From Diana Butler Bass
Much chatter on news and online about WHY Trump wants to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. I suspect that most secular commentators do not understand the religious dimensions of this story.
For decades, conservative evangelicals have been longing for this recognition. They believe it is necessary in order to regain control of the Temple mount.
That is important because rebuilding the Temple is the event that will spark the events of the Book of Revelation and the End Times.
Yes, of course, there are all sorts of political and secular motives for Trump’s action. But you can’t discount those evangelical advisors. Almost all of whom take these End Times prophecies literally. Of all the possible theological dog-whistles to his evangelical base, this is the biggest. Trump is reminding them that he is carrying out God’s will to these Last Days.
They’ve been waiting for this, praying for this. They want war in the Middle East. The Battle of Armageddon, at which time Jesus Christ will return to the Earth and vanquish all God’s enemies.
For certain evangelicals, this is the climax of history.
And Trump is taking them there. To the promised judgment, to their sure victory. The righteous will be ushered to heaven; the reprobate will be banished to hellfire.
People believe this. Really believe this. Have given their lives to these ideas, sing about them in their churches, evangelize others, teach them in Sunday schools.
And, this morning, with the news of Jerusalem, these people are ecstatic. This is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. And Donald Trump is not only acting on a campaign promise, but enacting a theological one.
You wonder why the high support numbers among white evangelicals? Those numbers have surprisingly little to do with policy (other than abortion) or even “earthly” morals. But they have everything to do with unfolding of God’s purpose.
They believe that Donald Trump is God’s instrument to move us closer to the Rapture, the Judgment, and the End. Because to them, that’s actually the beginning — the beginning of their reward and heavenly bliss.
So, yeah. Regular Christians — Orthodox, Catholic, mainline — can raise a fit about how this action will undermine world peace. But that doesn’t matter. Because peace in this world doesn’t matter.
What matters is that Jesus comes back in Judgement. To these sorts of Christians, that Judgment is the only true peace. Everything is phony, deceptive, even evil.
Millions of American Christians believe all this. Millions of Trump voters. Sacred history is unfolding right now because of Donald Trump and God.
They’ve based their faith, their identity, their purpose, their eternal lives on these ideas. Trust me. There’s no arguing with any of it.
Because God. Because of their understanding of God’s Word. Say what you like, trot out all the popes, patriarchs, and mainstream theologians you want, but it won’t make one wit of difference.
In their minds, we’ve arrived at the big show. The End is Near. (Why they need more SCOTUS justices if this is the case, I’m not sure. But, hey, religion and logical consistency don’t usually go together).
I first learned all this in Wednesday night Bible study at Scottsdale Bible Church when I was 15 years old. Yes. This is taught — in excruciating detail — to children and teens.
Many evangelical colleges actually challenge it, but the depth and extent of these ideas on American evangelicalism is unquantifiable.
And those evangelicals who challenge these ideas are — eventually — pushed out of the subculture, make accommodations, look the other way, or leave.
I’ve long suspected that this end times fixation is one of the drivers of younger evangelicals leaving church — and the growth of the “nones.” It is powerful stuff, a worldview that is profoundly difficult to challenge.