Monday, March 28, 2011

A Response to Lawrence O'Donnell

Last week Lawrence O'Donnell stirred up a bit of controversy when he said these words on his show, The Last Word: "The book of Revelation is a work of fiction describing how a truly vicious God would bring about the end of the world. No half smart religious person actually believes the book of Revelation."

The full segment is posted here on O'Donnell's blog.

Let me start by saying that I am a likeminded liberal, and like Lawrence O'Donnell quite a lot. I agree with him a vast majority of the time, and greatly appreciate that a voice like his has a prominent place on the airwaves. But as a Christian who profoundly cherishes the Bible, I felt compelled to weigh in.

Dear Lawrence,

I read the Bible first thing every morning, have gone cover to cover four times, and am nearing my fifth completion. The day after that I will turn to page one and embark on my sixth reading of the word of God. I also study the history of its composition, its influence on the history of mankind, and cannot get enough of the documentaries and movies that have been made about it.

The Bible is not a work of fiction. The country of Israel is a real place, both ancient and modern, history records that its inhabitants were conquered and carried away captive into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar around 700 BC, and that Jesus Christ did walk the earth there about two thousand years ago. These and other events and people of the Bible were all very real, so if your belief that the book of Revelation is fiction extends to the whole of the Bible, you are very wrong. Just for a couple of many proofs, the Psalms are a collection of songs of worship and praise, and the Proverbs are just that: proverbs. Being such, they cannot be fiction.

In your monologue, you also said: "To believe in the book of Revelation literally, you have to believe in dragons. Quote: And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth, and the dragon waxed wroth with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed." (Incidentally, those verses are Revelation 12: 16-17.)

Lawrence, the dragon is not a literal dragon, the dragon allegorically symbolizes the Devil. If you had read the entire book of Revelation before talking about it, or even just the chapter from which you quoted, you’d have seen this verse: And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceived the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Revelation 12:9. It's a mere few lines before the verses you quoted. Not to be harsh, but you come across like someone who’s only seen the preview discussing a film; or a book he’s only read parts.

Over the years I have had countless people remark on my intelligence, so if they are to be believed, then I am no half smart religious man. You also seem to misuse the word religious. Religion is going to the temple, and performing the liturgies and outward shows of worship. Faith is making a temple of your own body, and keeping the love of God and your neighbor in your heart and soul.

Furthermore, I believe much of the conservative Christian right is wide of the mark. They are hypocrites in much of what they say and do. Beck and Palin and the rest are a lot of misguided liars who drape themselves in mantles of Christianity to lead others astray for political gain or to exercise authority and power to the satisfaction of their own egos. Jesus did say that when the blind lead the blind they all fall in the ditch. True Christians are far more humble, compassionate, and yes, liberal.

You also referred to a well known Thomas Jefferson quote in which he called the book of Revelation blasphemous. I was familiar with the Jefferson quote before you repeated it on your show. I actually lost more respect for Jefferson when I first heard it. The parts of Revelation that apply to the world today could not have been fully comprehended by someone reading it before industrialization. His remark displayed where his faith was weak, at least to my mind.

I wrote a break down of some of the prophesies in Revelation with accompanying youtube videos to show precisely how they are coming to pass today. I find the accuracy with which they are fulfilling to be stunning and uncanny. That link is here, if you wish to take a look. I'd hardly call any of that fiction.

And if you’d care to write back, and are willing to do a little reading, I can direct to some places where I can demonstrate precisely how a reasonably intelligent man could do anything but believe the Bible.


Bob Charest

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