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Chris Zacharia

Chris Zacharia

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Zecharia Sitchin

Zecharia Sitchin (July 11, 1920 – October 9, 2010) [1] was an author of books proposing an explanation for human origins involving ancient astronauts. Sitchin attributed the creation of the ancient Sumerian culture to the Anunnaki, which he stated was a race of extraterrestrials from a planet beyond Neptune called Nibiru. He asserted that Sumerian mythology suggests that this hypothetical planet of Nibiru is in an elongated, 3,600-year-long elliptical orbit around the sun. Sitchin's books have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 25 languages.

Sitchin's ideas have been rejected by scientists and academics, who dismiss his work as pseudoscience and pseudohistory. His work has been criticized for flawed methodology and mistranslations of ancient texts as well as for incorrect astronomical and scientific claims. [2]

Dr Chris Zacharia

Dr Chris Zacharia is an HCPC Registered Educational Psychologist and an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society with over twenty years of experience. He has worked extensively with children and young people and was instrumental in introducing structured literacy programmes, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Solution Focused Brief Therapy, NLP and Coaching into schools. Chris has contributed to a number of research studies and publications including Supporting Young People through Grief and Loss and a chapter in the Coaching in Education book.

Chris Zacharia is an established psychologist, Dyslexia and ADHD specialist, psychotherapist, CBT, ACT and SFBT practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner and certified trainer of NLP.

Areas of interest

Dr Zacharia is a specialist in the assessment of Specific Learning Difficulties including:

. Dyslexia
. Dyspraxia
. Dysgraphia
. Dyscalculia
. Emotional underpinnings of Learning Difficulties

He has supported several organisations including LEAs, Universities and other high profile companies in London. He is a sought after individual because of his professional and warm approach.

Chris Zacharia

Dr Chris Zacharia is an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a practicing psychologist with over twenty years of experience. He has worked extensively with adults, children and young people and was instrumental in introducing Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), NLP and Coaching into schools. Chris has contributed to a number of publications including the recent Coaching in Education book.

Chris Zacharia is an established psychologist, psychotherapist, CBT and ACT practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner and certified trainer of NLP, Time Line Therapy™, Hypnosis, Coaching and Dynamic Spin Release™.

Dr Zacharia is also a specialist in the assessment of Specific Learning Difficulties including:

. Dyslexia
. Dyspraxia
. Dysgraphia
. Dyscalculia
. Screenings for ADD/HD
. Emotional underpinnings of Learning Difficulties

He has supported several organisations including LEAs, Universities and other high profile companies in London. He is a sought after individual because of his professional and warm approach.


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A review by Martin Smithes

I was really impressed with the delivery and the material used during Chris's NLP course. I am already seeing positive outcomes within my personal and professional lives and the NLP and additional skills that Chris teaches are both far-reaching and practical. They are of benefit to my clients and to therapeutic practise.

Paul Zacharia's latest novel A Secret History of Compassion is immersed in grand parody and yet, anchored to some of the vital truths of our time — the erosion of ideology, the collapse of institutions, the way the vocabulary of social justice has been weaponised.

Towards the beginning of Paul Zacharia’s novel A Secret History of Compassion (after hundreds of short stories, his first novel, as well as his first book written in English), we meet Lord Spider, bestselling genre fiction author, as he’s struggling to make the transition to non-fiction. After 20 years of potboilers, Spider is keen to broaden his horizons. To ease the “paradigm shift from fiction to non-fiction”, he tells his wife Rosi that they ought to “make love tonight in such a manner as to compel the universe to force upon my life a turning point — a major shift to non-fiction”. Rosi begs to differ, responding with a theory that startles her husband.

“‘Also,’ she concluded, ‘lovemaking is essentially fiction. So by positing lovemaking as a turning point towards non-fiction, you are barking up the wrong tree altogether.’

Spider was so shocked he couldn’t breathe for a few seconds. Lovemaking is fiction!

He didn’t have comparative statistical inputs to evaluate his lovemaking figures, but he thought that in his own small way he had made a credible contribution to the great cycle of birth, copulation and death. Was it all fiction, then? He was shattered. Was it, he wondered sadly, at least adult fiction?”

This passage is representative of the tone and tenor of A Secret History of Compassion, a novel immersed in grand parody and yet, anchored to some of the vital truths of our time — the erosion of ideology, the collapse of institutions, the way the vocabulary of social justice has been weaponised, and so on. In order to pivot to non-fiction, so to speak, Spider decides to accept a commission from the Communist Party — an essay on Compassion. Therein begins a madcap sequence of events that changes Spider’s views on life and literature forever, thanks to his new collaborator Jesus Lambodar Pillai — professional hangman, habitual shape-shifter, expert voyeur and wannabe writer. Even as Pillai helps Spider to write non-fiction, Spider’s life starts resembling one of his own outrageously plotted novels — featuring a Gandhi doppelganger, a dog who may or may not be Satan’s agent, a seemingly reincarnated Stalin and God herself.

Pushing the limits

Speaking at the novel’s Delhi launch, Zacharia said: “I had tried to write this novel in Malayalam over a decade ago, two or three chapters. And then the idea came to me that I should try writing it in English.” Zacharia, of course, is one of the most acclaimed Malayalam writers alive, the author of over 30 books of short stories, novellas and essay collections, although only three among these have been translated into English so far.

Paul Zacharia. Wikimedia Commons

“I am a worshipper of the given forms of fiction,” the author said, “whether it’s the art of the novel or the art of the short story. I have been nourished by them, but at the same time I would also like to disagree with the given forms, especially the way they have been used in India, in English as well as in Malayalam. I was not interested in writing a novel about the middle classes, about their marital conflicts. I’m a middle-class man myself I just think this is a finished area as far as fiction’s concerned. So I pushed myself to pursue pure storytelling, the kind of fiction where anything can happen.”

While A Secret History of Compassion does indeed have a lot of deus ex machina plot twists, another way in which it pushes boundaries is its engagement with (and critique of) dialectical discourses, which is to say, assessing a situation by considering opposing forces. This is apparent throughout the novel — whenever Spider or Pillai hit a theoretical roadblock while writing the Compassion essay, they simply change the definitions of concepts or entities as per their convenience. Communism becomes beholden to market forces, Death undergoes a branding exercise to “improve its image”, and a former actress describes herself as the winner of a “National Citation for the Most Homely Sex-Object”.

Explaining this phenomenon, Zacharia said, “I think that’s the writer and the non-writer in me, in conversation, especially given the world we live in today, where there are assumptions and misconceptions about everything. Like patriotism for example, the way that word is thrown about, the way it’s used for political purposes. There are so many people today who want you to be a particular kind of patriot. So without appearing to question or debate concepts seriously, Spider and Pillai are trying to change their ideas of patriotism and love and compassion, and so many other things we have taken for granted.”

It’s fitting that the essay Spider and Pillai end up writing begins by requesting the reader to change the very definition of compassion, so that it’s more compatible with the economic and political values of the contemporary world.

The Left hand of darkness

Because the essay Spider is working on has been commissioned by the Communist Party, A Secret History of Compassion’s engagement with the Left is heartfelt, nuanced, sometimes scathing and often hilarious, like the fact that the essay is for an event intended to “raise funds for an Old Comrades’ Home”. Zacharia spoke at length about his relationship with the Left.

“I grew up as a Left person. The world’s first elected Communist government came to Kerala in 1957. We were all very young. The Left filled the air with fantastic new ideas, with poetry, with songs, the kind we had never experienced in our lives. It was an extraordinary Renaissance I don’t think anything like it has happened under a Communist party anywhere in the world. It engaged a lot of artists, a lot of young people, and that’s how the Left came to power in Kerala — on the wings of a cultural revolution, basically.”

The cover of A Secret History of Compassion

Of course, the flip side wasn’t too far away. “We thought that the Communist Party would remain the dream project that it started off as. However, when the communists attained power, they started to resemble any other political party in India. And one by one, artists, filmmakers, very senior people in their fields, started to drop out of the Party. Because they were being told, ‘Whatever you write or draw or shoot has to concur with the party line.’ Soon, the Party became a group of heartless, mindless professionals who came together every five years to form the government.”

Zacharia had a caveat to add, however. “This does not mean I can ever give up my Left ideals. But that is a different matter from being a member of the Communist Party."

His cross to bear

The fact that Pillai’s first name is Jesus (he claims that his father met Jesus Christ in person) is not a coincidence, one feels — Zacharia’s previous works have also displayed a deep engagement with the story of Christ. In his short story Till You See the Looking-Glass, part of the collection The Reflections of a Hen in Her Last Hour (Penguin, 1999, translated by AJ Thomas and the author), a young Jesus experiences a moment of fear, doubt and finally, existential despair when he looks intently at his own reflection in a large mirror. In the novella What News, Pilate? (part of the 2001 Katha book Two Novellas, translated by Gita Krishankutty), we meet an ageing Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect who ordered the crucifixion of Christ, a well-meaning but clearly clueless administrator. Through a letter he is composing and the candid observations of his Jewish secretary, Zacharia critiques Jesus (referred to as Yeshu here), albeit gently.

“Pilate, shall I tell you the biggest failure of Yeshu, who you did not understand? It was that he did not open all the doors of his world to us women and invite us to enter. He wasted his time with those donkeys, whom he called disciples.(…) Who can protect a man’s soul the way a mother, a wife, a lover or a sister can? If only he had held on to his mother in the hurly-burly of seeking his father!”

This is the Zacharia signature — to speak affectionately of something or someone and to emphatically cut them down to size in the same passage. It is, ultimately, the greatest strength of A Secret History of Compassion, a novel of ideas that never lets its pace flag or its characters rest on their laurels. Nobody is above critique and everybody’s in the firing line, as is usually the case with great satirists. And as for compassion, well, just sample the direction Pillai/Spider take, around the halfway mark of the novel (with plenty of twists and turns ahead).

“Is it possible, we may then ask, that the most efficiently organised establishments of Compassion in the world are our armies, navies, air forces, secret services, terrorists, dictators, religious fundamentalists and nuclear-button controllers? Perhaps we have been mistaking them for annihilators whereas they only annihilate Sorrow at its root by putting an end to Life. Life is at the bottom of all problems. Do away with it, and we arrive at a model universe of mass graves where Compassion is a black bird flying in the night, singing of freedom.”

Like the best parodies, this passage is both hilarious and terrifying — and that’s a really, really tough combination to crack. It took a long time, but Paul Zacharia’s first novel is well worth the wait.

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The Rise and Fall of the Antichrist

The Bible teaches that in the end times, right before the return of Jesus, the greatest political leader in the history of Mankind will emerge from Europe. After taking over that area by diplomatic cunning and deceit, he will launch a military campaign that will result in his acquiring “authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation” (Revelation 13:7). His empire will be the most extensive in all of history, encompassing the entire world, and his rule will be the most demonic the world has ever experienced.

He will begin his rise to power as a dynamic, charismatic, insightful, visionary leader who will astound the world with the cleverness of his solutions to world problems. He will appear to be the savior of the world. But as he consolidates his power, his true nature will be revealed. He will emerge as a Satan possessed and empowered person who hates God and is determined to annihilate both Christianity and Judaism. For this reason, he is identified in scripture as the Antichrist (1 John 2:18), for he will stand against God and His anointed one, Jesus Christ.

His Origin

Where will this sinister person come from? Some have speculated that he will come out of Syria since one of his prophetic types in history — Antiochus Epiphanes (215-164 BC) — was a Syrian tyrant. But Antiochus was actually of Greek heritage. Could he therefore be a Greek? It is not likely.

It is much more likely that he will rise out of the heartland of the old Roman Empire and that he will be of Italian descent. This conclusion is based upon a statement in Daniel 9:26. In that passage the Antichrist is referred to as “the prince who is to come,” and he is identified as being from the people who “will destroy the city and the sanctuary.”

We know from history that both Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Therefore, according to Daniel, the Antichrist must be of Roman heritage.

Will he be a Jew? Many assume he will be because Jesus said, “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him” (John 5:43). Based on this statement, people ask, “How could the Jews possibly receive a Gentile as their Messiah?”

But the Bible does not teach that the Jews will receive the Antichrist as their Messiah. It teaches they will accept him as a great political leader and diplomat and that they will put their trust in him as the guarantor of peace in the Middle East.

But the moment he reveals himself as the Antichrist by desecrating the Jew’s rebuilt Temple and blaspheming God, the Jewish people will revolt. They will reject him as Messiah, and he will respond in fury by attempting to annihilate them.

The Antichrist does not have to be a Jew. And, in fact, the Bible makes it clear that he will be a Gentile. In Revelation 13:1 he is portrayed as a “beast coming up out of the sea.” The sea is used consistently throughout the prophetic scriptures as a symbol of the Gentile nations (Daniel 7:3 Luke 21:25 and Revelation 17:1).

By contrast, the Antichrist’s right hand man, the False Prophet, who will serve as his religious leader, will be a Jew. This is revealed in Revelation 13:11 where it says that John saw “another beast coming up out of the earth [literally, the land].” Just as the sea is used symbolically in prophecy to refer to the Gentile nations, the land (or earth) is used to refer to Israel. This does not mean the False Prophet will be an Orthodox Jew. It only means that he will be of Jewish heritage. Religiously, he will be an apostate Jew who will head up the One World Religion of the Antichrist.

There is one other issue concerning the origin of the Antichrist that we need to consider. Many argue that he will be a person resurrected from the dead — most likely Nero or Judas Iscariot. This assumption is based on a statement in Revelation 13:1-3 where John describes the Antichrist as a beast with seven heads. He then makes the observation that one of his heads appeared “as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed.” He comments that “the whole earth was amazed” by this and therefore “followed after the beast” (Revelation 13:3).

The problem with this interpretation is that “the fatal wound” referred to in the passage has nothing to do with the person of the Antichrist. The seven heads represent seven Gentile empires — namely, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the final empire of the Antichrist. The head with the fatal wound that has been healed is the Roman Empire. We know this from the book of Daniel where it is prophesied that the Roman Empire will be the last of the Gentile empires until the end times when the empire of the Antichrist will emerge from a reunited Europe — that is, from a revival of the old Roman Empire (Daniel 2:31-45 and 7:1-8, 24-28).

The prophecies of Daniel have proved to be absolutely accurate. The Roman Empire was the last of the Gentile empires. It disintegrated into the nation-state system that has prevailed to this day. There have been numerous military attempts to resurrect the Roman Empire, most notably by Napoleon and Hitler. Today, the core of the Empire is coalescing before our eyes through diplomatic means, producing a united Europe that will serve as the base for the rise of the Antichrist.

Another passage that is used to justify the idea of the Antichrist being a resurrected person is Zechariah 11:17 — “Woe to the worthless shepherd who leaves the flock! A sword will be on his arm and on his right eye! His arm will be totally withered, and his right eye will be blind.”

It is argued that this passage indicates that the Antichrist will be a person who has suffered a fatal wound. Now, there is no doubt this passage refers to the Antichrist, but I believe it is talking about his fate rather than his origin. Using symbolic language, it seems to me the prophet is saying that divine judgment (the sword) will fall upon the Antichrist’s power (his arm) and his intelligence (his eye), and that he will suffer complete defeat (the withering of his arm and the blinding of his eye).

The idea that the Antichrist will be a resurrected person raises a serious theological problem concerning the power of Satan. The Scriptures make it clear that the Antichrist will be Satan’s man, empowered by him and possessed by him. But there is no indication in Scripture that Satan has the power to give life to anyone. Satan is not omnipotent. Jesus is the one who has “the keys to death and Hades” (Revelation 1:18).

One of the most commonly asked questions is whether or not the Antichrist is alive today. I believe he is, and I believe so for two reasons. First, I believe the Scriptures teach that the generation that sees the re-establishment of Israel (May 14, 1948) will live to see all the end time prophecies fulfilled (Matthew 24: 32-34). Second, I believe the signs of the times clearly indicate that we are standing on the threshold of the Tribulation, the most important of those signs being the regathering of the Jews to their land (Isaiah 11:10-12) and their re-occupation of the city of Jerusalem (Luke 21:24).

If the Antichrist is alive today, does he know who he is? I think not. I don’t think he has the foggiest idea of the role that Satan has in mind for him. He will not become the Antichrist until Satan possesses him and empowers him to deceive Europe and the Jews. His full revelation will not occur until he enters the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem in the middle of the Tribulation and declares himself to be god.

But we are getting ahead of our story. Let’s consider his character before we take a look at his career.

His Character

The Bible is very specific about the character of the Antichrist, and the picture it paints is a disgusting one. The most detailed information can be found in the book of Daniel. Consider the chart below:

Over and over emphasis is given to the Antichrist’s mouth. He will boast non-stop about himself (Daniel 7:8). He will “speak monstrous things against the God of gods” (Daniel 11:36). He will be “given a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies” (Revelation 13:5). First and foremost, he is going to be a braggart and a blasphemer.

He will be strong willed and reckless in his determination to have his way. He will show contempt for human traditions and will, of course, change even the calendar so that it will no longer be related to the birth of Jesus (Daniel 7:25).

Another point that is emphasized repeatedly is that the Antichrist will be possessed by Satan, just as Judas was (Luke 22:3). Daniel says his power will be mighty, “but not by his own power” (Daniel 8:24). Paul says his coming will be “in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). John says that Satan will give his power and authority to the Antichrist (Revelation 13:2).

Because he will be demonized, he will be a man who cannot be trusted. Psalm 52:2 says he will be a “worker of deceit.” Psalm 55:21 says his speech will be “smoother than butter” but his heart will be filled with war. Psalm 5:6 calls him “a man of bloodshed and deceit.” In Psalm 43:1 he is referred to as a “deceitful and unjust man.”

Daniel indicates that he will be a sexual pervert, most likely a homosexual. As Daniel puts it, the Antichrist will show no regard “for the desire of women” (Daniel 11:37).

The overall picture is that of an ego-maniac who abhors God and exploits people for his own purposes. He is deceptive and ruthless. He is a man devoid of integrity. This is probably the reason that when Jesus returns, John characterizes Him as the “Faithful and True” One (Revelation 19:11), in contrast to the Antichrist who has been both unfaithful and untrue.

The lack of character that will be displayed by the Antichrist is perhaps best summed up in some of the names given to him in the Scriptures:

  • The Beast (Revelation 13:1)
  • The Man of Lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
  • The Son of Destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
  • The Despicable Person (Daniel 11:21)
  • The Willful King (Daniel 11:36)
  • The Worthless Shepherd (Zechariah 11:17)
  • The Insolent King (Daniel 8:23)
  • The Abomination (Matthew 24:15)

His Career

The Rapture of the Church is the event that will launch the career of the Antichrist. This is revealed in 2 Thessalonians 2 where Paul states that the Antichrist cannot be revealed until “he who now restrains” him is “taken out of the way” (verse 7). The restrainer of evil in the world today is obviously the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit performs that task by working through the Church.

It is the Church that will be “taken out of the way,” not the Holy Spirit. We know this for certain because the book of Revelation teaches that a great multitude will be saved during the Tribulation (Revelation 7:9-14), and no one can be saved apart from the witness of the Spirit (John 6:44, John 15:26, and 1 John 5:7). The Spirit will remain in the world, but the agency the Spirit currently works through to restrain evil, the Church, will be removed.

The Rapture itself is likely to be the event that will catapult the Antichrist to power. This is because the Rapture will produce international chaos and panic. The Antichrist, energized by Satan (Daniel 8:24), will seem to have all the answers to the world’s problems. He will take over the European Union through skillful intrigue (Daniel 8:23) and will establish his headquarters in Rome (Revelation 17:3,9,18).

The seven year time period of the Tribulation will actually begin when the Antichrist negotiates a treaty that will bring true peace to the Middle East, enabling the Jews to rebuild their Temple (Daniel 9:27). With his European base consolidated and peace achieved in the Middle East, he will set forth to subdue the whole world.

One of the myths about the Antichrist that has developed in modern day interpretation is that the whole world will become so enamored with him that all the nations will surrender their sovereignty to him voluntarily. The Bible does not teach this. It is also contrary to common sense. Africa and Asia and Latin America have not spent a century casting off European colonialism in order to suddenly turn around and receive a European dictator with open arms.

The world will resist him, and the result will be a Third World War in which he “will destroy to an extraordinary degree” (Daniel 8:24). This war will initially result in the death of one-fourth of humanity, or 1.5 billion people in today’s terms (Revelation 6:2-8). As the Tribulation approaches its mid-point, this war will escalate into a nuclear holocaust that will result in the deaths of an additional one-third of those still alive — another 1.5 billion (Revelation 8 and 9).

It will be a empty victory because in the process of his conquest, one-third of the earth will be destroyed and half its population will be killed. He will then consolidate his “victory” by instituting a one-world economy and a one-world religion.

The key to his economic control will be a mark that each person will have to bear on their right hand or on their forehead (Revelation 13:16-18). No one will be able to buy or sell unless they have this mark. The mark will consist of “either the name of the beast or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:18).

His religious control will be exercised by a false prophet who will head up his pagan religious system (Revelation 13: 11-15). He will force all of humanity to worship the Antichrist. He will be a deceiver who will astound people with “great signs” that appear miraculous in nature. In order to consolidate this Satanic religious system, the Antichrist will launch a great persecution of all those who have placed their faith in the true God since the Rapture of the Church (Revelation 12:13-17). The result will be a mass slaughter of believers (Revelation 7:9-14).

This means that by the mid-point of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will have killed more than half of humanity (1.5 billion in the seal judgments, 1.5 billion in the trumpet judgments, and an undetermined multitude of saints.) It is no wonder that he is referred to in Scripture as “the man of lawlessness” and “the son of destruction” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Nor will all this slaughter satisfy his blood thirst. About the time that the Antichrist has consolidated his world empire, Satan will be cast from Heaven and will come to earth in “great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time” (Revelation 12:12). At that point he will possess the Antichrist, even as he possessed Judas (Luke 22:3).

When the Antichrist becomes Satan incarnate, he will become a megalomaniacal tyrant obsessed with two things: himself and the Jewish people.

He will suddenly march into the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, stop the sacrifices, blaspheme God, and declare himself to be the one and only true god (Daniel 9:27 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4). And when the Jews reject this horrible blasphemy, he will turn on them and seek to annihilate them. This will be his all-consuming passion during the second half of the Tribulation. That’s why Jesus told the Jews that this period of time would be the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21) — not because it would be worse than the first half, but because the wrath would be focused upon them as a nation and a people.

Satan has an insane hatred for the Jews. He hates them because they gave the world the Scriptures. He hates them because God sent the Messiah through them. And he hates them because God has promised that He will bring a great remnant of them to salvation in their Messiah. He wants to destroy them so that God cannot keep that promise.

During the second half of the Tribulation, he will almost succeed in accomplishing this goal. We are told in Zechariah 13:8-9 that two-thirds of the Jewish people will die during this holocaust (another 9.3 million people).

His Fate

The Bible indicates that as the Antichrist becomes obsessed with the Jews, he loses interest in his worldwide empire, and segments of that empire begin to revolt. The core of the revolt is centered in the Asian nations who raise an army of 200 million and send it marching across Asia toward Israel where they hope to engage the Antichrist in a decisive battle for their freedom.

Daniel says that while the Antichrist and his armies are rampaging around the Middle East, looting the nations and killing the Jews, the Antichrist suddenly hears “rumors” that “disturb him” (Daniel 11:40-44). He evidently hears about the great Asian army coming to challenge him. He responds by consolidating his forces “between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain” (Daniel 11: 45). This is the same area that is referred to in Revelation as the Valley of Armageddon.

We are told that the Euphrates River dries up at this time and the great Asian army crosses to engage the Antichrist and his armies in battle (Revelation 16:12). As they fight, the Lord Jesus Christ breaks from the heavens, returns to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, and speaks a supernatural word that causes all the armies to drop dead in their tracks. “Their eyes rot in their sockets and their tongues rot in their mouths” (Zechariah 14:12), and the valley is filled with blood up to the horses’ bridles for a distance of two hundred miles (Revelation 14:20).

Paul says the Antichrist will be slain by “the breath of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). John says the Lord will make war against the Antichrist “with the sword of His mouth” (Revelation 2:16). Daniel says the Antichrist’s “dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever” (Daniel 17:26). Daniel also says that the Antichrist will be thrown into “the burning fire” (Daniel 7:11).

John confirms the fate of the Antichrist in Revelation when he says that both the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be thrown into “the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20) where “they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). This means that the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be the first occupants of Hell. (Satan will not be confined there until the end of the Millennium — Revelation 20:10).

Our Hope

The good news for believers is that we will not have to experience the horror of the Antichrist. We are never told to watch for the Antichrist rather, we are told to look for Jesus Christ. In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 we are assured that we who are believers are waiting for Jesus to return to “deliver us from the wrath to come.” That is a glorious promise. That’s why Paul calls the Rapture our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), and its also the reason that he tells us to “comfort one another” with the promise of the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

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Is Dave Ramsey’s empire the ‘best place to work in America’? Say no and you’re out

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RNS) — Dave Ramsey has spent the past three decades trying to build what he calls the best place to work in America.

From his headquarters south of Nashville, the evangelical Christian personal finance guru runs a media and live events empire that includes a popular national talk radio show. Tickets to workshops on topics such as “EntreLeadership”  run from $3,000 to $10,000.

Thousands of churches around the country, meanwhile, host Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University,” a 9-week program built around his principles for handling money “God’s way.”

Ramsey’s primary product, he says, is hope, often in short supply when debt mounts up. That’s something Ramsey knows firsthand. When he was in his mid-20s, Ramsey and his wife owed millions after his real estate business failed. Following advice from a church friend, they rebuilt their lives.

The people who have followed his path now make pilgrimages to perform their “Debt Free Scream” on his radio show — celebrating  that Ramsey’s methods gave them control of their lives.

But inside the company’s $42 million headquarters, which opened in 2019 in Franklin, Tennessee, Ramsey’s orchestration of what he calls a “predictable and reliable and safe and godly” company has been under stress from COVID-19, and Ramsey’s demands for unquestioning loyalty.

Ramsey’s intolerance for dissent has created what former employees call a cultlike environment, where leaders proclaim their love for staff and then fire people at a moment’s notice.

Ramsey Solutions, former employees and their spouses say, is run more like a church than a business. A review of court documents, company emails and recordings of staff meetings backs up these sources’ claims that company leaders attempt to exert control over employees’ personal lives.

At a staff meeting in July, Ramsey railed at his staff after an employee sued Ramsey Solutions for firing her for having premarital sex, which is against company policy, and said he would pay the price to protect what he had built out of love for his employees.

“I am sick of dealing with all this stuff,” Ramsey bellowed, according to a recording obtained by Religion News Service. “I’m so tired of being falsely accused of being a jerk when all I’m doing is trying to help people stay in line.”

In this July 29, 2009, file photo, financial guru Dave Ramsey sits in his broadcasting studio in Brentwood, Tenn. Ramsey Solutions later moved to a new corporate headquarters in Franklin. (AP Photo/Josh Anderson, File)

In a sarcastic email responding to a request for comment on this story, Ramsey Solutions wrote, “We want to confirm for you that you are right, we are horrible evil people.”

In a follow-up email, the company said that it contests many of “the facts, details and conclusions” of Religion News Service’s reporting,” without specifying their objections. The company also declined to comment on pending litigation. (The entire statement can be found here.)

Religion News Service’s request for comment was also emailed to all the staff at the company and to local pastors. Many of them emailed or called, either to tell how Ramsey’s teaching had changed their lives and their passion to change the “toxic money culture.”

Former employees also described Ramsey as a great place to work, at least at first. 

In the spring of 2020, Heather Fulk’s husband, Jon, was working as a developer for Ramsey Solutions, a job that offered great co-workers and a family-friendly schedule. The company’s mission, too, was something Jon could believe in, his wife said.

Heather was more skeptical. For one thing, there was the spousal interview. In his 2011 book “EntreLeadership,” Ramsey recommends that companies vet spouses to make sure their hire is not “married to crazy.”

“When hiring someone, you are employing more than just the person,” his website advises. “You’re taking on the whole family. And when they are married to someone who is domineering, unstable or simply full of drama, you’ll end up with a team member who can’t be creative, productive or excellent.”

Heather Fulk balked: She didn’t want to work for Ramsey, her husband did. She had no desire to risk being labeled a “crazy spouse” or to cost her husband a job. But after Jon got the position, Heather said, the company had little impact on their personal life, except for their feeling that they had to keep her credit card a secret — consumer debt is a Ramsey no-no.  

From the beginning, Ramsey downplayed the virus. His March 2, 2020 radio show began with a long rant against the news media, who, he said, were overstating the threat.

“You would think that the black plague was coming through the U.S., listening to people whine,” he told his audience. “You guys have lost your mind out there.”

He went on to say that the virus only affected the weak and infirm and that everyone else should get on with business as usual. He vowed to keep the company’s live events rolling, warning there would be no refunds.

“We have people calling in, they are wanting to cancel stuff for a live event in May — let me tell you how much of your money I am going to give you back if you don’t come for the coronavirus in May,” he said. “ZERO. I am keeping your money. You are a wuss.”

Plugging a “Live Like No One Else” cruise, scheduled for late March, Ramsey said he would go on the cruise, even if he was there “by my freaking self.” The cruise was later canceled.

Staffers, who are called “team members,” heard the same message. Don’t freak out. Trust company leaders to make wise decisions. Remember, the company existed to give people hope even in hard times.

“You are ok,” Ramsey said in an all-staff email published by the Nashville Scene in March after a company employee tested positive for COVID-19. “Ramsey is ok. This will soon be a memory.”

Within a few days, a second team member tested positive. Headquarters was shut down on March 20. Although the work-from-home experiment went well, the company’s leaders soon decided that Ramsey was not a work-from-home employer.

On May 4, the company’s offices reopened and, despite at least 100 positive cases in the subsequent seven months, have remained open since. Work continued on a $50 million addition to the company headquarters, which would house an additional 600 employees. 

Heather Fulk. Courtesy photo

Ramsey’s return to in-person work frustrated Heather Fulk. She has asthma, which puts her at higher risk if infected with COVID-19. After learning employees were being called back to headquarters, she made what she thought was an innocuous comment in a private Facebook post.

“Jon’s company wants to bring all 900 employees back asap when a majority can do their work from home,” she wrote on April 20. “I do *not* understand how people don’t see we are setting ourselves up for a huge second wave. Ugh, people make me so angry.”

Before long, Jon got a call from his supervisor who said a co-worker had reported Heather’s comment. They had a screenshot of the post, sent by the co-worker’s spouse.

A few weeks later, Jon was fired. In his exit interview, Armando Lopez, head of human resources at Ramsey, confirmed that the cause was his wife’s social media comment, according to a recording of the meeting.

“There is definitely a line in the sand that we have drawn, for good or for bad,” Lopez is heard saying on the recording. “But it is a definite point that we are making.”

Ramsey Solutions offered $18,000 in severance, provided the Fulks would sign a nondisclosure agreement and agree never to make any negative comments about Ramsey.

The couple refused, forfeiting the severance. The company later claimed in a cease-and-desist letter that Ramsey policies that Jon signed at his hiring required him to keep details about Ramsey confidential.

Heather said that turning down the money was the right thing to do, despite their having to rely on friends who bought groceries and gave them money to pay their bills — a sign, she said, that God was looking out for them.

“I didn’t want to live under the fear of if I say something,” she said. “Dave is watching, you know. And he is. He’s always watching. I just didn’t want to live under that cloud.” 

In mid-May, someone at Ramsey Solutions   filed an anonymous complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging that the company was not doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a record of the complaint in OSHA’s database.

That led to an angry tirade from Ramsey during a staff meeting last May. After ranting about how the pandemic was affecting his golf game, he said the company had told OSHA it was not going to do anything in response to the complaint. 

“So whoever you are, you moron, you did absolutely no good, except piss me off,” he told staff. “You are not welcome here if you are willing to do stuff like that. If you are really scared and you really think that leadership is trying to kill you … please, we love you. Just leave. We really don’t want you here.”

He warned employees not to contact anyone outside the building with their concerns.

“If you really think the people here are evil, bad people and you think that you can effect change by reaching outside of here, you are wrong,” he said. “And you are not welcome.”

Against the recommendation of his board not to address the OSHA complaint, Ramsey said he felt duty-bound to talk about it, because “I love this place and I really don’t want any morons here.” If he found out the person’s identity, he continued, “I will fire you instantaneously for your lack of loyalty, your lack of class, and the fact that you are a moron and you snuck through our hiring process,” he said.

Then he went on to tell employees how much he loved them and how Ramsey Solutions was still the best workplace in the world.

Rachel Self did not buy it.

A former user-experience designer at Ramsey, Self said Jon Fulk’s firing was a sign that something was wrong at the company. “That was proof to me that they meant what they said about some of these threats,” she said. “He was just gone.”

Self, who grew up in a Southern, evangelical home where her mom was a big Ramsey fan, said she had heard there had been issues at the company, but, like the Fulks, she liked the stable work environment and the company’s mission.

It was a chance, she said, to do something bigger than “just making a product people don’t need.” Besides, she said, “People were just kind. Exceedingly, glowing, Christian kind.”

Hired in January 2020, she was trained in the company’s 14 core values, which include having a “self-employed” mentality, never giving up and working “as unto the Lord.”

Co-workers asked her about her “Dave story”: a tale about how Ramsey had changed their life.

“It was like asking, ‘How did you meet Jesus?’” she said.

Returning to the office during the pandemic, however, Self became uncomfortable with the level of risk. People would lean over her desk to talk with her without masks, paying no heed to social distancing. Wearing a mask in the office, she said, was seen as a sign of distrust in the company’s leaders.

She doesn’t blame Ramsey alone. “A lot of Christians these days think COVID is not real,” she said. “I think that’s the underpinning problem.”

Amy Fritz, a Christian writer from Spring Hill, Tennessee, whose husband, Nathan, worked for Ramsey from 2012 to 2019, said that long-term staffers learn to dismiss his rants as just Dave being Dave. They love the work and keep their heads down.

“I think you sort of get inoculated to it,” Amy said.

It isn’t the Dave Ramsey she expected. Having read his EntreLeadership book, she said, “I thought, wow, here is a Christian businessman who works at a for-profit that’s about Jesus,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be amazing to be part of that?”

During the interview process, Fritz said she was asked about the company’s famous gossip policy. Ramsey often described gossip as “when you discuss a negative with anyone who can’t solve the problem.” He is ruthless in rooting it out.

 “We will not have it. I will fire your butt for this,” he boasted at a 2017 leadership event.

When the interviewer asked what she would do if her husband came home frustrated after work, Fritz said she would tell him to “talk to your leader.” At the time, Fritz said, she believed it.

While Nathan finished his interview, a member of the “Lampo Ladies,” a group of employee spouses, gave her a tour of Nashville. (Until a company rebrand in 2014, Ramsey Solutions was known as the Lampo Group.) 

Her husband was offered the job but first the couple would have to submit a budget to show that they could live on the salary Ramsey offered.

It was a stretch, said Fritz, but the couple made it work. And the excitement of going to work for Ramsey overwhelmed any concerns they had.

“We felt like we were chosen,” she said.

After they moved, Nathan’s new co-workers showed up to help unload the couple’s moving van. The next day, more Lampo Ladies showed to unpack boxes and set up their home. For years, Fritz did the same for other new employees.

 “They just provided this awesome sense of community,” said Fritz, who would eventually serve as a volunteer administrator for the Lampo Ladies Facebook group and encouraged wives of employees to join. “Nathan felt like he was going to Disneyworld every day.”

Doubts about the company began to creep in only after a 2014 incident that came to be known as “Twittergate.” After several anonymous Twitter accounts began to make fun of the company culture, the Daily Beast reported at the time, Dave Ramsey offered bounties during a staff meeting for anyone who would identify the tweeters.

The Daily Beast also reported that in 2011, Ramsey pulled out a gun to make a point about how much he hated gossip — a detail that a company official would later confirm in a deposition. Since that time, Ramsey has boasted to staff about carrying a gun at all times.

Fritz defended the company during Twittergate.

“Kind of bummed to see you tweet in support of an untrue hit piece. My husband works at Lampo. So, we actually know the truth,” she tweeted after the Daily Beast piece. The possibility that something was wrong at Ramsey, she told RNS, was too “horrible to consider.”

But she remembers thinking, “I don’t want people to see Dave’s character.” She also began to worry about the company’s merging of Christian mission and business opportunism. “When you mix faith, Christianity, and business, it can sometimes feel icky,” she said.

Some employees question how much of the culture at Ramsey Solutions is driven by Christianity and how much by a pursuit of profit.

In November 2018, as the company was gearing up for a multimillion-dollar book launch for Ramsey radio host Chris Hogan’s “Everyday Millionaires,” Hogan’s wife, Melissa, came to Ramsey leadership with allegations that Chris had been unfaithful to her.

The husband of a woman Chris had an affair with had begun to comment on Chris’ Twitter feed, responding to his tweets with Bible verses about adultery. Melissa Hogan believed that the allegations against her husband would become public.

Melissa told RNS in an email that she went to see Ramsey to discuss what to do. The company, she said, had been supportive of her and her husband after their youngest son was diagnosed with a rare disease. She also knew, given Ramsey’s outspoken stand against adultery, that coming forward could cost Chris his job and was concerned about the couple’s future. 

“If their spouse can’t trust them, neither can I,” Ramsey wrote in “EntreLeadership,” and the company has been willing to defend its code of conduct in court.  

In July 2020, Caitlin O’Connor, a former Ramsey Solutions employee, sued the company, claiming she had been fired after requesting maternity leave in the summer of 2020. According to the lawsuit, O’Connor emailed Lopez, the human resources chief, on June 18, 2020, asking for accommodations under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act because she was 12 weeks pregnant.  

A week later, after meeting with two members of Ramsey’s operating board, O’Connor was fired for being pregnant and not married, according to the lawsuit. Board members and Lopez told her it was because she had violated the company’s code of conduct.

The lawsuit claims the company’s “righteous living” core value “discriminates against employees who do not strictly adhere to Ramsey’s interpretation of ‘Judeo-Christian’ values for non-work related behavior.”

Ramsey’s lawyers denied any discrimination. “Defendant admits that Plaintiff’s employment was terminated because she engaged in premarital sex,” which the company’s court filings said is a violation of its core values.  

The day after news of the lawsuit broke, Ramsey defended the company’s policies during the company’s regular Wednesday “devo” meeting, a mandatory all-company chapel service.

Ramsey told employees that the policies were necessary to maintain a predictable, safe and “godly” culture. Without them, he said, Ramsey would be just like any other company, a “cesspool” of sex and racism and #MeToo complaints. Sex outside of marriage is wrong, he told employees, according to a recording obtained by RNS.

“Don’t talk to me about how you love your pastor and your church. And I just moved in with my boyfriend,” he said. “That’s so freaking inconsistent and stupid.”

People who disagree with company policies should leave, he said, because the company would not sanction “misbehavior.”

“And if you don’t like that, this is your cue,” he said. “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.”

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, secular employers, especially larger ones, are generally barred from discriminating on the basis of religion and other factors. Federal law also bars discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. 

But at-will employment states such as Tennessee permit employers to fire employees for almost any reason, said Holly Hollman, general counsel and associate executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Many companies have codes of conduct that bar behaviors also frowned on by religious groups.

Still, she said, there is a difference between a secular employer and a faith-based one. Secular employers like Ramsey, she said, are not exempt from Title VII, even if their owners are religious. A Christian boss such as Ramsey can’t require employees to share his beliefs or practice Christianity the way he does.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the owners of Hobby Lobby, who claimed their Christian faith prohibited them from paying for certain kinds of contraceptives. But that was a narrow ruling and very case-specific, said Hollman.

“There is no religious exemption under Title VII based on the piety of the owners,” she said.

Stuart Lark, a Colorado Springs attorney who advises nonprofits on personnel issues and religious accommodations, said that in recent years, the courts have supported the religious exercise rights of commercial employers.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has expressly held that employers do not forfeit their religious exercise rights when they enter the commercial marketplace,” said Lark. He thinks that for-profit companies whose owners have strong religious beliefs may be exempt from Title VII in some cases.

“It’s still an open question, and the answer may depend on whether the employer can establish that its activities and policies exercise or express its religious beliefs.” he said.

On his leadership blog, Ramsey has defended his rights to enforce a moral code and to fire people for things like extramarital affairs. “I’ve got a right to tell my employees whatever I want to tell them,” he wrote. “They freaking work for me.”

People attend a worship service entitled “Watch the Darkness Flee,” Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, at Ramsey Solutions headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee. RNS photo by Bob Smietana

After RNS asked to interview Ramsey and Hogan and to request comment for this story, the company invited a reporter to attend a worship service entitled “Watch the Darkness Flee” at the company’s headquarters, where hundreds of team members gather in the building’s atrium to sing worship songs. Almost no one wore a mask. There was little social distancing. 

“Ramsey, may we be those who trust him even in the day of trouble, because we know he is good,” one of the worship leaders said as the service drew to a close.

In the end, Ramsey did not fire Hogan. Instead, after a meeting that included the Hogans, leaders from their church and other members of the company’s board, the company set up a “restoration plan” for the couple’s marriage that would allow the book tour to go forward. After the tour, Chris would take time off to work on the couple’s marriage.

Melissa Hogan said she agreed with the plan at first but then became concerned at the level of control that Ramsey’s leadership wanted.

“In essence, as part of that process, we were to waive confidentiality with our therapists in order for them to report to Ramsey Solutions’ leaders,” she said in her email. “I now recognize that to be unhealthy, controlling, spiritually manipulative, and deeply wounding.”

According to emails obtained by RNS, the leadership at Ramsey offered to pay for marriage counseling, with “regular and full reports” from the counselor to Ramsey leadership. Dave also asked two of his colleagues to work with the pastor and elders at the church the Hogans attended to get reports on the couple.

 When Melissa Hogan disagreed with parts of the Ramsey restoration plan, she was told that she “lacked hope for her marriage’s future” and lacked faith in the company’s wisdom. She was eventually barred from her husband’s book tour.

“During a process that was supposed to help restore our marriage, Ramsey Solutions’ board members attempted to manipulate and control me through emails and phone calls,” she said in her email. “They characterized their plan as aligning with the Holy Spirit and suggested that things would not ‘end well’ if I made choices to support healing in my marriage and family that either were not directed by them or decisions that they did not approve.”

Ramsey officials justified their approach by saying that working for the company was a “ministry and a mission,” and her husband had a “calling on his life.”

After the Hogans filed for divorce, Ramsey told employees in a May 2019 all-staff meeting that Chris Hogan was going through what Ramsey characterized as a “really nasty divorce” and that Melissa had shown up unannounced at his office to make angry and untrue allegations about her then-husband.

“Suffice to say, there are no angels on this story,“ he said.

Ramsey said that some staff had already begun to believe rumors that the leadership was somehow covering up misconduct on Chris Hogan’s part. Leadership, on the other hand, had put “rumor and innuendo aside” and focused on fact, he said.

“Looking at it, it was messy but there weren’t clear lines. And we said, OK, not because we are taking up for Chris because he’s getting ready to go on book tour but because there was not a clear line,” Ramsey told his employees at the staff meeting. “If there was a clear line, we would have taken the hit and canceled the book tour. But there wasn’t. And Chris wouldn’t be here anymore.”

Documents in the Hogans’ divorce filing tell a different story.

According to documents related to the divorce proceeding obtained by RNS, Chris Hogan admitted in March 2019 that he had committed adultery with multiple women during his marriage, including affairs with a former Ramsey co-worker and one of his wife’s relatives that lasted more than a year.

He admitted lying to his employer about the affair with the co-worker and about his relationships with “one or more women.” Hogan also admitted having oral sex, “sensual touching” and “sensual kissing” with one or more women during his marriage.

Melissa Hogan said she provided a statement to RNS because she disputed Ramsey’s retelling of her interactions with company leaders.

“During his remarks at the May 2019 staff meeting, Dave Ramsey also publicly mischaracterized my actions during the ensuing process as involving anger, hyperbole, and drama,” she said. “The fact is that I repeatedly expressed to them my support and concern for my husband, my marriage, our testimony as believers, and the truth.”

She added: “The trauma I experienced from my interactions with Ramsey Solutions’ leadership was significant, given their public image and their conflicting and controlling communications with me.”

Chris Hogan did not respond to a request for comment.

At the May 2019 staff meeting, Ramsey told his employees,“If you are worrying about our integrity in leadership and are we covering up for (Hogan) because he is a big brand, the answer is no. No.”

For Fritz’s husband, though, the company’s handling of the Hogan situation was the last straw, his wife told RNS. For years, company leaders had fired team members for violating the code of conduct, even for minor offenses. Now, Fritz said, the rules didn’t seem to apply.

Fritz’s husband and a number of his colleagues eventually quit over the situation. “God has used this organization to do some wonderful things and bring hope to many,” Fritz said in a now-deleted blog post after her husband left. “It broke our hearts to see some of the rot behind the curtain and that it appeared to go all the way to the top.”

Watch the video: Bez mámy na POLARU (May 2022).


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