Joseph Farah begins his latest diatribe, Time’s Running Out, which, as you would imagine, is all about the end-times, with quotes from the Epistle of Timothy:
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
These are nice quotes. But of the 13 Epistles that made it into the New Testament, only seven are indisputably Paul’s: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Philemon. Timothy is not among them.
The two letters to Timothy and Titus, the so-called Pastoral Epistles, are probably pseudonymous and “appear to have been written by later Christians who were taking Paul’s name in order to propagate their own views.” As Ehrman observes, these letters are more useful in understanding how Paul was remembered by later Christians than for shedding light on Paul.
Apparently Christian end-time fantasies are not enough for Farah, who then blasphemes the Mayans by embracing the idea that “We may have survived Dec. 21 and the end-times predictions of the Mayan calendar,” which, in fact, made no such predictions, as pretty much any Mayan you care to ask will tell you.
But Farah didn’t ask any Mayans. It’s more fun and productive when you’re a conservative to make unsupported assertions – facts are so uncongenial to his point – and, after all, he so badly wanted to say that “time’s still running out on business as usual in this world of ours.”
Well, technically, I suppose, he is right. The sun will one day burn out. Life on the earth, no matter your religious persuasion, will end.
But Farah has a more immediate catastrophe in mind. “The signs are everywhere,” he claims. “God is sitting on His throne in heaven, but He’s about to act.”
Where have we heard this before? Oh, that’s right. From Jesus. Said the end would come in his own lifetime, in fact. Paul said the same thing a generation later. Said the end would come before his own generation passed away. Everyone, including Joseph Farah, think it’s going to happen in their own lifetimes.
But Jesus died and then Paul passed away, to where nobody could say, and his entire generation with him. The world chugged on, oblivious to his apocalyptic visions. Early Christians noticed this. You can see the progression in the New Testament: In 1 Thessalonians Paul says that Jesus is coming back right away. His return is expected at any time. But in 2 Thessalonians this has changed by somebody claiming to be Paul to “other things have to happen first” (2:1-12). Overall, the idea of the Parousia diminishes in the Gospels, being most prominent in Mark, less in both Matthew and Luke, and almost nonexistent in John, the last gospel to be written. As Geza Vermes says, “A lively eschatological outlook cannot maintain itself in the context of ordinary routine existence.”
What happened? Obviously, the Parousia didn’t.
Farah insists that “The world as we have known it throughout our lifetimes is going to change dramatically and forever.” Farah isn’t talking about science and technological innovation or even the ravages of anthropogenic global warming. Farah is talking about Jesus beaming down to bitch-slap us around a bit for being prideful.
You can almost hear Farah’s maniacal giggling as he writes, “A date certain is set. I don’t pretend to know when that day or hour will come, but I know it is near – very near.”
Yeah…Remember when Jesus said the same thing?
“Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power”(Mark 8:38–:9:1).
That didn’t work out so well for Jesus. He would soon be dead and those standing there tasted death without ever seeing the kingdom of God come with power.
For two thousand years people have waited for the kingdom God to come with power. Look, if Jesus was the son of God/God himself/and the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t he know? It’s not possible for Jesus to be all those things and be wrong, but folks, he was wrong. He’s been wrong for 20 centuries.
But Joseph Farah knows something Jesus didn’t know? Really, Joseph? Just to drive a point home, Jesus says again at Mark 30, “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until allthese things have taken place.”
Jesus’ generation is long gone. The world is still here.
Yet Joseph Farah somehow manages to say, “I know all this because the Bible tells me so.”
I’ve presumably read the same Bible Joseph Farah has read and my Bible tells me that the world was supposed to have ended in “fire and glory” in the first century of the Common Era. Jesus was executed in year 30 of the Common Era and any adult listener of his would have certainly died by the end of the century.
Despite Jesus telling his disciples that the world would end in their lifetimes, despite Paul passing on what Jesus was supposedly telling him in a séance, the world did not end. I cannot stress this point enough: the world did not end.
Farah says the same thing apocalypticists have been saying for two thousand years: “is there any more apropos description of the time we live in than the one described in 2 Timothy?”
And so he concludes the same thing every doomsayer has said since Jesus: “The handwriting is on the wall.”
If you get an erection lasting longer than four hours, you’re supposed to get medical help. Apocalyptic Christianity has had a hard-on for the End Times for 2,000 years. Don’t you think it’s time to get help?
The end time scenario people ought to be worrying about is the one where humanity destroys this world of ours through reckless disregard of the environment. We’ve seen what mother nature can do with Frankenstorms like Sandy.
But instead of forwarding-looking science, Farah obsesses over an obscure Bronze Age command by a local deity, YHWH, to his followers, to love him with all their hearts and souls and might (Deuteronomy 6:5) and Jesus’ repetition of this command at Mark 12:29-31.
Farah says “we’re instructed” but as Tonto said to the Lone Ranger, “Who’s ‘we,’ White Man?” Was Joseph Farah there when YHWH said this? I know my history. Assuming the reality of YHWH (and as a polytheist I’m perfectly willing to do this) he was talking to the Jews. Not to Gentles. Even Jesus didn’t want any truck with Gentiles (do not throw pearls before swine, do not give to dogs what is holy).
So yeah, according to Deuteronomy, the Jews are commanded to do just that. I’m not a Jew.
Apparently we’re supposed to thank Farah’s god for our blessings. Apparently, there is a way out of taking credit for what we’ve been able to accomplish by our own hands, a real “Jesus take the wheel” moment if I’ve ever heard one.
Unfortunately, Farah tells us, “It may not forestall judgment on the world, which is coming. But it will make it much more bearable when it happens.”
How, exactly, is that supposed to work?
You do know what the Christian end-time scenario demands, don’t you? All non-believers die horribly. All those Jews that, in Ann Coulter’s words, have not been “perfected,” all the atheists, all the Muslims, all the Hindus and Buddhists, all the Native Americans who haven’t made Bryan Fischer happy by becoming Evangelicals, all the Heathens like me, all the Mitt Romney clan and every other Christian heretic you care to name. All die horribly.
Genocide on a scale unimagined even in the genocide-ridden Old Testament. Dead, dead, dead. But presumably a “more bearable” dead.
Somehow, I think even so-called Believers would be horrified to see their neighbors and friends, and even family, horribly murdered by a vengeful God.
But Farah skips over all this New Testament stuff by jumping back into the Old and quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14 where only YHWH’s people need to turn from their wicked ways. Sorry, Joseph, that’s not what the New Testament says. You better decide if you’re a Christian or a Jew, because you can’t be both. Bad enough you try to pretend all four gospels say the same thing, but it’s even worse when you try to pretend one part of the Bible is more true or relevant than another part of the Bible.
When Farah says, “In other words, all it takes is for believers to humble themselves, pray, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways. Is that too much to ask?” that’s not at all what the Bible says. According to Jesus, God would come down, bitch-slap the Roman oppressors, and make Israel King of the World, not the United States. There is no bearable element in any Christian end-time fantasies, so it’s just as well we’ll have to wait for nature’s denouement when the sun burns out its supply of hydrogen a few billion years from now.
The problem for the rest of is that, unlike Joseph Farah and his get out of hell free card, there is no get out of environmental apocalypse free card for global warming.
 Bart D. Ehrman. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (NY: Oxford University Press, 2004), 93-94. Michael Grant agrees: “Such writing has evidently been the fate to an even larger extent, of the ‘Pastoral Epistles’, purporting to be written by Paul…in their present form these letters seem to be of early second century date.” Grant, Saint Paul, 4.
 Geza Vermes, The Changing Faces of Jesus (NY: Penguin Compass, 2000), 146.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.