Tuesday, November 15, 2005
From Bill Moyers:
'. . . One-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup Poll is accurate, believes the Bible is literally true. This past November, several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in what is known as the "rapture index."'
'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: Once Israel has occupied the rest of its "bibli-cal lands," legions of the Antichrist 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'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 is why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. That is why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelations, where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man." For them a war with Islam in the Middle East is something to be welcomed - an essential conflagration on the road to redemption. The rapture index - "the prophetic speedometer of end-time activity" - now stands at 153.'
'So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? As Glenn Scherer reports in the online environmental journal Grist, millions of Christian fundamentalists believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but hastened as a sign of the coming apocalypse.'
'We're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half of the members of Congress 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 Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who before his recent retirement 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 relish the thought.'
As a Christian, I feel it is my duty to stand up for a theological view of the world that is 180 degrees removed from what Mr. Moyers describes above. While I believe the Bible to be the word of God, and believe in what we call in our church the "second coming" of Christ, I also know that it is wrong to hasten the apocalypse as some are trying to do. That is completely contrary to the tone, demeanor, and doctrine of the Bible. While I believe that it will happen, I've also read the first part of the New Testament which says blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are the meek, blessed are the pure in heart. None of these virtues allow for increasing the misery of mankind or standing idly by while the world suffers from its various calamities. The most reprehesible and repulsive impulse is that of war, and specifically the idea that making war in the Middle East will speed the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. It is a doctrine that is corrupted by power, by blood lust, by vengance and a brittle dogma which quite frankly is satanic to the core.
Some modern "Chistians" lust after power for the express purpose of furthering these events. In the process, they demonstrate through their actions who they really are and whom they really serve. Chist taught that his kingdom is not of this world. It is opposed to the way many things in the world work -- corruption is corruption, no matter whom you purport to serve. The Ten Commandments are not conditional once you've proclaimed yourself a follower of Christ. Neither, for that matter, are the commandments Jesus himself gave in the New Testament. These are truths and abiding by them is paramount to leading a life consistent with the gospel. There is nor has there ever been a requirement from the Lord to perform "dirty work". He will return, as he tells us, at a time only known to him -- even the "angels in heaven" don't know when that will be. There is nothing we can do to either speed it up or slow it down. All we can do is live righteously and try our best to love God, love our neighbor, serve others, be charitable, and try our best to exemplify Christ's teachings in our daily lives.
God does not rub his hands in glee at the thought of punishing the wicked. I believe that he is concerned about the well-being of all of his children, whether they are Christian or Muslim or Jewish or Agnostic or Atheist or don't conform to any of these labels. Such a God must mourn when he looks at those who profess his name working to bring about the evils prophesied in the Bible. Those prophesies are a warning, not a blueprint. If it were so, then Al-Qaeda would really be on a mission from God, as they've provided a convenient excuse to start several wars in the Middle East. So, too, would Hitler be part of the Grand Plan, an agent of God in producing the necessary circumstances to create a Jewish state. Communism also would have the divine stamp of approval, as it provided provocation and a number of opportunities to make war in all the right places. I have records in my collection of various preachers who prophesied that Communism would lead to the rapture, usually in or around the year 2000. They preached that it would be Russia invading Israel, providing the 200 million troops necessary to fulfill the biblical quota for Armageddon.
Of course, this didn't happen and thus we know that these were and are false prophets. Jesus taught us that "by their fruit shall ye know them". After two decades of observing the "fruit" of this brand of Christian theology, I know what it is -- Evil.
Andrew 9:57 PM : |
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