Is God a Republican?

Is God a Republican?

Index Open

Why the Trumpet does not take sides in politics
From the February 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

If Jesus Christ were a United States citizen, would He be a Republican? Or would He be a Libertarian? A Democrat, or a member of the Green Party? Maybe even a socialist? Would He have any political affiliation? Certainly, true Christians should want the same political association as Christ would have.

The term “religious right” is a popular one today; it is often used by the mass media, and, of course, the “liberal left.” Many have assumed that the staff writers of this magazine are Republicans, and part of the “religious right.” But I’ll let you in on a not-so-well-guarded secret: Not one member of our staff is a member of the Republican party.

At the same time, none of us are Democrats either. Or Libertarians, or socialists, or members of the Green party!

Yes, we do discuss world politics in detail. We discuss a myriad of geopolitical issues, decisions and the results of those decisions. That is done, however, with the only unimpeachable source of truth firmly in mind: the Holy Bible. God’s revelation determines our analysis of any situation, whether it is political or not.

Certainly anyone would agree that the Bible is not politically correct. As followers of God’s Word, neither are we. The fact is, while the political parties heatedly discuss the issues of the day, while the news media frantically scramble to cover the stories they generate, they are all missing the point, ignoring the most phenomenal news story of all time—that Jesus Christ is about to return to this Earth as King of kings and Lord of lords! The government—one that true Christians are part of—will be on His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus Christ’s “political” affiliation should be becoming clearer to us all by now: He is simply above politics! When He returns, He will establish the government of His Father in heaven, one that will “break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44). In the wonderful World Tomorrow, there simply won’t be any political parties remaining.

We believe that we serve as ambassadors for this Kingdom today. As ambassadors, we cannot be part of another government—or any political body of any nation founded on man’s ideals (although God does command us to be subject to man’s government, as long as it doesn’t cause us to breach God’s law—Titus 3:1).

God’s government is built on His perfect law of love. Do the political parties show each other godly love and unconditional, outgoing concern? Do they express care and concern even within their own organizations? Do they each esteem the other better than themselves, as God would have them do? Are the policies they espouse based on His Word? Any thinking person would have to admit that the answer to each of these questions is NO.

Whether a Republican or a Democratic majority exists in the U.S. government, we do not see a less polarized or partisan America. On the contrary! When we get to the core of the matter, we actually see dog-eat-dog rivalry and hatred. We see a downward spiral—the constant slinging of mud, as each side attempts to achieve what is best for it. We see nothing but “love for my party and hate for yours!”

When Jesus Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God, there is a list of names He will be called (Isaiah 9:6)—Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, etc.—but “majority leader” is not among them. He will be the leader of all that is! There simply will be no political parties in His government. The instruments of His government are defined as follows: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all …” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Ultimately, the efforts of mankind’s political parties won’t mean a thing. Whether the Republicans implement a missile shield or the Democrats socialize the medical services in this country, or the Green Party succeeds in legalizing marijuana, Jesus Christ IS coming back, and His Word will be law!

Anyone who knows the heart of man—that it is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9)—can understand why the peoples of the Earth will resist Christ at His Second Coming (Isaiah 29:8; Zechariah 14:3). Not only will the “conservatives” fight Him; not only will the “liberals” fight Him—but so will the communist nations, the Islamic nations, the Hindu nations, and, in fact, all the nations of the Earth!

The good news is, Christ’s victory over this intense opposition will usher in the greatest time of peace and prosperity the world has ever known. Just as the political motivations behind our governments today are futile, so too will be the opposition of man to Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, there is no political solution to this world’s problems, only a divine one. And that solution will be implemented regardless of the actions of any man, regardless of political affiliation—regardless of whether we even believe Jesus Christ will return. His government is coming.

This publication exists to warn the world about the terrible times just ahead of us and to announce the soon-coming Kingdom of God. It is in the light of Bible prophecy that we examine world events, that we show the fulfillment of God’s Word to our readers month after month. It is this understanding that makes sense of the political events we so often analyze.

But the revelation of our all-powerful God also tells us that, when all is said and done, politics will be a thing of the past!

Duplicate Failures

We heard all about Dolly. But far less publicity has been given to the darker side of cloning.
From the January 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

The birth of a cloned sheep dubbed “Dolly” in 1996 gave new life to the discussion about human cloning. The possibilities are endless: Baseball could be revitalized by twins of Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds. Leaders like Fidel Castro could pass their mantle on to a clone of themselves. The Three Tenors could all be Luciano Pavarotti. One company has even been formed to protect celebrities from unauthorized cloning of their dna.

Cloning has had some amazing, and widely publicized, successes. What has received far less attention though, is the 95-97 percent failure rate. Now that scientists are seriously attempting to clone humans, we should pay attention to these numbers.

It took more than 250 attempts before Dolly was born. Ian Wilmut, part of the team that created Dolly, tells the story of one lamb that appeared perfectly normal, but that could not stop hyperventilating. “What if it had been a child?” Mr. Wilmut asked. “Who would be responsible for such a child? What sort of life would it have, panting all of the time?” (Washington Post, March 7, 2001).

Professor Wilmut had this to say about human cloning: “It is quite obvious to me that it is appalling for anyone to suggest using this on a woman at the present time. I think you have to be ill to use this on humans” (bbc News, May 19, 2000).

Consider this quote from March 2001: “If the team really tries to clone a person, here’s what to expect, several scientists said: Almost all of the first 100 clones will abort spontaneously because of genetic or physical abnormalities, putting the health and lives of the surrogate mothers at risk. Of the handful of clones that make it to term, most will have grossly enlarged placentas and fatty livers. And of the three or four fetuses that may survive their birth, most will be monstrously big—perhaps 15 pounds (about 7 kilograms)—and will likely die in the first week or two from heart and blood vessel problems, underdeveloped lungs, diabetes or immune system deficiencies. … ‘We’re talking about harming developing humans,’ [Michael West of Advanced Cell Technology said]” (Washington Post, op. cit.).

In December of that same year, Advanced Cell Technology announced a so-called success in human cloning. They reported they had cloned an early human embryo from an adult cumulus cell nucleus. Ian Wilmut, however, felt the announcement was made prematurely: “It’s really only a preliminary first step, because the furthest that the embryo developed was to have six cells at a time when it should have had more than 200—and it had clearly already died.” Here is one of the painfully few examples of a “success” in cloning, and it resulted, as cloning attempts usually do, in death.

The poster sheep for successful cloning, Dolly, isn’t so healthy either. In January last year, Ian Wilmut announced that Dolly had arthritis in her hind leg. It is entirely possible that the cloning process can only lead to unhealthy animals. Wilmut “believes other experts may have long-term data on cloning abnormalities that they are not revealing because of the bad publicity it might generate” (bbc News, Jan. 4, 2002).

The bad publicity that the cloning community fears regards the ethical dilemma surrounding their trade. But while the arguments rage on, the fruits of cloning continue to emerge, and they are not good. Cloning has shown itself for what it is: the gift that keeps on dying.

2002: The Real Stories

As major American news networks continued to compete for ever-dwindling audiences in 2002, it seemed the real news of the year went largely unnoticed.
From the January 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

What really did happen last year? If you got your news from mainstream American sources, you would have a pretty short list—war in Afghanistan, corporate fraud, Catholic Church scandal, the Washington sniper, homeland security, Saddam, Saddam and more Saddam. Sprinkle in anthrax scares, Israeli and Palestinian bloodletting, the occasional comings and goings of senators and congressmen and members of the White House staff, and there you have it, as far as the major networks were concerned.

Was that really everything of consequence that happened last year?

No! Actually most of the biggest stories—the stories that will shape the world in the months and years ahead—were virtually overlooked! Events are happening daily that are quickly altering the dynamics of international relationships—relationships that are destined to have a powerful impact on your country, your life—your pocketbook, your standard of living, your family, your loved ones—in the near future!

It is these events that we cover in this magazine, committed to bringing you “tomorrow’s news today.”

Bible prophecy culminates in the depiction of a time called “the latter days.” “The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly” (Jer. 23:20). The phrase “consider it perfectly” would be more clearly rendered from the Hebrew “understand it thoroughly.” We now live in a time which our editor in chief identified in the November 2001 issue as the biblical “last hour.” It is a brief age when the world ultimately coalesces into an armed camp featuring four great power blocs—the Anglo-American democracies, the king of the north, the king of the south and the kings of the east. It is a time when we may understand the prophecies for the latter days thoroughly!

The world is simply in the process of evolving a new geopolitical order, eventually to divide along the lines prophesied in your Bible!

With this perspective, let us now take a bird’s-eye view of the real news of 2002, the news that will continue to shape events during this coming year and on into the foreseeable future.

Europe

We lead our analysis of the past year with a survey of events in Europe. Still largely ignored by the U.S. media, developments across the Atlantic are ultimately destined to make front-page headlines in the American press.

The year commenced with much hype within the European Union about the launch of the European single currency, the euro. Although the fledgling currency experienced a rocky start, it did reach par with the dollar by mid-year. In a portent of things to come, billions of dollars were transferred by Arab interests from U.S. holdings for conversion into euros.

Meanwhile, an Associated Press report stated, in relation to international economic difficulties, “[I]t is no secret that the world economy is in serious difficulty.” The U.S. opened the year still in recession; Japan tottered along in its economic straitjacket; Asia stagnated; Latin America wobbled; and it was noted that, amid world recession, the EU had no mechanism to establish an expansionist fiscal policy at a time when it drastically needed one to avoid being dragged down by the decline in aggregate world demand. The seeds of imminent economic and social disruption in Europe were being sown.

The year also witnessed a rise in awakening to the right-wing political trend in Europe. Analysts pointed out that, in times of recession, right-wing politics prospers. Europe was in recession. Visions of pre-war Europe of the 1930s were brought back to mind.

In Brussels, the bureaucratic capital of the EU, the European Commission started the year by preparing to give the Union’s leading nation, Germany, a slap on the wrist for its failure to rein in a burgeoning budget deficit. By year’s end, both Germany and France, faced with their inability to perform to the economic standards which Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s previous administration had bullied the EU into accepting, blatantly declared that they would flout these EU rules and resist the payment of any penalty imposed.

Meanwhile, the re-elected Red-Green coalition government of Germany reeled under the impact of polls showing its popularity with the electorate at record lows. Opposition leader Edmund Stoiber waits in the wings to see if his prediction of the imminent collapse of the current government comes to fruition.

At mid-year, calls were being made by some German leaders for the return of bits of Poland and the Czech Sudetenland, carved away from German control as part of the Potsdam agreement redrawing the map of Europe following World War ii. German investment in these regions increased as German nationals sought to buy back the farm in their old pre-war homelands, from which they had been banished for almost 60 years.

On a broader front, the prospect of 10 more European nations joining the EU in 2004 put tremendous pressure on Brussels to refine its bureaucratic processes, contained in over 180,000 pages of script, to ease their entry. Further evidence of the EU’s internal difficulties turned up when a fourth whistle-blower within the European Commission unsuccessfully sought to hold the EU to account for massive fraud.

In the meantime, the EU quietly continued to strengthen its hold on the Balkan Peninsula, extending the mandate of the German-led peacekeeping force in Macedonia until mid-2003.

Last January, the hunt for al-Qaeda took a unique turn when, hard on the heels of breaking out of their cocoon during the Balkan wars, German combat troops entered their second theater of combat since the army was ostensibly vanquished—never to rise again—at the close of World War ii. By year’s end, the Germans were preparing to take on the leading role in the peacekeeping force on the ground in Afghanistan.

Buoyed up by its seeming welcome role in peacekeeping within the Balkans and Afghanistan, the EU placed security and defense high on its political agenda. In January, a German leader put forward a proposal that gave the ring of falsehood to British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s assertion to U.S. President George W. Bush that the EU rapid reaction force would not evolve into a European army. “A top German diplomat called Thursday for the European Union to develop its own army as a logical further step toward integration after the successful launch of the new single currency, the euro. ‘Does it make sense to keep the national armies?’ German Ambassador to Washington Wolfgang Ischinger asked … (United Press International, Jan. 24, 2002; emphasis mine throughout).

Our readers may remember the Trumpet warning of the danger contained in a key clause of the EU’s Maastricht Treaty over four years ago: “This article of the treaty flowed from a resolution by its 15 signatories ‘reinforcing the European identity and its independence in order to promote peace, security and progress in Europe and the world.’ … This is perhaps the most dangerous clause of all contained in the Treaty on European Union! It is this clause … which the EU leaders will use to legitimize their creation of a powerful combined military force that will startle the world with the ferocity of its future ‘peace keeping’ missions!” (May 1998).

Another trend that became apparent in Europe over the past year was the alarming rise of anti-Semitism following the World Trade Center attacks in the U.S. Quantum leaps were being recorded in the demonstration of overt anti-Jewish hatred. To quote evidence from just one of the principal nations of the EU: “Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Italy, according to a new survey, which found that over one in three people considered Jews not to be real Italians, as the country marked Holocaust commemorations Sunday” (Agence France Presse, Jan. 27, 2002).

The Vatican

A trend highlighted in January news reports, which was to recur in similar reports periodically throughout the year, had to do with the influence that will ultimately bind together, for a brief moment in time, the brittle mix of iron and clay that is the EU. In December 2001, Pope John Paul ii lamented the EU’s rejection of any contribution from “communities of believers,” in the religious sense, to the convention that is drafting the Union’s federal constitution.

Papal lobbying for the traditional religion of Europe (overwhelmingly Roman Catholic) became more strident as the year wore on. By the end of October, the pope was pressuring Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the head of the Convention on the Future of Europe, to ensure that the papal view of religion be ensconced firmly within the new EU Constitution.

Also emanating from Rome was a request that international observers be sent to the Middle East, “given the violence ravaging the Holy Land. Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states, told Vatican Radio on Saturday, ‘The Holy See has been thinking of this proposal for more than a year, as one cannot witness passively the daily deaths of Israelis and Palestinians. [R]eligion, with a capital R, has its place in society as the indispensable factor for public dialogue. It is necessary to stress this forcefully, after last September 11,’ the French archbishop emphasized” (www.zenit.org, Jan. 27, 2002).

And so it was that all nations and nation-states, including the Vatican state, used the events of September 11, 2001, as a platform to accelerate their own individual agendas.

Britain

Remarkably, following the great disasters of mad cow disease in the 1990s and the foot and mouth scourge of 2001, Britain shone out as the best economic performer within the EU.

Geopolitically, the British government sought to perform a balancing act between full support for the U.S. in the war on terror and its own perceived role as a prime player, with France and Germany, within the EU. Reality struck home late in the year when the French and German governments did an underhanded deal on EU farm subsidies, effectively blocking Britain out of any discussion on the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. This policy has effectively dragged agrarian Britain down from being the most efficient farm economy in the world, prior to its joining the old Common Market, to a point where many British farmers are suicidally desperate at their inability to cope with the ridiculous standards, rules and regulations imposed by Brussels bureaucrats.

For Britain’s royal family, events combined at year’s end to threaten the upswing in their popularity during Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee year. A dramatic slump in their public image followed scurrilous accusations by palace staff in November. Britain’s tabloid press had a field day rubbing salt into royal wounds (see p. 8).

In Ireland, the EU and Irish government combined to convince the Irish public by propaganda overkill and legislative manipulation to vote for entry into the European Monetary Union. Democracy took another step backward. Meanwhile, the Irish peace process faltered on revelations that Sinn Fein/ira was guilty of spying on the British government.

Russia, Asia, Pacific

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin continued his game of pretending to be a U.S. ally while, at the same time, cozying up to each of the nations on President Bush’s axis-of-evil list—Iran, North Korea and Iraq. The Russian prime minister courted EU investment, offering in exchange the carrot of access to Russia’s massive energy reserves. But at year’s end, the Russian economy, still moribund, showed no signs of regeneration. The risk of clandestine deals to rogue countries seeking to acquire nuclear material increased as Russian nuclear infrastructure continued to rust in neglect. Germany remained Russia’s single largest investor of capital.

The influence of the EU on emerging policy within the principal Asian nations came to the fore with an initiative mounted by China toward the close of the year. The East Asian economic meltdown of the 1990s is still fresh in the minds of long-term-thinking Asians. The lead nations in Asia are much aware that Europe is becoming (albeit presently during recession) a largely self-contained, self-sustaining economy. They perceive the Atlantic rift between the U.S. and Europe widening, and they observe the instability within the major oil suppliers in the Northern Hemisphere—the Middle East and Russia and its old Caucasus satellites. Hence, it has seemed inevitable that either China or Japan would move, sooner or later, to lead an initiative toward a pan-Asian trading bloc. As it happened, Japan, with its plans for such a move in the formative stages, was upstaged by China.

During November, China signed a commitment with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (asean) to create a free-trade region, with China at the core, by 2010. It is, “in effect, an offer by Beijing to help neighbors share in its growth. The agreement was reached more quickly than expected and left Japan a surprised and worried outsider” (New York Times, Nov. 24, 2002).

Whether or not Japan’s worrying is sufficient to prod the country out of its steadily sinking economic slough remains to be seen. Japan’s alliances are crucial to stability in Asia and the Pacific. At present, America’s military treaty with Japan still influences the country’s geopolitical considerations. Yet with the U.S. increasingly diverted to other spheres in its war against terror, the temptation for Japan to assert old nationalistic tendencies and regain its dominant post-war economic role in Asia and the Pacific may well increase. Between Japan and China, “mutual suspicions run deep, reflecting centuries of stormy history, including Japan’s invasion of China in the early 20th century and continuing incidents that inflame tempers on both sides” (ibid.).

Add to this the need for Japan to keep an eye on Russia to the north and to police its seaways to the south through the Straits of Malacca, and the country’s security and defense needs become most apparent. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi used the events of 9/11 as a platform from which to mount a call for a revision of Japan’s constitution to legitimize the nation’s reemergence as a military power. Increasingly Japan feels, like Germany, that it has done penance for World War ii atrocities and may now prepare to restructure itself to allow for a more overt military presence.

An additional pressure on Japan is the fact that China, India, Pakistan and Russia all possess nuclear power, and North Korea has a developing nuclear arms program. Watch for a continuing rise in Japanese nationalism and militarism throughout the next year in response to these pressures.

India and Pakistan, long caught in a feud over Kashmir, rattled their nuclear arms at each other. For a moment the world held its breath watching to see if either nation would be first to hit the nuclear attack button. Although the crisis was diffused, these two nations continued to eye each other aggressively.

During the final quarter of the year, Australia was shaken out of its decades-long gloat as “the lucky country.” The October terrorist attack in Bali, Indonesia, took the lives of nearly 90 young Australian nationals and led Prime Minister John Howard to declare that Australia may seek to take the initiative by mounting aggression on foreign soil, should the country perceive a threat to its interests from any of its neighbors. This rankled Australia’s two largest neighboring Islamic nations, Indonesia and Malaysia. Asian and Pacific nations observe an Australia increasingly isolated from its northern Anglo-Saxon sister countries, straining to strengthen its ties to a U.S. increasingly pre-occupied with its own terrorist war on multiple fronts.

Added to Australia’s woes were so-called natural disasters that impacted its environment. Massive drought sent more farmers to the wall. Farmers also faced the creeping curse of salinity which is rendering huge swaths of agricultural land infertile. Then came the fires, sweeping across the state of New South Wales and ringing the picturesque harborside city of Sydney. Officials told the city to “prepare for hell” as bushfires, driven by the heat of summer winds, surrounded the city’s outskirts. Veterans described the scene as the worst they had ever seen. This picture of a fire-ringed city of Sydney, host to the world’s greatest annual homosexual mardi-gras and site of so many non-Christian places of worship, brings to mind the prophecies of Hosea: “For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof. Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor” (Hos. 8:14; 9:1).

The Middle East

In the Middle East, Iran started the year with a fresh diplomatic initiative to use a common hatred toward the tiny Jewish nation of Israel as cement to weld a uniform stance by Muslim and Arab nations against Israeli actions in Palestine. This included overtures to woo Pakistan out of the arms of U.S. cooperation and into mainstream Muslim politics.

In Israel, it seemed that suicide bombings became a more-than-weekly occurrence. Terrorist leader of the Palestinians Yasser Arafat somehow managed to survive another year as the Palestinians’ representative on the national scene. Hostilities ground on between Jew and Arab, with Israel offering tit-for-tat reprisals for the Palestinians’ incessant attacks on Jewish people and property. The hawkish former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gained the portfolio on Foreign Affairs in the Israeli government. He will contest the prime ministership in upcoming elections in early 2003.

From a joint meeting of Israel and Palestinian leaders in Luxembourg in late October, the EU issued statements calling on the Jewish state to back the establishment of a Palestinian state. This clash of two religions, Jewish and Muslim, in the Middle East, with a third entity, the EU, seeking to influence an outcome in its favor, will become increasingly evident as the current year progresses. The role of the U.S. in the peace process will diminish, and that of the Vatican-inspired EU dominate, until the pope’s call for an international army to enforce peace in Jerusalem prevails (Luke 21:20).

And while the world focused on Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, the real sponsor and harborer of Middle East terrorists, Iran, seemed largely ignored by the U.S. in its war on terror.

Africa

From Tunis to Cape Town, from Dakar to Djibouti, the continent of Africa continued to decline economically, socially and culturally, with very few bright spots—descending into the state of the world’s singular continental basket case.

Zimbabwe, the latest of the former colonial entities to implode, had perhaps the highest profile. Here, the country’s leader, Robert Mugabe, pursued a deliberate policy of the elimination of the only national force that could give hope to this ailing country, the white farmer. Rumbles to the south indicate that Mugabe’s so-called land-reform policy is beginning to impact South Africa as well (see p. 16).

Declining per capita food production and unpayable debt continued as Africa’s legacy of decolonization. British journalist Max Hastings said it all in an article headlined “The Game is Over for the White Man Throughout Africa.” In it he stated, “In a succession of lurches and surges, Africa is reverting to a dark continent. … By almost every economic measure Africa has gone backward, not forward, since the 1960s. … You may have noticed that even as more and more whites are obliged to quit Africa, growing numbers of black Africans seek to migrate to Europe and the United States—refugees from the economic catastrophes their own rulers have created at home. … It is a bitter historic irony. … Africa’s story will have become an exclusive black disaster” (Daily Mail, London, Sept. 13, 2002).

Latin America

The great hopes of the 1990s for an economic revival of Latin America faded last year as the whole region dipped into economic malaise. Apart from Mexico and Chile, things are grim in this southern region. Argentina and Brazil still face the prospect of default on their massive debts.

The U.S. administration currently has little specific interest in the region south of the Rio Grande; two exceptions are Mexico (with whom it has a significant interest in trade and in limiting rampant border incursions) and Colombia. Having entered into Plan Colombia, ostensibly for the purpose of aiding in that nation’s effort to quell its huge drug problem, the U.S. finds itself now bound in a mini-war of attrition with hit-and-run terrorists in a jungle setting not unlike Vietnam.

Elsewhere, Latin America shows little promise to investors for a stimulation of its moribund economies, given its pattern of unstable government and widespread financial corruption. Yet, its European connections both ethnically and religiously may ultimately rejoin Latin America’s umbilical cord with the womb of its old colonial mother—the continent of Europe—through the aegis of the EU. If this is the case, then Europe either will have to emerge out of its current recession to enable viable investment in Latin America, or it will exploit the Latinas’ current economic malaise by signing deals for much-needed resources at bedrock prices. Watch for events in the future to lead Latin America back to its religious roots in the center of EU spiritual influence, the seven-hilled city of Rome.

United States

The main challenge of the U.S. administration, representative of the world’s singular greatest nation, was to maintain focus within a world in the midst of unprecedented global turbulence.

In the past year, 25 civil wars were waged—cutting a swath across the globe from Indonesia, through Asia, India and Pakistan to Africa, Spain and Colombia. Add to this the worldwide network of terrorist organizations, and the role of policing the globe becomes a daunting task.

With Slobodan Milosevic removed from the pages of the world’s press, the Bush administration initially focused on the personality of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. When he proved too elusive to catch, it was Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq, who was next brought into the focus of Washington’s glaring foreign-policy light. Having weighed the options of gunning for any of the three nominated members of President Bush’s “axis of evil,” the administration opted for the lesser evil of Saddam, considering the other two options far too volatile. Thus it was that Iraq became the central feature of the American government’s strategic policy throughout the year. Yet, here the U.S. is in a cleft stick, for if UN weapons inspectors fail to find proof of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, upon what grounds does America mount the attack on him, an attack which is already in a final phase of preparation?

“Since the United States has a serious credibility problem in the Islamic world—where it is perceived as too weak and irresolute to carry out its operations to complete success—backing away from Iraq would be not only damaging, but far more damaging than if the issue had not been spun up as the keystone of U.S. policy.

“Therefore, the United States cannot abandon its goal of regime change in Iraq or even put it off for very long without causing serious problems for itself among the audiences that Washington and al-Qaeda both are trying to influence—Islamic regimes and populations” (www.stratfor.com, Oct. 21, 2002). This is an unenviable situation for the U.S. government.

Exacerbating this scenario is the great wave of anti-Americanism currently sweeping the world. As one British commentator reported, “[T]o the world’s eternal shame, 9/11 is increasingly seen as America’s comeuppance. Incredibly, anti-Americanism has increased over the last year” (Mirror, Sept. 11, 2002).

But the greatest of shame is surely borne by many liberals within the Western democracies, including the U.S. itself. National self-loathing has been a popular sport of liberal socialists in Britain for decades. But 9/11, it seems, has brought the anti-American phenomenon to the fore. “These days you don’t have to be some dust-encrusted nut job in Kabul or Karachi or Finsbury Park to see America as the Great Satan. The anti-American alliance is made up of self-loathing liberals who blame the Americans for every ill in the Third World, and conservatives suffering from power-envy, bitter that the world’s only superpower can do what it likes without having to ask permission” (ibid.).

It seems the U.S. just can’t win in the global pr stakes. The temptation for the U.S. to revert back to isolationism, if not under this present government, then perhaps under the next, will be palpable once the true nature of its perceived status as international pariah really dawns on its public. The coming year will force the U.S. government to put up or shut up on the subject of Iraq. Either way, for America it will be a no-win deal. The ancient prophecy mouthed by the Prophet Moses will inevitably be fulfilled against this morally corrupted, materialistic nation which has simply lost sight of the true God who is the source of all its blessings: “And I will break the pride of her power” (Lev. 26:19).

In concluding our review of the events of 2002, it is essential that we return to the region that will continue to have the most powerful consequences on the world scene, in particular the U.S., and Britain and its dominions, over the coming year and beyond: the continent of Europe.

In the Prophet Daniel’s exposition of King Nebuchadnezzar’s great vision, he explained that the final great Gentile empire would be divided (Dan. 2:41). The Holy Roman Empire was divided between the east, with its capital in Constantinople, and the west, having its capital in Rome. For decades, the developing seventh and final resurrection of that empire, now in its current guise as the European Union, has comprised only a western component. However, with the accession of Eastern European nations in May 2004 agreed at the EU summit last month, the vision emerges, for the first time since Eastern and Western Europe were enslaved under Nazism-fascism, of a final resurrection of that old two-legged Roman Empire. As Pope John Paul ii foresaw in a joint declaration on October 12, “[W]e have been the witness of a promising reconciliation between East and West” (www.vatican.va).

The last time Eastern and Western Europe were “reconciled” under Catholic rule was under the old “Holy” Roman Empire! To those who, in the words of revelatory Scripture, have an ear to “hear what the Spirit saith” (Rev. 3:22), the geopolitics of the past year rapidly accelerated the restoration of that ancient engine of destruction.

However, the closer events move us toward the final resurrection of that empire, the closer we come to the most climactic event of the age, the return of Jesus Christ: “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives …. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one” (Zech. 14:4, 9).

Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to watch and pray (Mark 13:33). As we reflect on the fulfillment of prophesied world events increasingly becoming evident in this last hour of man’s present civilization on Earth, continue to watch current events and stay tuned to the vision portrayed in this magazine. It is, in fact, the only vision that remains of real and ultimate hope in a world increasingly filled with terror and fear.

Is There a Dictator in Your Mind?

Is There a Dictator in Your Mind?

PhotoDisc

You may not be aware of it, but it wants to run your life! What is it? You need to identify it so you can whip it into submission. Because once tamed, it actually makes a great companion!
From the January 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

Do you tend to buckle under pressure? Get stressed out, overwhelmed? These are important questions, because it is when problems arise in your life that a mental coup is likeliest to occur—when the dictator in your mind works hardest to conquer you.

Sometimes, life can seem like a litany of problems. You get sick or injured. A family member mistreats you. You have money troubles, job troubles.

When those issues come up, how do you respond? Do you face them? Do you maintain a positive approach to solving them? Do you seek wise counsel?

Or—do you get moody and depressed? Does it seem fairly often that you need a good cry?

Do you complain, whine and gossip? Blame other people?

Do you deny the issue is even a problem? Try to ignore it or escape it? Do you just quit—roll over and see how bad it will get?

If you tend to take any of these latter approaches, that is a sign that you are under the power of this mental despot.

What is it? It is emotion!

Emotion can be one of the most enjoyable blessings we possess. Without it, our lives would be bland, flat, colorless—hardly worth living. Our relationships would be boring, our jobs monotonous.

However, if you fail to assess and, to a large degree, master your own emotions, that is a virtual guarantee that you will often mismanage your problems and create many new ones.

How skilled are you at handling this critical part of life? Are you constantly riding the extremes of the emotional spectrum? Or, on the other hand, are you casual or indifferent about things you should feel deeply about? Your personal fulfillment, happiness, peace and well-being depend in large measure upon your answers to these questions.

Many people are mature physically and intellectually, but have simply never grown upemotionally. And that reality is reflected in failed relationships, personal dissatisfaction, depression and misery.

We need to give serious thought to how we measure up in this critical area of our personal development, and how we can grow beyond where we are. We must tame that mental dictator, and learn emotional maturity.

Why Emotion?

Let’s get the right perspective on emotions. They are widely misunderstood.

Why do we have emotions?

In the last decade or so, scientists have studied emotions intensively, after largely dismissing them for many years. But science builds its findings on the faulty foundation of evolutionary biology, which assumes that emotion is all a result of how environmental factors impacted human evolution. (For example, we are supposed to have “fear” today, manifested in physiological changes that heighten our motivation to act quickly, because our prehistoric ancestors fled from danger; those who didn’t run were killed off and didn’t procreate.)

It is true that such emotional reactions can help us face physical threats. But that is a product of design, not happenstance.

The truth is, God gave us the power of feelings. He gave us emotions so we can experience joy and love; we can have deep relationships; we also can experience anger and jealousy, fear and sadness—a variety of emotions.

Why? Well, consider these states of mind, described in the Bible and attributed to God Himself! God is said to experience love (John 3:16; Scripture says God is love—1 John 4:8, 16), joy (Matthew 25:21, 23; Galatians 5:22), hatred (Psalm 11:5; 45:7), anger (Judges 10:7; Psalm 7:11), indignation (Isaiah 34:2), jealousy (Exodus 20:5; 34:14), concern (Deuteronomy 5:29), grief (Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40), sorrow (Isaiah 53:3) and compassion (Matthew 9:35-36).

But wait, some may say. Emotions are physical—physiological—chemical. God is spirit. He couldn’t have emotions.

Just what are emotions?

The word itself comes from the Latin verb motere, “to move,” coupled with the prefix e, which connotes “move away.” The implication is that emotion is an impulse toward action. It is seated in the spirit in man (Job 32:8; 1 Corinthians 2:11), that spirit God gives uniquely to human beings to empower our intellect and distinguish us from animals. Webster’s defines emotion as “physiologically involving changes that prepare the body for immediate vigorous action.”

So in what way could God have emotions? It is true that He does not and could not have the physiological changes we experience when we have emotions. Yet He has these profound states of mind ranging from love to hate, joy to sorrow, that we associate with deep emotion.

God created the human race in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26), and wants us to grow to become like Him (Matthew 5:48). He expects us to grow toward being able to think as He does.

The implication in Scripture is that God gave us these chemical, physiological changes to help us understand the depth of His thinking. Certainly our emotions provide a physical type or counterpart to the depth of God’s mind; they supply a profundity to our thoughts and experiences not otherwise possible. And they stimulate us to act in ways we would not otherwise find the motivation to.

The fact is, learning to manage our emotion is a significant means by which we can learn to think like our Creator.

A Two-Edged Sword

But emotion is a two-edged sword. As great a blessing as it is, our emotions also can be capricious and subject to manipulation.

Evidence of this mental dictator is everywhere. The daily news is full of tragedies caused by people who simply lacked emotional control under difficult circumstances and thus committed a crime of passion. Others allow grievances to quietly build and, rather than handling their feelings maturely, end up exploding in violent acts, perhaps even against themselves. The same lack of control is evident in the common, petty arguments and interpersonal warfare between coworkers, neighbors and family members.

Negative, destructive moods and attitudes can tyrannize your mind if you let them. Yes, there is a time for righteous anger, for indignation, even the right kind of jealousy (e.g. 2 Corinthians 11:2); there is a time for sorrow (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4). But whenever God experiences such things, He keeps them under control, and is, on the whole, a joy-filled Being who walks in light, not in darkness (1 John 1:4-5). Wouldn’t you prefer that kind of life?

At the other end of the emotional spectrum, some who experience lust or sexual arousal permit those feelings to become more important than personal chastity or even marital fidelity. Substance abuse or addiction also indicates a mental hijacking. Enslaved to emotion, many people allow the rest of their lives to fall apart.

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “[W]e poor humans act as though we believed man to be merely the highest of the dumb brutes—as if man were equipped with instinct, and the purpose of life were merely to enjoy such feelings, sensations, emotions and moods as impulse attracts us to, without thinking or mental direction!” (Good News, February 1982). That truly is the most common approach to emotion today.

You need to acknowledge this startling fact: If you fail to master your emotions, you are not really running your own life. You are susceptible to emotional manipulation from all directions. “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). This can lead to serious consequences in many aspects of life—not only in your relationships, but your diet and health, your productivity, your overall well-being.

If you find yourself resenting family members, angry at people, frustrated and negative about yourself, depressed or moody, or, on the other hand, unable to manage your desires, however unpleasant or destructive the consequences—like it or not, you are emotionally immature!

Many places in Scripture speak of evil spiritual powers, the origin of which is a very real and active spirit being called Satan the devil, that influence us toward such emotions!

Why Emotional Mastery Is Vital

You simply must learn to master your feelings and emotions. It is in your best interest to direct your mind, direct your emotions—so that rather than you serving them, they are serving you.

It is only through emotional mastery that we can work out constructive solutions to the problems we face. Gaining this vital skill may keep you from losing a job, or rescue your marriage—even save a life by averting a deadly confrontation.

Think about this important proverb: “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city”! (Proverbs 16:32)—a stark contrast to the emotional child we read about in Proverbs 25:28.

Why would God exalt the person who can conquer his spirit over the one who can actually conquer a city? Well, imagine what God can do in the life of the person who develops emotional mastery. This is a person who will not be tempted by an emotional rush to do something he shouldn’t—a person who will not be swayed off course.

Perhaps you begin to see more deeply how important emotional mastery is. The implications are profound. In fact, mastering your emotions is really the essence of godly character.

Mr. Armstrong defined emotional maturity, “The technical art of putting into practice the Ten Commandments. It is the real secret to human happiness” (Good News, March 1985). Another author defined it as development from the state of taking to the state of giving.

Emotions tend toward action. Thus, if we give in to the wrong emotions, we end up carrying out the wrong actions.

However, if we reject wrong emotions, and cultivate the right emotions, that will help us to embrace the right actions. Right emotions propel us toward right action.

The First Step to Emotional Mastery

We need to take control in this important arena of life. But how?

The first step to mastering our emotions is to become aware of them.

We must learn to become very attuned to what is going on in our mind—to recognize when we are getting emotional in a destructive way, and think hard to identify what is causing the emotion. There is a big difference between being caught up in the heat of anger, and realizing that you are angry. In the first case, your mental dictator is in complete control. In the latter case, you “step outside yourself,” and put yourself in a position to make reasoned decisions.

You may have a legitimate cause—someone mistreating you, a genuine trial in your life. But again, the question is, how will you handle it? Will you allow your emotions to take over? Or will you approach the problem in a mature, constructive way that will help you arrive at a solution? It will make all the difference!

“He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit [or quick-tempered] exalteth folly” (Proverbs 14:29).

The Power of Choice

In locating the source of your upset, it may help to realize that emotions are based on your perceptions, not necessarily on reality.

Let me illustrate what I mean.

One day my wife’s car broke down in town. She called me at work and asked if I would pick her up at the gas station where she was stranded. Though I was only 10 to 15 minutes’ drive away, she waited two hours and I never showed up. This gave her plenty of time to mull over my insensitivity to her plight. She became more and more emotional—lonely, frustrated and angry. By the time she called a second time, she was in tears.

My version of the story is this: Immediately after hanging up after our first conversation, I got in my car and drove to where she told me she was. When I arrived, she was not there. I drove to every other gas station closeby, to no avail. In exasperation, I went back to work and began phoning every gas station in the book, asking if they could spot her car in the parking lot. After over an hour of searching, I was truly frustrated that she had never called back to correct the miscommunication and tell me where she was.

All the emotions we each experienced were based on our perceptions—assuming the worst about the other person. So much of the time, we exhaust ourselves with such mental agitation. Faulty perspective can generate countless destructive emotions that need to be forcibly checked with cold reason. We worry ourselves sick over mere possibilities. Molehills become mountains.

It is important to realize how much control we really have over our reactions to such circumstances.

If someone says something derogatory, for example, do you take it personally? Do you hold a grudge? The longer you cling to such thoughts, the easier they are to justify. Alternatively, you can choose to alter your perception of the offense. You can shrug it off—perhaps with a thought such as, He must be having a rough morning, or, Surely she is unaware of how hurtful that remark was. We can temper our hurt with empathy or mercy.

If the offense you experienced is a genuine problem that needs to be dealt with, it would still be counterproductive to try to do so while under the sway of hurt feelings, anger and resentment.

A recent airline flight I took was delayed by a storm. The plane sat on the tarmac for some time while air traffic controllers worked with the pilots to chart an alternate route to our destination. When a new course was agreed upon, the pilots realized they needed more fuel to make the trip. Topping off the fuel tanks necessitated further delay.

The passengers aboard this flight could have been thankful that we would 1) avoid the storm and 2) have enough fuel to land where we needed to go. Instead they chose to become incensed. You could hear audible expressions of anger throughout the cabin. Their emotion made an inconvenient situation into a tense one.

You are the captain of your mind. You cannot control everything that happens to you—only what you do in return. You cannot prevent every inappropriate thought from entering your mind—but you can choose whether to reject them or act upon them. Emotional immaturity makes you a victim of circumstance. Emotional maturity gives you the power to choose your response.

Cultivate the Right Emotions

It is a mistake to dismiss emotion as being unimportant. It is vital. Not only does it make life more interesting, but we can hardly get by without it. Again, emotions are impulses to action. God intends us to be people of action—fueled by constructive emotion. He gave us emotion to control and use, to combine with our rational thinking to help us think and feel deeply, to propel us forward, to drive us toward right and noble action. Emotions are a wonderful gift.

But emotions are temporary. Yes, we may tend to hold on to a grudge or offense for years. But the positive emotions we should cultivate—the affection that binds a family together, the excitement that fuels fulfilling, productive work, the remorse that prevents us from repeating a mistake, the empathy that helps us comfort the grieving—these can fade all too quickly.

God encourages us to stoke and stir up those right emotions, those useful emotions! He tells us to direct our minds to what will motivate us onward. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). The choice is ours.

The common thinking is that emotion is opposite and counter to reason. In actuality, these two motivational tools should perfectly complement and enhance each other as we endeavor to live positive, morally upright lives.

We must strive for a level of maturity where we never allow our emotions to drive us outside the bounds of God’s law. Again, emotional maturity is “the technical art of putting into practice the Ten Commandments.” Ideally, our emotions should impassion us to more perfectly keep God’s law.

Godly “emotion” is actually a state of mind produced by God’s mindin us, through the power of the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:5). Consider, for example, what is commonly called love. What is God’s view? He says “love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10) and that it is “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy [Spirit] which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).

The Apostle Paul explained, “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends …” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Revised Standard Version).

God’s love is not an emotion, the way we view emotions. It is a way of life—a perfect spiritual law. It is not temporary. It never ends! It will go on and on—until one day it fills the universe.

This is the emotional mastery we should work to develop. This is how we need to respond to problems, difficulties and trials—bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. That is true emotional maturity!

The Battle in Your Mind

God wants us to have emotions—to cultivate deep, godly emotion. He wants us to have a proper fear of God. He wants us to hate evil. He wants us to get angry at sin. He wants us to grieve at appropriate times. He wants us to have full joy! He wants us to earnestly yearn for His Kingdom. When we develop these states of mind, we are learning to think like God.

Satan the devil also wants us to have emotions—to cut loose emotionally. He wants us to fear other people. He wants us to hate other people. He wants us to get angry quickly and hang on to that anger for days or weeks. He wants us to grieve over ourselves. He wants us to rejoice over other people’s failures. He wants us to earnestly yearn to go back to sin, one more time!

This battle is going on in your mind!

Evaluate your own life. You are to become an expert at handling problems in a mature way. When troubles arise, you have an awesome opportunity to respond with emotional control—to collect yourself and tackle the problem head on—to make the right decision and to grow in godly character.

Tame that mental dictator. Learn, practice and grow in emotional maturity, and improve your life!

Romance Rekindled

From the January 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

In his travels in late November and early December 2002, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited countries throughout Central and east Asia—the two of note being India and China. The possibility of a Russia-China-India tripartate axis was considered. Putin signed joint declarations first with Chinese leaders and a few days later with Indian leaders that confirmed “determination to contribute to the establishment of a just, multi-polar world,” as the declaration with India read.

Significant is the use of the phrase “multi-polar world”—carefully agreed upon by the three nations. This phrase clearly expresses “discontent with the current American global dominance and its perceived long-term perilous consequences”(Asia Times, Dec. 7, 2002).

The war on terrorism brings the U.S. extremely close to these three countries, with a heavy military presence now in Central Asia. U.S. bases in former Soviet satellites are just a couple hundred miles away from the borders of India and China.

The idea of a triangular axis between Moscow, New Delhi and Beijing was first entertained when the U.S./nato campaign against Kosovo seemed to reveal, at least to Asia, a world dominated by a singular, unchecked superpower.

Now with the U.S. flexing its muscles over the Iraq situation, concerns have again been raised among the three Asian giants. Though these nations have tried to make clear that no overt anti-U.S. feelings are driving any increased cooperation, Washington isn’t happy about the situation.

Developing relations among the three countries have even raised the possibility of India being allowed into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco), set up by Beijing and Moscow to create cooperation throughout Central Asia and China as a front against terrorism. Moscow believes strong trilateral cooperation (with India’s entrance into the sco) would help create greater security in a region increasingly plagued by terrorism—with all three countries presently afflicted by Islamist disturbances within their borders.

There may be issues that stand in the way of a strong-knit alliance between these three countries: China and India have deep-rooted historical rivalries; Sino-Russian relations have vacillated between cozy and aloof the past several decades. But what is certain is the two catalysts bringing the trio closer together—Western dominance and global terrorism—will only increase.

Bible prophecy clearly shows that U.S. dominance will not last long, and the new superpower will be a united Europe. Its global dominance will be far bolder than America’s has been this past century. And this may prove to be the strong catalyst that forges this mighty triangular Asian axis.

The Bible prophesies that this European beast power will be conquered by the coming “kings of the east” (Rev. 16:12)—players of which are described in Ezekiel 38. (Request your free copy of Russia and China in Prophecy for further information on this.) Knowledge of the biblical identity of those who comprise this alliance shows Russia, China and India to be part of this powerful eastern bloc which will one day stun the world with its size and power!

Roads to Rebellion

Roads to Rebellion

vm/iStock/Thinkstock

Experts focus on the positive advancements of the Internet. We must also become aware of its potential for evil.
From the February 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

Let us first be positive about the Internet. The very fact that it exists represents a marvel of cooperation among computer science experts and leaders in education, government and industry. It is a good example of mankind’s inventive genius.

The Internet crosses all national borders, offering seemingly unending possibilities and benefits to people worldwide. Statistics show that about 655 million people use the Internet. The numbers are growing daily, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

What would eventually become known as the Internet was originally created in the late 1960s to share academic information; its use was largely restricted to colleges and universities. As the concepts behind the Internet and computer technologies developed, so did understanding of the commercial aspects of the Internet. In fact, it was the business sector that accelerated the Internet’s rapid development. The falling price of personal computers, coupled with the successful promotion and marketing of Internet use, has put the power of the Net into the hands of the masses.

The frenzied rush to access the information superhighway has made the Internet an accepted part of everyday life. It is mainstream. Like so many other technologies, the Internet is here to stay.

People are involved in countless activities on the Internet. They buy and sell anything from clothes to automobiles to real estate. They educate themselves by doing research and by taking elementary, secondary or college classes online. Individuals can also read this magazine online. Mostly, people communicate—instantly. Users from opposite ends of the globe are able to chat online, in real time, at little cost.

Obviously, people use the Internet for much more than what is described here, and therein lies some of its greatest danger. We must become more informed about the Internet’s dangers.

Social Impacts

The reality is that, for all of its benefits, the Internet presents some serious problems for society in general and families in particular. To date, most articles discussing the Internet have focused on either the business or technological impacts of the Internet. Few have discussed the social impacts. But now experts are becoming more aware of the societal impacts of the Net—both positive and negative.

Teens are one of the largest groups of users on the Net. Therefore teenagers are among those who are potentially most negatively impacted by its use. We must come to see that through the Internet an awesome power for good and evil has been put into the hands of our children. Some parents often boast about how their child can manipulate a computer. Only a few recognize that children lack the maturity and sense of responsibility to handle such power.

Bill Joy, chief scientist at Sun Microsystems, concerned about the future development of computer technology, has stated, “I think it is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of the further perfection of extreme evil, an evil whose possibility spreads well beyond that which weapons of mass destruction bequeathed to the nation-states, on to a surprising and terrible empowerment of extreme individuals” (Wired, April 2000).

Technology nearly always outpaces our ability to deal with the changes it brings. The Internet has changed us and is still changing us—and not just in the way we do things. Unfortunately, we are coming to understand its negative impacts only after we have widely accepted them.

But to simply look back and lay blame will not help us deal with the problems it presents. We must come to know that some of the concepts behind the Internet hold the key to understanding how to deal with its dangerous defects. Unless we recognize the flawed concepts behind the Internet and fix them, its problems will continue to haunt us and will grow worse.

Accelerated Information Exchange

One thought-provoking book dealing with the social impacts of the Internet is Next: The Future Just Happened, by Michael Lewis. This contributing writer for New York Times Magazine looked, through first-hand interviews, at the effects of the Internet on ordinary people that had become caught up in some extraordinary events because of the Net. He was shocked to find, at the center of the controversies, teenagers—quiet, unassuming, highly intelligent teenagers. What they did on the Internet is mind-blowing.

Early in his book, Lewis makes two overall observations that give clues into the inherent problems of the Internet. He states, “It is wildly disruptive to speed up information, and speeding up information was not the only thing the Internet had done. The Internet had made it possible for people to thwart all sorts of rules and conventions. It wasn’t just the commercial order that was in flux. Many forms of authority were secured by locks waiting to be picked.” Think deeply about that. The Internet has accelerated the exchange of information and provided the means for individuals to thwart rules, conventions and authorities. The bottom line is, the Internet has upset an established order in society.

Essentially, the information superhighway has opened up roads to rebellion.

Lewis’s assertion that it is “wildly disruptive to speed up information” is important to consider. Of course, one of the Internet’s primary uses, to share information as quickly as possible, has been accomplished in a spectacular way. With the right computer hardware and software, encyclopedic amounts of information can be transferred between points anywhere in the world instantaneously. Any knowledge gained can be knowledge immediately available to everyone. This technological achievement has revolutionized every facet of our society. It has tied the world together in a way that would make dead dictators jealous! Yet, can we see the wildly disruptive danger in all this?

Concern over the potential perils of instant communication between humans is not new. It is nearly as old as man himself. The biblical account of the Tower of Babel is a perfect example. Knowing both mankind’s inventive genius and appetite for violence, God saw the downside to the instant exchange of ideas among human minds apart from His Holy Spirit. Looking at the Tower of Babel, God said, “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Gen. 11:6).

Although the Tower of Babel was an act of defiance against God’s authority, He was mostly concerned about what man would do with unrestrained human communication and knowledge production, and how it would impact human imagination. Within the confines of the natural laws of the universe, what man conceives, man can accomplish! Because of our flawed nature, uniting human talent is perilous. God knew this and prevented man from potentially destroying himself earlier than God’s plan would allow. He restricted man’s ability to rapidly communicate shared knowledge by introducing a multitude of languages.

Can’t we conclude that the Internet has undone what God did?

Certainly, delivering massive amounts of information to balanced minds can be a wonderful thing. But giving massive amounts of information to dangerous minds will lead to disaster.

Since the 1960s, mankind’s fund of knowledge has increased dramatically—and, at the same time, so have society’s evils. The knowledge we are producing is not solving our fundamental problems. Through computer technology, including the Internet, we are adding to our knowledge at a highly accelerated rate. Can we make the connection that society’s problems are speeding up just as fast? We should all be alarmed!

High-Tech Lawlessness

Besides speeding up the exchange of information, Lewis tells us that the Internet allows individuals to “thwart all sorts of rules and conventions”—and “authority.” The full impact of this statement is far-reaching. It gives crystal-clear insight into the dangers lurking on the Internet.

From its creation, experts guided the development of the Internet so that it would be fiercely democratic. They demanded that it be self-governed and self-monitored. It was feared that too much government regulation would impede its progress. A free-exchange communication system without national boundaries is foundational to the belief that no individual should be denied access to the Net because of political ideology or other reasons.

This all sounds great, philosophically. But what has developed is a worldwide network with no boundaries period. Being self-monitored and self-governed has actually come to mean practically no monitoring or no governance. The Internet has therefore encouraged lawlessness.

The growing phenomenon of Internet crime has been made especially easy because of its limited regulation and controls. Steps are now being taken to govern the Internet at both the national and international level. Unfortunately, regulations and laws cannot be written fast enough to stay ahead of the Internet crime wave. Because of possible technical complications, as well as international legal and political issues, enforcing these laws is often impossible.

As computer technologies increase in sophistication, so do the criminals’ abilities. Law enforcement agencies, understaffed and ill-equipped to deal with the problem, are having an increasingly difficult job catching and prosecuting such criminals. Although there are valiant attempts and some progress being made, the Internet crime problem is growing.

Criminals have used the Internet to carry out the obvious crimes like stealing credit card numbers, which sometimes results in individuals helping themselves to other people’s checking and linked savings accounts. But theft is only one of the abuses of the Internet.

The fastest-growing business on the Internet is pornography. It is expected that this year $3 billion will be spent—by adults and minors—in accessing “adult content” on the Net. If this were not evil enough, the sale and distribution of child pornography is also at an all-time high.

Because the Internet allows anonymity, sexual predators are able to assume false identities and enter the chat rooms of teenagers, encouraging unsuspecting youths to meet with them.

Because of the sheer vastness of the Internet, which hosts billions of websites, these types of crimes are hard to detect. Google, one of the top search engines serving the Internet, connects 3 billion webpages to its engine alone; yet no search engine in existence can possibly search all available sites. Although the real number is not known, it is estimated that there are at least 40 million porn sites. Law enforcement officials believe there could be millions of child pornography sites on the Worldwide Web. This is apart from the avenues of newsgroups and e-mail that can also be used for such purposes.

To track down, prosecute and jail a child pornographer is a daunting task. Why? If American authorities do discover the site of a child pornographer, what if the individual is located in another country? It then becomes a matter of international law, which can often mean an international nightmare. Even within the U.S., pornography laws vary from state to state. What about the differences internationally? What could be illegal in the U.S. could be perfectly legal in another country. There is rising tension internationally over which nation’s laws should govern the Internet. The Internet will remain a legal challenge for years to come.

Into Hands of Children

Another major way the Internet allows individuals to “thwart all sorts of rules and conventions” and “authority” is related to the fact that it has decentralized the control of information. The sources of information on the Net are endless—but no authorities or organized structures control the information. In essence, the Internet has taken the control of information away from the insiders and transferred it to the outsiders. Power has shifted from the center to the fringe. Control that used to look like a pyramid has been flattened to look like a pancake. It is the outsiders that are gaining control.

For example, the technical information for making bombs used to be held secure by scientists developing such weapons. But with the Internet, that information is now available for instant download to anybody—including teenagers. Children are able to learn in a matter of minutes how to make a bomb at home. In a similar vein, children can also learn harmful things about drugs and sex.

Lewis brings out in his book what several very bright teenagers did with information they gained while using the Internet. He makes considerable mention of Jonathan Lebed, a New Jersey 15-year-old who made news headlines several years ago when he created considerable chaos in the stock market. Under a fictitious identity, this teen became a major player in the market. When authorities uncovered Lebed’s activities, it turned the stock trading world upside down. Although the Securities and Exchange Commission is still not quite sure how he did it, he was able to take money from a savings bond and amass a small fortune by manipulating the market. It is still unknown how many businesses may have been harmed by this teen’s activities.

Lewis also recounts the story of Marcus Arnold, a 15-year-old who portrayed himself as a law student and offered free legal advice to thousands on the Internet. What is truly amazing is that under an assumed identity he became the number-three-rated expert in criminal law on www.askme.com. Many people with serious legal problems even sent court documents to his home for review. Legal professionals could not believe what Arnold had pulled off.

The potential harm Marcus Arnold could have caused others is staggering. Think of the dangerous possibilities for any other crafty teen. Will one pretend to be a psychologist, or a doctor?

Upside-Down Authority

The truth we must come to recognize is that the Internet has taken the power and authority once reserved for adults and given it to youth. Many adults cannot see this—yet. However, many teens and young adults see the power of the Internet and fully intend to exploit it.

One teen told Lewis, “We’re out to make a network that benefits us all and isn’t governed or monitored or censored by anybody else, just us, and we’re in control of the network.” This 14-year-old boy created the means to share music and novels without using an Internet central server when Napster was shut down. Essentially, he helped create a network on the fringe of the Internet. Those linked into this network can operate outside of all intellectual property laws.

Lewis relates in his book that the parents of the teens he interviewed knew very little about computers or the Internet. Because of the adult’s lack of knowledge of new technology, the child became the parent when it came to using a computer. Authority was turned upside-down.

Most parents buy computers for their children for educational purposes. Certainly the computer is a great educational tool. Children quickly adapt to it. Studies show that adults generally do not. Of course, we want our children to learn all they can. But as parents, we should learn right along with them.

All the parents of the teens involved in extraordinary situations on the Internet knew relatively little about computers or what their child was actually doing on the Internet. The teens involved spent countless hours on the Net. Their parents didn’t monitor them. When Lewis showed up to interview one teen, the mother asked, “Has my son done something illegal?” She was totally in the dark about her child’s activities.

Get Control

The Internet is a powerful tool that can be used for good or evil. Even if new laws and more effective controls are implemented, in this present world there will always be those working against and around any such laws.

The most effective way to ensure that the Internet is used for your child’s good is for you—the parents—to take control at home. This means that you must not only watch over your child’s Internet activities, you must regulate Internet use. Of course this will present a significant challenge to most parents. Why? Many adults tend to avoid computers because they lack knowledge about them. To protect our children, we must change our fearful and insecure attitudes toward computers. Parents who purchase a computer and provide Internet access for a child have the responsibility to learn how to use a computer and the Internet.

Some parents, made aware of the dangers of the Internet through unfortunate experiences, are installing monitoring software known as spyware or snoopware. Employing a remote and undetectable computer (usually from a parent’s work location), these programs provide a line-by-line record of Internet activities, revealing sites visited and records of incoming and outgoing chats. This can be extremely helpful in determining if a youth is visiting porn or other undesirable sites—or being drawn into a meeting with a sexual predator.

Be aware that these programs are new and still underdeveloped. A bright teen can find a way around them. Your personal involvement is the only effective way to know what is happening on your home computer.

Parental Responsibility

Liberals, especially in the United States, cry about the privacy rights of teens and youth. But do we want teen privacy at the cost of teen crime? Parents, you have rights, too. You have the duty to make sure your children aren’t engaged in wrong activities—and that gives you the right to view all e-mails and conversations taking place in chatrooms and to know which sites your teens frequent. Parents have the right to control the amount of time a youth spends on the Internet. Of course, once a relationship of trust is built, only occasional monitoring may be necessary.

Some parents will limit a child’s telephone time but will not limit time on the Internet. The logic is that more computer time equals more education. But the problem with that thinking is, many teens use extra hours on the Net merely for correspondence and fun.

The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, N.Y., and other colleges across the country have studied the effects of Internet use on student performance. It has been uncovered that many students who use the Internet for long hours also flunk out of school. After thorough investigation, the reason became abundantly clear: Valuable study time was wasted on Internet surfing, idle talk in chatrooms and playing multi-user computer games. These students, known as “Internet vampires” among college guidance counselors, often stayed on the Internet all night long, then slept through the day, missing classes and other vital educational interaction. Do we see that lots of Internet time can equal no education or dangerous education? Some colleges monitor student time on the Internet to prevent student failure. What about you? Do you know how long your child stays on the Internet?

Parents must not fear to use their God-given authority. Yet that is precisely the problem with computers, the Internet, our modern family crisis and society in general. With the support of liberal adults, children have bullied their way into positions of authority. The Internet has provided children a great measure of independence, making them fearless of authority.

Some parents have allowed their children to lock them out of their bedrooms. Parents have also allowed their children to lock them off their computers. These situations would never have happened just several decades ago; they should not be happening now. Knowing the power of the Internet, this is a formula for disaster. Experts believe that the tragedy at Columbine High may have been prevented if more was known about the contents of the teens’ e-mails.

We are a generation that has overindulged our children with things, freedoms and independence they do not have the maturity to handle. If we do not regain control, we will pay an even bigger price than Columbine High.

Sign of the Times

The misuse and abuse of power and authority on the Internet is a symptom of our very sick Western society. The Internet allows adults and children to skirt around authority, because that is the kind of society we want—no rules, no regulations and no laws! Yet, we are always shocked at the results when they come crashing down on us.

The Prophet Isaiah saw our modern problem with authority and its disastrous results coming thousands of years ago: “And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable. … As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isa. 3:5, 12). The truth in these verses should motivate every parent and every leader to consider our ways. When people—families or nations—reject authority, oppression is always the result. These verses specifically warn that our children will oppress us. The Internet, if not governed properly, provides just one more means for our children and others to do so.

Let’s be warned. It’s time to wake up to reality. The Internet has the makings to be a weapon in the hands of high-tech insurgents. All of its good can be turned to great evil. Do we have the wisdom to do something about it? It is not too late to close down the roads to rebellion. The choice is ours.