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Feedback #10

Names and e-mail addresses have been witheld to protect the guilty. If you recognise your letter here, and wish to have your name and address displayed, feel free to contact me.

Received: 8/10/98

I have been reading the book of Revelation and have discovered something that I haven’t heard about in reading Bible review. It appears that Jesus doesn’t even save his saints.

According to the book of Revelation there will be the tribulation where many people on earth are destroyed. Then Satan is cast to earth. The Beast comes from the sea (Rev 13:1). A second beast makes everyone accept his mark or die (Rev 13:16). All those accepting the mark of the Beast are damned to fire forever (Rev 14:9). Earth is damned with the wrath of God. The battle of Armageddon occurs and everyone on earth dies and is eaten by the birds of the air (Rev19:17). Satan is cast into the bottomless pit for a thousand years (Rev 20:2). Jesus resurrects the saints who died because they didn’t worship the beast (Rev 20:4). Jesus rules earth for a thousand years (Rev 20:5).

At this point the best I can see is that the only people on earth are Jesus, his saints who came with him as his army to fight in the battle of Armageddon , and the saints who where resurrected who died because they wouldn’t worship the beast. Now according the the gospels anyone who is resurrected will not marry or be given in marrage so these people will not be having children (Mat 22:30). When the thousand years are up Satan is released to deceive the earth (Rev 20:7), which only has saints. Satan will gather them like the sand on the seashore (Rev 20:8). This army will march across the breath of the earth and surround the camp of God’s people, the city he loves (Rev20:9). The only city that God has claimed to love is Jerusalem, so this city must be Jerusalem. Then fire comes down from heaven and destroys Satan’s army. It appears to me that the only saints who are saved are those living in the earthly city of Jerusalem, which isn’t that big, and the rest of the saints who where ruled by Jesus for a thousand years where given to Satan to die fighting for him. Then there is the final judgment, and all those not found in the lambs book of life is cast into the lake of fire for second death (Rev 20:15). The city of gold (New Jerusalem) comes down from heaven and God lives on earth with those few saints who are saved.

Also Jesus says he will not save everyone who calls him Lord in Mat 7:21-23.

A very interesting analysis. The only thing I would point out is that one shouldn't expect logical consistency from the apocalyptic genre. Generally speaking, an apocalypse is written at a specific time for a specific purpose, e.g. Daniel was written to strengthen the Jews during the atrocities of Antiochus, and Revelation was written to encourage Christians facing persecution under the reign of Domitan. The message of these books are couched in symbols which only the initiated will understand.

It is a mistake, however, to see in these books a plan for the future. These works are only applicable to a specific period in history. That time is now long gone, and these books no longer have any relevance, except perhaps historical and literary.

Received: 8/8/98

I found your page to be of great interest. I am just writing so that an opposing view will be represented. I do not claim to know everything, but I humbly ask you to consider my statements. I would ask you a great question. What defines who you are? That is a puzzling statement I'm sure, but it is one of importance. If I am defined by anything material (seeing, touching, tasting, etc) then all that I am will cease at some point in time. Nothing can be defined in terms of its own existance or power to exist.

Actually, I think that you will find that God is defined in exactly this manner. In Exodus 3, God says to Abraham that "I AM", indicating that he is self-existent and uncaused. This creates a logical problem, however, because it is self-evident that every Cause must have an Effect. (In fact, this is no longer self-evident, now that we have the field of Quantum Physics, but I am using the Principle that is usually presented by most Theists as the starting point for their argument that God exists). Thus, if God is indeed self-existent, it follows that not every Effect has a Cause.

Such is the case with evolution. Evolution has not made itself widely accepted in Christian circles, as you say. Only in your experience of the world. It is very dangerous indeed to say that all of the world is defined by my own experience. Just because the train dosen't run by my house does not mean they do not exist.

This is quite true, but we all have to start with a common point of reference. If we cannot agree that our senses accurately reflect the "real" world, then there really is no further point in debate. For example, I could claim that the world was created Last Thursday to look like it was billions of years old, and all of us humans were created with memories of our younger selves in toto. If there is no common reference point, then we might as well give up now.

I think that your point is that there may be things that we cannot perceive with our physical senses, and we are rash to assume that such things do not exist. This is only partly true. We can also infer the existence of things by the effect that they have on other objects. We cannot, for example, directly perceive radio waves, but because they interact a certain way with electromagnets, we can transform them into audible sounds.

Thus, if there really were a spirit world, we would assume that it could be perceived by its effects on the "real" world. I do not see evidence for such a conclusion. All the evidence that is usually presented is generally of a subjective nature, which is not subject to proof in any case. Therefore, I cannot see any reason why I should believe in the existence of such a thing. This does not mean that I categorically state that no such thing exists, simply that I do not see the point of believing in something which, be definition, cannot be shown to have an objective reality.

The existence of God falls prey to the same reasoning. I see no objective evidence that he exists, and thus I lack a belief in Yahweh. I also lack a belief in Jupiter, Zeus, Marduk, Osiris, Ahura-Mazda, and all the countless host of gods that were or are worshipped in the long history of humankind.

Another problem with you ideas is that you are not a Jew. You think and act like a Westerner (western hemisphere). This is not wrong, it is just a mode of thinking patterns. Westerners like nice, neat little packages of religion. Christianity is not that way. If there is any error in the modern Christian church it is the incorrect assumptions about the meaning of the Bible. The Bible is simply proof and testimony of Christ's intentions, suffering, and relationship to you and I, whether we accept it or not.

I do not see the Bible in this manner. Instead, I find that it is part history and part myth. Unfortunately, in many cases we cannot tell which is which, and thus I see no relevance for the Bible in my life.

I do not know what you found in the church you attended. All I know is that Christanity is anything but religion. It is life and life more fully. Christ is not waiting, hoping I will accept Him. He has already made provision for my surrender to His will for my life. The choice will greatly benefit ME, not Him. I am sure you have heard the term God's will in church circles. You will not find this in the Bible, but consider the opinion that God's will is the very path and direction that you would have chosen for your life if you knew everything God knows. When a person cannot accept the spiritual realm or that life has ultimate meaning outside of their little lives, they are forced to say God does not exist. My friend, you are not the first or the last to say this.

As I pointed out above, I do not insist that God does not exist. I simply see no evidence that he does, and thus choose not to believe in him. In much the same manner, I choose not to believe that a tribe of Leprechauns inhabits the bottom of my garden, or that a large, invisible, fire-breathing dragon inhabits my garage.

It does not need to be said that there are quite a few evidences that the Bible is a very accurate record of historic cirucumstances. There are plenty of resources for this if you wish to investigate. One I may refer you to is the man Simon Greenleaf, professor of law at Harvard University. He was a Jew and an atheist until his students challenged him to disprove, under court of law rules, that Jesus and the Bible did not exist. His own records tell of how he gave his life to Christ saying that the death and resurrection of Christ is the Most provable event in ancient history.

I readily accept that many parts of the Bible reflect real history. This, however, does not mean that I accept that all of it is real history. Some parts are clearly mythical, and we can trace the origin of these myths by comparing them with similar myths from other ancient traditions. Thus we find that the stories of Creation, the Flood and the Resurrection all have their origin in pagan tales from ages past.

I do strongly disagree that the Resurrection is the most provable event in history. I find just the opposite. Not only do the four narratives disagree among themselves as to the events of that day, they also are not supported by any ancient eye-witness testimony. In like manner, we have no ancient testimony that Osiris or Bacchus were resurrected to life after their deaths, as their ancient believers claimed.

That, my friend is the whole tenent of Christianity. Thank you for the opportunity to voice my opinion, I sure you are very busy. Whatever you choose to believe, I remind you that if God does exist, He is not reading our opinions of Him.

Received: 8/9/98

I'm LDS and only had the time to briefly scan your web page. Interesting to say the least. I was wondering what your connection with the LDS Church is or was. I was thinking there must be something since you have so much material devoted to Mormonism.

Actually, I never was LDS, but I was in fact a Baptist. I got interested in Mormonism since I intended to evangelize Mormons and bring them back to the "true" faith. While reading the Book of Mormon, I started to wonder how anyone could seriously believe that it was the work of God, since it was quite clear to me that Joseph Smith had simply made the whole thing up. This got me thinking about my own beliefs, and I soon discovered that the Bible contained many of the same flaws that I found in the Book of Mormon. I also further realized that I was using pretty much the same arguments to defend the Bible as Mormons use to defend the Book of Mormon. I eventually came to the conclusion that no "holy book" or religion can stand up to a rigorous examination, and I thus became an atheist/agnostic.

Received: 8/19/98 (in response to above)

What do you think of the Holy Spirit, or those that experience it?

Speaking from my own experience, and that which others have described, I believe that what Christians call the Holy Spirit is the same thing that Buddhists call Nirvana, and that Hindus call Satori. In other words, people generally describe their experience of God in the same manner, regardless of what creed they belong to. This means, to me at least, that we are dealing with a psychological phenomenon that serves to reinforce a particular belief system. It doesn't matter what that system might be - believers always have the same subjective experience, which they always interpret within the framework of their own world-views.

Received: 8/21/98 (in response to above)

I find that part interesting. What are the common characteristics?

The most common characteristic is that people tend to describe a sense of unity with God. In the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, this is interpreted as actual unity, wherein the individual soul becomes absorbed into the Universal Spirit. In the Christian, and related traditions, it is interpreted as a feeling of closeness to God, a sense of being accepted and loved by Him.

Another characteristic is a sense of euphoria or ecstasy. This manifests itself in many different ways, laughing, weeping, and even ecstatic speech in some traditions. A good introduction to the subject would be William James' "The Varieties of Religious Experience".

Received: 8/8/98

Rev 13:17b,l8: "The mark of the Beast (Or Anti-Christ) is the *NAME* of the Beast or the number of his *NAME*. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, *LET HIM* calculate the number of the Beast (Even in AD 96 when Revelation was written), for it is a man's number. His number is *666*." God has promised in the above passage that any saint (Even in AD 96--which implies the name was known in AD 96) with spiritual wisdom and insight may calculate the number of the name of the Beast which adds up to *666*.

When I was a missionary in Israel I studied the Hebrew language. One of the first things that you learn when you study the OT Ancient Hebrew language (Which is also the language of Israel today!) is that the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet ALSO represent 22 numbers! When you read Psalm ll9 you will note that the l76 sentences are divided in to 22 sections; each section with 8 sentences or verses praising the Word of God.

These 22 sections are each headed by one of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet in the exact same order as shown below. The ancient Hebrew language frequently used the letters of their alphabet to desdignate NUMBERS IN THE OT as follows ; ALEPH = 1 BETH = 2 GIMEL = 3 DALET = 4 HE = 5 VAV = 6 ZAYIN = 7 CHETH = 8 TETH = 9 YODH = 10 KAPH = 20 LAMED = 30 MEM = 40 NUN = 50 SAMEKH = 60 AYIN = 70 PE = 80 TSADHE = 9 KOPH = l00 RESH = 200 SHIN = 300 TAV = 400 NOTE: Most vowel sounds except "O" (VAV) are not used as letters in Hebrew. These vowel sounds are designated by dots and dashes under their preceding consonants. In Hebrew "N" is added on the end of all foreign names ending in "O". Therefore, the foreign name of Nero would be "NERON" in Hebrew. The name Nero Caesar would be pronounced Neron Kaysar in Hebrew. The "E" in Neron and the 2 "A" sounds in Kaysar are designated by dots and dashes under their preceding consonants and therefore are not letters in the Hebrew alphabet and so have no numerical value. Neron in Hebrew would use 4 letters with numerical value: N-R-O-N and Kaysar in Hebrew would use 3 letters with numerical value: K-S-R. Their would be a dot under N to show the "E" sound in Neron. There would also be 2 dots under the "K" to show the "AY" sound and a dash under the "S" to show the "AH" sound in Kaysar.

The 4 letters with numerical value in Neron would be N = NUN = 50; R = RESH = 200; O = VAV = 6; and N = NUN = 50 and 50+200+6+50 equals 306. The 4 letters with numerical value in "KAYSAR" would be: K = KOPH = 100; S = SAMEKH = 60; and R = RESH = 200 and 100+60+200 equals 360. And so the numerical value of Nero in Hebrew is 306 and the numerical value of Caesar in Hebrew is 360 and therefore the numerical value of Nero Caesar is exactly 666!!

Any honest Hebrew language scholar will confirm that the letters of Nero Caesar's NAME add up to 666 in the Hebrew language whose 22 letters are also 22 numbers as shown above.

Will the 6th Caesar (Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius & the *6th* is Nero) who ordered the execution of Paul & Peter in *AD66*; be the Beast who will come up from the Abyss (Or Hell-See Rev ll:7 & 17:8) exactly 42 months (See Rev 13:5b) before the Last Day when Jesus comes again. Rev 1:8,9: "I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus."

We know that the island of Patmos was the site of a Roman prison in the first Century and that the Apostle John was suffering in this prison because of his religious beliefs.(As per Rev l:8,9 above) The island of Patmos is about 30 miles from the port of Ephesus in Western Turkey.

History tells us that the second huge Roman persecution of Christians (The lst was NERO'S PERSECUTION OF AD 64-68) occurred in the last year of the reign of Domitian Caesar which would have been from September AD 95 to September AD 96. During the last year of his rule Domitian Caesar decreed that everyone in the Roman Empire must worship idols of former Roman Caesar's or else they would be killed or put in prison.

Historical documents show us that the Apostle John lived to about AD 100 and therefore would have been alive during Domitian's evil decree. Since we can be sure that the Apostle John would never worship an idol of a Roman Caesar it is then highly probable that John was put in prison on Patmos Isle sometime during the time of Domitian's evil decree from Sept AD 95 to Sept AD 96. Rev 1:l0,11: "On the Lord's Day I (John) was in the spirit and I heard a loud voice (Jesus) said, 'Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the 7 churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatria, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.'" **The last 6 churches are all in Western Turkey within 70 miles of Ephesus.

About 50 years earlier Paul had started churches in these 7 cities. Paul always had Jewish converts in the cities where he preached since he had the habit of teaching in the Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath. It was then highly probable that all 7 of these churches had Jewish believers who were very familiar with the Hebrew language and of course knew that the 22 letters of the Jewish alphabet are also 22 numbers.

Christian writings in the early 2nd Century AD show that many Christians at that time believed that Nero Caesar (Who adds up to 666 in Hebrew) would return as the Anti-Christ of the End-Times. Rev l3:l8 "This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight (Even in AD 96), let him (Even in AD 96) calculate the beast, for it is a man's number. His (Nero Caesar's) number is 666." And so the above Scripture absolutely guarantees that anyone with spiritual wisdom and insight could figure out who the Anti-Christ of the End-Times would be even when Revelation was first given to the churches in AD 96, and that the the number of his name adds up to 666. This would of course mean that the future Anti-Christ must have been alive on or before AD 96 when this Scripture was given to the churches. Nero Caesar (Whose name adds up to 666 in Hebrew) certainly qualified since he lived from Dec l5th, AD 37 to June 9th, AD 68.

In the first *66* years (AD 30 to AD 96) of the Christian New Covenant the "man of sin" or man against Christ (Which means Anti-Christ) was the *6th* Caesar who killed thousands of Christians and ordered the death of God's greatest 2 witnesses according to the Book of Acts (Or Paul & Peter) in *AD 66*. On the *66th* Anniversary of the first Lord's Day the *66th* and last book of God's Word was given to the churches; which tells of the evil acts of *666* during the 1260 days before the 2nd Coming of Jesus on the Last Day. God will also allow *666* or Nero Caesar to kill God's greatest 2 witnesses during the 1260-day Great Tribulation (Moses & Elijah) just 3 1/2 days before the 7th angel sounds the 7th & Last Trumpet and "It is time to judge the dead and reward all of God's servants." (See Rev 11:7-l5,18). The 7th & Last, loud Trumpet Call of God is mentioned in Rev 11:15; Rev 10:7; I Cor l5:52; I Thess 4:16b & Matt 24:31a. There will be no resurrection or rapture (This word not found in God's Word) at the 8th to the Last Trumpet before the 7 Trumpets of the 1260-day Great Tribulation.

Rev 17:8b: "Those whose names have not been written in the Book of Life will be astonished when they see the beast (666), because he once was (Alive-AD 37-68) now (In AD 96) is not (Alive), and yet will come (l260 days before the Last Day)." Rev 17:8a: "The beast once was (Alive before AD 96) now is not (Alive in AD 96), and will come out of the Abyss (Or Hell-l260 days before the Last Day) and go to his destruction (On the Last Day-See Rev l9:20b)

All historical documents agree that Nero Caesar (The 6th Caesar who ordered the execution of Paul & Peter in AD 66 and whose name adds up to 666 in Hebrew) was fatally wounded by a sword on June 9th, AD 68. In Revelation l3:l4b we learn that the False Prophet of 666 will order the building of a statue of 666 "Who was (FATALLY-See Rev 13:3) wounded by the sword and yet lived!" .Nero Caesar (Whose name adds up to 666 in Hebrew) again qualifies for this inspired clue to the identity of the Anti-Christ.

Nero's 4-year Roman persecution began when he blamed the Christians for the burning of Rome in May AD 64; and ended when Nero was fatally wounded by a sword on June 9th AD 68.

By comparing Rev 12:6b & Rev 12:14b we find that 1260 days and Time (360) days, Times (720 Days) and 1/2 a Time (l80 days) are the exact same period of time. Likewise, when we compare Rev 13:5b with Dan 7:25b we learn that 42 (30-day Bible) months and Time (l2 months), Times (24 months)and 1/2 a Time (6 months) are the exact same period of time. And, therefore, 42 (30-day Bible) months and l260 days are the exact same period of time since 42 X 30 days equal exactly l260 days.

Most Bible scholars believe that the book of First Peter was written just after the beginning of the Neronian & Roman persecution of Christians because of I Pet 4:12,13 & 5:8,9 in AD 64. We know that Peter and his wife were living in Rome at this time. Peter writes in I Pet 5:13: "She (Peter's wife) who is in *BABYLON* (Nickname for Rome) sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark." Apparently some Christians including Peter were inspired to nickname "ROME" Babylon after the the beginning of Nero's persecution of Christians in AD 64. This is very interesting since the evil city of the End-Times is called "Babylon" (Never to be lived in again-See Jer 50:3,13; 51:26,62-64) 6 times in Revelation 14:8; l6:l9; 17:5; 18:2,10,21. God had promised that no one would ever live in Babylon again after her total destruction about 275 BC. And God has kept His promise since Babylon is still a pile of rubble to this very day.

Almost all conservative Bible theologians agree that the 4th Beast of Daniel 7:7 & l9 is the *ROMAN* Empire. In Daniel 7:20,21 we learn that a little horn who is also called a *KING* in Dan 7:24 will come from this *ROMAN* Empire. Dan 7:24b,25: "A *KING* (From the *ROMAN Empire) will arise.... He will speak against the Most High and oppress His saints. The saints will be handed over to him for a Time, Times and 1/2 a Time." (Which is also 42 30-day months or l260 days--Not 7 years) Rev 13:5,7a: "The Beast (Who was a *KING* from the "City on 7 Hills"--Or *ROME*--See Rev l7:9-11,18) will utter proud words and blasphemies and will exercise his authority for *42 MONTHS* (Which is also 1260 days or Time, Times and 1/2 a Time--Not 7 years).

And then in Dan 12:1,2,6b,7b we learn that the resurrection of the saved and lost at the end of the Great Tribulation will be TOTALLY COMPLETED in Time, Times and 1/2 a Time which is also 42 months or l260 days--Not 7 years. Dan 12:7b: "It will be for a Time, Times and 1/2 a Time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken *ALL THESE THINGS (The Great Tribulation followed by the resurrection of the saved & lost) WILL BE *COMPLETED*!!"

Now there are some who suggest that the Anti-Christ will exercise his authority for 7 years (Not 42 months) and the Great Tribulation will last 7 years (Not 1260 days or 3 1/2 Times). They have only ONE Bible verse (Dan 9:27) which they grossly misinterpret to support this idea which absolutely contradicts God's Divine Time Periods as found in Rev 13:5b, Dan 7:25b & Dan 12:7b.

I believe that the first half of Daniel's 70th Week has already been completed since Jesus has already put an end to all meaningful sacrifices and offerings and has made a New Covenant with many until the middle of the 70th Week when He was cut off but not for Himself (See Dan 9:26a &27a).

The Anti-Christ (Nero Caesar?) or 666 will come up from the Abyss or Hell exactly l260 days (or 42 30-day months or 3 1/2 Times) before the Last Day (see John 6:44; Dan 7:25; Rev 13:1-5 & Dan 9:27b). On the Last Day of the l260-day Great Tribulation (At the 7th & Last Trumpet) Jesus will give the saints of all ages their new heavenly bodies and they will then enjoy the Marraige Feast of The Lamb. Immediately after the Marraige Feast of the Lamb (On the same Last Day) Jesus will mount a great White Horse and His saints of all ages will follow Him on white horses. (See Rev l9:11-14; 17:14) They will conquer the Beast (666) and his armies and the Beast (Nero Caesar) will then be thrown back into the Abyss of Hell for all eternity. (See Rev 19:20).

If God does not want us to know who the Anti-Christ will be why has He given us so many inspired clues as to his identity? God's inspired Word also strongly implies in Revelation 13:l8 that all those with spiritual insight and wisdom can figure out out who the Beast of the End-Times will be!! It is very important to know that receiving the name Nero Caesar on your right hand of forehead will be an UNPARDONABLE SIN according to Rev 14:9-11; even though you will not be able to buy or sell anything during the 1260-day Great Tribulation.

Thanks for your message. I agree with some points, and disagree on others. I think you are correct in assuming that the Beast of Revelations was probably meant to be Nero. It is interesting to note that an alternative spelling of Neron Kaiser adds up to 616, and indeed, there are some very early copies of Revelations that have the number 616 in place of 666.

I believe that an analysis of the book of Revelation shows that it was probably written about AD 96, in response to the revival of the cult of emperor-worship, as you pointed out. Thus, the Beast is probably supposed to represent Nero, the sixth Caesar, and by extension the entire Roman Empire. The deadly wound to the head probably refers to Nero's suicide. The "healed wound" may refer to the fact that many Christians expected Nero to be resurrected, or quite simply that the Roman Empire survived the death of its head, and continued on as before.

The false prophet was probably supposed to represent the priesthood of the Roman cult, who were in charge of enforcing emperor-worship.

Where I disagree with you, however, is on two points. First, I believe that a cursory analysis of the book of Daniel will reveal that the fourth Empire was Greece, not Rome. The "little horn" that Daniel refers to on several occasions was Antiochus Epiphanes. This is made abundantly clear in chapter 8, where the little horn is said to be of Greek descent.

A second point that I disagree with is this: I do not believe that the book of Revelation was referring to a time far in the future. I think that it is clear that the author of the Apocalypse, like most of the New Testament authors, and even Jesus himself, expected the end of the world to occur in very short order, before the last of Jesus' disciples had died (Matthew 24:34). This prophecy failed, and I sincerely doubt that Jesus is ever coming back.

Received: 8/19/98 (in response to above)

Thank you for your very interesting reply. I would like to draw your attention to Daniel 7:6 where the *3rd Beast* with *4 heads * is described. Most Bible scholars believe that this refers to the 4 kings who divided the Greek Empire after the death of Alexander the Great. And then in Dan 8:8,9: "At the height of his (Alexander's) power his large horn was broken off, and in its place *FOUR* prominent horns grew up toward the 4 winds of Heaven. Out of one (The Syrian Empire) of them (Or the 4 Horns) came another horn (Or Antichus Epiphanes IV) His evil reign between 172 BC and 164 BC is then described in Dan 8:9-27 and Dan 11:25-45.

I'll not go into too much detail here, since most of this is covered in the article that I have on my Website. Basically, the four heads of the third beast are probably supposed to represent the four Persian kings that Daniel claims reigned from Cyrus to the coming of Alexander (11:2-4). In fact, the author of Daniel was incorrect. There were at least nine kings from Cyrus to Darius III, but the records that he had access to, namely the Hebrew Bible, only mention four kings of Persia, hence the error.

As I show in the article, each of Daniel's visions culminated in Antiochus Epiphanes, who is the subject of all of Daniel's prophecies.

Here is a question: if you indeed hold that the third Kingdom is Greece, and not Persia, how do you explain that statement in chapter 2 that the second kingdom would be inferior to Babylon (2:39)? Persia controlled more than three times as much real estate as the Neo-Babylonian empire, and ruled for more than two centuries, almost a hundred years longer than the Babylonian reign. In fact, after the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, the entire neo-Babylonian empire became simply one province of the vast Persian Empire. It is difficult to see how Persia could be said to be "inferior" to Babylon.

The correct interpretation of the meaning of Matt 24:34 is certainly a big problem but the word for generation can also be translated "race" and then Matt 24:34 would read "This race will not pass away until all these things have happened." This is most likely the best translation for Jesus also had just said in Matt 24:14 This Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to *ALL* nations, and *THEN* the END will come." This prophecy of Jesus was not fulfilled until the 20th Century. In Rev 5:9 we read, "With your blood you purchased men for God from *EVERY* and language (All 6,000) and people and nation." This Prophecy will be probably be fulfilled during the Great Tribulation (See Rev 7:9-14) since the Bible has only been translated into 2,000 of the 6,000 languages in the earth.

The only problem with this interpretation of Matthew 24:34 is that in every other case when Jesus used this phrase in the gospel of Matthew, it is clear that he meant the generation that was alive at that time. (See Matt 3:7, 11:16, 12:39 etc.) Furthermore, the belief that the establishment of the Kingdom was imminent is supported by other New Testament statements. See Matt 16:28, Rom 13:11, Rev 22:20 etc. So, we can see that the belief that Jesus' return was imminent was very prevalent among the early Christians. Jesus' statements in the Gospels are consistent with this view.

I'm not sure that you can use an as yet unfulfilled prophecy (that the Gospel would be preached to all nations) to support your position, but it is worth noting that the Apostle Paul claimed that this prophecy had been fulfilled in his day (Colossians 1:23).

I am very sorry to hear that you do not believe Jesus is coming back for only Jesus gives Endless Love and in Heaven we will have millions of friends who will love us just the way we are.

Received: 8/19/98 (in response to above)

Thank you for your interesting reply. It is extremely hard to communicate with someone who believes that God's Word contradicts itself when you believe that there is not even one contradiction in God's Word.

I have very good answers concerning the 4 Beasts in Daniel but it would take almost a whole book to present them accurately.

From my point of view, one does not have to "believe" that their are errors in the Bible. This is a simple fact, and one which I have documented in detail. On the other hand, one does have to have faith that the Bible is inerrant, because such a thing is certainly not evident from a cursory reading of the book.

As for Daniel, I am aware of the conservative interpretation of the book, but I generally reject it. And so too do most ancient historians. The historical errors of the book are well known, and lead inexorably to the conclusion that it was written sometime around 164 BCE. If you disagree, I would be interested to see what evidence you could offer to the contrary.

I also note that you did not address my question regarding the four empires of Daniel 2. Again, I must ask in what sense the author could regard Persia as "inferior" to Babylon, when the Achaemenean empire was three times larger than the Neo-Babylonian, and lasted almost a century longer?

As you know when God's inspired Word says that something will happen "soon" like it says many times in the Book of Revelation He does not mean next month or even next year. In fact He may mean 1,000 or 2,000 years: 2 Pet 3:3,9,8: In the Last Days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this Coming He (Jesus) promised?....The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness....But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like 1,000 years, and 1,000 years are like a day!!"

If God had meant "soon" to mean several millennia then he certainly chose a bad phrasing. The fact of the matter is that to a human, "soon" cannot mean several millennia hence. No matter how God may feel about the subject, the fact remains that when Jesus said "I am coming soon", he was wrong. 2,000 years in no way qualifies as "soon".

Matt 16:28: Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here (Including John) will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom." We know that the Apostle John saw Jesus Coming in His Kingdom twice in the Book of Revelation before he tasted death. There also some verses which imply that Peter also might have had a vision of this nature. We know that Paul did because of I Thess 4:16-18 & 2 Thess 2:3-10 compared with 2 Cor 12:1-4.

I sincerely doubt whether the putative visions of Peter or John count as the fulfillment of Jesus' promise in Matt 16:28. For one thing, we have no way of telling whether these visions were really inspired by God, or whether Peter and John were simply schizophrenic. I think it is clear from the context of the gospels themselves that Jesus meant a literal, physical return. You must remember that the Old Testament speaks of a Messiah who was to be a king, and who was to restore Israel to unity and independence after centuries of foreign rule. In the context of the gospels, this is what the phrase "kingdom of God" refers to.

The Hebrew Bible most certainly does not indicate the Messiah was to suffer and die. This interpretation was created by Christian writers using the Old Testament out of context, and is still vehemently rejected by the Jews themselves.

There are some spiritual things that a non-believer will never understand, such as: John 14:23: Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will obey My Words. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our Home with him." I wonderful new life is awaiting you if you choose to love and obey your Creator.

It's not a matter of understanding. I understand perfectly what this verse means. I simply see no evidence that it is true.

Received: 8/24/98

I believe you are on the wrong team and have the wrong boss and are going to wind up in the wrong place, Your Loving and Wonderful Creator has given you life. And every heartbeat and breathe you owe to Him while you have given Him nothing but insults in return. I appreciate the work you have done in your reply. However your boss is not going to give you any eternal rewards for your efforts. In Jeremiah 29:13 God says, "You will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart."

I was a philosophy major and doubter like you for many years; but then I met Jesus and He has filled my heart with love and meaning. Hope to see you in Heaven. I hear the other place really sucks.

Jesus can be your Best and closest Friend an Companion and only Jesus gives ENDLESS LOVE.

I understand that you believe that, but it means very little unless you can provide some evidence that it is so. I could just as easily argue that it is you who are deceived by Satan, and not me. Perhaps Allah is really God, and both you and I are going to the Fiery Place.

Truth is not discovered by making bald assertions with no proof. If you expect me to pay attention, you need to provide some sort of evidence for your position.

I note once again that you did not answer my question about Daniel 2. Am I to understand from your continued evasion that you realize your position is incorrect? I have provided good evidence that the fourth kingdom was Greece. Please provide similar evidence for your position.

Received: 8/17/98

I came to similar conclusions not so long ago as you expressed in "My Story". After harboring buried questions and misgivings about the truth of the Jesus story. I am still trying to put it all into some perspective that explains how the myth came into existence. I am convinced it was, and do see quite a lot of evidence. I am quite convinced that Jesus never died while upon the cross and then did appear to some but then left the country for safety sake. Those who had knowledge of how he survived would have been fearful of exposing themselves to the knowledge they had done something that would have sorely displeased the Jews and likely the Roman authorities.

My personal feeling is that it is probably no longer possible to recover the truth behind the Jesus legend. Aside from the "official" gospels, there are a whole host of writings from the early centuries of Christianity, not all of which agree with each other. Many of these writings were produced by Christian splinter groups with religious agendas of their own. For example, many of the writings recovered from Nag Hammadi reflect a Gnostic point of view. The Gnostics are a very early Christian splinter group, who denied that Jesus had a physical body. Some of the New Testament books were written specifically to counteract this point of view, so we know that it is at least as old as the New Testament. (The supreme irony is that most scholars believe that the gospel of John was originally the product of a Gnostic sect).

All of the above raises the possibility that what we now know as the New Testament is simply the writings of one of these Christian splinter groups, which happened to become "canonical" by sheer accident of history. The therefore have no more reliability than the writings of the other early Christian sects, so the question of whether Jesus was actually crucified or not cannot be settled by consulting the gospels.

There are other traditions outside of the Christian as well. A Hindu tradition holds that Jesus escaped the Crucifixion and traveled to India, where he fathered a family and lived to an old age. There is even a site in India reputed to be the grave of Jesus. Then, the Muslim tradition holds that Jesus was not crucified at all, but that Simon of Cyrene was mistakenly crucified in his place. This is based on an enigmatic comment in the Koran, which states that the Jews did not kill their Messiah, but it only appeared as such to them.

If I had to choose a position, I would say that I think that Jesus probably was crucified as recorded in the gospels. The reason why I think as such is simply that it is a completely unexpected thing to happen to the Jewish Messiah. While the New Testament claims that the suffering and death of the Messiah are predicted by the Old Testament, an analysis of the Old Testament documents themselves prove this to be a lie. The Old Testament prophets expected the Messiah to be a king who would restore the Davidic line, reunite all the tribes of Israel and rid the land of the foreign oppressors. The notion that the Messiah would be executed by the Jews is found nowhere in the Old Testament. Thus, the execution of Jesus is unlikely to be a fabrication of the New Testament writers. It was an embarrassing event that they tried to put into the best possible light, but still failed.

The Resurrection of Jesus, on the other hand, is clearly a mythical event. This is supported by the fact that the Gospels do not agree among themselves about the events surrounding the Resurrection, and also the fact that the resurrected Savior-god was a common motif of pagan religion long before Jesus was born.

My wife is in a cult known as the "two by twos". they have no official name but are quite fundamentalist and for the most part refrain from any discussion of anything that opposes their views. It is larger than would be supposed and is in all or most all countries in the world. All 50 states have yearly conventions and some more than one. Most conventions here are in the numbers of 500 to over 1000.

I've heard of them before, but unfortunately, not very much.

I have been out nine years now. I am 75 amd my mother 94. I sent her your "My Story" her letter Quote: 'says, he is glad that he learned "the truth", "before it was too late" . How does he know he has "the truth" now? and "before it was too late"--Too late for what"? Where did his agnosticism go too? You see how easy it is to contradict ones self and not even be aware of it'. Unquote: She must not be fully aware of the term "agnostic".

True. She seems to have misread my statement. All I meant, obviously, is that I'm glad that I found out that Christianity was false before I wasted anymore time and money on it. I am now free to pursue my interests without having to worry that I might be reading things that are "bad". I am free to make my own decisions about truth or falsity, without having to consult some arbitrary set of outdated standards.

Mom is more able than most young people to analyise facts but just how to answer her, stumps me. I must write her soon nevertheless.

Something else I am wondering about. About ten years ago there was an article in the "Sacramento Union" telling of records of Jesus having fled to a distant place with Mary Magdelene after the "resurection". They had children but the identity of his past was kept secret. (Understandably). the article had the ring of authenticy but I never, as I expected, heard a lot of reprecussions about the article. Have you heard of any such record? The paper was a regular paper reporting news as most widely read papers go. They were however unable to compete with the "Sacramento Bee" which covered other cities in the vally. As a consequence they finally gave to the pressure and had to close shop. Expect it would be difficult but not impossible to locate the article.

As I said, their are several such stories, many of which date back many centuries. Whether it is true or not, I cannot say for sure.

I am very restricted as far as discussion with others. Have a brother and some of his offstring that I am free to talk with. My emails is personal and I have a P.O. Box I can use.

Maybe you understand the cult system quite well but not like anyone who has been in one. They are extremely deceptive and yet very kind and sincere.

I do now have a much better idea of how a true believer thinks and reasons, having seen the system from both sides. I also know that there are many people who are lost forever to irrational cults, because they are quite literally unable to conceive of any way that the cult could be wrong. This applies to mainstream religions as well.

On the other hand, there are also many people who will not accept a dichotomy between what they believe to be true, and what their reason and senses tell them is true. Such people, if confronted with the evidence, are likely to start down the road that ends in apostasy. This is precisely why you will find that almost all religious systems tend to discourage their followers from learning too much, or asking too many questions, or reading outside of the approved literature. Most religious leaders are unconsciously aware that too much information can destroy their hold on their followers.

It need not even be contrary information. What started me on the path to freethought was simply the realization that the Bible contained the same flaws that I had always been able to see in other "holy books", and that furthermore, I used the same arguments to defend the Bible that other religious apologists used to defend their own holy books.

An answer is not necessary if you have no interest along this line but certainly would be highly appreciated.

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