Total Pageviews

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Don't Panic! It's Not That Bad!

It's December 31, AD 999. Across the land, jitters are intensifying. Already, especially since Christmas Day, shops began to sell their merchandise at a cheaper price. Neighbours who in the past squabbled over property and land territorial rights were far more amicable to each other, with those readily in the right to allow the other to have his way, even giving him more of his land if he wants it. Convicted criminals were let out of prison and allowed to wander freely, perhaps even receiving offers of hospitality and food. Even sheep and cattle were let out of their pens, and allowed to wonder freely.  

As the day wore on, everyone looked at each other nervously, as well as scanning the sky, looking for any abnormality seen in the heavens. Shops no longer charged for their wares, people in the streets greeted each other like lost relatives reuniting. People gathered in homes, huddling each other. Long-standing disputes were put aside or forgotten as they try to perceive their future fate for eternity.

Meanwhile in Rome, people started to assemble into the cavernous expanse of  Basilica di San Pietro, at the Vatican, the headquarters of the Church. As midnight approached, the Bishop of Rome held up the giant Host, taken from the Monstrance located above the Altar. The clock struck twelve, followed by a deep silence, and then the clock suddenly stopped. Two or three people in the assembly screamed, one or two others died from shock on the spot. As the seconds turned into minutes, the otherwise silent vigil continued. Gradually a sense of relief began to be felt among the congregation as further minutes into January 1, AD 1000 elapsed with no further supernatural incidents. No legions of flying angels filling the air, none of the stars falling from heaven, no crashing thunder outside, no flashes of lightning, no earthquakes, no sign of the basilica splitting in two, no sign of the floor opening up to swallow them up. It was over - a good example of "Whoops, not this time!"

The Basilica of St. Peter, Vatican City.

Of course, the general belief of the world ending at midnight of December 31, 999 could well have been common back then, as the ushering in of a new Millennium was perceived as a milestone of Christian history. Then wind forward nearly another thousand years and the same enigma happens yet again, only with less drama and panic, but with a whole lot of new books on sale at bookshops and even for hire at local libraries. A new phenomenon, I would say referred to as the Rapture Generation began to fill the minds of many evangelical Christians. And I was one of them, who believed at the time that my remaining days on Earth were numbered. It was due to Cyrus Ingerson Scofield who, at the beginning of the 20th Century, produced the Scofield Bible with its emphasis on Dispensationalism, together with the certainty of the Rapture, or Translation into heaven of every dead believer in Christ, immediately followed by every believer still alive at that moment.

The consequence of such thinking led to wild speculations among popular literature. For example, former NASA engineer and Bible student Edgar C. Whisenant believed that the Rapture will occur in 1988, and wrote a book, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988, itself published in 1988. However, his was not entirely original. In 1970, Hal Lindsey had his book published by Zondervan: The Late Great Planet Earth. A few years later, Lindsey released another book, The 1980's Countdown to Armageddon, along with The Terminal Generation. Both these books advocated that the 1980's is actually the very last decade of human history as we know it, and the Rapture will occur sometime before 1990. Following the Lindsey publications, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins wrote a series of fiction, Left Behind, first published in 1995, which is based on the aftermath of the Rapture, and these books has even been made into four movies. Also Norman Robertson's book, Understanding End-Time Prophecy, published in 1989 by Sovereign World Publishers, has Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev leading a massive army on horseback towards Jerusalem, in fulfilment of Ezekiel chapter 38. In reality, Gorbachev's presidency ended in 1991 with no further ado.

And so, where is Scriptural backing for the Rapture? I am aware of three references: Isaiah 26:19-21, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. A less direct reference could be John 14:1-4. It is these verses that convinced me of the reality of a future Rapture of the Church to Heaven, marking the beginning of the end of human history as we know it. And anyone well acquainted with Holy Scripture will realise that a phenomenon of this kind has happened before in history - twice in fact. The first was the translation to heaven of Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam (Genesis 5:21-24) - an incident which verity was endorsed by the writer of Hebrews 11:5. The second occurrence was with Elijah, recorded in 2 Kings 2:1-18, with quite a spectacular angelic display for Elisha's benefit and endorsement of his successor's ministry to Israel.

So with such references direct from Scripture, throughout the seventies, I became a fervent believer in the Rapture of the Saints to heaven, and with C. I. Scofield's Dispensationalist theology as a backing, I took in Hal Lindsey's prophecies, together with Norman Robertson's and others as authoritative. But time beats on. December 31, 1999 came and went, and into the New Millennium normal life beats on with no divine intervention or supernatural signs in the skies. But my belief in a future Rapture has remained firm. The difference is, that the most safe attitude I can take is knowing that such an event is imminent - it will occur suddenly, completely without any expectation. But we don't know when. As far as we know, it could be another thousand years. This is something only God knows, and him alone. As far as I'm aware, there has been much anxiety over the decades over literally nothing. Life beats on, unhindered.

The Rapture of all the Saints

And exactly the same applies to this day. The Daily Mail newspaper is at panic mode when polls suggest a loss of lead for the Conservative Party at the election manifestos. It does look as if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has gained some popularity. So this has put the frights up the Right-leaning national newspaper, as it makes every effort to demonise Corbyn whenever he hesitates slightly during any of the tough interviews he has to go through. This is because of a threat of higher taxes on demand from this private enterprise, as the Labour manifesto has promised higher taxes from larger corporations such as The Daily Mail newspaper. But on the contrary, if any uncertainty was shown by Conservative Theresa May, especially on the major issue of immigration, such shortcomings are quickly covered up. Today, an article appeared in the essay pages, which is a very panicky two-page report comparing the future of Britain under Jeremy Corbyn's administration to that of the failed socialist administration of President Nicolas Maduro over Venezuela. The article was written by The Daily Mail journalist Robert Hardman on the 2nd June, which was yesterday, a Friday following the Bank Holiday weekend. His article describes the disastrous political and economical failure of a socialist Government while he was staying at the country's capital, Caracas. Hardman warns that if Corbyn wins this coming election, Britain would end up like Venezuela.

This topic has brought up various issues here. Really, I have to ask: Does The Daily Mail really think that the English are so damned stupid and gullible, that they believe everything they read? Here I'm defending the intelligence and integrity of my own countrymen here in the UK. It looks to me that there is a certain level of dishonesty here in this debate. First of all, even if after Corbyn and his party does take over Government, there is no way that any socialist policy would consolidate into a Communistic regime and economic environment in any resemblance to Venezuela. After all, this South American country is a Republic, with President Maduro, an active politician, as supreme Head of State. By contrast, the UK is a Kingdom, under a Monarchical Head of State. As long as we remain under such a system, any chance of the UK taking even a short step closer to Venezuela is practically impossible. 

With the Queen and the Royal Family, the very political, social, and economic fabric of the nation will always remain stable. And it's extremely unlikely that any coup to overthrow the Royal Family from power by Corbyn would ever happen! And that despite even if a large percentage of Britons are leaning towards Republicanism. After all, consider the decade long administration of Labour Tony Blair as Prime Minister between 1997 and 2007. Did we shift towards Communism? Or for that matter, when we were under Jim Callaghan before Margaret Thatcher was voted in. Or even Harold Wilson's Labour administration before that. Not forgetting Clement Atlees's introduction of the NHS into the UK soon after the War. All were Labour ministers. And yet, in spite of such history, the newspaper continues to spread such nonsense and fear of a future Labour Party apocalypse. 

However, there is another issue here, and one serious enough to question the trustworthiness of the Daily Mail national newspaper. It was by simple observation and background checking of various sources from which these newspaper journalists quote from. And I couldn't have reeled in a bigger fish than in an article written by Stephen Glover just a few weeks ago. Glover accused fiction novelist, Julian Barnes, a Remainer, of deceit and dirty tricks towards Brexit voters by accusing the newspaper of neglecting the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, by relegating the news to a minor article found thirty pages within the newspaper. Instead, Barnes actually wrote that the conviction of Jo Cox's killer Thomas Lair was featured in the minor article, and not of the murder itself. These are two separate events. The murder took place on June 16, 2016. The conviction took place over five months later, on 23rd November, 2016. Barnes was referring to the conviction of the killer, not on the murder itself, as Glover insists by deliberately misquoting.

Learning about this has put a very serious dent in my trust at the newspaper's accuracy and authenticity. It has never been quite the same. The newspaper has demonstrated its right-wing bias to such an intensity, that I no longer trust it as a reliable source of knowledge, especially on political issues.

And so another question has arisen on this latest article by The Daily Mail reporter Robert Hardman. Reading what he says about a social disaster in South America, he wrote his report while he was staying at Caracas, Venezuela's capital. And he wrote it on the Friday 2nd June. That was yesterday, five days after writing a report on Sunday 28th May that his week-long family holiday to Greece, meant to start on Saturday 27th May, was ruined by the crashing of all British Airways computers, apparently by a power cut. So, under the insistence of his children, the flight was rebooked to "later in the week" - with a hint that it would be two days later, that is, Monday the 29th. Even though he would "spend a day or two" swimming with his family in Greece, to end up in Venezuela by Friday looks to me as cutting it too far to the quick. Not only that, but according to his own testimony, by Friday June 2nd, he should still be with his family in Greece, which coincides with the school half-term break. He wasn't meant to fly back home until today - Saturday June 3rd. After all, he was still in the UK when he wrote another report about his inability to collect his luggage at the airport until he posed as a foreigner from overseas. And this was written on the 29th May, which was Bank Holiday Monday. This led me to being confused over the authenticity of the Venezuela article. Assuming that they flew to Greece somewhat midweek, to return home today - I read that he was in Venezuela yesterday. Pardon me if I seem rather thick, but it looks as though the facts doesn't add up.

No Tie. Robert Hardman at Airport on 27/5/2017

Was Robert Harding in Venezuela yesterday when he should have been in Greece still? That is the confusing part. The only two plausible scenarios are, either he did not fly to Greece with his family at all, but sometime midweek, possibly on Tuesday or Wednesday, he flew alone to Venezuela from London. The alternative, which I consider to be less likely, is that two or three days before the end of his holiday, Harding was told by The Daily Mail to either fly back to London for a connecting flight to Venezuela, or even fly direct to South America from Greece, thus fulfilling his own prophecy of "one or two days swim" which appeared in his first report. Whichever way, this whole shenanigan looks very iffy. It beggars credibility.

To be committed to a cause can be virtuous in itself. Going back to the authors of popular books on eschatology (study on end time prophecy), I believe that they were sincere in what they believed in. But they all had to resort to speculation on when the Rapture will happen. The reality is, not only have they discredited the historical truth of the Bible, but they have lost all credibility themselves. In other words, they can no longer be trusted with handling Biblical revelation. Just as it is dangerous to one's own credibility to attempt to date the end times after the Bible specifically instructs us not to do so (Acts 1:6-8). So also, pushing fear and anxiety over an election manifesto by lying discredits the newspaper, and makes it untrustworthy of a source of political knowledge.
You can read in greater detail on how newspaper journalist Stephen Glover has deliberately misquoted Julian Barnes in order to defend Brexit by clicking here


  1. Dear Frank,
    Thanks as always for the excellent post, tying together Biblical prophecy with current events. I hadn't realized that Hal Lindsey had also fallen prey to the error of declaring the date for the Rapture. As the Bible says, no man knows the day or the hour. But as you say, the Rapture is imminent, and praise God, it could occur at any moment -- perhaps tonight! Current events certainly do seem as if the End Times could be right around the corner, but then again, even the first Christians thought it would happen during their lifetime. One thing we know for sure -- it's one day closer today than it was yesterday!
    May God bless you and Alex,

  2. Over the years, numerous american journalists have stated that their job is not to report the news, but to shape public opinion. As a result, they only report what fits their ideology and ignore everything else. When their conclusions turn out to be false, as you mentioned, they lose all credibility with intelligent people. They blame everyone else for the decline in revenue they have experienced as a result. Similarly, numerous prophecy teachers have ignored scriptural teachings that did not fit their agenda, and have lost their credibility. In the process, they have cast a great deal of doubt on all who believe the scriptures to be the Word of God.