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. . . at least now that John Hagee is in his corner .

For those of you who have not been counting down to Armageddon since that concatenation of false prophecy The Late Great Planet Earth hit bookstores back in 1970, John Hagee’s ministry consists of oversize illustrations of who-is-going-to-invade-Israel before the always imminent Rapture sweeps all true Christians into the clouds with Jesus until the tribulation period, in which the Antichrist pursues some unfortunate economic policies until Christ returns again and establishes his 1,000-year reign on earth until Satan is loosed again to wreak havoc until Christ returns again again and Satan is finally thrown into the lake of fire with his minions and this guy Earl.

Everybody got that? Lots of killing, Rapture, clouds with Jesus (return 1A), Antichrist, Jesus returns (1B), lions and lambs, Satan loosed, Jesus returns (2), The End. (For a more interminably drawn-out version of this scenario, see the Left Behind books, movies, and videogames, which turn the bloodfest that is the end of history into madcap fun for the whole family—and a great Sunday school tool, too!)

The only thing wrong with this parsing of the End Times is that its biblical foundation is based on one or two badly misinterpreted verses of Scripture and a desperate need to hurry divine judgment before an awful reality sets in— sometimes life does not get any better . It reflects a now two-centuries-old desperation on the part of some folk who are having a hard time of it and just want out—or at the very least want to be vindicated for their beliefs in the face of so much unbelief. I do not doubt the genuineness of their faith in Christ, only the validity of the dispensationalist super-preachers’ dividing of the Word and the motives behind constantly playing on people’s fears and frustrations.

As N.T. Wright ably demonstrates in his new book, Surprised by Hope , there is work to be done here on the Third Rock from the Sun that is intrinsically linked to the coming Kingdom of God—and not just in terms of evangelism. Oh, and there is only one return of Christ, not two.

(One caveat: Bishop Tom is a wonderful Bible scholar, but his adventures in political left-wingery, in which the United States is typically the bad guy, may cause you to dismiss the theological stuff without due consideration. So please be discriminating. You know, in a good way, not in the “Hey, you! Get off my lawn! When did these people move into the neighborhood?!” way.)

While Hagee’s endorsement of McCain may help the senator with some evangelicals, I can’t help but think that McCain is having a hard time keeping a straight face through it all. He’s not known to suffer the hard-edged right-wingery of some fundamentalists gladly, and I would imagine his own religious predilections tend more toward the amillennialist view—even if he doesn’t know it.

For those of you who have been dying to find out what Hal Lindsey’s been doing since his aforementioned foray into prognostication, click here . He’s “prophetically correct,” don’t you know, despite being wrong for the past forty years. Nice work if you can get it . . . like forecasting the weather—no matter how many times you scream “Nor’easter!” and the sun just shines, you still have a job come Monday.



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