The “Mirror Image” Syndrome

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Just as an image formed on a plane mirror is a duplication or reflection of the object placed directly opposite its surface, there is also a dangerous condition that can affect Christians contending for the faith which can make them start to reflect what they are contending against.

A person opposed to a set of errors can also develop signs of errors: becoming dishonest, hateful and rigid. I call it the “Mirror Image Syndrome.”

When this syndrome affects a cult expert, he can take on the very cultic mindsets he is standing against – exclusivism, elitism and tyranny of thoughts.

Sometimes it’s baffling how a person would seem to stand on an impressive edifice of Christian scholarship only for you to realise that his intellectual integrity is actually in the pits.

The more famous and influential a Christian figure is, the more they need to be held accountable for what they say or write in public, especially, if their agenda is more important to them than truth.

Previously, I used Rebecca Brown and Daniel Yoder as examples of how spiritual warfare can devolve into spiritual quackery when integrity is lacking.

In this piece, I will be using another popular Christian author to highlight the blighting effects of the Mirror Image Syndrome.

For five decades, Chick Publications, the organization founded by Jack Chick, has published hundreds of illustrated gospel tracts in different languages, along with many Christian articles, comics, books and videos on issues like abortion, homosexuality, false religions, evolution and Bible versions.

Fittingly, Dr. Rebecca Brown once worked for Mr. Chick. In her words, “Jack Chick is one of the kindest and most honest and Godly men I have ever met. He taught me many valuable things in the Lord’s work.” [1]

In the May/June 2016 Battle Cry article, we are also told that:

Many parents write to Chick Publications, grateful for the unwavering stand for the Truth in the tracts and books.”

Since 2003, I have feasted on many Chick materials. They influenced my early Christian walk and I believed every word in their materials as truth.

But when I began to double check things for myself, I started to question some of the “facts” being disseminated by Chick’s ministry said to be “standing for the Truth”:

1. The testimony comic series of ex-Jesuit priest, Alberto Rivera (1935-1997) drew much ire to Chick’s ministry when it was published.

Whether his testimony was genuine or fraudulent is still debatable. He gave dates and names of places and presented his ID card and papers. To an extent, he also defended himself before his critics.

Notwithstanding, there were several glaring errors and outright embellishments in his stories which cast much doubt on the veracity of his claims.

In the Double Cross, after he had left the monastery with his sister, the Mother Superior said with a frown:

“He is damned forever! The Virgin will take care of this Father Rivera. He is another Judas that has sold out our Holy Father, the Pope.”

How did Rivera know she said this?

Later, a Vatican priest asks his fellow, “Would Father Rivera go to the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Mormons?” the other priest replies, “Never! He’s a real Christian and he knows about their false teachings.” [2]

Rivera wasn’t present there, so how did he know they said this?

Was he also suggesting that Catholic leaders don’t consider themselves to be real Christians but secretly admit that Protestants are?

Either Rivera or Chick was putting words into these people’s mouths to further an agenda.

2. The series spent more ink spreading Jesuit hysteria and instilling mistrust in readers than presenting the gospel to Catholics.

Alberto alleged that Kathryn Khulman was a Catholic “undercover agent” sent to the Pentecostals; Jim Jones was “another undercover Jesuit” who sacrificed his flock to fulfill his oath [3] and Fidel Castro was also a “well trained Jesuit under oath.” [4]

No credible evidence was presented to back up these accusations. The reader is simply asked to take Rivera’s word for it because he purportedly knew some centuries-old, “hot secrets” of the Vatican.

3. The Alberto comics are laced with Vatican conspiracy theories, wild enough to make Dan Brown green with envy.

Rivera claims the Nazi and Communist parties, the KKK, Illuminati, Masonry, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormonism, Christian Science, Unity cults and Islam were all founded and developed by the Catholic Church or Jesuits. [5]

Again, no evidence of these claims was given. While I agree that Catholicism is an aberrant religious system with a bloody history, to blame it for every other cult and social or political plague on earth is tabloid sensationalism and sheer inanity.

Satan has been creating false religions long before the Vatican came on the scene and he doesn’t need it to create a newer one today. Christians who wish to reach Catholics with the truth should not use these materials.

4. Chick’s Statement of Faith on their website says:

[W]e believe God in His Singular providential care has KEPT HIS WORD all through the ages, right down to the present day as found in the King James Version. We consider this version our final and absolute authority, above and beyond all other authorities on earth.”

This is “KJV Onlyism” in its strictest form. Its chief flaw is the silence on which Bible version was God’s Word “all through the ages” before the 17th century when the KJV emerged.

Their fully illustrated book, Did the Catholic Church Give us the Bible? tries to give the reader a “chain” of preservation:

In a valley in the Alps was a people that God used to translate His preserved words into Latin. These people were called the ‘Vaudois.’ They lived in the Piedmont Valley of the Alps, at the northwest corner of Italy, east of France. In about 120 AD some got saved, and went to Antioch to receive God’s words.” [6]

Where did they get this piece of information from? No citation or reference was provided there. Why? Because the statement is a lie.

The Vaudois (or Waldenses) were followers of Peter Waldo (1140-1205 AD). How could they have existed a millennium before Waldo was born? If the Vaudois didn’t exist at that time, to assert they went to Antioch to receive an Italian Bible is pure fabrication.

5. In order to cover up the fact that the KJV came from a Greek text by Desiderius Erasmus, a Catholic priest, the book says:

God chose Erasmus as His vessel to shine the light of the Gospel during the hellish Dark Ages … Erasmus was God’s undercover agent! By day he was a faithful Roman Catholic serving the pope, working diligently in the libraries. But at night he wrote tracts that ridiculed the Catholic system… This was a dangerous game. But Erasmus played it because he utterly despised the devilish pope.” [7]

A footnote said: “Much of the information in this section comes from the excellent research of Gail Riplinger’s In Awe of Thy Word (2003), Chapter 27.”

The term “excellent research” is meant to psyche the unwary reader. In fact, Gail Riplinger’s research is as “excellent” or reliable as National Enquirer, TMZ or any other gossip tabloid.

While Erasmus attacked the corruption and immorality among the clergy, he was a real Catholic to the end.

Erasmus was “a devoted worshipper of St. Anne” and he wrote “a collection of prayers to the Holy Virgin.” He believed in the Eucharist and upheld papal authority.

He pledged to always be “a faithful subject of the Holy See” and wrote: “Christ I know; Luther I know not. The Roman Church I know, and death will not part me from it till the Church departs from Christ.” [8]

He never recanted his beliefs.

If Chick and Daniels cared more about truth, their information should have come from Erasmus’ original works instead of a secondary work of a KJV Onlyist fraud.

By the way, if being an “undercover agent” was evil for Jim Jones or Kathryn Khulman, why was it acceptable for Erasmus?

6. This Give Us The Bible book – typical of Chick materials – devotes several pages to conspiracies and poisoning the well.

On page 137 is a cartoon of a Christian reading the NIV Bible and Satan holding his head saying: “Haw haw! GOTCHA!” The heading says, “CHRISTIANS NOW READ HIS BIBLE!”

This is meant to instill fear into readers to think those who read a modern Bible version are under Satan’s grip.

Page 125 shows a chart linking the NIV Bible to its Zondervan publisher (formerly owned by Harper Collins Inc.) and this links to the Satanic Bible and the News Corporation owned by Rupert Murdoch, a Catholic knight. This nothing but guilt by association.

It was intended to link the NIV with “the Catholic Church” or “The Satanic Bible” in the reader’s mind. If only the authors knew that Zondervan has published KJV Bibles, they would have probably refrained from such emotional manipulation in their book.

In the absence of solid facts to bolster their arguments, the authors resorted to inflaming emotions.

7. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fiction as “something invented by the imagination or feigned; specifically an invented story.” It’s also called a fable or fabrication.

For instance, if a person today writes a story about Abraham in Ur, imputing words to the characters in the story, he has written a work of fiction.

In the illustrated book published by Chick Publications, Babylon Religion, the first chapter gives us a detailed account of before and after the Flood, including the words and thoughts of the characters. On page 16, Satan soliloquized:

One of Noah’s sons has got to be the weakest link. I’ll find him and make him serve me!” He tells Cush: “Look, Cush, you don’t need this pressure. You’re a man. GO BUILD YOUR OWN CITY!” So Cush “built the tower of Babel … to unify the people under one religion.” [9]

When you compare this with Genesis 10:8-10 you can easily see that Chick and Daniels wrote from their own imaginations.

We are told: “Nimrod had hated Shem and all followers of God Almighty so he started to persecute them with the help of his secret police … Nimrod and his wife demanded human sacrifices, which were devoured by him and his priests.” [10]

On page 34 Shem charged: “Nimrod is pure evil! He must be stopped once and for all!” Then “he came to Babylon and with righteous anger sliced Nimrod into pieces. Everyone was caught off-guard. The priests went into hiding and his [Nimrod’s] false religion came to a standstill.”

There is no biblical or extra-biblical evidence that:

(a) Nimrod had a wife, much less Semiramis.

(b) Nimrod started a religion or was worshipped as a god.

(c) Shem had followers much less were persecuted.

(d) Shem murdered Nimrod.

In fact, there is no historical record of Nimrod; only a strong possibility that he is the same as the legendary Gilgamesh.

8. On page 40, Satan tells Nimrod’s widow, “Stick with me, Semiramis, and I will make you the Queen of heaven!” Holding up her baby to the Babylonians, Semiramis says: “Behold Nimrod, your slain and risen god!” (p. 41).

In reality, there is no trace of Semiramis in Sumerian or Babylonian records. The only Semiramis (which is a Greek name) known in history is Queen Sammu-ramat, wife of Samshi-Adad V of Assyria who ruled approximately 824-811 B.C.

A Babylonian priest, Berossus, (c. 3rd century B.C.) in his Babyloniaca, lists the kings of Babylon and makes a reference to Semiramis ruling in Assyria – not Babylon – after 812 BC. This date matches the period the historical Sammu-ramat lived. [11]

This proves Nimrod and Semiramis didn’t live in the same century. There is a gap of more than 1000 years between them.

No reference work – whether it’s the Encyclopedia Britannica, Jewish Encyclopedia or the World Book Encyclopedia – places Nimrod and Semiramis as contemporaries, let alone as a couple.

Page 52 says: “Ancient and modern writings are clear that Tammuz and Semiramis got married.”

False. Tammuz was a Sumerian deity. He is never described as a real person and never mentioned as the husband or son of Semiramis in any standard reference work.

Semiramis was not worshipped as a goddess and she is not Ishtar, Astarte or Inanna because these deities predate her. Even Daniels and Chick quote a work on page 198 saying:

The goddess Ashera was probably the oldest [Canaanite goddess]. As early as 1750 BC a Sumerian inscription refers to her as the wife of Anu, who can be identified as El, the father god of the Canaanite pantheon…” [12]

This disproves their basic theory on page 82 that “All goddesses were made from one woman [Semiramis].” These deities have been worshipped for centuries before Semiramis. All pagan goddesses are demons, not geographical mutations of a dead Assyrian queen!

Page 53 tells us: “As ‘Asshur’ Tammuz rode north and built four cities, including Nineveh.”

A footnote gives Genesis 10:11-12 as reference but vs. 22 says this Asshur was one of “the children of Shem”!

The plots between Semiramis and Tammuz illustrated between pages 52-59, were based on nothing but “ancient myths!” I remember been disappointed when I first read this book, because I had expected a scholarly work.

How sad that Mr Chick who has attacked the myths and fables of Roman Catholicism, Mormonism and Paganism has resorted to the same.

Personally, I will think twice before I allow my name be put on a Christian book filled with lies, shoddy research and “tales [Gr. mythos] artfully spurn” by pagans (2 Pet. 1:16). A soldier of the cross would rather starve than profit on falsehood.

I know some of my readers will say, “But his works have brought many people to Christ.” I’m not disputing that, but we must not become so naive that we lose our understanding of Scripture’s warning:

“Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying…” (1 Tim. 1:4)

As Christians, we must not lose sight of the Biblical standard of honesty and integrity of character and we also need to watch out for this syndrome in our lives.

Notes

[1] Rebecca Brown and Rev. Daniel Yoder, Standing on the Rock, Solid Rock Enterprises, 2002, p. 64.

[2] Double Cross, Chick publications, 1981, pp. 9-11.

[3] Double p. 27

[4] The Godfathers, Chick, 1982, 31.

[5] Godfathers p. 4, 31; The Force (1983), p. 25; The Prophet (1988), pp. 12-23.

[6] David Daniels and Jack Chick, Did the Catholic Church Give us the Bible? Chick, 2005, p. 40.

[7] Did the Catholic Church, p. 67.

[8] Anthony Froud, Life and Letters of Erasmus, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1894 pp. 86, 279, 261.

[9] David Daniels and Jack Chick, Babylon Religion, Chick, 2006, pp. 20-21.

[10] Babylon Religion, pp. 32-33.

[11] “Berossus and Babylonian Eschatology” Iraq, 38.2 (Autumn 1976:171-173) p. 172.

[12] Anne Baring and Cashford Jules, Myth of the Goddess, Penguin Books, 1991, p. 454.

A Balanced View of the End Times

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Some months before year 2000, different “prophets” rushed to the media to declare: “Jesus’ return is near, the world is going to end in Y2K!”

Bill Gates of Microsoft – the richest man at the time – was fingered as the antichrist. The Internet was linked with the Greek word for “image” of the Beast.

Then we had The Omega Code movies distorting the Bible to fit into the political scene.

Prophecy pundits jumped on the band wagon, linking almost every modern technology with end time prophecies.

Digital images, satellite transmissions, implanted computer chips and credit cards were labelled as the “tools of the beast.” The Y2K came and passed and the hype waned.

What many of those promoting the end-of-the-world doomsday messages didn’t realize was that, due to an old calendar error, we had actually entered Y2K few years prior.

Fast forward eleven years. Harold Camping came on the scene for the second time, to predict Jesus’ return on May 21, 2011. Many Christians believed it and the hysteria was re-ignited.

A year later, Obamacare and the microchip issue erupted again in the media. Some Nigerian “Christian” tabloids began to sell altered pictures of Obama wearing the horns of a beast, with Christians swallowing both the sense and nonsense on these pages.

In 2015, we heard the same old scream: “The blood moon is a sign of Jesus’ coming!”

Why do many Christians keep getting caught up in these wild-eyed, last days prophetic speculations? The reason is: there is a kind of “excitement” that comes with it.

There is a heady feeling that an “expert” has when the masses look up to him/her to hear the “latest, end-time mysteries” – which they believe no one else is yet to figure out.

From there, he sees himself as the only one who has access to God’s secrets and his followers feel the need to isolate themselves from all other Christians in order to renew the zeal and faith which other Christians lack. This is how spiritual deception kicks in.

History shows us that date-setting and end-time speculations were the foundations of most cults.

William Miller and the Adventists predicted the return of Christ in 1843 (later changed to 1844). Charles Russell, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witness predicted the return of Christ to establish His kingdom in 1914.

Herbert Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God predicted Christ’s return in 1972.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet, a New Age leader, predicted the Battle of Armageddon in 1990.

Mary Relfe, a self-proclaimed prophet, indicated Jesus’ return before 1990.

Lee Jang Rim of South Korean’s Dami Missionary Church also predicted the rapture would take place on October 28, 1992.

In 1997, the 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass suicide because their leader (Marshall Applewhite) told them this would qualify them for rapture via a comet.

Cults draw their strengths from end-of-the-world panic. Through it, they gain blind obedience and foster isolation. Even within the Christian church, excessive prophetic speculations about the last days can discourage a genuine study of Bible prophecy.

For instance, different personalities have been fingered as the future antichrist at different times – Kaiser, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Kennedy, Reagan, Prince Charles, Obama and the Catholic pope.

Yet, as any serious Bible student agrees, the identity of the antichrist cannot be revealed until after the rapture, when the church is removed and its restraining influence is gone (2Thess. 2:7-12).

A Christian’s obsession with the identity of the antichrist or the mark of the beast not only generates panic, but also alters his focus, such that rather than spreading the Gospel of Christ and contending for the faith, he gets caught up with tabloid sensationalism, conspiracy theories and “bible codes.”

Some folks get so much wrapped up that they hardly read their Bibles outside the book of Daniel and Revelation, and they start to develop a cult-like disposition to reality.

There was a man who used to teach on a TV programme several years ago that all those who have a Yahoo account have received the mark of the beast because “Yahoo” means “beast,” so they will burn in hell. Little wonder that programme went down the drain after a while.

Suggesting or setting dates for Jesus’ return is contrary to Scripture (Matt 24:36). It is this ploy that leads some Christians to stop believing in Bible prophecy altogether.

Everything Jesus listed in Matthew 24 – wars, famine and earthquakes – are to be expected throughout the Church Age until He returns. They do not necessarily prove the end has come.

When preachers say things like “In 7 years’ time, it will be over,” they are speculating, not preaching. No one knows how long we have until Jesus comes.

All the speculations people have made up about dates for Jesus’ return are bound to fade into the sands of time like the others.

Dr. Daniel Mitchell aptly stated that: “Speculating on the date of Christ’s return not only breeds bad theology, but it is the original sin all over again – trying to know as much as God.”

As Christians, how can we avoid falling into this extremism?

1. Interpret current events in light of the Bible prophecy, not Bible prophecy in light of current events.

Randall Price wrote: “This ‘common sense’ principle is a necessary corrective to discourage what has been called ‘newspaper exegesis,’ or interpreting the biblical stories based on stories that appear in the media” (World of the Bible News and Views, 1999, 1)

There is a difference between general prophecies and specific events. General prophetic themes about the last days are: increase in wickedness (Matt. 24:12); rise of false prophets (Matt. 24:4, 24); the return of Israel to their land (Ezk 20:34); the development of a global economy (Rev. 13:16-17); the formation of a world government (Rev. 17:15-18) and a false sense of peace and security (1Thess. 5:2-3).

Specific events, like the Internet, bank codes, credit cards, microchips or epidemics are not directly related to Biblical prophecies.

Time will tell if these things have anything to do with the fulfilment of future events. It may later turn out that the Bible was referring to something else (as the mark of the beast, for instance).

As time goes on and world leaders change, some Bible passages that seem to link with a person or event today will turn out to be different. In the meantime, we need to be careful not to make too many assumptions based on our limited perspectives.

2. Most of the end time prophetic passages revolve around the people and nation of Israel.

For example, the great tribulation (Matt. 24:22), the rise of the antichrist (2Thess 2:3-8), the signing of a peace treaty (Daniel 9:25-27), the invasion of Israel by Gentile forces (Zech. 14:12-13), and the battle of Armageddon (Rev 16:16) – are all related to Israel – and will not take place until the end of the Church Age.

Some have used the crises in the Middle East to speculate that the end is a few years away, but this in itself doesn’t prove the end is near, because Israel has not yet regained its original biblical borders (David’s kingdom included what today exists as Jordan and Syria) and the rebuilding of the temple has not begun.

These key events are yet to happen (2Thess. 2:4). So, we can’t set dates based on current political situations.

3. Check your use of Bible texts.

Some Christians just grab a Bible verse, tie it with a current event and run off with it to create a hype, when the text doesn’t provide enough data to warrant such a conclusion.

In the book, The Islamic Antichrist, the author, riding on the wings of current Islamic resurgence, attempts to prove that the antichrist will be a Muslim.

The problem is that the proof texts he offered have to be astutely wrenched from their contexts to arrive at that conclusion. For example, the description of the antichrist in Daniel 11:36 doesn’t fit that of a Muslim.

A similar error is seen in The Four Horsemen by Alberto Rivera. He claimed that the pope is the antichrist and the Jesuit general is his “false prophet.” But these suggestions are incorrect for the fact that there is no final one world religion which will be dominated by the false prophet yet.

There are still many questions that remain unanswered at this time. Speculations occur when people attempt to view the future with the eyes of the present.

4. Distinguish between the last days of the church and the last days of Israel.

There are some prophecies about the last days of the church: its growth (Mt. 16:18); the gospel being proclaimed to the ends of the earth (Mt. 24:14) and the eventual rapture of the church into heaven (1Thess. 4:16-17).

The major end time prophecies apply to Israel. We must consider these distinctions in interpreting Bible prophecies. What applies to the last days of Israel does not apply to the last days of the church.

Only the Bible gives a clear understanding of the future and it’s all there for all to read and learn. You don’t need to pluck down some money to buy “secret mysteries of the Last Days” DVD or Bible code books.

Why run around with guesswork and suggestions, when the Lord has given us what we need to know in His Word?

We are not to get tossed to and fro with the hypes but “stand firm” and hold to the teachings of Scripture (2Thess. 2:17). We are to watch, stay ready and keep serving until He comes.