The almost orgasmic cheering for Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel coming from the Christian right in this country is easily understood if you are familiar with the Christian eschatological doctrine known as dispensational premillenarianism.
There are three broad categories of how Christians view prophecies about the “last days.” They are premillenialism, postmillenialism, and amillenarianism. The premillenial view is that Jesus will return to earth before the 1000-year period of Christians ruling the earth (the Millenial) that is (kinda sorta) prophecied in the Bible. The postmillenial view is that the Millenial will take place before Jesus returns. The amillenial view is that all of this is merely symbolic anyway. There are also distinct forms of each of these that fall under each term.
Premillenialism is the most common view among American Evangelicals, primarily because of books like Left Behind, while postmillenialism is most popular among Calvinists and the offshoots of Calvinism. Premillenialism is particularly popular among the charismatic evangelicals, like Pentecostals, who make up a large portion of the Christian right in America. And they tend to be heavily pro-Israel because their end times prophecies rely on that nation existing and being the site of the battle of Armageddon, which will be what triggers all these “prophecies” to come true.
This week, theological scholar Dr. Diana Butler Bass wrote a Twitter thread explaining the link between recognition of Jerusalem, evangelical Christians, and the apocalypse. That is important because rebuilding the Temple is the event that will spark the events of the Book of Revelation and the End Times.”According to Bass, the counsel of evangelical adviser that Trump surrounds himself with take such “End Times” prophecies literally
“Of all the possible theological dog-whistles to his evangelical base, this is the biggest,” she continued. “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.”
She warned that for some evangelicals this is considered a “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,” Bass went on. “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.”
She went on to explain that the reason many white evangelicals supported Trump to the tune of 80 percent is more than an abortion issue. Many actually believe that Trump is unfolding God’s purpose.
“They believe that Donald Trump is God’s instrument to move us closer to the Rapture, the Judgment, and the End,” she wrote. “Because to them, that’s actually the beginning — the beginning of their reward and heavenly bliss.”…
“What matters is that Jesus comes back in Judgement,” she continued. “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.”
And this is why most of Trump’s most vocal support comes from end times preachers and prosperity gospel con artists, almost all of whom accept this nonsense. Trump doesn’t know any of this, of course, though some of his advisers undoubtedly do. He’s as ignorant of all of this as he is about everything else, he’s just throwing a bone to people who have vocally supported them, without understanding or caring why they wanted it so badly. The result will be lots of dead bodies.