The Pit And The Pendulum
The Bible reassures us that, concerning the Devil's program, "we are not ignorant of his devices" (II Corinthians 2:11). I have observed that Satan has several basic formulas that he uses over and over again - evidently because they are consistently successful. It is one of these devices that I wish to elaborate on in this essay. It may be summarized as the Pendulum Swing.
Satan desires to deprive the LORD of our presence by hijacking humankind in order to seduce us into accompanying him to his eternal place of abode in the pit. In recognizing one of his tactics towards that end, I've borrowed from the dark writer Edgar Allen Poe in characterizing this phenomena as a cycle of manipulated events that is best described as The Pit and The Pendulum.
The actual methodology in this tactic is relatively simple. It's related to the Dialectic - the process of taking two opposing perspectives (thesis and antithesis), and causing them to conflict until they produce the desired result - the synthesis. In the Pendulum Swing effect, the idea is to exaggerate and manipulate the flow of events, until they produce an over-reaction. In the modern parlance, we use the term backlash or blowback to describe the eventual result.
The Protestant Reformation
History is littered with examples of this practice in political, economic, and religious anecdotal data. A classic example may be found in the Protestant Reformation. The reader will recall that in the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church had fallen so far from the original faith of the fathers that the ordinary populace was actually forbidden to read the Bible.
In this strange series of historically demonstrable apostasies, priests were commonly illiterate and could not read the scriptures even if they wanted to. Meanwhile, the occasional literate commoner that managed to obtain a copy of the scriptures was executed under "church" authority if caught with a copy of the Bible. Indeed, those that read the scriptures and realized how far off the church had drifted from its mandates immediately recognized why the religious authorities had banned the book in the first place.
The office of Pope had been auctioned off to the highest bidder, the leadership had invented doctrines with no scriptures to support them, and the "church" had even come to the audacious proposition that people could buy favor with the LORD through the sale of "indulgences" - a practice that was little more that a brazen attempt at generating revenue for the church by having priests "sell" God's favor in exchange for filthy lucre.
As the Spirit of Antichrist continued to engender more and more decadent and decrepit behaviour in the organized church, Satan knew an inevitable backlash was building. He stalled it as long as possible, and when the Pendulum began to swing the other way, he changed sides. Even as Martin Luther, John Huss, John Calvin, and the other "reformers" led the way back towards a more Scripturally mandated form of Christianity, the Spirit of Antichrist joined the Protestant side in the conflict.
In Germany, roving bands of politically aroused "Christian" Protestants sacked and burned Catholic cathedrals. Obviously, there is no New Testament justification for such misdeeds, but they wanted revenge for all the excesses perpetrated by the Roman leadership - and rationalized such evil under the guise of righteous indignation. In other parts of Europe, the "reformers" sought to legislate the grace of Jesus Christ that is found in the New Testament, and began to rule with an oppressive hand that was no better than the Papacy it sought to replace.
Then Satan changed sides again, and sought to swing the Pendulum back to the Papacy as the Catholic Church reacted to the theological challenge with rancor and hideous violence. In what was dubbed the counter-reformation, Bible quoting reformers were tortured to death by "inquisitors" - a unique blend of "priest" and sadistic executioner. Countless dungeons were filled with the agonized cries of Christians that were slowly murdered in the name of God.
The French Revolution
Although the Protestant Reformation is one of the most glaring examples, the Pendulum Swing also worked well in secular government settings. The French Revolution is a stellar example of the destructive energies that can be unleashed through the tactic. History records how the French aristocracy had become oblivious to the plight of the commoner to the degree that amidst the opulence of the so-called nobles, the underclass was starving.
The royal house in France was largely bankrupt during the reign of Louis XVI, and his young bride Marie Antoinette was so bored with her standing that she spent her time pursuing frivolities and superficial social discourse. As conditions deteriorated across the land, the queen was more concerned with the latest hairstyle than the condition of her hapless subjects.
Court intrigue was everywhere, and the under-currents of religion formed an important part of the brewing political backlash.
As if on cue, the "Diamond Necklace Affair" occurred which sealed the fate of the French throne. A swindler had convinced a certain priest named Cardinal de Rohan that the queen desperately wanted him to purchase a fabulously expensive diamond necklace. He arranged the purchase, and the high society criminal, a woman named Jeanne de la Motte, escaped with the opulent jewelry. The jeweler went unpaid, and the Cardinal was prosecuted; but the population believed Marie Antoinette was secretly behind the subterfuge in a foolish attempt to squander the French treasury.
This occurred at a time when the French aristocracy could least afford such a scandal. It was almost as if the affair of the necklace was purposely engineered to cause the Pendulum to swing too far over to the side of wasteful opulence. As if to add insult to injury, the queen of France, Marie Antoinette, who was apparently innocent of any wrongdoing in the matter, was seen to be the true culprit as the crown prosecuted the Cardinal for his role in the strange scandal.
The pressure built up to the degree that the social explosion that ensued was devastating. The Pendulum then swung to an atrocious barbarity as the new French Republic sought retribution for the perceived sins of the royalty. The guillotine fell, and the resulting carnage was as evil as anything ever perpetrated by the short-sighted aristocrats of French society.
World Wide Church Of God
On a much smaller scale, a sectarian example of this principle is in order. Many are familiar with the ministry of Herbert W Armstrong and his late son Garner Ted Armstrong. The WWCOG ministry had a widely watched television broadcast, a popular magazine (The Plain Truth), and even a college.
The World Wide Church Of God placed a great emphasis on the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament feasts of Israel. They were Sabbath keepers with a healthy respect for the laws of God. Non-Trinitarian, they were perceived by mainstream denominations as being somewhat cultic with various doctrines such as British-Israelism (the idea that the 'lost tribes' of Israel are the white Europeans) that were seen as aberrational by mainstream denominations.
As the sect grew and matured, dissension in the ranks ensued. After a sex scandal erupted, Garner Ted Armstrong was removed from his responsibilities as the heir apparent to Herbert W Armstrong. At the death of the elder Armstrong, political maneuvering occurred that placed a relative unknown at the helm. That man, a gentleman named Joseph Tkach died rather abruptly leaving his son Joseph Tkach Jr in charge.
The Pit and The Pendulum effect began, and the younger Tkach arbitrarily decided to "reform" the church and bring it in line with mainstream Christianity. As the Pendulum swung back from the fervency of a more works oriented theology, Tkach rejected much of what was good about the church, and embraced much of what is false in organized Christianity.
Already viewed as a heretic moving away from the church's legacy, incredibly the young leader turned for help to one of the worst elements in mainstream Christianity - the Christian Research Institute headed by Hank Hanegraaff. CRI's leader has already been exposed as a liar and a plagiarist, so the move to a more mainstream theological approach was exacerbated by a new-found reliance on a thoroughly disreputable character. The new WWCOG theology went too far in the opposite direction, and the Pendulum had swung once again across the truth back into the pit on the other side.
Significant defections occurred among senior pastors as the national church imploded. Most of the breakaway groups tried to re-capture the spirit of what had come to be known as Armstrongism. In the process, the WWCOG actually sued at least one of the groups for publishing a book written by Herbert W Armstrong! The now thoroughly mainstream (read apostate) World Wide Church Of God, operating in the sway of the corrupt Hank Hanegraaff, held the copyright to one of the key books articulating Armstrong's original perspective.
The WWCOG not only refused to continue to publish the primary work of their founder, they sought to suppress the publication of the book by anyone else. They sued in court to try and suppress the work of Armstrong from being published by others - even though they themselves wanted no part of it.
Incidentally, the point is not that the Armstrong book was pure truth as it is, in fact, filled with inaccuracies and false doctrine. The point is, the Pendulum Swing brought the formerly zealous church to the ridiculous proposition that it was their job to suppress the beliefs and spiritual practices of others. In this regard, the "church" had become precisely what its founder had despised - a self-righteous pious bunch of corporate hypocrites. At last report, the WWCOG had lost so much support they were even forced to sell the prized real estate that they had occupied for so many years.
The American-Israeli Pendulum Swing
There may be no better example of this Satanic procedure than the present manifestation that is seen in the American White House. After eight long years of liberal whoredoms with President Bill Clinton grossly misbehaving in the oval office, the Democrats were swept out of office.
The Clinton's had offended virtually every conservative with their embarrassing carnal atrocities. Even the incorporated brothels that call themselves churches sought to bring the Republicans into power. As George W Bush's record demonstrates, the Pendulum Swing has moved to a stark militarism that is largely justified through the potent political constituency known as Judaeo-Christianity. In fact, at this writing, the neo-conservative mood-swing has just reached into California, thrown out the Democratic governor, and installed the cinematic strongman Arnold Schwartzeneggar.
The same thing has occurred in Israel. After several coalition governments wherein the liberal Labor party shared power with the conservative Likud party because neither side could achieve a clear mandate, the Pendulum has swung away from the previous appeasement of the Palestinian insurrection. It is now widely seen that the so-called "Intifada" never even abated during times of peace talks and cease-fires, and the swing is now towards an indignant militancy.
The population has wearied of attempting to make peace and the popular mindset is now openly advocating a final war to end the conflict once and for all. Meanwhile, the neo-cons in America have aggressively pursued a martial posture of pre-emptive war against what they claim are Arab terrorist nations. Thus, the Pendulum Swing has moved America to justify the preposterous position of a "Christian" President that is aggressively bombing Islamic peoples to "protect" the interests of the "chosen people" - the Jews.
Under basic New Testament doctrine, the Jewish people are not the so-called "chosen people" - but that's hardly the point. The point is, the present American policies will only serve to perpetuate another round of the Pit and the Pendulum. Each military incursion against an oil-producing Islamic nation can only be viewed by the rest of the world as an opportunistic attempt at gathering the oil riches that are held by the Arab and Islamic peoples. Indeed, most observers outside of the United States see these efforts as the cynical mercenary acts of a military power that is clearly acting in concert with a politically ambitious Zionist agenda. And the backlash is building.
The Great Tribulation
The prophesied period of history described in the Bible as The Great Tribulation is the final series of events that will erupt as the inevitable result of man's mismanagement of his existence in this age. Our stewardship of the planet has been so poor that the collectivists are all utilizing the cry for a balanced ecology as the mantra for a misguided globalism.
The truth is, the 'green' movement is just another swing too far in response to the corrupt 'black' policies of the present international order (see the horsemen in Revelation 6 for the sequential flow of events). The political dialectic will continue as the era of nations comes to an end. The age of global tyranny will be far worse, but the dynamics of the Pendulum Swing are already well in play and there is no stopping it now.
We are now storing up the fuel for the inevitable fire that is about to be kindled. The Islamic moral backlash to the decadence of American Sodomocracy has already begun. On the opposite side, the coming Israeli explosion that has been building through decades of unconscionable violence perpetrated by multi-generational Moslem extremism will be unsurpassed in its ferocity and carnage.
In the end, the world will cry for deliverance as the cycles spin out of control in an ever-escalating series of cataclysmic acts of war and violence. Ultimately, anyone that can offer any semblance of order will be enthusiastically received. Thus, the Pit and the Pendulum continues its incessant rhythm as it steadily draws the world into the chaos that is desired by the Spirit of the Antichrist. In classic dialectic fashion, it is to this horrifying malady that the Devil will offer his unholy bargain of deliverance.
But the Pit and the Pendulum will both ultimately be cast into the lake of fire, along with Death and Hell, when the LORD of glory returns and sets up His genuine kingdom of peace, joy, and eternal life in Jesus Christ.
October 27, 2003 - James Lloyd
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