Carl Thomas of Stony Creek, like his neighbor and Warrensburg First Baptist Church preacher Roger Richards, are regular writers to the Adirondack Journal. There’s a sense that both men believe they have it all pretty-well figured out. They know that evolution and global warming are a bunch of bull and they have no trouble lecturing their neighbors as to why. They don’t use words like “I think” because they prefer “the bible says.”
This past week, as nearly 1,500 communities across the county are preparing to meet together to teach and learn from each other and to renew a call for our nation’s leaders to make some progress – in Bill McKibben’s words, “to Step It Up” – in reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases, Carl Thomas thought it important to write a letter to the editor to say that there was “one major problem with McKibben’s idea: God’s Word.” Then he cited his proof from Matthew, Luke, Mark, and Psalms.
Based on what he calls “simple math” Stony Creek Carl believes that about 2030 is when the world will end, and there is nothing we can do about it – reducing carbon emissions, conserving energy, protecting the environment – it’s all in vain. “To the believer this is what we have been waiting for through the years,” Thomas wrote this past week, saying that “all scholars agree” that 1948 signaled the re-establishment of Israel and, since Psalms it says that most people live to be 70 or 80, “simple math mean[s] by2028…this age will end.”
Stony Creek Carl is one in a long line of true believers with apocalyptic math-bible obsessions. William Miller, of Low Hampton in Washington County, was recently notable for his own widely adopted math-bible obsession.
Miller was one of the earliest and most renowned proponents of what is now called Adventism – a belief held by the present 7th Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others that the second advent (second coming) of Christ was imminent. Miller, and the Millerites who accepted his teachings, believed the world would end in 1843. This was based on Miller’s “simple math” and supported by Daniel 8:14, which notes that “it will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.” You can figure out for yourself how that theory worked out.
Like Stony Creek Carl, William Miller did some figurin’ and decided that “2,300 evenings and mornings” actually meant 2,300 years. And since the 2,300 years started in 457 B.C. when Artxerxes I of Persia (that’s basically Iran/Iraq/Syria) allowed the rebuilding of Jerusalem, Miller’s “simple math” determined that Christ would return, and the world would end, in 1843. “I was thus brought” Miller wrote, “to the solemn conclusion, that in about twenty-five years from that time 1818 all the affairs of our present state would be wound up.”
Among Millers earliest believers was a man who Miller described as his “best friend on earth,” Chester Baptist Church pastor Truman Hendryx. Letters between William Miller and Hendryx reveal a close friendship, and a firm belief the world would soon end with Christ’s arrival, albeit with some question as to whether they had the time of his arrival correctly calculated. When the first biography of the William Miller was written in the 1870s, it included reprints of the two men’s correspondence.
Hendryx, Miller, and Stony Creek Carl are united in the belief that the world is going end soon – unfortunately for them (or fortunately, depending on your view) they didn’t have the same bible-math teacher.
There are however, glaring difference in the beliefs of the three men. During Hendryx and Miller’s time a debate regularly raged in Warren County about whether something should be done about slavery. Hendryx and Miller believed that slavery was awful, that it didn’t matter much whether or not slaves were free or not because, well, the world was going to end anyway. Still, they opposed slavery, and spoke passionately about its evils. They did something about slavery because they believed it was wrong. They believed they and their neighbors to the south could do better. Better for the humans held in bondage, and better in terms of their own (and their neighbors) sense of right and wrong.
It’s too bad Stony Creek Carl (and others like him) don’t feel the same way about global warming, one of the more important debates of our own time.
On Saturday, there will be at least a dozen Step It Up events inside the Adirondack Park. We received a number of invitations to local events, but we hope to split our own time between the event at Garnet Hill Lodge near North Creek (with hopes of enjoying the “Adirondack vegetarian buffet lunch” from 12 to 1) and an evening at Bolton Landing where Big Tuna and Blues Highway will be playing at 5 pm, at The Conservation Club (on Edgecomb Pond Road).