Hi and welcome back! Yesterday, we talked about a guy called the Internet Monk. He made a series of predictions about why and how evangelicalism was going to collapse in America within the next ten years. As we saw, some of his predictions came out more or less true, while others really didn’t. Today, we’ll cover his Endtimes predictions — and see why they won’t ever come true, no matter how hard Christians like him wish for persecution.
(Today’s topic post archive: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3. As pointed out yesterday by an astute reader, the Internet Monk (Michael Spencer) considered himself post-evangelical. He sure seems pretty evangelical to me, though. In this post, I discuss his Endtimes views in the context of evangelicalism — which is very much where they belong.)
Fervent evangelicals believe in this gauzy apocalyptic nightmare they call the Endtimes. During this time, which they think the author of the Book of Revelation predicted, worldly powers will persecute and harass TRUE CHRISTIANS™ like themselves JUS’ FER BEIN’ KRISCHIN. This persecution will escalate to the point of actual executions and imprisonment — all for holding the wrong faith and no other reason whatsoever.
Alongside all those executions and imprisonments, TRUE CHRISTIANS™ can also expect all manner of harassment from nasty secular people. Their rights will be abrogated and ignored, their civil liberties suspended, and all kinds of opportunities denied them.
In other words, in their nightmare world evangelicals will be treated exactly like they treat their enemies now. Their enemies will actually gain the exact kind of power over them that they have ached to hold over others.
But don’t worry yer pretty little head none! This persecution — which their god himself totally predicted, and we all know he was never, ever wrong about this stuff — will end with Jesus winning everything forever. Though TRUE CHRISTIANS™ will face persecution for a while, they will eventually win out over their enemies. One day, they will be able to laugh at them as Jesus tortures them for all eternity.
If my scorn for this notion isn’t completely apparent already, let me state it here clearly. The doctrine of Hell generally destroys Christians’ pretenses of being good or even decent human beings, and reveals their god as evil. But their belief in the Endtimes goes one step further — revealing their authoritarianism at its rotted core, and showing us exactly what they really want to do with the power they keep grabbing for.
And the Endtimes is exactly what the Internet Monk predicted for his tribe.
How the Internet Monk Predicted the Endtimes.
Early in his post for Christian Science Monitor, the Internet Monk predicts a dire fate for his tribe:
But they [evangelicals] will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.
This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.
These words he uses — hostile, intolerance, opponent — aren’t accidents. They’re pure evangelical fantasy. And he uses these and more and worse all through his listicle of blame:
- “Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.”
- “Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.”
- “The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to ‘do good’ is rapidly approaching. We will soon see that the good Evangelicals want to do will be viewed as bad by so many, and much of that work will not be done.”
In the section “What will be left?” he really goes into overdrive imagining the persecution and its aftermath. He saw less-fervent evangelicals surviving by capitulating to their persecutors, becoming wishy-washy and “therapeutic.” However, this shift would render those churches “further compromised and weakened.”
But “a small band will work hard to rescue the movement from its demise!” He doesn’t call this band “the Remnant,” but that is actually what it is.
All of these ideas are common elements in Endtimes fantasies.
The Fate Worse Than Death.
All of this warlike, martial language he uses is no accident at all. Evangelicals commonly perceive themselves as the big strong warriors of Jesus in their Endtimes fantasies.
(See: the entire Left Behind book series, but really any evangelical-created Endtimes/Rapture media contains this imagery and language.)
But warriors need enemies to fight. In this case, the enemies of all these TRUE CHRISTIANS™ is a hostile, antagonistic culture that hates them and the god they represent — and purely because they happen to loudly, ostentatiously express their faith in public jus’ like Jesus said they should in the Constitooshun! (/s)
And that makes evangelicals’ battle much more than a culture war. When the Endtimes begin in earnest, they will have lost the culture wars anyway.
Instead, once the Endtimes begin they fight against a culture that has won against them — and that culture’s denizens have finally gained the power evangelicals wanted all along. Now their very worst enemies plan to enjoy using it — on evangelicals. Thus, evangelicals’ fight in the Endtimes involves not just surviving intact as TRUE CHRISTIANS™, but also doing their best to take back their former power.
We see these themes, too, in the Internet Monk’s post.
No, even amid the decline he envisions, TRUE CHRISTIANS™ remain utterly relevant and dangerous to the Powers That Be over popular culture. Multitudes of enemies eye his tribe with anger and malice, seeking to stamp them out purely out of anger over their Jesus Auras. In his fantasies, TRUE CHRISTIANS™ are dangerous to their enemies.
The Internet Monk just can’t perceive any place where even the truest of TRUE CHRISTIANS™ face what, to them, would be truly a fate worse than death:
Why Endtimes Persecution Can’t and Won’t Ever Happen.
Evangelicals really can’t handle the reality of irrelevance. Narcissistic people never can. They need attention like other people need air. Authoritarians, too, need to see themselves as the most important people in the movies playing 24/7 in their own heads.
That’s why evangelicals see themselves as the Designated Adults of American culture. The Internet Monk was no exception to that rule. He really thought that evangelicals were the saviors of America, and that without their dominance Americans would descend into chaos. In his view, we’d be losing something very important if we lost their dominance.
That’s not what’s actually happening, of course.
Evangelicals have long been working on a perversion of civil rights that they call religious liberty. In truth, it’s simply an attempt to re-establish evangelical dominance and to enshrine their culture-war goals into law now that they know they won’t win through persuasion.
Alas for them, the very rights and civil liberties they hate for denying them power over others are what will ensure that their fantasies of Endtimes persecution can’t and won’t happen.
Real Religious Liberty Wrecks Endtimes Fantasies.
In an environment of real religious liberty, evangelicals become absolutely irrelevant. Their desires don’t matter to anybody but themselves. They’re bound by the same rules of etiquette and law that bind every other person in America.
And they face not persecution, but bland indifference.
That’s their worst nightmare — not actual persecution. It never was persecution.
I mean, they’d love persecution. They’d live for that cinematic struggle, in theory at least. But this? There’s nothing cinematic about a brush-off on the national level.
It’s nice that it works for you, dear, but it doesn’t work for me. OMG.)
I see this post of the Internet Monk’s as an expression of evangelicals’ perversion of their actual goals and ambitions. He dearly hoped to see an Endtimes uprising of a Remnant of TRUE CHRISTIANS™ who’d save evangelicalism from the very elements that have kept it alive for the past few decades.
It just didn’t — couldn’t — occur to Michael Spencer, the self-proclaimed Internet Monk, that evangelicals’ level of Jesus-ification had nothing whatsoever to do with their current state. And likewise, the level and correctness of their Jesus-ing will never have anything to do with their future. (We’ll take up there next.)
Ultimately, his fantasies were just another product of his intense evangelical indoctrination. That indoctrination helped him produce the same set of predictions that we find all over the tribe. And these predictions not only fail in reality, but they can’t actually account for what actually is happening now in evangelicalism.
NEXT UP: To evangelicals, the cure for every single ill looks exactly the same: more and more-correct Jesus-ing! But in reality, Jesus-ing has little to nothing to do with evangelicals’ decline. And it won’t save them now. Tomorrow, we’ll check out why. See you soon!
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