C.S. Lewis writes in “The World’s Last Night”:
I can imagine no man who will look with more horror on the End than a conscientious revolutionary who has, in a sense sincerely, been justifying cruelties and injustices inflicted on millions of his contemporaries by the benefits which he hopes to confer on future generations: generations who, as one terrible moment now reveals to him, were never going to exist. Then he will see the massacres, the faked trials, the deportations, to be all ineffaceably real, an essential part, his part, in the drama that has just ended: while the future Utopia had never been anything but a fantasy.
I think of this as I watch the folly of American Christianists, both Protestant and Catholic, cheering for the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza because they have embraced a crazy theology that sees reckless provocation like the moving of the American embassy to Jerusalem as “the fulfilment of biblical prophecy.”
Abortion-supporting Catholic Popette Jeanine Pirro instructed the deluded faithful on Monday that, “[Trump], like King Cyrus before him, fulfilled the biblical prophecy of the gods worshipped by Jews, Christians and, yes, Muslims, that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state and that the Jewish people finally deserve a righteous, free and sovereign Israel.”
Where to begin? Where to begin?
Ahem. If you believe in “gods” you are, in fact, a traitor to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, not a prophet. Some people, depending on their level of contempt for Magisterial teaching in Nostra Aetate, attempt the dodge that “There is the one God, but also demons who pose as ‘gods'”. If they are garden variety neo-cons, they will then acknowledge that Jews and Christians worship the same God, while Muslims worship some other god (this is likely Pirro’s real position). If they are super-hyper Reactionary Catholics or Fundamentalist whack jobs like Robert Jeffress, they will say that their flavor of Christian worships the Real God and Jews and Muslims (and all those other wrong Christians) worship demons and cannot be saved. If they hold either of those views and agree with Pirro’s demented statement, what they cannot but mean is that God and demons have collaborated to tell their respective flocks a “true prophecy” together. If you believe any of that, you are nuts.
What the Church teaches, of course, is that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worship the one God of Abraham. As radical post-Vatican II Pope St. Gregory VII said, writing to the Muslim Sultan of Bougie in North Africa in 1076:
For there is nothing which Almighty God, who wishes that all men should be saved and that no man should perish, more approves in our conduct than that a man should first love God and then his fellow men … Most certainly you and we ought to love each other in this way more than other races of men, because we believe and confess one God, albeit in different ways, whom each day we praise and reverence as the creator of all ages and the governor of this world.
This simple and obvious teaching is reiterated in the Catechism. There are not multiple Gods. There is just the One God–the God of Abraham–and the three great monotheistic traditions have a few things they believe in common about Him. Catholics agree with both Jews and Muslims on certain things. We disagree on others and, indeed, go far beyond what Jews and Muslims can accept in our wild claim that the God of Abraham became man, died, and rose again. But our disagreement on that point does not negate the fact that both Jews and Muslims are right that there is a God of Abraham and that he is rightly honored by, for instance, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. That is the core point of Nostra Aetate.
But what of Pirro’s claims about Trump fulfilling biblical prophecy by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem? Well, it turns out that this is a, whaddaycallit?, lie. There just is no biblical prophecy about the US moving embassies and such. Catholics who listen to the Magisterium and who do not embrace the quack theories of freak show pastors like John Hagee and Robert Jeffress know this.
God says in Jeremiah 16 — “Behold I will bring them the Jewish people again unto their land that I gave unto their fathers” — that would be Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – “Behold I will send for many fishers and after will I send for many hunters. And they the hunters shall hunt them” — that will be the Jews — “from every mountain and from every hill and from out of the holes of the rocks.” If that doesn’t describe what Hitler did in the Holocaust — you can’t see that. So think about this — I will send fishers and I will send hunters. A fisher is someone who entices you with a bait. How many of you know who Theodore Herzl was? How many of you don’t have a clue who he was? Woo, sweet God! Theodore Herzl is the father of Zionism. He was a Jew that at the turn of the 19th century said, “this land is our land, God wants us to live there”. So he went to the Jews of Europe and said, “I want you to come and join me in the land of Israel”. So few went, Herzl went into depression. Those who came founded Israel; those who did not went through the hell of the Holocaust. Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone who comes with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. And the Bible says — Jeremiah righty? — “they shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and out of the holes of the rocks”, meaning: there’s no place to hide. And that will be offensive to some people. Well, dear heart, be offended: I didn’t write it. Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said, “my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel”. Today Israel is back in the land and they are at Ezekiel 37 and 8. They are physically alive but they’re not spiritually alive. Now how is God going to cause the Jewish people to come spiritually alive and say, “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He is God”?
The Shoah matters to this guy is because the Diagram required the murder of six million Jews to get them to Israel, where Armageddon can happen and trigger the return of Jesus. And now the Diagram requires Israel be allowed to murder Palestinians to fulfil The Plan. The Utopia of the Millennium dictates that the Ends Justify the Means.
This is, ‘ow you say?, not Catholic teaching. Ever. The idea that the ends justify the means is, in fact, the oldest and most popular moral heresy in the world. Do evil that good may come of it was the advice of the serpent in the garden to Eve.
Meanwhile, Robert Jeffress instructs the his flock that Jews (and, by the way, Muslims and Catholics) are going to hell. But that did not stop Trump from appointing both him and Hagee to pray at the embassy opening. Because the point, of course, was to signal to his base of Christianist quacks that he will indulge their insane apocalyptic scenario of ushering in the End Times and their hope for Armageddon in Israel with blood running in the streets of Jerusalem up to the horses’ bridles. What does he care? He doesn’t buy the prophecy junk himself, but he understands that morons who see him as Cyrus Redivivus are putty in his hands. And Netanyahu, who doesn’t care about nutty Evangelical theology, understands that Jerusalem is worth a couple of prayers from a couple of kooks.
Meanwhile, in the real world, 60ish Palestinians are dead and 2000 are wounded and this massively lopsided and disproportionate slaughter of the weak is called “self-defense”, while criticism of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the state of Israel and its Preservation from All Sin Original and Actual is, as ever, declared to be “anti-semitism”. You know, like the anti-semitic Jewish Voice for Peace. Or this anti-semitic rabbi.
Now the irony of this is that Trump and his fanboi are known for their absurd and overt anti-semitism even as they cheer for inflaming crazy pro-Israeli nutjobs. Trump praises people marching under the banner of the swastika as “very fine people”. But the notion is that all this can be bought off with mindless support for everything Israel does and criticism of Israel makes you an anti-semite. How does this work?
Known anti-semite Matt Lieb explains how the shell game of anti-semites using support for Israel as a fig leaf for their anti-semitism works–and why Netanyahu’s realpolitik compels him to overlook it all in the pursuit of power:
The bottom line, as ever, comes back to the very elementary teaching called the Fifth Commandment: you shall not murder. What happened in Gaza the other day was murder. And far too many American Christians think that murder is just fine because they have some End that justifies the means. For some, it is “protect Trump at all costs because he is just about to magick away abortion, or save us from the brown horde, or make me rich.” For others, it is some loopy theory about the End Times. For many, it is all these things. They have a Diagram. They have a Plan, just as Stalin had a Five Year Plan and if meteorologists needed to be shot for counter-revolutionary weather forecasting? So be it! The Diagram is all!
As is always the case with Ideologues, none of this even registers on the retinas of the disciples of quacks like Pirro, Hagee, and Jeffress. Palestinians do not count as human. They are obstacles to the unfolding of the Diagram. The goal is the Millennial Utopia. It is real. They are not.
That is the essential difference between a healthy Christian eschatology and the Christianist Freak Show that now dances naked on the roof of the White House. False eschatology–whether it is the Communist version that kills millions in the pursuit of the Triumph of the Proletariat, the Americanist version that kills millions in the pursuit of Manifest Destiny, the abortionist version that kills millions in the pursuit of Libertarian Economics or the current Christianist version that seeks Armageddon to trigger the Second Coming–is stone blind to the human person, and especially to the littlest and weakest human person.
Christian eschatology relates the Judgment, not to the notion of mowing down millions in pursuit of the completion of a Diagram, but to how you treat the real flesh and blood human being right in front of your face:
When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Mt 25:31–46).
When it’s all over, your Utopian Diagram for the Future will not matter one iota if you were so busy staring at it that you did not see the blood of the innocents you shed in pursuit of your Dream. On That Day, your imaginary Dream will be dispelled forever in the Light of Him who is utterly real. And you will be faced with nothing but the terrible facts of who you actually are and what you actually did. So start, right now, actually doing real good to the least of these.