Hastening the End?
The following commentary was written by William Falk and appeared in the July 7-14, 2006 issue of The Week.
Like it or not, preparations for The End are underway. Pastors of America’s evangelical megachurches, the Los Angeles Times reports
this week [July 7-14], have launched a “Billion Souls Initiative” to reach every heathen on earth. “Our whole purpose is to hasten the End Times,” says Bill McCartney, co-founder of the evangelical group Promise Keepers. He’s doing his part by trying to convert mass numbers of Jews to Christianity as quickly as possible. Those who fail to heed Christ’s message, McCartney warns, are “toast.” Iran’s alarming president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is just as eager to see infidels turned to toast. Within two years, he says, the Mahdi, the last of the Prophet Mohammad’s heirs, will return to Tehran, ushering in a bloody, cataclysmic confrontation with the non-Muslim world.
Assorted crackpots have been predicting the end of the world for thousands of years now, to their eternal disappointment. So it’s tempting to wave off this latest crop of doomsayers with a bit of eye-rolling. But times have changed since the 15th century, even if some folks' religious ideology has not. Even without the Almighty’s help, it really now is possible for some true believer like Ahmadineejad to make radioactive toast of large portions of the human race. Even in our own, enlightened nation, 40 percent of the population believes the End Times are nigh, according to several polls, and they have a substantial political influence. If a bloody cataclysm in Israel is all part of a vengeful God’s grand plan, why bother trying to negotiate a peace? Why not welcome a global religious war between Christianity and Islam? Strange questions for a species that’s come so far over the past two millennia, and yet has not.