We’re grateful to possibly our newest supporter for this wonderful article. We really had no idea there were so many (and s/he assures us that this is just the tip of the iceberg). It certainly puts the Biffers’ claims of Christ’s second coming into perspective…
I hadn’t even heard of Britain First until my sister sent me a picture from Facebook. I don’t take much interest in politics. I am very interested in theology. That was the subject of my degree. I’m not a priest but I do know a bit about religion and I know this is really very silly. The really ridiculous thing is that Britain First use the apocalypse to beg for money. What do they think they’ll spend it all on when the time comes? You really can’t take it with you!
I did a bit of searching on Facebook and found Exposing Britain First. They seem to know a lot about Nazism but they didn’t seem to know about end times prophecies. So I wrote this for them. I hope it helps.
There have been loads of people prophesying doom and gloom in history. Ever since Jesus told his followers that the end would come within their own lifetimes Christians have been waiting for the end.
“Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28)
St. John the Divine went as far as to tell us what to expect when the end came and Christian apocalypse merchants have jumped on that stuff ever since. For example…
70 CE The Essene Jews thought that the Jewish revolt against Rome (66-70 CE) was evidence of the last days. In fairness, it was for them but not for the rest of us.
In 156 CE Montanus (founder of the Montanists) started a very early Christian doomsday cult. One of many. He promised to see Christ’s return within his natural lifetime. He must be really, really old by now – or else he got it wrong. The Montanists carried on waiting for a few more centuries before they gave up.
Rome was 1000 years old in 247 CE. Many Christians thought this was the end of the world – especially when Romans persecuted them.
365 CE Was when Hilary of Poitiers expected the apocalypse.
A group of African Christians called the Donatists thought the world would last 15 years longer and come to an end in 380 CE.
The Bishop of Toledo, hearing about a Viking raid on an English monastery decided that the world was coming to an end in 793 CE.
Lots of people experienced ‘Millennium terror’ in 1000 CE and expected the apocalypse. When it didn’t happen they thought a bit harder about it and moved the apocalypse from the 100th anniversary of Jesus’ birth to his death. That left people just as scared in 1033 CE.
The famous ‘Letter of Toledo’ predicted the end would come on September 23rd 1186.
Christians fearing apocalypse after the failure of the first crusade massacred European Jews because they expected the second coming any day (why else would God let Muslims win?) and the bible says that there can be no practicing Jews when Jesus returns. The Biblical idea is actually conversion but medieval Christians (like modern Britain First followers) seemed to think violence and destruction would be more fun.
Pope Innocent III was also interested in Muslims. He expected the Apocalypse in 1284, 666 years after Islam began.
Archdeacon Militz of Kromeriz thought 1367. That would have really upset the Joachites who’d have been so busy waiting for 1378 they’d have missed it.
In 1524 20,000 Londoners fled the city before the expected Apocalyptic flood destroyed the city and the world. Some even stockpiled food and fortified dwellings on high ground, just like the modern survivalists of the American Bible Belt (who Britain First seem to admire). The 1524 flood was expected because of astrological predictions involving Pisces, which is a fish. Obvious, isn’t it? When the flood didn’t happen they rescheduled for 1528.
In 1525 the Anabaptists were so sure they were in the last days that they decided to overthrow the Satanic army (AKA the nobility). They lived to regret it. But not for very long.
The Anabaptists tried again in 1533. This time they promised destruction by fire with only 144,000 being spared.
Michael Stifel (not an Anabaptist) also though 1533. 8 O’ Clock on October 19th to be exact. Jan Matthys thought Stifel was too early. He reckoned on the following Easter. April 5th 1534. Pierre Turrel thought 1544. That was only because he’d got it wrong in 1537 though.
Astrology led Richard Harvey astray in 1583 when Christ was due to appear in London at 12 O’ Clock on April 28th. Oddly the stars led Cyrrian Leowitz to a different conclusion. He expected the apocalypse a year later in 1584.
Even Martin Luther, the first Protestant thought the world would end during or before 1600 CE. Dominican Monk, Tomasso Campanella thought 1603 would be the year when the sun hit the earth at the end of time.
The 17th century saw so many Christian doomsday predictions it’s almost impossible to count them. Hardly a year passed in the 1600s without someone proclaiming that the end was nigh. The fuss caused by the English plague of 1665 and 1666 followed by the great fire of London just proved it. 1666 is the total of the number of the beast plus the 1000 year reign of the antichrist. Obviously the fire that started in Pudding Lane was caused not by a careless baker but by the returning Messiah!
John Napier saw at least half a dozen predictions come and go without apocalypse toward the end of the 17th century. You’d think he might have given up before then, wouldn’t you?
In 1736 another cheery Londoner predicted flood and destruction. He was William Whitson and his followers sold all they had to buy a flotilla of little boats in preparation. The Thames was unusually busy that day. Perhaps the same boats were used when another Doomsday Flotilla filled the Thames in 1761.
1789 – 1795 saw at least one different prediction each year. Even Charles Wesley the Methodist got in on the act predicting the end for sometime in 1794. He must have been really worried by New Years Eve! His more famous brother, John scheduled Doomsday for 2836 with Christ’s return a full 1000 years earlier in 1836. I’m afraid not, boys.
William Miller and his several thousand followers predicted a succession of apocalypses in 1843, 1844, 1845, 1846, 1849, 1851. The Millerites quickly morphed into the 7th Day Adventists.
Old Mother Shipton, the famous Yorkshire hermit prophesied that the apocalypse would occur in 1881.
According to the Jehovah’s witnesses, who seem to have taken over from Baxter, the world will/would end in 1874, 1878, 1881 while Mormon founder, Joseph Smith fully expected the world’s demise in 1891.
There were many suicides in the year 1900 to avoid the end times. In 1896 Michael Baxter had predicted the rapture at the turn of the century, simultaneously starting the American fundamentalist rapture movement and setting up hundreds of people to commit suicide at the same time. This prediction thing really is dangerous, isn’t it. Not to be deterred by the failure of his prophecy Baxter went on to predict 1903 and 1908.
Not to be outdone by Baxter the Jehovah’s witnesses went on to predict the end on 1914, 1918, 1925 and 1941.
The 1950s and 1960s saw literally dozens of Cold War inspired predictions of the second coming.
The Jehovah’s witnesses seemed to have learned their lesson during those times but then they came back with a vengeance with new predictions for 1971, 1975 and finally 1984. They seem to have stopped prophesying Armageddon for the last 30 years so possibly the Jehovah’s Witnesses have finally learned something from all those mistakes.
The same cannot be said for the rapture merchants thought. They’ve predicted our demise more or less every year since 1900, perhaps the most famous being Harold Camping who caused thousands to sell everything they earned and send him the money to aid his evangelistic mission. He predicted the end several times too, most recently for two different dates in 2012. He died a multi millionaire after refusing to return the money to his devoted but disappointed followers. He left a legacy of destitution and suicide in the wake of his prophesying.
Trust me there’s loads more I could write about. And that’s only the Christian doom and gloomers. Other people from the Mayans (2012) to Nostradamus have prophesied the apocalypse pretty repeatedly for thousands of years. Even Pliny the younger stuck his toe in the apocalypse pool after Vesuvius erupted in 79AD.
Basically they’ve all been wrong. But they’ve caused lots of hardship. End times prophesies have caused suicides, child murders, genocidal massacres and lives wasted in terror and poverty.
The next time Britain First says the end is nigh don’t worry. The bible says that nobody can know the day or the hour (Mark 13:32)(Matthew 24:36). Britain First is just trying to scare believers. All they’re really doing is showing themselves up as fools.