EDITOR, The Tribune.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ announcement to the nation on February 21 that over 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca is enroute to The Bahamas was undoubtedly met with cynicism by a cross section of the Bahamian population that engages in newspaper exegesis.
Appointing Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) President Bishop Delton Fernander to the National COVID-19 Consultative Committee has done little in allaying the fears of these Bahamians regarding AstraZeneca. While Minnis was addressing the country via a Facebook streaming video, one commenter suggested that the AstraZeneca vaccine is the mark of the beast of Revelation 13. About a week prior to Minnis’ address, former BCC President Bishop Simeon Hall told The Tribune that a preacher had also warned that the vaccine is the mark of the beast. Poor biblical exegesis could very well serve as an impediment to the Minnis administration’s stated aim at getting a large segment of the population vaccinated, thus preventing The Bahamas from positioning itself to take full advantage of an anticipated economic recovery, especially since Revelation 14:11 threatens eternal condemnation to those who receive the mark of the beast.
Those who argue that the COVID-19 vaccine is the mark of the beast are way off course, from a hermeneutical, exegetical and historical standpoint. While John’s message was predictive from his vantage point, I believe Revelation (at least the overwhelming majority of it) is historical from our 21st century vantage point. To tens of thousands of Bahamians raised on the Scofieldian prophetic scheme taught on TBN by Hal Lindsey, John Hagee and David Jeremiah, what I am writing would obviously come off as heretical. The only eschatology these Bahamians know is what is presented in Tim Lahaye’s Left Behind series. This is the same eschatology that helped to fuel violent tensions in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians (Stephen Sizer, Christian Zionism; Timothy P. Weber, On the Road to Armageddon), while Bible prophecy teachers in the United States pocketed millions from the sales of their paperback books. For example, Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth has sold over 25 million copies worldwide since its initial release in 1970.
Faulty eschatology has the potential of hurting the Minnis administration’s COVID-19 vaccination agenda, and by extension the entire country, as tens of thousands of Bahamians love sensational theories. Left unchecked, these prophecy experts will soon argue that the Minnis administration is colluding with the Antichrist. Unfortunately for the National COVID-19 Consultative Committee, Bahamians who swallow hook, line and sinker the notes in the Scofield Reference Bible will believe these prophecy experts, especially since the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organisation are intimately involved in this entire process. For an interesting expose on C.I. Scofield and his Bible, the readership would do well to consult Joseph M. Canfield’s The Incredible Scofield and His Book and David Lutweiler’s The Praise of Folly. Due to space limitations, I will have to continue this subject in another letter to the editor. Suffice to say, I believe that the BCC was being too mild when it stated that there is insufficient evidence to support the theory that the AstraZeneca vaccine is a fulfilment of Bible prophecy relative to the mark of the beast in Revelation 13. To put it bluntly, there isn’t one shred of evidence that it is even remotely related to the mark, as I will seek to show in a follow-up opinion piece.
Freeport, Grand Bahama,
March 29, 2021.