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Are we headed for Armageddon? Find out for only $29.95!

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So I’m at Slate, minding my own business, trying to decide what bit of thought-provoking and pithy commentary to click on, when all of a sudden an animated GIF ad flashes in the lower left-hand corner of the screen.

“Showdown: Iraq”

“Is this a sign of End Times?”

“Find out from Tim LaHaye and other End Times Scholars”

“Subcribe to the Left Behind Prophecy Club”

Dude, I’m totally in! I clicked.

“Will WAR IN IRAQ launch an unstoppable chain of events that lead to ARMAGEDDON? Find out when you subscribe.”

And then you have to enter your email address to find out more. I did. $29.95. That’s how much it costs to find out if WAR IN IRAQ will launch an unstoppable chain of events that lead to ARMAGEDDON.

So, sorry, I can’t tell you the answer to that question. But, just guessing here, I think the answer might be something along the lines of “Yes, quite possibly.”

Just in case you’re some kind of Jew, Muslim or other devil worshipper who doesn’t know who Tim LaHaye is, he’s the novelist who has turned the New Testament’s Revelation to John into United States foreign policy. Well, not exactly. One hopes.

The Left Behind books are adventures set in the Biblical End Times–a violent and spectacular period in the future, during which you are probably going to endure some kind of horrible heathen fate–and inspire this kind of reaction (from an Amazon reader review):

    Okay, I’ll admit I’m hooked on the Left Behind Series. I’ve now read all eleven books, and I’ll definitely read the last one when it’s released. There’s enough good content to peak my interest and keep me going through the boring parts. It’s like being hooked on a soap opera. I’m too caught up in the story and the characters to stop caring now.

and this one (ditto):

    However, while I’ll continue to read the Left Behind series, I have to agree with those who say that “The Christ Clone Trilogy” by James BeauSeigneur and “Conquest of Paradise” by Britt Gillette are better books and much more realistic end times scenarios. As an added bonus, since “The Christ Clone Trilogy” and “Conquest of Paradise” are both complete stories, you don’t have to worry about the rapture coming before you finish reading them!

If you don’t quite understand, as I do, how toxic such seemingly harmless fun can be, well, good for you. Enjoy your happy little world.

Understand, though, that if the U.S. starts rampaging through the Middle East (er, even more than now), and that starts a wave of terrorism that sets off nuclear explosions in a population center near you, and people start dying of mysterious plagues all around you, and police lose control of the population, and it’s chaos everywhere and every day you live in fear and it seems like the world is about to end at any moment…Tim LaHaye readers are going to be THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.

Because that’s what they’re waiting for.

From the Left Behind Prophecy Club message board.

     I have experianced many wars where the USA has been involved, and I have never had such a bad feeling about a war ever before. War is always not a good thing but this one has given me such a  ‘heaviness’ in my heart, a knowing that it is only the beginning of more to come….I do believe we are living in the end times and that this war with Iraq is the precursor war to Armageddon…all the signs are here. I have been a student of Bible prophesy for over 25 yrs, and never has there been so many signs as now in history. My husband RunningBear and I are in constant prayer for peace for the world and to bring peace into mankinds hearts~~~Does anyone else feel the same?

I don’t mean to generalize, but I would estimate that EVERY SINGLE CHRISTIAN who thinks about the Rapture along these lines is also CERTAIN that it will happen within his/her lifetime. However much the odds seem against it (heard of any other wars in the Middle East in the past 2000 years, people?), they’re sure. And they want it to happen.

The only thing left to do, really, is to split hairs about who gets saved….

    Dear Wendy,

    Your posting was beautiful but concerns me.

    The fact that you love and embrace Jesus doesn’t save you and even that he is your sole and guiding light doesn’t save you. 

    There are a lot of smart people through history who use the sermon on the mount to live by but that doesn’t save them.

    Your best works can’t save your no matter how good you are.

    Your last sentence, if you have stated it as you intended tells me you probably aren’t saved.  You say  “I will feel unworthy of his grace should he truly save me”.  We are all unworthy, that’s true.

    Christ did his job be becoming that perfect sacrifice for our sins.  Our responsibility is to accept him as the only begotten Son of God who died for our sins and by personally accepting his sacrifice for your sins you are saved!  If you have done that you are saved!  See John 3:16-18.

    In the Old Testement the Jew’s had their sins forgiven for salvation by the offering a sacrifice of a lamb.  That was a temporary symbol of Christ’s future perfect sacrifice.  Now that Christ became that perfect sacrifice, we achieve the same Salvation the Jew’s did with their sin offering by accepting Christ as that perfect sin offering for your sins.

    God Bless,

    Bill

Bill is too polite to mention it, but all those Jews in Israel right now? Doomed. That is, if things go Bill’s way. (They do have the option of renouncing their religion, though.)

And you know how some people are so outrageous as to suggest Bush is waging a Holy War? Well, these Christians wonder what all the fuss is about. Yeah, it’s obviously a Holy War, they say, we knew that from 9-11 on. And that’s bad…why? An October 2001 Christian newsletter:

    …George Bush sees this war as a war not between nations but between good and evil. Along with that, nations are aligning themselves either to back the United States or to back the Taliban. And those countries that try to remain neutral, George Bush declared will be considered against the United States. In other words, if you are not with the United States, you are against us. That identifies this war as a global religious war affecting every country.

      The Washington Post , September 14 – Bush: U.S. Must ‘Rid the World of Evil’

      Speaking at a multi-faith prayer service in Washington’s National Cathedral, the president mourned Tuesday’s victims and said: “Our responsibility to history is already clear – to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.” “This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger,” Bush said. “This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and in an hour, of our choosing.”

    We have not only turned back to religion, but the reversal of the 1960’s through the 1990’s has been accomplished all of a sudden .

And this is a good thing, understand?

Obviously these Christians represent only a tiny tiny fraction of the population, though, right? After all, Charles Manson was a wacky Christian, too, but his “family” wasn’t really all that large. Surely these Christians longing for Holy War and worldwide destruction are not that many, right?

Sorry. Through the end of 2001 the Left Behind series had sold 50 million copies.

Well, at least folks who believe in this stuff aren’t in positions of power in the government, right?

Sorry.

Well, at least there are no evangelical Christians screwing around in the Middle East right now, right?

Sorry.

I’m trying to figure out what the downside to Armageddon would be to those in power. I mean, if things spiral out of control in the Middle East, is that bad for Bush politically? Nope. The more scared people are, the more they will look to Bush for rescue. 9-11 gave him a huge boost. Security is the only major issue on which Republicans beat Democrats in polls–all other issues belong to the Democrats. Would it be bad for Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz and their foreign-policy goals? No. Their plan for escalating action will become the only solution to the problem.

So…Bush gets to have a nation in fear, giving the Republicans an advantage. His advisors get to keep going with their aggressive plan. And Bush gets to go down in history as the bitchenest Christian ever. And all he has to do is let violence spiral out of control in the Middle East.

Sleep well.

Armageddon is Now Available Everywhere

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About Brian Flemming

  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    Everyone can watch Avoiding Armgeddon on PBS over the next few nights for free.

  • andy

    um…most Christians understand that Left Behind is just fiction and while LOOSELY based on Biblical events, still is just fiction.

    Tim Lahaye has the worst theology in history

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    UPDATE

    I got my free email from the Left Behind Prophecy Club.

    Here it is…

    ————————————————

    Monday, April 14


    This week’s promise:
    Wherever we go God is there.

    Sometimes it feels like God is far away.

    . . . I can never escape your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! . . .

    Psalm 138:1-12 NLT

    There is no height nor depth to which God will not go to be with us.

    adapted from the TouchPoint Bible, New Living Translation (Tyndale House Publishers, 1996)

    Copyright ©2003 Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

    Copyright ©2003 Agora Media, Inc. All rights reserved.



    Update your profile or
    unsubscribe here.

  • The Theory

    i once got called “pagan” because I vocalized my distaste for the “left behind” books. Sure, a nice percentage of christians realize the books are only fiction, however, a lot of people also honestly think that the left behind books are above the Bible.

    And I know a LOT of Christians against the war. Most aren’t happy that “this could bring on the end times”. Sure, some are. And some are fully supporting the war because they support Bush and America.

    Biblically speaking I think it would be impossible for this to be a sign of the end times, anyway. As a loose paraphrase, Jesus said “No man will know when I shall return”

    peace.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    I perhaps could have been more clear that I’m aware that there are plenty of Christians who aren’t obsessed with the Rapture. And I also know many who are against the war. There are lots of Christians and other religious people at the war protests.

    As far as these non-Rapture-obsessed Christians, though, I have to wonder what their take will be when push comes to shove. Because, if fundamentalist Christians continue to gain power in the government, push will come to shove. Fundamentalism shoves. It polarizes. To paraphrase one fundamentalist, born-again Christian: You’re either with us, or with the heathens.

    Bush reads his Bible every day. Is it only his business what part of the Bible he reads? Given thehistory of government leaders who were very religious, and our own Founding Fathers’ strong feelings that religion could be toxic to government, and who it was who spoke at our President’s inauguration, I wonder why the media isn’t inquiring more about this issue.

    “Is fundamentalist Christianity a danger to the U.S.?”

    Why is this question off-limits?

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Although I generally identify your posts as unworthy of much serious thought (sorry), you’ve really got me thinking with this one. I could actually take the time to go through it point-by-point, but instead I’ll address only your penultimate question, “Is fundamentalist Christianity a danger to the U.S.?”

    No. But then, I make a distinction between “fundamentalism” and “extremism” which a lot of people aren’t these days, what with the war and all. An extremist Christian is someone who shoots a doctor that performs abortions, or advocates doing so, or the “God Hates Fags” guy. In my view, those extremist are completely missing the fundamental aspects of Christianity, which Christ described as “Love your neighbor.”

    So is extremist Christianity a danger? Yes, of course. Extremism of nearly anything is dangerous, if extreme enough. Is fundamentalist Christianity a danger? No. Without going too much into arguing point-by-point, I’ll just say that we’ve had quite a few “fundamentalist” Christians involved in our nation’s history since way back with much more positive effect than negative.

    People who believe the Left Behind tripe may be many things, but dangerous isn’t one of them. I occasionally get frustrated with fundies who are convinced that because they think they understand such-and-such a passage, and it’s in the Bible, no disagreement may be allowed. Never mind that the passage in question often means something entirely other than what they believe if the surrounding context is read. That’s frustrating, but not dangerous unless taken to extremes.

    Personally, I look forward to the day when fundamentalist Moslems grab their religion back from the extremists. While I think Islam is false, at least it could coexist peacefully with my own religion if not in the hands of the extremists.

    Which is just how I feel about the Left-Behinders.

  • andy

    I agree. I believe the fundamentals of Christianity. I don’t parade around w/ “God hates Fags” signs, buy into “left behind theology” or any of that crap, and frankly, push won’t come to shove for a lot of us Christians because a lot of us don’t even believe in a “rapture”. A lot of us don’t believe in a literal translation of Revelation, a lot of us aren’t dispensationalists. There’s a whole other side to Christianity than that shit you saw growing up.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    andy,

    There’s a whole other side to Christianity than that shit you saw growing up.

    Dude, I know. I have said as much. Often. And recently–to you. Will you find where I said the equivalent of, “All Christians are dangerous Christians,” please?

    Otherwise, you aren’t really refuting anything I’ve said so much as setting up your own straw man and then knocking him down.

    Phillip,

    While I think Islam is false, at least it could coexist peacefully with my own religion if not in the hands of the extremists.

    How would you classify someone who goes to the Middle East and actively tries to convert Muslims to Christianity? And does it in the wake of a devastating military action taken by a Christian commander-in-chief? And does it with food in hand…to starving Muslims?

    Is this extremism? If not, is it close? Is it dangerous? Is it playing with fire?

    As far as the fundamentalist/extremist distinction you draw, point taken.

    However, let’s add up these facts:

    1. A certain Christian believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

    2. The Revelation to John.

    3. This certain Christian commands an army in the Middle East.

    Why should I sleep at night?

  • andy

    Brian, what I’m trying to say is that there are several sides to Christianity even w/in fundamentalism. I believe the Bible is literal also, but I would in no way interpret Revelation the way that the Left Behind camp does, and I have no reason to believe that GWB does either.

  • Lu

    Brian
    That is a very good question? “Why should I sleep at night?” You should sleep at night because it is not in your control. God loves you and God will be victorious. The world has its good things but mostly it is a swirl of confusion ruled by the master of confusion. Trying distract us from coming to Christ.

    “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1Cor 14:33

    The devil would like nothing more than for us to believe he does not exist. But he does exist and he has put this hardening in your heart towards your relationship with Christ. Have you heard of the saying throwing the baby out with the bathwater??

    If you were to die tonight and to go before God in heaven what would you say to him about why should get into heaven? The answer to that is how you can sleep at night. Because the truth is, nothing else matters.

    Now that may sound like extremist to you but it very simple to me. His Love for us is very simple.

    Christ died for ALL of us, to wash us ALL clean from sin so we can complete the plan God had for all of us, when he created it all. To be with him.

    God will be victorious in the end. I never could sleep at night either, until I knew this. Brian, you knew Jesus once and he knows you. God is waiting for you with his eyes on you (his prodigal son)always, his hands stretched in you direction always. Waiting for all of us, with a singular, scandalous, love and patience

    Much love to you and I hope and pray you can find your way back to Him.

    Lu

  • http://www.ministryofdreams.freeservers.com bob

    stopping by