More on Prophecy

Commenter Koseighty wrote this response to Don Camp following Don’s assertion that we’re living in the End Times. Koseighty explains perfectly how Biblical prophecy is constructed and how inevitably it can only fail.

Don said:
I base my conclusion (never absolute) on the fact that all the markers of the end of the age are converging in these days.

Koseighty: This is what every generation of Christian has said since, and including, Jesus himself. But, besides being nauseatingly clichéd, it shows you don’t understand Jewish apocalyptic literature.

Here’s how Jewish apocalyptic literature works. It’s written in two parts. In the first part the author elaborates all the woes afflicting the people, most often in highly symbolic language. In the second part, the author tells how God is going to set things right, again most often in highly symbolic language.

The first part, the woes part, is not in any way prophetic. The woes and abominations it describes is how the author see his world at the time of writing. The second part, while prophetic, is imminent. It is not something that will happen thousands of years later. The author’s prophecies are going to happen any minute now. “Behold, I come quickly!”

Inevitably what we see in these writings is the first part accurately describes the time of the author, and the second part fails to occur. Believers then either twist the words of the second part to “show” they really did happen, or they place the fulfillment at some future date, collectively called by Christians “The End Times™.”

We see this in Daniel. Scholars can give the year Daniel was written – 167 BCE, if I recall correctly – because the first accurate part describes events prior to that date, and the second prophecy part never happened.

The same can be seen in Mark. The author describes the, current to him, destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, but the imminent coming of Christ in clouds of glory doesn’t happen.

The same with Paul. He describes his times and the imminent resurrection at Christ’s coming (which will include Paul and his followers), but neither the coming nor the resurrection ever happen.

As with the author of the Revelation. He describes his current view of the world and the Roman empire and the imminent destruction to precede the imminent coming of Christ (“Behold, I come quickly!“) which never happens.

Sorry, Don. You’re making the same mistake all those Christians have made before you. Taking Revelation as a prophecy of a distant (to the author) future time instead of happening right then in the time the author was describing.

Perhaps the church should have listened to all those heretics rather than burning them. Perhaps they should have read those heretical texts rather than burning them. Perhaps then Christianity could have come to an accurate consensus on these things rather than the ridiculous one they came up with.

What’s this ‘Biblical morality’ we keep hearing about?

Is it feeding the hungry? Helping the poor? Visiting the sick and the imprisoned? Opposing injustice? Fighting against oppression? Giving away your possessions? Going the extra mile? Turning the other cheek? Respecting others? Loving your neighbour? Loving your enemies?

Or is just about sex? To read Christian web-sites and blogs, you’d think so. Jesus’ followers today are obsessed with it, which is why the God they make in their image is too. Sex that other people might be having, before marriage, during it; sex when it makes babies and when it doesn’t; sex with yourself; sex in the head, on the screen and in different positions; sex with too many partners, with the wrong partners and with partners of the same sex (the worst sin of all, apparently). They write about little else, because you see, what other people do in bed together is of great concern to God. It’s more important to him – or his self-appointed representatives on Earth, anyway – than hunger, oppression, slavery, injustice and genocide combined.

If only we all had sex like the Christian experts say we should (because it’s in the Bible) then we’d all be so much better off; civilisation wouldn’t be slipping into the abyss, God wouldn’t be so upset with us and we wouldn’t all be destined for hell.

End

But morality isn’t just about sex. In fact, it has little to do with who we sleep with and when. Rather, morality is about how we treat others, as Jesus said (Luke 6.31). Of course, how we treat others in a sexual context is important, but it’s no more important than how we treat them in other contexts. That’s because morality is, or should be, all embracing. It’s long past time Christians stopped banging on about it as if it was the only concern of morality. Instead they could start treating those who do sex differently from them as they themselves would like to be treated. That, if there really is such a thing, would be true Biblical morality.