The Late Great Planet Earth

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In 1980, I was working with a fervent evangelical Christian named  Doug. Two years previously, Doug was living a hard life of alcohol, drugs, and women. Then he found Jesus and straightened his life out pretty quick.

 

Maybe I should say "trying to work". Doug could not stop talking about Jesus. It was almost as if his paycheck was for preaching, not getting things done for his boss asked him to do. When his workmates managed to tactfully retract from his Jesus conversations, he would sit at his desk, staring at the wall, grinning, and probably thinking about Jesus. I think Doug was being passed around department-by-department in this big corporation until it had enough evidence to fire him. 

 

But Doug did get me into an interesting book called "The Late Great Planet Earth." The author Hal Lindsey used Biblical prophecies to predict the "end times" which were to be around 1988. Doug had lots of copies to give away.

 

Mr. Lindsay's logic was quite impressive. He could tie in current events with Biblical quotes and built a great storyline for the "end is near." It was our responsibility to get on board before Jesus came again. Many people took his warning seriously for the book was on the best seller's list for several years. 

 

Well, 1988 was a few years away. So before I jumped on the Lindsay bandwagon, I made it a personal project to read the Bible for myself--and not under the influence of any one trying to promote his version of Christianity. This project took me a about a year. It was not easy. I really didn't have the historical background to fully understand a lot of the Old Testament. I read a few chapters of Isaiah and found too much symbolism for me to make any sense of what he was saying. So I skipped most of that lengthy book. As I was going through the New Testament, I was amazed at how many good stories that didn't make the front pages of my catechism classes.

 

In the end, I came to the conclusion that the Bible is a mysterious book. Anyone who claims they fully understand it is, in my opinion, a fool.

 

And I can't recall the particular Biblical verses, but I somehow figured that when Jesus does come again, the vast bulk of Christianity is going to miss the boat. In other words, when Jesus does come, it won't be obvious. I doubted my ability to find which of the 2000 or so sects of Christianity would be wise or spiritually attuned enough to recognize Christ's return.

 

I started my Bible reading project as an agnostic, albeit with a slight Christian bias. And I left the project in the same way. At that time in my life, I still liked my beer and my pubs and the excitement that comes with alcohol. There wasn't enough there for me to abandon those ways. And I no longer believed in the 1988 prediction.

 

Well 1988 came and went with no second coming. In the mid-1990s, Mr. Lindsay wrote another book that could have been titled "Why I was Wrong Last Time and Why I'm Right This Time". I didn't bother reading it. And it didn't become a best seller.

 

Even though my Bible reading had not changed my religious outlook, there was one verse that really stuck with me:  "Ye shall know a good tree by the fruit it bears". That has proven to be a good lodestone in assessing character. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

opher goodwin Added Feb 1, 2018 - 3:15pm
I think that is true Dave. I always look at what it produces.
Ray Joseph Cormier Added Feb 1, 2018 - 4:50pm
Dave, Of course there are mysteries to the Bible, hard to grasp and understand.
 
For the LORD has poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers has he covered.
And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he says, I cannot; for it is sealed:
And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he says, I am not learned.
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
Isaiah 29:10-14
 
In other words, when Jesus does come, it won't be obvious.
 
You may have forgotten these words in those Bibles you studied. or missed them altogether?
 
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation:
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 17:20-21
TexasLynn Added Feb 1, 2018 - 5:03pm
Good post... thanks for the personal insight.
 
I hope you can indulge my (and Ray’s) specifics on the subject... :)
 
Dave >> In the end, I came to the conclusion that the Bible is a mysterious book. Anyone who claims they fully understand it is, in my opinion, a fool.
 
And you would be right... Paul said as much to the Corinthians.  He said we can remember what we were like as children in comparison to what we know and understand now.  That difference, he said, will repeat itself when we are with Christ.  Now we have vague ideas, then we will really know.
 
That said, I think we can understand enough to figure out the basics of what God wants us to do and how he wants us to live.  Full understanding is not necessary; if it was... Heaven will be empty (except for God).
 
My advice to those who want to understand some or more of what Christ taught is to find a Christian that you trust and discuss the very basics and build on your understanding from that.  Don’t try to gulp down the whole Bible (or even just the New Testament), even within a year.  It’s too overwhelming (at least it was for me).
 
Dave >> And I can't recall the particular Biblical verses, but I somehow figured that when Jesus does come again, the vast bulk of Christianity is going to miss the boat.
 
Christ's return won't be like His first appearance (according to the gospel).  He's not coming to teach as he did before, but simply to gather his flock (those who did get it and follow what was asked of them).
 
On missing the boat, He said two things in particular, one concerning the world (everybody), and one concerning Christians.  Interestingly enough... your verse concerning knowing someone by their fruits is sandwiched between these two messages in Matthew (Chapter 7)
 
On finding salvation (recognizing Him) within the world Jesus warned that destruction was found through a huge gate at the end of a broad and easily traveled road; thus, many people find it and enter... but life (salvation) was found trough a small gate, at the end of a narrow (not so easily traversed) road; thus, few find it and enter. (Matthew 7:13-14)
 
Concerning Christians, Jesus warned that not everyone who calls Him Lord will be saved... but only those who do what God wants them to.  Just acknowledging him is not enough. (Matthew 7:21-23)
 
Dave >> Well 1988 came and went with no second coming.
 
I've heard of Lindsey and his book, but never read him... I became a Christian well after 1988.
 
There is nothing wrong with reading authors and what they have to say about the gospel... but one should always compare what they say with what the Bible says.
 
Jesus spoke of his return (second coming) and said, "no one knows the day and hour" except for God... so ... anyone claiming to know would be a liar or a fool.  (Lindsey included)
 
Jesus compared his return to the great flood, saying people were eating and drinking and marrying... until the flood just came and took them away.
 
After explaining all of this, Jesus gave this simple advice; there is no way you will know... so be ready, always.
 
As for being ready... Jesus gave us the very popular Parable of the Ten Virgins
 
>> Even though my Bible reading had not changed my religious outlook, there was one verse that really stuck with me:  "Ye shall know a good tree by the fruit it bears". That has proven to be a good lodestone in assessing character.
 
Though not verbatim... your verse comes from Matthew 7:15-20.  Jesus speaks of knowing false prophets by the bad fruit (results) they produce... the reverse is true for good people producing good fruits (results).
 
I assume this verse has served you well... Peruse the New Testament every now and then.  I bet you could find a few more gems. :)
 
Love, and treat your neighbor as you would have him love and treat you... is a pretty good one. :)
 
Neil Lock Added Feb 2, 2018 - 11:58am
Dave: I read the bible through when I was 11. As Lynn says, there are a few gems; but most of it is crap.
 
Kudos to you for reading it yourself, and forming your own opinion.
Dave Volek Added Feb 2, 2018 - 12:49pm
Opher
The better teachings of the Bible and other sacred works have a way of affecting everyone in a positive way, even the non-believers.
 
Ray
You are getting into the more mysterious writings of the Bible. I'm not too sure I have the time and energy to try and figure them out. But I did like the "The Kingdom of God is within you."
 
Lynne
Thank you for your insights. I used to attend Bible studies of various denominations over the years. But opportunities are no longer there: the difference between being singles and married with kids.
 
These days, I really like watching Andy Stanley videos.
 
Neil
If one follows the rules suggested by the Bible, life should go a lot more easier. To me, that is the salvation the Bible speaks of.
 
 
Bill Kamps Added Feb 2, 2018 - 4:09pm
I think the big ideas in the Bible and other religious texts are great, love, kindness, charity, etc.  I think when people try to extract too many details we get on thin ice.  I know not everyone agrees, but these are books written by men, a very long time ago, and these men have many limitations.  If the God of the Bible exists, even modern man today cant comprehend all that implies, or how it all works.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Feb 2, 2018 - 4:52pm
I'm kinda addicted to the bible as you guys know, but I don't use it for fortune telling.
 
Anyway, Ian Thorpe just deleted my comments because I'm too pro-Islam. I questioned that women are stoned or whipped because they refuse to wear a headscarf and dared to ask for a quote of a respectable source to show me where that's the case. I did not say that it doesn't happen. I'm just curious where because I only know that Iran has actual laws on headscarfs and thought that other countries enforce it through social pressure alone, which preclude such harsh sentences.
 
Interestingly, in Germany I get silenced for questioning Islam. On WriterBeat I get silenced for questioning Islamophobes.
TexasLynn Added Feb 2, 2018 - 9:57pm
Whoa, whoa whoa...
 
Neil, thank you for (partially) quoting me, but let me clarify my opinion of exactly what the Bible is (as a Christian).  It is the word of God.  None of it is crap...  (No offense taken Neil and none intended in clarification.)
 
My statement concerning finding a few more gems was more meant to imply you'll get out of it what you put into it.
 
Dave >> Thank you for your insights.
 
Thank you for the forum and the indulgence.
 
Dave >> I used to attend Bible studies of various denominations over the years.
 
To your credit.  The Lord gave us an inquisitive mind and wants us to use it. :)
 
Dave >> But opportunities are no longer there: the difference between being singles and married with kids.
 
Understood.  Bible studies and groups are a wonderful way to study the Word... but not a necessity.  The Internet is a curse to mankind, but it is also a blessing in that it makes so much available we would not otherwise have.  Andy Stanley sounds like one of those blessings.  I was totally unaware of him but will take a look.
 
Dave >> If one follows the rules suggested by the Bible, life should go a lot more easier. To me, that is the salvation the Bible speaks of.
 
My opinion of what the Bible says concerning life if you follow the way is the exact opposite.  I think Christ tells us it won't be easy... but ... it will be worth it (in the next life).
 
Bill >> I know not everyone agrees, but these are books written by men, a very long time ago, and these men have many limitations.
 
I understand that sentiment.  FYI... Christians believe the Bible was written by men; who were guided by the Holy Spirit of God which more than made up for their limitations.
 
BG >> I'm kinda addicted to the bible as you guys know, but I don't use it for fortune telling.
 
It's good for know what is promised... but fortune telling is not what it was meant for.
 
BG >> Interestingly, in Germany I get silenced for questioning Islam. On WriterBeat I get silenced for questioning Islamophobes.
 
I've made it very clear, I'm no fan of Islam.  The fruits of Islam (see that Dave?) speak for themselves... we need not exaggerate the malice and cruelty.
 
 
Jeff Jackson Added Feb 3, 2018 - 1:05pm
Jesus will return "like a thief in the night" or so says my Holy Bible. I put that out there so that those who have spent time reading and "understand" holy scripture better than me can debate it. They thought Jesus would return in the 10th century, and there was one group in the U.S. (can't remember who now) who gave up everything because their "leader" just knew that Jesus was returning soon. I think they finally gave up, but not before disposing of almost all their worldly possessions. No one knows but God, and He's not saying. Everything else is just speculation.
Dave Volek Added Feb 4, 2018 - 2:09am
Lynn
 
I've made it very clear, I'm no fan of Islam.  The fruits of Islam (see that Dave?) speak for themselves... we need not exaggerate the malice and cruelty.
 
If we go back to 1000 AD, the Islamic world was an advanced civilization compared to Christian Europe. And it was during the Renaissance that Europe took the example of Islam and revitalized both their religion and society. I know Christians don't like to hear this. Even when I spend time finding links on this topic, the links go unread or dismissed as fake history. So I'm not going to bother.
 
Jeff
The "thief in the night" was one such story that got me to thinking that the bulk of Christianity was going to miss the boat upon the return of Jesus. There were a few others; I wish I had noted them when I read the Bible.
 
Almost throughout Christian history, there have been groups proclaiming the end is near. There was one in New York a few years ago; the preacher convinced his followers to cash in their investments.
 
One of the more noteworthy movements were the Millarites who predicted a time frame in the mid-1840s. This movement grew beyond a cult status. When Jesus didn't quite return, the date got pushed back. Eventually this group transformed into the 7th Day Adventists. The second coming has been postponed indefinitely!
 
 
 
 
 
Jeff Jackson Added Feb 4, 2018 - 1:27pm
Yes, Dave it was the Millarites that I was referring to when I mentioned some group in the U.S. Glad you know that, I didn't feel it was worth looking up. The other thing is, I can't really teach about that very much, as it makes BOTH sides mad. The religious for making the religious people look dumb, and the non-religious for mentioning religion. The Millarites are a public school lose-lose issue.
Johnny Fever Added Feb 4, 2018 - 11:23pm
Why is your article titled the Late Great Planet Earth?
 
Don’t you think one can be a good Christian and enjoy beer and the excitement that comes from hanging out a pubs?
Ray Joseph Cormier Added Feb 5, 2018 - 1:40am
@ Johnny Fever
 
But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
And saying, We have piped unto you, and you have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and you have not lamented.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a devil.
The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, (a habitual drinker of alcohol) a friend of publicans and sinners.
 
But wisdom is justified of her children.
 
Damned if you do. Damned if you don't. Do something for Christ's sake!
Dave Volek Added Feb 5, 2018 - 1:06pm
Xanadu
Now we have the hindsight of knowing Lindsay was wrong! But he was pretty convincing at the time.
 
I don't know much about this Missler fellow.
 
Johnny
The title of this article is the same title as Lindsay's book.
 
While I'm not about te support legislating beer away, I think we need to consider how our hobbies and pastimes affect the world. If we imbibe in alcohol (even "responsibly"), we are contributing to an industry that depends on addictions for its profits. The world will be a better place without alcohol--and I will do my part to prove, by example, we really don't need this societal ailment.
 
And the excitement that comes from being in pubs is often: 1) watching other people get drunk, 2) watching fights, 3) watching other people get laid, 4)  taking part in 1,2,3. Exciting, yes. But hardly Christian virtues I would say.
 
 
TexasLynn Added Feb 5, 2018 - 2:01pm
Dave >> The "thief in the night" was one such story that got me to thinking that the bulk of Christianity was going to miss the boat upon the return of Jesus.
 
So, if the bulk of Christians will miss the return of Jesus (and I'm not disputing that) ... what will be the state of the rest of humanity?
 
Personally, I don't think anybody will "miss" the second coming of Christ.  The second coming (according to the teachings of Christ) will not be like the first.  He's not coming to try one more time to teach us the way.  His second coming will be one of universal Heavenly fanfare.  It would be like missing the stars falling out of the sky (figuratively, not literally).
 
The question isn't "missing" Christ but being ready when He returns.  A great many Christians will not be ready (as illustrated by the parable of the Ten Virgins); perhaps even a "bulk" of them.  But... NO non-Christian will be ready; because the definition of ready is acknowledging Christ for what He is (the Messiah) and who He is (God) and accepting His gift of grace (Him paying the price for our sins).
 
If one’s definition/belief of what ready is or what missing entails is different than that... that's fine.  The world is full of alternative beliefs and we each must choose our way.  Just be aware that Christ said not every way is the same.  Not every way leads to heaven/salvation.  In fact, he taught only one way does.
 
Every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord.  For a few, that will be a confession of joy, for the rest... not so much.
Dave Volek Added Feb 5, 2018 - 4:52pm
Lynn
 
The second coming (according to the teachings of Christ) will not be like the first.  He's not coming to try one more time to teach us the way.  His second coming will be one of universal Heavenly fanfare.
 
I think there is something about Christ riding ON a cloud: kind of hard to miss that. But if Christ were IN the cloud, that would be like fog. It's kind of hard to see far in a fog. Sometimes prepositions don't translate well from one language to another.
 
Regardless, it doesn't make theological sense that God would make his plan completely obvious. Then there will be no need for free will for humans to accept or reject God.
 
TexasLynn Added Feb 5, 2018 - 5:30pm
Dave >> I think there is something about Christ riding ON a cloud: kind of hard to miss that.
 
Yes... hard to miss.... along with the all the angels, and the trumpets, and the dead in Christ rising...  The bible makes it very clear that His second coming is not going to be obscure.
 
Is this fretting over propositions an actual translation issue you've studied on, or more conjecture providing a conscious decision not to study the matter at all?  Lots of people seem to make that choice.
 
Side Note: I was once told by a Mohammedan that I was not qualified to interpret the words of the Koran because I did not speak Arabic (I later learned this is a common assertion) ... and thus I should shut up and acquiesce to what he told me it said and meant.  These are the words of men not trying enlighten but rather enslave. 
 
I would share what I believe through my study... but encourage everyone to study and discover for themselves.
 
Dave >> Regardless, it doesn't make theological sense that God would make his plan completely obvious.
 
He doesn't make it obvious as in engraving the instructions on the moon... nor does he provide absolute proof of his existence.  My personal opinion is this is because he values faith.
 
But He also does not hide it like some massive puzzle to be put deciphered.  His plan is simple to understand and obey... IF you put forth the genuine effort to find it.
 
Matthew 7:7 (NIV) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
 
Make the conscious decision to not ask, not seek, and not knock... and it won't (be given, found, opened).
 
Dave >> Then there will be no need for free will for humans to accept or reject God.
 
Even if there were absolute proof of the existence of God, there would still me men who would reject and curse Him.  We are that stupid/flawed.
Dave Volek Added Feb 5, 2018 - 6:38pm
Lynn
 
Christianity has had its history of clerics telling people that they were not educated enough to understand, so they had to believe in a certain way.
 
Arabic is considered an advanced language compared to English. So sometimes it is hard to translate some thoughts from Arabic to English. Add in the theological components, then we English speakers are at a disadvantage. There are different English translations of the Koran. Some are rated higher than others according to Islamic scholars. And some scholars refuse to acknowledge any translation as "useful."
 
And the various denominations of  Islam are not exactly in agreement. There are various definitions of jihad, fatwa, sharia, and modest dress for women.
 
 
Even if there were absolute proof of the existence of God, there would still me men who would reject and curse Him.  We are that stupid/flawed.
 
Then I would say that we wouldn't have proof positive. According to Rapture advocates, the proof will be 100% positive.
 
 
Ray Joseph Cormier Added Feb 5, 2018 - 8:47pm
Dave, Lynn, I think there is something about Christ riding ON a cloud: kind of hard to miss that.
 
[26] And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
Mark 13
 
I've wondered if 'the clouds' is the same cloud as mentioned here?
[1] Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Hebrews 1
 
I was once told by a Mohammedan that I was not qualified to interpret the words of the Koran because I did not speak Arabic
 
The Jews say the same thing about the Old Testament, that you have to understand Hebrew to understand it.
 
Even if there were absolute proof of the existence of God, there would still me men who would reject and curse Him.  We are that stupid/flawed.
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples therefore said to him, We have seen the Lord. But he said to them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Then he said to Thomas, reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
 
Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
TexasLynn Added Feb 5, 2018 - 10:26pm
Dave >> Christianity has had its history of clerics telling people that they were not educated enough to understand, so they had to believe in a certain way.
 
Absolutely... the early Catholic church was particularly guilty of this sin.  AND their purpose in doing this was not to enlighten but to enslave; (just like much of Islam today).  Deplorable would be the best description.
 
Dave >> Arabic is considered an advanced language compared to English...
 
Fair enough... it doesn't change the obvious intent of those who insist that only they can interpret sacred texts.  It's just a rationalization to further confuse and obfuscate.  They may even believe it themselves.
 
Dave >> And the various denominations of Islam are not exactly in agreement.
 
As it is with every religion.
 
Dave >> Then I would say that we wouldn't have proof positive. According to Rapture advocates, the proof will be 100% positive.
 
I wasn't referring to the rapture, but in general.  God coming down, standing in front of a man and convincing him of His existence.
 
But, as long as we're talking about the rapture... (which I define as simply the second coming of Christ); when it occurs, everybody will know the truth... and some will curse God, their creator.
TexasLynn Added Feb 5, 2018 - 10:27pm
Ray >> The Jews say the same thing about the Old Testament, that you have to understand Hebrew to understand it.
 
I was unaware of that.  I stand by my presumption of why any religious scholar would assert this.
 
Ray >> I've wondered if 'the clouds' is the same cloud as mentioned here? (cloud of witnesses)
 
Hmmm... Interesting take.  Misty clouds or clouds of witnesses... either way it is not a hidden or obscure appearance.
 
I would tend toward the misty kind, since upon returning He will then gather His flock (that would make up the cloud of witnesses) to Him.
 
Ray >> ...blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
 
Amen.
Doug Plumb Added Feb 9, 2018 - 8:30am
Christianity is an expression of common law, the most perfect expression. Christ said the Greeks were too superstitious. I became a Christian from Kant, not from the Bible. I have read bits of the bible, and can see those parts and their reasoning clearly. Christianity is purely a life based on reason and Christ spoke in parables, because parables illustrate eternal truths. You need people like CS Lewis and Immanual Kant to explain what it all means.
  Even Christ himself broke his law in the name of reason. A sheep was stuck in a ditch on Sunday. Christ said to go down and get it out instead of resting. There is only one commandment, the Golden Rule. You can't even debate the NT in terms of any moral criticism - or at least I can't.
  The problem with Christianity is that most people do not have the training in ethics that matches their overall education, this has very bad and dangerous side effects. Christians were well educated people. A think a ten year old farm boy from 100 years ago could put us all to shame when talking things biblical - purely in terms of understanding.
Doug Plumb Added Feb 9, 2018 - 8:41am
My last paragraph comes from CS Lewis
Stephen Hunter Added Feb 11, 2018 - 8:36am
" Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" to me is the one that if we can say we do this, we will end up in heaven, whatever that may be. However many so called Christians tell me that is not the case. That we have to literally believe everything that is in the Bible. 

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