We need to talk about the politics found in fringe Christian eschatology.
Radical literal readings of the Bible and prophecy are pushing dangerous political ideas.
I grew up in a very interesting home. My mother, bless her heart, believes some nuts stuff about the world and particularly eschatology. Growing up, we stored plenty of non-perishable food for the inevitable nuclear war that Glenn Beck convinced her was coming. We dug a well in our backyard so that we could have water for the end of the world. The weirdest thing is that she didn’t even think we would be here when it happened, because she believes strongly in a pretribulation rapture.
Fundamentalists like my mother believe in the literal nature of all prophecy, and this makes them susceptible to many dangerous claims so long as they are couched in Fundamentalist and apocalyptic rhetoric.
Literal interpretations of Apocalypse
Some of the more concerning theology in fringe Evangelical movements doesn’t come from the controversy surrounding Genesis 1, it actually comes from Genesis 6 and the Book of Revelation.
My mother has attended the Pre-trib Study Group Conference in Texas for several years. This conference holds that all prophecy in scripture will be fulfilled, especially the end times prophecies of a Millenial kingdom (Where Christ will reign on earth for a 1000 years) and a pretribulation rapture (Jesus will meet Christians in the air so they don’t have to deal with God’s genocide of earth). They also believe that the temple must be rebuilt and Israel must be “reunited” in the land, for all of this to occur.
Dr. Chuck Missler was one of the presenters at the Pre-trib Study Group Conference a number of years ago. Missler, along with other influential fundamentalist teachers, push a highly literal interpretation of prophecy. They believe that through examining the book of Revelation we can glean political information that pertains to world events today.
Through the misintegration of science and technology, premillenial obsessed teachers proof text a number of dangerous claims about how Christians should interface with politics. I will address some of these claims in the next section. A more popular claim among these folks is that we need the current state of Israel to have all the land, because that will allow for the tribulation to begin and bring about the end of the world. The political implications are obvious, they believe in a one-state solution.
My mother read a book once about the bioscience of interpreting Genesis literally. Books about Nephilim and the Bible are proliferating across the more radical parts of Christianity, and I rarely see people talk about their implications. Many of these authors, such as Trey Smith who has created a series of “documentaries” supposedly exposing the truth about fallen angels, think centaurs were real because evil men before the global flood spliced biogenetic DNA between creatures creating hybrids.
This movement argues that the Bible indicates the flood was sent not merely because men were evil, but also because the human race became genetically impure. Genesis 6 says that nephilim took human wives, and their argument goes that the fallen angels had inseminated every person other than Noah’s family, and that he was the final “clean blood” not tainted by fallen angel blood. Thus they are able to justify a global flood that wiped out all humans, on the grounds of genetics. Further, this movement believes that the fallen angels survived and live among us today (So much for that flood idea). Some in this movement have gone as far as arguing that all human leaders are actually part nephilim, a very similar conspiracy to Reptilian or Illuminati ideas.
In the comment section under a post about Trey Smith’s documentary regarding nephilim, User Little Bright Feather said,
Nephilim are the fallen angels that followed Satan (Lucifer) from heaven. They were all suppose to be drowned in the Great Flood but many escaped it and then came back. They continued to infiltrate the human blood line to make a line of their own to rule over the Earth and to look more like humans in order to pass — and they have been ! ALL top world leaders are related by these Nephilim, and we have called them the Illuminati. Some even today are born with Nephilim features, being extra tall or born with a 6th finger, etc. The Nephilim of old were like 15 feet tall. Boy David slew the “Giants” that warred with the people trying to take over ruling Earth back then.
Almost all leaders today are of the Nephilim bloodline.
The things I have read in forums and heard from Church going Christians about Genesis 6 have unnerved me, and the usage of biblical end times prophecy as a tool for political propaganda has disturbed me.
Politics of the End Times and Prophecy
These ideas may seem like harmless conspiracies. Who cares if someone thinks that a literal rapture is coming in their life time? Who cares if some people believe fallen angels have infiltrated world leadership, or that a world wide flood was used to “purify” the human blood line?
These ideas are not neutral and they impact the political and social beliefs of those who hold them. The belief that the human race was “purified” smacks of eugenics and a Nazi ideology of a “pure” blood line. The belief that Israel must control the entire “ancient land of Israel”, is an idea that is used to push colonization and abuse of Palestine. Using images of the coming Apocalypse, Christian organizations rend money from Christians whether it be by selling holy land tours that focus on the coming Armageddon battle, or by selling conference tickets to susceptible “super fans” of prophetic scripture.
These ideas have implications, and I have seen those implications in action.
One of the dangers of a belief in end times prophecy being a literal and tangible event, is that it encourages a specific set of beliefs towards U.S. policy with Israel. Growing up, I was taught that if America did something bad to Israel something bad would happen to America. There was a book called “As America Has Done To Israel” by John McTernan which supposedly proved that every bad thing that has happened to America since the 1960’s was Gods punishment for not supporting Israel. The title is a reference to an Abrahamic prophecy that God will punish enemies of Israel.
The description of the book states:
Is America on a collision course with God?
There is a direct correlation between the alarming number of massive disasters striking America and her leaders pressuring Israel to surrender her land for “peace.”
Costing hundreds of lives and causing hundreds of billions of dollars’ damage, dozens of disasters including devastating earthquakes, raging fires, hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, and violent tornadoes have hit America — and always within twenty-four hours of putting pressure on Israel.
What can you do as an individual — and what can America do — to change the direction of our country in relation to Israel and prevent the increasing number of calamities?
The book even blamed 9/11 on our failure to support Israel. This is dangerous rhetoric that misleads many Christians conservatives into a radical support for an Israeli ethno-state, on the basis of bad research.
CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION.
Christian Zionists believe in a literal end times period that can only be brought about if Israel takes back all their land, and the Temple is rebuilt on the Temple mount. Currently, the Dome of the Rock mosque stands there, which they believe to be horrific and evil. So… like whats their plan? I am worried, genuinely worried. Their desire to support Israel does not come from a genuine desire to support the Jewish people, after all a good number of the folks in this movement are heavily anti-Semitic. They desire to support Israel for the selfish purpose of starting their Apocalypse.
The use of Biblical texts to argue Israel owns the land has been a recurring issue in even more mainstream segments of the Church. I have seen Baptist institutions advocate for the removal of Palestinians on the basis of God giving the land to Abraham, and no other reasoning. This is how the theology is weaponized into political talking points for right wing movements to take advantage of.
Climate change denial
Theology is also being weaponized by religious right wing political movements, led by folks like the Heritage foundation, to deny climate change. The denial of climate change is wrapped up in a support for fossil fuels and the destruction of the environment by big business, but for the Christians I knew growing up it was a non-question.
The world can’t have existential threats, since the only existential threat is found in their prophecy of the end times. Many Christians I grew up with denied climate change and its dangers on the basis that it will be God who will destroy the earth, not man made climate change. This is a blatant rejection of science in the name of a tenuous at best reading of the Bible. Christians who adopt stances against the existence of climate change are refusing their responsibility to be stewards of creation, a command ironically found in Genesis.
Fear of Globalism (which leads to nationalism)
Revelation says there will be a world wide government in the end times, run by the Anti-Christ. This interpretation of the Bible was famously depicted in the Left Behind book series and its subsequent movies. The Left Behind books depict a near future world, where everything happening today is imagined as the end of days. The series translates modern issues into a theological framework called dispensationalism, that is dead wrong. This view of the end times engenders a fear of organizations like the U.N, and global relationships more generally. This fear of globalism can easily be weaponized by nationalists, particularly white nationalists. Even today we see the same people who support radical notions about Genesis and Revelation nearly always stand with Donald Trump’s brand of white supremacy (Hey Pat Robertson, is Jerry Falwell Jr. with you?).
Fears of the end times have been used to engender fear and paranoia among many Christians. One way that interpretations can be used to create fear, is by simply pointing out that America isn’t mentioned in the Bible. To folks like my parents, this is proof that America is going to suffer a massive nuclear war in the next few years. After all, the end times can’t happen unless all the conditions of Revelation are satisfied. Growing up under this constant threat of nuclear war wasn’t particularly healthy for me, and contributed to the anxiety I face today as a person. Further, the Christian right who support this are pouring money into Netanyahu’s colonization of Palestine and supporting racist, violent, and fascist movements in the name of Christ. Christ would be rolling in his grave, if he was still in a grave. #Risen #Blessed
Theology is increasingly being weaponized as propaganda. I was raised in a pretty radical community, who entertained problematic ideas on a daily basis. I hope that this brief discussion of Christian eschatology and its political bends has been helpful.
For Christians reading this, remember that this criticism does not apply to all Christians. I hope that this discussion will encourage you to revisit your notions about these topics, and perhaps even challenge these interpretations of scripture when you see them from your Christian friends. Revelation is a beautiful book, but when you use it for political purposes you reduce scripture to propaganda for the Republican party. Genesis is a vast and important narrative, but when you use it to justify eugenics you are missing the point.
Also centaurs were not real. Sorry guys, I really wanted it to be true as well.