April 24, 2013

How Did We Get Here?

With the latest crazy, false-flag, 'terrorist' drama still taking center stage of (so-called) news-casts, I got thinking about how on Earth we find ourselves at this critical moment in the planet's history. Because...
 unlike what the majority accept, events did NOT just tumble in random sequence over the ages to carry us, like glacial debris, to this precipitous time. 
Not at all; but let's think over even known history, and consider what really was made to happen.

The 'now' moment I refer to is this insane situation wherein all the once-positive human values have been turned on their heads, so that bad is exalted over good. A world where the self-proclaimed most advanced society has authorized torture, indefinite incarceration without trial or due process; missile strikes on targets where civilians are bound to be casualties; 'pre-emptive' (i.e. illegal) war as the new norm; small, poor nations attacked as 'potential threats,' and on it goes. It's also a world where the politicians prefer to fill prisons with poor persons convicted of using small amounts of cannabis, while rich criminals in Washington and Wall Street get paid to peddle their bunkum on the talk circuit. It's a world where democracy has become 'de-mockery,' and just a code word for legal sanction of corporate predation on the masses and on the environment.

In the 'stronghold of freedom,' each new act of staged terrorism is becoming easier to discern as an official psy-op. Yet the mainstream TV networks continue to spout the blatant, government propaganda to a public that still seems to believe it. Yes, many are waking from their dream-state, noticing that all is not as it's being described; but too many are still in fitful slumber. How did we get here?

To answer that conundrum, we have to stand well back from the 'trees' of current, isolated events, and gaze over the forest of Western history. As stated above-- we did not simply fall into this state due to inchoate processes. Intelligent (but demented) forces have been working relentlessly, over centuries, behind the public purview, towards goals that are not fully comprehendible to normal people. From their own leaked documents (e.g. Letter of Albert Pike to Mazzini; Protocols of Elders of Zion) it is known that their main goal is for a global government, run by a handful of elitists, over a much-reduced population of serfs.

Clearly-- to those with eyes to see-- this small cadre of would-be rulers is very close to their stated goal. Since the USA can bully almost any country in the world, and since the government of the USA is in their control, all that restrains them is propriety. All that's left is for them to strip off the masks of respectability, and just proclaim themselves for what they are-- the dictators of the US and hence, of the world. They are very close to doing that, but something is keeping them from revealing themselves too soon. Perhaps they don't quite trust that they've replaced all the decent people of the military, etc. with their traitors.

These elitists are said to descend from 13 family lines that have existed from mankind's early ages. It was in the 18th century that the 'Illuminati' appeared in central Europe, and began their subversive work (aka 'the Great Task of the Ages') by co-opting Freemasonry and other secretive brotherhoods. (The serious reader can search for incisive histories of the Illuminati, etc.; this essay is a survey).

The primary strategy of the Illuminati was to gain control of money, by establishing and leveraging banking institutions, and adopting 'fractional reserve banking,' and other sophisticated 'policies' (aka scams). As if guided by superior intelligences, the elite bankers soon accumulated immense wealth, and by extending credit as debt, immense power over national governments. They were instrumental (but discreet) in the great nationalist movements in Europe that resulted in the formation of France, Italy, Germany, and other modern states of the former Holy Roman Empire.

Once they had the rulers of Europe in their control (via economic strings) they were really able to play on the geo-political 'chess-board'. Thru Karl Marx, they invented and exploited the doctrine of Communism, overthrowing the Czar of Russia, and replacing him with their secular, atheist, authoritarian government. Moving their 'pieces', the Illuminati bankers maneuvered the nations into the 'Great War,' (later called WW-1) estimated to have killed some 20 million people, mostly civilians. The rest of the 20th century was a litany of wars.

Besides militarism, the elitists were meddling in every aspect of 'civilized life.' In the field of science, they found a highly effective instrument for undermining society. Promoting the theories of Darwin, they pushed the doctrine of 'Evolution' to the extent that it is now taken as 'gospel,' an appropriate metaphor, since this belief has become the credo of modernism, supposedly supplanting religion, which is regarded as a quaint superstition of a bygone era.

Within a few decades, millennia of religious tradition were tossed aside in the minds of very many in the Western world. What's disastrous is not the loss of the traditions, but the loss of the values embedded in them. While religions did a poor job, generally, of modelling those values, at least they existed as accepted norms of civilized behavior. Once religion was discredited on 'scientific' grounds, the only value left is the core of Darwin's evolutionary process-- 'survival of the fittest.' That maxim has been distorted and exploited to justify virtually anything the globalists deem necessary to achieve their ugly ends.

With the industrial revolution and its 'mass production' methods, came 'mass education,' where we now think it unquestionable that we should send our children to education camps (aka schools) to be instructed (indoctrinated) in the tenets and values of modern society. This institution of schools was brilliant. The elitists depend on homogenizing 'common culture,' so that individual thought is discouraged, and group-identity and group-think are paramount. School excels at this process.

In classic hypocrisy, while schools proclaim allegiance to 'developing critical, independent thinking skills,' they do the exact opposite. Using standardized curricula (developed by 'approved experts,' of course), uniform testing, pretentious rewards, peer pressure and competition, students soon learn that the way to success is thru conformity.

While education is so often touted as the cure-all for society's ills (better jobs, better health, lower crime, less poverty, etc. etc.) the irony is that education has become the means of perpetuating those ills. Those who succeed in education, become those who also succeed in the job market, by and large. Using the indoctrination absorbed in school, they see the world with the 'correct views' esteemed by the corporate world. What's good for corporations is good for everyone, they reason. And the really influential corporations are tools of the globalist-banking elite.

The tyranny of orthodoxy reigns in every field of endeavor. The economic policies that brought inflation and recession in previous decades are deployed again in the latest crises... and bring their inevitable results. The three leading causes of death by disease thirty years ago are still the leading causes of death today, because medical science is slave to a technological/ pharmaceutical paradigm of treatment. Science (so-called) pays mere lip-service to genuine objectivity. Any 'scientific' theory that goes against the grain of orthodox belief in its sub-field has very little chance of acceptance.

Every new technology is exploited by the elitists to further their hidden agenda. Television has proven to be a tool par excellence with which to bewitch the masses. Not only is TV highly effective in promulgating the views and values the controllers want us to absorb, it is also the greatest means of social engineering one could imagine. You like news? They'll feed you 24-hour a day broadcasts of carefully filtered, distorted news stories to shape your world-view. Prefer entertainment? Excellent!-- they've got 500 channels of utter mind-mush available to titillate all tastes. Either way, they've got you mesmerized. Brilliant... and diabolical.

It continues to amaze me that people will be enthralled by movies that portray conspiracies that often reflect actual situations; yet they they steadfastly refuse to 'entertain' the notion that similar conspiracies operate in the 'real world.' The whole idea of 'reality' has taken on bizarre connotations in recent years with the burgeoning of 'reality television' shows. The lines between professional actors and wanna-be actors are entirely blurred, just as the lines between documented news and fabricated news. I wonder how many avid fans of the Matrix series still don't know they're living in one.

Undoubtedly, the key instrument used by the Illuminati cabal to work their majick on the masses is the mass-communications media (known popularly as 'the media.') By this term I refer to the 'mainstream' television companies, associated radio stations, and big-city newspapers. With the ubiquity of the Internet, there remains only a few newspapers with significant influence. Radio never died away as some expected, but audiences seem quite segmented now, and many listeners have adopted satellite radio to plug, non-stop, into their preferred mode of noise.

That leaves TV, and even its mesmerizing magick is starting to wane, as increasing numbers of people turn to the Web for both news and entertainment. Evidently, tho, it's too late to break the spell that has already been cast by the glowing eye.

As I was writing this piece, the 'Boston Bombings' took place, and dominated the network news for days. With very little effort, I perused a website (of the 'alternative' variety) that offered-- among a great deal more-- the following news items:
  • NY Times: “FBI Staged Terror Attacks”
  • Pictures Prove Double Amputee was an Actor at Boston Bombings
  • Crash In Gold Prices Unleashed Unprecedented Demand For Physical Gold and Silver
  • The Takedown Of America
  • Video – Argentina “Huge” Meteor This Morning
  • Air Force Major General Assassinated?
  • Top 10 Survival Gear …When All Hell Breaks Loose
  • Israeli Press Says Patsy Brothers Were Double Agents!

Now, let me inquire: did you see ANY of these stories in the mainstream newscasts? Of course not! FYI, investigative journalism died an unreported death, years ago. It has been replaced with vacuous regurgitation of government press releases and 'wire stories' that come from faceless sources known only as 'AP,' or Reuters, etc.

All we 'know' about the world is fabricated for us by the news bureaus of the big networks, and repeated, often verbatim across stations, until the next big thing appears. Yet so many 'liberal thinkers' think that they are well-informed because they tune in and absorb this illusory world spun by the propaganda machine.

That's probably what nauseates me the most-- not that the world is rapidly going to hell; but that the majority not only don't see it coming, they often support the collapse in progress! If you doubt me, just recall the crazy sound of a crowd chanting 'USA, USA' after enduring martial law 'lock-down' in their neighborhood, and having their homes searched by 'imperial storm troopers' in full battle garb. One can only surmise that they will, likewise, be chanting 'USA,' and singing the national anthem as they are marched into cattle cars for the ride to the FEMA internment/extermination camps.

Ah yes, the joys of patriotism, last refuge of the scoundrel! Clearly, the controllers on Wall Street don't give a hoot about the flag or the people-- just show them the money. Clearly, the opportunists in DC don't give a darn about the republic and the greater good, as they pledge their allegiance to a foreign nation in exchange for re-election. But the sheeple? Just strike up the Star-bungled banner, and they place hand over heart like good little kindergartners, and prepare to assume the servile position.

Yes, thanks to the still sort-of-independent Internet, many people are slowly waking to the awful reality. Sadly, they are still a small minority, in relative terms. Apparently the majority are sitting on neutral ground, so traumatized and confused by the chaos of the times that they don't know what to believe. Everyone is pitching something, these days. Who do you believe?

Well, if you don't start becoming informed, in the broadest sense, then you will remain in confusion. If you've never questioned 'reality,' or existence, or whatever you call the 'big picture,' then you better begin now. If you've always assumed that 'they' (the government, the big corporations, the schools/universities, the 'experts') know what's best and have the public interest in prime concern... then you better start re-thinking that picture. And, if you've come to just accept that Darwin and his heirs must be right about evolution of species, and we're all just glorified animals, then let me counsel you, you've bought into Satan's supreme lie!

If we're just clever animals, and the universe just 'happened' to be as magnificent as it is, with no Designer, then you could conclude that the insane rush to destroy this planet is as logical as anything else. But, if your gut/heart/soul tells you that something in the 'official narrative' rings false, that there's got to be more to existence than 'three score and ten years' of strutting and fretting on this stage, then... open your heart to the Divine, however you can conceive of 'It' at the moment. Don't buy into the nihilistic trash-talk of the materialists who want to pillage the planet for the brief time they live, convinced it's the one chance they'll ever have. This too shall pass; and the best is yet to come!

(c) W. Kazimir, Apr. 2013

April 4, 2013

Nine Myths of Christianity Debunked

For a system that has been around for over two millennia, the religion known as Christianity has accumulated a number of beliefs that have no basis in the recognized source of Christian knowledge, the Bible. 
Yet these beliefs are now deeply ingrained in Christian lore, to the point that some will find it shocking that they should be challenged.

Before beginning this trip down the rabbit hole, it bears acknowledging that there is a multitude of 'churches' that pose as Christian, representing a bewildering range of dogma that goes from pure orthodoxy to purely weird. However, the great majority of them share a core of basic beliefs-- of which, sad to say, almost all are erroneous! Such is the shabby state of the organized, nominal Christian church today, that the Bible warns its readers to 'come out of her, my people!' (Rev 18:4).

The following look at the common myths of the Christian religion is necessarily brief. Bible references will be supplied, and the reader is urged to do the reading and research that will verify the refutation of the erroneous beliefs. The myths are presented in no special order. Bible scripture is used as the determinant of truth.

Myth #1: When we die, we (our souls) spend eternity in heaven if we are 'saved,' or in hell, if we are 'lost.'
What; you mean this isn't true? No; it's not! First, let's look at the fate of those who gain 'salvation.' Where does it say they will spend eternity in 'heaven' (wherever that is)? Instead, we read in Rev 21 that 'God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them' (vs 3). And where will He dwell with humans? 'I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven...' (vs 2) to rest on the 'new Earth' (vs 1). So, you can forget about the grim prospect of spending eternity floating on a cloud, strumming a harp... which seems to be the folkloric image of the afterlife.

Now, what about the damned; what happens to them? Don't they spend forever burning in hell, as the pastors love to threaten? This dogma is harder to dislodge; yet this is what Rev 20 tells us: '[14] The lake of fire is the second death. [15] Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.' We also read that '[10] And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where ... [he] will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.' It clearly states that the devil will be tormented forever, but it does not include the lost humans.

Remember Jesus' words in the famous John 3:16 passage: 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.' Now, read carefully. Jesus compares and contrasts two classes of people: 1) believers, who shall have eternal life, and 2) by inference, the non-believers, who shall 'perish.' Note that perish means to die, as opposed to having eternal life. This is a critical point! God is not the inhumane monster that unthinking Christians and non-believers have painted for centuries. The unrepentant, sinning humans will perish in the Lake of Fire; they will not 'burn forever.'

Myth #2: immediately after death, we are assigned to heaven or to hell.
This concept is repeated at virtually every funeral service you've ever attended, and of course, the 'loved one' is always 'in heaven, looking down' on the assembly as the preacher speaks. No matter how dissolute a life he/she had, the deceased is never presumed to go to the other place after death. But, is this what the Bible states?

John 11 relates the story of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, who died while Jesus tarried. Upon finally arriving at their house, Lazarus' sister, Martha, greets Jesus and laments that he wasn't there earlier. He tells her matter-of-factly that Lazarus will rise again. She replies, yes, I know Lazarus will rise again on the 'Last Day.' Jesus went on to resurrect Lazarus at that time, but he evidently agreed with Martha's perception.

He told her, 'whoever lives by believing in me will never die.' Yet, we all die-- physically; Jesus was talking about the spirit. If 'believers' will never 'die,' then, logically, non-believers will die-- not live in hell.

Jesus stated clearly, (John 6:40) 'For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.'

Paul reflected a similar belief in a final resurrection when he wrote in 1 Cor 15: '[22] For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. [23] But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.' (See also 1 Thess 4:13-17; and Rev 20:11-15, the 'great white throne judgement).

So, if the dead are raised to life on the 'last day' to face final judgement, what are they doing for the interval, possibly centuries, between death and judgement? The true response is, we don't know for certain! But there's no evidence to support two judgements, one at death, and another on the last day. Scripture states that the dead 'sleep in the grave' until resurrected. For all we know, their souls may exist in a suspended state, outside of time, until the judgement day.

Yes, I'm aware of 'near death experiences' reported by various individuals, and I don't claim that these are false. NDEs appear to be genuine psychological experiences; but we don't know enough about consciousness and life energy to really comprehend what is happening. We must await our turn before it will become clear.

Myth #3: Christians must obey the Ten Commandments to retain their salvation.
What!-- we don't have to obey the Commandments? That's exactly what I'm saying the Bible (New Testament) states. Let's examine it logically.

Q: When and to whom were the Commandments given? A: To the Israelites, via Moses, at Mt. Sinai during the exodus from Egypt. (They were never given to gentiles!)

Q: What did the Commandments signify? A: The Commandments were the core of the Old Covenant-- the covenant specifically made between God and Israel. This covenant is also referred to as the Old Testament, and is fully analyzed in the Book of Hebrews in the 'New Testament' scriptures. I don't want to spoon-feed the reader (and use many words) in re-hashing the detailed study provided by the writer of Hebrews. Go and study it yourself! Note, especially, chapters 7 thru 10, which explain why the New Covenant supersedes the Old.

Q: You mean we can do whatever we want, then? A: No, not at all! The point Jesus tried to convey in his day is that living as a child of God is NOT about keeping a bunch of rules. People can always find ways around rules-- the Pharisees were experts at it! Here's how Paul tried to explain it to the believers in Rome: 'The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.' (Romans 13:9-10 NIV)

It's really about love, dear readers. See also Matt 7:12; Galatians 3, especially vs 11; James 1:27, 2:8; and recall Jesus' dialog with the lawyer regarding 'the most important commandment,' in Mark 12:28-34, Matt 22:36-40, and Luke 10:26-28. The notion that Christians are 'under the Ten Commandments' is completely wrong, was argued against by the disciples, but was nonetheless accepted by most mainstream churches because they don't want to grant their members freedom to be led by the Holy Spirit without their 'guidance' (i.e. control). Since its origins, the Christian church has been preaching the New Testament with an Old Testament mind-set (see Matt 9:16-17). It's an aberration that has led to the failure of Christianity that we now see.

Myth #4: Abraham was a Jew.
Now this is one of those real 'forehead slappers!' The Jews love to foster the belief that because they descended from Abraham, he must have been a Jew. Preachers who subscribe to the 'Judeo-Christian' outlook, also promote this impression. However, a few moments of reflection will obliterate this fallacy.

Abraham had a son called Ishmael, regarded as the patriarch of the Arab people. Years later, he had another son, Isaac, who later had twin sons, Jacob and Esau. When Jacob was a man, he had a strange, night encounter with 'an angel' (God?) who told him his name would be Israel. Jacob had twelve sons who were the patriarchs of 12 tribes of their descendants ('the Children of Israel'). One of these sons was called Judah, and his off-spring became known as Jews. Thus, the Jews are descended from a great-grandson of Abraham, therefore, it's impossible for Abraham to be a Jew!

But, some might still argue that nonetheless, Abraham was a 'Jew' by religion. Again, this is false. The religion observed by the Jews is based on the Torah (i.e. 'the Law') and the Talmud. The Torah encompasses the 'Sinai Covenant,' the package of legal, ceremonial, and health laws inscribed in the books of Moses, that were given 430 years after Abraham. The Talmud was written by rabbis during the Jews' captivity in Babylon centuries later, and is said to represent inspired commentary. By contrast, Abraham was living under direct instructions from God, and was given a covenant based on his faith in God (Gen 15:6; Rom 1:17, 4:3; Gal 3:6, 11).

It's a vital distinction-- the Jews (in terms of religion) live under a legalistic system wherein their standing with God is considered to be based on keeping the rules. The faith of Abraham, in contrast, was purely based on faith in God.

Myth #5: Christianity is an 'off-shoot' of Judaism.
This is another of those 'facts' that is 'so obvious' that it's never questioned. After all, Jesus was a Jew, right? Well, yes; but that's purely incidental. The full explanation requires more space than we want to take here, so I am providing a link to an essay with the details: http://truthquestors.blogspot.ca/2013/01/one-man-one-faith.html.

What we can state in summary is actually implicit in the discussion of myth no. 4. The astute Christian reader would have had a light illuminate on noting the distinction between the simple faith of Abraham and the legalistic religion of Judaism. Abraham's covenant of faith was inaugurated in Genesis 15 (read it!) but it was not confirmed until (almost two millennia later) Jesus stated at the last supper, 'This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.' (See Matt 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, and Dan 9:27). Every Christian is supposed to know that his salvation rests entirely on the gift of God's grace, provided by Jesus, and appropriated by the believer's faith that it is so. See Rom 1:17, 3:26-28, ch. 4 (esp. 16), 5:1; Gal 2:16, ch. 3 (esp. 7-9); Eph 2:8; Phil 3:9.

Spiritually speaking then, the Christian faith is the logical extension of the faith of Abraham. Jesus, the Messiah (lit. 'anointed one') came as a descendant of David, of the 'House of Judah,' in fulfilment of prophecy, and to 'confirm' the Abrahamic covenant. It is that covenant that is referred to as the New Testament, one that is available to 'the many,' i.e. all people, anywhere.

Myth #6: At the 'end of the Age,' Christians will be magically whisked off the Earth and spared from going thru seven years of terrible 'tribulation.'
This is probably the only myth that did not exist until about the 20th century, and that is not accepted by a majority of denominations. Only certain 'evangelical,' generally conservative, American churches adhere to this doctrine.

The problem is that this doctrine is wrong on two counts-- 1) there is no seven year tribulation in scripture, and 2) there is no 'secret, pre-tribulation rapture. Both beliefs are based on flawed exegesis (Bible study) that originated in the Scofield Reference Bible, which was published in the late 19th century. This Bible contained copious footnotes, supplied by Cyrus Scofield, a dubious scholar at best, and a scoundrel at worst. His commentary was largely influenced by a Bible translator named John Darby, who formalized a belief system known as premillennial dispensationalism, revolving around the future fate of the Jews and Jerusalem.

Taking a misconception of Daniel's visions, especially vs 9:27, the Evangelicals see a future period of seven years of 'Jacob's trouble,' they refer to as 'the tribulation.' Pandering to ingrained, American 'exceptionalism,' the Evangelicals have conjured a convenient escape route for their adherents, called 'the rapture.' The word rapture doesn't even appear in scripture, tho Paul does refer to a bodily raising of the 'saints' (believers) at the final, dramatic (far from secret) appearing of Christ. (See 1 Cor 15, and 1 Thess 4, for details.)

Neither Jesus, nor Paul, nor any other Bible source refers to a 'pre-tribulation, secret rapture' of believers. In fact, Jesus warns his listeners that, at the end of the Age, people would be subjected to deception so powerful 'as to deceive the very elect.' Why would he issue such a stern warning if Christians were to be snatched from the Earth before the troubles begin? Was Jesus mistaken?

For a fuller exposition of the 'rapture delusion,' please study this essay:

Myth #7: Christians will be 'saved' (gain eternal life) because they belong to a Church.
One hopes that not all Christians believe this assumption, yet if you talk to members of any particular denomination, especially the smaller or more eccentric ones, this is basically what they claim. Each break-out group from 'generic Christianity' thinks that only they have 'the truth;' and furthermore, that their truth will merit eternal life ('heaven,' in most circles).

For centuries prior to Jesus, the Jews were convinced they are saved because of genetic inheritance, being Israelites, and off-spring of Abraham. But Jesus told them that the kingdom of God has nothing to do with ethnicity, and is open to all people (those who trust in God). See John 1:12-13, 3:16, 8:31-47; Acts 13:47; Rom 3:29; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:8, 3:28; 2 Tim 4:3-4; Titus 1:13-15; Heb 5:11-14; 1 Jn 1:6.

Today's Christians, likewise, have that pharisaic attitude that 'belonging' to a particular church, that boasts it alone possesses 'truth,' will be their magic ticket to eternal bliss. Those church-goers who will be saved by the mercy of God will be surprised to see who else will be sharing eternity with them! Jesus said the kingdom of God will not belong to the likes of the learned, arrogant pharisees, but to the down-trodden of society who turn to him (see Matthew 21:31; Mark 10:15; James 2:5). Apostle John wrote that 'love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.' (1 Jn 4:7; see also 1 Cor 8:3).

It doesn't matter if you are a church member, or which church you attend, or what doctrines it proclaims. None of that will grant you salvation... 'sorry!

Myth #8: At the end of this age, there will follow a thousand years of peace on Earth, after which Jesus returns to defeat Satan at last, and set up his kingdom.
Many, if not most denominations, both mainstream and otherwise, subscribe to the 'Millennium' theory. The problem is that it is referred to in only one place in all of scripture, and that one place is in the book full of symbols, Revelation (ch. 20). It's a simple rule of Bible study-- if something is important it is mentioned several times. To build a doctrine on a single occurrence, is risky, if not plain wrong.

If the Millennium were valid, Jesus would have to return twice-- once at the Rapture, and a second time at the conclusion of the thousand years. But the rest of scripture only refers to one, final return of Christ, at 'the end of the Age.'

You'd expect that Jesus and his disciples would have talked about the Millennium; but they don't even hint at it. The Book of Revelation uses a unique, non-linear structure, wherein the visions are presented in cycles. They cover the same period of history, referred to as '42 months,' '1260 days,' and 'time, times, and half a time.' These periods are all symbolic of three and a half years, the length of Jesus' ministry on Earth, but in prophetic context, refer to the 'Church Age,' the time from Jesus' resurrection until his return at the end of this Age.

Similarly, astute writers have postulated that the thousand years is also a symbolic reference to the same span of time. The scenes described by John in chapter 20 have to be understood as allegorical, not literal (as in fact, the entire Revelation, in like manner). There are some good books available that expound on a secure understanding of the Millennium, if the reader wants more detail.
(See, for ex., A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times, by Dr. Kim Riddlebarger.)

Myth #9: The Catholic Church is 'Mystery Babylon,' the harlot of Revelation 17.
This is one of those myths that the website snopes.com would label as partially true. In Bible prophecy, a woman usually symbolizes a church (or 'faith community,' as OT Samaria and Jerusalem were likened to sisters, Ezek 23). So a prostitute stands for a fallen church. Since a beast symbolizes a kingdom, the woman riding the beast represents religion directing government. Such a situation prevailed for many centuries when the 'Roman Church' basically oversaw the various kingdoms of old Europe.

However, protestants would do well to note verse 5, which states that Babylon is the 'mother of (all) prostitutes.' This means that all the denominations that spun off of Catholicism are, like their mother church, harlots! The fall (corruption) of Babylon was already warned of in Rev 14:8, but the warning is repeated in Rev 18:2, along with the admonition to 'come out of her, my people (vs 4).

Sadly, scripture itself warns us that the churches are fallen, have become corrupt and that true believers should leave them. Is it any wonder that Christianity is in such a perilous state at this time?

The religious system that sprang from Jesus' incarnation 20 centuries ago was, historically, the philosophical underpinning of European/Western society thru-out most of that period. Jesus' simple teachings were codified into doctrines by a hierarchical organization patterned on the governance model of the empire (Rome) that first opposed, then adopted the new faith as the state religion. Once ensconced in an official structure, the original faith was subject to influences such as political expediency; power struggles between doctrinal schools, and with competing pagan traditions; heresies; cultural biases, and so on.

Spiritually speaking, satanic forces undermined the pure teachings of Christ, and in their place, instituted a system, called 'church,' that was amenable to adopting as orthodoxy, doctrines that are not even supported by proper understanding of the scriptures. Given that the churches are separated into 'clergy' and 'lay-persons,' once the 'paid staff' are educated in the dogmas, it is easy to keep the sheep in line. Tradition trumps truth... at least for a while.

Final note: the good news for all people of faith is that we are not saved by having so-called truth; we are saved by the grace of God!

Hermeneutics for Bible Eschatology

[Hermeneutics - The science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures. The branch of theology that deals with the principles of Biblical exegesis.
Exegesis - Critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, especially of the Bible.]
Since I started studying the Bible with the intention of understanding the true meaning of its words, I had to encounter the concept of hermeneutics (defined above). It might seem plain to some 'laymen' that you just read the words and there's your meaning. However, as in the study of any written material, it's more complicated than that. Unless one knows the ancient languages used to record the Bible-- Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek-- you are reading a translation. Every translation is, necessarily, an interpretation. Moreover, the Bible is a collection of literature written over a vast span of years, by numerous authors, in various social circumstances and cultural milieus.

The point is that a student of scripture should keep these factors in mind when reading the Bible. Additionally, other specific principles can be applied to the text with the aim of attaining a correct understanding. Whether one recognizes it or not, we are always applying some kind of hermeneutics when reading scripture. If you simply take the words as written, then one can say that literalism, or a literal hermeneutic is being used. This is, in fact, the approach used by those known as 'fundamentalists,' who insist that 'every word was dictated by God!'

Yet, given the influences noted above, a correct understanding of scripture requires an approach beyond the literal. The question then is, what principles should be applied? As expected, there are different answers to this question, depending on things such as the student's religious, cultural, and educational background, and even-- I contend-- on his/her personality. For examples of what I'm saying, one has only to do a short bit of searching on the Internet on the subject of scriptural interpretation (broadly stated) and then prepare for a bewildering assortment of understanding on almost any topic.

The matter of hermeneutics is particularly important in the field of eschatology-- the study of the 'End-times.' In this case, the scriptures are prophecies-- statements of events that are to occur in the future. There are, in this new century, many earnest predictions based on the same familiar Bible scriptures, yet they all come to radically different understandings of events. How does this happen?

The answer is that differing interpretations of the same texts are caused by differing background assumptions-- different hermeneutics. How then, can one define accurate hermeneutics that will lead to correct interpretations? Ah, yes; that is the issue!

There is no magic formula, dear reader, for defining unerring hermeneutics. Each student must determine what rings true, allowing the Holy Spirit of God to guide and enlighten. Ultimately, it is God's Spirit that will give you understanding, and will give you the discernment essential to recognizing truth when you see it.
With that introduction, I will describe my own hermeneutics that I've used in the essays and Bible studies presented in my web-log.
1. Especially for eschatology, my first principle of understanding is one that, as far as I know, is uniquely mine (I've never seen it stated anywhere else). That principle is that the prophetic scriptures pertaining to the End of the Age are deliberately, purposefully obscure! I'm saying that there is confusion over the understanding of Revelation because it was intended to be ambiguous and confusing; at least up to the time when its meaning would become obvious to the serious reader... and (presumably) when it was needed to be known by believers.

Why would God want to hide the truth? Because, dear reader, humanity is so corrupt and self-serving, is why. If those persons in authority could have simply read the scriptures and then know what was coming-- perhaps even identifying specific individuals and places-- then you can be sure they would have tried to leverage that knowledge for personal gain of some kind. Perhaps they would try to disguise the truth, subvert it, and even alter the words of scripture.

Instead, since the texts have been so controversial and their interpretation quite convoluted, it was impossible for such tampering to occur. Certainly, some persons have attempted to twist the scriptures towards specific ends. This happened blatantly with the Scofield Reference Bible which uses 'study notes' designed to lead readers to particular conclusions. Another example is the New World Translation of the Jehovah Witnesses, that changes certain words to reflect their theological presumptions.
But overall, the meaning of eschatological prophecy has been shrouded in sufficient 'doubt factor' that the End-times have been able to arrive on our threshold with very few people becoming aware, including many 'scholars.'

2. Without a global overview of the Bible, it is virtually impossible to correctly interpret prophecy. So often, we see pundits collecting isolated verses of the Bible and assembling them into some fanciful scenario that they assure us will soon take place. (For good examples, just peruse the best-selling books of the well-known evangelical writers). That is not responsible exegesis. So often, I read critics' dismissal of the Bible because, they assert, it doesn't make sense; or, it contradicts itself. To profane eyes, these accusations appear reasonable. But the Bible is not ordinary writing; it doesn't yield its secrets to any arrogant, cursory perusal.

When you gain some insight into the grand scheme of Biblical exposition, you start to understand how the pieces fit together. Anomalies exist; but they merely serve as part of the camouflage I allude to in principle no. 1. Once you get the major themes, the odd inconsistency, if such really exist, can be recognized and handled accordingly. You can't find the truth by focusing on the obstacles, but by following the golden threads that progress from Genesis to Revelation, alpha to omega.

3. Context is vital. As one wise scholar put it: a text without a context is nothing but a pretext! Just as a global purview is essential, so it is necessary to examine any individual verse within its neighborhood. If a passage is talking about a named city, in a specified time span, you can't pull out one verse and claim that it refers to the future. It seems self-evident; yet this kind of thing is done by so-called experts all the time.

4. Some things are literal, and some are symbolic; don't mix and confuse the two. The problem, naturally, is how do we know which is which? This is where spiritual discernment is handy. Generally, the context will provide clues to help us determine when a passage is literal or else allegorical. See point 5, below.

5. Given a chance, scripture will usually explain itself. Instead, too often, pundits will see something tantalizing and will impose a meaning that appeals to their current interest or level of knowledge. Specific words conjure up certain 'objective correlatives' in our minds, ones that ring familiar in our cultural conditioning; yet they can be completely wrong when applied to a Bible text. We should always use cross-references and other textual links to discover what the Bible itself probably intends, before imposing supposed meanings.

6. Some prophecies may have more than one fulfillment. The first fulfillment is 'local and literal;' while a second occurrence would be figurative and universal. For example, Jeremiah's prophecies of doom on Israel were enacted during those OT centuries; but it's possible that a future event could occur that symbolically reprises the abstract features of those events, involving God's true people everywhere on Earth.

7. Sometimes, we just don't know! There will be some passages that will be ambiguous or opaque despite our best efforts to decode. In the case of prophecy, the picture will often become clearer as we get closer in time to the event. (e.g. The 'Mark of the Beast will likely become evident, once it's accomplished). Other references will likely remain vague until all truth is revealed by God (e.g. Who the Nephilim really are).

These are my primary principles of Bible interpretation, a.k.a. hermeneutics. These are the mental tools I use when exploring the scriptures. We are fortunate today to also have at our disposal computer technology which allows anyone to perform sophisticated exploration of the Bible. Using an on-line Bible, you can quickly compare many alternate translations of the same passage, giving a better idea of what the text was attempting to convey. You can search for every occurrence of a word or phrase to see how it's used, and where; and to find cross-references. You can study specific topics; compare Old and New Testament themes, and so on. It's a very handy tool... when used under the guidance of God's Spirit.

Holy scripture is the stuff of genius. To scoffers it is opaque, senseless. To the humble, sincere student, it offers the gift of life. You can't explain this to anyone; they have to experience it themselves.

April 1, 2013

Automotive Progress?

In 1965 after salting away some savings from my first summer job as a university student, I bought my first car. It was a 1958 Jaguar sports coupe, with huge looking 16” wheels. Under the hood, it had a 3.4 litre, 6 cylinder engine rated at 210 h.p. and driving thru a 4-speed, manual transmission. I recall that it would get about 24-25 miles per (imperial) gallon, on high-octane ('premium') gasoline.

In 2012, I purchased a 2009 Toyota Venza equipped with 'all-wheel-drive,' and a 3.5 litre, 6 cylinder engine. The motor is rated at 268 h.p. and drives thru a 6-speed automatic transmission. So far, this vehicle gets about 29-30 mpg, running on regular grade gasoline.

When I look at the data, and think that the two cars were built 50 years apart, I have to wonder about how much progress was really achieved in half a century. True, the Toyota is a better vehicle in virtually every way, and comes outfitted with all manner of comfort and safety accoutrements. Also, it has the added weight of AWD, and that automatic gearbox, both of which can incur efficiency penalties. Since the Jaguar required premium fuel, to make a fair comparison, one would have to handicap its economy figures by, let's say, about 9% (the typical price differential), which would reduce the performance to about 22 mpg.

Altho the modern vehicle is the clear winner, one has to notice that the margin of victory is surprisingly small given the passing of half a century of technological 'progress.' Oh, another thing I almost forgot: the Jaguar engine was a bit of an oil glutton, needing about a quart every 250 miles or so. With the Toyota, the engine never needs added oil between its two changes per year. So, it's a clear, but not overwhelming victory for the modern car. Definitely evolution rather than revolution!