Saturday, January 18, 2014

Our Universe vs. LB-verse

The next chapter begins with Mark and the others walking around, when Janie asks a few questions. Her questions are the age-old "Why does God let bad things happen to us?" or basically, the conundrum affectionately referred to as Theodicy. Surprisingly enough, they do try to attempt to answer these questions beyond the weaksauce "Zod's trying to get your attention" answers.

“Believers have gone through tough things all along,” Shelly said. “Sometimes becoming a Christian gets them in trouble with their family. Friends turn their backs. The government cracks down on them or they have a hard time at their jobs. Trouble doesn’t mean God’s abandoned you or that he isn’t in control. He promises to go through the hard times with you.”

This would work in some other universe where Zod isn't actively causing the hard times the characters are going through. Again, everyone talks about how eeevil Nicky and the GC are but the worst Nicky could do was nuke nine cities and kill off a few NPCs. Zod on the other hand...Need I list all his atrocities again?

Shelly put an arm around Janie. “I learned from Vicki a long time ago that we’ll always have questions and doubts. That you struggle with them is proof that your faith is working on you. God is making your faith more real every day. He’s preparing you for something.”

Uh yeah, yet another answer that would work maybe in our universe but not the LB-verse. The trouble with using these books as an evangelism tool is that the rules of the book-verse and our verse seldom have much in common. This "hang on and hope" makes sense in our verse where God seldom reveals itself in real tangible ways, but not the LB-verse where he swats aside nukes and regularly rains down death from above.

Vicki and Darrion meanwhile are with Maggie. Vicki receives an email from Natalie. The Shairtons are being questioned and they've brought in someone else on charges of subversion. Me, I keep wishing it turns out that she's not really talking to Natalie but to a GC goon on the other end. She seems awfully confidant in her friend's ability to play double agent and it'd be nice for a change for the GC to show a little competency. But I know that'll never happen: good only triumphs in this series because evil is dumb.

So they get to talking with Maggie and she tells them her story. Apparently she and her husband were :gasp: :choke: agnostics who had the gall to demand extraordinary evidence. Their kids however were converted via a college church group. Naturally, she and her husband were worried and even told the kids to stop trying to convert them, but when their kids both married committed RTCs, Maggie realized they weren't going to snap out of it.

“They didn’t have to,” Maggie said. “They lived it. They showed a love to their kids I’d never seen. They were there for me when Don died—that’s my husband. Sometimes I’d wonder if I could have what they had, but I’d push the thought away. It was too painful to think that Don and I had missed out on the greatest truth of the universe.”

Wait, so what do you mean by "a love to their kids I'd never seen?" Is this another case of the "all good people are RTCs whereas all non-RTCs are raging coke fiends" mindset seen in so many bad Christian literature? Because apparently it's impossible to be a good parent and a non-RTC.

Not to mention, since you've now drank the flavor-aid and accepted RTCianity, you know what that means for your husband, who died unsaved before the Rapture? For those of you who don't, it means Don's currently roasting on a spit in Hell.

Next chapter is one with Lionel and Judd and involves Exciting!Email!Action! All they do is read Token Jew's latest epistle.

While the prophecies that foretold Messiah were fairly straightforward and led me to believe in Jesus as their unique fulfillment, I prayed that God would reveal the key to the rest of the prophecies. He did this by impressing upon me to take the words as literally as I took any others from the Bible, unless the context and the wording itself indicated otherwise.

Or as I summed it up, "taken literally except when you shouldn't and don't worry your pretty little head about it. Let me do the thinking for us."

In other words, I had always taken at its word a passage such as “Love your neighbor as yourself,” or “Do for others what you would like them to do for you.” Why then, could I not take literally a verse which said that John, the writer of Revelation, saw a pale horse? Yes, I understood that the horse stood for something. And yet the Bible said that John saw it. I took that literally, along with all the other prophetic statements (unless they used phrases such as “like unto” or others that made it clear they were symbolic).

So when you read about the white horse carrying a bow as to conquer, what makes you interpret that as a polyglot promising peace. Oh yeah, the whole no arrow thing. But it also doesn't say he has a bowstring, so how do you know it's a weapon bow and not a hair bow?

Am I demonstrating clearly enough, why Token Jew is full of it?

Token Jew then finally proclaims that Nicky is the anti-Christ, which makes me headdesk. Real brave of you waiting three and a half years in, even though you knew the earth only had seven years to live.

He quotes Revelation 13:11-18 in order to show that Leon is the false prophet, but you know what: I'm just going to quote the entire passage of Revelation 13 just to drive home how interpreting this literally is a fool's game. I don't like doing bigass quotes but things need to be said.

The Beast out of the Sea

13 The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. 4 People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”

5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.

“If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity they will go.
If anyone is to be killed[c] with the sword,
with the sword they will be killed.”
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.

11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.

Tell me as you read this passage how much of it sounds like polyglot promising peace and his laughable minion. I really wish I had Fred's education needed to take this apart, but I don't. I only hope by showing the actual verses that I've demonstrated my point.

In all God’s dealings with humans, this is the shortest period on record, and yet more Scripture is devoted to it than any other period except the life of Christ. The Hebrew prophets spoke of this as a time of God’s revenge for the slaughter of the prophets and saints over the centuries. But it is also a time of mercy. God compresses the decision-making time for men and women before the coming of Christ to set up his earthly kingdom.

So apparently all those other verses about enduring hardship and persecution at the hands of authorities are only referring to a specific seven-year window and all the early Christians, along with everyone born before Darby and Scofield, have been reading the Bible wrong. Just as all that stuff about loving your neighbor and doing unto others, only applies to the Millenial kingdom.

This is clearly the most awful time in history, but I still say it is also a merciful act of God to give as many as possible an opportunity to put their faith in Christ. Oh, people, we are the army of God with a massive job to do in a short time. May we be willing and eager to show the courage that comes only from him. There are countless lost souls in need of saving, and we have the truth.

Yet even though you have the truth, you don't run up to people getting the mark (which he's already said will damn them for all eternity) and preach to them news of salvation. Yeah, you'd be killed but you've also established that martyrdom is win-win for you. If you really cared about all these lost souls, then why hide your light under a bushel? Preach at all times.

It may be hard to recognize God’s mercy when his wrath is also increasing. Woe to those who believe the lie that God is only “love.” Yes, he is love. And his gift of Jesus as the sacrifice for our sin is the greatest evidence of this. But the Bible also says God is “holy, holy, holy.” He is righteous and a God of justice, and it is not in his nature to allow sin to go unpunished or unpaid for.

We wouldn't have a problem with God being justice were it not the sins he chooses to punish. Remember, Gandhi, who lived Christian virtues more fully than most Christians, is burning in Hell, whereas according to Ellanjay's words, Fred Phelps will get a ticket to Heaven because he's said the all-important prayer.

There's more in Token Jew's missive but basically it can be summed up as, "if I'm wrong, ignore me. But I've been right thus far."

The chapter ends with Westin coming in and saying that Z-Van's gone to worship the statue and deal with Nicky's enemies. That's where I'll leave us for this week. I think I've quoted enough passages for you to dissect.


aunursa said...

I learned from Vicki a long time ago that we’ll always have questions and doubts. That you struggle with them is proof that your faith is working on you.

If you have questions and doubts, it proves your faith? That makes no sense.

It reminds me of the apologists who try to assert that the various discrepancies prove that the four Gospels are all accurate, because "it would look suspicious if they all matched every single detail" and similar nonsense.

Firedrake said...

It's an interesting change from the usual RTC approach ("having doubts means you need to go to more altar calls and give more money to the church"); it's practically Catholic. I think the idea is to stop people dropping away once they can no longer pretend to themselves that they don't have doubts by saying "everyone has doubts", dressed up a bit.

Of course another answer here is that the faith of the neo-RTCs is simply pointless and misguided: God has already swept up all the good people in the Rapture. You can pray to whatever you like after that, but you missed the bus and it won't make any difference.

So this genre is the anti-Spaceballs? Makes some sense, actually. Instead of too much humour, none at all.

Taken literally, jumping from book to book, and leaving out the verses we don't like.

("I tried to love my neighbour as myself, and now he's taken out a restraining order against me.")

I agree, their lack of willingness to die at this point is one of the strangest things about the setup. Still, one might as well ask why Christians don't slaughter newly-baptised babies: after all, they have a guaranteed ticket to eternal bliss if they die at that point! Why take the risk of allowing them to become sinners? Sure, it's a burden on the soul of the person doing it, but one could guarantee the salvation of hundreds of souls that way...