Month: June 2014
BLOOD ON THE ALTAR | The Coming War Between Christian vs. Christian
PART 13 – THE OMINOUS CHURCH OF ANTICHRIST UNDER CONSTRUCTION
| By Douglas W. Krieger and S. Douglas Woodward
To the surprise and the dismay of most Christians, it is probable that no repellent political figure in modern times ever professed faith in Christianity more than Adolf Hitler. No public official ever championed the separation of church and state more fervently than the Führer. And it is unlikely that any religious leader promoted putting faith into action with more exuberance than the leader of the National Socialist Party. Consider a small sample of Hitler’s words:
This “Winter Help Work” [a social “outreach” program] is also in the deepest sense a Christian work. When I see, as I so often do, poorly clad girls collecting with such infinite patience in order to care for those who are suffering from the cold while they themselves are shivering with cold, then I have the feeling that they are all apostles of a Christianity—and in truth of a Christianity which can say with greater right than any other: this is the Christianity of an honest confession, for behind it stand not words but deeds.[ii]
For these substantive reasons and many more (not always so warmly swaddled in biblical ideals), the German Catholic as well as the “evangelical” church failed to discern a glaring and provocative manifestation of Antichrist in their midst. The best and the brightest, the priests and the theologians, all were caught up in the rush to support the cause of National Socialism. German leaders, both spiritual and political, stood side by side to bring the Fatherland back from the brink. And Adolf Hitler inspired them to come together for the common cause.
Certainly, more than “mass psychology” was influencing 1930s Germany.[iii] Christian intellectuals, from the middle ranks to the upper echelons, professed faith in the Führer. In hindsight, we could be justifiably aghast about how the experts wholly missed the most obvious incarnation of the Antichrist since brutal, first-century Roman emperors fed thousands of Christians to the lions.[iv] How, pray tell, could this happen?
Indeed, this particular “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess. 2:7) astonishes us because Hitler not only convinced the hungry and unemployed masses, he gained the favor of the theologically sophisticated. Despite his outspoken rancor and the suspected occultism amongst him and his accomplices, opposition from the church never materialized in any meaningful way until almost the war’s end. Hitler promoted what Germans wanted to hear—that God was on their side. He provoked patriotism by calls to revere the old ways. He assured the nation that the disgrace of losing “the Great War” (World War I) had nothing to do with the Kaiser’s blatant imperialism. And despite outrageous anti-Semitism, Adolf Hitler was hailed as “God’s man of the hour.” The servants of God were simply clueless in detecting the malevolent motivating force behind Adolf Hitler. Discernment disappeared from the church.
Behold the uniqueness of Adolf Hitler! With contagious conviction, he voiced what the German soul could be in its manifold creative genius! His carefully orchestrated words disclosed complete commitment and utter brilliance as a leader of the people. With rapturous expressions, he invigorated a dejected Germany. He guided the rediscovery of its powerful but pagan roots, illuminating who they were and what they could become, with Almighty God guiding their steps (he saw no conflict between Odin—the Scandinavian king of gods—and Jehovah!) Hitler injected into nearly every German heart a divine imprimatur, which justified an inferno of destruction and death unmatched in human history. Its pristine message created a new Reich of das volk, a people destined by the triumph of their collective will to become the consummation and commencement of the kingdom of God—das thousande jahre Reich (the millennial reign, a one-thousand-year kingdom initiated in the German spirit of Charlemagne, the emperor of the First Reich, the Holy Roman Empire inaugurated at Christmas, AD 800).[v]
This infamous would-be Kaiser/Caesar/Antichrist arose in Germany over a ten-year time frame, from the end of 1924 until he became chancellor in March 1933, and soon thereafter, becoming the supreme leader—having combined the offices of president and chancellor into “führer and reichskanzler” upon the death of President Paul von Hindenburg.
There were those, however, who possessed the ability to discern the real meaning of National Socialism. They possessed the necessary time and skill to analyze the political, social, and spiritual events leading up to the Nazi takeover. But they steadfastly refused to respond to their better judgment. No doubt their failure in part stemmed from a latent (and all-too-often blatant) anti-Semitism widespread amongst the German population, arguably stimulated by Martin Luther’s strong anti-Semitic perspectives.[vi]Nevertheless, even the dramatic incidents of hate expressed toward Jews (one thinks of Kristallnacht, Crystal Night or the Night of the Broken Glass, November 9–10, 1938) failed to supply the spiritually astute with insight into what was going to happen. The appeal of Hitler satisfied a number of concerns related to national pride, providing simple answers to very complex questions, promising economic rebirth to a nation dead in its fiscal tracks, and the rehashing of the nation’s favorite Teutonic folk myths stirring the soul of its people.
Gott Mit Uns: “God with Us”
We don’t have space to concern ourselves with all the causes for the apokalypsis of Antichrist in Germany.[vii]Instead, we will focus on the spiritually based sentiments Hitler explicitly expressed, promising that his ideology and his government supported the Christian faith—that there was no conflict between National Socialism and Christianity. It was this relationship—an overtly rank expression of “religio-political apostasy”—that so disturbs us. From his countless statements made directly to Christian audiences, we will learn why Adolf Hitler was so extremely dangerous. Surprisingly (we think you will agree ours is not the standard interpretation), it was not because he could scheme so treacherously. To the contrary, the key to Hitler’s sleight-of-hand was due to his own self-delusion: He possessed unwavering faith that his was a righteous calling from God above—wrought by “providence.”
Our point in this piece: Beware! Similar circumstances are present in our land today. Americans must be on guard—especially at this most portentous time—with depressed economic conditions, a high unemployment rate, and smooth-talking politicians long on promises and short on accomplishments. Our vigilance cannot be dulled even by the most sincere-sounding statements of faith and vision from prominent public figures. Our observations must be focused not on just what is said, but on what is being done. A superficial assessment will not suffice. We must consider all the evidence carefully and draw conclusions in pious contemplation. The church (both liberal and conservative) is poised to fail miserably in recognizing who the real enemy is.
Our concern boils down to this poignant question: If Antichrist were to be revealed in America, would the faithful recognize him? Would Americans committed to spiritual values miss the same clues disclosing Antichrist’s true nature as did the Germans with Hitler?
There is little doubt that if a figure paraded himself in front of the American people resembling an easily stereotyped leader of the Third Reich—with a mousy moustache, an armband with a hypnotic logo, and wearing a brown shirt—his character and agenda would be obvious to almost everyone. Mounting the podium with an emotional appeal to our national loyalty, the adamant display of venom and vitriol against the enemies of the state, the promise of the restoration of our American “empire” through a continuing buildup of military might, the stark name-calling identifying an appropriate scapegoat to fault for our problems—all of these factors would, at best, betray a would-be Antichrist figure as a false messiah—or at worst, spotlight an artless actor who undoubtedly took us for fools.
We can be certain the apocalypse of (that is, therevealing of) Antichrist in America, an event we believe will transpire in the years just ahead, will be a one-of-a-kind challenge requiring spiritual discernment worthy of only the most circumspect and attuned “code breakers” whose specialty is exposing wolves in sheep’s clothing. We call the church to take up this mission. We believe the church of Jesus Christ, the true church that understands the authentic meaning of Jesus’ message, the coming of the kingdom of God, stands as the last line of defense.
Orchestrating the Maddening Crowd
Remember, Hitler achieved a meteoric rise to prominence and power because he understood the soul of his people. He could relate. He knew what made them tick. He realized how to couch his message in the context of the political situation and how to engage those who would be but mere spectators by relating to their financial pain and anxiety over the future. Hitler understood crowd psychology and how to manipulate it. To mesmerize his audience, he utilized the power of emphatic facial expressions and energetic hand gestures. He compelled unquestioning allegiance by conveying solutions plainly and confidently no matter how oversimplified or extreme his answers might be. In fact, the more oversimplified and uncompromising his solutions were, the better to persuade the people of their usefulness. His greatest weapon was that “wretched Treaty of Versailles” and its national humiliation—its guilt-ridden condemnation upon the German people, coupled with horrific war reparations heaped upon the German people (which capitalists in America were only too happy to finance).
What is the lesson for us? If the Antichrist were to arise in America at this moment, we would be foolish to expect him to be anything but a consummate American. He would look like us. He would talk like us. He would think—for the most part—like us. And with a straight face he might even assert a profession of Christian faith, and why he believes the teaching of Jesus Christ is so well suited for society. Following Adolf Hitler’s lead, he would appeal to the most devout class of Christian, the evangelical. He would offer opportunities to bring biblically based believers “out front”—to escape the shadows of social disdain and distance themselves from the hackneyed portrait showcased by the media and affirmed by the intelligentsia, supposing that those who call themselves evangelical are intellectually bankrupt. He would convince Bible-believing conservatives that they should no longer see themselves as simpleplebeians (common folk). Their self-image should be elevated so they regard their value no less in status than the progressive patricians of sophisticated national institutions.[viii] Not that he would identify himself with the elite or propose that the common man should be ashamed of his laborer status. Rather, he would argue that he remains a man “of the people,” yet holds himself sufficiently apart to sanctify his status as our formidable if not fearless leader.
This positioning reflects the example of Herr Hitler in many respects. Likewise, the tone and substance coming from the mouth of the Führer, although etched in the zeitgeistof that age, begs for comparison to what we hear today from select political leaders promoting the American version of the New World Order,[ix] especially those who were, are, or would be our president. Consider for a moment: Might it not be a factor in the false Christ’s persuasiveness—the fact that he could deceive, if possible, even the elect? (Matt. 24:24).
The sham to fool evangelicals will make use of more than patronizing remarks. It will turn the words of our most popular preachers against us. The ideology that should prohibit the arising of Antichrist—the Christian religion and its worldview—will be a powerful tool co-opted to capture the “believing” masses and to encourage through a moral veneer and political resolution an agenda resonating within the heart of the “folks” in these United States. Indeed, the future philosophy of Antichrist will convince us that we should resolve to be nothing less than what our most prominent spiritual leaders teach us to be—successful, healthy, and committed to classic American ideals (although our most noble notions of individual liberty, a la Henry David Thoreau and Thomas Jefferson, have long since quietly departed for destinations unknown).
In like manner, Antichrist would deftly implore citizens to follow his lead. He would criticize Christians for their failure to follow the most “positive” aspects of our faith. Indeed, it would be similar to Hitler’s “positive Christianity”—a Christianity that is proactive, expressed in “unselfish service” to others, characteristic of true Americans.
He would call us to be the best Americans we can be—a worthy aspiration for the greater good of all Americans. The health of our nation, he would argue, depends upon living productive lives that contribute to economic prosperity for all. Morality, like ethics, should be shaped to improve our communities in light of standards established by the majority. Religion, true religion, will instill these values. It will not conflict with political objectives because positive faith goes hand in hand with constructive political ideology. The manifesto of “the public good” will brand any substantial opposition worthy of elimination. True believers will be activists—but for causes that conform to the will of the many—all the better to reflect his “image,” with “great signs and wonders” to deceive (Matt. 24:24).
On the surface, the nature of these ideals will seem consistent with the Bible. After all, who would argue that the spiritually inclined should be unproductive, immoral, unethical, a burden on the public’s well being, and incapable of contributing to the community’s economic health? And yet, upon a more cautious objective inspection, there will emerge a thin but distinctive line between a laudable social compact (built upon beneficial principles for both the individual and the nation) and an overreaching “state” that demands unquestioned obedience (aka cooperation)—commanding allegiance above all other causes no matter how worthy. One thinks of the pro-life stance denying women the right to choose. American society has chosen pro-abortion. There are more than fifty million dead Americans who never made it outside the womb to gain some semblance of civil rights. Those who point out this sorry fact are liable to be labeled “social dissidents.”
Moreover, the challenge to discern the agenda of the Antichrist will be difficult for many reasons, not just intellectual. Social pressure to conform will be “maxed out.” The path to achieve clarity will be a lonely one, for our peers will be only too ready to encourage complicity. Any complaint and disparagement will be interpreted as unpatriotic, a threat to social order, and harmful not only to our own health, but to those we love and care about. An “untoward behavior” will be viewed as “self-alienation,” first frowned upon and then doggedly condemned, since it fails to benefit “the many.” One’s consciousness-raising must be done in stealth so as not to draw attention to an expressed awareness that the enemy of Christ speaks profanely in our presence. It would not be easy to resist even if we were to come to the realization that we have been asked to serve Antichrist. Our peers will plead with us not to rock the boat, not to question falling in line, not to label the state as anything but what is best for one and all.
To be “the best Christian one can be” will appear synonymous with being the perfect US citizen. Fear will lead families to betray one another: Brother will betray brother, and children will betray their parents—all in the name of doing what is “for the common good of all.” The words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew must be seen for what they really are: a sign of His soon coming.
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matt. 10:21–22)
Needing to recognize political and religious rhetoric as a potential harbinger of the evil one to come, study the words of Hitler below. He seems most open-minded. Consider just how difficult it will be to discern the voice of Antichrist when it reverberates in America:
We demand liberty for all religious denominations in the State, so far as they are not a danger to it and do not militate against the morality and moral sense of the German race. The Party, as such, stands for positive Christianity, but does not bind itself in the matter of creed to any particular confession.[x](emphasis added)
The National Government regards the two Christian Confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality. They will respect the agreements concluded between them and the federal States. Their rights are not to be infringed… It will be the Government’s care to maintain honest co-operation between Church and State; the struggle against materialistic views and for a real national community is just as much in the interest of the German nation as in that of the welfare of our Christian faith. The Government of the Reich, who regard Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation, attach the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See and are endeavoring to develop them.[xi]
The partnership of church and state constructed by Hitler was remarkable in many ways, for he appealed to Christians’ proclivity to self-righteous aspiration, beguiling them through awarding accreditation as possessors of the very “moral soul” of the nation. To enhance his appeal, he vowed that without a Christian moral foundation, there would be no German morality. In light of this, the reader of the Gospels can stop wondering why Jesus (in Matt. 24) was so repetitious regarding “deception and being deceived,” “false prophets and false messiahs,” and the like in reference to the “state of society” at the end of the age. Yet what Hitler accomplished next was a frightening prelude to the coming of the real Antichrist, of which he was only a type.
TO BE CONTINUED…
[ii] Adolf Hitler, speaking of the Winter Help Campaign on October 5, 1937.
[iii] “The main idea of Sigmund Freud’s crowd behavior theory is that people who are in a crowd act differently towards people from those who are thinking individually. The minds of the group would merge to form a way of thinking. Each member’s enthusiasm would be increased as a result, and one becomes less aware of the true nature of one’s action.” See http://en.wikipedia.org / wiki/ Crowd_psychology.
[iv] The study of who understood Hitler and fled and who did not is an intriguing study in itself. Walter Stein, student of Rudolph Steiner, whom Trevor Ravenscroft credits with the story behind The Spear of Destiny, fled to England. Paul Tillich, who later became a major voice in American theological liberalism, supposedly looked into the eyes of Hitler, saw the demonic, and left for Switzerland. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is the most noteworthy theologian who saw Hitler for what he was—a mass murderer. Eventually he lost his life for participating in an assassination attempt on Hitler. He is the most famous Christian martyr of the twentieth century, although only one of millions as we have learned that the martyr death toll in the last twenty years may now exceed the total number of martyrs since the first century.
[v] Recall his true name was German, Karl the Great, in the line of Pepin, representing the dynasty of the Carolingians.
[vi] Luther’s The Jews and Their Lies (1543, Von den Jüden und iren Lügen) stands as the seminal statement on anti-Semitism. According to friend and scholar Gary Stearman, Luther makes his hatred for the Jews crudely plain.
[vii] The Greek word, apokalypsis, means “the revealing,” particularly the revealing of deep secrets, from whence the word “apocalypse” derives.
[viii] We might even have one of our most noteworthy evangelical leaders be asked to give the prayer at a presidential inauguration!
[ix] Hitler spoke of bringing about the new order as did Franklin D. Roosevelt.
[x] Item #24 of the German Worker’s Party “Program” circa 1920s.
[xi] Adolf Hitler, in his speech to the Reichstag on March 23, 1933.
BLOOD ON THE ALTAR
The Coming War Between Christian vs. Christian
PART 12 – WHY ANTICHRIST WILL HAVE NO DESIRE FOR WOMEN?
| by Cris Putnam
Of all the social issues today, homosexuality seems to be the main firebrand leveled against conservative evangelicals. The mainline churches are largely given over to it. Episcopal,[i]ELCA,[ii] and PCUSA[iii] not only accept homosexual unions, but put homosexual clergy in charge of their churches.
At President Barack Obama’s inauguration, an openly gay Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson, expressed his horror at how specifically Christian past inaugural prayers had been, and instead prayed to the “God of our many understandings.”[iv]
Baptist fundamentalist John MacArthur has argued this represents God’s judgment on America in line with:
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections; for even their women did exchange the natural use into that which is against nature;
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was fitting. (Rom. 1:26–27)[v]
Of course, liberals try to explain this away as first-century exploitation. New Testament scholar Peter Jones addressed the mainline interpretation, arguing, “Some critics say that Paul was speaking of exploitative relationships of domination and that he didn’t understand homosexuality as we know it today—a loving, mature, stable commitment. But Paul argues (v. 27) that men burned with desire for each other, not that one exploited the other.”[vi] Another conservative evangelical pastor, John Piper, points out that these denominations are knowingly leading people to hell by approving of and modeling this behavior (1 Cor. 6:9–11).[vii] It is also important to note that the 1 Corinthians passage reads “And such were some of you” (1 Cor. 6:11a, emphasis added), forever dispelling the notion that one cannot become a former homosexual. Because it is representative of the divide, this entry will provide arguments against same-sex marriage based on a moral category distinction.
A Category Distinction
The first task is to distinguish the moral category of marriage from the moral category of same-sex relationships. This presentation will first give an overview of the biblical-theological distinctions, then it will examine the social-secular differences. Same-sex relationships are ontologically different from marriage between a husband and wife. The difference in moral category will be explored in a face-value manner. According to a standard reference, “Category differences are articulated as a way of diagnosing and avoiding various philosophical problems and confusions.”[viii]Western culture is deeply confused concerning the attributes of a same-sex relationship as compared to attributes of a marriage. If same-sex relationships and marriage are in different moral categories, then there can be no such thing as “same-sex marriage.” It will be shown that they are not in the same moral category. For example, a same-sex relationship requires both individuals to be of the same sex, while a marriage requires gender complementarity. That alone should settle the matter, but further reasons are given. Marriage, grounded in a natural teleology and beneficial to society, is in an entirely different moral category than homosexual relationships that are inherently immoral and, from a secular perspective, pathological. Because marriage is a covenant, let’s begin there.
A covenant is an oath-bound promise within which one party swears to bless or serve another party in a specified way. In the Bible, a covenant was associated with ritual sacrifice and involved splitting an animal in half and walking between the two halves, i.e., “cutting a covenant.” The implication was that if one violated the covenant, the fate of the animal would be visited on the violator. Covenants are made between God and man (Gen. 9:12–15) and between humans with God as their witness (Gen. 21:22–34; 31:44–54). Marriage was established at Creation as a covenant bond between a husband, a wife, and God. David Naugle explains: “It was to be a total life union between man and woman in an exclusive and permanent covenantal relationship of faithfulness and love (Gen. 2:23–24).”[ix] In modern ceremonies, the division of the groom’s party on one side of the church with the bride’s on the other is symbolic of the ancient practice of splitting an animal. Malachi 2:14 indicates that marriage was understood as a covenant. In marriage, one man and one woman vow to live together in a lifetime relationship (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4–6) involving sacrificial love, sexual relations, and joint provision.
Therefore, marriage is a sacred institution defined by a spiritual and moral pledge rather than merely a legal contract, as held by secular society. The seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exod. 20:14) serves to protect this sacred institution rather than mere sexual fidelity. This is illustrated by the fact that the punishment for adultery was death (Deut. 22:22), but the punishment for fornication was compulsory marriage and a fine (Deut. 22:28–29). The distinction is that the former violates a sacred covenant while the latter does not. Children are also at stake, because the bond is essential to healthy child rearing.
In the social-secular realm, the marriage relationship has a natural teleology toward procreation and child rearing. It is an uncontroversial fact of biology that only male and female couples can procreate. Data from the social sciences strongly suggests that intact marriages produce the healthiest children. Children raised in intact, married families are physically and emotionally healthier, less likely to be abused, less likely to use drugs or alcohol and to commit crimes, have a decreased risk of divorce, and are more likely to attend college.[x] In contrast, data on children reared by same-sex couples suggests they are more likely to have social and emotional problems.[xi] Because married couples produce the next generation of citizens for a nation, the state has an interest in preserving and encouraging traditional marriage. This reasoning does not and cannot apply to same-sex relationships, because they do not produce children. There is no legitimate interest for the state.
In the biblical theological sphere, homosexual relationships are inherently sinful and offensive to God. The overarching category is sin or immorality, but same-sex relationships of this type are in their own specific moral category. God affirms healthy, platonic, same-sex relationships. For example, Jonathan and David cut a covenant in which Jonathan acknowledged David’s right to the throne of Israel (1 Sam. 18:3; 23:18). However, contrary to liberal revisionism, this has absolutely nothing to do with the modern debate concerning homosexual couples. Same-sex relationships can be covenantal, but are not necessarily so; marriage is by definition a covenant. God’s moral character does not change, and in the Torah He clearly defines homosexual acts as an abomination (Lev. 20:13). The New Testament affirms this in many passages (Rom. 1: 26–27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10). This scriptural categorization is clearly not arbitrary or historic-culturally bound. Even more, an argument from teleology supports the divine rationale.
Homosexuality defies God’s created order. Arthur Holmes asserts, “Paul in Romans 1 speaks of some human actions as contrary to nature: he echoes the Genesis record about man and woman created in God’s image, their lives and their heterosexuality protected therefore by the law of creation (Genesis 1:26–31; 2:18–25; 4:8–16; 9:1–6).”[xii] It is indisputable that there is a definite biological order, indeed a necessity, when it comes to sexuality. Same-sex attraction is obviously a violation of this order and purpose. A same-sex relationship is not designed to be sexual, while a marriage relationship is designed to be sexual. A same-sex relationship cannot result in procreation, but marriage has the potential for procreation. If this is a healthy behavior as its advocates argue, then it follows that everyone should adopt healthy behaviors. The reductio ad absurdum is that, if universally adopted, homosexuality leads to the extinction of the human species. This strongly suggests homosexuality is a sexual attraction disorder. Jones wrote, “Homosexuality is a creational dysfunction and homosexual marriage an oxymoron.”[xiii] In contrast, normal marriage generally benefits the survival of the human species. Accordingly, it follows in the social-secular sphere that same-sex relationships are in a different moral category than marriage.
Marriage can be generally classified in secular terms as a procreative contract. Marriage is supposed to be a lifelong commitment, “until death do us part.” Some same-sex relationships are dissoluble, whereas marriage is defined to be indissoluble. It seems that marriage is something described rather than defined. One observes the natural procreative order and describes the coupling commitment for child rearing in terms of marriage. It is not something defined to suit popular affinities, but rather a description of natural teleology. Those who wish to redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships are engaging in a futile exercise. Philosopher Frank Beckwith has quipped, “You can eat an ashtray but that doesn’t make it food.”[xiv]Semantics aside, same-sex relationships can never really be “marriage.”
Marriage is within a different moral category than same-sex relationships. Marriage is in the category of a covenant bond between God, a husband, and a wife for the purpose of raising children and caring for one another. Only a male can be a husband and only a female can be a wife; this rules out “same-sex marriage” by definition. Homosexual relationships fall in the category of sin and pathology, as they violate God’s law, His biological design, and they do not contribute to repopulation. These ideas are supported by biblical theology demonstrating the establishment of the marriage covenant by God and His prohibitions against homosexuality. In the secular sphere, traditional marriage is good for society, because it produces the next generation, and children are better off with heterosexual parents. Same-sex relationships do not produce new citizens, and even same-sex adoptions are less than ideal. Hence, there is no good reason for the state to endorse or promote them. These facts lead to the conclusion that the idea of “same-sex marriage” is an immoral absurdity that has been deceptively hoisted on a naively liberal culture. Mainline churches that perform these ceremonies are willfully opposing the God they claim to worship.
The Divided "Church" As Prophesied
It is extremely unfortunate that what is called the Christian church is so divided. Even so, this series has shown that not all that is labeled “Christian” actually is consistent with classical Christianity. Liberals suffer from unbelief. The only solution is the gospel. That’s right, I said it: They need the gospel. How can I say that? The gospel entails sincerely believing that Christ died for my sins (1 Cor. 15:3) and that Christ resurrected from the dead on the third day (1 Cor. 15:4). We have seen many examples of emergent (McLaren) and mainline (Spong) pastors and leaders who explicitly deny those very truths. Some do so by folly and ignorance and others by malintent: “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:14–15). Thus, we should approach liberal Christians as nonbelievers, keeping in mind that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Unfortunately, they have chosen the wide gate Jesus warned of (Matt. 7:13).
I am not saying there are no saved people in liberal, mainline, or emergent churches, but that the theology expressed by their leaders does not lead to it. This should not be terribly surprising, as Jesus’ brother Jude warned back in the first century:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 3–4)
Although it is more blatant, there is nothing new here. It seems the subsection’s title above was somewhat misleading; the church is not a “divided house,” but rather, many who claim to be under its roof, in truth, are married to the world (Rev. 3:17). These “in name only” Christians will most likely lead the persecution of the believing church, already labeled as bigoted and homophobic.
Great Harlot and Return to Pagan Rome
It is not that homosexuality is a special sin more deserving of revulsion than other transgressions, but I have yet to witness an “adultery pride” parade. Homosexuals flaunt and expect everyone else to celebrate “gay pride.” Because its defenders refuse to admit it is a sin, homosexuality is the primary social issue used to marginalize folks who take the Bible seriously. Already, the celebration of same-sex unions is being pressed, indeed forced, upon those who believe it to be immoral.
The year 2013 marked a dramatic shift in American jurisprudence, one with foreboding implications. In 2006, Elane Huguenin of Elane Photography declined Vanessa Willock’s request to photograph and help celebrate a same-sex marriage ceremony between Willock and her partner. Huguenin declined the request because her and her husband’s Christian beliefs would not allow them to participate in good conscience.
Even though Willock easily found another photographer for her ceremony, she nevertheless filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission against Elane Photography. The case eventually rose to the New Mexico Supreme Court. On August 22, 2013, the high court ruled against Elane Photography and concluded that the Huguenins “now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” adding “it is the price of citizenship.”[xv] This was despite the fact that same-sex marriage was not even legal in New Mexico at the time.
It is important to recognize that a wedding photographer is not merely an impartial observer, but rather a cocelebrant in a wedding ceremony. Can the state really force people to celebrate something they believe is wrong? Senior Defense Counsel Jordan Lorence lamented, “The idea that free people can be ‘compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives’ as the ‘price of citizenship’ is a chilling and unprecedented attack on freedom,” and “Americans are now on notice that the price of doing business is their freedom.”[xvi]
The judge’s decision basically boils down to saying, “You are free to believe whatever you like in your private life, as long as it doesn’t affect how you live in the real world.” The government is quite literally forcing Christian business owners to either celebrate a sin that the Bible teaches leads to hell (1 Cor. 6:9) or go out of business. The legal precedent set by this case lays the legal groundwork for further persecution. Like with the first-century Christians who were commanded to bow down to the Roman Caesar as god or be crucified, homosexuality is the foil to legally marginalize true, Bible-believing Christians. These developments should not surprise students of biblical prophecy.
Jesus prophesied that just prior to His return, “Shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (Matt. 24:10). The KJV translators rendered the Greek word skandalizō as “offended,” whereas the English Standard Version translates it as “fall away.” Both are correct as far as they go, but the complete meaning likely incorporates both: “to cause to stumble, to give offense.”[xvii] In the American church, the issue of homosexuality, more than any other, is the stumbling block that offends and leads to hatred of those who remain faithful to the Word of God. One should expect to see many more cases like the Huguenins and increasingly punitive verdicts. The liberal church is leading the charge.
The so-called Christianity of the emergents and theological liberals is one and the same as pantheistic monism of Eastern religions known as oneism. The defining issue is the creature/creator distinction from exegesis of: “Who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Rom. 1:25). Notice that the text juxtaposes “the lie” with “the Creator.”[xviii] The lie is oneism that “all is one.” Androgyny and homosexuality flow naturally from this spiritual system, as explained in Romans chapter 1.
Biblical scholar Peter Jones explains, “The open practice and approval of homosexuality is precisely what Paul affirmed two thousand years ago—that homosexuality flows directly from the One-ist worship of creation.”[xix] The following bullet points are quoted directly from Dr. Jones’ seminal work One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference(essential reading for a twenty-first century believer):
In ancient Canaanite religions, effeminate priests served the goddesses Anat, Cybele and Rhea;
In the Roman Empire, androgynous priests castrated themselves publicly as an act of devotion to the Great Mother;
In Hinduism, anyone who unifies the sexes in sexual practice has reached the highest self-identity;
In the Medieval West, Alchemists who transformed heterosexual energy into androgyny produced spiritual “gold” (“a tremendously deepened sense of the oneness of all….beyond gender differences”);
The pagan spiritualist Jacob Böhme (1575–1624) believed the ideal human state was androgyny;
In ancient Aztec and Inca religions, homosexual and bisexual priests were common; in American Indian religious practice, homosexual transvestite males are its shamans;
In Latin America and the Caribbean Islands, homosexuals were magicians with supernatural powers; frequenting gay temple prostitutes was a means of sanctification;
Jewish Kabbalah celebrates the ideal of the first cosmic androgyne, and in its modern form, is committed to “global, spiritual oneness.”[xx]
Thus, one should not find it so surprising that the nominal church has embraced homosexual behavior. They are primed for absorption into the great harlot one-world religion, “with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Rev. 17:2). Those who dissent are already called “bigots” and “enemies of progress.” Even so, all true followers of Jesus, while loving their neighbors, must stand on truth no matter the consequences. The context of pagan Rome in the book of Romans has come full circle, and the end-time believer will eventually find himself or herself in the same predicament: martyrdom or compromise.
TO BE CONTINUED…
[ii] “ELCA Assembly Opens Ministry to Partnered Gay and Lesbian Lutherans,” ELCA News Service, http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide
-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4253 (accessed December 08, 2011).
[iii] Eric Marrapodi, “First Openly Gay Pastor Ordained in the PCUSA Speaks,” CNN News, October 10, 2011, http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/10/first-
[iv] Laurie Goodstein, “Gay Bishop Is Asked to Say Prayer at Inaugural Event,” New York Times, January 12, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/us/13prayer.html?partner=
rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all&_r=0 (accessed February 6, 2014).
[vi] Jones, One or Two, 2578–2580.
[viii]Amie Thomasson, “Categories,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta, ed. (Fall 2013) http://plato.stanford.edu/
cgi-bin/encyclopedia/archinfo.cgi?entry=categories (accessed September 20, 2013).
[ix]David K. Naugle, Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness(Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2008) Kindle edition, 281–282.
[x] Bradford Wilcox, “Why Marriage Matters: 26 Conclusions from the Social Sciences,” Institute for American Values, http://www.familyscholars.org/assets/Why-Marriage-Matters-summary.pdf (accessed September 16, 2013).
[xi] Mark Regnerus, “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study,” Social Science Research, 41:4 (July 2012) 752–770; available here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2012.03.009.
[xii] Arthur F. Holmes, Ethics Approaching Moral Decisions, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2007) 65–66.
[xiii] Jones, One or Two, 2963–2964.
[xiv] Tim Barnett, “Is Same-Sex Marriage Really About Equality?” Clear Thinking Christianity, http://www.clearthinkingchristianity.com/blog/same-sex-
marriage-really-about-equality (accessed September 16, 2013).
[xv] Todd Starnes, “NM Court Says Christian Photographers Must Compromise Beliefs,” Fox News, August 22, 2013, http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/nm-court-says
-christian-photographers-must-compromise-beliefs.html (accessed February 25, 2014).
[xvii] Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries: Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, 1998).
[xviii] Jones, One or Two, 1307–1308.
[xix] Ibid., 2702–2703.
[xx] Ibid., 2656–2665.
BLOOD ON THE ALTAR | The Coming War Between Christian vs. Christian
PART 11 – AS WAS PROPHESIED: DAYS OF LOT BECOME LINE IN THE SAND
| by Larry Spargimino
This past Thursday, the top legislative body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted by large margins to recognize same-sex marriage "as Christian" in the church constitution, adding language that marriage can be the union of "two people," not just "a man and a woman."
This is the latest in a landslide of "Christian" organizations positioning themselves against traditional, bible-based morality.
How did we get to this point and what role will it play in the Antichrist’s Christian vs. Christian war?
In 1987, two homosexual political strategists, Marshall K. Kirk and Erastes Pill, published an article titled “The Overhauling of Straight America.” An important part of their strategy was to avoid trying to persuade fundamental churches in the hopes that they would moderate their opposition to homosexuality, but rather to try to reach churches that would perhaps waffle on their views. “We can use talk to muddy the moral waters. This means publicizing support for gays by more moderate churches, raising theological objections of our own about conservative interpretations of biblical teachings, and exposing hatred and inconsistency.”[i]
Since the publication of “The Overhauling of Straight America,” this strategy has worked extremely well:
The California Council of Churches, representing twenty-one member denominations, elected as its president the “Reverend” Gwynne Guibord, an open lesbian.
In Dallas, Texas, a $35-million “church” facility, called the Cathedral of Hope, was dedicated as the world’s “gay and lesbian mecca”: a symbol of “gay Christianity” equivalent in the eyes of its creators to Vatican City for Catholics and Salt Lake City for Mormons.
The Reverend Troy Perry, founder of the three-hundred-“church”-strong homosexual denomination called the Metropolitan Community Church, was appointed to the board of trustees of Chicago Theological Seminary and invited to lead chapel service at Yale Divinity School.
Soulforce, the “gay Christian” pressure group, now with chapters in many states, gained national publicity for its campaign against “spiritual violence” (i.e., failure to affirm homosexuality as normal) by physically invading the Southern Baptist Convention on June 11, 2002. Anti-Baptist “civil disobedience” tactics have continued, including a March 26, 2007, incident in which a dozen homosexual activists were arrested for staging a sit-in at the office of Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In 2008, the bishops of the Episcopal Church in California actively campaigned against Proposition 8, which defined marriage as only between one man and one woman in the California Constitution.[ii]
Because of the lack of training and commitment to the authority of the Bible, many churches and congregations easily transition from nominally Bible believing to strong supporters of the gay lifestyle. “Almost inevitably the congregation yields to pressure and changes its status to an ‘affirming’ one in which homosexuality is deemed morally neutral or a positive good.”[iii]
In a report titled “Case against Anti-Gay Minister Scott Lively Still Being Pursued,” we read:
On Feb. 24, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed that country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. The law, according to executive Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights [CCR], Vincent Warren, instantly outlaws the ability of LGBT people to advocate for their rights. [Vincent] Warren says…that “such a fundamental denial of rights to an entire class of people is illegal under international law as well as the Ugandan constitution.” For that reason the CCR is continuing to pursue the anti-gay minister Scott Lively for the role he played in getting the legislation passed.[iv]
Compounding the tension is the fact that some pastors who have taken a stand for the support of traditional marriage have backtracked and “repented.” This makes those pastors and churches that don’t “repent” of their position and maintain a biblical stance look very intolerant and vicious. Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church fame publicly stated that he regrets supporting Proposition 8, California’s anti-gay “marriage” proposition.
Conservative Evangelical pastor Rick Warren expressed regret for instructing his congregation to support Proposition 8, California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.… Warren attempted to downplay his endorsement of the provision, claiming that he intended to communicate his private support to church members and was not trying to take a “public” position on the issue.[v]
Warren was interviewed by HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamon Hill. Evidently, Warren teaches two messages, one for the church and another for the world. The following is part of the transcript:
WARREN: I never made a single statement on Prop 8 until the week before. In my own church, some members say, “Where do we stand on this?” I released a video to my own congregation…
HILL: When you have a church of 20,000 people and you have a book that 32 million people have read and that 60 million people have accessed, to say, “I was just giving a message…”
WARREN: You’re exactly right, Marc, and I learned a lesson from that. What I learned from that is that anything I say privately is now public. And I actually learned from that mistake.… Everyone took that to mean I was pontificating to the whole world.
HILL: If you could do it again, would you not have made that statement a week before Prop 8?
WARREN: I would not have. I would not have made that statement. Because I wanted to talk to my own people. As a duty, as a shepherd, I’m responsible for those who put themselves under my care. I’m not responsible for everybody else.[vi]
As the interview continued Warren reiterated his position that he was against same-sex couples, and stated that while “it’s not a sin to love somebody, it might be a sin to have sex with them.”[vii]
Warren wanted to take some of the pressure off, but his liberal critics weren’t merciful and present him as confused and vacillating. “Warren seemed to back away from his endorsement in 2009, telling Larry King that he never once even gave an endorsement of the proposition. Now that the majority of Americans consistently support marriage equality, he regrets that people actually paid attention to his anti-gay views.”[viii]
HuffPost Live host Josh Hepps quoted from Joel Osteen’s new book: “It doesn’t matter who likes you or who doesn’t like you, all that matters is God likes you. He accepts you, he approves of you.” Zepps followed up by asking if that included homosexuals. “Absolutely,” Osteen insisted. “I believe that God has breathed his life into every single person. We’re all on a journey. Nobody’s perfect.”[ix]
Osteen pastors a congregation of forty-five thousand and stated that all people must be acknowledged for who they are. He expressed reluctance to “categorize” sin. “I believe every person is made in the image of God, and you have to accept them as they are, on their journey. I’m not here to be preaching hate, pushing people down. I’m not here telling people what they’re doing wrong,” said Osteen.[x]
We shouldn’t be preaching hate, but we should be preaching truth. There’s hate on the other side, too. In an essay titled “Is Hating Haters Hurtful?” Scott Lively affirms that he doesn’t hate homosexuals, though they don’t seem to be believe him. So, he tried “walking my talk” by taking an ex-“gay” man who was dying of AIDS into his family. Lively and his wife and children loved and cared for the man during his last year of life. However, Lively says “They [the homosexual community] hated me even more.”
Then I began asking for guidance from homosexuals themselves: “Tell me, where is the line between homophobia and acceptable opposition to homosexuality?” I asked. “What if I just agree with the Bible that homosexuality is a sin no worse than any other sex outside of marriage?” “No, that’s homophobic,” they replied. “Suppose I talk only about the proven medical hazards of gay sex and try to discourage people from hurting themselves?” “No, you can’t do that,” they said. “How about if I say that homosexuals have the option to change if they choose?” “Ridiculous” they answered. “Maybe I could just be completely positive, say nothing about homosexuality, and focus only on promoting the natural family and traditional marriage?” “That’s really hateful,” they replied.[xi]
So, as we have seen, there is a section—a rather large one, at that—of the professing church that views God’s covenant with Israel as conditional, and in the past, and now we are seeing how the professing church is becoming increasingly oriented towards accepting the gay lifestyle. But others are feeling pressure as well, such as military chaplains who are coming under increasing pressure now that the military’s “Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell” policy has been repealed. Does the normalization of homosexuality require that all military chaplains join the radical moral evolution, even if doing so compromises their basic Christian convictions?
R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Southern Seminary, reports that the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the endorsing agency for Southern Baptist chaplains, has formulated policy guidelines on these issues. SBC chaplains—the largest single group of non-Catholic chaplains—have been advised that they cannot minister in any context that “would give the appearance of accepting the homosexual lifestyle or sexual wrong doing.”[xii]
On Monday, September 16, 2013, Tom Carpenter, identified as the co chair of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy and an elder in the theologically moderate (some would say “liberal”) Presbyterian church (PCUSA), vociferously argued that Southern Baptist chaplains must resign immediately from military service.
The North American Mission Board [NAMB] has turned the Army motto on its head. They have forced their endorsed chaplains into the untenable position of either serving God or country. Given that choice, as men…of God the only honorable course of action for most will be to resign their commissions and return to civilian ministry.… If these Southern Baptist chaplain s were civilian pastors, there would be no problem. As civilians, they undisputedly have an absolute First Amendment right to believe, preach and counsel in accordance with their denominational tenets. But they are not civilians, and have a duty to not only God, but also country. It is instructive that they are not salaried by the NAMB but by the American taxpayer.[xiii]
It is widely conceded that Western culture has entered a post-Christian era. As a result, the Christian church is deeply polarized. Although some mainline churches include evangelicals and charismatics, the mainline Protestant churches are a group of churches that contrast in belief, history, and practice with evangelical, fundamentalist, and charismatic Protestant denominations. The dividing line is the authority of Scripture. On the right, one finds conservatives who uphold the doctrine of biblical inerrancy and embrace God’s moral truths as timeless. On the left, one encounters folks who believe the Scriptures are an imperfect human work bound to anachronistic culture and that one must revise one’s interpretation in light of today’s sensibilities.
The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) counts 26,344,933 members of mainline churches versus 39,930,869 members of evangelical Protestant churches in the United States.[xiv] Instead of being Christ’s missionaries to the lost world, mainline liberals are now ostensibly the world’s missionaries to the church. They devote their energy to social issues like trying to legitimize same-sex marriage; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality; feminism; and being inclusive of non-Christian religions. Mainline churches include the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), the United Methodist Church (UMC), the American Baptist Churches, the United Church of Christ (Congregationalist), the Disciples of Christ, and the Reformed Church in America, amongst others. Many of the above reject core doctrines of classical Christianity like substitutionary atonement, leading H. Richard Niebuhr to famously surmise their creed: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”[xv] Evangelicals stand in sharp relief.
Evangelicalism is defined as “the movement in modern Christianity, transcending denominational and confessional boundaries, that emphasizes conformity to the basic tenets of the faith and a missionary outreach of compassion and urgency.”[xvi] The name derives from the Greek word for “gospel,” euangelion, and verbeuangelizomai, “to proclaim the good news.” Examples of evangelical denominations are: Assemblies of God, Southern Baptists, Independent Baptists, Bible Church, Black Protestants, African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion; Church of Christ, Churches of God in Christ, Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, National Baptist Church, National Progressive Baptist Church, nondenominational, Pentecostal denominations, and the Presbyterian Church in America. Some of these are called fundamentalists.
Often maligned, those who will be separated for extreme persecution in the coming war on true Christianity will be known as “extreme fundamentalists.” Part of how they will be ostracized is playing out now, fueled by the same spirits that wanted to rape angels in the days of Lot. Even the new Pope, Francis I is sympathetic to their cause, declaring:"Who am I to judge?"
TO BE CONTINUED
[i] Scott Lively, Redeeming the Rainbow: A Christian Response to the “Gay” Agenda (Springfield, MA: Veritas Aeterna, 2009) 19.
[ii] Ibid., 20–21.
[iii] Ibid., 23.
[iv] Jared Keever, “Case against Anti-Gay Minister Scott Liverly Still Being Pursued,” Opposing Views, March 4, 2014, http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/gay-issues/case
[v] Zack Ford and Annie Rose Strasser, “Rick Warren: I Regret Coming Out in Support of California’s Anti-Gay Marriage Proposition,” Think Progress, November 28, 2012, http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/11/28/1250921/rick-warren-i-regret
[ix] “Joel Osteen Finally Comes Out on ‘Gay’ Issue,” WND, October 3, 2013, http://www.wnd.com/2013/10/joel-osteen-god-approves-of-homosexuals.
[xi] Lively, 153.
[xii] Albert Mohler, “Can Evangelical Chaplains Serve God and Country?—The Crisis Arrives, AlbertMohler.com, September 17, 2013, http://www.albertmohler.com/2013/09/17/can-evangelical-chaplains
[xiv] Association of Religion Data Archives, http://www.thearda.com
/mapsReports/reports/mainline.asp (accessed February 6, 2014).
[xv] H. Richard Niebur, The Kingdom of God in America (New York: Harper and Row, 1959) 193.
[xvi]Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology: Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001) 405.
BLOOD ON THE ALTAR | The Coming War Between Christian vs. Christian
PART 10 – THE WHORE AND THE EMERGENT "CHURCH"
| by Larry Spargimino
In Scripture, the war on true Christianity is fueled by a revived and ancient whore drunk on the blood of Martyrs. Is her spirit percolating within an "Emergent Church"?
“Babylon” is a word, place, and name that occurs very frequently in Scripture. In the book of Revelation, one out of every ten verses concerns an entity identified as “Babylon.” Two entire chapters—Revelation chapters 17 and 18—are devoted to Babylon. However, while the word is a high-frequency one, the exact identification is somewhat challenging. Mark Hitchcock gives seven clues that can help identify Babylon:
Babylon is a literal city (Rev. 17:18).
Babylon is a city of worldwide importance and influence, probably the capital city of the Antichrist (Rev. 17:15, 18).
Babylon and the Beast (the Antichrist) are very closely connected with one another. The woman (Babylon) is pictured riding on the Beast (Rev. 17:3–5, 7).
Babylon is the center of false religion (Rev. 17:4–5; 18:1–2).
Babylon is the center of world commerce (Rev. 18:9–19).
Babylon persecutes the Lord’s people (Rev. 17:6; 18:20, 24).
Babylon will be destroyed suddenly and completely at the end of the Tribulation, never to rise again (Rev. 18:8–10, 21–24).[i]
Even among premillennialists, there is disagreement as to the precise meaning of “Babylon” in Revelation 17:
Some see it simply as an illustration of something that is evil and diabolical, while others understand “Babylon” to be a literal restoration of an ancient city. Some Dispensationalists believe that “Mystery Babylon” is a reference to a false religious system that has been around for centuries but has become particularly evident through certain religions and religious practices.[ii]
The religious system established at the original site of Babylon by its founder and first king, Nimrod, is the source of Babylonian religion and philosophy. With the scattering resulting from the Babel event, this religion was carried into every corner of the earth. This is why every nonbiblical religious system—and we see it today in the hodgepodge of designer religions that are proliferating the American religious scene—is pantheistic, polytheistic, astrological, and universal. Nimrod himself was a violent man. Some of the major religious movements are violent and are take-over religions desirous of taking over the planet.
This woman of Revelation 17 “was arrayed in purple and scarlet color , and bedecked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” (v. 4). Spiritual whoredom is associated with a defection from the truth, a willful act of embracing “other lovers.”
We notice that the woman is drunk—not with alcohol, but with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus (Rev. 17:6). These are the followers of Jesus who have died for their faith and commitment to Christ as Lord. Here we have a religious prostitute making martyrs. Sexual immorality and apostasy are linked in the Bible—the former often symbolizes the latter (Rev. 2:20–23; Ezek.16:15–43). Babylon’s suggestive beauty is irresistible.
Her fornication has been universal and pervasive, not local or regional: “The inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Rev. 17:2). She is “the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters” (Rev. 17:1), the “waters which thou sawest, where the harlot sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (v. 15). This “harlot,” or whore, is an entity that transcends geopolitical as well as cultural, ethnic, and linguistic divisions. This suggests that the whore is more than a single person or even a single expression of religion that is against God. Only a universal false religion seems to fit the description. This is the woman who rides the Beast (Rev. 17:3).
This great whore sits on seven hills or mountains (Rev. 17:9). Mountains are often emblematic of whole kingdoms (cf. Ps. 68:15; Dan. 2:35; Amos 4:1, 6: 1; Obad. 8–21). This all seems to describe more than one local area and is better seen as representing the universal spread of false religion. Historically, many expositors have argued that Vatican City is “that great city, which reigneth over the king s of the earth” (Rev. 17:18). Vatican City is certainly not reigning over the kings of the earth at present, nor does there seem to be much to indicate that it, in its particular denominational identification, will do so at a future time.
The language is highly fluid. In Revelation 17:3, the word “city” doesn’t necessarily mean one municipality in a limited area. Walid Shoebat cogently argues that most prophecy writers think out of a Western/European mindset, and writes:
Bear in mind that the above verse is in Greek, and a “city” in the Bible doesn’t always denote a single place. For instance, today the nation of Israel is called Medinat Yesrael in Hebrew. In Aramaic or Arabic, the word Medinat is “a city.” In the ancient context, for example in Jeremiah, Gilead actually speaks of all of Judah as one city. The same is true for “house,” which is not a single house but all the people of Judah. “For thus says the Lord unto the king’s house of Judah; thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon; yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.” Judah itself will be a wilderness like cities devoid of their people (Jer. 22:6).[iii]
This seductive temptress is given an enigmatic name: “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS” (Rev. 17:5). “Babylon is probably the place from which all false religious beliefs had their beginning. From Babylon stemmed a religious rebellion that has blinded people everywhere, so that they are in opposition to the true God. Thus Babylon is a place, but it is much more.”[iv]
“The mother of harlots” is not simply the source, but the size, of the influence of this enigmatic entity. Shoebat writes that “mother” means “the biggest” or “the greatest.” “Remember Saddam Hussein’s comments in the days leading up to [the] first Gulf War? He declared that the U.S. and Iraq were about to engage in ‘the mother of all battles.’ Of course, in typical megalomaniacal game-talk, he also declared that America was about to experience ‘the mother of all defeats.’”[v]
This monstrous and filthy entity is “the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.” “Abominations”(bdelugma) refers to something, or someone, that is vile and detestable, that defiles and corrupts, such as “the abomination [bdelugma] of desolation” (Matt. 24:15). It is so vile that it contaminates the Temple and renders it unfit for worship. It is something nauseating to God because of its moral and spiritual filthiness. It is this “mother” from whose womb comes spiritual filthiness that has led to the death of God’s faithful servants.
The picture being drawn in Revelation 17 is not a picture of an entity with no faith or religious belief that persecutes God’s true children; rather, it is a picture of an entity with the wrong faith that causes grief. It’s the faith of apostates.
Some have identified the whore of Babylon as the Roman Catholic Church, because the woman sits on seven hills, identified in ancient times as the city of Rome. It is this writer’s view that much more is involved in this picture. Verse 10 proceeds to explain that the seven hills represent seven kingdoms, five of which have fallen, one that is, and one that is to come. This whore is a world system dominated by the Antichrist. At one time in the future, this whore will have control over these kings, but at some point prior to Armageddon they will turn on her and destroy her (Rev. 17:16).
While it is always precarious to make specific designations and give specific explanations, there are various movements today within the pale of “Christendom” that are having a greater and greater resemblance to the harlot church of Revelation chapter 17.
The Whore & The Emergent Church
Worldview impacts and intersects with one’s understanding regarding the nature and definition of truth. Much of the error and confusion being taught by those in the emergent movement is due to their embracing—wittingly or unwittingly—the Hegelian dialectic. Under this thinking, truth is never final or complete, nor can it be articulated rationally. Truth is evolving. There is the thesis—an idea that is less than perfect. This leads to opposition, refinement, and restatement, known as the antithesis. As a result of this conflict in point of view and the resultant tension, the tension screams for resolution. This resolution is achieved by reaching a higher level of truth, a synthesis of the thesis and antithesis.[vi]
In this scheme of things, truth can never reach finality. There is always some new antithesis leading to a greater refinement of truth. For emergents, they are not quite sure what to make of homosexuality, or how to think about it. Brian McLaren, in an article published on the web for Christianity Today titled “Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question: Finding a Pastoral Response,” writes:
Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.” That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think. Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren’t sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn.[vii]
John MacArthur perceptively analyzes thoughts such as these, especially as it intersects with the modern gay rights movement. The following is from a transcript of an interview between John MacArthur and Phil Johnson.
One of the big issues is homosexuality in the Emerging Church. They don’t want to take a position on homosexuality. The Bible is not vague or obscure or oblique about homosexuality. It couldn’t be more clear. A homosexual will not inherit the Kingdom of God…that’s pretty clear. Homosexuality in Romans chapter 1 is a perversion that is manifested when it happens in a culture, begins to dominate a culture, an evidence of divine wrath and divine judgment. So the Bible is clear. They don’t want that clarity. They want to run from the light. Scripture is light, it is not darkness, but they like the darkness because their deeds are evil…this is just another way to set the Bible aside.[viii]
This tentativeness on McLaren’s part can be traced to his view of Scripture and uncertainty as to its inspiration in the classical sense of being the inspired Word of God. He is even uncomfortable with the Bible’s masculine pronouns for God:
This is as good a place as any to apologize for my use of masculine pronouns for God in the previous sentence. You’ll notice that wherever I can, I avoid the use of masculine pronouns for God because they can give the false impression to many people today that the Christian God is a male deity.[ix]
The Bible does not, and cannot, give us an exhaustive knowledge of God. However, while the Bible does not tell us everything that God knows, what the Bible does tell us is accurate, even in its limitations. McLaren could very well criticize the Greek New Testament on the grounds that it makes God sound like a Greek-speaking deity.
Because the emergent view of truth is dialectical, we can agree with MacArthur that emergent theology teaches a “doctrine of Christian postmodernism.” The movement is:
…an amorphous sort of loose-knit association of churches that have decided that there is value, there is even virtue, in uncertainty about Scripture. The bottom line in the movement is they believe that we aren’t even suppose [sic] to understand precisely what the Bible means.… It’s an attack on the clarity of Scripture and they elevate themselves as if this is some noble reality…it’s amorphous because there’s a mish-mash of approaches to this and a mish-mash of styles and things like that. But they have embraced this mystery as if it’s true spirituality. And so, it becomes celebration of mystery, a celebration of ignorance, a celebration that we can’t really know.[x]
This “celebration of mystery” leads the emerging church into medieval, contemplative spirituality.
They want more mystery. So they go back to medieval Catholicism and they light a bunch of candles. You know, really it smells like orthodox, Greek orthodoxy, Russian orthodoxy kind of approach, milling people. I’ve been in a Russian Orthodox Church that there’s no center, there’s no focal point, there’s no pulpit, there’s no platform. There are these guys, they swing these censors and smoke and stuff rises and these really weird smells and they just…they walk in a little parade.… And then people mill over here and they will and then these guys walk around. This goes on for like a half an hour and they’re making these weird chants.[xi]
What The Whore Is Telling The Emergent Church About "The Atonement"
Emergent theology takes exception to the “violent view” of the atonement. The idea that God must satisfy divine justice in order to forgive sin is barbaric. It makes God look like a monster, because, they say, God cannot forgive without inflicting pain on someone, either on His Son, Jesus Christ, or the impenitent sinner. Emergents critique the traditional view of the atonement because it presents God as the “greatest existential threat to humanity.”
Penal substitution, the traditional view, presents Christ as the substitutionary sin bearer. It makes God look like a petty, spoiled tyrant and turns many off to Christianity. Emergents don’t like the idea that Jesus had to be “beat up” so that people could go to heaven.
Yet, Isaiah 53:5 is violent: “But he was WOUNDED for OUR transgressions, he was BRUISED for OUR iniquities” (emphasis added). Because of the Christian’s mystical union with Christ, Jesus Christ fulfills the demands of justice not for an unrelated third party, but for those identified with Him. He is our vicarious substitute. Revelation 5 reveals that a new song will be sung lauding the worthiness and glory of Christ, “for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God BY THY BLOOD out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (v. 9, emphasis added).
The traditionalist will point out that the argument that it is unjust to punish an innocent bystander involuntarily for someone else’s sin is refuted by Scripture. Jesus Himself said that He was offering Himself to voluntarily die on the cross for the sins of the world: “Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life FOR his friends” (John 15:13, emphasis added).
The traditional, substitutionary view is illustrated by the ritual that took place on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16). Two goats were used on that day. One was slaughtered—that signifies and illustrates propitiation. The other was released to wander in the wilderness—that is expiation. Propitiation indicates that God is justly angry over our sins. How could He not be? Propitiation requires death—but it is the death of a substitute. “For he hath made him, who knew no sin, to be sin FOR US, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21, emphasis added).
But, as readers of the new book Blood On The Altar will learn, not only is the traditional view of the atonement rejected, but so is the return of Christ.
TO BE CONTINUED…
[i] Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2012) 361–362.
[ii] Mal Couch, Gen. Ed., Dictionary of Premillennial Theology,“Babylon” (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996) 61.
[iii] Walid Shoebat, God’s War on Terror. Islam, Prophecy and the Bible (US: Top Executive Media, 2010) 292.
[iv] Mal Couch, Gen. Ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2001) 279.
[v] Shoebat, 409.
[vii] January 23, 2006, http://www.christianitytoday.com/parse/2006/january/brian-
[ix] Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004) 74.
BLOOD ON THE ALTAR
| The Coming War Between Christian vs. Christian
Coming July 15
PART 9 – DARK MADNESS PROPHESIED
| by Gary Stearman
What’s going on in our world today? There is a creeping irrationality that’s becoming a new norm. It is seen in politics, education, religion, and a society choosing darkness.
A first-grade boy is charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; grade-schoolers are expelled for bringing aspirin for headaches or mouthwash to use after lunch. Yet in middle school, there have been cases in which pregnant teenagers, when counseled to have an abortion, were denied the right to notify their parents.
At every level of society, lying, prevarication, deception, and mendacity have become acceptable behavior. Politicians do it routinely. The new rule: It’s okay to lie. Today, even the “good guys” lie. Of course, politicians have lied for decades—for centuries. But there’s something a little different now. They actually think they’re telling the truth. And they really seem to believe that spending trillions of dollars will somehow put more money into the public coffers! Insane!
Across the world, swelling waves of street demonstrators spread a mixture of fire and hatred, demanding support by their respective governments. But having engaged in decades of obsessive socialism, those regimes are bankrupt. Cycles of violence will continue to increase, leading to totalitarian governments.
Then there’s the music business. Back in the sixties, the Beatles (despite their preoccupation with Eastern religion, drugs, and spiritualist experimentation) were the picture of innocence. Their schoolboy suits, pleasant melodies, and well-groomed manner covered the roots of a movement that has become full-fledged debauchery. Rock is pornographic madness. Rap is an endless stream of profanity and blasphemy. Recently, a music star addressed the current president as “God…and my Lord and Savior.” Sadly, he probably didn’t know any better. But perhaps he did, and was driven by an almost psychotic fixation upon the idea that God has become a human being.
The movies have become careening mélange of fast cuts, cursing, and gunfire, when they’re not engaged in the steady propagation of antisocial culture and sexual mayhem.
Television brings all of the above into virtually every home on earth.
Intelligence and intellectual discipline have been distilled into a never-ending barrage of new electronics: Tablets, phones, gaming, and texting are the new measure of culture. True education is no longer needed—you can look it up. In his hot hand, a third-grader has as many electronic facts at his fingertips as a college professor, and he knows it.
Respect for social discipline has almost disappeared. Worst of all, society is breaking down into tribal territories and well-guarded boundaries.
The result: Gang warfare, drug wars, and a hard-rock mentality have permeated the new generations, producing social instability…or worse. Drive-by shooting or mass murders by crazed gunmen are now almost a common phenomenon. Society has become crazed…ragingly insane.
But the ultimate insanity is seen in the Middle East. There, 350 million brothers of Islam, in the passionate heat of their “Arab Spring,” dream their psychotic dream of a world dominated by clerics roaming the streets to wield social control through sharia law. Power-mad fanaticism is being welcomed as “peace.”
In the context of the foregoing paragraphs, there is a fascinating term, used only twice in the Greek New Testament. It is calepoV, spelled in English as chalepos, and pronounced with an initial “k,” as in “kalepos.”
In this entry, we shall look at both instances of its usage. In combination, they reveal a prophetic truth that is at once exciting and foreboding. At first glance, its two usages, in two very different contexts, seem unrelated. But in combination, they bring us a remarkable prophetic insight.
The first time this term is encountered, it is found in the context of a familiar episode related in the Gospel of Matthew. It is the centerpiece of a series of seemingly unrelated events. But in fact, they are woven around a common theme.
As the scene opens, Jesus had healed many people. When the word spread, a crowd gathered, at which time Jesus commanded His disciples to prepare a boat, so that they could sail to the east side of the Sea of Galilee. As they departed, Jesus announced that from that point on, His home would be defined not by a specific place, like His hometown, but by His ministry, which would expand into the world. The sea and the boat became a metaphor for that ministry.
In the following narrative, pay particular attention to the word “fierce,” which is represented by chalepos:
Now, when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee wherever thou goest.
And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
And when he was entered into a boat, his disciples followed him.
And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the boat was covered with the waves; but he was asleep.
And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us; we perish.
And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?
And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, there met him two possessed with demons, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.
So the demons besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.
And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine; and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to those possessed with the demons.
And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they besought him, that he would depart from their borders. (Matt. 8:18–34)
In this account, the events on and around the Sea of Galilee can be likened to the human drama of the whole world. They offer a microcosm of faith, family, and the service of discipleship in a world gone mad. They center about the person of the One who, Himself, is the center of all creation.
In the narrative above, as the people began to find out about Him, Jesus was in demand. In the midst of this growing excitement, a scribe rashly professed his intention to be an unwavering disciple. Jesus informed him that there would be no security in the endeavor.
Another disciple wished to take care of family business…the funeral of his father. Jesus informed him that such business was of the world, not of his calling as a disciple.
Departing from the commotion of the crowd, they entered the boat and the sea. (May we say, “the world”?) Like the sea of humanity, it was stirred up by winds and weather, themselves metaphors of conflict on the spiritual level. By extension, it depicts the troubled condition of the whole world. Jesus’ disciples feared for their lives in the maelstrom, but Jesus calmed them with a reminder that they must hold to their faith in all circumstances. Then, He demonstrated to them that He is in control of the tempest.
On the east side of the sea, Jesus made landfall in an unclean land, symbolized by demonic possession and the dominance of swineherds eking out a living in an unclean world. Both of these conditions are typical of humankind living in sin, which finally rejected Christ.
And so it was with the Gadarenes. After Jesus cast demons out of two possessed men, the people begged Him to leave. And no wonder. In Mark’s account of this incident, we learn that about two thousand swine were drowned! In any event, their reaction was totally inappropriate.
In the other accounts of this incident, we are also told that the possessed men displayed supernatural strength and were controlled by many demons. They broke chains and fetters; no one could control them.
This brings us to the use of that term mentioned above. Here, in Matthew’s account, demon-possessed men are called “fierce.” This is a translation of the Greek term chalepos(calepoV), meaning “violent.” It is coupled with a modifier “exceedingly fierce.” This term suggests more than violence, reaching even to the level of uncontrolled, raging, and brutal insanity.
And here we come face to face with the world, driven by an inner darkness, out of control and furiously rejecting the message of Christ. The east bank of the sea offers a compact view of the depraved world. For those who have eyes to see, it displays a blatant truth. Jesus’ followers were fishermen, not swineherds.
Chalepos also carries the meaning of ferocity. In the social context, it indicates uncivilized behavior, ranging all the way to savagery.
This was the scene on that ancient day when Christ sailed the Sea of Galilee. On one side, tumultuous crowds sought His blessing. On the sea, winds and waves buffeted His disciples. Upon their landing, they came to a world gone mad, subsisting in a state of spiritual depravity.
This brings us to the second use of chalepos. And here, its application is plain and simple. It sets the tone of a prophecy given to Timothy by Paul…his final epistle, written to Timothy just before his death. It was written from a cold Roman cell. Winter was coming. Paul had been convicted by Caesar—confined as the leader of an illegal religion. The prison setting portrays the long, cold winter night ahead for Christianity as a social and cultural force.
The epistle is an exhortation and warning to the young pastor, who may not have developed deep insight into what lay ahead. Its tone is solemn and thoughtful, befitting the difficulties that Paul knew would define the future. Pay particular attention to the word “perilous,” noting that the subject revolves around “the snare of the devil,” and the subsequent effect he has upon the world:
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
In meekness instructing those that oppose him, if God, perhaps, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
This know, also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God,
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it; from such turn away.
For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with various lusts,
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
But they shall proceed no further; for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. (2 Tim. 2:24–3:9)
Here again, we find the Greek word chalepos, this time translated as “perilous.” As used in Matthew, it described the actions of men possessed by demons. They were out of their minds, uncontrollable, and violent. And here, in Paul’s word of prophecy to Timothy, we find exactly the same meaning!
This time, however, it does not merely apply to two men on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. As Paul envisioned the world of the latter days and the coming war on true Christianity, he saw that it would be characterized by the same insanity.
Paul urged the young preacher, Timothy, to exercise a quiet strength in his daily ministry. He emphasized the importance of teaching the strong doctrines of Christianity. He knew that only correct and thorough doctrinal teaching offers the strength to withstand the coming social subversion that the devil and his followers will bring upon the world.
That world is symbolized in the book of Matthew by Galilee’s eastern shore…the swineherd culture and the demoniacs who raged among them. Paul’s letter says that it will become a reality. Of course, he was correct. The past two thousand years have brought a cavalcade of narcissistic, vain, despotic, blasphemous, criminal usurpers to leadership in every country of the world.
Though the last three or four centuries have brought enlightenment to the West, darkness is quickly closing in upon the last vestiges of Christian influence. Europe has reverted to paganism, as a tiny minority of Christians holds on for dear life. Radical Islam is fast becoming the dominant force there.
News headlines of random killings becoming the norm in America
Godlessness is sweeping across the United States. The result is just as Paul’s words foretold. The World Wide Web—the Internet—is a bubbling porridge of mixed information. Though amazingly useful, with a potential for great good (particularly in the spread of the gospel), evil has, in fact, overtaken it. The electronic culture is now dominated by pornography, corruption, thievery, and crass commercialism that threaten to undermine the last vestiges of civilized behavior. The mind of this generation is all but enslaved to its seduction.
In the outside world, it is even worse. The sordid underbelly of culture crawls with serial killers, drug pushers, sexual predators, and a wide variety of self-serving criminals who will resort to any means to enhance their own wealth. Increasingly, we are seeing the emergence of behavior that, only a few short years ago, would have been unheard of…simply beyond belief.
And then there is the world of public communications. For the Christian, television has become all but unviewable. Radio is becoming lewd and coarse, as the public debate of issues devolves into endless harangues, diatribes, and rants, sometimes touching upon subjects that send one racing for the volume control, lest the ears of the children be subjected to corrupt and perverse notions that were once confined to the conversations of social outcasts.
Public life has, itself, become a parade of insanity. Think of the last few elections. Both nationally and locally, they increasingly seem to be dominated by money and demagoguery—emotional speech without a thread of logic. Think back: Have you recently heard a public figure make a statement that you found simply insane? Where is the voice of logic and rational ideas? To argue from fact is to be found lacking in compassion.
Raging criticism among political factions has reached an uncivilized level. Radical Islam is promoted as a “religion of peace,” even as it assaults Judaism and Christianity at every level. It rejects the stability demonstrated in the constitutional democracy that brought Western civilization to the highest levels of achievement in history.
Increasingly, the godless ones scheme to save the world through the application of various social programs that will reshape society through a global bureaucracy. To apply more of the strategies that caused the initial problem is simply insane. And almost two thousand years ago, Paul accurately predicted it.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Summer Vacation Right Around the Corner
Just a friendly reminder that Summer Vacation for Biblical Life starts Monday, June 16 and runs through June 30.
We are working hard to get all grading completed and course supplies shipped before heading off for a much needed time with friends and family.
We will be back in our office on July 1.
Michael K. Lake, Th.D.
BLOOD ON THE ALTAR | The Coming War Between Christian vs. Christian
Coming July 15
PART 8 – WHAT DARKNESS LURKS WITHIN
| by Sharon Gilbert
The Internet, particularly the Dark Web aspect of its underbelly, slithers about the planet gobbling up souls and separating children from their parents through slick enticements and alluring promises for becoming better, becoming more, becoming a god.
You may find it difficult to imagine a world in which young people line up to be integrated body and soul into the Matrix Machine, but that day is nearly upon us! Those who are now college age never knew a world without networking. They have been online since childhood. Children born today will grow up with constant connectivity and an assumption that where the Internet is concerned, “it’s all good.” Let me assure you, it is NOT ALL GOOD. The linked software and hardware is waking up—evolving—toward a point where passing a Turing Test[i] (such as reportedly finally happened this week) will be child’s play. Computers will achieve sentient status, and legal eagles will peck each other to death debating the rights of the world’s newest “netizens.” AI is a reality. It’s already being employed by the military to operate drones, whether as a single UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or a swarm of tiny UAVs that resembles insects flying in eerie formation. An article from a recent issue of theDaily Mail reports that US regulators want all cars to communicate with each other (networked) by 2017.[ii]
According to Shawn Helton of the excellent, analytical website Global Research (www.globalresearch.ca), the age of artificial intelligence and drones is upon us:
To see how dangerous artificial intelligence has become, all one has to do is look at the work of Eliezer Yudkowsky, a Research Fellow at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI). Eliezer’s work focuses on the evolution of AI self-modification where strong artificial intelligence or Seed AI will be able to program itself, optimizing its own cognitive functions similar to the malevolent computer Hal in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.[iii]
An article posted on January 3, 2014, at RT.comreveals what the US has planned for the next phase of its “drone” program and how AI technology is being sold as a cost-saving advantage:
Unmanned aerial systems currently constitute a major drain on the military’s budget. Officials hope to ease this burden without sacrificing any firepower by shifting many of the human responsibilities to the drone itself. Taken literally, this process involves ending the execution of step-by-step commands and employing commands that the report notes may “require deviation from pre-programmed tasks.”
Along with surpassing budgetary constraints, the authors of the Roadmap anticipate that, should US drone dominance ever be met with an adversary, American strategies will be “more effective through greater automation and greater performance.”
To make this goal a reality, the Roadmap [Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap[iv]] predicts the development of “swarms” of drones that are shot from a larger, unmanned vehicle that carries them within range of a target. The so-called mother ship would be guided by an onboard camera with a human pilot guiding from a military base. When that pilot identifies a target within a range of 250 nautical miles, he would fire the drone swarm with the aim that they will explode on target.[v]
Those who know their Bible surely must be thinking of a passage from Joel 2 that predicts such “swarms”:
Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is near at hand;
A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains; a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth; the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.
Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.
They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks.
Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path, and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.
They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble; the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great; for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:1–12, emphasis added)
The precise meaning of this passage is a bit murky to us still, but it clearly deals with the end times, and we are fast approaching those perilous times. Some have interpreted Joel 2 as representing a last-days army of believers who march upon Jerusalem; however, these “mighty men” behave in very non-human ways. Some predict that this could be a last-days army of hybrids—half human, half angel—who fulfill God’s prophecy and march at His command. Others say this is a fiendish army from hell, perhaps a corollary of or even a reference to the fallen angel armies that rise from the abyss with Apollyon. It is also quite possible that these unflagging entities are military units, some on the ground, others in the air, that include drones and robotic entities with autonomous intelligence. Just remember that God is allowing this army of immortals (so to speak) for HIS PURPOSES. Later in this same chapter, the Lord implores His people to turn to Him and perhaps avoid this judgment from “the northern army” (Joel 2:20). The identity of these “people” who invade, these “mighty men” who cannot be killed and swarm like locusts, may be hinted at by the Hebrew word translated as “people.” The word is am (pronounced “ahm”). Could America be involved? US drone operations are multiplying at a dizzying rate, so it is not inconceivable. But I would suggest something even MORE chilling: that the drones now being manufactured with autonomous capabilities will soon form a robotic army for a sentient Internet entity, the “image of the Beast”:
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion; and the dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority.
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed, and all the world wondered after the beast.
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
If any man have an ear, let him hear.
He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity; he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. (Rev. 13:1–10, emphasis added)
This Beast rises from the “sea,” which may indicate that this is Apollyon, the leader of the terrifying horde that rises like smoke from the abyss. Regardless of his identity, God will permit this being to “make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” The Beast will rule this entire world as one massive kingdom! At one time, this might have proven rather difficult, but with the ability to “run to and fro” via the Internet, particularly an Internet that may actually waken (more on this later), this Beast will already have a “body” to which he will become the “head” (in direct imitation of Christ our Lord and head of the body of believers). Yet there is more:
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, that had the wound by a sword, and did live.
And he hath power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads,
And that no man might buy or sell, except he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six. (Rev. 13:11–18, emphasis added)
Let’s take a few minutes to unpack these verses. The Beast from the sea (Antichrist) rises to rule, but he is wounded in the head, ostensibly a mortal wound; yet he survives. Remember the Eden promise from God that one day a hero would arise from the seed of the woman (the hero is Christ) and that the serpent (nachash and most likely also the dragon spirit behind Antichrist) would “bruise his heel,” but that Christ would bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3: 15)? This is the fulfillment of that promise. Christ died and rose again on the third day (He was only “bruised” in the heel). The serpent (bruised in the head) will rise again also or at least make it appear that he has died and risen, and the world will turn to him as fulfillment of every eschatology known to man. The Beast will be hailed as Messiah, Mahdi, Maitreya, Shiva, Vishnu, Ahura Mazda…you name it.
The world will marvel at the Beast, but then John tells us that a second beast arises from the land (appearing like a “lamb,” another Christ-image that I will henceforth refer to as the “Antilamb”) who serves as high priest to the first Beast. This “lamb” speaks with the voice of a dragon (serpent, a picture of Antichrist, Lucifer, Apollyon, the Ancient Enemy). It should chill the soul of any Christian that the brand name of a voice-recognition software product is actually called “Dragon Speak”!
Take note that this Antilamb has the power to make the image speak, wage war, and murder any who will not worship the Antichrist. How is this possible? The mark. The identifier that the Antilamb forces all not written in the True Lamb’s Book of Life to take! No one without the mark will be able to work, buy, or sell without the mark, because the Internet Beast, the Leviathan that has awoken (being given “life”) will keep tabs on everything we do via a personal WiFi connection! Of course, there will likely be a “carrot” to go along with this “stick”: Those with the mark will perhaps receive direct stimulation that excites pleasure areas of the brain. An episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation featured such stimulation in the form of a virtual reality “game” that rewarded players via a headset similar to Google Glass, but with a means to transcutaneously activate deep sections of the brain.[vi]
This constant monitoring has already begun. In 2009, the Telegraph ran an article predicting an Orwellian age:
The European Union is spending millions of pounds developing “Orwellian” technologies designed to scour the internet and CCTV (Closed-Circuit TV) images for “abnormal behavior.”
A five-year research programme, called Project Indect, aims to develop computer programmes which act as “agents” to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.
Its main objectives include the “automatic detection of threats and abnormal behaviour or violence.”[vii] (emphasis added)
Already in the US, social media giants such as Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., scrape every picture and every post, looking for “hot words” and images that not only reveal where you we are via metadata (hidden information within the image that reveal GPS [global positioning satellite] data and date), but that enable the scraper software to make a map of our workplaces, favorite hangouts, and even homes, and to “tag” every face in every image it finds using facial-recognition programming.
Now, those of you who are skeptical about my hypothesis that the Internet has the scientific capability to awaken to “life,” consider the massive brain-mapping projects across the globe (entire list available at Wikipedia; see citation):
aHuman, hybrid of latest neurobiology data aimed to implement human personality by means of computer program, started in 2008 as independent research.
Blue Brain Project, an attempt to create a synthetic brain by reverse engineering the mammalian brain down to the molecular level.
HNeT (Holographic Neural Technology), a technology by AND (Artificial Neural Devices) Corporation based on nonlinear phase coherence/decoherence principles.
Hierarchical Temporal Memory, a technology by Numenta to capture and replicate the properties of the neocortex.
Recursive Cortical Networks, a technology by Vicarious that uses a probabilistic graphical model inspired by the structure of the neocortex.
Visual Hierarchical Modular Neural Network, a software technology by TinMan Systems to visually construct a flow of human thought and logic to produce autonomous artificial intelligence.
AILEENN (Artificial Intelligence Logic Electronic Emulation Neural Network), an entire new cloud-based PaaS platform as a service and IaaS infrastructure for AI represented as a ubiquitous entity based on Neural Networks and Fuzzy Logic with universal inputs, outputs, and actuators aiming to the democratization and human-like interaction as the ultimate resource planner, decision-making process, and actuator. By the inventor and founder of TDVision.
Cyc, an attempt to assemble an ontology and database of everyday knowledge, enabling human-like reasoning.
Eurisko, a language by Douglas Lenat for solving problems, consisting of heuristics, including some for how to use and change its heuristics.
Mycin, an early medical expert system.
NEIL, an attempt to assemble a common-sense knowledge base from processing random images from the Internet.
Open Mind Common Sense, a project based at the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Media Lab to build a large, common-sense knowledge base from online contributions.
PAN, a publicly available text analyzer.
Questsin, uses Query by Example and features a dictionary, knowledge base, repository, reference, and thesaurus.
Siri, an intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator with a voice interface in Apple Inc.’s iOS.
SNePS, a simultaneously logic-based, frame-based, and network-based knowledge representation, reasoning, and acting system.
Watson, a question-answering system developed by IBM to play the Jeopardy! game show.
Wolfram Alpha, an online service that answers factual queries directly by computing the answer from structured data, capable of responding to particularly phrased, natural-language, fact-based questions.[viii]
Recently, in response to the European Union Brain Project announcement, President Barack Obama informed the public that US scientists would be launching a similar project called BRAIN (Brain Research through Advanced Innovative Neurotechnologies).[ix] Based upon the resource-sharing structure utilized in the Human Genome Project (codirected by transhumanist George Church), BRAIN plans to map every neural connection within the human body, also called “the connectome.” Many neurologists believe the human connectome equals who we are—it’s our mind, our personality, our inner spirit. Transhumanists hope one day soon to upload their digital equivalent connectomes to new bodies, and these bodies would in turn be interconnected much like the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Borg are born human, but they are “upgraded” and “enhanced” with technology that makes each one a human/cyborg soldier within a hive mind ruled and directed by a queen.
The Christian body must unify if we are to serve Christ well. We must use the time left to us to exemplify Christ as Redeemer and King. It is through His blood and that alone that we humans will find eternal life, not through being uploaded to a mainframe. Sadly, rather than heed Christ’s commandments to love God and love others as we love ourselves, we choose to openly squabble. The world needs Christ, but it will accept Antichrist. The doctrine of transhumanism and Internet sentience will draw away our neighbors and our loved ones. Many preachers avoid sermons on prophetic topics, but prophecy has never been needed more than now!
Will Christians be enticed into worshiping the Beast? My personal belief is that anyone who truly has accepted Christ’s redemptive work on Calvary, proclaiming Him as Savior, is “marked” with the Holy Spirit: “Now he who establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Cor. 1:21–22).
We who belong to the true BODY OF CHRIST have the Holy Spirit to protect us, but that doesn’t mean a Christian might not be tempted, and perhaps almost persuaded, by the Beast’s lies. Now is the time to put aside petty factions and unite as a body! The time is nearly up. Science fiction, dear reader, is about to become science fact, and humanity could cease to exist if not for God’s promise to intervene. As He says in Scripture:
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. (Matt. 24:21–22, emphasis added)
The Internet is shaping your life, spying on you, and making judgments about your posts and pictures. Eventually, it will have the connected drone power to act upon any and all inferences it may make about you and your loved ones. Those who now build the soft and hard architecture that feeds this rising image of the Beast probably have no concept of the terrifying potential they are programming into it. It will not fully rise until the Antilamb is granted the power to give it life, but the Internet is stirring with disturbingly powerful panoptics.
The Antichrist will claim to be Christ, the Messiah, and he will likely come to the world stage at the conclusion of a “world war” that he will claim is the battle of Armageddon. He will say that his arrival fulfills all prophecies, including Christ’s promise to “come with clouds”:
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
Who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.(Acts 1:9–11, emphasis added)
The disciples saw Christ taken to His Father’s throne via a cloud, and the “men in white apparel” promised that Christ WILL RETURN IN LIKE MANNER. Many believe that this means He will return via a cloud, or that clouds will play an important role in His appearing. The Antichrist may one day soon use the idea of “cloud computing” to claimfulfillment of this prophecy. Cloud computing allows Internet users to store digital information in what is “the cloud.” Actually, this means it is not stored locally, but on a server somewhere (perhaps one owned by Google and floating somewhere at sea!).
Shakespeare’s witches invoked evil spirits and ghosts by the “pricking of their thumbs.” You and I and our children, and soon every person in the world, will feed information, most of it dark and unholy, to the sleeping Beast we call the Internet. However, every bit and byte—every one and zero, every typing of your thumbs—is part of a global effort by spiritual forces to awaken a massive image that will control and cull all those who do not worship at its silicon feet.
And, oh, one more thing.
Did you know that today’s computers are about to be replaced with infinitely more capable and potentially lifelike DNA-based computers? Such computers will not only qualify for NASA’s “evolution” requirement for life, but they will also satisfy the traditional caveat that all life must be based on nucleic acids. And, by being based on DNA or RNA, this also means the new life form is based on CARBON. Six electrons. Six neutrons. Six protons…the number of a man.
A great preacher once told me that Christ will return for His bride when the number (known only to the Father) is complete. When that final soul says yes to the Holy Spirit’s calling, the final judgments commence.
Perhaps, the Internet Beast awaits a similar, perfect number.
Just one more “Like,” and the end will begin.
TO BE CONTINUED…
[i] The Turing Test was described by Alan Turing as a means to “test” the intelligence of machines by having humans try to tell the difference between a computer and a human through text questions and answers. Today’s computers can speak in nearly all languages, fluently and naturally. For more on the Turing Test, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test (accessed February 5, 2014).
[ii] Reuters and AP sources, “Watch Out for That Truck! Cars to ‘Talk’ to Each Other by 2017 Under U.S. Plan to Significantly Reduce Accidents on the Road,” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2551217/Government-
-talk-other.html (accessed February 5, 2014).
-not-humans/5353699 (accessed January 7, 2014).
[iv] Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap is a DoD document released to the public in December 2013. To read the entire report, go to http://www.defense.gov/pubs/DOD-USRM-2013.pdf (accessed on January 7, 2014).
[v] http://www.rt.com/usa/drones-own-decisions-soon-156/ (accessed January 7, 2014).
[vi] “The Game,” the 106th episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation. Originally aired October 28, 1991. For more, see: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Game_(episode) (accessed January 7, 2014).
[vii] Ian Johnston, “EU Funding ‘Orwellian’ Artificial Intelligence Plan to Monitor Public for ‘Abnormal Behaviour,’” The Daily Telegraph Online, September 19, 2009, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/6210255/EU-funding-
abnormal-behaviour.html (accessed January 7, 2014).
[viii] Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_artificial_intelligence_projects (accessed January 7, 2014).
[ix] Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BRAIN_Initiative (accessed January 7, 2014).
BLOOD ON THE ALTAR | The Coming War Between Christian vs. Christian
Coming July 15
PART 7 – WHEN NACHASH RETURNS
| by Sharon Gilbert
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love (Eph. 4:4–13).
We have in the passage above a beautiful picture of believers across the centuries as a unified group called “the body.” Each believer holds a unique and important position that contributes to the whole. We are ONE, or rather, that is how we are supposed to behave. Sadly, that is not always true now, and the rising of the Beast will—at least for a time—expose this lack of unity to all the world. Note here that Paul is calling for a unity of the body, that we mature in Christ to “full stature.” Sadly, most of us are too busy bickering to notice how our witness has slipped—how our “stature” has diminished. But, despite how the “body” sometimes behaves, Christ is our head; therefore, it is HE who directs the body, telling us how to act and react upon this earth. (Sadly, we’re often very disobedient to the directions given by our wonderful Head.) When He returns, He will continue to direct us as we serve Him during His millennial kingdom and after throughout the rest of eternity. It is my belief that Antichrist, whose wicked spirit Paul told us was already at work in the first century, will seek to mimic Christ in all ways. He will claim to BE CHRIST, therefore the Antichrist must pose as the HEAD of a BODY. This false claim may seduce some within the true body at first, but it is also my belief that this will serve to expose all those who merely profess Christ but have no true salvation relationship with Him.
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of the Lord is present.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come the falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
And now ye know what restraineth that he might be revealed in his time.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now hindreth will continue to hinder, until he be taken out of the way.
And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming,
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
That they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess. 2:1–12, emphasis added)
Let’s get a little background. In fact, let’s go all the way back to Genesis 3, to the account of when Adam and Eve sinned. God in His wonderful patience not only provided for their immediate need (covering for their sin), but He also promised redemption for fallen humanity through a coming Savior. We read about this wonderful promise in God’s judgment upon the serpent:
And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Gen. 3:14–15, emphasis added)
Did you notice that promise? God is speaking to the serpent, the tempter and villain in the garden, the original “snake in the grass.” What does God say? The serpent is a type of dragon called in Hebrew “the nachash” (For more on this, see Michael S. Heiser’s wonderful exegesis on Genesis 3 here.) What is going to happen to this serpent, this dragon? For his disobedience and for his rebellion by defying God and tempting Adam and Eve into sinning, he loses his ability to fly (“upon thy belly shalt thou go”), and he shall eat dust. This is a curious phrase, for snakes do not actually eat dust. The Hebrew words translated as “dust” in Genesis 3 appear many other times in the Old Testament, but most numerously in Job. Aphar (pronounced like the English word “afar”) may mean literal dust of the ground, ashes, powder, mortar, rubbish, debris, clay, and even ore (as in gold or silver). In other words, the serpent’s punishment is to crawl about consuming (and perhaps, by reasonable extension, excreting) trash, junk, and rubbish: the leftovers of everyday life. However, the final meaning of “dust” occurs only once, in the book of Job, where aphar is used to represent gold and silver ore, whether metaphorically or not—my Hebrew knowledge is far too scant to discern. However, my mind paints a picture of a disobedient dragon who is no longer able to fly, but instead must burrow its way into the depths of the earth, consuming detritus and even sitting on a cache upon what he perceives to be “gold.” Perhaps, you and I are the dust, the gold, the rubbish (as the dragon perceives mankind), and this sleeping dragon feeds upon our sins and failures, gaining strength so that he might soon awaken from his deep slumber, when he will seek to unseat Christ from the heavenlies.
Ezekiel 28 describes an entity that once lived in Eden but has now fallen into ruin and judgment. Called in verse 2 “the prince of Tyre,” the one referred to in the passage is surely not an earthly ruler but one with greater longevity:
Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee.
With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasuries;
By thy great wisdom and by thy merchandise hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God: Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God,
Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness.
They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas.
Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am a god? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee.
Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of foreigners; for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God.
Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy timbrels and of thy flutes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so; thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God, and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness; I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy merchandise; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
All they that know thee among the people shall be appalled at thee; thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more. (Ezek. 28:3–19, emphasis added)
The previous passage is often hotly debated as regards the “true” identity of the subject of God’s obvious wrath. The “prince” may have been a human “prince” (the king of Tyre) at the time this prophecy was written, but it is also clear that God’s doom is directed at someone else, someone far older than any human, someone—a creature called “the covering cherub” who walked “in the midst the stones of fire” (stones in the altar perhaps, or even stars, or planets?). God’s Word calls this entity “wiser than Daniel,” a curious turn of phrase since it is Daniel who gives us a major prophecy of the coming Antichrist (see Daniel 11). Despite this entity’s amazing “wisdom,” God promises to fling him to the ground, clipping his wings so to speak and banishing him from his fiery walkway. He will be destroyed by the “uncircumcised” of the earth. He will be brought to ashes (dust?). Why? Haughtiness and pride. His iniquitous “traffick” (i.e., merchandising or commerce). This being apparently uses his “wisdom” to create a kingdom where he benefits from commerce, accumulating gold and riches from these pursuits. Some scholars may write this off as poetry and/or metaphor, but it seems to me that the judgment of this creature is all too glaringly similar to the judgment upon the nachash in Genesis 3.
God lives in a state of constant now—He IS. You and I live in a timeline in which we experience the present, recall our past, and look forward to an unknown future. God speaks judgment from a perspective outside of our space/time continuum. He pronounces a verdict in present tense, but the final fulfillment as you and I see it may occur at a point somewhere along history’s timeline. Has the nachash been judged yet? Certainly. But has the punishment commenced in full? If this creature, the nachash, is also the dragon that enters the Man of Sin, the “prince to come” who is thrown to the ground (“on thy belly shalt thou go”) during the final seven years of premillennial history, then the prophecy is yet to be fulfilled.
This brings me back to the Antichrist and his plans to subvert Christ’s return by pretending to BE Christ, the HEAD of the BODY. If, as my theory proposes, the Internet plays a role in forming the BODY of Antichrist, then this unified collection of humanity must coalesce prior to his arrival upon the world stage. We, the TRUE BODY, currently await our Lord’s return. When Antichrist appears, He will claim to be the RETURNING MESSIAH, and he will set up his “millennial kingdom” (one that will, in reality, only last seven years). Most likely this will occur at the end of a major war in the Middle East, which Antichrist can claim is “Armageddon.” Today, many people in the world believe Armageddon to be “the end of days”; therefore, it will take very little Bible knowledge to find the Antichrist’s claim plausible. In fact, one could discern enough from the average blockbuster film or graphic novel these days! Even television programs predict an end to life or a coming cataclysm that only the arrival of super humans or one super man can prevent.
Now, we must return to our earlier definitions and the meaning of life (bet you thought I’d forgotten about that!), intelligence, and sentience. Postmodern scientists now prefer to relate life to an organism or collection of matter that can EVOLVE. Without a doubt, the Internet has indeed evolved. From its humble beginnings as an idea expressed by a psychologist who loved machines to nascent cells (individual computers) that found each other and joined along an IMP’s back, to small networks (like forming tissue), larger networks (organs), and finally a worldwide “body” of nearly nine BILLION devices, that’s more than one device for every person alive. In our house alone, we stopped counting at sixteen devices that ping our wireless router throughout the day. That sounds like a lot, and perhaps we at PID Radio and our VFTB radio program are a bit odd, but we have multiple desktops, multiple laptops, tablets, televisions (Roku and Blu-Ray streaming), and smart phones and even an iPod that scramble to bring us the latest news, social media, and email. We use these devices for ministry and work, but not all device owners have God’s will in their hearts. In fact, many—and I’d say MOST—of the connected devices in this world are poised for evil deeds and/or warfare.
Of course, the Internet has not yet permeated every crevice of every corner of the planet, but it is almost there. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is committed to bringing the Internet to all people.[i] In fact, to quoteZuckerberg in response to one of Steven Levy’s questions from the cited article at Wired.com:
LEVY: You say connectivity is a human right—up there with freedom of expression, freedom from hunger, and other essential rights. Can you explain?
MZ: The story of the next century is the transition from an industrial, resource-based economy to a knowledge economy. An industrial economy is zero sum. If you own an oil field, I cannot go in that same oil field. But knowledge works differently. If you know something, then you can share that—and then the whole world gets richer. But until that happens, there’s a big disparity in wealth. The richest 500 million have way more money than the next six billion combined.You solve that by getting everyone online, and into the knowledge economy—by building out the global internet. (emphasis added)
What Zuckerberg is saying here is that every human being has a RIGHT to knowledge. While that sounds reasonable at first, it echoes the words spoken by the nachash in Eden, who promised access to KNOWLEDGE with the added perk that “ye shall be as gods.”
Singularitans and transhumanists would agree with old nachash. Scientists (men with special “knowledge”) like George Church and Ray Kurzweil dream of a world in which everyone is connected and even uploaded into a mainframe. A recent Doctor Who episode, “The Time of the Doctor,” featured a woman called Tasha Lem,[ii] who served as the Mother Superious of the Papal Mainframe, a church that could change its “faith” on a dime (becoming The Silence, including a subversive splinter group that sought to undo the true mission of the “church”) and that operated across the galaxy using its own military for backup. The program’s premise may not be that far off of truth. Our future as a planet may hinge on whether we fall for the “collective” party line that we are all getting better. As my niece says, that’s “ate up in the head” thinking.
Sadly, most people will indeed fall in step with the new religion of a hive mind—the BODY or the MANY. The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many—or the one.[iii]Doctor Who, mentioned earlier, is a science fiction program with a whole slew of villains who want to remove you from existence, delete you, or upgrade you. Artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of mechanized organisms like “the Daleks” or computerized upgrades like “the Cybermen” illustrate what can go horribly wrong when cyber intellects rule the world.
TO BE CONTINUED…
[i] Stephen Levy, “Zuckerberg Explains Internet.org, Facebook’s Plan to Get the World Online,” Wired, August 17, 2013, http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-
08/27/mark-zuckerberg-internet-org (accessed January 6, 2014).
[iii] Paraphrase of conversation between Kirk and Spock in The Wrath of Khan, Paramount Pictures, 1982. Spock has just saved the entire ship by sacrificing his own life. This is a theme that runs through the entire film: that the body requires sacrifice. This is an eerie counterpoint to a Star Trek original series episode in which a computer named “Landru” forces individuals to sacrifice their freedoms to join the BODY (Episode 21, “The Return of the Archons,” original airdate February 9, 1967).
This weekend I will have the pleasure of traveling to New York City to conduct a seminar for Antioch School of Urban Ministry. Because of travel time needed for this ministry trip, the BLCS office will be closed on June 4 – 5. I will be back in the office on Monday, June 9.
I will also be recording the audio this seminar in MP3 audio. I plan on releasing these sessions through through our Biblical Life Deep Waters Podcast. (We have had many email us to see if the sessions would be available.) The seminar workbook will also be available for download in PDF.
For those in the New York area, I look forward to seeing you on Saturday!
Dr. Michael K. Lake