Sunday, September 23, 2018

Happy New Year, Brother Holding

This is a short e-book by J P Holding (Robert Turkel), who is best known as Richard Carrier's target in “Not the Impossible Faith”. Holding heads a small apologetics ministry in Florida and seems to be a fundamentalist with some “main line” traits. Since the intemperate author attacked me after posting a perfectly normal review of another e-book of his, I suppose I shouldn't be doing the man's advertising for him, but as a maverick born again Trumpocrat, I just couldn't resist this material!

On his blog, the author discloses that he didn't vote for Donald Trump, instead spoiling his vote by choosing Rocky De La Fuente (who got less votes than the Stalinoid “Party for Socialism and Liberation”). In effect, he therefore supported Hillary Clinton. Despite this, Holding doesn't believe that Trump is the literal Anti-Christ (nor, presumably, literally Hitler). In this e-book he takes on fringe elements within the fundamentalist milieu, most of whom remain unnamed, who *do* claim that The Donald is the Beast of Revelation whose number is…wait for it…666.

I readily admit that J P manages to disprove the Anti-Christ Brigade with relative ease. Trump isn't the first U.S. president to be dubbed the Anti-Christ (or an Anti-Christ), and the arguments are often strikingly similar in form, although not always in concrete detail. Thus, Ronald Reagan was said to live on 666 St Cloud Road after his retirement, while Trump supposedly owns a building on 666 Fifth Avenue. But perhaps JFK was the Anti-Christ, since he was (supposedly) elected Democratic nominee by 666 convention delegates? The trick is to find as many references to “666” as possible, no matter how farfetched, which somehow cumulatively proves that the man under attack is the Evil One. Thus, the Trump family paid 1.8 million dollars for their property at Fifth Avenue. 18 = 3*6 = 666. Sometimes, the arguments make no sense at all, as when some conspiracy theorists allege that Trump lives on the 66th floor in the Trump Tower. 66 isn't 666, of course. Other arguments for Trump being Mr End Times are actually quite funny, for instance that an *opponent* of the GOP nominee was once spotted wearing a T-shirt with the number 999, which is 666 upside down! Unknown to a non-gambler like me, the sum total of all numbers on a roulette wheel is apparently 666, and Trump is, of course, a prominent player in the casino business…

The original “number of the Beast” was a coded name (or a name and a title, if you believe it was Nero Caesar), not a fistful of dollars or a floor in a futuristic skyscraper. Apparently, the fringe hasn't managed to turn the name “Donald Trump” into 666, but it seems that “Don Drumpf”, a name never used by the God-Emperor, pardon, president-elect makes 666. Holding points out that the name of the Anti-Christ must be Hebrew for the code to make sense. Don Drumpf is, alas, not Hebrew (not even anti-christic Kabbalistic Hebrew). A point not made by Holding is that the name of the Beast must also add up to 616 in Greek! Theology buffs may take note of the fact that Holding argues that 666 can only be interpreted on the basis of how it must have appeared to readers of Revelation during the apostle John's lifetime – in effect a historical-critical argument which if applied consistently would destroy most Bible prophecy, which is often incomprehensible until fulfilled (at least if you believe the standard evangelical arguments).

There are two problems with this short e-book. First, it doesn't explicate the author's theology, which seems necessary for a Christian apologist attacking other Christians. Second, it contains few (if any) references. Who said all these outrageous things, and where? Still, if you are a fringe-watcher, I suppose this could be of some entertainment value. I therefore graciously give this text three stars. However, you engage with the author at your own risk…

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