Demythologizing Skeptics, Scholars, & Absolute Eschatological Systems

Papyri 115 one the most ancient examples of John's Apocalypse

Papyri 115 one the most ancient examples of John’s Apocalypse

“It seems like through out time, almost everyone has thought the end was near, what makes you think now is the time?” a famous radio host asked me.

First, I believe God has wanted every Christian in every era to believe it’s possible. In juxtaposition, I believe the devil has had a “man of lawlessness” ready in the wings, in every generation. It’s not a doctrine but I’m rather prone to it.  That said, there are unique things that characterize our current time that no other era could claim.

I was bit bewildered by the question because I had just explained that at no time in history-ever-could one man control the commerce of everyone, everywhere… But doesn’t the Bible imply as much?

“…and that no one was able to buy or to sell except the one who had the mark—the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom: the one who has understanding, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number, and his number is six hundred sixty-six.(Revelation 13:17-18,LEB)

Seriously, do preterists expect me to buy this applies to Nero? He had no hope of such control — sure he probably tried and it’s likely the convinced preterist has an example of a tax to present — but the text seems global -every nation and tongue- and it doesn’t seem to mention he is a miserable failure. I think it is forecasting this period we are now in… Moore’s law, the technological singularity, Noogenesis, Nirvana, Oneism, Coexist, perhaps even Together 2016? But such a control grid is about to be possible and my money is on OneWeb. I think they are a wise investment choice. I believe in them from a computer science technical perspective.

I’m not demonizing them, they want everyone to access ONE webeducation, OneWeb is amoral – it is a category error to demonize technology. People can study wicca or they can attend online seminary if they like. They have new options, including the Gospel. So does the international banking community. I’m saying it makes an idea that seemed absurd when John wrote it down around AD 90, quite plausible in a few short years. Yes, I argue it is a “technology statement” as Chuck Missler points out.

If you want to dig deeper in the biblical text, learn ancient languages. You need a minimum of a year in Hebrew and Greek to even understand the issues and questions being posed in academic journals of biblical studies. There’s a wealth of bible commentary and, my favorite, bible backgrounds  commentary, i.e. advanced historical research available to the average student. At no other time in history, could you have a seminary library at your fingertips like today.  I use Logos but there FREE versions  and online 1; online 2; online 3; too. Technology can be wonderful and God honoring!

…and it is also terrifying.

This imagery from Hiroshima framed my childhood and, thus,the apocalyptic is no mere pipe dream. Now when we get to biblical prophecies and the end times, it can get tense between saved believers. Great scholars disagree. RC Sproul is a preterist. I purchased his philosophy course. I purchased his church history course. I quote him often. I respect him deeply. He has good reasons for what he thinks. I don’t agree with him. I quote Dr. Peter Jones—a Presbyterian no less–and promote his ministry TruthXchange. Chris Rosebrough —- a dreaded Lutheran — helped me prepare to debate Russ Hocus Pocus on the Trinity. How can I partner with people who differ with my eschatology? Its not as important as false teachers, sin, relativism, same sex marriage and abortion but mainly ONE thing: we all believe the Bible, we just disagree on the exegesis. But those guys have at least done the work in Greek and Hebrew,, Even so, (I’m in trouble now) their view of the Bible is not really the final test. There are hills to stand and die on. One is the Gospel. I work wit hose fellows because they are experts, but mainly because of ONE reason:

We are still in lock step on the Gospel —all are sinful and justified by faith through grace alone – the gift of God, so no man should boast. — non negotiable.

No one has the absolute answer to the end times, I have never claimed so much.  If you want to understand the real issues — I recommend this:

It’s quite different when a naturalistic scholar demands Daniel was written “after the fact” – because the book internally claims to be by one Daniel. If they are correct, it is a farce. If they are incorrect, may God convict them, Dr Bruce Waltke has tried.

I am a premillennial dispensationalist because I feel like its basic premise is the closest to God’s intent, but I’m not married to it, nor inclined toward rapture date setting theories and debates. If you’re correct, we’ll talk in the sky, OK? I learn from people with various ideas about eschatology, especially those I disagree with.

Don’t tell me you are SURE about the end times scenario. No one is but God. I write in a genre I call speculative eschatology. I am NOT a prophet.

I believe the meaning of scripture is determined by the intent of the original author, the one God inspired, to his original readers (i.e. what was Paul telling the Thessalonians, not me in the 20th century). That said, Paul’s intent for them certainly informs how I view current events.

Even so, God used that author’s context (in this case Paul), worldview, language, and even more importantly vocabulary.  If you do not understand his perspective —a supernatural worldview informed by a divine council Deuteronomy 32:8 worldview— you often miss the point. I mean entirely. Understanding the vocabulary, means the first century meaning, the one the inspired author had in mind, because the Holy Spirit inspired the author and his words. Usually, scribes add to the text to “help” readers over time.

That’s how textual critics find the apostle’s words, they shave it down by comparing ancient papyri and determining the most likely original wording. It is established by facts that scribes tend to add, attempting to clarify—asserting their own meaning—and, as a result, the manuscripts tend to get wordier over time. With the best of intentions, monks changed the Bible.  Then, after the reformation began, it became the KJV when a Catholic Scribe Erasmus created a Greek New testament based on a handful of Greek manuscripts from the 8-9th century of the Eastern Byzantine tradition. It became Texts Receipts after the 1611 KJV Anglicans used it as their primary text along with the Latin Vulgate and Tyndale Bibles. It was great fro its time but pre- archeology.

Since then we have found 20,000 or so Greek papyri centuries older…. Archeology is now a discipline with peer review.

It means modern Bibles are very accurate and we have a great deal of certainty about the Gospel and many essential doctrines. The evidence Jesus rose from the dead is now MORE compelling—and that lends credence to the rest of biblical theology-—we stand at the first time in history when the supernatural events of Revelation have a high probability of coming to pass, WHY?

The “Chardinian Noosphere” or “AI Singularity” is about to make it possible for one man to control all who may buy and sell, I mean everyone.. even in rural India or subsaharan Africa. How can I say that — get ready (link to company website):


Mike Heiser’s New Podcast Questions Aloud

Mike HeiserDr Michael Heiser has a new podcast Questions Aloud and this is the first episode. Also check Mike out on SkyWatch TV this week, featured tonight 1/12/2016 on SkyWatch TV on CTN, 8:30 CT9:30 ET!

The Fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy Concerning Damascus?

The following is an excerpt from an upcoming book I am co-writing with Tom Horn:

It’s no secret amongst scholars, that early Syrian Christianity has a profound influence on the fledging pre-Quran Islam. McCants writes “In early Islam, Syrians were particularly partial to the Sufyani because his kin, the Umayyads, had ruled the caliphate from Damascus.”[1] The term Sufyani, a term referring to his descent from the progeny of Abu Sufyan, is yet another legendary character who will allegedly emerge before the Mahdi from Damascus. He is not the ally of the Mahdi nor the Dajjal, The hadith regarding the Sufyani specify that he is a tyrant who will spread corruption and mischief on the earth before the Mahdi.

A man will emerge from the depths of Damascus. He will be called Sufyani. Most of those who follow him will be from the tribe of Kalb. He will kill by ripping the stomachs of women and even kill the children. A man from my family will appear in the Haram, the news of his advent will reach the Sufyani and he will send to him one of his armies. He (referring to the Mahdi) will defeat them. They will then travel with whoever remains until they come to a desert and they will be swallowed. None will be saved except the one who had informed the others about them. (Mustadrak Al-Hakim)

This is from a five volume hadith collection written by Hakim al-Nishaburi. He wrote it in approximately 1003 AD. It contains 9045 hadith and al-Nishaburi claimed all hadith in it were authentic according to the conditions of either Sahih al-Bukhari or Sahih Muslim or both. What makes it especially germane to the present argument concerning Syrian influence on the Qur’an and Hadith, it connects the Sufyani to Damascus, Syria. Of course many dispensational theologians assert God still has plans to annihilate Damascus in an unpresented destruction that excludes all alleged past fulfillments:

“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, And it shall be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken: They shall be for flocks, Which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid. The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, And the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: They shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 17:1–3)

Scholars we respect like Michael Brown and Craig Keener have concluded this was fulfilled by the Syro-Ephraimitic War which raged during the middle 730s, [BC].”[2] However Brown qualifies, “In principle, I have no problem with the concept that ancient biblical prophecies can refer to contemporary events, since it’s clear that there are many prophecies still to be fulfilled, including the future world war against Jerusalem. (See Zechariah 12 and 14.)”[3] While they might be correct about dual fulfillment, the past simply does not match God’s word spoken through Isaiah that “Damascus is taken away from being a city, And it shall be a ruinous heap.” Up until a week ago, the capital of Syria, reveled in its status as one of the oldest existing cities in the world, and evidence exists of a settlement in the wider Barada basin dating back to 9000 BC.[4] While we recognize apocalyptic symbolism when we see it, “taken away from being a city” does not seem like figurative language. We expect Damascus to be destroyed, and as of October 21, 2015  pro-Moscow internet news service, Russia Insider, has published what it says is footage of the battle raging between the Syrian army and US-and-Australian backed rebels in the Damascus suburb of Jobar

Damascus is a ruinous heap

See full story with a Russian drone flying over the devastation

Russia releases shockingly clear footage of the devastation surrounding Damascus 


[1] William McCants, The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State, Kindle Edition, (St. Martin’s Press, 2015), Kindle Locations 1904-1905.

[2] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Isaiah 17:1.

[3] Michael Brown, “Does the Bible Predict the Destruction of Syria?,” Charisma, September 11, 2013, Accessed October 19, 2015.

[4] Ross Burns, Damascus: A History, (London: Routledge, 2007), 2.


Seraphim are Firey Flying Serpents


Seraphim by Lakandiwa (click for source)

What I find troublesome is when Bible translators choose to transliterate a term in some passages but not in others. It’s troublesome because it seems to be done in order to hide the true meaning from the reader. It effectively amounts to censorship of the biblical text by translation committee.

For example, in the throne room of God, the word seraphim is transliterated

Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. (Isaiah 6:2)

However, later in Isaiah the exact same Hebrew term שָׂרָף is translated into English as “flying firey serpent”

Through a land of trouble and anguish, from where come the lioness and the lion, the adder and the flying fiery serpent, …(Isaiah 30:6)

It seems the flying firey serpents are fallen, rebel seraphim. Why the censorship by transliteration? Do the translators think people cannot handle the fact that flying serpentine beings are in the throne room of God? (it happens in other places as well, but unless you study the original languages you will never know it). This is one of the reasons why KJVonlyism (or dependence on any one translation) is so horribly vacuous for doing theology.

Reading Genesis With Ancient Eyes – John Walton

Here’s a presentation by Dr. John Walton on reading Genesis in its original ancient context. Keeping in mind that  a cardinal rule of exegesis entails that: “A later reader could simply invent or read into a biblical text a meaning not intended by the original author. In other words, in the process of reading a text, interpreters may introduce some meaning that suits their purposes.” [1] Reading it with the author’s intent in mind eliminates most of the unnecessary controversy with science, something never intended or even imagined by its original readers.


[1]William W. Klein, Craig Blomberg, Robert L. Hubbard and Kermit Allen Ecklebarger, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Dallas, Tex.: Word Pub., 1993), 176.