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"Our Answer is God. God's answer is us. Through partnership we make our world better."
- Dorian Scott Cole

Teaching/Sermon Article

Modern Prophecy

What does modern prophecy mean?

Copyright © 2009 Dorian S. Cole


Modern prophecy, or oracles and signs and omens, are endlessly fascinating. Modern psychics seem to have very good accuracy. What are we to make of these signs that people are pointing to telling us that the world is going to end December 21, 2012? Are the signs real, and are there other signs that are more important?

  • Today's prophets
  • Stars and calendars as prophets
  • Understanding the intent of modern prophecy
  • New age and change: The drivers of social change
  • How do you and I interpret signs and prophecy?

Today's prophets

Prophecy abounds, but is there any truth in it? There have been prophets in the mold of Biblical prophets, such as the Sisters of Fatima, who saw visions. There have been oracles who were very religious, such Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and Native American mystics (midewiwin). Various civilizations have created devices such as calendars (Mayan calendar), astrology, and the Chinese astrological calendar, which are predictive about eras and epochs, and even daily life. Should we take these calendars seriously?

Others look at the stars for other types of alignments, such as alignment with the center of the universe and the alignment of planets. Some look for confirming predictions in the codes in the Bible (Bible Code), or the Chinese I Ching. Even individuals with no predisposition toward being a prophet or oracle have given us visions of our individual end time: The afterlife. What can we make of all of this?

It depends on what the intent was. With prophets' messages and the oracles of prophets, we know the intent: To warn about moral misconduct and get people to change, to give hope, and to confirm the power and reality of God. Each prophecy of the Sisters of Fatima was a vision of Mary, mother of Jesus. The first prophecy of the Sisters of Fatima was one of hope about the end of WWI. The second was a prediction about the coming of WWII. The third was about preventing the rise of the Soviet Union and an era of wickedness and violence, which the Church failed to do in time, and then the spiritual mechanism of its subsequent return to the fold. Each of these prophecies came true.

There was no real help given through the predictions in the Sisters' prophecies. In fact, the Vatican failed to act on the third prophecy. The value was in giving hope and confirming God. The Bible Code acts in the same way. There is very little predictive value to the code as it can be interpreted in many ways. But after the event has occurred, the reality of the code stands out. After the event, we can see that the message was there all the time, if we only could have seen it, and now that the event has happened we see the code and we can appreciate the validity of it. God knew about this and is at the helm of our ultimate destiny.

Stars and calendars as prophets

The ancient Mayans had extensive knowledge of the cosmos from close observation. Actually civilizations before them created the basis of the calendar, and the Mayans refined it. Their calendar began, some say, with the beginning of time, which for them was the alignment of the earth with the center of the galaxy. The calendar shows a very complex cycle during which things are thought to recur. Some believe that the calendar also marks the end of time as a major cycle ends, but others see that "December 21, 2012 is simply the first day of the 13th b'ak'tun." (

December 21, 2012 has transfixed people as a date when the world might end. Many disparate facts from many disparate sources have been compiled into a body of literature that supports this idea. New Age proponents have been hailing the birth of a new age, Aquarius, for many years. Is it to end so soon?

Astrologers wonder. While today we mostly live inside and only look at pictures of the heavens from NASA, ancient humanity looked to the stars for measurement of time, intrigue, and guidance. People have believed that the alignment of stars has been an omen of things to come. The ancient Iraqis built ziggurats, which we believe were religiously oriented observatories.

The Mayans and earlier civilizations based their calendars on cosmological observances. Even the "Wise men" of the East and the shepherds looked to a bright star to find the new baby Jesus. Is there wisdom and destiny in the stars? Science has looked at astrology and can find no consistent evidence of any meaning in it, except to say that scientists and doctors are more frequently born under Saturn. Astrology is simply very vague and you can see anything in it that you want to see.

Understanding the intent of modern prophecy

I was raised a Methodist with very conservative roots (fire and brimstone), but became interested in prophecy in the early 1960s when I read about Edgar Cayce, who was simply amazing in his accuracy. Cayce clearly foresaw the stock market crash and World Wars I and II, and left us with a tremendously large and accurate picture of many things, such as medical procedures, that at that time there was no knowledge of. I was on a new age binge until I ran into Hal Lindsey's books. In the late 1970s Hal Lindsey started his series of gloom and doom for this earth, beginning with The Late Great Planet Earth. I got rid of my Cayce books.

Within a few years I realized that the gloom and doom fatalistic interpretation of prophecy by Hal Lindsey was not theologically consistent with the God we know and who is reflected in the Bible and the teachings of Christ. The preoccupation with Armageddon led people to consider the world a lost place and to withdraw from it and from helping others. As Christians we were supposed to be reaching a hand out to the world, not shunning it. I began researching and writing the antithesis to Lindsey's premise in 1980, but of course good news is not as attention grabbing as predictions of wickedness and destruction. Anyway, the exercise was good for me.

My open-mindedness, my spiritual journey, helped me understand two things. Some of us are mired in tradition and blinded by it. Most of us see what we want to see and ignore what doesn't seem to fit. The polarization prevalent in our world today is dramatic evidence of how people see what they want to see and turn away from any evidence to the contrary. I also know that this stubborn approach to life is somewhat necessary in a changing world that provides few moorings. But faith is not based on fact, but on belief and experience.

I appreciated Charles Osgood's poetic observation about faith recently on the CBS program Sunday Morning. In my less eloquent language, he said that there are many things we can't see, such as love and faith, but that doesn't make them any less real. I want to pay tribute to his observation. I will add that we can't see the wind, magnetic lines of force, electricity, gravity, atoms, germs (without a microscope), and hope, but we can see the effects of these invisible things in our lives, and the effects are usually profound. The effects of faith, hope, and love are perhaps the most profound of any invisible force.

In my spiritual journey I was slowly moved toward understanding the intent and context of the literature, and more recently wrote The Ontology of God, which is about the nature of God as seen through history, and His intent using law, mercy, and love in our lives. We have to look at the nature of things and their intent to fully understand and appreciate them.

What is the intent of these foretelling things we are so preoccupied with? Edgar Cayce's intent was simply to help others. He wasn't on a mission, except to help. His theological leaning was that we are on a journey of spiritual awakening and improvement, and reconciliation with God. He was asked questions as he went into the trance and he answered them. When he awoke from his trance state, he had no recollection at all of what he had spoken. There was no agenda. He was an oracle answering questions.

Was the intent of the Mayan calendar to predict the end of the world? Probably not. The intent appears to be to predict recurring cycles. When one cycle ends, another simply begins.

What about the alignment of our planets with the center of the galaxy? It is difficult to see intent in science and the natural universe. Nature does what nature does irrespective of humanity. We are seeing light from thousands of years ago from the galaxy. We know where the center was... well, 28,000 years ago. Twenty-eight thousand years is how long it takes for light to get from the center of the galaxy to our solar system. So our observation, our clock, is always 28,000 years behind. The galactic alignment took place 28,000 years ago.

There are two things in the center of the galaxy: 1) Sagittarius A, a very complex group including a supernova planet obscured by a cloud of cosmic dust, and a strong radio source; and 2) a large black hole. What exactly does alignment with Sagittarius A mean? The entire galaxy has little effect on the earth. Its gravitational pull remains the same regardless of alignment. In contrast, when the stronger influences of planets within our solar system align, we see no unexpected results. It would be difficult to imagine that the weaker galactic alignment does anything.

The sun completes its celestial precession every 26,000 years, and supposedly in 2012 the solar zenith and the sun's elliptical path align perfectly with the center of our Milky Way Galaxy... or where it was thousands of years ago. The galaxy and our solar system are in flux - they move. The galaxy has minimal influence over the earth, and that gravitational influence is constant. The effect is not science based, it is simply our interpretation of the event. If there is any "force" in alignment with the galactic center, or any mystical force in it, it is simply in the power of our belief. So we have to look at the intent of the interpreter. Interpreters abound, so I will leave determining intent up to you.

New age and change: The drivers of social change

From a more scientific point of view, 2012 is an interesting year. Actually the earth goes through many types of movements, not just precession, and there is some effect shown in the earth's climate from these. See Milankovitch cycles. Sunspots go through an 11 year cycle and this peaks again in 2012. Some scientists believe this cycle will be more disruptive of communications than most, and that we will see a lot of solar related activity, such as the Northern Lights. Societal and cultural revolutions are believed by many to peak during the sunspot cycle, but this belief may be a case of researchers finding what they are looking for - in other words carefully selecting the evidence from the pile.

Cataclysm obviously causes change, such as extinction. That's huge, and it's lights out, but we don't have any real indication that will happen. Nature does what nature does, and from our observation, God does not seem to have a hand in it. There are other very real causes of large and important changes in humanity. The world changes when the time is ripe and often begins with a triggering event or a tipping point. Religious philosophers sometimes call this "zeitgeist," borrowing from a German word. In this sense it means that the time has come for something to happen; events and knowledge make the time pregnant with possibility.

An example of this happening is breakthroughs in science and industry that often occur at multiple points around the world at the same time. The knowledge is there, the need is there, and multiple people working independently discover or invent the breakthrough at the same time. Malcolm Gladwell gives us another example in his book The Tipping Point. He shows how Paul Revere may have been very instrumental in spreading the word and getting people into action, as opposed to his compatriot who ineffectively rode in the opposite direction to sound the alarm. Paul Revere had tremendous social connections, and was a subject matter expert on the British (a connector and a maven), while his compatriot was not. The midnight ride of Paul Revere brought out the militia in several towns to oppose the British troops.

Sometimes change is sparked by events or technology, such as the Internet revolution being sparked by technological advances and the need to communicate and research information, spurred on by such advances as email. Sometimes change is sparked by enough people having the philosophical or practical insight into something to create a change, such as Pasteur's insight into bacteriology and today's advances in virology, or the way Postmodernism dislodged staid and obstinate absolutist modernistic thought in science and religion.

The French Revolution was a grassroots rebellion that grew out of the enlightenment. The American Revolution was a grassroots rebellion that grew out of objection to foreign control without representation. Christ brought a revolution to the Middle East and Western world in spiritual thought that rejected militarism and autocratic religious rule. Perhaps we are seeing the dawning of a new era, and December 21, 2012 may symbolize that. But it isn't the cataclysmic end of the world.

How do you and I interpret signs and prophecy?

The world is not short on seers who look at the future, or oracles who are asked about the future and make predictions. The most relevant question I suppose is what is our orientation in interpreting what we hear and see? Do we see the world through the eyes of a loving God whose stated purpose is to spread love and bring all people back to Himself? Or do we see the world as some tragic place doomed to failure in which people succumb to evil and are ultimately punished or destroyed?

In one somewhat common precognition viewing arena, people are invited to look at a blank wall and tell what they see about the future. Some see people living happily in small villages on this earth. Some see people living in space. Some see a caustic world collapsing in on itself from the weight of evil people and carnage. Are all of these futures true, or do people actually see what they are predisposed to see?

The prophecies of Nostradamus come to mind. Nostradamus was a physician who was active during a time of tremendous suffering and death from the plague, and tremendous persecution of "heretics" by the church. Not to take away anything from Nostradamus' psychic abilities, but did his environment influence his attitude, and predispose what he might see? He certainly saw enough destruction in his own time... and in the future.

Many other individuals have been seers in that they have had near death experiences and been drawn to the light of a loving God and met loved ones who have already passed. They have returned with a renewed sense of purpose. What does this anecdotal evidence tell us about God and the hereafter? Will these accounts someday be canonized into scriptural literature?

How do we interpret the events of today? We are surrounded by awesome signs and wonders. Ice is melting on the earth that hasn't been melted in 10,000 years. The magnetic poles are undergoing more shifts than ever before in the history that we can see recorded in the earth. People are having a tremendous influence on our environment. There is constant war going on in various places of the world, and much of it is blamed on religion, of all things. The sun is completing a 26,000 year cycle and aligning with the galaxy. The world is changing at an accelerating pace, due to technology, making our cultures much less stable. Nations and terrorists have the power to destroy the world. But as awesome as these things are, these signs may have no significance as signposts. It is our own behavior, when it becomes wicked, that is the catalyst for end times, and is the sign that the end times are coming.

What do we want to see in the future? Do we think that predictions of cataclysmic events are a catalyst for change? Do we think that human destiny is tragically and deterministically carved in stone by an uncaring God who wants to see everyone destroyed in a fit of vengeful rage? Are we but actors in a play written by someone else? Or does our knowledge and experience of God (our faith) tell us that God is a loving God who wants our presence, gives us a voice in our destiny, and cares about us and our future?

One of the dangers in seeing only what we want to see is that our vision can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

End of the series on prophecy.

Yours in Christ,

- Dorian Scott Cole

Author's Books

The Prophetic Pattern: Discussion Guide for Ancient and Modern Prophecy

Are we all going to die on Friday, December 21, 2012? My new book critically examines that question. Available in print and ebook formats from various sources. Secure credit card purchasing. Description.

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On Friday, December 21, 2012, are we all going to die? Are there really signposts to the world's end? Does modern prophecy really merge with ancient prophecy? Will all of the Christians suddenly disappear? The answers may surprise you.

Millions of Americans are anxiously waiting for December 21, 2012 to see if the world will end. Despite the fact that signs seem to be everywhere in all ancient and modern prophecy and even science, the major sign pointed to by both Daniel and Christ is overlooked by prophecy interpreters. And interpretation of modern prophecy overlooks intent. Like a scary movie, prophecy is great fun until it starts affecting people's lives.

This book explores how to distinguish the intent of various types of prophecies and oracles, both ancient and modern. The five chapters in this discussion guide are rich in information, providing one legitimate point of view, and are intended to encourage discussion and additional research. A ten meeting discussion group is the minimum recommended.

Subjects to explore include:

  • History, and the situations surrounding prophecy
  • Types of prophecy
  • Other interpretations of prophecy
  • Are faith and prophetic belief blind?
  • Societies that go bad - are they destroyed?
  • Social change - saving ourselves
  • The challenges of the 21st.Century

Available in print and ebook formats from various sources. Secure credit card purchasing.

About the author: Dorian Scott Cole is an independent, cross-disciplinary scholar with education and experience in psychology, philosophy, religion, language, visual semiotics, and technology. He is a licensed minister with a mainline denomination with full time pastoral and counseling experience. His education in religion and psychology was through a state university (IU) followed by independent study. Other books and publications: Ontology of God, How to Write a Screenplay, Writers Workshop Script Doctor,, and

Reading type: Mainstream, nonfiction.

Ontology of God: The voices of the ancients speak.

My recent book, Ontology of God, looks at what we can learn through the ages regarding the history of several aspects of religious development as affected by the ancient societies they were in, including law, mercy, and love. Available in print and ebook formats from various sources. Secure credit card purchasing. Description.
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Echoing through time are the voices of ancient people telling us about God. From Mesopotamia and Egypt 5000 years ago, often from even earlier oral traditions, every civilization has been inspired to tell us about God. Their voices vary widely and even conflict. Is there a common message that they thought was so important that they had to pass it on? In this book, the ancient voices speak.

This study follows the thread of the basic religious concepts of law, mercy, and love that are prominent in many religions. Major religions around the world are investigated up to the launch of the Common Era when most religions had been developed, including religions that later developed independently such as the Mayan.

These are messages refined by the fire of experience through the ages. The repeated messages collectively bear the tests of validity.

This study also looks at the many methods we use to try to understand God and religious literature. Is the nature of God reflected in what he asks of us? The premise is that it is.

By understanding the nature of God, perhaps we can filter out the many competing voices that tell us that God stands for such things as the murder of innocents and destruction.

The very nature of religion is illuminated in the light of the voices from the ages. But is ancient religion a path that we have lost, or does history hammer out newer voices to bear the truth of new experience as people try to understand their relationship with God?

Available in print and ebook formats from various sources. Secure credit card purchasing.

About the author: Dorian Scott Cole is an independent, cross-disciplinary scholar with education and experience in psychology, philosophy, religion, language, visual semiotics, and technology. Other books and publications: How to Write a Screenplay, Writers Workshop Script Doctor,, and

Reading type: Mainstream Scholarly Specialist

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Copyright © 2009 Dorian Scott Cole. Feedback and statistical corrections are welcome: Author, Webmaster, publisher.