More "Signs of the Times" Nonsense

By Ex-Christadelphian and occasional theist, Joseph Strong

The Christadelphians have an uneasy relationship with science. On the one hand, if it can extend their mortal life amongst us Gentiles, they will grab at it for any cure it can offer.
However if it proves their lies and fantasies to be false, they reject it, they get angry, rant and rave and declare it to be false or an insult to their God.

There is a third alternative, they can fall victim to  Apophenia to try to make a link between what goes on in the natural world, the science that studies it, and the Bible. More specifically, they can use it to "prove" the Bible to be true. Christadelphians are by no means alone in this; cranks of all denominations are easily drawn in by such exciting things.

Back in 1980 I had planned a career in microelectronics, (I ended up with a career in construction, but that's another story). I had a great interest in electronics and science in general, I also had an interest in radio communication, and, self taught, I took my city and guilds examinations to achieve two distinctions in radio communication theory and practice, thus qualifying myself not only to operate radio transmitters, but also to design, build, and test them to internationally acceptable standards. An understanding of radio propagation is fundamental to the above. It is a long observed fact that sunspots (which peak and trough in a roughly 11 year cycle)  seriously affect radio propagation below 50Mhz due to ionisation of the upper atmosphere that reflect signal around the world and can seriously affect long distance communications. I thus have some idea of the effects of solar activity.

Sunspots occur in 11 year cycles
I have attached a copy of the Bury St Edmunds Ecclesia's “Signs of the Times” for this month as it is a good example of why I became irritated with prophetic speculation during my time with the Christadelphians, and serves as an example of how to read  the material that some Christadelphians publish. What really upsets me is the bait-and-switch in this article. Irrelevant fact to introduce a popular (but debunked) idea. The sole purpose being to whip up some end times thinking, hoping that nobody will dare to question.

Original item

http://www.christadelphiansuffolk.org.uk/html/signs_of_the_times.html


Author's Note Friday 28th March 2014

This article has been modified seven weeks after publication as a member of the Bury St Edmunds "Signs of the Times Writing team has contacted us on 25th March to complain that the use of their material was beyond fair use and constituted an infringement of copyright, along with what appears to be a threat to invoke legal action by third parties to achieve redress,without actually bringing legal action. The text of their contact is reproduced below:

Joseph   
 
We must thank you for directing so many visitors to our ecclesial website by the links you provide. Some evidently bookmark it and return repeatedly, in one case more than 100 times; some others immediately explore our site in depth and acquire a much more balanced view of our beliefs and hopes than you are able to impart.
 
You assume in your comments that I am the author of all the Signs of the Times articles. Anyone more perceptive would have recognised a diversity of writing styles reflecting the different backgrounds, skills and interests within our team of contributors. So far, despite your claims, you have not mentioned any of my contributions.
 
In your ignorance or arrogance, by copying a complete article from our site without permission, even though it is attributed, you have gone way beyond 'fair use' and infringed our copyright, implicit in all published material in the UK, giving us grounds to request of your hosting company that your whole site be taken down, and to request of the major search engines that your site be de-listed, as no company wishes to appear complicit in such illegal activity. See http://www.dellcreativestudio.com/2010/12/10/someones-stolen-my-stuff-what-to-do-when-someone-copies-your-content/1/. This course of action remains open to us: if it were successful, no doubt you would invoke the ire of your fellow dissidents, who might well call into question your suitability as an editor.


We have contacted Bury St Edmunds with a view to negotiating a "fair use" policy for future articles, as at the time of writing, no policy was in existence on their site. No Bury St Edmunds "Signs of the Times" article is ever identified by author, although in the past all responses to queries have been by Br Peter Banyard. On the 16th February I contacted Br Banyard and alerted him and his writing team to the fact that this article had been written, with a link. I did not receive a response. As is stated in the copy of the mail below, I was concerned that my former Brethren and Sisters could be made to look very foolish by becoming aligned with a widely discredited idea.

Peter,

 What on Earth are you on about this month? I've written about your latest piece on the ex-christadelphians blog:


I'm surprised that you have chosen to align your Ecclesia with this "Blood Moons" business.I am used to reading some not very accurate stuff, but this months is way off beam.

Never mind the irrelevant items I've written of, are you really suggesting that the eclipses of 2014/15 will mark the time of the second coming? That is how it reads, but I do not for one minute think that you would be bold enough to make a prediction like that. Please look at your wording again, and correct as necessary to make clear what you are or are not predicting. You run a serious risk of making yourself and your Ecclesia look foolish if you are predicting the second coming and using it to scare people into baptism.

It is all to easy to let things that you want to believe get in the way of clear thinking. This looks to be what is happening to you. Take it easy, you do not have to see a special meaning in everything. 

Kind Regards,

Joe


Eclipses have nothing to do with sunspots and are
not scary at all.
If genuine offence has been caused by the alleged copyright infringement, then I apologise and will do better next time. However, I will continue to expose false teaching by those who place themselves in a position to influence the beliefs of my children, bring ridicule upon those decent thinking people whom I once called brother and sister, and who month after month demonise the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches the faithful of which have shewn more Christian compassion and integrity to myself than the bile spitting authors from Bury St Edmunds are capable of.

Joe Strong, 28th March 2014


What I conclude from this article


Note the admission that there is NOTHING to suggest a biblical link to the occurrences initially mentioned.  Note that having stated this and the fact that the events may or may not be significant, the author uses it as a means to quote Genesis, and the major role that the sun and moon will play in God's plan for mankind.

Neither of which has anything to do with the sunspot cycle at all!

Lunar eclipses occur at least twice a year, and sometimes three times. Solar eclipses occur between two and five years. Both types are entirely predictable and follow set patterns that have been understood for a very long time. That the Bible prophet Joel links eclipses with the “Coming of the Lord”. Joel is simply showing his ignorance of the predictable nature of eclipses. All ancient peoples were scared by eclipses, when they became predictable, the fear went.

Next our writer moves on rapidly to Jesus's own prophecy of his second coming (which is really what Christadelphians are interested in). Those who have studied scripture will know that Matthew 24: 29-31 are symbolic, and do not refer to literal events. But our writer waits a full six paragraphs before mentioning this, one has to wonder why, when he introduces it with physical events (eclipses) that look similar to what Jesus describes.

For the next part of Jesus prophecy we need to switch gospel, over to Luke 21, and things have suddenly become literal again, with the “fulfilments” of the six day war and the formation of the modern state of Israel. It is worth noting that even though Jesus was “in the know” he seemed to put all this lot out in reverse order, maybe just as a challenge.

We now come to my favourite part of this months signs of the times. Apparently the entirely mathematically predictable patterns of lunar eclipses have been shown to coincide with Jewish festivals. Not so surprising really as the Jewish calendar is lunar. None of this is new, the idea that something big is due to happen in 2014-15 is popular. Search YouTube like the author maybe did. You will find all sorts of cranks aligning themselves with this idea. Christadelphianism (at least in parts) is doing the same here.

Our Christadelphian friend has gone from:

1. Quoting factual observations of the cycles of sunspots.
2. Confirming that this has no relevance to the Bible.
3. Quoting Genesis.
4. Quoting a “prophet” ignorant of the physical laws of the solar system who talks not about sunspots but eclipses.
5. Quoting Jesus (non literal) prophecy that looks a bit like the literal fact of eclipses but isn't.
6. Quoting Jesus (Literal it seems) prophecy that “has been” fulfilled.
7. Telling us what is going to happen in 2014-15, but being very careful not to actually say that, so that when I challenge him in 2015 to his face to explain to everybody why it did not happen he can say “I said it might, not it will” .
8. Telling us to get baptised into the Christadelphians.
9. Telling us to read the Bible.

See this (unchecked) de-bunking video.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--kA2-5z2zI

My Message To The Author:

You are a Lunatic, my former brother. You need to see your Doctor and he will be able to refer you to your local mental health department. They will help you to recover from being in a cult. There is no need to latch onto crank ideas to further your religious career. Enjoy the four lunar eclipses, they are wonderful, natural events, and there is nothing to fear or predict from them.

You think you deserve respect because you have passed through the waters of baptism, are a speaking brother and publish your prophetic words on your website, in the name of your brethren and sisters. You do not deserve any respect at all for your beliefs, because you write and repeat  nonsense.

You are right about one thing though, it is time to get our bibles down of the shelf and do something- That something is to expose the Christadelphians for the sham religion that they are, and stop you and your brethren wasting any more lives.

You make yourself and your brethren and sisters, both in your home Ecclesia and elsewhere, look foolish. You need to get a grip and face reality. What you come out with is crazy. You are crazy. I can tell you this but your brethren and sisters who may think that you are crazy too, cannot tell you.

I can because I am not crazy, and I am no longer your brother. In case you missed that, you are crazy. Jesus is not coming back in 2015, but I will be asking you, in 2015,to explain why he did not. If, against all the odds, he does come back, I will apologise profusely, and beg you not to “thin” me or any other ex-christadelphian. But it isn't going to happen.


Ex-Christadelphians: Help for the confused

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