I stumbled on this little diagram today. It’s a chart made in 1918, and it describes periods of history from a pseudo-Biblical perspective – even claiming that the antichrist would appear in the year 2000. I say “pseudo-Biblical” because it seems to be based on the perception that significant Biblical events happened every 1,000 years, mixed with the Bible’s use of seven = divine, mirroring of the seven days of creation, and the “one thousand years is a day” verse.
I especially like how he puts “Dark Ages” as an event in 1000 A.D.
Growing up, I saw a lot of this pseudo-intellectual BS. In particular, I remember one Christian who caused a buzz in fundamentalist churches in the late 1980s. He thought he knew when Jesus would return, so he wrote a book and sent it out to churches all over the US. It’s called “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988”. 300,000 copies were given away to churches across the US, and 4.5 million copies were sold.
Beginning in the early Spring of 1988, a 56-page booklet entitled, 88 REASONS Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988 began to be mass-distributed across America. The basic premise of the book was that between the dates of September 11 and 13, 1988, the Rapture of the Christian Church would occur. (Link)
I especially liked how the author of the booklet began by saying “Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong; and I say that to every preacher in town.” (Gee, that sounds suspiciously like what a young earth creationist would say about creationism.)
I find it amusing to see this level of sincere self-delusion coupled together with all their best rhetorical arguments arguing for something that isn’t true. It’s like a miniature version of religion itself – a delusion within a delusion.
I remember a lot of “end times” preachers claiming (based on the New Testament) that the “end times” would occur within 40 years after Israel’s independence in 1948. (And before that, they said 40 years after 1918.)
Not all Christians are caught up in this rapture-mania, and some have soured on the idea of predicting “the end times”, but lots of big preachers continue to preach it, and the “Left Behind” series sold 55 million copies. You can even checkout the Rapture Index – which is a little bit like the “Terror Alert” chart – updated weekly and telling you if the end is near. (As of yesterday, we’re at 164, which is four points above “Heavy prophetic activity”, and into the highest category: “Fasten your seat belts”.) Do fundamentalists even have a long-term memory? It’s like they’re living inside 1984: “we were always at war with oceania”.
Update: I happened to find a recent post about the well-known end of the world prediction for 2012 on gia’s blog. She mentions some past predictions (like the Concerned Christians Cult that predicted Denver would be wiped off the map on October 10, 1998). I can’t help but think it would be fun to put together a little web-based daily calendar showing anniversaries of “end of the world” predictions from years past, just to mock them. Something along the lines of:
Today’s Date: Friday, October 10, 2008
Apocalyptic Predictions for this date:
Concerned Christians predict the destruction of Denver, CO on this day in 1998. Happy 10th anniversary.