Saturday, April 09, 2005

This week, NBC will debut a mini-series, Revelations, that no doubt hopes to tap into the enormous popularity of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.

Although the sheer amount of money that movie earned may have been a bit unexpected, it should not have come as a complete surprise. Needless to say, the religious movement is real and packs a wallop nearly everywhere you turn -- at the box office, during election time, etc. Is it any wonder the Left Behind book series has sold over 45 million copies?!

In fact, my understanding is that the end-of-the-world aspects of the Bible have become more popular than ever, which is why I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Revelations become a very big hit for NBC. However, what has always struck me as odd about this growing popularity in Apocalypse/Armageddon belief is that it goes against what Jesus taught. Jesus said:
Take care that no one misleads you. Many will come assuming my name and saying, "I am He;" and they will mislead many. But when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed: come they must, but the End is not yet.
But as to that day or the exact time no one knows--not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take care, be on the alert, and pray; for you do not know when it will happen. (Mark 13)
Jesus strongly discouraged against such speculation -- and yet, is there evidence today of his words being heeded?

As Harvey Cox, PhD, Professor at Harvard Divinity School, writes in his book When Jesus Came to Harvard, we should be taking this movement much more seriously as it has tremendous influence that effects us all:
It may seem like trivial pulp to sophisticated readers, but the sheer enormity of its sales and influence demands serious attention.
It is a mistake to assume end-time thinking represents only a marginal cult in America.
Cox does not endorse this end-of-the-world thinking -- not at all. He agrees that it directly contradicts what Jesus strongly stated, asserting that Jesus was all about hope and good news for humanity, whereas the end-of-the-world folks are all about doom and gloom for nearly everyone. That is all except them. And if you are not one of them, you need to become one, quickly.

Cox points out that this movement has actually been around for many, many years and that there's been more than one chosen Antichrist during this time. Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin have all played the role at one point only to be switched for a new candidate. Even Henry Kissinger was selected at one point. More recently, the role is being filled by Islam (no one person chosen just yet).

What's the point? Why do so many who supposedly love and follow Jesus end up going against his wishes by buying into this stuff? Beside that, Cox brings up the truly key point that such thinking divorces one from making tough moral choices since their belief is so far-gone fatalistic. Why care about the environment when we're all going to be gone soon? Why be responsible when the future has already been decreed, and all evidence (according to them) points to the end coming sooner rather than later?

It's this kind of unique insanity that will lead this country down the road to ruin. All in the name of doing opposite what Jesus desired of us. Many religious leaders simply have it ass-backwards -- makes you wonder to what extent their thinking is cockeyed regarding most other matters....

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