After last week's episode of "The Coming Summer" was posted online, it raised some points of debate. I try to pre-empt and answer questions within the videos themselves, but whenever further clarification is needed, I'll try to do that here in the blog. First, a reminder of the episode itself, then I'll get into the questions below!
I suspected this video would be controversial and unpopular for a number of reasons, chief among them because it doesn't go along with the popular narrative that is taught in many churches today - that all signs have already been fulfilled. Let's jump straight into the points of debate though.
Andrew wrote, "The famine of the end times is not of food or drink but for hearing the words of the Lord. The famine of the end times is that in the modern churches they are teaching traditions and prosperity and not the words of God out of the bible." Undoubtedly there will be a turning away from God and there will be deceptive teachings in the end times, that's true. We covered that in Episode 1 and it's worth saying that the Bible repeats that warning several times. However, to translate Luke 21:11/Matthew 24:7 as anything other than literal famines would be to wrench it out of context and is just terrible exegesis. Immediately surrounding Jesus' mention of "famines", he talks about literal wars, literal earthquakes, literal plagues and literal persecution. To claim the word "famines" is not literal only because we don't yet see an increase of it today, is not legitimate. Furthermore, famines are clearly connected to these other signs Jesus mentions. Literal wars, literal natural disasters, literal plagues and literal persecution leads to literal famine.
Sarah joined that thread and refuted Andrew in the same way by writing, "...the list [of signs] in Matthew is a literal list and not symbolic, so it would stand to reason that "famines" is also to be taken literally, not figuratively." However, she went on to say that she disagreed with what I said about famines increasing. She said, "It doesn't say there will be an increase, only that there will be these things going on..."The Bible however, does specifically suggest there will be an increase of famine. Jesus said, "There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come." (Matthew 24:7-8) The "birth pains" metaphor is used widely throughout the entire Bible and is vital to our understanding of the end-times (especially when interpreting some of the more difficult symbolism in Revelation.) As we mentioned in Episode 3, "birth pains" conveys the idea that all these signs are going to become more frequent and more intense towards the end. If Jesus meant that famines would simply exist at the time of his return, that wouldn't really be worth mentioning and couldn't be taken as a sign of his return. After all, there has always been food poverty and always will be. He may as well have said that people will be breathing air at the time of his return. It's only worth mentioning as a "sign" because it will be noticeably worse.
Over on YouTube meanwhile, some were apparently suggesting I was wrong to use the word "planet" in these videos because we don't live on a planet. It was maybe 2 or 3 years ago now that I first came across a flat-earther. I received an email asking if I believed the world was flat and to be honest, I thought the person was making a joke. I thought they were saying, "Oh, you believe in God. I suppose you also think the earth is flat and the moon is made out of cheese!" I wrote back saying that of course I didn't believe the earth was flat...because well, it isn't...but much to my surprise the writer then became quite furious with me. He wrote back, "I thought you were a seeker of the truth but now I can see you're just a liar and a pawn of the elites! You're a deceiver! Etc. Etc." Over the next year or two, I received 5 or 6 messages along these lines and I began to realise that there are people out there in 2018 who genuinely believe the earth is flat.
Just the idea of having a serious discussion about the earth being flat leaves me exhausted. When someone has become so unwilling to face reality that they won't even acknowledge the world is a sphere, it seems futile to engage in discussion with them. By denying one of the most empirically verifiable facts of our existence, flat-earthers have proven they're no longer interested in the truth, and therefore there's no point in pretending that they are. There's no point in trying to reason with people who have decided reason isn't for them.
I remain curious about the psychological factors that cause people to become flat-earthers though. I think about this often and am fascinated about the forces that could bring someone to that state of self-delusion. I can't say I've yet worked out the answer. It's something to do with fear, possibly, I think. If you have any insights into this phenomenon, feel free to comment below! At any rate, it's safe to say I'll be continuing to refer to the planet as, well...a planet...throughout the rest of the series.
There were other points of debate that I expected to come up, but so far they haven't. So with that being said, I can now sign off this blog! I'll only end by saying, just because some signs haven't been fulfilled yet, don't let that rock your faith. I think that's what's often at the root of this desire to believe everything must be in evidence right now. Today. As of March 19, 2018. I think some Christians are insecure enough to believe that if something hasn't come to pass yet, maybe it won't at all. Don't worry. It will. Be secure in what you believe. These things will inevitably happen because God has said they will. We're already seeing most of the signs. Just be honest about the times in which we live. There is much ahead of us, and the world.