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Christian fundamentalist views should be challenged

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | 11:30 a.m. CDT; updated 5:55 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Today, there are millions of fundamentalist American Christians who believe that the Bible is inerrant — in other words, literally true. In keeping with this faith in Biblical inerrancy is the absolute belief that Jesus Christ will return to conquer a devilish Anti-Christ and his demonic forces, and will, in turn, establish a Christian millennial kingdom on Earth.

These two affirmations lead conservative fundamentalists of the political-right toward apocalyptic visions of the future of our planet. For many of these folks, the Bible’s prophecies concerning the end of human history are being revealed in “sign of times” phenomena such as the spread of AIDS, the increasing development of weapons of mass destruction, rising crime rates, and the outbreak of international wars — especially in the Middle East. Accordingly, “sign of times” is the beginning of a doomsday scenario which includes three additional steps:

1: the Rapture, 2: the Tribulation and 3: the Millennium.

At the on-set of the Rapture, faithful Christians, along with deceased, true followers of Jesus Christ will suddenly vanish from the Earth and “will be gathered up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (First Thessalonians, 4:17). Then a seven-year Tribulation, which is described in the Bible’s Book of Revelation, will reflect God’s judgment on the non-believing rebellious people of the world who will be destroyed by pestilence, plagues, fires, and nightmarish monsters which He will let loose on sinners everywhere. Then, following Israel’s total occupation of its “biblical lands”, hundreds of millions of soldiers from all over the world, led by demonic spirits and the Anti-Christ, will attack Israel and trigger a final battle at a place called Armageddon.

Although there are many differing views of the details of the Second Coming of Christ, fundamentalists generally agree that the Tribulation will end as Jesus returns from heaven to earth. According to the Book of Revelation (19:14-21), the Lord Jesus will appear, and the armies of heaven clothed in fine linen will follow him on white horses, and he will slay the Anti-Christ and his forces. In so doing, Christ will forcefully put an end to man’s cruel rule on Earth, and will rule it in a way it should have been ruled if man had obeyed God’s will. Then, the Millennium will commence and will establish one thousand years of paradise on Earth. Thus, given the promise of the Rapture and the Millennium, many of today’s Christian fundamentalists maintain that Armageddon is not really their problem, and any thought to avoid it or to improve the prospects for long term human development is not a vital concern.

The late fundamentalist preacher, Jerry Falwell, believed that nuclear weapons would be widely used in the Battle of Armageddon. In his 1983 statement on “Nuclear War and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ”, he wrote: “The Tribulation will result in such bloodshed and destruction that any war up to that time will seem insignificant.” When asked why a nuclear Armageddon would not bother him, Falwell replied: “You know why I’m not worried? I ain’t gonna be here.”

When Christian fundamentalists adopt Falwell’s view of the world, of history, and the future, they set people aside as helpless victims and passive agents who are totally incapable of shaping and directing human destiny. So, why worry about global warming, nuclear war, or the increase of deadly conflicts throughout the world?

Christian fundamentalists, like all other Americans certainly have the right to their cherished religious beliefs. And because their religious beliefs have considerable influence on U.S. presidential and congressional politics, it is fair and essential that non-fundamentalist Christians, people of other faiths and non-believers alike, pose the following questions in the public dialogue:

1. Is it not inconsistent on the one hand to depict Jesus as a non-violent, loving, forgiving healer of bodies and souls while, on the other, adhering to the notion that he will return to Earth as commander-in-chief of the holy warriors of retribution?

2. Is it reasonable to believe that a God of love and mercy planned from the beginning to purposely destroy His Creation and the creatures He made in His own image?

3. How does the fundamentalist, apocalyptic vision of the future effect human motivation (especially of young people) regarding the education and hard work required to solve our most pressing human-made global problems?

These questions are not just questions of religion. They are also questions which have a direct bearing on politics, education and human survival itself. Thus, they must be openly and fairly dealt with in churches, schools, and political settings throughout the country.

Bill Wickersham is an adjunct professor of Peace Studies at MU, a member of Veterans for Peace and a member of the national steering committee of Global Action to Prevent War.


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Comments

Keith Pond April 20, 2008 | 1:31 p.m.

"When Christian fundamentalists adopt Falwell’s view of the world, of history, and the future, they set people aside as helpless victims and passive agents who are totally incapable of shaping and directing human destiny."

Really? Do you have any evidence with which to broadbrush an entire people group? Or even the majority within that group? Or is this merely another example of Elmer Gantry stereotyping?

God's love and God's justice are not divisible. Pitch your spears at Fundamentalists all day long. Your issue, though, is with the Bible and not Christians. Your gripe is with the Christ of the Bible and not those who follow him.

(Report Comment)
Patricia Burns April 24, 2008 | 10:07 p.m.

The battle of Armageddon is a Plague event. Trumpet events follow Seal events followed by Plague events. Seal events have not yet concluded.

At the Sixth Plague the way is PREPARED for the soon coming battle of Armageddon, and the Dragon and the beast and the false prophet, and their armies are gathered together (by Spiritual forces) into "a place" for the battle (Re.16:12-16, Jer 51:36, Jer.51:49, Isa.63:2-3).

After the Seventh, and final, PLAGUE, after the great city Babylon comes into remembrance before God, after the fall of that great city Babylon (Re.16:17-21, Revelation chapter 18), the battle of Armageddon will be fought.

The battle will be fought after the marriage of the Lamb has taken place in heaven. The church of God (1 Cor.10:32) throughout all ages (the wife) has made herself ready (Re.19:17) and are the armies of the Lord that accompanies Him to the battle (Re.19:14).

The end of the battle of Armageddon will mark the beginning of the Millennium.

Directly after the battle of Armageddon (Re.19:11-21) is fought, and after the beast and the false prophet are taken in the battle and cast into the lake of fire (Re.19:20), the Lord will stand upon the mount of Olives (Zech.14:4).

Saints of the most High (Dan.7:22), the Lamb’s wife, will live AND reign with Him throughout the Millennium, the thousand years (Re.20:4).

Patricia (ndbpsa ©)
Author of the self-study aid, The Book of Revelation Explained © 1982

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