It has become difficult to dismiss as coincidence that President Donald Trump’s foreign policy seems to mimic certain elements of Christian eschatology – a particular set of theological beliefs surrounding the “End Times”.
Central to this theology is Israel, and more specifically, Jerusalem. Christians who subscribe to any variation of eschatology (there are a few different schools of thought) likely see Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to the Holy City as one step further toward the second coming of Christ.
On its own, the decision could be seen as coincidental, but taken alongside numerous factors pointing in the same direction, the trend becomes nearly impossible to disregard.
In the Trump White House, a weekly bible study group calls its brand of faith “historical evangelicalism.” Biblical scholars say the group shares the “end of times” message of “Rapture” theologians in its statement of faith and founder Ralph Drollinger’s own published lessons.
The bible study group is run by Capitol Ministries, an organization with the stated mission “to teach God’s Word and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with state legislators, judges, and constitutional officers.” Capitol Ministries supporters include ten members of Trump’s cabinet, including in addition to Pompeo, labor secretary Alex Acosta and housing secretary Ben Carson according to the Capitol Ministries website. Drollinger, a UCLA basketball player-turned politician-turned-preacher, has also been holding weekly bible study groups with dozens of Congress members since 2010.
What was the study put out by Capitol Ministries on the day Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal? “The Bible on When War Is Justifiable”.
If Jesus calls us to be “peacemakers,” it asks, “then how could a Christian Cabinet Member or Congressman support the idea of going to war?” The answer, Drollinger, explains, is simple: Saint Peter instructs men to submit “to every human institution” and the Book of Revelations discusses the “righteousness” of a God who “judges and wages war.”
War and Israel are indispensable ingredients in the recipe for Christ’s return.
For Christians awaiting end times, Israel “is at the center of the end of history,” said Greg Carey, a professor of the New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary. “History will culminate with this great battle” in Israel, Carey said.
This is not lost on Vice President Mike Pence, who said, “When we open the American Embassy in Jerusalem, we will in a very real sense end this historic friction, we’ll embrace reality.”
That great battle will end well for Christians, so they believe, and lead them to an eternity of peace.
For everyone else, the end of times will result in eternal suffering:
“They want to bring on the Kingdom of Christ, and their version is weaponized,” said Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group that tracks Christian fundamentalism in the military. “They want to do whatever they can do to bring their version of Jesus back.”
If you believe in the Rapture, “there are only two groups, the righteous and the unrighteous, or the godly and the ungodly,” said Valarie Ziegler, a professor of religious studies at DePauw University. “It leads to very binary thinking. Any other religion will be a false religion, by definition.”
For Pence and those who hold similar beliefs, the Trump administration’s actions are simply part and parcel of ushering in the end times.
Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro said Trump’s relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem essentially fulfilled biblical prophecy – a common refrain among evangelicals.
This eagerness to bring about the Rapture goes far in explaining why Trump has maintained such a high degree of support among American evangelicals, despite his poor character and ungodly ways:
Christian evangelicals “don’t like Trump because they think he is holy,” explains Ziegler. “They like him because they think he’s God’s tool.”
As Trump spiritual adviser Robert Jeffress said as he delivered the new embassy’s opening prayer:
“We thank you everyday that you have given us a president who boldly stands on the right side of history, and more importantly on the right side of you, oh God, when it comes to Israel.”
American evangelicals are fervently awaiting