WorldNetDaily published my article “Why Pat Robertson is Wrong” yesterday. It dealt with Robertson’s claim that today’s earthquakes are signs of the soon coming of Christ. As usual, I received my share of hate mail. Words like “stupid,” “lukewarm,” and “heretical” were thrown about with careless ease. The nastiest letters I get usually come from people who believe we are living in the last days. When I set forth my position, answering them point by point, they tell me that they don’t want to debate; they just know I’m wrong. Here’s one example, written in all uppercase letters:
YOU KNOW IT DOESN’T TAKE A ROCKET SCIENTIST TO KNOW THIS WORLD IS IN TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE SHAPE. THE PEOPLE HAVE BECOME WICKED IN MY 62 YEARS, GOING FROM MY CHILDHOOD WHEN YOU COULD LEAVE YOUR DOORS OPEN DAY AND NIGHT AND NOT WORRY ABOUT ANYONE COMING IN THAT DIDN’T BELONG IN THAT HOUSE. WHEN CHILDREN COULD WALK TO THE CORNER GROCERY STORE AND BUY A COKE FOR 5 CENTS. TEENAGE GIRLS COULD WALK HOME FROM SCHOOL OR A GIRL FRIEND’S HOUSE AFTER DARK AND NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT BEING FORCED BY SOME PERVERT INTO A CAR OR BEHIND A BUILDING TO BE RAPED AND KILLED. WHEN WE AS KIDS COULD PLAY DOLLS, JUMP THE ROPE, HOPSCOTCH, THE BOYS PLAYING WITH CARS OR MARBLES AND WE DREAMED TO BIG THINGS WHEN WE GREW UP, YES, THOSE WERE THE GOOD OLD DAYS AND YOU KNOW SOMETHING WE COULD STILL REACH THE AMERICAN DREAM AND HELP OUR NEIGHBORS AS WE REACHED IT. MR. DEMAR I DON’T KNOW HOW OLD YOU ARE. I DO KNOW YOU HAVE SHOWED HOW STUPID YOU ARE AND THAT YOU ARE TEACHING FALSE DOCTRINE FROM THE BIBLE OR MAYBE YOU TEACHING FALSE DOCTRINE FROM A FALSE BIBLE. EITHER WAY JESUS IS COMING VERY SOON. I’M NOT GOING TO QUOTE ANY SCRIPTURES. THERE ARE TOO MANY TO PROVE YOU WRONG. SATAN HAS YOU BOUND AND YOUR EYES BLINDED. I PRAY GOD WILL SEND THE HOLY SPIRIT TO YOU TO REVEAL YOU HAVE BEEN DECEIVED. I PRAY YOUR EYES WILL BE OPENED WIDE AND YOU WILL KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT THAT WERE IN THE VERY LAST DAYS BEFORE OUR JESUS RETURNS.
I’m 55 years old. Everything I know about history prior to 1950 has come by way of books and discussions with people who were there. I’ve read how bad things were when hordes of soldiers raped and pillaged, when tyrants ruled by whim, when cheers went up from the crowds when another head dropped in the basket after Madame Guillotine did her work,when mass starvation was the consequence of the Russian Revolution, when people died of simple infections because antibiotics had not been discovered, when polio struck the healthy until Jonas Salk developed his vaccine****, when the Black Death killed tens of millions of people. I could go on, but you get the picture.
You mention dolls and automobiles. My mother grew up without ever having a doll. She’s 83. There were no supermarkets in her day. You mention houses with doors and locks. Do you realize how modern it is even to own a home with indoor plumbing? The light bulb was invented in 1879. The first manned flight did not occur until 1903. There are people alive today who were alive when the Wilbur and Orville Wright took to the air. We landed a man on the moon in 1969. Today, a person can fly across the country in less than 5 hours and across the ocean in half a day. You wrote me an email that I received in seconds after you sent it. Cell phones are as common as toothbrushes. I can still remember party lines.
Did you see how the earthquake in Afghanistan killed more than 40,000? The same magnitude of earthquake hit California a few years ago with only a few fatalities. What made the difference? The homes and other buildings in Afghanistan used archaic “good old days” construction techniques. The Galveston hurricane of 1900 killed 8000 people. Katrina killed a few hundred. What made the difference? We have technology that can track storms. You and I can turn on the Weather Channel and see the path of the eye of the storm. In 1900, there was no way to know how powerful a storm might be. Technology could have saved the lives of those caught in last year’s tsunami with a simple warning system. The government officials in these “good old days” regions of the world aren’t interested in such things because their worldview his little regard for human life.
Humorist P. J. O’Rourke says, “When you think of the good old days, think ‘dentistry.’” Gary North writes, “The greatest invention of the modern world is anesthetics. Prior to 1844, in preparation for an operation, you drank booze until you passed out—hopefully. Then the physician—‘sawbones,’ he was called—got started hacking away.” You can have the “good old days” of just a hundred years ago:
- The average life expectancy in America was 47.
- Only 14% of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.
- Only 8% of the homes had a telephone.
- A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11, if you could get through.
- There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S. and only 144 miles of paved roads.
- The average wage in the U.S. was $0.22/hour.
- The average American worker made between $200–$400/year.
- A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000/year, a dentist $2,500/year, a veterinarian between $1,500–$4,000/year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000/year.
- More than 95% of all births in the U.S. took place at home.
- The five leading causes of death in the US were:
NaN. NaN. pneumonia and influenza NaN. tuberculosis NaN. diarrhea NaN. heart disease NaN. stroke
- Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from high school.
If you wanted to travel around town, you traveled by horse. Do you have any idea what the streets were like when hundreds of horses defecatedin the streets? During hot days, the manure would dry and the air would be filled with bacteria-laden dust that people would breathe. When it rained, pedestrians would have to traverse through manure sludge. The flu epidemic of 1918–1919 killed somewhere between 20 and 40 million people worldwide. We have ways of combating it today.
Some say the rise of Islam is a sign of the end. People thought the same thing in the 15th century. Read the opening paragraph to the Prologue of Samuel Eliot Morison’s biography on Christopher Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean Sea (1942):
At the end of the year 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science, and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through the study of the pagan past.Islam was now expanding at the expense of Christendom. . . . The Ottoman Turks, after snuffing out all that remained of the Byzantine Empire, had overrun most of Greece, Albania and Serbia; presently they would be hammering at the gates of Vienna.
Plug the year 2005 where 1492 appears in Morison’s quotation, and it sounds like today. Things looked bleak. The world changed in a day when Martin Luther posted a scrap of paper on a chapel door in 1517.
One man wrote to me about the rise of homosexuality, as if this is something new. Nonsense. Paul was dealing with it and a lot more in the first century (Rom. 1:24–27; 1 Cor. 6:9–11). You are rehearsing what prophetic prognosticators have been writing for nearly two millennia. They all have one thing in common: They have all been wrong! I suggest that you pick up Francis X. Gumerlock’s The Day and the Hour: Christianity’s Perennial Fascination with Predicting the End of the World. It will show how you are reading history through the eyes of your limited 62 years.
You say Jesus is coming “very soon.” How many times have we heard that? Oswald J. Smith wrote Is the Antichrist At Hand? The following copy appeared on the cover of his book: “The fact that this book has run swiftly into a number of large editions bears convincing testimony to its intrinsic worth. There are here portrayed startling indications of the approaching end of the present age from the spheres of demonology, politics and religion. No one can read this book without being impressed with the importance of the momentous days in which we are living.”
Sounds a lot like what you are claiming for today. Smith wrote the above in 1927! Nearly 80 years ago! The subtitle to the book is—“What of Mussolini?” That’s right. He used the same verses that people use today to “prove” that the end was near, Jesus was coming soon, and Mussolini was the antichrist. Smith admitted how foolish he had been after Mussolini met his just end.
The world is a mess because Christians have abandoned it. Christians turned back the tide of cannibalism, infanticide, abortion, homosexuality, and so many other evils over the centuries. But since the rapture doctrine, the Church has taken a back seat to evil making it a prophetic inevitability.
The issue is the Bible, not what you or I see in the world today. I’ve made a case from an appeal to the Bible. Show me where I am wrong from the Bible. What five-cent Cokes, marbles, and hopscotch have to do with the return of Jesus is a mystery to me.
** The Amish in Minnesota are experiencing a resurgence of polio amongst their children due to their retreat to the “good old days.” Martiga Lohn, “Polio surfaces among Amish in Minnesota,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/14/2005, A3.**
** http://homepage.mac.com/shannonsperte/iblog/B382442645/C2130265127/E1188128746/. Also see Gary North, “The Good Old Days”: http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north289.html