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Within the modern age when one writes about eschatology one immediately assumes that one is describing the "end times," they seem synonymous. End times also seem synonymous with the "end of the world," which seems consequential with the approach of 2012. The last statement indicates the vast amount of misconception surrounding the end times, or eschatology.
Eschatology comes from the Greek Eschatos, "the last," and -ology, "the study of" and first appeared in English around 1500. Taken together, eschatology literally means "the study of the last." One would sequentially ask, "the last what?" This question the term "eschatology" does not answer. It has no purpose to answer because the purpose of answering the question is not germane in its definition; all eschatology defines or describes is "the last studied." When understanding this one consequentially understands that concepts such as "end times" and "end of the world" and others as will be shown were arbitrarily attached to the meaning of eschatology.
The next procedure is to investigate the reason or reasons for this arbitrary attachment. No doubt, throughout the centuries eschatology has taken on different theological and philosophical meanings. One must account for metaphysical meanings too.
When considering the previous mentioned meanings one would be justified in considering that the term eschatology had religious and philosophical connotations, but the term is secular as well. It can be descriptive to large spectrums of humankind called "ages," from the Greek "aeons." What may specifically mark the separation, ending and beginning, of ages is a change in realities, the disappearance of one reality (specific thing or action) and the appearance of a different reality will cause changes in consciousness and action. One example of this is a change in deity or pantheon. The notable instant of this was the emergence of Christianity as the state religion of Rome which replaced the former Roman pantheon. Roman citizens and subjects were then forced to worship Yahweh and Christ whereas the Christians had been forbidden to and the penalties for not doing so were similar in severity.
In the United States and the world there are many examples of secular eschatology such as trains to computers. Another term for eschatology might be transitional or transitional period, the end of old (reality) and start of new. Each new invention was accompanied by a transitional period when old behavior and thoughts gave way to new. The freight trains eliminated long cattle drives, and the long hauling of wheat by horse-drawn wagons to markets. These train trips consumed less time and provided markets with greater quantities of produce. But there were drawbacks too. Cowboys were afraid of losing their jobs, less would be needed. Many small cattle towns where cowboys used to stop on the long drives were afraid of swiveling up, especially the bars, saloons, and so on. What would the dancehall girls do?
These were the multiple problems created by change that plagued the cattle industry which can by multiplied many times when each industry was forced to change because of inventiveness. Disturbances spread though each industry and country with the emergence of new inventions (realities). Fear mongers always appeared who wished to maintain the status-quo. They just foresaw the end of their era and not the opportunities of the new one. For example, pony express riders became telegraphers, carriers became future truck drivers and so on. Out of turmoil came advancements, new and improved lifestyles.
But, one says, these were improvements in secular life, what about the non-secular or spiritual? The Reformation is a good example. One would imagine that many stanch Catholics thought the world would end when Martin Luther left the Church; it did not, a new Protestant worship began. The Protestant Reformation had begun with Luther's good intentions. In monastery he had earnestly devoted his life to God but experienced years of religious torment feeling the wrath of God and feeling that God was placing demands upon him that were impossible for a human to fulfill. This great personal tribulation vanished one night after reading the first chapter of the Epistle of Romans. Luther had a mystical experience, he suddenly saw that Paul was describing a merciful justice, and not a punitive one, which is conferred on men through Christ and which in no way can be separated from the Redeemer. He drank in the sweet-mystical feeling as God had found him. He was more oriented to the Pauline epistles than the whole Gospel.
It was with this vigorous attitude that Luther confronted the sale of indulgences during 1516-1517. Johan Tetzel was the papal commissioner in Germany during that time selling indulgences to raise money to rebuild St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Luther protested wondering why the Pope, a man of great wealth, would use money of poor believers to build the basilica of St. Peter rather than his own?
Above all Luther claimed the selling of indulgence was in error of the Christian faith. Only God, he said, had the right to grant forgiveness, and those claiming indulgences absolved buyers from all punishments and granted them salvations were in error. Christians were not to slacken their following of Christ because of false assurances. Some claim the Protestant Reformation begun on October 31, 1517 when Luther nailed his theses on the door of the All Saints Church at Wittenberg. Controversy surrounds this historical fact but it is generally accepted.
As seen the Protestant Reformation was not entirely eschatological, the domination of the Church of Rome ended, the end thing, as a new tradition of Protestant worship began. Luther was the initiator, but with Luther, as with others enforcing the Reformation, ideology and personality traits played an important role in motivating their actions. For him the fundamental truth was the omnipotence of God, its corollary was predestination. To Luther predestination was everything. God's omnipotence was natural, he was the remote and immediate cause of everything. Therefore God directs everything that exists and occurs in heaven, earth, and hell. There was no such thing as the absence of God-a theological impossibility. Thus God directs the Devil's actions, or evil. Luther, unlike Augustine and Aquinas who shared similar ideas, dismissed free will. God was complete within himself, being both wrath and love; and willing wickedness while hating the wicked. Luther held that God possessed a double will allowing him to will both good and evil which was revealed in Christ. In the end, according to Luther, God turned everything into the ultimate good.
As some think, Luther originally had no intention of revolting from his church, he was just protesting the injustices and erroneous teachings which he saw within it, but he miscalculated when attacking the Pope. That led to his ouster. Luther still retained the medieval view of the world though with God as Creator and ruler of everything, even the Devil. The Devil possessed the world after being thrust from heaven he eagerly wanted revenge and corrupted Adam and Eve. After the Devil caused this first evil, God placed humankind under him so to tempt them daily by worldly evils. Luther believed the Devil and his demons could appear anywhere in any form, even as Christ. The Devil assigned a devil to each individual person, according to Luther; therefore, all human sinners are servants of the Devil.
Harboring these thoughts it is no wonder the Devil seemed Luther's constant companion as he felt a constant struggle within his soul. Fear of the Devil (demonic fear) constantly dominated his life. Some questioned whether such fear dominated Luther's life more than God. Even this might be questioned: was there any difference since for Luther God dominated the Devil. Luther believed that the Devil only does what God permits him to do. For Luther this was an absolute necessity in order to have predestination.
Luther experienced this in his personal life. The human body was held to be the temple of God (Holy Spirit) but to Luther this conception seemed ridiculous at times. He was troubled with chronic constipation, thinking excretion was the most absurd bodily function; therefore the Devil aped and mocked us in shamed. It shocked many that Luther married after being excommunicated for he had previously vowed never to marry but he acknowledged that he was not insensitive to his flesh or sex, being neither wood or stone, also being averse to wedlock because he every day expected to die as a heretic. He married, Katharina von Bora, one of the twelve nuns which he helped to smuggled out in barrels from the Nimbschen Cistercian convent in 1523. Luther's marriage established a classic example for future clergymen, they could marry. This also coincided with his sentiments on priests and nuns breaking their vows as he felt vows could be broken for they were nothing but a vain attempt to win salvation (The Judgment of Martin Luther on Monastic Vows). When Satan attempted to mock him Luther responded by thinking that the Devil was trying to prevent him from doing God's work, if he stopped the Devil would leave him alone, a sentiment still prevailing in Christianity.
As we see Luther's actions were not completely based on ideology, his emotions and physiology influenced him too. Much can be said concerning the freedom which his actions rendered the people of this time, and he was grateful for this but his ideas and actions changed when a church leader. As a Catholic priest he opposed the heretic burnings, beheadings and drownings claiming them to be against the Gospel but his later leadership role showed him the difficulty in achieving religious obedience without these methods. He reverted back to suppression and coercion when confronted by defiance and opposition such as the Anabaptists. Like all strong-willed people Luther desired seeing the expansion of his ideas and church in spite of the doctrine of love and tolerance toward one's enemies which he preached. The Reformation too had its price.
This was followed by Henry VIII of England in 1534 who appointed himself the head of the Church of England to insure his annulment from Catherine of Avagon so to marry Anne Boleyn for which Pope Paul III excommunicated him. Henry retained a strong preference for traditional Catholic practices and during his reign Protestant reformers were unable to promote many changes. During this period of Henry's reign there were heresy trials for both Protestants and Roman Catholics.
It might be said that the English Protestant Reformation fully came into effect in 1547 when Edward IV, England's first professed Protestant ruler, ascended the throne upon the death of his father Henry VIII. The English people during this period were caught in the middle of a war between Catholic and Protestant ascendancy. This was for many, one might say, an eschatological time. As previously mentioned, "eschatology" appeared in English around 1500, this is an indication why.
No doubt the Church of Rome was displeased over the situation as their control over governments as well as populations was being seriously threatened. This was illustrated following Edward VI's short reign. After his death in 1553 his half-sister, Mary I, ascended the English throne. Mary had never relinquished Catholicism, getting her half-brother's permission to attend Mass in her private chapels. As Queen she reversed all of her father's and brother's edits and England was a Catholic nation again under the papacy. However what followed earned her the name of "Bloody Mary" as many subjects refused to relinquish Protestantism, and face exile or punishment.
Those severely punished by burning were known as Marian martyrs going through the Marian Persecutions, 284 Protestants were burned while 50 died in prison. This procedure involved the Catholic Church and the proceedings resembled those of the Inquisition. In 1555 a subject in Marian England could legally be convicted of heresy against the Catholic faith and found guilty or innocence in open-court-a process Catholic authorities employed to reclaim "straying sleep" and set a precedent for "authentic Catholic teaching."
Those found guilty were first excommunicated, and then handed over to secular authorities for execution. Derived from the trails were two sets of records: the official one taken during the trials containing the formal accusations, sentences, and so forth. The secondary documents at which historians more eagerly look were statements written by the accused containing accounts and distributed to Protestant sympathizers in hope of tallying support. It was these latter documents accompanied by the Foxe's Book of Martyrs which provided a personal view of the persecutions, which was bound to be subjective in nature.
It should be noted that the reign of Mary I was not a happy one. Her life like most desiring to restore the status-quo, or turn back the clock, was a troubled one. She married Philip II of Spain only after seeing his picture, swearing she was in love with him. In their marriage agreement it was stipulated that England would not help Spain in war, it did against France (the Italian Wars) when Scotland had a treaty with France. This caused trouble. Along with her religion battle, restoring Catholicism, Mary experienced two false pregnancies. Theories arouse for explanations including cysts and psychological problems. The latter was most probable as it would seem Mary was under extreme pressure to bear a male heir as she knew upon her death her half-sister Elizabeth I would ascend the throne and England would revert back to Protestantism.
Just years before the English Protestant Reformation around 1530 John Calvin originally trained as a humanist lawyer broke with the Roman Catholic Church. He fled France going to Basel, Switzerland after violent uprisings against Protestants. At Basel he published in 1536 the first edition of his seminal work Institutes of the Christian Religion which he revised and expanded throughout his life. This helped to increase his reputation as an influential French theologian and pastor.
Later Calvin was invited to Geneva to help reform the church there. In fact, he was invited twice. Hs first stay abruptly ended when he and William Farel, a fellow French reformer who had initially invited Calvin, fell out with some city councilmen. At the time Geneva was considering an alliance with France and the council ordered the minister to use unleavened bread in the Easter Eucharist which the two ministers refused to do in protest so they omitted Easter communion.
The cause of Calvin's second and successful stay in Geneva was the Catholic Church's invitation to rejoin the fold. The council searched for an ecclesiastical authority to respond. The initial man consulted refused, and then Calvin was implored. At first Calvin flatly refused the council's request, but he finally agreed to consider it. Residing in Strasburg it was agreed that Strasburg would lend Calvin to Geneva for six months but the latter city's council insisted upon an immediate appointment which was arranged and Calvin with his family returned triumphantly.
Many of Calvin's proposals were accepted. Finally it was agreed the government would administer punishments of excommunication. Calvin continued his writing adopting a service book used in Strasburg, increasing the Strasburg psalter, and a catechism based on Martin Luther's Large Catechism. Also, Calvin was a friend of the French refugees and the English refugees including the Marian exiles who started their own reformed church under John Knox and William Whittingham, eventually carrying Calvin's ideas back to England and Scotland. His theology of Calvinism gave rise to the Presbyterian and other Reformed Churches throughout the world.
Thus far in this study of the "End Times" the three principle participants, Martin Luther, Henry VIII, and John Calvin, have been mentioned. It has been illustrated how their ideas influenced the Protestant Reformation. As previously mentioned or speculated many, especially Catholic probably thought of this period as eschatological times, but certainly to their dismay it was not. It was a period containing an ending and a beginning: it was the end of world control by the Roman Catholic Church and the beginning of the Protestant Reformed Churches.
What provided the vehicle or basis for the Protestant Reformation was never the denial of God and Jesus Christ but rather the interpretation of their presence in the church sacraments; simply put reorganization of ideas. For example, Lutheranism reduced the sacraments from seven, in Catholicism, to two, baptism and the Eucharist. Lutherans teach the necessity of baptism, but not an absolute necessity for salvation, a contradiction of Catholicism. The Eucharist, referred to by various names such as the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Table, Communion, and so on, is where the communicants eat and drink the true Body and Blood of Christ Himself "in, with and under the forms" of consecrated bread and wine. This Eucharistic theology is known as the Sacramental Union, formally called consubstantiation but Lutheran theologians no longer use the term claiming it is confused with an earlier doctrine. However, this Sacramental Union (consubstantiation) is in direct opposition to the Roman Catholic substantiation theology: the bread and wine is mystically changed into the real Body and Blood of Christ while still retaining the appearances of bread and wine.
Although Henry VIII started the English Protestant Reformation as previously noted the Church of England, with the monarch as the supreme governor, assumed its traditional Protestant role during the reign of Elizabeth I, who succeeded her half-sister Mary I, in the "Elizabethan settlement," a moderately Reformed church in doctrine as expressed in the Thirty-nine articles and also emphasizing a continuity with the Catholic and Apostolic traditions of the Church Fathers. This meant that the sacraments of baptism and Communion retained their traditional significance as being sacraments of the Bible instituted by Jesus. Communion is still signified as the doctrine act of substantiation as stated in the Book of Common Prayer, the official book of liturgy established by English Law. The early retention of some Catholicism in Anglicism pleased both Catholic and Protestant reformers.
During the next century James I ordered the creation of the King James Bible, finished under Charles I, culminating in the English Civil War and the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. This consisted of confrontations between the Puritans (radical groups) seeking more far-reaching Protestant reforms and conservatives who wished to retain a more Catholic tradition.
Calvin in his final book of the Institutes of the Christian Religion defined a sacrament as an earthly sign associated with a promise from God. Under the new covenant he could only accept two sacraments as valid, baptism and the Lord's Super. He held the Augustinian view that man inherited sin from Adam. But for the Super he rejected the doctrine of substantiation, even rejected Luther's doctrine of Sacramental Union, and partial accepted a view that the bread and wine were symbolic. He believed that with the participation of the Holy Spirit faith was nourished and strengthened by the sacrament. Calvin described the Eucharistic rite as "a secret too sublime for my mind to understand or words to express. I experience it rather than understand it"
In this article on eschatology one might question the mentioning of the sacraments failing to see the connection. The connection is this when discussing the sacraments, particularly two, baptism and the Eucharist, especially the latter, all three leaders of the Protestant Reformation were describing the identical rite but in different terms. Luther rejected the doctrine of substantiation and called it the Sacramental Union, while Henry VIII kept the doctrine of substantiation, and Calvin felt the rite was such a secret that he felt it could only be described as an experience. All three could not be correct but they all had faithful followers. This in itself was eschatological, the men ended their roles as faithful Catholics and assumed roles of Protestant Reformers, founders of reformed churches, and their followers as well ended their roles as Catholics to become members of reformed churches.
However, as previously mentioned eschatology is usually taken to be a description of the "end times" or the "end of the world." The above material has shown eschatology had a broader meaning. This meaning usually includes an ending and a beginning, a transitory period; but to determine the meaning of eschatology to mean the "end times" or the "end of the world" sort of changes the nature of the meaning from a transitory one to a finalization. This meaning seems to signify an end but no beginning; and, therefore, there should be a reason for such a change of meaning.
In Christianity the apparent reason seems to primarily rest in the Book of Revelation, or Apocalypses, by John. However, the end of the world was Biblically mentioned by Jesus and others. For example, Jesus foretells the worldly situation before the end of the word in Matthew 24, even the great tribulation that the people of the world will experience. "There will be a great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world, no, nor will ever be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, those days will be shortened" (Matthew 24:21-28). The Christ says no one but the Father knows when this day will occur. But the people are to recognize the signs of its coming; it will be like the Tree, when its branch is tender and puts forth leaves, you know summer is near. So, likewise, there will be all these things to tell you that (the end) is near, even at the doors. I tell you, this generation shall not pass till these things happen (vv. 32-34).
Christ continues by describing the time as ordinary, like those of Noah before he and his family went into the ark. For in those days they were eating, marrying, and giving in marriage until that day. They knew nothing of the flood which took them away; so too, shall be the coming of the Son of man. So be aware, he will come in an hour when not expected (vv. 36-50).
As the Eucharist or Communion theology is a main feature or sacrament in the major Christian denominations, Catholic and Protestant, it is also important within the eschatological theology for it brings to the communicant's attention the return of Christ and the renewal of creation. This is implied in Christ's words to his apostles at the Last Supper: "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for I tell you I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God…do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:15-16, 19). Thus the receiving of Communion is the imitation of Christ's words and actions at the Last Supper by remembering his death as well as anticipating his return. As Paul states, "As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1Corintheans 11:26).
Christ also told his apostles that in a little while they would not see him, but in a little while they would see him once more. His apostles and others took this to mean they would not see him after his death and assumption into heaven for a little while, or short time, but after a little while they would see him again. Many suggest they thought within their lifetime. Some were so certain that they even hesitated to plant trees saying they would not have time enough to grow.
Many have speculated how the apostles and others must have felt when their companions and friends who also had heard Christ's words began dying. There had to be wonderment among them. They expected to see him return before their death, but here they were dying and he had not returned, had they misunderstood him they must have asked themselves. They were certain that he had not lied to them.
Like the apostles Christians today are sure that Christ did not lie to them. He could not lie to them because he is the son of the all good and true God. A God for which lying is contradictory to his nature. Their God cannot lie; therefore, the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world are certainties. These things will occur, they are believed as fact, although no one knows when but everyone must believe to be saved, receive salvation, and there will be signs.
To the objective observer, and many who have lived the Christian faith, these concepts appear interesting and baffling. This is because belief and fact, or certainty, do not go together. A fact usually means a known, something is known; when a thing is known belief is not necessary. The thing, thing or event, is or has happened. One may say this leaves the future in doubt, no, it does not. If the thing or event has occurred several or many times in the past then with certain probability one might expect it to occur again in the future. The frequency of the thing's past occurrence establishes the fact of its occurrence, its existence, and its probability of occurring again. The more it occurred in the past the greater the chance that it will occur in the future. For example, there is little doubt the sun will rise tomorrow morning as it has for eons; the probability of tomorrow's sunrise is practically one-hundred percent. The same goes for the seasons of the year, unless for some unexpected catastrophe they will occur next year as they have occurred yearly for centuries, meaning the expectation or the probability of this occurrence happening is so high that it is practically a known fact that it will.
However, the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world are not believed certainties or facts because neither have a record of occurring previously. True, it is believed by many that Jesus did come before; they refer to the Biblical record of his birth, life, death, and resurrection. But, there is practically no other physical evidence of these events. And, these events just occurred once; there is no past occurrence to establish the existence of these events. The only past evidence that exists is the prophecies of the Old Testaments, words of prophets, still Biblical record, nothing else. Likewise the prophecy of his second coming is Biblical record, spoken by Christ, his apostles, and followers. Some who have studied the Bible purely as an historical book wondered why there is not other historical evidence to collaborate these events, even the future prophecies.
There is one exception the debatable writings of Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews and Testimonium Flavianum. The latter work mentions Jesus but both contain Christian elements as they were copied by monks. By many the Testimonium is thought to be the most authentic for it contains a complete passage mentioning Jesus although others dispute this authenticity. And, as some believe from scholarly study there is a link or connection between Josephus' writings and the writings of Luke, particularly Luke's Emmaus, both possibly originated from the same document. This is a conclusion of G. J. Goldberg, Ph.D. He lists his reasons for believing that this Josephus-Luke connection possibly exists after completing a comparative word-study of Luke 24:13-27 and Antiquities 18.63 (for details of this study see The Josephus-Luke Connection).
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about sixty stadia from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, and looked sad.
Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" He asked them, "What things?"
They replied, "The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to the judgment of death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place.
"Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him."
When he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
Still, the two do not recognize him, and the story continues as they invite Jesus to dine with them in Emmaus. When he breaks the bread their eyes are opened and they recognize him as Jesus. But their eyes fail them once again: Jesus vanishes "from their sight." Returning at once to Jerusalem, they discover the eleven apostles already in excitement over a report that Jesus had appeared to one of them (Simon).
For Luke, then, Cleopas and his companion, then, were the very first people to see the resurrected Jesus. This disagrees with the other gospels. The name Cleopas appears no where else in the New Testament, and the only parallel to the Emmaus story is a brief note in Mark 16:12-13 -- that is generally suspected of being based on Luke (falling in the so-called "longer ending" of Mark). Those verses simply state: "After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking in the country. And they went back
And then he compares Luke to Josephus' Antiquities:
About this time there was Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. And when, upon an accusation by the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these things and countless other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared. (Antiquities 18.63)
From this comparison Dr. Goldberg drew the following alternatives:
1. The similarities are too numerous and unusual to be the result of accident. This will be demonstrated on another page by a statistical comparison of all other known descriptions of Jesus of similar length.
2. The similarities are not what would be written by a 2nd or 3rd century Christian deliberately mimicking Josephus' style. This is a consequence of the study on the statistics page.
3. The similarities are what would be expected if Josephus had employed a document very similar to Luke's Emmaus narrative as his source for information on Jesus, which he then moderately rewrote. This will be demonstrated on the style page by studying how other passages in his works were rewritten by Josephus from sources known to us.
The conclusion that can therefore be drawn is that Josephus and Luke derived their passages from a common Christian (or Jewish-Christian) source.
This analysis helps to establish the authenticity of the Testimonium and also concludes the possibility that both Luke and Josephus used a common source for their information, a source which Goldberg believes was a speech made by one of Jesus' proselytes of Jerusalem.
Undoubtedly this is possibly true, but all that this comparative analysis actually does is establishes the possibility that both Luke and Josephus resorted to a common source for their material. There is the possibility that they both resorted to the same source, but there is no solid evidence to prove this; the only conclusion is both men used a common source, a source available to anyone. Both men relied on second-hand knowledge for their material. And, there is no way to prove the authenticity of such knowledge.
The authenticity of Josephus' quote in his Testimonium is doubtful because as previously mentioned the work was copied by Christian monks. Therefore, the real question is the authenticity of the common source. This question is less relevant concerning Luke because although it is known he never personally met Christ he was a follower of him. But with Josephus the matter is different, a Jewish historian, not a Christian, he should attempt to write the impartial facts. Did he try to verify the common source? If, as Dr. Goldberg suggests, it was a speech of one of Jesus' proselytes of Jerusalem this verification is even more important. The verification would determine the accuracy of the common source, an unknown. What is known, though, is the world still has no unbiased first-hand knowledge of Jesus.
One may ask why this has been discussed in this article concerning eschatology. The answer is to show the relevancy of material and the relevancy of its interpretation. If the material is incorrect then its interpretation will be incorrect and less important. This is illustrated by the above. If the common source document was accurate the Josephus' quote renders an unbiased testimony of the resurrected Christ; however, not knowing this, the reader is left with the original alternatives - the source was inaccurate or the monks varied Josephus' quote.
This author asks as others have asked wondering if the trail and crucifixion of Christ were so important, as Christians claim, then where are the records of these events, Roman records at least? Josephus was a well-known or credited historian, instead of relying on a common source of the Emmaus story one would be bound to think he would have searched for official records of such events as described within the story. If indeed Josephus conducted such a search one assumes he did not find any records, possibly because there were none. If this be true, then a large discrepancy falls on the Christians concerning the actuality of the events described. Official records of these events would have dismissed this by rendering first-hand knowledge of such.
As will be shown such determination of material accuracy is vital in the following discussion of eschatology which is the apocalyptic book of John, the Book of Revelation. For Christianity John is the main prophet of the Revelation. More accurately according to Christian belief this is not the Revelation of John, but it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:1). Meaning, Christ unveiled his plans for the earth and his saints, both here and eternity. This essentially is the meaning of the name of the book, derived from Latin, revelation, "an unveiling,) and Greek, apokalypsis, "the removing of a veil." The book or prophecy supposedly discloses the future of the Jews and Gentiles, and the Church of Jesus Christ dealing primarily with events preceding the second coming of Christ, the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom, and the eternal state. For many the Book has been throughout the centuries of Christendom confusing because of its symbolism and meaning. Others believe it is the culmination of Biblical prophecy, in order to understand it, one must be acquainted with other Biblical prophecy, especial the Book of Daniel.
An important question concerning the Book of Revelation concerns the identity of its author John. Like others of that time he has no last name, and no indication of a town where he might have originated from. The Unger Bible Dictionary does say, "The author is John the beloved (Rev. 1:1)…apostle came to Ephesus around A. D. 70" (Unger Bible Dictionary, p. 924). Apparently he was a circuit minister between the seven churches of Ephesus, Pergamos, Symrna, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicca. Since the gospel was only signed John one can assume he was well-known and a friend, as signified by the term "beloved" within these churches. John it would seem was a minister serving these churches situated in a semi-circle within Asia Minor, Ephesus being the closest to Patmos, where John was imprisoned, received the gospel first, and then it was dispatched to the other churches, between twenty-five to fifty miles apart. Later it would go to other churches also. It was on Patmos, on a Lord's day when he fell into a trance, that John was commanded by a trumpet-like voice to write in a book what he saw and send it to the seven churches (Rev. 1:11).
As for John's identity, as stated above, little is known except he was an apostle known as a friend in the seven churches. -This indicates his preaching was respected and trusted. In the West from mid-second century onwards the gospel's author was widely accepted as the apostle John, son of Zebedee. This attribution began with Justin Martyr of Rome (150 CE), Irenaeus of Gaul (180), and Tertullian of North Africa (200).
However, in the East the identity of John was more vigorously debated. At the time the requirement for entrance of a book into the canon Bible was that the author be an apostle. The Alogi, heretics in Asia Minor, around 170 CE, doubted the apostleship of John. Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, after 247, doubted the book because of the grammatical style between the Fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse but admitted the book was holy and inspired. The book was frequently contested until the influence of Augustine toward the end of the fourth century made Revelation accepted in the New Testament, although its authorship remained uncertain.
This book is different than other books of the New Testament which possibly caused some of the debate concerning its entrance. John named his book "Apocalypse" meaning the unveiling or disclosure. It falls within the category, or genre, of apocalyptic literature which included many Jewish and Christian works during the two centuries prior to and after Christ. One assumes his life and death was a catalyst for these works. The Old Testament apocalyptic literature begins with the Book of Daniel, other apocalyptic literature can be found in Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah especially references to the coming "day of the Lord." Also, books outside of the Old Testament are the Book of Enoch, Apocalypse of Baruch, Fourth Book of Ezra, Ascension of Isaiah, Apocalypse of Zephaniah, and parts of the Sibylline Oracles.
Generally such works divide the universe into two camps, good and evil, which engage in a long battle. Rules of these camps are God and Satan. In everyday life it is sometimes hard to distinguish the actions of the two, in other words, tell the good guys, white hats, from the bad, black hats. However, it is believed, at the end, the end time, every individual will be in one camp or the other causing the final separation and judgment. All these events are predicted. Everything centers upon the second coming of Christ, the doing away with evil, the establishment of a new order when the End will be like the Beginning, Paradise restored.
As previously stated it (Revelation) is believed to be the culmination of Biblical prophecy so to understand it one should be familiar with other Biblical prophecy. This is especially true concerning some symbolic language which John employs in the book. Some symbolic meanings are fairly clear, for example, the number "seven." It can refer to the seven days in the week, and commonly means completion or perfection. Other symbolism used in Revelation coincides with symbolism used in Hebrew Scriptures, particularly in the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. The study of Revelation makes clear that John had a thorough knowledge of the Old Testament. Of the 404 verses comprising the 22 chapters of Revelation, 278 verses contain one or more allusions to an Old Testament passage. So one might ask, is Revelation prophecy, or prophecy rewritten?
Much of John's symbolism in Revelation deals with
creatures, possibly mythical creatures, and people. The Beast,, actually two beasts, is the first mythical creature
described in Rev 13. The Beast is a very important, if not the vital,
player in Christian eschatology. The Beast becomes the Antichrist. The
history of the Beast is long extending from imperial Rome because many
have been nominated to have been the Beast. The first candidate thought
to be the Beast was the Emperor Nero. The reason was twofold: ancient
Rome was called the city of the seven hills (the Beast had seven heads
[Rev. 13:1]); and, Nero was killed with a sword (if anyone is destined
for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword,
with the sword he must be killed [Rev. 13:10]). Also, from the above
passage many believed the Beast would be a man (human) who could kill
and be killed by a sword, later weapon. Even though Nero's suicide was
prior to John's apocalyptic text scholars agree Nero was a likely
candidate because according to a passage in the Annals by
Tacitus he was responsible for very vicious attacks against Christians.
Many did not believe he died but was hiding in the east to start a new
series of persecutions.
Initially the selection of a candidate was accomplished by using a gematria, system where each alphabetical letter has a numerical value. The letters of both the Hebrew and Greek languages have such values which have been used. The number or value, the "mark," of the Beast was affirmed to be 666 by Irenaeus, Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul (part of the Roman Empire [now Lyons, France]), during the third century but noted some scribal errors so the number could possibly be 616.
Most scholars believe 666 referred to the Emperor Nero. Nero written in Aramaic can be valued at 666 when using the Hebrew numerology of the gematria. Most likely this was a method of speaking against the emperor without the Roman authorities being aware of it. This also induced others to say that Revelation possibly should be studied by reading between the lines for hidden meaning, indirect reference to Roman power.
Many scholars suspect that Irenaeus knew of the number 616 but still affirmed 666. Jerome did adopt 616. The number 616 is readily supported in many Biblical translations and many concede it is possibly the older number. Possibly 616 was the more secret number which was wished to be kept hidden. Or, the Christians adopted 666 either by analogy with 888, the Greek number of Jesus, or because it is a triangular number, the sum of the first 36 numbers (1+2+3+4+5+6…+36 = 666). Another suggestion that 616 was the original value is that it stood for "Caesar God" with Caesar denoting the Roman emperor in general. Therefore both values 616 and 666 have been used in selecting candidates who might have been the Beast.
At first among the early Christians Roman emperors were easy targeted as the Beast. The chief reason was that the Roman Emperor was to be worshipped as a god; those refusing were put to death. (This command was in the Roman imperial priesthood or Cult that demanded the worship of Caesar.) Later those worshipping the emperor received a certificate (or mark) of sacrifice to Caesar with which they could pursue trade, those without a certificate could not. This edict was imposed during the reign of Decius (249-251 CE) and thought referenced by Rev. 13:17, "And that no man might buy or sell, save that he had the mark, or the name of the beast, of the number of his name." Such a prohibition might conceivably go back to Nero. Another Roman Emperor nominated was Gaius Caligula Caesar who attempted to have his statue erected in the Temple of Jerusalem. Another Roman Emperor was Caesar Domitianus Augustus who reign about the time of the writing of the Apocalypse and was referred to as "The Beast," a "secret decisive nickname" by Romans, Greeks, Christians, and Jews.
Some researchers apparently found the Greek word Maometis corresponded to the number of the Beast. Christians in the Middle Ages believed Muhammad was the Antichrist and that 666 fitted his name (Maometis).
Not only persons but things were identified with the Beast to which Martin Luther identified the tonsured haircut worn by the Roman Catholic clergy. He wrote in a footnote to Rev. 1316-18: "Spirit means / that it is active / and not a dead image / but it has its rights and offices in its womb. There are six hundred and sixty and six years. So long the earthly papacy remains." And, during the Reformation Luther noted that Benediktos added up to 666 referring either to a Pope named Benedict or the order of Benedictine monks. In his translation of the Book of Revelation Luther wrote many comments and theories against the papacy.
As has been shown the attempts to name the Beast continues to the present with many speculations and theories. The beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses seem to put the main speculation into some perspective. The ten-horned, seven-headed beast, in their beliefs, symbolizes world power. The seven heads of the modern "beast" would have lineage of the seven world powers that dominated humankind (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greek, Rome, Anglo-American) with the beast itself being an eighth king. The ten horns (10 itself being a Biblical number symbolizing earthly completeness) represent the governments united in purpose of forming this world power. They believe Christ started ruling as king from 1914 and will rule until the destruction by Christ of the present system of things on earth. The dual government world power (the two-horned wild beast also featured in Revelation) is the same false prophet mentioned in Revelation 16 which gives life to the beast: the United States and Britain are the Dual world power with the Beast being the United Nations (Rev. 13:15-17).
Apparently their reason for this world power belief is their belief that is that Daniel's prophecy is a precursor and a direct cross over to John's Revelation and the symbolism is very similar. The belief is that Daniel's prophecy of the king of the north and south begins just after the death of Alexander the Great (the Greek world power represented as a winged four-headed leopard in the prophecy) and refers to Ptolemy's kingdom in the south and Seleucus' kingdom in the north. Multiple activities and major events of these world powers are generally described. The southern king represents the subsequent world powers that evolve from the Ptolemy kingdom (Rome, Roman Catholic Church, United States, and Britain) and the northern king representing the opponents.
The Jehovah's Witnesses believe this has already begun with the start of the rebuilding of the New Jerusalem about 1914. Jehovah will put in the hearts of governments, figuratively speaking, the Teeth of the Beast to turn on Babylon the Great, which represents the world empire of false religion (because she rides the wild beast and misleads the governments and people [Revelation 18]). Many then will miss her. The beast then turns its attention to God's spiritual holy land (Daniel 11:44-45), placing a temporary tent (palatial tents) between the Mediterranean and Mount Zion, representing his modern people and not physical Israel. When this occurs there will be signs as described in Matt. 24:29-31 when mankind as a whole realizes that they will die and "beat themselves." God's servants will then kill them and this will start Armageddon.
They believe all the prophecies forecasted toward the end of the world along with the signs of earthquakes, pestilence, war, famine, and others (Matt. 24:7-14, Rev. 6) that have plagued mankind since Jesus started ruling in Jehovah's subsidiary Government since 1914 will be fulfilled before this.
The Seventh-day Adventists have their own view as to who the Beast was or is, like Martin Luther, the papacy. They claim the "image of the beast" is represented by an alliance between Protestant Churches and the Papacy; and the "mark of the beast" refers to a future universal Sunday law. Such an assumption comes from the interpretation of some Adventists of the Beast's mark 666 as corresponding to the title of Vicarius Filii Dei, Vicar or Representative of the son of God, of the Pope. Catholic apologists explain that Vicarius Filii Dei was never an official of the Pope but appeared to be a forged Donatio Copnstantii, Donation of Constantine - a forged Roman imperial decree whereby Emperor Constantine I supposedly transferred the authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire over to the Pope. The real title of the Pope is Vicarius Christi.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is one of the largest religious affiliations separating from the Millerite movement of the 1840s in upper state New York, a group preaching the Second Great Awakening. Miller predicted, based on Daniel 8:14-16 and the "day-year principle" that Jesus Christ would return to earth on October 22, 1844. When this failed to occur, people either returned to the original churches or formed new ones.
Such was the case of the Seventh-day Adventists who were among the Millerites who did not believe that Miller's calculations were wrong but he had misinterpreted Daniel 8:14 as it says the "earth that was to be cleansed' or Christ would come to cleanse the world. The Adventists advanced their conviction that Daniel 8:14 foretold of Christ's entrance into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary rather than his second coming. This evolved into the doctrine of the investigative judgment; an eschatological process commencing in 1844 in which Christians will be judged to verify their eligibility for salvation and God's justice will be confirmed before the universe. The Adventists still believe Christ's second coming is imminent but refrained from setting a future date for its occurrence.
In the preceding article many examples of "end times" have been given in order to show a connection to the word eschatology. Most of the illustrations demonstrated that the term eschatological was usually transitory signifying an end period followed by a beginning, or new, period. This also signified the degeneration of old ideas, behaviors, and institutions and the generation of new ones. The first major eschatological change mentioned was the passing of the Roman gods and the taking up of the Christian God. Examples of eschatological changes within the United States and other countries were trains eliminating the long cattle drives and the horse drawn wagons of wheat to markets. This gave more people greater quantities of goods but it created fear in those towns where cowboys would no longer visit. Fear mongers wanted the maintenance of the status-quo, what would the dancehall girls do? Their life-styles changed as many others did, pony express riders eventually became telegraphers, and carriers became truck drivers and so on.
Eschatological change more prominently affected the ecclesiastical world, namely the Protestant Reformation starting with Martin Luther's separation from the Roman Catholic Church. As previously noted the word eschatological was first introduced into the English language around 1500, several years prior to Luther's separation. This seems like more than a coincidence, signifying that the Catholic world must have appeared to be coming to an end. Luther was followed by Edward VIII of England, John Calvin in France, and others who divided the world between Catholicism and Protestantism with their Reformed Churches. Instead of the world totally collapsing it entered into a new area of Catholic and Protestant worship. The Roman Catholic Church domination over the world was sharply decreased granting more governmental and individual freedom.
With each change in both the ecclesiastical and secular society there was a transitorily period, the end of an old and a beginning of a new. This transitorial period many especially Christians failed to comprehend concerning the term eschatological, for them it became synonymous with the "end times" or the "end of the world." Perhaps one reason for this was that Christ had spoken of such times in Matthew 24 when he described the great tribulation. He said only the Father knows when this (the final) day will occur but the people are to recognize signs of its coming, like a Tree with tender branches and leaves which signifies that summer is near. Previous to this Christ prophesied that nation would rise up against nation; and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diver places (Matthew 24:7). Christ also prophesied that this generation shall not pass until all these things were fulfilled (v. 24:35).
This Biblical description sounds familiar like it is describing current times, was it meant to? For many objective readers this is a crucial question concerning Bible prophesy. The importance lies in the fact that each past generation has believed it, that these events would occur within that generation, some events have while others have not; and for certain not the end of the world.
Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes have occurred since history has been recorded. For instance, Christ prophesied earthquakes as beings signs of the end of this world. As the son of God, creator of the earth, did he know that an earthquake usually occurs someplace in the earth daily as this is the way the earth adjusts itself? Many would answer yes, believing Christ to be the son of God, but is this certain? This author distinctly remembers a minister saying Christ got the idea of hell from the Essenes. Others say the concept of hell came from the vision of the fires of the Jerusalem refuge dump in which burned continually. Christ frequently referred to gehenna saying it was a permanent place of suffering to which souls were sent for their sins. Gehenna is synonymous with the "second death" and "lake of fire" in Revelation 20.
One may wonder concerning this examination of Christ's prophesies of earthquakes and his description of Gehenna or hell. The question is one of Christ's certainty: being the son of the Creator of the world he should have known earthquakes were usually a daily occurrence just as he should have known there was a hell if his Father created one. His knowledge of the latter should not have to been derived from the Essenes or the vision of continual burning fires of the Jerusalem refuge dump.
If such be the case, the question arises was Christ's knowledge of God as authentic as he often claimed. In my Father's house there are many mansions (John 14:2). If there is doubt concerning his prophesy of earthquakes as sign of the "end times" and his vision of hell was derived from either earthly men or visions the how correct are his other statements?
It has previously been mentioned but worth repeating; Christ said these events would be fulfilled before that generation past (v. 24:35). The fact is these events have not completely occurred in 2000 years. Either he was misunderstood, or generation was misused, or purposely misused. Remember he is recorded as saying "So be aware, he will come in an hour when not expected." Concerning this warning one is apt to believe that the term "generation" was purposely misused in order to keep the believer constantly in the states of alertness and good behavior. Remember the basis of Christianity is personal sin and its forgiveness. One is reminded of that verse of the Christmas song, "Santa Claus knows who has been naughty and nice…" Reward and punishment almost always serve to promote behavior modification.
One would think that after two millenniums people would begin disbelieving that these things will be fulfilled within this generation, but such is not the case. As previously stated with the instance of the Seventh-day Adventists that were among the Millerites who did not believe their leader's calculations were wrong, but he had misinterpreted the passage from Daniel, the earth would be cleansed, not destroyed. The Adventists still predict Christ's second coming but set no specific date for its occurrence.
For two millenniums episodes such as the described one above have occurred and it is not surprising based upon prophesies of Christ whom Christians believe to be the Son of God. Their belief out weighs most evidence to the contrary. Although generations pass the world will end in this generation as he said. To contradict such belief seems futile. However, when combined with the prophesies of John this belief begins seeming ludicrous, if not dangerous.
The identity of John is at most uncertain. Many, especially Western ecclesiastics, believed him to have been the beloved apostle John, but some Eastern theologians vigorously differed with this belief. The Eastern Church and theologians required that the author of a book accepted into the canon Bible be an apostle. The apostleship of John was doubtful to them. This included the Alogi, heretics of Asia Minor, as well as Dionysius, the bishop of Alexandria, who objection centered on the difference in the grammatical style between the Fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse. It was finally the influence of Augustine that won the admittance of Revelation into the Bible.
By influence and force Revelation won acceptance in the Bible without certainty of its author. It is no surprise that Augustine pushed for its approval; the man who epitomized man's first sin would surely want to dramatize his final demise. The demise of humanity goes along with the anti-nature characteristics of the Christian doctrine. Part of humanity, the Church, will be saved when reunited with God after the end of the world.
But in an age where the Church has seriously experienced a lost of influence within many personal lives of humanity one wonders how such "end of the world" prophesy can be taken seriously; but surprisingly it is, or is it? Consider the fact that Christian countries still pray to God, and ask him to bless them knowing it has been prophesied that he will destroy them; they continue with ten, twenty, or thirty year building plans knowing their destruction has been prophesied as being immanent at any time. Similar activities likewise occur within the lives of the people, True, Jesus prophesied such, life continuing as usual up until the end as it had been before the flood, but do such actions denote a firm belief in the prophesies? People still have children, watch them grow up while caring for them, plan for their college future in order to prepare them for future employment so they can marry and have families. One may say this is the ordinary life which Jesus described, the way of life before the end.
However, one cannot concentrate equally on two things simultaneously especially when the two things are opposites. Planning for the future and believing that the end of the world is imminent are definitely opposites. Believing in the imminence of the end of the world is justified by those hearing the statement of Christ that these things will happen in this generation since they have not planning for the future. The nonoccurrence of the former led to the latter, which also led to a paranoid culture, a culture professing belief in one thing while performing the opposite. Simply put, why would people who sincerely believe that they can face imminent destruction at any unknown time plan for a future? The logical answer is they would not. A monk once told this author that whenever one thinks of death he thinks it will be the other guy. When his death approached he was not ready.
Many are predicting that 2012 will bring a new consciousness. Many more hope their prediction is correct. The last few paragraphs illustrate a new consciousness is called for as the observation of our paranoid culture desperately shows that it is necessitated. Just as houses divided cannot stand, cultures divided cannot survive. People cannot keep thinking destruction and survival. Any reader of 1984 immediately recognizes this as Owellian thought "double-think," holding two opposites as being true at the same time. No man can serve two masters. Either cultures, societies, live or they die; there is growth or there is not. Yes, life comes from decadence which has been shown throughout this article, new ideas, behavioral patterns arise from old. In almost every instance the new establishes different ways of life. Yes, preceding each transformation there was fear, fear of losing the old and not being able to go on, which was replaced by hope spurred by change or new freedom.
It is Biblical stated that God will burn the good with the evil. It is predicted this world will be destroyed and only the kingdom of God housing the righteous, the saved, will survive. Since the days of Christ, and before, the world has been called evil. It may be asked just who is calling this world evil. The answer is those claiming to be the religious including many faiths and races. However, the fact is these faith and races are composed of people for which the world nourishes and sustains life. Few, if any, that call the world evil refuse its life-sustaining support, an interesting but often overlooked fact.
The frequent cry is that God will destroy the world. As has been shown Christ prophesied it, so did John, and this Bible prophesy continues today. Substantial proof is readily found on Google and Yahoo by anyone searching "end of the world." Many websites sell literature detailing how it will occur. Of course there is a price. One is tempted to ask will they use this money in God's kingdom.
If in destroying the world God will burn the good with the bad, one would say his method would be an all-out war. Observing the world situation this does not seem a bad guess. The history of the world since the dawn of humankind is practically synonymous the history of war. In either a full-scale atomic or hydrogen war there would be mass death of humanity, so much for killing of both good and evil. As a child one remembers hearing that the world was so bad at that time that Jesus had to come into it, the people were not capable of mass destruction as now.
It seems as though Christians believe this total annihilation is inevitable, it is what God has predestined, what people deserved because of their sins, and what will happen. This annihilation is predestined by personal sin originated from Adam, the first man. Such sin is an offense against God who will take retribution against man unless man atoned for his sin. Such atonement was said to be accomplished through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, but it was Christ who was among the first to prophesize the annihilation. Many say this is because many would not believe him and keep his commandments. But it is said that Christ died for the sins of all mankind, everyone. Are disbelief and disobedience sins not to be included in the sins of mankind? To an objective observer it would seem the Christians have put forth a circular doctrine.
The sins, and their guilt, of humankind have done little, if anything, to improve world conditions. An objective observer might well ask were they supposed to. The objective answer is no, especially when placed in reference to the Christian Church. This has previously been demonstrated: Jesus and John both prophesied the end of the world practically two thousand years ago. When things are prophesied to occur, and later that prophesy is almost equated with predestined, logically there seems little use in trying to save what has been prophesied to be destroyed. But, again, this is exactly what has happened; people trying to save and improved a world that is to be destroyed and planning for a future on earth which they are not to have; the perfect combination for a paranoid world.
Another ingredient is the Ten Commandments, laws by which a majority of the world live by. These Commandments said to be given to Moses by God have been supposedly guiding people's lives for some four thousand and in that time not one has been omitted or deleted. Meaning the people's behavior or conduct has not improved any so that at least one commandment could be omitted. Just the opposite, more laws needed to be introduced to enforce the Commandments, the Mosaic Laws in the Bible and continually followed by other laws. Simply put, these religious commandments simply have not done what they were meant to do, change human behavior.
In any human activity if the desired behavior is not achieved by the method or stimulus applied one changes the latter. This is simply termed stimulus/response in psychological language. Yes, it seems logical, but not in religious behavior. With this many feel society has hit a brick wall: many still believe "if God said it, then it is so, or predestined." There is no changing the future.
This partly explains why people and many theologians will not even consider examining their approach to religion. For them their beliefs are not wrong; the people are always wrong in not following these beliefs the right way. Once again, as seen throughout this article, the old are struggling to prevail over the new. A new approach or outlook is deemed evil even when it is shown to work for others. Those other people are frequently labeled evil as well.
Obviously this is a fight for the status-quo usually garbed in a religious name. Many would be surprised to realize that it is hand stringing their God as well. Think of the many instances in the past when this could have occurred. Just to name one, the Protestant Reformation. This caused the separation of the Catholic Church and the formation of the various Protestant denominations. Many believed this occurred at the hand of God.
Many Catholics would disagree. There is a belief that Protestants are still within the body of the Church; interpreting the word "catholic" as meaning universal this is true because Jesus Christ is believed to have founded the church which all believers are part of, another definition of the mystical body of Christ. Here one sees that interpretation and belief are crucial parts of any religious teaching. Without both the concept of the mystical body would not stand.
Likewise the interpretation must be correct or determined correct. One sees this in the review of Christ's words describing the events leading up to the end of the world "this generation shall not pass till these things happen." Strictly speaking the words do not make sense especially when nearly two thousand years have passed. There may be a reason for this apparent misconception. Over the nearly two thousand years there have been many Bible translations. During all of these translations words can be easily misconstrued and changed rendering a different meaning that the original speaker meant; what if originally the word "this" was "our?" The phrase "our generation" would make more sense since it could be interpreted as a generation of believers. No one can possibly know if this particular construction occurred but the possibility exists. A generation of believers could mean a time when all people thought alike, a new consciousness, in the future.
To many this would seem a heretical idea just as Origen's idea that God so loved man that at the end of the world he would call all souls to him, even the Devil. For this Origen was called a heretic. The question is was Origen a heretic or did he see God as capable of doing such a thing if he wished.
Such misconstruing of words could likewise give a different meaning to the phrases "end of the world" and 'end times." These terms could mean an end of an era, the end of an era of disagreement, conflict, confusion, and fighting leading to an era of peace and understanding, an era of new consciousness. We had our era of wars, fighting, disagreements, and laws which have produces the same behavior. In slang, many are saying, as many more have said, give it up man, it's not working.
More laws to enforce present laws which are not working is no adequate solution, the Mosaic Laws exemplified this. By telling people that they are sinners, bad, has not made them good. It may be believed that fear of hell has but even that cannot be proven. And by saying that the world is evil has not improved it.
These methods have been tried over and over again only to fail over and over again. Those seeking the maintenance of the status-quo insist in the validity of the methods while condemning the people for their failure. People's disobedience is always blamed for the failure of antiquated methods. Therefore the world and people must be destroyed.
However those striving to maintain the status-quo, or their positions of power, are becoming less influential. This is seen by the decrease of influence of the Church and government in people's lives, more freedom. Some say that there is no God while others see God differently. Instead of seeing God as some far-off tyrannical being always ready to destroy man and the world or universe they see him as the Being of Life, making the world and man who was to live in it.
This view of God is not new, in fact, it is old, ancient. It predates the Judeo-Christian God. Many believe this deity, many call God or Goddess, really created everything. This deity is spiritual, sex does not matter. Even this may be hinted at in the Bible when Christ said in heaven there is only one sex. Many think of God as both male and female, but what is more important is his creations.
This is indicated by Jesus when he spoke: "Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not; they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed as one of these. If then God so clothe the grass today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven,; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith/?" (Luke 12::27-28) The words plainly ennoble the fact that God created the world, even the grasses of the field; he designed and colored them; he made them nourishment for beast and man. Without them there would be no existence as presently known on earth.
Even the atheist must admit this fact. Science has demonstrated the oxygen/carbon dioxide (CO2) cycle; man breathes out CO2 into the air which the trees with their chlorophyll exchange for hydrogen through the process of photosynthesis which man breathes back in. Man exhales CO2 and inhales hydrogen by means of his respiratory system. The respiratory system is just one of many bodily systems which man needs to maintain life. Others human bodily systems are the circulatory, digestive, referred to as the gastrointestinal tract; immune, endocrine to name several. Each of these systems is intricate in its composition and function.
These are just a few of the systems that keep the human body healthy and functioning. Within these systems are multitudes of intricacies, which if not properly tuned can cause surprising malfunctions. This author remembers once when a relative's zinc level went up beyond the normal level. At first all I knew was that the person was disorientated. She arrived at her apartment which she failed to recognize till getting inside. Then after diner she wanted to go home. When someone is home, disoriented and wants to go home, you have a problem. Soon she was called to return to the medical center. I did not know the cause of the problem till the physician told my friend and myself.
The point of describing this incident is to illustrate that all systems, no matter how simple, within the human body must be properly functioning or serious problems can arise. This is just the human body which is surrounded by the world including many more systems which maintain life. The oxygen/carbon dioxide cycle was previously mentioned. But what about the little necessity called water? This is the simple combination of two elements, one element of hydrogen plus two of oxygen, but without water there would be no existence of life on earth. Water is also absorbed from the earth, forms clouds, and deposited back again as rain.
These paragraphs are by no means scientific explanations of the phenomena mentioned but are to serve as illustrations of these and many other intricate systems which maintain this world and the creatures including man living in it. The point being made is that this world it not some worthless thing to be tossed away like a tissue, no it is an intricate work of art with all of its components functioning together to maintain stability. At this point the debate as to whether the world was created or happened (big-bang theory, evolution, etc.) will not be discussed as it is not relevant to this discussion.
The relevancy though is the importance of the world, its composition, its intricate structure including its plant and animal life composing the world's ecological system represents this importance. Almost all religious people say this was created by a God, and many say out of love. Then they turn around and say the world is evil, because the people have disobeyed God, and he is going to destroy it and build a new world, a major theme running throughout Christianity.
To many this theme lacks substance. It lacks substance for several reasons. The first is the word itself, the world, if meaning the universe, was here before the Christian God. Cultures or civilizations exited before the Jews and Christians. They had their pantheons and many creation myths exited besides the Adam and Eve story of Moses. And many wonder why the Christian God would destroy his intricate world to build a new one.
It has been said that the early Christians might have been expressing wishful thinking when speaking of walking those golden streets of heaven when not even having paved earthen roads. At first this may seem like criticism, but is it? Considering the times they lived in and the current times the present world might look like a paradise to many of them. True, the entire world is not united with God or itself, but is that an impossibility?
Many will say yes, but those saying yes are enjoying the same advantages to spread their words of discontent as others. Union with God, or the Deity, calls for a meeting of minds, an agreement or semi-agreement concerning this Deity. People who propose set limitations for the Deity, and a direct way of worshipping the Deity will of course say there can be no earthly paradise. Again these are the ones enjoying the status-quo, the ones labeling the world evil and only their prescribed way can bring salvation.
Funny thing though, their way is not the prescription which Jesus gave when saying, "Unless you be like little children you shall not enter the kingdom." Even those not believing in Jesus might agree with that. Like little children seems to be the key. Yes, little children obey rules but they also do something far more important, they explore, use their minds and imaginations to love the things they see and feel. When finding the kingdom they love it, not being led to it. Is this the kingdom which Jesus meant?
**Is it possible the world has reached a time of such a kingdom? The opportunity seems to have arrived, but will the people take it, will they let themselves be allowed to? This is the key question. For two thousand years or more, people have allowed themselves to be swayed in a way of live that has not worked but for just the leaders, the religious leaders. The ordinary still strive and struggle as they always have while being told that this is God's will for them. God, they are told, has been good to them by giving them their lives, jobs and families; they are to be satisfied. But many leaders telling the people such, while calling themselves men or servants of God, live as kings or emperors off of the people's money. In past times such behavior could be hidden but in the age of global communications such behavior is less easily obscured.
Many think the End Times will either result in or be ushered in by a new consciousness. From above there may be much agreement for this theory. First because a new consciousness seems to be needed; and secondly, this End Times may resemble the previous ones and be a transitory period. People again will be passing from the old to the new, carrying all the excess baggage from the old as they usually do. But just maybe the new consciousness will help eliminate this baggage.
A new consciousness most likely will be almost all-consuming, shared by everyone, and attractive. This does not mean it would not have resistance; there would be resistors, those wanting to keep the old, the fearful-status-quo. A chief argument against those of this status-quo would be your previous way of life has not worked so why not try something different. Arguments to the contrary will be waged, but can they be won?
This might likely be the basis of the new consciousness,
the illustration of its necessity.
The new consciousness may not be new at all. This may not be as startling as it first appears. Just think over the past two millenniums what has been the most disruptive thing in social progress? This would be religion, of course, not religion per say, but the fighting and infighting over religious differences. Religious differences usually cause trouble when disrupting the meeting of minds. It is almost universally agreed that all men need some religious belief, but which one? The obvious answer would seem to be those beliefs commonly shared. The first obvious one would be a deity, more specific a creator deity.
It will become immediately apparent that those beliefs commonly shared are quite simple or basic. A belief of a creator deity could equally fit God as well as Allah and vice versa; therefore most Christians and Muslims could accept this belief. The more people accepting a belief the broader will be the consciousness surrounding it.
Therefore basic, or simple, beliefs are more likely to be
acceptable to more people. However, the reverse is also true; the more
complex or detailed the belief is fewer people may accept it. Christians
accept Jesus Christ as the son of God, second person of the Trinity, as
savior of humankind, but the Muslims do not and view him differently.
Thus one is observing that there must be some compatibility between beliefs for their wider acceptance or universality. God and Allah are recognized as being the chief God of the Christians and Muslims just as Zeus and Jupiter were the chief gods of the ancient Greeks and Romans. But many will object to this comparison saying God and Allah are real whereas Zeus and Jupiter were myths. Here one sees expanded consciousness come into play. When accepting that Zeus and Jupiter were the same god only under a different name to both the ancient Greeks and Romans who believed the god to be real then God and Allah are seen differently. Yes, the ancient Greeks and Romans could have warred, and probably did, over the differences in their god as some fundamentalist Christians and Muslims presently do but where would that have led? This author agrees such a futuristic consciousness as he is attempting to describe may be very difficult to achieve but our global existence may depend on its achievement.
Many will say the end does not justify the means; not even when the end is universal survival? No, it can be agreed that universal survival cannot be attained at the price of freedom for some but not for all. But, at present there is not freedom for all. What is being discussed in a new consciousness will include ideological revolution. The author almost wrote ideological compromise, but compromise means the surrendering of something, the giving up. This weakens the resolve, a thing is given up in the exchange or acceptance of something else; some or all parties involved are placated, they feel that they give something to please someone else, this may weaken any mutual agreement reached. In a revolution no weakening occurs, all parties stand firm in their agreements.
The basic reason that ideological revolution occurs is that the resulting ideas, concepts, and thinking are revolutionary. This is to say the proceeding thought-pattern changes. In many, if not most, incidents it will and does. This certainly happens when enough people become convinced that the old systems of doing things are no longer working, no longer beneficiary or productive. The discarding of old systems is the emergence of a transitory period and many were discussed in this article: Paganism to Christianity, the Protestant Reformation, the Industrial Revolution to a degree, and so on. Each of these movements ushered in a new period or era containing new ideas and ways of doing things. Some of the new ideas were labeled revolutionary, but not as revolutionary as one might see within the futuristic consciousness.
For example, we are discussing the "End Times" and as noted many believe this means the end of the world. These "End Times" are looked upon as a future or coming event. It is suggested such an End Times was the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 CE. After this there were no more sanctified ministers of Jesus Christ, none were needed since from then on God would write his message in men's hearts. Those proposing this theory substantiate it with many scriptural passages showing the end time would come shortly, and within the generation which Christ spoke of, and not 2,000 years later. The big appeal of this theory is the personal freedom or liberty that it gives; people are now free to follow what God had written in their hearts like children. This refers to the scripture in which Christ says that unless you are like this little one you will not enter the kingdom.
The idea of personal liberty in Christianity has great appeal, but if 70 CE was the End Times then the remaining prophesy was missing. Christ coming on a white stallion was briefly mentioned, but no earthquakes. Supposedly the disciples missed realizing that 70 CE was then end of the era of sanctified preaching and the beginning of an era of men following what God had written in their hearts. If one follows biblical scripture there appears one big flaw in this 70 CE theory, Christ said "I come not to destroy the law but to expand it" (Matthew 5:17). From these words one gets the impression that men are still to follow the previously written law.
One might add this removes some of the fear from Christianity without removing Christianity. Also added, this theory does nothing for the Jews and other races unless they become Christianized.
This is a specific instant when the necessity for ideological revolution is made clear since no organized Christian Church, group, or organization would ever fully accept this theory. There is no substantial proof 70 CE was the prophesized End Time, no proof of the disciples' misconception, no proof there are no more sanctified ministers in the Church, and lastly but most important there would be no desire to decrease the fear of the end of the world because the Church money would decrease.
No, the new consciousness must be more revolutionary to include more people, more of the global population. The above theory would only collect a small portion of Christianity. Most likely the vast majority of Christians would continue believing the "End Times" were still a future event to be looked forward to and feared. As one can readily see the 70 CE theory is not relevant enough to attract the enormous populations needed to establish a new or global consciousness. The purpose of liberating the individual or believer does indicate what is desired.
However, such a proposal that the concept of original sin, the myth of Adam and Eve, was misunderstood and should be reexamined or eliminated would be more to the point. Such a proposition if accepted would immediately include a larger population, Christians, Jews, and Muslims; it would eliminate the idea of inherited guilt and an inferior human nature; and give these three groups an initial point for agreement. This is not to say that the dismissal of the concept of original sin would be the initiation of the new consciousness, but such an initiation will require a drastic change in thinking as this example would be. Not only might it promote agreement among the three previously mentioned groups but others as well who never believed in original sin.
Could this happen? Many think it could happen, and many think it must. But, as with every new or transitional movement, there will be others who staunchly oppose it. They will be those wanting to maintain the status-quo. Included within this latter group will be the religious-military-government-business complex wanting business as usual.
One of the first groups promoting a new way of looking at things was the ecology movement. This author remembers in the 1950s and 1960s the ozone layer surrounding the earth was first being talked about. Harmful effects were being mentioned if too much of this layer was chemically destroyed or burned off. People were first beginning to consider the health of the planet, Mother Earth. It was the pre-inkling that her resources were not inexhaustible. The first danger-signs were about to go up. A dreadful recognition was looming on the horizon: our survival was linked to Mother Earth's survival.
What followed if described would be the history of the ecology movement. The signs were becoming more numerous and foreboding, everything from the shrinkage of the rainforests to global warming. While some still ignored the signs others were striving to draw attention to them. Joining forces with the ecology groups were the Neo-pagans, those believing in nature as a religion-seeing Earth as a living entity, their real Mother, the Goddess. The Neo-pagans did not hold this concept alone. The Gaia Hypothesis was brought to light by James Lovelock during the 1970s which caught the attention of the scientific community.
What Lovelock eventually hypothesized was the Gaian brain-human collective consciousness-- maintains a homeostasis, a global stability in face of changes. This collective consciousness, the Gaian nervous system, is not invulnerable; too many, too sudden, or too toxic changes could make the system malfunction and destroy the entire planet slowly or immediately.
As one can surmised from the preceding hypothesis is that the continuation of earthly life is a joint effort of all inhabitants on earth, no exceptions as they compose Mother Earth. Needless to say this hypothesis or concept was quickly and fiercely opposed. The idea that Gaia (the Earth) being a biosphere complex constantly working to maintain itself, a man being only an intricate part, confronts the basic tenets of the Judeo-Christian doctrine: the universe (world), earth, and man are God's creations, and are dependent on him. Such a concept not only attacks the tenets but the roots of the synagogue and the church. The expected backlash was quickly forthcoming in the denouncement of the Gaia religion.
The Gaia Religion also known by some as the Gaia theory was first proposed by Otto (Tim) Zell as a chief tenet in his Church of All Worlds, one of the first churches practicing Neo-paganism. This was during the 1970s when Neo-paganism was developing into a nature based religion, directing its attention more away from Anti-Christianity and toward the love and preservation of nature.
The term Gaia Religion is an initial sign of opposition coming from Bible based Christians. Members of the Gaia Religion also referred to as the Green Religion are claimed to be accusing the Judeo-Christian belief that God assigning humans to rule the earth has allowed him to exploit it. Such members are in the New Age and other movements and believe that humans can have mystical and spiritual experiences with Gaia or the "Earth spirit" goddess, a planetary brain which must be protected. Against such convictions is the claim that such a global push would lead industrialized nations to more primitive way of life.
Just as with the evolutionists, the humanists, and other pagan religions of the world, Gaia has named Christianity the obstacle of human evolution and spiritual destiny. These statements are declared in opposition of the mandated by the United Nations, sponsored by the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Global Biodiversity Assessment, claiming the Assessment explicitly refers to Christianity as a faith that has set humans apart from nature and stripped nature of its spiritual qualities.
These people cite the document itself (summarized): Christian conversion has meant an abandonment of an affinity with the natural world for many forest dwellers, peasants, and fishers the world over…Those in the hilly states of India, bordering China and Myanmar, supporting small scale conversion and remaining autonomous keeping their native religions until the 1950s set apart between 10% and 30% of their landscape as sacred groves and ponds.
The Assessment is condemned for condemning Christianity as an ecological evil while praising Buddhism and Hinduism for not as drastically departing from the perspective of humans as members of a community of beings including other living and non-living elements. The major complaint was that the document favored non-Christian religions as better stewards of Mother Earth.
The document asserted that monotheism separated humans from their ancient connection to earth which the contenders claim governments, media, educational systems, and artists are trying to revive. The contending ministers cannot very well dispute the document's assertion when viewing the "Adam and Eve" story, the origin of Judeo-Christian religion. After Adam sinned God, Yahweh, chastised the serpent saying "Because you have done this you are cursed above all cattle; and above every beast of the field; and on your belly you shall go, and eat dust all the days of your life."
Next to Adam God said, "Because you listened to you wife and ate of the tree which I commanded you not to eat of cursed is the ground because of you; in sorrow you shall eat all of your life. Thorns and thistles shall the ground produce and you will eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat your bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and dust you will return."
Christian ministers question why non-Christian religions were found to be better stewards of the Earth after reading the above declarations of Yahweh. An examination of both declarations distinctly answers any question. Both declarations are anti-nature sentiments. First, the declaration to the serpent: "Because you have done this you are cursed above all cattle; and above every beast of the field; and on your belly you shall go, and eat dust all the days of your life."
When examining the first part "Because you have done this you are cursed above all cattle; and above every beast of the field;" one receives the impression that all cattle and beasts of the fields are cursed, the serpent above all. Again this expresses a definitive anti-nature sentiment not to mention the snake is a much honored creature in various Eastern religions.
God's declaration to Adam "Because you listened to you wife and ate of the tree which I commanded you not to eat of cursed is the ground because of you; in sorrow you shall eat all of your life. Thorns and thistles shall the ground produce and you will eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat your bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and dust you will return."
Definitely pits man against nature. As his punishment man must irk out his livelihood by struggling with the harshness of nature and in the end (his death) return to it. Not only is man pitted against nature, God declares that Adam (man) had made the ground (nature) cursed, "…cursed is the ground because of you…" In essence God declared man turned nature against himself, and possibly God. The last interpretation is plausible because Christians believe they have an all perfect and good God; how could such a God be connected to a cursed ground or earth?
The consideration of this alone by objective and non-Christian observers would be enough to make non-Christian religions better stewards of the earth. Add to this the teachings of Christ on the destruction of the world buffeted by the eschatological teachings of John, supposedly a disciple but no one is certain. Add to this the naming of the Devil as the Prince of the air and one readily understands why Christianity has a very low ranking as a caretaker of the earth. Furthermore, non-Christian religions are not dead set on the world's destruction; perhaps they consider even non-believers have some dignity too.
All of Christian history and the depletion of the earth's resources mainly by Christian, industrialized nations until now have not convinced the contentious ministers that they might be mistaken. They are still blaming the media and others for making people aware of the present ecological crisis. Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, which entailed scientific research, is labeled a Disneyworld model while to would is warned to expected the end of the world at anytime based on the teachings of Jesus and the writing of an unknown person named John who received his vision while in a trance. The information behind the Gaia hypothesis can be examined; can that of John's vision?
Al Core in his book Earth in the Balance even remarked on this. In summary he said diversity of religious tradition has been a spiritual resource long ignored by people of faith who are afraid to open their minds to teachings first offered outside of their own system of belief. But the emergence of a civilization in which knowledge moves freely and almost instantaneously through the world has spurred a renewed investigation of the wisdom distilled from all faiths. This may be extremely important where the global civilization's responsibility for the world is concerned. (pp. 258-259)
No religion is less important, no religion is left out, but this is not enough for the contentious ministers. Christianity is being blamed for the world situation. They charge that it is the New Age movement, their spiritualism, and others that call for a new (more appropriately renewed) spiritualism between man and earth. It is irritating to them that anthropologists are mentioning how man and earth were joined spiritually in pre-Christian Europe and other places.
Even the Natives Americans are mentioned. It is no secret that Christian Europeans helped run these natives from their land, put them on reservations, schooled them, and forbade them from speaking their native tongue (in many instances) and practicing their native religions. Even many South and Central American witch doctors or medicine men concur that when white man and his religions are eliminated the earth will be peaceful or at peace again.
The difference between the Christian ministers and everyone disagreeing with them is simple they recognize no other God except Yahweh or Jehovah, none but Jesus Christ, no pre-Christian era or anything not pertaining to the commandments of God and Christ. **The latter will ultimately be destroyed even if it means complete annihilation of the whole world.
This is made plain in their response to Core's text when stating no Christian will open their minds to other beliefs as he suggests. They cite Colossians 2:6-10 saying in summary, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority."
And Romans 1:18-25,
"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the creator - who is forever praised. Amen.
From these scriptural passages it is plain that these ministers are not straying from centuries-old Christian teaching and anyone doing so earns the wrath of God. Al Core, former Vice President of the United States, was considered a Christian by many, but it seems not by these ministers. No one straying from Biblical teaching is a Christian and deserves God's punishment even if it means global destruction. Such is an example of the present status-quo defenders.
Many defend them saying they defend Christianity, Christian values and so on, but do they? A good defense of something is not fear and punishment, especially the wrath of God. They are quick to point out that nations are experiencing depravity including the first mentioned the unnatural lustful acts of men and woman, homosexuality. The list includes almost every other sin or crime as well indicating God lets these evils befall men who worship creation rather than him.
Needless to say such ministers as well as others sharing their attitudes will not share in the coming new consciousness - no they will do everything in their power to prevent it. They will do this in the narrow mindedness of defending and glorifying their God while forgetting, possibly deliberately forgetting, their past sins, namely the killing and burning of heretics and witches, and confiscating their property. These pious people forget they descended from earth-loving people. The first traces of paganism were of an earth-based religion. The Egyptian, Greek, and Roman gods as well as others preceded the Judeo-Christian God. There were other creation stories as well as the one related by Moses. Like it or not, the first Christians did not just pop up out of the ground or were hand picked; they came from other races and religions.
Here is an intriguing thought. The ministers say that if we reverse our striving toward our industrial nations we will go back to a more primitive society and be less Christian. This is intriguing because it has been the Christian Church that has most ardently attempting to hold back progress. One instant is the airplane. When being invented it was remarked that if man was meant to fly God would have given him wings. Now ministers fly to conventions and various meetings praising God for giving them jets to help them in their ministries as many own their own planes. This is just one example of this religious-turn-around or having your cake and eating it too.
People such as Al Core are being called godless for wanting to assimilate various religious traditional ideas and deserving of the wrath of God. Just supposed for a moment such assimilation is sinful, what about Easter? The Christian Easter message is that Christ died for all sins of mankind and they are forgiven. Then why threaten Core and others with the wrath of God when their sins are proclaimed to be forgiven? Is this another Christian turn-around, the biggest one pertaining to the basis of the religion?
Society, and particularly a global society, is growing tired of the Christian double-talk. Christ supposedly died for the sins of all mankind. When presented with this proclamation ministers say, yes, this is true but you must believe. Is not disbelief a sin? If so, then it was not covered or forgiven by Christ's death? If the latter be true, then Christ did not die for all sins of mankind because disbelief is not included.
This directs one to another Christian proclamation: men cannot be saved unless they know Christ. What about all who lived before Christ? What of those of other faiths or beliefs such as Islam and Buddhism? Now the objective person begins getting the picture that every person's religion it the true one, if the other person's religion is different, it's false. This is the world we live in and the reason that it is so divisive. True, for example, most Christians and Muslims say the want to peacefully get along, but Christians read, or live by, the Bible which makes the proclamation as stated above and Muslims live by the Qur'an which says all not believing in Islam are infidels. It is difficult to believe such differences will not at times agitate disturbances.
Most likely these differences arise over belief differences, an absence of a meeting of minds necessary for consensus. It now becomes clearer that accepting both God and Allah as a creator God would begin forming a consensus between Christians and Muslims; both names could be retained although the people would agree they signified the same deity. The more particulars which could be agreed upon the wider this consensus would be. Eventually such a consensus would compose a consciousness.
No, the predicted coming new consciousness would never evolve this simply but this is an example of the way it might evolve, people seeing the necessity of global agreements. An example of such a necessity is the Gaia hypothesis to ward off the peril of the human race. The Gaia hypothesis if acted upon and put into effect will necessitate both global thinking and global agreement. Within both thinking and agreement the survival of the planet and mankind will be the main goal. Ideas such as judging eople because of their race, religion, or position will be eliminated. In a nutshell this will be a solid one-for-all and all-for-one concept.
Such a concept if it materializes will necessarily lead to a new consciousness, nonjudgmental thinking on a global scale leading to a global, just government. At present such a government is nonexistent; the closest similarity is the United Nations. No one is certain how this global government will emerge; but many imagine a crisis will trigger it.
Although many are uncertain of the emergent of the global
government, many more are already dead set opposed to it. There are many
reasons for this opposition and the main ones remain power, position,
and money. Global government will effect nation governments, religion,
and business. All with invested interests in such will decidedly fight
for their permanency. This has been displayed throughout this article
and the tendency still exists. It exists because most people have not
and will not think in global terms as such thinking ruins their special
interests, in some instances their way of life.
Again this is seen among the prominent religions of the world, particularly in their teachings. One divine God created the universe, the world. He rules and controls it, and men populating it are to serve him. All who are not Muslims, believing in Allah and his commandments, are infidels. Such teachings are not compatible with something like the Gaia hypothesis where human beings are an equal part of the world and maintain its homeostasis. The idea that humankind is an equal part of the world, the life cycle called by some, and helps maintain it is contrary to the teachings of most formalized religions. Humankind possessing such equaity or power is inconceivable. God never granted it the religious leaders protest.
Here rests the protestation. Such new, evolving concepts erode older ones. A biosphere such as Gaia is completely contrary to the idea that God rules the world and man. Religious protest that man now adores the creation and not the creator. This also opposes the teaching that God is not the world, but outside of it.
The fact of the matter is all such new concepts oppose both the fundamental teachings and the teachers, particularly their authority. Think, for example, what a widely held Gaia concept would do to the infallibility of the Pope, almost destroy it. His teaching against birth control would be ignored as it almost is today. To keep Gaia properly balanced the birth rate would be adjusted accordingly.
This is just one example that the acceptance of the Gaia hypothesis would effect. Not only Catholicism but most Protestantism would feel the effect. This is the reason why most contentious ministers are proclaiming Christians will not accept teachings of other religions by those of their Almighty God. This is like saying, "We only believe his word even though it may mean death to everyone." Selfish, yes, but consider the bases of the statement. The basis is Christianity itself. Not just the faith, but everything it entails: the Pope, the Vatican, the ministerial influence and power, the religious institutions including schools, literature publication and sales and so on. All of this equals invested interest not willingly given up.
This partially represents our present crossroads, the decision or decisions to be made. Also involved are national governments and military complexes producing problems too numerous and complex for this article even to attempt to examine. Simply put power and money count. Again protest against change will be vigorous and sometimes violent making progress toward a new consciousness hard fought.
For this reason many believe that to bring this consciousness forth a catastrophe must occur. This why we have movies such as 2012 and all of the end of the world predictions. Many believe the catastrophe will shake and destroy the establish status-quo. Again, the medicine men and witch doctors of South and Central America seem to agree with this philosophy saying, after the white man and his religion are gone the earth will be peaceful again.
This calls to mind that the new consciousness may not be new at all. For instance the Gaia hypothesis treats Earth as a living identity and all animate, including man, and inanimate things compose and maintain Earth. It does not require too much imagination to call this identity Mother Earth and give her the love and respect which she deserves. Many such as the Neo-pagans are already doing this. Many more are acquiring the idea, also if Earth continues being depleted so will man. A transforming consciousness is gradually appearing, which involves the continuance of life. To many such a consciousness resembles an ancient one where man and nature lived in harmony because man acknowledged his dependence upon nature; Earth was his home, his nurturer.
As a quick reminder in ancient times people practiced Witchcraft, a religion in which people in many ways, later traditions, believed the Earth was part of a deity often called Mother Goddess. This was a nature based religion. There are several theories as to the religion evolvement and its birth from the Mother. However the most simple theory is the surmising that people theorized that all which they observed was born of a mother because they were. The most important fact they knew was they were totally dependent upon their surroundings, a fact that people in industrialized countries have been deprived of throughout the millenniums. A fact again being realized as the Earth is being depleted.
But this fact is being ignore by others who are protesting that by treating the earth as an identity we are adoring the creation, not the Creator. Throughout this article these protestors as well as their motives have been described which can be summed up as position, power, and greed. Many would name the primal cause of the present global situation as the replacement of the Mother Goddess with the all-male God. The position of this article is not to confirm or deny this but to demonstrate that the continued depletion of earth may surely mean the destruction of man.
It seems that the destruction of mankind is the aim of those preachers of eschatology who claim true Christians will refuse to accept teaching of other religions but stand by the teachings of their God, the destruction of the world. This stance will gain true believers eternal salvation, heaven. This is apparently their main goal; but, as been demonstrated, the secondary goals are the positions, power, and monetary rewards which these doomsday soothsayers reap.
Needless to say these soothsayers have no regard for those not sharing their religious doomsday beliefs; non-believers deserve eternal damnation according to them. All not knowing Christ go to hell, presumably all living the millenniums before Christ and those not currently of Christians.
Others are justifiably proclaiming such a narrow minded prophecy wrong. They are the ones not caught up in the cataclysmic events that are predicted. Most people are overcome by catastrophe; it is exciting and dulls thinking. Those interested in the maintenance of the Earth ignore these dramatics. They are so caught up in the moment that they cannot and will not think objectively. The moment has been prophesized hundreds of times, never comes, but the still wait. Fear grips them thinking they are doomed to hell if they do not believe. They are the same as the listeners of the Orson Well's radio broadcast of the War of the Worlds; the petrified people never thought to turn the dail, just believing what they heard.
However, today people are turning their dials and channels from Christian and other prophets. Many no longer see the world as evil but as the home of humanity, a home to be cared for and not cursed. They do not see this as loving the creation and not the creator. Some, those who are spiritual, see this as loving the Earth, the handiwork of the Creator, and thanking him or her for it. Even the many non-spiritual people along with the spiritual fail to see calling the world evil when it maintains humanity; without the world man dies.
Is the demised of the world and mankind the final goal? Many do not agree. They fail to see man as evil. They observe that what is evil in some cultures is not considered evil in others. If this be true, then how can man be evil by nature? Many admit men do evil things, but find it disturbing to believe all men are evil, and impossible to love evil men. It seems at one time powerful men, and many still do, thought the pronouncement of evil on the world and its inhabitants would bring about good. When viewing the current conditions in the world it appears the very opposite has occurs. Wise men know evil only promotes evil.
Likes attracts likes is a law of nature and magic. You beat a child long enough and hard enough he or she will come out bad. Mankind has been beaten down for 4,000 or 2,000 years whatever way one wants to see it, the result is our present tragic condition. Instread of neighbor loving neighbor we have neighbor not knowing and hating and killing neighbor. Almost all media headlines bear this out. Simply put, our way of life is not working. Many fear we are headed for the final catastrophe unless we change, and change we must.
This change when it comes will be a different consciousness that values man and human life above everything. Earth will be valued as the Life-giver as it once was. All nature, man being part of that nature, will be loved and respected. Each thing will be respected for what it is, its essence, its contribution to the whole of life's existence, the life force. To be simply stated, things, animate and inanimate, will be respected and loved for what they are. For men, women, and children their birth alone will qualify them the right to be cared for, loved, and respected.
Yes, this sounds like an utopia, but a necessary utopia. To most talk of an utopia sounds like a pipe-dream to be scoffed at. Many utopias were tried throughout history and failed; failed because of man's selfish motives and greed, the very causes for our current desperate global situation. This fact alone tells many we need to try something different, think differently not just seeking personal salvation, or national salvation, but global salvation. This is really a "you're brother's keeper" philosophy. The pros and cons of such a philosophy have been mentioned throughout this article. Some say we are at, or almost at, the brink point of total disaster. If so, they declare, then the choice is ours, to obviate Mother Earth or make Her the home on which we peacefully live.
by Alan G. Hefner
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Henry VIII of England. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_VIII_of_England>
The Josephus-Luke Connection. <http://www.josephus.org/LUKECH.html>
Marian martyrs. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_martyrs >
Mary I of England. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_I_of_England>