Natural Disasters are Natural Disasters

Eric Sell

There are many signs of the end listed in the Bible. There is an entire school of “thought” dedicated to deciphering the prophecies and signs of the end—eschatology. The enthusiastic eschatologists point to the increase in earthquakes and natural disasters (Luke 21:11) as a warning that “the end is near.” Of course, Matt 24:7 and Mark 13:8 put the emphasis on wars (nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom) more than the famine and pestilences. There are other places that say it will be a time of trouble such as has never been seen before. Yes, there’s more to the whole of eschatology than this, but these are the main signs of the end.

So, is this the end? The funny thing (if this is the end) is that a lot of people before now have thought it was the end already. Even Christ’s disciples thought the end was going to happen in their lifetimes and they were with him; they of all people should have understood. But in the end, the signs of the times are subjective—times of trouble such as never have been, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes in diverse places, etc. Well, there have always been those things. I say always, but I suppose, technically, the whole “kingdom against kingdom, nation against nation” part of the passages couldn’t have happened until the hunter-gatherer tribes became agrarian villages and eventually developed the concept of the nation/kingdom, but anyway. It’s all subjective.

From a historical perspective, there are numerous time periods that (at the time) could have looked to be the end because of the excess of war and resultant, or concurrent, famines and pestilences and the like. Yet they were not it. Most recently, one could say WWI would be a prime candidate: it was kingdom against kingdom, nation-state against nation-state, and soon after there was the great worldwide Influenza (flu) pandemic that killed many millions more. It was the worst war in human history (time of trouble such as never has been). Yet for all that, the end was not yet.

Very recently there has been an upsurge in the popularity of biblical literalist, conservative christianity in the US. They point to hurricanes, floods, and terrorism as signs of god’s wrath for our sins. With this comes the “the end is near because of all these floods and storms and quakes” talk.

But before packing the camping gear and grabbing a cabin in the woods, or a cave in the desert to wait for the end, some questions need asking: Is this really really the end? Lots of people have thought so before. Why should it be the end now?

What—wars and rumors of wars? There have always been those, and besides the scale and death toll of war has fallen way below any previous levels because of the advent of smart weapons. True, the potential is worse because of the nuclear option, but the biggest time of fear of nuclear war was during the Cold War and that’s past now. Not to say it can’t still happen, but still the prophecy is about wars and rumors of wars and that has been the state of the world since war was invented.

Now, how about “earthquakes in diverse places” and famines/pestilences (or could be read as floods, hurricanes, droughts, etc). The United Nations Environmental Program has a web page showing trends in natural disasters and earthquakes. So, is this proof of the end? Not really. From 1900 to 2000 the number of earthquakes has risen slightly, but not enough for concern. However, other disasters have risen dramatically—even alarmingly! Even though the numbers started going down after about 1998, they’re still extremely high. However things are not necessarily as they seem.

Disaster Trends

A thousand words...

Concurrent with the number of reported disasters has been a dramatic increase in world population to the tune of about 1.65B in 1900 to about 6.64B in 2008. Couple that with the amazing advances in tech in the last hundred years and there are a couple more questions to answer: is the increase in disasters/earthquakes a real increase as a sign of the end, or is it only a perceived increase because of more people in more places (and more of those places being naturally disaster-prone coastal regions and flood plains)? Or because of improved ability to report every big storm and measure every small quake? And to add to the mystery, is the increase in non-quake disasters anything to do with climate change created by 6B humans burning fossil fuels? Note that the increase in climate related disasters does not track with that of earthquakes. The proponents of supernaturally-caused disasters need an explanation for this discrepancy, and they don’t have one, whereas the natural explanation fits the data handily.

In conclusion, before you fall victim to religious hysteria, pause for a dose of rational thought, and ask not, “Are all these disasters caused by sin?” but rather, “Are there actually more disasters in the first place, and if there are, are there any perfectly reasonable (non religious and non hysterical) explanations?”.

So, is this the end of the world as we know it…again? Not likely.

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41 thoughts on “Natural Disasters are Natural Disasters

  1. Good read.

    “And to add to the mystery, is the increase in non-quake disasters anything to do with climate change created by 6B humans burning fossil fuels?”

    If possible, link scientific studies to statements that could be interpreted as just an assumption. For creationists or conservatives, climate change is a hoax, so the statement is easily disregarded the instant it is read. Supporting that statement with a study may not actually prove anything to them either, but at least you would have facts on your side.

  2. I have an article on my blog with a similar theme (linked below). What I found interesting is that the number of reported natural disasters has decreased during the last several years despite the prophecies of a certain Armstrongite that they would increase even more significantly.

  3. Yes, very good! Glad to know we’ve found each other and can share resources! This might also help in one of our upcoming Cult of the Week articles! Everyone claims to be a COG and following Armstrong, yet all are different on many points…kind of like Christianity in general–20 dozen different Lutherans and Baptists and Catholics all following the one JC. Crazy.

  4. You nailed it! Keep up the GREAT WRITINGS! Glad you speaking out to reveal these stinky lies for what they are. Keep it up Mr Sell and you too Casey and Samuel!!! 🙂

  5. For those who believe the Bible, Matt 24:6,8 sets a context that basically says what your article does – wars & earthquakes are not signs of the end being imminent. Time & again I have heard the key statement “the end is not yet…” simply left out to reframe the references to wars & earthquakes as signs of “the last days”.

    • Nice try at apologetics, but ,no, “the end is not yet” refers to “wars and rumors of wars,” not earthquakes. Regardless, this is all called “the beginning of sorrows.” And there’s the rub. “Those who believe the Bible” take that at face value when they look for signs of the end. And, like children looking for images in clouds, they will find what they seek. No event has ever been prophesied.

  6. In the context, the wars and earthquakes are grouped together as not the end and the beginning of sorrows. The actual signs of the end are listed after and clearly identified. You are right that many will find what they seek, but there are plenty of believers with the sense to be objective.

    • “In the context, the wars and earthquakes are grouped together as not the end and the beginning of sorrows.”

      That’s what I said, except I don’t share your absurdly unaccountable interpretation of “the end is not yet.” Read my comment again for comprehension. The phrase “the beginning of sorrows” has a meaning, per the context, that is eschatological in nature. Thus, “the beginning of sorrows” is the beginning of the end, not quite the end yet, but the beginning of it. So, in focusing on the phrase, “the end is not yet” (and apparently resorting to exegical contortions to interpret it in a way that is convenient to your facile comment above) while all along accepting the claims of eschatologists (as I know you do), you are straining a gnat and swallowing a camel. I could split hairs along with you and bewail your ignoring of the word “yet” in the phrase “the end is not yet.” But I think it suffices to say that you ignore the context, which concerns the signs of the end, including earthquakes.

      “there are plenty of believers with the sense to be objective.”

      Show me one. That would be a curiosity I would pay to see. If they were objective they would not be believers (I presume you mean those who force themselves to take certain things on faith, which is pretty much the definition of subjectivity). We’ve been through this elsewhere, but I would gladly expose your own lack of objectivity here on our fair blog. It will be quite instructive to our intended audience. Shall we continue?

  7. You play with concepts you don’t understand and, in your ignorance declare others ignorant. You have left your cult but still let others think for you – while calling it reason to do so. My comment was not apologetics, but a description of a rampant selective use of scripture. The only eschatology I subscribe to is the general prophetic claim of end time & second coming.

    • “You play with concepts you don’t understand and, in your ignorance declare others ignorant.”

      Pot, is that you? You have consistently failed to lend creedence to this charge, all the while demonstrating that it can accurately be applied to yourself. I note (and so do others, surely) your reluctance to rehash this debate. Perhaps you don’t have the appetite for exposing the weakness of your position a second time. That’s understandable. (Anyone who is interested may click on the link I provided. Be sure to scroll down in the comments to get to the relevant section. It’s long but revealing.)

      “You have left your cult but still let others think for you”

      Name the bastards so I can destroy them! Short of that, can the absurd accusations, will you?

      “My comment was not apologetics”

      Yes it was.

      “but a description of a rampant selective use of scripture.”

      And, as expected, you failed to support your particularly lame (but convenient!) exegesis. That means you lose the debate, in case you were wondering.

      “The only eschatology I subscribe to is the general prophetic claim of end time & second coming.”

      Right. That’s the camel I was talking about.

      So, let’s just get down to brass tacks here. You believe that Jesus was talking about signs of the end in Matthew 24, but that he didn’t intend to include earthquakes and other natural disasters as signs of the end? Really? I’m going to make you choke on that gnat or own up to the fact that you are merely engaging in sophistry to win hearts for Jayzusss.

      Shortfriction, am I to assume you are only trolling this (and other) blogs for opportunities to make (weak) apologetic arguments for theism, to proselytize ex-CoGers? If so, then you are welcome here–but you should come with your A game. Ad hominem attacks are not sufficient to support your arguments, and, as can be seen by anyone with a brain, the accusations you’ve offered so far are inaccurate to begin with.

  8. am I to assume you are only trolling this (and other) blogs for opportunities to make (weak) apologetic arguments for theism, to proselytize ex-CoGers?

    No. But I feel compelled to comment on certain things I read when an argument given is flawed because the person arguing is too extreme in their views. I would love to see Flurry’s empire fall. But you are blinded by your rage.

    Ad hominem attacks are not sufficient to support your arguments, and, as can be seen by anyone with a brain, the accusations you’ve offered so far are inaccurate to begin with.

    Of course it doesn’t support my argument. That is more your style, as is evident in your above link. As for the accuracy of my comments, if you did really understand the concepts you wouldn’t declare yourself rational and take a position of certainty at the same time. You would be capable of acknowledging that there are sound arguments on both sides of the debate of theism. Your refusal to consider an argument properly and pattern of assuming ignorance every time your opponent doesn’t fully qualify their position is your idea of winning a debate. Eventually people always give in in the face of your arrogance. You debate like a 20 year old.

    Name the bastards so I can destroy them!

    Richard Dawkins would be the most obvious.

    • No. But I feel compelled to comment on certain things I read when an argument given is flawed because the person arguing is too extreme in their views.

      Just to clarify that statement: in the case of this article it is not the argument of the author I would consider flawed, but the use by various COG ministers of Matthew 24 to perpetuate fear of the imminent Day of the Lord. That was my original point: even for those who believe the Bible there is evidence that watching earthquakes, wars, hurricanes, etc. is not going to alert you to the coming of the end.

      • You say that like you know “the end” is coming. How do you know? Based on what evidence? Ah, that’s right, you don’t know, you believe, based on no evidence whatsoever. The real “evidence” you claim exists to support the notion that earthquakes in divers places, etc., are not signs of the end (contrary to what Jesus taught, incidentally) is actually the complete lack of evidence for the fulfillment of biblical prophecy or the veracity of any of the eschatological schemes derived from it. You keep dancing around the issue in an effort to rescue your holy book from falsification. It’s a sad little dance.

    • “But you are blinded by your rage.”

      I must be so blind that I don’t see the evidence of this assertion. Can you help me out? You know, with something more convincing than your mere say so?

      “That is more your style, as is evident in your above link.”

      As with most things, you are ignorant as to what an ad hominem is. It is not a mere insult; I could insult you all day and, although it would be entertaining for me, it would not be ad hominem–unless I used those insults in place of an argument, which is what a sophist like you always is reduced to.

      “if you did really understand the concepts you wouldn’t declare yourself rational and take a position of certainty at the same time.”

      I assume you mean here that red herring wherein you make a false equivalence between the unsupportable claims of theism and the findings of science that are eminently verifiable but unprovable according to a technical definition of “proof” you fail to grasp. Your ignorance, of course, does not stop you from attempting to use this false equivalence as an argument, because you are a dyed in the wool sophist.

      “You would be capable of acknowledging that there are sound arguments on both sides of the debate of theism”

      I’m absolutely capable, I’m just not acquiescent to your petulant demands that I accept logical fallacies as sound arguments. I’m still waiting for you to defend your position with such sound arguments, but all you seem to be able to muster are well-known fallacies, including but not limited to (see the link) the false equivalence and ad hominem on display here.

      “Your refusal to consider an argument properly and pattern of assuming ignorance every time your opponent doesn’t fully qualify their position is your idea of winning a debate.”

      “Fully qualify?” You mean give one iota of valid support. Since you, and every other theist, ever, have failed to do so, I am justified in assuming not ignorance (as you keep absurdly accusing) but a lack of rational support for theism. You have faith. That is not enough for you, I understand, but you don’t get to pretend that logical fallacies count as evidence just because you are experiencing science-envy (like any good Armstrongist would). And yes, a failure to validly support your position in a debate constitutes your loss of said debate. And it is absolutely proper to consider an argument invalid if it is not even logical! Your idea of winning a debate seems to be to try your best to make your opponent look bad, because you don’t really give a damn what is true; you’re a sophist. You want your position to be seen as victorious, whether it is supportable or not. And it is not, as has been demonstrated again and again. This is the best you can do, and it is a dismal failure.

      “Eventually people always give in in the face of your arrogance.”

      What “people?” You? You’re just making excuses for your lack of a supportable position, sophist. Put up or shut up, please. What you need to do is address my arguments instead of my person. Can’t do that, can you? No, of course not. So, in your frustration you attack the man. I’m sorry you don’t like that I am correct and you are not. But your error does not make me arrogant. I can be arrogant quite apart from you and your ridiculous views.

      “You debate like a 20 year old.”

      You mean the consistently on point, logical refutations you can’t assail? What does that have to do with age?

      “Richard Dawkins would be the most obvious.”

      And you’re an intellectual coward. Even if I was parroting Dawkins, which I’m not, you still would not have a supportable position. This is the peril and folly of arguing to the man, instead of to the argument. Gird up your loins, coward, and address the arguments–or fuck off already.

    • “But I feel compelled to comment on certain things I read when an argument given is flawed because the person arguing is too extreme in their views.”

      And this? More nonsense. “Too extreme” by whose measure and on what basis? And what do you mean by “flawed?” Of course, your own words betray your sophistry: you judge arguments as “flawed” not on the only valid basis of logic, but on whether “the person arguing is too extreme in their views.” That’s ad hominem, trying to refute a position by addressing the person of the one who holds it.

      Then you get into hot water with me because I actually care about whether a given argument is valid. And yours was not. Then suddenly I’m the bad guy, “blinded by…rage,” of all things. No, shortfriction, you’re the bad guy, an enemy of reason and truth, a sophist.

      But we like your kind here, because we get to pin you down and put you on display as an instructional exhibit.

  9. As with most things, you are ignorant as to what an ad hominem is. It is not a mere insult

    Thank you for so aptly demonstrating my point about ignorantly declaring others ignorant. When you insult an opponent in conjunction with your argument, intending to make their argument less compelling by the implication of the insult, as you do, it is ad hominem abuse. But it is not just your insults to which I refer. Here is a nice example you recently provided:

    just because you are experiencing science-envy (like any good Armstrongist would)

    And would you care to expound on this:

    (contrary to what Jesus taught, incidentally

    Where? Are you still so rooted in PCG teaching you can’t see the flaw in this?

    • “When you insult an opponent in conjunction with your argument, intending to make their argument less compelling by the implication of the insult, as you do, it is ad hominem abuse.”

      Wrong. I don’t need to insult you to make your argument less compelling if I already refuted your argument with an argument of my own. I insulted you because you were being obtuse, and I find that annoying. Or, is it my arguments you count as insults? Now, what about those arguments? Can you address them or not?

      “Where?”

      Matthew 24, moron (that’s an insult). You quoted it yourself. “These are the beginning of sorrows.” That mean anything to you?

      Now, wriggle around for us, show us your sad little dance wherein you make excuses for your holy book as to how Jesus wasn’t saying that wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and natural disasters should be counted as signs of the end, or how “the beginning of sorrows” means something completely different from what it sounds like. And then, when you’ve satisfied yourself that you’re right, you’ll still be wrong, because you will have based your belief (and that’s all it is) on nothing but the ancient writings of a superstitious author and your hope for what they might really mean. You will still believe in magical predictions of the future, and that coincidences have causes you want them to have, and all the rest. All completely subjective, all utterly devoid of supporting evidence.

      The gnat you strain out here is the Armstrongist interpretation of these verses, which takes them at face value instead of trying to make them fit what you want them to mean because it’s more vague and harder to criticize. The camel you swallow is the belief, based on nothing but your hope, that the world will end in a cataclysm brought about by Yahweh, a fictional character. I say, fuck that. Throw the camel out with the gnat-water and go get yourself a pint of cold, frothy reason. It will serve you far better than fairy tales.

      “Are you still so rooted in PCG teaching you can’t see the flaw in this?”

      The flaw is that it is biblical. And your exegesis, while being convenient to your not-quite-liberal view of Armstrongism, is not valid, as I demonstrated. You, surprise!, did not respond except with feverish ad hominems.

      I know what you’re trying to do, and it won’t work. You’re shtick is to use creative interpretations to protect the Bible from falsification. You think that’s novel, I suppose, but I’m no stranger to Christian apologetics. That’s what you’re engaging in, and you aren’t its most sophisticated proponent, as is evidenced by your free-wheeling exegeses. You think I haven’t seen this before? I’m an atheist for a reason, shortstack, and it isn’t because PCG pissed on me. I’ve been supplementing my breakfast with more cogent theists than you for several years now.

      Now, can we please set aside the personal introductions and get back to the debate? My unanswered challenges still await you.

  10. Oh, as for the science-envy, I was referring to your insistence on claiming you have evidence for the existence of Yahweh, which you don’t. You aren’t satisfied with faith. You want to be able to claim knowledge, justified by evidence. But that’s the purview of science and its related disciplines, in which theology is not included.

  11. And your exegesis, while being convenient to your not-quite-liberal view of Armstrongism, is not valid, as I demonstrated.

    Um, demonstrated where? Read the passage. It is blatantly clear. Pulling out one phrase “these are the beginning of sorrows” doesn’t demonstrate your point at all. Read the passage – in context. Jesus was asked what the sign of his coming and end of the age would be. He starts with a warning about being deceived. He follows with a list of things that people will get hot under the collar about but the end is not yet … and … all these are but the beginning of sorrows. Earthquakes and famine and overthrow of Kingdoms were already happening – so why would he list these things with no reference to them increasing, or how much, or how long or anything at all specific to answer the question, “What will be the signs?” His answer begins with how not to be deceived about the signs. How ironic that people then look at exactly those things. He begins to be a little more specific about the lead-up events from verse 9, but with no time-frame given it really only gives a general feel for certain prerequisites that have to be in place before it possibly could be near the end. Only from verse 14 does Jesus actually directly answer the disciples’ question with specific signs. If – if verses 7-13 were intended as the signs to watch for to be alert for the end then Jesus just gave everyone one big dud prophecy that has no predictive power whatsoever. Of course, that is how you see all prophecy, so that is irrelevant to you. But nevertheless, the meaning you put on “beginning of sorrows” being an indicator that earthquakes are meant to be understood as a sign of the end is simply not supported by the passage itself. I don’t even know why you are bothering to argue it – it doesn’t change your position one iota since from your perspective the whole thing is fiction.

    • The only way to get your interpretation to work is to ignore the phrase “beginning of sorrows.” I notice you still don’t say what you think it means if not the beginning of the end, as I’ve asked you to do several times.

      “If – if verses 7-13 were intended as the signs to watch for to be alert for the end then Jesus just gave everyone one big dud prophecy that has no predictive power whatsoever.”

      Exactly. But then the same can be said for the more specific signs you think we should be concerned with, since all these things happened to the first century church and yet, no end! We’re still here arguing about it. Obviously, there is no predictive power here to speak of, whether with regard to wars and earthquakes or to the persecution of Christians and Jerusalem being surrounded by armies. The prophecy already failed.

      “I don’t even know why you are bothering to argue it – it doesn’t change your position one iota since from your perspective the whole thing is fiction.”

      I’m bothering to argue it because of what you’re trying to do: mislead people into thinking the assumed power of biblical prophecy has not been thoroughly falsified. It has.

      Our focus in this article was to demonstrate the foolishness of looking for signs in a supposed increase in the frequency of earthquakes and natural disasters, which is so popular among evangelical fundamentalists like Flurry. But we don’t want to leave the false impression that biblical “prophecy” can be rescued from falsification by the faulty but convenient exegeses of even less scrupulous apologists such as yourself.

      For a less problematic exegesis of Matthew 24, from a more mainstream Christian view, see this. Note that on this view, the “beginning of sorrows” is not ignored for the sake of expediency. If you want to liberalize, this is how you do it. There is a reason for the difficulty you are experiencing in trying to hang on to your Armstrongist eschatology with only one hand.

  12. Beginning of sorrows means beginning of sorrows: a state of the world in which suffering is par for tue course. It does not mean the end (hence, “beginning”), and could last any length of time. The first day of my life was the beginning of my death. Says nothing of how long I will live.

    • Then it’s meaningless vanity, to no purpose. Why would he even mention it? Talk about “par for the course.” This is the kind of inanity one must descend to in order to make their fantasies appear credible.

    • “The first day of my life was the beginning of my death.”

      Okay. Then the beginning of your death is a sign of your death, and all the events that are indicative of that “beginning” are also indicative of that end, i.e., signs of the end. You’re only proving my point.

  13. Remember what I already said? He was warning against deception. He said it to say these things are not the signs of the end. Even the author you link to makes that point, although he has reframed what “end” is being referred to.

    • That is irrelevant to the clearly prophetic intention of the phrase “beginning of sorrows.” How do you get an interpretation of “watch out for false Christs” from “these are the beginning of sorrows?” Please try to focus.

      If you would read for comprehension instead of confirmation, you would notice that the author I linked to discusses the origin of the phrase, that it means “birth pangs,” and that it has everything to do with an “end” and nothing to do with warning against deception. Remember, the “false Christs” are to arise during this “beginning of sorrows,” so even this warning refers to a sign of “the end.”

      Birth pangs are the harbinger of a significant event, in this case “the end.” So, yes, anything included as a part of the “beginning of sorrows,” is, by definition, a sign of “the end,” just as birth pangs are, by definition, a sign of the end of a pregnancy. The phrase can’t have any other meaning unless you strip it of its scriptural and linguistic contexts.

  14. “He said it to say these things are not the signs of the end.”

    You’re reading what you want into the verses. He did not say these things weren’t signs of the end. He said “the end is not yet.” What he means, obviously, is that there is a period of “birth pangs” between the time he was speaking and the end, that will be characterized by natural disasters, wars and rumors of wars. No one is disputing that he didn’t give a time frame (“Soon!” seems good enough for most of you fear mongers), but a period of “birth pangs” is obviously to be taken as a sign of things to come.

  15. It is your comprehension that is sorely lacking. Read again:

    Jesus said, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” They were not signs to the disciples and they are not signs today. They did not signal the end, but stretches over the entire period between the Lord’s Ascension and Second coming.

    I simply have explained to you why, when it is not a sign, Jesus said it. Yes they relate to a set of conditions in a specific period of time, but the disciples were not to use them as warning markers.

  16. You’re doing better. But, read a little further.

    “In our passage it speaks of the period of distress preceding the return of Christ in AD 70.”

    This is on a Peterist preterist view. Okay? Now, if you take “the end” of the birth pangs to mean a “second coming” in the future (really a third coming), as under the premillennial dispensationalist model, then it makes sense to consider an increase in natural disasters, wars and rumors of wars as signs of the times–i.e., “the period of distress preceding the return of Christ.” Otherwise, “beginning of sorrows” has no meaning on this view (which is your view) since “the period of distress preceding the return of Christ” would have to be a period of, so far, over 2,000 years! Does that make sense to you?

    You want to retain your premillennialism while liberalizing away from the only meaning of “birth pangs” that makes sense on this view. You would better serve your purpose by endorsing Peterism preterism, but then you’d have to dispense with Armstrongism, since you would have to believe that the Kingdom has been established since 70 C.E.

    “I simply have explained to you why, when it is not a sign, Jesus said it. Yes they relate to a set of conditions in a specific period of time, but the disciples were not to use them as warning markers.”

    Yes, on the Peterist preterist view endorsed by the author. That is because, and only because, the “beginning of sorrows” would last from Christ’s ascension until his return, a period of about only 40 years. And, during this time, starting immediately after Pentecost, the disciples indeed witnessed and experienced all those “birth pangs,” and they also “preached the gospel into all the world,” and so “the end” came. Jerusalem fell, and, ostensibly, Jesus came back and established his Kingdom on earth in the first century church.

    Now, when have you been delivered up into a synagogue to be beaten? Not yet, right? So, aren’t you, a premillennialist, looking for this as a sign? Of course! And by the same token, premillennialists also, by no difficult stretch of the imagination, look for increases in natural disasters as signs. They’re wrong to do so, we can both agree on that. But it is not inconsistent with the premillennialist exegesis of these scriptures. It is inconsistent with the Peterist preterist exegesis. Both, of course, are inconsistent with reality.

  17. “the period of distress preceding the return of Christ” would have to be a period of, so far, over 2,000 years! Does that make sense to you?

    More sense than anything else. That is exactly the point I am making. The “beginning of sorrows/birth pangs” has been going on that long, and may continue even longer for all I know.

    The word you are looking for, by the way, is preterist.

    Now, regarding your claim that:

    You’re shtick is to use creative interpretations to protect the Bible from falsification.

    This is not some creative interpretation I have devised to explain what I see. As for back as I can remember hearing the “earthquakes portend doom” teaching from the pulpit I remember thinking, “But that’s not what it says.” The interpretation I have suggested has always been the obvious way to understand the passage in my mind. My view would be that anyone who interprets it differently does so basically because someone told them to.

    • “More sense than anything else. That is exactly the point I am making. The “beginning of sorrows/birth pangs” has been going on that long, and may continue even longer for all I know.”

      Indefinitely, to be sure. Look, I don’t mind granting you that it’s possible to interpret this scripture that way, but my point stands that it is inconsistent with premillennialism. Who knows, short, maybe you’ve stumbled upon a new truth: why don’t you start your own cult? You can call your eschatology pretermillennialism. It’ll still be a fantasy, either way.

      “The word you are looking for, by the way, is preterist.”

      Good catch. I had forgotten that term.

      “My view would be that anyone who interprets it differently does so basically because someone told them to.”

      So, why don’t you feel the same way about the rest of the premillennialist eschatology? I mean, this David Curtis makes a good case for preterism, don’t you think? Regardless, I have to ask, how many people do you know who subscribe to your mongrel view? Don’t you think it’s more likely that you’re missing something, rather than the masses?

      Oh, and, by the way, you’ve scurried into an exegesic niche that (whether by design or not) protects the Bible from falsification by natural disaster. But there are more than a few ways to skin this cat. Stay tuned!

  18. Well, it looks like I’ll have to avoid these long holidays I’ve been taking. I’ve clearly met the tail end of an epic row!

    I feel it necessary to chime in (what with being the author of this particular article and all).

    Yes, shortfiction, there are different ways to interpret these verses, and I can see where you’re coming from. JC said “the end is not yet” and all these are the beginning of sorrows (not the beginning of the end of sorrows)…well, not explicitly. However, if the time frame for “beginning of sorrows” is from the time of JC’s death til his return, then it is meaningless…because wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, etc, etc have been going on as long as there have been people (and everything short of wars have been going on much, much longer if you allow that our little blue-green marble is older than 6-10K yrs). SO, it wouldn’t have been the beginning of anything–just a continuation of the same old same old. If that is the correct reading of the scriptures, then they’re meaningless–just like a vast prairie is (for people) a meaningless area. An area has to be defined, either with fences or walls, for us to really make use of it. The seemingly endless space must be defined, just as a time period must be defined. So, the only way the scriptures make logical sense is for there to be a time frame other than “from now til whenever”, otherwise JC was just wasting his breath.

    Lastly, yes, there are numerous ways to interpret this scripture, but a single article can’t cover them all. It was written for those who interpret the scripture literally–as do Armstrongists and other Conservative Christians. They use the fear of Katrina, earthquakes, and other natural disasters to keep their sheep in line (because the end is near and you wouldn’t want to be left behind, would you?).

    We’re both saying they are wrong, but for different reasons. You say they’re wrong b/c they’re reading the scripture wrong (and if I had a nickel for every time someone accused someone of THAT I would be a rich man, indeed!). We are saying they’re wrong because natural disasters are natural disasters–not acts of god, per their reading of the scriptures.

  19. I take it that the focus of this blog is to disprove the theology of the old WCG and its splinters, so to me the key point is not how the scripture *should* be interpreted, but how these churches do interpret it. If they are way off on such a key part of their theology, they just can’t be led by God. The truth is, the scriptures are not really clear or consistent on many points anyway since they were selected from uninspired writings of assorted individuals with somewhat different beliefs.

  20. Thank you, Anon…that is the point exactly. We can all argue the “correct” reading of scripture any time…and what a lovely row it was, but that’s neither here nor there so far as this blog/article is concerned.

  21. I was recommended this website by means of my cousin.

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    • It appears that English may not be your first language. If this is so, please try Google Translate–it may come back with better results.

      Sorry, but I am not clear on what you mean to say.

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