Archive for May 2011

Apocalyptic Hypocrisy

05/21/2011

Today, May 21st, 2011, was supposed to be the beginning of the end according to Harold Camping and his followers. Obviously, they’re wrong, and we all know this, so I’m not going to waste time talking about that. No, what I want to discuss has to do with how Harold Camping is in, what Christians should consider, good company; like Jesus, Paul, John, Matthew, Mark, and the author of Revelation. There are two specific arguments I want to make: (a) if you’re upset with Camping, you have to be with the Jesus and the NT authors as well, and (b) you should be, therefore (a).

Jesus tells his disciples: “I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (10:23). Jesus, when speaking to the Sanhedrin during his trial, says, “you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:16; cf. Matthew 26:64).

The apostle Paul was the first New Testament author to reassure his believers that “the day of the Lord” will still take place any day, suddenly and without warning, like “thief in the night” even though more time has passed than what previously believed and even though some had died waiting (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). Paul also expected that some of the people he was writing to would be alive to witness the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15), including himself. Paul also writes:

“What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use things of the word, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20, 2 Corinthians 6:2, Romans 13:11)

(In the genuine letters of Paul, it’s clear he expected the end of the world to be at hand. This is one of the reasons why the Pastoral letters are believed by scholars to be psuedopigraphy (i.e., 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus).)

Elsewhere, we find the author of 1 John saying he knows it’s the “last hour.” He even expects to be alive when “the Holy One” comes (2:18,28). Still later we have the author of the book of Revelation repeatedly saying that the “time is near” or that Jesus will be coming “soon” (1:1; 3:11, 22:6-7, 10, 12, 20).

You might be thinking, “okay, fine, they were wrong too, but so what?” What about the mother that, terrified of the impending apocalypse, slit the throat and wrists of her and her daughter? What of the man who hung himself in a church today? What about the families that have given everything they have to Camping? And remember, these beliefs would have the same consequence 2000 years ago, so don’t try to fool yourself into thinking there wouldn’t have been any believers then who wouldn’t have done anything like we saw some believers do today.

Like I said: (a) if you’re upset with Camping, you have to be with the Jesus and the NT authors as well, and (b) you should be, therefore (a).

Modern Day Witch-Hunt in Polk County, Florida

05/08/2011

Let’s imagine for a moment you have a daughter, Bethany, in high school with an absolutely clean academic and disciplinary records. One night, over dinner, Bethany reveals to you that her teacher, Mr. Duff, has been giving A’s to students who don’t deserve them and provides you with copies of the work in question as proof. First thing the next morning, you speak with the principal, Ms. Bolland, to see that this matter is dealt with. Giving better grades to students that don’t deserve them is not only a disservice to the student who received the better grade, since they’re ultimately unprepared for the next year, it is a disservice to the tax payers, because they are paying for a dishonest and poor educator, and to every other student in the school, since they earned their good grades the right way.

Later that week, you receive a call from Ms. Bolland with some upsetting news: Bethany has received detention. According to Mr. Duff, Samantha, one of Bethany’s peers, accused Bethany of smoking a cigarette behind the school during lunch. Bethany did no such thing. Mr. Duff is punishing her even though no one actually saw this and even though Samantha has a somewhat of a well-known grudge against your daughter and an ulterior motive in making these allegations. The following day, Ms. Bolland calls you again but this time with some news that is significantly more frustrating: Bethany is being punished with a week of in-school suspension. The allegations against your daughter have no evidence aside from hearsay. It’s clear Bethany is innocent of the things she’s been accused of. Mr. Duff is furious with your daughter for the trouble he sees Bethany as being the cause of (when the blame rests squarely on his shoulders for forging grades in the first place) and has no problem abusing his authority in getting some revenge.

This situation is analogous to the one EllenBeth Wachs, Lakeland’s most noteworthy atheist, finds herself in. She’s suing the city of Lakeland for their exclusively Christian “pre-meeting” prayers as well as potentially pursuing the same against the Polk County School Board for the same reason. Ms. Wachs has also drawn attention to Sheriff Grady Judd for his act of donating county sports equipment to eight Christian churches. This sports equipment had been refurbished with money from a county credit card, coordinated by Polk County deputies who were working on the taxpayer dime, as well as cost taxpayers in less obvious ways like the cost of fuel spent transporting said equipment and the inmates who were going to install the equipment, and etc.

EllenBeth Wachs has angered many local officials and they’re taking whatever opportunity they can to hit back at her by arresting her on trumped up charges and allegations. For a brief rundown of what Ms. Wachs is facing, read here, here, and here.