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‘Apocalyptic thinking is in the air,’” University of Connecticut psychologist Kenneth Ring said as we approached the year 2000. “Images stored in the collective unconscious begin to populate our dreams and visions.’” The year 2000 was thought to be a significant eschatological date for sociologists, utopians, New Agers, cultists, psychics, and even some Christians. The late Robert A. Nisbet (1913–1996), long-time professor of sociology at the University of California, Riverside, commented in 1968 that “The approach of the year 2000 is certain to be attended by a greater fanfare of predictions, prophecies, surmises, and forewarnings than any millennial year in history.” He made this prediction before there was any thought of Y2K.
Over the years, the year 2000 had preoccupied a number of revolutionaries and self-styled “prophets.” Restif de la Bretonne, revolutionary and pornographer, wrote The Year 2000 in 1789. He was the first person to use the word “communism.” Other utopian novels focused on the year 2000. A German communist published a book for use in France at the beginning of the 1840s, Paris en l’an 2000 (Paris in the Year 2000). It “depicts a historian lecturing in that year in Notre Dame Cathedral to an incredulous audience about the horrors of the by-gone age of war and class conflict.” One of the most famous utopian fantasies is Edward Bellamy’s “more widely read Looking Backward, 2000–1887 of 1888.” Bellamy’s fiction became much of the world’s reality in twentieth-century communism. There was little diversity in Bellamy’s utopia. “The stores, the clothing, the residences, and the incomes were all the same, made uniform by the governance of bureaucrats.” Bellamy believed, in one of his many “sermons” that break in on the narrative, that “human nature is naturally good and people are ‘god-like in aspirations . . . with divinest impulses of tenderness and self-sacrifice.’ Therefore, once external conditions are made acceptable, the Ten Commandments become ‘well-nigh obsolete,’ bring us a ‘second birth of the human race.’” In this, Bellamy was a man before his time. He managed to mix the perversions of communism, secularism, and New Age philosophy into one impossible world.
New predictions are in the news, and they aren’t that optimistic. The Mayan Calendar is said to predict the end of the world in 2012. It’s a shame the Mayan’s couldn’t predict their own end. For some reason, the Dutch are taking the prediction seriously:
Thousands of people in the Netherlands say they expect the world to end in 2012, and many say they are taking precautions to prepare for the apocalypse. The Dutch-language de Volkskrant newspaper said it spoke to thousands of believers in the impending end of civilization, and while theories on the supposed catastrophe varied, most tied the 2012 date to the end of the Mayan calendar, Radio Netherlands reported Monday [June 23, 2008]. De Volkskrant said many of those interviewed are stocking up on emergency supplies, including life rafts and other equipment. Some who spoke to the newspaper were optimistic about the end of civilization. “You know, maybe it’s really not that bad that the Netherlands will be destroyed,” Petra Faile said. “I don’t like it here anymore. Take immigration, for example. They keep letting people in. And then we have to build more houses, which makes the Netherlands even heavier. The country will sink even lower, which will make the flooding worse.”
This is a novel use of an apocalyptic event, to rid the nation of undesirables. As usual, there are Christians who are getting into the act of predicting the end. There is no need to rehearse the history of hundreds of failed attempts of assured but failed prophecy. Frank Gumerlock’s The Day and the Hour does a splendid job. Not learning from history, there are some who love to repeat its predictive foibles. The latest is Mark Biltz, pastor of El Shaddai Ministries in Bonney Lake, Washington. Citing Joel 2:31 and Matthew 24:29–30 for support, he believes that in 2014 or 2015 Jesus will return. Let’s be clear, Peter cites Joel as a fulfillment of the supernatural events of Pentecost: “this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16). The passages in Matthew 24 refer to the judgment that was to fall upon Jerusalem before that first-century generation passed away (v. 34). These passages are not indictors of an end-time coming or cataclysm but signs of the end of the old covenant era and the inauguration of the new covenant in Jesus Christ.
Jonathan Falwell has entered the prediction game, following in his father’s footsteps, with this claim:
There is no doubt that the drama is mounting in the Middle East, and the eyes of the world are again focused on this volatile region. As a Christian, I look at these reports with thoughts geared on biblical prophecy, which foretell of an invasion against Israel during the “last days.” Most specifically, Ezekiel 38:16 forecasts the following: “You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. …” There has been ongoing speculation as to who all of these nations are that will rise up against Israel in this future event. One thing is certain, as Dr. Ed Hindson of Liberty University has pointed out: “They are united in their determination to destroy Israel.” And so, as wars and rumors of wars persist in the Middle East, we are reminded that the Bible appeals to Christians to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6, NKJV). . . . I believe that the prophetic “last days” are rapidly approaching. As Christians, we are instructed to be about the works of the Father while there is still time (John 9:4).
For more information on how these passages should be interpreted, see Last Days Madness, Is Jesus Coming Soon?, and the soon to be released Why the End of the World is NOT in Your Future.
 Notes Dick Teresi and Judith Hooper, “The Last Laugh?,” Omni (January 1990), 43
 Robert A. Nisbet, “The Year 2000 and All That,” Commentary (June 1968), 60.
 James H. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith (New York: Basic Books, 1980), 512, note 5.
 Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men, 512, note 5.
 Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction: Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books  1993, 189.)
 Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, 190.