by Richard Abanes ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 20, 1998
With a mixed sense of humor and urgency, the author amasses evidence against all religious predictions of specific dates for the end of the world. The philosopher Antony Flew coined the phrase ""death by a thousand qualifications"" for the fate of religious claims that are defended no matter how much evidence is brought against them. But religion has always risen up against the death that philosophy has pronounced upon it. Investigative reporter Abanes, a highly regarded authority on cults and the religious fringe, examines the astonishing resistance to death that religious predictions of the world's end have shown over the past two millennia, despite all refuting evidence. The timeliness of the topic shows in the recent cases of apocalyptic fervor, from Jonestown in 1978 to Heaven's Gate in 1997, which Abanes reviews in his first chapter, and the current spate of end-time predictions, brought on by the approach of the year 2000, that he instances toward the end of his book in the work of such Christian alarmists as Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, and Jack Van Impe. In between, Abanes surveys the history of apocalyptic worry, from the New Testament to Nostradamus, William Miller's Millerites, white supremacism, and Jehovah's Witnesses. The author applies the same method repeatedly: He cites a prediction, unravels its latent ambiguity, if any, and marshals all the facts that refute it. Though his touch is periodically light, the repetitive intensity of his refutations takes on the same obsessive quality as the targeted predictions themselves. When Abanes calls Jehovah's Witnesses ""one of the most deceitful and dangerous of today's apocalyptic cults,"" he sounds infected with the very alarmism he decries. In the final chapter, Abanes reflects on apocalyptic psychology, but without any sense for the more deeply philosophical or esthetic lure of the completion that final endings promise. Relentlessly detailed, this compendium of end-time lore will work best as a reference source for those researching particular prophecies of doom.
Pub Date: April 20, 1998
Page Count: 416
Publisher: Four Walls Eight Windows
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1998
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