As any fiction writer who understands how research can benefit the verisimilitude of a story, imagine what I went through when I set out to write about the events involved with the Apocalypse of the Bible. I had thought I would be able to choose any basic Christian website, follow along with the explanations, and formulate my story outline with ease. Such fanciful thoughts were not to be and thus, a week-long endeavor was to unfold in which I found myself in a bit of a whirl, my brain bouncing around trying to make sense of it all.
The experience began when I tried to place that which is known as the Rapture in its proper place in the apocalyptic timeline. For those unaware, the Rapture is an event described as a moment in the future when devout believers will be taken into the sky, away from Earth, to join their heavenly hosts.
Yet some Christians believe in the Rapture and some don’t. For those who do, they tend to disagree upon when this event is to take place. Upon learning this, the alarm bells in my mind went off and my story outline had to be put on hold. I had to figure out what was going on with the research if I wanted to convey a sense of biblical accuracy. As the task unfolded, suddenly I was bombarded with a barrage of disciplinary terms: dispensationalism, millennialism, pre-millennialism, post-millennialism, tribulationalism, pre-tribulationalism, mid-tribulationalism, post-tribulationalism, pre-wrath post-tribulational millennial dispensationalism, et cetera, et cetera.
Since the story I was writing was just a short story, I didn’t need heavy specifics, but the research wasn’t allowing me to move forward. And since I’d been something of an armchair biblical scholar during my years as a practicing Christian, my curiosity took hold and before long, the bar across the top of my browser was loaded with ten to twenty open websites at a time, each one contradicting the other as to whether or not the Rapture would occur, whether it would occur before, during, or after the tribulation, whether or not Jesus would be there at the appointed time, whether or not it’s all literal or symbolic, and so on and so forth. To help myself along, a notebook was required to help me keep track of what I was encountering.
Hours and even days went by and finally I got wise, deciding to seek out already-made charts and timelines which would give me a picture as to what was going on. In this something began to strike me as I searched. I noticed that article after article, video after video, nearly every evangelist trying to make their point would apply terms such as “clearly,” often stating how “simple” it all is.
What follows in this website are more explanations and charts which show how easy it all is to understand:
On a side note, taking in the language makes for breathtaking reading:
The critical methodology at work here is the kind that causes concern, notably in the use of words like “probably” and “almost” to make a point:
“Once again, the ‘wise’ are probably the 144,000 because the same three adjectives: ‘refined, purified and made spotless’ are used in Daniel 12:10 (above), when talking about Daniel’s own people.”
“I’m almost positive that a gentile martyr will not become a priest during the 1000-years.”
The author here gets sidetracked by his own interpretative framework, belaboring his literalist stance but then resorting to the need to suggest how symbolism is at work, in order to substantiate his overall argument.
“That’s when the angel will symbolically swing his sickle and they will be rounded up, by the beast, and martyred next to a river.”
As I continued in this meticulous endeavor, comparing and contrasting, I came upon another interpretive dilemma. Apparently, there is contention over the notion of a Second Coming. Before my exposure to the world of easy access internet information (netformation), I went through life with the understanding that the return of Christ was a singular event. I’ve learned otherwise; some believe that stages are involved, that multiple Second Comings are due to occur. Jesus is to return once, to Rapture his flock, but he is also to return for the Final Judgment. To get bogged down in this argument would be to make this post infinitely larger than I want it to be.
Nevertheless, I found that from this point, there are many positions as to what or who is Mystery Babylon, who is the rider of the White Horse of the Four Horsemen, if the beasts are Anti-Christs, New World Orders, the Vatican or America, whether the seals are events from past or future, and significantly speaking, whether or not the Book of Daniel proves the existence of God — one of the reasons why I created this post, since “atheists” and “skeptics” are addressed throughout much of the research.
“…when God decided to ‘unseal’ Daniel 11, He revealed pending ‘signs’ (events), leading to the abomination (and rapture), which match current events in the Middle East today! What makes this extraordinary is that it literally proves (to atheists or skeptics) that God exists! I mean, if God foretold events 2500-years ago, and can make them happen today, He must be real. Right?” (Source)
During this part of my work I found an entire video-lecture in Defense of the Book of Daniel as proof of God. Here the evangelist Mike Winger goes to great length with compelling arguments as to why his point of view should stand.
As is generally the case, his lecture is performed in a church, where everyone is bound to agree and cheer, as opposed to a peer-reviewed setting in which there tends to be more scrutiny and debate.
My research towards the end really blew out of proportion with contradictory charts which overflow the screen shots of a computer, three of which I chose at random:
This one caught my eye especially. Here the case is that the earth is under ten-thousand-years-old, which is always a startling encounter, the dictum of creationism at work.
On the contradictory side of things, we have a Christian man calling out people of his own religion, creating a series of videos to suggest how believers have misconstrued the scriptures. What does that mean? That he believes in some of it, but not all of it?
When I began to encounter sermons instead of instructive videos, I was marveled more by the audience than I was the material.
In the end I had to pick a particular discipline and roll with it, Dispensational Pre-Millenialism being the winner. It was the most dramatic and provided the more imaginative flair compared to the Debbie Downer versions. If I want to speculate on subservience to religion, I can work on that, though the arguments remain largely the same, the arguments themselves serving more as frustrations than they do progress.
If anything, so far as the future of Atheism is concerned, I think that with the whole Politically Correct — Social Justice Warrior (PC-SJW) movement in full-swing, the path toward progress is in recognizing atheist candidates who run for election, provided their ideas are sound (we all know how “all” politicians are problematic). I was certainly intrigued when I came across some numbers during a “most popular religions” search. Seems the planet is coming along, though I suspect it will be decades before mankind is on the right track in that regard.
As for the Apocalypse of the Bible, the writing is mesmerizing, much to the extent that as I was reading, I could feel the pull of rhetorical religionism (my own discipline). The signifiers and the signifieds are powerful, the imagery something to admire and succumb to; I was being radicalized, my thoughts bending and contorting with every contradictory interpretive passage. It’s easy to see how people can get hooked into this stuff, I know I was back in the day; that is, until I embarked on a course towards a critical examination of my beliefs, putting it nicely.