"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up."

Arthur Koestler 

Entries in Prophecy (8)


90% Failure Rate

If a Biblical preacher makes 10 predictions, and one of them comes true, is that a reason to shout from the housetops? I have talked about how the prophecy biz works before. The successes are trumpeted, and the failures ignored.

One particular theory of prophecy has the EU becoming the beast of Revelation. Since us English speaking types could never be a part of the beast power, as we are the true Israel, Great Britain had to leave the EU. But these same prophetic wannabes had some absolute epic failures over the years. In the 50's and 60's the Worldwide Church of God expected Hitler to return to Germany from his secret U-boat bases in Antartica . As it became more and more obvious that this was absurd, the meme changed to a Hitler-like figure would emerge. Names were suggested. Of course all of these suggestions have died now, so new suggestions must be made. Like the famous scene in 1984 where IngSoc switches allegiance from one competing "rival" superpower to another. History has to be changed retroactively. "We were never at war with EastAsia." In the same way, prophetic failures are conveniently swept under the rug.

I first ran across this when I started to collect religious colporteur literature, books and pamphlets sold door to door at the beginning of the last century. One in particular went on and on about the prophetic importance of the Ottoman Empire, which self-destructed, with help from the West, just a few years after the book was published.

Since Jesus said that even he didn't know the timing of his return, the underlying assumption that Jesus will return soon may be flawed. Don't get me wrong--it will happen. We just can't know when. But to point this out reduces book sales. The reason we have so much odd prophetic speculation is that is what people want.

So no, Great Britain leaving the EU does not have anything to do with Bible prophecy. Rather than strengthen the EU, it may end it. It may also be the end of Great Britain as it splits into three parts. Instead of a coming Superpower, the EU is more likely to experience civil war and race riots.

It is a mistake to look at current events and twist them to fit Bible prophecy. It will almost always eventually be proven wrong, as was the 19th/early 20th century claim of the prophetic significance of the Ottoman Empire


Another False Prophet

Here is another false prophet trying to defend his falseness.

What I found interesting is that the psychological approach is to attack those who were right as a way to defend yourself when you are wrong. The technique is to combine those who disagree with date setting with those who think that things are going fine. One can be against date setting and at the same time be concerned about future of the US. I am. This is a smoke screen designed to confuse. 

The issue was, did anything happen on Sept 23. The answer is no. So someone who said that something would happen, even covered by mealy-mouthed words like "I am just speculating," is a false prophet.

The appeal to Matthew 24 was typical, and standard operating procedure for this type of person. Are things bad economically? Sure. Are there wars? Sure. Is there religious persecution? Sure. But are the wars as bad as WWII? No. Are they even as bad as WWI. No. Are the health issues of today as bad as the Black Death, where 1/3 of Europe died? No. To even mentioning people eating sugar in the same prophetic context as plagues shows a very odd mindset. Is there a problem today with bad diet. Sure. Does this have any relation with the return of Christ? No.

Could this be the beginning of the return of Christ? Sure. Does it have to be? No.

Yes, I think that we as individuals should get our houses in order. This is just common sense prudence, but this has nothing to do with the ultimate return of Christ. The use of the scriptures that warn of false defend a false rather amusing. 

But he does have a great beard.


The Original Way Back MachineWhat do you do when you make a false religious predication?

Some people who do this retire from public religious life and apologize. This seldom happens. Some rewrite history, but in the modern Internet era this is more difficult, as the Internet seldom forgets with tools like the "Way Back Machine."

In my one and only podcast (yeah, podcasting is hard) I discuss such a prediction. It failed. In the podcast I talk about this failed prophecy and such date setting in general. The beloved editor of this blog, Pam Dewey, also wrote about this episode, focusing on the devastated people deceived by such silliness: When Prophecy Fails

In the church I attend an elder predicted that Jesus would return in AD 2027, 2000 years after the beginning of Jesus' ministry. (I will talk about this later.) Why? He gave an elaborate scenario about the prophet Daniel that I doubt anyone in the audience actually understood. This was combined with the idea that we humans have had 6000 years to prove ourselves, or as the theory usually states it, prove we can't do anything right. The main problem with such a prophecy is that we humans have already been here far longer than 6000 years.

The message had the usual disclaimers. "I could be wrong," and so on. The technical term for this is CYA. ("Cover your ***") Often, the speaker is indeed sincere about his uncertainty, as this man was. But sometimes it is just a ploy. The false prophet is thinking, "I can say all these things, increase my donations, sell more books, and I will not be held accountable."

I recently talked about the hubbub about the Shemitah, which is the Biblical seven year debt release cycle, which was then connected with fall festival lunar eclipse or the blood moons, and their supposed prophetic significance. Those that advocated such things were wrong. Oops. I was accused by one reader of just "having a bad day" because I was griping about this on my blog. Maybe so. But another explanation might be that I am tired of such false prophets and the lack of accountability that the public demands of them.

Here is one fake rabbi's explanation on how he was not really wrong. (He does have a great beard, however.)

Yes, I am sure he covered his original prophetic pronouncements with the appropriate caveats and disclaimers like pharmaceutical ads that warn, "This drug may cause blindness."  Since false prophets usually know in advance that nothing is going to happen, such disclaimers are a normal part of the false prophet biz. Too bad these prophetic heroes do not give real disclaimers: "Warning: listening to my message may lead to spiritual blindness."

In conclusion let me clarify what I mean by "fake rabbi." Almost all prognosticating fellows who call themselves "rabbi" are not actually Jewish, in spite of using the Jewish term "rabbi" instead of the English term "teacher." Often, but not always, they wear what they think to be Bible-times-looking robes, so they can look "authentically prophetic." Actual Jewish rabbis in the 21st century seldom wear Bible era-style robes. Real orthodox rabbis of modern times look more like the image on the left.
Of course growing a good "Jewish-looking" beard is a plus. Do they think that God tells them to dress this way? Or do they assume, probably correctly, that many naive Christians will be under the impression that a Jewish person is somehow more in tune with Bible prophecy than a gentile? And a Jewish person who looks like a Bible-times prophet from a Hollywood  movie will seem even more "qualified"!

One telltale sign self-appointed rabbis are fake is the lack of any discussion about their rabbinical credentials. In Judaism, a person becomes a rabbi by studying at a traditional rabbinical seminary for many years. Fake rabbis can just skip that step, do a little personal Bible study, and hang out a Rabbi shingle on their door. (If a local congregation declares that someone is a rabbi, does that make them one? Maybe it does, for that congregation, but I am not a member of that congregation.)

A few years ago some of these fake rabbis realized their credibility problem. So several of them got together and formed a fake seminary for fake rabbis. Most people will not do as I did and research the supposed school. When you hear "Rabbi So And So" pontificating on a Youtube video, it is totally fair to be suspicious about his supposed rabbinical degree, just like you can legitimately question how a "Christian" teacher got to be a "Doctor of Divinity." Like "Dr." Jack Van Impe. (Yes, there are fake "Christian" divinity schools too.

So did I get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? No, I am just warning you that when you support the ministries of fake rabbis, buy their books, or recommend their YouTube videos, you are empowering them to deceive others.

Grow up.

Apocalyptic Bias

We humans tend to think that things will continue as they have in the recent past, while also at the same time worry about an unforeseen catastrophe. This worry is what I am calling the Apocalyptic Bias. Imagine a glass of water. The traditional cliché is that the optimist will say it is half full while the pessimist will say it is half empty. Someone infected with the Apocalyptic Bias will say, "The water is fluoridated, we are all gonna die." It is just the way they look at the world. I have concluded that they can't help it. (This is not to say that water should be fluoridated. The US is the only country that adds this toxic poison to the water, directly impacting our precious bodily fluids.) 

Our precious economic bodily fluids are in danger! At least that is the accusation hurled at David Stockman's new book—The Great Deformation.  Both left and right are not happy with him. Paul Krugman called him a cranky old man. Well, he is old. He is cranky. He is a man. But is he a correct cranky old man? Here is a quote from his introduction to the book:

The real reason for the current crisis of debt and financial disorder is that public policy had veered into the ditch, permitting an unprecedented aggrandizement of the state and its central banking branch. In the process, the vital nerve center of capitalism, its money and capital markets, had been perverted and deformed. Wall Street has become a vast casino where leveraged speculation and rent seeking have displaced its vital function of price discovery and capital allocation.

If you have been reading me here, this is pretty much what I have been saying. So is David Stockman infected with the Apocalyptic bias? Maybe. But then again I may be as well. 

Let me give you an example of the Apocalyptic Bias from the Bible. Matthew 24 from the KJV says this:

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

All these are the beginning of sorrows.

I do not know how many times I have heard verse 7 preached that the current world affairs are proof that the end times are near. This is the Apocalyptic Bias in action for Matthew 24 is actually saying the opposite. Here is this same passage from the Message. 

4-8 Jesus said, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, the Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.

Someone with an Apocalyptic Bias is going to go away from a reading of Matthew 24 with a different understanding than someone who is not infected by this bias. 

In the same way someone with the Apocalyptic Bias will see a lot of doom on the horizon. The joke about such people is that they have predicted 10 of the last 5 recessions. 

Is Stockman an example of this? I will give my review later but I will share some interviews Stockman has given recently over the last few weeks so you can decide for yourself. In the meantime here is a Monty Python version of the Apocalyptic Bias.  


Future Shtick

For the last three Tuesdays I have shown cheesy videos from the 70's available on YouTube. I bet you were hoping that was enough. Alas, here is one more. 

Future Shock was a well-received "futurologist" book that I remember reading. Alvin Toffler was the author, and he became best buddies with Newt Gingrich in his later years. Orson Wells was only a shadow of his former self (metaphorically), and his voice was available for productions like this for a reasonable fee.  Wiki describes the term Future Shock to mean "too much change in too short a period of time."

Maybe I should write a book called Future Shtick. I could say things like the Amazing Criswell who in Plan 9 from Outer Space said that "the Future is where we will spend the rest of our lives." Never were truer, or dumber, words spoken. 

Moore's Law states that every two years the power of a computer chip will double and the cost will halve. Thus things that seem like Science Fiction become science fact. I think that eventually this will stop. Compound growth cannot continue forever. As Herb Stein once said, if something can't continue, it won't continue. But for the near term this will continue and us old fogeys will continue to receive more change than we can handle. 

Be sure to notice the height of 1970's technology in this documentary, especially the 8-track tapes!