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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

THE ORIGINS OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM AND RACISM

The New World Encyclopedia article on American exceptionalism informs us that the notion “has been historically referred to as the belief that the United States differs qualitatively from other developed nations because of its national credo, historical evolution, or distinctive political and religious institutions. The difference is often expressed in American circles as some categorical superiority, to which is usually attached some alleged proof, rationalization or explanation that may vary greatly depending on the historical period and the political context.” In other words, simply stated, American exceptionalism has traditionally been associated with the belief that America is superior to the other nations of the world.

For most Americans, this notion of being the greatest nation on the face of the earth is self-evident and has always been a part of our consciousness. It’s like breathing air – we rarely even think about it. Nevertheless, if we are truly interested in understanding why we believe this about ourselves, and the role which this belief has played in shaping other notions which have arisen among us, we must first understand the historical forces that shaped this notion of superiority and gave rise to the phenomenon known as American exceptionalism.

And, in our quest to understand those forces, it is important that we begin by acknowledging the fact that the notion of superiority to the other peoples of the earth began as a European notion. Indeed, most of us remember learning in school that “In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” You know, the story about how the king and queen of Spain sent Christopher Columbus out on a voyage to find a new passage to the East, and he ended up “discovering” America. Never mind that the Americas already had a large population of indigenous peoples with very old and well-developed cultures of their own!

Even so, the United States has celebrated Columbus Day for many years, and its children have been taught this false narrative about their origins. What is often left out of the narrative taught to America’s children though is the unfortunate story about how those Native Americans were ruthlessly conquered and converted to Christianity by the Spaniards, and how Spain enriched itself with their gold and became the greatest European power because of it! And, unfortunately, most of those same students are blissfully ignorant about how the envy and jealousy of the English generated a host of government sanctioned buccaneers who were intent on intercepting Spanish gold and challenging Spanish claims in the “New World.”

Most of them are also unaware of how the Spanish king eventually assembled a great Armada of ships to end English interference with his affairs and ensure Spain’s supremacy in Europe. According to the English, however, God intervened in the form of a great storm which scattered the Spanish fleet and caused many of them to flounder at sea. From the English perspective, “God blew, and they were scattered.” In other words, God had intervened to protect them and defeat the Spanish Armada. Moreover, in defeating the greatest nation of Europe, the English felt some justification in believing that they were now the greatest nation.

Indeed, the notion became so ingrained in the English psyche that William Shakespeare would put the following words about his homeland into the mouth of John of Gaunt in one of his most famous plays: “This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall, Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands, This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England” (Richard II, Act 2, Scene 1). In looking back, most of us would characterize that kind of language as being extremely presumptuous, but it does nicely demonstrate the point that our notion of exceptionalism had its roots in our Anglo-Saxon forbearers.

It is also clear that this notion was not only secular in nature, but that it later evolved into the belief that Englishmen were themselves the true people of God. In 1654, after the Puritans had triumphed in England, Oliver Cromwell proclaimed: “That this hath been a nation of blessings in the midst whereof so many wonders have been brought forth by the outstretched arm of the Almighty, even to astonishment, and wonder, who can deny? Ask we the nations of this matter and they will testify, and indeed the dispensations of the Lord have been as if he had said, England thou art my first-born, my delight amongst the nations, under the whole heavens the Lord hath not dealt so with any of the people round about us.” In other words, it was clear that God had favored the English above all of the other nations of the earth! 

Looking back, it is also now apparent to us that these notions of English exceptionalism accompanied English colonists to their “plantations” in the “New World” in the early part of the Seventeenth Century. Indeed, before the pilgrims had fully disembarked from the Mayflower, the men all pledged that “Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honor of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid.” Notice that even in The Mayflower Compact we see that the pilgrims believed that their venture had been “undertaken for the glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian faith.”

And, before he moved to “New England,” the Reverend John Cotton sent God’s people on their way to the new Promised Land, with the message that God Himself had appointed their project. He quoted the tenth verse of the seventh chapter of Second Samuel and summarized what it meant for the colonists. He said: “In this 10th verse is a double blessing promised: 1. The designment of a Place for his People, 2. A Plantation of them in that place, from whence is promised a threefold blessing: 1. They shall dwell there like Free-holders, in a place of their own, 2. He promiseth them firm and durable possession; they shall move no more, 3. They shall have peaceable and quiet resting there; The sons of wickedness shall afflict them no more: which is amplified by their former troubles; as before time. From the appointment of a place for them, which is the first blessing, you may observe this Note; The placing of a people in this or that Country, is from the Appointment of the Lord.”

He also went on to preview some of the arguments that would be used to justify the settlement of God’s people in a place that was already occupied. He said: “Now God makes room for a People three ways: 1. When he casts out the Enemies of a people before them, by lawful War with the Inhabitants which God calls them unto, as in Psalm 44:2. Thou didst drive out the Heathen before them. But this course of Warring against others, and driving them out without provocation, depends upon special Commission from God; or else it is not imitable, 2. When he gives a foreign People favor in the eyes of any native People to come and sit down with them; either by way of purchase, as Abraham did obtain the field of Machpelah: or else when they give it in courtesy, as Pharaoh did the Land of Goshen unto the Sons of Jacob, 3. When he makes a Country, though not altogether void of Inhabitants, yet void in that place where they reside. Where there is a vacant place, there is liberty for the Son of Adam or Noah to come and inhabit, though they neither buy it, nor ask their leaves.” Clearly, Cotton believed that the English colonization of America was God’s work, and that He was performing that work on behalf of His special people.

That this view had the support of many of the Puritans who came to America is further reinforced by a sermon that was reintroduced to the popular consciousness by President Ronald Reagan more than thirty years ago. As he was crossing the Atlantic Ocean aboard the Arbella on his way to the New World, the Reverent John Winthrop told his fellow passengers “that men shall say of succeeding plantations: the lord make it like that of New England: for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our god in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.” He went on to warn his companions that they must obey God, or “we shall surely perish out of the good Land whether we pass over this vast Sea to possess it.” Like Cotton, Winthrop obviously believed that New England was a Divinely appointed project for the benefit of His people.

With this foundation, it wasn’t a great leap for these folks or the generations which would follow them to justify their appropriation of Native American land, expansion at their expense, and the eventual enslavement of their African brethren. After all, if they really were God’s people, the Old Testament provided them with a template for how God had given the original Promised Land to His people, the Israelites. Hadn’t there been Amalekites, Philistines and Canaanites living in the land before the Israelites took possession of it? And hadn’t God sanctioned the removal and extermination of those heathen people to clear the land for His own people?

In the book of Numbers, they read: “And when king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners. And Israel vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities. And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.” (verses 1-3, KJV) Likewise, in the twentieth chapter of Deuteronomy, they read: “But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee: That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the Lord your God.” (verses 16-18, KJV)

Indeed, the language of exterminating the then current inhabitants of the land was pervasive and explicit. After the leadership passed to Joshua following the death of Moses, they read that God had instructed His people that, out of the entire population of Jericho, only Rahab and her household would be permitted to live (Joshua 6:17, KJV). And, when the Israelites proceeded to carry out God’s instructions, they read: “So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.” (Joshua 6:20-21, KJV). In fact, even in the scriptural histories of the kingdom period, they had the example of God’s graphic instructions to King Saul about the Amalekites. They read: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (I Samuel 15:2-3, KJV)

As a consequence, the English colonists felt more than justified in taking possession of America and displacing the natives. After all, hadn’t God already demonstrated His willingness to remove the heathens and give their lands to His people? Moreover, it was apparent that Native Americans didn’t use the land like Englishmen did. They didn’t build cities, cultivate the land, keep livestock, or have title to their lands. Indeed, one can hear the echo of the justifications for what would come later in the sermons, Bible passages, and in the reasoning of their descendants.

The cause of Native Americans was also not helped by the fact that many of them would support the British during the course of the Revolutionary War. Moreover, prior to winning their independence, colonists had resented the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which sought to forbid them from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains. Hence, after the war ended, Americans were even more hostile toward Native Americans and eager to expand westward. And, just as their settlements at Jamestown and Plymouth had generated resentment among the native inhabitants of those places, the influx of white settlers into the land beyond the mountains provoked their resentment and animosity. Nevertheless, the white hunger for land proved to be insatiable, and that hunger eventually led to the development of a new notion – that it was the “Manifest Destiny” of the newly minted United States to extend all the way to the Pacific!

In 1845, a newspaperman name John O’Sullivan declared that “Texas is now ours!” He went on to say that it was “our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.” Indeed, according to him, California would also soon be a part of the United States. He wrote that “The Anglo-Saxon foot is already on its borders. Already the advance guard of the irresistible army of Anglo-Saxon emigration has begun to pour down upon it, armed with the plough and the rifle, and marking its trail with schools and colleges, courts and representative halls, mills and meeting-houses. A population will soon be in actual occupation of California, over which it will be idle for Mexico to dream of dominion.”

 Of course, O’Sullivan’s prophecies were about to be fulfilled by President James Knox Polk. It was, after all, Polk who launched a war with Mexico which resulted in the entire northern portion of their territory being ceded to the United States. Polk declared that: “It is of great importance to our country generally, and especially to our navigating and whaling interests, that the Pacific Coast and, indeed, the whole of our territory west of the Rocky Mountains, should speedily be filled up by a hardy and patriotic population.” Clearly, the U.S. President shared the newspaperman’s vision of America’s destiny.

In the meantime, the “exceptional” nature of America had also been noticed by someone outside of the nation in the person of the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville. Indeed, most modern historians credit that gentleman with giving the phenomenon its moniker (American exceptionalism).

And, just as Scripture and Divine Providence were used to justify taking land away from Native Americans (and exterminating many of them in the process), they were also employed to justify the enslavement of Africans in the United States. After all, didn’t the Bible say that God had cursed Ham and his descendants because of Canaan’s sin? (Southern Christians assumed that Africans were the descendants of Ham). Weren’t there numerous statutes related to the practice of slavery among the Israelites in the Torah? Hadn’t the Apostle Paul enjoined slaves to obey their masters (Ephesians 6:5) and refrain from actively seeking to change their circumstances (I Corinthians 7:21)?

Southern Christian ministers also supported the institution of slavery for Africans. Bishop William Meade of Virginia thought that it might be some kind of Divine punishment for known or unknown sins. However, he believed that even if the person in bonds wasn’t guilty of any sin(s) that his/her suffering in this life would be rewarded by God in the next! On the other hand, Bishop Stephen Elliott of Georgia speculated that slavery may have been part of God’s plan to bring salvation through Jesus Christ to Africans! Moreover, if God really was behind all of these things, no one would dare to accuse Almighty God of being unjust or racist!

Finally, in the treatment of both Native Americans and Africans, the notion of Anglo superiority implies the inferiority of those who were oppressed by them! In fact, even many of the white Americans who were opposed to slavery and the way that Native Americans had been treated by the U.S. government openly expressed their beliefs that these folks were their inferiors. And, for the folks who actively oppressed both groups, that inferiority provided yet another justification for the treatment which they received at the hands of their superiors!

In modern times, the notion of American exceptionalism has been used to support notions of varying degrees of obnoxiousness. For instance, it has been used to justify things like white privilege, white supremacy, and everything in between. Another interesting manifestation of the notion is the development of the belief among some folks that the Anglo-Saxon peoples of the world are the actual descendants of the people of Israel. And, although this may seem like one of the most extreme manifestations of American exceptionalism, the statements of some of the adherents of this belief demonstrate a kind of logical evolution of the thinking associated with the phenomenon.

In the United States and Great Britain, the Twentieth Century religious leader Herbert Armstrong was probably the foremost proponent of the teaching. His The United States and Britain in Prophecy generated a following of several hundreds of thousands of people at the height of the movement. Although it has been noted that Armstrong’s book plagiarized the work of other authors, many folks were persuaded by the skillful way in which he underscored the wealth and military prowess of both nations. It should also be noted that Mr. Armstrong largely ignored all of the unpleasant realities relative to Native Americans and Africans which underpinned that greatness.

Unlike Armstrong, the much smaller and relatively insignificant British-Israel Church of God has been more willing to confront some of the unpleasantness that he avoided. In fact, in one of their articles, a Charles Weisman states: “the Indians never had a legal claim to much more than 3% of the land at any one time. So, it can be said that the Indians did have a legal claim to America, 3% of it, which was considered their ‘own territory.’” He went on to underscore this point by stating that “97% of America was not legally the ‘property’ of anyone.” Weisman summarized: “History reveals that all the early hostilities and wars between the American Indians and the white settlers, were instigated or started by the Indians without just cause. Even though the white settlers had legal title to the land by way of purchase or claim of unoccupied lands, the Indian was always the one to disrupt peaceful relations with attacks, massacres, and wars. The retaliation by the white settlers were merely acts of self-defense and self-preservation in accordance with the law of nature. Thus, it was the Indian who was the intruder and violator of land rights and of his own law. It was the Indian who, in the beginning, wronged the white man.” In a companion article by Thomas Wood Ph.D., we are informed that “The Puritans were not racists.”

Hence, we can hear the echoes of the past in these more modern versions of these very old concepts/notions. And, in these extreme manifestations of American and British exceptionalism, we can discern more clearly just how wrong-headed these notions really were/are! Moreover, in the opinion of this commentator, if America does have any legitimate claim to being the greatest nation on the face of the earth separate and apart from its wealth and military might, it is to be found in the degree to which it adheres to the principle “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Lonnie Hendrix  

The sources for the material in this post are listed below in the order in which they appear here:

Article: “American exceptionalism,” New World Encyclopedia, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/American_exceptionalism, Accessed 25 October 2021.

Article: “God blew and they were scattered: Did God really help the English defeat the Spanish Armada?” The National Archives, https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/god-blew-they-were-scattered/, Accessed 26 October 2021.

Shakespeare, William, The Life and Death of Richard II, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by Jeremy Hylton for The Tech (MIT), http://shakespeare.mit.edu/richardii/index.html, Accessed 26 October 2021

Article: “Oliver Cromwell and the People of God,” by Dr. David Smith, The Cromwell Association, http://www.olivercromwell.org/wordpress/?page_id=106, Accessed 26 October 2021.

Bradford, William, Et al, Mayflower Compact, Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library, The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy, https://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/mayflower.asp, Accessed 25 October 2021.

Cotton, Reverend John, God’s Promise to His Plantation (1630), American Literature Anthology Project, https://amlit1.hcommons.org/cottonpromise/, Accessed 26 October 2021.

Winthrop, Reverend John, City Upon a Hill (1630), Digital History, http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=3&psid=3918, Accessed 26 October 2021.

King James Version of the Holy Bible at https://www.biblegateway.com, Accessed 26 October 2021.

Article: “The Royal Proclamation of 1763,” UShistory.org, https://www.ushistory.org/declaration/lessonplan/royalproc.html, Accessed 26 October 2021.

O’Sullivan, John, “Annexation,” The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, Volume 17 (New York: 1845), John O’Sullivan Declares America’s Manifest Destiny, 1845, The American Yawp Reader, https://www.americanyawp.com/reader/manifest-destiny/john-osullivan-declares-americas-manifest-destiny-1845/. Accessed 26 October 2021.

Polk, James K., BrainyQuote, https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/james_k_polk_802708, Accessed 26 October 2021. 

Tocqueville, Alexis de, Democracy in America, 1835.

Article: “How Christian Slaveholders Used the Bible to Justify Slavery,” by Noel Rae, Time, 23 February 2018, https://time.com/5171819/christianity-slavery-book-excerpt/, Accessed 26 October 2021.

Armstrong, Herbert W, The United States and Britain in Prophecy, New York: Everest House Publishers, 1980, The Herbert W. Armstrong Searchable Library, http://www.herbert-armstrong.org/Books%20&%20Booklets/United%20States%20and%20Britain%20in%20Prophecy%20(1980).pdf, Accessed 26 October 2021.

Article: “Did the White Man Steal North America From the Indians?” by Charles Weisman, https://www.british-israel.ca/America.htm#.YXjaPJrMLIV, Accessed 26 October 2021.

Article: “The Puritans were not racists,” by Thomas E. Woods Jr. Ph.D., From the Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, https://www.british-israel.ca/America.htm#.YXjaPJrMLIV, Accessed 26 October 2021.  

The Declaration of Independence (1776), America’s Founding Documents, National Archives, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript, Accessed 27 October 2021.


Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Armstrong-Trump Straitjacket

 It has been noted on numerous occasions here and elsewhere that both current and former Armstrongites are very likely to be supporters of Donald Trump. And, as you can imagine, a number of factors have been identified as being wholly or in part responsible for this phenomenon. For example, it has been pointed out that the disposition of Armstrong and his followers was largely conservative and nationalistic – making them more susceptible to accepting Trump’s messaging and policies. In a similar vein, others have pointed out the disdain of both men for more traditional and mainstream narratives, and how that anti-elitism proved to be a powerful draw for many within the general populace. In short, if we take the time to think about it, we can all immediately see a number of similarities between the approaches/attitudes of the two men that would appeal to those of a certain mindset.

There is, however, another observation about the supporters of both men that was recently underscored for me by an ongoing discussion within my own family regarding Armstrongism and Trumpism. It was one of those aha moments where the light goes on, and you suddenly realize that a profound truth has been staring you right in the face for a long time. I’m talking about the propensity of the followers of both men to reject any and all criticism of their hero and stick with them through “thick and thin.” Moreover, it is THIS devotion/loyalty of their followers in the face of overwhelming evidence of their error(s) which has most mystified and perturbed those of us who have opposed them and their agendas! We ask, “Why can’t they see this?” We pull out all of the sources which destroy their narratives, and they don’t even blink!

Why? Why are these folks impervious to any criticisms of their heroes or their agendas? For me, the answer to those questions was that aha moment I’ve already mentioned.

The evil genius of Herbert Armstrong and Donald Trump is found in their deliberate and relentless campaigns to thoroughly discredit all other sources, so that their followers view them as the ONLY legitimate source of TRUTH! Herbert Armstrong prefaced almost every one of his teachings with a tirade against mainstream Christianity, scientists, philosophers, theologians, historians, and higher education. He talked at great length about the ignorance of these people of God’s ways, and the “real” knowledge available in the pages of the Bible (as interpreted by him). Likewise, Donald Trump’s continuous assault on liberals, the mainstream media, courts and judges, doctors and public health officials, diplomats, climate scientists, and intellectuals of all stripes was masterfully designed to make him the go to guy for information. In both cases (Armstrong and Trump), it was drummed into the heads of their followers that consulting any other sources was disloyal and/or dangerous. In other words, they made it heretical to even entertain any views which contradicted their own!

For many of Armstrong’s followers, God used him to reveal THE TRUTH to their minds. Hence, they reasoned, that God wouldn’t have used a morally compromised man; and, therefore, the accusations against him must be false. However, even some of the folks who acknowledge Herbert Armstrong’s personal moral failures will still say things like: “Yes, but the doctrines/teachings were correct” OR “Yes, but he taught the truth.” In other words, for many of these folks, Armstrong so completely destroyed the credibility of any other sources that they will still cling to his theology, even if you can finally get them to see how flawed the man himself turned out to be!

In similar fashion, even if you can get a Trump supporter to admit the horrendous personal flaws of the man himself, you cannot shake their devotion to what he “stands for.” For them, he may be brash and cruel, but “he speaks the truth!” Even so, the vast majority of his supporters (whether they be Armstrongites, former Armstrongites, or Evangelical Christians) see absolutely nothing wrong with his character/behavior! Indeed, as with Herbert Armstrong before him, if the fearless leader does something that is antithetical to the teachings of Scripture, they just modify the meaning of the scriptures in question! Moreover, the authoritarian tendencies inherent to the modus operandi of both men provides yet another insight into the mindset of the folks who continue to support them and/or their agendas. In other words, these folks are looking for someone to follow – someone to tell them what’s what.

And, if someone has figured it all out for you, there is no need to look any further. Indeed, you’ll only confuse yourself and darken your understanding if you do! Is this starting to sound like circular reasoning? Yes, Armstrong and Trump were experts at putting their followers into mental straitjackets that required minimum maintenance from them! These evil geniuses realized that, if they did their job well enough on the front end, their followers would forever police the doors to their own minds!


Monday, October 4, 2021

The Watchman

 “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel.” Ezekiel 3:17

Unfortunately, the Worldwide Church of God and most of its descendants have appropriated God’s designation of the prophet Ezekiel as a “watchman for Israel” as a Divine Commission for them to preach news headline prophecy to the English-speaking peoples of the earth. Hence, it is refreshing and notable when we see a leader within one of the splinters who rejects this traditional Armstrongist interpretation of the above passage from the book of Ezekiel.

Even so, we should note up front that there is some trepidation in deciding to offer any praise for anything presented by anyone who is still a part of one of these groups. After all, any praise from the author of this website could become the “kiss of death” within a culture that has been accustomed to looking at things through the eyes of Herbert Armstrong and his minions! So, let’s hope that any attention which this post generates within that culture is positive, and that it generates a greater inclination among those folks to embrace a more honest assessment of the proper Christian role as a watchman.

In a blog post entitled “EZEKIEL’S TIMELESS MESSAGE - WHAT IS THE REAL “WORK OF THE WATCHMAN”?,” Pastor Vance Stinson of the Church of God International wrote: “According to some, the work of the watchman involves ‘watching’ for prophetic fulfillments in the daily newspaper and assuming prophetic significance for every earthquake, drought, flood, or other disaster that makes the headlines. Incredibly, even when a particular ‘watchman’ has a long history of failed predictions, people will continue to follow him, claiming that he has some special ‘anointing,’ which is reflected in his oratory skills and ‘gift’ for analyzing news events ‘in the light of Bible prophecy.’ The ‘watchman’ shouts a loud and reverberating ‘I told you so!’ on the rare occasion of an accurate prediction, but seems to easily forget the many times he was wrong. Beware of those who come along and, with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other, attempt to read prophetic fulfillments into the headlines. Such are the tactics of the false teachers Jesus warned His disciples about.” Can we all say, “AMEN!”

A little later in the same post, Mr. Stinson wrote: “The tactics of today’s sensationalists have changed little. They insist that Jesus’ admonition to ‘watch’ is a command to watch for prophetic fulfillments in the daily headlines. That is not what Jesus meant! To ‘watch’ is to be alert, or prepared. Jesus said, ‘Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming’ (Matthew 24:42). This does not mean that we should watch for prophetic fulfillments in the headlines so that we will know how much time we have left before the Second Coming. It simply means that we should make sure we are prepared at all times because we do not know when Christ will return. The command to ‘watch’ is another way of saying, ‘Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil...[and] that you may be able to withstand [or stand your ground] in the evil day, and having done all, to stand’ (Ephesians 6:11, 13).” Once again, I couldn’t have said it better myself! Let’s hope that other ACOG leaders embrace Mr. Stinson’s understanding of these important concepts!