liberation is near at hand!" (Luke 21:28 Jerusalem Bible)
About the Author
If you are reading this section before the rest of this book, it is probably to address the issue of credibility. There have been many fraudulent claims made in the name of Christianity, and especially in the name of Bible prophecy. Is this another attempt to sucker people into believing a lie?
Does this book present evidence that YOU will find convincing? Or, am I simply exhorting you to "have faith and believe," while offering the sort of flimsy 'evidence' that would convince only those who already believe? Please allow me to introduce myself and to acquaint you with my own skepticism.
Some people may guess that the author of a book such as this must have been raised in a Bible-thumping fundamentalist church, taught from birth to believe that 'the end is near.' "He must never have known anything else," you may naturally assume, "and his car must sport one of those bumper stickers that say, 'God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!'"
However, nothing could be farther from the truth.
When it came to religion, my childhood family had no outward signs of it. We didn't worship anywhere and were not even associated with any church. My father never spoke to me of his belief in God until I was nearly fifty years old, and then it was only a sentence or two. While growing up, I assumed he was simply not interested in religion. My mother, on the other hand, spoke often of God. She could best be described as a seeker, or better yet, as a hide-and-seeker. She expressed belief in God, but often in a questioning or critical manner. How could God allow this or that terrible thing to happen? Why didn't God make matters clearer in the Bible? Whenever I
opened her Bible, I found that she had written critical comments or hostile questions all over the margins. Mama spent decades playing hide-and-seek with God. Dad simply hid.
While in elementary school, there was a period of a few weeks when I was taken with my younger sister to a Baptist Sunday school, while my mother attended church. The Baptist church had been my dad's official affiliation, at least by birth. He never attended with us, though, but simply dropped us off at the door and drove off for to sit in the car and smoke until it was time to pick us up again. Our time at the Baptist church was brief, ending soon after my mother's peculiar baptism. I never even found out why there were white fluffy sheep in the pictures of Jesus on the wall of the Sunday school classroom.
I describe my mother's baptism as peculiar because, as she stood robed and waist-deep in water with the pastor about to dunk her, she replied to his question, "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?" by saying, "I accept him as my Savior, but not as my Lord." He baptized her anyway. But that episode was typical of Mama's hide-and-seek relationship with God. The game ended well, however, as she much later submitted to the lordship of Christ and experienced his peace during her final years — even experiencing a personal revelation that had her bubbling over about his tender care during her terminal bout with cancer.
But, before that happy conclusion, my mother's game of hide-and-seek with God went on for years. After that brief period in a Baptist church, it took me next, as a seventh-grader, to a Unitarian church in the Boston suburb of Milton. It was a wealthy old church, or, at least, everyone there seemed much better off financially than our family with our beat-up twelve-year old car. I always felt like a low-class interloper when church emptied out into the fellowship hall for a consomme hour, with the beverage served in delicate china cups and saucers.
I still held onto a childhood belief in God, but this was soon to be assaulted, defeated and destroyed. As I look back now, the attack on what little faith I had was three-pronged.
First, there was the Unitarian Church. The