The earthquake in Japan continues to evoke moralistic and scaremongering commentary from various religious figures. In South Korea, David Yonggi-Cho (a member of the international neo-Pentecostal “A-list”) has used to opportunity to note Japan’s “idol worship, atheism, and materialism”, while Glenn Beck’s “End-Times Prophet” Joel Richardson has knocked off a pseudo-geological screed for WorldNetDaily in which he tells us about “astounding statistics that were brought to my attention last year by my friend, Pastor Cecil Boswell, from Nashville, Tenn.” These statistics supposedly prove that earthquakes are increasing in frequency as we approach the last days – a popular standby of doom-mongers, but not actually true.
The most blatantly irresponsible fearmongering, though, has come from Rick Joyner, a big-name evangelist who has links with Gen. Jerry Boykin and various neo-Pentecostal leaders (Hat tip: Sarah Posner). Joyner warns that the earthquake in Japan presages the collapse of America and a bigger earthquake on the west coast of the USA:
…It’s all unfolding right now… Now, one of the scenarios or the scenario that we saw was America would swing to the left. There would be an economic collapse. Anarchy, terrible, terrible, anarchy for a period of time, for a short period of time, like less than two months, and then swing way to the right, and the worst kind of tyranny would take over…. People would want any kind of order rather than the chaos and disorder and all that had happened because of the economic collapse.…
Another factor here I want to bring up right now, I think Bob started prophesising, Bob Jones, I first heard him say it 22 years ago – 22 is 11-11, I’ve talked about that – was that the real beginning of some things would start with a major earthquake in Japan. A lot of other details… part of that revelation too was an atomic mushroom cloud, I don’t know what’s going on with those reactors over there, but you know things are unfolding right now, they really are. Some other prophetic voices that I think have a good track record, even in the last year or so, have started saying that something was going to happen in Japan that would cause them to call in their bonds, their American debt, the debt you know, that they had purchased so much of American debt. They were going to need it for rebuilding Japan, and that would cause the collapse here…
…The next two years are going to be the most critical I think in our history… Another thing Bob saw, several of us saw the same earthquake happen in California that was a warning shot across the bow of California. The very details that we saw happened in the last major earthquake…and many of us had seen a much bigger one coming to the West coast, California. But it would not come – Bob had this part – it would not come until the Japanese earthquake…. I believe our whole northwest… It’s inevitable.
Bob Jones was one of the “Kansas City Prophets” (he is not to be confused with Bob Jones of Bob Jones University fame), and both he and Joyner have perennially predicted earthquakes; here’s Joyner in 1998:
Bob Jones and Jim Bakker both feel that the things we mentioned in the tape are very imminent, and I concur that the emphasis of the Spirit seems to have changed from warning that unless we repent these things will happen, to prepare for them, they are coming. However, I do not know of anyone who has been given a sure timing, and I personally feel that we may have several more years, which is a short time! Regardless of how much time we may have, we do not have any time to waste.
Do we think that it is time for believers to move out of Southern California? Bob Jones has warned some people that it is time to leave Southern California. I have told people to seek the Lord and leave only if He directs them to. However, I have been told that the time is soon coming when I will have to begin telling people that they should only stay if they hear from the Lord to stay.
…First, there are many cities and regions that are about to experience God’s judgements. However, I do not believe that the judgement coming to the Los Angeles area has as much to do with the degree of evil as it does the ability to project it and send it around the world. No other city in our time has caused more people to stumble than Los Angeles, mostly for what has come out of Hollywood. This will not continue much longer, either because of repentance, or because of destruction.
No mention of Japan there. Joyner expounded on the numerological significance of the number 11 at the start of this year, spurred on by the date of 1 Jan 2011:
The question I may be asked more than any other is what 11-11 means. Whether seeing it repeatedly on their clocks or in other ways, many people have been receiving this for years. New Year’s Day was 1/1/11 or 1-1-11. This usually speaks of a second chance, which is the message ofI saiah 11:11 because it is here that God promises to restore Israel to their land a second time.
How this relates to earthquakes remains mysterious.
Joyner’s new sermon also has a bizarre discussion of his association with Eugene K. Bird (Gene Bird), a former commandant of Spandau prison who later became a businessman in Berlin. In the 1960s, Bird had used his position to interview Rudolf Hess and to write a book about him, in contravention to military regulations. Joyner apparently later became friends with Bird, and this is relevant because “the same demonic evil principalities that had overtaken Germany” are “going to attempt to take over the United States” following the Japan earthquake and coming economic collapse.
Bird, Joyner explains, originally hated Germans, until he saw the devastation caused by Soviet soldiers in Berlin. Stalin had made an order:
…the army that gets to the Reichstag first, plants the Soviet flag on the Reichstag, would be given the reward of three days to do anything they wanted to the German people who are left. Anything. Torture them, kill them, rape them. Whatever they wanted to do… The Russian soldiers were just turned loose on the population.
Stalin and his commanders condoned or even justified rape, not only against Germans but also their allies in Hungary, Romania and Croatia. When the Yugoslav Communist Milovan Djilas protested to Stalin, the dictator exploded: “Can’t he understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometres through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle?”
However, Beevor’s book makes no mention of a special three-day dispensation given to whichever army group got to the Reichstag first.
Back to Joyner:
Bird was also instrumental in helping to lead von Schirach, who was the head of the Hitler youth, Albert Speer, who was supposedly the greatest architect and engineer – they said his genius prolonged the war up to two years – and Rudolf Hess all met the Lord. We’re going to know them in heaven. I mean, if that isn’t redemption, if that isn’t restoration……He was almost universally recognised as possibly the top authority on Nazi Germany.
…He introduced me to some of the famous old Nazis. Even the colonel, if you saw the movie, when Hitler and Eva Braun killed themselves, how the one-armed colonel went in, picked up the pistol they’d shot themselves with, and had their bodies burned. That colonel was still alive until a few years ago, still had the gun Hitler killed himself with. And, we were out there at Hitler’s bunker one time. Here’s the guy who had them buried – and, their bodies burned and then buried. And then, unfortunately, typical of Nazis, then they killed the ones that did that, who buried them, so nobody would know, and he said the Russians never found their bodies… He showed us where they were buried. If you knew, it is one of the most remarkable stories. I’m not going to say here because this programme goes everywhere, but I know where they’re buried.
Gitta Sereny’s famous biography of Speer, Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth, has a couple of fleeting references to Bird. He told her:
When I assumed my duties, it was easy enough to manage Schirach — I never trusted him, but he was agreeable enough; his English was better than mine. Hess was really difficult to talk to: ‘How are you?’ ‘Bad.’ ‘The weather?’ ‘Bad’…
However, there are no stories of the three Nazis being “led to the Lord” by Bird or by anyone else. And the notion that those who disposed of Hitler’s body were killed in turn is also nonsense: the key witnesses (such as Otto Guensche, Heinz Linge, Johan Rattenhuber, Hans Baur, and Harry Mengershausen) were still alive years after the war’s end.
The Times gave a bit of background to Bird’s book, The Loneliest Man in the World, last year:
The veteran Australian reporter Desmond Zwar has revealed how he helped to extract information from the Nazi while he was locked up alone in Spandau prison, West Berlin…
“I wrote out the questions for Hess, gave them to the US prison commandant Eugene Bird,” Mr Zwar says. “Bird would record Hess’s answers, I would have the tapes transcribed and translated, write them up and send the text back to him via Colonel Bird. Hess would then hide the paper in his underwear and read them in the prison garden.”
The resulting manuscript became a book under the name of Colonel Bird and it unleashed a furious response from the Western allies and from Moscow. Mr Zwar’s role in writing the book was quickly evident and US agents were sent to his house in Australia. Special Branch was dispatched to his London agent, George Greenfield.
According to Greenfield’s 1995 memoir, A Smattering of Monsters, Bird had a German wife and was fluent in the language. Greenfield describes him as “dark-haired, plump-faced, with a soft Sothern accent – a strange mixture of shrewdness and gullibility”. Perhaps that gullibility came to the fore when a neo-Pentecostal evangelist from California came knocking.
Joyner has used Bird’s name before; in 2009 he warned with thudding inevitability that
Bird often explained how the evil spirit of death that took over Germany gained entry through its health care system. Now it is easy to see what he was talking about in what is being proposed by the Obama Administration.
Bird also introduced Joyner to a chivalric group:
I saw many parallels in the history of the Knights of Malta, who are also called the Order of St. John (OSJ), with what I had been shown prophetically in the vision I was given about the coming harvest and the struggle that much of the world was about to face.
…I began telling Col. Bird about my recent study of the interesting history of the Knights of Malta. To my surprise Col. Bird told me that he had recently been knighted by this Order, and that I too had been recommended for investiture by an Austrian baron. He also told me about a spiritual renewal that was taking place in the OSJ, and that some of this had come about because of my books which were being read by the knights.
About a week later I was standing in a Nuremberg hotel lobby with some friends, when one of them announced the entry of the Austrian baron who Col. Bird had just told me about. As this man approached, I asked Bobby Conner to tell me if he saw anything prophetic about this man. Bobby began to share with him a vision that he had just seen of a strange briefcase, and that he had just visited the office of Kurt Waldheim. The baron was astonished because he had just had a briefcase custom made like the one Bobby described for Kurt Waldheim, and had just come from giving it to him in his office (Kurt Waldheim was at that time the President of Austria, but Bobby did not know who he was). The Austrian baron was already a believer in the prophetic, but he said that he had not seen anything on quite this level. This began a series of events that made Kurt Waldheim a believer as well. This was important for a significant prophetic/diplomatic meeting with one of the most powerful Arab leaders in the Middle East which would take place at a later date. This was when I first realized how some of the knights of the OSJ were being used for amazing spiritual-diplomatic achievements that were in the interest of the kingdom of God. A number of very influential world leaders were presented straightforwardly with the gospel, as well as given important prophetic information which came to pass.
So, Kurt Waldheim became a neo-Pentecostal, too!
Bird’s obituary can be seen here; it tells us that
After leaving the U.S. army, Bird remained in Berlin, living in the city’s outlying Zehlendorf district and operating a family business. He leaves behind a widow and two daughters.
Alas, however, it seems that there is some confusion over which group Joyner joined; Charisma reported in 2001 (now reposted elsewhere):
Joyner has even written a book about the Knights of Malta, Courage That Changed the World, which features a photograph of the robed “grand master” of the order. In the book, Joyner compares the Knights to end-time Christians who will overcome the world’s evils through faith in Christ.
What Joyner didn’t realize when he wrote his book is that the group he joined has “no connection whatsoever with any legitimate order of chivalry of that name,” according to Guy Stair Sainty, historiographer of the priory in the United States of the Most Venerable Order of St. John.
In a letter of response to an inquiry about Joyner’s group, Sainty said the order Joyner has joined is not the original Knights of Malta but “one of more than 20 similar bodies which misuse the name of St. John [to distribute] invented titles…and worthless knighthoods.” Sainty added that individuals who join the legitimate Knights of Malta group must be Roman Catholic and have a bishop’s recommendation.
Of course, that’s just Sainty’s perspective; the group of which Joyner is a member calls itself “the Ecumenical Order” and states that
although the Knights, like the Christian Church, are split into many Orders, our Order is true to the original tradition.
Joyner is described as a “Deputy Member of the Supreme Council”, while Jerry Boykin is the “Grand Chancellor”. The “Prince Grand Master” is Nicholas F.S. Papanicolaou, who is also a board member of Rick Joyner’s “Oak Initiative”. According to Papanicolaou’s blurb there:
…He was vice president of the Onassis Organization in New York in 1973-1975, and then joined his family business interests in shipping and other investments. In 1983 he became controlling shareholder and co-Chairman of Aston Martin Lagonda in the United Kingdom, maker of the famous Aston Martin and Lagonda motor cars…
He is also a co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”. The WPF brings together each year on the island of Rhodes, Greece some 700 important officials and representatives from more than sixty countries for four days of open and frank deliberations on cross-religious and cross-cultural issues.
I blogged on the “Dialogue of Civilizations”, noting Papanicolaou’s involvment, in 2006. It seems incongruous that someone interested in “cross-religious” issues would hook up with the likes of Joyner and Boykin; an Oak Initiative branch in Texas recently invited Boykin to talk about “The Islamization of America”, and the Initiative’s leadership is mostly made up of the dominionist Christian Right. According to the Order’s website, at one time Joyner brought Papanicolaou onto “a special program on God TV”.
I blogged on the world of chivalric orders here.
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