End-times thinking flourishes despite evangelical political victories

Judging by the number of new books and social media posts, there has been a surge of belief and discourse concerning the “end-times,” writes Molly Olmstead in the online magazine Slate (October 6). She cites Publishers Weekly reports on the increasing reader demand for end-times topics, usually centered around interpreting current events like the pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and climate change. The rising interest in the end-times, mainly among evangelical and especially Pentecostal Christians, is odd, Olmstead adds, given the recent successes of evangelical activism as reflected in court decisions on abortion and the Republican Party platform’s friendliness to the Christian Right. The new books and “survival guides” to the end-times espouse premillennial and pretribulation teachings, stressing an imminent rapture—even as prominent Christian Right leaders are said to be “post-millennial,” teaching Christian dominion in the nation if not the world. Most of the books and the people interviewed in Olmstead’s article, such as Tommy Ice of the Pre-Trib Research Center, cite America’s decline as a Christian country and the growth of secularism as the main triggers of the end-times, with some also pointing to what they see as the stolen election of 2020. Belief in conspiracy theories such as those associated with QAnon, with their invocation of Satanic influences and hints of a prophetic figure sometimes identified with Donald Trump, has also led to apocalyptic thinking inside and outside of evangelical churches.

Source: Heidi Levine, The GroundTruth Project.

Observers cite the influence of Trump’s presidency, particularly the way his rhetoric about the “deep state” and the European Union (which many prophetic leaders regard as the launching ground for the antichrist) mapped onto longtime evangelical beliefs about the end-times. Olmstead writes that the dissonance between end-times thinking and what is called “Christian nationalism,” with its call for worldly activism to restore America’s Christian identity, may be reconciled in the belief among many evangelicals and charismatics that they are called to help delay judgment by engaging in evangelism and restoring morality in the country. But the most popular prophecy books display a pessimism about humanity, portraying a secularist and corrupt elite taking control of technology, governance, and public health (as was allegedly evident in the pandemic) to persecute believers and take control of the world. Political scientist Paul Djupe says that he sees less crafting of complex theological interpretations tied to end-times thinking and more emphasis on apocalyptic beliefs present in society in general, such as that believers will be deprived of their religious freedom.

(Slate, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2022/10/rapture-apocalypse-books-christian-publishing-trump-qanon.html?)