CIA, Shia Islam Eschatology, Christianity and Pop-Corn Action

CIA, Shia Islam Eschatology, Christianity and Pop-Corn Action

Over the past decade, author and former political consult Joel C. Rosenberg has been amassing a huge following with multiple New York Times best sellers. Drawing off his as a consult for Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky and then-former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Rosenberg’s books tend to focus on Middle Eastern politics and terrorism (think CIA and State Department thrillers). A good chuck of Rosenberg’s fame comes from his uncanny ability to ‘predict’ real-life events within his books. For example, he wrote about kamikaze plane attack on an American city nine months before 9-11 and five months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq he wrote about a war with Saddam Hussein. Having heard bits and pieces of this fame throughout the years, I finalize decided to give his books a try (well, that and the fact that a co-worker was pressuring me to read them!). Looking at my local library, I discovered that they had both the “The Twelfth Imam” (2010) and the sequel “The Tehran Initiative” (2011) in an audio format, which is my preferred method of ‘reading’ non-fiction books. As to be expected, the hero of the series is an American CIA spy named David Shirazi who must infiltrate the Iranian government and try to stop a nuclear war. What was not expected was the way in which Rosenberg incorporated both Shia Islam eschatology and Christianity into the story line. Simply put, in the books the leaders of Iran are devoted Imami Shīa Muslims who are trying to hurry the arrive of the Mahdi (the twelve successor of Prophet Mohammad who is prophesied to unite the...
Maintaining Hearts of Tranquility in Times of Global Turmoil

Maintaining Hearts of Tranquility in Times of Global Turmoil

There is a lot of fear in the world today about the future. People are scared of earthquakes, super volcanoes, political shutdowns, and the apocalyptic Second Coming of Jesus. Some of this fear is good as it prompts us to prepare both our hearts and our lives. Yet, unchecked fear is a bad thing. It is to this unchecked fear that I would like to highlight Tri Robinson’s recent article entitled, “Maintaining Hearts of Tranquility in Times of Global Turmoil.” This article captured my heart on the subject of global turmoil so beautifully I had to share it with you all.  🙂 Here are the five points Tri makes: 1. Simplify your life – “Physically, emotionally and spiritually. Most of our lives have become cluttered with material things, out of control emotions and wrong choices which have not only complicated our lives but caused a form of paralyzing dysfunction.” 2. Be prepared for short term crises– “Having the experience of working in disasters such as Hurricane Katrina it became evident to me that people who took basic steps of preparedness recovered much quicker than those who became dependent on government help. Not only that, but many of those with the mindset to be prepared also became the workforce that served others in the aftermath of the crisis.” 3. Work towards long term sustainability – “Storing food and water will never take the place of a sustainable lifestyle. Sustainability takes foresight and long term planning. It requires a plan to become debt-free and a new lifestyle which doesn’t demand a huge salary or a consumer mentality.” 4. Live in community...
Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective On The End Times by Dennis Engleman

Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective On The End Times by Dennis Engleman

In some ways, Ultimate Things by Dennis Engleman is a fitting end to a year of eschatological studies. The book focused on strengthening the church for the upcoming struggles against the kingdom of darkness with several chapters devoted to standing firm. At the same time, there were some parts of the book that I did not like – mainly the parts where the author gets away from Biblical themes and started speculating about how things will be. For example, Engleman looks at Saint Paul’s words in 2 Thess. 2:3-8 about the ‘one’ who is holding back the antichrist and interprets it as a reference to the Christian Monarchy (ie. as long as there is a Christian king/queen on the throne of the Roman Empire, the antichrist will not be reviled). Note that for Engleman, the Christian Monarchy starts with St. Constantine in 312 AD and continues to death of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II in 1948. (Moscow is concerned the third “Rome” by the Eastern Orthodox following the destruction of Constantinople, which was the second “Rome”).  This begs the question of what kept the “man of lawlessness” from showing up prior to establishment of the Christian Monarchy in 312 AD?  😕 Luckily, not all Eastern Orthodox scholars interpreted 2 Thess. the way Engleman does – for example, the Father Thomas Hopko (Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary) writes in the introduction of the Ultimate Things that he “would take issue with the author” on this point. One of the best parts of the book comes in the middle when Engleman is discussing the end time prophesies of Daniel. He...
Is Pre-Millennialism A Heresy?

Is Pre-Millennialism A Heresy?

One must be careful when studying history – for history can be likened to a wild tiger with sharp teeth and bared claws. I recently discovered this “dangerous” side of history while researching the theological history of the physical millennial kingdom of Jesus. What was this “dangerous” item found in the dusty manuscripts of old? It is the knowledge that in 381 A.D. the Church Fathers gathered in Constantinople and declared that the pre-millennialism view of Revelation chapter 20 is a heresy. Yes – you read that right. The hugely popular pre-millennialism view of eschatology promoted throughout the world by the Protestant church was declared a heresy by the SAME guys who canonized the New Testament!!! Wow! Talk about sharp teeth… that simple fact changes a lot of things… It also brings up a TON of questions… like, why don’t Protestant theologians talk about this council in their commentaries on Revelation?  The only reason I found out about it was through reading an Eastern Orthodox commentary… =/ Personally, I think the reason we don’t hear about it in Protestant circles is because most Protestants discount and/or throw always all the early church councils. They cry out “sola scripture” without realizing that they are fighting all the SAME battles the early church fought 1500+ years ago! Yet, instead of listening to the wisdom of the Church Fathers, Protestants tend to pick and choose which doctrines or decisions they will or will not accept. Granted, there came a time with the Church councils started going off track – but that should not stop us from looking at the early councils BEFORE...
The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity

The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity

A few months ago I mentioned that I was trying to find a commentary on the Book of Revelation from the Eastern Orthodox Church. Well, I found one – The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity. Originally written in Russian by Archbishop Averky Taushev, it was translated into English by Father Seraphim Rose in 1985. In a nutshell – it was the best book on Revelations I have ever read. Yeah. It was that good. Why? Well, for starters the book wasn’t about trying to map out the “end times”, find out what everything John means and how it plays together in the 21st century. Instead, the commentary was written with the knowledge that Revelation is a book of mysteries: The deep things bound up with the beginning and end of all things, the ultimate purpose of the world and man, the opening of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven; and so we must read it with fear of God, and with a humble distrust of our own wisdom. Keeping with this heart, Archbishop Taushev takes the reader through a journey of Revelation; highlighting the Glory of God and His triumph over evil. It is a book that will leave you encouraged and strengthened – instead of confused about how it all “works.” God is in control. He gave St. John the vision of Revelation not to confuse or to trouble His people. But to encourage and uplift them in their times of trouble – that is what the Orthodox view of the end times does; and what the Protestant view often lacks. Another thing I love about this...