Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Earlier this month LifeWay Research, an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, polled Americans regarding the connection between current events in Syria and the prophecies of the Bible. I find the results a little surprising.

Thirty-two percent of those polled agree with the statement, “I believe the battles in Syria are all part of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation,” Forty-nine percent disagree.

Twenty-six percent of those surveyed agree with statement, “I believe that U.S. military intervention in Syria might lead to the Battle of Armageddon that’s spoken about in the Book of Revelation.”

It would be interesting to know the margin of error for these numbers, but regardless thirty percent is a sizable chunk of the population.

These results indicate that Dispensationalism’s version of Pre-Millennial eschatology is alive and well. Take heart, Christian publishers. The market for more Left-Behind paraphernalia hasn’t disappeared.

I don’t affirm Dispensationalism or its doctrine of the end times. Too often, the teachers of this position deny the imminent return of Christ. We’re taught that certain steps must occur in the Israeli state, so let’s be on the look out for them. Also, we must watch for the Anti-Christ. (I have been told by a pastor that the Anti-Christ will be the leader of the EU since it is a revived Roman Empire. Just in case you were wondering, it’s no such thing.)

Even though I don’t agree with this teaching, I understand why other people do. There are good historical reasons for its presence in the American religious landscape. Pulpits around the country still echo some of the influential books and teachers from the last century. Names have been forgotten but ideas live on.

It’s not just Dispensationalism, however, that has this propensity to look to current events for clues about the world’s end. It’s a reoccurring theme in human history. People were looking for the end of the world during the upheavals of the sixteenth century. In the nineteenth century Napoleon was clearly the Anti-Christ. (After all, he did revive the Roman Empire, right?) Last century the Cold War was going to lead to Armageddon. None of those worked out, so now we’ll watch Syria and hold our breath.

The world will end. Possibly before I finish this blog post. The apostles looked for an imminent return of Christ. We’d do well to assume that Christ really might come back at any time. Don’t wait for the missiles to start firing. Be found faithful now. It could be now.

Read more on the LifeWay poll here .


Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles