Friday, August 24, 2007

Prophets of Doom...

A prophet of doom rises to prominence and gains worldwide attention in nearly every generation. Often there are several prophets of doom on the scene simultaneously. There is a pattern to the preaching of nearly all doomsday prophets. It is a consistent pattern and goes something like this:

  1. A doomsday prophet becomes convinced of a future catastrophic global threat.

  2. The prophet reads and interprets a variety sources, always interpreting them in conjunction with current events to prove his authority and correctness.

  3. The prophet declares that the catastrophic global threat is eminent.

  4. The prophet preaches gloomy themes of evil forces at work which threaten the future of mankind.

  5. The prophet points to many signs as evidence that his prophecy is true.

  6. The prophet preaches that it is possible for believers to blunt the force of catastrophic events. Unbelievers and deniers are bound to suffer the consequences.

  7. The prophet produces many books and movies and preaches of pending gloom and doom in the effort to raise fears in the hearts of all, hoping that unbelievers and deniers will change their ways.
This pattern may be applied to two prophets of doom; one past, and one present. Hal Lindsey is the Prophet of Doomsday Past. In 1970, he wrote the wildly popular book, The Late Great Planet Earth. Over 15 million copies of the book were printed and was studied in churches all over the planet. Subsequent to LGPE, he wrote 11 other books that dealt with catastrophic events concerning the end of planet earth. A film of the book was made in 1979. Orson Welles provided the narration for the movie.

Following the pattern of doomsday prophets, Lindsey became convinced that the restoration of Israel as a state in 1948 signaled the beginning of the end of planet earth. He read the the Bible, mostly from the apocalyptic books of Ezekiel and Revelation and determined (in 1970) that Russia was Gog and Magog.

Russia would sweep down from the north and invade the territory of Israel. Lindsey wrote that current events (the establishment of the European Common Market a ten nation conglomerate) pointed to a near future seven-year Tribulation which would include the biblical plagues, wars, and famines. These forces of evil, wrote Lindsey, meant that the rapture, the Battle of Armageddon, and the end of the world would follow in one generation.

In 1975, I went to one of Lindsey's two-hour gloom and doom presentations which was held in the historic Municipal Auditorium in downtown Oklahoma City. Consistent with doomsday prophets, he preached doomsday fear that would curl the hair on the back the neck of any soul who was concerned about the end of the world. Lindsey, with the bold confidence of a true prophet of doom, declared to his audience, "You are living in the the terminal generation! You are living in the the terminal generation!"

Not to worry, declared Lindsay, all believers will be raptured out and saved. The unbelievers who deny the truths of scripture will be thrown into a burning hell. The warning was clear. Planet earth is doomed. The end is near. The only choice is to believe the truth, act on it, and salvation is assured.

But alas, I was an unbeliever. I did not believe the Prophet of Doomsday Past (In 1975, Lindsey was the "Prophet of Doomsday Present"). I still have the notes I took on that night of 37 years past. Not a single one of the prophet's predictions came true. Russia dissolved into a second-rate nation and represents no threat to much of anyone. The European Common Market presently has more than 25 member-countries. Armageddon isn't on the horizon. The Jews and the Arabs are still fighting wars, but to my knowledge there hasn't a battle in the Valley of Megeddo in my lifetime. It doesn't appear that there will be a battle of any sort there in the near future. Certainly not in this generation. Lindsey made millions striking fear into the hearts of people. But he has faded off the scene and the present generation hardly knows who he is. And the "terminal generation," the last generation, has faded into past history.

The Prophet of Doomsday Present, is Al Gore. As did Lindsey, Gore closely follows the pattern of doomsday prophets. A couple of decades ago, he became convinced that man-made global warming was a terrible threat to planet earth. Global warming, he thought, was directly attributed to man's mishandling of natural resources. Climate change, he reasoned, is directly related to anthropogenic carbon dioxide, greenhouse gasses, and other similar evils. He read alarming sources from radical environmentalists and became convinced trouble was brewing due to man's thoughtless actions. He was alarmed to the very core of his soul.

So the Prophet of Doomsday Present set to work broadcasting the alarming news that global warming is directly caused by man's activities. He surrounded himself with other doomsday sayers and began preaching the gloom and doom of catastrophic man-made global warming, which he declared was a threat to the very existence of humanity. He preached that the threat was eminent and something desperately needed to be done to thwart the disastrous effects of pending doom.

The prophet wrote a wildly popular, very slick, book that outlined the causes and the threat of global warming. In the book, An Inconvenient Truth, he claimed there was a total consensus of all reputable scientists worldwide who completely agreed with his prophecies. He convinced the United Nations to establish an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He believed the questionable research of alarmist scientist, James Hansen. He declared that the debate about man-made global warming was over. He railed against those who questioned his prophetic utterances, calling them "deniers."

Evil forces were at work. Anthropogenic carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses are the evil forces at work. Big Oil and well-financed deniers were duping the population. Glaciers are melting everywhere on the globe. The Arctic ice is melting. Great shelves of ice in the Antarctic are melting and breaking away. Greenland is getting green again. Iceland is melting, The seas are rising. Polar bears and penguins are drowning by the thousands. New York and other major world cities will be under water in a few short years. Gloom and doom. Doom and gloom.

Not to fear, says the prophet of doom to the fearful, if a quietus can be brought to all the deniers and unbelievers, perhaps things can be reversed. Man is able, after all is said and done, to control global climate. Man can cut back on producing all the evil CO2 and greenhouse gasses. Man can shut down industries that give off evil CO2 and greenhouse gasses. Man can quit driving SUVs. Man can begin driving electric hybrid cars. People can use just one sheet of toilet paper per sitting on the throne. Man can create alternate sources of energy (except don't put any of those windmills in view of the properties of the wealthy. Might block their exquisite views of nature in its pristine best). Man can refrain from drilling for oil on the north slope of Alaska. Man can purchase high-dollar carbon offsets. The possibilities are endless, says the Prophet of Doomsday Present .

Gore has made millions while striking fear into the hearts of the ignorant. He won an Oscar for the movie version of his book. I have discovered that one doomsday prophet is about as smart as another. The prophetic utterances of doomsday prophets never come to pass. Hal Lindsey's didn't. And Al Gore's won't either.

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