The World Of White Evangelicals, Part XII/ Quick Review Of Their Overall Beliefs

Jerusalem is central to many evangelicals’ account of the end of the world. Lior Mizrahi/Getty I

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%.

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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.

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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.

Quick Review:

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.”

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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.”

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“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.”

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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.

Link: vox.com/#RaptureAnxiety calls out evangelicals’ toxic obsession with the end times/ 2017/

Related Articles:

See: UN votes resoundingly to reject Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital

11 comments

    • Dear Hugh,

      Thanks for the gracious feed back. This study of White Evangelicals in the USA has taken on the aura of my stepping into an alternate universe, a science fiction book where whatever basic truths, facts that existed, have been turned upside down.

      It is a terrifying thought that a mass murderer would have been considered by subordinates as a tool sent from God.

      Of course, current times are also frightening.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Roger,

        Bite your tongue! Would you believe that the religion of the original Icelandic Viking settlers, the old Norse paganism Ásatrú, is undergoing something of a renaissance. This is true even though, in the year 1000 it was decided that Christianity would be the only religion in Iceland.

        Hugs, Gronda

        Liked by 1 person

        • I would believe the pure version of the old Norse religions are coming back, it’s happening here in Europe. As in the UK there is something of a thriving true pagan belief system.
          I’ve listened to a few interesting radio programmes on it.
          Seems to be based on a wing of the environmentalists movements and has a certain clarity for their point of view.
          The Nazi by then had gone so crazy they had got obsessed with Gotterdammerung as an excuse for losing the war.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Gronda, I won’t add too much to my comment on a recent post on this subject. I have a friend who uses the term “Cafeteria Christians” picking select things from the bible and overlooking the larger points. Former President Jimmy Carter, who has taught Sunday school for ages, noted that things can be taken out of context to downplay the rights of women, eg.. Yet, women played a crucial role in spreading Christianity during a time when you could be put to death by the Romans.

    The other message is I think a Minister who preaches exclusion and demonization is beyond derelict in his duties. They are abusing their power. I have witnessed wonderful ministers, both men and women, who include and champion outreach to those in need. Those are the best things we can do to live up to Jesus’ teachings.

    So, when I hear people idolize Trump saying he is a gift from God, I must confess to reading a much different bible than they do. Per the cartoons above, Jesus was not a bully, he did not lie, he did not treat women and others poorly, and he spoke up for the disenfranchised. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Keith,

      I’m a fan of that James 2:24 NIV verse, “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”

      My adult children are right. These Evangelicals are being sold a bill of goods by their pastors. This belief system has taken on a cult-like quality to where its almost like millions of folks have been brainwashed to where it’s like they’re living on a different universe..

      My daughter tells me that there’s good number of Evangelicals who still don’t buy this concept of the Trinity when there are numerous bible quotes stating that there’s only one God. The number of teachings that they are missing out on, to follow these heretical fantasies is disheartening.

      There’s this passage in the book of Revelations, when John speaks of a Great Deception that man would readily believe in the Last Days because they would rather believe the pseudo science of man then the truth of God.

      I may cover this in my next blog on this subject.

      Your friend describes this White Evangelical church well, “Cafeteria Christians.”

      These are tough times.

      Hugs, Gronda

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  2. Gronda, to highlight one thing, the James 2:24 quote speaks volumes. When Christian churches punt this issue to a mean-spirited way of demonizing foreigners, it reveals hypocrisy.

    You have done an excellent job in this series. The questions to ask come from their own text. “Help me understand how what you are saying is consistent with what the bible says….” Keith

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sometimes I just kept this crazy idea about being able to rush into one of their churches and call out ‘I’m a Christian of Catholic views. I forgive you guys!’

    Liked by 1 person

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