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Dare we? How far can one go with it? How much is too much?

We speak here of prophecy:

Frequently, there's a thin line between a discerning, open evaluation of the supernatural and over-credulity, which can allow in artifacts (and even deception from the enemy, or simple over-imagining).

It comes down to a matter of intuition. And equilibrium (which only comes through prayer).

At a major alleged apparition, the Blessed Mother once said focusing too much on chastisements  can bring them. Moreover, prophecy is often titillating (tickling the ears, 2 Timothy 4:3). It's exciting to contemplate but one must always ask: do we really want to see destruction come, do we really want an  economic meltdown or massive war or famine or plague or breakdown in infrastructure -- or should we be praying for a miraculous return to God's Plan, from which we have strayed, to prevent calamities?

Since the 1960s, it has been a slippery downward slope and seems to get slicker every year. And believing Christians could not want the situation in the world -- the evil -- to continue. There is pillaging of God's Creation. There is abortion. There is widespread immorality (flagrant, and like Sodom, "in your face"). But do we want to see our society dismantled? Do we want to witness a war, or unprecedented natural event? Is it not precarious to fixate on that?

On the other hand, there is Scripture -- and in it (see Isaiah 30) God not only directed His people to warn of punishment but indicated through His prophets that chastisements would be sent upon those who did not warn (prophetically) -- who tried to sugarcoat the future and sought to formulate their own spin. In our time, we have many of these. The passage says, "For this is a rebellious people, false sons, sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of the Lord, who say to the seers, 'You must not see visions,' and to the prophets, 'You must not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us pleasant words, prophesy illusions.'" That's worse than obsessing with disaster.

And so we too pray and fast and purify our inner selves (this is most important) for equilibrium. The question with detailed prophecies is whether those who espouse them are actually receiving such detail or feeling a general "pulse" and then building their own details on that pulse (a pulse that, for example, "something" is going to happen).

A few weeks back, we carried the alleged visions of a retired businessman named James Wilburn Chauncey of Fayetteville, Georgia, who had a near-death experience in the 1940s as a child and during that experience claimed to have been shown snippets of the future, including major chastising events in the United States. For the past sixty years, he says, he has been consumed by what he believes he was shown. "Mountains had fallen; canyons disappeared; the courses of rivers were changed, and much land disappeared," he says of this alleged vision of the near future (he is in his seventies and believes the events will occur after his death). "In the great land of North America, an enormous lake was formed in the upper-middle portion of America. Mountains had fallen; canyons disappeared. Portions of Texas and Arizona were now lakes. What had been deserts of the west were now green and lush with trees and vegetation. Asia, Africa, Europe, and the world over became lush with vegetation, clear water, lakes, and rivers, and an abundance of fish, fowl, and animal life."

You get the point. He also saw major upheaval in the Middle East, focused on Syria, which would be invaded (perhaps by Iran) and later, the U.S. attacked by Russia, Muslims, and China -- war all over, including nuclear destruction of major cities (starting with New York, Washington, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Jacksonville). Like so many, he saw California sinking.

It was pointed out to us that years ago -- in the 1970s -- evangelical Christians claimed a series of visions and "words of knowledge" that were similarly drastic (and strikingly similar), leading to another question: When we get this far with massive events, when they are so specific and apocalyptic, is it darkly fanciful -- perhaps even inspired by the deceiver (an attempt to muddle true warnings such as those from places of legitimate apparition) -- or a montage of what might take place (at the time the prophecy is granted) if mankind does not rid itself of evil (which certainly has attained enormity)?

The series of visions (which started in 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade, and were distributed from a ministry in Spokane, Washington) became known as "the Chicago prophecies." They are questionable and had some errant dates (along with perhaps over-specificity). Asserted one: "In 1973 the Lord gave me a vision of a massive earthquake striking the Midwest U.S.A. centering in Chicago, Illinois, on some day in July in the future. This destructive earthquake led directly to an all out nuclear attack on the U.S. by Russia, China with Japan, and the start of World War III. In that vision I saw a huge jet airliner on a glide path to land at O'Hare Airport north of Chicago (after the quake) when Lake Michigan roared out of its lake bed and swept over the city in what was a wall of water a hundred feet high. The huge jet airliner turned on its jets full blast and black smoke poured out of its engines as the pilot frantically worked to pull up and away from the wall of water that was destroying Chicago.

"I was puzzled at the time (July 2, 1973) because the aircraft I saw was massive, two stories high, unlike anything I'd ever seen. In 1973 the Jumbo Jet had not yet arrived, it was being designed. While the Jumbo Jet (747-400) with its two-story bubble in the front of the aircraft looks 'like' what I saw in 1973, this new airliner, the A3XX, shown in a June 24, 2000 news clip (The Dallas Morning News, Saturday, June 24th 2000, 2F, 'Airbus gives green light to super-jumbo jetliner') is two stories high and looks more like what I saw in the 1973 vision." By 1977, dozens of Christians claimed similar predictions about Chicago.

For our contemplation. Chauncey (who wrote a book called Eyewitness To Heaven) likewise claims that back in the 1940s he had been shown jet fighters that decades later matched photographs of stealth bombers.

The so-called "Chicago prophecies," given in large measure to a man named Chuck Youngbrandt, continued starkly: "I suddenly saw the Loop area in a vision. By the way the shadows fell, it seemed to be twelve noon. I could see traffic moving through the downtown area; however, my attention was focused on the base of a huge building. Again came the prelude and the earthquake. Autos were literally flung off the streets into buildings by the violent movements of the earth. A horrible chorus of creaking, scraping, and grating sounds filled the air, not unlike masts of great sailing ships in a storm, as the skyscrapers swayed to and fro. The giant building began to shear off from its base about twenty feet from the sidewalk but surprised me by not falling. Brick, stone, glass, debris of every sort fell into the streets below like hail driven by a storm wind. As the quake ended, I heard many voices speaking of their ‘great luck to be alive.’ Many awaited rescuer parties, but none were giving thanks to God. Suddenly my view shifted to the lake front. After the earthquake ended, the waters of Lake Michigan swiftly calmed down; lying still in a strange and ghostly silence. The calm water then seemed to tremble or bead-up, and as I watched, the level of the water began to drop quickly. There was a ‘whooshing’ sound as the water literally disappeared in a northeasterly direction, leaving only some large puddles, here and there."

Lake Michigan -- shifting right onto a major city? He also saw it coursing down the Mississippi to the Gulf causing massive inundation.

What is plausible and what is wild?

Isn't this more likely to happen in a region like Tokyo or China -- or if it is the Midwest, along that New Madrid fault (south of St. Louis)? And is it plausible that in addition to an unprecedented earthquake would come phenomenal weather events (as the prophecies also claimed)?

Of course, cogitating on the future is almost always frustrating -- that is, ruminating upon it through logic alone. Too often -- most often -- the future is unexpected. Most often, chastisement is a long, grinding process -- appreciated fully only in retrospect (such as a climate swerve). It does say in 1 Thessalonians, however: "Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child." And we can know that prophecies at major apparition sites, in point of fact, seem to be very dramatic; at Fatima, they included a world war, the rise of Communism, massive persecution (that killed millions), and an angel about to torch the world (all in three "secrets").

Daring, indeed: prophecy.

Often, a person gets a legitimate "word" but then expands on it. Padre Pio said, "Pray, hope, and don't worry." God protects His own. Just pray, and you will be guided (and shielded).

But we do prophecy here. We give it air. Hopefully, it is in line with what the Bible says: not to despise such, not to treat it with contempt, but to weigh it, take what is good, and leave the rest, avoiding evil (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22), which would include deception. How far is too far? When do we simply take the essence of the prophetic "pulse"?

For all prophecy, says the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:19), is "imperfect."

[resources: Eyewitness To Heaven and Tower of Light]

[see also: worldwide disasters and world clock]

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