Christianity Johnson on 01 Dec 2008 12:00 am
This article contains interesting statistics about religious beliefs in the United States and Canada:
One of the most forbidden religious topics in recent years, including during the run-ups to the Canadian and American elections, has been the End Times.
Also known as the Apocalypse. Armageddon. The Second Coming of Christ. The Rapture. The Last Judgment.
Some Christians, in Canada and the U.S., say it’s unfair, an act of persecution, to publicly raise such explosive doctrine. They act as if their view of how God will end the world is just a private matter….
But Christian views about a biblically predicted Apocalypse will remain influential in North American and global politics despite Tuesday’s defeat of John McCain and his Pentecostal running mate, Sarah Palin.
Beliefs about the Last Judgment have been shaping political attitudes to the environment, war and the Middle East. They’re not going to go away because of this Republican setback.
A Newsweek poll found 55 per cent of Americans believe “that before the world ends the religiously faithful will be saved.”
In the same vein, a binational Ipsos Reid poll by Andrew Grenville found 46 per cent of Americans agreeing: “The world will end in the Battle of Armageddon between Jesus and the Antichrist.”
In Canada, 20 per cent believe in this same prediction, that the planet will end in a divinely ordained cataclysm — typically involving war, environmental disaster and economic collapse.
In Evangelicals and the Continental Divide, Atlantic Baptist University scholar Sam Reimer found 77 per cent of Canadian evangelicals (compared to 71 per cent of American evangelicals) agree with the statement: “There will be a literal Rapture followed by a 1,000-year reign of Christ.”
Many American pre-millennialists welcome wars against Muslims in the Middle East as signs of the End Times. Prominent pre-millennialists believe the Bible predicts Israel must occupy the Middle East before Jesus returns. (They also believe Jews who don’t convert to Christianity will suffer eternal torment.)
Even though the media rarely stress the importance of End Times doctrine, Newsweek at least has linked pre-millennialist “apocalyptic scenarios and Bush’s apocalyptic rhetoric and confrontational Mideast policies.”
Many pre-millennialists also believe ecological catastrophe is a (positive) sign of a coming Apocalypse.
At the end of the article the author offers his viewpoint: “In the end, so to speak, I side with educated evangelicals and others who judge pre-millennial thinking a Biblical misinterpretation and unhealthy delusion.”
Tens of millions of Americans are participating in that unhealthy delusion.