Re­li­gion’s rad­i­cal fringe el­e­ment

The Compass - - OPINION -

Just won­der­ing . . . “Rise up, oh blessed daugh­ter of mine! For, I am your Fa­ther Yah­weh, yea Je­ho­vah, Most High God, King of Kings and the Only Saviour! Sit and write; for my word must go out to a hun­gry peo­ple, to a dry and parched land!”

In the run of any given day, I re­ceive too many un­so­licited emails. At times I won­der, How­ever did they get my email ad­dress?

Many of the emails I re­ceive are sim­ply lu­di­crous. Some — most? — re­li­gious ones are es­pe­cially inane.

An email I re­cently re­ceived is headed in­nocu­ously enough, “ The Gulf Oil Dis­as­ter Is Out Of Con­trol!”

Ob­vi­ously the words in the sub­ject line are meant to en­tice the un­sus­pect­ing re­cip­i­ent to read on.

In this email, a “prophet­ess” by the name of Linda Newkirk is head­lined as hav­ing “a very grave warn­ing from Je­sus!” (Note the overuse of the ex­cla­ma­tion point.) Sounds se­ri­ous. If Je­sus is try­ing to speak to me, who am I not to lis­ten? Sounds like I should read what he says. I may miss some­thing im­por­tant if I fail to read his words.

Newkirk’s prophecy is in­tro­duced this way: “ We are not be­ing told the truth about the dis­as­ter in the Gulf. The scope of this cri­sis is be­yond de­scrip­tion and be­comes more dire by the day.” Not much there to dis­agree with. Then, the ac­tual prophecy from the Lord: all 1,323 words of it. And this is only half of the en­tire doc­u­ment. Read­ers are en­cour­aged to ac­cess and read Part 2, as well.

I re­fused. My time was too valu­able.

Who­ever Newkirk is, she ap­par­ently has a pri­vate line to God. And, ac­cord­ing to Newkirk her­self, God has re­vealed to her what no other hu­man has re­ceived.

Please hu­mour me for a moment by dip­ping into Newkirk’s balder­dash a lit­tle fur­ther.

“ Mark my words in this!” she writes. “For, if those in these States (af­fected by the Gulf oil dis­as­ter), who are called by my name, do not re­pent, I shall send storms, I shall send tsunamis, I shall send earth­quakes; and I shall send famine and dis­ease un­til I have erad­i­cated this evil out of my face! I have set My face against these Gulf Coastal States and I shall not be sat­is­fied un­til I have de­stroyed this great evil!” Yea for God! So, he’s the one who sends storms, tsunamis, earth­quakes, famine and dis­ease. And, oh yes, the Gulf oil dis­as­ter. Pop­py­cock. If this is garbage, de­serv­ing only of File 13, why am I us­ing up valu­able space in this es­teemed news­pa­per, not to men­tion wast­ing your valu­able time in ask­ing you to read this?

For one rea­son only: to alert read­ers to re­li­gion’s rad­i­cal fringe el­e­ment. It’s per­va­sive and in­sid­i­ous. In 1986, I read a book — Re­li­gion’s Rebel Son: Fa­nati­cism in Our Time — that helped set the fu­ture course of my life.

“ The twen­ti­eth ( and, I might add, twenty-first) cen­tury is the most cred­u­lous and con­form­ist age in his­tory,” Lloyd Billings­ley writes. “ Mod­ern Man can be in­duced to be­lieve any­thing, pro­vided it is dished up in the proper jar­gon, en­dorsed by the proper author­ity, or, best of all, seen on tele­vi­sion (or, in the con­tem­po­rary set­ting, the In­ter­net).”

Billings­ley also refers to “a com­bi­na­tion of self-de­ifi­ca­tion and false claims of in­spi­ra­tion.”

This is pre­cisely what Newkirk has done by plac­ing her­self on a higher plane than the rest of us mere mor­tals. She is a self-pro­claimed prophet, which dic­tio­nary. com de­fines as “a per­son who speaks for god or a de­ity, or by di­vine in­spi­ra­tion.”

If God has as­signed Newkirk such a lofty po­si­tion, then how dare we not read and heed her prophe­cies?

Newkirk makes stu­pen­dous claims of in­spi­ra­tion. God has asked her to spread the word about his judg­ment on a god­less nation by send­ing all sorts of nat­u­ral calami­ties, in­clud­ing the Gulf oil dis­as­ter.

It strikes me now that, in the Old Tes­ta­ment, if what a prophet or prophet­ess proph­e­sied failed to come to pass, that per­son had to be killed.

Prophecy is big busi­ness to­day. Just check out Newkirk’s web­site ( http://www.prophe­cies.orghttp:// www. prophe­cies. org).> ). There’s even one prophecy en­ti­tled, “ Barack Hus­sein Obama Is The An­tichrist!” Newkirk’s books are trans­lated into Ital­ian, French, Span­ish, Ger­man and Ja­panese, among other lan­guages.

Con­tem­po­rary prophets are tak­ing quite the chance by claim­ing to speak on God’s be­half. If their prophe­cies fail to ma­te­ri­al­ize, who’s go­ing to deal the death blow?!

I will stead­fastly con­tinue to de­fend free speech. Newkirk has as much right to proph­esy as I have to ex­press my per­sonal opin­ion.

Still, I feel a per­sonal com­punc­tion — but this is not some­thing God asked me to do! — to warn against a naive ac­cep­tance of the claims of re­li­gion’s rad­i­cal fringe.

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