The Role That Bible Prophecy Plays in Conservative Politics

One of the reasons conservatives lose politically and socially is because a majority of them (mostly Christians) are preoccupied with Bible prophecy and the soon end of the world. They believe they’re living on the precipice of some great eschatological event that is always on the horizon — an any-moment rapture that will leave behind a screwed up world.

They look at world events, like generations of Christians before them, and conclude that the end must be near. I heard Glenn Beck say something similar during the second hour of his June 18, 2013 radio show. I’ll comment on his remarks in a future article.

Since the late 1970s I have been studying, critiquing, and debating this very popular but erroneous prophetic view. There are just enough Christians who believe in a pretribulational rapture to have an effect on politics.

I realize that some of you who are reading this hold a pre-trib rapture position and are active, but there are millions more who are not. I have more than 30 years of letters and emails that have been sent me to prove it. This doesn’t count the numbers of sermons I’ve heard and books I’ve read on the topic pushing n non-involvement.

Nicolas Cage in Left Behind reboot

I was hoping against hope that when the last of the Left Behind books was published that the preoccupation with prophecy would be muted. The series was originally designed to be only three volumes. Public interest (i.e., money in book sales) changed the original scope of the series to an expansive library of 16 Left Behind books, 40 volumes of kids’ books and related Left Behind spin-offs like graphic novels (upscale comic books), video games (Left Behind: Eternal Forces and Left Behind II: Tribulation Force), and films.

Kirk Cameron starred in the first three Left Behind films. Now we learn that Left Behind the movie has been rebooted. This time it will star veteran actor Nicolas Cage. The films barely made back the money they took to produce. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the book series was not happy with the quality of the films:

“My dream has always been to enter the movie theater with a first-class, high-quality movie that is grippingly interesting, but also is true to the biblical storyline — and that was diluted in the first attempt. But Lord willing, we are going to see this thing made into the movie that it should be, and that all the world sees it before the real Rapture comes.”

LaHaye is still preoccupied with the “rapture,” and he wants millions more to embrace the doctrine.

Late great planet earth (book)
Published in 1970 and predicted the “rapture” by 1988

For decades Christian prophecy writers have claimed that a “rapture” will take place. They’ve been predicting the event for more than 140 years. When Israel became a nation again in 1948, we were assured by Hal Lindsey in his multimillion best-selling The Late Great Planet Earth (1970), Chuck Smith, Edgar Whisenant (88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 88), Tim LaHaye, and others that the “rapture” had to take place within 40 years of 1948, that is, in 1988.

Here we are 25 years removed from that date and no rapture. There’s a simple reason for it: The Bible does not teach that the church will be removed from the earth prior to a seven-year period that includes a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, the rise of an antichrist, and a worldwide tribulation where billions of people will be killed.

I realize this is a popular position, but when studied by paying close attention to the time texts (this generation, near, shortly, quickly, at hand, etc.), it’s clear that the New Testament is describing events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Does this mean that our world is not in a mess? Not at all. But let’s remember that there were those that went through the French Revolution, the Civil War, and the First and Second World Wars who were convinced that the end was nigh for them.

A number of prophecy writers contend that Israel becoming a nation again in 1948 changed the timetable. There isn’t single verse in the New Testament that attaches any prophetic significance to Israel’s reestablishment as a nation. In fact, there isn’t a single verse that says anything about Israel becoming a nation again.

Yes, I am aware of the fig tree illustration in Matthew 24:32 (compare this to Luke 21:29–30 where Jesus says “Behold the fig tree and all the trees.”) In biblical terms, Israel is the olive tree (Rom. 11:17–24), and what Paul was describing in Romans 11 was happening in his day (v. 5).is-jesus-coming-soon-paperback-cover-art

If you are interested in this topic, I recommend Is Jesus Coming Soon?, Last Days Madness, Why the End of the World is Not in Your Future, 10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed and Answered, Basic Training for Understanding Bible Prophecy (one of the actors in the original Left Behind film series watched this video series and left behind the Left Behind prophetic system), Identifying the Real Last Days Scoffers, and Left Behind: Separating Fact From Fiction.