Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review of

When one first types into one’s address box, one is greeted by a portrait of the four horsemen of the apocalypse under which the visitor is invited to learn more about “Bible Studies, Poems, Eschatology, Apocalypse, Judgment, Wars.” The rest of the title page is an indiscernible mixture of scripture, poetry, news stories, and commentaries. At the bottom is a site index covering several pertinent sections of both Old and New Testaments, as well as hot-button, somewhat current events such as "Hurricane Charley, DEAD over 600 and counting" and "ISLAM: Platform for the AntiChrist." The section that specifically handles material found in Revelation is titled “666, APOCALYPSE.” A discussion of a sampling of the pages in this section will suffice to demonstrate the generally low level of reliability of the overall site. It will also be beneficial to investigate the author, who calls herself Zion’s Cry, an endeavor which will further undermine the credibility of these pages.


Zion’s Cry predicts the antichrist to be a person who will mimic Jesus but will actually be against him. The site purports that the unholy trinity is currently operating in the world and has been for years. This statement is one of many examples throughout the site of a view that involves decoding material to find its meaning, often sole meaning, in the present or near future. This is in contrast to more academically conservative views that see Revelation as having been written at a particular time, in a particular place, for a particular group of people. If John did believe that he was living in the end times, it seems unlikely that he perceived himself as setting out a blueprint for two millennia in the future. On the other hand, commentators such as Ben Witherington have persuasively argued that modern day readers can cautiously use paradigms set out by John to interpret their own worlds. For example, it seems plausible that in Revelation 13 John used the symbol of the beast to represent Nero. However, he did also successfully create a paradigm of tyrant leaders who oppose Christian practices. The breakdown of critical analysis happens when believers begin to argue which current political figure is the antichrist, implying there is only one.

A description of who this person is/will be tops the antichrist page. Based on the author’s assertion that the antichrist will mimic Jesus, he will be an Arab Jew and probably a pope. There are several specific suggestions given as to antichrist’s identity, including Bill Clinton, Barak Obama, George W. Bush, Javier Solana, and John F. Kennedy – none of whom are Jewish Arab popes. He could also be a pope, a Jerusalem Chief Rabbi, or a homosexual. Later it is suggested that Clinton was not the antichrist, but rather that the antichrist voted for Clinton and, therefore, all who voted for Clinton are guilty of sinning with the antichrist. The site even suggests that the beast could possibly not be a person at all, but rather the beast is the television and news broadcasters are the false prophets. For a group that leads with the premise that one can determine who the antichrist is, they seem to have several opinions.

After summarizing sundry antichrist suspects, there is a long section of text labeled “Revelation 12 & 13.” The passage that follows appears at first glance to be in fact Revelation 12-13. However, when compared to a standard translation such as the NIV or the NRSV, one is left wondering exactly which part of the text is posted. There are no chapter or verse designations, so word-by-word comparison is difficult. Phrases that appear in the standard texts appear in different orders. Others are written in Biblically sounding language, but do not appear in Rev 12-13. There are also section titles that assist the reader with following the interpretation of the author. For example, preceding the section which corresponds with Rev 13:16-18 [which is actually a good rendering] is the title “666 - The MARK of the BEAST = DAMNATION!” even though these verses are not directly dealing with damnation.

Without an obvious break, the text switches from pseudo-Biblical to commentary. This commentary is not directly related to the Revelation text in any obvious way. Instead, it is vague generalizations such as Christians in chat rooms have “a screwed-up view of the Holy Bible” and accepting sin into the church is a “grave, serious, and eternally damning error.” The tie to Revelation is the idea that setting oneself up as a god is the top characteristic of an antichrist spirit. Again, there is major internal inconsistency as to whether the antichrist is one particular, identifiable person or a paradigm that can be used to describe several people.

“The RAPTURE, The Catching Away”

Although most of the pages in the “666, APOCALYPSE” section are constructed similarly to the above example, there is one surprising exception. The page starts with the title “There is NO RAPTURE!” What follows is a diatribe against doctrines focusing on rapture, the idea that believers will be taken into heaven before the tribulations described in Revelation. The word rapture does not even appear in Revelation. Rather than debating whether or not the rapture exists (despite the strong title), the page points out that focusing on escaping tribulations instead of spreading the Good News makes Jesus weep.

The page goes on to take issue with Tim LaHaye and an unnamed radio preacher. LaHaye’s pre-tribulation rapture is in doubt because Revelation is only clear that Jesus is returning, not when. The radio preacher said that the events described in Revelation are chronological. The authors of this site argue that they are panoramic. Both of these views are explored by serious commentators, along with the nesting theory that subsequent sets of woes reflect further break downs of prior woes. As support for the idea that events will not necessarily be chronological and that a rapture will not take place before hand, the writer states “I have believed since 1999 that the 4 horsemen of the APOCALYPSE have already ridden thru the earth. The judgments of God which they dispense increase, and they ride all thru the tribulation.” Although she is right to take to task firm rapture supporters, she continues to fail at using strong, logical interpretations of the text.

Embedded in this discussion of rapture and timelines are a few sentences against “homosex.” One of the consequences of the mark of the beast will be a cashless society. As part of this cashless society, speaking out against “homosex” will be forbidden, as it already is in the UK. It is interesting that homosexuality is brought up in a discussion on Revelation, since the book itself never mentions it. Somehow, although the connection is not made clear, banning speech against homosexuality sets the stage for the antichrist to let loose hell on earth. Again, this idea is found nowhere in the text itself.

The section on rapture ends with parceled quotes from Revelation 9, referring more to general causes and effects of judgment than any ideas leading to rapture theology. She ends with a small commentary that God’s judgments are intended to lead people to repentance. Here again, a solid idea from the academy finds its way into a fairly jumbled passage.

Website Author - Zion’s Cry

Simply reading the posted material on these pages raises questions in one’s head as to the legitimacy of the author. One warning sign is the presence of many basic syntax errors. Subjects and verbs often do not agree. There are many spelling problems as well, such as often using a “k” instead of a “c.” This may betray either that the author is very poorly educated and therefore not qualified to postulate on hermeneutics, or that English is not her first language and therefore one may desire more information as to her motivation for speaking so forcibly about America’s judgment, which is another general theme of the overall site.

The bottom of each page includes a link to Zion’s Cry, along with advertisements for other blogs by the same author. Following the link, one is taken a blog with daily posts. The current Thanksgiving post includes the “truth about Thanksgiving” – that the “Pilgrims maintained a very positive Christian witness and relations with the Indians.” Most posts are an attempt to link current events (such as the North Korea situation) with Biblical verses (such as those referring to “wars and rumors of wars”) in order to show that Duduman’s prophecies are coming true. Duduman is a Romanian pastor exiled to the United States. He believes that he is receiving visions from God regarding the judgment of America. One example Zion’s Cry uses on the revlu site is a vision in which Duduman was shown the pope flying over the world in a helicopter proclaiming himself to be God. This clearly demonstrated that the pope is the antichrist.

There are bits of self-reported information scattered throughout the site. The author moved to Florida in 1992 and was still there in 1999. One can surmise that she is a Republican due to the various references to George W. Bush being “thankfully, LEGALLY elected.” Buried at the end of a poem about God killing masses of people and sending them to hell, the author’s name is finally discovered: Carolu Joy. A quick Google search shows her blog has been removed from servers in the past. Even those who still post her work do so only with caveats that they do not always agree with her conclusions. Other than that, Joy’s credentials remain a mystery.

It is not possible to simply dismiss this site as crazy, as tempting as the thought may be.
Mixed within wild speculations are legitimate interpretations and applications. On the other hand, one would be better off using a more reliable site instead of sifting through all the worthlessness here in search of the few gems. The best use of this site is probably entertainment, on the same level of horoscopes or Farmville. At worst, this site gives rational Christians a bad image and may cause individual readers to develop unnecessary fear and hatred of the world.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Critical Analysis of "What is the book of Revelation about?"

By David Brodsky:

Before I begin to enter into the critical analysis of the website I have chosen I think it is important to identify what I will have in mind through the process of analyzing.

After studying the book of Revelation for nearly a semester now there is only one thing that has become absolutely clear: that there are very few (if any) concrete conclusions one can come to when studying Revelation. Therefore, I will be very weary of what type of rhetoric the author of the website uses. Does the author express certainty about ideas and symbolism that do lend themselves to a biased certainty? Are the assertions made by the website scholarly and academic or would they be better off under the category of opinion? Also, is the commentary supported with academic sources?

The web page I have chosen to critically analyze is an offshoot of the website that self identified as a Christian bible reference site. On the “about us” page Christian Bible Reference says this about their work, “The Christian Bible Reference Site is a nonprofit Christian Bible study website devoted to better understanding the Bible and its messages for the modern world.” The website also states their goal of unbiased christian scholarship,

All Christians revere the Bible as the core of their faith, and our goal is to provide accurate and unbiased information about the Bible and its teachings. This website is not affiliated with any denomination or sect, and we do not bias our materials to conform to our personal beliefs nor to the viewpoints of any particular denomination, sect, religious tradition or system of theology.

This is a general goal for the website that offers Biblical scholarship on all aspects of the Bible. Will their stated goal still hold up of unbiased commentary hold up when they take on the complicated and confusing Revelation text?

The title of the page that I will be dissecting is What is the book of Revelation about? and it is a general overview of the book while also giving very brief “interpretation” on one or two verses of each chapter that the author of the website has found to be important. At first glance it is obvious that the website will only be a very general overview simply because the length of what is said about each subject, chapter, and verse is very short.


Something that our class has spent many conversations discussing is the date of when the book of Revelation was written. This is a very contested subject and just like many things in the book of Revelation there are no clear answers. That being said, this is still a question that can be narrowed with aligning historical fact with certain phrases in Revelation that would lend the book to be placed in a certain time period. Most significantly, is the verse 12 of chapter 17 that would rule out many time periods and narrow the different possibilities of timer periods the book was written in. What is the book of Revelation about? website offers only one sentence to this topic, “One day in about the year 95AD, a man named John had a vision from heaven.” The web page is clearly meant to be a brief overview of the book, but not acknowledging the complexity of the date and failing to make any historical connections with any passages in the book of Revelation is a major flaw. I would suggest that authors of this website should dedicate a small section outlining the difficulty a scholar finds in declaring a date but also pointing out some historical information and passages in the book that still keeps with the theme of a general overview of the book of Revelation. Also, know academic scholar would offer a date that Revelation was written in as fact but would always make clear that “we really do not know” but here is my best guest because of different historical and contextual evidence. The author of the webpage fails to acknowledge the complexity and ambiguity of the date of Revelation without making it clear that any exact year is uncertain.


Also another section that has inadequate information for a website that is claiming to be a commentary on the book of Revelation is the section dedicated to authorship. If someone came to this website looking to find out who wrote the book of Revelation this is all the information one would find, “John was a Christian leader of Jewish origin who was in exile on the Roman prison island of Patmos...Tradition says John the apostle (Mark 3:14-19) was the author of both Revelation and the Gospel of John, but that is not certain”. As a basic overview this is not a terrible explanation of the issue of authorship. The website correctly states that the author is most likely of Jewish origin and a well known Christian leader. Most scholars would agree with this because of the many first testament references made by the author, while the beginning letter format indicates the author is a Christian leader recognized by various churches. The ending comment of this section, “but that is not certain” is an important statement that saves the section from being completely biased and unscholarly. Authorship is just as much as unknown as the date but can also similarly be narrowed through a similar process with historical information aligned with certain passages in the book. It is important that the website acknowledges that the authorship is not certain, but to be a worthy general overview the commentary should include other possibilities for authorship and go into further detail of why the topic is so highly contested. “It is not certain” does save the website from being completely unscholarly but is not nearly enough of an explanation (even in a general overview) of the issue of authorship.

Literary Form

Understanding the book of Revelation starts with understanding the type of literature that it is written in. Therefore, one of the most important and well written sections of this web page is the section dedicated to literary form. The webpage acknowledges that the author of Revelation is writing apocalyptic literature that “delivers a message using symbols, images, and numbers.” It parallels the literature with the type written in the book of Daniel that are also apocalyptic. The author of the webpage goes on to say apocalyptic writing is characteristic of times of persecution and identifies that many of the images and symbols in Revelation equate the Roman emperor with Satan or an ultimate evil. Furthermore, in this section the webpage acknowledges that revelation is a prophecy, but not prophecy as it is mostly thought of being as a prediction of the future. The author of the webpage the asserts that a better understanding of prophecy might be one that considers the original greek word prophetia that means “speaking the mind of God.” One of the most important lines of the webpage is this, “The word "apocalypse" has come to be associated with cataclysmic disaster, judgment day or the end of the world. However, its true meaning is an unveiling or revelation of things known only to God.”

I found this section to be incredibly important and enlightening, especially for how few words were dedicated to literary form. Moving forward in understanding the book of Revelations starts with understanding the very things that the author of the webpage was able to convey in so few words. Most interpretations and outlandish claims that come from Revelation are a result of not understanding what type of literary form it was written in. As a general overview of the book of Revelation I found this section to be incredibly easy to understand and enlightening for someone browsing the internet looking to understand the book more who might be willing to read lengthy commentary.


The section dedicated to understanding the purpose of Revelation is as equally insightful as the section just formerly summarized. Noting that the churches John was writing to had suffered various waves of persecution the author of the webpage says this about the purpose of Revelation, “The vision John received offered encouragement to persecuted Christians and assurance that God was still in control. The forces of evil, particularly the Roman Empire, would eventually be utterly destroyed by God.” Understanding the book of Revelation to be a theodicy for Christians suffering persecution from the Roman empire is extremely important in beginning to understand the symbolism, allegory, and metaphor present in Revelation. The thesis of the website aligns with that of Ben Witherington III in his commentary on Revelation that the book is to offer comfort for those suffering by explaining that God is good, in control, and offer hope that the Roman empire and evil more generally will be destroyed but God on God’s time. Again, what the commentary that this website is offering in a general short overview is extremely insightful and helpful for anyone looking to understand the complexities of Revelation.


Keeping in mind that this website is only a brief overview it is a valuable resource for those searching the web to find out more about the book of Revelation. I had only one concern in the section dedicated to the date that did not offer any historical or contextual evidence for its claim that Revelation was written in 95AD and did not state that even with such evidence the date will always remain uncertain.

At the bottom of the page are other “references for in depth study”, but throughout the webpage there are no citations of the resources that they author is drawing on. Although, I agreed with most of the information and found it all very helpful it is necessary to have citations next to the assertions the webpage is making. Especially with a book like Revelation that is such a point of contention for so many scholars, theologians, lay people, and anyone who reads it. As a general overview of the book of Revelation it would be beneficial for the website to offer links of sources right next to the claims they would send readers to another site or commentary that allow for more in depth understanding of the complex issue the webpage is only giving a brief overview on.

In conclusion, I found this webpage to be extremely insightful for anyone looking for a general overview of the book of Revelation that offers commentary that is unbiased and that agrees with most Biblical scholars without going into in depth detail. The brevity and simplicity of each section allows for a someone scanning the internet to learn a lot about the book Revelation very efficiently and accurately. I recommend this website as a valuable tool for a first step in educating anyone interested in the book of Revelation.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review of

“Wow. In my day, the internet was only used to download porn.” – Phillip J. Fry (Futurama)

Sadly this is not only an unfortunate joke in a television show; it has a strong basis in fact. Trying to do research on the internet hasn’t really challenged that belief. Doing an assignment involving an internet source is never easy. In fact, given the proliferation of useless information on the internet, it is not altogether surprising that some sources are very unreliable. Religion is a difficult thing to try to find unbiased, or reliable, information. The very purpose of religion is to be biased and have an agenda. The Book of Revelation in particular seems to garner an entertaining number of webmasters that believe they are experts. One of the websites I found that was less crazy than others was

The author of this website is a very unique individual. He or she who goes by the name T. Chase claims to be an amateur psychic. He is the kind of person that reinforces my question as to why it takes a license to drive a car but any guy who lives alone with his cat can control a website. The author uses a variety of sources for his research, including, Astrology and other New Age Schools, mythology, religion, the prophecies of Nostradamus, Bible Code in the King James Bible, Bible prophecy, and numerical analysis. The term “research” is used very loosely. The author prefers to use the term “prophecy.”

This web site, while in addition to looking like the kind of website that a twelve year old would write, includes a discussion of the Book of Revelation and includes a description of a catastrophic sequence of events that some people believe are occurring now. It goes into great detail and describes juxtaposes events that are named in the Book of Revelation with real life events, such earthquakes like the giant Indonesia earthquake and tidal wave in December of 2004, wars, diseases such as AIDS, economic chaos, weather changes such as super storms like Hurricane Katrina, and the rise of the Antichrist. The author of the website goes into great detail describing his or her choice as to who the Antichrist might be.

A good place to start the critique of the website would probably be the author’s identification of the Antichrist. He feels very strongly that the Antichrist is Vladimir Putin, the former president of the Russian Federation. He writes of Putin’s access to the nuclear arsenal of the former Soviet Union and the ease with which the western world has accepted him. It is stated that the Antichrist will be seen as a good person, the author feels that Putin meets this criterion.

The great flaw with the author’s belief that Putin is the Antichrist has to do with cultural references that may apply to him. Specifically, these references are a character from The Hunt for Red October and a painting from Jan Van Eyck. Also, a series of quatrains from Nostradamus seem to possibly apply to Putin. The discussion of The Arnolfini Wedding is probably the most entertaining part, this is an excerpt:

…most interesting in the painting is a mirror, with scenes from the life of Christ painted along its edge. And reflected in the mirror are the marriage couple and two witnesses to the ceremony. This may mean that the mirror is showing a mirror-image Christ, who is the present-day Antichrist, President Putin. Like Christ, the Antichrist will appear to be the saviour of mankind. And the two witnesses reminds one of the two witnesses in Chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation, who are witnesses to the rule of the Antichrist… Note that if you look closely at the head of the wife in the painting she appears to have a horn on her head that is covered, a horn indicating a Satanic connection. And note that the Arnolfini Bride is dressed somewhat like a Muslim Bride with her head covered, and she is dressed in green except for the blue sleeves, green being the color of Islam. Perhaps the bride is Muslim Iran. The marriage bed is red. Perhaps this is Putin uniting the Red dragon of Russia and China with the green dragon of Muslim Iran, by arming Iran with missiles and nuclear weapons. In Revelation 13 the Antichrist gets power from the dragon (China), and has a mouth of a Lion (in the past Iran had the lion as a symbol) and feet of a bear (Russia).

This, sadly, is one of the more lucid parts of the discussion. The author uses a painting from the 1500s as proof that Vladimir Putin may be the Antichrist. There are many reasons why this doesn’t make sense and there are several reasons why this theory is crazy, but the idea that he is using biblical references and astrological charts could make sense to a person who is easily swayed. Indeed, the astrological evidence makes much more sense than the other parts of the argument. Then again, that isn’t saying much.

The author takes great amounts of time and effort to describe how nothing in the Book of Revelation should be taken literally. Indeed, the four horsemen of the apocalypse are supposed to be planets. There are no shortages of things about this website that are not academically sound. It seems that the entire website is built on the idea of “post hoc ergo propter hoc.” This makes understanding the Book of Revelations easier, if the person that is trying to understand them is a complete idiot.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Review of:

A Review of “Interpreting the Book of Revelation”

It seems that today’s popular culture has been saturated with references and allusion to the Book of Revelation. There are countless television specials, depicting the catastrophes that are to befall the earth at the end of time, and it seems impossible to escape Revelation inspired phrases like “The Antichrist.” This persistent fascination with the gore and drama present in the Book of Revelation might lead one to expect the internet to be overrun with websites proffering any and every wild or biased interpretation of the Book of Revelation that has ever come to mind. The last thing one might expect to discover on the internet is a clear, educational, and impartial website. The Christian Resource Institute’s webpage entitled, “Interpreting the Book of Revelation,” is therefore and exciting and refreshing discovery. The webpage provides clear, educational, and relatively impartial information about how any interested person may read and interpret the Book of Revelation.

When examining, “Interpreting the Book of Revelation,” the first feature that is immediately striking is the clarity with which the webpage presents the information, which in turn, establishes a tone of professionalism and authority. From first glance, it is easy to see that the information that is being presented is highly organized into an outline format. Within this one webpage, there are three headings, all which have been centered on the page, and made to stand out through different colored type and bold type face.[1] These headings include, “Interpreting the Book of Revelation,” “Views of the Time Frame of the Book of Revelation,” and, “Contents of the Book of Revelation.”[2] By providing such clear headings, the reader immediately knows what to expect. There are no real surprises for the reader, which is important because it is this clarity that separates intellectual, professional webpage from other amateur, less credible webpages. In addition to providing broad headings, the author further outlines the presented information under each heading. In the first section, the author includes three sub-headings labeled, “The Nature of Scripture,” “The Nature of the Book of Revelation,” and, “Interpreting the Book”[3]. In the second section, the author enumerates the various time frames before providing an explanation, and then in the third section, the author very clearly outlines the structure of the Book of Revelation itself.[4] By establishing this comprehensible organizational structure, the reader feels much more at ease with the information being provided. This sort of structure is really no different than the types of organization found in academic textbooks. Therefore the reader is able to easily navigate the complicated groupings of information.

The clarity of the webpage is further enhanced by the fact that the webpage responsibly identifies its authorship and provides plainly noted citations for information from sources outside the webpage itself. Underneath the very first heading, as well as under the two subsequent headings, the author of the webpage is clearly identified as Dennis Bratcher.[5] Additionally, Bratcher cites Gordon D. Fee and Douglas K. Stuart’s book, How to Read the Bible for all its Worth, on two occasions.[6] By taking the time to provide the reader with these pieces of information, the Christian Resource Institute is ensuring that there is no confusion about the authority of the sources. With the names of both the author and the outside sources, any informed reader can investigate the credentials of any of the individuals and further vet the authority and general reliability of this webpage. The result of the Institute’s thoroughness in the construction and attribution of the webpage is a very clear webpage that presents itself in a professional and authoritative manner.

While the webpage’s clarity immediately sets it apart from the vast majority of any group of webpages on the internet, the fact that the information provided on the Christian Resource Institute’s webpage is intended to educate the readers by providing useful guidelines as well as definitions of terminology often used in the interpretation and discussion of the Book of Revelation. Perhaps one of the best examples of the webpage’s educational value is found in section one, under the third Roman numeral, entitled, “Interpreting the Book.” Directly under this heading, Dennis Bratcher explains that the subsequent bullet points are, “Several principles need[ed] to guide any study of the Book of Revelation.”[7] Even from the tone of this statement, it is obvious that Bratcher is framing the presented information in such a way as to educate the reader, or more specifically, provide the reader with the tools to more thoroughly examine the Book of Revelation itself as well as any interpretation the reader may choose to examine. This feature is further substantiated by Bratcher’s principles like, “The rich and varied cultural context of the ancient world must be the frame of reference for interpreting the names and symbols of the book, but also with a sensitivity to how creatively they are used in the book.”[8] In this particular principle, Bratcher is providing the reader with of the most fundamental skills required when reading any piece of literature, including the Book of Revelation. Bratcher is reminding the reader that literature should be read within in its own contexts and with the original audiences in mind. In doing so, Bratcher is equipping his readers to competently examine the Book of Revelation and other interpretations of the work.

In addition to providing edifying guidelines to his readers, Bratcher also takes the time to define some of the terminology common to biblical discussions. For example, when Bratcher is relaying information about the nature of scripture, he takes the time to define the term, exegesis. Bratcher explains that exegesis is a way of understanding, “As much as possible, what the text would have communicated in the context of the time and culture that produced and used it, while still understanding that our questions are conditioned by our own language, culture, and history and so provide only one angle of vision into the text.”[9] In this explanation, Bratcher is not only explaining the actual process that takes place when scholars interpret the Book of Revelation, he is also providing essential definitions to an audience that would otherwise be completely lost in the vocabulary of such discussions, therefore, enabling readers to participate in such discussions. In the very next bullet point, Bratcher includes another definition, this time for the term, hermeneutics. Bratcher defines hermeneutics as an understanding of the text that conveys a message about, “What that community tells us about God, about us, and about how we should relate to God.”[10] Once again, Bratcher is providing a clear definition that eliminates any confusion that might result from a reader being unfamiliar with any of the terminology common to discussions surrounding the Book of Revelation and other biblical texts. In doing so, Bratcher is creating an educated audience that can not only understand the arguments made in any interpretation of the Book of Revelation, but an audience that is capable of examining the Book of Revelation on their own and drawing informed conclusions.

While it is extremely refreshing to find a webpage that is both clear in its construction and educational in its content, the most interesting aspect of the webpage is the overall tone of impartiality. With the multitude of theories concerning how the world will end circulating, it is surprising to find a webpage that does push one single interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Throughout the entire webpage, Bratcher provides only information to the readers to facilitate the audience’s ability to decide for themselves how to interpret the Book of Revelation. For example, Bratcher enumerates and explains various views of time frames through which one can read the Book of Revelation. Bratcher includes everything from a futurist time frame, to historicist and theological time frames, and Bratcher explains each theory without giving any preference to one over the other.[11] In doing this, Bratcher is not formulating an interpretation which he is asking the readers to believe without cause. What Bratcher is really doing, is providing the audience with the simple tools to create their own interpretation: He is creating an informed and aware audience.

The internet is a source of any and all information on any topics, especially the Book of Revelation. Many of these webpages lack credibility and impartiality; however, if one looks hard enough, it is possible to find some webpages that buck this trend. The webpage entitled, “Interpreting the Book of Revelation,” published by the Christian Resource Institute, not only refuses to fit these stereotypes, the webpage establishes its credibility by clearly structuring the included information and clearly citing the sources, and maintains an educational and impartial tone.

[1] Dennis Bratcher, Interpreting the Book of Revelation

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

Review of "Escape All These Things"

Some evangelical Christians present the end times as if we are going to have a rendezvous with death, others preach of doom and gloom. Conversely, many of us identify with Walt Whitman as he described his fate to be one clouded in confusion:
“DAREST thou now, O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow?

No map, there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not, O Soul;
Nor dost thou—all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream’d of, in that region—that inaccessible land…”

With the confusion surrounding Revelation and the events that have recently transpired (e.g. September 11th) people are on a quest to gain understanding about the end times and what the future holds for them. Tim McHyde’s site boasts of making the “end times Bible prophecy plain.”

Upon first glance, readers would believe that this author’s site is a poignant account of prophecy made easy. In fact, McHyhde encourages readers to think of his work as a “Cliff’s Notes for the Book of Revelation”
McHyde goes on to say:

“I summarize Revelation's roadmap and make plain the meaning just like Cliff's Notes did for you in high school with Shakespeare's plays. The modest price of my book is a bargain when you consider that it can literally save you years of study.”

If one is confused about the site or a particular statement McHyde makes in one of his articles, he or she can ask McHyde direct questions and receive quick feedback via instant message. In a conversation with McHyde via an instant message provider that was linked onto his site, he stated, “You can find lots of otherwise good Bible commentaries at [sic] the stories that will go chapter by chapter for you...and you’ll learn nothing towards your goal of unlocking the puzzle of what it all means together. If your goal is to understand what the list of events is that's coming and what the plan is to escape them. Everything is scattered like a puzzle and you have to put things together by topic from multiple chapters.

Me: So, your book ”saves time” by actually putting the pieces of the puzzle together , so that we can see the big picture and ideas presented in Revelation?

Tim McHyde: Remember, Dan 12 said it would take wise men in the end times to unlock what Daniel did not even understand himself. This is what I'm sharing with you, the wise approach that worked for me with my goal that is the same goal you had.

Tim McHyde: Yes, and you don’t have to trust my opinion, but you can verify everythign [sic] I say by looking up the verses, reading them literally, and see they say what I teach, in context. 11/10 8:52A cst

Rattled revelation readers who desire to know the upcoming perilous events and how to escape them are guided to a particular section on McHyde’s site (, which merely stays on the shallow end of the pool when addressing future earthquakes, upcoming terrorist attacks and other significant events on the Biblical calendar. The equipping material needed in order to gain a true understanding of these times and how to escape them are promised to be answered and help you feel prepared when you order McHyde’s book, “Know the future” (

I tried to keep a positive frame of mind as I went through this site, but skepticism and faith were constantly contesting in their efforts to tug me into their respective directions. I figured knowing the author’s educational background and/or affiliations would bring credence to his words. Under the FAQ tab, I learned that McHyde had “the same church affiliation as Abraham and Jesus” as they were the “called out ones” he went onto say that “No organization has ever been needed to serve God, to grow spiritually, to be safe spiritually or even to encourage each other to good works (Heb 10:25).” Simply put, he had no church affiliation. I also learned that he had “no credentials by any institution,” “was not ordained as a pastor,” and had not been to a “theological cemetery,” as he put it ( I questioned whether or not his book would actually save the “time and research” that he claimed, if one would still have to look up verses to ensure the validity in his interpretation.

Nevertheless, I must say McHyde’s glossary ( gives readers a pretty clear understanding of Biblical terms used in Revelation (e.g. the mark of the beast, Mystery Babylon, and the lake of fire). Although his site is hard to navigate and is pretty overwhelming, his articles allow for deeper understanding of the End Times and what Revelation has to say. I do not agree that he makes things easy for the confused reader searching for answers, nor will I claim that this is a “doomsday for dummies” site, but perhaps his book really does tie events and allusions in previous scriptural passages together. In addressing possible “Antichrist” candidates, McHyde does not make an assertive claim, but links an article written by another author who proposes that Prince Charles could be a candidate for the Antichrist ( McHyde ultimately desires for his readers to gain understanding in Biblical prophecy by themselves and wants his site to serve as a Revelatory tour guide. McHyde provides certain guidelines for understanding Biblical prophecy, something that has now become a daunting task accompanied by drudgery. He states,
“Without a doubt there is a lot of confusion on Bible prophecy. There seem to be as many interpretations as there are would-be interpreters. You can listen to one and it sounds good until you hear the next one that contradicts it yet also is appealing. Which one is right? How can you know for sure? It’s enough to turn anyone off from studying prophecy.”

McHyde is a proponent of taking the verses in Revelation at face value, as Jesus instructed in John 10:35 “the plain meaning of Scripture could not be broken,” but in order to do so one must really study the Bible and know the context. There are certain passages that may have multiple meanings for a word, but ensuring that one is Biblically versed can help one gain true revelation without contradiction ( Upon reading this article, my understanding was that McHyde wanted his readers to not blindly accept the interpretation of their leaders, but to dive deep into Scripture themselves and with enough practice and time, one could dodge doomsday darts and deflate deceptive devices. The Bible states in Hosea 4:6 (KJV), “My people perish from a lack of knowledge” and it may very well be said that through Tim McHyde’s site: one can become unshackled from the prison of ignorance, hold the key to the understanding of Biblical prophecy and unlock the vault of mystery surrounding the end times.

If God Had Made Revelation as a Videogame…

Far too often college students are faced with that age-old dilemma of playing an action-packed, adventure-filled, potentially incredible video game or monotonously writing a five-page paper about some topic of no particular interest. Unfortunately for these students and perhaps their professors, the video game almost always wins. However, what if college students did not have to make that choice? At least in Dr. James McGrath’s Book of Revelation course, they do not. To explain, Dr. McGrath instructed students to critically evaluate a website that comments on the Book of Revelation. While I was intrigued by this assignment, I was even more intrigued by THQ’s newly released Darksiders and its supposed connection to this apocalyptic text. I learned on the Amazon product page that the game, which can be played on the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PS3, and PC, is a third-person, single player action/adventure game inspired by the characters, themes and mythology of the apocalypse and the battle of Armageddon as described by the Book of Revelation.” As an alternative assignment to the website commentary, I thought it would interesting to play and critique the PC version of this game so as to determine just how substantial of a connection actually exists between it and Revelation. After first providing a basic review of the game, specifically examining the storyline, gameplay, graphics, and controls, I will do just that. While THQ’s Darksiders is an exceptional videogame, it does not, in any way, represent an adaptation of the Book of Revelation.
It is important to begin with a basic understanding of Darksiders’ storyline. In case someone is interested in playing the game, I will not reveal any “spoilers.” As the player, you control War, one of the four horsemen on the apocalypse. War is somehow deceived into prematurely coming to earth and commencing the “Endwar” between the forces of Heaven and Hell. After being slain on earth by Straga, one of Hell’s most powerful demons, he stands before the Charred Council a full century later charged with breaking the sacred law and inciting the apocalyptic battle before its appointed time. Although the Council feels death is the most fitting punishment, War convinces them to let him return to earth so as to expose the truth behind his early arrival and, naturally, take revenge on those responsible. In a game that can best be described as “God of War meets The Legend of Zelda,” War comes to discover that things are not as they appear. He is forced to ally himself with both angels and demons to discover the truth behind a conspiracy that goes far deeper than he ever imagined.
Overall, the game is excellent. The story is both original and engaging. The game is filled with puzzles that can sometimes be surprisingly challenging, giving the player a much-needed break from the sometimes-incessant combat. While the enemies are seemingly endless, the vast array of combos and weapon choices result in a very dynamic combat system. Truly, one battle is rarely the same as the last. Perhaps the most enjoyable form of assault is lifting up abandoned vehicles and launching them at unsuspecting enemies. Offering over 15 solid hours of gameplay, I have no hesitation in proclaiming that Darksiders is incredibly fun to play.
To summarize the visuals in one word, they are stunning. Jason Flick of GameChronicles concurs when he calls them “gorgeous.” The colors: sharp and vibrant. The environments: stylized and exceptional. The cut scenes: rich and fluid. Rob Thomas rightly notes in a post on Current that much of the praise for the game’s graphics can be attributed to THQ’s Creative Director Joe Madureira. I was fascinated to learn that, as Thomas goes on to explain, Madureira is something of a comic book legend, having created his own comic book “Battle Chasers” and also contributed to Marvel Comics' “Uncanny X-Men.” His passion for art is really what gives these visuals that “extra something.”
The controls, however, are not so beautiful. Jeff Buckland of AtomicGamer calls them “awkward.” GameZone’s Mike Splechta takes it a bit farther by stating that the controls make the game “almost unplayable.” According to George Damidashe of The Entertainment Deport, “The human hand simply doesn't have the digits necessary to pull off all of the moves or fight with ease.” I whole heartedly agree-these controls are painfully awful. Even after several hours of playtime, I was struggling to execute combos and even perform certain basic moves (e.g., dash) because the controls are not logically mapped out on the keyboard. Admittedly, the controls are programmable, but, as Splechta goes on to note, “No matter what configuration, there are just too many skills and abilities to map out for it to truly feel comfortable.” Many reviews have suggested utilizing a controller or gamepad when playing the PC version because of these control issues. I wish I had taken this advice.
After offering a basic review of Darksiders, the game’s connection to the Book of Revelation can be more thoroughly examined. Following only a few hours of playing the game, I began to fear that Darksiders had no genuine connection to the Biblical book I have come to adore. I found my fears to be somewhat confirmed after reading an interview on NeoGAF. ZealousD, the original poster, provides no citation for this interview, so it is largely unclear who is answering these questions. However, the quality of these answers and the date of posting seem to suggest that the interviewee is likely a developer of the game. When asked, “How closely does the story follow the Book of Revelation?” the person responds, “Darksiders takes inspiration from elements from Revelation, but is not anywhere close to an adaptation. Some names and concepts are used but ultimately the story is totally original.” This made me question whether this alternate assignment was as brilliant as I originally thought. However, with Dr. McGrath’s blessing, I pressed on.
To be clear, there are almost no similarities between the Book of Revelation and Darksiders outside of general concepts. For example, there are seven seals in both works, but the symbolism and purpose of the seals is vastly different for each work. Additionally, there are four horsemen in both works. However, the identity, allegiance, and purpose of the horsemen are very different for each work. To better understand these differences, consider a post on GamesRadar, in which Mikel Reparaz attempts to give a broad overview of some elements of the Book of Revelation and how they are depicted in Darksiders. To first examine the seven seals, recall that, as outlined in Revelation 6-8, these are seals on a scroll that only the Lamb is capable of opening. When broken, each of these seals releases horrible judgments upon mankind (e.g., famine, pestilence, war, etc.). The first four seals actually release the four horsemen respectively. These four horsemen bring forth the wrath of God, clearly showing that their allegiance is to God, or Heaven more generally. Compare this to the seven seals in Darksiders, which are literal “hunks of metal” that symbolize a peace treaty between the forces of Heaven and Hell. When all seven seals are broken, the truce is also broken, thereby officially commencing the battle of Armageddon (i.e., the “Endwar”). As the Council explains, this is only to happen when mankind is properly prepared. At the breaking of the seventh seal, the four horsemen (Death, War, Strife and Fury) are simultaneously released to essentially maintain order during the battle. They have no allegiance to Heaven or Hell; instead, they serve the Council.
Reparaz rightly hints that another difference between the book and game lies in the power structure. In the Book of Revelation, there are essentially two primary figures of power: God and Satan. God, effectively the leader of Heaven’s forces, is the one and only omnipotent figure. He is undeniably in full control. While very powerful, Satan, effectively the leader of Hell’s forces, is inferior to God. In Darksiders, there are a “Creator” and a “Destroyer” (read: God and Satan), but both the forces of Heaven and Hell (along with their leaders) are at the mercy of a third (supposedly objective) party, the Charred Council. This trio of enormous fiery stone heads has served as a de facto moderator between Heaven and Hell since the dawn of time. Although they never directly flaunt it, the player quickly gets the impression that the Council possesses incredible power and therefore should not challenged.
Another difference between the two works concerns fatalism. Many would argue that within The Bible, there is a very prevalent idea that God is in ultimate control and everything unfolds according to his plan. Even when something goes “wrong” (e.g., Adam and Eve eat fruit from the Tree of Life in Genesis 3:6), God is not shocked because he knew it was going to happen; he is omniscient. As stated in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This idea is also present in the Book of Revelation. Although not explicitly stated, the reader understands that everything in the book (the judgments, the false prophet, the dragon, Heaven’s victory) is all part God’s plan and nothing deviates from that plan. However, this is not at all the case in Darksiders. As previously mentioned, the Charred Council is arguably the most powerful force in the game, but even they are not in complete control. Unlike the Biblical God, they have no divine plan to which everyone and everything adhere. Quite the opposite actually, they are in a constant struggle to maintain power and order. The Council is actually schemed against and even deceived by Heavenly forces. Furthermore, while War is initially bound to serve the Council and do their bidding, the game concludes with War breaking his link to this corrupt trio and subsequently planning their demise.
The Book of Revelation and Darksiders also differ in their narration. The Book of Revelation is narrated by John of Patmos, a mysterious figure that has sparked much debate. Many have speculated that this is actually the John of the Gospel of John, but most scholars agree that this is highly unlikely due to, among other factors, a difference in word choice and spelling. Quite simply, little is known about this man. John makes it clear though that this narrative is revealed to him (hence the book’s title) by God via angelic beings. For the overwhelming majority of this narrative, John is simply describing a vision that was shown to him. In other words, John is rarely an actor or even directly involved in the revelation. This can be contrasted with Darksiders, which does not have a narrator per se. The game follows War with a third-person camera, but War is not telling the story. No one is, really. However, War is very much involved in a direct way with the unfolding of this story. He is not watching the story unfold; he is making the story unfold. Quite simply, he is the primary actor, which is the exact opposite of John. In all actuality, Darksiders does not represent a revelation in any sense of the word.
  To be clear, Darksiders is very fun game that should not be overlooked. Although it is plagued by painful control issues, the game has a riveting storyline and stunning graphics. Its supposed connection to the Book of Revelation, though, is almost nonexistent. As has been shown, the book and videogame share only general concepts, nothing more. Quite simply, if God had made Revelation as a videogame, it would look nothing like this.