Monday, March 17, 2008

REVIEW & INTERVIEW: Why Christians Will Suffer "Great Tribulation" (Joe Ortiz)

REVIEW & INTERVIEW: Why Christians Will Suffer "Great Tribulation" (Joe Ortiz)
Category: Writing and Poetry
Why Christians Will Suffer "Great Tribulation"
Joe Ortiz
ISBN: 9781425984861
Reviewed By Dominique Sessons
Official Apex Reviews Rating: Four and 1/2 stars out of 5
     The sequel to The End Times Passover, Why Christians Will Suffer "Great Tribulation" sees author & scholar Joe Ortiz picking up right where he left off: presenting thoroughly researched, cogent counterpoints to the standard arguments of biblical traditionalists. Just as with his first offering, readers will find Ortiz’s follow up tome quite informative – if not somewhat distressing.
     The "tribulation" to which Ortiz refers, of course, is, according to the Christian religion, the time of great suffering that precedes the return of Jesus Christ. Traditionally, theologians and scholars have posited that followers of the Christian faith will be spared when the times of tribulation emerge. Supposedly, all true believers will be instantaneously removed from the earth in a flash, an event commonly known as the "Rapture." Following their deliverance, the world left behind will experience years of agonizing toil and torment, setting the stage for Armageddon (the ultimate battle between good and evil), the defeat of Satan and his armies, and the subsequent eternal reign of the true biblical Kingdom.
     In "Tribulation", though, Ortiz presents convincing evidence that followers of the Christian faith will not be so conveniently spared, and he also expounds on the disturbing reasons why. Relying on sound scriptural analysis and well-researched conclusions, Ortiz offers airtight, meticulous explanations regarding the true meanings behind biblical references to the "End Times" – even if such explanations provide little comfort.
     In recent times, countless individuals from all walks of life have sought to cast off the stranglehold of traditional religious dogma, instead seeking to learn the truth of all things for themselves. Why Christians Will Suffer "Great Tribulation" is a highly recommended starting point for such disillusioned souls, offering sound, factual interpretations of many previous legends & fables heretofore mistakenly applied. Though it sometimes gets a bit deep for the average casual reader, the strength & power of Ortiz’s arguments make his book required reading for believers and non-believers alike.


Official Apex Reviews Interview with Joe Ortiz, author of "The End Times Passover" and "Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation"

Apex Reviews: Joe, thanks for joining us for this interview. We’re looking forward to learning more about your books.

You spent over 20 years researching and compiling both books. Why are you so passionate about the topics you address, and where

Joe Ortiz: My passion comes from my early life, one where I have always been inquisitive about all things. My schoolmates used to tease me about my always asking the teachers questions, inferring I was kissing up to them. I wasn’t, I genuinely wanted answers. Secondly it also came from my experiences as a journalist, and my disappointment to find that not all we read in newspapers (and books), see on television or hear on the radio is true.

Therefore, when I first became a Christian (in 1975) I got really excited because my pastors and Bible teachers told me that God is truth and the Bible is His true word. However, when I started reading various Christian books and commentaries, I saw great differences between their books and the Bible. So who was I to trust, the commentators or the Bible?

Well, the Bible itself states (in 2 Timothy 3:16-17) that all ’scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ Therefore I had to trust what the Bible says. However, believing and trusting what the Bible says and being able to interpret it correctly, meant that I had to dig deep and study key words correctly to understand their exact meaning. So, how did I find out what certain words truly meant? For one thing, I used an etymological approach.

What is Etymology? Etymology is the history of a linguistic form as a word shown by tracing its development since its earliest recorded occurrence in the language where it is found, by tracing its transmission from one language to another, by analyzing it into its component parts, by identifying its cognates in other languages, or by tracing it and its cognates to a common ancestral form in an ancestral language.

Without belaboring my answer to your initial question, I’ll use the etymological example of the word "left" as is used in Luke 17:34, which is the basis for Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind thesis, that sinners will be "left behind" at the Rapture and believers will be "taken" to heaven for seven years while all hell breaks loose here on earth. If examined carefully (through an etymological approach) we find that the word "left" actually means "to forgive;" therefore, LaHaye’s premise that bad folks are left behind and believers are taken to heaven has no biblical nor academic foundation whatsoever. That one example alone should debunk LaHaye’s Left Behind doctrine; however, I have about 150 other examples in my two books to nail shut LaHaye’s Left Behind doctrinal coffin once and for all.

AR: After all the years of research and analysis, at what point did you decide it was finally time to bring the book to the light of day?

JO: I actually finished the manuscript around 1999; however from 2000 to 2004, I perused these two books over and over and over again, cross-checking, cross-referencing the data to the point of exhaustion. Finally, around May of 2004, I felt a peace about the information I present in these two books, and decided to place them on the Internet, developed a web site and began giving it away for free. After about three years, I decided to send it out to publishers to get more exposure and Author House Publishers became my official publisher.

AR: ? You offer very sound scriptural and historical evidence to back up your various claims. How were you able to come to such definitive conclusions

JO: Once again, by using the etymological approach, figures of speech, Hebrew and Greek dictionaries, concordances, as well as reading hundreds of books on the same subject, mostly written by premillenial dispensationalists (like Tim LaHaye, John Hagee, John Walvoord, Hal Lindsey) and others who believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture and Left Behind doctrine. I began to examine what those writers claimed and matched their data to the Bible’s and it didn’t jibe. Actually, I was hoping their thesis could be confirmed because I kind of like the idea of a being whisked to heaven while all hell breaks loose here on earth. But that will not the case.

AR: Please share with our readers precisely why you think followers of the Christian faith will have to endure the "Great Tribulation"?

JO: The apostle Paul told us (in the book of Acts 14:22) that we must go through much tribulation in order to enter into the kingdom of God; but unfortunately, way too many Christians today would rather believe we are immune to persecution mainly because we are Christians. I provide a great amount of scripture, especially in "Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation," to show that today’s believer is not immune to persecution. For that matter, hundreds of thousands of Christians throughout the world are suffering great tribulation as we speak; however, American Christians, especially, believe that we will be protected from persecution because (up to recently, when we experienced 911) we have become accustomed to a predominately secure life in the USA. Many American Christians rightly believe what is stated in 1 Thessalonians 4:9, which is that Christians are not appointed to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, which is true. However, there is a big difference between God’s wrath on the unbeliever and the antichristian world’s persecution of Christians. We are and have been destined for persecution. Why should modern day Christians receive greater treatment from the world than the millions who have been martyred for Christ throughout history?

AR: Our reviewer noted that, while informative, many of your claims are quite disturbing. Have you gotten any reactions from readers who think that your approach is too depressing or amounts to "doomsday prophecy"? If so, what has been your response?

JO: Yes, I have gotten a lot of heat from many who say that we (Christians) are not destined for wrath. Listen, truly walking with Christ is not going to be a picnic in the park. Christ told us to pick up our cross and follow Him. The cross is an instrument of death. We (Christians) are coming to a point in history where we will be asked by world oppressors to renounce our faith, or to choose between Christ and the world. You can read about these accounts where Christians are being killed today because they are standing up for Jesus in countries like China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc. In other words, are we American Christians prepared to die for standing up for Christ rather than serve another god, such as the gods of money, military and political power, or other heathen religions?

I share a great example of this with my readers in my second book (Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation), where I speak about three guys (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) who would not serve King Nebuchadnezzar’s gods or worship the image of gold he had set up. They were given a choice: Honor the king’s giant gold statue or be thrown in the fiery furnace. The three guys responded and said they didn’t need to defend themselves before the King in this matter. They told the King that if they are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God they serve is able to save them from it, and he will rescue them. The amazing thing is what they said next.

’Even if God does not save, we want you to know, king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’

King Nebuchadnezzar got furious with these three fanatics he ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up the three servants and threw them into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took these three men, firmly tied, and pushed them into the blazing furnace.

The end result is the three guys didn’t burn.

This particular story is an example of a theme that is repeated throughout the Bible, where we see patriarchs like Noah, Daniel, Joshua, David, et al who are divinely protected by God when they place their complete trust in Him. These examples are what my books are based upon, that God is able to rescue His children without having to Rapture them to heaven. God takes us through trials, not out of them. Will some Christians die from persecution? Yes, thousands have throughout history and thousands today and that many more tomorrow. But, like the Apostle Stephen, the first Christian martyr in history, those who give their lives so others can live, as Christ did, will be rewarded in greater fashion than those who cower as tribulation increases.

AR: We can only imagine the kinds of criticisms you’ve had to endure as a result of the points you make. Have you encountered much resistance from religious traditionalists?

JO: Yes! Those who believe in the Left Behind and Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrines are pretty adamant about their belief system. I have challenged them to read the book and then respond. They say they haven’t the time, or they are convinced their belief system is sound enough. Yet, I have been blessed by those who have read the books and we have received from them glowing testimonies, including folks like Dave MacPherson, Rick Wiles, and Richard Deem and now from Dominique Sessons.

At the beginning (as I was conducting my initial research back in 1984) I could not find anyone who had written about the same evidence I present in my two books. Only recently (in the last 4 to 5 years) have I found other authors that have come to basically the same conclusions as I do, including authors such as Steve Wohlberg, Ted Noel, Stephen Sizer, Barbara Rossing and other emerging writers.]

AR: In light of all the resounding evidence that you present, what advice can you offer to those who still refuse to abandon the traditionalist dogma that was inculcated into them at an early age?

JO: Goodness! It’s very difficult to change people’s minds about their current belief system, which makes my work seem even slower and harder. Yet, those folks who have taken the time to read all the sound evidence I provide have come back and said they now have a greater understanding of God’s end times program. I would encourage them to at least read the book, and then come back and share with me their concerns. If they can present evidence that refutes what I have presented, and it can be proven vis a vis the etymological approach I took, then I would consider making corrections. I tell folks that my books are not the end of the eschatological debate that still roars in evangelical circles. However, those who are secure about their relationship with God have no need to fear or listen to another point of view. If anything, I believe they will grow in greater faith!

AR: What has your experience been like with Author House?

JO: Good! I have a strong background in journalism and working as a publicist; therefore, after they sent out their initial press release about my books, I chose to handle those duties myself. A book, as you well know, is like your child; you know it best and also know the character and image of the books you want to project to the public.

AR: You’ve actually been involved in quite a number of different activities over the course of your life. Please share more with our readers about Joseph Ortiz, the man of many talents.

JO: Goodness! I believe (more so now) that God has His hand on me from an early age. Not that I was a religious person throughout my life. Other than a few years of Catholic training up to my early teens, I burned the candle at both ends until I accepted Christ in 1975, which was a major turning point in my life. Another turning point in my life came earlier when I landed on KABC Talk Radio in 1971. I wasn’t looking for a broadcasting career; I was just at the right place at the right time. Someone threw me the broadcasting football and I’ve been running towards the goal line ever since. I parlayed that opportunity into a very successful broadcasting, civil service, teaching and public relations career. However, throughout that entire journey, I was consumed with researching and writing this book. There were years where I spent 80 percent of my time to the project, and other times 30 to 40 percent due to supporting a family. However, from June 2000 until May of 2004, while I managed a homeless shelter in Palm Springs for 16 hours a day, seven days a week for about three and a half years without a day off, after work, totally exhausted, that’s when I studied and wrote the best portions of the book. God had my attention like never before and that’s when the books illuminated.

After I finished the final editing (in May 2004) I shared the manuscripts with renown authors like Ralph Woodrow and Dave MacPherson (experts in the eschatological genre), who read the books and encouraged me to get them out there.

Now, I’m semi-retired but still do some writing for various magazines and newspapers throughout the country; a little PR for charities that deal with drug abuse, homelessness and unwed mothers, and I also manage a few blogs and my two web sites, promoting the books every chance I get.

AR: How can our readers learn more about you, your writings, and your various other efforts?

JO: I would refer them to either one of my two web sites and all they need to know (and more) is accessible:

AR: Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

JO: Yes! We are living in precarious times. The world is rapidly changing as never before. Many Christians especially believe that the answer lies with new leadership and new changes in our government and then things will turn out alright. What I have been fortunate to have learned (having spent over 30 years in the political arena) is that mankind’s problems will never be solved by governments or any secular philosophy. And it won’t be changed either by those professing Christians who promote strong military might to solve the world’s problems, or attempting to rid ourselves from the implied threat from radical fundamentalists and religious zealots, whether they hoist and carry a purported Christian, Judaic or Muslim banner.

My two books provide the evidence as to what believers should be doing today, and what their attitude should be concerning their family, community and members of their congregation. It describes the reality the God does not want His children to play church or religion, but rather to serve those closest to them. To do whatever they can to help them carry their crosses as well as our own. It’s not going to be easy. But, as the famous Apostle Paul stated in Romans 8:36-39, while portions of my books may appear like gloom and doom, people have to keep it all in perspective, because everything turns out OK in the end: "As it is written, for your sake we face death all day long. We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

AR: Thanks again, Joe, and best of continued success to you in all your endeavors!

JO: My pleasure!

REVIEW: The End Times Passover (Joe Ortiz)
Category: Writing and Poetry

The End Times Passover
Joe Ortiz
ISBN: 9781425969623
Reviewed By Dominique Sessons

Official Apex Reviews Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5

The End Times Passover is the result of over 20 years of painstaking research and analysis, presented by author & scholar Joe Ortiz in a masterfully seamless way. Not the typical mash up of "fire-and-brimstone" doomsday prophecy, Ortiz’s tome is an informative, enlightening dissertation on the contemporary applications of ancient scripture. Compiled from the study of – amongst many other resources – various biblical translations, The End Times Passover is quite the heavy read; certainly not recommended for na├»ve graduates of "cookie-cutter" Sunday School theology.

Fans of the Left Behind series (fictionalized narrative accounts of the events in the biblical book of Revelation) will find Ortiz rather detailed in many areas that Jenkins & LaHaye treat with relative ambiguity. His comprehensive descriptions of the true intentions of the architects of the bible are eye-opening, and his fearless accostal of the tenets of traditional dogma are both inspiring and refreshing. Ortiz even delves deeply into the often overlooked area of misinterpreted scripture, revealing the lasting, damaging effects that the basic "clerical errors" have left on the mindsets of millions of believers in the faith community over the years.

Most impressive about The End Times Passover is its reliance on sound factual support from numerous historical, archeological, and concordance sources. As previously mentioned, Ortiz invested over 20 years researching, analyzing, and compiling the foundation of his points, and his arguments present a formidable challenge to even the most seasoned, skeptical theological scholar.

The ending/beginning of new millennia are typical settings for the emergence of "End Times" hysteria and hype, and it’s often difficult to distinguish between the serious and the surreal; thankfully, The End Times Passover is a clear representation of the former, which offers those disillusioned with the latter a sound alternative, as well as a perfect opportunity to embrace the realistic prospects of an unknown world & time soon to come.