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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 launched, in 2017, a special Ministry to Trump’s Cabinet, where it enjoys the undiluted support of such officers as Dr. Ben Carson). This manifesto, entitled “The Bible On When War is Justifiable” (let that sink in!) states that God’s use of Earthly war “is not difficult to understand” since it hastens Jesus’s return, according to prophecy. The sole role of government is to assist in Jesus’s return; government therefore has a duty to wage war if war will hasten the Second Coming; and anyone who resists a government-waged war (for instance, pacifists) “will receive condemnation upon themselves.”

The details are too numerous for me to go into in detail, but I will summarize. Suffice it to say that evangelicals, like the ones at Capitol Ministries, believe the final war is imminent…that Donald J. Trump was selected by God to wage it…that while the fighting will be hard, in the end America (that is, God) will triumph…that in the coming war, any and all weapons are justified, including nuclear weapons…and that when the war is finally won (which means the complete vanquishing of America’s enemies, who include Islam and “embedded enemies,” or Democrats and liberals), then the stage will have been set for the Rapture, Second Coming, and lifting to heaven of all good Christians.

If you, dear reader, are sane—which I’m sure you are–you know that the above script sounds like a Hollywood religious thriller like the Da Vinci Code, or the ranting of an inmate in a lunatic asylum. But remember this: the biggest, most dependable part of Trump’s base are evangelicals, followed by conservative Catholics. They constitute the majority of his Cabinet, his judicial appointees and his advisors. To be sure, many of these people are delusional, which is a hallmark of schizophrenia. But there they are, and right now, they’re running the country. And what they want—what they’ve been waiting for all their lives, and now feel is within their grasp—is for Jesus Christ to return to Earth, and thence to bring them up to heaven. This is why they’re itching for war with Iran—which would spread to a larger conflagration across the Middle East, bringing in Russia, possibly China, and NATO.

War! Catastrophe! Bloodshed on an impossible scale!

Let’s not fool ourselves: this is the earnest desire of Pence, of Pompeo, of Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr. and all the death-desiring Christians who worship Trump. They want the world to end—so that they can have eternal life in the bosom of their Christ. That, my friends, is the Republican platform, no matter how much they otherwise lie.

  1. When World War I broke out, some Christians mistook it for the onset of the “final war” fulfilling Biblical prophecy.

    When World War II broke out, some Christians mistook it for the onset of the “final war” fulfilling Biblical prophecy.

    (Given the tens of millions who died in WWII, could we ever imagine another tragedy of that immense scale . . . short of a nuclear war?)

    The RAND Corporation “think tank” here in Los Angeles pondered “why” the world hasn’t seen a World War III:

    “The linkage between a more peaceful world and more states with
    democratic political systems is the belief that democratic states are
    unlikely to fight wars against each other — what is often called the
    ‘democratic peace’ proposition.

    . . .

    “Explanations of the democratic peace typically fall into one — or a
    combination of — three main categories:

    “• Democratic institutions place constraints on the ability of leaders
    to fight other democracies, or simply make them reluctant to
    choose war;
    “• Norms shared by democratic states cause them to view each
    other as pacific and unthreatening; and
    “• Democracy tends to foster economic interdependence, which reduces the likelihood of war.”


  2. When I “Googled” the key words “what does the Catholic Church teach about The Rapture?”, the results were dissatisfying.

    No definitive, church clergy-issued declaration.

    Instead, I found articles by observers of the Catholic Church.

    One search result from 2001:

    “The Rapture Trap: A Catholic View”


    A bio on the author:

  3. I can’t explain what the Catholic Church’s position is on rapture. But I can say that the church will have a lot to answer for, due to their reluctance to stand up to trump and trumpism. This is a church that was indelibly stained for failure to stand up to Hitler. And now the pedophile priest scandal has brought it to the brink of irrelevance. It’s hard to see how it survives: 3 strikes and you’re out! And yet, the church has survived for 2,000 years. Maybe it will limp through again.

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