The vision which keeps me going day after day is what I call the Tribulation Church. On my static site I use the term to offer a replacement for a denominational label. There’s no attempt at marketing here; this is more about a functional name, something descriptive and distinctive. I proclaim tribulation as the native atmosphere of a genuine body of Christ. Inasmuch as there will be any sort of organization for what I teach and hope to see, it’s something which will naturally arise as a response to tribulation. The idea is to describe what a church would look like when properly equipped to face really tough times, because that would pretty much have to be an ANE (Ancient Near Eastern) tribal, First Century church.
Had the Jews remained faithful to Moses, instead of chasing off down the path of the Hellenized Talmud, their little diaspora communities would look almost the same. Most people read Paul’s letters with a sort of modernist, Western rationalized lens, and don’t realize some of the ancient cultural habits of the Old Testament were carried forward into the Gentile New Testament churches. Paul mentions long hair for women, head coverings, men without long hair or head coverings, women keeping silent as in synagogues, and a long list of other things we tend to think don’t belong for us today. That notion is simply wrong. I’m not promoting some new brand of legalism; it’s rightly dividing the Word. Notice the departure from the Jewish custom of men wearing hats and prayer shawls. Whatever the issue, in each case Paul shows how the symbolic action represents something critical to our understanding of the spiritual truth. Some of it is carried over, some is altered, some is forgotten, but all of it refers back to the Old Testament, which was their Bible for quite some time.
But it’s not simply small incidentals like dress code, nor does it require any peculiar speech patterns. Compliance was and is mostly voluntary. To be a full member of the congregation, you had to understand what mattered and why. No one pecked at you about your eternal status, as if anyone could know with any useful certainty about another. The point was whether you were willing to embrace the package, because there wasn’t any other way of measuring whether you belonged. The package itself was an otherworldly focus, and a willingness to freely dismiss what the rest of humanity thought important. Your choices in clothing, the range of actions and speech you employed, all were aimed at dismissing this world, of using everything in this world to point to another world which mattered.
The biggest problem Paul had was keeping people focused on the Spirit Realm. The difficulty manifested variously in different places. In Corinth, for example, it was simply how utterly foreign the gospel was to the hedonism of the place. It was very much like dying for a lot of Corinthians to become followers of Christ. With folks in Asia Minor, it was the ancient civilizations and their pretense to human greatness. This area was all too ripe for the Judaizers, followed by the Gnostics who taught pretty much the same nonsense later. This pretense of deep scholarship was simply another brand of worldliness to be overcome by self-death. Rome, at least, was officially multi-cultural, and you could embrace something like the ANE Christian habits and be okay. What got you in trouble with Rome was a rejection of religious politics, or state religion. You weren’t allowed to exclude the state religion, which rejection was an obvious necessity of following Christ.
Everybody knew a pinch of aromatic dust tossed at a candle in front a stone carving didn’t damn your soul, but it was a lie to the state, and a lie before God. That simple act, along with the words, “Lord Caesar,” was a promise to obey on a level everyone knew you could not. And there’s nothing wrong with scholarship, so long as you didn’t let it displace revealed truth, but used it to serve that truth. But even the Corinthians knew they were naughty, so there as no excuse for immoral habits.
Today we are suffering from all three of those issues, plus more. We definitely have a state religion you aren’t permitted to ignore, and a pretense of deep scholarship and science, and a massive hedonist orientation. Our hedonism is so “normal” to us we would shock the Corinthians. But our single greatest sin is our 2000 year history of assuming whatever cannot be made rational is primitive nonsense, barbaric and dangerous. This bluntly rejects the fundamental assumptions of Scripture itself. Until people realize faith is inherently irrational, and so it must be, and that God Himself says so, we won’t have a viable Christian faith which prepares us for what’s coming.
Tribulation is just getting started. Serious persecution will come as the last dying gasp of a collapsing civilization. It’s not just a few political systems coming down, to be replaced with some new ones. A change in government is just the first wave of something far deeper, far more fundamental, and which will be far more destructive when it goes. Just about the time the New World Order takes control is when it will die.
I can’t pretend I know what’s on the other side, nor how long it will take us to cross. That’s the sort of things historians can claim to figure out centuries later, and typically get wrong. In other words, it won’t really matter. We have our hands full just getting through this. So long as the Internet exists, the speed of change will be pretty fast, because the single greatest factor in change is communication between people, and the greater the distance you can communicate immediately, the faster the pace of change. So if some portion of instant global communication continues to exist for another decade, some of us today will see the birth of whatever comes next. You’ll get to see the new civilization, as it grows up in the ruins of the West, whatever that may be.
Meanwhile, I figure it’s a monumental accomplishment to keep the gospel alive for the next few years. Indeed, just rescuing the ancient truth from under multiple layers of putrid nonsense is pretty big. By no means do I claim to have done that, at least not by myself. I came very late to the game, late in my own life. The clues and cues were there all along, and my only part is reading the work of real scholars and accepting their story because it was so compelling. I can’t walk away from it. While I’ve not seen many folks address the sort of stuff I’ve written, that may simply indicate how few there are, and how thoroughly the mainstream have hidden them. Lord knows, they managed to kick me out pretty quickly once I got started on this path. I doubt I’m alone, just relatively isolated for now.
But having seen what those mainstream churches refuse to see, particularly regarding what’s in store for them, I’m actually not glad to stand back and watch while their whole system comes apart. What keeps them alive is almost gone, down to the last shreds now. I doubt many of those inside the system are prepared to do without it. For them, the system is the gospel. The transition will be exceedingly painful, and plenty will lose their faith. Some will scramble for a new anchor point, and I hope I can point out the one they should have had all along. Perhaps I’m just a madman, completely deluded, but I am utterly certain what I’ve built up here is everything they are missing.
The way I see it, if I’m wrong, God will allow me to be crushed, buried and I’ll be forgotten. I’m fine with that. If any part of what I’m doing is right, I won’t have to keep it alive; it’ll run off down the future dragging me behind.