Posted at NewsBusters by Warner Todd Huston, July 19, 2006
In a misleading expose on the various "end times" religious concepts that are increasingly in the news today, the L.A. Times' Louis Sahagun; conflates Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's violent 12th Imam ravings with several different Christian and Jewish end times concepts as if the ideas are one and the same when, in reality, they aren't even comparable.
Ignoring clear Biblical claims that no man shall know when the end times are near, (Matthew 24:35-36) Sahagun focuses on the minority of Christian leaders who claim that despite that Biblical injunction it must be near. But if it isn't they want to attempt to bring it about. Sahagun warns us...
"Their end game is to speed the promised arrival of a messiah."
After briefly mentioning Christian, Jewish and Ahmadinejad's concepts, Sahagun attempts to loosely link them all together.
"Linking these efforts is a belief that modern technologies and global communications have made it possible to induce completion of God's plan within this generation."
After this line, though, one would imagine the piece would inform us about all these "modern technologies" and how similarly they are being used to advance the end times, but the piece is oddly re-directed to further highlight the apocalyptic visions of a minority of today's Christianity and the "modern technologies" aspect is dropped for the more sensational.
After going on paragraph after paragraph about these end of times concepts Sahagun's focus on these plans makes it seem as if the entire Christian community is coalesced on creating the conditions for the end times and he fails to highlight the material differences between the various concepts. With the most egregious example, Sahagun fails to delineate the difference between the Christian ideas and that of Ahmadinijad. The 12th Imam theory is one of violence, where all nations will be conquered and forced to convert to Islam, whereas the Christian claim is of merely waiting for prophecy to be fulfilled with Christians but informing the world of what is to come -- no force, no oppression, no violence on their part.
Sahagun also perpetuates the canard that Christians think all Jews must be destroyed, too.
"But when asked to comment on the fate of non-Christians upon the Second Coming of Jesus, he said, 'That's a very embarrassing question. What can I tell you? That's a very terrible Christian idea. What kind of religion is it that expects another religion will be destroyed?'"
Unfortunately for the reader's clarity, Sahagun neglects to mention that no Christian theology claims that it will be Christians doing this destroying, but that it is God's will, not theirs be done. Unlike that of Islam that says the Muslims should take a direct hand in such violence, Christians take a more pacifistic view of preparing for the end times than do Muslims.
Close to the end of the piece, Sahagun does finally hint that not all Christians are as far out as most he describes in his article.
"So, are all of these efforts to hasten the end of the world a bit like, well, playing God? Some Christians, such as Roman Catholics and some Protestant denominations, believe in the Second Coming but don't try to advance it. It's important to be ready for the Second Coming, they say, although its timetable cannot be manipulated."
Unfortunately he uses words like "some" when describing the less driven Christians but eschews such exculpatory language when describing those he obviously feels are nuts in the rest of the piece, causing the reader to imagine those Sahagun thinks are sane are farther and fewer between than the more agitated variety of Christian end times theorist he highlights.
In a final indignity, quoting Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, vice president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York, Sahagun attempts to paint Christians as racists.
"Trouble is, there are many people who want to bring a messiah who looks just like them. For me, that kind of messianism is spiritual narcissism."
Are we to expect that Rabbi Hirschfield imagines his Messiah, the one that Judaism is still expecting to come, might arrive from Harlem, rapping his way to the rebuilt Temple Mount, or perhaps he might be a kindly Buddhist from Japan in a nice orange robe? No, likely the good Rabbi imagines that his expected Messiah will be a Jew, someone who is just like Hirschfield.
All in all this is a barely disguised hit piece on Christianity where Sahagun highlights some wild-eyed, end times theories and leads the reader to imagine that every Christian is a racist, Jew hater that wants to bring about Armageddon.
Funny, though, how Ahmadinejad's Armageddon, the one where the sword of Allah will cleanse the world of non-believers, is only described with no judgmental language attached, whereas Christian's version is called "a very terrible Christian idea".
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