Now, finally, for a new post, now that Lent is over with and I’m not spending so much time in services.
On page 317, Tsion leads the group in a prayer:
Lord God Almighty, your Word tells us the angels rejoice with us over Ken Ritz. We believe the prophecy of a great soul harvest [hence the name of the book], and we thank you that Ken is merely one of the first of many millions who will be swept into your kingdom over the next few years. We know many will suffer and die at the hands of Antichrist, but their eternal fate is sealed.
We pray especially that our new brother develops a hunger for your Word, that he possesses the boldness of Christ in the face of persecution, and that he be used to bring others into the family.
And now may the God of peace himself sanctify us completely, and may our spirits, souls, and bodies be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that he who called us is faithful, who will also do it. We pray in the matchless name of Jesus, the Messiah and our Redeemer.
Ken Ritz’s response: “Ken brushed tears from his cheeks, put his hat on, and pulled it down over his eyes. ‘Hoo boy! That’s what I call some prayin’!'”
OUCH. So, apparently becoming a Christian also makes you corny.
Oh, and then Tsion goes to fetch “a dog-eared paperback book called How to Begin the Christian Life.” So that’s where everybody is learning Christianese! That explains, for example, Tsion’s above prayer, full of New Testament phrases heard countless times in prayers, by anyone who has spent years in Evangelical or Fundamentalist churches. This from a guy who not long ago was Jewish.
On page 318, Tsion tells Ken, “I must clarify that the Scriptures do not refer to us who become believers after the Rapture as Christians. We are referred to as tribulation saints. But the truths of this book still apply.”
Setting aside the theological counterargument that the Scriptures don’t refer to a Rapture in the first place, let alone those who become believers afterwards–I never heard this one before. I grew up hearing about the Rapture, but never heard that “Christian” only applies to pre-Rapture believers.
In fact, in these books I keep coming across new interpretations that I never heard of in all the years I believed in the Rapture.
This part freaked me out a bit: “Tsion, nearly a foot shorter than Ken, put an arm around his waist. ‘As the new elder of this little band, allow me to welcome you to the Tribulation Force. We now number six, and one-third of us are pilots.'”
Around his waist? If Buck had trouble initially with man-hugs, why does Tsion think he can put his arm around another man’s waist without trouble?
And the part about pilots reminds me of the vampire Caleb Morley greeting all the Port Charles characters whom he has trapped behind bars: “Nice to see you, too, Doctor, and you, Doctor, Doctor, all you semi-doctors, friends of doctors, lovers of doctors, and well, just all the little people.” (See here at 1:35.)
On page 323-4, Tsion states on his Internet blog,
Eons ago, God the Father conceded control of Earth’s weather to Satan himself, the prince and power of the air. God allowed destruction and death by natural phenomena, yes, because of the fall of man. And no doubt God at times intervened against such actions by the evil one because of the fervent prayers of his people.
What???? Where did Satan get this kind of power? God is the author of creation; he put the natural forces into place for the order of the planet; He can overrule these natural forces wherever He wills. I have read writers (such as John Piper) who go so far as to say that while Satan does not control the weather, if God does not stop destructive forces, then He is the cause of them.
But so far as I can find, Orthodox teaching does not agree with this, any more than it agrees that God is the cause of evil, as some Calvinists claim. (You can also find more articles on this controversy here and here, from a Calvinist author.)
This article on the EWTN website shows that God is not the cause of evil, and
if men wish to rail against the fact that men die in earthquakes and other natural disasters, let them blame men. It was the moral evil of sin that brought the great physical evil of death into the world.
So that would mean that neither God nor Satan is responsible for the death and destruction caused by the weather, but the sin of man!
Tsion says that the very idea of a one-world government, currency or faith is from the pit of hell. Really? Why?
I can understand why a person would feel that way about a one-world faith that does not allow for individual religious convictions. I wouldn’t want anyone telling me I have to be something other than an Orthodox Christian or Else. We don’t have a one-world faith, but we do have national governments which try to impose one religion on everyone, and persecute the dissenters.
But one-world government and currency? What on earth is specifically demonic about those?
While lamenting in his blog about the filth on the airwaves (now no longer kept in check by times or special channels because there are no more children to protect from it), Tsion notes that only five percent of TV programming is “as inoffensive as the news.” Not only is there sex, but there is witchcraft and channels with real murders and torture 24 hours a day.
The very thought of the news being inoffensive is laughable, though I suppose, if you’re comparing it to 24-hour-XXX programming, it might seem inoffensive. After all, it’s just about murder, wars, accidents, the occasional announcement from the Antichrist, bloody pictures from the latest bombing, that sort of thing, not graphic sex scenes.
Though I have a hard time believing that all anybody wants to see on TV is sex and violence. American TV programming today is even looser than it was in 1998 when this book was published, but you still don’t see all-sex-and-torture all the time. People still want plot, character, drama, intrigue, fantasy (as in fairy tales or vampires or ghosts, not sex), comedy.
Why would that change just because all the children are gone? Why do the authors suppose that the Rapture would cause millions of people left behind to suddenly want to see live tortures and murders on television?
Do they really think there is no decency or goodness in anyone of other faiths (or no faith)? What about the proponents of the global One-World Faith–wouldn’t they be against the very idea of a 24-hour torture channel?
Tsion then complains that the message in his blog would never be aired now, that soon it will probably be considered a crime against the state. He writes, “Our message flies in the face of a one-world faith that denies belief in the one true God, a God of justice and judgment.”
Justice and judgment? No, that’s “a God of love.” Justice and judgment are necessary for the same reason we need to discipline our children, but we do that out of love.
Love is over all, not justice and judgment. The authors seem here to have exposed their vision of God in a kind of Freudian slip: a god not of love but of striking down all those who oppose the beliefs of the (as Slacktivist terms it) Real True Christians.
On page 386, Bucks asks, “You take the predictions literally then?” Tsion replies,
My dear brother, when the Bible is figurative, it sounds figurative. When it says all the grass and one-third of all trees will be scorched, I cannot imagine what that might be symbolic for.
Um…okay. I prefer to leave my determination of “literal” and “figurative” up to the Church, because it’s far too easy for each person to have a different idea of what “sounds figurative.” And the Church seems to have determined that much of Revelations is figurative. Oh, wait, that means Orthodox Christians will get Left Behind, doesn’t it?