Our view of the end times should affect our politics. But how?
For decades, the dominant evangelical perspective on the end times has been a premillennial, dispensationalist eschatology. As shown in the Left Behind series, this view says the end is nigh and the world—politics included—will grow increasingly wicked and catastrophic until the end comes. Therefore, as Jesus tells his disciples, we should “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matt. 24:42).
Yet for Christian nationalists, rejecting an imminent apocalypse is a logical move. Among the “most important tasks for the Christian Nationalist is overcoming the idea that the world is going to end very soon,” Andrew Torba and Andrew Isker argue in their self-published book, Christian Nationalism.
That might come as a surprise to the average American evangelical, to whom Torba and Isker seem to be writing. But if God is helping evangelicals “take dominion in His name,” it doesn’t make sense for the world to end at any moment, they argue. Accepting an “eschatology of defeat” in which God raptures Christians away from advancing evil discourages effective political organizing. To win, Torba and Isker advise, Christians need a theology with room for victory.
Until the early 1800s, an optimistic, postmillennial eschatology—that believed in a golden age preceding Christ’s return—was the majority American perspective, as historians like Daniel Hummel, author of The Rise and Fall of Dispensationalism, have documented.
After the horrors of the Civil War, however, that positive narrative of history fell out of favor, and Western hopes for historical progress further declined following World War I. Premillennialism’s catastrophic …