...my understanding is that current biblical scholarship reads some of the apocalyptic scenes in the Bible as metaphorically addressing events that were taking place as the Bible was being written.To which LaHaye answers:
These are usually liberal theologians that don't believe the Bible literally.
First off, aren't people who think that the Bible is addressing events taking place during the time of the Bible interpreting it literally? I mean, isn't that more literal than those who cryptically project its events onto the present? That kind of sounds like a metaphor if you ask me. Secondly, I could understand in LaHaye's mind that naming some of these `liberal theologians' who care about context and history (that is when it doesn't point to something occurring in the present that can assist you monetarily - i.e. creating a general fear of the future to sell more books) might make it look like you spent time thinking about these individuals, or that you do research, but what is more disappointing is that it appears as if Braiker doesn't know them either. He supplies no quotations or examples of what a liberal theologian might be or whom. Granted he does counter with the general consensus that the Revelation of John is a polemic against Rome which provides LaHaye with the mandatory leverage to get all paranoid about one world government, one world economy and of course one world religion (does LaHaye have a militia somewhere?).
I know this is perhaps a thin segue into the broader concern which was completely on display during Nightline's "Save Israel, for Jesus?" segment tonight. Not only was it imbalanced and poorly executed, I mean for all of the talk of Middle-East violence no Lebanese or for that matter any other Middle-Eastern ambassador or official was presented, it also came across as a giant free advertisement for Christians United for Israel.
CUFI, as it is referred to on it's own website, seeks to "provide a national association through which every pro-Israel church, Para-church organization, ministry or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to Biblical issues." These groups aren't new Ralph Reed had his Stand Up For Israel, anyone who saw "American Evangelical Christians in the Bible Lands" on NOW in 2004 saw the Christian Coalition performing its realtor role for the end times. CUFI is lead by megachurch (of course) pastor John Hagee who makes one of my favorite quotes of the broadcast:
"Russia is going to get in that position and they are literally, with all that massive military force, going to attack Israel," Hagee said. "This is recorded in Ezekiel 38 and 39. God himself is literally going to destroy that army. Decimate it."
Hagee made me have to grab my history textbook and my Bible (yes I have some of them). Now, I just read Ezekiel and Russia is not in there. Alright I know that's an easy blow, but sorry. Maybe he's not a literalist after all. Now I know what Hagee is doing, he is giving us a supposed prophecy from a written text and instead of seeing that commonly this apocalyptic chapter does say "in that distant day" as if something will happen in the future it also uses traditional references to the understanding of nations of God's power. But, what gets me is no one quotes it, no one asks him anything further. Just continue on with the others stating the biblical mandate to support Israel unquestionably. No one goes to Ezekiel and gives the context that there is a lot of quotation from Isaiah, or Exodus, or that this is an account of a specific prophet at a specific point in time after the Babylonian exile and destruction of Jerusalem. I think I would predict it would eventually need to be rebuilt too if I had experienced that.
I know this isn't Sunday School or whatever but my questions remain why is journalism so inept when reporting on religious issues? Where is the counterpoint with an interview? Or in the narration? This isn't about small stakes, these groups influence a lot of people and give comfort to those who can justify killing and influence that killing into our national policy. Specifically from Christians who are supposed to have a different set of guidelines as far as encouraging, and engaging in violence is concerned. Where are the voices of compassion and moderation from Christianity? I do not explicitly blame the reporters for their ridiculous attempt at reporting this movement because I think that the mainstream clergy in Protestantism does not address the "End Times" movement's metaphoric translation of Biblical literary devices and historical situations into present politics very well. So you wouldn't know that there is a different position and that maybe the world could use some more of this position.