Origin of the word: Old English, via Old French and ecclesiastical Latin from Greek apokalupsis, from apokaluptein ‘uncover, reveal’, from apo- ‘un-’ + kaluptein ‘to cover’.
An apocalypse, translated literally from Greek, is a disclosure of knowledge, i.e., a lifting of the veil or revelation, although this sense did not enter English until the 14th century. In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden. In the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, the revelation which John receives is that of the ultimate victory of good over evil and the end of the present age, and that is the primary meaning of the term, one that dates to 1175. Today, it is commonly used in reference to any prophetic revelation or so-called End Time scenario, or to the end of the world in general.
The various sects of Christianity have different takes on the apocalypse:[i]
- Preterists hold that Revelation describes events that would “soon take place” for John and his first-century readers.
- Futurists typically interpret Revelation chapters 4-22 as referring to historical events in the distant future for John and the churches of Asia Minor, including a final crisis period followed by Jesus’ return to establish his kingdom on earth, judge evil, and usher in the new creation.
- Historicists interpret Revelation chapters 6:1-20:6 as a prophetic outline of the major historical developments from John’s day (6:1) until Jesus’ return (19:11) often focusing on Western church history. Few today follow this.
- Idealists believe that Revelation symbolically depicts the ongoing conflict between the forces of God and of Satan throughout the church age. Idealists are reticent to identify John’s symbols with particular past or future historical events, though many idealists affirm that Jesus will return to establish His eternal kingdom in the new creation.
There are lots of other prophesies about what will happen before, during and after the Apocalypse. Some self-described prophets have been predicting dates when it will happen. So far, they have a uniform batting average: Zero.
Modern usage of the term has expanded to include any catastrophic event or series of events. Environmentalists speak of global warming as an “environmental apocalypse.” Where I live in California, the current perfect storm of drought-caused, tinder-dry and half-dead forests and a series of weather systems that have created hundreds of thunderstorms resulting in thousands of lightning strikes igniting monster fires comes close to apocalyptic dimensions.
How does Donald Trump fit into the Christian visions of Apocalypse? Bob Theil, in his book, “Donald Trump and America’s Apocalypse” explains how, by virtue of his background and stated policies, Trump is fulfilling, and will continue to help fulfill, various prophecies that will lead to the Apocalypse and the destruction of the United States. He cites biblical and other prophecies and shows how events are aligning with them, and asks, “Could Donald Trump be the Antichrist?” Citing Islamic, Buddhist, Catholic, Byzantine, Native American, and Bible prophecy, as well as the writings of Nostradamus and others, the author offers explanations from many sources about the various aspects of the destruction that will come.[ii]
Some have even renamed the current combination of catastrophic events in the world the “Trumpocalypse.” I agree with that, but I don’t think the Almighty has anything to do with it.
We have brought Trump and most of the other disasters on ourselves, and now we need to fix them.
I don’t expect any divine help in this. As my brother used to ask, “If you pray in one hand and piss in the other, which one do you think will get full first?”