Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Perils of Prophecy

Most readers of this blog will be more familiar with the prophecies of Daniel than those of Nostradamus, but either way, when you prognosticate the future you're bound to come a cropper.

Take the popular volume Millennium Prophecies by some joker named Stephen Skinner. What qualifications Skinner brought to the coffee-table I'm not sure, but the glossy illustrated text is probably never going to grace the reading list for any undergraduate courses. Our expert author banged out this masterpiece back in 1994 for the British publisher Carlton, giving it the subtitle Predictions for the Year 2000 from the World's Greatest Seers and Mystics. I flicked through it at a clearance bookstore and noticed that some bloke named Herbert Armstrong was mentioned, so parted with a dollar to check it out.

This guy makes a huge number of incredibly shonky statements, but what particularly struck me was the section on the 16th century nutcase Nostradamus. Here's a ripe quote:
A book detailing [Princess Diana's] miserable marriage and rejection by Prince Charles stoked the fires of speculation... These events may well be reflected in quatrain VI:74:
She who was cast out will return to reign,
Her enemies found among conspirators.
More than ever will her reign be triumphant.
At three and seventy death is very sure.
This suggests that in the end the popularity of the Princess will guarantee her a welcome return to the centre of monarchy, with her perhaps living until the age of 73.


  1. Good ol' Nostradamus. Hister (Hitler) was going to rule the whole world and HWA must have believed that because he predicted and taught that same thing.

    The thing about predictions and especially bible prophecy is that it never "comes to pass" unless believers force it to happen. Well, you know, like the French did when they surrendered to "Hister". It's a good thing the rest of the world didn't believe in that prophecy.

    There are politicians in America who appear to want to bring about the fundamentalist Xian version of the Apocalypse...I hope they fail. They are of a mind that they must take over the world for Christ before Jesus will return...scary stuff, this "new world order" crap.

    Jesus was supposed to have returned in his own generation of time, the greatest of Xian prophecy, and it failed to come to pass. That should have ended Xianity but there were people making a living off this belief and they had to protect their phoney baloney jobs. They had to make up excuses why it didn't happen and have been pretty successful with it for almost 2,000 years.

    Which just goes to show, people will believe any kind of BS if they want to bad enough.

  2. Corky, you keep saying this, but it is clear from what He said that Jesus was NOT coming back in the 1st century, and He knew it.

    His Followers exhibited selective hearing. That is still going on.

  3. You don't know what Jesus said, Larry. You only know what people at least 40 years after his death said that he said. NO one who ever knew Jesus personally ever wrote a single word about him.

  4. "it is clear from what He said that Jesus was NOT coming back in the 1st century, and He knew it"

    What a hoot! I could cite a multitude of verses where Jesus says he IS coming back. I know, you have "reasons" why each of these means something different from what it says.

    Let's just take one. Rev 22:7 "Behold I come quickly". What is your take on this? (a) Did Jesus not say this; (b) was he lying; or (c) was he being intentionally misleading?

    I know, you're going to say (d) it doesn't mean what it says. Sorry, that's the same as (c).

    The Skeptic

  5. Come on you guys!!

    Matthew 24 (spoken by Jesus Christ) CLEARLY indicates that His return would be in the distant future. Much had to happen prior to His return: earthquakes, wars, false religions, famines. These things do take....time.

    You are just trying to be contrary.

  6. Larry, earthquakes, wars, false religions, famines have all happened in the past six months. How can you seriously say this list CLEARLY indicates the distant future?

    How about taking what is written at face value? It seems to me the bible writers wrote exactly what they meant to communicate, and the translators rendered these verses into English as accurately as they could.

    Earlier in the train of thought from the verse you cited, Jesus reportedly says "Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation." That seems CLEAR to me. He is quoted as saying the end would come in that generation.

    The rest is history...

  7. While I totally agree that Jesus expected the End to occur in, or just after, his lifetime, "Behold I come quickly" isn't good evidence in itself. It is put on Jesus' lips by the writer of Revelation long after his death, and as part of his (John's) visionary experience. The best you could say here is that the writer of Revelation expected Jesus to 'come quickly.'

    But of course the evidence is pretty clear that this was also the view of the Gospel writers' Jesus too. And Paul. Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet.

    Put it this way: John the Baptist proclaimed the soon-coming Kingdom of God, Paul expected the Kingdom to arrive in his lifetime. Is it likely that Jesus, sandwiched in time between the two, held a different view?

  8. Well put, Gavin. That is my point exactly. All of the new testament writers indicated that Jesus would return quickly - within the lifetimes of the audience being addressed. One could cite many verses.

  9. Larry,

    I'm not trying to be contrary. This is just my honest reading of what the bible says.

  10. The Skeptic said...
    Larry,I'm not trying to be contrary. This is just my honest reading of what the bible says.

    Larry knows what it says, he just doesn't believe what it says where he doesn't want to believe what it says.

    In other words, he doesn't believe the plain words so he goes for the ambiguous verses to explain the plain words away.