Waiting for Armageddon

Monday, January 26, 2009

How is literal belief in Biblical prophesy applied to modern life? A new documentary, "Waiting for Armageddon," explores America’s 50-million-member Evangelical Christian community, and how it shapes U.S. society and politics. David Heilbroner and Kate Davis are the film’s directors.

"Waiting for Armageddon" will be shown at the New York Jewish Film Festival
Jan. 28 at 2:00 PM and Jan. 29 at 8:30 PM
Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center
Tickets and more info here


Kate Davis and David Heilbroner

Comments [31]

Larry Portzline from Williamsport, PA

The film sounds interesting based on Leonard's interview, but I can't help doubting the credibility of a documentary filmmaker who chooses Armageddon for his subject and then calls the the book of Revelation "Revelations" and can't remember if it's the last book in the New Testament or the next-to-last.

Apr. 15 2009 04:14 PM

(continuation of previous post)

Christian Zionists (they used to be called Restorationists) have been around for at least 500 years. The early Christian leaders of New England were all strong believers and teachers that the Jews needed to return to Israel and become a nation in the end times. John Cotton, Richard, Increase, and Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards, and all the early American Puritans were philio-Semitic. This was a huge departure from the middle ages when Roman Catholics were killing Jews by the thousands. (So who are the dangerous ones?) Why do you think about a third of world Jewry lives in the U.S.? It is because we have always been different toward the Jews than the Europeans were.

I have never heard of anyone who holds to the rapture and the view of the end times that is dealt with in this movie that has ever done something weird like try to blow up the Dome of Rock. Why? Because we believe that God is going to do these things. We do not believe that we have to act in history to bring these things about. If God doesn't do it then it won't get done. That is because these will be supernatural events that only God can do. How does that make us dangerous? True, some of us do vote and vote based upon what one thinks of Israel. But, then again so do some others who are not part of our movement. The fact that we are viewed by some on the left as dangerous people, like Islamic terrorists, is an unrealistic projection from a false viewpoint. What we believe is historic Christianity, which would not be Christianity if Jesus were not returning to planet earth.

Feb. 02 2009 11:30 PM

As an evangelical who believes in the type of end-time events that are depicted in the film, I dislike the title more than anything. We are not looking for Armageddon, WE ARE WAITING FOR CHRIST! I have never heard anyone in our movement talk about how wonderful it will be when Armageddon shows up. It will come but that is not our focus. Sorry that those doing the film characterized it that way.

Also, all forms of Christianity have always believed in the end of the world, except those liberal branches that developed after the Enlightenment. And all of a sudden, simply because some folks in NYC have discovered we exist y'all talk about how afraid we all should be of people like us, even though we have been here in large numbers all along.

(continued in the next post)

Feb. 02 2009 11:29 PM
Nan Davenport from Oakland CA

To echo other posters-
Evangelical Christians in the US are not a solid block of fundamentalist end-timers. There is a wide range of practicing self-identified evangelical Christians some of whom have no truck with such simple-mindedness.
I think it is a divisive mistake to lump all Evangelical Christians (of which, as a devout atheist, I am not one) into the wacko territory of the literalists, like John Hagee

Jan. 29 2009 01:04 AM
Rev. S. Munson from Long Island

From its inception Christianity has always been an apocalyptic movement. The theology of the kingdom of God, as taught by Jesus, is based on a worldview that believes that God is bringing this present evil age to a close. The New Testament teaches that we are in fact living in the Last Days, that Jesus could come at any moment. At various points and crises in church history the end has seemed very close indeed. BUT, while emphatic in instructing his disciples to prepare and look for his coming, Jesus never commanded them to focus on rebuilding a temple or an Israelite empire, nor to attempt to hasten the end through holy war or militarism.

When the disciples asked the risen Lord whether he was going to restore the Israelite nation, Jesus replied, "It is not for you to know the times and dates that Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:7,8). In other words, this is the Father's business; your business is to spread the gospel.

Jesus is not going to return simply because a bunch of fanatics have built a landing strip for him on the Mount of Olives. He promises he will return when we've done our job of preaching the gospel to all nations.

I would also agree with Laurel from Drew that the evangelical community in America is anything but monolithic; it's increasingly diverse. Not all evangelicals are members of the Religious Right (I am certainly not). As pastors, we must educate our flocks in the responsible interpretation of Scripture and to help them focus on the main and plain things of the Bible, like healing the sick and helping the poor, not on obscure end-time prophecies. The book of Revelation is a dangerous weapon in the hands of the arrogant and foolish, as history bears witness.

Jan. 27 2009 07:15 PM
JohnnyS from Cranford, NJ

Oy! The Rapture is NOT mentioned in Revelation.

Jan. 26 2009 06:03 PM
Jack from Long Island from Island New York USA

Mr. Lopate failed to adequately challenge the notions that (1) all evangelicals subscribe to this end time eschatology (2) that within the 50 million number quoted all believe this when in fact there is a wide variety of belief, and (3) failed to point out that most other Christians, i.e, Catholics, Orthodox and mainline Protestants do not!

As to the Jewish/Israeli embrace of these dangerous kooks I can only shake my head in disgust. Have Israelis lost their self-respect?

Jan. 26 2009 03:49 PM
Arlene from NJ

I'm sorry but as someone raised in an evangelical home, Armageddon or the Rapture or the second coming--which ever you prefer--was never seen as a joyous least for the youth of our church.

We were always worried about going to hell, burning for eternity, not being strong enough to refuse the mark of the beast, not preparing ourselves to give our lives for Jesus when that moment arrived and we had to choose.

However, not everything was gloom and doom. I can never recall a sermon where our pastor defended Israel. My religion believes anyone, regardless of religion-or lack of--can be saved.

There is also a strong belief in caring for the environment (waay before the "green" revolution) because God created every creature that crawls and every living thing that inhabits the earth. There is also a strong emphasis on eating healthy (organic and vegetarianism or staying away from red meat and pork).

We also believe birth control is a personal decision that should be considered in order to help control the population problem. And fiercely defend separation of church and state because if the lines are blurred, you are now infringing on a person's first amendment rights.

Not every Evangelical church is full of crazy bible-thumping extremists...

Jan. 26 2009 01:22 PM
Robots Need 2 Party from Brooklyn

Regarding U.S. support for Israel. Let's not kid ourselves about where this support comes from. Its military support. Evangelical support is a factor but the majority of support from the U.S. to Israel is for our so called "security".

Jan. 26 2009 01:10 PM
Avivah from Brooklyn, New York

These views are held by more than Evangelicals. Baptists, Nazerenes, Pentecostals also beleive thus. These eschatological beliefs are official part of all christian demonations; it is just that they are spoken of and worked toward in different degrees.

Jan. 26 2009 01:06 PM
Laurel Kearns from Drew University

I would urge all listeners to take note how many times the filmmakers said they were not experts, because for any scholar in this area, that was very evident. This film does not portray all evangelicals by any means, nor did the filmmakers really acknowledge the diversity withing evang. on this issue (those portrayed are much more fundamentalist than moderate evangelicals). Thanks to Leonard for trying to make that point. Evangelicals also did not vote as a block in this last election (evang leader Richard Cizik lost his job over voting for Obama). As a scholar of Christian environmentalism, and to anyone who reads the headlines on green evangelicals, it is clear that there are diametrically opposing views within evangelicalism on global warming, and the same range is apparent on many other issues. The filmmakers needed to do a bit more homework before going on the media circuit.

Jan. 26 2009 01:06 PM
Freddy Jenkins

Disturbing, to say the least!

Jan. 26 2009 01:04 PM
Yazmin from Norwalk, CT

Muslims do believe in the second coming of Christ. Christ is the second most important prophet in Islamic theology, given a place of utmost respect and importance, amongst all the prophets of the Books- the Torah and the Bible. The Al-Aqsa Mosque (The Dome of the Rock) in Jerusalem is so sacred to Islam because that is the place from which Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven on the Night of Power (which is a major event in Muhammad's life and in Islamic theology).

Jan. 26 2009 01:04 PM
Robots Need 2 Party from Brooklyn

What a strange dilemma. I find myself appalled by the evangelical agenda and think anyone that belives in an imminent apocalypse or is trying to bring about the apocalypse should not be able to hold public office of any kind. As a citizen of the U.S. I feel everyone should be properly represented in government. If there are 50 million evangelicals in this country then I find myself torn between thinking this amount of people deserve representation that reflects there views and my own belief that these people are crazy if they think the bible is the literal word of god and not open to interpretation.

Jan. 26 2009 01:00 PM
Adam from NYC

Islamic View of Jesus from Wikipedia:
The mainstream Islamic view of the second coming maintains Jesus did not die (see Islamic view of Jesus' death) and was lifted up to Heaven by God, where he is waiting to descend[21] during the “last days” when corruption and perversity are rife on Earth. Jesus will return to wage a battle against the false Messiah (Dajjal, or Anti-Christ), break the cross, kill swine and call all humanity to Islam, as originally called upon by all the prophets including himself. Jesus shall be accompanied by an army of the righteous, they shall be very few in number—only 313—compared to the followers of the anti-Christ, however they shall win for they shall be fighting against darkness. Three plus one plus three equals seven, a holy number in all Abrahamic religions. The Dajjal will wage war with his army of corrupt followers and mischief-makers and those have fallen under his deception.

Jan. 26 2009 01:00 PM
Vinny from Upper West Side NYC

listening to this segment, I was reminded of Eric Berne's book, Games People Play; specifically the Game called "Let's You & Him Fight, in which a third party (The Evangelicals) provoke a fight and offer to hold each of the other's coats while they destroy each other

Jan. 26 2009 12:59 PM
isa kocher from kucukcekmece istanbul turkey

In Sihhi Bukhari, and in Sihhi Muslim, two collections of the Prophet's teachings about the return of the Messiah and the war with the anti-Christ

Jan. 26 2009 12:59 PM
The Truth from Atlanta/New York

People have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning, we WON'T be here to see it people. The world is millenia old, we only live 70 at best.

Jan. 26 2009 12:58 PM
isa kocher from kucukcekmece istanbul turkey

Absolutely Jesus will return according to Islam. Gert married. raise a family, fight Armageddon, defeat the anti-Christ. Many teaches by the Prophet [SAWS]

Jan. 26 2009 12:57 PM
Tim from Queens

I take great issue with calling evangelicals "rational". By definition, belief in a higher being manipulating events and creating something from nothing without scientific evidence or testable hypothesis is irrational!

Jan. 26 2009 12:57 PM
Milton from Manhattan

Your guest stated that politicians don't speak out against Israel because the Jewish people are a powerful voting block. Most polls show jewish voters are roughly divided on issues of Israel equal to the rest of the population. What IS powerful is the amount Jewish lobbies contribute to politicians.

Jan. 26 2009 12:57 PM
jonny goldstein from philly


Let's face it, there's no rational reason for our level of support of Israel, other then evangelical and Jewish support, which translates into political reality.

Just like our policy to Cuba is not based on any objective look at our broader interests but on a group of voters of Cuban heritage in the crucial swing state, Florida.

Jan. 26 2009 12:57 PM
j from nyc

i am never amazed at how smart many of these people, including neo-cons are as a matter of intellectual heft, and precisely because they are so smart, i believe that's why they fight so hard, because they do understand many of the facts.
whay amazes me is how willfully ignorant and emotionally immature they remain, idealogues/authoritarians usually from insecurity that others perceive them as stupid and fearful, as i have found from my conversations with some. I don't think they're stupid, but i do believe they let themselves be taken advantage of and have their need for faith abused by the more aggressive members of their belief set. My way of getting around that with one friend was to remind them that i thought they were a better person than that, and that's why i wanted to be friends with them in the first place.
and as far as i know, there is no afterlife and concept of salvation in the Jewish Bible as there is Christianity, although there's commentary in Talmud and mystical Judaism.

Jan. 26 2009 12:56 PM
The Truth from Atlanta/New York

of all the evil white men who have held office, you would choose to crown this one, the antichrist? when the outgoing came probably the closest to being the devil!

Jan. 26 2009 12:54 PM
hjs from 11211

how does the easter bunny fit in to all this?

Jan. 26 2009 12:52 PM
Scott from Brooklyn

How is it that the Christian fundamentalists who look forward to Armageddon are no less dangerous than Islamic fundamentalist who will blow themselves up for 72 virgins? If Christians think the world is going to end, it makes sense that they would ally themselves with Republicans who champion businesses that profit from the decimation of our environment.

I grew up in Southwest Missouri and as a child, I attended a Southern Baptist church that had a weekly seminar about the endtimes. When I visit my family, I'm still aware of the fear these teachings instill. I hope your film educates people about this insidious, irresponsible worldview.

Jan. 26 2009 12:51 PM
The Truth from Atlanta/New York

What evil lurks in people who would call this man the antichrist??!!

Jan. 26 2009 12:49 PM
Hannah from Bushwick

So can you draw from this that support for Israel in this country is mostly based on false pretenses?

Jan. 26 2009 12:47 PM
jj from

How can you say that Evangelicals are surprisingly articulate and impressive intellectual specimens? At my daughter's school, here in wealthy Somerset County, I know five or six evangelical families. The parents all seem nice -- but they are different than most of the other parents precisely because they are either high school graduates or below, and have not traveled at all. They also are not interested in hearing about other peoples' beliefs at all, or even worldly ones like thrift and environmental cares about this earthly world. With impartial eyes (hey, I want to believe as much as anybody!) this is what I have observed.

Jan. 26 2009 12:46 PM
Gaines Hubbell from Knoxville, TN

Isn't the interest in quickening Armageddon a motivation for Zionism, not just Christian Evangelical Zionism? That was the impression I've gotten from Tom Segev's "One Palestine, Complete".

Jan. 26 2009 12:44 PM
Joseph from Murray Hill

I don't think it's fair to blame Evangelicals for the the media being unable to criticize ANY Israeli policy or US support for it.

Look to groups like AIPAC that strong arm the media into bias. The Southern Florida Jewish vote has had HUGE political implications in the past because of Florida's electoral votes.

Jan. 26 2009 12:43 PM

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