Edge of Apocalypse: pages 193-195 (Chapter Thirty-Four)
We continue with Josh Jordan marvelling at the new insight he’s been given into the state of world affairs. As much as this is supposed to be a shocking, portentous revelation for reader and character alike, the previous chapter and this segment of chapter 34 mostly feel kind of flat. I think this is because I’m not a member of the intended audience, for one thing. Also, having seen Left Behind get excoriated for its own defects in presentation, containing much of the same material as Pastor Campbell’s sermon, this isn’t really anything new; it’s more retreading of the kind of Biblical interpretation that LaHaye relies on to justify his Premillennial Dispensationalist doctrine.
Paul Campbell had captured Joshua’s attention. He was beginning to see the connecting points between the Bible prophecies that the pastor was describing and the issues that were consuming his Roundtable. The erosion of American sovereignty. The movement to force United States courts to embrace the international laws of the nations of the world. The mantra calling for a single global government.
Only in this bizarro world of LaHaye and Parshall’s could the idea of a world government be regarded with unspeakable horror. One thing I’d like to stop and note here is that Tim LaHaye has been asked about the USA in relation to Biblical prophecy and has had to admit that any possibility is pretty thin on the ground (not hard to understand why, as the writers of the texts that collectively make up the Bible did not know that North or South America existed; they may well have been aware of Asia all the way to China, and possibly the Scandinavian peoples, though).
LaHaye in fact has been quoted, as linked here (RTF file):
“Does the United States have a place in end time prophecy? My first response is no, there is nothing about the U.S. in prophecy. At least nothing that is specific. There is an allusion to a group of nations in Ezekiel 38:13 that could apply, but even that is not specific. The question is why? Why would the God of prophecy not refer to the supreme superpower nation in the end times in preparation for the one world government of the antichrist?” ~Dr. Tim LaHaye
So LaHaye and his coauthors have had to work pretty hard to try and fit the USA into such prophecies. After all, the RTC readership in the USA understandably would be a bit bored reading about End Times that entirely take place with no involvement of the USA at all. That said, I think LaHaye is also falling victim to the need to fit prophecy to American exceptionalism – the notion that just because the USA is a superpower it must be mentioned and heavily involved in such events to come, because the USA, that’s why.
The pandering to American exceptionalism and the hero-complex that LaHaye and Parshall want readers to identify with in Joshua Jordan is in full flower in the next paragraph:
For Joshua it was a little like being at Hawk’s Nest Ranch in the fall when the fog rolled in with a cold snap early in the morning. But when the sun broke through, the white blanket of fog would clear, and the imposing mountain peaks rising up all around would suddenly show themselves. Joshua wondered for just an instant whether his mission statement in founding the Roundtable might have been too small. So, I wanted to save America…but was that enough? What if all of this is bigger than just the United States?
(italics in the original text)
Oh, he wants to “save America”. His idea of “America”. God, what an incredible egotist this guy is.
Also, this business about him deciding only he, Joshua Jordan, knows the right way ahead for the USA, is uncomfortably reminiscent of the attitude embodied by James Mattoon Scott in Seven Days in May. I have discussed before how this book seems to attempt to tap into attitudes of contempt for civilian oversight of the military, by means of Josh’s showboating during the Congressional committee meeting. A very similar attitude is at work in the actions and words of General James Mattoon Scott, as extracted here from Seven Days in May.
[Scott said,] “The public has no faith in you. The Gallup Poll may not be exactly accurate, but it’s pretty close. Unless the country is rallied by a voice of authority and discipline, it can be lost in a month.”
“And that voice is yours, General?” The way [President] Lyman said it, the question was almost a statement of fact.
(Additions in brackets are mine)
And from the film of the book, we have these lines spoken by the characters:
President Jordan Lyman: And that would be General James Mattoon Scott, would it? I don’t know whether to laugh at that kind of megalomania, or simply cry.
General James Mattoon Scott: James Mattoon Scott, as you put it, hasn’t the slightest interest in his own glorification. But he does have an abiding interest in the survival of this country.
President Jordan Lyman: Then, by God, run for office. You have such a fervent, passionate, evangelical faith in this country – why in the name of God don’t you have any faith in the system of government you’re so hell-bent to protect?
(bold is mine)
Luckily, in Seven Days in May, the people desperate to protect Constitutional government succeed in staving off the coup before it can get off the ground, but it’s a near thing.
In Edge of Apocalypse, given that the “good guys” are on the side of an organization full of wealthy, well-connected people who disapprove of the current government, I’m a little less sanguine. Notice, though, the same egotism at work in both General Scott and Colonel Jordan in their exaggerated estimates of themselves.
Getting back to the chapter I’m covering, Paul Campbell explains the three Babylons:
“So there will be a political Babylon, certainly. A unification of the powers of the nations of the planet.” (italics in the original)
The use of the word “Babylon” here is intended. from my understanding of Fred Clark’s deconstruction over on Slacktivist, to indicate the center of secular one-world power. Pastor Campbell apparently interprets that it is sufficent for there to be a one-world government in order to constitute the formation of Babylon.
Campbell then goes on to discuss the second Babylon:
“But there will also be a religious Babylon in the end times. Another leg of our three-legged stool. A merging of the religions of the world into one massive conglomerate of false spirituality.”
We then get LaHaye’s favorite hobby-horse, the Raptuuuuuuuuuuuuuure!
“When will that happen? Ultimately not until the Church…and by that I mean the sum total of all true believers in Jesus Christ…until the Church is ‘raptured’…taken up instantaneously to God…and when that happens, with the restraining power of the Church gone from the earth, there will be nothing to stop this massive global merger of the world’s religions.”
BY THE WAY I REVOKED YOUR LICENCE TO USE ELLIPSES, PARSHALL. YOU ARE HEREBY SENT TO JAIL. DO NOT PASS GO AND DO NOT COLLECT $200.
The next sentence employs an interesting turn of phrase:
And that is when there will be the hideous appearing…a false prophet will come and set in motion the blasphemous idol worship of the Antichrist exactly as predicted in the thirteenth chapter of Revelation.
Given that one of the Left Behind books is titled “Glorious Appearing” and is intended to refer to Jesus and God returning to Earth, I find that choice of words on Parshall’s part to be curious. It’s as though he wants to set up the diametrical opposite: the appearance of the Antichrist (hopefully not a clone of Nicky Molehills) and his False Prophet (hopefully not as cartoonishly sycophantic as Leon Fortunato) as an appearing equal in magnitude to the “glorious” appearing later on.
We then get the third Babylon, which is another of LaHaye’s hobby-horses, and which he and Jenkins so clumsily shoved into Left Behind as a sideshow necessity, slowing down the major plot until they could get the monetary union out of the way.
But in addition to the political and religious aspects, there will also be an economic Babylon. The apostle John, in Revelation, describes this future global financial center: ‘…the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.’ (italics in the original)
He then goes on to illustrate what he means, though I highly suspect that the original text was meant to pillory Rome as an occupying power over Judea. Campbell. however, decides it means the present day or the near future:
“What are the signs of this coming global economic Babylon? We are warned in the Bible that there will be a future international system of buying, selling, trading, and investing. Revelation chapter thirteen (…)”
The chapter and verse is quoted in the book, but I will go to the Revised Standard Version and extract the quote from there, instead:
 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,
 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
This is part of the Book of Revelation that is hard to figure out. People who read it usually believe it means a literal mark on the forehead or the right hand; I don’t know what alternative interpretations exist. Given that John was trashing Rome when writing this, can anyone shed light on that?
Pastor Campbell then notes he’s been given some information from the blog “The Barn Door” before it got leaned on, and he discusses the CReDO monetary unit, which he ties into his just-concluded sermon:
“Jesus rebuked the Pharisees of His day for failing to recognize the signs of the times. Of course, some people will say that the Bible assures us that we can’t know the specific time that Christ will return to the earth. And that’s true. On the other hand, why would Jesus, as we are told in the gospels of Matthew and Mark, have given us an exhaustive list of the events that will precede His return if He didn’t want us to use that information? If He didn’t want us to watch the times and to discern them so we could recognize the signs of His coming soon?”
The discussion of the “specific time” that Christ will return has to do with the oft-quoted phrase “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” which is given in Matthew 25:13. Parshall wraps up with this:
“His Word says that the world is heading toward a global, unified economic system. And that, my friends, is something you can definitely bank on…”
The thing is, though, is that the only reason this sermon works is because of authorial fiat. Of course Campbell is correct that you can bank on his interpretation of the Bible – the authors wrote things that way! This is why the “End Times” literature I’ve read tend to normally be kind of pedestrian and boring (like Left Behind) unless the author tries to structure things so we honestly have no idea if maybe our entire view of things is wrong (hello, Christ Clone) until the Big Reveal.
I’m going to stop here and take up the remainder of this chapter later on. We’ll be revisiting the movers and shakers in Washington, DC at that time.