Pop, it sounds like you believe that fig tree is almost in full bloom and that the end times are near, is that right?
The fig tree parable seems to be one that could be referring to the imminent destruction of Jerusalem, or the end times, or both. In Mt. 24: 32-35, the signs of the ripening tree are presented with a timeline attached: "this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place." And, as we know, that generation did see the Roman armies come in and destroy the temple worship in Jerusalem, and also disperse the Jews throughout the world. Prophecy fulfilled!
It seems that some evangelical "biblical prophets" recon the generation to be within a few decades of the re-establishment of Israel as a nation in the 1940s. That's now going on 70 years -- long for a generation, which is usually considered around 40 years.
Another issue is that almost every generation since Christ could look around and point to evidence of a ripening fig tree. The example of you give from JPII concerned the showdown of the Church in Poland with the USSR -- serious stuff, to be sure. I don't know that it's possible to demonstrate that the world is getting better or worse. You put up some good examples, but there are positive ones as well -- like more people living in democracy, fewer people being killed in wars, a growing sense of a global consciousness, growing solidarity with people in underdeveloped countries, growing ecological sensitivity, and many more. One hopes that grace is more efficacious in the human community than evil, no?
So . . . I don't know, Pop. Thanks for sharing your reflections, though. Thought-provoking, as usual.
Yes, ‘almost in full bloom’ is kind of what I feel. Certainly I hope that might not be the case, but that’s not how I feel (in all honesty) – not that I am saying imminently but with a definite potential for occurrence in my lifetime.
As for ‘demonstrating whether the world is getting better or worse’ … I tried to show my thinking not just in the vein of the world getting better or worse as also in the vein of the Christian world growing starkly cold and being torn asunder from within by false teachers, apostasy, and betrayals; and from without, by militant attack from atheists, humanists, homosexuals, and political forces (with pseudo-Christians in leadership positions often enough) as well as external persecution of the Christian Church in Islamic nations, Africa and China. Certainly, within my brief lifetime I have not experienced a greater sense of irreligious sentiment in our American culture and among RC’s of my own family or acquaintance, and loss of attendants at mass and religious services, confession etc. The former (irreligious sentiment) is distinctly more pronounced and the latter (attendance at Church services) less today than in my youth. Neither of those is an indicator of fervor for God or the devout life. What can I say? And as I tried to express things are more extremist in social culture as a whole. The Christian churches have become secularized. Society has ‘salted’ the church more than the other way around. (All imo of course …. but I have one at least. Lol.)
As for your positives:
‘more people living in democracy’ – that’s a neutral more than a positive in my book; because if a democracy is peopled by irreligious folk with greater hostile voice and numbers … well that’s not a positive per se, and quite likely a negative. Leaving it at as a neutral for now is best I would offer (imo of course). Indeed what I had tried to show was that in our US democracy and the European democracies the behavior of democratic folk has been growing more and more irreligious -- and militantly so. And the fruit of our democracy has been not so evident (certainly as far as abortion for example; and one could argue about war and self-interested business and commerce and our and other free nations’ attention to genocidal ethnic cleansings.) Democracy is not in itself a guarantor of holiness, though most certainly it is better than a totalitarian state.
‘fewer people being killed in wars’ – certainly it’s true that we have had no world wars with super vast loss of life; nevertheless over 100,000 Iraqis were killed by our intervention there, and the expansion of rubbled cities throughout the Mideast and North Africa, as well as the ethnic cleansings by Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Rwanda and what currently goes on in Africa’s Sudan, Nigeria, Bosnia etc. are perhaps more indicative of changed styles of conflict. Thanks God a WWIII has been averted to date. Your point is hard to argue around; but I don’t see it as a definitive ‘positive’. Christ told us there would be wars and rumors of wars and I don’t see what is going on today as much different.
‘a growing sense of a global consciousness’ – similar to my thoughts regarding democracy being a neutral rather than a positive (relative to discerning the fig tree’s fullness) global consciousness,from the discussion of ‘fig tree’ viewpoint, is an attendant puzzle piece that seems kind of necessary to end-times fulfillment. It is not in itself an indicator per se, but seems a necessary condition that will exist. I don’t see global consciousness as a positive per se. Global consciousness could well become an irreligious global consciousness. That’s kind of what I take away from what I believe would happen when the end-times are truly upon us. Initially global consciousness might be fine, but it’s not a definite. It might merely be a fulfillment of “just when everyone is saying peace, peace the door will close in on you like a trap”.
Yes, certainly ‘One hopes that grace is more efficacious in the human community than evil, no?’; but scripture shows us that the Divine Plan enables the increase of evil based upon supernatural realities and that the human community will embrace the Antichrist in his persecution of the Body of Christ. Our hope is in Christ not in the human community, methinks.
Ever the blue-meme I guess,
Thanks, pop. I'll reply sometime soon, but just wanted to note that your posts aren't inherently Blue Memish. What you're doing here is exegesis, which ought to be informed more by biblical scholarship and faith than a particular worldview.
What did you think about my point about this generation from the parable you're reflecting on?
Okay, Phil, we venture forward.
The fig tree parable seems to be one that could be referring to the imminent destruction of Jerusalem, or the end times, or both.
What did you think about my point about this generation from the parable you're reflecting on?
I will get to your question. But first a few of my own for All readers to consider:
1. Was the Roman attack on the temple of Jerusalem motivated by Roman hatred of Christ?
(I ask this because scripture says Christ in responding to questions regarding the end times and his coming again told His disciples they would be hated by all nations for His name sake.)
In all honesty, I haven’t had a chance to speak with any ancient Romans, but … I don’t think so, I don’t believe hatred of Christ was the issue motivating the Romans. I believe it was war with the Jewish Zealots. But I do believe that hatred of Christ (i.e. the Mystical Body of Christ present on earth in end-time days) will be the motivation behind our persecution by the followers of the Antichrist. And, hatred of Christ is based on irreligious sentiments – which is what I see happening with greater frequency and intensity in these times, as I mentioned in earlier posts. There are voices in contemporary culture that want freedom from religion not of religion.
2. Was the Father’s (who is the Lord of history after all) permissive allowance of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem not a judgment on the Jews (his Old Covenant people, to whom he had repeatedly sent prophets and even his own son)? Does not the parable of the wicked tenants Lk 20:9-18 address this judgment against the people of the Old Covenant? And did not Christ bemoan His people’s rejection of Him and its consequence for them? (Lk 19:41-44). The Romans didn’t come for Christians; they didn’t come based upon hatred of Christ. The Temple wasn’t being used by Christians in 70 AD.
3. Will not the Father one day permit judgment on the people of the New Covenant? Sound just? Scripture says He will. Our creed says He will. His judgment begins with His own. A read of the letter to the Hebrews is worthwhile. Hebrews 2:1-3 if you don’t have much time. The people of the Old Covenant neglected their part in being responsive to God, and some people of the New Covenant will as well – seed that does not fall on good soil.
OK, Phil, -- to your question: I believe Christ was referring to both the destruction of the temple and to the end times. I guess that now puts me into some labeling category. I hate the labeling of course because it tends toward dismissing one’s belief as merely representative of just another belief style among SO MANY.
I believe that Christ’s words were applicable to that current generation of His disciples that He was addressing, and that He desired to protect them from being hurt by the judgment the Father was allowing against the Old Covenant Jews. He wanted to prepare his followers for escape and preclude their getting involved with useless defense of the temple. But as well, Christ was speaking to us the generation of the New Covenant and advising us of what is to come.
We need to live watchful with oil in our lamps, awaiting the master’s return, we need to be awake and with a proper wedding garment, lest as Hebrews tells us (as well as other epistles and gospels) we fail to inherit our promise and are found unworthy.
NT scriptures are riddled with admonitions to be watchful and alert; to not succumb to false teaching; to test the spirits; to not get influenced by the world or deceived by the devil. I do not believe Christians were to remain vigilant only up to the fall of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD and after that need not look to the lessons of the fig tree and the signs and stages that scripture gives us regarding end times (including Thessalonians which clearly details significant tips on staging).
Those are my beliefs and they are not in conflict with the RC church’s beliefs. They are a synthesis of what I have read, heard, and pondered about over the course of my days. And yes, I have heard other arguments which I have rejected.
That said, and your question answered, I venture a little more in discussion with All readers.
When I see the doctrinal devastation and betrayal of long held scriptural beliefs and the effects of said betrayals and the teachings that surround them (abortion, homosexuality, gay ministry, living together, sterilization, disobedience to clerical authority etc); and I see the loss of piety and attendance to religious practices; and I see the acceptance of evil as a minimum and sometimes the very promulgation of evil and the coldness of hearts – within Christendom (really departing from long known and safeguarded truths of Christian revelation), I recall the parable of the cockle. ‘An enemy has done this!’
How does such change come to pass? Via false teachers – antichrists – and our permission to them to take a podium in the name of tolerance, via misguided attempts toward unity, via not ‘judging’, political correctness etc. etc. The headway made by error has been vast and brutal.
‘Little strokes fell great oaks,’ a German proverb claims. Years of listening to falsehood and one betrayal of doctrine and/or disregard for religious practice after another, and one permitted advance of secular thought after another, one sin after another has decimated us from within.
We, the generation of the New Covenant, the Body of Christ, are the New Jerusalem -- are the new temple in which, by covenant, God dwells ….. Alas, there is abomination in the temple – in the new temple! A judgment similar to that against the people of the Old Covenant will be one day convened scripture informs us.
By and large I agree with what you have written. I do think you make too much of your point no. 1 - The Romans did come to hate Christ and Christians, and many emperors tried to extinguish the Light of Christ in the world.
During the run-up to the destruction of the temple Josephus tells us that many Jewish (false) messiahs/christs arose and deceived the people with lying signs and wonders. So too do the history records account for false signs and wonders performed by Roman emperors (such as healings and the like)leading others astray.
When looking at the prophecies of Christ, He sometimes talks of the judgement against Israel and the temple and at other times talks about the persecution of the church.
At later times the Christians were persecuted from all sides, Roman, Greek, Jew, Barbarian and the list continued as Christianity moved throughout the world, Arabian, Muslim, Persian, Indian, Chinese, Mongol...sadly in the name of Christ there has been some persecuting from our side as well, rightly you say God's judgement shall come on us all.
Coming back to the destruction of Jerusalem, Christ rightly warned his followers to forsake Jewish nationalism...something that would not have been clear to zealous Jews who had become Christians. It was important for Jesus to give Christians details regarding the "end of the Jewish world" because without those clear warnings they would never understand the need to let go off their nationalism and the symbols of the old covenant (like the temple).
It seems to me that unlike the people of the Old Covenant the Church will never be destroyed in like manner - she is the Bride of Christ and while those who forsake her will be judged accordingly she will be purified through the judgment of those who stand against her. The gates of hades will not prevails against her - she will grow like a mustard seed until she provides shelter for the birds of the field - yes, she will always be a mixture of wheat and tares, but the tares will become self evident to those who truly love the Lord - give the false prophets and the unregenerate enough rope and they will eventually hang themselves.
Vigilance - yes
Watchfulness - yes
Fear - no
Anxiety - certainly not
If Christ is for us who can be against us!
Of course we can take the prophecies to be representative of both the past and the future. Is this not exactly how the prophecies of the Old Testament worked in relation to the coming of Christ.
But sometimes the final fulfillment was slightly different from the original and therefore I don't think it is helpful to become too dogmatic regarding the signs and staging of the final fulfillment (eg. reading Thessalonians and making dogmatic statements regarding how the Antichrist will come) is this not the mistake that the dispensationalists make when they write such fictitious accounts like "Left Behind" and "The late great Planet Earth" - in these works the authors wield together world news and first century prophecy as though there was no early fulfillment and no need to even contemplate the fact that the later fulfillment may be different from the first. I think this is unhelpful and potentially dangerous - it often results in people taking their eyes off Christ and looking instead for the Antichrist in every newspaper article, natural disaster and political unrest.
But again, I hear where you are coming from Pop-pop and by and large I find no serious problem with your exegesis (as though my opinion matters ) - while I may stress the earlier fulfillment (because it provides such a powerful testimony to the reliability of the scriptures and their clear guidance concerning events in the early life of the church) it is not wrong to believe they will have a future application.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Jacques,
Pop, I surely do see all the kinds of problems you call our attention to. I also see how one could consider them in the context of Jesus' teaching about a ripening fig tree. My problem is that I don't know that these problems are sufficiently unique to qualify as indicating a shift to a decadent culture.
Here's an interesting quote, for example:
That's from Plato, sharing something he heard from Socrates!
Just a few decades ago we had the slaughter of over 6 million Jews, not to mention the millions that Stalin put to death. Well, we got through all that, and things are dramatically better in those parts of the world. There's nothing remotely similar to that today.
The shifting worldviews in the West are indeed playing havoc with traditional religion, but it certainly doesn't signal the end of Christianity or good-will among human beings. We've been through this before, sometimes with several popes, Reformations that killed Catholics, Catholics who killed Reformers, witch hunts, crusades, etc. Life went on. . .
I don't find anything uniquely disturbing about the evil of this age except the prospect of terrorists getting their hands on some very dangerous weapons.
I do agree that Mt. 24 seems to be one of those passages where teachings about the end times and the fall of Jerusalem are so intermingled that it's difficult to tell which is which. It all begins with the disciples admiring the fine structures of the Temple, then Jesus begins his teaching that "not one stone here will be left on another," which is an obvious allusion to the sacking of Jerusalem by the Romans around 65 A.D. Then he goes on to share teachings that could go either way.
Re. the destruction as a judgment by God against the Jews. . . I don't know. I tend to not image God in such a manner, and of considering judgment more in terms of natural and logical consequences rather than a punishment initiated by God. Historically, the cause of the Roman invasion was arrogance by the Romans and zealotry by the Jews ( http://wildfiregames.com/0ad/page.php?p=1513 ). That had all been building for a long time. Jesus sees it coming, but I do not see where he attributes this as a judgment of God against the Jews or Romans. It all seems to be a logical consequence of clashing worldviews and ideologies.
I do believe there is an "agenda" with the new atheists and materialists to discredit faith. Of course, one response is to engage them on their own turf and to demonstrate to them the limitations of empiricism. That's a whole other discussion, however.
Okay, then. Differences in opinion.
Are you up for one more round, or are we done then?
I don’t want to be boorish and I certainly realize that you are busier than I and may be pressed for time at the moment; ……………. and I also realize that this topic may be more annoyance than joy.
Pop, differences of opinion regarding the end times are bound to happen with this topic. As you know, there have been many books by evangelical Christians laying out schema that indicate the end times are very near. Just for the record, that would be fine with me.
I'm not the only one engaged in the discussion here so have at it. I think you articulate a position that many identify with.
Folk can answer this if they have time and an inclination; yet it is suitable just as something to reflect on – to ponder.
It’s June. You are a student taking senior year finals.
Your teacher distributes the exam and it reads as follows:
1. You are a watchman or a virgin with oil in her lamp and living a prayerful life with an eschatological awareness based upon the revelation of Christ as given you in scripture concerning the end times.
2. That the professionals of bible scholarship (as opposed to a Jersey man-on-the-street) are correct, who indicate from their footnotes found for example in the RSV (Catholic Edition) Ignatius Study Bible: “His [Christ’s] return is closely linked with the judgment of Israel and the downfall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, which is in itself a prophetic preview of His Second Coming in glory to judge all nations at the end of time”, and “The command to be vigilant operates on several levels. (1) The earliest Christians, still worshipping in the Jerusalem Temple must be prepared to flee the city before its downfall. (2) Everyone must be ready for his personal judgment by God. (3) The church must persevere in holiness while awaiting Jesus’ Second Coming at the end of time”; and as well, by different other groups of real bible scholars whose footnotes appear in the New American Bible: “Luke sets the Second Coming at a later date, in the times of the gentiles (Lk 21:24)” and elsewhere: “…a religious apostasy is destined to precede the Lord’s second coming. It will be embodied in the man of lawlessness a personage totally dedicated to evil, that son of perdition marked for eternal doom …. He will be anti-God and will himself lay claim to divine honors…… the lawless one will make his appearance accompanied by all the panoply of satanic power. He will bring some to ruin, but is destined to be destroyed by Jesus’ coming.”
3. That the CoCC is correct; i.e. that the professional bible scholars and theologians whose scholarship forms the basis for the CoCC were correct in enabling catechists to state:
675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. 574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth 575 will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies HIMSELF in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. 576
680 Christ the Lord already reigns through the Church, but all the things of this world are not yet subjected to him. The triumph of Christ's kingdom will not come about without one last assault by the powers of evil.
677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. 579 The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.580 God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.581
676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,577 especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.578
1. Psychology informs us from observation of human behavior that folk of differing temperaments exist and can at various times and to differing degrees manifest behavior termed ‘paranoia’, but just as readily folk can live in a state of ‘denial’. As watchman or lamped virgin you yourself must consider whether you may be afflicted with these behaviors.
2. In one’s watching for valid signs of the ‘budding of the fig tree’ -- whether watching in the next 3 decades (Pop-pop’s lifetime) or in the next 3 centuries, or 3 millennia from now, there will always be a discounting voice (a counter - biasing factor) to deal with. This voice will always be present with factual historical realities, with truth that will always be applicable no matter the decade or century, since history is history and cannot be discounted whether ‘budding’ is occurring or not.
Such voices might say for example: ‘We had the slaughter of over 6 million Jews, not to mention the millions that Stalin put to death. Well, we got through all that’. or ‘ We've been through this before, sometimes with several popes, Reformations that killed Catholics, Catholics who killed Reformers, witch hunts, crusades, etc. Life went on.’
3. Since ‘the increase of evil will cause the love of most to grow cold’-- i.e. will spawn the mass apostasy (and both in conjunction prepare the stage for the AC), there will exist a ‘boiling frog’ biasing factor that will numb folks’ sensitivity to evil / sin. Btw, JP II said that the loss of the sense of sin is one of the most (or single most, I don’t have the quote at hand) serious dangers affecting mankind today.
Realizing a faithful remnant will exist in the days of the mass apostasy prior to the appearance of the man of lawlessness, and that that remnant will be sufficient in number to subsequently be persecuted and martyred in large measure, but not totally, for a period of years (3 ½ yrs if taken literally) – for some will survive to His coming, describe in your own words the criteria YOU WOULD USE to support validation that the mass apostasy is occurring or (extra points) has already occurred.
Btw: “AIYEE!” is an acceptable answer and will receive a grade of A. All other answers will be marked on a curve. LOL.
p.s. The god whom some folk call Father differs from the God whom Jesus called Father – no gloom and eternal doom from some folk's Abba. Jesus gave us The Good News, but some folk give us The Better News. Everything is coming up roses. Everyone gets saved. There will be no hell and eternal damnation. Even the Devil and His angels get forgiven in the end – undergo a restoration. No need to be alert and vigilant -- be relaxed and comforted. No need to be watchful since there will be no AC forthcoming (he came and went with the Romans) -- everything stressful already happened back in 70 A.D. No need to be sober – be drugged. Why Christ was anxious in the garden is beyond understanding, why He sweat blood in fear and trembling is so hard to understand – I mean everything is rosy and will ever be. Some folk know this, why didn’t Jesus? What was that jingle He was whistling on the cross …?This message has been edited. Last edited by: pop-pop,
Thanks, Pop. I'm in the middle of conducting a retreat but will get back to you soon. I hope others consider your post and write a response.
Pop pop, thank you for editing me out of your previous post. We can continue our discussion on pm.
The funny thing is that 5/6 years ago I was far more "paranoid" than you are. I used to post here at shalomplace about conspiracy theory and the New World Order and how they all seemed to indicate that the AntiChrist would soon be arriving on the scene. I was constantly pessimistic and negative (perhaps even paranoid). I guy by the name of Mystical Michael used to post about the same things...but his style and arrogance made me question much of what he had to say. He was unable to actually engage people in conversation - instead simply bombarding us with pages and pages of conspiracy theories. God began showing me another side to life, a side that included all the Good He is still accomplishing in the world. This slowly began to change my negativity and I believe I am better for it.
I admit that at times this has then taken me too far over to the other extreme...my focus on the Love of God has at times left me too soft to sin and too eager to avoid topics like God's Anger or Wrath. But this too God will overcome in me as I am transformed into the likeness of His Son.
I spoke of hell in the context of a conversation and I made it clear that I was speculating and that the concepts were not yet clear to me. I left that conversation with the following statement:
Note I am not even saying that we cannot or should not prescribe to people/other Christians, only that we should be careful in doing so...we are not infallible and we might be mistaken about things...I know I am often mistaken and I am happy to admit that.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Jacques,
I hope you two guys can work it out. You've both been good contributors here and you both express opinions that many can identify with, even if they don't jump in on the conversation.
Fwiw, one of the most interesting books I've ever read was Jospeh Provenzano's The Philosophy of Conscious Energy. Joe (as he insisted I call him in our exchanges) is a HUGE fan of Teilhard de Chardin, whose theology helped him integrate the scientific paradigm he worked in with Christian theology. I didn't agree with everything he said about the different world philosophers and theologians, but his presentation was coherent and congruent and did make sense. In the final section of the book, however, he took Teilhard's idea of matter being "congealed spirit" (of sorts) and postulated that the Big Bang that started the material universe coincided with the fall of the angels, and that God was presenting these fallen creatures (now dispersed as material energy) an opportunity to become redeemed through the evolution of consciousness. Obviously, there are many problems with such a theory, but it did provide a means by which the fallen angels could become redeemed (as us!). Problem is - - how to explain the evil forces that obviously still do exist? For Joe, that was just part of the evil of the angels still latent in matter. Drifting dangerously toward Manicheism . . .
I think I came on a little strong last night, it was late and I was really hurt by what you said Pop-pop. But my apologies for the strong language.
Jacques, I don't think you were out of line. I can how you would have perceived that your Christian faith was being questioned, and so it's understandable that you felt put down and needed to speak up. I'm sure Pop will have a response as it's been my experience that he doesn't mean to be insulting anyone personally in his disagreements. Sometimes we all word things awkwardly.
I've always experienced you as genuinely curious and humble about your faith. It's been a pleasure interacting with you as we both endeavor to learn new and deeper dimensions of Christianity.
And I have appreciated Pop's role as fierce watch-dog of the Faith and Scripture. But it is true that his comments can be a bit 'biting' at times.
About that essay, Pops, it's an interesting challenge. I just don't know...
Pop, that was quite a preamble to what turns out to be a rather simple question: evidence for mass apostasy either occurring or having occurred, as this is associated with the coming of the antichrist and end times.
My answer is that I don't know.
However, declining church attendance could be an indicator, but not fool-proof. Surveys about faith and religious beliefs through the years could also be used. Stats on numbers of people martyred for their faith would be another. The problem is that we have no way of comparing this with earlier times to know if there's anything more significant about these times.
There is an implicit apostasy that is even more difficult to measure, and it's that people aren't antagonistic about the faith so much as just plain indifferent. It doesn't matter to them . . . doesn't inform their values or decision-making. Today's atheistic/agnostic naturalists are a case in point, and they are growing in numbers. But even such people aren't antagonistic toward believers until we want to oppose abortion rights or something like that. Then they show their true colors. Still, most of them would support your right to worship God as you see fit; just don't ask them to worship your God your way.
People want to believe we're in the end times, or close to it: fine by me. As I've noted before, you can always marshal evidence to support your position. I do not deny that all that is prophesied will come to pass; I just don't know that when that will be.
Very interesting thoughts by all. Jacques the only one who will determine who are His is Christ. I take great comfort from this scripture. Has anyone noticed that in revelations the No. of man is 666. We really do need to be born again and made new creations but that like any birth takes time growth struggle. But knowing He will never leave us or forsake us, He is faithful. He died for all men. Love in Christ
For Phil and ALL: (I have made insertions into Phil's post)
Pop, that was quite a preamble (Yes, lol, and I have just edited an addition into it to address the boiling frog factor. And I also edited my postscripts to make it general in nature rather than personal.) to what turns out to be a rather simple question: evidence for mass apostasy either occurring or having occurred, as this is associated with the coming of the antichrist and end times.
My question, you understand, was to the line of what it would take for any reader to come to a conclusion re the ‘budding of the fig tree’ – shy of the AC’s actual appearance (which will of course be confirmatory, though too swift to enable all to be well prepared or maximally prepared perhaps). It was intended to provoke thought, not justify my current opinion – which admittedly might be inaccurate timing-wise.
My answer is that I don't know. A good answer! (An honest answer is always a good answer!) Shasha too gave a similarly honest and thereby GOOD answer.
Unfortunately though, in the spirit of Brother Ricardo my HS English teacher, I have to give Shasha an ‘F’. Br. R., smiling, took his red pen and scrawled a full-paged ‘F’ on all 16 type-written pages of my assigned formal term paper as I handed it in. (Those were the days before word processors and printers and I had had to promise my girlfriend who typed it for me: 7 future dates and 45 kisses.) Br. R reminded me that a 20 page minimum was what his instructions had been and that I had failed to follow instructions. He then made me pick an entirely different topic: juvenile delinquency – because I was delinquent and juvenile -- and gave me a week to finish it (which had my girlfriend hopping mad at me as well).
And, in the spirit of Brother Byron my HS English teacher in a different year, I have to give Phil an ‘F’ as well. Br. B. doled me out a mere 20 points for the meager timeline detail I had included in my assigned book report on “The Number of Days Treated Fully in The Brothers Karamazov”. The ‘Classic Comic’ hadn’t provided any relevant info timeline-wise. (Brother B likely knew that would be the case.) Twenty points doesn’t get one out of ‘F’ land, no matter how many pages off-topic one writes. Lol.
Of course you both would have received an ‘A’ for Aiyee! But you both didn’t follow directions, alas. (Now of course, I’m waiting for a belated 'Aiyee!' from the Pennsylvania readership).
However, declining church attendance could be an indicator, but not fool-proof (must be fool-proof to be considered?). Surveys about faith and religious beliefs through the years could also be used. Stats on numbers of people martyred for their faith would be another. The problem is that we have no way of comparing this with earlier times to know if there's anything more significant about these times. Can’t know without hard data, eh? But this is the flaw with modern rationalistic thought when applied to supernatural issues. Science based on observable data is a good thing assuredly, but is out of place for analysis of eschatological future events. The prophecy given us by Christ and the Spirit regarding the end times presupposes belief in the supernatural. Reason and faith, not reason alone must be in play. No amount of reasoning and no amount of observable data would lead one to conclude there would even be an end times or an antichrist performing signs and wonders and persecuting the church, or a mass apostasy.
There is an implicit apostasy that is even more difficult to measure, (measurement and statistics, the domain of the scientist – the domain of the natural not the supernatural) and it's that people aren't antagonistic about the faith so much as just plain indifferent. It doesn't matter to them . . . doesn't inform their values or decision-making. Today's atheistic/agnostic naturalists are a case in point, and they are growing in numbers. (There you go; I can like this. You’re getting warmer). But even such people aren't antagonistic toward believers until we want to oppose abortion rights or something like that. Then they show their true colors. Still, most of them would support your right to worship God as you see fit; just don't ask them to worship your God your way.
People want to (Want to? I’m not sure that I want to. That might be a gloss.) believe we're in the end times, or close to it: fine by me. As I've noted before, you can always marshal evidence to support your position (and presumably to deny a position as well). I do not deny that all that is prophesied will come to pass (of course not – the Lord has told us these things will come to pass); I just don't know that when that will be. (of course not – the Lord has told us we couldn’t know with precision when.)
Again, I am not saying I might not be in error relative to the end times being within my lifetime – 30 years say. What I am saying is folk should be thinking (i.e. watching) a bit more out-of-the box. Watching with less dependency on hard statistical evidence will help not hinder, methinks (imO).
One day the fig tree will indeed be in bud (our faith tells us), and in those ‘whenever’ days, there will be:
1. A dearth of measureable statistical data; an insufficiency to support things being ‘clinically proven’.
2. The knowledge that the early church thought the parousia would be seen in their days.
3. History that includes the crusades, inquisition, Hitler, Stalin, the Roman emperors, witch hunts, ethnic cleansings, martyrdom, world wars, folks having followed some cult leader in suicidal behavior or a mistaken evangelist who thought the end was near, etc.
4. Accusations of paranoia. Noah got some good doses of scoffing, methinks.
5. A secular world that could care less.
6. A lukewarm portion of Christendom that is oblivious – caught up in the cares of life.
7. False teachers espousing.
8. The stupor of boiling frogs hardened from too many years of living with ‘increased evil’ such that evil seems normative, and with malformed worldviews that laud ‘reason’ over ‘faith and reason’ or the natural over both natural and supernatural, or science and technology over things that are clearly spiritual phenomena, or past observables as a required measure for the future when the future is a prophetic eschatological revelation given us by God.
Again, not to convince, but more to explain:
Relative to an ‘increase of evil’:
1. Is it unreasonable to believe (despite absence of hard data for other times in history) that there is an explosion in the numbers of men addicted to pornography because of its ready availability and private accessibility from internet sources, as well as the available leisure time to spend with it -- as opposed to the addiction to lust in previous centuries? These addictions have consequences to marital relations and to single men seeking partners.
2. Is it unreasonable to believe there was never a phenomenon of ‘flash mobs’ prior to the technological accessibility to text message?
3. Does not technology provide a force multiplier for evil as well as good? Does not cyber-bullying constitute an additional increase to good ole physical bullying? Technology provides a power to evil despite human nature being the same as over the past centuries. Is this unreasonable to conclude or are we afraid to give it dibs? Does not gossip, slander, detraction and other sin manifestations regarding the 8th commandment get passed about with substantially greater detriment, and quicker, due to tweets etc? If fewer folk attend church, if society has lost its sense of sin, which way does the increased power of technology lean – toward the good or toward evil?
4. Is it unreasonable to believe (despite absence of hard data for other times in history) that there was not a period of forty years when 53 million unborns were aborted by their moms, and that number, the statistics of but one country and not of the world at large? Despite absence of hard data for other times in history do you sincerely believe that Christian denominations advocated such practice as being of God??? A tad of intellectual honesty would lead you to say….?
5. Is it unreasonable to believe (despite absence of hard data for other times in history) to believe that the divorce rate was ever as high as these days, and that Christian divorce statistics were essentially identical to secular society? Any increase of evil attributable to the fruit manifested in family breakdown stats?
6. Is it unreasonable to believe (despite absence of hard data for other times in history) that the percentage of folk being caught up in the occult and caught up in New Age errors as well is increased by accessibility provided by the internet? (Perhaps the AC or his prophets will be New Agers).
7. Is it unreasonable to believe that the Pope is correct about the loss of the sense of sin?
8. Is it unreasonable to believe that with fewer folk attending church, the likelihood of increasing evil will continue?
9. If there are less religious practicing folk is it unreasonable to believe that there will be less concern for religious liberty in the U.S.?
10. While homosexuality always was and despite absence of hard data for other times in history, is it unreasonable to believe that its acceptance was NOT preached within Christendom and openly practiced clerically in earlier centuries? Gay marriage similarly.
11. Was use of texting to overthrow established governments a new evil? Is the overthrow of a government categorically good based upon it not being a democracy? Was what has already occurred in various countries possibly an evil? Are all the fruits in…those that extend beyond the rubble and deaths that were the first fruits?
Again, not to convince, but more to explain:
Relative to mass apostasy:
I. Is it unreasonable to believe that with statistics for European RCs attending mass on Sundays at a ~4% level that a mass apostasy has occurred in Europe? Could western civilization have been effectively Christianized with attendance at such low levels? Could the RC Church have come as far with such stats in evidence?
II. Is it unreasonable to believe that with statistics for American RCs attending mass on Sundays at a ~ 33% level that a mass apostasy has occurred in America? Could the RC Church have come as far with such stats in evidence?
The growth of the church in Africa is a good counter argument, I believe. And in China as well. Though persecutions by Militant Islamists and the Chinese State government are ongoing in suppression.
ANYWAY…… brevity long since lost I will stop here. These thoughts explain why I think as I do, rightly or wrongly.
The following scripture I think is an ideal focus for answering the final exam question (though ‘Aiyee’ will yield the promised ‘A’):
1 Pet 1:10-12 “This is the salvation which the prophets carefully searched out and examined. (And let’s not rashly accuse them or anyone of paranoia for careful search and examination, nor Christ and the evangelists for promulgating paranoia via admonitions to be vigilant). They prophesied the divine favor that was destined to be yours. They investigated the times and the circumstances which the Spirit of Christ within them was pointing to, for he predicted the sufferings destined for Christ and the glories to follow. They knew by revelation that they were providing, not for themselves but for you, what has now been proclaimed to you by those who preach the gospel to you, in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Into these matters angels long to search.”
I think that ‘THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST WITHIN’ will point the faithful members of the Body of Christ to a knowledge of the ‘budding of the fig tree’. That’s how a believer will know the budding and its signs are occurring …. and the AC when he shows up.
Pray constantly so that He remains within you, and you are not led astray.
Pro-choicers for example, and New Agers and many many others have been and are being -- led astray.
Well, Pop, for someone who doesn't usually take a shine to post-modern analysis, you surely went to great lengths to deconstruct my post wherein I'd responded to your challenge above.
Increase of evil seems to be your primary criterion, and that's a good one. Only since you scoff at hard data to document the evidence thereof, I suppose what we're left with is just an intuitive sense about this? Although . . . wait: you quote statistics about Mass attendance to prove your point. As you say, Aiyee!
But come on . . . seriously. . . trashing flash mobs?! I don't get that one.
Breakdown of family life is the strongest point you make, all in all, and it's a good one. Jesus did speak of "love growing cold" before the end times and one could try to make a case for that.
If fewer folk attend church, if society has lost its sense of sin, which way does the increased power of technology lean – toward the good or toward evil?
That's really hard to say. Technology per se is value neutral; it's how people use it. I tend to operate in a realm where it's mostly used for good, but I know people use it for dark purposes as well
I think we are indeed in a transition period, especially in the West, as we move from a culture that was largely Pre-modern/Modern to one that has become much more Postmodern. I don't see that lasting long as the shortcomings of Postmodernity have already been exposed, but it still might take awhile to move to a post-Postmodern (Yellow a la Spiral Dynamics) phase.
My sense about you, Pop, is that life outside the Blue vMeme realm (Pro-modernity) feels creepy and untrustworthy . . . even evil. That's sort of what's happening to people on both sides of the culture wars (inside and outside the church) these days.
You're right about one thing, however. Technology does up the ante for everyone. Things can and do move quickly because of technology.
Fine enough. No more on this topic for now.
As for the flash mobs -- you are only aware of the dancing ones, I guess. In Philly and I think a few other cities they were a pillaging phenomenon for a while. Cops weren't able to keep up with them. Mobs would convene at an intersection and loot and pillage the nearby stores so quickly and in such numbers that storeowners didn't know what hit them. I seem to recall the mayor of Philly pleading with youngfolk to desist
Anyway. In thirty years if I am wrong you can smile. And I too will smile despite the egg on my face. I will smile because I hadn't had to drink of the cup after all. And what's a little egg between friends -- or even non-friends. Heck I've had egg on my face many times over the years. Sticks and stones may break my bones but: EGGHEAD! will never hurt me. Lol......even feist, for that matter.
p.s. I have nothing against statistics and hard data, but neither do I insist of depending on hard data to reach a conclusion when hard data for various historical issues will not be existent. As for intuition, yes, I believe that intuition is the means by which the supernatural is made known to us. SJOC says as much. How else can we attain such knowledge?This message has been edited. Last edited by: pop-pop,
|Powered by Social Strata||Page 1 2 3|