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Judgement Day

Judgement Day Theories

The end may be near, but exactly how near is the sticky question. As millennium fever swept the globe, party planners and doomsdayers alike were fixated on the year 2000. Meanwhile, Judgment Day sticklers have been obsessing over the fact that there never was a "year zero," and therefore A.D. 1 plus two millennia equals 2001. But pinpointing Armageddon isn't quite that simple. When it comes to end times, there are as many proposed dates as there are fates (Rapture or Tribulation? Fire or Flood? Demons or Pleiadeans?).

However, in the wake of past doomsday embarrassments (the world didn't end in the year 1000, and the hoopla over the 1987 Harmonic Convergence turned out to be the spiritual equivalent of 8-track tape), few latter-day prophets are willing to stick their necks out and name a drop deadline. "What the prophets try to do is make predictions and leave the fulfillment vague," explains Stephen D. O'Leary, a millennial scholar at the University of Southern California. The most successful millennial prophets remain "strategically ambiguous," he says. He prophets who do get specific tend to be the more marginal ones."

It's no surprise that the Internet, a haven for marginal oracles of all strips, is home to millenarians who are bold enough to set a date. In fact, the Internet has assumed an important role on the end-times stage. "The Internet will be to the twenty-first century what the printing press was to the sixteenth," says medieval historian Richard Landes of Boston University, who, with O'Leary, cofounded the Center for Millennial Studies. Just as the printing press made apocalyptic tracts available to the public five hundred years ago, the Internet disgorges a vast literature of alternative doomsday scenarios.

"The Internet has increased the amount and the kind of information people have at their disposal to construct millenial scenarios," says O'Leary. "It also gives people a chance to try out different interpretations and prophecies in electronic discussion groups." In effect, he says, "the Internet provides a kind of social reinforcement," a public-address system for "people who might otherwise be relegated to the fringes as crackpots."

Well, in the lottery of multiple Armageddons, today's crackpot may turn out to be tomorrow's messianic seer. So how can the rest of us plan for the ultimate end and/or final beginning? The handy guide to doomsday chronologies is a good place to start, and a good place to determine if any of these are in fact true:

July 1999 (Nostradamus): This end date arrives in the summer of 1999 (just in time for that Prince song). Everybody's favorite sixteenth-century doomsayer was uncharacteristically specific when he prophesied that "in the year of 1999 and seven months will come a great king of terror from the skies." Rather than interpreting that to mean Stephen King skydiving, latter-day pessimists are thinking nuclear missile strike. And the pessimists' tent is big enough for everyone: Everyone banking on the end of the world wants a piece of nuclear Nostradamus - New Agers, psychics, fundamentalist Christians, and Tom Clancy fans alike.

August 18, 1999 (Criswell): Ed Wood's favorite phony TV psychic was brazen enough to narrow down Armageddon to the precise day: "If you and I meet each other on the street that fateful day, August 18, 1999, and we chat about what we will do on the morrow, we will open our mouths to speak, and no words will come out, for we have no future. You and I will suddenly run out of time!" Of course, Criswell never explained exactly how the world would end, only that future generations will wonder "what on earth was meant by the words 'Henry Ford' or 'Hollywood.'" But how accurate was Criswell? Well, his record speaks for itself: "Meteor destroys London [in] 1988"; "I predict embalming by radar, where the body is turned to indestructable stone"; "I predict that by 1980 you will be able to lift your own face in your own home for only $5.00."

1999 (Edgar Cayce): The "sleeping prophet" pinpointed 1999 as the year of the Armageddon, to be followed by the New Age and the Second Coming of Christ. In between, we can expect a number of Hollywood comet/meteor movie-style special effects: A shift in the earth's axis leading to melting polar caps and the sinking of England and Japan. Also, the destruction of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York by earthquakes and floods, making it difficult for big-city swells to continue to sneer at small-town America; on the plus side, Atlantis will rise up from the depths of the ocean, opening an entirely new real estate market; and as if that weren't enough, Christ will initiate a "New Age of Peace." Of course, Cayce's loose time line will allow Armageddon to slip until 2001 or 2002, if absolutely necessary.

2000ish (Jack Van Impe): The perpetually grinning televangelist is, well, impish when it comes to naming dates: He won't do it. He does, however, offer an "Overview of Major Future Events" somewhat more convoluted than a Thomas Pynchon novel: The Antichrist takes center stage during the seven-year tribulation, followed by sundry judgments, "War in Heaven," and the "battle of Armageddon" (neatly illustrated on Van Impe's Internet web site as a horde of marauding Huns), the Second Coming, more judgments, and a thousand years of peace with "Satan Bound," a period that closes with "Satan Loosed," again, kind of like the surprise return of Freddy Kruger at the very end of those slasher movies, after you think he's already been killed. It's all very confusing (did I enter the millennium in a mortal body, or do I need to trade up for resurrection?) which undoubtedly helps Van Impe sell those twenty dollar explanatory videos.

May 5, 2000 (Richard W. Noone): The author of the book 5/5/2000: Ice - The Ultimate Disaster, is refreshingly specific: "On May 5 of the year 2000, Mercury, Venus, Mars Jupiter and Saturn will be aligned with the earth for the first time in 6,000 years. On that day the ice buildup at the South Pole will upset the earth's axis, sending trillions of tons of ice in the water sweeping over the surface of our planet." Though the book jacket claims that "astonishing evidence points to worldwide disaster in our lifetime," said evidence turns out to be culled mostly from the works of fringe scientists such as Emanuel Velikofsky, making It likely that 5/5/2000's major event will be El Torrito's Cinco de Mayo happy hour.

2000 or 2007 or 2048 (Hal Lindsey): The bestselling author of our day (more sales than Stephen King) is bearish when it comes to setting the big date. In his earlier books (including The Late, Great Planet Earth), however, the modern bard of Christian Apocalypse did let a few numbers loose: Armageddon in the year 2000 and the Second Coming of Christ in 2007 (forty years after the reunification of Jerusalem). However, Lindsey has also cited 2048 (see Bede below) as a possible drop deadline.

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It says in the Bible that even the angels don't know the day, hour, or the minute of the time of the end.

The Bible gives us clues, but it doesn't give a true indication or time span when the time of the end is upon us.

Personally, I feel we are living in the end times, but not in the way these people have foretold. I think it will come upon us in such a way that it will creep upon us, and not come in one fell swoop. I think it will happen over a course of years, or centuries. However, I believe for every ending there is a new beginning.

The Bible promises that the things of this world will pass away to made new. All I know is that I will keep my faith in the Lord, and not follow every doomsayer going. I will trust that I will know when that day, then again, we are told that when that final day does come, when it comes, everybody will know it.

However, to say it is going to happen on such and such a date, I don't listen to that mumbo-jumbo. If the angels don't know, then why should man know the day. The Lord is the only one who knows and I am just going to keep watching the signs, but not live in fear.

The doomsayers have destroyed many lives with their false prophecies, and I for one, don't follow a crowd.



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All I know about judgment is it will be preceded by resurrection. In the bible it was stated that even the angels and Jesus himself doesn't know when the second coming will be. Only the Father knows it. When that comes resurrection and judgment will definitely follow.

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