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TEXAS FAITH 43: What gives rise to end-times predictions?


Dallas Morning News,

Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

I had wanted to avoid the May 21st rapture debate because it seemed like so much of a chip shot. Even many who believe in one form or another of end-times theology have disagreed with the prediction of Harold Camping of the Family Radio Network. He's the fellow that predicted Judgment Day was to come Saturday. (As I understand it, Camping, a civil engineer, reached that conclusion by pegging May 21 to being exactly 7,000 years after Noah got caught in a flood.)

But his prediction has generated plenty of attention. And since Judgment Day didn't come, and we all are still here, let's deal with the underlying issue in this discussion. And that is the ongoing prediction of the world's end.

Camping is hardly the one to offer a precise date. The New York Times reports how Seventh-Day Adventist Robert Reidt long ago predicted February 6, 1925 as the day of reckoning. And the Christian Science Monitor last week catalogued five big examples of end-time dates, going back to one in 1844.

Here, then, is this week's question:

What gives rise to precise end-times predictions?

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas

It natural to expect change as we see in this world there are four seasons. Also, a lot of religious literature speaks about a change in times.
For example, the Vedas speak about this age, Kali yuga, and its end times. This end time is explained to be 427,000 years from now. But this event is cyclical, like our four seasons. Not an actual end of this world but rather a change in the spiritual direction of the populous.

Should end times be a motivation for religious renewal? According to the great saint Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, religious motivation based on fear is low-grade religion.

Why worry about end times, everyone already has there own end time to worry about. Even though America is technologically advanced, the death rate is still a steady 100%. Bhaktivinoda Thakura teaches that in general there four levels of religious motivation.
1) Bhaya -- out of fear.

2) Asha -- for satisfying material aspirations.

3) Kartavya-buddhi -- out of a sense of duty (literally, "a mentality of what should be done").

4) Räga -- out of genuine attraction for the Lord.

Lord Krishna similarly states in the Bhagavad Gita As It Is chapter 7 that there are those who approach God because of difficulties, those who approach because of material aspirations, those who approach because of inquisitiveness and those who approach because there are sincerely seeking the Absolute Truth.