Michele Bachmann: proof that end-times theology will poison your worldview

One of my faithful readers has pointed me to a great piece in the Huffington Post that was published yesterday (complete article can be found here), where Michele Bachmann helps to demonstrate the utter dangerousness of believing in the end-times theology so many of us grew up with.

One of the key problems with dispensational eschatology as popularized by John Nelson Darby, is that it breaks with the historically optimistic view of the future which was largely held by Christians prior to his teachings. As I’ve noted before, prior to Darby evangelicalism was actually a beautiful movement which focused on personal conversion followed by social usefulness (as preached revivalist by Charles Grandison Finney). Evangelicalism was something which held both orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the same hand, causing an entire movement of Christians who were actually socially useful. Instead of simply speaking the good news of Jesus in word, a movement spread across the globe which aimed to address cultural injustices, such as slavery, poverty, and other issues of the time, which hindered the forward progress of good.

However, all that changed after Darby, and Michele Bachmann is a great example of the impact this theology can have on your worldview.

In a lecture Darby gave in Geneva in 1840, he publicly stated:

“What we are about to consider will tend to show that, instead of permitting ourselves to hope for a continued progress of good, we must expect a progress of evil; and that the hope of the earth being filled with the knowledge of the Lord before the exercise of His judgment, and the consummation of his judgment on the earth, is delusive. We are to expect evil, until it becomes so flagrant that it will be necessary for the Lord to judge it…”

Unfortunately, the adoption of a worldview through the eyes of Darby, instead of the eyes of Jesus, causes us to rejoice over all the wrong stuff.

When we embrace fundamentalist end-times theology, we’re forced to celebrate bloodshed and violence, instead of celebrating the events which remind us that we serve the “Prince of Peace”. Every bomb that gets dropped in the middle east, every earthquake which kills thousands in Pakistan, every tsunami that wipes out countless lives in Asia, becomes a beautiful sign of the end– something Bachmann says we should “rejoice” over.

In reference to conflict in Syria, and an accusation that the President is now arming terrorists, Bachmann states in her interview with the program Understanding the Times:

“Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice, Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand…”

War and terrorism, according to Bachmann, ought to be something we celebrate.

Call me a heretic, but as a follower of Jesus– the nonviolent lover of enemies– I’d think that war and terrorism should be something our hearts lament over. I’d like to think that as people commanded to be peacemakers, we’d say, “this is horrible, we must find a path to peace.”

However, when we embrace end-times theology, the evil aspects of humanity and the devastation caused by natural disasters, become something that is a good sign– something we welcome, and celebrate. While Bachmann has often been painted as being a crazy lady who is out of touch with reality (which is true), the most tragic aspect of her worldview is that she’s actually not alone.

In recent research conducted by Lifeway, we see that one in three Americans view the conflict in Syria as part of the biblical plan for the end times, showing that Bachmann is not alone in her worldview.

“Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice…” becomes a view that far too many people in our tribe have and hold.

While I do believe that it takes serious, advanced degrees to actually understand what the Bible teaches on many matters, this one should be a no-brainer. If Jesus said that we can tell if a tree is good by looking at the fruit it produces, we can hands down declare as settled fact, that dispensational end-times theology produces bad, bad fruit.

The Bible teaches that Jesus came to save humanity, not to judge humanity and that he came to reconcile the world, not to destroy it. Yet, because of some new theology which has taken deep root in the last 150 years, we reject the optimistic view of the future taught by scripture and instead, we view war and violence as something we should rejoice over.

I have a hard time imagining Jesus jumping up off his throne and handing out high-fives every time a child gets her limbs blown off, or every time thousands are crushed by falling buildings during an earthquake. I’m quite sure that he doesn’t sit back and watch tsunamis wipe out entire communities, and yell out: “hey guys– don’t see this as negative, you should rejoice!”

 And, well… if he’s not viewing the world that way, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that we shouldn’t either.

If you’re still struggling with letting go of the end-times nonsense you grew up with, let me encourage you to let go of it– if for no other reason– than it will poison your worldview and lead you to celebrate war, death, and destruction. Instead of rejoicing over these things, our hearts should lament, spurring us onto the call to be peacemakers and agents of reconciliation.

Rejoicing over conflict in the world? That’s not what peacemakers do. As followers of the Prince of Peace, it’s not what we should do either.

I’m thinking that when Jesus said “blessed are the peacemakers”, Michele must have heard him incorrectly:

About Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey is an Anabaptist author, speaker, and blogger. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Theology & Missiology), is currently a 3rd year Doctor of Missiology student (a subset of practical theology) at Fuller Seminary, and is a member of the Phi Alpha Chi Honors Society. His first book, Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, is available now at your local bookstore. He is also a contributor for Time, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Evangelicals for Social Action, Mennonite World Review, has been a guest on Huffington Post Live, and is one of the CANA Initiators. Ben is also a syndicated author for MennoNerds, a collective of Mennonite and Anabaptist writers. Ben is also co-host of That God Show with Matthew Paul Turner. Ben lives in Auburn, Maine with his wife Tracy and his daughter Johanna.

You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

  • http://abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com/ Robert Martin

    Minor pushback… I’m not in the camp of “Helena and her Handbasket are gathering folks up…”… but I’m also not in the camp of “Hey, look! Everything is getting better!” I’m more in the camp of “everything changes, fluxuates, there are good times, there are bad times, there are parts of history that look good, and there are parts of history that make me weep.”

    I’m no dispensationalist. I’m no optimistic liberal. I’m a realist who recognizes that Jesus admonition of “wars and rumors of wars” was basically, “Hey, look… this stuff will continue to be happening for a while until I come back [and I do believe he is coming back]. In the meantime, here’s what I want you to be doing.” And I don’t think that what he wants us to be doing is rejoicing over those wars and rumors of wars but doing our darndest to bring God’s Kingdom to bear there so that, at the VERY least, we can reduce the human suffering.

    Anywho, good article, Ben!

    • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

      I agree– I think there will be good times and bad. The one theological argument I am comfortable making, however, is that things will never be as bad as AD 70 since I believe that to be the context of Matthew 24.

      • http://abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com/ Robert Martin

        I guess that “as bad as” AD 70 maybe understood contextually for the listeners of Matthew 24… I’m thinking that folks under the Kamir Rouge (sp?) in Cambodia, Jews in Nazi Germany, Blacks in the segregated US south, Native Americans in the 1800′s US West may have some commentary to whether or not things were “as bad as” but I think I get what you’re saying. :-)

        • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

          That’s a good point– I suppose “bad” is quite relative and could potentially make light of the atrocities others have/will face. Good point. I guess this is just another area of theology that invites us “into tension” instead of relieving tension.

  • Shane O’Ruighrah

    Bachmann’s mentor, Alan Quist, was one of my college professors in my political discourse class. We spent most of it learning why the gays need to be imprisoned for their crimes against nature. I’m not sure if you’re aware, Ben, but Bachmann (and Quist) both closely identify with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a branch that denies the Rapture, premillenialism, and interpretation of Revelation in general. Well, unless it’s to claim that the pope is the anti-Christ.
    There’s something about Midwestern conservative Lutheranism (WELS, LCMS, ELS) that’s just as scary as fundamentalism, but in a totally different way. They’re much quieter than their more well-known evangelical counterparts, but they’re a huge voter base.

  • Norman Walford

    ‘But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age’
    Trajan’s famous letter to Pliny about how to deal with local churches, written 2000 years ago, illustrates the natural tendency of human nature to see the present time as enlightened and the past as primitive. Are we really getting better? I’m not so sure. Granted we no longer crucify people, but I’m not convinced that our optimism for societal development is any more firmly based than waz that of Trajan.
    Not a reason not to keep working for the common good of course.

  • gimpi1

    Sorry, a bit clueless here, what does the bolded word in this quote mean:

    “Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice, Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand…”

    • Levi

      From Vine ‘s:

      Maran-atha:  an expression used in 1Co 16:22, is the Greek spelling for two Aramaic words, formerly supposed by some to be an imprecatory utterance or a curse reinforced by a prayer,” an idea contrary to the intimations coveyed by its use in early Christian documents, e.g., “The Teaching of the Apostles,” a document of the beginning of the 2nd cent., and in the “Apostolic Constitutions” (vii. 26), where it is used as follows: “Gather us all together into Thy Kingdom which Thou hast prepared. Maranatha, Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He that cometh, etc.”

      The first part, ending in ‘n,’ signifies “Lord;” as to the second part, the Fathers regarded it as a past tense, “has come.” Modern expositors take it as equivalent to a present, “cometh,” or future, “will come.” Certain Aramaic scholars regard the last part as consisting of ‘tha,’ and regard the phrase as an ejaculation, “Our Lord, come,” or “O Lord, come.” The character of the context, however, indicates that the Apostle is making a statement rather than expressing a desire or uttering a prayer.

      As to the reason why it was used, most probably it was a current ejaculation among early Christians, as embodying the consummation of their desires.

      “At first the title Marana or Maran, used in speaking to and of Christ was no more than the respectful designation of the Teacher on the part of the disciples.” After His resurrection they used the title of or to Him as applied to God, “but it must here be remembered that the Aramaic-speaking Jews did not, save exceptionally, designate God as ‘Lord’; so that in the ‘Hebraist’ section of the Jewish Christians the expression ‘our Lord’ (Marana) was used in reference to Christ only” (Dalman, The Words of Jesus).

      From ISBE:

      MARANATHA mar-a-nath’-a, mar-an-a’-tha (from Aramaic words, marana’ ‘athah, “Our Lord cometh, or will come”; according to some, “has come”; to others, “Come!” an invitation for his speedy reappearance (compare Re 22:20); maranatha, or maran atha): Used in connection with anathema, “accursed” (1Co 16:22), but has no necessary connection therewith. It was used by early Christians to add solemn emphasis to previous statement, injunction or adjuration, and seems to have become a sort of watchword; possibly forming part of an early liturgy.

      • gimpi1

        Thank you very much, Levi. Good information.

  • Hilary

    I don’t think the fact that MB’s home state of Minnesota’s recent track record regarding legally allowing and celebrating same sex marriage is helping her mental stability any.
    Just a little.

  • alfuso

    Maranatha seems to be a Christian version of Alu Akbar.

  • Gary Calderone

    Christians have been waiting for the end of the world since the time of Saint Paul and if the 20th century with two world wars, a Great Depression, the Holocaust, and nuclear bombs weren’t ‘signs’ of the ‘end of times’, nothing is! And definitely nothing that’s going on today.

  • R Vogel

    And this is why, as I have gotten older I have come to believe that the dispensationalist viewpoint with which I was raised is not only dangerous, it should disqualify someone from public office. Not legally, but morally. If you believe Jesus is coming back to put everything right, you not only rejoice when things go wrong, you are incentivized to do so. Also if you believe the time is going to abruptly end and everything is going to be gum drops and rainbows for eternity, then why do you care about the long-term problems we are facing as a species. Resource Depletion: So what. Energy Crisis: Not important. Global Warming/Climate Change: Uninterested. You are only interested in preparing the world for Jesus’ return and in the dispensationalist view that means making it worse. The dispensationalist argument also becomes a self-fulfilling philosophy. The world only gets better by us making it better. Didn’t Jesus say you are my hands and feet. By not working to make it better, it gets worse. And the fundies poiont and say See, See it’s getting worse, yabba dabba doo or whatever….