Report on the "Stupider Effect"
From the Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
A Problem With Christians
In Luke 16:8, Jesus made a prophetic statement about Christians in general that is anything but complimentary:
"For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their
generation than the sons of the light."
There is a related verse in I Corinthians 1:26, where Paul speaks of the kind of people who most frequently become Christians:
"...not many wise according to the flesh...are called."
What this means in practice is that Christians are frequently lacking in wisdom. Unfortunately, this lack of wisdom often manifests itself in many areas of Christian behavior...
...and it happens to be a very bad testimony!
Jesus told us (Matthew 10:16), "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be therefore as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves."
Unfortunately, in the things they say and do, and in some things they believe, Christians all too often are as wise as doves and as harmless as serpents! Christians should recognize lack of wisdom as a chronic, pervasive problem from which they suffer, and should strive to overcome it. There is no way that the entire problem can be dealt with in this page, but we will illustrate the problem by looking at just two areas of behavior in which this lack of wisdom does harm to the cause of Christ in our time. Then we will consider how it applies to Second Coming Prophecy.
Believing and Repeating Rumors
Christians often believe and repeat false, silly, and sometimes malicious rumors, simply because they hear them from other Christians, or even Christian leaders, or simply because, to their "Christian" way of thinking, they sound good. Actually, the kind of thinking that accepts these rumors as truth isn't really Christian at all. This writer has noticed, as a pattern, that the Christians who are the quickest to believe and repeat these rumors also tend to be the kind who will not accept sound doctrine (see II Timothy 4:3). Let us take a look at a few of the false rumors that have been circulating in recent years:
The Proctor and Gamble Logo
One of the most malicious was the rumor that the Proctor and Gamble logo is really a satanic symbol that contains the number "666". This rumor had quite a run in Christian circles in the late '70's, and early '80's. Then, a number of Christian leaders and media personalities made it known that the logo originated before the Civil War, and the stars that supposedly make up the "666" really represent the original 13 Colonies. The promotion of that information put the rumor to sleep for a while, but this writer has recently heard that it's going around again.
The Big Lie About McDonald's
Another vicious one was the rumor that the McDonald's fast food chain was donating 10% of its profits to satanic cults. This seems to be forgotten, and perhaps it died because it became known that Ray Kroc, the founder of the McDonald's chain, was a Born Again Christian. No way has the chain ever done such a thing. On the contrary, McDonald's is commendable for the amount of money it donates to legitimate charities, such as sponsoring Ronald McDonald House. But understand that both of these rumors cost the respective companies a lot of business. The rumors also did a lot to discredit Christianity. Both got considerable attention in the mass media. There are probably many unsaved people who can point to these rumors as part of their reasons for rejecting the Christian Faith.
The Silliest of All?
Perhaps the silliest rumor, though fortunately less vicious, is the rumor that says that the building in New York City that is known as "666 Fifth Avenue" is the headquarters of the "Antichrist government" that is supposedly already in power. The rumor further insists that "666 Fifth Avenue" is the name of the building and not the street address.
If you believe this nonsense, and are in New York City, go to see the building. It is on the west side of Fifth Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets. Stand in front of the building and look at it. You will see that the name of the building is "Tishman Building". It happens to be owned by, was built by, and is the headquarters of the Tishman Realty and Construction Co. Inc.; a company that builds and manages skyscrapers. The building houses the offices of a number of other companies as well.
Now turn around and look straight across the street. You will see the number "663" clearly displayed above a doorway on the east side of Fifth Avenue. Now walk a few blocks up and down Fifth Avenue, and watch the street address numbers. When you have done this, there should be no doubt left in your mind but that "666" is the street address of the building.
Special Note: Since this page was originally posted, the front of the Tishman Building has been completely rebuilt. The name, "Tishman Building", has disappeared from the front. (It is still visible in small letters at the West 52nd & 53rd St. entrances.) But you can still see the "663" across the street, and the number "680" is boldly displayed on a building in the next block uptown on the west side of the street. "666" is still clearly the street address.
For the record, there are a number of buildings in New York City that are best known by their street address numbers, such as 500 Fifth Ave., 777 Third Ave., and 888 Seventh Ave (all big skyscrapers). In other words, there is nothing unusual about the Tishman Building being better known by its street address than by its actual name.
This writer has been in that building many times, and once shared an apartment with a Christian man who used to work there. For years he lived and worked about 15 minutes walk from it. If anything strange was going on there, he'd know it.
This rumor won't stand up to even the most casual investigation, but there are still many Christians who believe it. And there are probably many unsaved people who are familiar with the building who reject the Christian Faith because they have heard this rumor and it tells them that Christians are nuts
Too much is made of the number "666" anyway. Mathematically, it has to crop up once in a while wherever 3-digit or larger numbers are used. This writer once lived in a small town where "666" was the local telephone number prefix. (Maybe that town was the headquarters of the Antichrist? ) Besides, all that "666" is in the Bible is a number that represents a man's name. There is nothing in the Scripture to suggest that it has any significance beyond that. There isn't anything evil or magical about the number itself. Besides, it is a little known fact that "666" could be a mistranslation. It could be "616"! Some early manuscripts read it that way. Furthermore, The Beast won't rise to power and be recognizable for who he is until after the Tribulation has started. So the number has no real spiritual significance now. Never give a meaning to a number that the Bible doesn't give it. To do so is sorcery!
All the nonsense about "666" is a big part of "Second Coming Paranoia". See below.
Learn to question malicious rumors that you hear. Never blindly accept them as truth, no matter where or who you hear them from. Never repeat them, especially if they say something bad about anyone or anything. To do so is slander, and slander is a serious sin. And it is foolish! As the Bible says (Proverbs 17:28),
"Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace ".
(that is, when he keeps his mouth shut)
Always ask yourself two questions: Relevant to the situation, "Are there checkable facts to support this allegation?" And as far as anything relevant to the Bible, especially Prophecy, ask yourself, "Is this Scriptural?" Don't believe a malicious rumor unless you have facts to back it up, facts that can be checked. Don't believe anything relevant to Scripture (like the Antichrist already being in power) unless there is Scriptural support for the idea. (By the way, there isn't.) And don't repeat them, even if they turn out to be valid, unless they involve something that Christians need to be warned about.
The Bottom Line
If you as a Christian make yourself look stupid and/or crazy (and many Christians do) then you make the Christian Faith look stupid and/or crazy, and therefore false. This is sin. In fact, it is provoking blasphemy, and provoking sin is sin (See Luke 17:1). If you do this, you are bringing disgrace to the Name of Jesus and you will answer to God for it. It's time for Christians to bring back wisdom as a spiritual ideal.
The Christian Attitude Toward Science
The other area in which Christian stupidity is often a bad testimony is the attitude of Christians toward science. Generally, Christians tend to be oblivious, and often willfully so, toward scientific matters. Sometimes, the Christian attitude toward science is one of fear and hostility that borders on paranoia. This in itself isn't good. We are living in a world that was built by science. True science is not an enemy of the Christian Faith. Yet the technology and the world views produced by science are shaping our lives more and more with each passing year. We should not be afraid of or hostile to science. On the other hand, we should be aware of what is going on in science just to understand the times in which we live. See I Chronicles 12:32.
More than that, ignorance of science can be a dangerous weakness for Christians. It is certain that on one hand, unbelievers have been turned off to the Christian Faith by the ignorance of Christians relative to science, and this isn't just about evolution. This writer as a young man was a case in point. On the other hand, there have been Christians who have fallen victim to serious snares of the devil because they didn't know the difference between science and pseudo-science (see below).
But if you are reading this, and you choose to be hostile to science, maybe you should turn off your computer and go live in the woods. :-)
Christians and Scientific Discoveries
When scientists announce some discovery that supports the truth of the Bible, the discovery will immediately be trumpeted by Christians, who usually know nothing about it, as "scientific proof" that the Bible and the Christian Faith are true. As this is written, this has recently happened with the Bible Code. But let scientists announce the discovery of something that seems to contradict the Bible, and Christians are denouncing the scientists as a bunch of atheists and liars.
Special Note: You'd be surprised how many real scientists are Christians.
Scientists Aren't Liars
Scientists, as a rule, are not liars. When a scientist publishes a book or paper in which he announces some new discovery, he may be staking his career on it. There is cutthroat competition among scientists for funding for research and tenure in scientific institutions. Scientists are always eager to prove their competitors wrong. To be proven wrong can mean loss of funding for research and/or loss of tenure on the staff of whatever institution a scientist belongs to, and bye-bye career. That's how Ph.D.s wind up washing dishes. It isn't unknown for scientists to lie; they are human and fallible. But it's rare!!!
Science Vs. Pseudo-Science
Not everything that claims to be science really is science, and Christians, especially leaders, need to be able to recognize pseudo-science. Back in the '70's, a book was published, and became a best-seller, that claimed to be scientific. It was called "The Jupiter Effect". What it said, briefly, was that there was going to be a total lineup of the planets in the Spring of 1982. The lineup would have supposedly created gravitational effects on the Sun that would indirectly trigger a major earthquake, particularly one that would destroy Los Angeles. We know that the earthquake didn't happen, but that was only the beginning of what was wrong with the book.
For one thing, there was no total lineup of the planets, but rather a loose gathering in about 1/4 of the sky. Even if there had been a total lineup, nothing would have happened. Or if it did, it would have been a coincidence. A High School science and math major could do the calculations that would show that "The Jupiter Effect" was wrong. The writers claimed that the book was nothing but solid scientific reasoning. The truth is that is was a flagrant case of people leaping to a conclusion and seeing only what they wanted to see when they looked for evidence to support it.
In spite of the book's popularity, the theory was flatly rejected by the scientific community. But many Christians, with their ignorance and distrust of science, swallowed the theory whole, because it sounded like it was about the great earthquake in Revelation 6:12. When the time came for the book's prediction to be fulfilled, even astrologers, who knew the truth about the lineup of the planets, were telling their followers that there was nothing to worry about.
Special Note: This writer knew the truth, and lectured on it.
This incident was as big an embarrassment for Christianity as the PTL Club and Jimmy Swaggart scandals, which were also, by the way, the results of lack of wisdom. Many Christians were hurt in their faith, and otherwise, by this. The whole thing could have been avoided if a few specific Christian leaders had only been knowledgeable about science.
Creation Vs. Evolution
Christians also need to know more about science in relation to the Creation Vs. Evolution controversy. No one who believes the Bible should believe in Evolution. The theory of Evolution is full of holes, and it is known that many scientists who believe in it choose to do so because they refuse to believe in a Creator God. As a Christian, it is necessary to believe that the life and the universe were created by God, and that mankind was created as a special act of Creation. On the other hand, it is not necessary to believe in a literal six 24-hour days Creation.
The biological theory of evolution and the geological theory of the extreme age of the earth are distinct scientific concepts, as is the astronomical theory of the extreme age of the universe. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that the earth and the universe are far older than the Bible seems to say. Christians who dispute this are manifesting the "Stupider Effect." Creationist arguments for a young earth may sound good to the scientifically illiterate, but most of them can be easily shown to be nonsense and sometimes dishonest.
A Creationist scientist once publicly admitted that Creationism could not produce the geological science that makes possible the discovery of oil thousands of feet beneath the surface. Just by admitting that Creationism could not, even in theory, do something that orthodox science has been doing in practice for years, he totally invalidated his own field of study.
The same physics and technology that makes our radios, televisions and computers work also produces the evidence that shows that the universe has to be billions of years old.
There is no real theological validity to the idea, frequently held by Creationists, that you have to take Genesis 1 literally in the scientific sense to have the right to take anything else in the Bible literally. There are different kinds of truth. Genesis 1 is true allegorically, not scientifically.
We know that the Bible says, "From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." (Psalm 90: 2, see also verse 4.) Christians expect to spend eternity in Heaven. So why do we feel it necessary to squeeze His work of Creation into a literal week? Christians who do this, especially those who claim to be scientists, are doing small service to the cause of Christ. They are giving intelligent, educated people honest reason to reject the Christian Faith. They will answer to God for it, just as much as the Christians who otherwise make Christianity look stupid or crazy by their foolish talk and behavior.
See also: "Creation Vs. Evolution"
The Stupider Effect
So the "Stupider Effect" is Christians, through lack of wisdom, giving Jesus a bad name. It is Christians being foolish when they should be wise, and thus turning people off to the Gospel. This includes causing weak Christians to backslide. Remember the words of Hosea 4:6
"My people perish for lack of knowledge.
Because you reject knowledge, I will reject you."
So learn to apply I Thessalonians 5:21 to rumors and scientific ideas, as well as interpretations of Prophecy:
"Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good".
In the words of Proverbs 4:5:
Prophecy and "The Stupider Effect"
Christians are especially in need of wisdom when it comes to what they believe about the Second Coming of Christ. There are ideas about this subject that are so widely accepted that they are almost never questioned, but that will not stand up to close Scriptural scrutiny. Perhaps the most widespread of these is the use of the word "Antichrist". (Note: this author uses the word reluctantly simply because its use is so widespread.) There have been many scholars and teachers of the Bible who have noted that "Antichrist" is the wrong word.
The Bible prophesies the appearance of "Two Beasts" during the Great Tribulation, the "king" and the "false prophet". But the word "Antichrist" never occurs in any passage of Second Coming Prophecy. It is only found in the I and II Epistles of John, where it is clearly shown that the word refers to a type of person or spirit, not a particular individual. It is said that there are "many antichrists". See I John 2:18. Also, there is no such person in the original Greek text as "The Antichrist" with a capital "A". For some unknown reason, the translators decided to capitalize the "A", but there is no basis for it in the context.
The trouble is, when a person thinks "Antichrist", he may be unconsciously thinking of someone who combines the attributes of both of the "Beasts" - or neither! This actually happens, and this writer has examples of it in print in his possession This error may be the cause of some Christians failing to recognize the "Beasts" when they do appear, with tragic results.
This is given as an example of how unscriptural even a widely accepted idea about the Second Coming may be. But there are other things that have been publicized that are far worse. There was a book published some years ago that said that the great diplomat Henry Kissinger was the "Antichrist". Hopefully, the people who wrote that book and published it have realized by now how wrong they were and repented. There has been all kinds of other nonsense rumored or published (like the nonsense about 666 Fifth Ave.) that has no real relevance to the Bible and little or no basis outside of it. It amounts to what might be called Second Coming Paranoia. And it has done much to discredit the Christian Faith.
Furthermore, Second Coming Paranoia is also a very bad testimony. There are actually anti-Christian Web sites that use it as the basis for attacks on Christianity. See the pages linked in "The Proper Handling of Prophecy" page.
So please, in the Name of Jesus, do be careful about what you believe and repeat about Second Coming Prophecy. It is good to be familiar with as much as possible of the different views that have been put forward about what is going to happen. But don't make any of them an article of faith. If you do make a particular line of teaching a matter of faith, and it turns out to be wrong, you may get a terrible surprise. Keep an open mind about Prophecy. Question everything you hear. That way you won't be setting yourself up for a big disappointment - or worse!
See also: The Proper Handling of Prophecy
Contact Author: William D. Brehm; firstname.lastname@example.org