Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review of www.revlu.com

When one first types www.revlu.com 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.


“ANTICHRIST Is Here NOW”

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.

3 comments:

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