Pro and Con 1031

Posted 7-7-03

Incoming email, Re: Tomb References John the Baptist's Father

Thought you might be interested in reading this article.
http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20030706/API/307060692&cachetime=5
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Tomb References John the Baptist's Father
By KARIN LAUB, AP writer

Physical anthropologist Joe Zias, looks at a cast he made of a Greek inscription discovered on the stone facade of an ancient burial monument at the foot of Jerusalem's Mount of Olives Saturday June 14, 2003. The 47-letter text reads "This is the tomb of Zachariah, martyr, very pious priest, father of John", an apparent reference to the father of John the Baptist. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

JERUSALEM -- The discovery was a stroke of luck: the light of the setting sun hit an ancient tomb at just the right angle and revealed hints of a worn inscription, unnoticed for centuries, commemorating the father of John the Baptist....

The inscription probably does not mean that the father of the biblical figure is actually buried in the 60-foot-high funerary monument at the foot of the Mount of Olives, say the text's discoverers. But it does give new insight into the local lore surrounding the early figures of the Christian Church.

Scholars say the words were probably written several hundred years after Zachariah's death -- and after the tomb's construction -- by Byzantine Christians....

But even such second hand references are important, scholars say, because they confirm the traditions among early Christians and because there are so few artifacts directly relating to biblical narrative....

The text was discovered by physical anthropologist Joe Zias and inscriptions expert Emile Puech. Zias, an Israeli originally from Ypsilanti, Mich., and the French-born Puech are publishing their findings on the Zachariah inscription in the upcoming July issue of the Revue Biblique, a French quarterly.

The inscription is carved into the facade of what is known as Absalom's Tomb, one of three large funerary monuments in the Kidron Valley, between Jerusalem's Old City and the Mount of Olives. The monuments were apparently built for Jerusalem's aristocracy around the time of Jesus....

Zias, a member of the Science and Archaeology Group, a team of scholars affiliated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discovered the first letters by chance, on a photograph shown to him by an art history student asking for advice on a paper about Absalom's Tomb.

The photographer told Zias he shot the picture years ago, toward dusk in summer, with just the right shadows, and that at any other time, the letters might have remained unnoticeable.

Zias put up scaffolding to get a closer look and Puech, using a low-tech method involving paper mache, lifted off a cast.

Puech made out the inscription -- two lines, each about four feet long, with letters up to four inches tall. The letters correspond to the Byzantine period, he wrote.

Puech and Zias said they've spotted several more lines of writing and will lift more casts off the facade this week.

They've already made out one name, "Simon," perhaps a reference to "Simon the Elder," the pious man who cradled the infant Jesus and recognized him as the Messiah.

It's possible the additional lines include the phrase, "He who held in his arms God's Messiah," wrote Puech, a scholar at Jerusalem's Ecole Biblique research institute....

Jewish historian Josephus writes that a priest named Zachariah was slain by Zealots in the Temple and thrown into the Kidron Valley below -- which would explain the "martyr" reference in the Greek text.

James Bone Box—A Fake?

Biblical Archaeology Society Breaking News
http://www.biblicalarchaeologyreview.org/bswbbreakingVII.html

A committee appointed by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has declared the inscription on an ancient bone box that refers to "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" to be a modern forgery. Case closed? Far from it—this is only the latest chapter in a fascinating story. Two other groups of specialists—from the Geological Survey of Israel and the Royal Ontario Museum, in Toronto—also studied the bone box and concluded the inscription was ancient. And some of the world’s leading paleographers—specialists in ancient scripts—have dated the inscription’s style of writing to the first century A.D....

Why I Am Not Yet Convinced the "Brother of Jesus" Inscription is a Forgery

by Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review
http://www.biblicalarchaeologyreview.org/bswbbreakingHS.html

The BAR article was written by one of the world's leading paleographers, André Lemaire of the Sorbonne in Paris. Each letter in Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke and the language of the inscription) has a history and development, much like modern car grilles. Paleographers can date the letters and also tell if an inscription is a forgery, for in an authentic inscription the shape of all the letters will date to the same time period. There was no doubt in Lemaire's mind that the inscription was authentic.

Normally, anything that André Lemaire writes for us would be enough to justify its publication in BAR. Because this was such an extraordinary inscription, however, we showed it to a number of other prominent paleographers. Harvard's Frank Cross, perhaps the world's most distinguished Semitic paleographer, said, "If this is a forgery, the forger was a genius." (Along the same line, leading Jerusalem archaeologist and paleographer Gaby Barkay is quoted in a recent news report as saying, "If its a fake, it's a fantastically executed piece.")

The inscription was also examined by P. Kyle McCarter, Albright Professor at the Johns Hopkins University (and author of Ancient Inscriptions), and by Israeli paleographer Ada Yardeni, author of The Book of Hebrew Script. They, too, saw no reason whatever to question the authenticity of the inscription.

We had it examined by one of the world's leading Aramaic experts, Father Joseph Fitzmyer of Catholic University of America. After some initial hesitation, he deemed the somewhat peculiar Aramaic phrasing on the inscription to be appropriate to the first century A.D.

The Geological Survey of Israel, a government agency, also examined the bone box and its inscription at our request and found both to be authentic.

By the time Ben Witherington III and I published our book, The Brother of Jesus (HarperSanFrancisco, 2003), a second team of scientific experts had examined the inscription and found it authentic. The team was from the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, where the ossuary had been on exhibit.

The recent conclusion of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is essentially the view of one person, Professor Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University. The decision of the IAA purports to be by unanimous agreement of a 15-person committee, each of whom had been named by the IAA. It appears, however, that the only one on the committee with any geological and chemical knowledge on which the conclusion is based is Yuval Goren. He managed to convince the rest of the five-person (sub-)committee of his scientific conclusions based on materials in which they are not expert and which they have no more than a laypersons' knowledge. This (sub-)committee convinced the other scholars of the conclusion of the five-person scientific committee. The committee of other scholars has even less scientific expertise....

Brother of Jesus Ossuary

New Tests Bolster Case for Authenticity
Edward J. Keall

Now restored, the ossuary is more structurally sound than before. And the accident provided our team at the ROM with an opportunity to study the bone box and its inscription in ways that would have been impossible had the box not broken. The studies we conducted have convinced us that the ossuary and its inscription are genuinely ancient and not a modern forgery. This conclusion, of course, is consistent with the findings of leading Semitic paleographers and Aramaic linguists, as well as the Geological Survey of Israel, and contradicts those who assert that the inscription must be a forgery simply because it is "too good to be true" or because it surfaced on the antiquities market rather than having been found in a professional archaeological excavation....

We subjected another tiny shard from the interior crust to a light-polarizing microscope examination. This involves embedding the sample in resin, cutting a thin sliver, and mounting this on a glass slide so that one can shine light through it and observe its composition. The sample had a small bit of the stone itself adhering to it where it broke away from the casket. The encrustation was built up in thin layers, each one slightly differently colored. The various colors likely reflect a different ratio of iron minerals present, but the amount was so negligible that the standard SEM analysis failed to register the difference. However, the distinct layering was quite visible under the polarizing light. The suggestion that the encrustation on the outside could have been artificially induced can be largely discounted. It is scarcely credible that anyone would exert so much effort even on the inside of the casket. And an artificially induced encrustation would normally be much more homogeneous in character (instead of layered, like this sample).

The ossuary was exhibited at the ROM for seven weeks last November and December, when nearly 100,000 people came to see it. After it came off display, the ROM team had an additional day to examine it. With a simple hand-lens magnifying glass, and a 60x microscope, we were able to show that the so-called "two-hand" theory was baseless. This theory maintains that the last two words of the ossuary, "brother of Jesus," were added by a second hand to an already existing inscription that read "James, son of Joseph."

Our examination showed that part of the inscription had been recently cleaned, a little too vigorously, with a sharp tool. And for some reason whoever did it cleaned the beginning of the inscription, but not the end. The cleaning had removed some of the surface encrustation from down inside the letters, but not all of it. Those letters on which a sharp tool had been used may even be judged to be slightly "enhanced"—they look sharper than those of the other part of the inscription. The end of the inscription (on the left) looks softer and less angular—more like a cursive script, and therefore of more recent date. But the soft look is due to the survival of the encrustation on the part that had not been cleaned....

Through a simple hand lens, our ROM team was also able to observe signs of the natural aging of the inscription. Minute lines run through the stone like very fine veins. This is because the stone is formed mostly of a dense and homogeneous mass of dead microscopic shell organisms (Foraminifera) so typical of a soft limestone chalk. But the deposits tend to be layered, allowing what can be called a "vein" to form in the matrix. These veins are formed of calcite crystals that are harder than the surrounding calcium carbonate. When exposed (as on the surface of the ossuary), the surrounding area erodes at a faster rate than the hard crystals in the vein, which is left as a "proud" line. Under magnification, the veins run consistently across the surface of the ossuary and through the incised letters of the inscription.

Though the hard parts and the soft parts in the stone have eroded differently, the weathering has nevertheless occurred at a uniform rate.

The clear implication is that (apart from the over-cleaning of part of the inscription) the inscription has weathered naturally, at the same rate as the adjacent parts of the ossuary....

...it is clear that the inscription is not a modern forgery.



Note: these letters look like they were made by the same hand.

Incoming email

I happened upon this site today when doing a search pertaining to bibleprophecy. I still can't figure out who the author is, but below is the site: http://www3.sympatico.ca/bibleprophecy/

I read about the Kings of the North and Kings of the South & thought it all very well researched. I then clicked on "Rapture" to see what was said there. Everything looked good till a point & then I just copied it for you, I got such a surprise (I've underlined up to where I got & then sent it to you). He obviously does not believe in the rapture.......could you please read and comment for your readers. I will finish it and then discuss it with Phillip. It has not knocked my faith in the least. In Jesus
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The RAPTURE
http://www3.sympatico.ca/bibleprophecy/rapture.htm

My reply

Sorry to be so long in answering.

The writer of "The Rapture" said,
> > "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter". REV.4:1. Who went to heaven? - John. How many went to heaven? one - Just one.

How many elders were crowned and sitting on their thrones in Heaven right after John arrived in Heaven? Twenty-four, John plus 11 other apostles of Israel and 12 patriarchs of Israel. All those went to Heaven when John went to Heaven.

How many nations are the 24 elders from? One--Israel.

How many nations are the saints that are in Heaven singing the new song from? Rev. 5:8,9 says, "...saints. And they (the saints) sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us (saints) to God by thy blood OUT OF EVERY KINDRED, AND TONGUE, AND PEOPLE, AND NATION."

These saints are ALREADY in Heaven when Jesus is given the seven-sealed Title Deed of the Earth. They were caught up to Heaven when John was called up in the Pre-Trib Rapture.

How can we be sure these saints are caught up before the Tribulation starts? The Tribulation can't start until Jesus receives the Title Deed of the Earth and breaks the first seal. These saints from all nations are in Heaven before the first seal is broken in Rev. 6.

> > "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed". I.COR.15:51,52. These two verses are also heavily relied on. What is Paul saying? Look at his words closely.
-1- A mystery.
-2- Not all will sleep, but all will be changed.
-3- It will happen in a moment or the blink of an eye.
-4- The dead will be raised first ahead of the living.
-5- And most important, missed by most,...
When ? - At the last trumpet. Where and when is the last trumpet sounded? Revelation Chapter 11 Verse 15. The trumpets are God's wrath. Almost all the punishments from both Satan and God have been executed by this time. So where is the rapture, - that great saving from the punishments? It doesn't exist. You are being tricked, fooled, deceived, lied to.

God sounds the first "trump of God" in I Thess. 4:16. God sounds the "last trump" of God in I Cor. 15:51,52. You can't have a second or last trump until you have first had a first trump. Neither the first or last trump is sounded by angels, as the 7 trumpet judgments are.

The two types of the two trumps of God are in Nu. 10:1-4. It says, "the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Make thee TWO TRUMPETS OF SILVER; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. And when they shall blow with them (both), all the assembly (of both Raptures) shall assemble (Heb. 12:23) themselves to thee (Mark 13:27) at the DOOR (i.e., the 'open door' of Rev. 3:8) of the tabernacle of the congregation. And if they blow but with ONE TRUMPET, then the princes (12 patriarchs of Israel), which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee" (at the first Rapture, before the 70th week of Daniel begins when Jesus starts to break the seals on the Title Deed of the Earth.

Who has the trumpet voice? In the Preview of the Rapture that begins Jesus' dramatic production titled "The Revelation of Jesus Christ," John said, "I was in the isle that is called Patmos (meaning mortal), for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was (lit., became) in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me A GREAT VOICE, AS OF A TRUMPET, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last" (i.e., he is Jesus Christ, being first YHWH King of Israel and last YHWH of hosts, Isa. 44:6) (Rev. 1:9-11).

Where do we hear this great trumpet voice again? in Rev. 4:1. It says, "After this I looked, and, behold, a door (the open door set before the Philadelphians, 1:8) was opened in heaven: and the FIRST VOICE (heard in the Preview of the Rapture in Rev. 1:9,10) which I heard was as it were of A TRUMPET TALKING WITH ME; WHICH SAID, COME UP HITHER, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter" (i.e., after the Rapture).

What happens when this "great voice from heaven" (Christ's voice) says, "Come up hither" 3.5 days past Mid-Trib? God's two witnesses, Moses and Elijah, ascend "up to heaven" (Rev. 11:12). Therefore, we can see that Christ's trumpet voice saying, "Come up hither" in Rev. 4:1 means not only that John will ascend up to Heaven, but the saints "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" of Rev. 5:9 will also ascend.

Why were there two Raptures in the past--Enoch (a Gentile) and Elijah (an Israelite)? They were types of the two Raptures of the future--the predominately Gentile Pre-Trib Rapture of the wise-virgin Bride of Christ, and the predominately Israelite Pre-Wrath Rapture of the saints that "came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:14).

What made the difference between those that were caught up to Heaven in the first Rapture and those that made it in the second Rapture? The first-trump group were wise virgins, filled with enough oil of the Spirit of Christ. The last-trump group had to wash their robes in the blood of Christ, i.e., they had to wake up and confess their sins committed after they accepted Christ to bring all their sins under the blood of Christ.

Jesus warned the Laodiceans to buy of him white garments. The white linen the Bride wears literally stands for righteousnesses (Rev. 19:8), Christ's and ours. All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags until we confess our sins to wash our robes in the blood of Christ. See I John 1:9.

Rom. 8:9 says, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. NOW IF ANY MAN HAVE NOT THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, HE IS NONE OF HIS."

> > For rapturists this is a difficult pill to swallow, many cannot, holding onto an easy escape. This easy escape is part of Satans plan to decieve you, to lull you into a false sence of security, and then drop the hammer.

The writer is the one that is deceived. Luke 21:34-36 says, "take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting (sin), and drunkenness (sin), and cares of this life, and so that day (the Pre-Trib Rapture) come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it (the Tribulation) come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and PRAY ALWAYS (Jesus' command), THAT YE MAY BE ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE (ekpheugo, to flee forth from, i.e., flee in the Pre-Trib Rapture from) ALL THESE THINGS that shall come to pass (in the Tribulation), and to stand before the Son of man" (in Heaven).

> > "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:" I.THES.4:16. It takes place in REV.11:19 but is explained better in REV.19. AFTER THE SEVENTH OR FINAL TRUMPET
> > "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." I.THES.4:17
So you see there is no secret coming of Jesus to save us in a rapture.

The first "trump of God" sounds in I Thess. 4:16. It actually takes place in Rev. 4:1. It has nothing to do with Rev. 11:19. All the saints, "small and great" are in Heaven receiving their rewards in Rev. 11:18. It says, "And the nations were angry (Gog's army attacks Israel), and THY WRATH IS COME, and the time of the dead, that they should be JUDGED (at the Judgment Seat of Christ), and that thou shouldest GIVE REWARD unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth." Here Christ is King, sitting as judge at the Judgment Seat of Christ on the first day of his 1000-year kingdom, giving rewards to his saints and destroying the unbelievers on Earth.

> > The number of true christians in this world today is very small, one or more of the commandments are daily being broken by everyone, more and more often, but you have to keep trying every day, you should see an improvement every month. You are going to fall off the path of rightousness, you have to get up, dust yourself off, and keep trying to improve yourself.

The writer stumbles as the Galatians did. In Gal. 3:1-3, Paul scolded them saying, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). Then, the Spirit of Christ will well up within us like a fountain of living water. If we don't have this living water, or oil, we risk being accounted unworthy of escaping before the Tribulation. If we do not have this oil, we are foolish virgins.

Luke 12:46 tells us what happens to the unwise virgins. It says, "The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder (lit., cut him off), and will appoint him his portion (the shortened Tribulation) with the unbelievers." Mt. 24:51 adds, "And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion (the shortened Tribulation) with the hypocrites (pretenders): there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

In Mt. 22, the man without a wedding garment is cast outside of the door. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In the Preview of the Rapture in Rev. 1, verse 16 says, "out of his (Jesus') mouth went a SHARP TWOEDGED SWORD." This twoedged sword cuts off the foolish virgins at the first Rapture. The second edge cuts off the unbelievers at the second Rapture.

At the first Rapture, Jesus' words in Rev. 2:15-17 will come true. He said, "So hast thou (the church in Pergamos) also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes (setting up a religious hierarchy to rule over the laity), which thing I hate. REPENT; or else I will come unto thee QUICKLY (at the first Rapture), and will fight against them (the Nicolaitanes) WITH THE SWORD OF MY MOUTH. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

To the Philadelphian church, for whom he had no words of condemnation, Jesus said, "Behold, I come QUICKLY (i.e., at the first Rapture): hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."

In I Cor. 9:27, Paul said, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." The foolish Laodicean virgins will be the castaways. We must run this race to win. In verse 24, Paul said, "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain." The prize is to be accounted worthy to be caught up to Heaven in the Pre-Trib Rapture.

"Theology of the End Times in Conflict With Catholic Teachings" (my comments are interspersed and marked ***).

ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome, Chicago, 6-24-03
Illinois Bishops' Statement on "Left Behind" Books and Videos
http://zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=37750

The Catholic Conference of Illinois is taking on the Rapture.

The Rapture, according to many fundamentalist and evangelical Protestants, is the fast-approaching secret and silent disappearance of Christians from the earth before a time of tribulation.

***I believe that way. However, the Pre-Trib Rapture does not seem to be secret. Psa. 40:1-3 shows that will be seen. It says, "I waited patiently (as in Rev. 3:10) for the LORD; and he inclined (bent down) unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit (i.e., out of Earth), out of the miry clay (as when Jeremiah was pulled up out of the miry pit, Jer. 38:13), and set my feet upon a rock (the planet Heaven), and established my goings (the Rapture). And he hath put a new song in my mouth (sung by the elect right after the Rapture, Rev. 5:9), even praise unto our God: MANY SHALL SEE IT (THE RAPTURE), and fear, and shall trust in the LORD." These that trust in the LORD will be Tribulation saints.

***Jer 38:6 says, "Then took they Jeremiah (meaning Jah [God] will rise), and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah (king of Jah) the son of Hammelech (king), that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire. Verse 10 says, "take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die" (i.e., some who have not died will be caught up in the Rapture).

***Jer. 38:12,13 says, "Ebedmelech (meaning servant of a king) the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags ('all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,' Isa. 64:6) under thine armholes under the cords (representing the strength of Christ). And Jeremiah did so. So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon" (Earth) (simulating the Rapture).

The notion has soared in popularity with the "Left Behind" novels, which have sold tens of millions of copies. Recently the Catholic conference issued this statement on the phenomenon.
---
Statement on Left Behind Books and Videos

When Jesus told us to be alert and ready for his return, he also warned there would be false prophets. One of the most attractively marketed recent false "prophets" has been the Left Behind series, published by Tyndale House Press in Wheaton, Illinois. Since 1995, the series by Mr. Tim LaHaye and Mr. Jerry B. Jenkins has been a tool for active promotion of a fundamentalist theology of the end times in conflict with Catholic teachings....

These materials, about fictionalized end-times, popularize a common fundamentalist belief in a time of tribulation after the "rapture" (when the "good people" are secretly taken up overnight to Heaven) and before the Second Coming of Christ. This belief is not supported in Scripture.

***I think it is supported in Scripture. Rev. 3:10,11 says, " Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from (ek, out of, as in Rev. 5:9; 7:14) the hour of temptation (the Tribulation), which shall come (after the Rapture) upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (i.e., the saints raptured before the Tribulation will be the Bride of Christ). Of the Tribulation saints, none but the 144,000 Israelites will be added to the Bride of Christ (Rev. 14:4,5).

Responding to similar fundamentalist agendas back in 1937, Pius XI, in "Divini Redemptoris" said any such speculations about a period when a remnant of the Church progresses towards its own ultimate victory might of themselves be a sign of the Antichrist:

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism ...

The Catechism of the Catholic Church continues:

The kingdom will be fulfilled then, not by a historic triumph of the church through a progressive ascendancy, but only in God's victory over the final unleashing of evil ... (676-677)

The scenario in Left Behind, of a "tribulation force" of born-again former sinners who attempt personally to derail the progress of the Anti-Christ, is broadly classifiable as pre-millenarianism. The pseudo-historical backdrop for the story ties apocalyptic scripture to specific events in history, an error known as pre-millennial dispensationalism. In later books in the series, the new Pope is depicted as instrumental in establishing a relativistic world religion encouraged by the AntiChrist and operated from New Babylon (formerly Rome). The Left Behind series is anti-Catholic in content and form, consistent with Mr. LaHaye's other writings, in which he associates the Church with "Babylonian mysticism."

***I think that the Rapture is Pre-Trib and Pre-Millennial.

Tyndale House, and by association Cloud Ten Productions, have made clear in their marketing that they feel divinely inspired to promote their theological agenda among the most vulnerable. A recent promotional mailer, created by the Christian Film and Television Commission for their second Left Behind video, claims: "God is using the "Left Behind" films, as He has used the books, to reach out and touch the lives of people who won't go to church, but in their hearts are looking for the answers to life's questions." If there are any doubts that the aim of the Left Behind series is as much to promote a fundamentalist agenda as to make money, these marketing techniques should put them to rest.

***Since the Pre-Trib Rapture is scriptural, it should be taught.

Attractively packaged proselytization

While many adult Catholics are secure enough in their faith to avoid being proselytized by such works, or by the direct preaching of fundamentalists, the real danger of Left Behind is its attractiveness as a story of good people in a heroic battle against ultimate evil. Readers lacking a full understanding of Catholic scriptural teaching about the end times in many cases have internalized this fictional post-rapture time of tribulation when sinners are left to battle the Anti-Christ, because it sounds familiar and "biblical."

***I don't think the Pre-Trib Rapture, or the post-rapture Tribulation are fictional. I find them taught in Scripture.

Overall, these books reinforce an unhealthy and immature belief in a harshly judgmental God whose mercy we earn by good behavior. In response to reading them, Catholic catechists have been observed confusing and even frightening children in religious education programs by teaching the "rapture" as if it were an article of Catholic faith. There is also real danger that Catholics persuaded by this agenda may judge other people on spiritual fitness for the "rapture."

A call for better catechesis about the end times

We, the Catholic Bishops of Illinois, call upon those responsible for faith formation to provide planned, coherent, and informed catechesis to all age groups about Church teachings on the end of the world, based on scripture and tradition. We also call upon Catholic institutions -- libraries, bookstores, schools, and parishes -- to remove any Left Behind books and videos from their shelves, to prohibit the sale of these materials in Catholic venues, and to provide the faithful with information that these materials are, in fact, a marketing tool for fundamentalist preaching about the end times and a thinly disguised polemic against the Catholic Church....

***If people study Scripture, they can discern the truth for themselves. Agape

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