From: ON FAITH. Newsweek
By: Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite
President, Chicago Theological Seminary The Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, is the 11th President of Chicago Theological Seminary. She has been a Professor of Theology at the seminary for 20 years and director of its graduate degree center for five years. Her area of expertise is contextual theologies of liberation, specializing in issues of violence and violation. more »
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I believe that the “end of the world” theologies of the radical Christian Right helped to get us into the war in Iraq and are still fueling the drive to extend the war. “The war between America and Iraq is the gateway to the Apocalypse,” says Rev. John Hagee, a mega-church pastor in Texas.
The most dangerous theology around today is that God is punishing humanity through geo-political events and that this punishment pre-figures the Apocalypse, the cataclysmic end of the world and the salvation of Christians who are “true believers”.
I believe this idea that the world will come to an end because God is angry at humanity is a misinterpretation of scripture. Nothing in the story of God’s work in creation, God’s salvation of humanity through the person and work of Jesus, and God’s continuing presence with humanity through the spirit tells me anything but that God’s will is that we care for one another and the planet.
The worst of this misinterpretation comes from those who think that the Revelation to John in the New Testament (The Book of Revelation) describes an impending nuclear war in the Middle East. It doesn’t. The Revelation to John was written to address the struggles of a group of fledgling Christians who were being horribly oppressed by imperial Rome. No nukes anywhere in the text.
Some even in the mainstream media seem bent upon fueling the fear-mongering about the approaching end-times. On July 31, 2006, during the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, Paula Zahn Now featured a segment on “whether the crisis in the Middle East is actually a prelude to the end of the world,” marking the third time in eight days that CNN devoted airtime to those claiming that violence in the Middle East signals the approaching Apocalypse.
The idea that human beings can predict when, where and how the world will end is arrogant and unfaithful. At worst it can become a “self-fulfilling prophecy” causing people to quit trying to do the hard work of negotiating with other nations and building alliances, the work that has so far prevented nuclear catastrophe. In addition, the focus on the “end times” keeps us from paying attention to the ways in which we are systematically destroying one another and the planet right now, making a hell on earth for millions of people.
Ask the orphan child in the Sudan who is starving; she’ll tell you the end of the world has come and gone.