The VIRAL IDEA of a returning JESUS
It was not unusual for Christians throughout the centuries to obsess over the viral idea of a return of Jesus.
The original Apostles did so until their death.
"Soon" is more comforting, is it not? ("Come quickly, Lord Jesus")
Consider this chain:
1.Expectations about a Messiah in Judaism preoccupied every generation as is witnessed in the number of False ones that came and went.
2."Are you the one?" seems to be a common question asked of prominent or charismatic Jewish preachers.
3.The Death of Jesus must have set a great many Messianic-minded followers spinning! Time to re-think and re-interpret!
4.Apostles seem to have concluded a return (second Advent or coming) was surely necessary to fulfill expectations.
5.A Second Coming is only meaningful to a believer if it INCLUDES himself and this necessitates each and every believer being compelled to consider HIS own time and place to be THE ONE!
7. A morbid obsessing over "When?" never ceased from the time of Jesus' death until present time with the emphasis on "Proof" being the fertile human imagination to link some current development with the generic "signs" given in Scripture.
8.The only thing novel about William Miller was the success of his "proof" in convincing contemporaries of his Date!
9.Human nature is such that being proved dead wrong is a bitter pill to swallow! Only an intellectually honest person can do it. William Miller publicly apologized for being in error. Privately he continued to expect Christ's return any day.
10. Russell lived in a day and time in which speculations became "scientific" in the form of charts, schemes and correspondences. His family fortune was devoted to the cause. In the course of time, he became the leader of a particular variety of such schemes: Dispensation Charting and Pyramidology.
11.Russell was wrong again and again and changed his "science" accordingly to the point he was fudging, dodging and outright lying (to himself and others).
12. An intellectually dishonest man cannot accuse others of a fault he himself has chosen to embrace. Hence, warmly cherishing the work and scope of Father Miller's crackpot false reasoning was logical for Pastor Russell.
13.In too many ways, Pastor Russell proved himself a dishonest purveyor of claptrap. Much to his own dishonor and annoyance his religious house of cards constantly collapsed about him. What Russell's life's work consisted of was the ongoing REBUILDING of that house of cards without admitting publicly (or perhaps to himself) that he was dead wrong!
The Bible Student's tired rehash of Adventist drivel had become a pastiche under Russell. The Pastor's sincere writings, preaching and style became the focus of a cult of personaity which continues today.
There can be little doubt the LEFT BEHIND series and the Hal Lindsey end-times books before that are a continuation of something that has never ended since the Messianic watchfulness in Judaism.
Same old same old.
The Watchtower Society, in effect, is a but a link in a long chain of obsessed and driven crackpots who cannot admit when they are dead wrong!
I remember when I was a child a friend of mine became 'born again' and started prophecying the return of Christ. I think that is what got me interested in Christianity because he would make it sound like it would happen real soon. One of his 'preachings' (keep in mind we were both kids) concerned Ronald Reagan and the theory of him having the mark of the beast because the number of the letters in his names were six (R-O-N-A-L-D = 6, W-I-L-S-O-N = 6, R-E-A-G-A-N = 6). Eventually, some other friends of mine started giving him a hard time about it and one said, "We really don't know when Jesus will return so you really need to stop preaching like He is coming tomorrow or next year. He could come in 2000 and if He did that is not too far, but we don't really know when He is returning." (Keep in mind this was around 1983 when all this was happening.) The 'preacher boy' admitted that it was getting out of hand and toned it down to the point to where he eventually 'went back to the world.'
My mom told me that she recalls a preacher predicting that Christ would return in around 1980. Obviously that did not happen.
Jack Van Impe does a great deal of doomsday preaching tying current events to Bible prophecy. In the early 1990's he made a mistake and begin speculating that the seven year tribulation period might begin around 1998. Obviously it did not otherwise Christ would've returned by now.
During the earlier years of my Christian walk, I attended a local Independent Fundamental Baptist church and the preacher did lots of prophesy preaching concerning the seven year tribulation period especially. I think he got a lot of his information from Jack Van Impe because I remember asking him if he ever watched Jack Van Impe Presents. He did and he loved it.
When I was on a missions trip in college back in 1998, some of the students was cleaning out the attic of a church we were trying to help get established. They found a book that attempted to predict the year of the second coming of Christ (somewhere in the 1980's I believe). Needless to say, the book was discarded.
The 'seven day' formula for arriving at the return of Jesus after 6000 years of mankind's existence is very popular. The Watchtower used it to predict 1975. Others used it to predict the year 2000 (assuming the creation account in Genesis occurred in around 4000 BCE). Well it is now 2010 and so far life goes on as usual.
While I am a believer in the Bible, I have to admit that I too wonder how Christianity will be viewed if another 500 years passes without incident. For that matter, what if just another 100 years passes without incident. It seems logical that man may progress to the point to where belief in the Bible would eventually be no more and Christianity will be relegated to the mythos.
Still, for as long as there are things that cannot be explained away, there will be religions and other belief systems around to offer answers to questions that have no easy answers. Just watching Sylvia Brown on Montell shows how badly people want someone to know things that can't easily be answered. I've seen a woman ask Sylvia, "When will I meet my future husband?" And Sylvia would not only tell her when, she would also tell her the person's name, hair color, where they would first meet, etc.. Amazing! Too bad so many of her predictions turned out false but it is all a numbers game (make enough predictions and some of them are bound to be true).
I work in a Bookstore that buys books from the public and sells them at Half Price.
I work in the Religion and Philosophy section and get to see tons of old and new texts and theology tomes over a wide span of scholarship and denominations.
It amazes me just how many authors think they KNOW something about the return of Jesus when they mostly conflict with each other's findings.
These people have a track record off FAILURE.
Jehovah's Witnesses can't claim a better understanding or direct line of communication than Christendom because they've been JUST AS WRONG.
You know what is stomach turning about all these End Times speculations?
The authors (after their predictions are proved false) simply produce YET ANOTHER book after the failures and pretend nothing happend to refute them!
They change a few sentences and computations and interpretations and move on again!
THE RETURNING JESUS obsession is a VIRUS which seems to only effect intellectually dishonest folks.
Jehovahs' Witnesses are leaders of the pack!
Such blatant dishonesty is a moral corruption of profound depth, in my opinion.
It is not unlike having the flu and happily going around sneezing in people's faces!
"Here, let me share this wonderful experience with you.....AHHHHH----CHOOOOOO!"