05/23/2011 04:33 pm ET Updated Jul 23, 2011

Apocalypse Means Never Having to Say You Are Sorry

No one ever lost money by betting against the apocalypse happening on a particular day. That's a joke among scholars of apocalypticism, and it was a considered a hoot at meetings of the Center for Millennial Studies (CMS).

I was on the advisory board of CMS and wrote the entry on "Apocalypse," in the Encyclopedia of Millennialism and Millennial Movements. So take heed when I say it is unlikely that the apocalypse or the Rapture of really, really good Christians into a safety zone of heavenly embrace happened on Saturday, May 21, 2011. And I say that as a Christian who took the advice in Mark 13:32 -- "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven."

Here's the catch. The apocalypse keeps coming -- at least the expectation of true believers is endless. Millions of Americans believe the apocalypse is a real future historic event. That includes folks both religious and secular who have no reason to believe in the Rapture. That concept is considered a heresy by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and every major Protestant denomination.

The idea of the Rapture has been popularized by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Their Left Behind fictional book series has conveyed to millions of Americans what they perceive to be manifestations of moral relativism, such as the feminist movement, abortion and homosexuality. This reprised the principle theme of a series of non-fiction books LaHaye wrote in the 1980s. In The Battle for the Mind, LaHaye ranted about an evil conspiracy of liberals and secularists.

LaHaye warns that adultery, pornography and homosexuality "are rampant." According to LaHaye, sin and moral degeneracy "will deluge the entire land in the next few years, unless Christians are willing to become much more assertive in defense of morality and decency than they have been during the past three decades."

Of course, the Christian Right already sets the agenda for the Republican Party, and many of them believe that we are living in the apocalyptic End Times. In fact, 14 percent of Republicans in New Jersey say they think President Obama is the antichrist who ushers in the End Times while another 15 percent think it is a real possibility.

When you think your political opponent is an agent of Satan, political compromise is morally unacceptable. Thus gridlock in Washington, D.C. is caught up in the apocalypse. And it's coming.


And again...

For more background, read: "Culture, Religion, Apocalypse, and Middle East Foreign Policy."