Eschatology and the people who have a terrifying lust for the End of Times
May 20, 2024
by Lance

Eschatology: The Study of the End Times

Since the beginning of recorded history, humanity has been fascinated with the concept of the end times. This fascination, and for some, preoccupation, is known as eschatology—the doctrines and theology concerning the final events of the world. For Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Israel is at the epicenter of these beliefs.

Though many consider end-times enthusiasts to be fringe, their influence and actions have the potential to spark the very apocalyptic events they foresee. For example, some messianic Jews in Israel advocate for the demolition of the Dome of the Rock to construct a third temple, a move that could provoke significant reactions from the global Muslim community.

Eschatology in Christianity

In the United States, eschatological teachings are prevalent among the religious right, particularly since the establishment of Israel and the advent of nuclear weapons. This group believes in the imminent return of Jesus, which will trigger events such as the invasion of Israel by Gog and Magog, the rise of the Antichrist, the final battle of Armageddon, and the establishment of God’s Kingdom. Televangelists often reassure their followers that the Rapture will save them from impending nuclear war.

Christian end-times believers are notably represented in the U.S. nuclear command. For two decades, chaplains at Vandenberg Air Force Base taught a course on “Christian Just War Theory” to those responsible for launching nuclear weapons, using biblical passages to justify atomic warfare.

Prominent figures like Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, and Pat Robertson have linked the second coming with the onset of nuclear conflict. Some followers hope that a future Arab-Israeli war will be the catalyst for these events. Their support for Israel is often based not on love for Jews but on the belief that Israel is central to the anticipated Apocalypse.

Eschatological views also influence perspectives on climate change. Some Christians deny climate change, believing that God alone will end the world. This denial is often intertwined with support for fossil fuels and environmental destruction promoted by big business and political allies.

Eschatology in Islam

Terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and ISIS also exploit end-times narratives. They believe it is their duty to hasten the apocalypse, using attacks on the West to provoke a global reaction. The U.S. invasion of Iraq and involvement in Syria are seen as steps towards this end. Recent ISIS-K bombings in Moscow, retaliating against Russia’s support of Assad in Syria, exemplify this strategy.

A common thread among Christian and Islamic extremists is a sense of grievance—economic disadvantages, perceived loss of privilege, and scapegoating of others. Grievance politics is widespread in the U.S. today, fueled by religious and political figures.

In Islam, some prison imams teach that dying as a martyr can ensure a path to heaven, leading to the radicalization of petty criminals into terrorists. While Islamic jihadists lack nuclear weapons, countries like Pakistan possess them, and Iran is close. North Korea’s willingness to sell nuclear technology further complicates matters.

Eschatology and Modern Technology

Social media and encrypted communications facilitate the spread of extremist ideologies. Online tutorials teach bomb-making and poison gas production. The democratization of advanced weaponry means that non-state actors now have access to destructive technologies.

Advancements in technology also play a significant role in modern eschatological movements. Drones, for example, have been used for surveillance and attacks by both state and non-state actors. The accessibility of these technologies raises concerns about their potential use in triggering or escalating conflicts with apocalyptic implications.

Eschatology in Popular Culture

Eschatological themes have permeated popular culture, influencing literature, films, and even video games. Works like the “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins depict the Rapture and the subsequent tribulations, capturing the imaginations of millions and reinforcing eschatological beliefs. Movies such as “The Seventh Sign” and “The Omen” also explore end-times scenarios, reflecting societal anxieties about the future.

Political and Global Implications

Eschatology is not confined to religious discourse; it has tangible political and global implications. Policies influenced by eschatological beliefs can shape international relations, defense strategies, and environmental policies. For example, the U.S. support for Israel is often bolstered by evangelical Christian groups who view the country’s existence as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. This support influences American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Additionally, the denial of climate change by some eschatologically motivated groups poses a significant challenge to global efforts to address environmental crises. By framing ecological disasters as signs of the end times, these groups undermine scientific consensus and hinder necessary policy changes.

Suggested Reading:

  1. Nine Lives by Aimen Dean
  2. We Need to Talk About the Politics Found in Fringe Christian Eschatology
  3. Search for “Eschatology, nuclear weapons, Israel” or similar phrases on Google.