Orr Forum: Is the Evangelical Doomsday Upon Us?

Wilson welcomed Dr. Matthew Avery Sutton to campus March 29. Sutton’s books talk about a topic that many people think about: the apocalypse, or in other words, the end of times. Sutton is a professor of history at Washington State University and has spent his time going through the past and studying Evangelicalism.

In his first talk, Dr. Sutton analyzed the works of David Koresh, Harold Camping, and Billy Graham. All three held one thing in common: they demonstrate the continuing power and appeal of doomsday beliefs in modern U.S. history. Throughout this talk, Dr. Sutton referenced the prospect of doomsday and people stockpiling on things like food, water, and even weapons. There are people who are trying to predict when Jesus will come back and when our last day on earth will come, but so far none have been right.

Sutton quickly talked about politics and how some Evangelicals believe that in the end government cannot be trusted. He also briefly touched on what the Evangelicals thought doomsday would look like, which he went more in depth with in his second talk. Unlike those who just stockpile things and try to prepare themselves for doomsday, Evangelicals do not focus so much on themselves. They spend their time spreading the word of God and helping those come to know God. They want everyone to be redeemed so that they will be saved when the end comes.

This tied into his second talk where he went more in depth of the Evangelicals and how they believe the end will happen. Evangelicals know how the world will end from the Bible and they know the signs that are to come, as mentioned in the book of Revelation, (though some of the images are not to be taken literally).

For the Evangelicals, it is a believed that those who believe in Jesus and God will be saved and raptured. This means that those who believe in Jesus will vanish in a blink of an eye and be united with God in the Kingdom of Heaven.

After the rapture, Jesus is to come back to earth where those who are left behind will endure a tribulation. The tribulation is a period where there is nothing but hard times, pain, and torture. Jesus coming back to earth also means that the rise of the antichrist will come. The antichrist is believed to be someone in a position of high power and have control over the economy. Then there will come the time when Jesus and his angels will have a war with the antichrist.

Because of this, Sutton says that from his studies, these Evangelicals will not trust in the government when the end comes. With the antichrist rising and taking power in a high place, they believe that the antichrist could rise into government and even become the President of the United States. We will still have a president, of course, and the Evangelicals believe that the president’s job is to make our nation the best as it can be so that when judgment day comes, the nation may not be judged harshly.

However, no one knows when that will happen. For those who have tried to determine when the end of the world would come, they are all guessing. It is not said anywhere when Jesus will come back for his followers. The Christians know that this day will come, but do not know when. As Sutton said in conclusion, “No one knows except God.”

For more information on the Orr Forum, contact David True at david.true@wilson.edu.


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