Wednesday, 6 January 2010

From the original AW: Future Shock

Former Plain Truth writer Keith Stump wrote this article for the original AW site.


Twice during the past month I was asked, in chance meetings around town [Pasadena], about my views on recent events in Europe and the Middle East "in light of Bible prophecy", since I often used to write on these subjects for the Plain Truth magazine and World Tomorrow telecast. Twice I explained, at some length, that the question is meaningless, since the prophecies (as I now believe) were fulfilled nearly two millennia ago. And twice I looked into the face of stark, unreasoning fear, as the questioners--for a brief moment, before composing themselves--entertained the terrifying prospect of not living in the "end times" after all.

I have seen this fear many times in recent years. It is the panic that surfaces when one's defining worldview is challenged and doubt momentarily takes hold.

"Preterism" is the name given to the view that biblical prophecies about the "last days"--including those about the "Beast" and the "Great Tribulation"--were fulfilled in their entirety in the first century, during the lifetimes of Jesus' disciples (the "last days" of the Old Covenant). COG ministers dismiss this view out of hand, believing that they heard and refuted the preterist arguments years ago at Ambassador College--when, in fact, they were never truly exposed to preterism at all. Further, as I've been informed, many of these ministers, through intimidation, insist that their congregations avoid looking into preterist "heresies", lest they fall prey to "deception".

The churches of God profess reverence for truth, yet many seem to go out of their way to suppress members' exposure to viewpoints that potentially threaten the party line. Why? Is not truth invincible? Should not true teachings be able to stand up to close scrutiny? As I asked in a previous letter, how much is a faith worth that fears to take an honest look at itself? Only lies and falsehoods fear examination.

I know, from personal discussions, that some current ministers in the COGs harbor doubts about the "futurist" approach to prophecy, as taught by Herbert Armstrong and others. Yet they remain silent for fear of their jobs and livelihoods. Their fears have grown larger than their faith. Others fear what they might discover if they were to seriously look into preterism, so they simply don't look into it. They realize that if they were to be convinced of its truth, they would face agonizing personal decisions.

As the familiar saying goes, "What is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark, or the man afraid of the light?"

Through conversations with ministers and members, I have learned that few have any real idea of the biblical case for preterism. They think they've heard all the arguments, but are, in fact, largely ignorant of them, as revealed by their naive Spokesman-Club responses. I challenge everyone reading this letter to spend ONE HOUR [researching the Web on this subject.] Many will find themselves compelled to spend far longer, as long-held assumptions are challenged and--for some--light begins to penetrate the dense, tangled layers of fundamentalist jungle that have long suffocated the truth in their minds. Christians must have the courage and humility to reevaluate their views, to test their beliefs, to look at other perspectives, giving them fair and honest consideration. A true man or woman of God follows the path of truth no matter where it leads.

Why does this matter? It matters because fundamentalist prophetic foolishness percolates through the thinking of COG members, producing a warped and distorted spirituality, an obsession with trivialities, a squandering of lives on irrelevancies, a burying of talents and potentials because of a myopic focus on a nonexistent "gun lap."

Experience has shown that deliverance from a "last days" worldview causes many people to focus for the very first time on what a true Christian life really consists of--being agents for good in the world NOW--rather than fixating on a fantasy future that exists only in their imaginations. It often leads them to reevaluate other false beliefs, like the entire mindset of clock-and-calendar-based spirituality, and the abysmal silliness of the so-called "18 restored truths". It's liberating, it's empowering, it's life-affirming.

There is no "tribulation" ahead other than the same types of trials and tribulations that humankind has experienced throughout its history, and that will still be with our great-great-great grandchildren in their "Star Trek" world of the future. Amid these tribulations, we are here to grow and to help others grow--to become stronger, better, wiser--to be agents for good and for God on the earth--not to waste our lives obsessing over the minutiae of dead prophecies and playing at religion in a fundamentalist fantasy world.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

this is good stuff keep it coming Gavin

nice to know stumpy made it out in one piece

Anon said...

Excellent posting from Keith.

Certainly echos a lot of what Corky has been saying for some time.

larry said...

One man's opinion. And maybe there are others. But, the fact remains that some of the prophecies could NOT have been fulfilled 2000 years ago. The technology simply did not exist.

For instance, consider Rev.11:8-10 with the understanding that the top speed of communication in those days was the same as a rider on a fast horse.

That one should have stumped "Stumpy".

Anonymous said...

Larry,

I beg to differ about the top speed of communication in the times of around 20-50 AD. Trumpets, drums, ram horns, and forms of heliographs were used for communication.

All significantly faster than a rider on a horse.

Leonardo said...

Larry, once again, as we've all come to expect, your comments reveal your ignorance.

I knew Keith Stump and he was (and presumably still is) an honorable and extremely intelligent fellow. He could very easily answer "the stumper" you assume you have.

Stump's view is not just "one man's opinion" - it's validated by clear reasoning, unlike virtually anything you ever say here on AW, which truly are just mere assertions with no facts, evidence or compelling reasoning to back them up.

And, as the rest of us realize, this article is not ALL Stump has to say upon this subject. Perhaps you should more seriously study into "the other sides" of biblical prophecy. I never did when I was an ardent COG member, but once I was exposed to other ways of interpretating such "prophecies" it really opened my eyes.

Anonymous said...

"A true man or woman of God follows the path of truth no matter where it leads."

But not so far as to actually doubt the existence of god. That particular path of truth is pretty short, "fundamentalist" or not.

The Apostate Paul

Ex-Android said...

When I was on the way to the exit
from the WCG back in '91 I answered an ad in Christianity Today offering a booklet on Preterism. The title was "What Happened in 70 AD?". That led to a wonderful study proving that futurism was and is a lie.

Further study and reflection proved that both the futurists and the Preterists are wrong. The former accept that some things are only "spiritually understood" such as the date of the time of Christ's return. They also look for an actual kingdom.

The Preterists, on the other hand, accept literally the time of Christ's return ("at hand") and spiritualize the meaning of the kingdom.

Actually they are both twisting the scriptures to hold Christ free from error.

Corky said...

Larry, you do understand that the book of Revelation is not literal, don't you?

In the OT, who is represented by the olive tree? See also the context of Rom. 11:24.

Who is represented by the candlesticks? (Rev. 1:20)

In Jerusalem there were three witnesses; Peter, James and John.

John is now in exile writing this book - who does that leave to be the two witnesses?

The things these witnesses did is all metaphorical because, well, that's the book of Revelation, a book of signs and symbols.

Dr Zoidberg said...

Larry Said...

One man's opinion. And maybe there are others. But, the fact remains that some of the prophecies could NOT have been fulfilled 2000 years ago. The technology simply did not exist.

For instance, consider Rev.11:8-10 with the understanding that the top speed of communication in those days was the same as a rider on a fast horse.


Ancient people's had utilized "speed of light" communication for ages, they were called signal fires, and were lit from peak to peak as warnings or celebrations.

The city of Rome was not so large as you couldn't ride across it in a day on a horse.

I don't know Morse code, but that doesn't mean the telegraph didn't exist.

larry said...

Dr.Z and Charlie, you are really grasping at straws.

Corky, of course, some of Revelation is symbolic, but some obviously isn't. (like the passage I mentioned)

And Leonardo, do you ever skip an opportunity to insult me? If you tried really really hard, you might be able to.

Anonymous said...

"'Preterism' is the name given to the view that biblical prophecies about the "last days"--including those about the "Beast" and the "Great Tribulation"--were fulfilled in their entirety in the first century"

An interesting viewpoint, but it only covers one outcome. An honest comparison of the "propechies" claimed by WCG and other fundamentalists reveals several possibilites:

1) many were fulfilled in the first century. Of course, this was easy, since they were written or amended after the actual events took place;

(2) others were intended for first century fulfillment but history did not quite work out the way the writer had hoped and they never did happen; and

(3) many "claimed prophecies" were never prophecies in the first place. Most of these were Old Testament scriptures that were written about current events, not future events. These scriptures were picked up by the anonymous authors of the New Testament, "Matthew" being the most egregious, and twisted into supposed prophetic scriptures. Predicting, of course, the events the writer was claiming.

When 90%+ of the population is illiterate, and the concepts of copywrite and plagerism had not yet been invented, writers and copiers felt it was perfectly OK to take any prior work and change it any way they saw fit. Such is the genesis of the "infallible" bible.

The Skeptic

Anonymous said...

I feel that many of the opinions aired on this part of the blog are far too narrow.

Every person has their point of view,and rightly so,too.

The biological systems of this earth may not perhaps permit Keith Stump's great-great-great- grandchildren to enjoy life as we now know it.

Man seems unable to control or curb natural calamities around him, and Copenhagen is about as useless as mammary appendages on the male bovine.(I had a cousin there,a scientist from Sweden,as an observer.How much he benefitted from this talkfest I don't know.Little, I would suspect.)

Sooner or later we humans are going to run out of options.That,I believe is the stark reality.

Where we go from there is anyone's guess.

Cheers,

Jorgheinz

Leonardo said...

Once again, notice Larry's above "response" - cynical comments and assertions, but never actually addressing the issues other bloggers put to him.

I've got to give it to you, Larry - at least your consistantly irrational, not quite what we'd expect from a professional scientist with a PhD, but consistant nonetheless.

You talk of insults - you've invited them yourself by your loony assertions of academic credentials, professional titles and other unbelievable life "accomplishments" that you quite obviously do NOT possess or have not done.

So who's insulting who, Larry? You insult our intelligence much more by all the far-out boasts you make considerably more than we insult you by simply demanding reasonable evidence for all your many assertions.

Leonardo said...

Unfortunately Jorgheinz, your negative prediction of mankind's ultimate doom has been made by others many thousands of times before, and have never ONCE come to pass - NEVER.

So why can't folks like you (as well as your doomsdayer cousins, the prophecy fundamentalists and the global warming fanatics) just accept the reality that the earth and mankind have been around a LONG time, have endured through much, and will very likely continue on out into the future?

Corky said...

larry said...

Corky, of course, some of Revelation is symbolic, but some obviously isn't. (like the passage I mentioned).

And, that is the main reason why it is not understood, even by the high mucky muck theologians.

If you don't accept the first three verses of the book as literal, the introduction, then you reject the only literal part of the whole book.

The rest of the book is all symbolic and metaphorical ("signified") sayings of "things which must shortly come to pass".

larry said...

See Leo, there you go again!

I don't seem to recall doing any "boasting", just telling the truth.

Shrug.

Anonymous said...

Leonardo,

You are just a rustic homespun philosopher.

You are a loose cannon, man.Take off those blinkers.There are none as blind as those who won't see.

Leonardo,our family in Sweden/Finland has 8 doctorates,3 masterates,one bachelor's with an assortment of degrees in the offing.

Would you like to be confronted by this array of learning and be shown up for the rank amateur that you are.? Of course,it will never happen..we don't live in a perfect world.

They would eat you for dinner,Leonardo.

One of these doctorates is a legal officer who prosecutes people for hate speech.He would have you wrapped round his little finger.
Both his parents were/are professors of theology as is a sibling.

I read their papers on the Internet and they directly contradict what you are spouting off about.And,may I add, Scandinavia collectively has the best educational system in the world.

And another of those 8 doctorates is a climate scientist who attended the Copenhagen conference.

And for me,they are just an email away.

You sound off without giving much thought to what you are saying.Open your eyes man, and look at the world around you.But then,again,you perhaps deserve the blinkers you are now wearing.



Jorgheinz

Leonardo said...

Well, if I'm just merely a country philosopher in your estimation, Jorgheinz, at least I know enough to have asked serious questions of you in the past that many times you've just refused to engage with. So who is truly “the rank amateur” here, buddy boy?

And Jorgheinz, I don't give a hoot in hell how much "alphabet soup" someone has after their name. I've debated folks with PhD's from Harvard, MIT and Cal Tech, and you'd be surprised how astoundingly ignorant some of these folks can be outside of their narrowly-focused field of specific endeavor. Not ALL of them, but many of them, perhaps even most.

Jorg, you arrogantly wrote:
“Would you like to be confronted by this array of learning and be shown up for the rank amateur that you are?”


Is this a serious challenge you propose, Jorg? If it is, my answer to you is a resounding YES, as a matter of fact, I would.

Any time you’d like to arrange an Internet debate with any of your academic big-wig relatives about the general kind of subjects we discuss here on AW, I’d be glad to engage them in civil discourse anytime (assuming we would disagree on any particular issue) - unlike you, who, like the good "scientist" Dr. Larry, always manages to slink off the field of serious debate with a few vague and unfounded assertions and/or witty little quips to evade seriously addressing the real issues at hand with more than a comical quip or an ambiguous generality.

You wrote:
“I read their papers on the Internet and they directly contradict what you are spouting off about.


OK Jorg, let’s start by providing some detailed specifics, my friend. What exact topic was I “spouting off” about that your very erudite relatives would take exception to?

Put up or shut up.

Or will you just cower off the field as you always do when anybody gets serious about any given specific topic you can’t provide a wise-crack for?

And YOU call me a “rank amateur?”

larry said...

Well Jorg, there you go. Any criticism of Leonardo, even mild, immediately elicits a lengthy diatribe. I don't think Gavin enjoys my repartee with Leo, but I personally think it makes the blog more entertaining. This is entertainment, isn't it.

I have found it rather pointless to argue here because no one is going to change their mind, based on what is said here. But, I occasionally throw in my two cents worth just so the comments will not sound like a choir. So now, you are in his sights. Good luck!

And by the way, Jorg, I too come from a family with a lot of advanced degrees, most of them doctorates, so I really do not take it seriously when he criticizes my communication skills. I have probably had much more experience dealing with intellectually inferior people than he has.

And Leo, that statement will probably make you mad, but please don't let it. If I really wanted to make you mad, I would show you my tax return.

Anon said...

Leonardo said:

"And Jorgheinz, I don't give a hoot in hell how much "alphabet soup" someone has after their name. I've debated folks with PhD's from Harvard, MIT and Cal Tech, and you'd be surprised how astoundingly ignorant some of these folks can be outside of their narrowly-focused field of specific endeavor. Not ALL of them, but many of them, perhaps even most."

I had friend who was a certified member of Mensa, and they were also a follower of Herbert Armstrong.

Degrees or even high IQ doesn't prevent them from having deluded thought processes.

anonSeven21

Anonymous said...

"I had friend who was a certified member of Mensa, and they were also a follower of Herbert Armstrong.

Degrees or even high IQ doesn't prevent them from having deluded thought processes."

http://www.apologeticsindex.org/265-who-joins-cults-and-why

“No one type of person is prone to become involved with cults. About two-thirds of those studied have been normal young persons induced to join groups in periods of personal crisis, [such as] broken romance or failures to get the job or college of their choice. Vulnerable, the young person affiliates with a cult offering promises of unconditional love, new mental powers, and social utopia. Since modern cults are persistent and often deceptive in their recruiting, many prospective group members have no accurate knowledge of the cult and almost no understanding of what eventually will be expected of them as long-term members.”

Anonymous said...

"I have found it rather pointless to argue here because no one is going to change their mind, based on what is said here."

Yes, minds can be changed here, including mine, IF evidence is provided to support your claims. But you cannot or will not provide evidence.

The Apostate Paul

Leonardo said...

Larry, the simple fact that you are reduced to bragging so much about your academic prowess, your life accomplishments (such as having saved people from a sure death because of your work. Here's YOUR exact words from a previous blog:

"I have relieved suffering, comforted the ill and sometimes the dying, and rescued some from death...to the point that there are people and their descendants who would not be alive today if not for my work."

This nonsense, combined with the fact that your reasoning power, and ability to clearly communicate such, consistantly demonstrates that you are about at the level of a pre-high school grad, all prove to me that you are nothing what you boastfully yet ambiguously CLAIM to be.

And if you think these topics we discuss here on AW (well, at least the more serious ones) are mere "entertainment" - then you truly are nothing remotely close to the well-educated, professional scientist you want others to think you are.

You are as phony as a three-dollar bill - your own words have shown that.

Leonardo said...

Larry opined:
"I have found it rather pointless to argue here because no one is going to change their mind, based on what is said here. But, I occasionally throw in my two cents worth just so the comments will not sound like a choir."


Oh, so that's why you never really can intellecually hold your ground in virtually any assertion you've ever made here on AW, because it's "pointless to argue."

Well, of course, this is absolute nonsense. Minds can, and have, been changed as a result of the blog topics and subsequent discussions that have taken place through the years here on AW.

As I've often pointed out in the past, you'd be surprised who occasionally drops into this site and monitors the various discussions, and actually is quite impressed with certain of the more serious topics.

But the changes come about in slow, step-by-step fashion, and that's the whole point of intellectual give and take: folks who take it seriously sharpen one another, and DO provoke thought, and sometimes permanent change.

Of course Larry doesn't believe in intelligent discourse - only in tossing in his "two cents worth" (really Larry, do you actually value your comments that highly? Two cents seems a bit over-priced in my view) - typically in the form of evasive random comical comments that never really speak to the immediate issues under discussion.

His invisible God has opened his mind to higher truths - truths the rest of us are just too dull and stubborn to understand. Therefore Larry and his ilk don't waste their time on things like reason, logic, facts, evidence or in clearly communicating their ideas, at least in any way worth serious consideration. They are above such things.

Hence, since folks like Larry refuse to take part in such serious discussions, he is only left with one option: boasting of his unverifiable academic degrees, his professional status, how many lives his work has saved, how much money he earns, how many of his relatives hold doctorate degrees, etc. - as if these things are legitimate substitutes for his complete inability to write anything that actually contributes in some way to the general discussion and which are worth reading.

Think about these things.

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen,gentlemen,

It is gratifying to see that the standard of debate is up to its usual excellent cynical standard.
Whooppee!!

You are all correct in many of the things you say.

I don't, funnily enough,disagree with much of what you all say.

It is probably the way you say it.
A little more courtesy,a little more tolerance.No one person has all the answers.

We are all cynics on this blog,let's face it.But there are different brands of cynicism in the marketplace and we each choose which package to purchase.

Leonardo asserts that the earth will likely be around for quite a while yet.If Revelation pans out he will be correct.

Gentlemen, I am doing two things here.Testing attitudes and tolerance.Playing Devil's Advocate,yes!!

And I have not been disappointed.

Leonardo,you seem to have problems with climate experts,Bible so called "fundamentalists" etc.Now why would that be? Because their key does not fit into your keyhole,it does not mean to say they are not a viable option.

And as for my high-flying relatives...they exist well enough.

One of these professors lectures in comparative religion and can well hold HER own,never fear.
And in multiple languages may I add,not just English.

No,you wouldn't want to tangle with my cousin,the barrister and public prosecutor.He is a powerful force in the courtroom and men are imprisoned for saying naughty things about Jews,Muslims and other minorities.He is a smart cookie.The far right hate him.
Out of court he would give you a run for your money,too.But,no I do not intend to arrange a debate.It would serve no purpose.

And,I agree with you gentlemen
that possession of a higher degree does not denote superior intelligence or powers of reasoning.All it tells you is that they have laboured in a certain discipline.

Why,in the scientific world I do some work for a person who says that all these young graduates are "idiots" and in one way he is right.And he is a "Christian",too.

Perhaps,we all,including myself need to repent in dust and ashes and also develop the pachyderm hide that Senor Tkach has.

Anonymous said...

In other news, anyone read Wally Smith's latest?

"Here's why a Council of Evil with politicking, infighting, and factionalization is wrong! Watch as I kiss Spanky's butt better than Bob Thiel! Go Living Church of God! Rah Rah Rah!"

Blah.

Leonardo said...

Anonymous 12:28 wrote:
"Leonardo,you seem to have problems with climate experts,Bible so called "fundamentalists" etc.Now why would that be? Because their key does not fit into your keyhole,it does not mean to say they are not a viable option."


I have problems with anyone who makes dogmatic claims without supporting facts, evidence or a clear rationale for believing what they do. And fundamentalists and the more left-wing fanatical global warmers both fall into that category.

It has nothing whatsoever to do about someone's views "fitting into my keyhole." I'm extremely tolerant and open-minded about giving a fair hearing to any view (whether I currently agree with it or not), but one must sequentially demonstrate its validity, not just assert without proof and merely expect the rest of us to humbly agree.

And I'm more than willing to openly debate folks in civil, fact-based discourse - such as the highly academically-decorated relatives of Larry and Jorgheinze - but very few seem willing to discuss their views in a format that requires evidence and reason.