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Thread: Why I am no longer a futurist

  1. #16
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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    Quote Originally Posted by DurbanDude View Post



    Your whole point seems to be based on the phrase "this generation"

    It can easily mean "this generation that I'm now talking about", rather than "this generation that is in front of me".
    Jesus is saying there will be a time when there are forewarning signs of the second coming. He then says that this generation which sees the signs, will also see the second coming. Simple as that. Its definitely a possible way of looking at it if you are honest with the text.


    IMO there is yet another angle to consider. I myself would think it could be understood in the same sense as the following passage. The following then, crossed my mind some time back when I was reading this passage.

    Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

    'Nation' is the same Greek word 'genea'. No one then should conclude a crooked and perverse nation/generation only applies to one period of time, such as 40 years. Of course the KJV renders it nation and not generation, but even so, no one would conclude it's only meaning in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation in a certain period of time only. Philippians 2:15 applied to those 2000 years ago. It still applies to us today. So when Jesus said this generation shall not pass until all these things are fulfilled, He's meaning in the same sense as this crooked and perverse nation. So IOW, when all things are fulfilled, so then will this generation be history as well since righteousness will now dwell because of the new heavens and a new earth.

  2. #17
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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    Quote Originally Posted by divaD View Post
    IMO there is yet another angle to consider. I myself would think it could be understood in the same sense as the following passage. The following then, crossed my mind some time back when I was reading this passage.

    Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

    'Nation' is the same Greek word 'genea'. No one then should conclude a crooked and perverse nation/generation only applies to one period of time, such as 40 years. Of course the KJV renders it nation and not generation, but even so, no one would conclude it's only meaning in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation in a certain period of time only. Philippians 2:15 applied to those 2000 years ago. It still applies to us today. So when Jesus said this generation shall not pass until all these things are fulfilled, He's meaning in the same sense as this crooked and perverse nation. So IOW, when all things are fulfilled, so then will this generation be history as well since righteousness will now dwell because of the new heavens and a new earth.
    That is an interesting point, and I agree that view can fit the text. I still prefer my view but its interesting that there are various ways that the futurist view fits the text well, and yet the preterist view does not fit the text because that historical 70AD tribulation was not the greatest ever tribulation:

    24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    Quote Originally Posted by DurbanDude View Post
    It can easily mean "this generation that I'm now talking about", rather than "this generation that is in front of me". Jesus is saying there will be a time when there are forewarning signs of the second coming. He then says that this generation which sees the signs, will also see the second coming. Simple as that. Its definitely a possible way of looking at it if you are honest with the text.
    Is that what it means in Matthew 23:34-36 as well?

    - Hitman


    "Test all things; hold fast what is good." - Advice from the Apostle Paul


  4. #19
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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    My big problem with the OP is the manner in which the "limiting principle" when interpreting prophetic scriptures (to steal a term from the world of current events) is the understanding of the audience receiving the word from the prophet. Of course, such an approach presumes much upon the Gentile scholars, historians, and exegetes as it relates to their ability to get into the mind of an 8th or 7th century Hebrew Prophet and their audience.

    In other words, how can one be authoritative and definitive on the "non-futurist" side of things as it relates to "what the prophets were really saying"? Would such an approach truly enable us to shed biases, pre-conceived notions, and the (as it relates to the OP) clumsily applied notion of "cognitive dissonance"? It seems as if the "besetting sin" of the OP is an absence of (as it relates to the OP, not the person posting) our need for the Holy Spirit, or a "spirit of revelation" as it relates to our great need for divine intervention in scriptural interpretation. Does prayer, fasting, and help from God play a role, or are modern Gentile scholars our best bet in discerning genre, cultural nuance, and the prophet's intent (and the audience's reception)?

    I appreciate the reach for unbiased truth. I'm not sure why a post like this is even necessary, though - why the need to intellectually embarrass one group of members on this forum? Why the negative phrases attributed to one side ("cognitive dissonance", "besetting sin", "doubt masquerading as faith") - as if the other approach is the most pristine way forward? I'm wondering, Matt - your journey began with an honest desire to honor the perspective of others and bridge perceived gaps in communication; now you seem content to burn theological bridges and simply deconstruct your "opponents".

    If the purpose of this thread is a mild rebuke of futurists, well, rebuke delivered. If the purpose was to plant your flag, well, flag planted. But I would counsel a more measured approach that presents your way forward as "the best of the bad options" as you perceive them, not "the superior option" in a perceived sea of inferior exegesis. What was the leaven of the Pharisees, and why did Jesus warn us, "Beware!" It's a danger that all who hold opinions on the word of God must consider, and I don't know if we even think about that warning when interacting in these kinds of forums.
    The Rookie

    Twelve is the number of government. Thus, it is quite apropos that I am on my way towards wielding the power of twelve bars - each bar like, say, a tribe.....or a star.....or, maybe an apostle. A blue apostle. Like apostle smurfs. Does anyone remember smurfs? And all the controversy about them being from the devil? It's probably bad that I juxtaposed "apostle" and "smurf" in the same sentence. But then, I probably lost you at "blue apostle". Yes, my friends, this is what "rare jewel of a person" is actually implying. "Rare Jewel of a Person" really means, "Potentially Insane".

  5. #20
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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthehitmanhart View Post
    The besetting sin of futurist interpreters, in their approach to prophetic passages throughout Scripture, is their deeply felt need to liberate the text from the embarrassing constraints of its own time. Such interpreters are not really interested in understanding what the text would have meant in its original historical context, but only in what it can be seen to mean for our own time.
    Strawman argument. I am a futurist and I love to look at the original historical context. I believe this helps with understanding scripture.
    Thus, where Jeremiah pronounces a retributive judgment on Babylon and its king for their treatment of Judea, or where Ezekiel foresees a rebuilt temple after the regathering of his people from exile, or where Jesus predicts the son of man’s coming within the generation of his listeners, or where John predicts the sudden destruction of the great city which reigned over all the kings of the earth in his own day—in all of these cases futurists feel the need to lift the fulfillment of the prophetic text out of the immediate future of the original audience and into our future, in order to thereby save the text from the reproach which, upon the assumption of a literalist reading, would undoubtedly come upon it. Where was the bloody, violent, and absolute destruction which Jeremiah pronounced on Babylon? Where was “the coming of the son of man” in the lifetime of Jesus’ listeners? Where, indeed, was the fulfillment of all of the cataclysmic events foreseen by John in the book of Revelation?
    Many OT prophets prophesied about their own time, and also prophesied about the far future of the day of the Lord or one or both of the comings of Jesus. I think that your mistake is to try to find a historical fulfilment even though the historical context actually does not fit the prophecy. This would be your error, not an error of futurists. In some of the cases you mention, the text does not fit historical events, both in a literal manner and in a symbolic manner. Symbols have precedents, or are explained within the text, or have obvious parallels, where the parallels are less obvious this makes the fulfilment more doubtful.
    When confronted with such unpleasant difficulties, futurists see two basic options: either (a) we admit that the text was uninspired, unathoritative, and glaringly wrong in its predictions about the future, or (b) we project it into the future and thereby protect its inspired status.
    Strawman argument! I see no unpleasant difficulties with the futurist position.
    So like Peter in Gethsemane, we unsheathe our swords and cut away! But like Peter in Gethsemane, futurists fail to consider that there might be more alternatives than the two extremes of denying our master or plugging our ears and fighting to save face.
    Strawman argument! Futurists are not always committed to a literal fit, it is important to have a well fitting fulfilment though, not a vague and unconvincing fulfilment.
    To claim, on the other hand, that this passage must speak of a future period, because several details of the prophecy did not play out exactly as described, is a decidedly eisegetical move. Instead of reading the text inductively and asking the appropriate questions of authorial intent and public meaning, the futurist view relies entirely on a deductive process of elimination, looking outside of the prophecy and imposing one’s own set of criteria for what it can and can’t mean based entirely on what did and what did not in fact occur thereafter.
    I believe this too is a strawman argument. A lot of conclusions of futurists are based on inductive reasoning, looking at the precedent set through multiple prophecies fulfilled in a very precise manner. For example, even though the Jewish expectation was that Jesus would free the Jews from political oppression, its very easy to see how Jesus fulfilled the verse in a symbolic manner at the first coming. He literally did set captives free, but not quite in the literal warrior-like manner that was expected of Him. And so we have a perfect match that satisfies futurists, we have a precedent that although events are not always fulfilled exactly how we initially expect them to be fulfilled, nevertheless there is an easy match between the historical event, and the prophecy. This is what futurists expect, a well-fitting match. Where the match is not well fitting, and the context seems to refer to the second coming, its only perfectly natural to look to the second coming for fulfilment.
    Such an abstract a priori has absolutely nothing to do with what the text itself would have meant in the world in which it was written, but has everything to do with maintaining a particular theological construct despite all the evidence to the contrary. If it didn’t happen, just project it into the future. It must not have meant what it said. The original audience probably didn’t get it. The prophet himself probably didn’t get it. But we get it.
    I hope you are not referring to Matthew 24 here?? Its clearly about the second coming.
    By thus lifting the passage out of its own world of meaning and supplying another we lose all anchorage with the only context in which the text itself makes sense. This is not exegesis. Genuine exegesis is committed to listening to the text on its own terms, whatever the outcome. And if history does not play out exactly like the passage said it would, then we should ask the question why. Perhaps we’ve misunderstood the content of the prophecy, or perhaps something transpired afterwards which altered the terms of the prophecies’ fulfillment. In the case of Jeremiah 50-51, I suspect that Nebuchadnezzar’s apparent change of heart may have had something to do with it (cf. Dan 2:47; 3:29; 4:2-3, 34-37; 7:4). Remember, the God of the prophets regularly speaks about what will happen if humans presently respond in such and such a way; he does not speak in an abstract vacuum of time and space about what will happen regardless of the present human response. The whole point of prophecy is to produce a response, a change; and if all men responded then no prophecy of judgment would ever come to pass (cf. Jer. 18:7-11).
    I would rather say that changing a prophecy that is predicting a set of events into an "if - then" scenario just because you cannot find a historical fulfiment is incorrect exegesis and an extreme commitment to historical fulfilments that is unnecessary for a people that believe in the second coming.
    Last edited by DurbanDude; Apr 7th 2012 at 07:45 PM.

  6. #21
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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    So. Matthew 13 - Jesus seems to violate the principle of the OP in the manner in which he interpretes Isaiah 6?

    The other time that Jesus does this, of course, is the "abomination of desolation" and His interpretation of it in Matthew 24.

    The question is related to the "limiting hermeneutical principle" - are we making an exception for Jesus or is there a place for futurism in the manner in which we read prophecy?

    Secondly, what do we do with first coming and second coming passages that are contained within one prophecy? Isaiah 9 and 61 would be great examples to examine; Zechariah 12-14 would be another.

    The final book that messes with the OP is the book of Revelation itself - the manner in which John "wrenches" passages from their immediate historical context and places them in the "future" (even in that future is Roman, not eschatological in the futurist sense), wouldn't John be guilty of the same kind of approach the OP is rebuking?

    Just a few questions that came to mind when I read the OP...
    The Rookie

    Twelve is the number of government. Thus, it is quite apropos that I am on my way towards wielding the power of twelve bars - each bar like, say, a tribe.....or a star.....or, maybe an apostle. A blue apostle. Like apostle smurfs. Does anyone remember smurfs? And all the controversy about them being from the devil? It's probably bad that I juxtaposed "apostle" and "smurf" in the same sentence. But then, I probably lost you at "blue apostle". Yes, my friends, this is what "rare jewel of a person" is actually implying. "Rare Jewel of a Person" really means, "Potentially Insane".

  7. #22
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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthehitmanhart View Post
    I used to take a consistently futurist approach to biblical prophecy. Whether I was looking at Jeremiahís lengthy word of judgment against Babylon in Jeremiah 50-51,
    It sounds to me like you were at least on the right track at first. You have to keep in mind that Babylon can be understood in more than one sense.


    Quote Originally Posted by Matthehitmanhart View Post
    I would always assume that it must have referred to events still to come in the future, thousands of years after it was given, since it obviously hadnít yet been fulfilled. A futurist reading, I thought, was the only faithful approach to such passages.

    So what changed then? Obviously you were influenced by others or something I would think. This is why I don't read a whole lot of commentaries myself, or books, etc. It's not that I haven't tried, but most of the time, as far as commentators, very rarely did their conclusions seem to be matching the text.
    I wouldn't then conclude all commetators are wrong tho. But I would conclude
    that most of what they write, much of it turns me off, especially the many commentaries I've read concerning Zech 14. The futurist interpretation of that chapter is the only logical conclusion to come to IMO. But I'm not closeminded to the fact that it doesn't have to be future. But so far no one is doing a very good job of explaining that chapter if it's already been fulfilled somehow. Only IMO of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthehitmanhart View Post
    It took me several years to realize that my commitment to futurism was ironically based in the same underlying prejudice as the allegorical school.
    Nothing wrong with the allegorical approach, as long as the text supports the conclusion. But when passages are naming specific locations for example, how then are specific locations to then be understood allegorically?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthehitmanhart View Post
    The primary question for the interpreter of biblical prophecy must be centered on the authorial intent and the public meaning which the prophetic word would have carried in the period in which it was given. To put it otherwise: Our first duty with biblical prophecy, no less than with any other genre of Scripture, is to interpret it with reference to its own time.
    Something else to keep in mind. Some prophecies could have been sealed up at the time, so to speak, and not meant to be understood until the time was right. So IOW, as an example, the prophecies that would be in regards to the 2nd coming, these couldn't be understood properly until there was a first coming first.

  8. #23
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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    Quote Originally Posted by DurbanDude View Post
    That is an interesting point, and I agree that view can fit the text. I still prefer my view but its interesting that there are various ways that the futurist view fits the text well, and yet the preterist view does not fit the text because that historical 70AD tribulation was not the greatest ever tribulation:

    24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.


    I don't see why both views couldn't be valid at the same time? Obviously some specific generation is going to witness the fulfillment of these things. But I wouldn't think that was meaning the generation that saw 70 AD. There's just way too many things in between the time Jesus said that, until 70 AD, that couldn't have possibly been fulfilled.

  9. #24
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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    That's Matt's point, though. "Fulfillment" isn't the issue when it comes to biblical prophecy and it's interpretation - "change" related to the heart is the point.

    Matt seems to be making the point that the "fulfillment" issue is causing exegetes to commit hermeneutical violence to the texts in question.
    The Rookie

    Twelve is the number of government. Thus, it is quite apropos that I am on my way towards wielding the power of twelve bars - each bar like, say, a tribe.....or a star.....or, maybe an apostle. A blue apostle. Like apostle smurfs. Does anyone remember smurfs? And all the controversy about them being from the devil? It's probably bad that I juxtaposed "apostle" and "smurf" in the same sentence. But then, I probably lost you at "blue apostle". Yes, my friends, this is what "rare jewel of a person" is actually implying. "Rare Jewel of a Person" really means, "Potentially Insane".

  10. #25

    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    In other words, we are not bound to reject the truth of biblical prophecy by remaining faithful to the text. But then, even if we can’t find a solution to every text in which this problem appears, it’s a much more honest display of faith in the authority of Scripture to first take the text at its own terms, and then to say “I don’t know” in reply to the question of fulfillment, than to try to save face by suggesting the text actually refers to something else, something easier to get our hands around.
    Matt's point is found here in the final paragraph. He's saying that it is more faithful to Scripture to recognize the context of a given prophecy pointing to a (now past) fulfillment and admit that we may not understand how it was fulfilled, simply that it was, whereas the prophet and his contemporaries would have because they were more in tune with their way of speaking than we are.

    In example of Matthew 24, Matt is saying that all of the signs there point to a first-century fulfillment (e.g. Matthew 23's pronouncement of doom upon the religious leaders' 'this generation', the second temple's destruction, the disciples questions about 'those things', the destruction of Jerusalem accompanying the second temple, and Jesus' reiteration that it would be 'this generation' when all 'these things' happen), and hence that the 'coming of the son of man' would necessarily have been fulfilled at that time... so as such, it is better to admit that it would have happened in that time period even if we may not understand how it happened, than it is to simply say 'this is must be an exactly literal fulfillment' (a principle assumed by the reader, not by Scripture itself) and put it in the future instead.

  11. #26
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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    Yes, I understand that. My point (amongst many) is that Jesus in that very passage seems to be violating the principle Matt is espousing.
    The Rookie

    Twelve is the number of government. Thus, it is quite apropos that I am on my way towards wielding the power of twelve bars - each bar like, say, a tribe.....or a star.....or, maybe an apostle. A blue apostle. Like apostle smurfs. Does anyone remember smurfs? And all the controversy about them being from the devil? It's probably bad that I juxtaposed "apostle" and "smurf" in the same sentence. But then, I probably lost you at "blue apostle". Yes, my friends, this is what "rare jewel of a person" is actually implying. "Rare Jewel of a Person" really means, "Potentially Insane".

  12. #27
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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthehitmanhart View Post
    Is that what it means in Matthew 23:34-36 as well?
    Yes, in both Matthew 23 and Matthew 24 Jesus uses the words "this generation" to refer to the people he is talking about. It just so happens that in Matthew 23 the people he is talking about were his listeners. In Matthew 24 the people he talking about are those who would witness the first signs preceding the second coming. In both cases context makes it pretty clear who he is talking about.

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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthehitmanhart View Post
    Is that what it means in Matthew 23:34-36 as well?

    But look into the context tho.

    Matthew 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.


    Why just those specific ones at the time? Notice this part as well...whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Surely these Jesus were talking to weren't there at the time. So why just these of that generation at the time in particular?

    Matthew 23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
    26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
    27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
    28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

    As an example, would you then conclude that after 70 AD, no one longer fits these descriptions? But if these descriptions are still valid of some today, then it's illogical to conclude Jesus only meant these at the time. The fact that there is still a resurrection to damnation, that could be when they pay for their deeds.

  14. #29

    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    Quote Originally Posted by the rookie
    Yes, I understand that. My point (amongst many) is that Jesus in that very passage seems to be violating the principle Matt is espousing.
    I think I missed where you said that. Could you point me back to your post? (Or maybe just res-plain here?)

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    Re: Why I am no longer a futurist

    Quote Originally Posted by the rookie View Post
    My big problem with the OP is the manner in which the "limiting principle" when interpreting prophetic scriptures (to steal a term from the world of current events) is the understanding of the audience receiving the word from the prophet. Of course, such an approach presumes much upon the Gentile scholars, historians, and exegetes as it relates to their ability to get into the mind of an 8th or 7th century Hebrew Prophet and their audience.

    In other words, how can one be authoritative and definitive on the "non-futurist" side of things as it relates to "what the prophets were really saying"? Would such an approach truly enable us to shed biases, pre-conceived notions, and the (as it relates to the OP) clumsily applied notion of "cognitive dissonance"? It seems as if the "besetting sin" of the OP is an absence of (as it relates to the OP, not the person posting) our need for the Holy Spirit, or a "spirit of revelation" as it relates to our great need for divine intervention in scriptural interpretation. Does prayer, fasting, and help from God play a role, or are modern Gentile scholars our best bet in discerning genre, cultural nuance, and the prophet's intent (and the audience's reception)?

    I appreciate the reach for unbiased truth. I'm not sure why a post like this is even necessary, though - why the need to intellectually embarrass one group of members on this forum? Why the negative phrases attributed to one side ("cognitive dissonance", "besetting sin", "doubt masquerading as faith") - as if the other approach is the most pristine way forward? I'm wondering, Matt - your journey began with an honest desire to honor the perspective of others and bridge perceived gaps in communication; now you seem content to burn theological bridges and simply deconstruct your "opponents".

    If the purpose of this thread is a mild rebuke of futurists, well, rebuke delivered. If the purpose was to plant your flag, well, flag planted. But I would counsel a more measured approach that presents your way forward as "the best of the bad options" as you perceive them, not "the superior option" in a perceived sea of inferior exegesis. What was the leaven of the Pharisees, and why did Jesus warn us, "Beware!" It's a danger that all who hold opinions on the word of God must consider, and I don't know if we even think about that warning when interacting in these kinds of forums.
    The above post is an appeal for softer language when deconstructing the "other guy". One could restate this as, "Do not deconstruct, lest ye be deconstructed"

    In other words, the difficulty of these kinds of posts is that they must, by nature, present the prevailing viewpoint as the innately superior one; the reality is that there are strengths and weaknesses to all of the various viewpoints and hermeneutical approaches. To recognize the strengths and weaknesses is to maintain a culture of honor while fighting together for truth within the respective passages we are examining.

    The other question I asked within this post is, "What was the leaven of the Pharisees?" that Jesus warned His disciples to beware of, and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by the rookie View Post
    So. Matthew 13 - Jesus seems to violate the principle of the OP in the manner in which he interpretes Isaiah 6?

    The other time that Jesus does this, of course, is the "abomination of desolation" and His interpretation of it in Matthew 24.

    The question is related to the "limiting hermeneutical principle" - are we making an exception for Jesus or is there a place for futurism in the manner in which we read prophecy?

    Secondly, what do we do with first coming and second coming passages that are contained within one prophecy? Isaiah 9 and 61 would be great examples to examine; Zechariah 12-14 would be another.

    The final book that messes with the OP is the book of Revelation itself - the manner in which John "wrenches" passages from their immediate historical context and places them in the "future" (even in that future is Roman, not eschatological in the futurist sense), wouldn't John be guilty of the same kind of approach the OP is rebuking?

    Just a few questions that came to mind when I read the OP...
    This post is fairly straightforward - Jesus seems to take a hermeneutical approach to OT texts that violates the principle Matt is promoting (as do Paul, Peter, and John).
    The Rookie

    Twelve is the number of government. Thus, it is quite apropos that I am on my way towards wielding the power of twelve bars - each bar like, say, a tribe.....or a star.....or, maybe an apostle. A blue apostle. Like apostle smurfs. Does anyone remember smurfs? And all the controversy about them being from the devil? It's probably bad that I juxtaposed "apostle" and "smurf" in the same sentence. But then, I probably lost you at "blue apostle". Yes, my friends, this is what "rare jewel of a person" is actually implying. "Rare Jewel of a Person" really means, "Potentially Insane".

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