For a disclaimer, as a person of faith, I’m in agreement with very little of the US White Evangelicals’ religious teachings. I’m not an expert of this subject, however, I’m curious as to how the Evangelical thinking is influencing the politics of today. I’ve had to rely on a myriad of sources including my ex-Evangelical daughter to be able to write about this subject.
This is my 12th post in a series delving into the subject of the White Evangelism community in the USA which accounts for over 35% of the president’s base of voters. Its members comprise about 26% of the US population, who self-identify themselves as Evangelicals, and they have voted in 2016 for the republican President Donald Trump by a margin of 80%, plus, they continue to approve of his presidency at rates that exceed 70%.
In addition, the president relies on a group of Evangelical Christians within the White House for spiritual guidance. There are 2 key members of the Evangelical faith who work with President Trump, his Vice President Mike Pence and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
It should be obvious that because they enjoy an out-sized level of influence over President Trump, as they are the largest, most reliable faction within his base of voters, the president would be highly motivated to please them. It doesn’t help that this community is entrenched in the belief that President Trump has been sent by God to represent and champion their causes.
The White Evangelicals’ obsession with their end-times Rapture thinking helps to explain how and why they’ll back even very flawed politicians like the republican President Donald Trump and that Alabaman alleged pedophile Roy Moore, because they are perceived to be elected officials who’ll champion their causes that will lead them to the Rapture that’s supposed to occur in the world’s end-times.
The following write-up gives the reader a quick overview of many of the tenets held by White Evangelicals in the USA. Please note two important points, that their end times beliefs are relatively new as this dogma appears at the earliest in the 18th century and that it is mostly an American phenomenon.
As per a 12/12/2017 VOX report, “#RaptureAnxiety calls out evangelicals’ toxic obsession with the end times” by Tara Isabella Burton:
Ideas about the “Rapture” are rooted in a quintessentially American form of evangelical Christianity
“Christian traditions have varying understandings of the end of the world, rooted in different interpretations of the Bible (in particular, the book of Revelation). The narratives around the “end times” and the “rapture” are largely an American phenomenon.”
“While early Christianity was intensely focused on eschatology (i.e., the study of the end of the world), the “end times” theology as we know it today is fairly recent. It began in England, among Puritan preachers in the 18th century such as Increase and Cotton Mather, who preached the notion of a “rapture” in which believers would be brought to Jesus before a period of “tribulation” and turmoil on earth, resulting in Jesus’s Second Coming.”
“The rapture concept then started to proliferate in America after the Civil War, through the efforts of figures like John Nelson Darby, who referred to it as Dispensationalism.”
“The idea of “Dispensationalism” is based on the idea that history is divided into different “dispensations,” or epochs. Different groups of Dispensationalists had different interpretations of exactly how many of these there were, but major epochs included the Law (the period between Moses and Christ), the period of Grace (Christ’s coming until the modern day), and, finally, the Kingdom, the epoch before the end of the world. That would begin with the rapture, continue through a period of turmoil and chaos — usually thought to be one millennium — ending with the Second Coming of Christ.”
“Central to Darby’s theology was the idea that the end of days would also include a fulfillment of the Old Testament promise to the Jewish people that Jerusalem would be restored to them. While subsequent dispensationalist preachers have differed on whether this happens before or after the rapture, in practice it means that Jerusalem is a vital part of many evangelicals’ narrative: The restoration of Jerusalem to the Jewish people is part of the sequence of events that heralds the end times.”
Today, versions of this theology are extremely common in American evangelical thought. Up to 65 percent of evangelicals identify with “Premillennial Dispensationalist” theology (i.e., the belief that the rapture precedes 1000 years of tribulation) — a strikingly high number given how recent, and how specific to American evangelicalism, this theology is. (As a rule, mainline Protestants do not subscribe to Premillennial Dispensationalism).
This is nothing new. As Tony Weber writes in Christianity Today:
Premillennialists made much of the current problems of society and interpreted them as “signs of the times.” Political corruption, pornography, alcohol abuse, the rise of monopolies, labor unrest, the desecration of the Lord’s Day by immigrants, worldliness in the church, liberal theology, international conflicts, forest fires, earthquakes, revivals, the rise of cults like Christian Science and Millennial Dawnism (Jehovah’s Witnesses), polio and influenza epidemics, changing weather patterns, the rise of Zionism, the sinking of the Titanic, the partitioning of Europe after World War I, radio—these and countless other events and trends were seen as proof that premillennialism was correct and the end of the age was rapidly approaching.”
“But in today’s political climate, these attitudes are particularly striking. Often, evangelicals identify pan-governmental or “globalist” political entities with the Antichrist, a figure of evil believed to rise to power during the tribulation that follows the rapture. In the 1972 evangelical film A Thief in the Night, for example — a film many #RaptureAnxiety contributors cite as enormously influential on their childhood — the Antichrist is literally a branch of the United Nations claiming control over the entire world.”
Understanding the link between “globalist” organizations and the Antichrist in evangelical thought is vital for understanding the evangelical lens through which current affairs are viewed.
Big government, international co-operation, and organizations like the United Nations are inherently suspicious (something that makes evangelicals particular primed to the conspiracy theories of say, Alex Jones). International turmoil (particularly involving Jerusalem), war, and chaos are inherently positive, because they suggest the rapture is nigh.