Millions of evangelical Christians believe that a global cataclysm is imminent, and that Israel will be the central venue
By MORDECAI SPECKTOR
The tagline for the new documentary Waiting for Armageddon is: “50 million Americans believe that the End of the World is just the beginning.”
And, indeed, that is the view expressed by a number of fundamentalist Christians featured in the film; they truly believe that Jesus is coming and that they, the true believers, will be among the select few swept up into the clouds to meet him.
Waiting for Armageddon will be presented by Minnesota Film Arts from Feb. 19-25 at the St. Anthony Main Theatre in Minneapolis.
- An evangelical Christian looks out over the Dome of the Rock mosque, in the Old City of Jerusalem, in a scene from the documentary “Waiting for Armageddon,” which will be shown later this month at the St. Anthony Main Theatre. (Photo: Courtesy of First Run Features)
Filmmakers Kate Davis, David Heilbroner and Franco Sacchi let a number of evangelical Christians unspool their notions about the End of Days. Most Jewish viewers will find their accounts to be completely meshugge.
Likewise, an Orthodox rabbi in Jerusalem holds forth on the coming of the Jewish messiah, a process that involves the reconstruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (supplanting the current Muslim holy place), and the renewal of animal sacrifices, etc. Again, most Jewish viewers will regard this person as being clinically meshugge.
Of course, at the center of these apocalyptic visions of the Second Coming is Israel. The Christian end-timers pinpoint specific events that will take place in the Jewish state.
After the “tribulation,” a horrific period following the rapture, there will be a great battle between the forces of Jesus and the Antichrist at Har Megiddo (Mount Megiddo or Armageddon, which is mentioned once in the New Testament). Megiddo is located about 25 miles west of the southern tip of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The forces of Satan supposedly will be vanquished at Armageddon, ushering in a 1,000-year reign of Jesus’ kingdom on earth.
In the here and now, many observers express concern about the political influence wielded by the evangelicals. These folks give $75 million annually to Israel; and Christian tourism pours millions of shekels into the Israeli economy.
The film includes a clip of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sending his good wishes to Pastor John Hagee’s Night to Honor Israel event in Washington, D.C.
“The Christian fundamentalists believe that this country is responsible to Christianize the world,” says Mel White, a minister, author and founder of the group Soulforce, in the film. “They are more powerful than ABC, CBS and NBC together. They reach 200 million people around the world every week, in 77 languages on 40 thousand radio stations just here in America. They are not going away. They are firmly entrenched on the executive, legislative and judicial branches in Washington, D.C., and every other state capital and in the school boards in this country. They are everywhere.”
Israeli journalist and author Gershom Gorenberg, who also is interviewed, notes that the Christian fundamentalists profess to love the Jews, yet they expect that they will convert to Christianity when things start rocking and rolling in the endtimes; some Christians assert that 144,000 Jews will accept Jesus and be saved. Gorenberg, the author of The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount, also warns that the religious contentions being pushed by the fundamentalist Christians could provide the spark to ignite the powder keg that is Jerusalem.
In one revealing scene, an Israeli tour guide implores a Christian minister to tone down his commentary atop the Temple Mount, or what Muslims call Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary. The guide warns him that his words could incite trouble.
Waiting for Armageddon will be screened 1:30, 4 and 7 p.m., Feb. 19-21, and 4 and 7 p.m. Feb. 22-25 at the St. Anthony Main Theatre, 115 Main St. S.E., Minneapolis. For information, call 612-331-4723 or go to: stanthonymaintheatre.com.
(American Jewish World, 2.5.10)