Categorized | Religion

Eschatological Claptraps

Why the fascination with the end-times?

Throughout history, self-professed prophets of doom have given us predictions of the coming the end-times. I think religion needs some sort of eschatology to keep the local system on line. Belief about the end of the world is a very effective way of scaring the wits of the masses…or to keep believers waiting while doing mostly nothing…hehehe theology is a very boring subject.

It is not only found in Christianity. For example, there is a Buddhist story that says Buddha will come down to Shangri-La before the end of the age. There is also what Hindus call the Cyclic-Uproar – after the lapse of a hundred thousand years the world will be destroyed and the cycle will be renewed.

The Mayans believed that the world will be destroyed after the period of thirty-four thousand years…Nah! I’m not talking about the calendar that says the world will be destroyed in 2012. I’m talking about what was written on the last page of the Dresden Codex – the Mayan manuscript records of cosmic cycles.

The Vikings on the other hand believe that there will be a time when the gods will go kick each other’s ass. While the gods are killing each other, fire will burn all over the planet and no man will be spared.

In Zoroasterism, Ahura Mazda will someday destroy evil. Before the day of the ultimate world victory, Angra Mainyu (the Destroying Spirit) will make their final desperate stand. There will be wars and world-wide catastrophe. Then the ultimate savior, Saoshyant will arrive (sounds familiar?). The dead will be resurrected and hell will vanish. All the souls in hell will be liberated, released and purified. Then there will be an endless age of peace, purity, perfection and joy.

Here in the Philippines, a group of Rizalista (oh…these guys believed that a certain Felix Melgar is God. When I asked where can I find Mr. Melgar, they told me he’s already dead due to diabetes) predicted that the end time will start on June 2010…while the whole Philippines is busy choosing their president in the 2010 Presidential Election.

There was also this guy…Bionic Wonder Boy AKA Ronald Juaquin Marcos who predicted that a great world war will happened on March 16, 1991.

Notice that these tales seem to promote the same idea; that the old ways will be replaced by the new. With these change, everything that represents the old ways will be erased.

Eschatological Interpretations

When we look closely on these end-times predictions, it mostly represents certain issues. For example…

Early Christianity proclaims that the messianic time will come in their generation. Well Paul expected the Parousia will be arriving on his lifetime and the author that created the Gospel of Mark believed that the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem will be the beginning of the end. These beliefs are in effect the anticipation of the end of Roman rule in Palestine.

Lately, most doomsday prophets predicted (again) that the end time will come in the time when Rome falls. Well the Romans came and went…but the earth keeps on spinning. After the Fall of Rome, there are new reasons to choose from that will start the end of the world. Some thought that the end time started on the time of the Black Death (1348 and 1350).

Communists Scare

The rise of communism in Eastern Europe and South-East Asia became the new eschatological subject. By the 1917’s these prophets of doom were pointing their fingers on “godless communism” as the main culprit of the coming Millennium. Here, a good example…The Christadelphians claim that Daniel’s prophecy foretold the coming of a so-called Russian confederation that will subdue Turkey and incorporate Persia and Rome. Russia will come to agreement with Rome and will bent on world domination. Israel will fight Russia and Jesus will return (What on earth is Wrong with the World? Pp. 11-12 Vol. 28 July 1978 Number 2 – Edited by H.P. Mansfield)

If you were able to read a copy of the Fatima Crusader (Issue 25 Aug. Sept. 1988) you’ll notice that interpretation of the Fatima message usually predicts that Soviet Russia was chosen by God as an instrument of chastisement to punish the whole world.

In May 1917, three Portuguese shepherd children Lucia Dos Santos (now Sister Lucia) and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto saw the Virgin Mary and gave them a message. In that time Portugal was on the verge of totalitarianism after the revolution in 1910 which deposed the Catholic backed royal government of King Manuel II and established the Portuguese First Republic.

The message of the Lady of Fatima is against communism. One of Mary’s revelations at Fatima specially denounced Russia and predicted a worldwide disaster unless people rejected communism and return back to Catholicism.

But what’s the real score?

Well…we should heed the Virgin Mother to abstain from sin and to ignore those clergy or lay people who tell Catholics that they can use contraception and have an abortion and who says you can vote a pro-abortion candidate…heck! I’m just waiting for another Virgin apparition that will tell Filipinos not to support the RH Bill, but I think President P-Noy already took care of that…so no need for the Virgin to come to this country. As the late Carl Sagan noted on his book The Demon Hunted World, “…some of the apparitions have taken on greater import…the Virgin was incensed that a secular government had replaced a government run by the Church…the end of the world was threatened unless conservative political and religious doctrines were adapted forthwith.” (pp 146-147)

So the Berlin wall crashed and Glasnoth was established in Russia without the aid of a “dancing sun”. Soviet communism cease to exist but the world continued to spin…so does end-time predictions.

When the cold war between Russia and America ended, these self-professed prophets began to invert other ways to deliver their message and make it sound credible. They began to point at…anything they can point at.

Herbert W. Armstrong (founder of the Worldwide Church of God and host of the World Tomorrow TV broadcast) for example believed that a so-called Ten nations in Europe (which was symbolized by the beast with ten horns in Revelation) will join together to make war with the United State, Britain and other English-speaking nations…which Armstrong believed to be the remnants of the original ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Well…that was when European Union (EU) only has ten members. Now EU has 27 member states so I guess there isn’t any beast in the Bible that has 27 horns.

So we ran out of “commies” and “ten nations”…what’s next?

We still have solar flares, planetary conjunctions, Mayan calendars and invisible large asteroids.
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Here’s a partial list of “prophets” and their “predictions”.

Saint Clement predicted that the world end would occur at 90 CE.

2nd Century CE: Prophets and Prophetesses of the Montanist movement (A movement created by a certain Montanus , who predicted that the end of times were upon the world) predicted that Jesus would return sometime during their lifetime and establish the New Jerusalem in the city of Pepuza in Asia Minor.

Gerard of Poehlde decided that the millennium had actually started in 306 CE.

A man by the name of Hilary of Poitiers, announced that the end would happen in 365 CE.

The Donatists, a North African Christian sect, predicted the world would end in 380 CE.

Lactantius Firmianus (260 – 340CE), called the “Christian Cicero”, from his Divinae Institutiones: announces that, “The fall and ruin of the world will soon take place” somewhere in 410 CE.

Saint Martin of Tours, a student of Hilary, was convinced that the end would happen sometime before 400 CE.

The antipope Hippolytus and an earlier Christian academic Sextus Julius Africanus had predicted Armageddon at 500 CE.

The theologian Irenaeus predicted the second coming of Jesus in the year 500.

Bishop Gregory of Tours, who died in 594CE, calculated the Time of the End for sometime between 799 and 806.

Lotharingian computists foresaw the End on Friday, March 25, 970

Beatus made the prediction on Easter Eve, predicting the end of the world 793. When that didn’t happened, he wrote in his Commentary on the Apocalypse that the world would end in the year 800 at the latest.

The Christian prophetess Thiota predicted the world would end in 848.

Many Christians in Europe had predicted the end of the world on January 1, 1000.

Various Christian prophets predicted the end of the world in the year 1184.

A Dominican monk named Brother Arnold gained a following when he wrote that the end was about to take place in 1260.

Pope Innocent III predicted the end of the world in the year 1284, 666 years after the founding of Islam.

The friar Petrus Olivi predicted Antichrist’s coming between 1300 and 1340, after which the world would enter the Age of the Holy Spirit, which itself would end around the year 2000 with Gog and the Last Judgement.

John of Toledo predicted the end of the world during 1186.

Joachim of Fiore predicted in 1190 that the Antichrist was already in the world, and that King Richard of England would defeat him. The Millennium would then begin, sometime before 1205. They again re-scheduled the end of the world, this time to the year 1335

Constantine’s reign. Thus, the world end was expected in 1306 CE.

A Frenchman, Jean de Roquetaillade, published a guide to the tribulation. Imprisoned for most of his adult life, he predicted Antichrist in 1366, to be followed in 1369 or 1370 by a millennial Sabbath. Jerusalem, under a Jewish king, would become the center of the world.

Czech archdeacon Militz of Kromeriz claimed the Antichrist was alive and well and would show up no later than 1367, bringing the end of the world with him.

Martinek Hauska, near Prague, led a following of priests to announce the soon Second Coming of Christ. They warned everyone to flee to the mountains because between February 1 and February 14, 1420, god was to destroy every town with Holy Fire, thus beginning the Millennium.

Some mystics in the 15th century predicted that the millennium would begin during 1496.

Anabaptist Thomas Müntzer, thinking that he was living at the “end of all ages,” in 1525

Melchior Hoffman predicted that Jesus’ return would happen a millennium and a half after the nominal date of his execution, in 1533. The New Jerusalem was expected to be established in Strasbourg, Germany. He was arrested and died in a Strasbourg jail.

French theologian Pierre d’Ailly predicted the end of the world in 1555.

In 1578, physician Helisaeus Roeslin of Alsace, basing his prediction on a nova that occurred in 1572, predicted the world ending in 1654 in a blaze of fire.

Philip Melanchthon, ally of Martin Luther, claimed that a divine numerical cycle, chiefly utilizing the numbers 7 and 10, would culminate in 1588, which was 10×7, years from Luther’s 1518 defiance of the Pope. It was then that the seventh seal would be opened, Antichrist be would be overthrown, and the Last Judgement would occur.

Martin Luther predicted that the world would end no later than the year 1600.

Dominican monk Tomasso Campanella wrote that the sun would collide with the Earth in 1603.

Eustachius Poyssel used numerology to pinpoint 1623 as the year of the end of the world.

Joseph Mede, whose writings influenced James Ussher and Isaac Newton, claimed that the Antichrist appeared way back in 456, and the end of the world would come in 1660.

The Old Believers in Russia believed that the end of the world would occur in 1669.

Anglican rector Thomas Beverly and notorious witch chaser Cotton Mather predict the end of the world in 1697.

John Napier, the mathematician who discovered logarithms, applies his new mathematics to the Book of Revelations and predicts the end of the world for 1688.

Benjamin Keach, a 17th century Baptist, predicted the end of the world in 1689.

British theologian and mathematician William Whitson predicted a great flood similar to Noah’s for October 13, 1736.

Charles Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, thought Doomsday would be in 1794.

William Miller predicts Jesus would return in 1844.

Rev. Edward Irving predicted that Jesus will return in 1864.

Joseph Smith declared that Christ will return by the time he’s 85 years old. He never reached his 85th birthday. He was killed in jail together with his brother in 1844.

An unknown “prophet” predicted that Christ will return on March 5, 1888.

Rev. Michael Baxter, editor of the Christian herald, predicted that the Rapture will occur in 1896 and the world will end in 1901.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses predicted the return of Christ in 1914.

In 1917 at Fatima, three small children claimed to see Mary and that they were given three prophesies. According to the prophesy, an era of peace will arrive in 1995. Evil will be paralyzed and will almost vanish from this world. In May 13, 2000, the “secret prophecy” of Fatima was announced. (It seems the Virgin Mother forgot to prophesized those attacks that will happen on September 11, 2001.)

1973 – Sister Agnes Katsuko recieved a message from the Virgin Mary that the world will end in 2000
The Davidians, headed by Victor Houteff waited the return of the Lord Jesus on April 22, 1959, but failed.

1980 Psychic Jeanne Dixon predicted a world holocaust for the 1980s, and the rise of a powerful world leader, born in the Middle-East in 1962.

Edgar C. Whisenant, in his book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988, gave a three day period in September for the saints to be “caught up with the Lord.” When this failed, he issued another book claiming that he was a year off, and urging everyone to be ready in 1989.

North Carolina prophecy teacher Colin Deal has set dates for the return of Christ for 1982 or 1983, 1988, 1989, and in a March 17, 1989.

Hal Lindsey believed that the world will end in 1988 because of the “Jupiter Effect”.

1988 was the expected time of the Rapture. The Trinity Broadcasting Network believes it will happen on September 11 and 12 while Hart Armstrong, chairman of Christian Communication said that it will occur on September 29 and 30 in the same year.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet predicted the end of the world by nuclear war in 1990.

Larry Wilson, a former Seventh-day Adventist pastor, predicted four massive global earthquakes beginning around 1994 and ending in 1998 with the Second Coming.

Arab- Christian prophet Om Saleem claimed that the antichrist was born November 23, 1933, that his unveiling would come in 1993 and the rapture in 1994.

California evangelist Harold Camping predicted that the world will end in 1994.

George Curle predicts God’s judgment on the antichrist will be in 1999, the Tribulation will follow on 2002 and Christ return and the Millennium in 2005.

Rev. J.S. Malan predicts the Great Tribulation on September 1995 and the Second Coming of Christ will be in 2002.
Dr. James Mckeever (editor of the End Times News Digest) declared that the end time will be somewhere betwen 1997 and the year 2030.
Lee Jang Rim of the South Korean Tani Church predicted the Rapture will happen on October 28, 1992 and the Millennium will begin in 2000
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Marilyn J. Agee published he so-called Bible-base predictions that the Rapture will occur on May 1998, the end of the age on September 12, 2007, the return of Jesus on April 6, 2008, Armageddon on May 30, 2008 and the Millennium will begin on May 31, 2008.
Samuel Doctorian announced that the Great Tribulation will occur on June 20, 1998.

Monte Kim Miller claimed that the Tribulation will occur in 1999.

Eileen Lakes predicts a pole-shift will happen in 1999.

Robert Blake says that Armageddon will start on September 20, 1999.

H.J. Hoekstra believed that the Rapture will happen on September 27, 1999.

Daniel Adam Millar predicted that on September 6, 2000, the antichrist will proclaim himself God and Armageddon will start on September 13, 1993.

Jack Van Impe says that Armageddon starts in 2001.
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What happens when a “prophetic prediction” fails?

They never ran out of excuses…

William Miller and his followers were so convinced that the second coming of Jesus will occur on March 21, 1843. When that didn’t happened, Miller announced to his disappointed followers that there was just a simple error in calculation the date, so he re-scheduled the Millennium on March 21, 1844.

Riding on Miller’s mistake, Ellen Gould White and her husband James founded the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and declared that the Day of Judgment was being delayed because people are still doing their worship on a Sunday instead of Saturday as declared in the Bible.

Charles Taze Russell and Jonas Wendel have a better excuse. They declared that the second coming will occur in 1874. When nothing happened, Russell claimed that Christ did returned but only in invisible form…Yep…and only those members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses can know it…yeah…whatever. By the way, the Jehovah’s Witnesses keep postponing the end times…1914, 1915 to 1916 and even today the followers of Russell’s church still continues to offer ‘evidence’ that the world is experiencing its final age.

From elaborate excuses to a simple “our prayers were answered”, these self-professed prophets will not stop. Why? Money…Power…you name it!

Hal Lindsey has sold tens of millions of copies of his ‘prophetic’ books including The Late Great Planet Earth. Harold Camping sold thousands of books outlining his predictions. It supplied the needed money to finance the Aum Shinri Kyo (Aum Supreme Truth). Chizuo Matsumoto (AKA Shoko Asahara) wrote books about the coming apocalypse by mixing Hindu and Christian ideas plus some apocalyptic prophecies of Nostradamus and the Buddhist’s concept of ‘mappo’. And it earns over 1.2 million pounds.

Speaking of Nostradamus. A lot of publishers, authors and commentators earned money for re-interpreting Michel de Notredams 1555 and 1558 “Centuries.” But unknown to the gullible public, Nostradamus rhyming quatrains are not prophesies but random poems re-interpreted to fit future history and pre-conceive ideas about the end-time.

It seems quite strange that these charlatans gain their fortune through death and destruction. Why the fascination with death and ‘the end’? Maybe instead of predicting a chaotic future we could start thinking right now for better solutions that will benefit every living thing in this planet. Eschatology offers nothing and what’s worst, end time predictions always fail. If you want change, ACT NOW.

Pinoy Atheist

 
DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.

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