Saturday, September 27, 2014

Noticed at the theater last night that Nicholas Cage is the star of a remake of the Left Behind movie..

Among things encountered via Google was an article about Left Behind fans questioning Cage's faith and wondering if the Rapture might show up before the film debuts

Is Obama the Antichrist? The winning lottery number in Illinois was 666, which, as everyone knows, is the sign of the Beast.
So read the headline of a recent article by Lisa Miller in Newsweek.
According to a 2006 study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, a third of white evangelicals believe the world will end in their lifetimes. These mostly conservative Christians believe a great battle is imminent. After years of tribulation natural disasters, other cataclysms (such as the collapse of financial markets) ,God's armies will vanquish armies led by the Antichrist himself.
Instead of fame, pretend theologian and San Antonio Christian Broadcast Celebrity John Hagee gained notoriety when he became an item with John McCain during the recent presidential campaign after Hagee and his political following of End-Times literalists endorsed the Republican candidate.
Hagee of course the famous pointer preacher with his picture of a hot mama riding a dragon based on what is written in the book of Revelation.
Nowadays the more popular speculation among these religious hysterics is the notion that the next American President who will be replacing the current Christian in the White House will be none other than ...
...a sweet-talking world leader who gathers governments and economies under his command to further his own evil agenda. In this world view, 'the spread of secular progressive ideas is a prelude to the enslavement of mankind,' explains Richard Landes, former director of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University.
No wonder, then, that Obama triggers such fear in the hearts of America's millennialist Christians.
The "Left Behind" series of fiction novels became the hottest obsession among those imaginative Christian literalists whose belief in an inerrant Bible is coupled with the private interpretation of scripture known as The Rapture.
The Rapture notion is based on another private interpretation or speculation known across the End Times market as "Prophecy."
Without the belief and acceptance of prophecy, wannabed be oracles like Pat Robertson would have to stop trying to step up to the prophecy pedestal and pretend that he is a new Jeremiah.
The Left Behind series is nothing more than The Rapture as prophecy-driven speculations of Christian writers Tim Lahaye and Larry Jenkins. Their own Da-Vinci-Code style of religious pretend vastly outsold Dan Brown's more plausible fiction and even outsold that other paragon of Biblical Jeremiah-ism, Hal Lindsey and his Late Great Planet Earth.
This from the TAPPED Archive at The American Prospect:
These people have been using the same kind of "evidence" to predict an imminent rapture for centuries, and always to great disappointment.
How exactly will gay people having the right to marry and women having the right to choose "threaten the freedom" of religious conservatives?
Prophecy in most current Christian dialogue applies mainly to two separate but related ideas.
The first idea is that which might be entitled Prophecy: the Key to the Christian Future. Prophecy in this context refers to biblical verses that refer to future times and not biblical times. These include remarks by Jesus, Old Testament prophets and New Testament writers (although historical research has determined that the authorship of writing attributed to early apostles is highly questionable.)
Principal interest in End Times prophecies focuses on but is not limited to Jesus' and Paul's discourses on the last days. In other words, prophecies concerning the coming apocalyptic kingdom of God - with assistance from the Book of Revelation whose authorship traditionally is ascribed to the Apostle John.
End times as a religious speculation is usually referred to as eschatology.
The second idea of prophecy is one practiced within the more charismatic or Pentecostal churches which place greater emphasis on the Holy Spirit as a medium of both communion with God and communication between congregation members. The latter of course seems to be primarily communication from the pulpit or television platform issued to the congregation. Also known among TV evangelists as "throwing the book at them."
Spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues are more widely accepted and expected within these congregations and are regarded as signs of God's spirit forcing holy wordage from humans.
Speaking in tongues - also known as glossolalia - was something the occurred quite frequently during the early years of the Mormon church. Brigham Young was one of the most frequent and powerful practitioners. However, once established and with expanding influence, the LDS institutionalized their religion. Today speaking in tongues is frowned upon and normally considered a tool of Satan in the Mormon Church. The LDS of course have their own specific End Times theology that anticipates Jesus returning in the clouds but making his landing either in Salt Lake City or the LDS New Jerusalem just outside Kansas City.
Key to the idea of End Times prophecy and its popularity today is the understanding that Jesus for most Christians has promised to return to Earth a second time.
Awareness of Jesus' promise was prevalent and acute immediately after the time of his crucifixion and resurrection. Many contemporary scholars have adduced that the tone and meaning of many New Testament letters and epistles were written with an immediacy of the Second Coming in mind - Jesus' return was expected to happen shortly after his departure .
For example, some of the more radical views of Paul concerning celibacy have been equated with a belief that the End Time was so near, pro-creating children and raising them would not be possible and was therefore a waste of time.
There are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. (Mt.16:27,28)
and [Jesus to the high priest]
...hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. (Mt.26:64)
However, contemporary End Timer's of the Schofield Bible and John Darby persuasion are having none of that. End Times along with Pre-Millenial and Post-Millenial theologies is serious stuff - so serious that the Hagee crowd has formalized its support of Israel. These folks intend to help Jesus return by getting the Holy Land back into the its boundary extensions portrayed in Biblical prophecy so that the rest of the Revelation horror can commence.
Over the centuries, originally driven by the ascension of a singularly dominant form of the earliest Christian power base (Roman Catholicism), more emphasis was placed on a future rather than immediate return of Jesus. This then an act of cunning which made the Second Coming a more valuable tool for crowd control through manipulation, fear, shame and guilt.
These supposed future promises have remained unfulfilled now for over 2000 years. Despite a history of an assortment of sects who have unsuccessfully predicted and prepared in vain for a specific moment of Jesus' return, Literalist Christians in general have never wavered nor given up on their hopes and expectations of that triumphant and vengeful return that will justify and validate End Timers.
The penultimate novel of the Left Behind series was aptly entitled by LaHaye and Jenkins Glorious Appearing.
There are many well-written Internet articles defining, in support of and critical of the Rapture concept. One excellent article entitled "The Rapture Theory: its Surprising Origin".
It is in this End Times context that folks apparently are running around wild-eyed about whether or not Obama is Satan's Imp. Again from the TAPPED archive
In fact, a quick google search of "Bill Clinton Anti-Christ" turns up an old article on Worldnetdaily arguing that -- you guessed it, Bill Clinton is the anti-Christ. Given a topic of such importance, should Newsweek spend a little more time considering a few other candidates for anti-Christdom? After all, Todd Strindberg, the owner of "Raptureready" and the source mentioned in the lede, put Clinton on a list of candidates that included Barney the Dinosaur, John F. Kennedy and Pope John Paul II. Strindberg wrote solemnly:
"A number of folks have e-mailed me saying, "Clinton is Satan's pet." I came across information posted in newsgroups and websites that add up William Jefferson Clinton numerologically to total 666."
Christian fundamentalist and Christian liberal thinking do not so much collide over the issue of the End Times as much as differ in how and why the scriptural references and subsequent speculations have come to be.
Liberal Christians who believe in a literal Second Coming would differ in the imagined portrayals of what that might look like. Where the Left Behind literalists expect Jesus to forcefully set things straight, justify and take the righteous immediately to heaven before setting the dogs of war and tribulation loose upon the left-behind unrighteous, liberal Christians see a time when a return appearance by The Lord involves more of a conciliatory New Beginning activity consistent with the concept of a God of Compassion.
Yet other Liberal Christians have little or no belief or expectation of Jesus coming at the nadir of human crisis to intervene and make things right. Rather, these liberal Christians believe that an improved future lies in a reformation or revitalization of human values and attitudes.
Fundamentalist-literalist Christians have an emotional investment in the Rapture and associated Tribulations. These involve the ultimate intervention of Jesus in world affairs with its implied justification and validation of believers' attitude, outlook and supportive actions.
It has been said that a fundamentalist is someone angry about something which might explain the aggressive hostility to those who do not see the Bible, Christian doctrine and Prophecy in the same light. Seeing themselves as living among people who are wicked and deserving of hell-fire feeds a personal psychology of religious heroism, suffering and endurance which God must surely reward.
They are a frightened people who do not seem to understand that the lack of faith they perceive in others is in fact their own lack of faith. The End Times as sold in Christian bookstores has as its basis a lack of faith in the power of God and the implied irrational assumption that the King of Heaven - Mighty as He is - cannot accomplish anything without the mortal intervention of human foot soldiers.
If God does not come down, take names and kick butt and then leave doubters behind, fundamentalist theology itself would be defined as mere current superstition based on a more ancient set of superstitions whose validity has become - to a frightened number of literalists - irrelevant.

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