isn’t a Biblical concept? Okay, what about this? “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of Yahweh your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2) Or this: “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:32) Oh, wait: your church fathers took it upon themselves to declare the Law of Moses worthless, violating Moses’ “take away from it” provision, even though the Christ you say you follow said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17-18) When you find yourself in a hole, perhaps you should stop digging.
How about this? “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19) Or this: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17) Or conversely, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 16:25) For that matter, the entire 119th Psalm is a treatise on the veracity of Sola Scriptura.
The remarkable thing is, prophetic scripture actually predicted (between the lines, at least) that the “church” would develop a penchant for ignoring God’s word in favor of man’s wisdom, such as it is. And I’m not just talking about all those passages warning us of false teachers in our midst. The seven letters from the risen Christ in Revelation 2 and 3, written to the churches of Asia Minor, foresee our proclivity to lose focus. Each local assembly on the list, in addition to having its own issues, prophetically represents the prevailing character of each successive stage of the church throughout the age.
The first assembly on the list, Ephesus, represents the church during the apostolic age. They were admonished that, for all their good works, they had “left their first love” (their focus on Christ). But at least they hadn’t fallen for the “deeds of the Nicolaitans,” and for that they were commended. Although there is little consensus concerning who the Nicolaitans were, it seems certain that their doctrine advocated compromise and accommodation with the prevailing pagan practices in the gentile world—especially in the matter of sexual immorality, something invariably associated with idolatry in the Torah. Part and parcel with the Nicolaitans’ desire to accommodate pagan practice was the structure of pagan worship—a system reliant on priestly hierarchy, an emphasis on works (including, of course, the financial support of the sect), and hidden mysteries achieved through degrees of enlightenment.
There is apparently also a connection between Nicolaitanism and the Gnostic heresy (from gnosis—“to know”), which held that things done in the body were disconnected from the spiritual realm. It was presumed by the Gnostics that their “exclusive spiritual knowledge” gave them the freedom to participate in all sorts of sexual indulgence—such as that being offered by the open prostitution of the pagan temples. Their theory was, since they had been illuminated by “divine knowledge,” it didn’t matter how they lived in the body, because the flesh was evil and would be separated from the spirit when the body invariably died.
The second church, in Smyrna, received no reprimand from Yahshua, only encouragement, for they were suffering persecution for their faith. The persecution of the church would last until the early fourth century, when the Roman Emperor Constantine “converted” to Christianity. The “Roman Catholic” church as such (“catholic” meaning universal) was born with Constantine’s “Edict of Toleration, and the nature of the danger we faced suddenly changed forever from an external threat to internal one—from persecution from without to cancer from within.
So in the next few church-ages on Christ’s mailing list, we see an increasing trend toward compromise and corruption. Pergamos was chastised for having welcomed the very heresy that the Ephesians had resisted—the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. Here it is compared to the “doctrine of Balaam,” who was famous for having compromised Israel’s integrity by advocating that Moab tempt the Israelites with sex-based idolatry and eating food that had been offered to idols: if Balaam couldn’t get Yahweh to curse Israel, the plan was to get Israel to curse God instead. By the Middle Ages, this threat was fully ensconced in the church.
The trend only got worse in Thyatira, where someone identified as “Jezebel,” calling herself a “prophetess,” openly advocated the same sorts of corrupt practices—something Christ’s letter called “seduction.” There was always a faithful remnant, but the whole culture of the church had been compromised, blended with the idolatrous practice of the pagan world. Thyatira thus represents the church at the height of Roman Catholic power.
Compromised like this, the church could only decline. By the time we get to Sardis, we are told that despite their reputation for being alive, the church was now as good as dead. Yahshua admonished them to “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.” (Revelation 3:3) Fortunately, some did. The Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, led by the likes of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli, followed groundwork that had been laid by guys like John Hus, Jerome of Prague, Savonarola, and Peter Waldo. And let us not forget the groundbreaking Bible translation efforts of courageous men like John Wycliffe and William Tyndale—the foundation of Sola Scriptura in the English language. It was all a reaction against what had become the Religion of Compromise—the corrupt, top heavy, liturgical monstrosity known as Roman Catholicism. Mind you, I’m not saying the Reformers got everything right, nor that the Catholic laity was universally defiled. (Christ Himself, in v.4, notes that they were not.) But hearing your God say, “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (v.1) can’t be a good thing.
There remain but two churches on Yahshua’s mailing list, both of who arose from the comatose condition of Sardis. Philadelphia was built on the work of those who repented. They received no rebuke at all, but were encouraged to hold fast to their testimony—keeping Christ’s word, not denying His name, and steadfastly guarding His truth. Philadelphia, then, is not part of the Religion of Compromise. In fact, it is they (those still alive) who will experience the rapture of the church (see Revelation 3:10).
The Religion of Compromise today, then, is defined as the offspring of the churches who did not repent. Christ had cautioned Pergamos, “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them [the Nicolaitan compromisers] with the sword of My mouth.” (Revelation 2:16) Thyatira was warned, “I will cast [Jezebel] into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.” (Revelation 2:22-23). And Sardis had been told, “If you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.” (Revelation 3:3) It couldn’t be plainer: the Religion of Compromise will be left behind when Philadelphia is raptured, “kept out of the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 3:10) Unless they repent.
What, then, does their spiritual profile look like? This was written to the final church, that of Laodicea: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth, because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:15-17) This is the Religion of Compromise that is so prevalent in the world today. They are self-deluded, apathetic, and nauseating to both God and man.
Though they look “religious,” they are a big part of the Last Days horror story depicted by Paul: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (II Timothy 3:1-7) Paul’s admonition to Timothy to “turn away” from such people is a dead giveaway that we are to expect such behaviors to surface during the church age—before the rapture. But after the church is taken out of the world, these things will become universal—seemingly normal—with no godly minority present to serve as a reminder of what a loving, enlightened society looks like.
One phrase in that passage jumps out at me: “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Even after the saints are gone, the “Christian” religion will still be around, loud and proud. Alas, I fear that the majority of people who consider themselves “Christians” (or at least who tabulate as “Christian” on the surveys) will be left behind—embodying the post-rapture profile of Yahshua’s letter to Laodicea.
But wait a minute. These “wretched” people of Laodicea are part of the church, are they not? No, not yet, not in their present state described above—the Religion of Compromise. If they had been, they would have been raptured with Philadelphia. At what point, then, will the “Laodiceans” actually become part of the ekklesia—the called out assembly of Christ—and not some lukewarm religious fraud so disgusting that it makes Yahshua want to puke?
The answer is revealed in His advice to the left-behind throng: “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:18-20) Those who will belatedly receive Yahshua’s counsel are the real “Church of Laodicea”—the gentiles who come to faith (becoming part of the ekklesia—the called-out assembly of Christ) after the Philadelphians have been “kept out of the hour of trial.” (Remember, Yahweh will be dealing with Israel separately at this point, as revealed in the Daniel 9:24-27 timeline. And as this whole series of Chronology Appendices has served to demonstrate, it looks like there will be a minimum—though unspecified—amount of elapsed time between the rapture and the commencement of the Great Unpleasantness.)
Yes, the Laodiceans have missed the great “catching-up,” so the horrors of the Tribulation loom before them. But amazingly enough, repentance is still an option—even after the rapture. The “gold” the Laodiceans are advised to acquire represents immutable purity in Christ, though the “fire” indicates the crucible of the Tribulation: many of these newly-repentant saints will not survive the times—not physically, anyway. The “white garments” speak of imputed righteousness (the gift of God, rather than the good works of man, as soteriological strategy). And the “eye salve” is what allows one to finally perceive the truth of God’s word—the antidote to the spiritual blindness that had once afflicted them.
The promise attached to these permutations of repentance is positively awesome: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3:21) Though tardy in repentance, their salvation is genuine, and their eternal fellowship with Christ guaranteed. They will not be “second class citizens” in the Kingdom. The “church” of Laodicea, then, will be comprised solely of those gentiles who repent—who come to faith after the rapture—who turn away from their lukewarm propensity for compromise with the world. Those among them who survive until the end of the Tribulation will comprise the “nations” that will, with restored Israel, populate (and repopulate) the Millennial earth.
In Balaam’s day, compromise took the form of implicitly acquiescing to pagan culture (and gods) by allowing oneself to be seduced by a Moabite hottie. Yahweh’s very first Commandment (Exodus 20:2-3) had explicitly forbidden the worship of, or cooperation with, any deity (real or imagined) other than Him, for He was the one true God, and He had proved it. Nothing much had changed (except perhaps for the subtlety factor) when Christ’s letters to the seven churches prophetically chronicled their (our) slow descent into compromise.
This process of systematically “negotiating with terrorists” (for that’s what this really is) was slowed a bit with the Protestant Reformation, but it is my sad duty to report that Compromise is back with a vengeance in these Last Days. At first glance, it looks innocent, even admirable—the search for peace, unity, and common ground among Christians. It’s called the Ecumenical Movement, something that has been afoot for over half a century now. It’s a tricky subject, for whereas the Bible clearly calls for unity (e.g. Psalm 133), it constantly cautions against false teachers and creeping heresy. Remember: the disgusting “lukewarmness” of the proto-Laodiceans is the result of blending hot with cold, resulting in something that is neither—and it makes Christ want to puke.
CompellingTruth.org offers a balanced assessment, entitled “Should a Christian be involved in the ecumenical movement?” Good question.
“Ecumenism is a religious movement that seeks to unite all Christians and bring the various denominations together in mutual cooperation. The word comes from the Greek oikoumene, which means ‘the whole inhabited world.’ Ephesians 4:3 says that Christians should be ‘eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ John 17:21 notes Christ’s desire ‘that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you.’ So biblically, Christians should pursue unity with one another. But how does this apply to the contemporary ecumenical movement?
“The modern ecumenical movement often goes beyond uniting Christians and seeks to connect Protestants, Catholics, and non-Christian religions. Modern ecumenical leaders promote ‘interfaith dialogue’ with Mormons, Islamists, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, Universalists, and a variety of New Age belief systems. Such efforts are at odds with the concept of Christian unity as presented in Scripture. While there is room for discussion with those outside of Christianity, to accept all religions as equally valid is to deny the uniqueness of Jesus and the Christian faith.
“Some partnerships are not really an issue. Believers from almost any background can cooperate to fight poverty, for example, or to take a pro-life stand. However, in other areas partnerships can send the wrong message or contradict a church’s beliefs. For example, recent attempts to bridge differences between Protestant and Catholic theology have included joint statements on salvation and the inspiration of Scripture. To sign a statement that compromises core biblical teaching is dangerous. Doctrines such as salvation by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) and the authority of Scripture (1 Timothy 3:16-17) should not be compromised for the sake of a synthetic unity.
“A desire for ecumenicalism cannot ignore the Bible’s commands to maintain the purity of the gospel (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 1:3-4). Christians must ‘test everything; hold fast what is good’ (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It’s significant that, immediately following Paul’s anathema on apostates, he asks, ‘For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?’ (Galatians 1:10). At the heart of modern ecumenicalism is a desire to please men instead of God.
“On a positive note, a denomination is itself ‘ecumenical’ in the sense that it consists of many churches working together with common beliefs. This coalition shares resources, serves local churches, and reaches others in world missions. Negatively, denominational ties that are too strong or centralized can lessen the ability of a local church to follow God’s will for its members.
“Christians are called to unity, but not at all costs. Doctrine is paramount, especially when it concerns the person and work of Christ. Modern ecumenical efforts are often all too ready to part with biblical teachings. Therefore, we must take care when evaluating potential partnerships. If unity can be had without compromising fundamental Christian belief, then unity should be pursued. As 17th-century Lutheran theologian Rupertus Meldenius said, ‘In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.’”
Moses was a bit more straightforward: “If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him…. So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you.” (Deuteronomy 13:6-11) And as long as we’re going back to the Torah for advice, note that the dietary rules of Leviticus 11, in addition to keeping us healthy, were intended to teach us to be discerning about what to put into our bodies—and souls.
A blind man can see where the “Ecumenical Movement” will lead if not anchored in Yahweh’s scriptures. The goal (being spearheaded by the Roman Catholic Church) is a one-world religion—the same sort of “new world order” solution advocated in politics as a way to stamp out anarchy and dissent. (Free will is so untidy in the hands of individual humans, isn’t it?) Allow me to quote from a couple of articles by the prolific Michael Snyder describing recent developments toward this goal.
The first article was published on TheTruthWins.com (February 23, 2014). It was entitled “Pope Francis and the Emerging One World Religion.” Snyder asks, “Is Pope Francis taking steps that are laying the groundwork for the emergence of a one world religion?
“We live at a time when globalization is advancing rapidly. The global economy is more integrated than it has ever been before, and with each passing year new economic treaties tie us even more closely together. And ‘global governance’ (as the elite like to call it) is also steadily gaining ground. Through a whole host of global institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the IMF, and the Bank for International Settlements, global governments are working together to a degree that is unprecedented. Well, what about religion? Is there evidence that we are also witnessing the globalization of religion? Yes, there is. In fact, it appears that Pope Francis intends to lead the way.
“Since he has been Pope, Francis has expressed a desire for unity with the Eastern Orthodox, the Anglicans, and many other major Protestant denominations. But more than a few eyebrows were raised when he recently sent a video message to Kenneth Copeland and his congregation. At the time that the video message was played to the congregation, one speaker declared that ‘Luther’s protest is over’….
“‘The Catholic and Charismatic Renewal is the hope of the Church,’ exclaims Anglican Episcopal Bishop Tony Palmer, before a group of cheering followers at the Kenneth Copeland Ministries. Palmer said those words are from the Vatican. Before playing the video message from Pope Francis to Kenneth Copeland, Palmer told the crowd, ‘When my wife saw that she could be Catholic, and Charismatic, and Evangelical, and Pentecostal, and it was absolutely accepted in the Catholic Church, she said that she would like to reconnect her roots with the Catholic culture. So she did.’ The crowd cheered, as he continued, ‘Brothers and sisters, Luther’s protest is over. Is yours?’
“Even Kenneth Copeland finds this development incredible: Said Copeland, ‘Heaven is thrilled over this…. You know what is so thrilling to me? When we went into the ministry 47 years ago, this was impossible.’” Heaven is “thrilled”? According to Revelation 3:16, heaven is nauseated. The tepid surrender of the fundamentals of the Christian faith to the god of the lowest common denominator may not have been possible back in the 1960s, but it is a disgusting, stomach churning reality today.
So Snyder asks, “Is Luther’s protest really over? During the Council of Trent, the Catholics condemned to hell anyone who believes in salvation through faith in Jesus alone. This is a direct quote from the Council of Trent: ‘If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema [that is, accursed].’
“The Catholics have never renounced that stand. Instead, it has been reaffirmed many times over the years. If Pope Francis really did want to reach out to Protestants, he should start by reversing the Council of Trent on this. As it stands, it is official Catholic doctrine that all Protestants are anathema. But apparently that is not going to stop many Protestants from reuniting with Rome and declaring Francis to be ‘their Pope.’
“Meanwhile, Pope Francis has also been aggressively courting Muslims. The following quote from Pope Francis comes from remarks that he made during his very first ecumenical meeting: ‘I then greet and cordially thank you all, dear friends belonging to other religious traditions; first of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer, and all of you. I really appreciate your presence: in it I see a tangible sign of the will to grow in mutual esteem and cooperation for the common good of humanity. The Catholic Church is aware of the importance of promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions….
“Did you catch that? Apparently Pope Francis believes that Catholics and Muslims worship the same God.
“More recently, Francis made the following statement about Muslims: ‘We must never forget that they profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day.’
“By making this statement, Pope Francis is rejecting another of the most fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. You see, Christians believe that Jesus Christ is God.” That is, Jesus (Yahshua) is the human manifestation of Yahweh. They are the same person, though different in form. “Muslims hate this doctrine and say that there is no god but Allah. So how in the world can Christians and Muslims worship the same God? The only way that you could say this is if you deny the deity of Jesus Christ.
“Of course when it comes to other religions, Francis is not just reaching out to the Muslims. During the same ecumenical meeting that I referenced above, he made it a point to say that he feels ‘close’ to those that belong to any religious tradition: ‘In this, we feel close even to all those men and women who, whilst not recognizing themselves belonging to any religious tradition, feel themselves nevertheless to be in search of truth, goodness and beauty, this truth, goodness and beauty of God, and who are our precious allies in efforts to defend the dignity of man, in building a peaceful coexistence among peoples and in guarding Creation carefully.’” If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll recognize most of that rhetoric as coming right out of the secular humanist playbook.
“And Francis really raised some eyebrows when he made the following statement about atheists: ‘The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good, and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. “But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.” Yes, he can. The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! “Father, the atheists?” Even the atheists. Everyone! We must meet one another doing good. “But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!” But do good: we will meet one another there.’
“There was a lot of debate about what Francis meant by that, and the Vatican issued a statement declaring that Catholic doctrine on these matters had not changed, but without a doubt a lot of people were troubled by this.” It’s quite simple, really: Pope Francis has declared himself to be smarter than God. While it’s true that Christ died for the sins of the whole world—atheists included—the fact remains that one must choose to receive His grace, allowing the atoning blood of Yahshua to cover our sins, in order to be saved. He cannot work his way into God’s favor—especially if he doesn’t believe God exists (see Hebrews 11:6). As Yahshua said, the work of God is to believe in Him whom He sent—that is, Himself. Francis insists that “the Lord has redeemed all of us,” but the fact stands: many remain unredeemed.
“In addition, a lot of people were really troubled when the Vatican offered ‘indulgences’ to those that would follow Pope Francis on Twitter. The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Telegraph: ‘Salvation—or at least a shorter stay in Purgatory—might now be only a tweet away with news that Pope Francis is to offer “indulgences”—remissions for temporary punishment—to the faithful who follow him on the social media site….’” If you’ll recall, the sale of papal indulgences was the practice that finally “broke the camel’s back,” precipitating the Protestation Reformation. But hey, at least the price has dropped.
“So what does Pope Francis actually believe? That is a very good question. His beliefs do not appear to be very consistent at all. He just seems to have an overwhelming desire to ‘unite’ with everyone out there who has any kind of religious faith. But we do know one kind of people that he does not like. He does not like ‘ideological Christians’ that take their faith very seriously: ‘In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: “You have taken away the key of knowledge.”’”
Just for the record, the Pope is lying: Yahshua said this concerning the scribes and Pharisees, who had perverted the Torah that foretold His coming—not about the Christians who believed in Him without reservation and without compromise. Catholicism, with its emphasis on good works—not fundamentalist, grace-dependent Christianity—is heir to the heresy of the Pharisees. Francis continues: “‘The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?’” Yes, receiving and defending what God actually said and did is frightening, repulsive, and sick—or so it seems to a lost and dying world.
“So what is going to come of all this? It will be very interesting to watch. It is also interesting to note that there is a 900-year-old prophecy that seems to indicate that Pope Francis could be the last Pope. If that prophecy is accurate, then we could very well be living at a time when we will see the emergence of a one world religion. Just a few short decades ago, a one world religion would have been absolutely unthinkable. But now the pieces are starting to come together.”
A one world religion? It’s just one more factor—out of dozens of them—that should compel us to ponder the course of events converging on the fourth decade of the twenty-first century. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.
In EndOfTheAmericanDream.com (September 8th, 2014) Michael Snyder presented another article on the subject, this one entitled, “Pope Francis and Shimon Peres Discuss the Establishment of a ‘United Nations of Religions.’” He reports on a meeting between the Pope and the former Israeli President: “The focus of this discussion was a proposal by Peres to establish a ‘United Nations of Religions….’ Every idea has to start somewhere. If Pope Francis does ultimately decide to actively push for such a thing, could we eventually see a single global body that claims to represent all of the religions of the world? …
“Why does Peres want a ‘United Nations of Religions’? According to the Jerusalem Post, it is because he believes that such a body would have the best chance of preventing war and violence in the world… In an interview with the Catholic Magazine Famiglia Cristiana, Peres called on Francis to leverage his respect to create an interfaith organization to curb religious violence. ‘What we need is an organization of United Religions… as the best way to combat terrorists who kill in the name of faith,’ Peres said. ‘What we need is an unquestionable moral authority who says out loud, “No, God does not want this and does not allow it….”’”
They’re trying to “curb religious violence”? Remarkable, since both religions who are the focus of this “peace initiative” have oceans of blood on their hands throughout their histories—as many as 60 million souls at the hands of Catholics, and 270 million or so due to Muslim jihad—and Jews like Peres are always a prime target. (To put things in perspective, the religion of atheism was responsible for as many as 250 million deaths in the twentieth century alone.)
Be that as it may, “Such an organization would fit in very well with what the Pope has been trying to do his entire tenure. He has been doing just about all that he can to build bridges to other religions. For example, earlier this year the Pope authorized Islamic prayers and readings from the Qur’an at the Vatican for the first time ever….”
Gee, what was it the Apostle Paul said? “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (II Corinthians 6:14-16) Does the Pope not understand the most basic tenet of the Christian faith—holiness, being set apart from the enemies of God? Does he not comprehend the fact that Muslims are sworn to destroy Christianity (and every religion other than Islam), and are instructed to lie about their peaceful intentions until it is too late to do anything about their plans for conquest?
Of course, Pope Francis has been reaching out to Protestants, too. Snyder writes, “Two controversial TV preachers recently met Pope Francis in an effort to work toward tearing down the ‘walls of division’ between Catholics and Protestants. Kenneth Copeland and James Robison are two religious leaders in northeast Texas known for drawing huge crowds to their services and events, and who were a part of leading the group identifying as a ‘delegation of Evangelical Christian leaders’ in its meeting with the Roman Catholic pontiff late last month.
“In addition, earlier this year the Pope even met with television minister Joel Osteen…. Osteen was part of a delegation organized by the International Foundation in an effort to encourage interfaith relations and ecumenicism. Utah Senator Mike Lee (R), a Mormon, Gayle Beebe, the president of the interdenominational Westmont College in California, and Pastor Tim Timmons, founder of South Coast Community Church, also in California, were among those who greeted the pope, along with Osteen. ‘I just felt very honored and very humbled,’ Osteen told local television station Click 2 Houston. ‘It was amazing. And even to go back into that part of the Vatican—there’s so much history there, the place that they took us through. You feel that deep respect and reverence for God.’” I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. “And this is not something that just started recently. Pope Francis has been pushing an ecumenical agenda very hard from the very first moments of his papacy.”
“But there is one type of Christian that Pope Francis does not have anything positive to say about. Pope Francis says that there is not any room for “fundamentalism” in Christianity…. Following his first visit to the Middle East as pope last month, the pontiff criticized fundamentalism in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism as a form of violence. ‘A fundamentalist group, even if it kills no one, even it strikes no one, is violent. The mental structure of fundamentalism is violence in the name of God.’
“But exactly what is ‘fundamentalism’? The following is the definition that Google gives when you do a search: ‘a form of a religion, especially Islam or Protestant Christianity, that upholds belief in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture.’ So is Pope Francis rejecting those Christians that believe in a strict, literal interpretation of the Bible?” Yes, Michael, as a matter of fact, he is. After all, he is the world leader of the Religion of Compromise—the spokesman for the pre-repentant church of Laodicea.
It bears repeating: the character of “fundamentalism” depends on what those fundamentals are. They could be a bad or good, false or true, violent or benign. Granted, people with firm convictions and unshakable standards can make wishy-washy lukewarm compromisers uncomfortable. But that’s not the same thing as being “violent,” as Pope Francis charges. Yes, Islamic fundamentalists really believe that their god Allah will reward them with perennial pleasures in paradise if they kill and plunder in his name, and will punish them with hell fire if they do not. But Christian fundamentalists really believe that our marching orders are to love Yahweh and our fellow men—something that requires us to pursue the great commission: “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) We believe that it is not a loving act to allow the lost to die in their sins if it is in our power to introduce them to the Lord of Life, the Prince of Peace. Of course, we also believe that you can’t drag people kicking and screaming to the throne of grace—free will and religious compulsion are polar opposites.
That fact—the utter incompatibility of Yahweh’s gift of free will with Satan’s tactics of deception, compulsion, and bondage—makes any attempt to blend Christianity with Islam the height of folly. And yet, that is precisely what a growing Last Days trend is attempting to do. It’s called Chrislam, and it’s the dumbest thing in the history of mankind. This is not like trying to mix oil and water; it’s more like trying to blend air and stone, or life and death.
I’m referring, of course, to the fundamentalist permutations of Christianity and Islam—in which people actually believe and live by their scriptures. But if you’re into compromise, if you’re willing to ignore your God (whoever he is) and instead make up your religion out of wishful thinking and unicorn poo, then such a thing as Chrislam is not only possible, it’s practically inevitable. Just know up front that both Yahweh and Allah are “on record” as being adamantly opposed to this harebrained idea.
GotQuestions.org helps us define our terms: “Chrislam is an attempt to syncretize Christianity with Islam. While it began in Nigeria in the 1980s, Chrislamic ideas have spread throughout much of the world. The essential concept of Chrislam is that Christianity and Islam are compatible, that one can be a Christian and a Muslim at the same time. Chrislam is not an actual religion of its own, but a blurring of the differences and distinctions between Christianity and Islam.
“Advocates of Chrislam point to facts such as Jesus being mentioned 25 times in the Qur’an, or Christianity and Islam having similar teachings on morals and ethics, or the need for the two largest monotheistic religions to unite to fight against the rise of atheism and alternative spirituality. Chrislam is viewed by some as the solution for the ongoing conflict between the Western world, which is predominantly Christian, and the Middle East, which is predominantly Muslim.
“While it is undeniable that there are many similarities between Christianity and Islam (and Judaism, for that matter), Chrislam ultimately fails because Christianity and Islam are diametrically opposed on the most important of issues—the identity of Jesus Christ. True Christianity declares Jesus to be God incarnate. For Christians, the deity of Christ is a non-negotiable, for without His deity, Jesus’ death on the cross would not have been sufficient to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2).
“Islam adamantly rejects the deity of Christ. The Qur’an declares the idea that Jesus is God to be blasphemy (5:17). Belief in the deity of Christ is considered shirk (“filth”) to Muslims. Further, Islam denies the death of Christ on the cross (Qur’an 4:157-158). The most crucial doctrine of the Christian faith is rejected in Islam. As a result, the two religions are absolutely not compatible, making Chrislam a concept both Christians and Muslims should reject.”
Chrislam, in short, is the ultimate compromise. It requires Christians to abandon the core tenets of Christianity, and for Muslims to do the same—except for one thing. Remember the Islamic ploy of Taqiyya (and half a dozen other forms of tactical deception for the purposes of spreading Islam, listed above). When a Muslim purports to be participating in Chrislam, there’s no way to be sure it’s not merely a ruse: they are commanded to lie to you to gain an advantage, so that Islam may triumph in the end.
An article posted on Prophecy News Watch (March 20, 2014, by Christine Pasciuti) entitled “Christian Leaders Continue to Endorse Chrislam” informs us as to just how bad it has gotten:
“A number of Christian leaders today are attempting to bridge the gap between Muslims and Christians. While perhaps well intentioned, the foundation of this new mantra, often called Chrislam, is that ‘we all worship the same God.’” No one who is familiar with either Yahweh or Allah, however, could make such a claim with a straight face. “At the heart of this movement and perhaps the most dangerous issue is that these Christian leaders suggest that because we use similar terms such as ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’ there is a form of shared belief.” Of course. Satan knows that a good counterfeit has to look something like the real thing.
“What we mean by the words we use matters, and when no one defines the terms we are using, deception can slip in (which is why lawyers will fill page after page of small print defining the terms in a contract). Whether intentional or not, many Christian leaders are leading their followers into believing Chrislam is acceptable. Some unfortunate examples:
(1) “Recently, Brian Houston of Hillsong Church in Australia, addressed his congregation with these words, ‘Do you know—take it all the way back into the Old Testament and the Muslim and you—we actually serve the same God. Allah to a Muslim, to us Abba Father God. And of course through history, those views have changed greatly. But let’s make sure that we view God through the eyes of Jesus, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the beauty of a Savior, the loving open inclusive arms of a loving God.’” Therein lies one of the dangers of substituting the Creator’s self-revealed name, Yahweh, with anemic titles like God, or the Lord, or Father—even if we mean no disrespect. Allah is not Yahweh.
(2) “At President Obama's inaugural invocation in 2009, Pastor of Southern California’s Saddleback Church, Rick Warren, cited several names for Jesus when leading the audience into the Lord’s Prayer: ‘I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation—“Hey-soos”], Jesus, who taught us to pray....’ While the context of Rick Warren’s comments suggest he was attempting to bridge the gap of different names used for Jesus, his efforts show how easy it is for our words to cause confusion. To the Muslim, the ‘Isa’ of the Qur’an is very different than the Jesus of the Bible. The Qur’an’s Isa is not an historical figure. His identity and role as a prophet of Islam is based solely on supposed revelations to Muhammad over half a millennium after the Jesus of history lived and died.” Actually, it may be worse than that: the “Isa” of Muslim lore could be the same name as Esau, the brother of Jacob who despised his birthright—the only man in the Bible whom God said he “hated.”
“Islam’s Qur’an does not portray the divinity of Jesus Christ, nor claim Him to be the only-begotten Son of God—the Messiah, God in human flesh—nor state that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and resurrected from the dead. Islam denies the true gospel of Christianity—the core reason Jesus came to earth. This fundamental gap between Christians and Muslims cannot and should not be bridged or smoothed over with a watered-down doctrine for the sake of ‘brotherly love.’” As I said, it is not a loving act to allow your fellow man to perish in ignorance because you want him to “like you.”
(3) “In 2010, Larry Reimer, a minister of the United Church of Gainesville, FL, in response to a local Qur’an burning, chose to read scripture from the Qur’an as part of his worship services, adding, ‘Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all part of the Abrahamic tree of faith. We all believe in the same God, and in many aspects we are all trying to accomplish the same goals….’” Yes, if your “goal” is to lead people away from Christ into apostasy and error.
(4) “While housing the offices for ‘Christians and Muslims for Peace,’ Robert Schuller, pastor of Crystal Cathedral, began the movement toward softening the well-known words of Jesus in John 14:6, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ Schuller told an Imam of the Muslim American Society that ‘if he came back in 100 years and found his descendants Muslims, it wouldn't bother him....’
(5) “Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, an Episcopal priest for over twenty years, dons her white collar of Episcopal priesthood on Sunday mornings, then ties on her black headscarf to pray with her Muslim group on Fridays, saying, ‘I am both Muslim and Christian.’ She sees compatibility in Islam and Christianity at the most basic level….
(6) “Another leader in the Emerging Church movement, Dr. Tony Campolo, says he is not convinced that Jesus lives only in Christians, reasoning that an Islamic ‘brother’ who has fed the hungry and clothed the naked clearly has a personal relationship with Christ, only he doesn’t know it.” The “indwelling Spirit” requirement of John 3 would beg to differ.
(7) “A few years ago, Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston joined with Christian communities in Atlanta, Seattle, and Detroit to create a series of sermons designed to promote an ecumenical reconciliation between Christianity and Islam. Sunday School lessons on the same theme would center on the inspired teachings of the Prophet Mohammad, and Qur’ans and Bibles would be placed side by side in the church pews.” In other news, the Presbyterian Church has partnered with a group of “Palestinian Liberation theologians” to rewrite the Bible—removing all references to Israel and the Jews and re-casting Jesus as a Palestinian Arab. I don’t even know how to respond to that without using profanity, so I guess we’ll just move on.
Pasciuti concludes, “Ironically, a side by side comparison of the Bible and the Qur’an would show two faiths that are the exact opposite. The Jesus of the gospels is the base upon which Christianity developed. By Islamicizing him, and making of him a Muslim prophet who preached the Qur’an, Islam destroys Christianity and takes over all its history. It does the same to Judaism.”
A word of caution: Ms. Pasciuti writes here (probably without meaning to) as if Islam, Christianity, and Judaism were “competing religions.” This might be true if “Christianity” were actually nothing more than the Religion of Compromise about which we’ve been speaking. But real Christianity isn’t “a religion that was based on the life of Jesus.” It’s “history” and “development” has nothing to do with its true nature (except perhaps as a warning about how easy it is to go astray). It is, rather, the relationship that exists between Yahshua and those of us who choose to be born from above in His Holy Spirit, reciprocating the love of Yahweh. Islam, meanwhile, is merely one of a thousand pitiful ways to define “being lost.”
It’s really depressing to read of so many influential “Christians” falling into the pit of Chrislam. But it’s not as if we hadn’t been warned about them: “There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (II Peter 2:1-2) I suppose it would be convenient (or at least tidy) if these “destructive heresies” in “Christianity” were confined to the Roman Catholic Church, but alas, that is not the case—they’re all over the place. Notably, the Presbyterian Church has in recent years come out strongly as being both pro-Palestinian and pro-homosexual (which is a bit schizophrenic, considering Islam’s intense loathing of homosexuality). But Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, and others are falling all over each other competing with Catholics and Presbyterians for the title of “Apostate of the Year.” Compromise with evil is evil, wherever you find it.
The “flip-side” of the Chrislam coin is a negative attitude toward the Jews—and especially Israel—i.e., the Jewish political state. If one is willing to “seek common ground” with Islam, the divisive subject of Israel’s welfare (okay, its very right to exist) will sooner or later raise its ugly head. As I did my Biblical research for The End of the Beginning, it became all too obvious that Yahweh has not “given up” on the Jews—far from it. Although I didn’t do a verse-by-verse tally, I got the distinct impression that God’s promises of the eventual restoration and redemption of Israel—the literal, physical nation, land, and people—outnumbered those of any other prophetic theme by a factor of at least ten. They’re everywhere you look.
But if you want to get cozy with Islam in your quest for world peace, lollipops, and rainbows, you’re going to be pressured to side with the “Palestinian” cause. Mind you, there is no such thing (racially) as a “Palestinian.” The word (today, at least) simply describes an Arab Muslim who wants to live in the land Yahweh gave to Israel. (Historically, it meant anyone living in “Palestine,” which was the name the Roman Emperor Hadrian gave the Land after his conquest of Bar Kochba and Rabbi Akiba in 135 AD, in an effort to sever the Jews’ emotional attachment to the Land. So until 1948, anybody living there, even Jews, were rightly known as “Palestinians.”)
We’ve seen how the prophesied Muslim Mahdi (the Gog of Ezekiel 38) will be forced to “settle in Jerusalem” if he hopes to be taken seriously as the new Islamic caliph. It’s not optional. Thus Yahweh’s prophet makes clear what will happen to those who try to conquer the Holy City: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.” (Zechariah 12:2-3) The nations will “gather against” Jerusalem twice during the Tribulation, first during the war of Magog, and later at Armageddon—the final “battle.” Both times, those who try to take the city will be “cut in pieces.” The point I want to make is that if a “Christian” compromises with Islam, he is by definition “laying siege against Judah and Jerusalem.” It’s the dumbest thing one could possibly do.
The Religion of Hope
We have thus far explored four rather evenly matched “belief systems,” each of which comprises 21-22% of the world’s population today: the Religions of Despair, of Denial, of Death, and of Compromise. Together, these comprise the “wide gate and broad way that leads to destruction” warned of by Yahshua. His instruction was that we must “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
We should not be shocked or dismayed, then, to find His children a minority in this world. (Okay, maybe a little depressed.) We “fundamentalists” (the segment of Christianity that Pope Francis is so adamantly opposed to) are part of the “left-over” 14% demographic segment. How big a part, I couldn’t say—we share the territory with a plethora of cults and sects, folk religions, indigenous faiths, neo-pagan and new-age cults, up to and including out and out Satanism—as well as one tiny religion that is inextricably linked with most of its adherents’ genetic identity: Judaism. (That is, most people practicing Judaism are Jews—or more correctly, Israelites—descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel—though not all biological Jews practice Judaism. A fair number are functional atheists.)
Although most Christians and most Jews practice religious traditions that are worlds apart, I have no choice but to group them together as one because they are both based on the same scriptural foundation, and they both purport to worship the same God, whose self-revealed name is Yahweh. The primary bone of contention is the identity of the Messiah. Indeed, I see the Judeo-Christian belief system as a composite entity of sorts. That is, real Christians support and pray for Israel (both as a genetic and a political entity), and religious Jews in these Last Days somehow sense that we are the only real allies they have in this world.
In Christianity and Judaism, as with Islam, there is a vast difference between someone who merely goes through the motions, observing their religious traditions and customs but not really taking their scriptures to heart, and one who awakens to the reality of what their God requires of them—which can be a very different thing. Judeo-Christians who choose to believe and trust their God (rather than self-appointed religious professionals, pointless traditions, or politically correct “causes”) will find that they have, in their hearts, left the Religion of Compromise in favor of the Religion of Hope.
At their core, both Christianity and Judaism have only two rules: love God and love your fellow man. (Or is it, love God and demonstrate this love by loving your fellow man?—see I John 4:7-11.) Yahshua identified for us the greatest commandments of the Torah, saying, “‘You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40, cf. Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18) The word translated “love” here is the Greek agapaó, the verb form of the familiar noun agapé (moral preference: love, benevolence, good will, esteem. Agapaó means: “to have love for someone or something, based on sincere appreciation and high regard; to love, to regard with affection, loving concern”—Louw & Nida). We are being told to prefer and appreciate Yahweh enthusiastically (which would include trusting Him enough to take His advice—a.k.a. obedience), and to seek our neighbors’ well-being as much as (and in the same way as) we do our own.
Religious rituals ordained by Yahweh (whether commanded of Israel, such things as circumcision, tithes, and animal sacrifices, or of the Church, such rites as water baptism or the Lord’s Supper) are always instituted to symbolize and/or memorialize God’s expression of love for us. Anything we add to them—manmade traditions, no matter how well-meaning or innocent they may seem—will obfuscate or dilute God’s message. During the two thousand years since Yahshua’s advent, we (both Christians and Jews) muddied the waters quite a bit, I’m afraid. We added traditions, rules, doctrines, and customs that serve only to insulate us from the God who wants nothing more than to share an intimate, personal, loving relationship with His creation—us. And in the process, we became apostate, lukewarm, and unresponsive—not so very different from the Muslims who lost track of Allah’s (or is that Satan’s) bloodthirsty Qur’anic instructions for all those centuries.
But what happens when a Christian awakens from his liturgical slumber and takes a spiritual weed-whacker to the overgrowth of pointless tradition that had choked his faith like so much kudzu invading once-pristine woodlands? What happens when his cold, dead religion gets replaced with a warm and living relationship with His God and Savior? It’s precisely the opposite of what a Muslim experiences when he awakens from his religious torpor. Remember what I wrote about followers of Islam? “The closer a Muslim adheres to the teachings of his religion, the worse a human being he will be: frustrated, miserable, unfulfilled, hateful, selfish, and potentially lethal to anyone he meets.”
The opposite is true of Christians. The closer a Christian adheres to the teachings of His God, the better a human being he will be: satisfied, content, fulfilled, loving, selfless, and potentially a blessing to anyone he meets. (Sadly, I fear I’m describing but a small minority of us.) I readily admit that my definition of “good” and “bad” are based on my Judeo-Christian worldview, but you don’t have to be a Christian to find love preferable to hate, life better than death, security more desirable than fear, and peace superior to war. These attitudes are hard-wired into the common human psyche. To deny them, one must turn his back upon his own humanity.
The awakened Christian starts to love others with a whole heart. He (or she) begins to crave righteousness, to ache and mourn because of the sinful condition of the world, to cry out to God because of the misery and injustice he sees, and to subsequently invest himself in being part of the solution, not part of the problem. He comes to the uncomfortable realization that tolerating sin (in himself or others) is not a loving thing to do—that the only loving course of action is to admit it, confront it, and point it out for what it is—the path to destruction. Call it “being judgmental” if you will, but if he sees a drowning man, he acknowledges that the water can kill him, so he throws him a life preserver. Alas for the one who refuses to grasp it.
And what about Jews? The closer they adhere to the teachings of their God (as revealed in the Torah, Psalms, and Prophets, not necessarily the Talmud) the more likely they are to become wide-awake Christians—i.e., believers in the same Messiah their Christian counterparts know and revere—for Yahshua is revealed in every symbol, every ritual, and every prophetic utterance in the Hebrew Scriptures. The fact is, Christianity and Judaism have no business being separate religions. For that matter, real Christianity isn’t a religion at all (in the sense that it represents a method by which men may reach out to God). It’s “merely” a descriptive term for the relationship that exists between believers and their God. In real Christianity, it’s Yahweh who does the reaching out—and we who gratefully allow ourselves to be found.
Perhaps most importantly, of all these faiths we’ve discussed, only Judeo-Christianity offers a plausible solution for sin—the “falling short” of God’s perfect standard of righteousness. That solution, in a nutshell, is that only innocence can atone for (i.e., cover) guilt. “The mystery of ‘atoning’ for our offenses, or sins, against God and other persons is addressed by the Hebrew verb kapar, ‘to make atonement,’ ‘to cover over.’ The verb may come from an original root meaning ‘to wipe away’ or ‘to cover.’ All of these meanings describe in different ways how God deals with our sins, for only His Son can truly ‘make atonement’ for our sin.” (Holman) We’ll see why in a moment. The Lexham Theological Wordbook further explains that kapar means “To atone, make atonement, cover, appease, expiate. The verb primarily describes the action of covering over iniquity…. Atonement results in forgiveness, consecration, cleanness, appeasement of divine wrath, and removal of sin or iniquity.”
The problem is that guilt separates us from God (in whom is life), so one way or another, the penalty of sin—actually, its natural consequence, its wages, as Paul put it—is death. The “trick” is somehow obtaining atonement for one’s sins without relinquishing one’s life in the process, for dead people cannot enjoy fellowship with God (or do anything else, for that matter). Innocent blood must be shed, but since the fall of Adam, none of us has been found innocent before God through his own merit or performance.
So the Hebrew Scriptures describe a process whereby an innocent clean animal may be sacrificed as a substitute, to temporarily atone for the sins of guilty people. (Animals are deemed innocent because they have no free will and no sin nature. What they do, no matter how destructive or inconvenient to us, has no moral ramifications.) But people (who do have free will) cannot atone for their own sins without dying, because those very sins define them as being guilty. Moreover, death tends to defeat the whole purpose of atonement—the reconciliation of one living being to another through the covering of sin.
Anyone who is cognizant of his own sins before God, then, is (as they say in theological parlance) screwed. First, we’re faced with the unassailable fact that we’re going to need a whole lot more bulls, lambs, and goats—given the depths of our sins and the temporary nature of the Old Testament remedy for them. But beyond that, there’s the little problem of no longer having a priesthood or a temple in which to offer up our sacrifices. For that matter, the Ark of the Covenant—necessary for the rites of the Day of Atonement—has been missing and unavailable for service since before the Babylonians took Jerusalem in 586 B.C. So as far as the Jews know, they’re still screwed—saddled with a scripturally mandated procedure for the atonement of sins, but no way to implement it. Innocent blood is required if our sins are to be atoned without our own deaths, but there is no longer a mechanism for making such sacrifices.
Or is there?
Christians, of course, know the answer to the riddle of permanent atonement without personal death. Instead of an endless string of lambs and goats—which in truth had been introduced only as a prophetic harbinger—Yahweh did the most counterintuitive thing imaginable: He manifested Himself as a human being, living a sinless life among us. And then, qualified by His proven innocence, He offered Himself up as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind. As with the Levitical rites, it is our trust in the efficacy of the sacrifice that covers our sins and reconciles us to Yahweh. (The Jews, as a nation, haven’t yet awakened to the fact that their long-expected Messiah is the same person as the Christians’ Christ—the One who fulfilled the promise of the Torah’s sacrifices. But they will.) The fact that our salvation cost us nothing but our pride (because, let’s face it, we had nothing of value to contribute) is a testament to the unfathomable love of Yahweh.
And what is the “payoff” of one’s salvation in Christianity? It is eternal life in fellowship with God Himself. We are to be given immortal, spiritual bodies that—unlike our present mortal shells—are designed to be compatible with the undiminished glory of God. Reconciliation with Yahweh is the whole point. Christianity is unique in this respect: our idea of “heaven” is to dwell at peace with, and in the very presence of, our God. We look forward to sharing this relationship with Yahweh, through His Messiah, that we have chosen in this mortal life—a relationship of mutual love, of personal friendship, and on our part, of reverence and unmitigated awe—forever. As strange as it may seem to devotees of other faiths, our God actually likes us.
How does one attain this blessed state? By becoming a “child of God.” This is defined in the Tanach as “keeping Yahweh’s commandments” and in the New Testament as being born of God’s Spirit through belief in (i.e., reliance upon) the saving grace provided by Yahshua’s sacrifice. There is no discrepancy here. The two “methods” (if you comprehend Yahweh’s symbols) are exactly the same thing. Boiled down to one concept, it is trust in Yahweh’s provision. As Yahshua said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:29)
And how does this “trust” manifest itself in what a Christian or believing Jew does? How does it affect his relationships, actions, and attitudes? The answer is revealed in both “testaments.” Its core (as I said) is love, both for God and toward our fellow man. Its function is explained by the Hebrew prophet Micah. After stating that Yahweh isn’t interested in the Levitical sacrifices and priestly rituals outlined in the Torah per se, he explains what these things were actually meant to teach us: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does Yahweh require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) And Yahshua described at length what real love is in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-6), in terms that should make most of us blush with shame at our utter failure to measure up.
Paul explained further: “[If I] have not love, [my eloquence, gifts, knowledge, faith, service, and sacrifice] profit me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:3-8).
Since our background subject here is Biblical prophecy, there are a few issues we need to explore that we would expect to come into focus as we get closer and closer to the end of the age. In no particular order…
Bible Translation: the Plan and Projection
In the Olivet Discourse, Yahshua told us, “This Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) It’s pretty clear, then, that no significant segments of humanity must remain in the dark about the good news about God’s offer of salvation through Christ when “then end” (which I’d take to mean the Tribulation—the final seven years of the age) begins. Ironically, the same technology required to facilitate the mark of the beast—the Internet—now has the capacity now to reach virtually the whole world with the Gospel. The nearly ubiquitous availability of electronic media today—radio, television, and the Web—can bring Christ’s salvation to every corner of the globe.
So if people still haven’t heard the Gospel at this late date, chances are it’s because of one of two reasons: either they’re purposely avoiding it—willful ignorance—or they’re being intentionally kept in the dark by those who rule over them—as in parts of dar al-Islam or the darkest pits of Communism today. In other words, the unavailability of the Gospel is either spiritual suicide or spiritual murder. Almost nobody is “falling through the cracks” these days. And that’s something you couldn’t have said even thirty or forty years ago. Of course, you can make God’s word available, but you can’t force people to respond to it.
What about the “language barrier?” As far as the Gospel goes, it has virtually disappeared. At the end of the 19th century, the Bible had been translated into 522 languages, a remarkable achievement considering the technical hurdles the translators faced. But a century later, 2,200 people groups possessed the Word of God in their native tongues. That’s 99.95 percent of the world’s population. Wycliffe Bible Translators (a missions group whose specialty is translating the Word of God into the languages of previously unreached peoples) reports that with the help of computer technology, they now expect to have the Word of God translated into every language spoken on earth—even those tiny “pre-literate” groups (mostly in India or Southeast Asia) currently without their own written alphabet—by 2025. Interesting time frame, is it not?
It should be obvious that nobody will be translating the Bible into new languages after the rapture. In fact, I would expect God’s word to be suppressed, confiscated, burned in the streets, and scrubbed from the Internet by the time the Tribulation hits its stride. But from the days of Eden, Yahweh has never left Himself without a witness. So during the Tribulation, if people don’t have the Bible or Christian mentors to turn to for spiritual guidance, how will Yahweh communicate with them? The old-fashioned way: by word of mouth.
In Revelation 17, we are told of three angels delivering three messages to the people of the earth: “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’ And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’ Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God.’” (Revelation 14:6-10) In short, the messages are: (1) Honor Yahweh your Creator; (2) don’t trust the world’s system of government, religion, or finance; and (3) don’t fall for the dragon’s lies, or accept Satan’s claim upon you, whatever you do. Actually, that’s good advice in any age.
The Tribulation is called “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” and the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 makes it clear that its duration is defined by the final “week” of the “seventy weeks” (a “week” being seven schematic 360-day “years”) that are “determined for your [Daniel’s] people and for your holy city” (Jerusalem). There’s no way around it: Israel, as a nation and a race, will be subjected to the judgment and wrath of the Tribulation, even though the church (that is, the real called-out assembly of Yahshua, represented by the saints of “Philadelphia”) will not. In fact, Israel—and Jerusalem in particular—will be the center ring of the Tribulation’s circus: the point of focus, the military and religious objective, and the bone of contention.
As you know, Jews (Israelites) are a tiny minority, no matter how you slice it—no more than 2/10 of 1% of the world’s population. Half of them (that we know of) live in the nation of Israel, and the other half are spread across the globe (most of them in America, and a few in Europe). Recurring waves of anti-Semitism—the irrational and groundless hatred of Jews that has followed this people throughout the centuries—still take place, though unlike the Muslims who have settled in the same lands, Jews have made every effort to assimilate into their adopted societies while retaining their racial identity and (in many cases) their religion.
Jews living outside the Land of Israel are known—and have been for millennia—as the “diaspora,” the “dispersed ones.” It began in 722 B.C., with the Assyrian conquest of the “ten northern tribes” of Israel (a.k.a. Samaria, a.k.a. Ephraim, a.k.a. “the ten lost tribes,” though they’re not “lost” to Yahweh). It continued with the Babylonian invasion of Judah (with Benjamin), beginning in 601 B.C. The process was “completed” under the Romans, first under Titus in 70 A.D., and later by Hadrian, in 135, who so wanted to break the Jews’ emotional attachment to the land, he renamed it Palestina, after the long-extinct Philistines. All of this was in response to Israel’s rebellion against Yahweh, though every last tragedy that befell them had been foretold in gruesome detail in Deuteronomy 28—information and admonition they had been given before they even entered the Land.
But the restoration and redemption of Israel—as a nation—is by far the most oft-repeated prophecy in all of scripture. Yahweh knew they would fail, of course. (It must suck to be omniscient sometimes.) So He made this promise: “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where Yahweh your God drives you, and you return to Yahweh your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that Yahweh your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you….” Don’t skip over the conditional requirement—“When you return to Yahweh your God.” But note that He didn’t say “if.” Yahweh knew that they would (eventually) return and obey His voice. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will.
“If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there Yahweh your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then Yahweh your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And Yahweh your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:1-6) Remarkably, history would show that the “gathering,” the “possession,” and the “prosperity” would begin before Israel had reestablished their relationship with Yahweh. The dark days under the Nazi holocaust were the catalyst that brought the world together for one brief moment of sanity, setting aside a tiny piece of land (more or less where the Bible said it should be) as a Jewish homeland. Israel as a nation was reborn in 1948.
There’s a Hebrew word—Aliyah (meaning “ascent”)—that describes the immigration of the Jewish diaspora back to the Land. Reading between the lines of prophetic scripture, it would seem that the number of Jews “making Aliyah” will increase dramatically as the end of the age approaches, the result of increasing anti-Jewish sentiment in the world and the relentless call of Yahweh upon Israel: “Yahweh your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed.” In particular, I foresee the ministry of the 144,000 sealed Jews introduced in Revelation 7 to take place within the Land of Israel, for in chapter 14, they are all seen standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion—in Jerusalem. Since Zionism began in earnest in 1882, over 3,600,000 Jews from all over the world have made Aliyah.
But the process of “circumcision of the heart” will not be complete until they recognize and receive Yahshua as their Messiah. This event—the “great awakening”—is prophetically memorialized in the sixth (and next-to-last) Holy Convocation of Israel: the Day of Atonement. Not coincidentally, this day will mark the return of the Messiah to the Mount of Olives, as prophesied in Zechariah 14:4 and Acts 1:11, and described in Zechariah 12:10.
It’s a good-news, bad-news story. The good news is that Israel will indeed be regathered and redeemed—never again to rebel against Yahweh their God. The bad news is that it will take the horrors of the Tribulation to compel them to see Yahweh and His Messiah for who they really are. The Day of Atonement, like all seven of Yahweh’s “feasts,” can be expected to fall on the very calendar day of its Levitical mandate—which puts Israel’s national redemption a mere five days from the end of the Tribulation. That’s five days before the beginning of Christ’s kingdom age, marked by the Feast of Tabernacles—in the autumn of 2033, unless I’m mistaken about a great many things.
Rebuilding the Temple
There are two temples in Israel’s past (three if you count the wilderness tabernacle), and two in its future. The Third Temple will play a significant role in the unfolding of Tribulation events. It is virtually certain that it will be built on the Temple Mount (though there’s no reason to suppose the Muslim mosques and shrines that inhabit the space will be removed to make room for it). Reading between the lines (again) the Third Temple would appear to be a bribe for Israel’s acceptance of a suicidal land-for-peace deal cooked up by the Antichrist: “Then he [the ‘prince who is to come’] shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” (Daniel 9:27) You can’t “bring an end” to something that hasn’t begun, and there’s no lawful way to make Levitical sacrifices and offerings without a temple and a priesthood in place. So three and a half years after the Tribulation has begun (the starting bell being the “covenant with many” mentioned here) the Antichrist (a.k.a. “the prince who is to come,” a.k.a. the man of sin, a.k.a. the son of perdition, a.k.a. the beast from the sea) will call a halt to the very thing his treaty made possible—the resumption of Jewish worship on the Temple Mount after a 1900-year hiatus.
Why would he do this? It’s because the mid-point of the Tribulation (actually thirty days prior to it) marks the beginning of his three and a half year reign as dictator of Earth. But he will not be content with being a popular politician. He wants to be worshiped as god. Paul informs us: “The man of sin [will be] revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (II Thessalonians 2:3-4) That’s right: the new temple will be “re-tasked” for Satan’s purposes, sort of like what happened to the second temple when Antiochus IV Epiphanes (on Kislev 25, 168 B.C.) set up a statue of Zeus in the temple and sacrificed a sow on the altar—the original “abomination of desolation” (prophesied in Daniel 8, right down to the number of days it would take to cleanse the temple). There goes the neighborhood. Again.
Christ warned about this very thing in the Olivet Discourse: “So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” The definitive “abomination of desolation” is the very event we just read about—when the Antichrist “sits in the temple of God” trying to pass himself off as God incarnate. “Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter. For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.” (Mark 13:14-20)
The “Daniel” reference about the final abomination is even more specific than the 9:27 reference I quoted above. A bit later, we are told, “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.” (Daniel 12:11) So there will be three and a half “schematic” years (1,260 days) plus one month between the beginning of the Antichrist’s reign and the end of the Tribulation. That is, the 42-months allotted for the Beast to “exercise his authority” (see Revelation 13:5) will conclude a month before the end. The reinstituted sacrifices and offerings will be allowed to continue for a month after the Antichrist’s reign begins, but this ruse of “peaceful coexistence” with the Jews won’t last long.
This, then, is how the Third Temple will be built, used, and then misused during the Tribulation. It is inconceivable (to me, anyway) that the returning Messiah will want to make use of such a polluted venue during His Millennial reign. And if we study the specifications of the Millennial Temple in Ezekiel 40-47, we’ll discover that this final earthly temple (if we take the dimensions of the courtyard, including the required 50 cubit open space around it, into account) won’t fit on the Temple Mount. In fact, the entire topography of Jerusalem is prophesied to be drastically altered before Christ’s Millennial kingdom commences. (See Chapter 27 of this work, The Millennial Temple, for the details.)
I realize that Israel being given permission to rebuild their temple on their Temple Mount is probably the least-likely scenario one could possibly imagine right now, given the geopolitical state of the world. But it’s the only thing (at least, the only one I can imagine) that might possibly convince the Israeli Jews that the Muslims are serious about living in peace with them. Think about it. It would be the ultimate Islamic ruse—the boldest use of Taqiyya ever devised: allow the Jews to rebuild the temple so they’ll drop their guard, leaving their country a “land of unwalled villages.” When they’ve gotten used to the idea of peaceful coexistence, when they’ve turned their attention away from their defense and back to their God, then the Muslims will attack, using the new temple as the focal point of their rage. It’s as brilliant as it is evil.
And yet, as unlikely as the go-ahead for building the Third Temple might seem, faithful Jewish groups like the Temple Institute—backed by evangelical Christians—are proceeding with preparations. Not wanting to be caught flat-footed when the Messiah comes, they have spent over $27 million so far constructing the necessary appurtenances: solid gold vessels for the service of the sanctuary, a menorah made of 95 pounds of gold, silver trumpets (the ‘hasoserah of Numbers 10), the priestly garments, and more. The temple itself has been designed, and the cornerstone cut. Priests are being trained, and red heifers (whose ashes are presumably required for the cleansing of the building site) are being bred.
When confronted with the fact that there is no temple, and no immediate prospects for building one, the faithful simply grin and say, “Yes. What’s your point? We must be ready for our Messiah. Would you like to make a contribution?” Such enthusiasm has been known to change the world.
Finally, we should consider how God’s counter-intuitive “exit strategy” for the church—the rapture—can be expected to impact the world when it happens. “Fundamentalists” or “evangelicals” comprise but a small percentage of the world’s population (and indeed, are probably not even a majority of the “leftover” 14% category we discussed above). So am I suggesting that countries (like America) where evangelicals are relatively numerous will be the only places where the rapture is even noticed? No, not really. Although the top-heavy often-idolatrous structure of the Roman Catholic Church (and some other quasi-Christian constructs) are far from conducive to genuine salvation, God knows who among the laity are His. This is demonstrated by the commendations Christ gave to the churches of Thyatira and Sardis in Revelation 2 and 3, which represent (let’s face it) spiritual profiles generally wallowing in error and apostasy.
There are two “litmus tests” among the visible church (i.e., “nominal” Christianity) that will determine who will be shown in the end to be genuinely saved. The first is the indwelling (the quickening, or making-alive) by the Holy Spirit, as explained by Yahshua to Nicodemus in John 3. The second is the profile of the Church of Philadelphia, the church of the rapture: “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 3:10) The Philadelphians are defined thus: they (1) have a little strength, that is, neither a lot nor none at all, (2) have kept Christ’s word, (3) have not denied His name, (4) have kept His command to persevere, and (5) have held fast to what they have been given—crowns of victorious righteousness. Alas, I expect there to be multitudes of “nominal Christians” who fit none of those criteria (and will subsequently find themselves “left behind”), but I also hold out a strong hope that multitudes of believers of every conceivable denominational stripe and liturgical tradition will be found to fit this profile when the time comes.
Is this just wishful thinking on my part? I think not. Why? Because of God’s consistent symbolic characterization of what the rapture actually is. It’s not merely a magical get-out-of-trouble-free card for Bible thumpers (as it is so often characterized). Escape from the Tribulation’s horrors is merely a byproduct of the rapture’s promise; it’s far from being the central issue. Its point is the physical separation of the church from the world in anticipation of God’s holy wrath, prophetic precursors of which are the removal of Noah from the flooded earth and the extrication of Lot from wicked Sodom. The rapture will be achieved by the translation of our bodies (living or dead) into their immortal form—something that had to happen at some point, and will happen to every believer eventually. This process—and the public way it’s done—will be a witness to the world that there is a God, and that He is as good as His word, with all that implies: the good news, and the bad news.
I have noted elsewhere that the “Feast of Trumpets” (the fifth miqra or holy appointment in Yahweh’s seven-convocation annual schedule), is almost certainly prophetic of the rapture. The symbology is identical, and no other prophesied event in scripture fits the profile, even remotely. You’re free to disagree with me, of course, but if you do, you must figure out what prophesied future event the Feast of Trumpets celebrates that could rival the rapture in significance. Stumped? Me too. One thing is absolutely certain: it is not “New Year’s Day” on the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah. Yahweh specified the first day of Nisan (in the spring) for that, and it’s not even one of His seven holy convocations.
The name of the Feast in Hebrew is Yom Teruah—meaning the day of shouting or of blowing trumpets. Teruah can imply either great joy or alarm—an outburst of celebration or a call to war, depending upon who (and whose) you are, and under what circumstances the trumpet is blown or the shout is uttered. (That is, it’s a shout of joy if you’re a participant, and a bugle calling you to battle if you’re not.) If I’m right about any of this, the rapture will take place at the time of an autumn new moon (the first day of Tishri on the Hebrew calendar) some year between now and the beginning of the Tribulation (Saturday, November 14, 2026, presuming my observations are correct).
Paul described the event like this: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last [Greek: eschatos—last or final in time or place, extreme, or ultimate] trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (I Corinthians 15:51-53) “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up [Greek harpazo, Latin rapiemur—that’s where the English word “rapture” comes from] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17) Paul was writing to Christians, of course, so the information he imparted, stressing our transformation, was primarily intended to be germane to us. The celebratory shout by the participants (both divine and human, I’m guessing) and the joyous “trump of God” is easy enough to envision.
But because of what Yom Teruah means—the day (yom) of the “shout or blast of war, alarm, or joy” (teruah)—it would seem that the disappearance of significant numbers of Christians will be required in order to cause the appropriate “alarm” among those left behind. It would seem self-evident that the disappearance of a few hundred super-saints spread out all over the world would not be sufficiently “alarming” for God’s purposes. In order for the rapture to fulfill this function of the Feast of Trumpets, it must be an unprecedented, unexpected, earthshakingly significant event—a wake-up call of “Biblical proportions” for the whole world.
Oh, and by the way, the “alarm function” of the Feast of Trumpets would be pointless if it were to come after the Tribulation was over—the premise of the “post-Tribulation” theory. There is no point in sounding a “two-minute warning” at a football game two minutes after the game has ended. If it is to serve as a wake-up call, it must happen before the Great Unpleasantness gets underway, even before the utter chaos of World War III ensues. The Christians not only have to go missing, they have to be noticed to have gone missing.
How many will be raptured? We aren’t told (for obvious reasons), and frankly, it’s none of our business. Our instructions stand, regardless. But personally, I’m expecting hundreds of millions worldwide (and praying for a billion)—enough to force the planet to wake up and take notice. Based on God’s established pattern of longsuffering and patience, I would also expect Yahshua to delay His coming until the last possible moment (known only to Him), giving the world every opportunity to repent (though scripture doesn’t actually spell this out—it’s just an observation on my part). If this proves true, it would suggest (in light of a hundred other factors we’ve already discussed) that the earth could host as many as nine billion souls on rapture day. A couple of hundred million raptured souls is only about two percent of that. (I know: it sounds awfully pessimistic when put in those terms.)
Whatever our numbers, though, the post-rapture world will quickly experience a shortage of whatever it was we brought to the party. A quick survey of I John reveals a whole list of attributes that identify us as Christ’s in this world. In order of their appearance: fellowship with God; joy; light; truth; an aversion to sin; obedience to God’s commands; enlightenment; knowledge; discernment; anointing; confidence; holiness (i.e., separation from the world); Christ-likeness; purity; judicial innocence; adoption as God’s children; brotherly love; sacrificial love; the indwelling of God’s Spirit; the ability to overcome evil; testimony and witness; boldness; fearlessness; perfection (i.e., completion); belief (faith); victory over the world; and eternal life. For real Christians, the heart and source of this profile can be boiled down to one word: love.
Of course, religion will still be here, and with it all of the works-based tradition that served as soteriological strategy for centuries—sometimes millennia—on end. I believe it to be quite likely that the sudden disappearance of hundreds of millions of fundamentalist Christians will, while causing confusion and consternation, give the world’s remaining belief systems reason for hope—hope that their own views would soon be vindicated, that is. Without those inconvenient “Christian radical extremists” around to trouble them anymore, the Religion of Compromise can plow ahead with their dream of unifying everyone in the soft, lukewarm primordial ooze of a one-world religion in which no one has any firm convictions about anything, no one expresses an opinion, and no one is permitted to suggest there is such a thing as absolute truth. The Religion of Despair (with no particular convictions of their own) will find such compromise the next best thing to actual peace, for remarkably, the Religion of Death—under the surprising direction of the long awaited and newly ascendant Mahdi—will appear amenable to a cessation of violence.
But the biggest surprise of all will be the one who has brought everyone to the table: a card-carrying member of the Religion of Denial. He is neither a Christian, nor a Jew, nor a Hindu, nor a Muslim, but a godless man who convincingly proclaims that peace is at hand if only the world will stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and awaken to the fact that they all, in reality, worship the same god. And for a brief moment, they will all do precisely that. Unfortunately, the “god” they all find themselves worshiping is Satan, humanity’s adversary and slanderer, the dragon, the serpent of Eden, the father of lies.
With the true church caught up out of the world and Israel sequestered within it, with the devil unmasked and in total (albeit temporary) control of the world, the hapless inhabitants of the earth will at last have to make up their minds. They’ll have to follow either glowing lies or uncomfortable truths. They must finally choose between meandering down the torpid stream of least resistance and following their nagging, prickly God-given consciences. And in the end, they’ll be forced to choose between permanent death masquerading as life and eternal life attainable only through the death of innocence.
I hate to rush you, but you’re running out of time.