You might even consider the impact of the Rapture on deficit financing. Who cares how much debt we accrue? Christ will come and forgive it all. Why not borrow against the future to pay for the present? The future is gonna be a whole different deal. We're just placeholders for God's own totalitarian state.
For us secular humanists, us gay-marrying, porn-reading, prayer-mocking harbingers of doom, all this seems incredible. We are still in the reality- based paradigm; we have not yet crossed over into the faith-based paradigm. In the faith-based world, the apparent inconsistencies within the Bush administration fade into nothingness.
Millennial Christians have somehow convinced themselves that the founding fathers would have approved of all this because they were all old-time Christians following that old-time religion. Because Rapture theology was mostly cobbled together in the 19th century based on very selective readings from parts of the New Testament, it is unlikely that the founding fathers believed anything of the sort. Not important: Once again, I'm indulging in reality-based thinking.
Like the prophet said: Fasten your seat belts.
The thing about the Rapture Index is this: If you're part of the problem, you're part of the solution, because it's no good smiting sinners if there are no sinners to smite.
Is the Destruction of the World Trade Center The Fulfillment of Revelation 17 & 18?
byWilliam Arnold IIIWmArnold@apostolic.net
I have heard some people identify the "Babylon" of Revelation 17 & 18 as America. Is it possible that the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York is the fulfillment of this prophecy in Revelation 17 & 18 where a mysterious "Babylon" is said to be destroyed?
I do not believe so. Although this is a most tragic event which has taken place in America, I do not believe that it fulfills the prophecy given in these chapters nor do I believe that America is the "Babylon" of the book of Revelation for the following reasons:
1. The destruction of Babylon is to take place at the very end of the Great Tribulation, at the seventh bowl. It is caused by a great earthquake and is either part of, or leads to, the battle of Armageddon. This is recorded in Rev. 16:16-20 and then the actual destruction of the city itself is elaborated upon in chapters 17 and 18. This takes place after the world-wide mark of the beast is in effect where no one can buy or sell without this mark (13:15-18). Since this has not taken place, the destruction of Babylon has not yet taken place.
2. Babylon is called "The Great City" seven times in these three chapters. It is never identified as a country or nation (USA) nor is it identified as a building within a city (World Trade Center). It is a particular city and the entire city is destroyed. The event we have just witnessed was the destruction of two buildings in New York and a partial destruction of the Pentagon. It would be very difficult to make this fit with the prophecy in Revelation.
3. This city is said to "reign over the kings of the earth" (17:18). America may be a powerful country, but it does not dominate the leaders of the world.
So what then is the identity of this city which is mysteriously called "Babylon?" Various places have been suggested through the years. Rome seems to have been the most popular identification, especially since it "sits on seven hills" (17:9) and during John's time it did dominate the world. Perhaps this did have an immediate application during John's lifetime, just as the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25, Mark 13 & Luke 21) was a prophecy about the Great Tribulation at the end of the age yet some of it still had application to the apostles' lifetime (the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD). This phenomenon often takes place with prophecy. It has been identified as partial fulfillment, double fulfillment, pre-fillment and other things but this definitely takes place. I believe the best candidate for the 'endtime' or 'ultimate' Babylon is the city of Jerusalem for these following reasons:
1. The first mention of the "Great City" is found in chapter 11. It is where the two witnesses are killed who are said to prophesy in the "Holy City" where the temple is located (11:1-3, 7-8). It is also the city "where also their Lord was crucified" (verse 8). This is obviously Jerusalem.
2. Jerusalem is 'spiritually' called Sodom and Egypt (11:8, see also Isa. 1:1, 9-10). So it is not a far cry to 'mysteriously' call it Babylon (17:5).1
3. The "Great City" of Jerusalem as well as the "Great City" of Babylon both suffer a "great earthquake" (11:13; 16:18-19).
4. The woman is pictured riding the Beast or the 'antichrist' (17:3). He will reign from the temple of God (2 Thess. 2:3-4) which will be rebuilt in Jerusalem.
5. Babylon is said to be guilty of the blood of the 'witnesses' (17:6) and of the 'prophets' (18:24). As already mentioned, the witnesses appear to be killed in Jerusalem (#1) and Jesus called Jerusalem "the city that kills the prophets" (Luke 13:33-34, see also Matt. 23:34-35; Luke 11:50-51; Acts 7:52).
6. Seeing this city pictured as a prostitute caused John to marvel greatly (17:6). His amazement would be understandable if this was a picture of the future of the 'Holy City' but not if it was simply a city which was already known to be wicked.
7. The antichrist (who will reign from Jerusalem, #3) will indeed "reign over the kings of the earth" (17:18).
8. The antichrist's 'girlfriend' is a prostitute. The real Christ's bride is a pure virgin. Christ's bride is pictured as the "New Jerusalem" (21:2, 9-10). It would make sense that the antichrist's counterpart is earthly Jerusalem (Heavenly and earthly Jerusalem are also compared in Gal. 4:24-31 and Heb. 12:18-24).
9. Many times in the Old Testament, Israel (of which Jerusalem is the capital) is said to have "played the harlot" (Isa. 1:21; Jer. 3; Hosea, etc.). Now she would be called the "Mother of Harlots" (17:5) since she has committed the worst type of adultery possible and 'shacked up' with God's worst enemy.
1. The King James and the NIV have "mystery" as part of the name--"Mystery Babylon." But the more natural reading of the Greek is that "a name was written, a mystery: Babylon The Great, The Mother of Harlots and of The Abominations of The Earth" (so NASB, NRSV, NLT and NET). For a discussion, see the footnote in the NET Bible
Published on Monday, December 6, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
On Receiving Harvard Medical School's Global Environment Citizen Award
by Bill Moyers
On Wednesday, December 1, 2004, the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School presented its fourth annual Global Environment Citizen Award to Bill Moyers. In presenting the award, Meryl Streep, a member of the Center board, said, "Through resourceful, intrepid reportage and perceptive voices from the forward edge of the debate, Moyers has examined an environment under siege with the aim of engaging citizens." Here is the text of his response to Ms. Streep's presentation of the award:
.../... Remember James Watt, President Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, 'after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.'
Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the country. They are the people who believe the Bible is literally true - one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in the rapture index. That's right - the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the twelve volumes of the left-behind series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious right warrior, Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.
Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre (the British writer George Monbiot recently did a brilliant dissection of it and I am indebted to him for adding to my own understanding): once Israel has occupied the rest of its 'biblical lands,' legions of the anti-Christ will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts, and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.
I'm not making this up. Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious, and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That's why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelation where four angels 'which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man.' A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed - an essential conflagration on the road to redemption. The last time I Googled it, the rapture index stood at 144-just one point below the critical threshold when the whole thing will blow, the son of God will return, the righteous will enter heaven, and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire.
So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? Go to Grist to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist, Glenn Scherer - 'the road to environmental apocalypse. Read it and you will see how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed - even hastened - as a sign of the coming apocalypse.
As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election - 231 legislators in total - more since the election - are backed by the religious right. Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Senator Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the senate floor: "the days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that i will send a famine in the land.' He seemed to be relishing the thought.
Because these people believe that until Christ does return, the lord will provide. One of their texts is a high school history book, America's Providential History. You'll find there these words: "the secular or socialist has a limited resource mentality and views the world as a pie…that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece.' however, "[t]he Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God's earth……while many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people." No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House whistling that militant hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers." He turned out millions of the foot soldiers on November 2, including many who have made the apocalypse a powerful driving force in modern American politics.
Get your Rapture hats ready, kiddies! The sky is falling, and our wise gift of nuclear winter will propel us all into the loving arms of the all-knowing and all-everywhere G-d.
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