I was reading an amazing piece of research on Frontline about Apocalypticism.
Basically, it’s about the Apocalypse, The Book of Revelation, the Second Coming… and how it’s all taken on a new meaning in the past century or so. Particularly with the FundaMENTALists… which was founded on the most embarrassing screw-up in recent history.
Why should any of this interest you?
The future of the world depends on it.
But not in the way you think I mean.
Starting with an in-depth look at the Book of Revelation, you need to understand the settings to understand it. It’s not about some futuristic vision, it was a rather prosaic and symbolic writings by St. John the Divine. Theologians believed him to be THE Apostle John (you know Jesus’ favorite?), now a 90 year old man in exile on the island of Patmos who had just survived torture by his Roman captors by pouring boiling oil on him.
To get a message out to the other churches, he needed to get a message out past the Romans that read like nonsense. The message to the Churches of Asia Minor was to stand strong and brace themselves for the Tribulation to come… The Roman Empire and Christianity was about to meet in a head-on collision.
Also, apocalyptic literature was almost always a kind of literature for “insiders,” that is to say, it was written for people who already knew something of the situation and of the symbols that were used to portray it.– Understanding Revelation by L. Michael White –
Waiting for the Antichrist? The cool little sixes being tattooed on your hands or forehead so you can buy and sell?
Already happened. Ya missed it. In his cryptic tale, the Antichrist* was Nero (666 was his name in Hebrew, which the language is numeric as well as alphabetic). When he died, rumor had it in Rome that he would come back (as Domitian), hence “mortally wounded but did not die”.
(*Actually the word “antichrist” appears nowhere in Revelation. He’s lovingly referred to as “The Beast”)
The “five fallen” refer to the five emperors who have died: Augustus (29 BCE – 14 CE), Tiberius (14-37 CE), Gaius (37-41), Claudius (41-54) and Nero (54-68). “One has a wound” refers to the emperor Nero, who died in 68, but whom comtemporary legend had it would return from the dead to continue persecuting the Christians. Thus, the beast has a head that has recovered from a mortal wound. The head “who is” refers to Vespasian (69-79) and the one that is “not yet” refers to Titus (79-81).
The inevitable triumph was fulfilled when Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 313. While Christianity was legalized, and no more of that “being thrown to the lions” stuff going on…
…unfortunately a few itty bitty compromises were made, like converting the old gods into “saints”, Diana becomes “The Virgin Mary”, and Hades becoming that nasty place called “Hell” that we’re all threatened with from time to time. (People were going insane at the thought of loved ones being roasted forever, so “Hell-Lite” aka “Purgatory” was brought into the picture later). The Roman Empire lives on as the billion-strong Roman Catholic Church now.
Final Score: Jesus 2, Roman Empire 1
Sorry gang. For those following Hal Lindsey’s garbage in “The Late Great Planet Earth“, the Book of Revelation was not a symbolic vision of the future, but a symbolic depiction of the current conditions in the First Century. Jack Van Impe, Pat Robertson… sorry, but you’re full of shit.
The Great Disappointment of 1844 – For those of you that wasn’t there or don’t remember, it was well… disappointing.
Baptist Preacher William Miller predicted Christ’s return some time between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. When that didn’t happen, he changed the date to October 22.
Lame excuses and “playing it off” theories ensue…
This gave birth to the theory of Millenialism, and ushered in false prophets like Ellen G. White (7th Day Adventist), crackpots like Charles Taze Russell (Jehovah’s Witnesses… whom time is running out considering it all hinges on Christ’s return before the WWI generation croaks, expect a major rewriting of THAT cult soon.), and John Nelson Darby and his “premillenial dispensation” (all Biblical writing refers to past and future events), not to mention the mother of all horseshit: The Rapture.
An amazing chronology of Church history is there as well.
The Fundamentalist Movement that we are seeing today was based on a major screwup in 1844. Or dare I boldy say… founded on a lie.
Dangerous loonies like Rev. Sun Myung “I’m the messiah because Jesus screwed up” Moon, and Pat “The False Prophet” Robertson is getting a lot of mileage out of it too. They believe that Christ’s kingdom must be set up here on earth (read: imposing their will and beliefs on all of us) for Him to return.
To hell with “Separation of Church and State”, right?
The Millenium has come and gone with Jesus being a no-show (actually the millenium was in 1996, if you want to be technical.). Much of what is being taught in Churches today has been added by Constantine right up to Darby.
What was it that the Early Church Fathers believed in that they were so willing to die horrific deaths for?
Will we EVER know?
“But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.” You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.” – (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)
Oh yeah, and do we get to stone Pat Robertson if Bush DOESN’T win in a landslide? Please? Please? Please???