Today is no different. For example, within the evangelical world—which, let’s remember, includes between 30% and 40% of all Americans—there is a split between postmillennialists, who believe that Christ’s peaceful reign on Earth will follow a gradual improvement in human life, and the more familiar premillennialists, who believe that Christ will suddenly come back, destroy the current order, and replace it with a new one.
From a progressive perspective, both of these views can be problematic. Many postmillennialists insist that we must transform America into a theocracy before Christ can come again, and are devoting considerable resources to doing so (which, of course, means oppressing women and sexual minorities). Many premillenialists, on the other hand, are so pessimistic that they are pursuing what some of us might consider a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. Many Christian Zionists, for example, believe that a massive war in the Middle East is unavoidable, imminent, and part of the divine plan for humanity—and are supporting policies that raise the probability of just such a war.
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