Did Christianity begin as an End of the World cult?

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by Skeptic44, Aug 16, 2003.

  1. Skeptic44

    Skeptic44 Well-Known Member

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    _______________________

    This is not the Christian view of demons.

    According to Christianity, God lived in the company of many angels in heaven. Some of the angels joined Lucifer in a rebellion against God and were "cast out" - (check Affleck's speeches in "Dogma" for some of specifics)...

    God has created a fiery pit for them... but for now, they're loose on earth, spreading evil.

    Christian idea of "afterlife" is that all evil people are now "in the grave" and will be "made to stand up" - a Greek word translated as "resurrection" in most English texts - at the Day of Judgment.


    But no, in Christian theology, evil people do not turn into demons after they die.
     
  2. Iacchus

    Iacchus God of the Mask

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    These are all misconceptions.

    While something else that's not commonly known - and I hope Brian doesn't mind me bringing it up here :) - is that the Roman Catholic Church is referred to as Babylon the Great Whore (aka, Lucifer), and The Reformation is referred to as the Great Red Dragon in the book of Revelation. This is what I spoke of in my first post above (previous page), regarding the Last Judgment, and both are detailed specifically in a couple of Emanuel Swedenborg's works, The Apocalypse Revealed and The Last Judgment and Babylon Destroyed. I would recommend contacting the Swedenborg Foundation for more details.


    Anther book of equal interest is Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell, which is based upon the premise that Heaven and Hell are from the human race, and that all the inhabitants who are there, have at one time lived on earth.
     
  3. Skeptic44

    Skeptic44 Well-Known Member

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    ____________

    That would be a good thing, right?

    Not to believe in something that can't be seen or measured.

    There is a line between a discussion of the issues and a personal attack.

    This thread is WAAAY on the discussion of issues side of that line.

    Heaven's Gate, the Committee for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments, and many other End of the World cults have grown and flourished. There's a group in Japan that covered buildings with white paper...

    .... but a common attribute of these End of the World cults, even Heaven's Gate, is that the victims are so convinced of the rightness of their beliefs, they will defend it even after being presented with overwhelming proof.

    When a Jewish cult predicts the world will end "while some of you standing here are still alive" and 1,900 years pass without anything happening, it is safe to say it's "bunk." Because the passage of time gives us proof.

    Of course, there are lots who get mad when you point out that 1,900 years have passed and they missed their deadline. I don't know why. Seems like it would be a good thing to show them the Truth.
     
  4. Iacchus

    Iacchus God of the Mask

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    Says who?

    You've obviously come here to argue against religion, so why should my mentioning it be construed as a personal attack?

    The only thing this proves is that people are suggestible and can be duped into believing just about anything - even if it were "the truth." ;)

    "And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

    And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." (Matthew 24:1-5).
     
  5. Skeptic44

    Skeptic44 Well-Known Member

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    _______________________

    1. Didn't say it was a personal attack. Was merely pointing out that nothing in MY posts could or should be interpreted as an attack on any person posting on these boards. I'm talking about the topic - Christianity - and posting MY personal opinions based on what I read in the Bible.

    2. Not believing in Christianity is NOT the same thing as believing there is no god. Subtle point, but relevant.

    3. Thanks for the post: "...the disciples came unto Jesus privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"

    This verse (Matthew 24:1-5) sounds like it was written after the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD and then added to Mark's Gospel, to make it appear that Jesus had predicted it's destruction.

    And this is a common comment on the bible - that fraud was involved in creating some of the "prophecies" by writing a prophecy AFTER the event in question took place and adding it to an existing text when you copied it over by hand. Because of the way these books were copied, it was difficult to tell that new material had been added in the middle... but look at what the disciples asked Jesus: "What shall be the sign of the end of the world?"

    Did Christianity begin as an End of the World cult?

    Did Peter and others scare new converts with predictions about the world ending? This would seem to support my theory that it was a central tenet, .... because the references to the End of the World are scattered through every part of the NT, frequently. Once you look for them, it's pretty obvious.
     
  6. Skeptic44

    Skeptic44 Well-Known Member

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    ___________________

    1. It would be incorrect to assume that people who know a great deal about Christianity are unfamiliar with other religions. Doesn't make much sense, actually. the ties between Christianity, Judaism and Islam are numerous... however, because the title of this thread is "Christianity," I'll restrict my posts to that one.

    2. If there is one religion that is based on the resurrection of a man who lived in the years ~ 4 BC to ~ 33 AD - and their holy texts describe him as an exorcist whom invisible demons proclaimed "Holy One of God" in front of an audience... then it seems that a certain amount of skeptism about the validity of this religion should be expected. And welcomed.

    3. I wouldn't call them "controversial elements." But I'm happy that you recognize them as such.
     
  7. Iacchus

    Iacchus God of the Mask

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    Sorry, I couldn't help construe by what you're saying (below) that you didn't believe in God.

    Any man can speak for God, if God has so ordained him. Whereas the Church - in reality - is supposed to represent God.

    This is conjecture.

    So far this is only an accusation. But does it really stand?

    Would this be before or after the fall of the temple? And at what point were the Jews dispersed? Seems like that would be a sign of the end of the "Jewish Kingdom" anyway. :)
     
  8. dhisbrook

    dhisbrook Member

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    Christianity is commonly believed by most contemporary Christian historians to have begun as a Messianic movement within a nationalistic and conservative Jewish population. Not all the the Jews of the time, but some. Judea of 30 C.E. was a politically and theologically messy place. Within the early church there was certainly an apocolyptic strain, but there was also a gnostic strain and a highly political strain and an anti-temple hierachy strain. No single point of view on the end of time dominated the early church. In the fullness of time, deeper and richer meanings than literalism have come through the Gospels and, God willing, will continue to come through the Gospels until the true end.

    Luke 10 tells us:
    8"If a town welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you 9and heal the sick. As you heal them, say, `The Kingdom of God is near you now.' 10But if a town refuses to welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11`We wipe the dust of your town from our feet as a public announcement of your doom. And don't forget the Kingdom of God is near!' 12The truth is, even wicked Sodom will be better off than such a town on the judgment day.

    Today, we as Christians can understand that the Kingdom of God can be near us in spirit, not just in time. As we imitate Christ in charity, we inhabit the Kingdom of God and bring it near to others.

    Prayers for and thanks to Skeptic44 for starting the thread.
     
  9. Skeptic44

    Skeptic44 Well-Known Member

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    Finally, an interesting question.

    Is Peter talking about the End of the World? Or is he using metaphors to talk about the end of the "Jewish kingdom"...? Well, let's look at the text:

    2 Peter 3:7
    and the present heavens and the earth, by the same word are treasured, for fire being kept to a day of judgment and destruction of the impious men.

    2 Peter 3:10
    and it will come -- the day of the Lord -- as a thief in the night, in which the heavens with a rushing noise will pass away, and the elements with burning heat be dissolved, and earth and the works in it shall be burnt up.

    2 Peter 3:12
    waiting for and hasting to the presence of the day of God, by which
    the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements with burning heat shall melt;

    2 Peter 3:13
    and for new heavens and a new earth according to His promise we do wait, in which righteousness doth dwell;
    _______________

    Hmmm. In no way does this sound (to me) like a prediction about the destruction of the Temple.

    Because after the burning heat, Peter says God will provide us with "new heavens and a new earth according to His promise."

    The Temple was leveled in 70 AD. There was no Jewish state until the end of World War II.

    Peter's prediction has been proven false. The world did not end. There are no new heavens which replaced the old ones. There was no day of God. It didn't happen. We have the enormous advantage of being able to look back on this prediction from 1,900 years in the future and there is no doubt whatsoever, Peter was wrong.

    So, are the gospel accounts based on peter's teachings credible? There isn't enough evidence to say anyone should "believe" they are.
     
  10. Skeptic44

    Skeptic44 Well-Known Member

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    _____________

    OK, quite frankly, I don't understand what this means.

    A single point of view did dominate the early church.

    Peter's.

    The day of judgment was approaching. That meant in time, not... what did you say? In spirit?

    I don't know what it means to say something is "near us in spirit, not just in time."

    Paul told the same story.

    1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all die, but we shall be changed, in a moment, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised...

    Paul seemed to have definite ideas about how the world would end.

    He was going to still be alive when it happened.

    The dead were going to be brought out of their graves by God and given new bodies.

    This did NOT happen. 1,900 years have passed. Paul died and it did not happen while he was still alive.

    One important thing to remember is, we have the advantage of being able to look back at these predictions AFTER learning what really happened in the next 1,900 years. That is why it is easy for us to judge, and say these predictions were false and the men who made them should not be considered "credible." Otherwise, you are falling victim to the ramblings of a discredited End of the World cult.
     
  11. Skeptic44

    Skeptic44 Well-Known Member

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    ____________

    That's one possibility.

    But.... isn't it also possible that men can claim they are speaking for God, even thought God has NOT ordained them?

    How do we tell the difference?

    What's the test?

    If we don't have a test, then we are vulnerable to con games and deceptions.

    One suggestion: "Proportion your belief according to the evidence."

    If there is not overwhelming evidence of a miracle that violates physical laws, don't "believe" in it.

    Other suggestions?
     
  12. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    The issue here is that the required evidence is always a personal thing. Some would say it's a matter of faith. :)

    As for physical laws - there are a great many things not quantified by scientific theory, and these underscore the fundamentals of existence - everything from the shape of the universe, the reason for mass, to the composition of the endocrine system and the question of consciousness itself.

    If the straight question is whether things beyond the human description of the universe can happen, then the straight answer is that they can indeed, and happen frequently. Because what we have documented is but a poor fraction of undefined probabilities, and these are frequently updated - paradigm shifts, anyone?

    As for the original question as to whether Christianity was an "End of the World" cult - it has already been indicated that it was likely just one of many aspects of the early belief.

    However, if you wish to use this angle to invalidate Christianity then I'm afriad in your in the wrong ball park - there aren't any fundamentalists here, especially ones who are going to argue for Sola Scriptura and Ex-Cathedra Inerrancy. Certainly not yet, anyway. :)
     
  13. Skeptic44

    Skeptic44 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the reply, Brian... let me respond:

    - "As for the original question as to whether Christianity was an "End of the World" cult - it has already been indicated that it was likely just one of many aspects of the early belief."

    Answer: And my follow-up question was, what are the OTHER aspects of the early belief? Jesus could command invisible demons. He was declared "Son of God" by his resurrection (Romans 1:4), then it was revised that he was declared "Son of God" by his baptism (Mark 1:11) and then the story was revised so he was conceived as a "child of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:18) --- which shows how the original story was altered to conform to the Roman mythology model of a titan, soter, whatever... over the decades AFTER he died. Which means if you go back to the church under Peter, there might not have been a supernatural conception, there might not have been a lot of the mythology -- and what do you have left? A rather ordinary End of the World cult based on Jewish OT passages about the Resurrection of the Dead and the Day of Judgment.

    Brian: "However, if you wish to use this angle to invalidate Christianity then I'm afriad in your in the wrong ball park - there aren't any fundamentalists here, especially ones who are going to argue for Sola Scriptura and Ex-Cathedra Inerrancy. Certainly not yet, anyway.

    Answer: There are lots of End of the World cults, and to most intelligent people, End of the World cults are invalid. So, yes, I would expect this angle to invalidate Christianity --- but I am also hoping for an intelligent response that tells me WHY , in their opinion, it doesn't.

    This isn't a question of inerrancy. It goes to the core nature of the early Church. It was based on the fear generated by (a) the deaths of Ananais and his wife, Sapphira in Acts 5, and (b) the concern that the world might end according to OT prophecy and if you hadn't been baptized, God would sentence you to an eternity in a pit of flames.

    WHY doesn't THAT invalidate Christianity?

    BRIAN: "The issue here is that the required evidence is always a personal thing. Some would say it's a matter of faith.

    ANSWER: FAITH is the basis of a con game. The word "con" refers to "confidence." Those pulling a con game have to establish a certain credibility in the eyes of their victims, so the victims have confidence that they can be trusted. Read that definition again, and then give me your definition of FAITH.

    FAITH (which I define as a belief not based on evidence) is the core of every confidence game. Stated another way, "Yes, I know Jesus didn't return when we said he would, but you should have Faith that we're credible and the world WILL end when Jesus returns, and you should acknowledge our Church as the true Church of God in the meantime."

    BRIAN: "As for physical laws - there are a great many things not quantified by scientific theory, and these underscore the fundamentals of existence - everything from the shape of the universe, the reason for mass, to the composition of the endocrine system and the question of consciousness itself. If the straight question is whether things beyond the human description of the universe can happen, then the straight answer is that they can indeed, and happen frequently.

    ANSWER: The con game has become more sophisticated in the last century. This is a well-written example of the con. Let's convince people that science doesn't have the answers, and then ask them to take the next "leap of faith" - since science doesn't have the answers, then OUR doctrines must be credible.

    There are two jumps in logic here that I would consider invalid, unwise, and not "intelligent" responses.

    Bottom line: Peter ran an End of the World cult - and what your intelligent, "based on logic not faith," response to the facts I've presented?
     
  14. Iacchus

    Iacchus God of the Mask

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    I think more than anything it comes down to what you believe. And yet you can't have anybody telling you how or what to believe.

     
  15. Skeptic44

    Skeptic44 Well-Known Member

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    But is your belief based on evidence? Or closing your eyes and ignoring the evidence?

    Sorry, the quotes you posted didn't come up. But here are some others, from a letter that claims, in the text, to have been dictated by Peter himself:

    1 Peter 1:19
    but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and unspotted -- Christ's -- foreknown, indeed, before the foundation of the world, and manifested in the last times because of you,

    1 Peter 1:21
    who through him do believe in God, who did raise out of the dead, and glory to him did give, so that your faith and hope may be in God.
    _______________________

    Peter writes that Christ appeared (was manifested) in "the last times" - which I would assume means the last few days before the world is going to end - and then he goes into the confused Chronology. Jesus isn't God, but Christ was "foreknown" "before the foundation of the world" - and is this statement (a) credible, or (b) part of a con game?? How did Peter KNOW Jesus was foreknown before the foundation of the world?
    ______________________

    1 Peter 1:25
    and the saying of the Lord doth remain -- to the age; and this is the saying that was proclaimed good news to you.
    ____________________

    This seems like a bit of shorthand. When Peter writes "to the age" his followers understand he's talking about the end of the world.
    ____________________

    1 Peter 2:15
    because, so is the will of God, doing good, to put to silence the ignorance of the foolish men;
    __________________

    Anyone who disagrees with Peter is displaying "the ignorance of the foolish"... sort of a Newt-speak thing, where anyone who doesn't believe in Peter's predictions about the end of the world is foolish.
    _______________________

    1 Peter 3:18
    because also Christ once for sin did suffer -- righteous for unrighteous -- that he might lead us to God, having been put to death indeed, in the flesh, and having been made alive in the spirit,

    1 Peter 3:19
    in which also to the spirits in prison having gone he did preach,

    1 Peter 3:20
    who sometime disbelieved, when once the long-suffering of God did wait, in days of Noah -- an ark being preparing -- in which few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water;

    1 Peter 3:21
    also to which an antitype doth now save us -- baptism, (not a putting away of the filth of flesh, but the question of a good conscience in regard to God,) through the rising again of Jesus Christ,

    1 Peter 3:22
    who is at the right hand of God, having gone on to heaven -- messengers, and authorities, and powers, having been subjected to him.
    ___________________

    Some interesting stuff - Jesus went to the people who died in the Great Flood and preached to them, and they are "spirits in prison"... and you think this guy is credible? That we should have faith that he's right? What if there wasn't a Great Flood? Doesn't that eat away at his credibility?

    And now the story takes on some aspects of Mt. Olympus. Jesus sits at the right hand of God, and the other inhabitants of this place - messengers and powers and authorities - have been ordered to obey him. So, now we're supposed to believe that Peter has been given a census of the realm where god lives, and these are the inhabitants, and he KNOWS that Jesus is sitting at the head of the table, right next to... is this credible, or beyond belief? Seriously.
    ___________________

    1 Peter 4:5
    who shall give an account to Him who is ready to judge living and dead,

    1 Peter 4:6
    for for this also to dead men was good news proclaimed, that they may be judged, indeed, according to men in the flesh, and may live according to God in the spirit.

    1 Peter 4:7
    And of all things the end hath come nigh;
    ______________

    This is the bottom line of Peter's teachings:

    The end of "all things" - not only the world, but the heavens above it - is approaching.

    When the world ends, both the living and the dead will be judged - which is Peter's explanation for how some Church members had died without seeing the second coming, as Peter predicted.
     
  16. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Hi Skeptic44

    On the one hand, I would probably agree that a lot of your comparative interpretations are interesting.

    My point is that different Christians take different elements of Christianity upon themselves. It seems like there's a bell-curve of belief, covering the major doctrines in the centre, to more "fringe" elements at the ends - UUs, JWs, etc.

    And in that respect, you have no power to claim that their own personal beliefs are invalid - excepting to yourself.

    Just as arguments within science (ie, Gould versus Dawkins, or M-theory versus other String) do not invalidate science, so do arguments about the nature of Christian belief simply fall into the category of "personal perceptions".

    Christianity is actually quite a complex belief system, of varying levels. Victor, who wrote the "Pauline Conspiracy" which we host here with kind permission, also makes a point that St Paul (Saul of Tarsus) does not appear to understand even his own theology - even though Christian doctrine is based firmly from it.

    Your arguments about Peter and the "End of the World Cult" seem a truly interesting argument - especially if we then focussed that on the aspects of the possible non-Gentile Jerusalem Church.

    However, exploratory statements about specific areas of early Christian belief have no logical extension into the entire sphere - certainly not in terms of how different people associate with Christianity, especially regarding personal meaning and personal validation of belief.
     
  17. Skeptic44

    Skeptic44 Well-Known Member

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    I found an interesting article over on MSNBC. It deals with a religious belief in Kenya and other African nations, the idea that when a man dies, his widow is haunted by evil spirits and she must be "cleansed" so the rest of her village won't be cursed with bad crops. Hmmm.

    _______________
    GANGRE, Kenya, Aug. 18 — The women of this village call Francise Akacha “the terrorist.” His breath fumes with the local alcoholic brew. Greasy food droppings hang off his mustache and stain his oily pants and torn shirt.

    Akacha has a surprisingly desirable job: He’s paid to have sexual relations with the widows and unmarried women of this village. He’s known as “the cleanser,” one of

    >> hundreds of thousands of men in rural villages across Africa who sleep with women after their husbands die to dispel what villagers believe are evil spirits.

    As tradition holds, widows must sleep with the cleanser to be allowed to attend their husbands’ funerals or be inherited by their husbands’ brother or relative. Unmarried women who lose a parent or child must also sleep with the ritual cleanser.

    The tradition dates back centuries and is rooted in a belief that a woman is haunted by spirits after her husband dies. A cleanser is typically the village drunkard or someone considered not very bright. The job is seen as low class but essential to “purifying” women. Village elders say the custom must be carried out or the entire community will be cursed with bad crops. The cleansers are paid in cows and crops, as well as cash.
    “Do you use a condom?”
    “Never,” Francise Akacha responded. “They won’t be really cleansed if the condom was there.”
    Akacha has been forced to discuss the issue because more and more villagers are dying. Still, Akacha said he believes he provides a valuable service.
    “It’s not bad for me since I get to be with the beautiful ladies,” he said, chuckling over his plate of food. “The woman like it ‘cause who else would be with them? They can’t stay alone with the spirits. They need me.”
    “It’s a custom that must be stopped,” said Janet Walsh, deputy director of Human Rights Watch, which released a report on the issue in March. “Condoms are never used; they say it has to be skin-to-skin to work.”
    In midst of an AIDS pandemic, which has led to the deaths of 19.6 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, having relations with the cleanser has become more than just a painful ritual that women must endure. Cleansers are now spreading HIV at explosive rates in such villages as Gangre, where one in every three people is infected
    Cleansers can be found in some rural parts of Uganda and Tanzania as well as the Congo, where traditional religions exist next to fluid versions of Christianity and Islam. They are also a staple in Angola and in villages across West Africa, specifically in Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Nigeria,
    In Africa, women are six times as likely to contract HIV as men, mostly because of rape and customs like cleansing, in which one man can spread the disease to hundreds of women.
    _______________

    As I said earlier, at some point, we have to arrive at some kind of a test to separate the credible from the non-credible.

    This is a religious belief going back centuries.

    It has the same credibility as Peter's original cult. Or moreso.

    How does a woman in the village of Gangre decide if a particular religious belief about "evil spirits" is credible or not?

    How do we decide if Jesus' conversations with the evil spirits that proclaimed him "Holy One of God" are credible or not?

    "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." (Matthew 24:4-5).

    Jesus warned people about the dangers of being deceived.

    How do we decide if someone is trying to deceive us? What's the test?
     
  18. Skeptic44

    Skeptic44 Well-Known Member

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    ____________

    The problem is...

    the world did NOT end.

    That's not a matter of personal belief.

    It is a fact that does invalidate the text of Peter's sermons.

    And it does have a logical extension into the current Church - IF peter had no credibility, if he started an End of the World cult, then NONE of his theology has to be given the respect that the modern Church claims it should have.

    Consider the source. Proportion your belief according to the evidence.

    When an End of the World cult misses a deadline and the world doesn't end, we don't close our eyes and pretend it's still credible.
     
  19. Iacchus

    Iacchus God of the Mask

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    Evidence? What is evidence? External evidence or, evidence from within? Hence you can come up with all the external evidence in the world, and even study the scriptures day and night, but unless you can come up with the evidence within, it won't mean anything.

    This is how we lead people astray, by trying to convince them through "external evidence."
     
  20. Iacchus

    Iacchus God of the Mask

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    Did you know that the Christian Church is not the only church that has existed here on earth? That in fact the Christian Church is fourth in succession to the first three churches which existed prior to it? ... the Church of Adam, the Church of Noah and the Israelite Church? And, did you know that at the end of these churches a "Last Judgment" was performed, thus coinciding with the "end of the world" at that time? And yet the world still stands, or does it? Perhaps not, if you view it in terms of the world of man? Hence you have the Great Flood at the end of the Church of Adam, the fall of the Tower of Babel at the end of the Church of Noah, and the destruction of the Israelite nation at the end of the Israelite Church. So it would seem that the "end of times" has more to do with the "end of an era" than anything else.

    So what of the Christian Church? Believe it or not, the Last Judgment, as foretold in the book of Revelation, has already been performed, and the "Christian Era" has now come to a close which, was supposed to occur in year 1757. All of which has been thoroughly detailed through the works of Emanuel Swedenborg, the notable Swedish scientist, theologian - and, mystic.
     

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