Yavul Noah Harari, China and A Post Coronavirus World

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

The birches, the poplars, and the wild cherry unfolded their gummy and fragrant leaves, the limes were expanding their opening buds; crows, sparrows, and pigeons, filled with the joy of spring, were getting their nests ready; the flies were buzzing along the walls, warmed by the sunshine. All were glad, the plants, the birds, the insects, and the children. But men, grown-up men and women, did not leave off cheating and tormenting themselves and each other. It was not this spring morning men thought sacred and worthy of consideration not the beauty of God’s world, given for a joy to all creatures, this beauty which inclines the heart to peace, to harmony, and to love, but only their own devices for enslaving one another.  Thus begins Leo Tolstoy’s last great novel, Resurrection (Barnes and Nobles, 2006 reprint, 1889, p. 1).  The beauty of God’s creation marred by the devices for enslaving one another.  Man is the problem.

And how do we enslave one another?  Mainly by ideas.  Donna Tussing Orwin (who taught Russian Literature at University of Toronto) writes the Introduction to Tolstoy’s work cited above and remarks, ‘Every public institution is reduced to an instrument of force and self interest’ for Tolstoy.  I started reading back in January the work of Yuval Noah Harari, who earned his Doctorate from Harvard, and teaches at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  His book, Sapiens, was praised by Bill Gates, President Obama, and several other prominent figures in the world of movers and shakers.  His follow up book, Homo Deus, is even more elaborate than the first in terms of celebrating the emerging necessity for Globalism, or Globalization.  In my blog, I cited how he downplayed the need for “God” as traditionally understood (read, as Christians and Orthodox Jews understand), and how such traditions must give way to the scientific worldview, and to the scientific institutions.  In other words, how we are to trust the scientists as the keepers of the Truth.  Man is evolving into a state of divinity, and he is doing this through biotechnology.  ‘Upgrading Sapiens will be a gradual historical process…merging with robots and computers in the process…Every day millions of people decide to grant their smartphone a bit more control over their lives, or try a new and more effective antidepressant drug.  In pursuit of health, happiness and power, humans will gradually change first one of their features, and then another, and another, until they will be no longer human” (Sapiens, 2017, Harper Collins Publishers, p. 49).  Harari is not downplaying this, and he not warning us of this scenario as if it offers a bleak, apocalyptic portrayal of the future.  No, he is welcoming it.  But, where do these inventions of medicine and technology come from? 

In light of the current pandemic, which I will call the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) pandemic, Harari recently posted on You Tube his understanding of what’s going on and what we  – we being the Global Community – need to do about it going forward.  For Harari, whose You Tube postings end up with well over a million hits, religion must change.  Politics must change.  And, we need to look to China to see how community living is done instead of “blaming” the Communist Party cover up (at which he barely blinks). Oh yes, Harari has posted just this week alone several videos of interviews (he is highly sought after) concerning the pandemic and its after effects.  ‘Harari and Its Impact on Mankind’ is one;  ‘Globalisation, Privacy, Religion Post Coronavirus World’ is another; ‘The World before, during and after Coronavirus’ are just some of the titles on You Tube.   There is a crisis afoot, and the Globalists are seizing the moment.  Why, “even the churches are listening to the scientists” by closing their doors he states in one video.  We “need to trust the scientists and their institutions” in times like these.  And, here it comes, with the current administration in America (and the voters that put him there…and we all know who “him” is) the rise of hatred and nationalism with its fomenting at the mouth despising of the Media, its dismissal of the Paris Treaty, are akin to the “flat earthers” – yes….he said that.  If you deny the 97% Myth (that is, the myth that 97% of “scientists” believe the world will become past the point of manageability in about 12 years unless we get rid of Evangelicals-Mixing-with-Politics), then you are akin to a person that believes in a flat earth.  Toleration, anyone?

In one video, Harari is asked by India Today’s correspondent Rahul Kanwal, what is the fate for Home Sapiens after the Great Pandemic?  Anyone asked you that question recently?  No?  That must mean you don’t a degree from Harvard.  Harari, before Kanwal gets to ask him a question, touts him as “the world’s most famous historian, rock star, living legend who is shaking the thinking of some the sharpest people on the planet.”  Think I am kidding, right?  Not in a long shot. 

First off, Coronavirus is a problem for science, not God.  Right off the bat (Wuhan bat? – sorry, couldn’t resist)…right off the bat Harari excoriates the idea that God “punishes” human beings on earth.  Perhaps he missed the reference to his middle name in Yavul Noah Harari, but that can slide.  What must he think of the Theologians (who have devoted themselves to the ‘science’ of interpreting Scriptures)?  Harari says we “need a united, global plan of action” – i.e., we need to work with corrupt regimes like the Chinese Communist Party who (as it is increasingly becoming ever so obvious) by their actions – the actions of Politicians, not Scientists – Politicians whose ideas for governing people is collectivism, socialism, and world domination of their idea rooted in Marxist originations – are atheistic (like Harari) to the core.  It gets worse.  American “leaders” are now saying, “we no longer care about humanity, we only care about America.”  Funny.  I have not heard one “leader” in America say that, but, hey, who cares, right?  Make it up.  See, when Ebola happened, America led the response (says Harari).  Well, yeah.  We were Johnny on the spot because we had the full cooperation and total facts needed to do that (a point Harari forgets to mention…ahem, Chinese Communist Cover up).

Amazingly he touts the same line that Hilary Rodham Clinton was bashed for saying, even among the Liberal Media outlets.  Remember when America reached the highest number of deaths due to the CPC virus?  She tweeted, “He did promise America First”.  Such a callous tweet.  Yet, here, this week, the most famous historian in America says the same thing, “we are first in deaths” because of Trump’s “America First” slogan.  See what’s happening here?  It’s not Trump – he is a pin head, a figure head – it’s the idea of Americanism as a unique group of individuals from all ethnicities – American success in the world – and not just that, because that can be translated in any way one wishes to do so.  No, it’s the fact that there is this very, very large group of people particularly in America that call themselves Bible believing Christians.  One of America’s largest exports is the export of Religion; namely, Evangelicalism.  However, there is another firebrand in the oven of ideas: the Conservative Roman Catholic Church, whose equally growing numbers within are not buying into the Bull (that’s a pun for you historians) of the current Pope, who are directly targeting and calling out the Homosexual onslaught from within the Catholic Bishops and Clergy, calling for a return to true Catholic Faith (take Church Militant, a weekly show hosted by Michael Voris, who spouts a scathing rebuke of the current leadership in Catholicism by a devoted Roman Catholic); or take the growing conservative efforts among Jews who support the State of Israel (Trump’s move of the embassy to Jerusalem had a powerful theological impact to the world’s elitists, albeit a negative one); see, it’s these people that are the problem, the deniers, the haters of Communist philosophy because we know how it is oppressive (untold millions of Christians have died at the hands of Communist regimes).  But, now, we are told that the real problem are those who do not yield to the Hallowed Institutes of Science and the High Priest Scientists.

Harari is calling for a “global leader that can unite humankind”.  Messiah, anyone?  I digress, because I don’t believe the Scriptures foretell of such a person, more than it foretells of such persons – plural who want nothing more than a global Tower of Babel (it’s an old story that keeps repeating itself from Pharaohs to Caesars, from Dictators to globalist Technocrats).  Now, to Harari’s credit, he does say in this interview that had Communist China had a “democratic form of government” that espoused the freedom of information without suppression then “this whole thing may not have happened.”  Aha!  A nod!  Dang!  Not so fast, because he very quickly moves on to praise Communist China for its leadership efforts that is forging a global cooperationalism; Fortunately, nobody is buying it.  See, it’s not “just America” that pissed.  It’s Japan, Australia, Germany, France, Canada, Switzerland, South Africa (whose citizens living in China, by the way, are being discriminated against on a national level) and others.

Okay.  Finally we get to the “most dangerous problem” according to Harari.  It’s not viruses.  It’s not this virus (there will be others).  It’s the “internal demons within humanity itself”.  Now this sounds like Tolstoy!  It’s also a theological speculation; or a metaphysical one if you prefer.  It’s an ontological speculation concerning a collective condemnation of humanity itself.  However, just when I thought that maybe, just maybe, the Doctor was about to deliver something profound, he reverts back to the tree hugging philosophy of ‘can’t we all just get along’?  The term “hatred” comes out a lot with the idea that “blaming” the actions of the source of this pandemic is akin to hatred.  That is, if we found the source and, thus, the reason for the spread of the virus (this is called, “blame”) then we must “hate” the source.  But, this is a narrative that is loaded with nonsense.  I am not blaming the Chinese people, wonderful as they are, made in the image of God Almighty Himself.  I am blaming a corrupt, suppressive form of government that is rooted in a religion hating philosophy and thereby seeks to eradicate by scientific knowledge that parades itself as absolute dogmatic truth.  If anyone has ever read Hannah Arendt (and if you haven’t, shame!) no one political philosopher as she was has ever penetrated with such depth the dangers of losing human individuality, uniqueness and plurality of ideas in an arena of free expressions.  Ayn Rand was another (and she was an atheist).  Socialism (of the Marxist amalgamations) demands herd mentality because it sees itself as the Keeper of Truth – and what populace can disagree with Truth?  If the Government is the Keeper of Truth, and the Scientists are the Teachers of Truth, then the disagreers have to be “dealt with” – permanently.  Can’t have social disunity.  For Socialism to work it must have the explicit cooperation of the people.  For Communism to work, the same is true.  Questions about metaphysical Higher Powers, or Higher Ethics (do I obey God, or Caesar?) cannot be appealed to.  The Media (that is, the progenitors of State Propaganda) dictates what the State says.  Any objections, any doubts in the Institutes of Higher Learning (the Higher Learned) is condemned: “flat earthers” they are called.  “Bible believers”.  “Dangerous people.” Ask the Communist Party how they “deal” with Christians.  Heck, ask Stalin (who Rand obliterates), or Pol Pot, or Hitler (who Arendt obliterates), or Mao Zedong (why we turn a blind eye to Mao and not Adolph is a mystery to me).

Again, Harari is not advocating a Dictatorship.  He argues for a democracy – a global democracy made up of nationalities that are unique to their own cultures.  But, the culture must have allegiance to the global cooperation which seeks the betterment of mankind.  There is no God that is going to save you.  There is no God that stops pandemics.  If one has to make a choice between Science and faith, choose science.  “You can’t understand this virus if you don’t believe in the theory of evolution” he says.  “And this is why it is important to teach the theory of evolution in schools.”  Need I comment on this?  Need I go back and quote Darwin?  Evolution was not an Asian theory.  It did not come from Japan, or Taiwan.  It came from England.  Darwin was a Rationalist – a child of the Enlightenment.  That’s Western Rationalism; Aristotelian Logic (he was a Greek), rooted in later British Empiricism.  Marx comes floating in here, too.  I could throw Freud in as well, but that’s another blog.  These men, Darwin, Marx and Freud have had a tremendous impact on the world of ideas; and each of them explicitly sought to squeeze out the religious life from the market place, from the educational place, from the political place, and from the “news you can trust” place.  Any smell of it, any hint, any attempt by the Christian, be they Catholic, Greek or Russian Orthodox, or Evangelical to assert themselves into these arenas are immediately dismissed as quacks, flat earthers, fundamentalists, Bible thumpers, “right wingers”, bigots, homophobes, science deniers, racists, women haters, uneducated conspiracy kooks.  Ideas matter and they have consequences (Ideas Have Consequences by Richard Weaver is another must read).  The better idea is one that allows the freedom to “question” the Media, and the Institutes.  A government that assures its people that it has no monopoly on Truth.  A promotion of healthy skepticism in an age of “infodemics” (yes, info-demic, the pandemic of information and the epistemological problem of “knowing” who does, and who does not “know” what the hell they are talking about – a healthy dose of Leibniz would work here).  A government that does not “demand” that Evolution is the only Truth, no other Truth, and the Truth by which all other scientific theoretical constructions are banned; or that the Liberal “spin” on Chickens Little’s “the sky is falling!  The sky is falling!” Environmentalism is not necessarily The Truth.  Let the places of learning argue and figure it out, and let them flourish where each of them can.  Let the people figure it out, the individuals.  If they don’t want to wear a medical mask, okay.  If they do, okay.  If you want to own firepower, okay.  If not, okay.  It’s called freedom and liberty, and it, too, is an idea – and it, too, has consequences – sometimes…oftentimes dangerous ones – but my liberty and your liberty is too much to sacrifice because of these consequences: “Give me liberty, or give me death.”  Man, I wish we knew what that meant again.

China, Conspiracy, and Corona, Part 2

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.

I first mentioned the corona virus in January on this very blog. Since then, with the luxury of time, I have spent about two to three hours a day on the matter (my wife, Kimmy, forgives me). There are credible sources on You Tube that are having an impact on political matters concerning this current pandemic. They are being felt by all of us. One of the greatest things about our country, made up of immigrants originally from all walks of the blue marble, is the freedom of speech. We came from a religiously and politically oppressed theater in the West. Our revolution (and, yes, it was a revolution) was first and foremost concerned with “inalienable rights” given to us not by Government, but by “The Laws of Nature, and Nature’s God”. To know what that phrase meant, hallowed in our Declaration, simply read Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part III, Chapter 5 (1759).

I bring that up because we are currently facing something that sprang from the exact opposite in terms of government: Communism. The Cold War is declared, “over”. The East Berlin Wall fell. The Soviet Union disbanded and is now simply, Russia. China – and by China I do not at all mean the Chinese people – is, however, found on a great deal of items in your home. Right now I am wearing a pair of glasses that say, “Made in China.” What happened? When did this start? Well, one would have to go back to Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. From that point onward, America began its long “open markets” trading with struggling Communist China under Chairman, Mao Zedong. I blogged about this in Part 1 briefly. What is now coming to light again by young Americans searching the internet with free access (not censored by the Government, as it is in China) is that Communism was not dead after all. What Stalin through Gorbachev could not do, China has done. To understand this, one must understand a German Rationalist by the name of Karl Marx (and his pal, Vladmir Lenin). Well, skip that for now, but understand this: Communism is thoroughly atheistic. To the core. The idea that “rights” came from “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” is, was for Marx and his fellow intelligentsia, laughable. It was the idea that a Divine Benevolence (left intentionally vague in terms of theological acumen, but asserted by our Government in terms of Ontological Reality) governed the whole world by “Nature’s Laws”. It also fostered the idea of the individual as a person in and of him or herself that is first and foremost accountable to themselves in terms of their pursuits. From this we get the phrase, self government.

University of Cambridge Professor, Gareth Stedman Jones, in his critically praised work, Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion (Belnap/Harvard, 2016) notes the growth of the idea of the individual and the State. The Romans viewed its peoples as a commodity to exploit. They were “citizens” of the State (the polis in Greek). They belonged to the State and were expendable. Much like the Feudal system and the peasants who worked the land for the Landlord, peasants were not regarded as much in terms of anything but accruing wealth for the owner. I am being extremely brief and most likely far too general historically speaking, but you get the point. With the collapse of the Roman world, and the spread of Christianity (itself a slow and centuries long, painful road), civil society gradually arose which ‘encompassed the unmediated relationship of the individual to God, freedom of individual judgment, subjectivity, the self-interested pursuit of personal goals, individualism’ (p. 114). And, in case some of my readers think I am quoting from a bias author, it is well known that the great German Philosopher, George Hegel (who taught Marx), praised the reforms of Father Martin Luther, the German Catholic Priest who sought to correct abuses of his Roman Catholic Church clerics. Hegel (who spoke a great deal about China) taught that Luther’s initial theological protest against particular Catholic doctrines turned into one of the greatest developments of the modern world: the focus on the individual (see Hegel’s famous, The Philosophy of History, pp. 431-ff, Batoche Books, 2001, from the lectures of 1830-31). The Bible became the “peoples book”. The world would never be the same. Authority could now be questioned and thrown off.

Stedman notes, however, that many intellectuals did not share Hegel’s view. ‘[F]rom Machiavelli onwards the Christian religion was deeply implicated in , if not wholly responsible for, the genesis of civil society. Christianity detached the notion of a person from that of a citizen.’ Further, the atheist Ludwig Feuerbach, another student of Hegel, lamented that the Christian idea of the afterlife was “a replacement for the ancient idea of the citizen. But already in the eighteenth century Gibbon and Voltaire had highlighted Christianity’s contribution to the decline of ancient political life and the fall of Rome. Rousseau pushed the argument further by blaming the combination of Christianity and commerce for the decline of patriotism, and by attacking Christianity in particular for its otherworldly preoccupations’ (op. cit., pp. 114-115). In other words, Christianity is irrelevant to the survival of the State and its Citizens. It’s emphasis on the individual has caused great harm to the Social Fabric.

Alright. So how to tie this altogether. It is becoming increasingly documented that the corona virus originated from Wuhan, China. This is not really debated. The question that is debated is how? In a documentary published just a few days ago, and receiving a near million views, the evidence is quite alarming. I recommend that every soul in America view it (linked here). This is not conspiratorial, and no one needs to wear a tin foil hat. I don’t do conspiracies, and I dismiss those who do as quacks. Two “theories” are on the table in terms of origin: genetically altered viruses in order to pursue a scientific understanding of how viruses work, and how can they be transmitted, and vaccines for them. The second is a deliberate attempt to alter viruses for germ warfare. If a nation could alter a virus for human to human transmission, and have the vaccine “in case of” an outbreak, well, one does not have to do the math on that. The fact is that this virus did come from Wuhan, China. The other fact is that the Communist Party of China (CPC) covered up the initial outbreak. We find this hard to believe because how can a government exert such control over its people? Really? After all we have learned from history?

Several lawsuits are being filed. Michael Moore of Florida has filed one. Larry Klayman filed one. Senator Rick Scott of Florida is urging Americans not to buy anything with “Made in China” on it. The World Heath Organization is being defunded because it basically dropped the ball. Taiwan has produced evidence that it warned WHO about corona-virus in late December, but was ignored. WHO did not issue a “pandemic” level threat until March 11th. Shit is hitting the fan. And more is coming. The American individualist who has not yet surrendered to the “it takes a village” perspective of life demands an answer, not spin, and will not be quieted for the sake of possibly “offending” someone.

Now, what does all of this mean? Well, for starters, this virus is serious. Real serious. One can dismiss the talks about “empty hospitals” and “this is a red flag effort”, etc (more conspiracy theories). Fact is, until we can investigate the source, we will not entirely know. The CPC holds the keys to that, and they are not budging. Cui Tiankai, the Chinese Ambassador, says that “racism” and “xenophobia” exhibited by emphasizing the “rumors” that this pandemic started in Wuhan, China should not be tolerated. Since when did naming the place of origin become racist? Ebola is a river in Congo, Africa and is the name given to the Ebola Virus. Is that racist? The Hong Kong Flu, the Spanish Flu (which didn’t even come from Spain!), are merely names. They do not reflect the people. The enemy here is not the people, or the region of the beautiful country of China: it is a government; a Communist government; a Communist government that a lot of people in China would like to see go. The individual has a right to question the CPC and demand answers.

Mao Zedong was a committed Marxist, but he was not totally on board with Karl. Nonetheless, he did believe strongly in Nationalism. That’s kind of hard for us to understand. Nationalism, like the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or ‘Nazi’ for short, is rooted in its understanding of its biological genetics of its people. The Germans, or Aryans, were viewed as a distinct race. The Chinese, also, see (or at least Mao saw them that way) themselves as a distinct race. In America, there are a multitude of ethnic races living as one Nation or People. An American person looks like an Asian, or a German, or an African. One can think back to the covenant of Moses with the Israelites. What was never intended by that covenant was racism, but that’s what it became in the eyes of many Israelites. Unless you were of Israelite descent, you were a Gentile Goy. For Mao, Marx’s idea, borrowed from Hegel’s thinking that history is progressing towards a Supreme Good, is that Communism is a determined and inevitable development of the forces of history. Hegel talked about the Spirit. Marx talked about the classes (he had no room for Spirit). Both held to the inevitable outworking of history in terms of social justice and equality for all in this world, in this life. The CPC clings to this idea and sees itself as the eventual Bringer of Socialistic Justice and Equality to the Globe. Hence, by opening the markets and inviting Capitalist revenue ventures, The CPC was not looking out for the Globe, but looking out for the CPC in how it can make inroads around the globe through financial means to spread its dominion. Made in China. And we bought it, hook, line and sinker.

There is one problem. The belief in the Individual against the Collective State. We are currently watching this play out in the media. It runs something like this: “How long is this shut down gonna happen? I have made plans for the Summer, and by God I ain’t gonna stay in my home for 3 more damn months!” In retort, one will hear, “But we have to think of the community and the people and their health.” At what expense? The vast majority of the world public will not die from corona-virus. The vast majority that get this virus will recover after a few bad rounds in the bathroom. The vast majority in America are under the philosophy of Individualism. We’ll take our chances, God controls the outcome.

See, Americans are an amalgamation of several philosophical, theological and political views. Government does not arrest you for being a Marxist, or a Socialist, or a Theocrat. You can pretty much believe that the world is flat, that Paul McCartney was not really Paul McCartney, or that Stanley Kubrick was involved in filming NASA astronauts in a studio made to look like the moon surface. The individual right, against the politburo, is a sacred right. Yeah, sure, wash your hands, don’t stand so close to me, and sneeze in your arm (and don’t forget the hand sanitizer), but do you have to cancel watching Tom Brady wearing a Tampa Bay Buccaneer uniform in September? But, deeper than this, there runs a psychological aspect concerning the question of the unfortunate folks who will die from this. One does not have to be uncaring, but will take the chance of facing death for another person at a disadvantage. But, in this case, you may be the one spreading the very thing that kills the other. There is a clash of ideas going on here. There is also a clash of how far can Government go when it comes to telling its people what they can and can’t do in every day matters of culture and daily life. The final issue, and at this point, a crucial one, is upon what basis can Government do what it is now doing? Here we are back to the question of origin and why this happened in the first place. If maleficence is to blame, that is, if this could have been stopped or contained, then answers are demanded and the source-problem needs a radical solution. The Individual demands it so that he or she can maintain their freedom from bad deals made by bad politicians for bad gain with what I consider to be an evil Government theory: Communism. What Communism is showing us is that Communists are committed patiently to time (history). It takes a great deal of time to run the globe eventually. If we wake up to what has been going on for a long time and recover what it means to be an Individual with inalienable rights, then perhaps we will truly recover as a nation of all nationalities. If we succumb, recover, and go back to ‘business as usual’ with Communist forces, then it’s just a matter of time when “rights” will be defined by whoever tells you who and what you are.

China, Conspiracy, and Corona

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

“Have mercy on me, O’ Beneficent One, I was angered for I had no shoes; Then I met a man who had no feet” (Chinese Saying, Oxford Book of Prayer).

Lots of Americans are talking about China today in light of the pandemic called, Corona Virus (CoViD-19). But, how well do we know about Chinese history, culture and people? Let me say first off, because in this day one has to so as not to offend anyone, that I believe that all people are created in the image of God regardless of stature, ethnicity, culture or geography. I proclaim with Saint Paul that “out of one blood came all nations” (Acts 17.26); that in this line of thought “racism” is impossible if this idea is true. The biblical doctrine of the “universal family of all people, ever” is one of my strong convictions. Having said that, when a certain country is critiqued it must be understood that its ideas are to be separated from its people. This is occurring, for example, when one calls CoViD-19 the “Wuhan Virus” or the “China Virus.” Here, one is not saying anything about China’s people, but simply locating the place of origin of a particular viral strain. Maps do exist. If I said, “rice eaters” or “slants”, then I am being racist and severely displeasing to Jesus Christ and would come under his judgment – which I don’t want. (“Orientals” “Asiatics” “Hops” “China-men” are also regarded as derogatory and should be avoided as terms). “Chinese” is perfectly acceptable, as is Asian-American, or Asian. “China” as a term is probably from the Persian/Sanskrit ‘cina’, and Pliny (first century, A.D.) used “asian”. Zhōngguó is the official name of the region used by the people, and the most popular language (there are several) is Mandarin, although that is being quite general.

Ronald Takaki colors the more or less nineteenth century attitude of politicians like Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri that is embarrassing for readers today. Benton served from 1821 to 1851 in the Democrat Party. ‘Manifest Destiny’ was a particular political and religious view of certain Americans (though not all) that saw America as bringing about a new heaven and new earth through expansion into the West. For Benton, this meant beyond California and into the Pacific islands and lands. This included China. Takaki writes, ‘Crossing the Rocky Mountains and reaching the Pacific, whites were finally circumnavigating the earth to bring civilization to the “Yellow Race”‘ – which is the term Benton used (Ronald Takaki, A Different Mirror: History of Multicultural America, Back Bay Books, 1993, p. 191). This went two ways: the Americans would venture into China, and the Chinese people would immigrate to America. Takaki, who was in part raised by his Chinese step-father (and his book is well worth the green to own), documents that the Chinese emigrant was not a slave. They were not brought over against their will but came of their own independence, escaping the mid-nineteenth century horrors under the Qing government (1644-1911 A.D.), the last Imperial government of China before the Republic of China, and now the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). The history of civil infighting and warlord factionalism within the borders of what is now mapped as China are unparalleled in terms of constant agitation. Coming to America was seen as a great relief.

As Chinese emigrants arrived (by the hundreds of thousands) in the late nineteenth century (California would not be where it is today, agriculturally speaking, if not for this), introduction to the Christian Religion was inevitable. Second, introduction (because of the sheer number) into America also meant Politics – and, unfortunately, Politicians. White Politicians. By and large the Californian Legislative racism which viewed the Chinese immigrants as “heathen” and “very little above the beast” did not fare well for them (Joshua Paddison, American Heathens: Religion, Race, and Reconstruction in California, University of California Press, 2012, p.27). Enter one champion: William Speer, a Presbyterian Minister who was the first to speak the Gospel in their own language. Speer, who was a Missionary to the Californian immigrants, wrote, “It is a strange thing that we Americans have acquired the fashion of speaking of the Chinese with contempt and dislike. It is a fashion – and it should be changed” (William Speer, The Oldest and the Newest Empire: China and the United States, Harvard, 1870. p. 4). Compared to the Romans, the Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, and the Grecian, the Chinese supply the generation today with “Virtuous examples of their own ancestors who lived four thousand years ago” and have remained whereas these other Great Empires “are past and gone” (p. 22, op. cit.).

Speer heaps praise after praise, noting how the French and English admired the Chinese culture and people. “The coming of the Chinese to America is excelled in importance by no other event since the discovery of the New World” (p. 27). Indeed, the discovery of what would become America, was fueled by Christopher Columbus’ reading of Marco Polo’s description of China and its people. Calling the inhabitants “Indians”, Columbus meant “Chinese” since in Europe, Indians – those of Indies – were called such. Now, of course, Speer wrote under the theological idea of the grand design of Providence in evangelizing the Chinese to the Christian Faith, and he had great success in doing so when he first visited there in Canton, learning Cantonese, for four years (there was also Hudson Taylor). Coming back to California, he vigorously fought the Politicians for immigrant rights and protections, which was successful as well. Speer’s massive volume attempts to recount their history, and in that time it was quite common to understand the history of any peoples as stemming from “the solitary household that was saved in the ark when the world was drowned for its corruptions” (p.36 – such a refreshing outlook for me!). How the descendants of Noah and his family “threaded its way along the valleys of Jihon, the Yarkana, and the Hwang-ho into the territory of the present empire of China, no inspired chronicle relates” (p. 36). Keep in mind we are still in the 1870’s here.

Speer does not stop. He quotes other anthropologists and recounts Chinese traditions as well that relate of the first human beings made from clay. As well, there is clear documentation concerning the legend of Fuhi, often called the “Chinese Noah”, who made his way to the mountain of Chin, encircled by a rainbow after the earth was flooded. Several etymological sources derive the name Sin, one of the names listed in Genesis 10.17 which is often thought as being the Sinites, or Sianu in Assyrian records. Speer quotes Isaiah 49.12, “Behold, these shall come from afar, and behold, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim“. The Hebrew noun is Sinim, which, as Hebraist Julius Fuerst noted, is “rightly understood as Sina or China” (Hebrew & Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, 1867, p.977). Before the wholesale infiltration of the alternate world view of Darwin and Lyle, this is how Christian anthropologists thought (rightly so). So, for Speer, the spread of the Gospel to the Chinese was viewed as prophecy being fulfilled. He was not alone in this.

We need to speed up things in terms of an extremely complex history of China. After the Qing Dynasty, what is now known as the Peoples Republic of China fell under the sway of the Communist writings of Lenin and Marx. Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong) announced on the first day of October, 1949 the Peoples Republic of China. In an odd and strange fashion (what else is history but that?), the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1865) was led by Hung Hsiu-ch’uan, a Christian. Well, sort of. He believed that he was the brother of Jesus Christ. Mao Tse-tung, on the other hand, was influenced by German intellectual, Karl Marx. Neither Jesus, nor Marx were apart of Chinese history in terms of her then four thousand year traditions (see Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China: A History of the People’s Republic, The Free Press/MacMillan, 1977).

Confucius was born in the sixth century B.C. and his philosophy/worldview largely dominated Chinese culture. In the twelfth century A.D. Daoism and Buddhism were added. All of these views were attacked by the Communist Party of China (which existed before Mao Tse-tung). Christianity, from extant accounts, appears to have entered China in the sixth century A.D. It was introduced again in the thirteenth century, but “both times its constituency seems to have been prevailingly foreign and neither time does it appear to have won many converts from among the Chinese themselves” (K. S. Latourette, A History of Christianity: Volume II Reformation to the Present, Harper and Row, 1975, pp. 938-939). This is not to say that Christianity vanished in the land. By the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Jesuits made firm inroads and the Roman Catholic Church was well established. Sun Yatsen (1866-1924) was Christian and established the Republic of China (1912). The internal factions never left, however. Several influences were competing with each other over how to best rule China for the Chinese. After Yatsen, Chen Duxiu and the Communist came into power, but not with total support. Another party, the Kuointang (the Nationalist Party), vigorously fought the Communists. This party was lead by Chiang Kai-shek. If anyone is familiar with the fifties in America and the “Red Scare” of McCarthyism, the collapse of Kai-shek to Mao (1949), establishing Communism to the present day in the land, colored the language of Whites when it came to viewing China and the Chinese (Griffin Fariello, Red Scare: Memories of the American Inquisition, Avon Books, 1995). Since the Soviets were our “allies” in the War, we favored them over Chiang Kai-shek (also an ally). When the uprising against him (led by Mao) was more or less supported by US withholding aid from Kai-shek’s Nationalist Party, China fell in 1949. For a completely different take on what happened, denouncing Communism and Socialism altogether on the basis of the fact that wherever it is allowed to flourish, disaster results is John A. Stormer’s None Dare Call It Treason (Liberty Bell Press, 1964). Stormer shows how it was through America Liberals friendly to Leninism used clandestine methods (media) to paint a rosy picture of Chinese Communists. In reality, – as we later learned, Mao’s extermination machine made Hitler’s look like a picnic. On the Left, we never hardly hear of complaints of Communist extremes, because of their Socialist policies. Hitler, on the other hand, is always painted as a Right Wing Conservative (which he was not – at all). The point in all of this is is that in America, China is the go to source for defining “which side are you on” politics. Leftists praise China (in spite of a dismal human rights record, and environmental issues); the Right can demonize them as foul, atheist commies.

Kai-shek was, more or less, tolerant of the Christian missionaries, and a friend to the West. What one begins to notice is that whatever foreign influence, whether Western democracy (and its economics), Christianity, or Communism, the Chinese integrated them into their own way of seeing things as Chinese. Even Communism was not spared in that Mao’s definition was not that of Soviet Russia’s definition. Henry Kissinger utilized this fact in the famous meetings (Summits) between China and America under President Nixon. Walter Isaacson notes how an article in Life magazine reported on the Sino-Soviet clash (1969), and the editorial faulted the Soviets. Nixon, after reading the article, ‘jotted a note to be conveyed to the editor: “I completely agree”.’ After a series of attempts to meet, it finally came down to an American Ping Pong champion, Glenn Cowan, then nineteen years old (Walter Isaacson, Kissinger, Simon & Schuster, 1992, pp. 336-339). This was a major victory for Nixon, and for the launch of world diplomacy in a time when the Cold War and Viet-Nam were in full gear. By the end of the seventies, China’s economic condition was abysmal. Communism was not working for Russia or China, but we made an inroad to China instead of Russia.

There are major concerns when it comes to Communism and Religion. Communism is avowedly anti-religious. The untold millions of Christians that have been slaughtered by the hands of those in control and under the persuasion of Marx-Lenin is a history barely heard in America (for a summary and further research, go here). Nonetheless, from all reputable sources, Christianity is growing in what has been estimated as close to one hundred million (for an excellent book, see Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power by David Aikman, Regency Publishing, 2003). Aikman shows how the tenacity of Chinese “house churches” since Mao’s rise has stood firm over and against the State Church of the Communist Party. All attempts to suppress and oppress these churches – which have no Western denomination over them (the Chinese way) – have failed. See, if it is announced that the heavenly way of Jesus is to be established by Jesus on earth when he returns, then the philosophy that man will bring Utopia (Marxism) is false. Government is not the whole answer to Man’s Problem. For Communism, and indeed Socialism to work, Religion must either be controlled, or eradicated. For these ideologies to work, Government must dominate the social order in thought. Dissent from claims of an other-worldly Kingdom simply clash. Ask Pontius Pilate.

The current President, General Secretary, and Paramount Leader is Xi Jinping, whose father was killed during an attempt to radically reinforce Maoism (The Cultural Revolution as it was called). Since 2012, Jinping’s core belief is still what could be called Maoist in some ways. He has also been associated with the revival of the Qing Dynasty aspects when it comes to Chinese Nationalism. His “Chinese Dream” is not pure Marxism, or Communism, but is State run “collectivism.” It’s a post Marxism form of Socialism on a massive scale that has incorporated ideas that have to do with trade, commerce, and the success of the Chinese people, for the Chinese people at the guidance of the State. In a little book I purchased some time ago, the authors’, Hu Wenzhong and Cornelius L. Grove, noted that of one the three fundamental values of the Chinese, the first is Collectivism. “Collectivism is characterized by individuals subordinating their personal goals to the goals of some collectives. Individualism is characterized by individuals subordinating the goals of collectives to their personal goals” (Encountering the Chinese: A Guide for Americans, Intercultural Press, 1991, p. 5-6). That is a good snapshot. As I stated, the Chinese do not simply “borrow” another ideology, but rather make it their own for the benefit of the People, China. “Much of the process institutional change has taken place at the level of formal rules and regulations” which are constructed and applied “as a part of the grand strategy of national development” (Scott Wilson, Remade in China: Foreign Investors and Institutional Change in China, Oxford Press, 2009, p. 8). Technology, as witnessed in the city of Shenzhen under Deng Xiaoping (the Architect of Modern China), has exploded in China. Xiaoping theorized that China must enter a stage of economic growth which in turn would bring about the “social utopianism” of Marxist-Leninist thought. Thus, Marxist-Socialism is still in the driver’s seat, and the Chinese “experiments” with capitalistic concerns (inviting an open market of foreign investors) will show, so it is believed, that the Chinese Communists interpreted Marxism (and Engels) aright all along. Where the Soviet Union failed, China will succeed. What we have is Chinese Marxism.

Globalization is the name of the game these days. China recognizes this fact. To be accepted as players on the world stage, and to have respect as a people among the nations, China will indeed foster participation within the world, reforming itself if it is necessary (to some extent), yet always maintaining nationalism. One could say that Trump’s “America first” policies are akin to Xi Jinping’s: “China first”. Wilson notes how both countries utilize globalization, yet “hedge” when it comes to losing their own sovereignty (Wilson, cited above, p. 210). China’s massive military expansion is meant ” to enhance its clout in international affairs by making its security threat credible” (Wilson, 210).

This brings us to the idea of defense. Corona-virus, according to some, is a biologically engineered mutation at the hands of chemists. This also brings us to the fact that China does not want “the blame” for this recent pandemic. In fact, currently, it has shifted from the “it originated in Wuhan” story to a “we don’t know how it got in Wuhan” one. One must understand here that China is a nationalistic and proud country. The last thing they want is war, and the further last thing they want is blame. Who wants to be known as the country that has plunged the world into a pandemic? However, as a world stage player, they do want to be known as a country that can defend itself if necessary. And it can.

Two stories are emerging in terms of the origin of the corona-virus. One, it is the product of germ warfare. Two, it is the product of a happenstance chance that a “jump” occurred from an animal (the Chinese horseshoe bat – Rhinolophus sinicus) to a human by unsanitary means. Dr. Francis Boyle, a controversial University of Chicago College of Law professor (earning degrees from Harvard as well), is currently arguing that CoViD-19 is engineered. One can usually dismiss conspiracy crack pots. Dr. Francis Boyle is not a crack pot. The reports coming from non-State reviewed sources within China are also telling a different story. Again, this is not about the Chinese people. This is about an ideology rooted in what is called, Globalization of world powers. Boyle does not believe that China orchestrated this. It was an accident. His concern is that something like this was developed at all.

Boyle drafted the The Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 (BWATA). There it states, “any micro-organism, virus, infectious substance, or biological product that may be engineered as a result of biotechnology, or any naturally occurring or bioengineered component of any such microorganism, virus, infectious substance, or biological product, capable of causing death, disease, or other biological malfunction in a human, an animal, a plant, or another living organism; deterioration of food, water, equipment, supplies, or material of any kind or deleterious alteration of the environment” must be outlawed. And it is. So, if he is correct, who developed corona-virus 19?

With all of the technological breakthroughs and the massive uploading of knowledge via the internet, the sophistication of modern industry down to the irrelevance of Religion (which, depending on who you read is itself collapsing), we have a pandemic. And, that means death. Fear. Panic. We need a scapegoat: the Chinese! It does not matter to this Theologian where, or who, or how CoviD-19 came. I quoted a verse at the beginning of this blog from Acts 17, where in a first century Jewish rabbi name Paulus (or, Paul – his Jewish name is Shaul) stated that all peoples came from one blood. One family. That is was God, who after the flood, “determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation” (17.26). And, that it is God, therefore, who can get this family’s attention when he so wills all at once. Getting the flu, or a virus, is a common affair. Getting dead is a whole other thing. When technology is viewed as the answer to all things, it suddenly panics when death comes knocking. When we think we are in control and something like this comes along, we actually see how fragile we are. We are not as invincible as we thought. If we take the view of Globalization that there are several key players who are running the world (Conspiracy), then I take that a step further: God is running the world and is indifferent to or shows no favor of any key player or nation.

At the time of this writing, we are living in a period of uncertainty. This may pass, or it may not. But, as Osama Bin Laden has become part of our vocabulary, so has corona-virus. One didn’t hear much talk about SARS on the streets. The talk about AIDS is not what it was in the eighties. Those pandemics didn’t shut down our communities and churches. This one did. What will the next one do? None of the concerns of Politics could have braced us for this. Socialism, Capitalism, “made in China”, Republicans, Democrats, whatever. Suddenly, we took on a global concern. The Chinese are in this, too. And, for me, my Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ are affected. We also are questioning the idea of teleology: where is history going? This pandemic will without question change our policies with other nations; the outcome of which is unknown, but hopefully, it will continue to foster cooperation instead of ideological demarcation. It seems as if the Chinese have always had an idea of the Divine Heavens. Indeed, that they simply have ingrained in them what is ingrained in cultures all over the globe: a hope for humanity when all is said and done. Paul concluded his speech in Acts 17 with this: “For in Him we live and move and are…the offspring of God…[and] he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (17.28-31). For Paul, this included a hope for a new heavens and a new earth; a Utopia made by God Himself. However, before such time, we have these occasional outbreaks of turmoil wherein we face uncertainty and death. Man’s attempts to take a stab at creating a better world can sometimes appear to us that all is right. Why would wrath break out? Well, all is not alright. If this is indeed God’s world, His Kingdom Realm, and all the players on His stage are not all acting in accords with His Empire, then He can suddenly get everyone’s attention. Not that everyone will heed this. Many will scoff and shake their fists. But, many will not. They will bow and confess, “Jesus is Lord.” “Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of China” said the Prophet. If this is where history – God’s unfolding Purpose for Humanity – is taking us (which seems to be the innate hope of even those who defy God) – then some aspects of this Future hurl us towards that Future in the Now. This is a time for service, courage, and a furtherance towards a beneficial love of Humanity for the sake of Christ – “racism” has no place, and neither does Politics. A transcendent view (what the Latin Theologian phrased, sub specie aeternitatis) is needed to “make sense” of the Global Picture. Man’s view from below doesn’t work.

What About the Time Texts, Part 4

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.

The Greek verb, mello (μέλλω) has been conveyed in a variety of ways when it comes to translating it into English.  We will explore several of these examples.  We will also explore the many syntactical forms in which the verb is used (as it occurs in action with the Subjunctive, Indicative, Participle, etc.).  Following on this, the context will be noted in which it occurs also noting the variety of syntactical forms.  No word can be considered apart from its contextual aspect (Aspekt) Finally, we will conclude the following thesis: mello is emphatic of future contingencies in terms of giving absolute assurance that the subject matter will most certainly occur.  It does not say anything concerning ‘when’ (Zeitpunkt der Aktion) the subject will occur.  Whether the action (Aktionsart) is ‘about to’ happen, or simply ‘will’ or is ‘going to’ happen is supplied solely by the context (Kontext) in which the verb occurs. 

Mello means that an action is certainly going to happen in the future.  That is its basal meaning.  As such, it is found in the Future Active Indicative (FAI).  Mt 24.6 has “you will hear of wars…” (RSV); “you will begin to hear of wars…” (YLT); the majority of translations follow the RSV and use the simply future, “will.”  This is followed by the Infinite in the Present Active form, to hearMello is often followed by an Infinitive form of a verb.  “You are going to hear” or “you will hear” are both acceptable.  For our point, mello is found in the Future Active Indicative form which, one would think, already state the fact that something is to happen in the future.  Why, then, would mello be used if it, too, is a verb rooted in a future aspect?  Because it adds emphasis to the certainty.  Jesus is not saying that at any moment they are ‘about to’ hear rumors, as if after he was done speaking someone would be overheard saying, “Hey, did you hear that Rome is going to invade Gaul?” That may have in fact happened!  Or, it may be that in a few years they would hear such things.  Either way, they were definitely going to hear it!

The Future Active Indicative by itself as a form is what grammarians call ‘vague’ or ‘ambiguous’ in terms of whether or not something will take place.  It does not deny that it will, or will not, or maybe it will or will not.  The focus is on the type of action that is said to occur in the future.  This will happen.  With mello, the sense is this will definitely happen.  The Future Indicative has that meaning as well, but mello sharpens it.  Hence, it is emphatic. 2 Pe 1.12 is another occurrence of mello in the FAI.  “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these things…” (RSV); “So I will always remind you of these things…” (NIV); “remind” is in the Present Infinitive, to remind.  This is an emphatic statement.  Peter could have simply written, “I will remind you” using the FAI for the verb remind.  It would have meant the same thing to the author. But, to add emphasis to the fact that he is going to constantly (“always” which is supplied in the text) remind them; doggedly remind them, is conveyed.  Bank on it.

It is pertinent at this point to work within the Grammars and Lexicons of Koine Greek and what they have to say about mello.  First off, we will consider Liddell and Scott, the classical Greek Lexicon.  There, the verb is shown to have a great multitude of usages in Pindar, Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, etc.  It is used poetically and in prose.  What is also noted is that mello “differs from the simple future just as Latin facturus sum from faciam” (A Greek-English Lexicon, Liddell and Scott, American Book Company, 1882).  The translations are, to intend doing, think or mean to do, to be about to do.  Several examples are given.  Also, ‘to denote a foregone conclusion’; Strong probability; destined.  It also simply means, by itself, the future; I have found this to be the case in my recent readings in Pindar’s Odes, where it is simply used of the “future” time, whether or not “in the coming moments” or in the far away time.  That is supplied by the context, not the verb.  For example, “He soon overtook his brother, noble Hector, about to leave the place where he’d talked with his wife” (Iliad 6.515) where “about to” is followed by a Future Infinitive.  The action of Hector dictates the translation “about to” or “on the verge of”.  “As he spoke, Dolon raised his large hand, though about to touch Diomedes’ chin to beg for mercy” (Iliad 10.454).  The action is obviously taking place at the moment.  Several examples in Classical Greek can be shown.

A Greek professor pointed out to me that in Lexical entries for Greek words, the English translations are English idioms in the way that English use the term.  Hence, the English definitions of a particular term are just that, English!  It may seem obvious to us, but it is important to realize this often missed point.  In English, the idiom “about to” carries with it that something is on the verge of happening then and there.

Friberg’s, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (2000, Trafford Publishing), by Barbara and Timothy Friberg, offers us more or less the same definition: will certainly take place, will come to pass.  It lists in entry (b) that with the Aorist Infinitive it may mean, be on the point of, be about to, be destined to, be inevitable.  In entry (c) with the Present Infinitive, be about to, be going to, begin to; or as a future or as a periphrasis for settled futurity, will, be going to.  The Participle in the Present Indicative is simply, what is coming in the future with an ‘absolute’ sense.  Why all of these choices?  What would decide for the translator the choices listed above?  Context.  There is nothing in these Lexicons, including the Bauer, Ardnt, Gingrich and Danker (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2000) that states that mello means, in and of itself, ‘about to’.  These various interpretative translations are based on context – which tells us whether or not the subject in question is on the verge of happening –as the English idiom is used – or not.

Louw and Nida (LN) place mello under the semantic range of ‘time’.  Mello can be used for action which occurs ‘at the same time’ (67.62, from Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, 1988).  Again, under no listing is any verbal form given.  “About to” can occur as a translation with the Present Infinitive, the Future Infinitive, or the Participle.  An example give by LN is Mt 20.22, “the cup I am about to drink” – with the action being ‘closely related’ in terms of time.  Here the Present Active form with the Present Infinitive follows.  However, in the majority of the major Bible translations, “the cup I will drink”; “I am to drink”; “I am going to drink” – are given.  Jesus was fated to drink the cup.  It was of absolute necessity, and certainty that he drink it.  In the parallel Mk 10.38 the Present Active Indicative is used instead of mello showing that the action of his drinking is something that was upon them (the cup being in reference to the suffering he was to undertake within the week of his uttering these words).  Some refer to this as the Futuristic Present because it was “regarded as so certain that in thought it may be contemplated as already coming to pass” (Dana and Mantey, p. 185, see below).

The Grammar Dana and Mantey (A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Macmillan, 1957) notes that the verb mello “is  more emphatic in force, and contemplates the action as more imminent” (p.191).  They add a further citation from A.T. Robertson’s A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research (Hodder and Stoughton, 1914), page 870.  There, to compliment the idea of Dana and Mantey, Robertson pointed out an example by way of harmonizing Mk 9.31 with Mt 17.22.  In the former, “the son of man is being delivered” using the verb in the Present Passive Indicative.  Of course, the time of this being handed over to the authority was some weeks away.  In the latter, “the son of man is about to be delivered” where the verb (“delivered”) is used periphrastically with mello in the PAI and the main verb in the Present Infinitive.  Robertson then adds that the Futuristic Present “gives the sense of certainty” (p.870).  Hence, it can be used for mello, or in place of, because of the fact of something to happen with certainty.  It is fated.  To bring out this idea in translation, scholars will use the English idiom “about to” in the same force of that idiom.  Note that the construction here is the verb mello in the Present Active Indicative with the Present Infinitive following.

Let me illustrate this point by way of an example in my own life.  The date of this paper is February 5th.  My niece, Taylor, has asked me to preside over her wedding which is February 28th.  This wedding is going to occur.  It is about to occur.  It is a few weeks away.  In fact, the other day I used this very statement to a friend saying that “I am marrying my niece” using a Present Tense.  The event is certain.  However, I have known about this for over a year, and I would not have said a year ago, “the wedding is about to occur.”  Rather, feeling quite at ease, I had plenty of time to prepare.  Now, presently, I don’t!  It is the context of the situation that a translator would use “about to” for something that is seen as occurring within a very short period of time.  However, the verb mello itself does not mean ‘about to’ – it means that an event is certainly going to happen.  Like the Futuristic Present, it “gives the sense of certainty.” When mello does give this sense within a context that we know upon reading was to happen within a few weeks, a week, a day or even right at that moment, “about to” is a perfectly good conveyance of the way in which “about to” expresses the certainty of the event.  And, when this is done, the verb is usually – but not always – in the Present forms of Infinitive or Indicative with a Present Infinitive following.  We now can turn to several other examples.

In Acts 11.28 the Prophet named Agabus predicted a famine throughout the world.  Luke adds that this happened during the reign of Claudius Caesar.  Claudius ruled from 41-54 CE, and this places Agabus’ prediction, therefore, during that time.  According to the historians (Cassius, Suetonius, Josephus), four famines happened during his reign in 42 or 43 in Rome, another in Greece in 50, and yet another in Rome in 51.  Josephus mentions a famine in Judea in 45 CE.  However, this famine was after the death of Herod Agrippa, and the context of Acts 11-ff makes it clear that Herod was still alive when Paul and Barnabas arrived in Judea.  Either way, the form of mello here is in the Present Infinitive followed by the Future Infinitive of eimi: “there is going to be famine.”  None of the major translations reflect the idea of “about to”, thus resolving any issues with what exact famine Agabus had in mind.  It may be that Agabus’ prophecy concerned several and spoke generally – without any sense of when other than in the future – that famine(s) were coming, not specifying any provinces within the Empire.  Acts 24.15 and 27.10 contain the last of the three occurrences of mello in the Present Infinitive with the Future Infinitive following.  Robertson noted that with these three examples, the Future Infinitive in regards to “time relation is only relative, as with all infinitives, not absolute as in the indicative” (p. 877, op. cit.).

Robertson continues to note that mello expressed either in the Present Indicative or the Present Infinitive is meant to convey that which the Future Indicative lacks.  It is meant to firmly express the “durative” nature of a future event (p. 889). It is not so much when an event happens, but that it will happen.  Mello occurs in the Imperfect (past) Tense several times and denotes the present condition upon which certain things are to take place before the event in question.  A good example here is mello in the Imperfect Indicative followed by a Present Infinitive: “When the seven days were almost completed…” (Acts 21.27).  The context of a week of days coming to a close is obvious.  ‘About to’ would be appropriate.  Again, of the three uses of mello with the Future Infinitive to follow, we find in Acts 27.10, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury.”  The great majority translate this verse with the verb “will” or “going to”.  The action is obviously something going to happen within the immediate time of the voyage they are about to embark on.  In the example of Acts 24.15 Paul mentioned that he has the same hope of resurrection that “will be” (as attested by the vast majority of the translations) – the certainty of resurrection without any regard as to when other than in the relative future.  Again, context determines, not the verb itself, whether or not the English idiom ‘about to’ can be utilized.  However, in every example where mello occurs (109 times in the NT) it is not necessary to translate it with ‘about to’ at all.  The several examples of where translations vary, some using ‘about to’ where others use ‘going to’ or ‘will’ highlight our point.  These are translational values that are expressed as such in the context.  When the action of the verb is seen within the context as occurring within the contextual time, the idea of its certain performance in the relative future is guaranteed.  If the action is something clearly happening ‘right then and there’, the English translation, ‘about to’, captures the force of the certainty of the action occurring in the future.

Herod was “about to” seek the child (Mt2.13); Festus was about to go to Paul (Acts 25.4); they expected that Paul was about to swell up (Acts 28.6); Paul was about to be killed (Acts 23.27); and several other examples show us action that is ‘on the verge of’ happening, not years away.  And, in each of these example, ‘about to’ is not necessary, either.  We know of the action from the context.  “Paul was going to be killed” (the Jews were going to definitely kill him); Festus was going to visit Paul; they expected that Paul was going to swell up, etc.  The sheer variety of ways in which this verb has been translated demonstrates the point that ‘about to’ is not the meaning of the term, but may be the equivalent of the English idiom, ‘about to’, depending on the context of the action, and not the verb itself.  The verb itself denotes certainty, definiteness, fate, destiny, it’s going to happen, bank on it.  Mello does not express that something might happen, but that something is going to happen; that the speaker or writer using the term is expressing certainty.  As such, knowing that I am going to preside over my niece’s wedding in a couple of weeks, I am within the contextual permits to say that I am about to marry my niece to her husband to be.  If the wedding was years away, such a comment would be entirely out of keeping with the English expression.  The same is true for translators of this verb in our English Bibles.

Psalm 2 and the Future of Nations

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

After Rousseau wrote about the “unavoidable and inherent defect” of any “body politic”, which he compared to how “age and death end by destroying the body”, he wrote, “Such is the natural tendency of the best constituted governments.  If Sparta or Rome perished, what State can hope to endure forever…let us not ever dream of making it eternal.”  Further, we must not “flatter ourselves that we are endowing the work of man with a stability of which human conditions do not permit” (Rousseau, Jean Jacques, The Social Contract, Barnes and Noble, 2005, from original 1762, pp. 91-93).  George Washington wrote to ‘To the Presbyterians’ (1789) that our Government will “give every furtherance” in “the progress of morality and science” with the view that “we may confidently expect the advancement of true religion, and the completion of our happiness” (Church, Forrest, The Separation of Church and State, 2004, p. 110).  Of course, in 1792 Washington lamented the divisions among the churches as “the most inveterate and distressing” of all the ills of mankind.  “I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal  policy, which has marked the public age, would have least reconciled Christians of every denomination…that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society” (written to Sir Edwin Newenham, op. cit., 106-107).  Just what exactly this true religion devoid of divisions is, having been overcome by the progress of science which cannot be but truth, is not stated.  It does not appear to be on the horizon even today.

In spite of the perhaps overt optimism of Washington’s hopes, the framing of the Constitution, with its ideas of checks and balances, rechecks and rebalances, with other ticks and tocks besides, was done so on the basis of the tendency of the human, body politic to become corrupt.  Indeed, one cannot begin to read Hamilton or Jay in the openings of The Federalist Papers and not see this point.  Separation of powers (Judicial, Legislative, Executive), taken from Montesquieu, must be instituted to ensure against the tendency of that accursed word, tyranny.  The pursuit of liberty was something that needed to be protected.  From what?  “It is obvious, that no human government can ever be perfect; and it is impossible to foresee, or guard against all the exigencies, which may, in different ages, require changes in the powers and modes of operation of a government, to suit the necessities and interests of the people” (Story, Joseph, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States, Regnery Gateway, 1986, from Story’s original work of 1840).  The people.

William Ellery Channing was the grandson of William Ellery, an original signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Channing was a Unitarian theologian (Harvard), was considered a “liberal” and deeply opposed Calvinism with its doctrine of depravity of the will.  However, and perhaps with great irony, Channing wrote a small tractate, ‘Importance of Religion to Society’ in 1832.  In this he wrote, “How powerless conscience would become without the belief in God; how palsied would be human benevolence, were there not the sense of a higher benevolence to quicken and sustain it.”  Further, “Once let men thoroughly abandon religion, and who can conceive or describe the extent of the desolation which would follow?”  “Take away the purifying and restraining influence of religion, and selfishness, rapacity, and injustice will break out in new excesses” (all from American Visions and Revisions: 1607-1865, Ed., David Grimstead, Copley Publishing, 1999, p. 353-354).  Sounds like Calvinism.

What does a religionless society look like?  Second, did the Framers ever envision “the people” at large within this Grand Experiment to be ever without Religion (particularly, at least early on, the Christian Religion)?  Would this have any recourse to “change” the “powers and modes” of the Constitution?  It matters not whether the people become agnostic or atheistic; they may not.  However, what if it could become successful that Religion is so watered down and so irrelevant so as merely to be that of the private life of the citizenry?  That is, create a society wherein being vocal about Religion was increasingly considered taboo?  The mighty progress of science, and the genius of self-referential psychology slowly chips away at the revealed word of Scripture to such a point that revelation is merely secondary, if anything, to the knowledge of man’s ingenious and amazing inventiveness of sophisticated and grand schemes that virtually, if left alone, leaves God in the docks.  A peaceful society built without reference, or perhaps at best some vague reference to God is a strong delusion – a rationally convincing and appealing delusion.  Besides, with all of the false seizures upon the name of Christ, and the equally powerful demonstration of the divisions within those who proclaim Christ, the question more and more arises from the lips of Pilate: “Ti estin aletheia?” – What is truth? Who knows?

“The Protestant worldview,” writes William H. Goetzmann, “like that of the Enlightenment thinkers, was a cosmic view.  All mankind and all human events, past and present, were of a piece-part of the mind of God.”  By the end of Goetzmann’s book, Henry Adams, the noted historian, saw the future in America at the entry of the twentieth century as bleak: “Looking at science, he saw only conflicting thought and all that was left was paradox, soon to be replaced by the confusions of twentieth century European Modernism and Psychoanalysis” (Goetzmann, William H., Beyond the Revolution: A History of American Thought from Paine to Pragmatism, Basic Books, 2009, pp. 24, 399).  This was a far cry from Paine’s utopian vision and Calvinist minister Jonathan Edwards’ “city on a hill” visions.  It seems as if history is doomed to failure.  Utopian experiments, as Goetzmann documents, all have failed.  Marx was wrong.  So, what guarantees the success of the West, or America for that matter?

I would argue that the ‘salt of the world’ is indeed the preserver of all things in creation.  “For the sake of the Elect”, Jesus taught, “those days will be cut short” (speaking of those days well after his departure).  If not, “all flesh would perish.”  In Psalm 2, which is more or less a template of the Reign of Messiah in the New Testament writings, we are given an amazing and prophetic vision that under-girds the fabric of all creation in terms of its purpose and its design.

Psalm 2 is directly quoted in the NT four times.  It is clearly alluded to fourteen times (according to the UBS Fifth Edition Greek NT).  From the Gospels through Acts, Paul’s letters, Hebrews and John’s letters to a large portion in the Revelation, Psalm 2 remains constant.  This Psalm is classified with others as Royal Ascension, or Enthronement of the King psalms.  “The hymns of Israel sketch a picture of the world where God is king and the kingdom is glorious.  The entire creation is the work of God (19), and everything in creation is well ordered to sustain life (104).  His power is evident in the forces of nature that he controls (29).  The king of creation maintains order over the forces of chaos and evil (93).  God created humanity as the pinnacle of his creation (8)” (Bandstra, Barry L., Reading the Old Testament, Thomson Wadsworth, 2004, p. 433).  With this world as God’s Kingdom, wherein both His people and the wicked dwell, the psalmist envisions a time wherein one upon David’s throne will rule over the “gathered kings of the earth” (Ps 2.2).  These kings are ‘enraged’ (2.1), and seek together to throw off God’s yoke.  It is a battle scene that encapsulates history in a single instance or moment.  “Against the LORD and his Messiah” they cry.  The one who “sits in the heavens” simply scorns them.  He speaks to them in his wrath (2.3).  He terrifies them in his fury.  He has exalted his king to his holy throne, a king of the kings of the earth who want that placement, but can’t get it – try as they may throughout history.  The LORD’s king is his “son” (2.7); a son of David as well.  The “nations” are given to him as an inheritance to do with as he wills.  The earth itself is given to him (2.8).  He rules the kings of the earth that gather together against him with a rod of iron, dashing their schemes to pieces.  Hitler’s 1000 Year Reign is reduced to twelve measly years where he ends up with a self inflicted bullet to the head deep in a bunker under the dirt.  Heed the instruction, the psalmist says, you gathered together kings of time and history; all of you that claim rule over his earth for your own means of advancement and prosperity which God has given to you.  “Serve the LORD with fear and trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest he quickly visits you with wrath and rod” (2.12).  “Blessed are those who take refuge in the LORD.”  Refuge in time of war.  There is a battle raging.

What is remarkable to us is that the NT writers applied this psalm to their own times, seeing the “rulers” in their own day, as David saw them in his, as “gathered together” against the LORD.  As stated, the psalm is timeless in terms of the encapsulation it depicts.  John’s imagery, specifically quoting the psalm, depicts the Lamb, “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev 1.5) in a cosmic battle with the “kings gathered together to make war” (which is a verbatim use of 2.2 with Rev 19.19 in the Greek) which are upon the “beast” – a conglomerate image with the Harlot Mother of harlot daughters – who rules over the kings of the earth, which, in turn, devour her.  A wicked empire of “kings of the earth” devouring their own rider/ruler.  Enraged in futility.  It matters not in the visions’ depiction as to what time or province the Great City/Harlot and her harlot daughters because it applies to all the “kings of the earth.”  David’s vision is seen from above; from God looking down and seeing the entirety of human governments in a single instance of gathering of the kings against him.  It matter not, from a human perspective, whether Sennacherb or Pharaoh Ahmose I, or Alexander the Great are centuries apart; they are all gathered together against Him and his Royal son.  This visionary way of seeing things is without time.  All the Kings of the earth, the Presidents, the Prime Ministers, the Csars, Dictators and Primates are gathered together at once.  Submission to the Enthroned son is the order.  Kiss him, or he visits quickly with wrath.  God rules the world.  This rather ancient way of expressing the rule of the Pantheon over the meager affairs of humankind, a cosmic battle pictured in a single flash, is what happens as the times expand chronologically; when this king comes, and another one goes.  It matters not where on the map nor when on the calendar.  Psalm 2 happens with unbroken consistency, whether penned in David’s day or uttered in the early days of the Apostles, or later in the visions of John.  It is because of this understanding that the psalmists eventually come to see “all the nations” as worshiping the LORD; every single one of them.  God will convert the world.  The kingdoms of the world belong to him and the “pinnacle of his creation” shall be crowned with glory and honor, ruling upon the creation with everything under their feet.  What this means, what the resurrection and exaltation of Messiah means, is that world has been manifestly sent notice: “And he has appointed a set time wherein he will judge the world through a man.  He has given us the total assurance of this by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17.31).  The raising of the dead man, Jesus of Nazareth, signaled the end; the resurrection of the dead and the co-heirs with the Son raised in glory immortal to inherit the ends of the earth as their King already has in his possession.

A Tip of the Hat to Gary DeMar

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.

“Those who ascribe to a future fulfillment in Christ claim they have a “hope” to “look forward to” but that isn’t true when they speak of a future full of destruction and tribulation… that produces fear, not hope.”

“I agree, the futurist idea of an end of the world is very much a faith killer. I see friends and family who are followers of Christ through and through… but are basically impotent in expressing that to others because they are so focused on identifying the next “sign of the end.” To me that is a life of fear, not hope.”

“Because it was a tribulation that put an end to the Old Covenant and brought in the fulness of the New Covenant and what it meant for the world as the nations were grafted in. Continuing the elements of the Old Covenant and the First Adam negates the redemptive nature of Jesus’ work. It’s no wonder the church is in a stupor with so many waiting for cataclysms, antichrists, and more slaughter. Jesus said, “It is finished.” It’s long past time that we believe Him” (Gary DeMar).

The first two of these three quotes is from an online Full Preterist.  Gary DeMar, who is not a Full Preterist, yet shows close affinity to this sentiment, this idea that “future” catastrophes are bad, underscores the idea that is pervasive in popular Christian expressions.  It strikes me as odd.  As a student of history, I occasionally come across books written on specific periods of time that are so unfathomably hard to digest because of the subject matter.  The Black Death, by Philip Ziegler (Alan Sutton Publishing, 1996) shows us firsthand accounts of Europe’s years in the fourteenth century.  Most think of the Great Plague, or Black Death as centering in Europe.  However, it came from the East where it ravaged through China.  Massive earthquakes, floods, hordes of locust, drought followed by famine – a series of sudden disasters from 1333 to 1345 claimed, by some accounts, near five million lives in China.  But, as Ziegler notes, that was China.  To Europeans, it was “so far away” that it “could have any possible relevance” to them (p. 3).  In an interesting description, Ziegler quotes from an “anonymous Flemish cleric” reporting to the papal curia in France (he sources from the Recueil des Chroniques de Flanders Volume 3).  There were three days, according to this firsthand account, of “horror and unheard of tempests” (p. 3) ranging from plagues of frogs, scorpions and other venomous beasts on the first day.  This was followed by massive thunder claps and sheets of rain and hailstones.  The third day was followed by fire from heaven.

The reports of the plague in the East continued through India, Mesopotamia and Syria, but not once did the people of Christianized Europe think it would strike them.  It did (1347-1351).  The numbers are staggering.  Some estimate that nearly 60% of Europe was wiped out, as high as 200 million.  We, of course, have “conquered” such pandemics today.

The term “epidemic” actually came from this event, and “pandemic” as a now common title.  There were other plagues of this sort.  The London Plague (1665), and in India from 1892 to 1896 some 6 million were claimed.  John M. Barry in, The Great Influenza (Penguin, 2004), covers in this remarkable book the gripping story of medicine and the pioneers of what is now the stable field of “germ theory.”  Influenza caused the death of 100 million in one year: 1918.

One could also read In the Shadow of the Epidemic: Being HIV-Negative in the Age of AIDS, (Duke University Press, 1995) by Walt Odets.  AIDS has caused the deaths of over 32 million, ranging from 1981 to the present.  An estimated 37 million were living with AIDS in 2018.  That’s an epidemic.

Pushing aside medical concerns, one could cite The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-1978 (Yale University Press, 2002) by Ben Kiernan.  1.7 million were starved to death.  Of course, there was World War 2, World War 1, and Stalin’s estimated 20 million deaths of peasants at his hand.  Staggering numbers.  Numbers that do not affect the person sitting with their coffee while typing on Facebook how wonderful a world it is.

But, maybe it’s not all bad news.  I could take from my library The Rise and Fall of American Growth (Princeton, 2016) by Robert J. Gordon (a massive tome that equals Adams’ Wealth of the Nations); or The Paradox of Progress by Martin Hershock, or the sometimes downright comical work of Yuval Noah Harari entitled, Homo Sapiens: A Brief History of Tomorrow.  Harari was hailed by Bill Gates, Barak Obama and Sebastian Younger for his earlier work, Sapiens.  In Homo Sapiens, he argues that man may actually achieve immortality through science.  The world is getting better.  Man is conquering his greatest enemies.  He laments the ‘apocalyptic scenarios’ of the Christians.  Shreds any notion (much like Sam Harris) that the ancient belief in “god(s)” is relevant to our sophisticated societies today.  Science is what triumphs, not theologians sitting in some seminary debating when the end will arrive.  It’s not going to arrive.  We can stop it.  Take SARS for example (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), what started with “fears of a new Black Death…ended with the death of less than 1,000 people worldwide” (Harari, p. 11, Harper Collins, 2017). One could note today’s Coronavirus in China.  Harari takes constant and consistent attacks on notions of God or religion playing any role for progress.  Of course, acclaimed historian Tom Holland would disagree.  Christians these days have become apologists for how Christianity has caused the great innovations of science and progress, and without it – and Christians – the world would collapse.  Now, this is the irony.  How can Christians be the cause of greatness and progress, and yet be ridiculed as a doomsday cult hastening the coming end times destruction with glee and morbid hope for catastrophic death never before seen?  Or, are the opening comments of the quotes above simply touting a common line that is really rooted in a stigma.

Now, to be sure, one can enter any Christian bookstore and find all kinds of works on how the world is supposed to end – even in this lifetime if you follow the more popular ones.  Iran is going to align with Russia and Syria.  Jordan and Libya will attack Israel and the Antichrist will arise and sign a temporary peace accord while sitting in the yet-to-be rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem.  The Official United Nations Government of the Red Star Federation (to borrow from the late Neil Peart of Rush, 2112) will stamp everyone with 666.  Then, literally, all hell will break loose that will make the previous centuries combined look like Maria Von Trapp belting out a tune by Richard Rodgers.  Make America Great Again, or something like that.

The combined irony in all of this is that the Bible is increasingly becoming recognized by the fact that “it” and “its many interpretations offered by those who read It” are two different things.  The Bible cannot be interpreted in a vacuum.  No matter how hard we try, we cannot escape the preconditioning of our time.  We read the Bible with an already built in audience of interpreters before us.  No one alive today was there and witnessed Jesus.  No one today can claim to be an “original hearer” of Paul.  We have to ‘reconstruct’ the times of Second Temple Judaism(s), and this road is fraught with difficulties – there appears to be no consensus.

However, history as such can be a guide.  Jesus and Paul did speak, and Paul wrote letters.  The Gospel writers, whether they be known or unknown redactors that piled on layers of interpretative voices much later on to the real, ‘historical’ Jesus, also bequeathed to us the Gospels.  And then there is the Apocalypse of John.  There appears to be no consensus.  When one reads the early Christians of the several first centuries, they appear to have their own ideas as well.  Perhaps if we “return” to them, we might find a clue.  However, here we are still in the 21st century.  What did Jesus say?  What did he mean?  Did he predict the future at all?  Did he give us a detailed road map that brought us the Ottoman Empire and the rise of Islam?

There is a view within Christendom that states that all the bad stuff supposedly inferred to happen in the future is behind us.  That is, everything Jesus had to say about terrible afflictions, plagues and earthquakes was fulfilled when the Romans, tired of the outbreaks of civil strife among the Jews, took it upon themselves to squash it.  In the years of 66-70, 115, and 132-135 CE they did.  Jerusalem has never been the same since.  And, of course, one can read the eyewitness account of Josephus, the Pharisee turned lover of Rome historian.  He records what he saw as the worst event in human history that ever was, or ever will be in the 70 CE sack of Jerusalem.  The “great tribulation” was over!  Revelation was fulfilled!  We don’t have to suffer anymore!  History will now end in bliss, if only these Christians who believe in the end of the world (eventually) would cease their efforts on promulgating this doom and gloom scenario.  Perhaps Christian apocalypticism is the fault of the Black Plague, or the Viet-Nam War. After all, this is their “hope”, right?

Well, no.  Not all of us.  It appears within some circles that you either subscribe to the jubilant cry that the Great Tribulation is behind us, or (and only “or”) you must ascribe to a view of the end of the world in some sort of hell-on-earth, three and a half year unprecedented universal horror of all horrors.  That you hope for such an end.  That you are looking for “signs of the end” in every newspaper headline about Hamas or Jihad or Russian military maneuvers on the border of the Crimean that cause your hair to stand on end.  Are these the only two alternatives?  Really?  Does history have anything to say?

Now, granted, Gary DeMar is a Postmillennialist.  Since the catastrophes of the Great Tribulation are behind him (whew!), we have an open view of the Future that only gleams with progress and unfettered prosperity; provided that we rid the world of Dispensationalists, or any view that smacks of negating the progress of culture building through the Gospel enterprise. The only issue there is noted in Harari’s work noted above.  Harari is not using the Bible as his guide.  God is irrelevant to technology.  Progress is great.  One day it may even reach to the heavens itself and make its home there.  As Harari exclaims, our problems “have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges.  We don’t need to pray to any god or saint to rescue us from them.  We know quite well what needs to be done in order to prevent famine, plague and war – and we usually succeed in doing it” (p.2, opus cited).  “Peace, Peace!”.  Harari is entirely indifferent to whether or not God will bring the great tribulation or whether He already did way back yonder.  The fact is, the dead have not been raised, and Jesus has not returned according to incurable optimists like DeMar – who still maintains that Jesus will return – and this means one thing: the world will, in fact, end.  Until it does, death is still with us, and all that it means.  Perhaps jumping on the bandwagon of Environmentalism may help pave the way for a better world of tomorrow until Jesus comes, like the book Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth advocates (Delio, Warner, and Wood, Franciscan Media, 2008). Such a view of the end with the dead arising is pessimistic for folks like Harari. Conquering death by means of God ‘doing’ some sort of miracle act slams the door shut for progress. It says that life in the here and now, although good, ain’t good enough for God until he radically alters it. If he has to do this, then something is wrong with the now. And he’s right.

Increasingly, however, these two alternatives of either Doom or Bliss are not the only ones.  Jesus does not predict a three and half year cataclysm.  There is no limited in duration span of a few years called, “the great tribulation” on his lips.  Rather, all that he really said was that, cumulatively, the time between “creation” and his own day (say, 32 CE) was ‘great tribulation’ when it all added up.  Coupled with this, ‘great tribulation’ would continue on until the last day in a greater accumulation when all is added up.  Those days – the days to follow after he ascended right on up to the end, which no one knows, will have great tribulation as well.  But, in a parable he gave, there would be an “admixture of good seed and bad seed” in the world.  Good seed means good fruit in the world, so not all will be catastrophically horrible.  Some of it will be quite good.  In fact, “people will be eating, drinking, marrying and given in marriage” right on up to the end.  This description does not seem to be indicating a world filled with incomprehensible violence on every street corner and square acre of the globe.  Peppered throughout history will be occasional wars and catastrophes of a grand and measurable magnitude; like the Black Plague, or World War 2.  Maybe several other shockers are to come, who knows?  Jesus did not give us “signs” to make “predictions”.  He gives us faith to endure the times and seasons of the future which the Father has set (Acts 1.7), and which only the Father knows.  And, he gave us a wonderful mind by which to microscopically see these things called, ‘germs’ that we can – and have – exercised dominion over.  There is another plague, however.  The plague of unbelief and God is irrelevant is a plague of the mind.  That one is growing.  Give the wicked good times and he will not credit God for it.  He will credit himself and build a tower to the heavens to make his own name great.  Fact of the matter is, we do know that the dead will be raised.  We do know that the last day will come.  The heavens and the earth shall pass away – make no mistake about it.  It will be transformed, and this on the scale of a universal magnitude that would involve the reconfiguration of what we now see and in which we now live.  Does this mean that just before that happens, the world will be emblazoned in a violent, Antichrist, Islamic world war of terror that sends a militant government to round up all the Christians into concentration camps?  Nope.  You might be walking in a park with your kids enjoying an ice cream cone on a sunny day.  A true biblical view is not so naïve to think that our history is filled with warm fuzzies; or that the world as it now is is a wonderful, homey place to live.  It’s not.  Human trafficking, drugs, sexual diseases, abortion, rampant and disgusting “free” pornography, drug cartels, lone dictators with nuclear dreams, ISIS, Jihad – the list appears endless, still abound.  However, equally so, the Gospel explosion in China and Africa and among Muslim countries, the strides in medicine, the curtailing of contaminated water supplies, life expectancy, quality of life improvements for a greater majority than 100 years ago are all positives.  Does the Bible predict an end to sin before the arrival of Messiah?  Nope.  Does it predict a world in which the “good seed” have been planted to be a place of sheer hell before he returns?  Nope.  Does it predict an eventual end of the world?  Yup.

Therefore, it matters not whether one is comforted by acknowledging that the ‘great tribulation’ is past already, as if the 30 million infected with AIDS could care less.  What would one say to a survivor of the Shoah in Nazi Germany?  “Well, at least this ain’t the great tribulation!”  Such a view can lead to an indifference to suffering on the earth.  Taken into its cumulative toll, how many combined are suffering unspeakable things right now as we speak?  Is it good news of comfort to say, “well, at least it ain’t the great tribulation!  God has something better for you!”  Does it matter when helping such a victim in need what one believes about the future – which only God knows?  Does DeMar and others believe that since some hold to the idea that the great tribulation is future, that means they run around saying, “well, you got what you deserve, cause the great tribulation is coming!”  No.  Such polarizing among Christians is uncalled for.  Fact of the matter is that God knows the future and is perfectly capable of bringing evil, or peace – as He sees fit, and there is not one thing you, or I, can do about it.  God punishes.  God is not mocked.  God takes vengeance.  “God vindicates the righteous; God pronounces doom each day” (Psalm 7.12).  He didn’t stop pouring out his wrath in 70 AD any more than he stopped pouring out his Spirit.  However, we are told that wrath shall be no more, and until that time we get both.  “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and evil come?” (Lamentations 3.38).  Wrath comes in many ways, as do blessings.  To pretend that God only showers blessings is not a picture of God in the Bible.  What, did the Black Plague catch him by surprise?  Oops?  Sorry ‘bout that.  I had no idea.  Is that God?  If we take the Preterist prophecy pundits, then God predicted and caused the slaughter of Jews in 70 AD.  What, he all of the sudden stopped this?  All other slaughters of history, be they natural or by the hands of tyrants, are what, just-so-happens-to-be-by-chance slaughters?  God picks and chooses his slaughtering? He runs part of the universe, but not all of it?  Come on.  Jesus did predict the passing of heavens and the earth, and the letter of 2 Peter chapter 3 confirms it.  How that comes about is a mystery.  When that comes about Peter wonderfully omitted.  However, the wicked will still be here when it does and so will on that account God’s wrath.  2000 years of history must inform us as to what Jesus meant when he uttered his Olivet Discourse.  Earthquakes, famines, tribulations, wars, pestilences and all other “wrath of God” stuff did not end in 70 AD.  One could argue that they increased on massive scales that pales in comparison to the Jewish War.  And then there was Noah’s Flood.  What could top that?  It may make one feel warm inside to know that ‘THE great tribulation of all tribulations” was “for them and then back yonder”.  Okay.  So, what about them and us here today?  Is suffering to blame for simply having a futurist view that the world ends one day?  Hardly.  If history – God’s History – be our guide, we simply do not know what’s coming down the pike other than, one day, he is going to wrap all of this up.  Of course, one could peddle nonsense that history is infinite, but that’s sheer absurdity.  Until then, “be alert” against those heralding “the end is near”.  Be on guard against those using his name for false profits.  Be aware of false pretenders, war mongers, and seducers.  Endure throughout your life all trials and tribulations that will come your way.  Endure to the end of your life, throughout your life, while setting your sights above, where he is at the right hand of the Father.

Paul’s Sermon to the Greeks

Paul’s Gospel to the Greeks in Athens who knew next to little about Moses, the covenants and the promises is a remarkable sermon. He was speaking to Epicureans and Stoics. Epicureans were derived from a Philosopher named, Epicurus (340-270 BCE). Epicurus wrote, “Accustom thyself to believe that death is nothing to us, for good and evil imply sentience, and death is the privation of all sentience;… Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not.” There is no afterlife.

The Stoics, on the other hand, was a rival philosophy.  Zeno of Citium (on the Island of Cyprus) taught in the fourth century BCE.  He eventually found his way to Athens and his followers gathered on the “painted porch” (Greek, stoa, or ‘porch’, from stoa poikile or ‘painted porch’ located in Athens), from whence the named, Stoicism is derived.  Paul’s Aereopagite Sermon (Acts 17.22-ff) is directed to them.  By the time of Paul, both Epicureanism and Stoicism were well developed and well known philosophies.  Although rival philosophies, which is not the subject of this paper, they did stand in agreement that there was no afterlife in terms of individuals.  For the Stoics, “nature” is God itself.  Time has neither a beginning nor an end.  There is no “history” since it is “infinite” and “cyclical”.  There is no beginning, there is no end. Epicureanism and Stoicism were well developed and well known philosophies.  Although rival philosophies, which is not the subject of this paper, they did stand in agreement that there was no afterlife in terms of individuals.  For the Stoics, “nature” is God itself.  Time has neither a beginning nor an end.  There is no “history” since it is “infinite” and “cyclical”.  There is no beginning, there is no end.

So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;1 as even some of your own poets have said, “‘ For we are indeed his offspring.’ 29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (English Standard Version, Acts 17.22-31). 

Paul first confronts them with terms they would know.  The idea of the kosmos (world) being made – a cosmogony – was a topic often debated among the Greek elites.  Paul proclaims the worldview of the Hebrews: God made the world and all that is in it, and he is the Lord of both heaven and earth since he made them in the beginning.  God is in no need of anything in terms of his “being”.  God is not locally confined to buildings – and whether these philosophers were familiar with Judaism and their temple cult or not, Paul said, “temples” in the plural, and that would include the one in Jerusalem.  God is omnipresent.

Being served “by human hands” is also a nod towards religious offerings.  He doesn’t need them, nor are they required.  What could one offer to God that is not already his, or not already given life to by him?  Every man’s breath is in the operation of God.  Again, Paul is preaching – without quoting any verse – from the Hebrew Scriptures.  Appealing again to Genesis, God made “one man” and from him every nation of all came into being.  He made the world and ‘everything’ in it.  Paul then moves to quote two of their poets.  The first line is a bit fuzzy, but many associate it with the poet, Epimenides. The latter line, “we are his offspring” speaks of Aratus, who lived in the fourth and third centuries BCE:

Let us begin with Zeus, whom we mortals never leave unspoken. 
For every street, every market-place is full of Zeus. 
Even the sea and the harbour are full of this deity. 
Everywhere everyone is indebted to Zeus. 
For we are indeed his offspring … 
— Phaenomena 1–5 

What was directed to Zeus, Paul reinterprets to speak of the God of Genesis.  Paul incorporated pagan themes which could be restructured with his own Hebrew religion and demonstrates what is today called, “cross cultural communication.”  After all, God made Aratus and Epimenides, too.

“God is not far from each one of us” is simply another way of saying, “The Lord is near”.  And, it is here that I wish to make the point.  Paul’s eschatology is hardly rooted in his knowledge that Jesus spoke of “armies surrounding Jerusalem” at some point.  This he knew.  Here, to these Greeks, he utterly fails to mention it.  Instead, God has fixed “a day” in which he will “judge the world” (the world he made and everything in it) through “a man”.  The man, Messiah Yeshua.  The world is going to be judged on a day by a human being: the son of man.  And God has demonstrated this fact by raising this human being up from the dead.  This man, still very much alive, will (in the future) judge the world on a fixed day.  Now, remember, this is the same world that God made, and everything in it.  The world God made that came “from one man” and the “nations” that came from him.  Paul has incorporated the entire history of the world up to this fixed, certain “day” in which a risen human being will judge it.  That’s what he is saying.  The “world” will end.  This was entirely foreign to these Greeks.  They had no final “end”.  They had an infinite, cyclical recurrence/rebirth of the Cosmic Nature (for the Stoics, that was Reason, which was material, and for the Epicureans, there wasn’t really anything).  Paul’s view of History, with a Beginning and an End was entirely foreign to the Greeks.  The idea that “history” was “progressing” to a “fixed day” or point in which all things within history would reach their zenith in perfection (for those who believe), and an eternal judgment for those who did not was Jewish, not Greek.  It gave “purpose” to history, and, thus, “history” as we know it was born into the modern era.

Now, it is an interesting point in grammar that Paul mentioned only the resurrection (anastasis) of Jesus.  In fact, the Greek is emphatic: having raised him out of the dead ones (plural).  Only one previously dead man has been “raised out of the dead ones”: Jesus.  Yet, “when they heard ‘resurrection of dead ones’, they scoffed”.  The phrasing for the singular resurrection of Jesus “out of” the dead ones was combined in the minds of these Greeks with ‘he will judge the world’.  How will this man, Jesus, “judge the world” that has been long dead for thousands of years in many cases, “from the beginning” when all things were made until this “fixed day”?  If this man is going to judge the world – the inhabitants of the world (Greek) – then it follows by strong logic that he has to raise them: there will be a resurrection of the dead (plural).  The resurrection of the dead occurs on the “day” when this man, Christ Jesus, who is now risen from the dead (the dead were not risen when Paul preached this) will judge them.  He cannot judge “the nations” that have come “from one man” thousands of years ago (who are well dead) unless he raises them so that they will “stand in judgment”.  These Greeks got the message.  They scoffed at such an idea.  It was entirely foreign to them.

Now, what would such a ‘resurrection of dead ones’ look like?  “[A]nd he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.”  Confirmation of what?  Resurrection and judgment.  For who?  “All.”  Now, if Jesus is described here as a human being who died, was buried and is now alive, risen from the dead, who will judge the world (the inhabitants of the world) from Adam onward, then “the dead” who are to be raised must be the same inhabitants of the world from the beginning until then.  The “dead” are not “raised” until the “fixed day”.  They are not “raised” in any piece meal fashion.  They are not “raised” when they happen to expire.  They are raised on the day when they are judged; all of them at once.  What started with “one man” ends with the Judgment of One Man.  This “one man” was created on a day.  This other One Man will raise all that came from him on a day.  The last day.

Such is Paul’s Eschatology in a nutshell.  It does not include 70 AD.  It nowhere even hints at the coming catastrophe of wars (66-70 AD; 115 AD; 135 AD) to befall the Jewish people.  It does not mention anything at all but the fact that there is coming a day in which a human being who has been raised from the dead and is still very much alive in his risen-from-the-dead-state will judge all mankind at once.