Ordinarily, I would send out this kind of post to my Web3 subscribers, but I took a poll of my readers on various platforms and asked which of two different book ideas would most intrigue them. While it was a close race, the idea with the most votes was a book about cryptocurrencies and the end times. The other idea was an overview of Web3 publishing.
While I will likely tackle both ideas within the next year, I think the idea on the end times is prescient, for a few reasons. Where did it come from?
Since the beginning of this year, I've been selling books at physical locations in and around the Dallas Metroplex. Most of these have been in Kroger grocery stores, and I've done quite well with it, I might add. One discussion that seems to pop up quite often when I am discussing my book Web3 Social: How Creators Are Changing the World Wide Web (And You Can Too!) with fellow Christians is the Mark of the Beast. It appears that many of my Christian brothers and sisters fear cryptocurrencies, or at least have some reservations about them, due to the book of Revelation.
I don't hold this against them, but I think the concerns are based in large part to a lack of understanding about the technology and how it works.
That isn't to say there aren't legitimate concerns regarding digital currencies, but that's where my book would come in. My intent would be to educate Christians on cryptocurrencies, how they work, why they are important, and how they differ from the rise of similar technology that several governments around the world are developing. Called Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), these digital currencies have some major differences with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Monero, and Ethereum. My book will explain those differences and encourage Christians to learn more about cryptocurrencies in order to ascertain the benefits of them in the event that the Son of Perdition surfaces in our lifetime.
That brings me to my next point. People who study the end times (both theologians and lay persons), specifically the books of Revelation and Daniel, often fall into four categories:
Amillennialists believe the thousand year reign of Christ is taking place right now, during the church age.
Postmillennialists believe that Christ establishes his kingdom on earth through the preaching of the gospel and that the church will grow continuously until Christ's return.
Historic Premillennialists believe, unlike amillennialists and postmillennialists, in a literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth and that the rapture will occur after a great tribulation that will try the saints. That is when Christ will set up his thousand-year reign. Historic premillennialism is so called because many of the early church fathers adhered to this view.
Dispensational Premillennialists rose in popularity during the 19th century when an English Plymouth Brethren leader by the name of John Nelson Darby drew a distinction between the church and the nation Israel. Darby's views were made popular in the United States by C.I. Scofield. Dispensationaists can be split into three distinct groups with regard to the Great Tribulation. Pre-tribulationalists believe Christ will rapture true believers prior to the Great Tribulation while Post-tribulationists believe the rapture will happen afterward. Mid-tribulationists believe the rapture will occur in the middle the Great Tribulation, usually at the midway point.
The obvious question is which of these views is correct? I will not attempt to answer that question. Rather, my focus will be in explaining each of these views with regard to our current historic context so that Christians can better understand how cryptocurrencies may fit into each of these end times scenarios. The ultimate goal will be to educate Christians on the features of the technology so that, in the event that a Mark of the Beast is instituted in our lifetime, Christians will be armed with real knowledge about a technology that could help them survive a great tribulation when anyone who refuses to accept the Mark of the Beast will not be allowed to participate in the global economy.
To that end, I took the liberty of ask ChatGPT to write me an outline of such a book. After receiving the first outline, which I thought was overly academic in nature, I asked for a revision. Below are those two potential outlines.
Outline: Cryptocurrencies and the End Times: A Christian Perspective
My first attempt to have ChatGPT outline a potential non-fiction book on the subject of cryptocurrencies and the end times resulted in the following:
A. Setting the Stage
1. The rise of cryptocurrencies
2. The significance of CBDCs
B. Theological Significance
1. Cryptocurrencies in the context of eschatology
2. Purpose and goals of the book
II. Understanding Cryptocurrencies
A. Chapter 1: What Are Cryptocurrencies?
1. Definition and history
2. Key features of decentralized cryptocurrencies
B. Chapter 2: The Technology Behind Cryptocurrencies
1. Blockchain technology
2. Mining and validation processes
C. Chapter 3: Benefits and Risks of Decentralization
1. Advantages of decentralization
2. Challenges and concerns
III. Centralized Digital Currencies (CBDCs)
A. Chapter 4: Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs)
1. Definition and purpose
2. How CBDCs differ from cryptocurrencies
B. Chapter 5: Implications of CBDCs
1. Impact on traditional banking
2. Privacy and surveillance concerns
IV. Eschatology and End Times Views
A. Chapter 6: Christian Eschatology
1. Overview of different eschatological views (premillennial, postmillennial, amillennial)
2. Relevance to modern life
B. Chapter 7: Eschatology and Technology
1. Exploring the relationship between technology and the end times
2. Historical perspectives on apocalyptic thinking
V. Cryptocurrencies and Eschatological Perspectives
A. Chapter 8: Decentralized Cryptocurrencies and Eschatology
1. Analyzing how decentralized cryptocurrencies align with different eschatological views
2. Speculation on the role of cryptocurrencies in end-time scenarios
B. Chapter 9: CBDCs and End Times Scenarios
1. Examining the potential implications of CBDCs in light of eschatological views
2. Ethical and moral considerations
VI. Practical Guidance for Christians
A. Chapter 10: Navigating the Crypto Landscape
1. Advice for Christians interested in cryptocurrencies
2. Balancing financial stewardship and biblical principles
B. Chapter 11: Responsible Engagement with Technology
1. Ethical considerations when using digital currencies
2. Maintaining a Christian worldview in the digital age
A. Summarizing the main points of the book
B. Encouraging thoughtful reflection and dialogue among readers
C. Emphasizing the importance of staying informed and spiritually grounded in a rapidly changing world
A. Glossary of key terms and concepts
B. Recommended further reading and resources
IX. Endnotes and References
A. Citing sources and references used throughout the book
X. About the Author
A. Brief author bio and contact information
At the end of the outline, ChatGPT appended this paragraph:
This outline provides a structured framework for your book, incorporating both technical information on cryptocurrencies and theological discussions on eschatology. It aims to help Christians understand the implications of decentralized cryptocurrencies and centralized digital currencies while considering their faith-based perspectives on the end times.
Not satisfied with this outline, I decided to ask ChatGPT for a revision and to make it less academic. Here's what I got.
Outline: Cryptocurrencies and the End Times: A Christian's Guide
A. Welcome to the Digital Age
1. The growing influence of cryptocurrencies
2. How digital currencies are changing the financial landscape
B. Why This Book Matters
1. Exploring the intersection of faith and finance
2. What you can expect to learn
II. Cryptocurrencies Demystified
A. Chapter 1: Cryptocurrencies Unveiled
1. What exactly are cryptocurrencies?
2. How they're changing the way we transact
B. Chapter 2: The Magic Behind Cryptos
1. Breaking down blockchain technology
2. How miners keep the system secure
C. Chapter 3: The Good and the Bad
1. Benefits and opportunities of cryptocurrencies
2. The potential pitfalls and risks to watch out for
III. Centralized Digital Currencies vs. Decentralized Cryptos
A. Chapter 4: Meet CBDCs - Centralized Digital Currencies
1. What's a CBDC, and why are governments interested?
2. How CBDCs differ from your typical cryptocurrency
B. Chapter 5: The Privacy Predicament
1. Concerns about CBDCs and personal privacy
2. How your faith informs your stance on surveillance
IV. End Times and Your Faith
A. Chapter 6: The Christian End Times
1. A simple breakdown of different end times beliefs
2. Why it's important for today's Christians
B. Chapter 7: Navigating the Technological Frontier
1. The link between technology and eschatology
2. How your faith guides your use of modern tech
V. Cryptocurrencies: A Faithful Perspective
A. Chapter 8: God's Money and Cryptos
1. Examining cryptocurrencies in light of your Christian faith
2. Potential roles cryptocurrencies could play in end-time scenarios
B. Chapter 9: CBDCs and Christian Values
1. How CBDCs align with or challenge your faith-based beliefs
2. Ethical considerations surrounding centralized digital currencies
VI. Navigating the Crypto World
A. Chapter 10: Stepping into the Crypto Space
1. Practical advice for Christians interested in cryptocurrencies
2. Balancing faith and financial stewardship
B. Chapter 11: Being a Faithful Digital Citizen
1. Ethical principles for Christians when engaging with digital currencies
2. Maintaining your Christian worldview in the digital age
A. Summing It Up
B. Encouragement for your faith journey in the digital age
C. Staying grounded amidst the changes
VIII. Additional Resources
A. Glossary for new terms
B. Recommended books, websites, and communities for further exploration
IX. Endnotes and References
A. Citing sources and references
X. About the Author
A. The author's background and contact information
Again, ChatGPT appended the following paragraph at the end of the proposed outline:
This revised outline maintains the core topics of cryptocurrencies, faith, and eschatology but simplifies the language and focuses on practical guidance for a popular Christian lay audience. It aims to help readers understand cryptocurrencies and digital currencies while considering their Christian values and beliefs in the context of the modern digital era.
My Reaction and Your Response
I'm not particularly satisfied with either of these outlines. For one thing, after having written hundreds of outlines over the years, I know that books rarely fall into such neat little packages where each chapter has only two talking points. I would expect that some chapters would have more. But that's a minor concern. I have more significant concerns with both outlines, which means I likely end up outlining the book myself or going back to ChatGPT for another revision, two, or three.
What I'd like now is to hear from you. Do you have a preference on which outline I should use? What suggestions would you make for improvement? And, most importantly, as a Christian, what would you like to know about cryptocurrencies to help you better understand what part they might play in any future end times scenario?
Your response to the above questions would help me formulate a better outline and write a better book. Your response is appreciated.
Allen Taylor is the author of Web3 Social: How Creators Are Changing the World Wide Web (And You Can Too!) and Cryptosocial: How Cryptocurrencies Are Changing Social Media.
First published at Paragraph. Image from Unsplash.