05 January 2009

Apocalypse Then

Remembering the Y2K Hysteria
by Phil Johnson

xactly ten years ago this week I preached in our church's morning service. I can't remember if John MacArthur was ill or suddenly called out of town for some reason, but I remember being asked very late to fill in. I had about 24 hours to prepare.

It being the first Sunday of 1999, I decided to preach an appropriately forward-looking message on Matthew 6:34 and its context: "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself."

In those days, the evangelical world was at the peak of the Y2K insanity, so I made reference to that issue in my message. At the time, Gary North was operating a heavily-trafficked website that included this:

We've got a problem. It may be the biggest problem that the modern world has ever faced. I think it is. At 12 midnight on January 1, 2000 (a Saturday morning), most of the world's mainframe computers will either shut down or begin spewing out bad data. Most of the world's desktop computers will also start spewing out bad data. Tens of millions—possibly hundreds of millions—of pre-programmed computer chips will begin to shut down the systems they automatically control. This will create a nightmare for every area of life, in every region of the industrialized world.




North's Web site had links to more than 3,000 places where you could read similar doom-and-gloom predictions about the Y2K crisis. He grimly told visitors to his Web site that they had better heed these doomsday warnings, or they would certainly regret it.

Today, he admits, "I did not understand the Y2K thing in any sort of detail. I took someone elses [sic] word for it. . . ."

At the time, he was saying:

It took me from early 1992 until late 1996 to come to grips emotionally with the Year 2000 Problem. You had better be a lot faster on the uptake than I was. We're running out of time.

I don't mean that society is running out of time to fix this problem. Society has already run out of time for that. There are not enough programmers to fix it. The technical problems cannot be fixed on a system-wide basis. The Millennium Bug will hit in 2000, no matter what those in authority decide to do now. As a system, the world economy is now beyond the point of no return. So, when I say "we," I mean you and I as individuals. We are running out of time as individuals to evade the falling dominoes . . .. We are facing a breakdown of civilization if the power grid goes down.

(It frankly amused me that a postmillennialist like North, who had frequently derided premillennialists by referring to them as "pessimillennialists" would himself make a career of fear-mongering. But that is just what he has done. So much for the vaunted "optimism" of theonomic postmillennialism.)

In my message that morning a decade ago, I pointed out that the spirit of that kind of panic-mongering was 180 degrees at odds with a whole string of Jesus' commands in Matthew 6:25-33. I mostly just explained the biblical text.

I admit I wasn't prepared for the reaction I got that morning. There was a smallish group of people in the church who were fully into the Y2K hysteria, and they approached me in a phalanx as soon as the service was over. The guy who would have been their spokesman (if his wife hadn't kept interrupting him) was so angry he was red in the face and spitting when he talked. He said he was going to meet with the elders and demand equal time to tell the people of Grace Church they needed to start stockpiling food and preparing for the looming crisis. He likened me to me a holocaust denier.

I stood there and listened to them for ten minutes or so until they began to calm down a bit. I let them talk and did not interrupt, except to ask how they thought Matthew 6:25-34 applied to our society in 1999.

As the spokesdude began to lose some of his steam, he said, "Look: all I know is that if you're wrong, you are guilty of placing the people of our church in mortal jeopardy by not encouraging them to stockpile food and prepare Y2K bunkers. But if I'm wrong, the worst that will happen is that I will have to come back and apologize to you for losing my temper."

"Will you do that?" I asked.

"Of course I would—if it turns out I am wrong," he avowed. "But I am not wrong."

"I will look for you on the first Sunday of the year 2000," I promised.



He moved to a remote part of Idaho that fall because he wanted to be as far as possible from any urban area when all the computers started spewing bad data. One of the hard-core Y2K aficionados in the group actually left his wife when it came to light that she did not share his fear of the coming apocalypse. He likewise moved out of state.

Ten years after the fact, not one of that group of Y2K cadets has ever come back and formally acknowledged that they were wrong, much less apologized for the scene they made that morning.

Gary North is now selling doomsday advice for a monthly fee—"approximately the cost of one movie ticket, a large box of popcorn, and a large soft drink per month."

My advice: the popcorn is much healthier for you.

Even if you load it with butter.

Seriously.

Phil's signature

62 comments:

Gilbert said...

Phil,

I remember all the hysteria of the day. And you know what? Now it's "Global Warming".

You think God ever just rolls his eyes and shakes His head?

Ian Hall said...

"Ten years after the fact, not one of that group of Y2K cadets has ever come back and formally acknowledged that they were wrong, much less apologized for the scene they made that morning."

They never do.

We had a few crazies in N.Ireland who were spouting similar nonsense and sadly some good people were sucked into the folly. It seems this sort of scaremongering will always find a gullible audience.

Doug McMasters said...

Great post, Phil. Brought tears to my eyes.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

and of course none of that would have happened if people were using Apple computers ;-)

JOYce ♥ said...

Spendthrifts to the left of me ~ misers to the right...

stuck in the middle with Pyro folks not exploiting part b of a verse in Proverbs for filthy lucre.

GN and ilk hysteria revisited, indeed. :-)

Sam said...

Now we can start looking forward to the 2012 hysteria, (slapping my forehead with open palm) HOH-BOY!

JackW said...

Well yeah ... but just wait until Y10K!

Johnny Dialectic said...

A "red faced phalanx" is usually a sign that you're preaching something that needs to be heard. Well done, Phil.

And end times speculation has been a goldmine ever since Late, Great Planet Earth. Books and booklets get cranked out at a record pace, creating...new phalanxes of the ruddy cheeked.

bugblaster said...

I ignored y2k until Dec. 31, 1999, when I half-heartedly decided to check my server. I switched the date to Jan 1 2000 and rebooted it. It froze badly. It was then 6:00pm on New Year's Eve. I checked the internet, found and installed a patch, tested it, and went home to watch Space: 1999.

donsands said...

This was a nice post. And a good reminder.

".. stockpiling food and preparing for the looming crisis."

I remember seeing people buying generators like crazy at Home Depot.

I was concerned a bit. But I went to my bank, Suntrust, and asked if things were alright. They assured me it would be fine.

I remember reading in "The Prophetic Observer", a newsletter published each month by Southwest Radio Church Ministries, that my brother had sent to me, about Y2K. They were selling all sorts of food to stockpile. And they were big time on board with the "for sure" disaster to come.

I called and talked with one of the leaders of this ministry after it was all over, and asked if he was going to publicly apologize for all the false hype he caused, and for all the food they sold.
He was very dismissive and unconcerned really for the false articles they wrote.

He just said, "We could have been right."

What causes people to become so like that? Many reasons I suppose.
I guess I should thank the Lord I didn't go crazy like these people.

Fred Butler said...

Someone already mentioned this, but I am curious as to Gary North's take on 2012. Or is that an hysterical conspiracy for the Coast-to-Coast crazies?

trogdor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Everyday Mommy said...

I think the same sort of thing is gearing up to happen again, what with the economic climate and such. I'm bracing for all the "Christians" who will successfully "fleece the flock" using one tool...fear.

SolaMommy said...

Sam: Now we can start looking forward to the 2012 hysteria, (slapping my forehead with open palm) HOH-BOY!

Pretty much.

Solameanie said...

Allow me to make my typical music (actually lyrics this time) allusion in response to this post. This time, it comes from the Kinks

Frank Turk said...

Trogdor's comment was deleted by Skynet, via my user account.

he should blame himself because posting comments to the internet about Skynet is, frankly, a classic b-movie error.

Brad Williams said...

I must be living in a bunker already. What is 2012 hysteria?

DJP said...

YOU DIDN'T HEAR??? YOU DON'T ALREADY KNOW??? THEN IT'S PROBABLY ALREADY TOO LATE FOR YOU!!!

(These things always need caps and a lot of punctuation-marks.)

Fred Butler said...

Brad,
Just like the movie teaser suggests: Just google "2012."

You'll get a whole bunch of stuff.

Kurt said...

I am a computer programmer, and recall that the hysteria was pretty widespread, I was approached by friends and family on several occaisions for advice.

My take then - and I was right - the most likely scenario was a comedy of errors. A few glitches here and there, but the doom-and-gloom scenario wasn't accurate. I based this conclusion because I observed throughout 1999 as an insider how zealously the industry was preparing for the change.

I was also on call new year's eve, along with many others. Didn't get one call.

In fact, we spent a lot of time that year supplying Y2K hardended upgrades to our software. It was our most profitable year ever for that reason. We had customers interrupting their regular 3 year upgrade cycles to upgrade in 1999.

In retrospect, the hysteria did contribute to everyone being well prepared, so those doom-and-gloomers did contribute something after all.

The software industry crashed right after that - no surprise in retrospect - although nobody that I am aware of (including me) predicted that scenario.

I expect 2012 might be similar.

My conclusion: the only ones who need to stockpile are us programmers. :-)

jeff said...

I for one am a little concerned about this global warning thing. I know God is ultimately in control, but I do believe that the massive industrialization of civilization has spewed huge amounts of polution into the atmosphere and many scientists agree that it is having a very negative affect on the environment. I don't know but I am reluctant to just blow the whole thing off. I mean, what if they're right? It's a big price to pay. But, there's probably no stopping it anyway. I don't know.

Jugulum said...

Frank,

Fortunately, I copied the content of trogdor's comment to the "Favorite Quotations" in my facebook profile.

One shouldn't allow fine humor like that to disa{#`%${%&`+'${`%&NO CARRIER")

Carol Jean said...

2012 hysteria? Woo hoo! More retention bonuses for my computer programmer husband! Y2K was great for us : ) Bring it on!

Mesa Mike said...

> What is 2012 hysteria?

I'd like to know too.
Apparently, I'm not tuned in to culture enough to understand the reference.

Perhaps the fear that Sarah P. might run for Prez (and "steal" the election in the process)?

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

Carol:"2012 hysteria? Woo hoo! More retention bonuses for my computer programmer husband! Y2K was great for us : ) Bring it on!"

Unfortunately 2012 has more to do with crazy sun worshiping pagans than computer complications.

IPv6 looks like it will be the marketing ploy of the tech industry between 2010-2012 (like y2k) proclaiming the pending doom/demise of available ip addresses. Don't be surprised if you start to hear heads of tech companies demanding that everyone in the world must switch over to a new IPv6 compatible routers and buy a new IPv6 compliant computer/software before 2010 or the Internet is going to break.

like this:


http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2008/06/17/231096/internet-doomed-unless-everyone-switches-to-ipv6-expert.htm

quote:

"The internet is heading for a meltdown in just two and a half years unless every man, woman, child and device on the planet moves to IPv6, it was claimed today.

Speaking at the June OECD Ministerial Meeting in Seoul, Korea, Geoff Huston, chief scientist at APNIC, which is part of the Number Resource Organization, the group that manages internet addresses, has called for a significant acceleration of investment in the infrastructure vital for effective IPv6 adoption."

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

Last year around this time I was telling friends that 2008 (8/8/8) was going to be the economic equivalent of y2k for China. My reasoning was based that American y2k hysteria caused individuals buy computers and other computer related infrastructure items for a particular/single event (switching from 1999 to 2000). Just like Y2k which did not cause a computer meltdown, it instead caused a stock market meltdown since y2k assisted in creating a tech boom that could not be sustained (just like China over the last 5 years).

The Chinese Olympics was a similar event in which the Chinese over bought and over built their infrastructure for their Olympic Games on 8/8/8. All that infrastructure building created a similar artificial economic bubble that could not be sustained like the tech bubble of 1999/2000. The Chinese economic bubble of 8/8/8 was global in scale since most industrialized countries around the world sold components and commodities to China for that build-up. The Chinese (along with many others) even loaded up on American mortgage back securities during the Chinese modernization/infrastructure economic boom which assisted in keeping US mortgage rates artificially lower than they should of even after Greenspan kept raising the US Fed funds rate.

Bruce Mills said...

I expect unregenerate mankind to display such fretful gullibility, but it's always sad to hear about professing believers falling into such a pattern.

These days we keep hearing the same kinds of remarks about global warming and the world economy.

And when Christians choose to elevate human wisdom above the unchanging truth of God, they end up running into the same ditch as the rest of the world.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

There were real problems related to Y2k but they weren’t the ones everybody and the MSM were all worried about. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the problems most people worry about never happen because of the very fact that everybody is worrying about them. Because the majority of people are worrying about something in particular those inherently cowardly politicians and media elites will devote time and resources to trying to solve it.

It’s those things that no one is worrying about that become the real problems. Just imagine that you asked a 1000 people on September 10th 2001 what was a bigger concern, the decline of the Nasdaq or a terrorist attack on US soil. Obviously very few people worried about a terrorist attack on Sept 10th, but if you asked that same question on Sept 12th 2001 you would get a very different response.

Gordan said...

Anyone save the pre-Y2K copy of Ligoneir Ministries' "Table Talk" mag that was at least as scary as anything Gary North said?

There were smart, theologically savvy Christians who, having done their homework, thought y2k was worth getting ready for; and for their sakes I'd recommend toning down the "I can't believe how stupid some people are" thing.

Then, of course, there were the gullible idiots. Hey, but at least I haven't bought rice or beans in eight years! How many of you can say that, huh? Huh?!!!!

neur0n said...

Good thing the computers weren't all ZUNEs.

shadman said...

Good to read what you did, Phil. As an electrical engineer and a computer programmer, I thought the whole matter was absolutely stupid. Every Y2Ker got a dose of common sense from me, not that they took it. I made a few enemies, but, oh well. I still believe that Corporate Y2K spending caused the economic down turn before 9/11 and deepened it after. Every company had spent tons of money fixing a non-existent problem and didn't have any budget for equipment and system upgrades. And I loved the irony in the fact that North was a post-mil creating the classic pre-mil hysteria. If it hadn't ruined some many lives of Christians, I'd still be laughing about it at them all.

Chris said...

Gordon-

I remember the TableTalks you're talking about- I just read them a few months ago. I should take a look again.

I don't remember if they encouraged people to build bunkers filled with beans and rice, but they definitely took seriously the possibility of societal meltdown.

Chris said...

To my own shame, I was one of those gullible y2K idiots--not of the aggressive variety you describe here Phil, but rather a passive prisoner of what I saw as my inevitable, unstoppable peril; however, I was convinced it was all true by one of those red-faced aggressives. I remember lunch at his house so clearly, as it was only the second month into 1999 when my wife and I were invited over to our (former) friend's house for a time of food and fellowship on a pleasant Saturday afternoon when, out of the blue, my pal pulls me aside whilst our wives were chatting about something worthwhile and began to lay out the apocalyptic scenario in full detail! I was gripped with the fear he wanted me to have, and I felt as though I had no reason to second guess his ethos because this man was the most conservative person I had ever known at the time, and seemed like the kind of person who would never speak irresonsibly. Furthermore, he was a solid, reformed Baptist believer, albeit an amil in his eschatology. Thinking back on my sinful gullibility, and my prideful attempts to feel like less of an idiot, I try to remind myself that hysterics of the type my "wise" friend displayed were so far from his general demeanor that it had to be true. Thankfully, I never tried to persuade anyone else to hold to my view, but rather I ruined month after month awaiting the pending techno-doom in terrified silence. After y2k revealed itself as entirely benign, my friend moved on to other irrational topics and became obsessed with them. We haven't been in touch very often, but the last time we spoke, he was trying to sell me on his 9/11 conspiracy views, among other fictions, that I finally had to tell him--this man I viewed as a spiritual mentor at one time many years earlier--that he needed to fix his eyes back on Christ again and to stop thinking so horizontally and/or man-centered! It was pathetic and tragic. This really made me think that when professing believers in the church have a leaning towards this kind of paranoia, which is of course entirely sinful, they need to both repent of such sin and cut-off from their lives anything that might feed this particular sin, which involves a host of very common elements...like the news or blogs.

P.D. Nelson said...

I'd like to point out that as a non-theonomic postmillenniumist I looked with a jaundiced eye at the entire Y2K nonsense. Having degrees in electronics and software enable me to see beyond the hype.

So not all posties shared North's lack of vision.

Ian Hall said...

"So not all posties shared North's lack of vision."

Oh I think they do when it comes to interpreting Rev.20

Live As If said...

The same History channel that tries so diligently to explain away prophecy in Ezekiel as "aliens & ufo's" last night informed me that December 21, 2012, is the END OF THE WORLD!!!!! (paying homage to DJP's caps & punctuation marks).

What's easier to believe: that the God of the universe spoke, and speaks today, or that Ezekiel saw little green men with big eyes?

Heh ...

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

Here's one of my favorite Charles Spurgeon quotes on anxiety:

"Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength."

Postmillennial_Calvinist said...

When I think of Postmill Theology, I normally think of John Calvin, the Puritans, Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, Greg Bahnsen, Kenneth Gentry, Gary Demar etc. Fear mongering in the ranks of postmillennialism? I mean no one in postmill theology expects a dry run of things, but this sounded like it could have came out of Hal Lindsey!
Even in tough times it is hardly given for Christians to panic. Our duty is to proclaim Christ and him crucified! Sounds like someone attempted to charge the enemy alone while his soldiers decided to take a detour to the bunker.
How exactly does someone derive the Y2K bug from the Bible? (About the same way that they derive the “secret codes of revelation” or the “Alien Message”. 00
Futurism hasn’t really ever been regarded as an option of postmillennial belief. Historicism, Preterism and Idealism are more in tune with Postmill beliefs.
This futurist variant of postmillennialism sounds bizarre quite frankly (course, maybe that’s the norm for a Preterist Postmill like myself :D ).

We are optimistic in Postmill, but that hardly means an easy run by any means (or a perfect one). (c:)

Global Warming is (as pointed out) essentially Secular fearmogering (some evagelicals take that stuff seriously and have it at their top social agenda above abortion banning etc.)

Jon said...

Jeff said, "I for one am a little concerned about this global warning thing."

Don't be too concerned Jeff. I'm trying to remember the sermon where John MacArthur made a statement about global warming and how it really didn't concern him, as God is Sovereign and what happens is what he wills. That's not to say we dump nuclear waste in our backyards, but so much of the "Global Warming" talk that we see in the media and movies (*cough* Inconvenient Truth *cough*) is pure propaganda for people to spread their fear-mongering and make some money (*cough* Al Gore *cough*).

I highly recommend this DVD from Answers In Genesis on global warming. It presents a more balanced look at the data that we currently have from a biblical worldview.

On a funnier note, I still remember the funniest commercial I saw that made fun of the Y2K bug was from ESPN. Watch it!

Ebeth said...

It seems to me that the Lord used that message to help me stop worrying and hoarding, because He would continue to meet my needs day by day as He always had. It freed me from a fear I hadn't realized I had.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

Here’s my take on global warming:

Let's just say that solar activity (or the lack of it) has a greater influence on the Earth's surface temperature than many want to acknowledge. The fact the earth has 2 large holes in its magnetosphere allows more radiation into the atmosphere which could increase global temperatures during those cycles in which the sun is unleashing more radiation. While the sun is going through a very calm period right now that could be contributing to a global cooling period, but as the sun cycles and enters a period of more violent solar storms more of that radiation can enter the atmosphere and increase surface temperatures.

quote from:
http://www.investors.com/editorial/editorialcontent.asp?secid=1501&status=article&id=315533893763712

2008 has been a year of records for cold and snowfall and may indeed be the coldest year of the 21st century thus far. In the U.S., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month of October.

Global thermometers stopped rising after 1998, and have plummeted in the last two years by more than 0.5 degrees Celsius. The 2007-2008 temperature drop was not predicted by global climate models. But it was predictable by a decline in sunspot activity since 2000.

When the sun is active, it's not uncommon to see sunspot numbers of 100 or more in a single month. Every 11 years, activity slows, and numbers briefly drop near zero. Normally sunspots return very quickly, as a new cycle begins. But this year, the start of a new cycle, the sun has been eerily quiet.

The first seven months averaged a sunspot count of only three and in August there were no sunspots at all — zero — something that has not occurred since 1913.

According to the publication Daily Tech, in the past 1,000 years, three previous such events — what are called the Dalton, Maunder and Sporer Minimums — have all led to rapid cooling. One was large enough to be called the Little Ice Age (1500-1750)."


Quote from:

http://www.livescience.com/space/081216-agu-solar-storm-shield-break.html

“Scientists have found two large leaks in Earth's magnetosphere, the region around our planet that shields us from severe solar storms.

The leaks are defying many of scientists' previous ideas on how the interaction between Earth's magnetosphere and solar wind occurs: The leaks are in an unexpected location, let in solar particles in faster than expected and the whole interaction works in a manner that is completely the opposite of what scientists had thought.

The findings have implications for how solar storms affect the our planet. Serious storms, which involved charged particles spewing from the sun, can disable satellites and even disrupt power grids on Earth.

The new observations "overturn the way that we understand how the sun's magnetic field interacts with the Earth's magnetic field," said David Sibeck of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., during a press conference today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.”

CR said...

PJ wrote: (It frankly amused me that a postmillennialist like North, who had frequently derided premillennialists by referring to them as "pessimillennialists" would himself make a career of fear-mongering.

I LOL on a lot of things on this post. "premillennialists as pessimillennialists" (now that was cold).

Steve Scott said...

Sam:
"Now we can start looking forward to the 2012 hysteria..."

You mean the end of the Mayan calendar?

But we'll never get to 2012 because Harold Camping's 666th prediction is for 2011.

tallskinnykiwi said...

i remember two Christian books that came out to cash in on the anxiety and hysteria. crazy!

One Salient Oversight said...

There are notable differences between the y2k phenomena and the issue of global warming:

1) y2k had a specific date, a before and after event. Global Warming does not have a similar event - it just changes slowly.

2) y2k was seen as a serious issue by tech corporations all over the world and efforts were made to make computers "y2k compliant". Was there any real threat or was the threat averted by the years of compliance put in by technicians? Global Warming, by contrast, has seen little in the way of mitigation.

3) y2k did spawn a "doomer movement" based upon serious concerns about the event. Similarly, global warming has "doomers" as well but not all people who believe in global warming are "doomers".

4) y2k was a problem that was highlighted by the tech industry and then solved by the tech industry. No one complained. Global Warming is a problem highlighted by the scientific community (specifically the area of climate science) but can only be solved by the world community as a whole - and lots of people complain about it.

5) y2k "doomers' predicted the end of the world. Global Warming believers know that the world will survive - though a lot of people will still die.

Cindy said...

I sure hope I am not living on this earth when cheap oil runs out and when Social Security and Medicare run out of funds. I am lucky if I make even 20,000 a year. WOW.


Back in the 50's, everyone laughed at M.K. Hubbert who predicted U.S. peak oil in the 70's and global peak oil in 2000. He turned out to be right on the money and the only reason gas prices went down is because of a global recession, reducing global demand.

Apocalypse, maybe but paying 10.00 a gallon for gas and having no retirement funds (if we have not been raptured yet), we sure feel like an apocalypse to me.

greglong said...

The only global warming we should concern ourselves with is detailed in 2 Peter 3:10-13.

Rick Frueh said...

In a real and tangible sense, worldwide calamity may be a divine conduit for the gospel. But of course only God knows, which is the title of my soon coming book to help us cope with that calamity.

$100 seed faith gift and it's yours. I know, what kind of fruit can that seed produce in a worldwide financial collapse?

Less boils.

Mark B. Hanson said...

A few cents' worth on Y2K:

1. I am a software geek, and I remember the trouble I had working through potential Y2K problems in my main software in 1996 (we were ahead of the curve). I still think that the "hysteria" caused most companies (including my own) to take the problem more seriously.

2. I took the Y2K problem seriously enough myself to lay in a few days' food and bucks. No gold, no MREs, just a well-stocked pantry and a few hundred bucks in the drawer.

Most of the extra food went to the homeless shelter in early '00.

3. We and a couple of other Christian families in our neighborhood planned for this together - not just to survive ourselves, but to have some food on hand for our neighbors as well. We saw it as an opportunity to serve our neighbors and evangelize.

4. One problem with believing you have a clear view of the future - you are tempted to see everything that happens as bringing that future to pass, and the hazard is that you will try to work to accelerate it. This was the Communists' problem (since they thought revolution was inevitable, why not hurry it along? And what do we do to those who resist the inevitable?)

This was also Gary North's problem (yes, I had all his tapes). Since he believed as a postmillenialist that the church would one day rule the world, he looked upon this as God's timing to accelerate the process. His ill-fated effort happened because he thought he "knew the times", and wanted to position the church for hastening the day when they would triumph.

Of course, many premillenialists think they know the future blueprint pretty well, too. In some, it causes them to work harder for the kingdom (evangelism, reaching the unreached nations, etc.) to hasten Jesus' coming.

For others, their perception of the imminence of the rapture keeps them from doing anything useful (as J. Vernon McGee said, "You don't polish the brass on a sinking ship.") As a child of the Hal Lindsey generation, I saw that firsthand among many of my saved friends.
___

OK, 8 cents' worth.

By the way, I formally admit that I was wrong about Y2K.

Doug Hibbard said...

I remember those days...I had gotten involved with a church that was more 'faith'-based than Word-based. And we had a big ol' New Year's Eve gathering, so that, if the worst happened, and we were in the dark, we'd all be together, and if Jesus came back, we'd all be in church! (and yes, the church had made sure people brought generators. Would not be surprised to know that everybody had firearms in the car.)

And then, nothing happened. Which disappointed many more people than it should have. So, now, I'm back (and have been for some time) to sticking with churches that hold the preaching to the standard of the Word, instead of letting the preacher roam off it. And now, even with the coming doom of mass hysteria about *****(fill in the blanks) I don't have the stress, because I have the Word. Much better life.

On a side note, some friends are still paying off all the debt they ran up in 1999 when they thought the banking system would lock up. One guy was convinced that Visa would think he hadn't bought his stuff yet, and the bill wouldn't be due for 99 years. Another was just certain the whole thing would lock up, and the monetary system would collapse.

Ah well, maybe next time....

CR said...

How do we know that Mayan calendar writers didn't just get tired and say, "You know what, forget this noise, I'm done with this.

Stefan said...

Yeah, CR. One just said to the other: "C'mon, dude, 2012 is far enough! That's, like, waaay in the future. Call it a day."

Scottj said...

As a daycare administrator I was required by the City of Hamilton (Ontario) to come up with a "Y2K Plan" and submit it for approval. So, what would we do if all utilities and communications were shut down because of YTK, and we could not access computer records?

My answer: Nothing. There wouldn't be much to do, would there?

It wasn't approved, but by the time they got around to telling me that we were well into January 2000.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

Another interesting unintentional issue the came from the Y2k hysteria was the US Federal Reserve (Alan Greenspan and co.) were concern there could be a huge amount of people hoarding cash, fearing that credit cards and electronic financial transactions would cease to function. In order to compensate for cash hoarding during 1999 the Federal Reserve ended up increasing the money supply which flooded the US economy with additional cash and all that easy money was just one additional factor that assisted in creating the big economic boom in the late 1990's.

Stefan said...

NNUTS: That's interesting. Releasing (then removing?) extra money into the economy would definitely have the dual effect of (a) free spending and (b) a crash.

All: Hmmm...all that hype about 2012. After reading up on it, it seems that the Mayan calendar doesn't even end that year: it's just the beginning of a new 394.25-year-long "b'ak'tun" in the calendrical era. So some new agers are all agog not about the end of the world, but about humanity's entering into some new phase of consciousness, a la the "age of Aquarius."

Not that that will stop 4 years of marketing-driven hype....

Let us, on the other hand, stand alone on the sure and sturdy Word of God.

Mesa Mike said...

So, 2012 is when the Mayan calendar rolls over. Not to worry, unless you're superstitious about such things. Modern computer systems certainly won't care (or even notice) that the Mayan calendar system has reached the end of its cycle.

I'd be more worried about the Y2K38 (03:14:07 UTC on Tuesday, 19 January 2038) bug, which is when computer time (number of seconds since 00:00:00 January 1, 1970) overflows, though that is already being worked on by doubling the space to store the time, putting off the problem for another 290 billion years.

Jane said...

I think it's important to make the distinction between believing, whether on a sound basis or not, that something catastrophic is going to happen and you should prepare for it, and panicking. One is possibly wrong on the facts (and since when does God require us to be experts on how computers work?) but not necessarily faithless; the other is faithless.

After all, if someone had run around in 1345 yelling that we'd better get cracking on killing the rats QUICK, he wouldn't have been faithless, he'd have been RIGHT. Two years later, a rat-related disaster occurred that made Y2K predictions seem like a picnic. Disasters do happen under the Providence of God.

It's just that we're not allowed to forget that He's God before, during, and after the time they do, or might, happen. And probably more to the point of this post, we shouldn't allow our sinful tendency to fear and panic make us more susceptible to believing that disaster is looming, when it's not.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

My take on the whole Mayan 2012 thing is that it will not lead to the end of the world. There will likely be some unintended consequences as a result that most aren't thinking about or planning for.

A Jam C said...

Wow, this story is one of the saddest stories that I have ever read.

Rita Martinez said...

to be honet I was more worried about what would happen to my computer, with all my files and pictures and illegally downloaded music, than whatever else people were saying was going to happen. Then again I wasn't a Christian back then.

Baloney Detector said...

Wow!

Nice hatchet job!

Everybody seems to forget that an army of programmers was hired and billions of dollars were spent by both the private and public sector to ensure that Y2K didn't happen. As someone who has dabbled in programming, I can assure you that before a lot of the fixes were made we were able to create some dandy program and network failures by setting system clocks to 11:59 PM Dec. 31, 1999 and waiting a minute. About the only one than didn't pan out was the "9999" failure for Fortran programs on 9/9/99. And I did read some reports that some programmers were able to make that one happen in artificial condition settings. As pointed out by another poster, there's another computer glitch that could play havoc with computer systems due to the time overflow. It'll be prevented just like the Y2K disaster was averted.

So blaming North for not realizing, or better yet predicting, that government and industry was managing to dodge a bullet by hiring thousands of programmers to go through and patch billions of lines of code is pretty convenient 9 years ex post facto when much has gone down into the memory hole (yes, I used an Orwell allusion purposefully). It does make for a dandy straw man though in giving a convenient cleat to tie him together with the lunatic fringe who actually destroyed their families in order to "save them" I suppose. North never suggested anything close to this extreme, despite your implication to that effect. He urged preparedness and caution, not anarchy.

By the way, my wife was a professional COBOL programmer for a state supreme court administrators office at the time and we put in several gallons of drinking water and lots of canned goods based on what we knew about the problem, all of which were consumed after the period passed. Are my wife and I now officially "duped zealots?"

You'd think that Gary North had pulled a Hal Lindsey or a Jack Van Impe style pre-millenial date setting stunt with his AIDS predictions, an area in which he admittedly has little expertise and didn't take into account western medicine's ability to screen out the main cause of AIDS infection of heterosexuals leading to a case explosion; contaminated blood and transplant organs. If you want to see his AIDS predictions coming true then look at Africa (and some say China) where no such stringent safeguards are in place.

Funny, isn't it? You chastise those who were wrong about Y2K and yet nothing is said about avoiding popular pre-millenial cheerleaders like, for instance, Hal Lindsey (deadline dates for Christ's return...so far that is...1980, 1988, 2000, 2007...) But, of course no one can match the record of pre-millenials date setters for being so consistently wrong. Except maybe modern Keynsian economists.

North has been, in fact, quite correct in the area of economics, the exact area that you have warned people to avoid him. Had investors listened to North just a couple of years after the Y2K bubble failed to burst they would have known that a serious stock market bubble was about to burst and that the real-estate market bubble would also burst and that they should find safe harbors for their investments. Most (including me) didn't and lost huge portions, if not all, of their 401K and other investments that have never recovered and even gotten worse. That is because North is an Austrian school economist who views economics through a biblical lens (unlike many of the Austrian schoolers). The Austrians have been consistently correct in their economic predictions of boom and bust cycles. Keynsians have been consistently wrong. That's because Austrians are hard money,fiscal responsibility, free market, no deficit spending in public and private sectors advocates. Just like the Bible!

So who exactly would you have Christians consult for financial advice? Gary North, who has been consistently right on economics questions or that nice Christian broker on the radio who was advising people to invest in "Freddy Mac" and "Fanny Mae" long after Austrians like North had warned that these were dangerously unstable Ponzi schemes, ripe for collapse?

Phil Johnson said...

Baloney: "Funny, isn't it? You chastise those who were wrong about Y2K and yet nothing is said about avoiding popular pre-millenial cheerleaders like, for instance, Hal Lindsey"

Well, I don't know why it's "funny" that I didn't make a list of every eschatalogical wacko and name them all. This post wasn't about anything reeant to Hal Lindsey. I'll certainly grant that the premillennialists seem to have more than their fair share of crackpots and heretics.

But mark it down: I think everyone is to be avoided who makes a career out of either milking controversies or making predictions about apocalyptic timelines. That goes for premillennialists like Hal Lindsey, amillennialists like Harold Camping, and postmillennialists like Gary Demar. They're all roughly in the same category in my thinking.

How's that?

I think I've said that before, but since you evidently created an anonymous persona to leave this one comment, I won't speculate or whether you ought to have known that or not.