I just learned that Tim Lahaye died. He is the T.V. preacher who rose to international fame when he and co-author Jerry B. Jenkins wrote the best selling “Left Behind” books. In these books, Lahaye revitalized and greatly increased awareness of beliefs about the Second Coming of Christ, propagated in the mid-19th century by John Darby, a British Anglican Priest. Among other things, Darby’s theology called “Dispensationalism, ” held that the world, in anticipation of Christ’s return, would grow increasingly sinful, chaotic, violent, with “wars and rumors of wars” that would threaten to destroy Christian Civilization.” According to Darby’s beliefs, which have been so highly popularized by Tim Lahaye, we are living in what is referred to by many as “the last days.” These dire predictions are what the Bible calls, “the signs of the times.”
A host of radio preachers and television evangelists preach Darby’s theology about the “end times” and point out what they call the destructive conditions of today’s world as all the evidence necessary to declare that the end of the world is at hand. They support those sincere sign-carrying street corner preachers that declare, “The Time is Short, ” and there is a need for people to repent before it is too late.
This dismal view of the present state of the world feeds into Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency. It was obvious when watching the recent convention of the Republican party that Trump’s perception of current affairs is identical to the way Evangelicals, most of whom are Dispensationalists, view today’s world.
Given this reality, it should not be surprising that 76% of white Evangelicals embrace Trump. His worldview concurs with their beliefs, and, while they look for another messiah, this one, who claims to offer the only hope for America, considering the present mess we are in, is their best option for staving off the apocalypse for the time being.
What I have written here contains no attempt to deconstruct Dispensationalist theology, but only to give some indication as to how its pervasive presence in much of the Evangelical community has provided the soil in which Trumpism could grow among so many American people.