Why evangelicals pray for World War III

I wrote last week about the paradox in Genesis and also about the Bible’s strangest book, Ecclesiastes. I ended that post by telling you I would be writing about why evangelicals are rooting for a world war that will kill millions, which they believe will bring about the return of Jesus Christ.

This,
too, is a paradox: why is the thing evangelicals want most—the second coming–contingent
upon the most destructive, horrible event in history?

To
get to the bottom of this conundrum, we have to start with a first principle of
evangelicalism: the inerrancy of the Bible. According to this view, every word
in the Bible must be literally true, since the Book of Books was written, not
by man, but by God. And God, being perfect, does not lie. Hence, the words of
God as portrayed in the Bible are true.

Needing
to bolster their case, fundamentalists search for clues in the Old Testament
that purport to predict several things: (1) the first coming of Jesus Christ,
(2) his death and resurrection, and (3) his return, which, they believe, will
usher in a period of global turmoil, culminating in their (evangelicals’) being
called to heaven, while rest of us go to you-know-where.

And true to Matthew 7, “he that seeketh, findeth,” it’s not hard to find anything you want in the Old Testament, the Alice’s Restaurant of holy texts. Evangelicals point to Psalms (which predict the destruction of Israel’s enemies), to Isaiah (“For unto us a child is born”), to Ezekiel (who foresaw the return of the Israelites to the Holy Land). But it is in The Book of Daniel, especially, that evangelicals (and some extremist Jews) find clues to the End of Days.

Daniel
7:13-14, for instance, is seen as directly anticipating Jesus’s arrival on
Earth (“I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man
came…and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all
people…should serve him.”
Daniel speaks also of a time of tribulation and
destruction: in 12:1-3, for instance, “and there shall be a time of trouble,
such as never was since there was a nation…and many of them that sleep in the
dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and
everlasting contempt.”

The Jewish people could not have cared less about Daniel’s hallucinogenic fantasies, but once the Christian church decided to adapt the Old Testament to their needs, Daniel came in handy. The Son of Man? Who else but Jesus! A time of trouble? Of course, the End of Days! Some dead souls to awaken, some to be eternally punished? Yes, Christians to heaven, everyone else to hell!

But it took the addition of another Book to the Canon to really cinch the case for The Rapture. The Book of Revelations, which is part of the New Testament, was written shortly after the death of Jesus and the Jews’ last war against Rome which resulted in destruction of the Second Temple, around 68 CE. Revelations is a thrilling book, filled with monsters and demons, catastrophic events and nightmarish symbols. It emphasizes the tribulations and destruction of the End Times, the return of Jesus, the Last Judgment. This has all been popularized as “The Rapture,” a term that does not occur in the Bible. Borrowing from St. Paul, it describes how Jesus’s followers will be snatched away from Earth, taken into the air and sent directly to God.

But before the Rapture and Second Coming can occur, certain conditions are required. First, Jerusalem must be restored as the capitol of the Jewish people—which is something Trump formally did last year, when he moved the U.S. Embassy there. (Fox News’ resident theologian, Jeanine Pirro, tweeted that Trump had “fulfilled Biblical prophecy” by that move.)

The other pre-conditions for Rapture are described in a manifesto published by Capitol Ministries, a far-right Christian group, organized in 1996 to conjoin Republican politics with evangelical theology (and which…


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