Are We There Yet is a new feature in which I break down the current issue of Endtime Magazine, the bimonthly print publication of Endtime Ministries. As you might have guessed, Endtime’s purpose is to advance the notion that the end of the world is nigh and that current news events were prophesized in the Bible’s more apocalyptic passages. The magazine has been published for 22 years without ever questioning whether the end times are actually upon us, which is impressive in a way. I’ll be writing this column every other month or so until the sounding of the first trumpet,or until I get bored with it, whichever comes first.
People have been predicting the end of the world pretty much since the beginning of the world. Harold Camping drew headlines not long ago for predicting that Christians would ascend to heaven on May 21, 2011, and then October 21, 2011. If you couldn’t tell, he was wrong both times. Camping’s just the latest in a long line of doomsayers that includes luminaries like Christopher Columbus, who said that the world would end in 1656 or 1658, and Pat Robertson, who proclaimed the day of judgment would be upon us in 1982.
The great thing about Irvin Baxter, who runs Endtime Magazine as well as its parent company, Endtime Ministries, is that he’s too savvy to put an expiration date on his doomsday predictions—according to the magazine, he’s been noticing signs of the Bible’s prophesies coming true since 1968, when he predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall, but he’s not sure exactly when the shit will hit the fan. His magazine is devoted to “explain[ing] the prophecies of the Bible and to show that they are now being fulfilled in intricate detail.” Presumably, when the Antichrist actually shows up and fire is raining from the sky, the magazine will cease publication, and its website will be replaced with a giant I TOLD YOU SO. Until then, Endtime will go on interpreting the news for you from an apocalyptic-Christian perspective. Some would call it a really fucking insane perspective. Let’s take a look:
The cover story of the slim March/April issue is written by Baxter himself. It announces his plan to launch Jerusalem Prophecy College, a school that will hopefully educate ultrareligious Israeli Jews about the prophecies of the New Testament, and also “train a core group of leaders who can then minister to the Jews of Judea that will be turning to the Lord at the time of Desolation according to Zechariah 12:7.” In other words, they want to be there to convert the Jews when they’re like, “Uh, oh I guess the Messiah is here” around the time of the start of the end of the world (In case you haven’t read any of the Left Behind books, the Christian-apocalypse scenario takes years to play out. So the work of the JPC wouldn’t end when the trumpet sounds.)
The most interesting thing about this article, however, is the Biblical interpretation of the Israeli conflict. According to Baxter, when a two-state agreement between the sides is reached, the 350,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank will fall under the authority of the newly created Palestinian state. How that would ever work, politically speaking, is beside the point because “Jesus foresaw this [agreement] 2,000 years ago in His famous Matthew 24 prophecy.” Baxter, who gets his info straight from God, says this arrangement will be fine for three and a half years, but then “Palestinians will launch brutal attacks against the Jews living in their midst.” Meanwhile, Baxter decrees, with the confidence only the prophetic-minded can muster, that the Third Temple will be built on the Temple Mount without pissing off the Muslims, but then the Jews will start sacrificing animals there (pretty badass), triggering widespread complaints from animal rights activists worldwide. This will get resolved by the leader of the “International Community,” who will call a press conference and announce that they can stop sacrificing animals because he’s the Messiah, the Second Coming, Islam’s Mahdi, the Fifth Buddha, whatever you want to call him. But there’s a catch—this dude is actually the Antichrist! (Duh duh DUH!)
Anyway, if you want to donate some money to Baxter’s efforts to educate Israeli Jews about this stuff before it happens, call 1-800-ENDTIME or go to endtime.com. He hopes to launch the Israel Prophecy College in September.
Then there’s this article about how global warming is a hoax designed to get us to adopt a world government. If you’ve read any right-wing attacks on the science of man-made climate change (or the “science” of “man-made” “climate change,” if you’re on their side), you’ve already read this thing. The writer incorrectly uses climate as a synonym for weather in the first paragraph: “Today may be a sunny 70-degree day, while tomorrow might bring rain and drop into the 50s. Bingo, the climate just changed!” No, it didn’t.
Presumably, there aren’t a bunch of companies who really feel the need to reach the “almost constantly in a state of reading Revelations” demographic, so 100 percent of the ads in Endtime are for Endtime Ministries’ own products, including this eye-catching illustration that asks readers to start a Bible-study class. They’ve got the right idea—if you want to hook the kids on Christianity, skip the “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” sing-alongs and go straight for the four-headed-cheetah-with-wings part of the religion.
The great thing about the conspiracy inclined is that they know a lot about—and are terrified by—subjects that no one else has even heard of. This is the longest of a few items in the issue devoted to the REAL ID, a law that modifies standards for driver’s licenses in all 50 states. It’s been tough to implement this law for various reasons, but the real worry, for Endtime, is that this “national ID-card system” (note: it is not a national ID-card system) might be the Mark of the Beast, as foretold by Revelation 13. No, says the writer, Rick Brinegar, but it is a “significant step in that direction… No one should ever pledge allegiance to any man except Jesus, or to any world government.”
This is a pretty serious story written by a man who had brain cancer. As pretty much anyone in his situation would do, he both sought the most-advanced medical care available and prayed a lot. After going through brain surgery and chemotherapy, doctors thought they found another tumor, but after yet more surgery, it turned out to be dead tissue, which they removed. I’m not sure how exactly this translates to the “God Miraculously Removed My Brain Tumor!” headline. I get that God can work through doctors and that you don’t get through brain cancer without a heavy dose of God’s favor/luck/whatever you call it, but still, I feel like the writer could have been like, “Oh yeah, and a shout out to my extremely talented surgeon, who was truly provided by the Lord.” Glad the dude’s OK, though.
There’s a list of apocalypse-related news items in the back of the magazine—most of them are about the Middle East and it’s all pretty straightforward, but a couple things caught my eye. One is the “Holy Roman Empire Watch” heading, which refers to the belief some apocalyptic Christians have that before the shit hits the fan, Europe has to turn into a united country. The other is the “Iran’s Nuclear Bomb Program Complete” blurb, which, if true, would be FRONT-PAGE NEWS EVERYWHERE. But it’s not—as far as I can tell, Endtime pulled it from World Net Daily, a notorious right-wing conspiracy website that’s mostly known for spreading the Obama is a Muslim/Kenyan/gay/child of Malcolm X rumors. It’s mixed in with all the credible items, without noting the source, which is maybe a little shady, journalistically speaking. Then again, so is declaring that Jews are going to be sacrificing live animals on the Temple Mount in a few years.