Just wanted to share this August 31 entry from George Grant’s Christian Almanac. Although most of us will never accomplish what today’s subject did, his example will benefit us all. May we all, grateful for the grace of God in Christ, strive to love him with our minds all the more (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).
Theodore Roosevelt was a voracious learner and an avid reader throughout his extraordinary life. It is hard to imagine though, when he might have found the time–his record of public service and his private interests were astonishingly diverse. How he possibly squeezed reading into the crowded hours of his life was a matter of some substantial speculation among those that observed him flash across the stage of history.
Among his friends he counted the greatest writers, thinkers, scholars, and scientists of his day. And by all accounts he was the best read of them all–being readily conversant on everything from the traditional classics to the most recent philosophical, sociological, or technological musings. He usually read at least five books a week–unless he wasn’t too busy, in which case, he read more. And yet his attitude toward the torrid pace of his intellectual pursuit was refreshingly relaxed: “I am old-faschioned, or sentimental, or something about books. Whenever I read one I want, in the first place, to enjoy myself, and, in the next place, to feel that I am a little better and not a little worse for having read it.”
His son Quentin claimed that he read every book received at the Library of Congress–which of course, he surely did not. But many of his friends testified that however new the volume they recommended to him, he had always read it already. “His range of reading is amazing,” wrote the science fiction writer H. G. Wells. “He seems to be echoing with all the thought of the time, and he has receptivity to the pitch of genius.” Guglielmo Marconi, the great Italian physicist and inventor, was amazed by his knowledge in the specialized field of Italian history and literature. “That man actually cited book after book that I’ve never heard of, much less read. He’s going to keep me busy for some time just following his Italian reading.” And the English diplomat Lord Charnwood asserted, “No statesman for centuries has had his width of intellectual range.”
As a result of his relentless studies and his near-perfect recall, his knowledge was highly integrated, and he was continually crossing boundaries, moving back and forth from one area of human knowledge to another. He was thus able to make connections that mere specialists were unable to make.
According to Viscount Lee, “Whether the subject of the moment was political economy, the Greek drama, tropical fauna or flora, the Irish sagas, protective coloration in nature, metaphysics, the technique of football, or post-futurist painting, he was equally at home with the experts and drew out the best that was in them.” Indeed, “In one afternoon,” said his son Archie, “I have heard him speak to the foremost Bible student of the world, a prominent ornithologist, an Asian diplomat, and a French general, all of whom agreed that Father knew more about the subjects on which they had specialized than they did.”
“If you want to lead, you must read,” was a maxim that Roosevelt took seriously. It was merely an extension of his whole philosophy of life: making the most of his mind was of a piece with making the most of his body. It was merely an exercise of good stewardship.
Looking back on my years as an Independent Baptist who kept his eye on TBN, and his ear on Christian radio, I must admit that I had always been susceptible to just about every end times related conspiracy theory that came my way. Believe me, if you watch TBN, at least back in the eighties, you learned about a lot of end times related conspiracy theories. When it comes to Independent Baptist church life, however, preaching on the end times can be a mixed bag: some will major on it, others will minor on it and still others may avoid it almost completely, claiming they find no practical application to be had in the preaching of prophecy.
After I discovered Peter Ruckman, whom I affectionately refer to as “The King of the King James Onlyists,” I gained, not only a rich source of bad information regarding biblical textual criticism, but also a rich source of bad information regarding end times related conspiracy theories. Eventually, I discovered that prophecy preacher, Texe Marrs, whose books I sold as a teenager in the Christian bookstore at which I worked as a high school student, was a fellow “Ruckmanite.” Now, this man is a conspiracy theorist par excellence! Like Will Rogers once said about men, Texe Marrs never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like. You can enjoy this man’s ravings at www.texemarrs.com.
One of the most outstanding conspiracy theories that I recalled hearing about frequently during those years, was the claim that the burgeoning European Union had developed a super-computer in Brussels, Belgium which had the capability of tracking and storing not only the vitals statistics of everyone on the planet, but also their shopping habits. Rumor had it that the “Revived Roman Empire” that was the European Union had further plans to one day see to it that everyone was marked with some sort of electronic device on their forehead or the back of their hand, that featured a number by which the entire population of the world could be catalogued and tracked by this EU super-computer that just happened to be nick-named “The Beast.” This, we were assured, would be the way Revelation’s prophecies regarding the mark of the Beast would be fulfilled in the Great Tribulation period. Oh, the dread that overtook us all as we periodically heard the news of further technological advancements that brought us step by step closer to the eventual unveiling of the New World Order under the seductive, yet tyrannical rule of the Antichrist.
I don’t have the words to describe the paranoia that can develop in one who pays as close attention to such sensationalistic claims as I once paid to end times conspiracy theories. I know what it is to look for and find a demon behind every bush, and under every rock. Such a lifestyle is truly paralyzing. I recall as a Bible College student fearing to so much as throw a paper route just to earn money to live on and with which to put myself through school. I could not, in good conscience, be a party to misinforming my neighbors with the propaganda published by the liberal media who served as the useful idiots of the behind the scenes architects of the New World Order. I guarantee you, that if I still had today the same mindset I had in my early twenties, I would never have sought employment by the federal government in order to print U. S. currency as I now do. Are you kidding? U.S. currency is just riddled with New World Order and masonic symbols! Just what do you think “Novus Ordo Seclorum” means, anyway? New World Order! It’s printed right there on your money! As Randy Newman sings in the theme song for the TV show, Monk, “if you paid attention, you’d be worried, too!”
At long last, freedom from such bondage came to me in the form of…yes, you guessed it! Reformed theology! Specifically, Reformed eschatology (the study of last things, or the end times). At last, I found the courage to divest myself of any and all fear from the countless rumors that swirl about regarding all the things going on behind the scenes about which, “they don’t want you to know!” Man, Reformed air is so refreshing! At last, I can breathe easy.
Last night, I was reminded by a friend of the Belgium-based super-computer called “The Beast.” My friend hears that it can track upwards of 15 billion people, not that the population of the earth is expected to reach that number before the Rapture! But that just goes to show you, folks, how close we are to the Tribulation period! If such rumors are to be believed. When my friend mentioned these things to me, as I politely nodded and grinned, I thought to myself, “I need to check Snopes about ‘The Beast.’” So, check I did. I didn’t find anything about it at www.Snopes.com–it may be there, but I didn’t find it. But my search did lead me to a similar urban legend website called www.TruthOrFiction.com, which did contain an entry which–wonder of wonders!–pronounced “‘The Beast,’ a supercomputer in Belgium, is Being Used To Track Every Human Being On Earth–Fiction!” Whew! What a relief! But the details they provide regarding the origin of the urban legend simply blew my mind. Here’s how the entry reads:
Summary of eRumor
A three-story computer in Brussels, Belgium called “The Beast,” is described as being the brain-child of the European Common Market. It is said to be “self programming” and is intended to track the buying and selling activities of every person on earth. Additionally, the system is alleged to depend on invisible tattoos on the forehead or back of the hand of each person for identity purposes. Ominously, the tattoo will be of a unique, personalized number composed of three entries of three digits each.
- The Truth
It’s easy to see how this story would grab the attention of Christians. It’s almost as though it were tailor-made to fit with the book of Revelation. And… it was.
Unlike most urban legends, we have a clear trail that leads to where the story came from. There are various printed versions of the story that date back to 1973, but the most widely circulated early account appeared in Christian Life magazine in August 1976.
Three months after publishing the story, Christian Life received a letter from Christian author Joe Musser. In it, he explained that the Beast Computer of Belgium did not exist in reality, but in fantasy. Musser said that he created the scenario for a novel he wrote, titled Beyond a Pale Horse (actually, it’s Behold, A Pale Horse–jdc), and for a screenplay for the David Wilkerson film, The Rapture. In the letter, Musser said that for three years he had seen the story he had created being passed along as fact.
The possibility for confusing fiction with fact was there from the outset. As a part of the promotion for the David Wilkerson film, some mock newspapers had been printed which had convincing-looking news stories about events that could be associated with the rapture, including the Beast Computer of Belgium. Unless one read the small print next to the copyright notice, there was nothing to indicate that it was fiction.
As with other urban legends, some thoughtful evaluation of the facts would cast doubt on the story. For example, anybody who is savvy enough about computers would know that it’s not going to take a computer occupying three stories of a major building to catalog all the people on the earth. Today’s computers can handle the task in a fraction of that space – assuming there was some way to know who all the people were.
Also, some versions of the story stated that the computer was self-programming, suggesting that perhaps it had a life of its own outside of the humans who programmed it. Artificial intelligence is a fascinating subject, and computers are getting smarter every day, but no computer expert that I know of is worried about whether a database program could become the Antichrist. Additionally, even if a decision were made to track all humans, it is not clear that the European Common Market would be the entity to initiate or control it. (Here’s the source)
My mind was officially blown. I never dreamed that I would learn, not only how it is that Belgian “Beast” Super Computer was a mere urban legend, but the very name of the man who dreamed up the idea in the first place! Let alone my astonishment that it was a fictitious scenario developed for a Christian novel on the end of the world! My adrenaline was flowing, and I couldn’t stop running around telling everyone I thought might have heard about this conspiracy theory, because I had to personally make sure they were utterly divested of any and all anxiety over such a prospect. Was I ever giddy! I didn’t know what to do with myself! But telling a few of my co-workers, both believing and unbelieving, I had to help make sure the world had more access to this information. I must make sure these facts are featured on Wikipedia! The world’s free online encyclopedia! Under the heading of “The Beast (Bible)” on Wikipedia, you will find my first ever contribution to this global pooling of knowledge. In the article, under the sub-topic of “Alternative Views” I found this single sentence referencing “The Beast” supercomputer: “Some identify the Beast with a Super Computer in Brussels, Belgium.” To this, I added the truly “alternative view”: “However, author Joe Musser, attributes the origin of this urban legend to his 1970 novel, Behold, a Pale Horse and the movie The Rapture which is based on his book. (Read the article here)
Finally, a little more surfing of the web produced a more in-depth discussion of this story. Silicon.com, a website featuring writing on all things computer related, interviewed Joe Musser, and the resulting article features what he had to say. I highly recommend that you read this article here.
The following is from Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible. I have supplied links to Scripture references, and highlighted key words, phrases and ideas to help catch the various points made by the scholar who penned this particular entry, Rev. B. F. Westcott. I’m posting on this, first, because I’m interested in learning more about the genre of apocalyptic literature, and this excerpt does a good job of presenting a few basics; second, because I’ll be following an expository series of sermons on Daniel by Kyle Oliphint (for you Westminster Seminary fans, yes, he’s K. Scott Oliphint’s brother–can’t you see the resemblance?), and third because the four-volume set of Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible which I had the privilege of discovering at a local antique mall several years ago is apparently a facsimile edition of the original dictionary set from which all modern editions of Smith’s Bible Dictionary have been condensed. It goes into detail I’ve rarely found in more recent editions. It’s a fascinating read in and of itself. Whichever of these three reasons may compel you to join me as I learn about the apocalypse of Daniel matter not to me, but you are certainly invited all the same. I don’t know how much I’ll be posting, but I may wind up simply transcribing the present entry in a series of several posts for your further study. You’ll be able to listen along to Kyle’s expositions every week if you like at the Grace Community Presbyterian Church website’s Online Sermons page, or you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. The first sermon is entitled “God and Men at Work” based on verses one and two of Daniel 1.
DANIEL, THE BOOK OF, is the earliest example of apocalyptic literature, and in a great degree the model, according to which all later apocalypses were constructed. In this aspect it stands at the head of a series of writings in which the deepest thoughts of the Jewish people found expression after the close of the prophetic era. The book of Enoch, the Jewish Sibyllines, and the fourth book of Ezra [2 Esdras], carry out with varied success and in different directions, the great outlines of universal history which it (Daniel) contains; and the “Revelation” of Daniel received at last its just completion in the Revelation of St. John. Without an inspired type it is difficult to conceive how the later writings could have been framed; and whatever judgment be formed as to the composition of the book, there can be no doubt that it exercised a greater influence upon the early Christian Church than any other writing of the Old Testament, while in the Gospels it is specially distinguished by the emphatic quotation of the Lord (Matt. 24:15).
- In studying the book of Daniel it is of the utmost importance to recognize its apocalyptic character. It is at once an end and a beginning, the last form of prophecy and the first “philosophy of history.” The nation is widened into the world: the restored kingdom of Judah into a universal kingdom of God. To the old prophets Daniel stands, in some sense, as a commentator (Dan. 9:2-19): to succeeding generations, as the herald of immediate deliverance. The form, the style, and the point of sight of prophecy, are relinquished upon the verge of a new period in the existence of God’s people, and fresh instruction is given to them suited to their new fortunes. The change is not abrupt and absolute, but yet it is distinctly felt. The eye and not the ear is the organ of the Seer: visions and not words are revealed to him. His utterance is clothed in a complete and artificial shape, illustrated by symbolic imagery and pointed by a specific purpose. The divine counsels are made known to him by the ministry of angels (7:16; 8:16; 9:21), and not by “the Word of the Lord.” The seer takes his stand in the future rather than in the present, while the prophet seized on the elements of good and evil which he saw working around him and traced them to their final issue. The one (the seer) looked forward from the present to the great “age to come”; the other (the prophet) looked backward from “the last days” to the trials in which he is still placed. In prophecy the form and the essence, the human and divine were inseparably interwoven; in revelation the two elements can be contemplated apart, each in its greatest vigor,–the most consummate art, and the most striking predictions. The Babylonian exile supplied the outward training and the inward necessity for this last form of divine teaching; and the prophetic visions of Ezekiel form the connecting link between the characteristic types of revelation and prophecy.
If you haven’t checked out the newly redesigned website of the White Horse Inn radio show, featuring a panel of two presbyterian-type Reformed minister/scholars (Michael Horton and Kim Riddlebarger, a Calvinistic Baptist pastor (Rev. Ken Jones) and a Lutheran seminary professor (“Dad” Rod Rosenblat), talking about the doctrines of the Reformation and how they apply to current issues in American Evangelicalism, you really ought to check it out. I don’t know how many new resources have been added to the site, but the new format really makes them all a lot more accessible in my opinion. Here’s the outline of tabs, with several links on many of them, that will be at your disposal:
- White Horse Inn–White Horse Inn, Broadcast Archives, Upcoming Topics, Radio Stations
- Modern Reformation
- First Time Visitors–First Time Visitors, Guest Book, Newsletter
- Support Us
- About Us–Contact Us, Testimonials, Share WHI
- Resources–Resources, News, Events, Free Articles
If you’ve never listened to the show, and fear that a theological talk show may go over your head, I ask you to give it a try, and see if the chemistry between these co-hosts doesn’t hook you and keep you coming back. Although the topics are serious theological issues, the way the hosts interact is often light-hearted and entertaining. I think you’ll find it not only a fascinating show, but also an entertaining one.
The image included on this post is a link to the website, and you’ll notice that it may also be found in my sidebar. There it shall remain as a reminder to you to not let a week pass that you do not listen to an episode of the White Horse Inn. A new episode is broadcast every Sunday.
Just found this great video presentation of Steve Camp’s song “The Agony of Deceit” from his album “Consider the Cost.” Camp’s song applies 2 Peter 2 to today’s Word of Faith movement, and draws it’s title from the book, The Agony of Deceit, edited by Dr. Michael Horton of The White Horse Inn radio show and Modern Reformation Magazine. If you don’t know what the Word of Faith movement is, they’re the guys preaching the health and wealth, name-it-and-claim-it gospel that tends to make Christians more interested in what’s on the Master’s table rather than the Master himself (get a basic intro here). I’ve also included the great testimony by the Pentecostal minister who posted this video to his YouTube page. But best of all is the passage of Scripture on which the song is largely based. It’s simply astounding how well prosperity preachers fulfill the Holy Spirit’s revealed and revealing description of false teachers. This post concludes with Peter’s words inspired by the Holy Spirit.
While feeling called to study to be a missionary at Baptist Bible College back in the early 90′s, my mind was still somewhat confused about what to do with the claims of the Word of Faith and charismatic movements. It wasn’t until 1994, when I discovered a voice on my AM radio that was actually speaking critically of Kenneth Copeland and the others, and heard the speaker mention the release of his new book, Christianity in Crisis, that I was able to see clearly how in error this movement is, and to finally break free from the false notion that God may actually be using this movement. The radio show was The Bible Answer Man, and the host/author was Hank Hanegraaff.
“You MUST hear this song! A powerful song and teaching that gives you a serious warning concerning false teachers and their ungodly dangerous doctrines. You should listen to holy men of God who preach the truth from a sincere heart. THIS SONG IS FROM THE CD “CONSIDER THE COST” BY STEVE CAMP.I CONSIDER IT ONE OF HIS BEST. The following book is a very good book to read on the subject it is called “The Agony of Deceit” by Michael Horton. The song is based on this book and 2 Peter 2. You can order this book on Amazon.com or ebay.
If you are a serious Christian and want to know the truth about this Movement consider buying these books.
“You can find these books on amazon.com
1. “A Different Gospel” by D.R. McConnell
2. “The New Charismatics” by Michael Moriarty
3. “Christianity in Crisis” by Hank Hanegraaff
4. “The Seduction of Christianity” by Dave Hunt
5.” The Word-Faith Controversy” by Robert Bowman
6. “The Born Again Jesus of the Word-Faith Teaching” by Judith Matta
7. “The Strange World of Benny Hinn“
8. The Disease of the Wealth and Health Gospel” Gorden Fee (A renown godly Pentecostal Bible scholar).
“If fact there is no church historian or Bible Scholar that would agree with these false teachings. I know this movement well. I graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center in 1979 and spent 12 long years as a part of this movement. I preached in many WOF Churches. I was a devout reader of E.W. Kenyon. I read one of his books over 40 times! I met and heard many of the key figures of this movement in the ’70s and 80s. So I’m not a novice on the subject. God by His grace set me free from these false doctrines in 1988. At the time I was a pastor of a growing church. I recanted before my congregation. The Bible became like a new book to me, so precious, pure and powerful. Since then I’ve been on the narrow road that leads to life. I now preach the Gospel as according to Jesus and the Apostles as inspired by the Holy Spirit. Finally, let it be said that not all pentecostals agree with the Word of Faith Movement. God bless you. . . “
False Prophets and Teachers–2 Peter 2 ESV
2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell  and committed them to chains  of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;  7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,  and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions,  while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves  of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”