Charagma Watch (July 22, 2003)
An Annotated Update of
"Evaluation of the Church in the U.S.A." (1982, 1983)
by John and Sylvia Ronsvalle, empty tomb, inc., Champaign, IL


XXV. Human Microchip Implants: Theology

Posted: February 11, 2004

A. Money Unused or Stolen Depending on Pretribulation or Posttribulation Views, Respectively

There are at least two major views with regard to whether or not Christians will indeed go through the end-time tribulations mentioned in the New Testament or, alternatively, whether they will be raptured to heaven at the second coming of Jesus Christ before the tribulation period. Without addressing the correctness of these two competing views, it is interesting to think about the implications of each view as they related to financial discipleship in this present 50-year old Age of Affluence.

1. Pretribulation Rapture: Money Hoarded

If, in fact, Christians are raptured prior to the tribulation, then all raptured church members' excess accumulated wealth would be left behind and not have accomplished its potential good for God's kingdom prior to the time such church members expect to be raptured. This assumes that in fact individuals with excess accumulated wealth are Christians and will be raptured.

a. Individuals

Sociologist Philip Slater lists five types of addiction to wealth, one of which is "money addicts" who like to make and accumulate it.405

b. Institutions

Many church congregations, denominational national and middle judicatory agencies, and parachurch agencies have focused on establishing large endowments and foundations.

1) Current Giving vs. Endowments: The State of Church Giving

Chapter 8 of The State of Church Giving through 1997, entitled, "The Future of Congregational Giving: The Need for Creative Church Policy," presents the basis for an emphasis on current giving rather than on building up endowments.

In this chapter, a mathematical model is presented that compares the results of the endowment approach with the results of immediate distribution. This model demonstrates that investing immediately in human beings may have more long-term benefits than building up endowment funds, even if the purpose of those endowments is also mission funding. A moratorium on gifts to endowments with a renewed focus on "endowing" human beings presently alive might provide an alternative agenda that will increase giving.406

2) Current Giving vs. Endowments: The Wall Street Journal

The September 10, 2002, issue of the Wall Street Journal had a fairly extensive above the fold, front-page story with the following four summary headlines and subheads:

a) Giving While Living;

b) Some Foundations Have a New Idea: Spend It All Now;

c) Dollars Given Today May Have More Impact on Problems; The 'Time Value' Analysis; and

d) Julius Rosenwald's Legacy.407

The continuation of the story on the inside of the paper is bannered, "Charitable Foundations Plan Their Own Demise," and reads, in part, "The spend-it-all approach has some precedent. In 1913, Julius Rosenwald, chairman of Sears, Roebuck and Co., declared, 'Permanent endowment tends to lessen the amount available for immediate needs, and our immediate needs are too plain and too urgent to allow us to do the work of future generations.' "408

c. Tragedy of Unused Billions of Dollars: Henry T. Blackaby Comments

In an October 14, 2003 presentation at the Association of Christian Foundations Meeting in Atlanta, noted author and speaker Dr. Henry T. Blackaby stated:

Do you know what one of the greatest tragedies will be when our Lord returns is—the billions of dollars that God's people have in the bank that they never used because they were using the world's methods. I believe that when the Lord returns there's going to be billions of dollars in the bank that never was used because we were only using the interest.409

d. Hoarded Wealth in the Last Days: Scripture

The James 5: 1, 3 (NIV) passage has an interesting perspective about wealth around the general time of the mark of the Beast.

1Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you...3cYou have hoarded wealth in the last days.

2. Posttribulation Rapture: Money Stolen

a. Individuals

It may be instructive to consider the implications if Christians will be on earth at the time of mark of the Beast, and believers refuse the 666 mark of the Beast needed in order to be able to buy or sell.

It would seem that such church members' excess accumulated wealth would not be accessible and usable if they are not able to buy and sell.

Indeed, the accumulated wealth of individuals and families would be confiscated and become worthless or stolen to the extent one could not access or use such wealth due to a proscription against buying and selling without the mark of the Beast.

A fairly recent historical instance in which a people's accumulated wealth was stolen by a governing entity can be seen in the Nazi's widespread confiscation of Jews' property in the past century.

Information on this historical precedent is available on the State Department Web site that "is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001" and contains the Proceedings of the Washington Conference On Holocaust-Era Assets. These Proceedings include, for example, Chapter 4 on "Nazi-Confiscated Art Issues" and Chapter 5 on "Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims."410

b. Institutions

Institutions, as well as individuals, would see their excess accumulated wealth effectively stolen were they unable to buy or sell.

c. Scripture

Jesus, speaking in Matthew 6:19 (NRSV), warns against storing up treasures where it can be stolen.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, ...where thieves break in and steal...

3. Law-Grace, Faith-Works, or Faith-No Faith

The technology and raison d'être for the mark of the beast is on the cultural horizon. Indeed, they are hurtling toward us. Both individuals as household members, and individuals governing institutions, face decisions as to whether, and to what degree, to focus their efforts on either accumulating wealth, or on distributing accumulated wealth for current word and deed mission needs in Jesus' name.

Such decisions may benefit from considering that large amounts of accumulated wealth will either be wasted or stolen upon either the Pretribulation rapture, or the Posttribulation rapture, respectively.

How those who accumulate wealth individually and institutionally—rather than use it for current word and deed mission needs in Jesus' name—are, and will be, viewed by God has to do with faith in, and accompanying obedience to, Jesus Christ.

Such questions are best seen not as ones of law-grace, faith-works, but rather faith-no faith. These topics, in the context of a review of scripture and insights from Luther, Calvin and Bonhoeffer, were considered in "The Theological Implications of Church Member Giving Patterns."411

B. ΕΠι: epi: New Testament Greek Word used for both "in" and "on": "Mark of the Beast" Is Under the Skin or On Top of the Skin?

1. Associated Press Article Touches on Issue of Whether "Mark of the Beast" Is Under the Skin or On Top of the Skin

Interestingly, a topic based on the translation of the New Testament Greek text has recently become a news issue reported by the secular press.

This topic deals with whether the text of the Bible states that the mark of the Beast presented in the New Testament book of Revelation must be on the surface of the hand or forehead, or whether the mark of the Beast may be under the surface of the skin of the hand or forehead.

The Associated Press article reads:

A Florida technology company is poised to ask the government for permission to market a first-ever computer ID chip that could be embedded beneath a person's skin.

For airports, nuclear power plants and other high security facilities, the immediate benefits could be a closer-to-foolproof security system. But privacy advocates warn the chip could lead to encroachments on civil liberties...

Theologian and author Terry Cook said he worries the identification chip could be the "mark of the beast," an identifying mark that all people will be forced to wear just before the end times, according to the Bible.

Applied Digital [Solutions] has consulted theologians and appeared on the religious television program the "700 Club" to assure viewers the chip didn't fit the biblical description of the mark because it is under the skin and hidden from view.412

2. Two Translations of Revelation 13:16

Two illustrative translations are presented in order to portray the alternative translations of "epi" as either "in" or "on" the right hand, or the forehead.

a. The New Living Translation

The New Living Translation, along with most major translations, translates "epi" as "on."

He required everyone - great and small, rich and poor, slave and free - to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead.

b. The King James Version (Authorized)

The King James Version (Authorized) translates "epi" as "in."

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

3. Translation of "epi" in Two Other Illustrative Passages

The versatility of "epi" can be observed in two additional passages.

a. Revelation 5:1

In this passage, both The New Living Translation and The King James Version (Authorized), along with most major translations, translate "epi" as "in."

1) The New Living Translation

As noted, The New Living Translation translates "epi" as "in," for the construction "in the right hand."

And I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals.

2) The King James Version (Authorized)

As noted, The King James Version (Authorized) translates "epi" as "in," for the construction "in the right hand."

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

b. Revelation 20:1

In this passage, both The New Living Translation and The King James Version (Authorized), along with most major translations, translate "epi" as "in."

1) The New Living Translation

As noted, The New Living Translation translates "epi" as "in," for the construction "in his hand."

Then I saw an angel come down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand.

2) The King James Version (Authorized)

As noted, The King James Version (Authorized) translates "epi" as "in," for the construction "in his hand."

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

4. Lexicon Uses of "epi" with hand and with forehead in Revelation "mark" passages

The word "epi" is used with hand and forehead in Revelation 13:16, 14:9, and 20:4. In four instances "epi" is used in the accusative case, and once each in the genitive for hand and for forehead.

A review of the range of uses of "epi" in A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature is informative:

a. "with the genitive...of place...lit."

1) "on, upon, answering the question 'where?'..."

2) "on, upon answering the question 'where?'; w. verbs of motion..."

3) "at, near of immediate proximity to things..."

4) "before w. persons., esp. in the language of lawsuit..."

b. "with the accusative...of place...lit."

1) "across, over w. motion implied..."

2) "of motion that reaches its goal completely...on, upon someone or someth..."

3) "of motion that comes close to someth. or someone to, up to, in the neighborhood of, on..."

4) "of motion that takes a particular direction to, toward..."

5) "against w. hostile intent..."

6) "answering the question 'where?'...on, over someth...413"

5. Summary Comments Regarding "epi"

The breadth of the use of "epi," including its sense "of place," suggests that one would situate excessive weight upon an unduly narrow and constricted sense of "epi" to insist dogmatically that "epi" is used in the New Testament literature, in general, and Revelation, specifically, to mean only and precisely, "on the surface of," exclusive of any more general sense of place.

Thus the linguistic evidence does not support the conclusion that one can be assured by "Applied Digital" [Solutions], as reported by the Associated Press, that a human microchip implant does not "fit the biblical description of the mark because it is under the skin and hidden from view."414 Indeed, based on additional information reviewed in this document, it would seem that a human microchip implant remains a viable, emerging candidate for "the biblical description of the mark."

C. Implicit Relationship between National Identification Card, Implantable Microchip, and Mark of the Beast: The Cato Institute Congressional Testimony: May 13, 1997

Economist Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute in his May 13, 1997 Congressional Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Immigration and Claim, Judiciary Committee, on the one hand noted how an implantable microchip might substitute for a national identification card, and, on the other hand, how President Ronald Reagan commented on a relationship between a national numbering system and the mark of the beast.

In the age of the microchip, centralized computers have the capability of holding and processing huge amounts of information about all 265 million American citizens...Even more sophisticated identification systems might remove the need for carrying a card at all.

Hughes Aircraft Company has a new identification technology involving a syringe implantable transponder. This "ingenious, safe, and inexpensive" worker identification technology plants a tiny microchip under the skin. It contains a ten character alphanumeric identification code that can never be duplicated. The microchip is read by an electronic scanner--the type that reads the price on the food you buy at the grocery store...

The point here is that depending on how far Congress wants to go in suppressing the rights of the individual in order to deter illegal immigration, the technology exists for a fool-proof if Orwellian identification system. If Congress were willing to further denigrate Americans' civil liberties, many new government controls to enforce our immigration laws could be erected...

Mr. Chairman, I wish to congratulate Rep. Melvin Watt for his courageous opposition to this bad idea. It saddens me to see Republicans, who took control of Congress in 1995 for the first time in forty years on an agenda of "less government, more freedom," so enamored with an idea that so fundamentally contradicts that platform. Ironically, many of the same Republicans who belittled the Clinton administration for proposing a national health security card now want an even more insidious national i.d. card system with a centralized computer data base to control illegal immigration. Indeed, some advocates of the i.d. card idea have suggested that the card could and should be used for both purposes.

I wish to remind Republicans that this idea first surfaced in a Reagan cabinet meeting in 1981. Then Attorney General William French Smith argued that a perfectly harmless i.d. card system would be necessary to reduce illegal immigration. A second cabinet member asked why not tattoo a number on each American's forearm. According to Martin Anderson, the White House domestic policy adviser at the time, Reagan blurted out: "My god, that's the mark of the beast." Anderson reports "that was the end of the national identification card" during the Reagan years. But bad ideas never die in Washington; they wait for another day.415

D. Implanted ID System Sounds Like Mark of the Beast Described in New Testament: Richard M. Smith, Internet Security and Privacy Consultant, Brookline, Mass.: December 27, 2001

Richard M. Smith, a Brookline, Mass., Internet Security and Privacy Consultant, provided succinct comments on how an implanted ID system might be perceived by "many Christians." Smith also provided quotes of the NIV translation of Rev. 13:16 and Rev. 14:9 in describing what "the book of Revelations has to say about how a VeriChip-like systems might be used in the future" and "why Christians will likely stay away from a product like the VeriChip," respectively.

Applied Digital Solutions faces a very tough sell for its new VeriChip implant ID system for human beings. A VeriChip is a small radio transmitter about the size of a piece of rice that is injected under a person's skin. It transmits a unique personal ID number whenever it is within a few feet of a special receiver unit. The technology is designed to replace ID systems such as company ID cards and medical emergency ID brac[e]lets. In the future VeriChips may also be used like driver licenses, passports, and credit cards.

For most folks, the idea of being injected with an electronic transmitter is just plain creepy. However for many Christians, the product will likely be rejected on religious grounds. They'll be worried that the use of the product will mean paying the ultimate price: eternal damnation in hell. VeriChip sounds too much like the Mark of the Beast which is described in the New Testament.416

E. Microchips Used for Buying or Selling? Possible Prototype for Mark of Beast?: The Christian Broadcasting Network: CBN News: Regent University Professor and an Internet Consultant's Response: 2002

CBN News Senior Reporter Dale Hurd reported Regent University professor Dr. Joseph Kickasola's opinion about any relationship between an implanted microchip and Revelation's mark of the Beast. Richard M. Smith, an Internet Security and Privacy Consultant, published, on <www.computerbytesman.com>, his response to Dr. Joseph Kickasola's opinion.

1. Human Microchip Implant Not for Buying and Selling: The Christian Broadcasting Network: CBN News: Regent University Professor Doctor Joseph Kickasola: 2002

CBN News Senior Reporter Dale Hurd reported Regent University professor Dr. Joseph Kickasola's comment that human microchip implants are "not for buying or selling."

Microchip technology is no longer just for Palm Pilots and cell phones, now people can store important information about themselves right beneath their skin. A chip about the size of a Tic Tac can carry up to six lines of text, readable with a scanner.

Science fiction has become reality. A Florida company plans to bring their new VeriChip to the market this year. It's a product that excites a lot of people, but worries many others...

A GPS tracking device is currently too large to fit into the tiny VeriChip, but miniaturization is probably only a matter of time. Some believe a tracking device inside the body could deter kidnapping. "We've had six Latin American countries in here in just the last two weeks, and they are begging us to create an embedded integrated technology," Bolton said.

But the thought of being tracked and carrying vital information in the body makes a lot of people's skin crawl. And it reminds some of a frightening prophecy in the Bible about the mark of the Beast.

Revelation 13 says the Beast will force everyone "to receive a mark on his right hand or forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the Beast or the number of his name... His number is 666."

Applied Digital has been attacked by some Christians for making what some fear is a prototype mark of the Beast. So does this chip, as it is now, have any relationship to the prophecy in the book of Revelation? CBN News asked Regent University professor Doctor Joseph Kickasola.

"My judgement is, no they do not," Kickasola said. "I think it's both illogical and unfair to make that assertion, and let me tell you why. I think the Bible clearly says the mark of the Beast is for buying and selling and that it is also coerced, it's government enforced. On the face of it, these microchips are for good purposes, like for medical records, like for lost children. They're not for buying or selling, as is described in the book of Revelation.417

2. Human Microchip Implant Is for Buying or Selling: Internet Security and Privacy Consultant Richard M. Smith: <www.computerbytesman.com>: February 1, 2002

In published e-mail to Dr. Kickasola, Internet Security and Privacy Consultant Richard M. Smith observes that human microchip implants "can replace credit cards."

Not being a Biblical scholar, I can't really comment on the book of Revelation. However as a technologist, it is pretty clear to me that the VeriChip identification system can replace credit cards as more convenient and secure method of paying for goods and services. A VeriChip couldn't be lost or stolen like a credit card. In addition, I believe that the technology makes it difficult for the crooks to duplicate someone's ID number.

In commerce, I would expect that the VeriChip identification system to be used much the SpeedPass system from ExxonMobil is used today:

http://www.speedpass.com/index.jsp

This system makes use of a key ring gadget to replace a credit card at self-service stations to buy gas...

A VeriChip payment system would work just like a SpeedPass, except a person would just wave their hand by a reader instead of a SpeedPass...

Even though someone might originally have a VeriChip installed in their hand as a medical id tag, the same chip could also be used in a payment system like I've outlined.

The business development folks at Applied Digital Systems are almost surely interested in the payment system market for VeriChip. It is the ultimate market for this technology because they get to sell chips to every person who uses a credit card today and readers to every merchant.418






405Philip Slater, Wealth Addiction (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1980), pp. 34-35, quoted in John and Sylvia Ronsvalle, Behind the Stained Glass Windows (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), p. 258. Slater's five types of wealth addiction are also listed in John and Sylvia Ronsvalle, "A Profile of the Lukewarm Church Member," p. 1, at http://www.emptytomb.org/ProfileLukewarm.pdf sited at http://www.emptytomb.org/research.html
. 406John and Sylvia Ronsvalle, "The Future of Congregational Giving: The Need for Creative Church Policy," The State of Church Giving through 1997 (Champaign, Ill.: empty tomb, inc., 1999), p. 72. This chapter has also been published at http://www.emptytomb.org/FutureGiving.pdf sited at http://www.emptytomb.org/research.html.
407David Bank, "Giving While Living; Some Foundations Have a New Idea: Spend It All Now," Wall Street Journal, 10 September 2002, p. A1.
408David Bank, "Giving While Living; Some Foundations Have a New Idea: Spend It All Now," Wall Street Journal, 10 September 2002, p. A8.
409Henry T. Blackaby, God's Vision, compact disk of lecture presented at meeting of the Association of Christian Foundations, Atlanta, October 14, 2002.
410Proceedings of the Washington Conference On Holocaust-Era Assets; Washington DC: Released by the Office of the Coordinator for the Washington Conference On Holocaust-Era Assets, April 1999); http://www.state.gov/www/regions/eur/holocaust/heac.html; p. 1 of 1/16/03 9:08 AM printout.
411John and Sylvia Ronsvalle, "The Theological Implications of Church Member Giving Patterns," The State of Church Giving through 1995 (Champaign, Ill.: empty tomb, inc., 1997), pp. 83-96. This chapter has also been published at http://www.emptytomb.org/implications.html sited at http://www.emptytomb.org/research.html.
412Christopher Newton, Associated Press Writer; "U.S. to Weigh Computer Chip Implant;" Associated Press article on washingtonpost.com; published February 26, 2002 7:55 PM; <http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A7240-2002Feb26?language=printer>; pp. 1-2 of 2/28/02 7:49 AM printout.
413William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (A translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer's Griechisch-Deutsches WÜrterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der čbrigen urchristlichen Literatur, Fourth Revised and Augmented Edition, 1952), (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), pp. 285-289.
414Christopher Newton, Associated Press Writer; "U.S. to Weigh Computer Chip Implant;" Associated Press article on washingtonpost.com; published February 26, 2002 7:55 PM; <http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A7240-2002Feb26?language=printer>; p. 2 of 2/28/02 7:49 AM printout.
415Stephen Moore; "A National Identification System;" Cato Institute Congressional Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Immigration and Claim, Judiciary Committee; dated May 13, 1997; http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct-sm051397.html; p. 5, 7 of 4/14/03 4:57 PM printout.
416Richard M. Smith; "Tough Sell Ahead for the Verichip Implant Id System;" published December 27, 2001; http://www.computerbytesman.com/biometrics/verichip.htm; p. 1 of 2/28/03 4:23 PM printout.
417Dale Hurd; "A Microchip Makes Its Mark: VeriChip & the Beast;" CBN News; published 2002; http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/news/020131a.asp; p. 1 of 2/28/03 4:30 PM printout.
418Richard M. Smith; "Using the VeriChip ID System to Replace Credit Cards;" e-mail to Dr. Kickasola: joekick@regent.edu; sent February 1, 2002 2:36 PM; http://www.computerbytesman.com/biometrics/vccom.htm; p. 1 of 2/28/03 4:24 PM printout.





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