Sunday, April 24, 2005

Preterism amplified

Under "Forty years in the making" (see below) peoplenotsheeple commented to rafe on why he believes the preterist view is flawed.

Christ's literal and bodily ascent will be reversed in the second coming, according to peoplenotsheeple. "That means he must return literally and bodily. I am happy to have the Spirit as a 'helper' and as an 'earnest' (downpayment) toward salvation. However, this isn't all there is to the promise of 'thy kingdom come... on earth as it is in heaven,' or the promise that the earth will be as full of the knowledge of the LORD as the sea is full of water.

"Long after the events of A.D. 70, John wrote in Revelation 1:7: 'Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him. And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him. This is certain. Amen.'

"As my eye hasn't seen it, I figure it has yet to happen."

issues are brought up here that can be instructive to us all. First, there's evidence that John wrote Revelation well before A.D. 70, and that his prophecy points to that date. A late date for Revelation (upon which futurism is founded) is built on the assumption that John was banished to Patmos by the Emperor Domitian in the A.D. nineties. Preterists agree that John was banished by an emperor named Domitian, but in the A.D. sixties. You see, Nero was known as Nero Domitian.

I'm still a schoolboy on the subject of preterism. So I invited the distinguished preterist historian Kurt Simmons to comment on peoplenotsheeple's comment. Kurt writes:

"Peoplenotsheeple is not understanding the spiritual lessons behind the symbols he mentions (desert
blossoming like the rose, etc). He is looking for these things to occur in the natural, rather than in the spiritual realm. The language about the wilderness blossoming spoke to the desolated cities of Israel from the Assyrians and Babylonians; they sat uninhabited for decades while the Jews were in captivity. The return of the captivity would see the desert come under cultivation again and thus 'blossom as the rose,' the waste places would be rebuilt, and so forth. This became a type of the kingdom of the
Messiah: The spiritual waste places of mankind's fallenness would be restored and regenerated by conversion of men's hearts and cleansing from sin by the blood and gospel of Christ.

"The best single passage showing this is Amos 9:11-15, which is cited in Acts by James, showing its true
fulfillment in Christ. The kingdom is the church; in the church the various nations of people are at peace with one another; they turn their swords into plowshares. In the world, nation still wars with nation, but in the church this is not true.

"The seed of the gospel has already grown into a great tree (church) that fills the earth and provides habitation for the birds of every nation. The sons of God were manifested at the destruction of
Jerusalem and the plagues that overtook the Roman empire. 30,000 were killed by a plague in Rome in A.D. 65 during the very first full year of persecution of the church; a whirlwind destroyed crops in Campania, causing famine.

"When Nero committed suicide, the empire was thrown into recurring civil wars as different men sought to obtain the throne; hundreds of thousands were killed in these battles (in several instances 40,000 on each
side in one battle alone! - see Tacitus). This demonstrated to the world that Christians were God's sons and they were inviting wrath by persecuting them.

"The resurrection, of course, was into the spirit realm of Heaven, not physical bodies upon earth. So, looking to meet these people while on earth is to be disappointed."

Thanks, rafe, peoplenotsheeple and Kurt. The preterist is continually mindful that Scripture was written FOR us, not TO us. When John speaks of everyone seeing the return of Christ, including those who pierced Him, he is addressing the churches of first-century Asia, not us. Without an awareness of time and addressee, the terrain of prophecy is strewn with quicksand.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Death by technique

A friend died recently of complications from the treatment of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I hate to see people check out prematurely.

A nutritionist would treat non-Hodgkins as a symptom rather than a disease. You remedy symptoms by stopping cause. A good way to stop cause would be a fast broken after about 14 days with green vegetable juices, graduating to raw and steamed vegetables and tender meats. Absolutely no sugars. Cost: zilch.

The most hopeless way of eliminating cause would be sugar injections (which MDs give because sugar rushes to the tumors which light up in the PET scan), followed by surgery and chemo. Cost: expensive, but so what? -- everybody has insurance.

It's been my sad experience that the very people who could benefit most from this information usually reject it. I've never understood how good news can disappoint, but with some personalities it just does. Okay, I'm preaching. But if it's ungracious of me to rant like this, well, it's equally ungracious of people I like to die when they don't have to.

Played piano with the Grand Turk locals beside the pool last night, including singer Mitch Rolling and Zeus, who makes interesting sounds with saw and screwdriver. Great guitarist John Darnall came down from Nashville and joined us. Good crowd! Again Sunday night.

Wish you were here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Airline deja-vu

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands, BWI - Today, the reservations for the 20-minute flight to Grand Turk Island I'd supposedly had for 6 weeks couldn't be found by the local airline known as Sky King, so I got bumped from the 2pm flight to the 3pm.

Loren or somebody from the Osprey Beach Hotel was going to collect me from the 2 o'clock flight. They needed to be updated. But there are no coin-operated phones in the Providenciales airport and I don't know how to use T&C calling cards. So I asked the clerk at Sky King if she could call the hotel and tell them I'll be an hour late.

She said the only line they had was to the Grand Turk airport. Well, could she ask the airport to call the hotel and notify them that Tupper will be coming in at 3 instead of 2. She couldn't, offering this amazing solution: "When they don't see you get off the plane, they'll know you'll be on the next one."

Most people I know would have disintegrated over that. I loved it. The spirit of these islands is cheerful disappointment, and I think it's healthy. It outfits you for life generally.

I did some word processing for an hour, boarded the 3 o'clock plane and arrived Grand Turk at 3:20. Now the plot gets really juicy.

Loren wasn't there. Nobody was there for me. No telephones in the Grand Turk airport. But there's a clerk for a car/dune buggy rental company. I asked her to please call the Osprey Beach hotel -- with some difficulty, because she was Haitian and couldn't quite get straight the numbers I gave her. Eventually she made contact and Loren's wife Jenny arrived within 6 minutes.

Here's what had happened. Loren had been there for the 2 pm flight, and had waited until well after 3 pm. He'd asked at the SKy King desk when the next flight from Providenciales would be landing, and the desk had said 4:30. Loren didn't know the 3 o'clock flight had already landed, with me on board, and was taxiing to the gate. The Sky King agent just presumed Loren knew this. So Loren returned to his office, prepared to return to the airport and pick me up at 4:30.

Such wrinkles in communication happened often in air travel during the 50's and 60's, but rarely today. You have to go to places like remote Caribbean islands to experience them. They're old-fashioned, refreshing, and yes, character-building.

Wish you were here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

My Haircut at Beny's

Just returned from Beny's, over on Bird Road, in Miami. I've waited 8 weeks to get my second haircut there. I wanted Mario, who cut me last time, but the way it worked out I had to go with the other guy. I could have held out for Mario, but that could have been slightly insulting to the other guy. He did a good job. Next time, I'll go with either.

Nobody speaks English in Beny's, which is good. I can converse in Spanish, but only if I have to. My Spanish is so marginal that if the conversation doesn't involve me, it's so much white noise. There are no magazines in Beny's, either. Well, one. It was a very tame girlie magazine, pre-Playboy, filled with Spanish-looking chicks wearing black negligee and garter belts. Maybe the raciest thing Castro permits? I can't say. This old guy next to me was studying it carefully whilst the boisterous talk filled the air. When his time came to be cut, he left the magazine on the chair next to him. Nobody picked it up.

Very pleasant awaiting my turn, and then getting cut, with no requirement to overhear gossip or laugh at jokes or feel mawkish for not contributing.

Forty minutes I spent in Beny's altogether. Relaxing. Quality meditation time. The tab was 6 bucks plus a tip.

I'm already trying to invent a reason to be in Miami in mid-June, for my third haircut at Beny's.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Forty years in the making

The "end-time" prophecies of Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, and John have intrigued and baffled me for most of my life.

For about 9 minutes, back in the mid-1970s, I took leave of my senses and actually imagined I might be caught up bodily with other Christians and sucked into Heaven while the unfortunate left-behinds suffered a holocaust sparked by that smooth-talking Antichrist. Reason and scripture prevailed, thank God, and I left the rapture to Christian science-fiction writers and their adoring fans.

The publication of Rulers of Evil attracted the attention of the historicists, who assert that most biblical prophecy was fulfilled with the death and resurrection of Jesus and the subsequent rise of the Roman papacy as Antichrist who introduced the Tribulation. According to the historicists, about all that remains until the end of the world is the parousia -- the second coming -- of Christ to establish his perfect, everlasting Kingdom here on earth for a thousand years. That could happen at any time, they say.

But historicism left too many things hanging. Probably its most disturbing flaw is what C.S. Lewis considered "the most embarrassing verse in the Bible." This is Jesus' promise that He would return to judge and world and establish His Kingdom within the lifetime of some of His disciples. "And he was wrong," Lewis wrote. "He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else." (The World's Last Night, 1960).

There is one study of prophecy that credits Jesus with perfect knowledge of the end of the world. They call themselves preterists, from Matthew 24:34 in Latin: "this generation will not pass away (non praeteribit) - till all these things be fulfilled." The preterists say, and can demonstrate with scripture and history, that the second coming occurred in A.D. 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman synarchy. The devil and his antichrists and their fans were thrown into the lake of fire and the new Israel, the new Jerusalem, a spiritual kingdom ruled by Jesus, descended to earth. It's still here and will stay everlastingly. Wow. Suddenly prophecy makes sense, and to be a Christian becomes a lot more empowering.

Preterism challenges centuries of what may be deluded thinking among people who call themselves Christian. The Bible is clear on how deluded thinkers respond to such challenges: they scourge, plot against, defame, stone, even crucify. Check out the anti-preterist rhetoric on the web, and see for yourself if it doesn't smack more of persecution than reason, truth, clarity. (I expect to be attacked for saying this.)

I think so highly of the preterist view that I'm going to attend a conference they're holding in Sparta, North Carolina the weekend of May 12, 13, 14. The leading scholars in that discipline will be on the program, and I want to hear everything they have to say, and hopefully become acquainted with them personally. I'm strictly a paying guest, and I would encourage you -- if you're a little undecided on biblical prophecy -- to attend as well. Here's the site:

And if the book of Revelation has always mystified you, by all means read Kurt Simmons' magnificent new book "The Consummation of the Ages." Kurt will address the Sparta conference as well.

Time to climb into the car and head for Miami.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Charles & Camilla

What a contrast. In a single day, we turn from death in Rome to life in England!

The music said it all. The obbligato of the pope's funeral was dismal, hopeless, straggling; of the royal wedding joyfully complex, stirring, heavenly, composed by Papa Bach and his spiritual peers in the protestant spirit of obedience to Scripture and new life in Christ.

It was amazing to see these two major celebrities, the prince and princess, confessing their faults and praying to their Lord Jesus Christ for resolve to remain faithful to one another. It would have been even more amazing had these items flowed from their own hearts and minds, rather than from a page written by the Church of England. But that's the problem with religion: an orthodoxy too easily becomes a recitable dogma giving the appearance of piety quite apart from the real thing. This is why Scripture cautions us always to look to the fruits to know anyone's heart.

I'm now turning the television off for a good while.


I happen to be in south Georgia at the moment. And now I've got to prepare watercolour paper for my journey to Grand Turk Island. I've been so busy on other projects (writing, learning Final Cut Pro for a documentary film on nutrition) that I haven't done any painting since November 2004. It'll be good to wet the brushes again.

Loren Carnahan called the other day to say Jenny, his wife and owner of my beloved Osprey Beach Hotel, needed copy for an ad to run in a European travel magazine. "Send me points," I said. He emailed me something I wouldn't dare re-write:


"In Grand Turk, we value friendliness, gentleness, and calm. If you're in a hurry or need everything to run on a Swiss train schedule, you will miss the point of being here. Remember,... the song "Don't Worry, Be Happy" was written by our neighbor in Jamaica. The quality of your enjoyment here will be directly related to how much you are able to leave at home. Come and linger over our fresh foods and famously oversized drinks that always take longer to prepare and serve than they should. Leave your shoes, daytimer, watch, and cell phone at home. Yes, you can still surf the net or check stock quotes and emails if you must, but remember our strong suit...Friendliness, Gentleness, Calm."

Ricochet Gourmet

Had this for lunch yesterday. Lightly flour some chicken tenderloins and sautee them in butter. When golden, set them on a mound of your favorite slaw. Deglaze the pan with a little white wine, a tablespoon of orange juice and slices of the rind.

When reduced by about half, add a tablespoon of butter and stir in one teaspoon of mint jelly. Pour the sauce over the chicken.

Death of a Salesman

Never in history has a funeral been reported in such emotional detail to so large an audience. You got the feeling that ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NBC had each not only lost its chief benefactor, but also was preparing the world to receive and adore his successor. Many people found this irritating. I found it appropriate and instructive.

If you've read Rulers of Evil, you know where I come from: what we consider the secular world lives, moves, and has its being in the Roman Catholic Church. This notion was dramatically corroborated last week by the appearance at Rome of virtually every world leader, pious and grieving. That the United States is a Roman Catholic country was likewise proved by the presence of the gaggle of American presidents paying their respects to the Holy Father's corpse. None of them said "Rome rules" but, hey, actions speak louder than words.

The media devoted billions of dollars worth of airtime teaching the inner operations of the Catholic Church, involving this and future generations in the Vatican's most urgent concerns. The anchors even showed us unbelievers, Jews, Muslims, and protestant evangelicals devouring the bait and receiving the hook. Surely this was the most elaborate example of well-planned, well-organized holy salesmanship since the marketing of Augustus Caesar to a strife-torn world a generation before Mary delivered Jesus.

Rome rules the world by divine appointment, and with the temporal might of the United States. Over that small assembly of souls who have been called to follow Scripture rather than Church traditions, Rome has no authority whatsoever, except to terrorize, condemn, capture, and punish those who stray off into error.

The future of freedom looks sanctimoniously phony on television. Truth is rarer in American communication than Bible-reading in a public school or in a devoutly Catholic family.

Thank God for the gift of Scripture, where freedom is real and Truth abounds. Without it I couldn't figure anything out. With it, nothing in the world baffles me, and all my decisions are risk-free. Scripture empowers us with understanding which we are obligated to share, "providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men."