For years Christians did not get involved in politics. Millions entered politics kicking and screaming after Jimmy “Born Again” Carter disappointed them. By 1980, Christians believed it was necessary and safe to enter the political waters. Dr. Gary North explains what happened:
“Prior to 1980, Christian conservatives were not perceived as a political threat by the Establishment which controls Council on Foreign Relations Team A (the Democrat Party’s senior advisors) and CFR Team B (the Republican Party’s senior advisors). This perception changed in November 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan.
“I was able to wheedle my way into the speaker’s line-up at the three-day public meeting at which the Christian Right came into existence, the National Affairs Briefing Conference, held in Dallas in late summer 1980 . . . where Ronald Reagan told 13,000 new converts to politics, ‘You can’t endorse me, but I endorse you.’ Those words served as a kind of political baptismal formula — infant baptism, I might add: babes in the woods.
“Reagan’s handlers did not like his endorsement. They had tried to keep him from appearing at the meeting, but they were unsuccessful. Carter’s handlers were successful. He and John Anderson failed to show up, although both had been invited. Carter’s decision not to show up turned out to be crucial for the creation of the Christian Right, which ended his Presidency two months later. It was in the final two months that Reagan overtook Carter in the polls. The Christian Right took the Presidency away from him. Yet he had helped create it in 1976.”
“For half a century, 1926 to 1976, fundamentalists had played no role as a separate voting bloc. They generally voted in the way that a majority of voters had voted in their region, state by state. Furthermore, the fundamentalists’ theology of premillennial, dispensational pietism became ascendant in conservative Protestant circles. Fundamentalists expected (and still expect) that Jesus will come with His angels to set up a tightly run, international, Christian bureaucratic hierarchy, which will at long last put non-believers in their rightful place as scraps-eaters under the table of the faithful (Matthew 15:25-28). Until then, however, their rallying cry was ‘politics is dirty.’”
Read related article: “How a Legacy Can be Squandered.”
In many parts of American evangelicalism we’re back to pre-1976 views on Christians and politics. It was in 1970 that Christians were told by Hal Lindsey in his Late Great Planet Earth that Jesus was going to return in their generation, sometime before 1988, in what he described as “the terminal generation.” When 1988 came and went, Christians continued to be culturally and politically involved and didn’t address the topic of Bible prophecy as much until Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ multi-volume Left Behind series came out.
A rush of new end-time books flooded the bookstores.
Read related article: “Why the Rapture is Not in Revelation.”
Lately, however, there seems to be return to the old-time religion of “we’re living in the last days” version of Christianity. Here’s a very current example. “Pastor Greg Laurie hosted ‘Harvest America’ at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday night — a massive Christian event that he has called the ‘boldest step’ to date in his ministry, seeing at least 6,000 people accept Jesus Christ. . . . In addition to the 82,000 people who showed up at the Texas stadium, hundreds of thousands of others watched the event from 7,200 remote broadcast locations in 123 countries across the globe; 750 churches were involved in streaming the event to their congregations.” (H/T: The Blaze)
I’m thankful that 6000 people made a profession of faith. At the same time, Pastor Laurie told millions of people around the world that he believes that these “are the last days.” Some of you may not be familiar with this type of evangelistic message. Coupling the gospel with the claim that we are living in the last days is a common practice.
The Scofield Reference Bible was published more than 100 years ago with notes that claimed there would be a “rapture” that could take place at any moment to remove all Christians from the earth and take them to heaven. Hal Lindsey described this event as the “ultimate trip,” the “evacuation,” when Jesus will return and ‘mysteriously and secretly snatch out all those who believe in Him personally.’”1
In the meantime, why “polish brass on a sinking ship”? This doctrine has had a devastating effect on where we are as a nation today, and I’m not the only one saying it.
Dr. North continues:
“Why should anyone expect fundamentalists to offer a well-thought-out alternative to the choice between CFR Team A and CFR Team B? Mainline Protestantism hasn’t. The Catholic Church hasn’t. Mormonism hasn’t. Nobody has. Hardly anyone thinks this is necessary, let alone possible.
“You can’t beat something with nothing. . . . . There still are no textbooks, workbooks, or playbooks.”
Read related article: “Do Christianity and Politics Mix?”
The reason for this is two-fold (at least): First, Christians have been told that this world belongs to the devil and only heaven counts, and second, we’re living in the last days and Jesus is about to return to fix everything so why concern ourselves with politics, same-sex marriage, religious liberty, economics, and all the other mundane issues of this time and place?
Hal Lindsey with C. C. Carlson, The Terminal Generation (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1976), 174. ↩